Grief and healing

It's almost been two years since my step dad died. I don't talk about it with anyone still. There are times it gets brought up but find myself quite good at quickly shutting it down. Honestly I don't even like thinking about it. It's still all so fresh. The pain cuts so deeply still. The worried call from my youngest sister that Dad was missing. The door was unlocked and the pug was loose out front. 

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I listen to podcasts when i run in the morning and I remember listening to "Magic Lessons", I can't remember which episode. But they were talking about how you have to talk about your grief as part of your healing. It's a part of the process and it is absolutely necessary. Since I don't think I could possibly verbally talk about it with anyone actually able to understand me through my hot tears, I suppose writing about it is the next best thing. 

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I had a nanny with my kids and I was running my usual errands when I got the call. I dropped what I was doing to drove 40 minutes to meet my sister. I told her to check the pool, all the rooms, the closets. Walk the streets. Call the police and I would call Mom. Mom had just left that morning to fly to New York with my other sister. 

I get to the house still quite optomistic and the police show up and ask so many questions. Ones that baffled me - obviously pointing to possible suicide or kidnapping...anyone wanting to harm him...it was surreal. I can't believe I was answering these questions, to a police officer. We searched for my Dad after getting information from going door to door to see if anyone had seen him. A little girl did when she was walking home from school. He was walking the dog. This was normal and confirmed what we had figured had happened. He was walking the dog...but then what? He had a form of Parkinson-ism my mom called it. Symptoms similar to Parkinson's, but not. He deteriorated quickly over the past 6 years. 

It was about 3 pm and I was still breastfeeding the boys. It had been about 6 hours at this point that I had last fed the boys and I was in so much pain and leaking. I decided to make the drive home to grab the boys and bring them back with me so I could be relieved for as long as I was away from home. By the time I had come back, it was getting dark and my sister had gathered neighbors and the police had pulled together a search and rescue group. By this point my aunts and brother made it up to help search for him as well. It was warm that day, but when the sun fell it quickly dropped in temperature. I remember thinking if he was lost somewhere or confused outside, he would be so cold. My heart broke. Worry was setting in that maybe things wouldn't turn out good. The police were still optimistic so I held on to that. My good friend Kristen and her mom came out to also help search. We drove the streets slowly and I just kept saying "he has to be here, he has to be okay'. We didn't stop searching through the night. The search and rescue left around 2 am with no luck. No leads from the dogs. It was heart breaking. I understood. But nevertheless, I wanted to beg them to stay. I felt like we were banging our heads on the wall. We weren't getting anywhere and I was so confused. Could someone take him? Why? I know this world is cruel, but no. I couldn't go there. 

We didn't stop looking. My mom and sister arrived that morning after taking a red eye. My youngest sister pulled together a huge search group through Facebook, hundreds of strangers came to help us look in the surrounding areas. I got calls from strangers with glimmers of hope, but it was quickly fading. Around noon, the police were able to conduct another search with the helicopter. It felt good to see so many people looking and helping us. We were bound to make progress.

I was on the photo with ABC News when my mom beeped in on the other line. I answered and I swear it was as if time completely stopped. She was trying not to lose it.

"They found him." She said. "He didn't make it."

In that moment I lost all control. Everything that I had holding it together was released. I think i threw the phone. I dropped the laptop and I even broke my mom's chair. I'm not sure how I did that. But i remember someone grabbing me on the floor and holding me as I just sobbed. How could it end this way? We tried so hard and we failed him. My mom got ahold of someone else in the house and they drove me just a block down the street to meet her and where they found his body. I couldn't. I could not believe this was happening. I wouldn't accept it. I was so angry at God. SO ANGRY. I never felt a pain like I did that day. He was gone and I failed him because I didn't find him. He was fucking one street over. For months I held deep anger and regret that I didn't think to look in the field. But I thought, why would he be in a field? It turns out, the dog got out of her harness, and what we assume had happened was she ran into the field and he followed. it's not the best terrain and he must had lost his footing and fell. The corinor said he had died in the early morning. It broke my heart once again that he had to have heard us searching for him. Calling his name. For HOURS and he couldn't do anything. I'm finding as I'm writing this that I'm still so angry. He must have felt so damn alone.

I was amazed at how quickly the person that comes to talk about the death and console the family came (who knew there was such a position?). Oddly by this point I had calmed down. In a matter of an hour. I was now feeling the pain in my hand from breaking the chair (sorry mom) and it was looking possibly broken. I was taking in all that was happening and we sat on the back porch with our immediate family and this guy that was telling us what would happen next. So surreal. What happened after that is such a blur. For weeks I had nightmares and I would cry in bed because that's the only time I had to myself. The girls were scared whenever they saw me sad, so I held it together. 

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Even though this was super uncomfortable and painful to relive, I feel better. I feel like a weight has been lifted and I can breathe lighter. I haven't been able to fully mourn. I didn't want to. It was scary and painful and to experience such strong emotions again that I have no control over is terrifying to me. I did go through the stages in the first 6 months or so- the normal "denial, despair, anger..." and it became less painful around the year mark with just the every day to day thinking about him. But to actually tell someone (anyone reading this) what happened is huge. I'm grateful for this space.

-Months later, I was sitting in the parking lot of the post office when my mom called. She told me that they did a test on his brain that verified his illness and determined that he died from the disease. They said he would have experienced the same ending whether it was in the chair at home or with what he endured outside. In a huge sense- it was a relief. It was a silver lining that it wasn't caused from head trauma, or dehydration or hypothermia. A small piece of light. 

 

*I didn't proof read this, nor do I have plans to. This was for healing purposes and to clear up any questions that anyone may have had over the years, and I have so efficiently avoided. I want to thank everyone that sent meals and cards and flowers and even sweet messages that I didn't have the energy to reply to or send a proper thank you. They really made a very dark and sad time a bit brighter in knowing that others cared. 

#3 marathon, not a race

I have actually written 3 separate posts, all #3s that have disappeared about one sentence before publish, or when I go to save as a draft. Talk about frustration and anger and wasted time. Ugh. I tried posting through the squarespace app, which glitches obviously. So, if I write, it's going to have to be on my computer and I know that is going to be more planned, not a quick update written in the drive-thru line of in-n-out. So about two weeks I have given up on posting here, so Instagram has taken it's place. But I miss writing here and I'm not giving up yet. So while the posts may not be as often, over time they will compile and create a library of photos and thoughts of my life as a young(er) mom on the journey of homeschooling her kids while also enjoying the new stages of life. The tides always seem to be changing and I want to embrace them, not merely float and evenutally be taken away by them.

 

#2 slow comfort

Today we took it really slow. The tv didn’t come on until 6 tonight when showers and dinner were finished and Garit and I were ready for bed. The day was full of talks and naps and the kids playing with their legos. I cooked a full breakfast and dinner along with a new bread- blitz bread! 

 

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I’m really starting to enjoy being in the kitchen, probably because the kids leave me alone long enough to get something made. 😆 

As we enter into the week before Christmas, I am planning crafts that the kids and I can do and I will be meal planning for when my dad and step mom come to stay. I’m excited to try a new cinnamon roll recipe.  

#1 mindset

Lately I have been holding on to the truth that our weeks are filled with days that have an ebb and flow. Some days will be easy and great and others...not so much. And that is all okay. I am learning to find joy in that and know that even in the difficult moments, there is still joy to be found and thankfulness to be had. I know looking back, I will remember that times were hard, but the overall years were full of so much sweetness. These are the days and I am making a conscious effort to shift my mindset- and it’s working, but not without work. Today was a good day.

 

 

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Inspired

It’s funny how stepping away from social media can change so much for me. It brings a renewed vision on what matters to me. It silenced my mind and reminds me of what is truly important. What is not important is the race that inevitably leaves you depleated and running in circles, not much further than where you started.  

With this break, I have read to the kids over an hour a day, some days even two, because the girls didn’t want to put the book down (Laura Ingalls wilder) every day this week. I have created memories that I have hidden deep in my heart. I have said yes, when normally I would say no (to the kids) and I have said no to things I would normally say yes (to other commitments or time suckers). 

We put in extra effort to have a day of fun with the kids, even when it entailed a lot of work to get to that point. This seems like it’s all vague. And it probably is, but it’s something I want to leave here to remind myself. Doing hard things. Doing different things can be good. SO good for the soul. I am feeling inspired to bake and cook and craft with my kiddos and to snuggle up on the couch with a good book after we get our lights up today.  

 

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we were cracking up about the static in the car when hay’s hair was so attracted to the pretzels.  

Another hilarious moment was when we drove home in yucca valley, we past a street called “Kickapoo trail”. That gave a solid 5 minutes of laughter that I don’t think we’ve had in a long time. I want to let loose more, laugh more, live and love more. Cheesy, yes but so much truth. That’s where my heart and mind is at right now. :)  

Slow moving week- all good things

some photos from this week.

 

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all snuggled up watching old Christmas cartoons. Some were pretty creepy- with a clown and all. we turned it off after that one haha.

 

 

 

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we strung cranberries with needle and thread- thanks Rachel from dropping your extras on by! We also tried a new tea, Hayden wasn’t very fond of it. I’m thankful she tried it though. We will find one she loves.  

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We had a whole 5 hours in front of our fireplace tv lolololol reading books while Gray nodded off in my lap and drying out of oranges that I only half burnt. It just added a colored variety haha.  

 

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 you know, the mountains in my bed that give hours of entertainment.     —  Being off social media has been a huge needed mental break for me. What a wise decision. I can’t seem to kick the sugar habit or the gyros from down the steeet that I am completely addicted to. The owner, Nick, actually introduced himself because I had been there three times this week. They are that good.   — 

you know, the mountains in my bed that give hours of entertainment.  

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Being off social media has been a huge needed mental break for me. What a wise decision. I can’t seem to kick the sugar habit or the gyros from down the steeet that I am completely addicted to. The owner, Nick, actually introduced himself because I had been there three times this week. They are that good. 

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    this wasn’t even close to his fullest 8’8 height. The kids begged like I have never seen them beg before in Lowe’s and honestly I was hoping Garit would be the responsible one and put his foot down, but nope. So we brought Carl home with us.     

 

this wasn’t even close to his fullest 8’8 height. The kids begged like I have never seen them beg before in Lowe’s and honestly I was hoping Garit would be the responsible one and put his foot down, but nope. So we brought Carl home with us.  

 

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Tree day and moving on...

we got our tree today! It took some talking into for Garit. He likes to wait until the last minute to put it up. He says it’s going to die and catch on fire. Bahahaha  

we went to our usual tree farm.  

 

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we sifted through the trees where we look every year, but the pickings seemed to be few. And crooked. So we (I) opted for a transported tree. Is that what they are called? They didn’t grow there.  

 

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we ran into one of hubby’s High school buddies and we mentioned how this was he first year without meltdowns, but mentioned it was still early. Haaa 

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this was the first year we explored the farm. The kids were old enough/we had enough energy.  

 

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made them sit for an obligatory photo.

 

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I was here, too.  

 

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There is the cow’s pen. 

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this view. 

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Headed towards the horses. 

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it was close to meltdown city by this point. hungry. Tired. Overstimulated. Yay! 

 

 

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then hubby decided today was the day to get rid of all the baby stuff we had saved for a “what if we decided to have another” and I wasn’t mentally prepared. It’s turned out to be an emotionally draining day. I don’t think that should have been done our super happy “let’s buy our tree” day.  I don’t have the photo of the truck load of donated items. My eyes were a bit too watery to document that and my mind was elsewhere. 

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and yesterday was the day I deemed the day I officially lost my mind. We got ready for the wedding that I had been looking forward to for a bit- Grandma sitter and all with the kids and we pull up to the church. Nope. It was the day prior. I lost it. Tears and all. I guess it’s just a busy time and a can’t hold 300 balls in the air. We ended up going to lunch and took advantage of my dress and make up and I decided I needed to put myself together more often.  

 

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goal setting

Today was good, in a mentally productive way. Processing all my thoughts and writing down obtainable goals. Hashing out with a friend, what I know to be good and not so good for my mental health.

Some of these things being super simple--

  • dig into the word of God
  • prayer journaling
  • be in the moment as much as I can. when it's not a pleasurable moment, know that it will pass.
  • drink water. all the water. I know this is good for my brain and my body and mood in general, but why is it so difficult to regularly do?
  • move my body in ways that feels good. yoga feels good to me. lifting weights feels good. walking outside.
  • get outside. even if it's just to sit and let the sun beat on my face or to feel the breeze.
  • stay off social media. 
  • privately journal every night
  • take 30 minutes of self care every day. read a book. take a shower. light some candles at night and listen to a podcast when everyone is asleep. 
  • last but not least, eat clean. clean for me is closest to paleo as possible. Low sugar and no dairy. Lots of veggies. 
  • get back into photography. find my love for shooting again.
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My place to share

My brain has been busy and fuzzy lately. Overthinking everything. I mean everything. I know for a fact that social media, particularly Instagram, isn't great for me. It's almost like information overload and then I start thinking about everything I see and read and I let it influence my thoughts way more than I should. But because I love to share and document, I thought this would be a great way to do so- without the brain overload and spiraling into an odd depression that seemingly came out of nowhere, for no apparent reason.

SO, I'll leave this here to start. If you would like to keep up with my daily thoughts and our family happenings, this is where you will find it. Grab a cup of coffee. This blog isn't as fancy as Instagram stories or little squares-all perfectly composed, but it's just like me. Simple but messy at times. No fuss and full of heart. My heart. Welcome to the blog...

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Fleeting moments: a call to change

Lately in our home my heart has been desiring openness. It might be because Spring is officially here in California, or let's be honest, at 85 degree temps, it might be safe to say summer is inching it's way in and cutting Spring's glory short. Anyhow, spring cleaning has taken place. Moved furniture around, sold furniture and made piles of boxes filled with stuff that has accumulated over the years that I am just now getting to go through and give them a new home. It feels so refreshing and to finally have the energy to physically do this- glory to God! If only I didn't have a teeny tendency to hoard all the things, we might really be living a minimalist lifestyle. But I am working on it, so that counts, too. Right?

But back to where this cleaning out has brought me; I have come to realize other benefits that come with it. Sort of like when you do a whole body cleanse. I've never done a colonic but I have done a whole17 (I tried) and have even done a juice cleanse. But what I noticed when doing the cleanse was I felt lighter. I was able to think clearer and felt energized and even more at peace if that makes any sense. Well, the same effect is happening over here in our home. I no longer have to look past all the stuff crowding the walkways. Or the huge brown couch that took up the entire living room that we spent a fortune on and trekked with us to 4 different homes over the past 5 years- including when we moved across the country. Now, I am actually now able to see what is important. I am able to think clearer and breathe because almost everything has it's own place now. I'm not moving one thing from one counter to the next in hopes of one day having an ah-ha moment of "this is where it goes!" no. It goes in a box and then to Goodwill because you haven't used it once in a year. Maybe three. Pathetic, I know. It's something I'm working on and my husband has shown so much grace towards me in this department. Wonderful man he is. 

I digress. Along with breathing deeper and truly finding so much more joy in my days, I'm noticing how quickly the kids are growing. Oh my goodness- how much that truly breaks my heart. I have shed too many tears over these last few weeks with these new found revelations- ha - and my husband gives me the same look of sympathy every time and laughs at me. I know deep down, deeeeeep deep down, he shares my grief. 

I have looked into how I could possibly slow the process of them growing with no such luck. I have come to terms that I can only enjoy the time I am given with them. And what a blessing to be able to watch them grow up every single day! I don't take this gift for granted.

Or do I?

Lately I have noticed I have a stronger pull to social media. Not setting my phone down when my oldest has drawn a picture for me and is beaming with pride and accomplishment waiting to show me. It irks me to think about it now and actually makes my heart physically hurt and tears well up. Or when I look up from my phone to catch the end of all four littles playing and laughing together to come to the truth that they have been playing like that for the last 20 minutes! TWENTY MINUTES. Where did my time go? What was so worth scrolling on my phone to have missed those moments that are helping build a lifetime bond. I wish I could say this didn't happen for more than a few occasions. For this reason, I am deciding to step away from all of social media to focus on the beauty that I see right before me. This hasn't been an easy decision, because I so love documenting our life and sharing it with family and friends who may not get to see our family very often. But I have to do what is best for my family and myself. This is what is best. I'm not saying I will never return to social media, but I do know that this is a step that has been heavy on my heart for the past few weeks. I will continue to write here and document our days and anything that I feel is on my heart. A creative outlet of sorts- but with intention. I'm excited to be reminded of how beautiful my life is right in front of me. Sans phone.

a call to be content

We rent in a very comfortable two story home that was built the year I was born. It has a beautiful back yard and a graciously large front yard that the kids plan in often. We have been renting this house for two years now, which was the plan. Actually the plan is to rent for about 3 years before we looked to purchase again, staying longer depending on the housing market. We foreclosed on our beautiful 5 bedroom, very large home with property 5 years ago. We were humbled when we moved into our first rental home that was close to 1,200 sq ft with no dishwasher and no air. The bottom of the old doors leading to the outside had a full half inch between the door to the ground. But we were grateful because we had applied to rent over 10 homes with each application returning denied when our notice to be out of the house was approaching very quickly. I remember crying to my husband why on earth every single home was denying us. Telling us that we were not fit to live in their homes.We weren't even applying in anything extravagant. He constantly reminded me that our plan was not His plan. We needed to wait. Finally, we were referred to a house in a not so great area that was going up for rent. We said we would take it after a quick walk through. God worked on both mine and my husband's heart during those 2 years. I think we had the most growth concerning material needs vs wants during that time.

For about the past year, I have been discontent at the home we are currently in. The one I once saw as the perfect upgrade from our Chrysolite house. Still modest, but it had air, (it has AIR) and a dishwasher! And the doors actually kept the heat in during the winter. Mind you, moving into this home, I was 28 weeks pregnant with twins. To top it off, our landlords are the sweetest people I have come to know and quickly became great friends. It was obviously this was the house the Lord had picked for us. We were humbled and very blessed during our two years at the other house, but this house and everything that came with it...it felt like the biggest blessing.

Fast forward to recently...I have started to become envious of other's beautiful homes. The work that they put into them and the changes they make, like beautiful wood floors, clean updated countertops, paint and furniture to fit there home just right. I knew it was something that created discontentment in my heart and I let it grow. I continued to water that seed of discontentment and began to look for new homes that could possibly fit the bill so we could do the same. Even though we agreed that we would still be renting for another year here. I could hear the Lord tell me to be still and content. He would graciously me how beautiful this home is. Our 360 view of the mountains. The perfect yard for our kids to run and run amuck. The park within walking distance. Great neighbors - as of now we actually don't have any neighbors on either side of us! What a brat I have been. I'm reminded of these blessings and I thank the Lord for his patience and kindness towards me and my ungratefulness. 

We here we are. Here I am. Renting and looking for contentment and being thankful. Constantly being chiseled and refined, by His grace and grace alone. 

 

ramblings

It has been beautiful in southern california these past few days. I take back all the nasty things I said about you. Even though your freeways are overcrowded and often times, strangers are just straight rude. But you sure know how to warm up right when we all start to get a little tired of the 60 degree temps. 

I am in awe of how quickly life changes. Seasons in life...Last year around this time, I was tirelessly drinking my third cup of coffee while planning the boys’ first birthday party. I would throw myself a pity party often thinking to myself and out loud “when is it going to get easier? When are they going to learn that sleep is goooood? Why is Grayson always crying? Why do they eat so much?” 

Now? Now, I sit outside and listen to the birds chirping and appreciating our backyard that I seemed to have missed or overlooked the past two years. There is a Jasmine plant that I am assuming is from the neighboring yard, but is climbing over the fence onto our trees. What a blessing.

I get to catch up on blogs that I used to read two years ago. The boys are napping and Bailey is getting dressed so she can blow bubbles (or dump bubbles, whichever comes first). I get to read books that I have bought over the course of the past two years but haven’t had the time to finish any of them. Life is good. This stage is good. It hurts my heart a little that we aren’t planning on having any more babies. Actually, we are planning on not having any more. There is a difference I think. It makes me sad. But then to think of the possibilities that we have ahead of us makes me happy, too.

We were able to go to the san diego zoo and the beach over spring break. A year ago? You couldn’t pay me to attempt that on my own. It was so liberating. It wasn’t easy by any means, but we all had so much fun. I am looking forward to doing more of that.  And photography and writing. Not sure it's going to go anywhere, or even if I want it to go anywhere...but I enjoy looking back at what was going on and where my mind and heart was at that point in time. 

side note, I am listening to tom petty on Pandora as I type, and Brown-eyed-girl came on. I instantly was transported to sitting in the car with my dad with the hot sun burning my skin, maybe when I was about 15 or 16 years old and I can literally hear him singing that song to me like he used to. I haven’t had that vivid of memory in…i don’t even know. Makes me smile as a few tears are falling, too. miss him.