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9 December, 2012

I sat in a parking lot of a church Saturday night and cried.

I cried for a life cut short. I cried for his fiance and his family. I cried for myself. I cried for him. I cried for Doug.

But the one thing I cried most about, the one thing I couldn’t catch my breath because of, was this overwhelming feeling of being exactly where I needed to be…and being incredibly thankful for what has happened in my life. The tragedy, the friendships, the professions, the conversations, the beliefs, the arguments, the fleeting thoughts, the circumstances, the laughter, the love, the hate, the peace, the lessons…all of it.

I cried because as I was talking to the Mother of this pilot, she asked me “what does Doug say to you?”

I couldn’t answer it. I wanted to share with her something profound. Something that could possibly take part of her pain away. Something that could give her hope. Instead, I turned it onto her and asked her what her son says to her.

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As I sat alone crying, I became completely overwhelmed as it seemed like all of these life events started flashing before me…something that I had always imagined that happens in death. Instead, it was happening there, as I sat crying, in a car, in the dark.

I was overwhelmed because if it were not for one of these events happening, one of the lessons I needed to learn being taught, one of the people not being a part of my life when they needed to be – if it wasn’t for all of this – if it wasn’t for all of this…it’s overwhelming.

Doug was talking to me. He was letting me know that it was okay that there will not be answers for me. He was reminding me of all of the things that have led me to this moment. He was showing me, that through the events in my life and the events in his life, that this was our purpose. That each moment was unique in that it gave both of us opportunities to make an impact in other people’s lives where we could. That everything is truly connected…and dare I say it…that everything may indeed happen for a reason*.

I’ve never felt more thankful in my life than last night. I am thankful for every single thing that has ever happened in my life. I embrace all of it with open loving arms because if it wasn’t for all of it, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see so many beautiful things. Be a part of someone’s life in their darkest hour or bask in the light of their finest moment.

I was especially thankful for this Mom, asking me a question that pulled the veil from across my face.

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*When death occurs, so many people say ‘everything happens for a reason’. I believed this for so long. Then I didn’t. Even though I say it today, I have struggled with believing this is indeed true since the day Doug died. Saying this today does not mean I embrace this thought fully. I say this today because I see the connections, the web of life. However, just taking this small step of believing this for today does not mean, DOES NOT MEAN, that it is ever the best thing to say to someone when they have just lost their world. Unless you know the reason – it’s best to keep this statement to yourself.

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I know what to do

4 June, 2012

Doug always told me that I would know what to do with his ashes if he ever died. We didn’t discuss it much further than that. We never planned or thought about a cemetery plot for the both of us or anything of that nature. It was always, ‘you’ll know what to do’.

Then when that decision had to be made, I had no idea what to do. At first, in the shock of it all and thinking of only others, I thought that I would distribute a little bit of his ashes to his friends so they could do what they thought he’d like – make it personal for them. Let them share in this decision.

Time went by and there he sat…his ashes in a black plastic box in my nightstand. It took a while for him to migrate there. At the very beginning he still laid in bed with me at night. His flight suit folded up next to me on the pillow, his hat on top of that, an old t-shirt I hadn’t washed with his scent still lingering and him. Half on the pillow and half on the bed.

Then at two years I knew I was ready to release some of his ashes. I was heading to Montana and Yellowstone again and that place, of course, held so much meaning for us. Driving up through Bear Tooth Pass on my birthday was when I released half of the small tupperware container I had a portion of his ashes in. The next day, the two year mark, I released some more inside the park into this gorgeous stream that I have always loved.

After that, I had no idea what to do with the rest of the ashes…and there is a lot…

I still want to take a trip to Ireland. A trip that he and I were planning to take before he died. I’ll save some for that. But I just had no idea what to do…I haven’t felt at peace with any of this for quite a while now.

For the past week I’ve been thinking about a friend of mine from middle school and high school, Nicki Smith. She died September 12, 1993 in a motorcycle accident. She and I were not best friends but she and I always had this great connection. We went to separate high schools and saw each other each summer when I was in volleyball camp and she was helping out her mom with some teacher in-service happening at my high school. During water breaks and lunch break I would find her sitting in the hallway right outside the gym waiting for me so we could frantically catch up. The first time we saw each other was always the best because it included this bear hug from her and one of the best smiles you’ve ever seen.

This was our friendship. Always thinking of each other and always so glad to run into each other as time just stood still for us…

I came home late one night after a volleyball game. It was my freshman year of college. We had this piano in the living room at the time and on it sat a newspaper with her picture on the front page. I smiled so big wondering what kind of accolades she was receiving or what she had accomplished – she was a great softball player and was also playing in college.

I flipped the newspaper over and read that she was killed in an accident. She was 18.

I remember screaming.

I didn’t go to her funeral. I can’t remember why exactly. I think it was because I had missed it, not knowing that she had died. I’m really not sure.

I often, quite often, think about her. I remember the night Doug died I asked her to make sure he was taken care of and to get to know him because he would love her. Her laugh, her smile and her hugs. I remember calling on her many times in my life, to give me advice, to make me feel better, to make me laugh during tough times…I’ve always kept her a part of my life. I think of her as one of my guardian angels. Because how could she not be an angel?

Today, almost 19 years later, was the first time I have been to her grave. I had to ask an old coach of mine where she was buried…as I turned into the cemetery I got out my phone to look up the plot. I had the phone in my hand and turned the car onto another road and pulled over to stop and there she was…right next to me. A picture of her in her softball uniform, short red hair and great smile, looking at me.

I had cut some fresh flowers for her from my garden and wrote her a letter. I sat in front of her headstone on the hard dirt and grass. I laid the flowers on the ground and put the letter there next to them. I didn’t stay for very long. Just long enough to tell her I missed her and I thought about her often. As I sat there, I all of a sudden knew what to do with the rest (or most of the rest) of Doug’s ashes.

I don’t know that I’ve really thought about graves much. They were just there to bury the dead and nothing more but after visiting Nicki and her grave, I felt so much at peace and I felt that I had a place to go now to talk to her. A place where I could see her picture, her forever youth and update her on the things of the living. It was so peaceful to sit there and talk to her, even in the scorching sun. It was nice to be able to write to her, to bring her flowers, to remember her and to see something physical there that would be there for hundreds of years to say that this person was loved, had lived. It was a place for friends and family to pay their respects year after year, season after season. I really can not put into words my new outlook on graves. I think that we, as the living, need these places of peace.

Maybe it is an act of closure (even though I hate that word)…who knows. All I know in my heart right now is that I think this is also what Doug would have wanted….just not all of him. I will keep a portion of him and I may even still give a part of him to his friends so that he may be scattered or kept with them. I do think though that it may be quite healing for all of us if we had a place to go to, to talk to him, to cry, to laugh…to eventually be at peace. I think the act of placing flowers or pictures or letters or even just tears or laughter into the wind is something we as the living need to do. Be it ceremonious or meditative. Part of it is also knowing that his name, his life, will forever be recorded in stone.

Now to figure out where…

…and after the where is figured out, you can bet that I will also have a place beside him for when it comes my time to leave this life.

Thank you Nicki for helping me once again…you, indeed, are an angel.

A first that I forgot…

1 November, 2010

LiDo’s first hair cut!

I know Doug would have probably have pushed to get this kids’ hair cut prior to his second birthday…but, he’s not here and even if he were, it probably would have not happened any sooner than it did.

There isn’t much to tell other than he had a mullet when he went in and when he walked out he looked so much older and had no mullet. He did a great job and sat on my lap through the whole process. Enjoy the pics:

We started out trying the car but it didn’t quite work once the scissors were produced!

Before pic:

And after:

23 Months

17 August, 2010

My Dearest Lido,

Only one more month of counting by months for you…

My how you have changed over the past few weeks. It seems like it is always something new and I’ve been trying to be better about remembering everything so that I can put it into these letters. My mind is still not remembering as much as it used to. But here it goes…

The big thing we did this month was take a trip to Puerto Rico! I was really dreading the flight there and especially the drive that followed the flight in order for us to get to our fantastic destination. Like always, you surprised me…You were perfect on both flights and slept a lot of them. It probably helped that you are now totally into Little Einstein and Elmo (I was a bit surprised by the latter since you never watch it at home…) and so you watch both over and over again. We were greeted with nice (non-humid) weather and no car service…so that was a bit of a stress but we found a car service to haul all 7 of us that went. Our final destination from San Juan was Rincon. The drive was interesting to say the least. I laugh at this because it would have been a situation that your Dad and I would have been in together. So, I guess was probably more my karma than his all these years since it is continuing. At least we have him watching over us! The driving there is pretty wild. No concern for most traffic laws other than red lights and I think those are optional in certain circumstances. Our driver and his friend though were wonderful and stopped so we could have a real dinner on our way. We ate Mofongo which is a typical Puerto Rican dish. It was delicious and calmed the stomachs full of peanuts, crackers and soda.

We arrived in Rincon to our villa in the evening and didn’t get to really see anything outside of the villa…although we heard the crashing of the waves against the sand right below us. You were not too thrilled about that. It was an intense sound and you clung to me and refused to go near the ledge of the balcony.

However, the next day you started on your way of getting used to the sand, ocean and pool!

I can typically count on you to take at least 45 minutes to warm up to anything. Sometimes it is more, sometimes it is less. Your Nanna would take you in the mornings and get you breakfast and take you to play in the sand and the ocean and then it would be up to the rooftop pool for mid-morning fun. You became our little water baby. Jumping into the pool, swimming by yourself. It was amazing how quickly you became a daredevil!

There wasn’t much to do other than to play in the pool or on the beach and in the ocean, so that is exactly what we did. We did take a catamaran sunset cruise one evening for your Nanna’s birthday. This was interesting as a storm came through right as we were supposed to get on the boat. The boat captain had been trying to call me to cancel and by the time I looked at my phone, we were already there waiting for him. He decided that he was good with going if we were up to it…

So we threw off our shoes and swung our legs overboard the small boat that took us out to the catamaran. That is where things got tricky. The rain and wind started coming and we had to haul ourselves up and over the catamaran while the waves were crashing and the rain was pouring. You were the first one in the boat and stayed sitting where it was dry until I got in. You were such a brave boy. All the rest of the girls (you were the only male all week…) climbed aboard and we set sail. The rain stopped after about 20 minutes and we had Pina Coladas (virgin for you) and cheese and crackers and lots of laughter at how drenched we all were. I don’t think anyone thought that we would be ‘roughing’ it on a ‘sunset cruise’…

You had a lot of fun and the boat captain let you help steer and he even caught a tuna and captivated you. You laid on the edge of the boat and just watched the water…you were a happy boy and you were taking it all in. And you had the best sea legs out of all of us!

I think that was the highlight of our trip.

This month you have been putting more words together and making short little sentences. You are still just as demanding as you always have been when it comes to feeding you. I even made a tater tot casserole for you and I ended up being the one who ate all of it because no matter how many times I tried it out on you, you refused to eat it.

You say please now when you would like something – most of the time. It is very cute how you say it. You try very hard words and refuse to name any color it’s true color…it is always yellow or black. You repeated ‘agricultural field’ when we were landing in KC…I was pointing something out to you and said those words. When watching Baby Einstein before you go to bed you always point out the metronome in the video and you are very clear about it as well. You still stay away from most single syllable words and go for the 3 or 4 syllable words. I think it is great…and also think that you are the smartest kid in the history of the universe.

You are silly at times and very silly at times. I stopped closing the baby gate to your room, so in the morning you get up, go downstairs, get a breakfast bar out of your snack drawer, go back upstairs and wake me up, sit in bed with me and eat the breakfast bar…getting crumbs all over my bed. You also tell Panda Kitty to stop whatever it is that she is doing – even just lying there. You still love it when she licks your head but always say ‘ouch’ when she licks your arm or hand. You absolutely love dogs and puppies but are scared when the little yappy dogs bark at you – which we are surrounded by them on both sides of our house. However, only two of them are ever outside. I’m kind of glad that you are like that with the little dogs…I’d rather have a bigger dog.

You started a new daycare this month and you are liking it more this week than you did the last week. You have two friends there so that helps during the day. They come to visit you and give you hugs and B shows you the cool toys to play with and wants to teach you how to get more food at lunchtime…She loves you as does RoRo. He watches out for you too.

I feel like the past month and a half has just been crazy with people visiting, shit happening, vacations, new schools, etc. I think that you are a bit glad to be home and around your things and in your bed. We are slowly establishing a bit of routine. You like your routines. It has been tough these past few week with various things – all of which are just hard on me rather than you. However, I know that if I’m not happy then you’re not happy. And above all else, I want you to have the happiest childhood I can give you. I want to protect you from sadness and my grief. I try but I know it makes me hold off on grieving for your Daddy. I take moments out of the day and I still cry in front of you sometimes. I still don’t know how to handle all of this. I’m really trying hard though to make a life for you and me. To do things for us. And only us. To concentrate on us.

24 months is coming up and with that brings so much. Your 2nd birthday and the mark of the first year without your Daddy. I know he watches over you and sees who you are becoming and he would be so proud of you. I wish so much that you could have spent more time with him and him with you. It is unfair. He was a great Daddy to you and he made our family. I hope that I am doing everything that I can for you. That you are having fun with me. That you are learning and are happy. I just want you to be happy.

I love you my dear child and you do bring me the only joy in my life (no pressure). You are incredible and I love you very much.

Love always in this life and the next,

Your MomMom

You and MomMom…trying to take a picture one handed while holding you…

MomMom and Lido hanging out in the pool…

MomMom and Lido relaxing in the hammock

Sunset Cruise

Helping pilot the boat

Tranquil

Even more tranquil

Wondering if we are going to catch any more fish…

Sunset dip in the ocean…

Sunset our last night in Rincon…

Helpful

5 December, 2009

I found this online and I thought it was very good to share with everyone. I wish I had this when some of my friends lost loved ones…I know that these words are pretty much exactly how I feel…

HOW YOU CAN HELP ME

Please talk about my loved one, even though he is gone. It is more
comforting to cry than to pretend that he never existed. I need to talk
about him, and I need to do it over and over.

Be patient with my agitation. Nothing feels secure in my world. Get
comfortable with my crying. Sadness hits me in waves, and I never know
when my tears may flow. Just sit with me in silence and hold my hand.

Don’t abandon me with the excuse that you don’t want to upset me. You
can’t catch my grief. My world is painful, and when you are too afraid
to call me or visit or say anything, you isolate me at a time when I
most need to be cared about. If you don’t know what to say, just come
over, give me a hug or touch my arm, and gently say, “I’m sorry.” You
can even say, “I just don’t know what to say, but I care, and want you
to know that.”

Just because I look good does not mean that I feel good. Ask me how I
feel only if you really have time to find out.

I am not strong. I’m just numb. When you tell me I am strong, I feel
that you don’t see me.

I will not recover. This is not a cold or the flu. I’m not sick. I’m
grieving and that’s different. My grieving may only begin 6 months after
my loved one’s death. Don’t think that I will be over it in a year. For
I am not only grieving his death, but also the person I was when I was
with him, the life that we shared, the plans we had for watching our
children and grandchildren grow, the places we will never get to go together, and the
hopes and dreams that will never come true. My whole world has crumbled
and I will never be the same.

I will not always be grieving as intensely, but I will never forget my
loved one and rather than recover, I want to incorporate his life and
love into the rest of my life. He is a part of me and always will be,
and sometimes I will remember him with joy and other times with a tear.
Both are okay.

I don’t have to accept the death. Yes, I have to understand that it has
happened and it is real, but there are some things in life that are just
not acceptable.

When you tell me what I should be doing, then I feel even more lost and
alone. I feel badly enough that my loved one is dead, so please don’t
make it worse by telling me I’m not doing this right.

Please don’t tell me I can find someone else or that I need to start
dating again. I’m not ready. And maybe I don’t want to. And besides,
what makes you think people are replaceable? They aren’t. Whoever comes
after will always be someone different.

I don’t even understand what you mean when you say, “You’ve got to get
on with your life.” My life is going on, I’ve been forced to take on
many new responsibilities and roles. It may not look the way you think
it should. This will take time and I will never be my old self again. So
please, just love me as I am today, and know that with your love and
support, the joy will slowly return to my life. But I will never forget
and there will always be times that I cry.

I need to know that you care about me. I need to feel your touch, your
hugs. I need you just to be with me, and I need to be with you. I need
to know you believe in me and in my ability to get through my grief in
my own way, and in my own time.

Please don’t say, “Call me if you need anything.” I’ll never call you
because I have no idea what I need. Trying to figure out what you could
do for me takes more energy than I have. So, in advance, let me give you
some ideas:

(a) Bring food or a movie over to watch together.
(b) Send me a card on special holidays, his birthday, and the
anniversary of his death, and be sure to mention his name. You can’t
make me cry. The tears are here and I will love you for giving me the
opportunity to shed them because someone cared enough about me to reach
out on this difficult day.
(c) Ask me more than once to join you at a movie or lunch or dinner. I
may so no at first or even for a while, but please don’t give up on me
because somewhere down the line, I may be ready, and if you’ve given up
then I really will be alone.
(d) Understand how difficult it is for me to be surrounded by couples,
to walk into events alone, to go home alone, to feel out of place in the same situations
where I used to feel so comfortable.

Please don’t judge me now – or think that I’m behaving strangely.
Remember I’m grieving. I may even be in shock. I am afraid. I may feel
deep rage. I may even feel guilty. But above all, I hurt. I’m
experiencing a pain unlike any I’ve ever felt before and one that can’t
be imagined by anyone who has not walked in my shoes.

Don’t worry if you think I’m getting better and then suddenly I seem to
slip backward. Grief makes me behave this way at times. And please don’t
tell me you know how I feel, or that it’s time for me to get on with my
life. What I need now is time to grieve.

Most of all thank you for being my friend. Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping, for understanding. Thank
you for praying for me.

And remember in the days or years ahead, after your loss – when you need
me as I have needed you – I will understand. And then I will come and be
with you.

My kid ate cereal for the first time…

5 January, 2009

AND frickin’ rolled over from back to front to back to front to back to front today. 

What did your kid do?

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Pictures and not much else…

30 December, 2008

I know – this whole blog has turned into “don’t you want to see pictures of my son?”.  Oh well – live with it…

Lido’s first Christmas…

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I dub thee Sir Panda…

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Lido’s first present…from Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa…

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My first picture with MY NEW CAMERA!!

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Look at the red haze of hair…who do you think he looks like now bia!(#&….

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Yes – definitely looks like Dodo in this next one…I know.

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