Tuesday, January 31, 2017

To Live In Fear Or Not? Emily's big scare!

Yesterday I posted a blog that was very dear to my heart about not living in fear of the world. After I posted this blog I got the following text from my daughter Emily, as you know she is a senior in high school. 

Emily: Mom, we are in internal lockdown and I am not sure what's happening. 

Me: Are you in a safe place? 

no answer

Me: Em? 

Then I realized I should stop texting until I heard from her just in case she needed to be quiet. I was calm and rational and simply waited on a reply. When I didn't get one I took to Facebook to see if any other parents knew what was going on. I finally got a reply that there was a bomb threat. Then I got a text reply from Emily. 

Emily: Yes, I am in a safe place. 
Me: Okay must just be someone in the area because Medlin is on lockdown too
Emily: Oh Okay
(time passes)
Emily: Mom there are police at our school
Me: Emily it's a bomb threat
Emily: At the school??? 
Me: Yes. Just stay put and if you need me to come up I will. I am sure this is just a joke. They will sweep the building and they will leave. It will be fine.
Emily: Okay

Then the texts continued when Emily heard it may be a gunman. She was scared and I assured her she was in the best hiding place. Emily ever the comedian texted me, "Mom, I could really use the OA right now," We have discussed the possible steps to take if she was in an active shooter situation and she took every step. She was locked in the costume closet in the Theater at the school. She spent 4 hours in that dark room with her friends texting me and waiting on information. Here was a picture she took of a friend.

She said the school did a great job of making her feel safe with their announcements and updates. My husband and I both left work and went to the school to wait on her release. While we were on the corner with hundreds of other parents the scene was quite surreal. No one was panicked, no one was crying, no one was yelling, in fact everyone was quiet. We talked in hushed tones among ourselves and my husband turned on his police scanner. Every major city in our area had SWAT, police, fire engines, and ambulance on scene. Then more SWAT showed up with lights flashing as seen below. 

At that point we began to get a little antsy but we still stayed on our little corner anxiously waiting to hear information. Mike continued to listen to the scanner and at times the scanner didn't match the information we were being given. However the school and law enforcement did an amazing job yesterday. We are eternally grateful for their services and prompt response.

The hours stretched on and we kept hearing they were attempting an evacuation. First it was to the football field, then to Wal Mart, then to the middle school. We noticed dozens upon dozens of school buses begin line the dusk filled street. 

More time went by. The FBI pulled in, more police, and then a law enforcement official with a K9 came towards our group. She explained the school would be evacuated floor by floor. Just then Emily texted they were being told to power off all phones and they would be leaving. For informational purposes and because were were not sure what happened I told Emily there could be a reason they were having them turn off their phones. I explained that they may see a scene that could be concerning when they are escorted out or it may just be to move them quickly. I wanted her to be prepared at all costs and she said she was. Emily is always calm and collected and was ever filled with grace as usual. 

The parents waited in two lines parallel to each other in front of the football fields on the way to the buses. The officers kept telling us to grab our children once we saw them, otherwise the students would proceed to the buses. Slowly the kids and teachers started streaming out in a single file line across the field and on to the paved path. Mike and I scanned the crowds for Emily looking at each young girl one by one.  Since Emily left after me in the morning I wasn't sure if she wore her hair up or down. I quickly looked through all the pony tails, buns, and long straight hair. That's when I noticed a single tear was rolling down my cheek. I knew Emily was fine but I thought about the parents who had lost children in school tragedies. How they must have desperately searched each child's face with hope and dread. We were very lucky and thankful. Emily is safe at home and we are counting our blessings. After losing a child recently something like this can seem like a giant mountain eclipsing you in stress. Emily is shaken but she will recover and be just fine. 

There are two stories as to what happened and various news sources are reporting different things. I won't go into details here but I will state one included just a phone call and one an actual suspect in custody. We will wait to hear the full report before believing any rumors of false information. 

My husband did an interview for the new in the midst of the event and I am very proud of him. If you would like to see the piece here it is. http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Lockdown-at-Trophy-Club-Schools-After-Alleged-Bomb-Threat-412200653.html

Mike said he felt like life saw my post yesterday and something evil manifested itself to try to bring fear back into our lives. Not today Satan, not today! 

Monday, January 30, 2017

The State Of The World

I have a lot to say in this blog but my mind is rather cluttered with information right now and the proper words have yet to make it to paper. I am hoping as I am writing the menagerie in my head begins to make sense and I can properly share my thoughts with you. 

I took Emily to visit the University of Arkansas this weekend. Actually, I guess I should say Emily took me because she drove the entire way there and back. We all know I don't like to drive but I also understood that if Emily does in fact choose this campus she will be the one making the drive. I wanted to make sure she was familiar with the highways, terrain, and mountains. The school itself was beautiful and I was very impressed with the inclusion within the campus. The students seemed friendly and the housing looked comfortable. Emily will be waiting to hear from schools regarding possible scholarships and will make a final decision in March. 

Social Media is rather overwhelming lately with politics and the world in general. I have thought about taking a break from Facebook and all other social media outlets. However I have always been the type of person that says if you don't like something just keep scrolling. Now who else is singing in a Dory voice," Just keep scrolling?" This is the first time I have felt a bit overwhelmed by the negativity and actually debated on a social media vacay. Then I got myself in check; let me explain, social media is controlled by us and we are not defined by it. I see many many people copying and pasting improper uneducated information. It is not my job to correct those individuals nor is it my right to tell them to take improper information down. So I decided to just continue posting my positive information regarding my family's life thus spreading happiness. Social media was a God send when Jude was so ill because it was my contact to a world we mostly watched from an outsiders view point. So it's not something I am willing to give up nor should I be expected to. 

The world is what we make it and if we don't like what we see it's up to us to make it a better place. As Andy said in The Shawshank Redemption, "I guess it comes down to one simple choice.  Get busy living or get busy dying."  We can choose to complain about the world and pass on complaints, negativity, and fear or we can do something about it. It may be as simple as picking yourself up, brushing yourself off, and saying it's going to be a good day today. You may also accomplish this goal by doing all you can to help others, it may be enrolling in politics, or it may just be passing a smile to a stranger. It's up to you but it's up to all us to make a difference. Like I always say and what's engraved on Jude's bench, "Everyone has a story it's what you do with yours that counts." Make it count! 

I have seen a lot of people upset over the state of the world and the state of their lives. I struggle with this although I understand that each individual person deals with emotional distress in their own personal way. This is their right and I do not mean to infringe upon that in anyway. However I cannot help but look at others lives and feel a bit of envy. I think about how amazing it must be to worry about the state of the world when I stand upon the grave of a child worrying about the state of his casket. Sometimes I wish a magical Michigan Mutual fairy paid off my mortgage so I could have grieved in peace, but that's not realistic. I went back to work with a part of me missing but no therapy to teach myself how to function with my amputated portion. So the fact people get so upset over the world when their life right in front of them is so incredibly meaningful is hard to understand. It doesn't make it wrong, it just means that right now it's hard for me to grasp. We should all be grateful for every minute we have on this Earth to appreciate and love those important in our lives. We should be grateful for all we can do to better others lives. We humans are powerful creatures and can reach far beyond our own backyards to help others. 

Yesterday Mike shared a post on Facebook from his memory feed and the verbiage read,

I avoided Jennifer's repost of this the other day because it is so horribly painful to remember our feelings that day. I was preparing myself for the worst that day and really since then I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. This past year I have learned you cannot live your life in fear because that really isn't living is it. As difficult as this year has been I'm completely grateful for everyday.

He was referencing this blog post ; http://cjengo.blogspot.com/2015/02/only-love-judehardest-blog-i-have-ever.html

I read over his words and I realized I have really been living in fear. I fear driving, I fear flying, I fear Emily dying, I fear Mike dying, and I fear so much more. I am not actually living. In the past week I have made an effort to cut out unhealthy habits and it's starting to work. It will be a slow process but it's a necessary one. I miss Jude more than I could ever imagine I would. I put on a mask everyday and I may have to continue doing that with work but I am finding a way back to a happier place. Another amazing quote from Shawkshank Redemption has always stuck with me regarding Jude. 

"I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone."

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Shoes and Buddy

Multiple times I have seen this picture shared on my loss forum with the amazing story within it's borders. I think I shared it some time ago. For the most part the poems, songs, and sayings have become overwhelming so I have glanced over this one for awhile. However today I looked back over it and decided it sums up how I feel very accurately. 

Piggy Smalls Aka "Buddy" is doing very well. He is getting bigger so yesterday I took him out of his cage and placed him in our bathroom while we worked. I left him with lots of toys, his rooting box, water, and his bed. Emily let him out once she was home from school. When I get home Mr. Buddy had became quiet brave and now ventured out of the living room into the bathroom, bedroom, closet, and kitchen. The dogs do not like this very much and I think they feel a bit left out. Buddy is just far to small to be around the dogs without supervision just yet. Liebe actually seems very interested and tolerant of Buddy. Mike will take Liebe by her leash and will guide her over to the pig, she never once tries to bite. Blue on the other hand is just a bad little doggy who still needs lots of correction to his behavior. However we are talking about a dog whose prior owners just left him outside and never socialized him. Hence the reason he crawls on my expensive dining room table. Good thing is it's suppose to look rustic so I just tell myself the additional claw make the piece look even more desirable. I tend to use a lot of Old English.  

This is buddy last night checking out my bathroom. 

I am missing Jude today. Mike's car is out of commission and I haven't been by the cemetery in awhile and I am anxious to go out there. I am taking Emily to the University of Arkansas this weekend to check out the college. I am having her drive so prayers for our safety. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Being Okay With Yourself

I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I got a treadmill. I love to walk and it's personal time to myself that I can watch Netflix and reflect on life. However I have hurt my leg.......I have no idea how but it's very annoying. On the days it feels better I walk about 1 mile and watch my shows. It's a bit like setting a reset switch and I think exercise helps emotionally.  I am hoping today I can get out there for a bit and immerse myself into the show "The OA" which I am so into! However the topic came up in my loss forum about how parents who have lost children have little desire to look good anymore. It's true. 

Now I want to try to explain this in the best manner I can but I am not sure it will make sense. It's not that I am depressed but I am still grieving. It's just that things like nails, pretty hair, a bikini body, and a nice tan just aren't that important to me anymore. I don't judge anyone that has these priorities they just are not mine personally. So people can look at my slicked back pony tail, little makeup, and plain clothes and wonder how I am. I am fine. I assure you that although my heart is broken and always will be I am fine. I just would rather put on a pair of sweats, slick my hair back, and play in my yard. I would rather wear comfy socks and tennis shoes then high heels and fancy jewelry. It's just me and being at peace and being with my family is far more important to me than looks and things. Emily still loves getting pretty and I love helping her do that. We are all just different and that's what make the world an interesting place. I guess it's coming to terms that I love myself, my husband loves me, and it's just about being okay. 

So I did write a children's story based on our adventures at our little "farm." I handed it to Mike to read and he made a few skeptical wise cracks but then read it. He then said, "um this is really good." So we will see but I do think it's pretty cute and it has some great life lessons in it. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Piggy Smalls

I text my cousin this weekend, "When you do something so shocking as allowing your child to buy a pig you find out who has got a positive attitude or who has a negative one REAL quick. You also find out about little conversations when you're not present" She replied, "I think it's awesome!! Life is short so get a pig!!" Love her! 

This past week Mike was making sales calls to local retailers and was visiting a feed store. While at the store he looked around sent us this picture. 

Never in a million years would I have ever thought we would have brought this baby pig home. However Emily talked Mike into taking her to actually see the pig in person. On the way there he told her if she could get 350 likes on Facebook by the time they reached the store he would let her buy it with her Winstar winnings. We all laughed thinking it was a joke. Emily to date now has 975 votes, no I am not kidding and we have a pig. 

We have a menagerie of animals actually. Three dogs, three cats, 10 chickens, fish, and now a micro pig. I think Emily is actually hoping she gets asked if she has any animals at her next pageant. She is dying to tell them about her zoo. So on the way back home we had the following conversation. 

Mike: I am proud of you
Me: For what? 
Mike: For allowing us to get the pig and not get upset
Me: Life's short
Mike: and I think you have really learned that. Life is fast and how many more times do you think you will see her this happy before she leaves. Plus I love animals. 

So if you know me you're shocked we got a pig. I know my best friend is still reeling from it and she came to play with Piggy Smalls AKA Buddy (Emily named him from Elf) last night. I am generally always the rational one, holder of the money, maker of sound decisions, cooker of the food, and all things Oz like. Mike laughed and said, "You think people are looking in at us going my word their grief is out of control." No we just took a chance. I grew up on the weekends at my stepmother's parents house. I helped feed the pigs, tend to the pigs, go feed the cows, harvest the garden, and yes even take the animals to slaughter. Although no one will be touching little Piggy or my chickens! I know quiet a bit about these animals. I know a few can actually stay around 30 lbs but most get much larger. I know they are also very intelligent as indicated by the little pig litter box and crate training itself in...........ONE DAY! We have a great house with dog doors to go potty when he gets bigger and we have a lot of land for all our animals. I loved the premise of the movie, "We Bought A Zoo" if you haven't seen it I encourage you to watch it. 

So last night Mike and Emily were joking about the adventures of Ollie and Buddy, the cat and the pig. I laughed and said, "Wouldn't it be funny if my friend was correct and I continued to write. Maybe a children's story on Ollie and Buddy or Felicia the chicken ." We all had a good laugh. Laughing is good...........laughing is something we are discovering again. However the laughter abruptly went away when the Cowboys lost in the last 20 seconds of the game and my husband had to soak in a hot bath for an hour. His heart was pulled out and stomped on I think. Well Buddy helped make him smile before bed so that'll do pig, that'll do. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Life's Purpose

One of the things that Mike and I keep discussing is trying to find our purpose in life again. When you have a medically fragile child your life completely revolves around their care. Even though I did make time for Emily's needs and projects we all still had to structure our days around Jude's needs.  We are just now getting to the point where it's not strange to arrive home after 5pm since we don't relieve a nurse. We are just now not looking at a clock at 8:30pm to administer important medications. There are a lot more "just now" situations but I will stop and just say that it's a very odd feeling to not have a structured routine. When your life is strictly scheduled for so long and the person that you structured it around is gone you feel a bit lost. You catch yourself in deep thought wondering what your life's purpose is now. 

On our way home yesterday Mike was again reflecting on this and I pointed out to him that he is still a very important part of Emily's life. He then pointed out that Emily has been educated and raised by us in a way that has made her a wonderful human being. He felt like there wasn't a lot more education to provide because it really rests on her shoulders now. I can understand how he feels and how a grieving parent feels a bit suspended in disbelief and searching for answers. I know the answers are out there and as time drops through the hourglass the answers will begin to emerge. 

Another thing we find challenging is all the firsts including holidays, birthdays, and of course Jude's upcoming Angelversiary. Birthdays seem to have lost their luster and seem a bit futile now. Although I am still a dedicated blessed mother the thought of Mother's Day seems sad to me too. Gina invited me to a marathon on mother's day weekend but I nicely declined. I still just don't want to commit to anything right now. Her response was epic! She said, "I am sorry. I am not going to stop inviting you to do things though. My feelings never get hurt when you cannot make it. One day you will want to start doing things that are hard and when you do I will be there." GREAT response from someone who gets it, she even gets my crazy driving anxiety. Gina was at our house to see Jude at least once a week for years upon years. Sometimes she would come over just to sit with me while I watched TV and held Jude. She knew my routine and she knew I couldn't leave often. Yet she still took the time to come see him and come see me even if it was so very boring. She was over so often she knew how to position Jude, suction him, give him his meds, and what calmed him down.  Because I was grieving so hard right after he passed I could do very little to help with anyone else's loss of Jude. The other night Gina said she went to see the movie Collateral Beauty by herself (if you don't know about the movie you might look up the premise). She text me to tell me she cried the entire way home and I got it. She was missing Jude and was touched by the story. Nurse Allan still texts Mike and I both, "Good Morning Glory" every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. He would always say that to us with his bright beaming smile every weekend. He says he cries often and misses Jude and our family. We miss him, Charlotte, and Candice, his great nursing team. I found this quote which is fitting "The death of a child is like a stone cast into the stillness of a quiet pool; the concentric ripples of despair sweep out in all directions, affecting many, many people." John DeFrain

Jude affected many many people. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Book And The Child

I got a notification from Amazon today that there are only 12 copies of Jude's book left in stock. It is officially released 2/1/2017 but several people have told me there delivery date is 1/11/2017 and I noticed the ability to review the book is now open on Amazon. So it seems they have already received all their copies and they are on their way. In addition it looks like they will be ordering more copies to be available in the future. It's surreal to see his story is going to be available to so many people. I have been at a few places with pre-release copies of the book. The interest is mixed with people when I meet them in person. They will stop and read the premise of the book and either become highly interested or back away frightened/sad. One lady told me, "that's just to sad there is no way I could reach that story." I replied "I know I lived it. It IS sad and I totally understand." I respected her opinion. 

Meeting that lady made me think of how many people tell special needs parents, "I just couldn't do what you're doing." Sure you could! Tragic circumstances happen all the time. As humans we are fragile and in mere seconds out lives can change. Mothers and fathers are joining my loss forum all the time who merely put their child/teen to bed and that child never woke up. Random chaos happens all the time and it makes up this battle we call life. The majority of us all love our children and will do whatever it takes to make sure they have an amazing life. I have said before we aren't super hero's we are merely parents who love our children who are doing the best we can. That applies even now that Jude is gone. I am doing the best I can. I am grieving "okay" today and although I still deal with anxiety I am here and I am functioning. 

We have to go pick up the Christmas decorations from the cemetery and I would like to replace them with a Superman wreath. My friend Gina and I were talking about making one. We will start on that soon and pay Jude a visit. 

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Diary-Baby-Stroke-Jennifer-Ortiz/dp/1942557841/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483985184&sr=8-1&keywords=the+diary+of+a+baby+and+a+stroke

Thursday, January 5, 2017

College and Life

At the end of this month we are taking Emily to visit the University of Arkansas, she received an acceptance letter from them. Then in February her dad is taking her to the University of Alabama. Emily is still waiting to hear from a few other schools but Emily was accepted as a freshmen into the college of nursing at the University of Alabama. She will ultimately make the decision and she is going to announce it live on Facebook in March. However being accepted into a nursing school as a freshmen is a huge accomplishment. I am not sure another college can trump that offer but I am holding out hope A&M has something for her. I would like her close to home but I also understand that an opportunity like what she has just received does not come along very often. I think my heart is already grieving a little more because I cannot imagine her vibrant soul not being around everyday. She just recently spent a week with her dad and our house was very quiet and not as lively as it normally is. I am very proud of her but at the same time I know this isn't going to be easy. 

As mothers we spend our whole lives raising our children to the best of our ability. I always told myself I wasn't raising a child but raising an adult. I wanted Emily and Jude to be responsible adults who worked hard and that are kind to others. I figure we do a really good job of being a parent if we keep our children safe and get them through childhood safe, healthy, and educated. Unfortunately with Jude I had no choice but to see another side to life too. The side that just kept your child fed, comforted, and loved. Education was therapy for Jude to help him function the best he could versus expanding his knowledge and GPA. His feedings were never about taste or entertainment it was merely survival and his health was always compromised. Although I don't miss the hospitals I do miss sitting with Jude. I would pat on him while we watched Maui Real Estate together and waited on the doctors to trickle in and out of his room. I think it's the quiet moments we had alone that I miss more than anything. 

Yesterday was a hard day for several people. I noticed Jude's nurse posted on social media that she was really missing Jude yesterday. My aunt texted that night and basically said the same thing. I told her in one of my groups I saw the best reply to the question, "How are you doing?" The gentlemen said he replied, "I am grieving okay today." I told my aunt that it's a good response from everyone that was surrounded by Jude's light and love. 

So both my children will be physically gone from my house soon. It's something I am struggling with but how proud am I that my child wants to be a nurse? Emily has decided to compete one more time for a teen title, but with a different system, so we are planning that together. I think it will be one nice last event for us before her official adulthood starts. I hear my grandmother in my voice when I tell Emily to cherish every second because it goes so fast. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Stone Soup Take Two

After Jude passed away I posted a blog about an old story I used to read called, "Stone Soup." http://cjengo.blogspot.com/2016/04/stone-soup.html 
It was basically explaining that I was empty right after his loss and could only fill my pot with water. I also really didn't want to have anyone add anything to the water to make it soup. Slowly over time I have opened up more to allow others to contribute to my family's healing and start making soup filled with love and memories. 

Yesterday I heard someone reference Tear Soup and after researching I found that this was actually a book. I have not read it yet but I thought how interesting the concept of tear soup is. Not everyone likes tear soup and therefore you cannot expect everyone to contribute, taste it, or even want to smell it. However some people are always there to help you care for your soup and help your soup find it's purpose. There is nothing wrong with either of those choices. Some people can handle traumatic situations and some people prefer not to.  Over the course of the last nine months, can't believe it's been 9 months, I have found that I have to grieve in my own way. I cannot expect others that have not lost a child to understand what I need or react in the manner I expect them to. Therefore I must explain if I need something, if I need a break, or what makes me feel comforted. I have terrible anxiety especially regarding driving. Any trip that takes me outside of my comfort zone on large busy highways will leave me racked with anxiety and the grief so much worse. I have no idea why this has happened but my understanding is over exaggerated reactions to traumatic situations is very normal. The positive portion is I have good friends that are helping me with my tear soup that understand this situation and go above and beyond to help. 

One of the complaints I hear over and over in my loss forum is how the individuals grieving feel like others are hurting them more with their words or actions. I am far enough into this journey that as I stated above I have learned the healing starts with me. I must express what I need or don't need to make a positive proper impact on my life and my family's life. I am thankful that the I was blessed with this knowledge because it's brought me comfort and understanding.