What is this?

What is this? I don't really know, other then a continuation of my updates and writings that I was sharing previously on Caringbridge of this journey through cancer and now widowhood and single parenting.

Maybe it won't end up being anything at all, or maybe it will be a glimpse into my heart, my life, my current situation, my testimony.

Whatever it becomes, I am touched that you are interested.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Trigger Dates...ready, set, go...

I have this urge to sit down and write, and I don't know what it is that is needing to come out.  Maybe it's the fact that starting today, the next 3 months are full of trigger dates.

Dates that stick in your mind and make you sit in thoughts and memories, both good and bad.

I feel I've turned a corner in my grief lately.  I've begun to figure out how to cope with this, not just survive it.  Writing about it seems to help for some reason.  And not just journaling, but sharing it publicly.

Journaling seems to have it's own specific purpose.  A place for me to release all the awful, scary, weird and confusing thoughts that swirl in my mind endlessly until released.  The things you dare not say out loud for some reason, however they still need to be processed and let go.

Then there is this.  I don't know why I feel the need to write here, but what I share feels spirit guided.  It's what God is putting on my heart to put into words and put out there for more then just myself to read.

I may have more posts as in these upcoming months as well.  In this new stage of grief I'm feeling the need to face these trigger dates head on and truly process them.  I even downloaded the Timehop app which shows you pictures and postings from your social media sites and phone from this day in years passed.  Until now I have hated seeing people's Timehop photos show up on my newsfeed.  I wished I could find it interesting to know, but it only made my reality hurt deeper.  But now, I think I'm ready to face the hurt that brings healing, so I will lean into it, not away from it.

One year ago on this day we found out the cancer returned by the results of Brandon's emergency PET scan.  I was in the last week of my pregnancy.  Fear consumed us.

I close my eyes and get visual flashes of parts of that day.  They are utterly hard to think about.  The feelings of that day come alive again.  My heart starts beating fast, anxiety rises, dreams start breaking and tears flow.

Four years ago on this day we awaited the results of Brandon's treatment completion PET scan.  I close my eyes and am now transported back to our apartment, and I feel the anticipation in waiting, and the hope for healing, and the fear of the unknown.  I took a moment to re-read my CaringBridge Update (<--click to read) from that day, and feel partly like I'm reading someone else's words, and partly like I just wrote them.  It's all very conflicting.

But what I have found to be very true is the common saying that "The only way to do it, is go through it."  Not around it, and not avoiding it.  And I feel ready to continue through the darkness of this grief.  "They" say there is light on the other side.  God says He can redeem anything, and I believe Him.  So I will try to walk by faith.  Steps that have never mislead me before.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

First Father's Day

This past Sunday was Father's Day.  The first one.

The "firsts" of everything come with anxiety and uncertainty.  For me this one also came with purpose.  And my purpose was not simply to "survive" it, but to be intentional about it.  This was the first time I felt able to put some thought into one of these days.

In the weeks prior I spent some time in thought about what Aria and I could do, starting this year, to honor and remember her daddy.  I thought of what I would have done for Brandon's first Father's Day, and how could that translate in some ways?

I probably would have made him sleep in and brought him breakfast in bed.  We would have had a lazy morning then the three of us would have gone to the driving range together so daddy could hit a bucket of balls.  In a couple of years we all would have had our own bucket to hit, with daddy critiquing our swings and giving us tips.  He probably would have only hit a few balls himself, taking more joy in watching and helping his girls.  We would then have a picnic lunch at a park and probably spent the rest of the evening with family for dinner.

But that's not our reality. And tears fell freely imagining what could have been.

Instead, I got to sleep in til 9 am (thank you Aria!)  We had a lazy morning together, and during her morning nap I sat outside and painted 2 bird houses.

Brandon loved birds and would feed them with numerous feeders around the yard.  He even had a heated bird bath for the winter so they could drink easily.  He saw it a challenge to identify all the birds that came and find the particular kind of feed they preferred.  So every year on Father's Day Aria and I will paint birdhouses and hang them in the back yard.  Then, someday when she moves out she can take all of her painted birdhouses to her home to bring a little bit of daddy with her.

My thumbprint heart birdhouse and Aria's hand smudge birdhouse.
After she woke from her nap we went and got one of daddy's favorite foods, a double bacon breakfast burrito, and headed up to Mount Lindo to have a picnic lunch together.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and in the low 90's.  Even at almost 8,000 feet elevation it was hot, so I shaded us with an umbrella and we hung out there for an hour and a half.

Sharing Daddy's favorite burrito.

Just hanging out.

I was hoping to take a walk on the paths of Fox Hollow Golf Course with Aria, however she wasn't really up for it by the time we left the cemetery, but maybe next year.  So we headed home and played together.

All in all, it was.  It's hard to say it was "nice".  I mean, it was purposeful and meaningful.  But it was missing something.  It always will.  And that sucks.  There is no getting around it.

But I leave my hope in God.  And I know that no matter what pain and loss we feel here, nothing will be lost in Heaven.  Somehow, beyond my understanding, Brandon is not loosing his opportunity to be a father to Aria.  And I will do everything possible for Aria to feel like she knows her daddy.

Not long ago, a friend of mine gave me a priceless gift.  She has walked very closely with me through this experience and our friendship has blossomed in the past year since she moved back to Colorado.  Due to frequent moves in the past few years she never got to know Brandon personally.  However, she encouraged me with some beautiful insight that I have held close to my heart.  She told me that if I talk about Brandon to Aria in any way like I talk about him to her, Aria will undoubtedly know exactly who her daddy was.  From his silly nuances and annoying habits to his wise council and unwavering love.  She will know him.  All of him that I can give to her.

And I am grateful for that.  I already talk constantly about him with her.

I joke; "Daddy would have told me to stop trying to pick the booger out of your nose and just leave you alone!"

I inform; "Daddy probably wouldn't like me allowing you to do that."

I say tearfully and longingly; "Daddy would have loved to see you do that, sweet girl."

It's important to me that all her associations with daddy are not sad.  That's not how he would want his baby girl to know him.  Linked with loss and pain.  No.  He was full of life, love and laughter.  The loss is ours, not his.  But someday, that loss will be no more.  And that's what I live for.