Monday, February 24, 2020

Because . . . it hurts

Sometimes, it hits me like a brick.

Like a fucking huge ass brick that is coming at me 100mph.

My sister is dead.

Shocking . . . to say it like that. So direct. So final.

But it is the truth.

And sometimes, it hits me just like that.

I walked into my house yesterday to this . . . her wedding dress.

In my living room.

My brother-in-law wanted me to have it - in case my girls wanted it for either a part of their own dresses some day, or maybe their babies christening gowns. Or something.

The thought was one of kindness and generosity.

But still, it fucking hit me like a brick.

Today? Why today? And why did my own husband just leave it there for me to see? And why is it such a big deal to me?

Because . . . it hurts.

It hurts every damn day.

It has been 434 days since she passed. (No, I am not keeping a tally going . . . I promise. I just looked it up for this post.) But, it has been 434 days since she passed. And it has hurt for 434 days.

And that, my friends, sucks.

Every day I wake up (and yes, I thank God for that . . . I really do). I shower. I put on make-up. I do my hair. I go out and try to make it a good day. But every day, I am changed. And I cannot figure out who I am supposed to be right now. All I know - is that this is not how it was supposed to be. She was my person. And she was supposed to be here with me, walking through life, for another 40 years, at least. Through college visits and wedding showers and sitting at the church with me when our daughters say "I do"- passing tissues and crying our eyes out. Through caring for our mother, and some day (God bless her) burying her. Through vacations together and final home sales and baby showers and laughs and joy and tears and pain. And the downs and so many ups of life. She was supposed to be here with me. Through them all.

And she is not.

And my friends, at 434 days out . . . it still sucks more than I can even say.

And I am trying. I am trying so very hard.

But I don't know what this life is supposed to look like without her - and quite frankly - I don't like it one bit.

So for today, I feel the hurt.

I let it come in and I allow myself the feels.

I cry. I dry the tears. I write about it (because I honestly have to). And then I keep going.

Because that is all we can do.


It hurts. It hurts like fucking hell.

But, I am doing it. Wedding dress and all.

434 and counting.

Lord, give me strength.

Thank you, friends. Much love.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Hindsight is 20/20

I am sitting in my daughters room right now, it is 6AM . . . . and she is 13. She turned thirteen at the end of January, and last night she had some friends over for a small birthday gathering and sleep over.


My Ella.

The kids are all sleeping in the family room, and I woke early, mildly suffering from the onset of a cold that is slowly starting to move down to the chest. I needed hot tea - pronto - so instead of making a ruckus in the kitchen, I grabbed my car keys and headed to Starbucks (their medicine ball tea really is the best). This also gave me the opportunity to be the greatest mom (a goal I recognize is unattainable and unrealistic), and picked up two dozen Dunkin Donuts - one dozen assorted and one dozen vanilla long johns (because those really are best).

Returning home, I grabbed my tea, my iPad, a book, and a long john (hey, I am human), and took myself to Ella’s room - the only place where I would not disturb all the sleeping creatures in our house.

I don’t really spend a lot of time in this room.

And I am realizing what a shame that is.

It is interesting to take this time and catch and glimpse of my Ella - this young, mysterious, now teenager of mine who has spent more of the last year in her room than ever before. There is some soft music playing . . . . ever so softly, it is absolutely tranquil and so very lovely. I spent about 4 minutes trying to figure out the source (is it coming from some headphone hanging off her desk somewhere? the computer? It seems to be off - I can’t even figure out how to turn it on. Some speaker? I have absolutely no idea), and decided to just let it play.

It is lovely.

She has beautiful string of tiny fairy lights that are draped all around the room - from one corner to the next, and reaching back where they started. They are permanently on (can’t figure out where those get turned on and off from, either.)  Behind her door is a long full body mirror (gosh, I hate those - a new addition she asked for just last week . . . she is officially a teen), and when I close the door, I am met with the mirror . . . and a picture of her, her sister, and her auntie (my sister, Laura.)

It sort of took my breath away.

My sister, Laura, passed away. December 17, 2018.

Of course you know about it.

I have shared here before.

I have shared with everyone.

On Facebook, this blog, in life.

It is all encompassing.

And seeing this photo behind Ella’s door (the only photo there, mind you), I realize how encompassing it has been - for all of us. Not just me.

I stood looking at this photo for a long time.

I wonder if she knew. Laura.

Did she know how loved she was?

Do any of us? Really?

I think of where I am at this very moment. The room of the 13 year old daughter of mine, whose mind I think is usually on friend drama, mine craft, fortnite, tik toks and so much more. I see these little pieces of her life here and there, and then i see this photo of her and her sister and her auntie - in a prominent place where she would see it constantly - and it takes my breath away.

What do they say? Hindsight is 20/20? That it is easy to know the right thing to do after something has happened, but it is hard to predict the future?

Yeah. Hindsight is 2020.

If Laura were here today, things would be so very different. For Ella. For Katie. For me. I would be different.

We are still struggling, friends, as you can tell. We are still grieving. I am in a pretty rough patch right now - and feel as if I need some additional help. Crazy to me to think that the second year is harder than the first. But it is. The past couple weeks have been hell.

Did she know how much she was loved ?

God, I hope so.

I want to work at that - make sure the people with me now know they are loved. I think we could all use to hear that more often, don't you think? I think I will start with my Ella.

Oh, friends. Her room is a mess. Just as it should be for a 13 year old girl. She has her whole life to keep a house and manage a life. Let it be now as it is. And she has these beautiful little things here and there - a photo of her and her BFF Maggie walking with their arms around each other, hanging right next to her night stand. A teeny tiny Asian "good luck"cat sitting on her desk (I actually have no idea where this came from). A note I wrote her in 2018 pinned on her wall (💓), her essential oil diffuser, colored pencils galore, and hand drawn doodles all along her cheap Ikea desk. This is my Ella.


And she is so very very loved.

Wishing you all a day full of love, dear friends. And Peace. Always Peace


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Healing Georgia (Part 6)

(This is a continuing story about a recent trip I took with my dear friend, Peggy, to Georgia. You can start at the beginning of our adventure at this blog post, and continue to read one after another.) 

Oh, my friends. When last together, I had just finished my 5th blog post about my "Year of Healing" road trip to Plains and Americus, Georgia. With one last post to write . . . I lost my way for a bit.   

It turns out in the middle of healing, sometimes your creative voice stalls.

And if there is one thing I have learned in the past 6 months, it is the importance of listening to yourself and allowing yourself the time it needs - when it needs it. I thank you for your patience and understanding. Because, my friends, this trip has had a lasting effect on me. Allow me, if you will, to bring us back to Americus, Georgia and share my final post about a trip that helped me beyond words. 

Wednesday, April 3rd, our second day in Americus. We had already done some amazing things in both Plains and Americus (just the day before we were at the Rylander, Wolf Creek Plantation Vineyard and Winery, Gladys' Kitchen, Pat's Place, AND the Hotel Windsor. Yes . . . all in ONE DAY!), but there still was much to see and do! 

We woke early and got a fantastic start by visiting the Habitat for Humanity Global Village & Discovery Center, which was really cool. There we met with Jennifer Harris, who took us on a tour of the global village - where you can see life-size Habitat houses that are built in countries around the world. It was a extremely moving and special place to see and I felt so very grateful to learn more about the work Habitat for Humanity does. 

A beautiful quilt in the Habitat for Humanity building. 

It is easy to get caught up in our own lives, you know? Of course it is. It is what we do day to day and what we know. But walking through the Global Village reminded me of how big the world is, and helped me recognize the blessings I have in my life. I feel grateful to live in a world where organizations like Habitat for Humanity exist and do so much for others. It was really amazing to see, my friends, and I am so glad that we took some time here. 

After Habitat for Humanity, we went over to the Café  Campesino Roastery for a tour and Latte Art Class. 

Yes, you read that correctly. Latte Art.

If EVER there was something created for me, this was it, friends. And whoever originated "Latte Art", I thank you - because you are brilliant, as this is a marriage of my two very favorite things. Coffee + Art = LOVE!!

Truly coolest sign ever! 
Hannah Mercer was the Coffee Expert Extraordinaire (the title given to her by me, not her formal title), and she was every bit of extraordinary as could be. Hannah's knowledge of the coffee, along with Café Campesino's mission and story, was exemplary.  She walked us through the roastery and shared some great stories of how Café Campesino began. This awesome company brings 100% Fair Trade coffee from all over the world back to all over our country. 

If I could have . . . I might have dove right in there with those coffee beans!

After the tour of the Roastery, Hannah taught us the fine art of Latte Art . . . and that was . . . awesome!  With food coloring, brushes, and some awesome just poured lattes, we painted away some really fantastic LATTE ART!! (I mean, HOW COOL IS THIS?!?) 

Hannah . . . the Coffee Expert Extraordinaire . . . doing her thing!
Talking with Hannah during the art portion of the visit, we revisited the idea of what this trip of healing was all about. I truly found myself lost in our "cups of art" and created with tear filled eyes as we shared stories of healing with each other. Once again, I was touched with the compassion received from the people of Georgia. 

Voila - our Masterpieces! 

Oh, and I MADE FRIDA KAHLO ON A LATTE!! (Pinch me, now!!!) YAY! 

It's hard to top that, friends! 

I kid. ;) 

Still, we weren't done - with much to do! We said our good-byes to Hannah and Café Campesino, and went on to the Koinonia Farm for lunch. The Koinonia Farm is a Christian Farming Community founded in 1942 as a fellowship for members who commit to the teaching and principles of their group. Each day, members of the Koinonia Farm community gather for lunch at Noon - and open their doors to members of the outlying communities to join them in prayer and in food. There is prayer before lunch is served, then they ask visitors to introduce themselves and share where they are from and what brings them there, then invite visitors to fill their plates first, before community members.

The sense of community is strong at Koinonia, of course. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed learning about its history and seeing the people who still follow its beliefs. During lunch, we sat with a lovely young man who shared his personal story with us and talked about how he ended up in Koinonia. He had such a sense of peace as he talked about what his day to day life is like. I loved that . . . peace.

Koinonia was a HUGE part in the history of civil rights in the south. I had no idea. You can learn more about Koinonia by watching a documentary called "Briars in the Cotton Patch" - look for it on Amazon Prime. If you are so inclined, I recommend you watch it. 

Lunch at Koinonia Farm in Sumter County, Georgia. 
We picked up pecans at their gift shop after lunch . . . and they were SO fresh and delicious. Bought a whole bunch of them, actually. And most made their way home . . . except for those that we snacked on along the way.

Still, we weren't done. So, off to Mobile Glassblowing Studio for a private glass blowing class with owner Philip Vinson we go! And friends . . . it was the COOLEST! I have never done glass blowing before, and it didn't take long to realize during my session why . . . it is HARD! Philip was the best - so patient and kind - and didn't say, "I told you so" when I accidentally touched a part of the metal that he told me would be hot. (Note to self: when he says, It's HOT! It IS HOT!)


Peggy was great and really did a fantastic job. I won't share any photos of me blowing the glass (they are not pretty). But it was absolutely thrilling . . . what an incredible experience. I can't wait to try glassblowing again! 

I said I wouldn't share any photos of me blowing glass, but didn't say I wouldn't show Peggy! ;) 
She was a powerhouse, I'll tell you! LOVE our finished pieces, too! I tried to find a photo on my phone of our finished pieces and can't . . . but trust me, they are Tiffany Glass worthy. ;) What an awesome awesome time. 

We left Mobile Glassblowing and went back over to the Americus Visitor Center and had an enjoyable and so entertaining sit-down Ghost Tour of the Americus downtown area with Steve Short, Administrative Assistant and Ghost Teller Extraordinaire! His passion for storytelling was evident in his awesome stories of Americus . . . I am glad he told us these on our last day in town and not our first! (lol). 

Off to our rooms at the Windsor Hotel, with just enough time to freshen up. We met Nicole and her husband, Tim, for a lovely and exceptional farewell dinner at Rosemary & Thyme, a beautiful restaurant in the hotel. 

Dinner was just wonderful. The food, delicious. The company, superb. The memories, more than I could ask for.

It was a perfect ending to a beautiful trip, friends.

Just perfect.

After dinner, Tim took a photo of us . . . three blog friends, and the soul of another, who through the years have formed a special bond of love and friendship across the Internet. We said our good-byes to Nicole and Tim, with a faithful promise to meet again soon (either in Chicago, or back in Georgia.) 

And there is no doubt in my mind we will do it, too. 

And off they went . . . Nicole and Tim. Two wonderful people. 

Peggy and I turned around and stood along the second floor balcony of the hotel for a while.

Looking at the beautiful building before us, we held on to each other tight.

"We did it. We did it. We did it for her, Peg," I said.

"I know, honey. We did it," Peggy agreed.

We stood in silence for a bit longer, and let the tears flow.

We did it.

She should have been there. My sister. She should have met Nicole, just as Peggy and I had. She should have had these days of amazing southern adventures just as we did. She should have felt the sun on her face, felt the breeze along her skin, eaten the butter roll, met the people, stood on the stage, drank the wine, tasted the pecans, seen the school, heard the stories, laughed the laughs and cried the tears. 

She should have done it all.

Now, 6 months from her passing . . .  I like to think that she was there, right along our sides, during all of it.

I will forever consider Georgia a most sacred and special place during this time in my life. The opportunity that Nicole provided - the hospitality that she showed - the warmth from the people, from strangers - the experiences we had while there - every single part of it felt like a giant hug, all day long. Every single person we talked to, every thing that we did, it felt as if I was being gently cared for and loved in a way I had never expected. And I am changed because of it.

Grief is hard (there . . . that is my expert opinion on the subject . . . ;) . . . .) But in all honesty, the loss of my sister has been the most difficult thing I have experienced in my life. It takes a long time to heal. I am still healing, and expect I will be for quite a while. And I am changed. But a huge part of this healing, took place in Georgia. And I am so blessed to have done it.

We have already planned a return trip - Peggy and I - for next spring. And we hope to bring a few friends with us. We might not do all that we did during our this trip (that Nicole - she ran us RAGGED!), but I cannot wait to return. My soul aches for it. And that is a pretty amazing thing, my friends.

Wishing you all wonderful, soul-filled adventures dear friends.

Today, and every day.


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