Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Storm And Cancelling Plans

Well I am writing again but it's not without cause. Our Colorado trip has been cancelled and let me explain why. I know I have a lot of out of state and out of country readers so I am hoping I can convey what happened in a manner that you can actually understand what it's like to live in an area prone to tornado's and hail. On Sunday we had heard the possibility of some severe storms in our area. We always pay attention but Texas weather can change rapidly so we went about our day as usual. Around 7pm Emily said she needed gas in her car for the following day to get to school and I needed to run to the store for dog food. We all made a plan to head quickly to our destinations and get back before the storm hit. Emily texted us that she had gotten her gas but she had locked herself out of the house. Just then our phones blared a loud high pitch squeal alerting us there was a possible tornado forming in our area. There was not a drop of rain yet but the sky was becoming black and lightning raced across it in multiple spidery patterns. Emily texted, "Mom where are you?" and I assured her we were close. 

Once at the house we raced into the driveway, threw our cars in park, and ran into the house. We instructed Emily to clean out the closet under the stairs because it would be the best place for she and the animals. I also told her that we sat at the bottom of a hill so that is actually a good thing when dealing with tornado's because tornado's do not dip down. I guess I was just trying to make her feel better ........because I knew this could be serious. I have been in tornado's before and they are not fun at all. So Emily took shelter and Mike and I watched the TV. 




Mike who is always level headed in storms looked at the TV and calmly looked at me and said, "It's making a Bee line for us. You need to take cover." 



I went into the closet with Emily and tried to secure the door that wasn't latching properly. Mike went into another closet with our smallest dog. We waited about thirty seconds and then all hell broke loose. I mean it might as well have been Kurt Russell sitting on top of my house screaming. 




 Emily had started recording but quickly realized that storms can turn deadly and she started screaming. It wasn't a tornado it was hail the size of baseballs and softballs pounding our house. It sounded like the walls would begin to fall apart at their seams and the roof would come in at any time. I calmly grabbed Emily's arm and began to pray and assured her God would not leave us. I told her he loves us, he has plans for us, and everything would be okay. This sounds dramatic but you have to remember we were under the impression a tornado was about to be almost on top of us. Then the sound started to taper off and I emerged from the closet instructing Emily to stay put. Once we had the all clear everyone came out and we began inspecting what damage we could in the dark. It was a lot. 




We have 7 broken windows including the sky light. I thought it was 8 but it's actually only 7......only 7, lol. Our roof and gutters are totaled, the metal frames around the windows are totaled, we have holes through our cement fiber siding, the cars are a mess, and more! The hail velocity was so strong that it ripped bark from my trees, shredded our lights hanging on our house, and softball size white marks on my driveway (click on the blue car pictures above and you can see the marks on the driveway). However you know what? We are alive. We did not emerge to find the roof missing, a tornado did not hit us, we are okay, and all our animals are accounted for! I have a great insurance agent (me) so I know my coverage is superior. My roof is tarped, we are in rental cars, and in time everything will be fixed. However we did have to cancel our trip. This will affect us financially due to deductibles and I am not leaving Emily in a house in this condition. 

I know some people are wondering why we cannot catch a break and that did cross my mind. However I plan on looking at this like we did catch a break. I have been in situations where that horrible hail hits and then it gets quiet.........deathly quiet, the temperature changes, and that nightmarish train whistle starts and you know a tornado is about to hit. So we are lucky! Maybe there is a reason we weren't suppose to go to Colorado and God was looking after us. I believe the below pictures is a testament to Sunday night. This is a stained glass piece my grandfather made. I have it in my sunroom so I can watch the light reflect off of it. Directly behind it was this massive hole from a large piece of hail that ripped through the screen and the window. Somehow it didn't touch the stained glass. 




Small miracles happen everywhere. The adjuster says the company has thousands of losses but she only has about 50 homes as bad as ours and they are waiting until the next two storms over the next two days pass before they make a final calculations and start repairs. So some prayers we make it through these storms would be great. Also I have had a few sweet people calling saying "I know you are overwhelmed but....." for the first time I am 100% overwhelmed so there are not but's. We probably have $40,000 in damage or more, all three vehicles are damaged, Jude's 1 year is approaching, and I have more that I won't go into. So I might need a little understanding and some patience. Also for those not in the insurance industry this is what is called a major catastrophic storm. That means they bring in CAT adjusters and this WILL cause rates to eventually increase so I personally always prepare ahead. I add a little to my escrow each month and I am not surprised when I see a slight rate increase in my premiums. It's the cost of living in TX. 

So we will spend Jude's weekend here but we will find a way to celebrate his life next Sunday. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Hard Blog To Write

This is going to be a hard blog to write and I will forewarn you that some of you may not want to read it. I will leave the decision up to you if you want to move forward and read the entire post. This will probably be my last entry until after Jude's one year angelversary. It's hard to grasp the loss of a child for the family suffering the tragedy and even for those hearing about the loss. It makes people question their own mortality and their child's mortality which is nothing anyone wants to think about. Often times the response to Jude's loss is, "I cannot even imagine." Of course you can't and I don't ever want you to be in my shoes. However I do think it's important for people to truly understand how devastating it is so they can appreciate their lives and have empathy for anyone traveling this road in the future. So with that I am going to recount losing Jude. What it's really like when someone passes away. Maybe this is therapy for me, I am not sure but I feel compelled to write about it. I have mentioned I am a member of a loss forum and the comments from others make me believe that some people just don't truly comprehend how devastated these parents are. Many of the parents are pushed back to work, they have their losses compared to the loss of someone's pet, and some are accused of just seeking attention and sympathy. I luckily have encountered none of these except the pet comparison. I love my pets very much. We all know I basically have a zoo but they are not Jude and never will be. So maybe this will shed a little light on what it's like and it will help someone in the future. 

So here we go. I knew Jude was on hospice and we know what hospice means but for some reason I don't think I really ever comprehended that Jude in fact was going to die. Jude had a way of always bouncing back and he could literally be knocking at death's door only to be smiling a few minutes later. So the 48 hours of his demise was a whirlwind of shock. If you have bought my book you see there are two entries on 4/7/2016. I went to work that morning frustrated and tired. We had issues with Jude's feeding tube that week and I also felt like he was getting pneumonia again. He was tired, cranky, and crying but Jude had been through multiple bouts of pneumonia. I blogged that hospice was setting him up on a pain management schedule. Looking back I realize that they were setting Jude up on a schedule to pass peacefully. There were no antibiotics that time there was only Morphine and as a mom I just didn't comprehend what was happening. My next entry on 4/7/2016 was that Jude had taken a rapid turn for the worse. I knew this because hospice had called me at work and told me they thought it was time and I needed to come home. I melted into a bundle of tears when they called me but I quickly grabbed my purse and headed out the door towards home. So here is the hard part, Jude did not die peacefully. Jude's night was horrible, loud, and I was literally praying to God for him to take him. I will never forget the sound of his breathing because it is etched into my mind and although I prefer to think of Jude's smile the thought of that last night sneaks up at times. It was something a parent should never hear and should never live through. It took several counseling visits and Xanex to deal with. 

When Jude drew his last breath I stood there a bit in disbelief but then something took over. I am not sure if it's because I am a mom, a business person, or if it was just motions but I lept into action. I called nurse Charlotte who came over and helped me bathe Jude and fix his hair. I called the funeral home and told them I needed them to come to the house. I then called an artist to ask him to custom make Jude a Superman casket. I texted my family and asked them to keep everything private until I could get to Emily and I sent Mike to the store to get Superman pajamas. When the funeral director arrived they were amazingly kind and moved at the pace we needed them to. By then both sets of Jude's grandparents had arrived and they were waiting with us. They didn't take Jude until we were ready for them to and it was almost like a peaceful parade of people following Jude out to the the van they arrived in. Mike even helped roll Jude out and load him to be taken away from us. We discussed some final thoughts with the director and then Jude was gone. I think that's the hardest part for parents is realizing they are letting their child go even though they don't want to. 

When your child is taken away because they have passed away you tend to stand in shock for a bit wondering what you next moves should be. Hospice had to pour out all of Jude's medications which felt violating but they were assisted by nurse Allan which made me feel a little better. I then gathered up some items and Mike and I left to go to Dallas to tell Emily. Emily was giving up her title for Miss Dallas teen and honestly there was no better place for her to be. I texted my friend Beaux and told him I was 5 minutes away when we got close to the facility. Somehow he just knew without me even saying a word and once I arrived he had Emily in a private place surrounded by a few people. Emily knew when she saw our faces but we calmly told her and I think everyone in that hallway cried. Emily chose to stay at the hotel with the pageant team and I honestly think that was the best decision. Somehow some way Emily mustered the strength to get up on that stage the next day and give up her crown. 





Jude died 4/9/2016 and Mike's birthday is 4/10. We sat in the funeral home making decision about laying Jude to rest on Mike's birthday. I remember the funeral director making a copy of our drivers license's and when he saw Mike's you could tell he was truly touched. Being in a funeral home is odd but being in one that used to be the home of your old office is even more odd.  The funeral home had bought out the office I worked at because they wanted they really wanted the building. We used Lucas funeral home which is the same company that handled my mother's funeral 36 years before. Believe it or not the lady that handled her arrangements was still with the company and remembered my family. We sat and made decisions regarding the service and let me tell you that burying someone is very expensive. We wanted to the best for Jude but people should know it's expensive, even cremation can be expensive. I highly recommend life insurance on your entire family.  I am the poster child for why people should carry it between losing my mother and losing Jude.  I remember sitting at the round table watching the funeral directors mouth move and concentrating on understanding what he was saying. It's like my brain needed extra time to process anything that was being said but somehow we got through it. I remember wondering where Jude was in the facility and realizing I probably didn't want to know. 

The next hours my friends lept into action and pulled together everything I had wanted for Jude. A friend blew up and mounted pictures, they found display stands for them, balloons, bubbles, music, readings, and more. My grandmother stopped me after Jude's service and said she was amazed at how quickly it came together and how amazing it was. That's because I had a team of people working behind the scenes. A team that realized when I was missing before the service something was very wrong. My friend Kelly found me in the bathroom in a full blown panic attack. Somehow they talked me back down and I was able to walk out into the service with my family. The church was a sea of superhero shirts and it took my breath away, even the funeral home team had Superman shirts on under their suits. I will forever be grateful for my family and friends that day. My friends who could get me to pose for this picture for Jude the day we buried him. 



The days following Jude's burial seemed to pass so quickly but the nights were excruciatingly long. Charlotte didn't show up anymore at 7:30 in the morning to relieve Candice the night nurse. I no longer answered the door disheveled and sleepy to greet her with a crooked smile. I just sat in Jude's room looking around at all his items and I knew I needed to pack. Everyone is different and although many people keep the child's room intact I for some reason had to pack his. I found a place to donate all of Jude's medical equipment to, a home for his sleep safe bed, and a home for some of his clothes. My friend Gina showed up unannounced and began helping me pack his items. She just knew what I would be doing and somehow knew to be there and she brought wine. Packing your child's belongings into a cardboard box because you have lost them to death is nothing any parent ever plans and I grieve with those that have experienced this. The nights were so quiet because Jude's loud oxygen machine was gone and so was his sweet New Orleans nurse whose laughter could fill a room. It was a loss of multiple people and almost seemed unbearable. 

One day the doorbell rang and I opened it and loudly gasped. I heard Mike come running, "What is it babe is it a Ninja??". He meant a memory that was hurting me and he was right. It was Fed Ex dropping off all of Jude's monthly supplies. I just shook my head and said " No No" as  lady jogging laughed because she thought I was kidding (it was a lot of boxes). I said, "Oh he died can you take them back" and the Fed Ex lady looked shocked. She had delivered to us for years and she began quickly grabbing the boxes and putting them back on her truck. She then grabbed Mike and hugged him hard and then Mike turned to escort me back in the house. Mike said I was in shock those following days and kept telling those who asked him how he was doing that he was just trying to get me through this. Then we all know that Mike's grief took over his heart and things changed. I am very grateful that he was there for me and he is still here today.

Picking the headstone was surreal but a little easier to handle. It was like Jude was guiding us and it was our way of memorializing his amazing life. If you are not aware it takes months to have a headstone placed and I do mean MONTHS! When it finally arrived it was like Jude's life had a spot and we had some place to visit. 




Seeing the headstone made me feel more at peace and I am not sure why. I try not to question life to much these days so I just let myself feel a little better. The months following Jude's death were not easy.  We really did everything they say you shouldn't do like change jobs and move but I have found you have to do what's best for YOU. Working was very difficult and still is at times and grief still takes over at night. We question why the world keeps turning when it no longer turns for Jude and we question our true purpose in this world but somehow we keep going. However in the end I remember his smile and how amazing he was. How through all the pain, through all the suffering, and all he endured he never lost that bright beautiful smile. 




So for his one year mark Mike and I are going away to Colorado. I thought about starting an event for everyone to do something kind for someone else on 4/9 but I didn't do anything official. So I think what I will do is change my Facebook profile picture to the below memorial candle and if you would like to join me you are welcome to. I questioned why I should just memorialize him and do something kind on 4/9.  Maybe I would ask everyone to do something kind each day for a month. I can only imagine how many lives that would affect. 

So there is my story. It's not an easy one to read but none the less it's how it happened. Losing a child or any loved one is not easy. Losing a child is unnatural and not the way life is suppose to go but it is life and it's full of a lot of crappy random chaos. So if you know someone at some point who has this happen to them be a kind, gentle, and try to have patience. A little patience goes a very long way. 

We love and miss you Ju Ju. Cannot believe it's been a year. 



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

One Month and A Day Away

I haven't blogged since my birthday and I am not really sure why. I have been overwhelmingly busy so maybe that's the case. I am really working hard to build my Perfectly Posh business to supplement our income. It's also a business I really enjoy and I love the products they offer. So forgive me if I am overwhelming you with posts in my group.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/Jennsperfectlypamperedpeeps

So Mike and I have decided to get away for the one year mark of Jude's death. A wonderful soul offered to donate a cabin to us in Colorado when Jude passed. It wasn't the right time but he said the offer was always there. So I recently reached back out to this person and he gladly offered his cabin for the weekend of 4/9. My friend Gina also let us use some of her stand by passes through American. They are more low cost than buying the tickets outright. I honestly just set all this up and told mike we were going. He seemed surprised and happy but a little sad as well. I think that's both how we feel about the situation. Very sad but glad to get away. We both feel like we should be at the cemetery on 4/9 but we both understand Jude will not be there. So we are shutting down social media that day and will figure out something to do in honor of Jude that will be beautiful like he was. 

Being more active is a goal we have as a couple over the next year. After this trip we will fly to West Virginia in August to watch Emily compete for Miss Teen Intl. Emily will then leave for the University of Alabama. Yes, she made her decision and although she will be so far I know she will only excel in life. 




I must admit that after losing Jude the idea of Emily going so far is a bit unnerving. We do so much together and I enjoy her company BUT this is how I raised her. I raised her with the idea that she needed to go to college and do her best to succeed in life while helping others. I am thrilled she has decided to become a nurse. We are praying BIG time for some scholarships and would love your prayers too, lol.  Then I hope that Mike and I can get away for our ten year anniversary in October. I'm growing convinced we need an RV to travel with all the animals.  I wonder if it would fit my chickens? Hehe 

I am not sure what the next year holds for Mike and myself but I do feel like something is coming. I am not sure if it's adopting, a different job, or what it is but there is something coming. I know that sounds strange but I can just feel it. 

By the way if you haven't followed Emily's piggy on twitter you might. "His" posts are hilarious, @Buddy_ThePig

If you are in the local area I will be at a book signing for The Diary Of A Baby And A Stroke on 3/22 at 6:30pm at 3 Vino in Roanoke, TX. 

Roll Tide! 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Birthday Wishes

It's my birthday. I didn't think I would wake up so sad but I did. I really have two wishes for today. 

I wish to go home and go back to sleep. I would like good uninterrupted continuous sleep. The kind of sleep that makes you feel refreshed and restored. 

I wish I could see Jude today. Since it seems neither of those things are going to happen I will settle for a picture that was taken on my birthday several years ago. 






Friday, February 24, 2017

The Supportive Friend

Well I was finally feeling back to my old self and I woke up congested and sounding like Darth Vader again. So if you call my office that is me answering the phone and not my boss Tim. 

Today I was once again reading posts from my loss group. A member had mentioned how she was encouraged by a friend to get over her grief. The friend informed her that others felt uncomfortable reaching out to her because the conversation always turned to the loss of her daughter. This in turn put the friends in an uncomfortable situation and they would rather not have to face that circumstance. My initial reaction was to squint, tilt my head to the side, and say, "What the holy hell?" I probably would have replied, " I am sorry that the loss of my child makes you feel so uncomfortable that you feel you cannot reach out to me." Then again if I step back from the situation and remove myself from the position of a grieving parent could I see the friends point? I guess in a way I could. Grief is complicated and uncomfortable and nothing anyone wants to deal with. The mom didn't want to lose her child and she is suffering horribly. I don't care if it's been 6 months, a year, or 20 years.....she is suffering and no one wants to watch anyone suffer. It's raw, it's nasty, and it's highly uncomfortable for people to see. Not everyone can handle watching someone grieve and not everyone can be a friend through a tragedy. That doesn't make them a bad person it just means they don't have the emotional strength to lend to someone for support. So it's up to grieving parents to decide who can help support them, who cannot, and maybe even those you have to cut ties with. I have always felt like God puts people in your life at particular times for a reason and sometimes he removes them too. That doesn't mean you cannot pick up years later when you have healed some it just means at that time period they are not the right fit in your life. 

I have noticed a trend with grieving parents I know on social media. We all tend to share pictures of our children as memories but rarely do people see the really ugly side of grieving. So I thought I would try to share a little about the raw honest facts surrounding how difficult it is to get through a loss. Grief is hard and physically taxing on your body which could be part of the explanation for this flu I cannot shake. Grief makes you forget things easily and it can sometimes change a persons entire personality. Everyone is different but for me grief feels like a horrible empty ulcer in the bottom of my stomach that hurts and aches. Eventually the ulcer began to feel a little better but it's always there and certain things can irritate that ulcer and make it flare up again with full intensity. Dealing with loss is secretly making your way to the room where you have your child's items stored in boxes. You start ripping open boxes and items just to see if you can catch their scent again then melting into a puddle of tears on the floor. Grieving is walking through a department store and seeing the children's section laced with adorable clothes and you fall apart right there in aisle 9.  Loss has a way of making you not care about what you look like or where you go but finding the strength to make it through the day. It's the knowledge that eclipse shadowing the sun moves away a bit each day that you do make it through. 

I can also say with certainty that grieving parents do not want to listen to the comparison of their grief to the loss of your pet, relationship, or job. Those are all tragic and horrible circumstances but while someone is grieving it's best to dump the negative somewhere else and only put in positive. It may sound selfish but a grieving parent does not have the capability of offering the emotional support I mentioned above. Eventually your grieving loved one will be able to support you and listen again but until that time comes please have patience. 

I am blessed because the majority of people in my life have been extremely supportive and understanding. I have lost a handful of people that couldn't take my posts of Jude's memories or the blog but they were really just acquaintances anyway. I always say I am a rare one. I came out of high school with some of the most amazing best friends a girl could have and I still have them. I also have an amazing family. So when I read that others do not have this support it makes me sad and compels me to write about my experience. I only hope it can help someone in need. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Kisses For Jude

Mike and I had our weekly lunch date today and on the way back to my office we discussed Jude. We have been car pooling each day and I have actually grown fond of our car rides. However this limits my ability to go to the cemetery whenever I want and thus I struggle with some guilt. Although I know that Jude is not in that cemetery I still feel a calling to visit when I can. I told Mike I am beginning to forget how Jude smelled and I don't feel him around as much anymore. I know he had the sweetest little smell and I used to bury my nose deep into his hair to give him big kisses each day. I would breathe in Jude's innocence and he would give me the biggest smile. We sat for hours on that old green couch until we actually left a permanent dent on our little section. 


Sometimes the life we had seems like just yesterday and then at other times it seems so long ago. I looked at the below picture of Mike and Jude and while admiring how adorable they are I also see Jude's feeding tube.


We became proficient at maneuvering around tubes. It only takes once as a special needs parent of ripping out a feeding tube or accidentally setting the feeding pump to fast to learn from it. We could lift and reposition Jude without blinking and never miss a beat. It was a different way of life and a different way of thinking but one we knew very well. Everything was taken into account when making decisions from going out places to staying in the house. Our lives revolved around Jude's care. Mike and I get choked up when we talk to each other about Jude but we do talk and that's a good thing. We are both amazed it's almost been a year and Mike pointed out that it's been a very hard path. In the first days Mike said he wondered how he would make it until the next day, then it became wondering how to get to the next week, then the next month, and now it's almost a year. He said we made it through, we are still together, and we will continue to make it. 

We still miss Jude's nurses but we are able to keep up via social media and in person if we get a chance. We miss seeing Charlotte each morning but she is doing well now. She transitioned into hospice care for adults and seems to be very blessed by the position.  I will never forget that on the day Jude passed nurse Allan stayed at the house while we went to tell Emily. He was wrapping up notes, stayed with the animals, and got everything he could in order.  Allan said he spent hours there because it felt like home and when he finally decided to leave he had to stop and tell the house goodbye. Allan is also doing well and has two new pediatric cases that he is working and he still texts us every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday... "Morning Glory!" 


Monday, February 20, 2017

Our Words and Actions.

Sometimes in life I believe we mean to help someone by offering advice but our advice can create new issues or the advice can make matters worse. I am writing this blog not to point fingers at anyone in particular but to maybe help others regarding communication and maybe help someone feeling down today. So if your reading this please don't take offense in any way and just know I love you. We have all heard the cliche' offerings that are given after a loved one dies. They're in a better place, God needed another angel, God won't give you more than you can handle, and at least they're not suffering. Those sentences just don't really help. Offering a hug or just sitting and crying with the grief stricken will mean far more than words. 

What about words that are said after some time has passed after a loved one dies? In my grief forum I watch people type out information that's been said to them. The statement that it's time to move on, it's time for you to be happy, or it's time for you to work on yourself are top on the list. I had the last line said to me twice last week. "Maybe it's time to work on yourself and start working out." This was said with the very best of intentions by two people that love me VERY much. So I am not upset by the statements at all because again they were said with love.  However it literally STOPPED me in my tracks and made me think, "WAIT do I not look good? Is there something wrong with me?" because I honestly thought I looked just fine.  Maybe not a bombshell but I honestly thought I looked fine before Jude passed and after.  In America we have such a stigma around looking perfect like the perfect weight, height, hair, makeup, and skin. I literally had to step back and evaluate the situation. The people talking to me just want me to be happy and healthy but it still it made me realize how we look others. Why can't we just look at someone and love them just the way they are without any judgment or side conversations? I'll admit I have judged before and wondered how someone gained weight or let themselves go. 

In the recent Miss Universe pageant Miss Canada was widely criticized for her weight. In fact she is STILL being criticized on the pageant forums and by many Americans. 





Her response was, ""While I am first to say I am not as lean as I was when I was 16, 20, or even last year…I am more confident, capable, wise, humble, and passionate than ever before," Bearchell wrote. "As soon as I started to love who I was rather than always trying to fit what I thought society wanted me to be, I gained a whole new side of life." Amen sister! 

I have a treadmill at my house that I like to walk on and watch Netflix. This makes me happy and makes me feel healthy. I don't push myself but when I have time I walk and watch my shows. I have been through hell and if I came out of it a little heavier and sporting a slicked back pony tail then so be it, I came through it. Things like fancy clothes and perfect looks just aren't that important to me anymore. I am doing okay and my marriage is solid so that's what matters. My husband loves me with all his heart regardless of any appearance and I am fine with myself. Do I have a goal to eventually look better, sure but right now I am pretty happy with who I am. I miss Jude and someday's are much harder than others but overall life is being handled in the best manner I know how.  I am surviving each day after the loss of a child and that in itself should be pretty amazing. So if you have someone you know that lost someone they love just remember it takes time. After my mother died I remember my grandmother saying how it took her ten years before she didn't think of my mom's loss every single day. So unless asked for my advice I plan to offer hugs and support for those that need it in the future.  Maybe even go out of my way to smile at someone today and tell them how nice they look. Tell yourself, "I am great just the way I am!" and then smile and mean it. 

On a side note I don't want to make people worry but I thought I would share one of the most prevalent postings I see in my forums regarding loss of children. Many parents lost their children in ATV accidents. So if you have a child that loves riding ATV'S it might be worth investing in a helmet and lessons regarding speed. I guess if this post can save one life then it's worth talking about. 25 percent of people killed on ATV'S are children younger than age 16.