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Monday, December 23, 2013

Angel Daddy- Unapologetically Proud

Gabe and I talk about Angel Daddy.  Regularly.  I have purposely not shown him pictures of Angel Daddy with the name (but of course, he has seen pictures, and also has had it associated with "Angel Daddy", which is fine as well). I want him to know and understand him on his own; his own association of this (which is blossoming beautifully), shows me what I need to know.  He KNOWS who Angel Daddy is, even without me constantly trying to pair the association.  He KNOWS how important Angel Daddy is. HE KNOWS. And ultimately, that matters to me, to us, to our family.

I know that the concept of Angel Daddy is very uncomfortable to many.  I have been told it several times by very well meaning individuals, several that are the closest to me. I know that they are telling me their thoughts, their concerns, with the best of intentions. And I appreciate it from those closest to me.  However, I can tell you, wholeheartedly and unabashedly, that they are wrong.

I had thought about parenthood before Matt died, and then desperately thought about it after he died. I had been wanting a baby, and could not wait until it was "our time" to have our family. I had been wondering what it would be like- to be a mother- and I had been wondering what it would be like- to never have that chance. I wanted this so incredibly badly that I could not even manage my own thoughts. I could not control that Matt was gone, but I had control over the chance of becoming a mommy, and the circumstances surrounding it (or, so I thought). I thought I was going to just do it all by myself. I thought I was going to become pregnant by myself and go through pregnancy by myself and be in labor by myself and just do it all by myself. And I could have, and I would have. When I approached my doctor about this, he told me that I was young, and that I would find someone.  I cannot even tell you the hurt, the pain, the sorrow and the grief that this brought me. I did not want someone else. I did not want another man's baby. I only wanted the baby that I could call Matt's and mine.  That's what I wanted; that's what WE wanted.  And, unfortunately for my doctor, I let him have it.  Grief, pain, hurt, intellect- it all came out to him. Grief included- I was an intelligent woman who can make decisions for myself in my best interest.  And now, they include a child. And now, I am still an intelligent woman who can and will make decisions for us in our best interest. I will not always have the answers; situations have and will come up that I am not sure how to handle.  But you can be damn sure that when I make a decision, it will be the right one for our family.

What I am trying to say is that even the most well-meaning and even well-educated individuals have never been in my position. They have never been in a place where the pain of losing a spouse paired with the loss and grief of not having a child and a family with that person is too much to bear. They will (hopefully) never know this pain, this sorrow and this grief. Some may experience this loss and this secondary grief as well, and they may very well not make the same choices as me, and that is absolutely fine- trust that an individual in this situation can make decisions like this. (I know I sure thank those that trusted me and my decision!!)  But, even with the same loss, they have never experienced this loss through my eyes and in my life, just as I have never experienced their loss through their eyes and in their life. Because of this fact, anyone and everyone other than me is not an expert on my life. This decision I have made, this terminology I have used, this is special to our life. This is special to our circumstances, and this is incredibly special to my heart. I stand by this choice, and will, for forever.

Angel Daddy is in our lives daily. Angel Daddy is important to our well-being. Angel Daddy is the reason that we have our own little family.  Angel Daddy is the reason that I love and we love like we do- that we know that whatever we have we could lose at any second, so we want to not only hold on, but hold on tightly, to the wonderful people in our lives. Angel Daddy is the way that neither Gabe nor I feel isolated in this world. The term Angel Daddy came to me almost immediately when I decided that I wanted this child that had come to me- no- when I accepted the gift of this child that had been given to me.  Like many thoughts, feelings, ideas that I have, I feel they came from God and Matt- they are a piece of him living through me. And I will never second-guess this.
_______________________________________________________

The other night, we were at a friend's house for dinner and a birthday party. It was a special night, and we are so incredibly thankful that we were and are included in this family's thoughts and gatherings.  These are very special people who we met before Matt died. In fact, I had met many of them before I had met Matt.  They love us, and we love them. Some of them I told about Gabriel during my call-sessions to my closest friends as I was on my way to pick him up. They stand by me, support me and love me, and now they stand by us, support us, and love us.  And they accept us.

While there, Gabe, again, brought up the concept of "daddy".  He has done this a few times before. This was the first time he had done it in a slightly more public setting.  The first time he did it, we were the house of some other friends.  He called my friend "Daddy".  He sees my friend as part of a happy family with a Mommy, Daddy and two kids. He sees the kids call their daddy "Daddy". He hears the kids' mom say "go ask Daddy".  When he called my friend "Daddy", it melted my heart, and also about ripped it out.  I was so happy to see him identify this man as a "daddy", as someone that he felt comfortable enough with to give hugs when we leave, to go outside with when (his own) Mommy stays inside with this man's wife, having "Mommy" conversations, and he feels comfortable enough to play games with him. This man is the only man that I have left my child with for an extended period of time that is not family. I also knew that this meant it was time, that my son is ready to have a man in his life like this. This family supported me; they helped me find the humor and irony in the situation. They also love us and accept us.

When at my friend's house this weekend for the party, when Gabe did this more publicly, I was comforted to know that, I think, only one person noticed it.  Luckily, this was someone that I feel very comfortable with. Someone that Matt knew and was friends with, and someone that I truly feel will not and did not judge me for this happening.  Gabe wanted to go outside where all the men were; he was looking for "Daddy", just as he had seen the other kids run in and out all night doing. He knew there were daddies out there. He just wondered which one was his. And he was truly excited about it. His excitement made me realize how much he wants this- to open this "present"- and how I am letting him down right now.

When he did this, I was embarrassed.  I was awkward and didn't know what to say.  I was NOT embarrassed at the actions of my child.  I was embarrassed at the fact that I do not yet know how to handle this; I hadn't made a decision.  I do not yet understand how to best approach this with my child, my wonderful, honest, caring, loving child, nor did I know what my reaction should be in front of others.  I was also petrified of what their reactions might be towards us, which, I suppose, is the reason for writing this. I need to prepare for the reactions. And, I am not just preparing myself.

When I chose the terminology "Angel Daddy" for Matt, it was not to constantly remind everyone, including Gabriel, that Matt is dead.  Of course, this is true- he is indeed dead; he is indeed gone from us for the rest of our lives, and there is absolutely nothing that I can do nor that anyone else can do that will bring him back. I did not do this to confuse my child. I did not do this to make him not fit in with the other kids.  I did not do this to make him feel alone, different, isolated. I did this out of Love.

I chose the term "Angel Daddy" so that Gabe could differentiate and understand our situation.  I did not want Gabe to ever believe that we are biologically his- THAT would confuse him: I want him to be PROUD of the fact that he was sent to me through a miraculous event and divine intervention. I want him to understand his story- our story. I want him to know that he fits perfectly with me, with our family, and with our friends, and that he is loved, so, so loved.  I wanted him to know that, no matter what, he has a Mommy who loves him very much, and a man that wanted nothing more than to be a Daddy to him, and to share him with his Mommy.  Because of circumstances beyond our control, this did not happen as it was planned, but regardless, it did happen. I did this because I want him to feel loved, special, part of something important. I want him to know that Angel Daddy is something that he can be proud of, and also that Angel Daddy and Mommy are always very proud of him. I wanted him to believe in the powers of God, in the reality of miracles, and in the Love that we give and receive daily.

I also chose the term Angel Daddy so that I could leave it open for a time when someone special came in to our lives.  I wanted him to have the freedom to have a daddy, if he so chooses- this will absolutely only be Gabe's decision if he wants to open his heart to someone and call him Daddy. What my child is telling me now is that he does want a daddy.  What a special person this will be.

That night, we came home and we talked about Angel Daddy.  He knows that Angel Daddy loves him. He knows that Angel Daddy is important in our lives. He knows that Angel Daddy is in Heaven with Jesus and God, and that he watches us and loves us from far away.  Gabe knows that Mommy loves him and he knows that Mommy misses Angel Daddy every day. He also knows that even though Mommy misses Angel Daddy, I still enjoy life, and I still work, plan, enjoy, have fun and am loving and kind to those around us.   Gabe knows that he is very, very special to my life. He knows that someday he will have someone to call Daddy.  Gabe knows Angel Daddy's name is Matthew Gabriel Wagstaff (and quickly says "I'm GabwielWagftaff too!").

What I have given to my son, then, is the best of both worlds.  I know this makes people uncomfortable, but that is not my choice- that is other people's choice. And from the beginning, I have said that I need absolutely nothing but love and support and positivity in this area of my life- of our life. And I absolutely mean that. I have a sweet, well-adjusted, intelligent, funny, loving, caring, adorable and courageous child. And I have a child to whom I have given the best of both worlds.  I have a child that knows that he is loved wherever he goes, and I have a child that also knows that it is okay to love and move forward in life, even if those we love are no longer with us physically. I have a child that will believe in miracles, and will believe in giving love and kindness to others.  What more could any parent ask for?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

God's Grace is Sufficient for Me.

Many of you know about my "Couch Nights".  I used to have them during deployment, and many spouses of deployed soldiers do this, but I still carry on this "tradition". I do it when I am lonely, mostly, when I am too tired or exhausted to get up and carry myself to my bedroom to fall in to sleep's caress.  When I am too lonely to feel the large bed without my husband in it.

I used to turn my DVR to play all of the "Through the Wormhole" episodes. I love Morgan Freeman.  I love his calming, soothing voice, his voice of reassurance and comfort.  Even when he talks about some tragedy, it is still so calming.  In Bruce Almighty, I was so excited to see Morgan Freeman playing God, because that voice is how I hear my God.  Calming, soothing, reassuring and comforting.

One night, I was up late, trying to laugh at SNL (which, well....doesn't happen too much anymore).  After SNL came this show "Your Move with Andy Stanley".  This show caught my attention. It made me think and understand things in ways I haven't yet. It made me.....connect.

I have since DVR'd episodes of Andy Stanley, and have watched them on my couch nights.  I generally find myself watching an entire series in one night, even if I have seen them before.  I find something new each time. 

Many of you know my story of my salvation, of my recognition of God's comfort and grace and redemption, and it was found in the tragedy of losing my husband.  Before I met Matt, I was agnostic. I just didn't know. I just didn't see how, if there was a saving, loving God, he would let all the bad in our world happen. He would let babies die, cancer sweep across wonderful people, bad people continue on.  How does this happen?

Matt was very secure in his Christianity, and he had no doubts who his Savior was.  He knew where he was going "someday".  We didn't go to Church, but sometimes, now, I wonder if that was more me than just his decision.  I wonder if my discomfort with this was something that he was just waiting to fade away.  I do blame myself for that sometimes, and wish that I had it together so that maybe we could have shared in this together.  I see families and couples at church now, and I am so happy for them, but filled with guilt and loneliness that I am there alone.  That my other half, my husband, is not there with me to share and learn, and then talk about it afterwards and apply it to our lives together, as husband and wife, and as a family.

Someone very close who has suffered this loss with me, once asked me how and why people find God in loss and tragedy.  While I was coming closer to my acceptance of God and Jesus during our marriage, I still wasn't there completely yet. I still had my doubts.  But after losing Matt, after receiving his "remains" (I shudder at the word) in Dover in the dignified transfer, I found Him. I felt Him. I felt the Holy Spirit and the protection and comfort in my desperation, in my sorrow, in my grief, in my resistance.  I found Him.  I haven't always done my best to seek Him out since then. I have had complete strife with Him, I have had arguments, bargaining, and literally cuss-out battles with Him.  But, through all of this, through all of my desperation, my sorrow, my grief, my resistance, my arguments, my bargaining and my screams, I have learned: He still loves me.  He still comforts me.  He still protects me.

This weekend, or month, really, I have had more "couch nights".  Several in a row.  Right now, the Your Move series is talking about Love, Sex and Relationships (interesting stuff- check it out).  I kept watching though, through more series.  I haven't had a lot of time to catch up on everything, but had break week this last week from school so watched. And listened, and maybe even transformed a little.

I came across this series on a particular night when I was feeling lonely, desperate, looking for answers, looking for guidance, looking for- any sign that God was there.  The series is called "Why God?"

Andy Stanley talks about when God is Inattentive, Uncooperative and Late.  How appropriate, right?  Well, he starts out by asking the audience, and even those at home, raise their hand if they felt that God had ever been described by these terms. I raised my hand, scoffing in a sense- "uh, yeah, obviously".  He showed that every person in the audience had felt this way.  "You thought it was just you!"

My apologies now for lack of verses in here. They are in the series videos, though. I recommend you check out this series, especially if you ever feel that Your God is letting you down (and even, or especially, if you aren't Christian): www.yourmove.is

Since many of you know my experience and my struggles, especially through this blog, you may be able to relate to the timeline I discuss. Let me tell you a little about my experiences, and how they relate to the stories told:

Inattentive
How many times did I pray? Did I truly pray for Matt to come home, safely, to me, to his family, to his friends? For our life to be able to be what it was supposed to be?  How many times, as a new-ish Christian-ish person, did I pray?  And how many times did I feel that He didn't even know I was there? That He didn't even know me?  And this was before Matt died.

When Matt died, I found God, I found the Holy Spirit, I found comfort, and I KNEW this is what it was, but boy did I think, for a while, that this might have been a one-time short spell.  I still thought that since God ignored me then, He didn't answer my prayer then, He was just trying to make up for it now.  Sort of like when you have a friend, they go through a hard time and you miss all of the signs, all of the times they have tried to reach out to you, and then the stuff hits the fan and you feel guilty, so then you want to be involved, to help, to make it up to them.

In the series, Andy talks about the story of John the Baptist's time in prison. John the Baptist thought that Jesus had forgotten about him, he couldn't understand why he was suffering, and why his cousin, whom he had devoted so much time, energy, commitment to, would leave him just sitting there, as if he didn't even know who he was. John even asked if Jesus was the savior that he had been telling people about- questioning that Jesus was who he said he was. Jesus then told John's messengers to go back and tell them what they had seen and heard, since John's view, perception, pain, was only as big as his prison cell- he didn't realize what was going on outside himself.

I can relate to this now, looking back. While I was going through my pain of losing my husband and, essentially, my life as I had wanted it to be, and writing it down in my blog and sharing it, I can see how this applies to me. So many times, my words had helped someone else. So many times, my words, my pain, my weakness, had shown someone else something that they could realize in regards to their own decisions, their own situations, and their own lives. Getting those emails, messages, conversations- that also helped me pull through. In a way, it helped me realize, even when I hurt the very most and was screaming at an ungiving God, that God was using my weakness to help others. I am very appreciative of that. This has glorified God, it has helped others see more clearly in their situations, and has helped them, hopefully, seek out God. Sometimes this has happened without me even mentioning His name.

Uncooperative
How many times have I prayed? While Matt was deployed. After he passed. After I got better at praying, how many conversations have I had that have said "I will do this if you just do that?" And God, while, I know He was listening, just told me "No".  I can tell you- I do not like to hear those two little letters said together to form a sentence.  No. 


Matt died 3 days shy of 7 months after he deployed. He was to come home in only 3 more weeks for his R&R, and our honeymoon. While we didn't want to have children until we had our ideal one year together as husband and wife and he could actually be home with me during our forming miracle, it was something that we wanted. We wanted to have a piece of each other, we wanted to be a family and have a family and share our family with our family and friends. I prayed and prayed and prayed that I was pregnant, starting from, oh, about 12 hours after I found out Matt died. Please, please, please, please, PLEASE let me be pregnant. Let me have this piece of him. I want to share this with our family, our friends. This is all I have left of a piece of him- his flesh and his eyes, and his nose, and his hair, and his, and his, and his....PLEASE GOD! Let me have this piece of him. "No." Then, ten months came and left since I had seen him. It's not a possibility. Eleven months had come and gone. Even God won't do this for me. I will not have this piece of him anymore. He is dead. God, please let him live. "No." God, please let me be pregnant. "No."

This most certainly applies directly to me. Absolutely, positively, directly to me, and to my son, Gabriel. I asked and asked and asked to have Matt's son, or daughter, as long as it was a piece of Matt. I asked and asked and asked that God bring Matt home, with this being some crazy mistake, mix up, secret mission, whatever- I would forgive all. So many times. God was uncooperative. I did not get to have his child. He did not come home. But, God showed His glory, his miracle when, 10 months after Matt's death, almost to the day, I took custody of my five week old little baby boy, my little Angel baby, my little Miracle, God's big show of His Glory. He was uncooperative in the moment so that He could show me, and many, many others, His Glory through my weakness, my strife, my loss, my pain, my sorrow, and my desperation. This little boy, my little Angel, my miracle, has made God's being uncooperative to me in my moment of need absolutely worth it. And not only did I already find God, and the Holy Spirit through Matt's death, but through Gabriel's presence, I sought Him. I found a church while home in Illinois and accepted that Jesus had died for my sins, and I was worthy of this gift, and sought guidance to find a church when I came back to my home in Tennessee. I am now a member of a church that provides me hope and healing, even, and maybe even especially, when I don't think I need it.

Late

Was God late with my son? Was he? Now that I know how his glory showed through with this, I cannot say that he was. When I was originally thinking about this blog, I was going to use the "late" as a way to discuss my son coming to me. I had not yet seen the uncooperative segment of the series. But now, as I write this, I realize that Late is going to be a message of a different order.

Andy talks about Jesus being late to heal Lazarus, and how he showed up after Lazarus being dead for four days, despite his sisters sending a message that Lazarus was ill. Mary and Martha (Lazarus' sisters) were angry at Jesus, and felt betrayed by Him, because had Jesus come earlier, He could have saved their brother. He could have healed Lazarus, and Lazarus wouldn't have died. Jesus told them that Lazarus would live again. Mary and Martha believed that he would, as they knew about the Resurrection and living in eternity with God. Jesus wanted to show them, and everyone around them, that through Him, and through God, and belief in them, anything could happen. Again, Jesus was giving the Glory to God for his works and his abilities. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, out of the tomb. Those watching were so astonished, Jesus had to tell them to take off the grave clothes from Lazarus.

Andy started this conversation, I should mention, that God is not inattentive, not uncooperative, and that "God.....is never.....Late". So powerful.

The best way that I can relate this back, at this time, to my situation, is that maybe God was late getting to the aircraft, maybe he was late saving those on board, and that he just wasn't on time. I remember the first time I read the story of Lazarus about 1.5 years after Matt died, I just kept thinking and hoping that this meant he was going to bring Matt home. My home. Not God's home, my home. But now I know differently. Now I know that God has a purpose, and that I do not know it. But, I feel in my heart, now, even though I have been told millions of times, that I will know the purpose someday, that I will understand it all someday.

Maybe the late part is that if God had saved Matt, and the others, then our children would have fathers. Our children would not be "fatherless", we would not have the burdens of raising our children without a male figure, would would not have the burdens of doing every. single. thing. alone. Maybe that is what I am to find in this? But, that gives me hope that, because God is never late, I won't always be alone. We won't always be alone.

It still hurts. It still stings to know that Matt is dead. It always will be difficult to know this and to live with this pain. But, with what I have learned, especially from this series, is that, truly, God is never late. All I can think here is that God does have more in store for me. More in store for Gabriel and I. I don't know what it is. But, I can have faith that no matter the pain that I am going through, He is not late in delivering what it is that I need, that Gabriel needs, and even that you need. Through the chaos, there is a reason, and it is truly all in His time. I cannot tell you how many times my pastor has said this- again and again. I guess I am pretty stubborn and I need to hear it that umpteenth time for it to sink in.

I hope that this might bring hope to many in despair. I hope that this might bring clarity to situations that are out of our control. I hope that this might allow others to have a little more faith when it is small, dwindling, or hanging by a string. My faith has been tested in ways that I have never thought possible, that I have never thought a loving God would put me through. But, now I can see why. He has a reason, and it is so that the word can get out about Him, people can seek Him, and people can be saved by Him. The reason is so that he can be glorified, even in failure, weakness, trouble and despair. Through weakness, God's glory can be shown. God's grace has shown me so much, and will continue to do so. As Andy says, "In my weakness, He is Strong."

Even if one person can relate to this message, then my pain has value.

God's Grace is Sufficient for Me.

 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pictures

Has it really been a year since I posted?  Oh my. 

So many times this last year I have thought I need to write that. I need to write again. I need to get that down, I need to get it OUT.  But, obviously, so many times I have failed, gotten distracted, gotten lazy, pushed it down.

But more than anything, I just didn't have words.

Here we are.  2013.  And all I can think about is pictures.

Pictures rule my world. Two of my best friends are photographers. Pictures capture our moments, they capture stages, they capture emotion, love, beauty, ugliness, faith, healing, strength, weakness, color, texture.  Everything.

And all I can think about is pictures.

When Matt died, I searched and searched through every picture I had. I desperately wanted more and more- any I could get my hands on, and was and am still very appreciative of all that were and are shared. I ordered them for myself, for our family, for our friends, and obsessed over them.  It was all I had. Why didn't I take more? Why didn't I have my camera on in every waking moment? Why didn't I get the CHANCE to have the camera in his face for our R&R like I had teased him that I would?  Oh yeah.  Because God needed him more than I did.

When I was frantically ordering pictures, in the back of my mind, I scaled down. I drastically scaled down. I didn't order all that I wanted. I didn't order all that I needed.  Even then, I knew what their fate had to be.  I have ordered some since then, but no matter what, pictures do not replace him; they do not replicate him. They do not bring him back.  Pictures can catch everything. Everything in two dimensions. They can portray whatever they like. But they cannot capture and replace or continue on what is lost.  The feelings, the love, the smell, the breath, the forever that was supposed to be there but is now gone.

This past week, pictures have been weighing heavily on my mind.  Maybe its just because I had our three year anniversary, which is the third one without him.  Maybe it is because I am desperately seeking normalcy still. I am stuck between New and Normal.  Nothing is new, yet nothing is yet normal.

The most difficult thing about pictures on my mind: at some point, I am expected to get rid of them. To put them away. To hide them, maybe?

Here is my dilemma.  When it comes to pictures, parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, friends, and even strangers can keep them.  It is okay.  No one asks them or assumes they will get rid of them. Put them away. Hide them, maybe. Widows are expected to get rid of them. To put them away. To hide them, maybe.

Please know that I am not AT ALL upset that others get to keep them.  Slightly envious, maybe, but not upset at this.  Thank goodness they get to keep them. Thank goodness I get to see them when I visit, when I go here or there. Thank goodness this is okay. And thank goodness I am allowed that opportunity.

But for me, someday, it won't be.  Some day, someone will see it as awkward. Some day, someone will find it uncomfortable. Some day, someone will tell me to get rid of them. To put them away. To hide them, maybe.  Some day, I will no longer be able to be stubborn, I will no longer be able to argue and win my need versus theirs. Some day, I will get rid of them. I will put them away. I will hide them, maybe.

And it breaks my heart.

I don't understand why I cannot have this season of my life, albeit short-much shorter than I would have planned it to be- as a piece of my life moving forward.  I don't understand why I am expected to get rid of them. To put them away. To hide them, maybe.

This is the argument.  How would you like it if someone had pictures of their ex all over the house? You would want them to get rid of them. To put them away. To hide them, maybe.  Yes. I would. But this is so different. This is so, so, so different.  Nothing offends me more (now that the whole baby thing is out of the way) than someone comparing a break up, divorce, nasty argument, to the loss of my husband.  They are NOT the same. In no way, in no shape, in no world are these the same or comparable. At all. Period.   My reaction in the past has been to simply ignore this. But in this situation, when it comes to my pictures, our pictures, his pictures, I cannot ignore, and I will not agree.

Another argument: It will be uncomfortable at some point to have pictures of me and another man in the house. While this is a more feasible and acceptable argument, I still call "Crap".  If there is a person that I am comfortable enough with to allow in my home, don't you think that they would know this back story? I am open enough about it that anyone that asks or questions knows this back story. If I ever find myself in this dilemma, I am sure that it will be in a relationship that is strong, and more than likely, will have equal pictures.  If this makes one uncomfortable, then I guess that the relationship is not strong. Or they don't need to be in my home.

My pictures make me happy. My pictures make me smile. My pictures make me love. My pictures remind me. My pictures remind me that I was onced loved. My pictures give me hope that I can be loved again.  Don't make me get rid of them. Don't make me put them away. Don't make me hide them, maybe.

Friday, January 27, 2012

More than I deserved, but I deserve no less

That man of mine.  Wow.  I told him all the time- you are spoiling me.  And I meant it. Because he did.

Every girl dreams of the guy that calls her, comforts her, tells her he loves her, rubs her feet, kisses her forehead, hugs her for no reason, and is her best friend.

I had that.

He spoiled me.  He didn't buy me fancy things, or try to woo me with incredible tails of triumph.  He just loved me. That's all he did.

I remember when I very first let myself realize that he loved me.  I tried so hard to push him away, because I didn't want to get hurt, and I didn't want to hurt him.  I remember when it finally slapped me in the face that he loved me, and that I loved him too.

Just a few weeks after we started dating, I had to go to Nashville for a meeting with Toastmasters in January.  (January is normally cold here.) He wanted to go along. He said that he had some stuff to do while I was in my meeting. He was going to go to the Harley store and Costco.  While I was in my meeting for four hours that day, he did just that. He went to the Harley store, and found himself a hat, I think.  Then, he went to Costco.  He bought soda, some printer paper, a wireless mouse, and dog treats.  Then, he came and picked me up. My car, which I had pretty much only to get me from A-B, was spotless. He had thrown away the garbage in the back seat, vaccuumed up the dog hair (and I am sure french fries) in it, cleaned the windows, changed the wipers, cleaned the wheels, cleaned and treated the leather, gotten out many of the stains in the carpet, not to mention the goo that was in the cupholders, and sprayed air freshener.

I got in the car that day, in my car, my 1999 Honda with nearly 200,000 miles on it, and felt like I had a brand new car.  I knew that he loved me right then. I was shocked. How on earth did this man do that- for me?  I could say, and definitely argue the point that my vehicle was that nasty. It was- especially by his standards. But he put so much work in to it.  He loved me. I realized it then, and it made me a little scared. I was afraid to say it just yet. 

Then, I find out about his shopping ventures. He wanted to get me something at the Harley store, but wasn't really sure what I was 'in to' just yet. He got me a wireless mouse, because he couldn't believe that I was still using one with a cord.  He bought some printer paper, because he realized that I was low, and he got me some pop, as he noticed that I drank it.  Then, he got my dog treats, because he loved her.

Oh my gosh.  This man loves me.

And that is how our relationship was.  We loved each other. We didn't try to show our love with material things, but rather with actions and words. He called me on his way home from work, every day, even though I was going to see him in 15 minutse. We were kind to each other. We cared about each other. We simply asked how each other's day was. In fact, it was so easy.

I had what every girl dreams of. I didn't take advantage of it, and I know how blessed I am that I had it.  And now, it is gone.  I remember it so vividly, but ultimately, it is gone, and I am alone.

And now, I have to somehow be that girl that thinks that I want or deserve that again.  With the extra "baggage" of widowhood, and now single motherhood, it is difficult to think that I am desireable to anyone, let alone someone who deserves the same treatment. After all, no one will EVER be Matt.  My life is who I am, and because of my life, I know that I deserve to live and have the same life that Matt would have provided to me- to us.  If I settle for less, then he taught me nothing.

It is difficult, and I suppose it is going to be a fine line- not comparing everyone I meet to Matt.  How fair is that?  And, he has left a huge imprint on my life that will be very difficult for anyone to live up to. I know- I have tried.  Is that fair? Is that wise?

I suppose I want someone in my life who can accept me for me. I want someone in my life who can accept me for my life and love with and of Matt.  I want someone who can accept me for my life and love with and of Gabriel.  And, if that is not in the picture, then I suppose that I am not where I am supposed to be.  I can't be with someone who expects me to block, hide or pretend that this side of my life doesn't exist.

Matt could get me through anything. I could find out I was dying, and he would take me through it, and we would find a way to laugh; he was and still is, my strength.  On top of everything else, this has to be there.  On top of all of this, there have only been a few, very few, men who I fully trust to be able to hold me up when I am breaking down. (It's easier, but different, with women.) None of these men are men who I would date, as they are either family, or might as well be family. These few are the only ones who I have felt that I could completely show them the raw side of me, and be able to break down if I need to.  Other men, I still feel guarded, and I can still feel that it is not a completely safe place to be able to completely break down, even if they have been close to me all my life.  And only once, man or woman, have I completely broken down, and my brother Jason was there to help me with the pieces.  There have been other times when it has been really, really close, and April, Paige, Trina and Reisa have all been there for those, but only once was it really all I could handle.

I want someone in my life who will treat Gabriel, Lily and I exactly the way that Matt would have treated us.  I want someone who will care for and love us like I know that Matt would care for and love us.  I want someone who will care about and love Matt like we do.  And I need a strength, because I can't always do it alone.

I know its a lot to ask, but I will not settle for anything less.

Am I ready to date?  I think the more appropriate answer at this point is that I am sick of being lonely, and loneliness doesn't go away because someone else comes in to the picture.

________________________________________________________________________________
And then, I thought about it, and had to come back and edit this, as it just seemed so selfish.

Of course I want all that.  Honestly, I just want him, but I know now that I can't have that any more.

With that being said, I will also provide everything that I gave to him, to Matt, to a new person in my life.  No one deserves less than the best. And I think it is only fair.

Every relationship is going to start out with some cautions, I suppose. It is going to start out with awkwardness, and with some taking time to getting to know one another.  Matt and I took it, although it was pretty evident from the beginning where our relationship was quickly headed.

It is only fair that I give my best to someone if I expect their best. So, I will do that.

I suppose I would be just as lonely if I couldn't give the same back in return.

Its good that I have had this epiphany.  I am glad that Matt "talks" to me, and is still my strength.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Now, Legally, in Love

How could I not blog about today? How could I not share today's story with everyone?

But, to tell about today, I must tell about the last six months. Strap in and hold on, because it might be a long ride.

I have gone through so many transitions in the last sixteen months. My goodness. WHO am I? WHO do I belong to? WHO belongs to me? Seventeen months ago, that answer was easy. Heck, technically, sixteen months ago today, that answer was easy. And in all reality, I still KNOW the answer, but he just isn't here anymore to confirm it...

I will skip all the different "personas" that I have had. Not only were there many, they also were exhausting, and nothing seemed to fit, perfectly, yet.

On July 14, I was told about a little boy who needed a home. A little boy who needed a Mommy to love and take care of him. A little boy who would, I thought, fit perfectly in to my life. But was I ready? Heck, I didn't know!!

Well, I am not going to go in to the details exactly about how this little boy came to me. Those are private, and will mostly remain private for our life- just between our family. It’s not that it’s a secret, or it’s something to be ashamed of by any means, but it is because some things families need to hold true and dear to their hearts. It’s sort of like having a special saying that only you and your loved ones say to each other...

But, when I found out about this little boy, and the possibility that someone could make my life complete, could make me feel whole again, and could make me believe in miracles, I needed to find out if I was ready. I couldn't possibly take over responsibility of another life if I was not ready. Luckily for me, I had an appointment with my counselor the next morning, and I decided that, above all, her assessment would be the final decision.  The rest of our family and close friends had been running on adrenaline and emotion for ten months, so how could we clearly assess such a huge decision and responsibility as this?

First, I emailed my Mom. I wanted to run this by her. I wish now I had called her, but I had emailed her. I was not yet sure about how real the possibility could be. Wow. We have never had such "fire" emails. Both of us were excitedly writing back and forth to each other--send. Writing again--send. And again--send. As the conversation progressed, so did our excitement, and so did our speed of typing! And of course, so did her absolute, complete blessings, and knowledge that this is what I, we, needed in our lives. Then, I had to make it to my appointment.

I called my Daddy on the way. I called to tell him that I thought this was going to happen, but that I wanted to make absolutely sure that I was ready, and what did he think? He was also very excited, but I swore him to secrecy, not knowing that he was around others, so he couldn't get overly excited. But, I could tell in our secret Daddy/Daughter way, that he was ecstatic.

Then, off to my counselor I go. I had been seeing her for several weeks after other methods of counseling hadn't worked out because of the rotation schedules of the MFLAC provided by the Army (Thanks for the service, Army, but the rotation makes it difficult to connect with anyone, and it is brutally difficult to start from the beginning, tell the story over and over again, and go through the emotions again each time with a different person). This counselor got to know me, and she quickly took in my situation, and helped me make sense of my life, little by little. I knew that she would have a good judgment of whether I was ready or not. She had, in all honesty, seen me at my worst, in my most pain, and also in my quest for "something more". I decided that if she didn't think I was ready, I was ready to, and would have to, turn this situation down, in the best interest of me, my family, and most importantly, this baby.

As you can see from my previous posts, one of the major things that was so hurtful and that I grieved for so much was that Matt and I didn't get to have children. Of course, I missed him, I hurt because he was gone, I loved him, I had a huge hole, and I still do. Every. Single. Day. But, I also knew that I had to at some point make a step towards getting out of my grief and being an effective "person" again. But, to not have his children? To possibly not be a Mommy? Ever? That was every bit as painful as losing him. It is like I lost him as well as a child.

And I told my counselor this...Again. Then, I told her about the opportunity that came up. I was ready for her to shoot it down. I was ready for her to call me crazy, insane, and even ask "How Dare You?" I was ready. And, I knew that I should respect and accept her professional opinion, after some debate and inward looks at myself, but knew I would need to respect and accept her professional opinion before I left. Besides, I had already had my doctor tell me several times that I was young, and could conceive and "find someone else", even just two months after Matt died. It seemed so easy to him, and he was not happy with my thoughts of possibly trying to have a child on my own.

I was ready for it. I was waiting for her to crush my thoughts and “plans” at that moment. And she said "Why Not?" Wait, what? I had my argument planned, because I was going to put up a fight, but then she said "Why Not? As long as you know that you do not know the medical background of the child, and that you are ready to care for a child, no matter of any issues he may have, Why Not?" Wow. We talked about that in detail. I told her my earlier plan to someday try to conceive on my own- to find a donor that was as close a match to Matt as possible, and that I wouldn't know everything in that aspect either. She said "Well, you really don't even know what the future holds for your own child, even when you do know the biological makeup of both parents." Wow. Yes, I DO know that, instantly thinking of my in laws. "As long as you are aware of this, and comfortable with this, go get him!"

Oh my gosh!! Oh my gosh!! Oh my gosh!! Yes, that was all I could say. I was literally speechless!

So, upon leaving the office, I immediately called Matt's mom. I asked her "Would you like to be a Grandma again?" "Yes...Whyyyy?...?" (She and I had already talked about this possibility- hypothetically.) I told her. And I told her his name would be "Gabriel Louis Wagstaff", the name that Matt and I had picked out for our first son. Gabriel is Matt's middle name, and Louis is my Daddy's middle name, and Matt's grandpa's name. She was SO excited! She was thrilled at the possibility of another grandchild, and of the miracle that was taking place. I swore her to secrecy, and told her I wanted to call Matt's dad.

"Hello". "Hi!" "Hi Kiddo"...(small talk). "So, um, do you want to be a Grandpa again?" "Uh, uh, uh" (I can hear the wheels turning, and "I'm not ready for this conversation"...) "Are you pregnant?!?" "No! Not even close! But, I am going to adopt a baby boy!" "Wow, Kiddo. Are you ready for this?" "Yes, as long as I have everyone's support, then yes!" "Well, we will always support you, and if you are sure, we are here behind you." (I love this statement!!) We talked about the day, how it came up, and what my counselor said. We talked about the dangers of adoption, and the risks, and the love that we could have. We talked about what would possibly happen the next couple of days, and further on in the process. Little did I know, I really had no understanding of "the process" yet.

I get home, and I am in a daze. I email my mom, and tell her, and tell her that I am going to go through with it. I talk to the person that helped to set me up with this, and confirmed, and we planned. I talk with my Daddy, and our other family, to let everyone know. After I had, again, overwhelming support, I immediately start calling our friends. Overwhelmingly, I had very, very strong support. There were some "Are you sure?s" and "well, it’s crazy", but overall, I had overwhelming support. Wow! It's really going to happen!

Then, my friend and I went shopping. I am so thankful for her, because I could not say anything but "Oh my gosh, R! I am going to be a Mommy!" Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! We went to the mall to find stuff, we went to Target; we went all over. We bought some stuff, but overall, I think that we were both in such a daze that we bought a bunch of very random stuff. There was no organization, and, frankly, we were upset at Target's lack of items for the little ones that day. :)

April came home that night (as she was still living with me) and I told her. As a best friend does, she was concerned for my health, for the baby's health, and for my responsibility. I am sure that this came up very suddenly- well, it did, and because of that, and also my recent quests for a persona, she had every right to be concerned.

The next day, my friend J and I went shopping. Wow. This lady knows how to keep it organized, focused, and comprehensive. I ended up getting the baby everything he needed, from his crib (purchased the next day), to his diapers, to his clothes for the first few months, to receiving blankets, to bedsheets, bath towels, bibs, well- everything, and did it in essentially 8 hours for less than $1200.

My Daddy came over early Saturday morning. I am talking 7 am!! Together, with April's help, we completely emptied the incredibly overcrowded, messy, unorganized, filled office, and moved it about the house in a semi-organized fashion. Then, we started preparing the nursery. It took us most of the day to get the office cleaned out, and we still had to go and get the crib! So, at about 9 p.m., Daddy and I venture out and pick up the crib. We get home, and start putting everything together. As usual, I have Matt's music in the background. When we had just opened up the crib box, "his" song, "What I've Done" by Linkin Park came on (it was played during his photos of our wedding video). I always know he is here when this one is on. Dad knows this, and he knows the song, and we just looked at each other. We both knew that it meant that Matt was there, and wanted to help! So, I just put the song on repeat, and loved Matt, loved my Daddy, our family, and my new baby, who I knew nothing about. We worked until 4 am Sunday morning, and I had to leave at 6 am to drive the 6 1/2 hours home to meet mom and Harry to pick up my new baby boy and become a mother.

That was the longest drive ever. Even though I was busting the speed limit, I just couldn't get there fast enough. I was exhausted, excited, elated, ecstatic, nervous, and, I realized there were still so many I hadn't told yet. So, I called on my way home. I think I probably made 25 different phone calls, and had to keep all of them short, because I had lots to make. And, I answered so many questions that helped confirm to me that this was right, this was my Miracle, and I was ready. Other than that he was a boy, I knew nothing of him. I didn't know his race, I didn't know if he had been circumcised or not, I didn't know what he looked like; I didn't know anything. And I didn't care. I just knew that he was my Miracle.

I meet my mom and Harry just off of the interstate. My sister brought them to me, and she took Lily home with her, while they jumped in with me, and off we went to continue the drive to the orphanage in ChicagoLand. We got there slightly later than we had hoped, but when we walked in to the large, ornate orphanage that looked just like in the movies, and saw that little boy, my heart changed. I knew that his heart matched mine, and that we would make a good, no, perfect pair.

Of course, it was emotional. Of course, I couldn't thank the parties involved enough for their giving to me this child, for their making my dream- my dream that was lost ten months ago, happen. I couldn't believe that in an instant, I became a Mommy.

We had dinner with a friend of mine, who used to be my roommate when I lived in Chicago, and then we started the trek home to my Mom's. Wow. I thought the ride up to IL was long. This was even longer, and it was only a three hour drive. All of us were exhausted. All of us were tired, ready to be home, and being so overly cautious with the new baby that it seemed to take forever. He was so tiny. So fragile, so...miraculous.

We finally got home at about 3 am on Monday, July 18. In a daze, I woke up the next morning for what was my last week of work, which, coincidentally (or divine intervention?) had already been scheduled. I had already resigned from my position (not really knowing why other than that I “needed to”), and we had worked out a plan for me to take on a part time position with the university so that I could find my footing in life again. I began, little by little, telling my coworkers of the happenings in my life. Again, shock, but still overwhelming support.

That night, I took my little Angel, and my puppy to a hotel nearby so that we could have family bonding time. On my way, I heard for the first time "God gave me you for the ups and downs. God gave me you for the days of doubt. And when I think I've lost my way, there are no words here left to say, Its True. God Gave Me You", and I knew that God had given me my Angel, Gabriel.

Bonding was probably the most wonderful thing that we had done. I still believe that. At the orphanage, I am sure that he got lots of attention, but he got lots of attention and care from many different people- on shifts. At my Mom's, with my sister, brother, mom, Harry, niece and nephew, he was still being passed around. He was loved! Oh so Loved! But, it wasn't different than the orphanage just yet, at least not that a five week old could tell. In the hotel, he got constant attention, only from me, from his Mommy. For two days, we lived in a hotel, just getting to know each other. Just praying for our togetherness, safety and happiness. And, we felt Angel Daddy the whole time.

Gosh. I am sorry if you are getting tired reading this. It is a long story!

For the next two months, we lived with my Mom, as we were not able to leave Illinois. It was SO nice to have her around, for help with the baby, for understanding of the situation, for helping me process, and for helping me to be a good mommy. She did a wonderful job, too. She was so good at letting me be the mommy, and her the grandma, and didn't try to overstep as I have seen with some families. She let me learn, and was there for advice when asked, and let me be his primary bond. She helped me gain confidence in myself, and her and Harry always pointed out that "Gabe knows who his Mommy is!" Wow. That made me feel so good. My little boy stared at me, and stared at me. Yes, he knows who his Mommy is! This is the VERY short version of our visit in Illinois. We met with lots of friends, saw lots of family, went to the doctor, the parade, the park, the Rock Island Arsenal (and Army base near my hometown), and participated in 9/11 ceremonies. I found and accepted the Lord and Jesus Christ as my Savior, and I dedicated Gabriel, promising to raise him in the hand of the Lord. Gabriel grew so much during this time, and I grew even more!

We finally came home, just in time for the one year anniversary of my husband, of Angel Daddy's, death. Wow. When I stop and think about it even now...Look at all that had happened, in only one year? And Angel Daddy, Matt, was there the entire time, holding my hand, guiding me, and has lead me to so much. When you hear the saying that God doesn't close one door without opening many others, this is so true. Yes, I have had so much pain in my life the last year. So much unbearable pain. But, look at this truly, wonderful, beautiful blessing-Miracle- that He has granted me? He has also blessed me with an amazing family and friends, and a wonderful, very strong, support group.

I would love to go on and detail every single minute (or at least month) of my child's life since then, but, ultimately, it is regular baby and mommy stuff. Nothing that has happened to us has been significant to us, or has "only happened to us", but regardless, it is special. Each moment is special.  When he first met Granddaddy and Nana, Aunt Leslie and Uncle Alvin When he first rolled over, when he first rolled over again, when he first met Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Jason W., when he cut his first tooth, when he wore his first Halloween costume, when I had my first birthday with him, when he saw Grandma and "Grandpa Twin" get married and cry only at the end when everyone clapped, when he first sat up, when he first said "Mama" (still waiting on the second one for that), when he first ate solid food; when he had his first doctors' appointment in TN, when we first flew to Utah, when he first met Aunt Cassimo, Aunt Amanda and the kids, and our PGR family, when we first flew back....Gosh. There are so many memories....And I cherish them all.

Ultimately, it brought us here. It brought us to this day. It brought us to this day in life where now, we are Legally, in Love. My baby is legally mine, and I am legally his, although from the moment I knew about him, he was mine. I was attached immediately, the way I assume mothers are to their babies. But, now, he is -legally- mine. He is mine. He will forever be mine. He is my forever family. He is my forever reminder that God gives Miracles. He is my forever Angel, and he is my forever reminder of our Angel in Heaven. He can call me Mommy, and NO ONE can contest it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Flip Side

Well, with Holding It All Together, I also must admit that sometimes it also seems to all fall apart.

Ugh.  Days like today...they are so hard.  I have gotten good at holding it together for Gabriel. I have gotten good at smiling for him, playing with him, laughing with him, kissing and hugging him.  And it is never fake.  It is always real.  I am good at "him". 

But, then he goes to bed. I look around my house. I have laundry to do, dishes to wash, toys to pick up, work to do, my dog to pet.  Oh my goodness. I would love to just cuddle with Lily after Gabe goes to bed. I seriously feel like she is depressed lately.  She seems so needy lately, but really, she just wants some attention, and I just can't give it to her like I want to, like I used to.

Some days, I feel so strong, so motivated, so peaceful.  But then, nights like tonight, I feel so confused, so sad, so anxious, so lonely.  And I so much need a hug from him.  I just need him to come home. I need him to come to our home. 

At least these days don't happen all the time anymore.

When we were planning our wedding, and on our wedding day, my mom teases me about my Bridezilla Moments, which were mainly that I did NOT want to make any more decisions.  I didn't.  I just wanted everyone else to make decisions, because I wanted everyone else to be happy, and I knew that I couldn't do that.  And I really had no preference, and I didn't like to be the decision maker, and I don't like to be the decision maker, unless it is a cut and dry, right or wrong decision. Right now, I don't want to make any more decisions.  I want him to make decisions.  I have left lots up to him.  I have talked to him at his gravesite, and I have told him to just "fix it".  I never have yelled at him, we never fought, I have never had so much as a cross word with him.  But, to his gravestone, yes. I have yelled at him. I have told him that he has left me in this mess, and he has to fix it.  And I feel guilty for that sometimes, but I do not want to make the decisions. 

He said that he would always be there for me; that he would always be watching me.  I so hope that is true.  Death is so final- for the living.  I have tried and tried to make it not be final for us.  It can't be final for us.  I am not ready for it to be final for us.  I. Still. Need. Him!!

Today, and tonight, it rained. And rained. And rained.  Rainy days make me more emotional. I suppose it is because it suppresses my activity, and it is gloomy.  But, tonight, I felt like he was here with me, and that he was crying with me.  Or for me?  I don't know.  He is here, but I can't feel him.  Its almost like I feel him looking at me from the corner, or something, and he doesn't want to come close to me.

But I know I miss him.  I know I need him, and that I have a lot of life to look forward to, without him.  I am so thankful for the time we have had together, I will always be.  But, that doesn't leave me not wanting more.

Sometimes, I want to take my pain off the shelf and nurse it again, I guess.  My shelf is not dusty, it is always in sight, and it is always within reach.

I love you, sweetheart. I miss you so, so, so much.  I wish you would just come back...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Holding It All Together...

I love nights like tonight. I love feeling like I am holding it all together, and doing it well.And I love nights like tonight where there is a clarity, and there is the ability to go above and beyond. That's my favorite part. I like doing more than I expected, and doing it better than I expected.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing out of the ordinary that I did tonight. I simply had a good day, my headache went away this afternoon, and Gabriel and I did some shopping. Except we didn't actually shop. We went, and browsed, threw some things in the cart, I played with his feet and held his little hand, watched him giggle, and then decided that I didn't really need anything, so I put it all back and left empty-handed. I was actually just enjoying spending time with him, and reflecting on how thankful I am that he is in my life, and that I get to play with his feet, hold his hand, and watch him giggle.

When we got home, he took a good nap, and I got a lot of my grading done, attended a meeting, did the dishes, and even held an extra seminar for my class.

My class, so far, has been what has thrown me off. Well, one of the things. But, it is one of the big things. I have always been proud of myself as a professional, and taken pride in my work. I have always felt that I needed to do well in my position, as a way to define myself. If I didn't do well, then I often attributed that to my lack of being a responsible or worthy person even before I had grief to deal with additionally. However, today, I held it all together.

My students helped me hold it together tonight. Gabriel is teething, so his schedule is not as perfect as I would like it to be, but somehow, I still (barely) got him to bed on time, even after his long nap. During seminar, I had 9 students show up, even though it was not graded- optional- which meant that other than information, they got nothing out of it. They showed up. They showed up for me, and more importantly, they showed up for themselves. I cannot believe how much this group has grown. In the beginning, I was so worried that I had taken on more than what I was able to, and in the beginning, I was worried that I was not a responsible or worthy person. But, tonight, I have seen the growth, and the potential of these students, and realized that I have a part in that growth and potential that is starting to shine. It is a wonderful feeling.

I love November. I have always loved November. I love it because it is Thanksgiving, which is truly one of my favorite holidays. I love reflecting on what I am thankful for, and I love seeing others reflect on what they are thankful for. I love having the entire month of November to celebrate Thanksgiving, before heading in to the craziness of consumer-Christmas.

After grad school, I substitute taught at a preschool in my hometown quite frequently. One day, we were putting together a Thanksgiving book for the students to take home. What a great idea! I am definitely going to do this independently with Gabriel when he gets older. Some of their responses were so cute, and definitely should be cherished. I remember one little girl saying that she was thankful for her Mommy and Daddy. Another was thankful for his candy. Another was thankful for her pockets, and another was thankful for his belt! And, while we laugh at their cuteness and "simplicities", it also makes me think that I am thankful for the big stuff, and also the little stuff.

Ultimately, I am thankful for the little stuff, and the big stuff. I am thankful for my couch, my TV, my books, and my "woobie". I am thankful for my dog, my family, my friends, my baby, and my Angel Husband. I am thankful for my life; if you would have asked me that several months ago, I am not sure I would have been thankful. So, I am thankful that I am here. Now.

The coolest part of thinking about what we are thankful for is because it gives a moment, even if just a very quick moment, to think about how blessed we are in our life, and helps us forget about some of the sad things, or things that we wish we would have said, done, or had happened differently. And, it also helps us have a new perspective on those items that we maybe would have said, done or had happened differently. No matter what happened, or what was said, or what was done, ultimately, it has brought us to be the person that we are, with the blessings that we have.

More and more, I see how much life is a ripple effect. I see how much it is a chain reaction. Sometimes links are broken, but it gives us a new perspective. And when the chain comes back together, it is stronger, reinforced, and it takes more to be broken again. I did post a "thankful" blog last year, on December 6. I am still very thankful for all of those things today, and maybe even moreso. I think it is important that we stop and observe what we are thankful for, and maybe we should do it more often than in November. I feel like I have changed so much since then, but am still the same, just maybe a better version of me.

Tonight, I held it together. Tonight, I was good at what I was doing, in all areas of my life. Tonight, I realized that I am having more nights like tonight, just as I was promised by so many a year ago. Tonight, I know that they will eventually continue coming along, and I can continue healing.

Tonight, I am thankful for everything.