Sunday, December 23, 2012

There's No Time To Waste There's So Much To Celebrate

    The title of this post was taken from the song Believe by Josh Groban.

      My mom gave a talk today in church on family traditions and this got me thinking about our family traditions, especially during the holidays. Growing up we would wake up early on Christmas morning and mom would fix a big breakfast for us. We had to wait for Grandpa to come over and then we all ate breakfast together. Then dad would let us pick one gift from our pile and we would each unwrap a gift one at a time. Dad would video us as we opened our first gift and then he would tell us to jump in and we would make a mad dash for the tree to open everything else. After we were done we would go to West Virginia to visit my mom's family. We would spend the day there and then drive home. Now that we are older our family gets together on Christmas Eve and we have dinner and open gifts. Once Mike and I were married, his mom, sister, and brother always came to visit on Christmas Day and we would exchange gifts and visit. We would then visit Mike's dad the day after Christmas.
     I've always kept the tradition of having the kids eat breakfast before opening gifts and then they each open one gift as I video them.  John wants to start giving the kids one present to open on Christmas Eve so we will start that this year. This year we have a bigger house so, for the first time, we are hosting my family's Christmas Eve get together. I'm pretty excited about it.  I have ideas for things I want to do next year. I've always wanted to have Christmas cards made with a family picture on them and I'm hoping we can start that next year. 
     The kids and I are visiting Mike's dad tomorrow and we will see everyone else on Christmas. The day after Christmas we are flying to Arizona to spend a week with John's family. I haven't met his mom or dad yet so I can't wait. I am so grateful for my family and for the time I will have to spend with them this year. 

What are your Christmas Traditions?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Catch A Magic Moment, Do It

The title of this post was taken from the song Right Now by Van Halen.

Mason was sick last weekend and running a fever. On Monday he stayed home from school and John took him to the doctor. The doctor said he had strep throat and they put him on antibiotics. Mason was given an excuse for school and told he couldn't go back until Wednesday. He went back to school Wednesday and that afternoon his teacher came to my room with this funny story.

Earlier in the day Mason had told his teacher that he wasn't contagious anymore and that was why he was able to come back to school. Later that day he walked up to her and said

"I'm not obnoxious anymore."

She smiled and said "I think you mean your not contagious anymore right?"

"Yep, I'm not contagious anymore."

I couldn't stop laughing.

     On another note have I mentioned how much I love John for loving everything that is crazy about our family. For Christmas, don't tell the kids it's a surprise, John bought each child two 3D Star Wars puzzle and put them together for the kids. He ordered these really cool frames and framed them so they can hang them in their rooms. Last night we had the following conversation.

John holding up the pictures.

"So, what do you think?"

"I like them and I think the kids will too."

"I don't know. Tyler told me the other day that she didn't really like Star Wars."

This kind of surprised me.

"I don't know. I guess maybe she always watched it because Mike loved it so much. Maybe she never really liked it like he did"

"Yea, that's what I thought, but this gift will be something she can look at and remember him."

John loves the kids like they were his own. I was deeply touched at the time, energy, and money he spent to give them all gifts that they will not only love, but a gift that helps them remember their dad and the things he loved. I love him for loving them and for encouraging them to keep his memory alive.

Monday, December 17, 2012

And I Can't Remember How It All Began To Break

The title of this post was taken from the song Fade Away by Breaking Benjamin.

Last night I picked up a folded piece of paper from the coffee table and read.

"Chorus - Remaining Concerts"

It's from Sebastian's chorus teacher at school. I scan the list of dates, most of these concerts have come and gone. At the bottom something catches my eye.

"Friday, Dec. 14 - Party - bring food or 2 liter"

"Sebastian did you have a party in chorus on Friday and were you supposed to send in something?"

"No, the party was moved to Monday."



"So, do you need to bring something for it?"

"Don't worry about it mom. I'm sure the teacher won't mind."

"Hun, what are you supposed to bring?"

"She just asked us to bring in something to help out. It's okay don't worry about it."

My face falls a little as I realize that this has been an ongoing theme between us since his dad died. I forget something that's going on, something he needs for school, or something else important and he always tries to cover for me. How many times in the last 19 months have I let the ball drop on something, only to hear him say "It's okay mom don't worry about it." How many things have I forgotten and left for him to worry over. How many times has he let go of something that may have been important to him simply because his mom didn't have it together. I wasn't perfect before, but I still can't seem to keep things together. My 13 year old young man has had to grow up so much over the last almost two years, and it makes me sad. When will I get it together?


Saturday, December 15, 2012

But The Prettiest Sight To See Is The Holly That Will Be On Your Own Front Door

     The title of this post was taken from the song It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.

     Friday at school several classrooms got together to make gingerbread houses. It was so much fun that I decided to do it with the kids at home. We took two milk cartons and hot glued them to a small styrofoam tray. This has to be the best way ever to make gingerbread houses. They had so much fun!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Precious Moments, Special People, Happy Faces, I Can See.

     The title of this post was taken from the song Somewhere In My Memories...and I know it was on the movie Home Alone.   :)

     Sebastian looked so handsome in his dress clothes as he sang. Last night was his chorus concert for school. I have to admit that I got a bit teary eyed as I watched them sing. Not  only did they do an amazing job, but I couldn't have been more proud of the young man he is turning into. Tyler had a chorus concert last night as well. John went to hers, thank you John for loving them, and I went to Sebastian's. We both videoed them so that we can sit down as a family and watch. I can't wait to see hers. 
     I am so grateful for the many talents my kiddos have, and for their dedication in growing those talents. I was so shy growing up. I remember wanting to try out for the school chorus in the fifth grade, but I was just to shy to do it. Sebastian tried out for District Choir about a month ago and he was picked as an alternate. I never would have had the courage to sing in front of a panel of judges like that. I am so proud of who they are, and while it's hard not having their dad here with them I know he would be proud of them. 
     It hasn't really felt like Christmas this year, but maybe I've been focusing on the wrong things. Maybe now I'll choose to focus on what really matters during the Holiday Season. 

Sebastian after his concert. December 11, 2012

Tyler after her concert. December 11, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Just A Day, Just An Ordinary Day

The title of this post was taken from the song Ordinary Day by Vanessa Carlton.

Running from the school to the car Mason yells...

"Mom, last one to the car is a stinky shoe!"

"Sweetie, mom has a headache and doesn't feel like running to the car."

Mason slows down and walks ever so slightly behind me.

"Mason, you can go ahead hun."

He stops to look up at me.

"Don't worry, I'll be the stinky shoe today." 

     I'm certain I could not ask for a more precious six year old. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Every Breath I Breathe

The title of this post was taken from the song Beautiful You by Trent Monk.

"My God Sebastian even walks like his dad." 

"I know right!"

This past week I was most grateful for this one little comment made by a friend as he saw Sebastian warming up for his basketball game. Thank you Darrell for remembering...sometimes I feel alone in my grief and it's nice to know others remember those small things about Mike, and it made me smile to know that others see him in the kids.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Now I'll Be Bold As Well As Strong And Use My Head Alongside My Heart

      The title of this post was taken from the song I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons.

     I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted. Quick updates for now, too much has happened for me to go into much detail. John and I were married on October 11, 2012. I was pretty much a crazy ball of nerves. My biggest concern about the whole thing was the possibility of someday becoming a widow again. I didn't second guess my decision or what I was doing, but the thought of us getting older and...well one of us will have to die first and what if it's not me. What if I'm left a widow again? Anyway, those were the thoughts floating through my head the week before the wedding. It was a very simple wedding and we were surrounded by family who love us. John's brother and sister-in-law flew in from Arizona to attend and then we went to the beach for the weekend.  Here are a few pictures.


All the family


We are adjusting to life and the roles that each of us play. We have fun and John loves the kids fiercely. I have had some negative comments made about the fact I remarried not even two years after Mike passed. I don't know why I still feel the need to defend my actions or happiness, but I do. I wrote something on Mike's FB wall before the wedding that captures how I feel on the subject ..."People often mistake my happiness for a lack of grief. Grief and Happiness are not mutually exclusive. My love for you will be forever...and my need to love life will be as well. You are with me always. Love you" 

More posts soon. Its just taking sometime to get into routines around here, but hopefully we will slow down and enjoy the holidays.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Don't Ever Want To Let You Down

     The title of this post was taken from the song It's Time by Imagine Dragons.

     Mason has a Social Studies project due tomorrow. I'll be honest I'm pretty nervous about this one. He come home with a small piece of green construction paper and the directions attached are as follows "On the paper provided, create a timeline of your life from birth until present day. You are welcome to use photographs or drawn pictures illustrating the stages of your life. Each student will get a chance to share his timeline with the class and a social studies grade will be given for the completion of this assignment. Timelines will be returned after a brief display period in our hall." First let me say that I love his teacher and he has adapted well to being in a new school. I REALLY REALLY like his teacher and she knows about the challenges we have faced this last year. However, this does not make this project any easier. A zillion questions began flooding my mind. Will he mention his dad? Will he want to talk about his dad dying? What will he say to his classmates when they ask about it? Will this upset him? Is he going to cry? Maybe I should just let him pick a few random things to put down, but then am I teaching him to avoid the topic? I can't imagine other parents giving this as much thought as I feel I need to, and honestly it makes me really angry. I'm not angry with the assignment, I'm angry with the hand I've been dealt. I'm anger that not only do I have to continue to live with this, but the kids have to as well. I'm angry when I see the hurt and pain on their faces when someone asks them a question about their family. When someone asks if John is their dad they struggle with how to answer that. All of this makes my stomach knot up and I feel like I'm going to throw up! I could however be overreacting and maybe Mason will be fine with all of this. I've put this project off till the last minute so we shall see I guess.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The More You Change The Less You Feel

     The title of this post was taken from the song Tonight, Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins.

     The days are going by so fast. I squeeze my eyes shut as my alarm goes off. I reach over and look at the time...4 am already...I just went to bed how is that possible. I hit the snooze button but I know it's a lost cause, my mind is already bubbling with thoughts of all the things I need to do this morning. I turn the alarm off as I sit on the side of the bed for a second. I'm debating just going back to sleep, but responsibilities keep me anchored where I'm at. I cringe at the anticipation of my toes touching the chilly floor and it sends a shiver through me. I take a deep breath as I work up the nerve to move forward with my day. The next two hours are a blur as I create to do lists...lists that I know I will never complete in one day. Time's 5:50. I have ten minutes before I have to wake up my dear kids. Ten minutes of quiet before the chaos breaks loose, ten minutes before small arguments erupt and cries of "I'm tired" erupt from all three floors of the house. I really just want to yell back at them that I'm tired too. The kids move at a turtles pace and Mason asks if I'll just hold him for a bit because he's cold. I wrap him up in my arms and take in the sweet smell of his tiny little head as he yawns and snuggles in closer. I don't want to let him go, can we just stay in this moment forever? For weeks now I had longed for the schedule and routine that going back to school would offer, but now I just want those quiet mornings back. 
     I foolishly thought that moving would solve so many problems for me. I allowed myself to believe that this move would fix everything. It didn't fix the attitude from my almost teenage son, it didn't fix my grief or my memories, it didn't make day to day life any easier, everyone having their own bedroom didn't eliminate the fights between the kids, having new rooms didn't motivate them to keep them any cleaner than they did before, moving didn't fix any of that or a number of other things. Really I'm just the same little insecure girl except now I'm in a much bigger house. Changing my surroundings didn't change me...and I guess a part of me just wanted to be someone else for awhile...I wanted to be better than me. Melancholy, that's a great word to describe how I'm feeling this very second in this one moment of my life. I know this moment is fleeting and I won't always feel this way, but for now here it is.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's A Simple Message And I'm Leaving Out The Whistles And Bells

     The title of this post was taken from the song Birdhouse In Your Soul by They Might Be Giants.

      I know it's been over a month since I last posted. Three weeks of this time I've spent without any internet service because of the move and various other things. So to catch up I'll share some of my FB status updates from July on.

July 17, 2012 - "Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end." While it's still sad that one chapter of my life has closed...I am excited for the writing of this new chapter. Oh the adventure I shall have to tell.

July 19, 2012 - After owning my new house for over a month it looks like I will finally be able to move next week. Beyond excited to move and get unpacked. You know it's bad when your teenager say he can't stand living with all the clutter anymore...I don't think I've seen the top of my dining room table in two months.

July 20, 2012 - The rain must have knocked over my trash can last night. I decided to get an early start and went out to pick up the trash, however my trash can started to move and as I peer inside what should I see...this tiny little skunk looking at me. I'm a little shocked I didn't trip up the back steps as I ran for the door. Not a good way to start my busy morning :(

July 21, 2012 - Jasper and Gracie

July 22, 2012 - “The cause of most of man's unhappiness is sacrificing what he wants most for what he wants now.”

July 24, 2012 - Moving!!! The house is all ours and the first of many boxes are being moved in!!

July 25, 2012 - Moving boxes is FUN....said no one EVER! At least I have good company :) and thanks to Mikie and Mandaly for helping yesterday. Love you guys!

July 26, 2012 - Couldn't sleep last night despite the fact we moved stuff for 16 hours yesterday. Awake at 5am and frustrated, I read a talk by President Monson titled Finding Joy In The Journey. I had read it before but I guess I needed it this morning. "This is our one and only chance at mortal life-here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are able to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for the illusive and non-existent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey-now."

July 27, 2012 - I've had 6 hours sleep in the last 60 hours. John has had 1 hour of sleep in the last 36 hours. We don't have everything moved yet but one more day should do it. Yesterday presented some challenges but I'm determined to find joy in this journey. Even sleep deprived, John is working hard to have the new house as put together as possible and to have the tv set up so we can watch a movie with the kids tonight. Material things do not make a house a home...the people living there do.

July 28, 2012 - Moving is hard work!


August 1, 2012 - Two days of painting in the old house and we still have more to do. As I sit in what was Sebastian's room I can see all three of my angels helping in other parts of the house. All of us covered in paint, all tired from little sleep, and all are wearing smiles. I am overcome with such profound love for them and a deep reassurance that I am indeed living my life as it was meant to be at this time. I don't always have the answers but moments like these offer peace.

August 2, 2012 - I told John I wanted to go out before I had to go back to work...taking Tyler to the ER for a broken finger was not what I had in mind. She was actually excited about her first broken bone. Silly girl :)

August 5, 2012 - I found my ironing board and iron!!!! I love ironing clothes it makes me oh so happy.

August 5, 2012 - Sebastian and his friends walking to church.

August 5, 2012 - Tyler and Mason walking to church.

August 5, 2012 - Mike and I were married August 9, 1997. Thursday would have been our 15th wedding anniversary...I am grateful for personal revelation and for the answers I have received to some difficult questions. I am grateful for John and the massive amounts of patience he has for me. Life is moving forward and I will enjoy the journey.

August 6, 2012 - First soccer practice of the season for Sebastian!

August 10, 2012 - Kids at the temple.

Sebastian, Tyler and Mason

August 11, 2012 - We took the kids, including Jasper to Street Scene. It was fun!

August 12, 2012 - "Do what you love, and it will make your soul rich. Do what you'd do if you knew every dream could come true. When you're doing what you love, it feels as if you're flying." Back to school tomorrow. I am so looking forward to a new school year!

August 17 , 2012 - Watching Pirates of the Caribbean 4 in home :) John has a 3D TV. Fun Friday indeed :)

August 18, 2012 - Posted by my sister on my wall "Victoria Justice concert!! These girls can't wait to meet her after the concert!! :)) What a great way to end the summer!" - Mandaly and I took Mikayla and Tyler. So much fun!

Tyler and Mikayla

Tyler, Mikayla and Me

Tyler and Mom

Mikayla and Tyler

Tyler and Mikayla meeting Victoria Justice!

August 22, 2012 - First Day of School Pictures!

First Grade!

Fifth Grade!

Seventh Grade!

We are ready!

August 22, 2012 - "Mason your planner says you had a great day! I'm so proud of you." Mason snarls and yells "I did NOT have a great day!" Lol. Love his teacher and I am excited for a new year!

August 23, 2012 - Funny Mason quotes for the day. "Mom, there is just something vaguely familiar about my current classroom." and "Mom I barely liked that drink you packed for my lunch." and "Mom, we have pseudo brownies in a pseudo pan in my class." last year grandma taught him that pseudo means fake. That boy is stinkin cute!

August 24, 2012 - Yesterday Mason kept talking about the cow slide on the playground at school. He went on and on about how the cow slide was his favorite. I've been on that playground several times now and couldn't figure out what he was talking about. Today I took the kids out and as we were playing I looked over and there it was...the cow was a white slide with rust spots all over it :P. silly boy!

     Okay so now I'm all caught up and I can try to post on a regular basis!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Here I Lie Forever. Sorrow Still Remains.

The title of this post was taken from the song Hopeless by Breaking Benjamin.

"Melanie, we have a new sister missionary. Would you, John and the kids like to join us for dinner tomorrow night."

"Sure Mom. Just let me know what time."

"I really think you are going to like her. She is an artist."

My throat starts to close a little as I mumble "uh-huh."

"Her brother, I think, has done some work for Pixar. Isn't that neat?"

I make not a sound. My thoughts are tumbling around in my head. 

"I thought Tyler would like to bring some of her art to show her. I bet they will hit it off."

I clue in on a few thoughts as they spin in and out of focus. "Maybe I can introduce her to Mike. Mike would love to talk art." I berate myself for allowing my mind to go there. I was always looking for ways to help Mike develop his talent and do something he would enjoy with it. He was always down on his art saying anyone could do it if they tried. I feel sick when I realize how quickly those thoughts come. Raw emotion builds up until I feel like I'm going to implode. How much time has passed? What's Mom saying? Focus Melanie just focus.

"...bring whatever. Maybe you'd like to bring a few pieces of Mike's art to show her. I know she would love to see some of them."

"Uh-huh. We'll see."

"Well okay hun. I'll talk to ya later. Love you."

"Love you too Mom."

I sit on the couch numb. What in the world just happened? I went from okay to crazy anxious in about 0.32 seconds and now I don't know how to bring myself out of it. I feel jittery and I'm unable to sit or focus on anything. I feel myself losing patience with myself and as this happens anger sets in. "What is wrong with you Melanie? For the love of all that is holy what the heck is wrong with you! You haven't learned how to handle this yet? How are you going to manage dinner tomorrow? Lame, just stamp an L on your forehead right now." Slowly the anger dissipates and I'm left feeling drained and empty. I hold back the tears. I don't want to cry. I will them not to spill over my eyelids. I know that if I start I may not be able to stop. I work hard to stuff all my emotions back into the shell of who I am. Put a lid back on it and keep it bottled up for just a bit longer. I don't do well at hiding my mixed emotions. I know that John knows something isn't quiet right. He asks me if I'm okay and I tell him I am. He doesn't badger or push for understanding, because he knows that sometimes I feel a little off. He endures my moods and makes jokes to try and make me smile. A few hours pass and I feel almost myself again. A smile creeps onto my face and I remember that I do indeed have a lot to be thankful for. I am loved.

Friday, July 13, 2012

So Find Yourself, We're On Our Way Back Home

     The title of this post was taken from the song Give A Little Bit Goo Goo Dolls.
     I took a brief break from writing and now I'm back...I'm not sure if I should apologize to the people who read this or not. Life has been crazy busy these last few weeks and, I while I often thought about sitting down to write, I just couldn't get my thoughts in order. 
     June 20 - 22: I joined my niece and sister for Girl's Camp. Girl's Camp is a church camp for young woman ages 12 - 18. They learn different skills while making new friends and learning more about the gospel. This was Mikayla's first year going. Mikayla has Cerebral Palsy and, while she is one of the smartest young ladies I know, she does require the assistance of a wheelchair. Taking her camping required so much more than it would have to take all three of my kids. Mandaly went up the day before I did and I met them that Wednesday. I remember mumbling to myself while I packed the night before...I just knew I was going to forget something important and I was less than thrilled about the hundred degree temperatures they were forecasting. As much as my head wanted to complain my heart was totally into this trip. I wanted to be there to help out and offer assistance to Mandaly but, I must admit that, I had some selfish intentions. I wanted to be there to experience this with Mikayla and watch as she encountered new experiences. As I pulled into camp and unloaded my things into our hogan my eyes began to fill with tears. While I had been thinking of myself and what needs I had Mandaly had so much more to think about. As I looked at how organized and prepared she was I was totally humbled. I know how hard Mandaly works to make sure Mikayla has as many opportunities in life as she can but the unconditional love she shows never fails to choke me up. When I arrived Mandaly and Mikayla were at the lake paddle-boating and canoeing. Not only was it a long walk to the lake but it was close to 100 degrees out and, once they arrived, she had to physically pick her up and put her into the boat. My admiration for both of them continued to grow as I watched them that week. Mikayla uses a motorized wheelchair and watching her go around and talk with the new friends was so incredibly awesome. She spent a good bit of time just doing her own thing. I didn't think I could possibly love either of them any more than I already did but I was wrong. I know that I was supposed to be there to help out but I think I always get more out of time together than I'm able to give back. If you haven't watched the videos of my dear Mikaya you can check them out here and then here

     June 24: We went to Williamsburg to meet some of John's family that were in visiting from Arizona. I was super excited to meet them and for the kids to have new cousins, aunts, and uncles. We had so much fun! He has an incredible family and I instantly hit it off with them. There were no awkward moments of not knowing what to say or how to act. We all just seemed to clique and I was beyond excited to know that my family circle was expanding to include some amazing people.  Here are some pictures of our trip.

This was taken at Busch Gardens. John, Mason, Tyler, David (Sebastian's friend) and Sebastian.

Tyler playing at the beach with her new cousin Alexis. They had so much fun!

John's sister-in-law Crystal and his sister Sabrina. Love them both!

Johns brother Daniel, his sister Sabrina and John.

David, Sebastian, and the kids new cousin Garrett. 

     June 30th: We had originally planned on coming home this Saturday. My mom called me the night before and said there was no use in us coming home. A huge storm had come through our county and the power was out everywhere. Trees were down and there was a lot of damage. With temperatures over 100 and the heat index even higher it just didn't make sense to go home to a dark house and no air conditioning.
     July 4th: We ended up coming home on only to realize that, while we had power, the air conditioner was out. We couldn't get it fixed until Friday so the house stayed a lovely 84 degrees or more for a few days. It was awesome. During all of this Jasper, John's Great Dane (okay, technically Jasper is John's dog but I'm baby dogs momma and I adore him so) stopped eating. He didn't eat anything for about a week and, by the end of it, he could hardly walk. We had already taken him to the vet for blood work and nothing really showed up, he wasn't dehydrated and they said to bring him back if things got worse. Watching this huge dog fall to the floor as he tried to walk was more than I could handle. I cried and we drove him to an emergency vet an hour away. We were there 'til two that morning and his blood work showed that he had a tick born illness in his blood. They also took x-rays of his stomach to make sure there was nothing going on there. In the end, 2 days after the first set of blood work, it took more blood work, a heart worm antigen, x-rays, anti-nausea medicine, a parasite treatment, and they gave us antibiotics to give him at home. He is doing much better now. He had lost about 15 pounds and is slowly gaining that back too. Here are some pictures of Jasper at home. 

Mason and Jasper

Jasper trying to sit on Sebastian :)

Jasper playing the Wii with Tyler

Hanging out with my baby.

We still haven't moved yet but, hopefully, in the next week or so. I can't wait to be in our new house.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Promise To Sing To You When All The Music Dies

     The title of this post was taken from the song Marry Me by Train.

      I haven't been able to read much this last year. I just can't sit down and focus on anything long enough. This is very out of character for me and very disturbing. I've continued to buy books, but they just pile up on my shelf. I might get ten or fifteen pages into one and then I put it down and can't finish it. However, two weeks ago I decided to give it another try and picked up One Summer by David Baldacci. I've read a lot of his books and have always enjoyed his work but this looked like a sappy tragic love story and I was less than thrilled. It's about a husband who is terminally ill and loses his wife in a car accident. He makes a miraculous recovery and the book continues with his life as a widower raising his three children. I was a little annoyed with some of the similarities to my life until I really started to read it. When the husband was ill and thought he was dying he wrote his wife several letters for her to have after he passed. Throughout the book he reads them. One of them is as follows:

"Dear Lizzie,
Christmas is five days away and it's a good time to reflect on life. Your life. This will be hard. Hard for me to write and hard for you to read, but it needs to be said. You're young and you have many years ahead of you. Cory and Jackie will be with you for many more years. And even Mikki will benefit. I'm talking about you finding someone else, Lizzie. I know you won't want to at first. You'll even feel guilty about thinking about another man in your life, but, Lizzie it has to be that way. I cannot allow you to go through the rest of your life alone. It's not fair to you, and it has nothing to do with the love we have for each other. It will not change that at all. It can't. Our love is too strong. It will last forever. But there are many kinds of love, and people have the capacity to love many different people. You are a wonderful person, Lizzie, and you can make someone else's life wonderful. Love is to be shared, not hidden, not horded. And you have much love to share. It doesn't mean you love me any less. And I certainly could never love you more than I already do. But in your heart you will find more love for someone else. And you will make him happy. And he will make you happy. And Jackie especially will have a father to help him grow into a good man. Our son deserves that. Believe me, Lizzie, if it could be any other way, I would make it so. But you have to deal with life as it come. And I'm trying my best to do just that. I love you too much to accept anything less than your complete and total happiness.

If you replaced the name Lizzie with Mel; the kids names with my own children; and Jack with Mike, this could have been written for me. When I read this my heart was touched and I knew that these words reflected what Mike would say to me if he could. He would want me to be happy. 
      John proposed. It was was difficult for me to picture myself with someone was impossible for me to picture the kids with someone else...but my time with him has been wonderful...the kids are laughing again...and I said yes!  I'm sure some people are like, "What?! How can she be engaged when her husband passed away just over a year ago?!" I shouldn't have to justify myself, and really unless you've been through what I've been through you can't possibly have any idea. I am not assuming that everyone will judge this but I do think there are those out there who just won't understand. This is not an effort to replace Mike; it is rather an attempt to replace a part of me that is missing. A part I never planned to lose. A part that, once lost, made life unlivable but again, if you haven't been through it you could never understand. 
     John and I met through church. He still lives in Williamsburg and comes in a lot to visit. I must say that we have the most unique relationship I've ever known. John completely and totally meets me where I am in my life right now and that includes the crazy that is my grief. I cannot count how many times a thought of Mike has choked me up and John just put his arm around me and let me cry. He stole my heart when he sat with Tyler one night and combed her hair after her shower. She talked about her dad and how he used to have long hair. He listened to her stories, asked questions, and completely respected that at that moment she needed to talk about her dad. He listens as Mason talks about his dad the artist, heart disease, and heart attacks. He plays video games with them and is sensitive to those activities that they did with their dad. We have talked with the kids about us getting married and they are okay with it. We stressed how this does not change how I or they feel about their dad. This does not mean that we can not talk about Mike the way we always have. This does not mean that we have to tip toe around those conversations. It means we have John here who wants to be a part of our future, while listening and understanding about our past.
     This was not something I was looking for. It is not something I thought I needed or wanted in my life right now. I was okay...or not...just struggling along with my role as the sole parent. When John and I became friends, I thought, "Cool, I get to talk to someone fun and for moments it takes my mind off my troubles." Then he came to visit and I started to visit him in Williamsburg. Our friendship grew and I began to feel guilty when I found myself smiling or enjoying spending time with him. My mind often went to that "What the heck are you doing?" place. I then realized that I have to live my life for my kids and myself and, if John makes us happy, then I can't see any downfall to that. More than anything I wanted some kind of confirmation that I was making the correct choice. I prayed about it and prayed often even before he proposed. I never felt bad about my decision but a part of me needed to know that my decision was right. One night I sat alone in my room crying my eyes out. I was yelling at Mike for leaving me and forcing me to make seemingly impossible decisions all alone and now I faced one that wouldn't even have to be made if he were still here. Then all of the sudden I felt a peace around me. It was almost like Mike had wrapped his arms around me and the tears stopped. In that moment I could have sworn that if I had turned around I would have been able to see him. As I sat there these words entered my mind, "Mel, I want you to be happy. It's okay." I have such a strong belief that this was Mike telling me that I didn't need to stop living for him. It was okay to miss him and honor his memory but that he was in a place of peace. He was in a place where he had work of his own to do and part of that was to help watch over our kids and me as we go about finishing out our life here in mortality. 
     Because of all of these things, I have given myself permission to be happy and yes I think Mike has given me permission as well. In a much earlier blog I mentioned that a few weeks before he passed he joked that he would not want people to cry at his funeral. I've always known that he would not have approved of the absolutely pitch-black hole I had encompassed myself in. I also know that it was necessary so that I could work on untangling the mess of who I had become. Nothing happens in life without a lesson to be learned. I know it's a cliche but I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. It's often hard to see things that way...especially when we aren't getting our way. While I cannot fathom the reason why Mike is not supposed to be here with us, I do have faith that my Heavenly Father loves me and feels my pain as well as my joy. John makes me smile. He makes me laugh. He puts a sparkle in my eye that has been gone for so long. He is kind and thoughtful. John is incredible with the kids and they absolutely adore him. We are blessed to have him in our lives and I am incredibly grateful for him. I have a life-changing decision to make. I am choosing to live life and be happy.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

This Bond Between Us Can't Be Broken

     The title of this post was taken from the song You'll Be In My Heart by Phil Collins.

     Father's Day is tomorrow. Last year, I remember dreading it but, thinking about it now, I have no idea what we did. I guess I need to go back and read my blog to see. I have a lot on my mind and I'm going to try and organize it into some semblance of a coherent, well-thought-out post. 
      My dad is amazing. He is one of the most selfless people I know. My whole life I have watched him serve others and do so humbly. His work ethic is impeccable and he always took time to teach us as he worked. He was strict on us growing up. The word "gross" was one we did not utter in our home; it was just a word he disliked. Dad worked hard to make sure that we never lacked anything. We took family vacations every summer and I remember having a computer in our home when we I was ten. It was an old Tandy 2000. Dad is organized, prepared, and always knows how to handle the most difficult situations. He never speaks a bad word about anyone no matter what they have done to him. I could go on and on. My whole life I've known that if I needed anything dad would be there for me and he'd do everything he could to make things better. Dad is not one to cry but when Mike passed away I remember watching tears roll down his cheeks as his heart broke for the loss we were enduring and for the pain his daughter was in. I love my dad more than words can say. I still hold his hand when we walk together in a store and yes I still call him "Daddy." Never has there been a child who loved their father more than I love mine. Happy Father's Day Dad!
     I struggle with how to handle Father's Day for the kids. We talk about Mike all the time...but I know that talking about it during times like this is a little harder than it is during others. We will go to church tomorrow and the kids will get up with the other primary kids and sing a song to their dad. I wonder how that makes them feel; knowing that their dad isn't physically there to hear what they are singing. This year Tyler is singing a special song with a friend and she's been working really hard on it. It's a surprise and she refuses to talk to me about it. Whatever it is, I'm grateful because it's given her something positive to focus on. I'm also grateful for those that have helped her with this. 
     Mike's favorite job in the whole world was being a dad. He loved the kids so very much and making them happy was his main goal in life. We aren't perfect and, of course, they often pushed his buttons but nothing they did could ever change how he felt about them. They were his entire world. Likewise, the kids love him. We often talk about the good times; the silly things they would do that would drive him crazy; and the special moments they shared with him. I think knowing that they can, and should, talk about him anytime they want to has been therapeutic for them. The kids understand that there will be times when talking about it makes me sad, or even them but most of the time he's simply a part of our daily conversations. I love that they are comfortable with this. 
     We went to the cemetery yesterday and the headstone has been set. I'm sharing several pictures. The first one shows our reflection in the granite. The stone itself does not have clouds or us on it, lol. Although it is kinda cool looking.

The quote on the bottom reads, "For now I must go, but know you are with me always." I took it from a letter Mike wrote me a long time ago.

This is the back of the stone. It has his artwork on it and the quote is from Star Wars...Yoda to be exact; it reads, "Soon I will rest, yes, forever sleep. Earned it I have. Twilight is upon me, soon night must fall."

Here is a close up of the art work. He drew this at work and someone recreated it for me so that I could put it on the stone. Our initials were interchangeable (JMD and MJD).

     Happy Father's Day Mike! 

     We closed on the house Thursday. We will be moving as soon as the previous owners are out. In spite of all we have been through, I can't help but feel blessed at this very moment. We've lost so much but, through that loss, we have gained much. Our priorities are where they need to be. We have pulled together as a family and now, more than ever, we stay focused on the things that matter most. I've learned to have more faith and to trust in the plans my Heavenly Father has for me...even when I'm not sure what they are. I've found someone who loves and cares about me and truly makes me happy. John is so completely understanding about everything and never bats an eye when I have crazy moments. His gentle support as we stood looking at Mike's headstone gave me a peace beyond anything else, most importantly, it gave me reassurance that, while we have been through something horrific, there is still room in my life for love and happiness. 

*John even proofreads and corrects my many mistakes.  :)