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I remember the day after my boys died. I remember waking up….and feeling like I had had a bad dream. Then, reality hit…..and it hit HARD. I think I’ve written about this day before…I called it the second worse day of my life. Waking up to my new reality…..realizing this was it. Realizing my boys were gone…they would be gone for the rest of my life….and every morning when I woke up – would be another day without them. It was awful.

But, I also can tell you I had hope. I knew where my boys were and the hope I would see them again. I knew they each had a personal relationship with Jesus and had accepted him into their hearts. I had (have) the promise of eternity spent with them. I had the hope of being able to get through the rest of my life on this earth…and then being able to spend eternity with them…..hugs and smiles and forever with my boys…..this is what helped to get me through.

As I sit this morning in my quiet time…..I thought of Mary. I thought of her mother’s heart on the day after her boy died. She knew Jesus….but only as her son….not as the Risen Saviour. She didn’t have the hope of the cross….she only had the hurt of the cross. I’m sure her heart grieved in a way I can’t understand. For on the day after, her waking up to her new reality……she had to do it without hope. I cannot fathom. I cannot imagine how someone could lose their child without the hope of seeing them again. I don’t understand that feeling.

As I think of Mary…..right now….as she sat in the in-between…my heart grieves for her momma heart! Oh how hopeless she must have felt. She watched her son die…..she knew he was meant for more. She knew he had been “heaven-sent” and for a purpose…. But, OH…..her momma heart had to be screaming out at God! She had been robbed of her son. She had to have felt helpless…..hopeless…..and just heavy. Goodness…my heart aches right now for her…..for on this day….the day after her son died……she had no hope….because she didn’t know that tomorrow the tomb would be empty…..that He became HOPE!

Losing a child…..losing anyone is hard. But a child…..it feels like you are robbed. It is so unnatural. It is a part of you….that is supposed to outlive you. Your child is the epitome of hope….new life….that is supposed to continue on after you are gone. It is a pain like I’ve never experienced before. And I’m sure, Mary, felt it too. She lost her baby. No matter how old he was….no matter what God’s purpose for His life was….He….was her baby. Her heart….was ripped out.

I’m so thankful….that from the moment my boys died….I knew where they were. I knew they were with God….with the only being who could love them more than me. I knew they had no more pain…and would never experience heartache or sorrow again. And I knew….I would see them again. I knew I had hope. I knew I could get through this life without them….because the prize….in the end….we will be together again…for eternity.

Today is the day Mary had no hope. Today is the day she had to have felt like she couldn’t go on. Today is the day she woke up without knowing….without any kind of solace. Today was dark. Today was the day without any kind of joy.

But tomorrow…..oh tomorrow…..it is the day she will realize hope. It is the day she will realize her eternity will change. It is the day of joy…of hope…of love…and of life!

He will rise! She didn’t know it….but we do!

If you are stuck in darkness….and don’t feel the hope of tomorrow….feel free to reach out….to ask questions. I want you to know the hope I have. I want you to have the joy I have. I want you to know it is possible to smile….to look forward…even after loss. Even after losing my children….I smile….I feel joy…and I have hope…………

All because…..tomorrow is coming!

Much love to you all ~c

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Then and Now

Today was a weird day.

Actually, it was pretty awesome on the outside! Family still here from the holiday….busy and productive day at work….came home to 3 Christmas trees up and ready to be decorated….so to all it seemed perfectly normal.

The weird…..was in my head.

You see….I can usually go about my days and nobody has any idea of all that is going on INSIDE MY HEAD! My thoughts are all over the place.

And today…was no different.

For you see today…….I took some really good looks at my daughter.

She was grumpy because we had to wake her up to get ready to go to lunch with us. She was tired and a bit moody….then spent time with the boyfriend….then up late studying and working on schoolwork.

All seems normal doesn’t it.

So again, it was what was going on inside my mind where the “weird” was.

Today, looking at her. I saw me.

I say this….because today….she is EXACTLY the same age I was on the day I said “I do” in my first marriage.

I looked at her and wondered how in the world did I do it! How did I go from 16 year old teenager, dancer, and carefree girl….to married, expectant mom, kinda on my own girl?

I mean…..I can’t imagine my daughter being where I was. I look at her today, and see a girl who is about to turn 17 but nowhere near ready to be on her own. I see her enjoying life…but a life where she knows she has that “cushion” of a family behind her. She isn’t totally responsible for everything yet. I still spoil her and do for her….but she is doing more and more for herself.

I told nobody about this…except her. I told my sweet girl if she wanted a glimpse into who I am…part of what made me who I am today….to realize that tomorrow when she wakes up….I was waking up a married woman. I was now in charge of cooking, shopping and cleaning. All while still going to school….preparing to be a mom…..and learning how to be married. We discussed where I was and where she is. She couldn’t imagine or believe it…..and honestly…neither can I.

I don’t take for granted all I accomplished. I failed…a lot. But I learned. I learned from watching others and from my own mistakes. I learned by trying….and continuing to try. I had no idea I would have 3 children before I was 21. Or….that I’d lose those same 3 children when I was 29!

I had no idea of all I’d go through in life.

But…..God did. He knew. He allowed me to be broken. He allowed me to experience glorious and wonderful highs….all while knowing there would be some miserable lows. He allowed it all.

And through it all, He strengthened me. He taught me. He held me.

I looked at my daughter today and saw all the things I had done so purposeful for her. The things we talk about….the things I allow and don’t allow…..all FOR her. All because of what I’ve learned….what I’ve walked through. So much so…that now…when I get concerned….sometimes she has to remind me she is NOT me!

I never thought back then to seek out help from others….I didn’t know about community. I didn’t know what I needed and I didn’t know I could ask.

Today, it’s still hard. I’ve seen so much in life…..yet I still don’t feel like I’m “there”. I have learned a LOT…yet there is still so much to figure out!

Today…in my mind….was that “double-edged sword”. Today, I saw me, and my mistakes, and my joys. I also saw my today, my hard times and my triumphs. I saw the young lady I’ve been blessed to raise. I saw history change and it felt good.

I saw love. I saw the way God loved me…even when I didn’t/don’t deserve it. I saw the love I have for my daughter, and all I want for her in life. I saw the way I’ve learned to love myself, the good and the bad.

Today was kinda hard….and kinda good….and kinda weird.

But tomorrow, new mercies. Tomorrow, new beginnings. Tomorrow, new opportunities. Tomorrow….if God chooses to wake me up….there is MORE!

I hope you realize…even on your “weird” days…..there is so much to be thankful for!

I do! And I am!

MUCH love!

~C

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This is a very vulnerable post. It may not be politically correct or even biblically correct…and I’m okay with that….because this is my post. My story. My stuff. Like it or not, but don’t comment or condemn if you don’t at least try to understand.

I realized this past weekend I’ve been struggling to be seen.

What this means to me is…I’m a giver. I love nothing more than finding a need and trying to meet it. I don’t have to have the credit…I don’t need the receiver to even know it was me…I just love to give….to be the unseen angel who meets a need of another. I especially love to give to other mothers…because…I get it.

I give to others as a part of my love language. I love listening or noticing enough to know something someone wants, loves, needs….and tucking that knowledge away for a time I can meet the need….or they need a pick-me-up. I love taking care of others. I love being “Momma Cheli” to so many. There just aren’t enough words to express what being called that and being able to be that to some…means to me.

Now…I’m not always good at it…and I don’t always have the means to do everything I’d like…but I try…and I love it!

So….back to my story.

I was struggling. I mean….I do….and I do….and I do…..and I LOVE IT…yes. But sometimes….my bffs ask, “Who does for you?” And “When do YOU get to just rest?”. Because….truth be told….I stay busy – but that is a whole other issue! 🙂

I love being there for my family. I love doing the little things that support them….the extra things to make them feel seen….to make them feel loved. Things like having their favorite drink/food in the house. Or….knowing after a lock-in my baby girl would be tired…so getting up early and making sure she called me and talked to me the whole way home so she’d stay awake while on the drive home…..and folding down her bed and preparing her room so the first thing she could do was crawl in and get some much needed sleep. Things like making sure my son’s diabetic supplies don’t run low and picking them up or refilling them for him. Or like knowing when the weather turns colder my husband loves a pot of chili and making it the first cold night.

All these are just small examples of how I love to love on my people.

But moms….do you get me when I say……Sometimes I struggle to feel seen?

On same said night after getting up early – my sweet girl wanted to have dinner and a movie with her small group leader. Does that make me jealous? NO! Am I worried this lady is trying to replace me in my daughter’s world? NO! Am I secure in my relationship with my daughter? ABSOLUTELY? But…….tbh….at that moment…it felt like a punch in the gut. She goes to college and high school, and works…..and has a busy life…. as do I. And this was the one night we could’ve spent some time together! (Emphasis – to show my uncommunicated expectations…..) So, instead of wishing her well….I was silent. I let her go all while hurting her feelings….because my feelings were hurt first.

Yes….we’ve had a great convo about it and I apologized. She didn’t know what she didn’t know. And that was on me.

But that is how I was feeling. I mean, moms…..don’t you feel like you’re invisible at times? Like….who in the world do you think knows we are almost out of toilet paper, buys it, stocks it and makes sure it is in the bathroom where you need it???? There is no toilet paper fairy!! Yeah…maybe that seems silly…but think about it….how many silent fairy roles do you play?

I know my kids friends, their grades, their teachers, their moods, their needs, their wants, their fears, their thought processes and so much more. I anticipate things so my family won’t worry or be in need about so many things.

And I work…..sometimes 2 jobs! And I play nurse….financial artist…..friend….cook….teacher…counselor…..best friend…..worst enemy…..safe place…..mentor…..student…..and so much more!!!

So….after this event with my daughter and some others in my household…..I did what most moms who feel unseen do…….I took a BATH!

2 hours…..with tears and prayers flowing…….angry…hurt…

I told God I don’t get it.. I do for them…but they don’t seem to see me.

And…you have to understand….God and I work in pictures. I’m a visual learner…so this is what He shared with me…..

Think of a tree. You know….the big ones. With the thick trunks and huge leaf balls. You see it? Okay…..what would you say is the strongest part of that tree?

…..

…..

Most….would say the trunk. It’s massive in size and it has to be to hold up all the large branches and continue to grow.

….

That is exactly what I thought when God gave this to me…..

but then….He said this to me……

No….in this picture, sweet child, the strongest part of the tree is the roots. And you, dear mom, are the roots.

You see…..

The roots are where the tree (family) draws it’s strength.

They are unseen…but the most important part….for if the roots are unhealthy, so is the tree.

And the roots do so much.

They seek out the source of nourishment the tree needs. You seek ME (God) out and make sure the family (tree) stays healthy.

When the ground beneath you seems to crumble…..you continue to seek the source in order for the trees to remain healthy.

When there is too much that falls upon the tree……you (the roots) absorb it….and risk it all to make sure there is no damage to the rest of the tree (the family).

If the tree had eyes and looked down, even the branches, the leaves, the fruit and the trunk….wouldn’t realize you were there…..because you are covered by the soil. Just as your family doesn’t see or know all you do, all you pray for and how you take care of them..

But child…..I see the roots. And I see you.

You are not invisible to me. I have seen you since before I knit you into your mother’s womb and I knew…..you’d feel this way. I made you strong…..because I knew some would try to damage you…..

I.

SEE.

YOU.

God sees me….and at that moment….that is all I needed.

I needed to be seen…but I was seeking it from the wrong persons….in the wrong ways.

I serve my family BECAUSE of HIM.

So, I am realigning my thinking…..I serve an audience of One…and as long as I know HE sees me….I’m going to be okay.

Dear mommas who are feeling unseen…..KNOW….beyond a shadow of a doubt….HE SEES YOU! He knows your sacrifices. He knows you need a break…..he sees you with tears in your eyes wondering if you are enough….if you can even do this mom thing…..HE KNOWS. And he sees the times you lash out because you are tired and are afraid you’ve somehow damaged your child…he sees you order pizza because you are too tired to make dinner. He knows you’re doing the best you can. He sees…..He knows…..He created you….for them.

Each root system is unique. It is specifically designed to support the tree it was created for. Some roots grow down….some grow out….some do whatever it takes.

Just like you. He specifically designed you to support your family. He created you for them….and them for you. He knew YOU were exactly what they would need….and sometimes it would be hard….and you’d question……..

DOES ANYBODY SEE ME?

He does. He did. He will continue.

You aren’t buried because you aren’t good enough. You are buried for protection. He wants to be enough for you. He wants to be your source of nourishment. He is enough.

I see you too, mommas. I get it. And so do so many others. Let’s stop acting like we are an island and start lifting each other up! We ALL struggle….to be seen…..to feel like we are enough.

This is just one night in my struggle. And how God spoke to me…in a picture…

Of a tree.

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Do You Remember?

I have gone through this day in a daze. Tasks, work, taking care of your sick sister…..I guess…trying to make it a regular day (whatever that is). But it isn’t. It’s your birthday. And again – I have to “celebrate” it…..without you.

I try not to compare….you or your brothers…..but in so many ways – your birthdays are harder. You were only 8. So little…..so tiny – yet mighty! I never knew you as a “double-digit pre-teen”. I never knew you during your teens…..or your twenties…..and now – we would be celebrating your 31st birthday today – and I’ll never know you in your thirties either.

It’s so hard to imagine my sweet little boy as a man. It is so hard to know where you’d be – what you’d be like – who you’d be with – all those things are only left for me to wonder about.

I wonder – would you remember the birthday party we had where I let you guys draw a jack-o-lantern face and cut it out and then sent them home with each friend after the party? Would you remember the games we played and the way you used to be so intense at EVERYTHING you played? Would you remember all of the street hockey and how I made you wear helmets, knee pads and elbow pads so you’d be “safe”?

Safe…..I thought I was keeping you safe. But in the end….you weren’t.

Do you remember the night you spent with your friend for the last time? Do you remember not wanting to talk or hug me or tell me you loved me the last time I saw you? Do you remember the last movie you watched – Mr. Holland’s Opus?

I remember – all of it. The good – the bad. I remember the day you were born – being unprepared yet knowing when you arrived everything was perfect in my world! I remember you telling people “That’ll be a quarter” and holding your hand out for said quarter every time they wanted to rub that soft head with freshly buzzed hair! I remember watching you so intently playing video games with headphones listening to music! I remember being amazed at just how smart you were and getting so excited to see you step into that!! I remember watching you sing your heart out and play the piano with such intense love! I remember you snuggling up to me for just a moment – wanting me to hold you and needing some momma-lovin’ – but not tooooo long! I remember listening to you read and loving that sweet little voice of yours. I remember you wanting to do everything your brothers did….and working hard to keep up.

I remember. You….were such a gift. You were the child that helped to complete me and shape me. You were what I needed to complete my family.

Every year I think of you on your birthday and have so many memories flood my head. But it is only 8 years worth. Not enough.

My heart aches for you. My arms long for another hug….my eyes long to see your silly grin. I can’t fathom how many times I’ve done this or how many more I’ll have to go through before I get to see you again!

I long for heaven. I long for the time when we can hug for eternity! Caleb – you were an angel on earth and the hole in my heart is open….and bleeding today without you.

I have had trouble holding in the tears. It’s hard when I don’t often hear your name. It hurts my heart. It is hard to think the world has gone on and 23 birthdays have been without you here. 2 of your best friends checked on me…..and that helps my heart in ways I can’t even express.

I search through pics – and the memories are there. But it’s the same pictures. The same 8 years of pictures are there…..no more.

I just want you here…with me. No – I would never pull you away from the glory of heaven….but to be completely honest….the human and selfish part of me….wishes I could.

One more hug – no…it wouldn’t be enough. One more kiss…..no I’d want more. One more…would never suffice. I didn’t have enough time the first time….so I’m thankful the next time…will never end.

Until then sweet one…until then.

Your momma loves you to the moon and back. Always the mostest!

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A couple weeks ago I was blessed and able to snag tickets to the Carrie Underwood concert here so I could add another mother/daughter concert to our list! We went and had a blast! She is quite a performer and puts on an excellent show!

My sweet girl has a beautiful voice – but also has a large dose of stage fright – but totally enjoys the musicality of other gifted artists. And….this momma LOVES watching her watch others do what she loves to do! I love this part of our relationship and the age she is at! We get along….we have fun….we laugh…..

But on this night – we also cried.

For that – I was totally unprepared. You see…..I did not see this one coming. I did not see the need to “brace up” and “be ready” for the emotions to pour down our faces in the form of tears.

But that is exactly what happened.

As we were marveling in the many dress changes and the special effects and wonderful entertainment of the night – Carrie started to sing a song I, quite honestly, had never heard before.

The Bullet.

This song is very much about the loss of a soldier. And I respect that part of it. But some of the lyrics – brought me – and her – very much to our own story.

You see – the part about the limousines driving away – and mommas ain’t supposed to bury their sons – all hit me. And they hit me really hard….

But then…..

Then it happened…..

I looked over and she was crying….sobbing actually. The tears were real and they wouldn’t stop.

You see…..this is just another moment I realized – The Bullet – doesn’t stop.

She wasn’t there to see the limousines. She wasn’t there to see this momma bury her sons. She wasn’t there.

In the song there is a line that says – “The bullet keeps on goin'”. And it has.

It has affected her life since before she took her first breath.

She has never known her three brothers – but she has known about them. She never got to meet them – but she has experienced who they were through stories and pictures. She wasn’t here to experience how the bullets took their lives – but she is here and those same bullets are still goin’……..and affecting her life. She wasn’t here to witness their deaths….but she has grieved them her entire life.

Until she takes her last breath the bullets that took the lives of her brothers will affect her – and her children…….and their children.

The bullets keep on goin’

I wasn’t prepared for this during a fun night out with my daughter. I wasn’t prepared for the reminder of how the bullets tore apart my family and are still tearing us up inside. I wasn’t thinking on this occasion I would need to hold her and reassure her of how we can have the holes from those bullets having pierced our hearts – yet know we can still live and love – and be as whole as possible even though the bullets still sting.

I don’t know what I want to share in this blog. I really don’t. I just know it will never stop.

There will always be someone’s life affected by the bullets who took their lives.

Some of those people are affected in good ways. Some people learn about my boys and the way they died – but also hear of the love they had for Jesus and how that same Jesus carried me through – and they have found hope.

Some who knew the boys – are continuing to live….and I mean…REALLY LIVE their life….because they know their friends can’t.

Some though – like my daughter – their sister – have lingering affects. They have moments when everything should be fine – and it isn’t. Like at a concert – when you should be having the time of your life – and then BAM! You are sobbing because of something – someone – you miss so terribly – but never knew.

But I can also say their story has also strengthened her. She knows what it is to hurt – to lose someone you love…to lose someone you never knew you loved….to lose someone you wish you had known. She knows what it is to comfort – because of all the times she has been comforted. She knows that what you see – isn’t always the whole story in someone’s life.

You see – the bullet never stops goin.

Just like the ripples in the water. Your actions – might not seem too big….but they can keep going….and they can affect people you don’t even know – or realize.

Be cautious sweet friends. Because the bullets don’t stop. They carry on through generations – never stopping – and affecting many more than initially intended.

I want to share the words – because the true meaning for this song – of soldiers never returning home – is beautiful. I don’t want to take anything away from this part of it. But please know – because of our wounds – we reacted in the hurt of our own story – and the way the bullet stole them from us.

The branches on my family tree are forever changed.

BUT – although the bullet keeps on goin’ ……. so does the Love and Grace of Jesus. He has carried me – and will carry the future generations as well.

Much love – ~c

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Another birthday – and here I am. At the table with a keyboard and coffee. So many thoughts…..so many questions…..

“I wish I could…..”

“I wonder what you…..”

“If only I could…..”

“Would you have….?”

“Where would you be?….”

They are never-ending….especially on days like today.

I’ve heard it say “Grief is love with no physical place to go” and I believe this is true. I can’t pick up the phone and call and say “I love you!” Or “Happy Birthday Son!”. There is no conversations I can have with you…..at least….not a 2-way conversation. I have conversations with you….about life….about you…..your brother and sister….about everything….but I haven’t audibly heard your sweet voice in 8,228 days.

8,228 days since I saw your sweet smile.

8,228 days since I hugged you and was able to see you.

This is the 23rd birthday you have celebrated in heaven. I am not sure if I’m jealous….upset…..happy for you….sad for me….or all of the above!! I just can’t believe that much of my life has been here without you.

Cory – you still impact my life. The way you smiled….and embraced life….has helped me to keep moving forward instead of staying still or looking back. The way you loved…has helped me continue to love and keep my heart open instead of closing off others and trying to protect my heart from being hurt again. The way you embraced learning….has inspired me to keep growing in my mind….to keep learning and looking at everything with open thoughts and intriguing conversations had…. The way you laughed….has kept the tears at bay….and reminded me to look at the lighter side of life and to take things with a grain of salt.

Today – you would be 33 years old. Gah- just typing that hurts. I can barely see through my tears….I want so badly for you to be here with me. I feel selfish…because I can’t imagine taking you away from the beauty, splendor and love that surrounds you now in heaven. I know we will celebrate together one day….but my selfish heart wants so badly for that day to be today!!!

Sometimes…I just don’t want to ….. have more birthdays and anniversaries here….without you and your brothers. I miss you so much every day…but today…the memories flood my mind.. The day you were born….the smile you always had….the way you shadowed your brother….and the days you stepped out of that shadow to be your own kind of person…..the day I got a report from the teacher about how big your heart was to help others…the day you auditioned for the “stage” part and got it at falls creek……the nights you “tagged up” and just wanted to be near your momma….near enough to touch me….I want THAT again… I want to be able to touch you so badly. I want you here….with me….for this birthday…..for every day!

My heart literally breaks….hurts….aches….without you here.

But….

I think you’d be proud….

Because I’m still here…..loving and living….

Crying as your brother holds me in the kitchen and let’s me just be sad for a moment. But then laughing with him as we play with the dogs and enjoy some quiet alone time this morning.

I’m continuing my life….still so thankful for your life.

Your ten years counted. The add up to more than just ten years….because for my life time….they are still counting….for the others you touched while you were here….they are still counting…. for those you’re life has touched since you’ve been gone….they are still counting.

Does that make it easier…..sometimes. But on days like today….if I have to be honest….it doesn’t. I know your impact could have been so much greater….your voice so much louder…. So….on this birthday….and every other day….I’ll make sure my impact and my voice….are as loud as yours would have been. I’ll make sure you aren’t forgotten….and your legacy continues.

Cory – Yours is a legacy of smiles….love…..laughter….fun….singing…..acting….silliness…..and so much more. Happy 33rd sweet boy! I thank God for allowing me to be your momma….for I’d rather live the rest of my life with a heart that aches with hurt because you aren’t here….than have a lifetime having never known you….or been your mom! You….are my bright, shining star! You are the one I see so brilliantly when I look to the heavens. Your light still shines just as brightly as it did when you were here with me!

Thank you, sweet boy, for loving me. For letting me love you is one of the greatest gifts I was given. Having you taken from me didn’t stop my ability to love you. Not at all….it actually made my love stronger…..made me stronger. I hate it. Honestly. Hate.it. But….my love for you, for your brothers, has never been taken from me. That…..can’t be taken from me. That I will have until my last breath on this earth. And….as I take that final breath on this earth…….I will open my eyes and be with you again….for eternity. And THAT….is what keeps me going. Knowing I WILL get to hug you, love one you….and see that smile….and hear your angelic voice….and sing POG with you…..for eternity!

That….makes me smile!! That….gives me hope. That fuels my heart to keep sharing….about you, your brothers…about Jesus and the hope he gives….and that….is enough. On this birthday, and everyday….that is what gets me through.

Happy Birthday Cory!!! Knowing you has changed my life for the better! I will celebrate you today! I will remember all the wonderful things about you and never let your memory fade! You are such a light to me sweet boy!! I can’t wait to see you again!

I could type all day….thoughts of you….memories and wishes. But for now I’ll sign off….knowing our conversations will continue and my love for you will also continue. Grief….continues….because you aren’t here to receive it. But….soon…..I’ll see you again.

All my love on this day and always! ~momma

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Facebook has a wonderful tool in the memories part! It reminds you of some really wonderful things! But opening up today’s memories was more difficult than usual!

This greeted me this morning.

This was 2 years ago!

Seeing this picture kind of stopped me in my tracks. I already knew it was the 2 year anniversary of his diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes….but seeing this kiddo….and remembering him so thin and so sick….and the moment our lives were turned upside down….was hard.

Then….I kept scrolling…and this….

It was one year ago today we had almost a full week in patient with him being so violently ill. This got me too. You see, after his diagnosis, we made trips to the ER almost every 3 months with him not being able to keep any food down and getting down below 100 pounds! To see your child not be able to gain weight…to try to do everything they possibly can to keep their “numbers in check” and do a good job but then…something else keep them down…. To see them and know something is wrong but you can’t do anything at all to help them….is just another level of helplessness as a mom I had never experienced before.

We left the hospital the first time….armed with new information…a new way to live….a forever diagnosis with no cure…but “manageable” with multiple shots each day and a new thought process to everything. We thought we were doing everything “right” and didn’t understand why we kept landing in the hospital and he wasn’t gaining weight.

We left the hospital the second time…armed with new information…yet again. We were told it might be a forever thing…but it might not. He had diabetic induced gastroparesis. Basically…a partial paralysis of the stomach…where his stomach wasn’t pushing any food into his intestinal tract….where the nutrition portion happened. Basically….he was malnourished….no matter what he ate….or how much of it….because it wasn’t all getting to his intestines. Thus…causing no weight gain and the onslaught of uncontrollable vomiting.

And then….there is today! My son has gained 65 pounds in the last year and has not had a single instance of vomiting since he left the hospital a year ago! PRAISE GOD!!!

He is preparing for his senior year of college….and we are within two months of receiving a Diabetic Alert Dog for him! He has completed training and enjoying the beginning of a wonderful internship and has been in a relationship with a beautiful Christian young lady for over a year now!

To say these “memories” were difficult….would be a very true statement.

What I hope you see as I share these memories though….is this…..

Today looks totally different than it did two years ago…..one year ago……

Both of those days were hard…..difficult…and overwhelming! But we CHOSE not to stay there! We CHOSE not to believe the worst and keep working towards what could be in the future. I say we…but he did most of the work. It has been hard, but I believe even he would tell you it has been worth it.

I’ve watched this boy grow into a wonderful young man. He sees God working…..and in his most difficult moments….has cried out to God WHY??!! But. He has also seen God allow him to use his difficult moments to help others….to empathize more with what they are going through…and to have different perspectives on things. This momma’s heart has broken over the last couple year’s memories….but also swelled with watching how it has changed him.

It is not always easy. Sometimes the waves and the storms seem to strengthen against us….but they aren’t bigger than my God. They aren’t there forever. The sun can….and will…and DOES shine again! I’ve seen it! I’ve seen it happen in this child’s life! And I couldn’t be any more proud!

Today…..this is my boy….smiling….growing….thriving!

Things are constantly moving. Keep moving forward. Let things in your past be memories….but don’t stay there…..God has more in store for you than just the memories of yesterday. What God has shown me…again…today…is it’s good to look at the memories….to remember…to be sad for a moment….and to let it take you back for a bit….just don’t forget to jump back in….to today. And if your today….still isn’t as good as you’d like it to be…don’t stop….because just like I always say….if you wake up in the morning…. there is always MORE for you!

Much love!

Momma C~

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Grief is MESSY!

Read this or don’t…it really doesn’t matter to me. I’ve had so many thoughts swirling in my head…I’m just going to pound on this keyboard and get them all out. This isn’t a feel-good, well-planned blog. This is me….being real…being raw…and just ranting.

22 years ago…..right at this very moment….I saw my two oldest children’s faces for the last time. I gave them hugs for the last time. The truth of the matter is this…..I didn’t even want to see them on this day. You see, they had come to the hospital where my mom had just had surgery. I had asked their dad NOT to bring them because I didn’t know how bad the outcome could have been and I didn’t want them to be there for the initial time when she would get out of surgery. Of course, he brought them anyway. I was annoyed. I had not wanted them to be there for that. They were 11 and 10 and I wanted to soften the blow of the possibility of their grandma being worse. They already knew she wasn’t good…but I wanted to determine how and what to tell them.

Little did I know it would be the last time I’d see them. Their little brother had stayed the night with a friend….so I didn’t see him on this morning. I regret being so irritated. I regret not holding them longer. I regret not taking them with me….and picking up their brother and taking them away for the weekend with me.

I feel selfish for leaving. I have felt guilty for not being there….for not doing SOMETHING to save them. But I don’t know if it ever would have made a difference. It might have….for a day….a week…..a month. I just don’t know.

Before you go all weird about this….I KNOW in my heart I couldn’t have changed anything. I know in my heart of hearts….I’m not guilty for their deaths. I’m just being honest with my thoughts.

I don’t always have it all together. And I’m angry at people who think grief fits into the same box for everyone….that someone should just “get over it”. I have more friends than I care to realize…who’ve lost children, lost loved ones in tragic circumstances….or just suffered loss. IT HURTS.

Time DOESN’T heal all wounds.

THERE IS NO CALENDAR on how long grief should last.

IT NEVER looks the same to everyone.

STOP stuffing those of us grieving into a box!

Tomorrow will be 22 YEARS!!

That is 264 months I’ve lived without them!

That is 8030 days I’ve not had them physically here in my life!

That is 192,720 hours that have passed since they left their earthly bodies!

And that is 11,563,200 minutes that have ticked by without my 3 sons here to love!!!

I say all of this….because IT STILL HURTS!

It hasn’t gone away! I seem fine to almost everyone. I live my new “normal” life all the time…but there are days when the grief is overwhelming and suffocating still. The realization that they would be 33, 32, and 30 right now blows my mind in ways I can’t describe. It is SO STINKING hard to imagine a child who never had the opportunity to grow up as an adult. The way my mind cannot wrap around who they would be hurts…..more than you can understand! I strain at trying to see who they might be…but I just can’t. I see their friends as adults with lives so varied…and have no idea the direction they each would have gone.

People…..stop telling grieving families to “just get over it” or “you should be past this stage by now”. EVERYONE GRIEVES IN DIFFERENT WAYS!

Just because there are times I can tell my “story” and not cry…doesn’t mean I don’t cry and it doesn’t make me sad.

Just because I’m too sad to move on a day that has no real signifigance (i.e. birthday, anniversary) doesn’t mean something must be wrong with me.

Just because I can be fine in one moment, and then my mind goes to something that makes me incredibly sad and cry….and then suck it up and keep moving…does NOT mean I’m not allowing myself to feel my real feelings! It means I’m learning to let a little out at a time and not bottling it up. It means sometimes I have to stop or I’m afraid I won’t stop. It means it still hurts….it ALWAYS will….but I have to keep going. HAVE TO keep going.

I see so many hurting and my heart breaks for them. I see so many being so real and raw with their feelings….with their losses. Yet I also see those who you would never know about their loss. Those who choose to not let their grief and sorrow be seen by others.

What you need to know…is both sets of people….are still grieving. You don’t know if those who never show it break down only when they are alone…so as not to bother others with their grief…or feel like they are a burden because nobody else understands. You also sometimes don’t see those who seem to be sharing all of their grief have the good moments…trying to live life as if it’s all okay.

You just don’t know.

You aren’t them. You don’t know where they were emotionally and spiritually when they suffered their loss. You don’t know how they’ve processed it and allowed themselves to feel it. You don’t know how their heart feels empty and full all at the same time sometimes…and they are trying to find the new balance of life.

You just don’t know.

I don’t even know or claim to understand other people who have lost children. No two instances are the same….or even alike.

What I do know….is it hurts. It hurst deeply. I know what helped me and how I’ve handled it …..for me! I know I can listen and tell them they are loved and they are still “normal”. That what they are feeling is okay. I can’t say I understand…because I don’t.

But………I get it.

I get the hurt….the deep, gut-wrenching agony they feel. The emptiness and void. I get the difficult times when they just don’t know if what they are doing is enough….and they times when they don’t want to keep going and yet they do…all in the same breath. I get they want their past back….they want what they had to be back with them again….but they have to learn to live again in their new life….without the loved one they had here. And it HURTS! It feels like you aren’t honoring them…..and yet it feels like one of the only ways you can honor them is to move on and be happy.

Your life feels like it is ripped into two very distinct pieces. Before…..and after. I know mine is.

My life is defined so much by the day my boys died. There is my life with them….and my life without them.

It hurts to have lived so much life without them. And yet, I’m also proud to say I’ve LIVED so much life without them.

See…..grief is messy. It’s where my two worlds collide! It’s where what I wish for….them being here…them still being a part of my life….gets tied up in my now….my family now….my wonderful two kids and husband….and how they would all be together. It’s the….what I knew and what I know now. It’s the missing so much what I had…but so thankful for what I have now. It’s the wishing and wanting….it’s the missing and the hurting….all mixed in with the living and loving…..the fun times and bad times. It’s all part of me. It’s all part of who I am and how I’m coping.

Do I always cope well? Nope. Do I know what tomorrow holds? Nope.

Do I kick myself for not holding them tighter 22 years ago today? Yes. But not daily….not always. Just sometimes.

Have I learned hard lessons….? You bet.

But grief is messy. There is still a lot to learn.

If you’ve been through it….you know. But you don’t know everyone’s grief story. Not even if they share it with you.

Please…realize you just don’t know what you don’t know. Accept it. Accept THEM!

Be kind. Mention their loved one’s name. You aren’t going to “set them off”. It’s not like they aren’t already thinking about them! Pray for them. Allow them to feel it…allow them to lead and allow them to let you into their grief….or give them space to grieve on their own.

Grief doesn’t fit into a box. There is no textbook answer to what it looks like.

To me…the only completely and utterly correct definition is this….

Grief is messy.

So thankful my God is bigger…so thankful my eternity will be spent with my boys….and my mom…and so many others I love. So thankful this life is temporary. This body isn’t all there is…..and my heart will be healed…one day. So thankful there will be a time….where grief is no more.

To each of you grieving……I get you. I love you. I am praying for you!

~cheli

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One Day Older….

No….yesterday wasn’t my birthday. Actually, that was last month.

It isn’t my birthday that bothers me. But, if I’m being gut-level honest….today’s one day older….more than any other day in my life time….is the one day that is bothering me the most.

You see…..today…..I am one day older than my mother was on the day she died.

There….I typed it…I said it. It is so hard. Much harder than I ever thought. I’ve been thinking, in the back of my mind, on this for almost a year. Knowing it was coming. Knowing all along that if God kept allowing me to wake up…this day was going to happen.

Yesterday morning was hard for me. As I sat alone doing my quiet time, having coffee and enjoying the silence of my home….the tears just flowed. Knowing…..I was the same age as she was on the day she died.

I thought of what she left behind. Of all she hasn’t seen in the past more than 21 years since she has been gone. I think of my sister, and all she has been through and accomplished that mom didn’t get to see….and realize my son is almost the same age as my sister was when mom died. I cannot fathom not being here when he graduates college…or gets married….or has children. I cannot fathom not seeing his life unfold into adulthood and being here for the good and bad.

Then there is my own daughter. My mom never got to see me be a mom to a daughter. With my relationship with my sweet girl, I feel like I’ve broken the generational curse of difficult mother/daughter relationships. I enjoy every phase of her life and we are so close! I see mom in her. Her tenacity in something or just some of her looks are so my mom. She has this little bump on the ridge of her nose. The other night I was looking at her and then looked at my husband’s nose…no…he doesn’t have it. I looked at mine…no…not there. That was from my mom!

I saw a saying the other day….”I looked in the mirror this morning and my mother was looking back at me!”. This made me laugh. But today….it stops me in my tracks. Because I don’t think I can see her there when I’ve outlived her!

Growing up, mom was sick a lot. I remember her being in the hospital or down and even helping nurse her back to health at a very young age. When I got pregnant and had my first three kids so early in life….I truly thought it was because God was allowing me to have a family early on because I wouldn’t live past 40 or so……. But God had other plans.

Mom…I see so much of you in my world. I looked at my home the other day and thought about how much you’d like it! All the natural light….and the blues! I looked around and realized so much of what I have is exactly what you would have liked! I wished you could see it! I see you in my kids. Their smiles and looks sometimes are exactly what you would look like! I see you in my sister. You would be so proud of all she has accomplished….but mostly of who she has become through all of it!

Mom…I see you in me. I still recall so many tender moments we had in the last year of your life. You taught me so much in those last months…..and those are lessons I will carry for the rest of MY life.

Mom…..today….what I need to say….is I SEE you…..but I’m NOT you!

I am one day older than the day you died. And as long as God sees fit to allow me to keep waking up….I’ll be here enjoying my life and my family! I’m going to take care of this temple He has given to me so that my life on this earth can be long. I want to see future generations of our family and tell them about you. I want to share the good parts of you.

But what I must realize mom…is I’m not you. Just because you had to leave this world early….doesn’t mean that I will. For so long, this has been in my mind….back there somewhere nagging at me. But today I’m saying no more. Momma…..I love you still….with everything I am. Tears are flowing as I’m typing this and I’m missing you still…daily. Dang it….I wish you were here. But you aren’t! And I am.

So I’m going to do what you’d want me to do and put the crazy thoughts behind me….move forward and keeping the past in the past. I’ll only take the good with me…and you….and your love for me….are part of the good.

I miss you momma. More than words can describe. But….I’m going to keep getting past this. One day at a time….I’ll be one day older…..

Today…..is just hard.

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I can’t believe it! 30!! Today you would be 30 years old!

I wish I could say today is a “Happy Birthday” kind of day. But to be completely honest…it’s not. It is grey…cloudy…and I just don’t feel “happy”. I am trying hard to wrap my brain around today being your 30th birthday. It is so hard to imagine celebrating you as a man…. because I never knew you as anything more than a sweet boy. You are my sweet Caby-Baby! You will forever be 8 in my mind…because my mind can’t seem to imagine what you’d be like as anything older than that. I’ve celebrated 22 of these days without you here…and honestly…it hasn’t gotten any easier.

My memories of you are still so vivid. Your silly-yet-serious way of living life! That is what I remember most! You had this way about you…so matter-of-fact…yet so silly at the same time! Man…I miss that. My heart literally aches right now as I picture your smile in my head….as I remember your voice and can imagine hearing your silly laugh as I close my eyes. I long to feel what it was like to embrace you for one more time. I remember you were not too cuddly…unless it was on your terms and your time! You were in constant movement..unless playing video games or reading…and then…it was hard to get your attention because you were so engrossed in what you were doing!

I wish I had more memories with you. Eight years isn’t enough.

You are my baby…even though I had more kids…you’re still my baby. Your baby sister is driving…and we went to a concert together last night! Such fun memories I’m trying to create…with her and your brother… But each time I create a new memory with them…I think of you and your brothers…and wish I had some of those with you. I feel robbed of the good, the bad…and have no idea what any of it would have looked like!

I may not feel “happy” today…but what I can say, sweet boy…is I have JOY. I have joy in the blessing of being your mom. I have joy in the wonderful times we did have and share together. I have joy in knowing where you are. I have joy in knowing you are loved. I have joy in knowing I’ll join you for eternity and we will never be separated again. I have joy in your brother and sister whom God gifted to me after you were gone. I have joy in living the life I have left here and knowing that is what you would want for me.

I don’t always have “happy”….but I do choose to always find JOY!

You…my sweet boy…brought joy and silliness into my world. I get so caught up with the difficulty of life…that remembering you….actually helps me to lighten up….be silly sometimes…and then be serious again. You taught me to live in a different way…a better way. You taught me love…and laughter…in your short eight years. For all of that…I am thankful.

My heart aches and misses you…but it also smiles as it remembers you. Your 8 years of life…filled me with love to last my lifetime.

Happy 30th Birthday Caleb Harrison! Thank you for the way you lived those 8 years here on earth with me! I can’t wait…to spend eternity with your smiling face!

Until then….sweet boy…all my love!

~momma

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