Tag Archives: Family

Grief

Grief is a funny thing. It hits you at the strangest times. There’s the obvious initial response to the death of a parent that is emotional and jarring and raw, but then that gives way to daily life needing to move on and that’s when grief creeps up, bubbles up, bursts forth at the oddest of moments. Seemingly odd at first, but very fitting upon further observation.

James’ dad died in the middle of February. It was sudden and unexpected. He wasn’t the healthiest of people and seemed to be aging rapidly, but no one would have guessed he was going to pass at 62 years of age, not yet two months into his retirement. I’d never experienced anything like that before. My husband hadn’t experienced anything like that before. We’ve lost grandparents and a few people on the outskirts of our lives, but never someone so close and dear and…there. Having to tell the kids their beloved Grandpa, the man who would pick them up and take them for pancakes and read to them was gone was one of the hardest things to do.

I found that because James is the eldest child and his dad was alone and we had children going through their own grieving process I shelved a lot of my emotion. After Pat died, after the room cleared out, I sat there and just thought about the mountain of things that this meant. What this meant to everyone, all of the things that had to be done and taken care of. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom and have been for a long time now, but the list grew instantly and I went into ‘care’ mode.

But now I find it creeping out or bursting forth at bizarre moments like when I walked into Safeway the other day. It was the first time since he died. Pat had called James from Safeway because he felt dizzy and short of breath. It was the last time they talked. The manager had called Pat an ambulance and by the time James got to him he was unconscious. I put Eli in the buggy and walked through the doors and an instant flood of emotion came over me. “He’s gone” I just kept repeating in my head.

It also caught me off guard when I put a dish of rice pudding in the oven to bake. The last time that I had made it was the day he died. The connection to a time when he was here was too profound. The absence of the person is felt so deeply. Too deeply. But it’s good. I need to feel it. I need to care for the people around me during a time like this, but I also need to wade through my own emotions and let them break the surface so that I can work through them.

I imagine it will be a long road of these sorts of things. We will never fully recover from a parent dying, they are linked too closely to our lives. They mean too much to us. Especially if they have been the type of parent, like Pat, who, despite his flaws and our flaws, has loved us greatly and unconditionally.

 

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‘Farewell’

 

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A Moment

My phone was at 2% so I quickly ran upstairs to charge it. The kids had been home from school for a little while and I had already lost my cool more times then I’d like to admit. Once I got up to my freshly cleaned room (the bed was even made) I plugged my phone in then sat on the edge of my bed. I was tired and had only a shred of patience left, if that. I swung my legs up and relaxed onto our oversized pillows. James was downstairs with the chaos, so I decided to catch a couple minutes of quiet.

Not two minutes later our little guy noticed my absence and came wandering up the stairs to look for me. If I had a door it would have been closed and he would have been turned away. But, being a loft, he had free access to poke his chubby cheeks around the corner and ruin me with his toothy grin. He ran to my side of the bed and said “hi!”, clearly proud of his success in locating his lost mother. Without a second to lose he hoisted himself up onto my bed and settled himself beside me, under the covers, using “his” pillow (one of our throw pillows that he has adopted as his own). We sat for a minute in silence. Eli started looking around, then he tapped James spot and yelled “DADDY!”. This happened a few times until I called louder and james came running up the stairs.

“Eli wants you in your spot” I said to James, “Apparently it’s cuddle time.”

So he crawled into his spot and the three of us sat there, Eli grinning the biggest grin.

It was just a blip in our day, and the silliest thing, but it managed to recharge me and put a smile on my face. I live for those moments where, in the midst of the chaos and tantrums and arguments and dinners and Baby Sumo sessions and every bin of toys being upturned, I find a peace and a reason and a purpose and a resolution.

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Ten Years

Come October 16th, James and I will have been married for ten years. Ten years! Where has the time gone? I can’t believe it. Seems like it was just yesterday that we were anxiously putting the finishing touches on our big day, but pictures don’t lie. Yes, ten years have passed. We are no longer the little baby-faced immature kids that dove into marriage somewhat blindly. We are now the not-so-little (c’mon, I’ve had three kids) starting-to-wrinkle not-much-closer-to-mature 30-somethings that trudge through parenting completely blindly. However, we are still in love and that, my friends and readers, is something to celebrate. So celebrate we did!

Soon after we got married way back in 2004 I had a thought. “Bria” I said to myself, “If you make it 10 years, you should do a vow renewal because that’s something to be proud of.” James and I both come from ‘broken’ homes, so every milestone in marriage is important to us. A few years ago, when my belly was full with baby #3, I attended my step-sister-in-law’s ten year vow renewal and it was beautiful. Right then and there it solidified in my mind that it was something that needed to happen for James and I.

Earlier this year I started sorting the details out and slowly the ball started rolling with planning our anniversary party. The closer it got, the more nervous I became. Last week I was totally regretting ever planning it. A friend pointed out that I was just like a jittery bride. That made me smile. I suppose I was. I wanted everything to come together. It wasn’t anything fancy, but I just wanted our family and close friends to show-up and have a good time. We planned it for this past weekend because we have another wedding to be at in a couple of weeks and with James all-over-the-place schedule, this is what worked.

Renewal

The weather was wet and cold, but our hearts were full and happy. We packed everyone into my mother’s house, filled it with wine and beer and delicious food, said some very teary-eyed things to each other and our kids and everyone there and went on to have a grand old-time. I even sang a song…after some of the crowd had left of course.

When it was all said and done, I was glad we decided to celebrate. The past ten years haven’t been easy. They’ve been trying and difficult and all over the map. Both James and I wanted to have something to recognize how far we’d come, where we are at right now and where we would like to go as a couple and as a family. I think this was a great way to do just that.

It’s good to take time to celebrate love and life and family. We need to be reminded of why we do what we do day-in and day-out. We need to be reminded of why we work through the valleys and the really hard times. It’s so that we can get to those mountain tops, take a big breath and see the spectacular view of the life God has given us and appreciate the fact that we did it, together.

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Life With a Toddler

I’ve found that living with a toddler is exhausting. Horribly and wonderfully exhausting. I’m sure that wouldn’t surprise anyone. One minute I’m at my wits end wanting to run run away to Mexico because he’s having a tantrum and the next I’m melting into a puddle while he steals my heart with an adorable smile.

For those of you who don’t know what it’s like to have toddler in the house, let me put it this way: combine a playful puppy, a curious monkey, a jolly gnome, a squirmy octopus and a ferocious banshee. Mix them all up and then let that mutant run amuck in your home with all your stuff, never knowing which one of the personalities will appear from minute to minute or if it will be snotty, pooping or throwing food. Sounds crazy, right? Trust me, it is. But it’s also one of the most entertaining things to watch.

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These Days

 

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Just in the past week or so Eli has started to actually play. It’s still crazy toddler playing, but he’s finally sitting down or sitting at the table and occupying his time with toys instead of just wandering around the house carrying things or moving random objects from here to there. It’s nice. Really nice. I think that part of it is that Rhys and Amelia sit at the table a lot and Eli wants to be up there doing something as well. He’s all about cars and trucks, like most little boys. He can’t say a single word but he can make loads of sound effects already.

Now that the weather is warming up and our snow is quickly melting we are taking lots of walks around the block. Sometimes he walks and splashes in the puddles and sometimes I push him in the stroller. We are both loving the fresh air after being cooped up all winter long. Its fun to see his world open up; new smells and sounds and sights. He’s clearly enjoying himself.

I’ve been busy with the house and kids and husband, as per usual. I moved all of my living room and dining room furniture a few days ago and swept and moped everywhere. It was so clean and shiny and sparkling. Today? It looks like a dirty stuff bomb went off. There are muddy footprints all through the house (husband), there are tiny cars scattered about (Eli), there are clothes all over (Amelia), there are Lego bits and loom elastics and pine needles. It’s a never-ending tedious job that makes me drink at night.

But that’s life. Clean one minute and messy the next.

 

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Good Reads

There are some seriously good and inspiring books being read over here these days.

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“As I looked more closely at the role homemaking could play in revitalizing our local food system, I saw that the position was a linch-pin for more than just making use of garden produce and chicken carcasses. Individuals who had taken this path in life were building a great bridge from our existing extractive economy – where corporate wealth was regarded as the foundation of economic health, where mining our earth’s resources and exploiting our international neighbors was accepted as simply the cost of doing business – to a life-serving economy, where the goal is…to generate a living for all, rather than a killing for a few, where our resources are sustained, our waters are kept clean, our air pure, and families can lead meaningful and joyful lives.”

-Shannon Hayes. Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture

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