Giving

Here we are on Thanksgiving Eve. Please tell me how a year went by so very fast! Last year my post was a reflection on 10 things for which I am thankful. One year later, it all remains true..and then some. But Thanksgiving is not only about being thankful but also about giving – Thanks  Giving.

So this year I’d like to focus on what I can give. Like last year, I’ll break it down to a top 10. I can give:

  1. A smile – to everyone. As I reminded T just this week, the smile you give may be the only one someone sees for the day. A smile can be the simplest sign of hope.
  2. My undivided attention – to my boys..without distractions, no phone, no computer, no cleaning. Just focus on what they are telling me.
  3. My time – whether it be volunteering at my boys’ schools, meeting with a friend who needs support, or sitting with patients who need that extra minute.
  4. My expertise – to help change children’s lives for the better. One at a time.
  5. My best – to my family, my friends, my co-workers. Just give my all to all I do.
  6. My love – I’ve learned it’s one thing to say the words “I love you” but quite another to show and give love.
  7. My compassion – whether it’s a simple gesture of kindness or offering a hand to hold.
  8. My respect – for those who keep us safe, for those who everyday put one foot in front of the other despite the obstacles, for those consistently standing up for what they believe to be true.
  9. My positive thoughts – thoughts become and blossom into actions. I will feed my positive wishes so they grow for you.
  10. My heart..someday. It’s pretty well protected today. But someday, soon I hope, I will give all my heart to someone who can hold it as if it were their most precious treasure.

I truly live in abundance. I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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13 Years Ago

It was just a short 13 years ago I was washing the kitchen floor, my belly uncomfortably big as it stretched to hold you, keeping you safe and warm and nestled. The phone rang. It was the doctor. “How do you feel about having the baby tomorrow morning?” You were a scheduled C-Section planned for October 10th. It would only be two days sooner, but it instantly became an overwhelming thought “No, I am not ready.” Having two days to finish cleaning, preparing mentally and physically seemed like a necessity. But, in the end the pros outweighed the cons. A few phone calls later, making plans for someone to watch your big brother, and the decision was made. I would be the first scheduled C-Section of the day. October 8, 2004.

I will admit when I learned I was pregnant for a second time, I was not overjoyed. I was scared. I felt guilty. Feeling as though I did not perfect being a mom to your big brother, I wondered how I could become a mom to two. I remember even apologizing to your big brother – he had no clue why – but in a weird, distorted way I felt like I was betraying him. I didn’t want to fail this mom gig.

You were here. And suddenly, I was a mom to two boys. You screamed as they quite literally opened up your world. I can imagine the bright lights of the operating room pierced your snug home. A beautiful, perfect baby boy. And how you looked so much like your dad. You had so many visitors, so many people who could not wait to hold you. A big brother who wore a baseball cap that proudly stated such looked at you admiringly. We brought you home a day early, ready to begin yet another chapter. I recovered much quicker and certainly much easier than with your brother. There were still challenging days and difficult moments, but it all fell into place.

You have been a miracle. A soul that is so full of love and kindness. A remarkable human being. I once thought how could my heart possibly have room for the love of another child. And yet, my heart does not remember how it felt without you in it. You and your brother together filled up my heart to completeness. You were given to me despite me not feeling ready or worthy. Someone or something obviously knew better than I. Thank you for being my son. Thank you for letting me be your mom. My world is so much brighter because of you. I love you my sweetest.

Messages

I once wrote about wishing I could go forward in time to see my boys okay – as a way of giving me peace today. Having a knowledge that in the end, it will all be okay. Lately, I have been having discussions with T, in response to his observations about his father, about life really and people. Truthfully, I have found it somewhat difficult walking a fine line between speaking negatively about his father’s actions/words and providing some clarification and lessons. As T gets older and starts to understand more I’d like to be able to offer positive words to ignite a knowingness in T that he does not have to follow his father’s path. And I speak specifically of T simply because of his recent conversations with me, but hope D hears me as well. At the moment D is muddled in between being a 17 year old, stubborn, on-the-verge-of-fleeing-the-nest-but-keeping-one-foot-cautiously-in-the-door, defiant, and yet loving and happy young man. He knows his father, but he so desperately wants his father – on the surface I don’t think D is even aware of this feeling – consciously anyway. I, as his mom, am left in a challenging corner that I have been arduously working to maneuver. Which leads me to the purpose of this post. There have been so many messages I have hoped my boys receive from me and understand and keep with them as they grow.

  1. Always hold the door open for others – not just women, but everyone. A small gesture of kindness truly can spark a light of hope in someone’s day.
  2. Be unselfish in your life. The world is bigger than you and I. Know when you do for others, you actually benefit just as much.
  3. But..remember to take care of your self. When you grow your being in a positive light, when you feed your own soul, when you treat your mind, body, and spirit as the temple it is, you will evoke happy energy.
  4. Your past does not define your future. Every single day you have a choice.
  5. Exercise. It not only strengthens your muscles, it strengthens your mind.
  6. Volunteer. Give to charity. Make a difference. And don’t forget the Starfish Story.
  7. Respect your partner. Take a deep breath and please think before you speak. Words can’t be taken back. YOU own your actions and your words.
  8. Family. Don’t ever give up on family.
  9. Truth. In your life, be truth. Speak it, show it, and model it.
  10. Be kind. Remember you have no idea what someone has gone through, what they have endured or experienced.
  11. Don’t forget to respect others and yourself. We are all human beings existing in a shared space.
  12. Don’t get caught up in the small details so much so that you lose sight of the bigger picture.
  13. Someday if you have you own children, relish in each moment, every stage of their life, plant seeds of confidence, and self-worth, and love in their hearts with your words and your actions.
  14. Go to bed every night saying “Good Night, I love You” to at least one person.

I am sure I could add more to this list and maybe someday I will. But know my beautiful boys, I love you with all my heart. Everything I am and everything I do, is because of both of you. You are my heart. You are my soul. You are my breath. Please forgive me for the mistakes I have made as your mom, but know I have tried and will always try to do and be my best for you. You are my reason.

The Fourth

I do love everything about the Fourth of July. From parades to cookouts to the red, white, and blue to the fireworks. I love love fireworks. But this year is different. My boys decided to spend the holiday with their father. With their grandparents, cousins, aunt, and uncle. And their father’s girlfriend. If I told you my heart is hurting, it’d be an understatement. It’s a physical space I once shared with them…to be honest, I’m feeling somewhat replaced. My oldest was allowed to bring his girlfriend and as a result was in his glory. And T..well T just goes with the flow. But me, being without them on my favorite holiday pains me. It’s so incredibly opposite of all that I wanted. And this emptiness can feel suffocating. The tug of emotions. Happy for them and for their father to have this time with them…especially D who rarely spends time with his father. And I am happy for my (ex) in-laws for they love having their family together. Yet, the core of me is sad. And I get that may be selfish. And I get that time marches on. And I get that it’s been nearly five years. But family is in my heart. It’s in my being. And I don’t think any amount of time will change that for me.

So today I will spend time with my parents, my brother, and his family. And I will give my three precious nieces a few extra hugs today. Their ever relentless love for me will somehow soothe my shaking soul I know. And will keep me from just curling up in a ball, crying myself into a defeated sleep to wake to a reality that will shock me once again. I know chances are each stumble, each fall, will only act to strengthen me in the end. And I am fighting to stay clear, to stay strong, and true. This Fourth of July is different yes. But I think it just may be a turning point.

Here

drifting in and out

seeing, only briefly

feeling, minutes

there’s hope..look

it passes by

i reach, but too late

or maybe it was just a shadow

the pain festers

it holds tight..and maybe it needs to

the salty ocean in my eyes

creates waves down my face

and my breath, i catch it sometimes

it helps to plant my feet..on the cold ground

and the dreams, the dreams mock me

i wish

for not too much right?

i hold a present, of love

and it sits waiting, waiting for you

to open

my heart patiently beats

while my lungs hold so much air

and my body tightens

that open field?

yes, that one

please meet me there

Faith

This is long overdue. An examination of my marathon. Writing, with my left hand, about each mile. What I was feeling, thinking, seeing. I did it. And now I am having a hard time with the “results.” At the advice of my yoga teacher, I named the race. Faith. Each mile I needed to somehow relate to faith. Mentally working through each mile may just give me my life lesson she had said.

And this is where I am struggling. It was mile 16 I saw my my sister-in-law, nieces, T, my dad, and my mom. My interaction was mostly with my mom however. T and my dad where standing back and up on some stairs. I wasn’t feeling very strong at this point or at least not as strong as I had in training. And from here it went downhill. After I saw my family, it went downhill. And honestly, I think it was more after I saw my mom specifically. Ugh. I became weaker. More in my head. Weak. Beaten. Defeated. Up until seeing my mom she had been sending me supportive texts. When I saw her, she was proud. She yelled out as I ran off “How are you feeling?” and T just happened to snap a picture the moment I turned to respond. The look on my face says it all.

So why after this point, the point where I should have felt an extra boost, did I lose energy?  I can still feel what it felt like now – the lack of energy. It was a gross feeling. It was so hard to keep moving. And truly I didn’t know if I could. I became my weak, old, self full of anxiety and panic. And that turns into a downward spiral. My brother was running also. He had been a few miles behind me. I called him to say I didn’t think I could do it. He told me to keep going, he’d catch up with me. I kept looking back, looking for him. He never caught up. But, the fact that he tried so hard still warms my heart. He was there for me.

I crossed the finish line that day. Not even close to the time I had trained for and expected. It wasn’t until hours later, I could reflect back on the race and notice the many gifts.

So faith. Faith in myself. In my strength. In my abilities. Trust in who I am. And probably most importantly, feeling confident in doing what I know is right…for me. Not doubting. Yes, faith.

Gone

Today I lost my childhood friend. In fact, he was my very first friend. 43 years old and now gone. I still have a cassette tape of him and I at age 5 singing our ABC’s. He always shy and me not so much in comparison. Despite decades of not really seeing each other, he always held a place in my heart. And today that was even more obvious. A tiny piece of my heart since truly the day I was born was held just for him and through all these years it remained just for him.

His mom last saw him reading a bedtime story to his daughter. My mom did always tell me his daughter was his everything, his life. Her words “he was a great dad.” His daughter found him this morning in bed. He wouldn’t wake up. Oh how my heart breaks for her. She can’t be more than 8 years old and has already experienced a traumatic loss.

As I remain in shock and so saddened, I pray that all of his wonderful qualities will live on through the love of his life.

Peace Johnny.