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Posts Tagged ‘family’

6 months later.

peppy

6 months today. It has been 6 months since Peppy has been gone. I know some people may think 6 months is enough time with a pet, but for me the pain is still fresh. The last few days have been sad. She has been on my mind. But today. Today I found her brush. With her fur still in it. the second I touched her fur I started sobbing. I forced myself to go through it, to feel the pain, to keep grieving. Looking at her pictures and I lost it even more. She was a part of my life for half of the time I have been alive. She saw me through so much pain. She always felt human to me, she seemed to know when I was hurting. Right now if she were here she would be cuddling me, pushing her tiny head through my hands, as I sit here and bawl like a baby. Her last year on earth was tough for her with the new addition of the baby. She was old and tired and was impatient with his movements. How? How do you deal with that? Not to value one life over the other, that seems so wrong. But in reality my son took precedence. That is the way it should be. However 15 years as the princess, the baby, the dog who was more human than canine, means she couldn’t deal with it. My recent feelings have been ones of guilt. My head knows the truth, but my heart is torn. If only I could have pushed a little further to when days with my son became more routine, a little more breathable. There were so many reasons that made the timing feel right, and I think of my dad’s words from back then to never question the decision and to never regret. My heart doesn’t feel the same way my head does. Not tonight as I sit here and cry, touching her fur, seeing her big brown eyes in my pictures. She was everything. everything to me. I can’t think of one comforting thought. I yearn for the days that she was happily by our side. I wish there could have been more with her and my son as a family.

 

We did look at dogs the other day. Just to feel it out. I could barely make it through without tears. Seeing the joy that the dogs brought my son gave me mixed feelings, but it definitely took away the immediate grief.

 

 

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her favorite place

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our family picture for Easter 2010

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her other favorite place- the sun

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They say having a baby changes your life. Oh really? passing an entire human being through my body that is 100% dependent on me for food, shelter and love will change my life? Nooooo. Tell me more, Mr. Science. Although I have to admit that there are some things I truly didn’t expect. I always thought that the way my relationships changed after baby  was solely up to me.

For one, my husband and I lead a seemingly boring life anyway. We don’t party (we can’t even be around more than 8 people at a time without being overwhelmed), we go to bed at 9, our idea of having fun is staying home watching a movie, and when we have company over we like to just sit around doing nothing but talking for 4 hours. Yeah, you don’t want to be our friends if that isn’t your thing. Most people want to wait to have kids until they are done partying and are absolutely positive they can survive without going to a movie theater, So of course we thought “we got this”.
For two, I thought that if I was aware of myself as a new mom then my friendships didn’t have to change. I have been around mothers who talk about “joining the mommy club” like they’ve just been given the gold medal, mother’s who don’t know how to have a conversation that doesn’t involve their baby somehow, and mother’s who only want to surround themselves around other mothers. To them I say, “get over yourself”. So of course I was determined to be that cool new mother who didn’t act any differently around her non-parent friends. But nobody ever told me that it would take me 5 months to feel like a normal human again (I need to eat, sleep and poop too?), that it would take 5 months for me to feel like my baby wouldn’t burn to death if he was in the sun for 10 seconds, or that driving in a car could possibly be the most stressful time of my life.

I get it. You don’t have a baby or you haven’t had a baby in your life for 20 years. You, my friend, are a well-adjusted individual. Good for you.
Here’s where relationships start changing:
-You need me to leave my baby (who is solely dependent on me for food) on a one day’s notice. Did I mention my baby needs to eat every two hours? Not happening.
-You really really want my baby to meet your friend who happens to lives “just right outside the city”. With traffic, driving time alone could be an hour. Have YOU ever been in a car where your child has to be fastened in so tightly he can’t move, the air doesn’t reach the back seat, and oh have I mentioned he has to eat every two hours? Cue meltdown so bad he can’t breathe because he is crying too hard. Not happening.
-You want to go out to eat with us and have been dying to try that new sit down restaurant down the street. Baby doesn’t fit in the highchair and just try putting that car seat or stroller next to the table. Then keep him strapped in, bored out of his mind, while the big people sit around moving their hands to their mouth every few seconds (for what seems like forever).  And then try to get that busy server’s attention for the check so you can go. Meanwhile baby is in a phase where he likes to scream just to see how you react and oh, he just pooped all over himself.  And did I mention baby has to eat every two hours? Not happening.
-You want me to hang around “just a while longer” because “so and so” is almost here, or dinner is almost ready (though you’ve said that for an hour now), or because it’s just too early to leave to be socially acceptable. Have you ever tried leaving past sun down after keeping baby out all day? And then strapped him in a car seat when bedtime is just around the corner (for both of you because God knows YOU don’t sleep) oh and did I mention baby has to eat every two hours? Not happening.
So yeah, I don’t go anywhere without my baby without 3 days notice, or drive more than 30 minutes away, or go to sit down restaurants, or stay out past 7:30.
Are my husband and I happy? More than we have been in our entire lives. They don’t call them “bundles of joy” for nothing.
So if you find yourself in a situation where your really good friend is having a baby, be gracious. Expect some things to change. And if you truly are a good friend it won’t matter to either of you if one of you is in school, has a boyfriend, and lives with your parents while the other one is married, has kids, a house, and full-time job.

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I remember visiting your house in the summer. I would collect the frogs that were all around your porch, I don’t think you liked that. I would walk in your garden that you were so proud of and look at all you were growing. We would sit outside on the back porch and look out into the open space. You would serve us coconut cake and make us the best grilled cheese. You had a room full of toys just for us. Your dresser had a picture of you when you were younger, I remember telling you that you were beautiful. (But you hated getting your picture taken). We would walk down to the basement so I could help you with the laundry and your knees always hurt on the way down. You had the biggest collection of Disney movies that my little eyes ever saw. You had the cutest laugh and the cutest sense of humor. You had a lot of magnets on your fridge and some held pictures of us. I only got to see you once a year, and even less as I got older. When we talked on the phone it would always be about the weather. I used to write you all the time and I knew I could count on a card for my birthday or Christmas. I know you loved us but had a hard time showing it. I wish I knew then what I know now and I would have been different. But life isn’t about wishing for what didn’t exist, it’s about the journey. It’s about growing and changing and discovering. And what I have discovered is that in your own way you loved us, though you may not have shown us in our own language. I love you, I will miss you, and I hope to see you again one day.

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Psalm 23:2-6 NASB

“The Lord is my shepherd,  I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

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I recently experienced a death in the family. However, the funeral is taking place in New York and I’m in Texas. 8 months pregnant. I had time to figure out if I’d even be able to go, or if I should given the circumstances. Ultimately I decided it would be unsafe to deal with the airport and flying and missing appointments and what not. But the question came to my mind, how do I get closure? I felt strange deciding not to go, especially since a big part of grieving happens around the rest of the family and seeing the body and saying goodbye as your loved one is buried. So I came up with the idea to hold my own memorial service. I’m going to write down everything I remember about my grandma, find all the pictures I have of her, light a candle, read a bible passage, and let myself feel everything. Take it all in. Feel emotion instead of feeling so distant.

Isn’t it funny that it isn’t until death that we remember life? Life seems to just fly past us until by God’s hand it stops. Little things take over us and we get distracted by the menial. Well, It’s the new year now and I am going to take on the challenge to appreciate life instead of ignoring it. I think I am going to find a way to remember everyone special to me now while I have them and then let them know how much they mean to me. If there is any bitterness in my heart towards someone I’m going to deal with it. I don’t know that I would call it a resolution, but it’s definitely the kind of life I want to start living.

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Yesterday I was once again forced to say goodbye to a group of people that I love with all my heart. I thought my heart wasn’t big enough for all this love until I met this family. This month has involved a lot of loss. a lot of events this month revealed I was on a different path than I thought I was on, or that the path looks a lot different than what I imagined it to look. This time last year I was embraced by a church’s loving arms and immersed in what felt like an ocean of love, a newly found family, a reason to celebrate. This year I’m already saying goodbye. This month holds a lot of new beginnings as well. Emotions have run wild as the roller coaster of life has been giving me quite a ride this month. I suppose as it is also the end of the year then it would be a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned and what I can see now that I look back. I can’t stop thinking about how my life would be if I hadn’t found my church and gotten to know and love all the people there. I never understood what the bible meant when it talked about the church being the body of Christ and while I understood it wasn’t the building that made the church, my understanding didn’t go beyond that. Now I get it. I get how the people that make up the church, the community, is the body of Christ. I get that it’s not about the music or the sermons or the events, the heart of the church is every individual beating heart inside of each person, it’s every one of us that together create community. I can honestly say that every single moment I have spent with these people, whether individually or as a group, have been moments filled with warmth and joy even amidst sadness. The church, I’ve also learned, is made up of people that unfortunately are called and sent out. (Unfortunately only for me.) We are brought together for a time, a very important time, and for a very important reason. We learn from each other, we inspire each other, we love each other, we encourage each other, we pray for each other, we walk alongside each other through our struggles and our joys, we come to love each other more than we love ourselves, and then that time is done. The season is passed and a new season begins. I selfishly want to hold on to my minuscule dreams of always being near each other, but the kingdom of God is bigger than me. The needs of this world are bigger than my needs. And these people, these precious people, are a part of that hope that we believe to be out there. So we get sent out to other parts of the world and there might not ever be a time on this earth that we meet up again. But we carry with us that piece of love, that piece of life that beats within us and is forever changed because of this season. So as this season of my life comes to an end and a new season begins, I look toward the heavens. I count on God’s promises and I hang on to His words that tell me it is all worth it and it is all for a greater purpose filled with glory and hope. And when I imagine heaven, I imagine it will look a lot like hanging out with this group of folks.

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For my sisters and the rest of my family. I love you, but I can’t let your love make me who I am.

I would love to tell you that I don’t care what people think about me. I admire the rare few who truly can brush off  what other people think and move forward in their lives. Specifically, I recently realized, that out of all the people in the world, I care so much what my family thinks of me.

In the last couple of weeks I have experienced conflict from some family members. Some of it was small and seemingly insignificant, and some of it was a bit larger in scale. I have spent a few weeks trying to process the feelings that I have had since these conflicts and I have come up dry. As an aftermath of this conflict, my days are filled constantly with disturbing thoughts, sleepless nights, nightmares when I do sleep, and a general apathy in life. Call it temporary depression.

Part of what I have been trying to process is if my family really knows me at all. I can think back to when I was much younger and I can remember censoring myself any time I felt like there would be a conflict. I don’t think my sisters would agree with this because I was also very passionate and emotional. And of course conflicts still happened, especially with my sisters. But as I have grown older I think the only difference is that I am more clever at masking myself. I do this simply, by keeping my mouth shut. A couple years ago I had this huge revelation that when my sisters hurt me I would completely dismiss what they had done and I would keep letting them hurt me. The problem, I realized, is that I would forgive them without ever telling them how they hurt me. And I would forgive them because I was so afraid of what would happen if I didn’t. My sisters are everything to me and I finally realized that this attitude wasn’t exactly healthy. So I started by letting myself feel angry when they did something that angered me, feel pain when they hurt me, and in my own small way I started setting boundaries. But soon after this revelation I moved away from them. Our relationship didn’t seem to be any different, in fact I think I may have gotten closer to them.

After I moved away I had another revelation. This is when I figured out that I cared so much about what my sisters thought of me that I was blind to who I really was. I went through a small identity crisis. I had been removed from two people whom I deeply cared for and respected  and whom I have always wanted to be like (sometimes I hate being the youngest sister). Things started to change in small ways. At first I had a real problem shopping for clothes. I had always gotten approval from my middle sister on what clothes to buy, and when I didn’t get exact approval I would pick something out that I knew she would pick out for herself. Well, all of a sudden I didn’t know what she was wearing and I couldn’t ask her to tell me what I should wear. Things with my eldest sister didn’t seem to change much, for the six months before I left we lived just minutes away from each other. This allowed us to grow much closer and we seemed to always be around each other. When I moved, we would “hang out” on the phone. We talked for hours and hours. For the first year I was gone we would talk like this once or twice a week and then that slowed down, which is ok. She even has taken the time out of her busy life to visit me. I have seen her more than any family member or friend since I have moved away.

But I digress. Recently I have been forced to re-evaluate our relationship with one another. And I have discovered that I am not sure my sister really knows me. This isn’t all her fault because, once again, I have allowed her to only see what I wanted her to see. The other half to the equation is that I think my family still sees me as that broken, awkward, angry, twelve year old whom they have to “appease” just to have a decent relationship with. I wasn’t the easiest to grow up with. I always demanded my own way, little things would set me into a rampage, all the while confused and wondering why my parents weren’t together anymore. Well I have news to my family, I am not twelve anymore.

I don’t really know where to go from here. Any time I have been vulnerable I seem to be met with opposition. I care so much about how my family feels that I still censor who I am to them. My parents, my sisters, my cousins, my aunts, my grandpa, etc…. Only know pieces of who I am.

Recently I have been prompted to think about “community”. My conclusion is that being a part of a community means being supported, accepted, and walked along side in life. It means compromise. It means vulnerability. It means truth and grace. And for the first time in my life I feel like I have found a healthy community. but I find this somewhat sad. I can’t seem to figure out why I can not have this with the people who are closest to me. Family has always been the most important thing to me. When my other sisters dreaded visiting my extended family in New York, I was ecstatic. At least until I was in high school and I realized that most of my family was rude and I shouldn’t have to put myself in that position. But I digress again. The point is, I love my family. I basically bring myself to tears when I think of my grandparents, my aunts and uncles and my cousins, my sisters and my parents.

I guess I am slowly realizing that my feelings for my family are not exactly healthy. In fact I think they are somewhat co-dependent. I don’t think that three weeks of feeling disturbed just because of a conflict is natural. Especially when the conflict is because the person basically just misunderstood me and judged me. Either I should have had the confidence to respond honestly, or I shouldn’t have cared what the person thought in the first place, since they were wrong about who they think I am.

I am moving forward from this point on. Acknowledging my unhealthy behavior and co-dependency is the first step. I am at peace knowing I have a God who knows me and calls me His beloved. 

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