Dear 17 (there’s always more;)

img_8455Dear 17,

Those that die…  they don’t want to… not really …

They just don’t know what else to do…

It’s not that nobody is listening…

It’s that nobody hears…

Nobody has time to really absorb the impact, the compound effect of what’s happening…

The words are never clear, or never clear enough…

But, TRUST ME…

NONE of us want to die…

You’ll learn… it’s gets all too real…

Love YOU & who YOU are!

Love,

Me

PS ; THERE IS ALWAYS MORE TO YOUR STORY!

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What to tell the kids when Grandpa is sick… and isn’t going to get better

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Keeping kids informed helps them understand what is going on. Kids know when things aren’t quite right in the family. So, keeping important information from them can actually be more harmful than protective.

So, what do you tell your little one when Grandpa is sick? You tell them the truth, on their level, of course. Answering any questions that your child asks will help keep them from being worried and scared. But, don’t wait for them to ask. They hear the conversations from the other room, they see daddy and mommy worried and upset; and this will make them worried and upset if they don’t have answers.

Just recently, I lost my father-in-law. There were a few weeks of doctors appointments and then a few weeks of daddy having to go to the hospital every night after work. Dinner was later than usual, things that usually got done were put aside for later, our schedules were just “off” with this sudden change.

I tried to keep my kids as informed as 9 and 13 year old grandchildren should be. Some answers were simple, and some were more difficult. But, the conversations were important no matter where they led. It was important for my kids to know that they could ask questions. They would be told the truth, and they could trust that we are honest with them about the real world and real life.

So, when you are wondering if you should tell your child about important family issues, my answer is yes. Do you have to tell them every little detail? I highly recommend NOT doing that. Too much information or information that is above their developmental level is just confusing and leads to more questions.

I’m sure some of you are wondering if my children attended the funeral? Yes, they did. I think they are old enough to understand, and want them to learn proper respect and etiquette in one of life’s most difficult situations. I want them to know it is ok to cry, to smile, to reminisce, to laugh, to be joyful for a life that was loved and will be missed. I also thought it was important for my children to be there for my husband, and for us to be there as a family. Doing things together makes us all stronger. Knowing we can lean on each other is important for all of us. It turned out well, and I got lots of compliments on my children and their behavior. I’m proud of them. Lets me know their father and I are doing something right. 😉

With all of the challenges life offers, it’s important to be able to lean on others through this journey. None of us has to do it alone. Some choose to, others can’t, most fall somewhere in the middle.

I hope that you learn to weather the storms along your journey so that you can appreciate and enjoy the rainbows.

Always Enjoy the Journey! 😉 

DEATH

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Death…. it changes everything…

Your perspective.

Your actions.

Your emotions.

Your daily thoughts.

Your goodbyes.

EVERYTHING.

High school was when I experienced the death of a friend for the first time. It changes you. Kevin had leukemia. All he wanted to do was graduate from HS, he made it to April. I WAS SO MAD! I wanted him to make it to graduation, just because that was his one goal. Over 25 years later, I’m still mad.

When I was 19, I lost 3 friends in 6 weeks…. That was reeeeaally rough. When my mom told me about Ashley’s accident, which was the 3rd one, I just lost it. The whys, the yelling, the crying… ugh, it was painful.  This time, death came knocking on their door in the form of auto and motorcycle accidents. Raises your anxiety level a bit on the roads… well, mine anyway. I was adamant that my boyfriend (now my husband) call me when he got home at night, so that I knew he was alright. We had the old “one ring signal,” kinda like all’s well; only then could I go to sleep at night. No texting or cell phones back then, just a telephone. Twenty years later, I’m still anxious.

The next one was a HUGE blow… Drew. This one put me on my knees. Drew was my husband’s cousin; but, they were more like brothers, one year apart, neighbors, always at Grandmom Kathryn’s house right next door. And, Yes, our Drew Elizabeth is named after Drew Alexander. My husband and I were not actually dating at the time, but had off and on for many years, and I knew Drew well. I also knew this was going to almost kill Mo (my husband). And, I wasn’t with him. That was hard for both of us. It wasn’t long after that we were back together for good. We joke that Drew and our friend Chris (one of the 3 accidents I mentioned above) had something to do with our happily ever after. To this day, Mo thinks about Drew every day of his life, it has truly scarred him. The pain I see in his eyes when Drew enters his mind brings me to tears. This truly broke a piece of my husband’s heart that nothing will ever mend. That makes me sad. It’s been over 17 years, we still cry.

Life as an obstetrical RN was thrilling and exciting and happy… most of the time. The day you lay in bed with a close friend mourning the loss of her stillborn child is heart wrenching, exhausting, and physically painful. I wish this on no one. To this day, I have a real attitude towards people that have a major preference for a boy or girl when they are expecting a baby. I kindly try to say, “it’s most important to have a healthy baby.”  My heart still breaks when I think of Abby. 

When my son was 6 months old, I watched a father cry on his knees begging God to save his newborn daughter in the wee hours of the morning. I was their labor and delivery nurse. While the mom was in labor, he was actually complaining that this 3rd child was another girl, he wanted a boy. I’m sure you can imagine how I felt about that, but to this day, there is part of me that feels sorry for him, there is no doubt he carries guilt about the loss of that baby girl. I couldn’t get home fast enough to hold my own baby. I don’t think I put him down the entire day, I was heartbroken thinking about how that mother must feel. I will always cherish the privilege of kissing my kids goodnight every. single. night.

Watching a best friend lose his sister was devastating. Especially since she left behind a 22 month old and 5 day old. They were both in my wedding. I shed a tear every time I look at Abbie in my wedding album. Children need their mothers, and these 2 girls will grow up with plenty of family, but there’s nothing like the love of a mother. Heartbreaking.

There have been other deaths that have touched me, one being one of our bravest heroes in uniform. He died saving others when his helo went down in the Middle East. It’s unbelievable what this kind of loss does for a small town. Everyone knows someone that knows that special Hero. Our Hero is Adam. I grew up standing at the bus stop with him. He left behind a beautiful little girl, and loving family. If your hometown has ever experience the loss of a soldier, has a family that has a missing father, son, mother, daughter, brother or sister that gave their life serving and protecting, you get it. It’s sad, especially when I see his dad. Adam’s dad wears his grief all over his face. 😦 

Ever lost the parent of a best friend? That’s a really tough one too, especially if you aren’t in the same town or same state, and can’t help. That’s unfortunately what happened to me. I cried when Ms. Connie died, it truly broke my heart. What broke my heart even more was that I was several states away and couldn’t get home to be there for my friend and her family; they were like my family when we were in high school. I can still hear Ms. Connie saying, “Hiii, Kate!” with that W. Va. accent that was so sweet. She was a special soul with a heart of gold. She always made me smile, no matter what was going on in my world. I smile every time I think of her still to this day. I can’t imagine the pain it has caused her daughters, they are amazing and strong women, I admire and adore them both. But, the death of their mom… life changing.

Oh… the unexpected call about a friend that hit a place so low he thought the only option he had was the wrong end of a gun… Again, life changing in so many ways. That story is still pretty fresh and very tough to swallow. Some things will never make sense. You can never know the thoughts and fears that someone is living with. We just wish he would have called, so many of us would have stood in line to answer the phone. These kind of deaths leave so many unanswered questions. Mo and I still get pretty choked up talking about Greg.

This week, I watched another parent, fiance’, group of friends, and a small town say goodbye to an amazing soul. Cancer. CANCER! UGH!! Cancer is so poisonous! Why? Why Mel, why are all of our other friends that have been diagnosed (and there are way too many) become survivors, but not Mel. It’s hard to understand. I’m so grateful that my other friends can say they are survivors, but they have no guarantees.

None of us have a guarantee. We don’t know if we will be here tomorrow.

So, PLEASE, live the “Golden Rule.” Treat others they way you want to be treated. Don’t judge. Always smile. Say “Hi” to that stranger you pass on the street. Hug your loved ones. Tell your friends and family how much you love and appreciate them. Live generously. Love completely. Hug like you mean it. Kiss the love of your life passionately. Kiss your children goodnight every.single.nightDon’t take anything for granted, EVER! 

This journey is full of ups and downs. Regardless of what life has thrown at me, I try my best to make the best of this journey. I hope you do too.