A love letter to 1983…

Hey All,

Here’s my broken heart letting go of what’s been in it for quite some time now…

Dear newborn daughter; How your dad and I waited and prayed for this day to come!!! You were due 22 days ago, but as we would come to learn, you would do things your way. After being induced into labor, you made your debut 12 hours and 1 minute later! Pink, round and robust you made your entrance into our lives with the lungs of a singer! What a beautiful, perfect baby girl you were! And we loved you… So much…

We were young, you helped us mature. We were inexperienced, you helped us learn. We were scared, you gave us courage. We were in love, you deepened that love. We were happy, you made us ecstatic. The smiles you freely gave, the hands that would reach for us, the eyes that would watch us as we moved around you, all of these things we treasured because we made you. And we loved you… so much…

As you grew, we grew. We watched you learn to scoot, crawl, walk and run. We encouraged you to be brave, and you were. We held your hands and swung you between us. We snuggled you, tickled you, hugged you and kissed you. We loved you… so much…

We thought you might never talk, but when you finally did, you had so much to say! You loved books, just like me. You loved birds, just like Daddy. You had a very curious nature and loved the water. You weren’t afraid to try new things, neither was I. You were loving, funny and sweet. We loved you… so much…

I remember holding your hand when you waited for the school bus that first day of kindergarten in 1988. You were two and a half months shy of five years old, and so confident. I cried my eyes out when that bus drove away with you, but was so happy to see your smiling face when you came home! You loved going to school and learning, and I loved that you were becoming a strong, independent little girl. By now you were a big sister to a newborn baby girl and you were the best big sister. Ever. We loved you… so much…

The years flew by and we all grew as a family, together. Your Daddy loved having little girls, so did I. We loved how you would hug your baby sister when she would cry. You loved to help make sure she was safe and cried with her when she was sick, which was often. Your heart was tender towards her and you would sing her silly songs to distract her from her pain. She loved you, so much. So did we…

You began to leave us by 1997, your teenage years were tumultuous for all of us, especially you. You were so self-demanding, so self-critical. You stopped shining and we tried to help you, but we failed. We were just parents, and you didn’t want us to be involved in your life. We’re sorry we kept trying to be parents, not friends, but parents aren’t supposed to be friends. We tried to set an example for you, but we failed. Daddy was gone, a lot, and we couldn’t seem to make you understand that his job was the Navy, and the Navy was life. I know we failed at times, probably many, many times in your eyes, but we still loved you… so much…

You turned 18 in 2001, several months after you graduated from high school. By now we knew we would lose you someday, we held on as long as we were able. You left home in Feb. of 2002 and we had to let you go. We didn’t want to, but you were of age. We watched you slip further and further away, but we still loved you… so much…

Adulthood came like a thief in the night and turned your heart away from us. We missed you… so much… Life took us in a different direction after the Navy, and we did what we thought we should do, but it wasn’t enough. You left us again… we loved you… and missed you… so much…

In 2006 you gave us our first grandchild and we love him… so much. We loved helping you and our hearts broke for you both when his bio dad left you. We hated him for that… but now we are just sad. We opened our home to you and the boy when you had no place else to go. We loved you… so much…

We were blessed to be a part of your life for almost 35 years. And blessed to have the love of our grandson for 11.5 years before you forbid us from having any contact. We still love him… so much…

We want you to know, wherever you are, that we loved you… so much… We are always going to be your parents and no matter how hard you have tried to erase us, we still love you… so much…

Our deepest desire for you now and in the future is peace… we pray you have found peace of mind, and know that we love you… still…

My Father Lives On In Me…

Good Evening!

I miss my Daddy. He died in April 2000 and I have spent these last 19+ years thinking of him daily and missing him with an ache that never seems to go away. Time has NOT been the healer people say it is when it comes to grief, at least not in relation to my Dad’s passing. What has been a blessing? He died not seeing the destruction of my family because his granddaughter ended up deciding that hating her parents was the way to solve her problems. I know had he lived, he never would have understood how she could end up being so callous. And cruel. Not only to us, but to her son, her husband and the extended families that loved her. I am grateful that he didn’t have to witness my heartbreak, or my daughter’s. He would have been so saddened by the lack of compassion shown and by the ongoing strife all of this unnecessary separation has caused.

My Daddy was an alcoholic while I was growing up and though he did finally achieve sobriety, I know he struggled until the day he died with the demons that lived in the shadows. I experience those same type demons, though not because of an addiction I suffer from. The demons that chase me don’t even belong to me, but for whatever reason, they don’t seem to leave me alone. I catch glimpses of the demons that linger in the faces of people I encounter daily. I may see an older man that reminds me of my dad. I may catch a glimpse of a woman with the same color hair as my daughter or hear a song that brings all the pain and anguish I’ve felt these past 14 months to the surface. My Daddy was a strong man. Kind. Disciplined. Fair. I want to be like him, but I miss the mark when thoughts of the loss we endure spill over the rim of the cup that runneth over. When will the demons that belong to someone else stop chasing me? I wonder this from time to time and then I think of the example set by my Dad. Demons like these have no place in anyone’s life, so he’d tell me to keep slapping them back to hell if he were here! Slap them back 10,000 times a day if you have to! I am, Daddy. I am… Or at least I’m trying.

My Daddy loved the water and loved the solace and healing that being on the ocean can bring. I do, too. I love that when I am on the shoreline, I feel closest to him. I’ve written letters to him and put them in a bottle, just to toss them into the Atlantic and feel like maybe, just maybe, he knows I miss him. I wonder sometimes if our daughter doesn’t miss her Daddy. He loved her so much. So did I. We miss our little girl, and we would love nothing more than to know she’s found peace. Daddy’s want the best for their little girls, it’s just that simple. My husband is a good man. Solid. Loyal. And he’s fiercely protective of those he loves, so to be accused of failure like he has been is a knife through the heart. My husband is very much like my Daddy was, and I see the heart of the man I loved beating within the chest of his son-in-love. My husband and my Daddy loved each other and as Daddy’s little girls know, having your Daddy love your choice of a husband is rare.

Do you ever think about how hard it has to be to watch your little girl hurt so much and know there is nothing you can do to ease her pain? Or think about how confusing it is to be accused of something that never happened, and that the event that never happened is the reason you lost your child? My Daddy would be saddened by all that’s happened, but I think he’d be pissed off, too. He would question how something so tragic could happen and why there is no resolution, nor steps towards resolution. He’d not take sides, but I know for a fact he would referee if he were alive. My Daddy would want peace for his granddaughter’s mind, healing for my heart, and to see a family working towards togetherness. I would have to tell him we all failed him, and I would hate to have to do that. I would if he were alive, I believe in being accountable for anything I’ve done, or haven’t done, and I know I have let him down in some ways. I can freely admit that, and I can freely admit that someday I may have to own up to what I haven’t done to help put my family back together.

My Daddy was a WWII vet, a Korea vet, a volunteer fire fighter, a drinker, a trouble maker and a fantastic father when he wasn’t drunk. As the youngest of four, I don’t have as many tough memories as my oldest sibling does, but I have some. Those memories don’t need space in the closets of my heart, I only have room for the love these days. the same is true about losing my daughter. My heart aches over such loss, but the demons that would have me believing that I don’t deserve happiness after such loss have no space in my heart either. I stand tall in the knowledge that I AM a good Mom, though I am just a Mom. I made mistakes, we all do, although my mistakes weren’t nearly as heinous as have been stated. I’m a fantastic MiMi, and keeping my grandchildren from me, from us, is cruel and abusive to both the children and the grandparents. I’m going to be forever grateful that my girls knew their Pa for the man he was before he died. I would have never forbid him from seeing them. Not ever.

My Dad’s spirit lives on in me and I am proud to be his daughter. I know what it means to forgive and start over because of him and I hope that he’s proud of me. I know he would want to see my family put back together, but I also know he would agree that that possibility is a slim to negative zero chance. He would hug me when I cry, he would hold his granddaughter’s hand if she reached out for his, and he would find a way to make things better. That’s what Daddy’s do, they kiss the boo boos and gently cleanse the wounds that threaten us. I miss you, Daddy, but I know you’re doing okay. I bet you’re playing solitaire and hanging out with the old dudes of the family on the streets of gold. If possible, please know that you are missed, you are thought of daily and that you are loved beyond measure. Thank you for teaching me how to take the high road, even when I walk along the edges and can’t see the forest for the trees…

Photo by Barb Enos
Revere Beach
Massachusetts
My Dad’s beach…

Am I One Mistake Away?

Hey Everyone,

How many times in our lives do we wonder this? Am I one mistake away from losing my home? Am I one mistake away from my spouse leaving me? Am I one mistake away from losing my job? Am I one mistake away from losing everything I think matters? Am I? Am I? Am I? We can literally drive ourselves crazy trying to think of all the things that “might” happen, and lose our focus on the things that matter most. I’m done with that way of living, and I am free to experience the joy that everyday living brings. My life is by no means perfect, and if there were any way to measure the perfectness of anyone’s life, mine would not be the measurement tool sought for the measuring. I have learned that I much prefer function over form and I love that I can appreciate the “less than” approach to life. Is that a mistake? Not in my book.

When my husband and I decided to sell our home in Western North Carolina and move back to Charleston, SC, we didn’t take the time to wonder if we were one mistake away from anything. Including guilt. Guilt that we were leaving a brokenhearted young man behind us after being rejected by his mother. Guilty feelings being what they are are probably not mistakes, but the reasons for them were. We have the right to make our decisions based on our desires for a more peaceful life and we took a chance that we might find something more than peace. We did. We are finding a new beginning and forging a life for the two of us that doesn’t include scorn, hatred and rejection. We have felt all of those things these past 20 months and know they will continue to show up unannounced from time to time, but they are not welcome. We would be making a mistake to allow the past to invade our life. We are ever mindful that we are one mistake away from inviting the past to take us down again, and are standing strong against the storms of pain and turmoil.

Am I one mistake away from being hurt again? Yes, I am. Am I afraid? No, I’m not! I know in the deepest parts of my heart that the more I seek peace, love and light, the more these things will be revealed to me. I am always just one mistake away from saying the wrong thing to someone, or driving in the wrong direction, or overspending. One. Mistake. One mistake can alter someone’s heart so much that they become unrecognizable and bitter, and I am not going to be that person. I have tried to be a good person, I believe in personal accountability and I believe in forgiveness as I have stated many times over. I don’t think extending forgiveness means I give someone the right to continue to hurt me, to me it’s so much more than that. If I forgive someone and let them hurt me over and over, that’s on me, not them. I refuse to close my heart to loving people, I have just learned to be more cautious. Is being cautious a mistake? Not always. Being cautious can save your life and your heart from being destroyed, but it can also make you afraid to put yourself out there. Am I one mistake away from being taken for granted? Yes, I am. Am I going to work hard at not letting that happen? Yes, I am.

Am I one mistake away from encountering another tragic life event? Yes, I am. We all are. That’s part of the beauty of being human, and due to that very fact you would think most of us that have been hurt by life would curl up and seek to hide, wouldn’t you? I used to, but don’t think that anymore. I say bring on the chance of hurt if it means I keep living with an open heart and am willing to push back against the pain. The fear of hurt is no longer the driving factor on my journey, the driving factor is the conquering of that hurt! NO ONE gets through life without hurt and pain, but we can turn that very hurt and pain into something beautiful. Something that helps someone starting a journey of their own. This blog was started for just such a reason. I was (and am) hurting. Badly. I’ve had to put a voice to my pain to begin to make sense of it and to find the path that I am currently on. It would have been a mistake for me to not start writing this blog, and I am so grateful that I took a chance on myself and faced my fear. Am I one mistake away from losing readers? Sure I am, but I’m not afraid. I know my voice is but one in a vast sea of others, and that’s okay. I am living my life knowing I am one mistake away from many things, but I am also living in the knowledge that I am doing exactly what I am meant to do.

Can you even begin to imagine how boring our lives would be without mistakes? Without the lessons that we’ve learned and shared with others because of those mistakes? I miss my daughter, I miss my grandchildren, I miss my son-in-love, but it’s not because of a self made mistake that I feel this way. It would be a mistake to close my heart off to them, I refuse to. I may be setting myself up for more pain in the future, but I am not afraid of that possibility. It would be a mistake to not forgive myself for the terrible and dark thoughts I have had due to the loss of our daughter. I’ve thought a lot about what I would do if I had the chance to see her again and I can honestly say that I would take a chance on almost anything but the continued destruction of my heart. I accept the loss, as I wrote in my last post, and I have to move forward. Is it a mistake to move on without her? No. She had made it all so clear over a year ago that I wasn’t a part of her life any longer, nothing has changed. I am the mother of one now, and I am loved.

In closing, I encourage anyone reading this to go out and live! Live your life without fear of making the mistakes that would hurt you emotionally, spiritually and mentally. Live with some caution and take good care of yourself!!! I am looking forward to living life to its’ fullest, even with the chance that I am going to make mistakes. It’s the beautiful lessons learned from those mistakes that make it all worth while…

Photo by Barb Enos
View from Mount Washington
Pittsburgh, PA

Not Why? How…?

Hey all,

Damn! It’s hot here in the Lowcountry of SC!!! It’s sticky with humidity, the skies are heavy with moisture and the sky is a beautiful Carolina blue. I’m sitting on my patio, thinking about the place I’m at in life at this very moment, and I find my thoughts have turned the corner from “why?” to “how?”

How do parents survive the loss of a child? Not why. How does a loving mother come to accept actions she had no control over? Not why. How do people move forward after a decision they would have never made has been forced upon them? Not why. How. Here’s a glimpse into some of my how..

I didn’t ever, not one single time, believe that I would be the mom that would have to go on without her child. Not once. I loved both of my girls with that mama bear love… You know, screw with MY kid? Awww, hell no! I don’t think so! I never thought my kid would screw with me… Not like this. Our younger daughter is still in our lives and I will never be able to put into words what that means to me. To me and my husband. She knows, and that’s what counts. As for the older one, I had never once entertained any type of thought that she would cut us out and leave us out in the cold…(figuratively speaking of course!) I thought like any other mom and/or dad that we would be the loving, doting grandparents of whatever grandchildren we would be blessed with. We would be the parents that would open our door on Christmas morning to those shining and eager faces of our grand-babies , with their parents smiling over them and the hugs… Oh, the hugs!!! I don’t ask why anymore. Why not? I ask how. How do I move forward? How do I make sense of all the pain? How do I smile? How do I love?

Here’s how… I accept that which I cannot change. It took more than a year to find the place where I CAN accept, and still it’s not easy. I accept it never will be. Easy doesn’t teach us anything. I accept that I have to move forward without her, that life pushes us along even when we don’t want to go for the ride. I accept that I am broken, but beautiful. I accept that I forgive. Not only myself, but the child that left us as well. This is how I go on. I dig down deep inside my broken spirit and crave the light that hides from time to time. When that light shines brightly, I KNOW that there is a future filled with joy and wholenesss and love. I turn my face towards the light and let it soak in to my heart and soul. I am no longer asking why… I am SAYING how!!!

How does anyone make sense of that which is nonsensical? We don’t! Once we can accept that, once we can admit we have absolutely no power over that which has come to define us, we break free of the chains that hold us prisoner to someone else’s actions. I didn’t ask to be cast aside. My husband didn’t ask to be thrown away. We DID NOT choose this alienation for our beloved grandchildren. Someone else did. It’s really that simple. After more than a year, we are no longer seeking any type of resolution. We ACCEPT there isn’t any. How? Not why… How happens so slowly you may not even realize it until you are deliberately looking back over your shoulder for the first time in a long time and finally SEE it! IT becomes a defining moment in your life, and everyone’s IT is different. There’s the how… Not the why. I am free from the asking why and am actively seeking the how!

One of my biggest hows can be directly connected to music. One of my FB friends put a song on my page this week that gave me a whole new, and very welcomed perspective on my life. If you have time go to YouTube and search for “Song of Survival” by Nicole Nordeman. Listen. Listen again. Listen a third time… The words were and are a healing balm to my bruised and battered spirit. Listen to “Build a Better Boat” by Kenny Chesney. Listen to “I Can’t Unlove You” by Kenny Rogers. Listen to “Surrounded” by Michael W. Smith. Listen to “Broken and Beautiful” by Kelly Clarkson. Listen to whatever type of music speaks to YOU! That Michael W. Smith song? It states THIS IS HOW!!! Not why!!! HOW!!! I cannot live without music and never want to, it’s the bandage for the bleeding soul that lives inside of me.

I’m in a good place right now and am very, very appreciative of this fact. I know my world can come crashing down with just an unkind word, a non intended slight, or because of any other small, insignificant reason. I know this! I also know that I am not afraid. I’m not inviting pain, but I absolutely refuse to run from it!!! This is HOW I move forward, it’s not why! The why? I deserve to live in the light just like any other creature on this planet. I deserve it… So do you, dear reader. So do you!

Until next time….

I have to…

Hi All,

It’s 12:45 pm here in SC, and I’m so glad I have time in the day time hours to write. Normally I squeeze my writing in after dark, but today has been a good day already, my hubs and I have been to breakfast, been to the Navy Exchange, drove to find the church we are going to attend for the first time tomorrow and came home with little else to do other than what we want to do. I have to… Sounds like a familiar phrase for all of us in our daily lives, but today it means something other than the connotation it portrays in the course of a busy day.

I have to… remember. I have to remember that I am not what I have been accused of being. I am a woman that hurts exponentially because I have been accused by someone I loved more than my own life of inflicting grave harm upon her. I was and am still a good mom, I am not the monster that I have been made out to be. I have to… forgive. I have to forgive these accusations and stand fast in the knowledge that I did make mistakes, I will make more mistakes, and that I can forgive myself first and foremost. I forgive my lost daughter as well, though she may never know this fact. I forgive her for throwing her Dad and I away, I forgive her for making me her scapegoat, I forgive her for hurting me, and I try to remember to forgive her for all the losses we have suffered because of her decisions. I have to.

I have to… seek joy. A life without joy is not a life. There is no joy in losing someone you love, but there can be joy in learning to navigate life after loss. I have to… smile. I have to remember that I am the one in control of my reactions and that I need to have things to smile about. Smiling increases your face value!!! I know, I know, it’s an old saying, but it’s true. Smiling increases your joy and makes your life worth living. I smile when I see my grandchildren, I smile when I think of our lost daughter as a child, I smile when I hug my husband. I have to smile when I think of all the people that love me and stand beside me. These people encourage me to keep seeking joy. They encourage me to face the immense pain of losing my child and to remember what it felt like to hold her hand when she was waiting on the school bus to pick her up for her first day of school. They encourage me to cry when I need to and to laugh when… I have to.

I have to… love. I love with a broken heart these days, but I picture my heart like a shattered piece of glass. The sun shines on the shards and the glass sparkles and gleams. This is the way I love, with sparkle and gleam. I am not afraid to love, I am just cautious now of whom I give my love to. When someone rips your heart out for their pleasure and then stomps it into the dirt, you become guarded. I have to… be guarded. Being guarded doesn’t mean you can’t love, not by a long shot. To me it means you just don’t reveal your heart and its’ vulnerabilities to everyone. I have to… be patient. By being patient I can discern as to where to give my heart over to another, and love. I have to.

I have to… be thankful. I am beyond thankful that I had my daughter for almost 35 years before she left us and I cherish the memories we made during that time. She was a beautiful baby, a darling little girl, a challenging teenager and a woman in her own right. I love the concerts we attended together, I loved watching her dance recitals, I loved tucking her in at night. I loved her. I am thankful that I was chosen to be HER mom and that her Dad and I were gifted beyond measure to watch her grow. I have to… allow myself to grieve. Being thankful doesn’t take away the grief, but in our family we say “some is better than none” and I will be thankful for the almost 35 years that she was a part of our hearts and lives. I grieve the loss of the beautiful person she was, and I am thankful that I knew her before she became so tortured by the events that she believes led to the destruction of our beloved family. I have to.

I have to… be strong. I know that strong people break, but I am in a good place right now and work at staying there. Being strong to me doesn’t mean I’m cruel, a bully or do harsh things to others. To me it means working at staying kind, it means helping others when they need help and it means saying no when I have to. Strength in women is still an anomaly to many, but I am strong and I surround myself with other women that are strong as well. My best friends are some of the strongest women I know and they are women I admire and respect. Being strong gets me through the dark, undiscovered minefields of grief and without that strength I have no idea where I would be in this journey called life. Being strong is hard, but I have to be… I am not now nor have I ever been one to curl up in the corners of my life and hide. Not ever. And the older I get the more I realize just how important having inner strength is. As a mom who has lost 50% of her children and 50% of her grandchildren, I have to fight some days to be strong, but I manage to do it. I have to.

I have to… finish here for now. I’m going to go enjoy the rest of the day with my husband and continue to seek joy, smile, be thankful and be strong!!! Until next time…

Be kind to yourself!!!

Peace of Mind…

Hey all,

I took a long walk this morning and enjoyed the peace of mind being out in nature brought me. It led me to think about what exactly peace of mind means, and I think it’s different for all of us. I know for me it can be different quite often, depending on where I’m at in my life. In my mind. And what I let bring me peace of mind. Is prayer your key to peace? Is music? Is alone time? Time in nature? Whatever it is, I truly hope you recognize it for yourself and invite it in to your life as much as possible.

I spent the day today enjoying the company of some very good and very safe people. I am not a trusting soul since losing my daughter, but the people I enjoyed sharing time with today are all well acquainted with me and the situation I find myself in these days. I was able to share my pain and express myself without fear of judgement and scorn. Knowing that I was being loved on brought me such peace of mind, and for moments like these I am truly grateful. Peace of mind is a gift that is well received if you can recognize it for what it is.

I also had an appointment today with my therapist and she is by far one of the kindest, most compassionate people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She asks the hard questions, and knows that I am not afraid to answer them. Lack of fear leads to peace of mind, and I’m attempting to live as fearlessly as possible these days, therefore I feel like I am consciously investing in my own peace of mind.

I realize I am not an expert on how to handle loss, estrangement, alienation or any other trauma that can befall us human beings. What I am is experienced in my own journey and willing to share my feelings in the hopes that someone reading finds comfort. Or that someone finds an idea to incorporate into their daily lives to find their way through the minefield of the pains of loss. Finding peace of mind when your life has been thrown into chaos because of another person’s decision(s) is key to healing and moving on.

Take some time to do some self care, you’re worth it! No matter what has happened to you, who has hurt you, or where you’re at right now, you deserve a peaceful mind. We all do…

Until next time…

Joy. Such a Small Word…

Hello again!

I’m really not very good at keeping this blog up on an every other day basis like I had planned, but I have to remind myself that I write for my healing first, and healing isn’t something that can’t be scheduled.

As I journey through a new life imposed upon me by the actions of someone else, I have come to learn just how important joy is. I’ve also learned how hard it is to find, and how looking for it is pointless if you don’t ask for help. I seek joy as often as I possibly can, and lately I’ve been lucky in finding it. I find it while watching my almost 2 year old grandson run towards his Poppa with the most awesome smile on his face. I see it when my 4 year old granddaughter colors me a picture and is so proud of herself. I feel joy when I look back on the events that have changed my life so much and have come out on the side of love. I refuse to lose myself in the chaos of confusion and intend to love, and live, joy filled.

Finding joy isn’t easy in a world that promotes hatred, division and hurt, but it is possible. Look for small things. Things like the birdsong of early morning, the feel of the sun on your face, the touch of a human hand. Reach out to a neighbor in need, smile at a harried mom in the grocery store, pay something forward. No one but you is responsible to fill your heart with joy, but others certainly can add to it. You decide what you’ll accept and not accept in life, even when someone else thinks they have all the control. It has taken a great deal of hard work after the loss of my daughter to be joy filled, but with each passing day, I’m learning to let her actions speak for her, not me.

I think joy is and will always be like the tides that wash up on the Carolina shore; an ebb and flow of time, energy and consistency. Joy is never far away from any of us, no matter how or why we hurt. Joy is like your invisible best friend from childhood, no one can see yours but you, until you decide to let it shine! Life is a messy, beautiful ride, and joy can be your chauffeur if you should decide to let it!!

I pray for anyone and everyone suffering with pain, shame, guilt and confusion to know joy. To know that joy is as close as their own fleash, and to know that people care more than you know. Remember always to be kind and know that even the most simple act of kindness brings unfounded joy to a broken heart.

G’night!