Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blog Hop: Letter to the Teenage Me

{This Blog Hop has you write a letter to your younger self. Here is mine.}

Dear Shannon,

It'll be years before you'll understand this, but trust me, it's all true. I know your having a difficult time. Right now, you are deep into your depression, your relationship with your mom is hostile, your dad is no where to be found, your brother, Damon, is sick & Lea is just trying to do the best that he can to figure things out for himself.

I know you've lost so many friends & love ones to death & people who are trying to comfort you tell you that in time you will feel better. They mean well, but they are lying. It doesn't get easier. At all. There will always be an ache in your heart, like part of your soul is gone. You will never stop yearning to feel their presence or to get just one last day to spend with them. You will however get through it, but even then it will always hurt.

Believe it or not, you won't always be depressed. There is a light in this blackness that you feel, & one day, it will just be there. The truth is it's always been there. The darkness just covers it up & makes it hard to see. I know there are times when you want to die. Stick it out. Believe me, it'll all be worth it. And one day, you will be glad your attempts were not successful & others, some who you haven't even met yet, will be glad you are still here too.

Oh, and that God you are so mad at - He is still there too. Even as you say horrible things to Him, push Him away & blame Him for all the bad things in your life - He is still there. He will always be there. In fact, you will come to know Him on such a personal level, it may be hard for others to understand. That's okay, it doesn't matter who understands. Your realationship is personal. It is real. And full of love.

I know there are people you cling to right now. They are your best friends & they have pulled you some tough times & will pull you through things that haven't even happened yet. Right now, they are your world. And that's okay, for now...

Please trust me when I say, that some people - even your best friends - aren't meant to stay in your life forever. You will forever be thankful to them & they will always have a place in your heart. Believe me - a place in your heart & a place in your life are two different things.

I know you think you will never find someone to love. Who would love someone who is disabled & emotionally broken like you? Right? Wrong. You are oh so wrong. The truth is that we are all broken. Every single one of us. Not one of us is perfect, untouched, without flaws.

You will meet your husband in a couple of years, & even though she won't believe you, you will tell Thea that you are going to marry him someday. You will go away from him for many years, but God will make sure that just when you are content with who you are & where you are. It is then your paths will cross again.

Your marriage, like the rest of life, won't be easy. Especially, in the early years. You will come close to leaving him several times, but you stick it out. That's what you do. Besides, you realize that you love him too much to ever leave him.

As for being a mom, after trying for years, it'll happen when you least expect it. Even though there are times when you doubt, you know without question that God is in control. He will give you the perfect addition to your family that comes along at the perfect time. You see, as hard as it may be to see (& it's even more difficult to admit) God loves you & wants the best for you. And that means doing things on His time, not yours.

Trust me, Shannon, where I sit now is so far from where you sit as you read this. So far, in fact, that it will seem like two totally different lives of two totally different people. You will have changed so much.

You are strong. And it will be tough. Life is is no way ever easy. Ever. You will go through things that others can't comprehend. It's okay. Just remember that "Some of the greatest gifts in life are birthed from tragedy." And in the end, you are never alone & are loved. Always.

With Love & Gratitude,
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Wordless Wednesday: For The Love of Grandsons

Kevin, Pop, & Jason 6.29.10 @WM

Kevin, Pop, & Jason, 6.28.2010

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy 9th Birthday, Kevin!

Little Kevin 6.28.2003 @WM

Kevin, 6.28.2003

Dear Kevin,

This is one of the first pictures I took of you, just the night before you turned 3. I cannot believe you are nine today. You are growing up right in front of my eyes.

Gone are the days when you run to me & ask me to put Neeeemoo" in the DVD player. Now, you are all about Pop Pop's computer & any shooting game you can find. The one thing I love though is what a great athlete you are becoming. I love to watch you in Little League, although I didn't get to do much of it this season bc Uncle Jake was helping coach Jason's T-Ball team.

You are very smart. Too smart for your own good sometimes. You are quick-witted & always want to learn new things. You are extremely competitive & always looking for a challenge, especially if it means showing up your brother. {:)

You love Lisa & always making sure she doesn't do something that she shouldn't or that would get her hurt. Secretly, I am hoping that when she starts dating, you will be the same protective big brother you are now.

I love seeing you grow up, but I can't believe how much time has passed. I fell in love with your blue eyes 7 years ago, & I'm still in love with them, although they aren't as blue anymore. They are a brilliant gray now, but also seem to have flecks of other colors that get highlighted depending on what you where. They are just stunning & I can't help but be captivated by them still.

Nine Year Old Kevin 6.29.10 @WM

Kevin, 6.29.2010

I want you to know that I love you, Kevin, & always will. You will always hold a special place within my heart.

Love Always,
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saying Sundays: On Happiness

"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it."

~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Author of "Eat, Pray, Love"

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Midnight Thoughts

It's a little after midnight on Saturday morning. Time is tick, tick, ticking away & I don't seem to be winding down for bed anytime soon. Although I am extremely exhausted.

Only hours ago, Dad got released from the hospital with a PICC line & will be on IV antibiotics & then oral after that. Hopefully, this will nix this infection & he will not be need for surgery.

Stress is funny. And my body reacts to stress all the time. I hate to say that I'm in pain, but I am. And things between Jake & I have been strained for days. Again, I so need him to be my safe place to fall & truthfully, I don't know if he knows how to be that.

I love him so much. And we've been getting along better than ever. Seriously. My marriage has never been better. It's difficult though when both of us are pulled in what seems like in a million different directions, both by our own devices & by family.

I just need time away. There is a part of me that desperately needs to connect, not only to Jake, but close friends as well. The ones who truly know me & who love me, without condition. I need to be recharged {:)

So, hopefully, things will fall into place soon... for everyone. Until then, I'll just keep typing out my thoughts & praying, knowing that things will happen when & how they are supposed to be.

Sleep awaits.

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bring the Rain: Coming Through Storms

I am blessed. I truly am.

Exhausted as I've been, I have not forgotten this. Dad's doctors have decided at this point that surgery is just a little too risky & are putting things in place for him to go home on IV antibiotics for one week, oral for the next & then they will reassess.

Don't be fooled. I'm not blessed bc my dad's not having surgery. I'm not that superficial - never have been. And I don't believe God - at least the one I believe in - is superficial either.

I find it funny how some praise God when life is great & blame him when things are not so great. Believe it or not, I used to be one of these people. I don't blame Him for anything now. I am a firm believer that when you know better, you do better. Or in this case, when you know better, you believe differently.

One of my favorite songs, puts into words how I'm feel. Take a listen:

The thing is, I would be nothing with Him. He has brought me through some amazing, treacherous storms. Storms that others may not have survive. Yet, here I am not only surviving, but thriving.

So, onward I go... praising with His Grace & blessings along the way.
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Eat, Pray, Love

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Out of Reach

It's nearly 7:30 AM & I've had an sleepless night. I wanted this post to be wordless, maybe a cute picture of my friend Stacey's child Christian, but that will have to wait.

Dad is going to be transferred to Hopkins today. As of the day before last, he has had 19 rounds of antibiotics. I know that it is more by now. When he gets transferred, he will undergo an operation to clean out the infection that is in defibrillator site.

I cannot lie, I am worried. There is a unsettling feeling within me. I'm am sure things will turn out to be okay. It's just that this infection is an abscess is in his heart. No doubt, this operation is more complicated than in the past.

Usually, I have a calmness about me when it comes to days like these. It is a calmness that I miss, like a best friend has gone away or is just out of reach. I know, with all the logic that I possess, that God has a plan & it is His, not mine. He is in control, not me. Somehow that should make me feel better, but it doesn't - not this time.

I don't even know if they will do anything today besides transfer him. I guess that is part of what is adding to my feelings, not knowing. It is long distance from the current hospital to call me, so right now, I just have to call every couple of hours to see what's going on & gather information as I can.

Until then, I will pray. And hope that calmness come into reach soon.

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Extraordinary Things

I haven't seen Jamie, since about 1997, which is something like a billion years ago or 13, depending on how you do the math. Truthfully, I must confess it seems like a lifetime ago, when I was a different person, & in so many ways, living a different life.

I met her in the summer of my 8th grade year, her 9th. I was working at what was to be my new high school that just happen to house the Summer Chorale Program for students throughout the county.

Our friendship began in the oddest of ways, although there was nothing extraordinary about the ordinary moments that lead up to how it began, or so I thought. I simply tagged along with some friends as they went to the local Friendly's after the Choir concert was over. When I got there, all the people that I knew were sitting at tables that were already full. I felt so out place.

I looked around & I asked Jamie, who I did not know at the time, if I could join her table & so I did. She wind up driving me home that night too. And for whatever reason that still baffles me to this day, we ended up having a four hour conversation in my driveway. And so our friendship began.

For reasons unknown to me, I trusted her right away. Although we had just met, I felt I had known her my whole life. She quickly became one of my best friends & truly loved me unconditionally, which was no easy task at the time.

The summer that we met was also the summer that I got diagnosed with depression & started counseling. Way back when I started this blog, I wrote this entry about my depression & yes, Jamie was one of the people that I was talking about when I wrote that entry. In fact, I remember writing it thinking of her, wondering where she was & if she would ever get the opportunity to see the person I am now.

Back then, I was not an easy person to love. At all. I was deep into my depression & very suicidal for many years, & could not see anything but darkness, so why live, right? I literally was living in hell, not getting a long with my mother, having an absent father who I hated for leaving me & spending hours upon hours at the bar instead of where I so desperately needed him to be - in my life.

And to top it all people were dying left & right. Death was all around me, I was so immersed in grief, I was beside myself. Oh yeah, and God? I was so angry at him it was not funny. I so desperately wanted to be loved by him, but I hated him for what my life had become.

For years, time & again, Jamie was always there for me. I am sure there are times when she wanted to be done with me, walk away & never look back. I'll say it again, I was not an easy person to love... but she did it anyway. I used to call her "my friend with a heart of gold" & trust me, it was the truth.

One day, we just grew apart. We were both busy in college. Our paths went in different directions. Over the years, I had always wondered about her, prayed for her, hoped she was doing well, hoped she was happy. Some time ago, we found each other on Facebook. And that led to last night.

Looking back, I am in awe at just how amazing God was. How amazing He is. God knew what he was doing when he made us friends. I will forever be thankful for the friendship we had, bc without it I don't know if I would be here, & there is only a handful of friends I can say that about.

I don't know if we will be friends again. I do not know if it's in His plan. What I do know is that, regardless of what may or may not happen in the future, I will forever be grateful that He can make extraordinary things from ordinary moments.

Jamie & Me @WM 6.18.2010

Jamie & Me, 6.18.2010

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Friday, June 18, 2010

My Heart Aches

My mind is racing. I so want it to stop. You think I would be used to this by now. I just can't bare having to let go of another loved one. Cancer sucks. I wish I knew what to do to make it better, make it go away.

But on the other hand, she is not gone yet. She is still living. I wonder if I will get to tell her everything I have always wanted to say. Knowing that when I looked back, years from now, even if I got that chance, I will have still wanted to say more. That's how it always is.

My mom is heartbroken. I don't blame her. Aunt Elaine has been her friend for so long. It is hard to hear her cry. I can relate to her on so many levels - having loss so much. Having loss so many & grieved more times than I care to count.

If you know me, or have read my blog for any amount time, you know that I always try to see the positive in things. You know that I know God has a plan. You know I know that he uses everything - both good & bad, & makes it for His good. I still know all those things, but it does not make me feel better today.

I wish I could tell others that I'm allowed to have a bad day or days, as the case may be - I'm allowed to feel bad - & still believe those things. Just bc I feel bad right at the moment does not, in any way, shape or form, mean that I don't believe in His Plan. Believing in Him, knowing that he is in control, does not mean that I cannot feel emotion. He created me, & I am human after all.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Through My Fingers

Right now, Dad is in the hospital, with an infection at his difibulator site. Praying that it's an infection just under the skin & not an abscess that requires a transfer to a second hospital & is way more serious than where we stand now.

{Time passes.}

I just got a call from mom. It is with tears streaming down that I say these words. Aunt Elaine's cancer is getting worse. They have done all they can for her at her current hospital & are trying to get her into Hopkins.

I hate this. I love her so much. So very, very much. It almost feels as if everyone I love is slipping right through my fingers. I'm trying so hard to hold on to them. Pull them close, cherish them. Almost as if my love would be enough to sustain them.

It's no wonder that my post are few & far between. My life with Jake - our marriage - is better than it's ever been, but a marriage is only one part. Not everything. I have started what seems like a million entries. All unfinished. All unpublished.

I'm not sure I can even put words to thoughts with all this brokenness around me.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Missing In Action: I Gotta Feelin'

I'm here. Alive. I know it seems like I've dropped off the face of the earth, but I assure you, I have not.

Life has been crazy & utterly amazing at the same time. New post & updates soon. Promise.

Until then...

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