Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Two years without you.

Anyone who has spent any length of time with me recently knows I’ve been dreading today. Dreading it the same way I did last year and likely the same way I’ll dread it again next year. My mind spent all of yesterday trying to make itself believe that it was the seventh yesterday as if skipping today would someone how bring you back or make this whole thing easier. 

Unfortunately you can’t skip a day or remove it from the calendar and wishing someone back to life just doesn’t work no matter how hard you try and trust me, I have tried. 

People give suggestions on what they think or hope will make it easier. Dating, moving, traveling, taking down his pictures, Jesus, and so much more.  Sometimes I wonder if they’re trying to help me feel better or themselves but it doesn’t matter, I’ve learned most people mean well regardless. They miss the mark with their suggestions.  They forget that even when or if I choose to date again that, that won’t negate from the love i still and will continue to have for you and it certainly won’t stop the grief. I have enough widowed friends to know this with certainty and quite frankly I wouldn’t want to take either away either.  No not even the pain, as crazy as that sounds but I’ll save that explanation for another time. There’s the people on the other side of the coin who want me to wear black and a veil and be in a constant state of agony.....luckily I can roll my eyes at that because you’d have never wanted that for us. 

They forget that if even if I traveled eventually I’d have to come back and though I’d have enjoyed myself, nothing would be different upon return.   Talking down your pictures? That’s not even a suggestion I entertain, rather just smile and shrug. The only two they hit the mark with is moving and Jesus. 

I’ve considered moving recently. Not now but in a few years. It’s a nice thought, knowing that I can come back often to visit and that even when I pass, my body can be brought here to be buried next to you regardless of where I live but I wouldn’t have to be surrounded by the places that still bring the trauma of that night and the heaviness of your loss to the forefront of my mind and make me feel like I’m drowning when I least expect it, it’s an almost peaceful thought. There’s the people on the other side of the coin saying “what about the good memories, won’t you miss them?!” these are the ones who have never experience something like this. They don’t realize that the good memories are always with me, they’re what bring me peace in the hard moments. They can’t be ignored the way that the painful ones can.  Yeah sometimes moving sounds nice. 

And Jesus. We both know that outside of the deep love I have for our children Jesus is the only thing that’s gotten me through. That has helped me find a new normal. That has helped me navigate this. I don’t know how other people do it without, I sure couldn’t. 

It’s been two years or rather it will be at 8:03pm.  Somethings are still the same, I have great family and friends, some old, the ones you would expect like Tahnya Nicole and Lindsey, but some really wonderful new ones too like Cortnee and Raquel,  there’s others too, I think you’d really  like most of them. I’ve lost some friends too, by choice and it really wasn’t as painful as you’d imagine. I think when you’ve gone through the worst, It makes everything easier. That and I’ve learned in your loss that I don’t have time to allow toxicity into my life. We already carry enough pain without anyone adding to that. 

It’s been two years and I laugh more freely and without feeling guilt that you can’t.  I find joy in our children and I can listen to music without wanting to crawl out of my own skin for the most part. I’m still so angry with God sometimes, but now it’s different. It’s not constant and not to the point where I consider leaving him entirely. 

It’s been two years and I can get through most days okay. I’m in a constant state of exhaustion but not a constant state of pain or panic. I’m still in a constant state of missing you but I now smile when I think of all our memories instead of wanting to die to be with you.  I’m still in pain. I still cry and I still want you daily, but I’ve also found some joy and happiness. 

It’s not better. But it’s different and I’ll take that.  730 days without you and instead of wishing I was dead with you, I try to live for you. 

See you someday soon, babe. 

I love you. The kids love you. We miss you. Forever. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A letter to our daughter on her second birthday

Dearest Nathan,

You should have been here to share in the joy of our daughter’s second birthday but you’re not. You’ve missed this and so many other things and right now.... right now it’s too painful to address this as evidenced by my lapse in entries so instead I’ll share with you the letter I wrote to her. Our sweet wild baby.

My darling Aria-Lyn,

Happy birthday, baby girl! Can I even say that anymore? After all two is hardly a baby…no, it’s official: my baby is no longer a baby. And, while part of me is grieving that you’re no longer the tiny infant you used to be, the whole of me is excited for who you are now and who you are becoming. 

This has been a year of incredible growth and change for you. This week I was looking back at some photos of you from this past year and I couldn’t believe how much you have grown in 12 short months. 

You went from being a tiny, sickly (but still so beautiful) baby who was just learning how to crawl (and by crawl, I mean that adorable little scoot that you used to do!) to a bright-eyed toddler in who quite literally never sits still, running after her brother with her pigtails bobbing. You went from tasting your first mashed-up foods and absolutely hating them to out-eating what your dad used to eat at most meals which is really saying something, because boy could he eat!  

Every day I look at you I see a bit more of the girl you are becoming, and it’s beautiful.
Your personality has grown with you this year, too. You are incredibly caring and loving when you want to be, whether he is sad or hurt, you have a tender compassion for your brother, though admittedly as much as you love each other you fight enough you make me want to rip my hair out. 

Speaking of fight, a few weeks shy of this day, it happened. You reached the terrible twos, and suddenly everything was even more dramatic than before. I wouldn’t have thought it possible because you’ve always been a vocal, spirited girl, but you have become even more vocal. More spirited. More stubborn. More independent. More loving. More emphatic. And you can throw quite the fit and you do. Often. Little miss think she’s in charge. A wild woman with more sass than most people can handle. 

As challenging as your temperament is and will continue to be for me and my constant quest to teach and discipline appropriately and in a way that still shows you love, i am actually very happy that you are your own little person even at this young age. You know what you want, even if you don’t yet know what you need, but that’s a struggle even for adults sometimes, and once you know what you want you are not easily deterred. That won’t be a bad thing as you get older. 

You can definitely hold your own and all I can say is, good luck to anyone who messes with you! Between your over-protective older brother–and your ability to take down a full-grown adult with your tackles, nobody should ever give you any trouble! I’m also pretty sure that you’re not going to be allowed to date until you’re in your 30’s, but we can have that conversation later.

You are finally walking and catching up in all the areas there has been struggles due to health issues and the complications that a baby suffers after losing a parent.   

You have overcome so much and I can’t even imagine what adventures still lie ahead, but I am so excited to watch because this year, your third year of life, will bring so many new opportunities and growth. This year will bring preschool (WHAT?!), potty training....which means we will officially be a diaper-free household–sweet Jesus, pinch me is this is real?  I am a little terrified for the latter because as easy as potty training your brother was I think you will be a struggle.  This third year will bring our first multi-word conversations, travels, and so much more.

Please remember that as you grow, there will be people along the way who will try to tell you that what you want to accomplish is impossible. That you are not good enough, that you are not strong enough, that you are not enough. I hope you stay as pure as you are now, to know what you want and go after it regardless of the naysayers. You can do away with the tantrums, but please stick to your guns and keep that determined nature. It will serve you well in life.  And always remember you are enough. You are strong. You are brave. You are beautiful. You are loved and you always have a safe place with me to land. 

Nurture your loving side, too. You can never give too much love to the people close to you.  You can never tell them you love them too many times. Be free with your kindness, with your smiles and laughs.

Remember, when you get hurt you gotta “shake it off, shake it off....cause haters gonna hate hate hate”.   This applies to more than just a booboo on your knee. You’ll see.

Aria-Lyn, I just can’t wait! Life with you is so exciting albeit also exhausting! 

Thinking back on how far you’ve come in two short years, I can’t help but be amazed. It feels like just yesterday we were welcoming you into the world, and yet simultaneously it feels like you’ve always been a part of our lives. And maybe that’s true. Maybe a piece of my heart has always belonged to you, even before you were born–it just wasn’t until I met you that I knew who that piece belonged to or even recognized it was there. 

My heart belongs to you and your brother, yes you must share and I hope you always know how much joy, how much light, laughter, and love you bring to our family.  I still can’t believe that you’re mine. Happy birthday, baby girl (and as I tell sawyer, you’ll always be my baby). Two down, and many more to go.

I truly believe you are destined for greatness. Don’t forget to be graceful and gracious in all your successes and failures. We love you so much. 

Happy birthday. 


I love you, Nathan James. So do the kids and we miss you so so much. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy father’s d in Heaven

This is your second father’s day in Heaven and it’s still so surreal.  Grieving your loss was hard but grieving it for our children assed a larger layer.  

You loved Sawyer as your own and you were the first man Aria-Lyn ever loved. It may seem so strange to the latter since you were around her for such a short time, but given her body’s physical reaction and also the colic that set in almost immediately after you died, it’s obvious. To me, to friends, and even to her doctor. You were such an involved dad and in the two short years with Sawyer and the even shorter month with Aria, you created so many memories with them and even though she may never remember there are so many photos to show her and even more people to share stories of your love for her, with her. Especially her brother, he already tells her about you. 

Some days are harder than others, many involve me thinking about what you have missed out on and will continue to. In those moments I try to remember that you continue to go through life with us, just in a different way. Just looking at Aria is a reminder that you will always be one of the best parts of our family. 

Most people say Aria-Lyn is your spitting image and other than the eyes and the red in her dirty blonde hair, I agree , but then there are the people that  never got to meet you that say She looks like me. I smile and shrug and tell them that they’d change their mind if they saw you. 

You’d be so proud of both of them. They argue and are mean to each other all the time but Sawyer is Aria’s fiercest protector just the same. She’s finally getting the courage to walk. It’s a soul process particularly since she got so sick.  She’s such a happy baby, a lover, wild, daring like you, no fear. Her giggle is one of the sweetest sounds in this world. She points to your photos and smiles and says dada. Don’t worry she knows who you are and she always will. 

Sawyer played t-ball. He hated it and insisted it was fake baseball because he had to use a tee instead of it being thrown. He only liked going to games to get an “atorgator” he still loves to ride his bike and go to bmx though with school and baseball  he didn’t go as much this year. He talks about you EVERY time he rides.  Actually, he still talks about you all the time and still sleeps with Nate the lion. Aria sleeps with her pink giraffe. He says it makes him feel closer to you. He sleeps with his blanket made of your shirts and your pillow too. For the same reason and I hope one day Aria will feel the same about her stuffy and blanket. 

You were the best dad, I hope you know that now. They were so blessed to have you for the time they did even though it needed and should have been longer. We love you. We miss you. Forever.  Happy Father’s Day

Happy birthday


I posted on Facebook and Instagram for you on the 8, but forgot to put it here which is why this seems late. 

Today would be your thirty first birthday and the second one you’ve spent in heaven, the second we’ve been without you. 

This isn’t the way it should have been. I should have woken you up at midnight to make sure I was first to say happy birthday. I remember the night of your last birthday, laying with my head on your chest listening to your heart beat, you sighing contently and talking sleepily about how your next birthday we would be a family of four and you couldn't wait. In that moment I fell in love with you all over again. 

I hope you knew in life that you didn't just have my heart, you were my heart. I loved you more than anything else. I was so proud of the man that you were and no matter what anyone else thought or said I was so proud to be your wife. I still am.  I guess I  find comfort in that if you did not know then, you know now. 

I wish that you were here celebrating with us. I wish I could watch you play with the kids. I wish we were planning to our next family vacation. Most of all I wish you were here to hug me. To tell me that you love me. To reassure me that I am a good Mama and that everything will be okay.  I guess everything is okay though isn’t it? We breathe now without having to think about it and we laugh and we smile and play, most of the time more than we cry and we do it in your memory. We hold our memories and they bring more joy than pain now and I am thankful for the time I had with you even if I still wish it was more. 

I talked to one of your friends recently and he told me one of your favorite stories, too much to drink and a donut shop. I think your friends think about you as much as we do and that makes my heart happy too. I think it would make you happy to realize you mattered more than you ever realized. 

We miss you. Hug my mom for me. Hug your mom and the rest of our family members for me.  Enjoy celebrating with them and with Jesus. I can't wait for the day we are reunited. 

The kids and I, your family, and many of your friends.... we all love you. We miss you. Forever. 

Happy birthday, Baby.

"Just because you're gone doesn't mean that I've moved on. I still love you just

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother’s Day is bittersweet

Dearest Nathan,

Mother’s Day is totally bittersweet when you’re widowed.  I love my kids with every fiber of my being. I am so thankful to be their mother and I would immediately take a bullet for them in the event that it was necessary. Those sweet babies in those pictures are literally the only reason I am here and made it through the first months of grief. They are why I am stronger now than I ever have been and why I make sure that good comes from their daddy passing. They are literally my heart and soul BUT.....

Widowed parenthood means that sometimes you wish you didn’t have your kids, not because you’re selfish or because you don’t love them with all your being but because watching them grieve might slowly kill you. And trust me they grieve. The doctors say a lot of Aria’s health issues are from grief and the stress of losing a parent and if you take even five minutes to talk to Sawyer you’ll walk away knowing how much his heart aches.

It’s feeling like you’re failing because your grief pains them.  Because you can’t stop either of your hurt and because you know it doesn’t get better it gets different and you learn to live with it and find joy in your new normal.

It’s the worry that they might do the same thing that their dad did because statistically just the fact that he died by suicide means that they are more likely to also die that way.

It’s the guilt that comes with knowing what they’re missing and wondering if you could have done more. It’s the guilt that comes because there are some days you wish they could just go away so you could have a second to just breathe.

It’s the worry about what happens to them if something happens to you and yet the indescribable pull towards wild and reckless abandon which just so you are aware, creates more guilt.

It’s the guilt that comes from not being able to protect them from the tragedy  that they’ve had to endure. The worry that you yell too much from a combination of stress and grief. The lack of patience. The worry that you’re not doing enough to prove that you love them

and the secret nagging voice in your head that tells you they lost the better parent. You’re failing them. You will continue to fail them and everyone knows it. It’s a matter of when and not if. All anyone sees is the poor pitiful widow and that’s all they’ll see too.  You try to quiet that voice but sometimes it’s enough to drive a person mad.

Mother’s Day isn’t joyous most of the time anymore, it’s just another reminder of what we lost and what we deal with everyday.   It’s loving your kids but wishing they had something different.
An example of reckless abandon 

Friday, May 4, 2018

I’m a different person...

I posted a video on Instagram of a song I composed.  It is the last thing I ever composed. It was in December 2016 when I felt everything and nothing all at the same time.  I could barely remember my own name let alone to eat or to sleep.  I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing his final moments and breathing, something that comes so innately suddenly took so much work. December was a month I didn’t actually believe I’d survive, I’d tell people I was fine just so that they’d stop talking because the sound of their voices literally made my insides hurt.

I remember very distinctly waking up and this melody being stuck in my head and no matter how much I cried or prayed or tried to cancel it out by listening to my baby’s breathing beside me, it wouldn’t go away and so I hummed a recording of it into my phone. One that’s long since been deleted and the next day as I sat at my friend’s house, wearing pajamas (yes, pajamas) that made little sense for the weather because I’d given up on both wearing anything but pajamas and his old sweatshirt unless I had to and on taking care of myself beyond what my friends and family mandated as a must to be considered “moving forward healthily”, reminding myself to breath in and then out and then rinse and repeat I listened to that recording and somehow put it into a blend of music notes.

I still have no idea where it came from or why. And it’s strange to watch it now because I  don’t really enjoy playing anymore. The videos I post seem like ages ago, like I’m watching an entirely different version of myself play and I am okay with that because I breathe without thinking about it, I can genuinely laugh with people without any sense of  guilt, I remember to eat and to sleep, and I tell people I’m fine not because I’d do anything to stop them from speaking even one more word, but because I really am fine. 

get paid to write articles and people genuinely want to hear what I have to say. I’ve spoken to amazing people like Trent Shelton and I tell a story of devastation in order to lift others up. I’m a different person than I was when I had him. When he was here and his smile was the best thing in my life.  Now I have other things and that’s okay.  I don’t argue as deeply. I let things go that don’t matter and hang on tightly (maybe to the point of obsession) the things and to the people that have touched my life or that I believe in so deeply, even when other people don’t understand why. I’m not as stubborn and I’m much patient and forgiving.  I like to think I’m better than I was but that’s hard to judge yourself on. 

That’s not to say I don’t miss him. That I don’t think about him. That I don’t  talk about him. I do. I do all of those things daily. But I’ve learned to live without him. I’ve learned to be happy without him. And I’ve learned that’s okay. That’s what he’d want.  And it’s okay that I’m a totally different person than the girl that composed this, what would be 2 years ago in December, because  I make a choice daily,  that he simply couldn’t make anymore. I make a  choice to live, because he couldn’t. And not just live but live a life that brings me joy and hopefully in some small way brings those that are lost a little bit of hope.  And I think he’d want that for me too. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in second, somewhere between awake and asleep - where dreams could still be real and you could still be here.

Dearest Nathan.

It's been so long since I've written.  Two months, nearing three.  I didn't mean to let so much time pass but I also didn't want to write, but I was accused of only writing and talking and remembering you for attention and as wrong as it was, it still stung and made me both mad and sad all at once and suddenly I didn't care if anyone else remembered you.  I didn't care if we raised awareness.  I didn't care.  I only cared that you were remembered by me and by our children and  I wanted to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself where they were safe from ridicule and where no one could ever possibly tarnish the memories I have of you.  But then today I realized something very important.  I don't care what people think, and I want to say your name, and I want the world to know that you're not only remembered but that you were important and that you were loved - are loved and you wouldn't want me to take anyone's incorrect opinions of my motives to heart anyway.  I remember.

You were the one. From the day we started dating, I knew you were the one.  Maybe I had even known in high school when we were just friends. We started dating. We moved in together. We lived. We were happy. That's the kicker... we were happy.  Despite the problems, and the heartache from various things both past and at the time, present, we were happy or at least i thought we were happy.

And then you killed yourself.

It was a cool evening in early November, but despite being cool it was warmer than usual. It was a Sunday, we had argued the day before but that day had been good with no real cause for any sort of concern- we had spent the day with my family and some close family friends, he had met my biological mother’s best friend and we had laughed and shared stories and good conversation. It wasn’t how we spent most sundays but it also wasn’t out of the ordinary. Just a regular lazy sunday - family and then to the grocery store and making plans with friends for the following week, and preparing for the monday work day, the same way sundays had been for as long as I can remember.

When we got home you started acting weird, but I didn’t think it was anything too serious.  I told you to go take a breather, so you didn’t worry Sawyer.  I wouldn’t have let you out of my sight had I known that would be the last time I would ever talk to you.  I would have said so many more things to you.  So many things.  

I remember taking the kids side and setting them down.  I remember you getting into the work van.  I remember you yelling and looking to see what happened.  You had a gash on your head, but I figured I’d get the kids settled in and then go check on you.  Had I known then what I know now, I would have left the kids and checked on you immediately but I guess what they say is true.  Hindsight is nearly always 20/20.  

The gun went off.  I was screaming like a banshee.  The neighbors scooped me and the kids up and rushed us into their house.  The police showed up at around eight o' clock.  The cops asked a lot of questions.  The broke the window to the van, there was no other way to get to you.  They tried to resuscitate you.  I’m not stupid, I know that they did this for much longer than they usually do and I know they did it for my benefit and no other reason but that.  I suppose that’s what happens when you know so many police officers and firefighters.  Everything was so slow motion.  I remember talking to Tahnya and my parents and to Lindsey and to Cory, and the lady was that called Jenn.

I don't really remember much more after that. I know that the officer was trying to put off telling me you were dead and even the knew, I still made him tell me before I would answer any of his questions. I called my parents, my sister, Tahnya, Lindsey, and Cory.  I don’t know how your family knew they needed to come but they came and they all hugged me and told me they were sorry, but they didn’t realize that no one would ever be as sorry as I was.  I don’t remember most of what I said to anyone or the names of the police officers or the name of the lady who called Jenn. I don’t remember so many things.

But I do remember watching you die when I ran outside and feelings it in my heart the moment you left this earth.  I remember the old man across the street asking me if I was okay and yelling back no and pleading with them to call 911.  I remember not understanding how you could leave me and more importantly how you could leave the kid.  I remember picking out photographs for the obituary and for the service.  I remember picking sunflowers and carnations and your red guitar - the same guitar you used the first time you ever played for me. I remember the red shirt you were wearing that night and making plans to have dinner with Linds the following tuesday. And most of all I remember what you smelled like, what your laugh sounds like how you smiled first thing in the morning when Sawyer climbed into the bed. I remember the small scar on your hand from tile work and the way your kisses tasted like Five peppermint gum.

I remember all of it. Just like it happened yesterday. 

That was almost 15 months ago. I'm still trying to work through things. We seem like we have it all together and that we have mastered our new normal but Sawyer and I still haven't quite adjusted to life without you. I don't know if we’ve really had the chance, mostly because it’s chaotic with two kids and two dogs and two fish and only one parent. I still talk to and about you often, even if talking to you really means just talking to your picture hanging on my bedroom wall - the one that everyone signed at the service.  Sawyer still talks about you all the time and smiles when he sees your picture.  He likes to talk about his memories and reminds me often that you’re still with us and you’re happy.  Tahnya and Lindsey still talk about you too and Peyton loved and misses you so much she wanted to take on of your things to show and tell to talk about her Uncle Nathan.   I truly believe that you are  the first man I ever really loved, everyone that came before you - I cared for them, I wanted to love them, but I didn’t feel for them the way I felt for you.  You were the first man I ever truly gave my heart too, the first man I ever loved with my whole being and somewhere in my heart I'll always love you. Always.  No matter where life takes me.

So many of my friends are scattered across the country, in some cases the world and so sometimes we go a long time without talking- but we're all still tied together somehow.  They’re all doing their own things. Getting married, having families of their own, living life by their rules.  I am so happy for them, but sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in second, somewhere between awake and asleep - where dreams could still be real and you could still be here. I move through life slowly, but with purpose. I try to do my best. To make sure our kids know of the man you were and remember how you cared for them and for me.   To hope for good and know that love is real. 

Because I remember.
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