Sunday, June 27, 2010

10 Things keeping me from updating my blog

10. Going to the Red Sox vs Rockies game with some of our Boston buddies. (i had a hard time choosing which team to cheer i cheered for both)

9. Teaching piano lessons to Grace and Abby--they both really love their daily lessons, especially Abby, and I love the memories it brings back of the days when I used to enjoy lessons from my mom (that only lasted for 5-6 years, until my social life moved up to position #1 on my little pre-teen priority list, and piano lessons became a total draaaagg)

8. Spending evenings with just Reid and Eliza while Abby and Grace were at Vacation Bible School last week. 5pm-9pm without Grace and Abby? Eliza was in heaven. Reid and I enjoyed the quiet sounds of summer nights. And the girls had the time of their lives.

7. Getting rid of the evil (and not at ALL cute) bunnies that ate my kale, swiss chard, beets, carrots and spring lettuces. Traps didn't work. Coyote urine didn't appeal. Fake Snakes creeped me out. Having the Boy Scouts remove 5 massive junipers (their home) didn't even do the trick. So, I left it in Reid's capable hands...and there hasn't been a bunny in my yard since Tuesday afternoon. (if you want to know how he got rid of them, you'll have to ask him...)

6. Park days, pool days, zoo days, stay-at-home-in-pajamas days

5. Checking everyone else's blogs and wondering how I am so lucky to have such awesome friends

4. Planning an all-sisters trip to Indiana later this summer. The four of us sisters haven't all been together since before i left for Chile as a missionary. I'm looking forward to this trip more than i can say.

3. The need to not only water my vegetable garden daily, but to also go out and check on the plants 3-4 times a day. I'm a little obsessed with say the least. I can't believe i haven't dedicated an entire blog post to my new garden....i will....soon

2. Getting ready for Girl's Camp this week (our church's youth camp for all the 12-18 year old girls.) It's in two days. I have a garage full of camping gear, a kitchen full of camping food and a head full of things i'm sure i'm gonna forget. I'm not much of a camper. I love nature, but I don't necessarily love to sleep in it. Yet still, I'm actually surprisingly excited for this week.

1. The Number One thing that's kept me from blogging???? It's not really an's not wanting to write about an upcoming event--my oldest child starting Kindergarten in EIGHT days!!!!!!!!!! I've heard about a hundred other moms say the very thing that keeps crossing my mind: "As soon as your kids get really helpful, and really fun to have around, they ship 'em off to kindergarten." What's up with this???? Why does it work this way? And is there any chance they'd take Eliza, and leave Grace for me? Grace is so helpful--legitimately in I ask her to clean up something and she does it. I ask her to help her sisters and she does it. I ask her to get something for me and she does it. When did this start!?!??!?! She even comes up to me about once a day and asks what she can clean!!!

Not to mention that I enjoy just being with her more than ever. We talk all the time about all sorts of things, and I feel like I have a little friend in the house at all times. I don't mean to make it sound like we don't still have our battles...'cause we do. But I feel like I've completely exited the "i have no one to talk to during the day" stage of parenting, and I'm really loving it. And now, for 3 hours each afternoon, she's gonna be gone. I am going to miss her.

And multiply what I'm feeling times a thousand, and that's where Abby's gonna be. Those two are better playmates than ever (so much so that I feel bad for their slightly excluded lil' sister, but that's another post). Abby looks up to Grace so much. I don't have enough imagination or energy to fill Grace's shoes for three hours every afternoon!!! It'll be good for them to have some time apart, though. And Grace is more excited than i would have imagined possible. She's changed so much, and grown-up so much over the past year. Oh, i love having her around...almost enough to consider homeschooling her....almost. I've read many blogs about this very thing over the past few years and I've thought "that will NEVER be me writing about Grace!" And now it's here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Buena Vista

Last weekend Reid and I took the girls to Buena Vista--a little mountain town about 2 hours SW of Denver. Actually, let me rephrase that. Reid's firm took us and the girls to Buena Vista. Originally kids were not invited. But when we had to cancel--since we couldn't find a babysitter--they decided to make it a kid-friendly activity--that's how much they LOVE Reid! (or how badly they needed employed attorneys to "welcome" the summer interns)

It actually turned out to be a wonderful family get-a-way. Since we had the girls with us we had a lot of "unscheduled" time --which was great. And, since the activities of the night before had all of us up hours past our bedtimes, we all slept in the first morning there. (I love my children's ability to do that, btw....i'm sure i'll be cursing it someday...but not yet). So, after a lazy morning in our fancy cabin, we lunched at some local burger joint, and then decided to brave the moderately cold rain--we went swimming at the outdoor Hot Springs. It was awesome. I can now never imagine swimming there in nice weather. The contrast of the cold weather and the hot water was so fun. Eliza cried most of the time (she does that anyway) but the rest of us loved it.

After the hot springs we drove 10 miles or so through muddy roads to Iron City Cemetery and St Elmo--Colorado's famous ghost town.

This town is quaint, kind of cute, but most definitely worth it if you (or your little ones) enjoy tiny rodents eating out of your hands. These lil' chipmunks are actually really cute, and feeding them was not only a highlight for the girls...but maybe for me, too. Maybe.

Abby was the first one to feed them. Grace joined in soon after. And even I was able to push aside the tiny voice in my head telling me that these creatures could bite my hands off. But Eliza never did quite get up the nerve to actually open her hands--she held the seeds, but couldn't quite release them. Bravery is, apparently, a recessive gene :)

When Abby bent over, one of the chipmunks climbed up on her back. She got the BIGGEST kick out of it, so she bent over again, and again. It was so cute, and so funny--and I didn't get a picture of it!! If only I'd have know then how much Abby would talk about that experience!!! She mentioned it about 15-20 times in the car on the way back to our cabin. Literally at least fifteen times she said "I can't believe one of the chipmunks climbed on my back!!" By the 14th time Grace (who had been really supportive of Abby's excitement) finally said, in a sweet voice, "Abby, you've said that lots of times. We know you can't believe it. You don't have to keep talking about it." Well, somebody had to say it--I'm glad Grace did.

We spent the evening with the peeps from Reid's firm at a Bar and Grill. Our reservation was for 8pm. We tried to get out of the whole things, but were somehow convinced into coming. Yes. We were THAT couple with kids out of bed and at a restaurant at 10pm!!! And for paybacks? Eliza decided to spurt the contents of her diaper in every which direction. (That poor highchair will never be the same.) At least it gave us an excuse to leave!

The next morning Eliza was actually quite listless and weak--she was hard to wake up, she'd cry for a few moments, and then just fall asleep wherever she was. For a while there we even debated getting her to a hospital. But, after eating a bit of yogurt she perked up enough for us to feel okay heading home. And she was fine ever since--thank heavens.
I'm thinking she must have had a little stomach bug or something (which would explain the previous night's explosion?).

It was so fun to get away from here, off on our own, in a beautiful and remote part of Colorado I'd never seen. I think I really needed to have some time to focus on my family, and it was nice to be away from cell-phone service, internet connections, etc.

But being away from home didn't take away any of the pain of missing my mom. Maybe it was bound to happen that weekend anyway, but for whatever reason, my mom's permanent absence in my remaining mortal life felt more real than ever. And I had so many unexpected moments of sorrow--that really spilled over into this whole week. But it was healing, too, to be surrounded by gigantic mountains, endless cascading rivers, and green, lush countryside--all things that remind me how small the now is in the grand scheme of things.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I have much to say about my mom's funeral. But not tonight. Not right now.

I need to post these pictures right now, because they're sitting on my computer, preventing my silly mind from being able to blog about anything else...but i'll have to come back and visit this post some other night--to write about all the beautiful things that we experienced that day, the angels that carried us, and the outpouring of love my family felt.

I'm a bit too drained right now to say anything more. For some reason, it's been a really hard few days. I guess that's how this will go for a while.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


It's been three weeks since my mom died. It feels like that day was sometime last fall. It seems impossible that everything that's happened--everything I've felt, witnessed, experienced, learned and cried over--could have possibly taken place in just 21 short days.

I feel like nothing i write could ever do justice to the extent of sorrow, the ups and downs of emotions, the outpouring of love, and the abundance of peace we've all felt over the past weeks and months. But, as I've been going through my mom's poetry, short stories, journals and little notes she's written over the past 45+ years, I'm learning that ANYTHING that's written down has more value than you might imagine. And so, although i have neither the time nor the energy to organize my thoughts right now, i'm going to write them down. Three weeks is too long to have put this off. And i doubt i'll even post about the funeral tonight--which was beautiful--or any of the other MANY things i need to write about. Tonight is just for spilling out some thoughts...

One thing i've been extremely aware of lately is that I haven't been nearly as sympathetic as i could have and should have been in the past when those around me have suffered similar losses. I've even found myself briefly resentful toward my peers who are sad to see their grandparents die--only because mine were all gone by age 11--and how could they possibly be sad when they got to have grandparents into adulthood?? I've found myself silently cynical towards people in their 50's and 60's who talk about the sorrow of losing a parent-- how dare they feel sorrow when they got to have their mom or dad around for their kids' weddings?!?!? These usually dormant feelings of resentment and anger have made a strong debut in my emotions these past weeks. And, as i guess could be expected, I've spent quite a bit of time in the "angry" stage. But I feel that this stage is passing. For whatever reason, it's taken me a while to recognize that no matter what the circumstances--losing a parent is always going to be hard. And everyone suffers from the same sorrows (albeit in different ways). There is no "comparing" sorrow--and this is a lesson i've needed to learn. And, along these same lines, I'm learning that being mad at the people around me who still have what i no longer do, will only hurt my heart--not heal it. I'm ashamed that this is even something i've had to learn.

In contrast to the anger i've felt, there has been an equally strong feeling of love, peace, gratitude and acceptance in my heart. And lately(unless I'm alone) these are the feelings that tend to make their way to the surface most often. These positive feelings that come with this experience could quite easily be ignored or rejected. There are many times, in fact, when i choose not to accept them--sometimes it feels easier to ignore them. I'm reminded often of something my sister said a couple of months ago--that "feeling peace is a choice." And I'm glad to have that reminder--it makes me feel like i have some control in an otherwise out-of-my-control situation--and I need that.

I've been aware of something else that happens when a person dies--and i'm sure many of you have experienced this. I wish that it could happen before we die--because it would truly make the world a better place. For some reason it seems that the moment a person dies, all of their weaknesses, any of the things about them that used to drive you crazy--just disappear. And i truly mean disappear--as in--I can't even remember an instance in which my mom did anything to drive me crazy. I mean, i know that such instances existed, because i can remember hanging up the phone and complaining to Reid about this or that, or yelling something like "mom, you drive me crazy!" But i can't remember what it was that drove me crazy.

And all of my mom's strengths--all the wonderful things she was, and taught me and did for me--they're all magnified ten-fold now. Not just magnified, but maybe even exaggerated. For example, i know that i dreaded piano lessons from my mom. i know i did. But right now as i recall sitting down with her for those lessons, in my mind's eye there are butterflies floating around in the strawberry-scented air. Her hair has golden ribbons and white flowers in it, and we're giggling like little girls at a misplayed chord. . . . Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but the fact remains that everything she wanted or needed to change about herself no longer exists to me. And everything she was great at, or even sort of great at, is now the strongest part of my memory of her. Why must a person die for this to happen? I don't know. Maybe it's because we humans have a seemingly unchangeable need to embrace the faults of those around us. Or maybe it's a coping mechanism. Or maybe God allows us in these difficult moments to start seeing what He's been seeing all along, as a part of His abundant and everflowing grace. Whatever it is--I like it. I like that nothing but sweet and happy memories fill the part of my mind that my mom will forever occupy.

I miss my mom. I miss her more each day, actually, which is surprising to me. But I'm okay, too. It sucks that my mom died. It really does. And everyone i talk to who's been through this usually takes those exact words out of my mouth. But there is so much living to do, too.

My sweet girls have been such a happy place for my siblings, my dad and for me. What would we all do without them?!?! At least 3-5 times a day Grace or Abby come up and give me a hug and say, "Mom, i'm still sad about Grandma" or, "Mom, i really miss Grandma." It is so nice to have people around me to mourn with. And although i don't know that Abby gets what she's saying (she does just about everything Grace does), her hugs, along with Grace's, help more than they will ever know.

I didn't know, 23 days ago when my sister called to tell me that my mom only had 1-2 days left, if I should hop in the car and try to get there in time to say goodbye, knowing that my mom was mostly comatose, or if I should wait here until arrangements for the funeral were final. Grace's preschool graduation was five days away, and for whatever reason it absolutely tore me up inside to think about taking her away from it. It seems silly now, it really does. But it was so important to me in the moment. And i didn't know if i needed to be there for the moment my mom actually passed. I'd spent so much time with her, and had so much closure--did i really need to drive back in a mad rush to be by her bedside for her last breaths?

The answer was yes. I don't know how to describe what happened inside of me, but about 4 minutes after getting that call i felt inexplicably compelled to throw my family and all our belongings (okay, it wasn't all, but it kinda looked like it) into our van and get to my mom's side. Reid was the voice of reason and thought it would be best if one of us (him) get a good nights' rest before making that trek. I slept one hour that night. Reid woke us up early and drove most of the way there!! My heart and eyelids were both too heavy to operate a vehicle--what would i have done without him?!?!

The drive only took 7 hours--a record. But it was the longest drive of my life. The thought of getting there too late started to hurt so much. What was i afraid of missing? What more did I need to say or experience? Why did i need this so much? Why did I plow over my welcoming crew the moment we pulled up to my parents' house in a mad rush my mom's bedside?

The nurse said she was in a coma. And maybe she was. But when I held her hand and said "mom, it's me, Emily. I love you so much" I knew that she was hearing me. She knew I was there. Still with her hand in mine i said, "Mom, if you can hear me and know i'm here squeeze my hand." One second passed. Two seconds passed. Three seconds passed. And somehow she mustered up the mental and physical energy to give my hand an unmistakable squeeze.

That was what i'd needed. That was what had so strongly compelled me drop everything and rush home to her. I needed my mom. I needed to have one last interaction with her. In a most selfish way, i needed her to expend all that she had left, to give me this final moment of being together. And in her typical selfless fashion, she took care of me when I needed her.

The next 14 hours until she passed were filled with moments too personal and too sacred to share on this blog. But I will say this--that just as when when a life is brought into this world, when a life is taken from this world, there are angels attending, there is an abundance of love to be felt, and there is no denying the Greater Plan of which we are all a small part.