Would You?

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If you passed me on the street, would you recognize me?

The dark ponytailed hair, extra 20 pounds, and sometimes sad eyes dressed in the boring mommy uniform, blending in next to others just trying to get the grocery shopping done?

In that cursory glance as you ‘excuse me’d’ through the crowd to pick up the blue cheese-stuffed burgers and Blue Moon, would you give the tired mom a second glance? Would there be anything there to recognize as familiar?

If you passed him in a crowd, would you know who he was?

The little boy who is now over 4 foot, 60 lbs, and sports a buzz cut? The one who is cracking his mommy up in the aisles and testing her patience as he asks her the same question over and over again and then acts on the opposite of the answer?

The little boy whose eyes are actively seeking the male figures pushing carts with kids in them, and wondering what it is like to have a father active in his daily life? Would there be anything there to recognize as familiar?

Five years are gone in the blink of an eye, and so much has changed. The days have compounded and so have the alterations. Life has modified, adapted, and conformed in your absence…in some ways for the better, as we learn to embrace what is important and true and dear; and in some ways for the worst, as the equilibrium of the increasing distance weighs on the thread we are trying to keep tightly connected.

This is our new normal. The one we have to embrace as our now, the one that is beautiful in some ways and aching in others. The one that is so different from what it could have and would have been.

Sometimes I wonder if you know where we are now. If you would approve of where we are, how we’ve changed. And deep in my heart, I know the perfect soul you have now absolutely understands beyond what we possibly can while still back here without you…and not only would you approve of how I’ve tried to do everything right by you, but would commend and comfort and encourage me, and him. But certain parts of my mind conflict with my heart and wonder if you would fit here now, if we would fit with you, or if you would even want to.

My goal from day one has been to do things to make you proud.

As if one day I would get to tell you all about it and I wanted it to be the best story.

But there are many things I am not proud of…

and you always found your pride of us in me.

So where does that leave us?

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I think I’ve finally learned an important lesson.

I don’t know why or how or when, but I see it now.

What you found so admirable in me is that I achieved. I did. And I did with blind and unrecognizing spirit, confidence, and ambition.

So my very act of concentrating on trying to do with spirit, confidence, and ambition, has actually killed those exact things.

But I think I’m scared that if I stop trying so hard, I’ll never measure up again. If you aren’t here, how I will be those things again? Without that mirror, how do I know? We filled each others holes, we bridged the gaps, we strengthened the weaknesses and smoothed the rough edges, calmed the crazies and drew out the excitement from the borings. We balanced.

That is my word for this year. Balance.

I am trying to learn to do it on my own. You know I struggle with that.

I see now that there are others who recognize those things in me. Someone in particular so precious who not only sees me for that old me you would see, but sees me for the different me now. And not only sees me, but loves and appreciates and cherishes me. That is precious, and I believe sent by God and you. And even more importantly, I see now that even if there wasn’t someone to recognize those things, the most important thing is that I recognize them in myself…and that I’m strong enough to not need to see things in myself anymore to have worth, but to see that what I can give to others and to God to is way more important. I think I am finally learning how to be me without you…that is so very incredibly painful to admit. And it is so important to me that in turn, I always know, and keep close, that I wouldn’t be where I am without who you were and what you did.

The part I’m still not so sure about it raising this beautiful little creature without you.

If you did pass us in the crowd, I would choose for you to see him.

And as much as I sometimes fear that you wouldn’t, and realize that it is likely that he wouldn’t either, I comfort myself in the many ways that he is you. If I need to feel you near, I just have to hug him. If I need to know your reaction to something, I just need to show him my realness and vulnerabilities. His laughter and jokes and smartass comments and reassuring hugs are you.

It’s as close as we are ever going to get.

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If you passed me on the street, would you recognize me?

If you passed him in a crowd, would you know who he was?

Through the tired mom costume and the hyperactive man-giant cloak, I think you would…

and you would tell us we are doing just fine.

monica

Lovely

Five.

Today, it’s been five years.

5

Five years since that awful knock on the door. Five years since our world changed so drastically. Five years of aching obvious absence.

But…it’s also been five years of love pouring from every seam and every crack of life, love pouring out of every crevice for The Hubs and for our family.

So today, instead of being sad, I am going to celebrate.

Celebrate a life of passion, a life of fun, a life of a hero. Celebrate an amazing man who changed my life forever. A life we are still living, so we must celebrate the way that he would.

I encourage you to do the same.

Wherever you are, whatever your poison, will you toast tonight in honor of this amazing man?

Please go here —> https://www.facebook.com/events/852694658083668 and share your photos: wine or beer or coffee or water – whatever your poison, raise a glass to him, to LIFE. Our family thanks you!

<3 <3

Blast from the Past – “Foreshadowing at It’s Best”

Remember my hopes of writing the memoir?

I’ve decided it’s time to get off my ass, stop wishing and TALKING so dang much, and start DOING.

Thankfully I intend to include a lot of the writing from the blog in the memoir, so this process will mostly entail compiling, editing, layout, etc. (I say thankfully now…)

However, there is still a significant amount of writing to do to start, finish, and tie things together…and the majority of the new writing will be memories and stories of our early days, the things I haven’t wanted to drudge up and thus have used as an excuse to stall the process.

So, in the hopes of progress, I’m going to start recording a few memories here. Stories, snippets, flashes of early memories that come to me from time to time. I think it might be easier to just record them here as they naturally flow, rather than try to force them later. And now is the perfect timing, as the anniversary approaches and my mind wanders into the sentimental…

I’ll file these in with the earlier “Blast from the Past” posts; even though they originate from different places, it just makes sense. I’d love your feedback on which memories you’d like to see included in the memoir.

So, without further adieu…

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Stop Being So Mean.

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I’ve been thinking about something the past few days.

I’m so hard on myself. Why is that?

After my last rambling post, I woke up the next morning with a pit in my stomach. I felt exposed, raw, and weird. Almost like an awkward walk-of-shame, tiptoeing about the morning with sinking feeling of regret and vulnerability.

It took everything I had in me not to pull down that post.

I mentioned that to my sweet boyfriend, who said some things that got me thinking.

What was I ashamed of? Honesty? Openness? Admitting weakness and showing faults and releasing the facade of perfection?

Isn’t that what I want? Authenticity?

Genuineness isn’t always pretty. And it shouldn’t be. So what if I don’t have it all together sometimes? No one does. I wouldn’t fault my best friend, or my sister, or my boyfriend, or even the stranger on the street, if they had an off day and possessed feelings and said things that contradicted the way they normally feel or strive to be. So why can’t I extend myself the same grace and acceptance?

This topic has came up multiple times in therapy. My extreme levels of self-criticism. My lack of self-acceptance. My overreaching quest for a perfect presentation, to always be the right thing and do the right thing.

And honestly, I’m light years from where I used to be. I can genuinely say I like myself now. I like this person, I trust her, and I believe in her. But I am still so critical of her sometimes.

When she is taking steps forward, progressing, motivated and headstrong, it’s easy to like her. But when she slumps, when she has doubts and falls back into old habits, I just slam her. I don’t see her for what she is — utterly human, experiencing inevitable and necessary human emotions that will never be completely steady. I immediately ‘doomsday’ and call her a failure. And then feel regret and shame, not only for having tripped and stumbled down a few steps on the climb, but for getting embarrassed about it instead of shaking it off.

This is the gray area I’ve been working on for the past year or so. Breaking the pattern of black-and-white thinking, of good-and-bad, perfect-and-failure. There is an entire spectrum between the extremes, and it is okay to fall anywhere in between at any given time. No, in fact, not just okay — expected. And accepted. Desired, even.

So why, when I have recognized and know these things so logically, do I still give myself such a hard time sometimes? Not only with grief, but everywhere. Self-image, career, goals, fitness, relationships, even writing. What’s with the need for perfection?

Like The Beau said, “stop being so mean to my girlfriend!” (He’s so cute.)

One of the most outstanding pieces of advice I was ever given on this journey of widowhood was this — there are no should’s. Be gentle with yourself.

So many people, widows and parents and children and siblings and friends and all sorts of people suffering from grief, have found me through my writing and this wonderful amazing ride of life. And I don’t hesitate for a second to suggest this to them, to extend them that grace.

It’s more than time to do it for myself.

And not just when it’s easy to do, not just in those moments when I’m doing well and it’s easy to like myself.

But in those moments when I’m experiencing the morning-after-vulnerablities. When I’ve fallen down and embarrassed myself. When I have snapped at someone or failed to complete a task or don’t have the right answer or any answer. When I’m not on point.

Especially then.

That’s when I need to stop being so mean.

Tuesday Tunes | Believe

Yellowcard – Believe

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Tuesday Tunes. This week, I didn’t really choose to…it chose me.

Last night as I was writing this embarrassing but necessary stream-of-consciousness, my head snapped right up from the keyboard.

This song was playing on Pandora.

Hello. I hear you. I’m listening. You are happy I’m purging, that I’m recognizing and writing to get it OUT of my head, not falling into my old trap of holding it in like I’ve started to do the past few weeks. I get it, I hear you, you are here. Keep talking. I’ll keep writing.

So, here’s your Tuesday Tunes. I’m even including the lyrics this time.

 

Yellowcard – Believe

Think about the love inside the strength of heart
Think about the heroes saving life in the dark
Climbing higher through the fire, time was running out
Never knowing you weren’t going to be coming down alive
But you still came back for me
You were strong and you believed

Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Be strong. Believe.
Be strong. Believe.

Think about the chance I never had to say
Thank you for giving up your life that day
Never fearing, only hearing voices calling out
Let it all go, the life that you know, just to bring it down alive
And you still came back for me
You were strong and you believed

Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Be strong. Believe.

(Again today, we take into our hearts and minds those who perished on this site one year ago, and also those who came to toil in the rubble to bring order out of chaos, to help us make sense of our despair)

Wanna hold my wife when I get home
Wanna tell the kids they’ll never know how much I love to see them smile
Wanna make a change or two right now
Wanna live a life like you somehow
Wanna make your sacrifice worthwhile

Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Be strong. Believe.

Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Everything is gonna be alright
Be strong. Believe.

Think about the love inside the strength of heart
Think about the heroes saving life in the dark
Think about the chance I never had to say
Thank you for giving up your life that day

(The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here)

 

Each week I share a currently meaningful or relevant song from my playlist. You can check out past Tuesday Tunes here. Join up and link your post about your favorite tunes below!