Friday, February 28, 2014

I Can Feel It Crawl Beneath My Skin

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

     The album Dear Agony by Breaking Benjamin came out September of 2009. I don't remember exactly when Mike bought this particular album but I remember him listening to it a lot. He really liked the song Dear Agony. He would play this album in the car and when he was at home. As a result, I started to really like their music. One day, he came home from work while I was playing this particular song as I cleaned house. He got really angry with me. He told me that this song meant something specific to him; that he wasn't ready to share it with me. As a result, he asked that I leave this album alone. He asked me just let it be his. This was really weird behavior for him because we had always shared all of our music but whatever I let it go and didn't think much more about it. 
     The CD player in Mike's car went out several times before he passed away. He had it replaced each time. About a month after he died, I put in a CD. Again the player failed it wouldn't play. It also wouldn't let me eject the disc. It has sucked but, for the last almost three years, I've just been able to use the radio in his car. We often end up just listening to music from my phone. Anyway, today John installed a new CD player for me :) it lets me run my music through the bluetooth feature on my phone. I am one happy camper! Sebastian got in the car after soccer practice today. He started pushing all the buttons and checking out what the new stereo would do. He pulls out some of the CDs that Mike had in the car when he died. 

"Mom?! Where did you get this Breaking Benjamin CD?"

"It was your dad's."

"You have some of these songs on your phone and I have a few on my iPod. Can I put it in?"

"Sure sweetie."

He puts the CD in...the song Dear Agony fills the car. I took a deep breathe and forced myself to not think to much about it...but then Sebastian started to sing:

"I have nothing left to give
I have found the perfect end
You were made to make it hurt
Disappear into the dirt
Carry me to heaven's arms
Light the way and let me go
Take the time to take my breath
I will end where I began

And I will find the enemy within
Cause I can feel it crawl beneath my skin

Dear Agony
Just let go of me
Suffer slowly
Is this the way it's gotta be?
Dear Agony

The lights go out
Let forever
Drag me down
I will fight for one last breath
I will fight until the end

And I will find the enemy within
Cause I can feel it crawl beneath my skin

Dear Agony
Just let go of me
Suffer slowly
Is this the way it's gotta be?
Don't bury me
Faceless enemy
I'm so sorry
Is this the way it's gotta be?
Dear Agony

Leave me alone
God let me go
I'm blue and cold
Black sky will burn
Love pull me down
Hate lift me up
Just turn around
There's nothing left

Somewhere far beyond this world
I feel nothing anymore

Dear Agony
Just let go of me
Suffer slowly
Is this the way it's gotta be?
Don't bury me
Faceless enemy
I'm so sorry
Is this the way it's gotta be?
Dear Agony

I feel nothing anymore"

He knew every word...every...single...word. Not only does he look like his dad, and have many of his mannerisms, he also sounds a bit like his dad. Listening to him sing this song the same way Mike did almost sent me over the edge. He sings songs that Mike liked all the time and it doesn't bother me but this song was different. I didn't even know he liked this band much less knew the words to this song. It was very surreal. After he listened to several of their songs he played So Far Away by Staind which is another one with a very personal meaning for me but yet again he knew every word. Just hard to deal with unexpected stuff like this especially when I still don't know what this song meant for Mike. He never let me in on that and now I am left to guess at why this particular song spoke to him.

I can feel the sudden shock of this unexpected moment crawl beneath my skin...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hate Me For All The Things I Didn't Do For You

     The title of this post was taken from the song Hate Me by Blue October.

     The clock read 1:56 am. It was one of those mornings when I knew there would be no going back to sleep. I was up for the day. I opened my phone and scrolled through Facebook. A friend posted a link to a blog written by a widow. You can find it here. This particular post of hers talks about the night her husband was murdered and the events that unfolded. The raw emotion left me thinking about my own blog. There are so many things I haven't written about; lots of things I haven't not sharing, am I pretending they didn't happen? There have been several times that I've talked about the struggles of our marriage and how I knew it wasn't perfect. I knew that I had faults and could have been a better wife but I've never really gone into detail. 
     Mike and I did not celebrate our last anniversary (August 9, 2010) together. In fact, we were separated at the time. About a week before this, several things happened that led me to believe a short separation would be good for our marriage. You may think that odd. Maybe it would help if I filled in some of the gaps. I haven't really talked about how Mike struggled with depression, anxiety, and paranoia. His inner world was a constant mix of highs and lows that often made no sense to me. We were together for almost 15 years and, during that time, I watched him struggle with his self image and lack of confidence. He was an amazing man that never believed in himself. He often brushed off compliments and called them "just words." He was his own worst critic.
     He loved us all very much. It was because of his love that he often focused his thoughts and energy on the "What ifs...?" of life. What if I left him; what if I stopped loving him; what if he wasn't good enough; what if...; what if...; what if... So much of his time was spent worrying about this that, sometimes, I think he convinced himself that he wasn't worth loving. I believe he was tormented by the idea that I would figure that out and leave. Of course, none of that was true. I loved him so much more than he would ever let himself realize. It was as if it would have been too much of a risk for him to allow that level of self-worth in his own mind. At any rate, he was seeing a psychiatrist and was on medication. It seemed to be helping some, but I could always see the underlining anxiety.
     In July of 2010, we started seeing a marriage counselor. We knew that our relationship had hit a rough spot and we needed/wanted some help in getting it back on track. In early August, some things happened. Words were said that shouldn't have been. I asked him to go stay with his mom for awhile. During this month and a half separation, we still spent a lot of time together. He didn't want to miss out on anything with the kids and was often at the house before or after work. We continued to see the marriage counselor. During this time we had several date nights and tried to make new memories...we tried to start fresh. Mike moved back home the end of September and we continued to work on things. We had our last counseling session just a week or so before he died. It was a pretty rough session. Mike was really aggravated and I was pretty emotional. At one point he walked out of the room. He said he felt like we were ganging up on him. As he came back in, with tears rolling down his cheeks, he yelled, "I don't know what you want from me!" I looked into his piercing blue eyes and said "I just want you to be happy." Never had I spoken anything with such clarity that also rang with such truth. I just wanted him to be happy. The moments when he gave me a real whole world stopped and I soaked it in.  He often put on a face and tried to be the happy-go-lucky person he thought I wanted to see but it was those real moments that I lived for. How could he not see or understand how amazing I thought he much I absolutely loved him. That's all I ever wanted for him. I just wanted him to be happy. A week later he passed away and left me a young widow with three children. 
    One reason I've been reluctant to share moments like these is that I know some people will take offense; thinking I'm trying to demonize Mike. I am in no way attempting to tarnish Mike's name. It's just that this is the truth of where our relationship was when he passed away. Any marriage is a work in progress. Ours was at a point that we needed a lot of work. None of our hard times ever changed how much I loved him. In one session, he told the therapist his worries that I would leave him. I couldn't stop rolling my eyes. What was wrong with him? I finally told him that he would have to be the one to leave if he wanted out because I was dedicated to making our marriage work. He didn't want that but this consuming ever present fear was always there.
     "Where did this fear come from?", you ask. He had a serious girlfriend during his senior year of high school and she cheated on him with his best friend. He never got over the feelings of hurt and he often projected that into our marriage. He often questioned where I was going, who I was going to be with, and how long I was going to be gone. I never gave him reason not to trust me. He was the love of my life, and I knew what it felt like to have someone break your trust. I would never have done that to him but he couldn't get over his worries. I wasn't always as patient with him as I should have been. When his depression or anxiety got really bad, I was supportive and tried to lift his spirits. After a week or so, it was really hard for me to deal with. I just wanted him to be happy. Nothing I did seemed to help. I also knew it wasn't something he could just snap out of but it left me feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. It caused me to question who I was as his wife. If I were a better wife, maybe he wouldn't be depressed and on and on and on.
     "Hindsight is 20/20." they say. I really don't know what I could have said to make him believe me. I do know that I could have been more patient. It's kind of ironic that Mike's emotional baggage would frustrate me because, sometimes, I wonder if John is frustrated by all the baggage I brought into this marriage. Other times, he is so supportive I think he knew he married a part of Mike from the start.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hey Now You're An All Star Get Your Game On, Go Play

     The title of this post was taken from the song All Star by Smash Mouth.

     My kids have always been involved in sports. Sebastian has played soccer since he was 7 and, now, he plays basketball too. Tyler did competitive gymnastics for three years. She even made it to state one year. Now she plays volleyball as well as being a cheerleader. Mason played soccer, did tumbling, he just finished basketball, and is now starting wrestling. I love watching the kids in their various sports. We have had great coaches; we have had not-so-great coaches. In this post, I want to focus on our experience with Mason playing basketball.     Mason has a ton of energy. He needs to be active. In an effort to help him with this, we try to make sure he is always involved in something. In the fall, he picked basketball. Mason knew very little about the sport so I was worried about how he would do. Would he be able to focus long enough to learn the basics? Would he make friends given his high energy level coupled with anxiety? Would he even get to play given his inexperience? Clearly, I’m a worrier.     We showed up for the first practice where we met his coach and the other players on his team. There were several really good players. There were also a few who were a bit inexperienced like Mason. Coach Lowman told them he expected them to be at practice and to work hard... as he was talking, I saw Mason's attention start to wander. I thought, "Here we go. This isn’t going to work and we’ve just started." Practice continued; I watched as my son slowly tried to keep control of the ball while he dribbled it down the court. I watched him try to pass the ball correctly. I watched as he tried to keep up with the basketball lingo. At home that night, I kept thinking, "Oh my...this may be a long season." I couldn't have been more wrong.    Not long into the season, Coach Lowman texted to let us know about a practice. I texted back to thank him for all his hard work with the kids. He answered asking if he could call me. The conversation went something like this (I don’t remember every single word but you’ll get the gist of how things went):

Coach: “Can I ask you a personal question.”

Me: “Sure.”Coach: “Why is Mason playing basketball? Did he want to play or did you want him to play.”

Me: “He wanted to play. We are fairly certain he has ADHD and he needs to keep active. We gave him a choice of sports and this is what he picked.”

Coach : “I could kind of tell. See some parents push sports on their kids and I just wasn’t sure what your expectations were.”

Me: “Oh, I know he won’t be the best player and I don’t expect him to play the entire game or to even start a game. I just want him to learn something new, have fun, and be a part of a team. I just want this to be a good experience.”

Coach: “I understand. Can his dad or does he have someone who could work with him in the afternoons?”

I felt the familiar sting of tears on my cheeks as I managed to say, “His dad passed away when he was four, but my husband can work with him at home.”

Coach: “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Me: “It’s okay. It’s just hard to talk about sometimes.”

We talked about this and other things for a while. He told me of different kids he had worked with. He said that he was happy to have Mason on his team.    

 The phone call ended. I sat on the floor and cried for a while. There were so many emotions. I was angry with myself for crying; for getting so emotional but I was beyond grateful for a coach that was taking a personal interest in my son...not just looking at him as an inexperienced player that would hinder his teams chance at winning.     As practices went on, Mason began to learn more and grow in the sport. He still had attention problems but he was getting better. At one practice, Mason was twirling on the court as they were running drills. Coach Lowman looked at him and said, "Mason, if you have time to do pirouettes then you have time to run. Take a lap son." Coach ruffled his hair as he came back to his place on the court. Practice resumed. I couldn't hide my smile. He wasn't picking on my child or being mean he simply understood the boundless energy he had. I saw Mason's confidence start to grow.     Now Mason never became the best player on the team but, then again, I never expected him to. He played in every game and got his fair share of time on the court. He played beside the better players who helped guide him. It was amazing to watch the more experienced kids showing Mason where he needed to stand or where he needed to be. There was no judgment or anger they just helped him as he needed it. The parents of those kids will never know how grateful I am for those small acts of kindness by their children. Mason truly felt part of the team.       Their team went undefeated this year. Last night, they won the championship game. Mason was not able to go because he has an ear and sinus infection along with a fever. He was there in spirit, and they won. I am so happy for them. What a way to end a season!     Like I said earlier, we have played on teams with great coaches. We have played for not-so-great coaches. Sometimes, we parents forget that these coaches are volunteering their time and effort for these kids. Many times, they don't get the thanks they deserve. So, I want to give a big thank you to Coach Lowman and all the players on the Ballers team for their hard work and dedication this season. Having a coach that took a personal interest in Mason made all the difference in the world. When I asked him what sport he wanted to play next he immediately said "BASKETBALL!" 

I am one very grateful mother.

Way to go Mason!

Mason and 

Coach Lowman

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I Can't Ignore It If It's Love

The title of this post was taken from the song Accidentally In Love by Counting Crows.

I have been asked why I would want one more child. 
"Why five kids?"
Here it is:

Most mornings start with my alarm going off at 3am. I have so much to do in a day and it's easier for me to get up early rather than stay up late. This morning, I was wide awake by 5am. I got up, got myself ready for church, and then started making pancakes with bacon for the kids. As I'm flipping pancakes and listening to music, Mason sneaks into the kitchen.

As he wraps his little arms around me...

"Morning momma! What are you making?"

"Morning Moose. I'm making pancakes and bacon."

"Yum, I like bacon. What are you listening to?"

"Just some music."

He then takes a bow and says

"May I have this dance my lady."

He puts his hand on my waist. I take his other hand. We dance around the kitchen in between flipping pancakes while I'm wearing the biggest smile ever.

 I am one lucky mom.

Jaxon wakes up while I'm still working on breakfast. I get him changed. I get his bottle ready. I asked Mason to wake Tyler up to come help me. The child who is usually the grumpiest in the morning came bounding down the stairs.

"Whatcha need mom?"

"Sweetie could you either finish the pancakes or feed Jaxon?"

"Sure. I'll feed Jaxon."

Once again my heart melts as I watch my beautiful daughter help with her little brother.

I am one lucky mom.

Next Sebastian comes upstairs.

"MOMMY! What are you fixing?"

"Pancakes and bacon."

He then gives me the biggest hug. His long arms envelop me as I rest my head on his chest. I struggle to keep from crying as I realize how crazy lucky I am to have a 14 year old that still calls me mommy and still likes to give me hugs. 

I am one lucky mom.

This is just a snap shot of one day. Many many things like this happen on a daily basis. Yes, it is crazy hectic. Yes, we are often running in 4 different directions sometimes having to draft 3 or more time-management plans before finding one that works but I wouldn't trade this for anything in the world. So...Yes, I want one more child. I want the beautiful spirit of another little soul to fill our home. Being a mother is one of my greatest callings in life.

Our home is filled with sounds of all kinds. Running, playing, squealing, barking, meowing, and, on occasion, arguing. Still I can't help feeling that, even with 4 (planning to be 5) kids, a horse-dog (we also hope to have another of those), 2 cats, and 2 rabbits,...I am one lucky mom; I couldn't be any luckier.  :)