Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bursting my Bubble

Most of you know about our good friend, Abraham, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan (again, please google "lost boys of sudan" if you don't know what that means), and his wife, Adhieu. In fact, several of you made donations when Adhieu first arrived in America 7 months ago, helping them get established as a couple with essential things like sheets and bedding, silverware, and plates.

Adheiu (pronounced A DOO, like saying "goodbye" in French) has desperately wanted a job. She has never been paid for her labor in her life. She tells me that women in her country are not allowed to work. Her mother is a widow (she lost her husband and all 4 of her sons in their country's civil war) living in Kenya to avoid the continued violence in Sudan, and is able to provide very little for her youngest daughter, Adheiu's 12 year old sister. She rents a mud hut from a man. Two weeks ago when she told me her sister was unable to attend school because her mom didn't have the money to pay the school fees, I drove immediately to Wal-Mart to wire some money to Africa. These are things many of us cannot even fathom.

Adheiu is bright and positive and beautiful. And she is a hard worker. But no one wants to hire her because she has no high school diploma, no resume, no work background, and speaks broken Enlgish. (Though, somehow, she and I communicate absolutely fine. Everyone at her current job--which I'll get to in a minute--thinks I am her translator).

Luckily, I was told about the amazing program at the LDS Humanitarian Center that trains immigrants and PAYS them while they are gaining job skills, learning English, and learning to drive. It is an incredible program. I had never been the Humanitarian Center before and cried like a baby when the sister missionaries took us on a tour of the facility and explained what services they offer other countries. Water, clothing, newborn resuscitation training, shoes, blankets, first aid...Absolutely amazing. One of my very favorite things about the Mormon Church.

We finally got her enrolled and set up in the program, (which was quite the process...) but our final hurdle has been figuring out how to get her there via public transportation. After two weeks of driving her to and from work, we decided we'd give Salt Lake City's Public Transportation system a shot. We had the bus route all mapped out and ready to go. I drove to her apartment then slowly followed her in my car as she walked to the first bus stop. She lives in a low-income area and I hate to say it, but there were a lot of shady and interesting characters waiting for the bus and just passing through the neighborhood. There was a man smoking a cigarette right next to us, with earphones in, and he gave us a nod. "I have no idea what he is thinking but avoiding eye contact with him is probably a good idea", I thought.

When the bus arrived, I handed the driver a 20 dollar bill (after he helped an overweight, paralyzed woman in a wheelchair and her daughter on) and he just laughed at me. "Exact change is required." I tried to explain to him that Adheiu would be getting a discounted bus pass later that day through her job and that I was helping her figure out the system and would be following behind the bus in my van. I thought the driver would be more helpful, but he just kept giving me this smile that said, "You idiot".

Just then, the smoker headphone guy reaches his arm around us and hands the driver 3 dollars. I heard him say something about me having a 20 and I thought he was paying for Adheiu's bus fare in exchange for my 20 dollar bill. I offered it to him but he waved me off. "Don't worry about." He smiled and got on the bus after Adheiu. That was awfully kind.

Long story short, her connecting bus at the Midvale Center Station never came. It just didn't show up. I ended up driving her to work...again, but grabbed a few Trax maps and figured out a better way to get her there.

So this morning, we tried for a second time. And we had success! I followed along from stop to stop, asking a young guy from Congo if we were on the green line, and asking the Hispanic kid at the Center Pointe station if the train we were catching was heading West or East. Even the old toothless meth man was anxious to inform us exactly where Adheiu's train was heading.

At each stop, as I unbuckled Zoë and walked to the platform to meet Adheiu, I looked around at all the different people and wondered about their stories. I had several thoughts.

First--it is not easy for the poor to get out of their situations. If I were not Adheiu's mentor, I have no idea how she would be getting to work. I don't think she would be working. You can get a job, but how do you get there?

I thought of how I misjudged Mr. Smoker Headphones (not that I'd necessarily be best friends with the guy) and how helpful everyone had been over the past few days as we tried to figure things out.

Second--as I watched some of the very obvious drug junkies, I wondered about their lives. What kind of abuse and neglect have they experienced? Where did they start in life? What kind of support system and examples do they have to lean on? Have they ever been shown another way to live?

Third--I thought how absolutely caught up I become in my Instagram bubble where I truly believe that every stay at home mom is a super model with her own booming business and lives a life out of a magazine. For every one of those moms, I could see 65 people trekking their way to a minimum wage job to feed their families. For every uber rich family I know (and love) in Park City--whose life begins to seem "the norm" when it is all I am surrounded by, there are thousands of individuals scraping by but who have the necessities of life.

So in summary--I guess I'm saying that through this wonderful friendship with people from entirely different backgrounds than mine, I am remembering what it felt like to be a missionary in Illinois, entering people's homes who had little to nothing. Remembering my days in New York City where I would go tracting with the sisters in the projects, and see the sad lives and cycle of poverty. I'm learning so much about Sudan, Kenya, and Africa in general, and even making new friends whom I'm meeting through Abraham and Adheiu. I'm sacrificing my time and money to help someone really build their life. And I cherish it. I love what it is teaching my children as well.

Things I have/can do that Adheiu would absolutely love to have/be able to do:
-Read, Write, and Speak English
-Drive a car
-I have both of my parents and all my siblings
-Beautiful children to raise
-A safe place to live
-Peace of mind that my parents have enough food to eat and are safe from violence
-Job skills

These are things I don't even THINK about day to day. But I do now. And I will try again and again to burst my Instagram, Facebook bubble and taste more of the real world.

*I hope this didn't sound too horn tooting or manifesto-y

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Molly's Mind--Unleashed

Vic reading "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" to me while waking up from surgery. The nurse thought it was the sweetest thing and snapped a photo. 

I've never been a nail person. You know, someone who paints their nails. I try, but it just isn't me. Toenails, yes. But fingernails? Not so much. I can do clear, or maybe a nice French manicure, but that is about it. I love the plain, dark, muddy colors I see women wearing on the fingernails, but I just can't do it. Too much upkeep.

Why am I telling you this? Just for your your information. My mind has been coming back to this little factoid about myself again and again as I scroll through my Facebook feed and see all sorts of nail designs. So there you have it. I'm not a nail person.

I've been crying more lately. I have been feeling a connection to Lucy and my other loved ones who have passed on. I guess by that I mean my close friend, Justin. Greatly do I miss him. (I just wanted to word that sentence as such. Get over it. Greatly do I miss him).

Just yesterday, a friend of ours gave Vic a poem that he'd written right after Lucy died. He held onto it for 6 years, waiting for the right time to give it to us. I read it while we were eating dinner at DP Cheesesteaks--and I didn't care how many people in line could see me cry. It felt so wonderful to FEEL. To remember that blonde beauty of mine. The tears on my cheeks felt so cleansing. I don't know how to explain it.

I was told that you were mine to borrow for just a little while
but I did not expect that time would be so short--
and I suppose that is why
my heart is broken

My fairy princess
so brightly light the night and
sprinkle your little dust of hope
to us who stay below

So many marvelous and wonderful plans for us
that were just not meant to be
but as I watch the butterflies
I will always think of thee

My little darling beautiful girl
with your locks of gold
more precious than the world could buy
which I so long to hold-

Fly away to all the dreams we had for you,
and we hope that maybe someday
we will know
why you had to go

So fly my little one--
fly away to Parents' arms far stronger than my own
and when they hug you-
will you please ask them to hold me too?

Until we meet again
with the angels sing
and remember us as we will always remember you
through the butterfly's wings.

Can you handle it? I had a little girl. Her name was Lucy--and she died. She is gone. She is not here to play with her brother and sister. And I miss her. I miss the part of me that she took with her. The emptiness she left has been filled with something new and wonderful and strange...because I could not go on living as a broken being. And when I read words like this; when I know that someone took the time to put their thoughts and feelings into a poem, it touches that broken part of me. It reminds me of love and miracles and healing and hope and tenderness and hopelessness and the brevity of life.

I'm just spewing out words and thoughts here. I'm trying to make sense of things.

Other than not being a nail person, and missing my Lucy, and crying over poems, I am adjusting to my new nose--and having a hard time with it. But as one of my favorite quotes goes, "What can you do or drag a board?" (I don't even really know what this means. But my friend, Karyn Mann always says it. You start off my saying what can you do..but give no other option besides dragging a board. Get used to it).

As far as all the rigmarole happening in the Mormon Church right now goes--I don't know. I have different thoughts and feelings. It's no secret I am a progressive/liberal Mormon. But when it comes down to it...I really don't know anything. I have no desire to debate or figure out who is right or wrong. I'd rather spend my energy having fun, going on adventures, and enjoying all the parts about people that really matter to me. (In other words, the parts about people I enjoy/that matter to me are not really what they believe...but how I feel around them. What I can learn from their personal experiences. The adventures we can have together. Their talents, etc).

Here comes another subject: TV. I enjoyed binge watching "The Mindy Project" after my surgery. Such a funny show. Can't wait for the next season. I have a total crush on Danny Castellano.

I think I've just cleared a few cobwebs from my mind. (I didn't include EVERYTHING I am thinking about the whole church debacle...That takes some serious one on one conversation. It's difficult to be yourself in a very conservative church when you, yourself, are not a very conservative person).

Have a wonderful weekend my friends. Look for my Lucy on butterfly's wings.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Birthday Letter to my Zoë June

To my Petite Red-Headed Princess,

We flew in from Costa Rica on your 2nd birthday, June 5th.  I was so anxious to see you and wrap my arms around your tiny little body.

When Stacey (our friend who picked us up from the airport) pulled up the the curb with you in the backseat, I could hardly believe how grown up you looked! She had done your hair in two low piggy tails and you were wearing a new pink, fluffy birthday dress. Your hair is getting so long!

I ran to the car and watched as you kicked your feet excitedly in your car seat, your giant Julia Roberts smile beaming across your face. Your big brother unbuckled himself and jumped out to give me and daddy a hug. After loading our luggage in the trunk, I hopped in and sat next to you in the back, marveling at your beauty.

As we drove home, I couldn't stop kissing you and tickling you and squeezing you. You are two! You are beautiful! You are my baby!

We said our thank you's and goodbyes to Stacey and decided to go out for dinner to celebrate. You and your brother were so sweet with each other, and so happy to see us. I was so worried you would be upset that we'd left you for 8 days. It was such a joy to be together again as a family.

It's hard to believe you have surpassed your sister's age. The other day, while you were, yet again, watching Frozen, I started getting so emotional as I heard the red-headed Anna singing a duet with her blonde sister, "Do you Wanna Build a Snowman?" I mourn that my girls cannot be together. I have no doubt you would idolize her. You copy Peter's every move as it is. I can only imagine how you would be with Lucy.

Zoë--you have brought healing to our family. Of course it was wonderful to have Peter in our arms again after Lucy died...but there was something about you, from the second you were born, that cooled the fire of our grief. Of my three children, you are by far the most calm, the most sweet, the most agreeable. I can actually reason with you! If you don't want to get in your car seat, I can explain to you why you need to and you will say, "Ok", and get right in. If you are walking the wrong direction, I can take you by the hand and lead you the right way. Simple as that. I would have spent 30 minutes dealing with a tantrum from hell if you were Peter in that situation. You are my only child to sit still in my lap while I read a book, who will cuddle with me while I rock you to sleep, and who would take a binky. You just amaze me.

You aren't perfectly behaved all the time...of course not. But you make me melt with your utter adorableness. It is more than I can handle sometimes. Thank you for being patient with your mommy as she balances everything in life.

I love you, my Zoë June. Tiny, petite, lively, gorgeous, adorable, darling, loving, sweet, cuddly, gregarious YOU. I love watching you sing and dance. You are amazingly coordinated and your awareness of stage presence and how to hold your body is truly astounding for a 2 year old. I have no idea where you get it. (wink) Watching you learn and grow each day is the source of some of my greatest joy. I love you more than you may ever know.

Hugs and kisses,


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Update on the Schnauz

Here's the dill. This anesthesia business is no joke. It's been six days and I am still dizzy and loopy. Each day gets better...but it takes effort to not walk in circles. When I focus on something, be it T.V. or cooking or taking care of the kids, I can push past it. But the minute I sit down or stop focusing on a task, I feel a bit tipsy.

The good news is that I'm breathing better. The swelling peaked at day 3 (Father's Day) and I can feel it gradually going down. Hallelujah. I still have to sleep elevated and on my back, which is not the most comfortable, but I am in a safe, clean home with my little loves. I'm on a comfortable mattress with pillows and my husband reads me to sleep every night. (Our current obsession is the Flavia DeLuce series by Alan Bradley. Absolutely delightful!) And I just had a surgery that I've always wanted--so I really have no complaining to do.

But let's cut to the chase. The photo below is me at day 5--which was yesterday. I'm wearing makeup for the first time but you can still see the yellowing under my eyes and the patch of purple bruising. (Yes, those are my real eyelashes. I only point that out because I've gotten a barrage of comments about them lately. I think with all the eyelash extension stuff out there these days, people are asking more and more if mine are real.)

During surgery, the doctor made a "W" shaped incision under my nose (in between the two nostrils) and pulled the nose back. Then he placed in the plastic "button" (to bridge my lower and upper septum--I had a hole, remember?), filed down the bump on the top of my nose and shaped and stitched the tip. 

Today the nurse took off all my bandages and outer stitches! I have to is WEIRD. I have a new nose! I am still very swollen and there is still a butt load (it seems) of inner stitches.  However, you can still get a very good idea of how the finished product is going to look. 

I just snapped these with my phone so you can't see all the gruesome details. But believe me when I say I definitely look like I just had plastic surgery...ya know? It is hard for me to smile because it pulls on the nose and hurts. I still feel very plasticy and numb. But it's such a relief to have that outer splint off and to have permission to get my nose wet. 

Doctor Randal Swenson said (I totally just dropped his full name again because if you are thinking of having anything done on your it an eye lift or face lift or nose job--he is the man to call) that the most common comment I will get is that people will think I've lost weight. I saw a friend this afternoon and she said it looked like I'd had a face lift. Interesting. 

So there you have it. A quick peek at Molly's new nose. I think the 50 year-old me is going to be very glad that I did this. But it is going to take some getting used to. No question. And like I said, I am still very swollen so this is not the final outcome. Some of you may like it, some of you may not...and that's totally fine. 

I'll post more photos in the coming days as it continues to change. It is still surreal to me that I actually did this. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why I Decided to get a nose job

I think the desire came around age 15 or 16. I wanted a different nose. I didn't know how or when this could be possible, but it sank into my subconscious and anchored itself firmly on the bottom of my thoughts.

As a young girl, I got an acorn stuck up my nose. How exactly this happened, I am unsure. I must have stuck it up there. My 4 year old self only remembers titling my head extremely back and looking up at a tree in our Virginian yard. I always thought it just "fell" in my nose. I have no idea. My mom will remember the details better (or maybe she has forgotten)? I do remember going to the doctor's office and having him remove it with some long, thin, metal tweezer/plyer things. 

Whether or not this is what started the hole in my septum, I don't know. Like most kids, my hands were always exploring the inside of my nose, or picking at toenails, playing with my belly button, pulling at my earlobes...just general body exploration. 

The thing is, anytime I'd blow my nose, it was always somewhat bloody. For years it felt like there was a huge blockage in my nose so I was always picking at it...which then made it bleed more. I think the hole was trying to fix itself, but as it did so, it felt to me like there was a giant booger that was dying to get out so I could breathe better. I had no idea I was making the problem worse. I always chalked my bloody noses up to the dry Idaho air once we moved there around Jr. High. 

It wasn't until my first consultation with a surgeon in Park City that I learned I had the hole in my septum the size of someone who had been sniffing serious drugs for 15 years. I was shocked!  This particular surgeon was snooty and expensive, with a horrible bedside manner, and informed me there was nothing he could do to fix the hole.  Not to mention, he didn't believe me when I told him I'd never done drugs! (If it is small enough, they can stitch it closed...mine was too large). "Why are you getting a nose job in your 30's?" "Most of my patients get them in their late teens or early 20's." 'Thirties is usually a boob job." "40's a tummy tuck and eyes." "And 50's a face lift". WELL...I'm sorry I'm off schedule! Do you want my business or not? Not impressed. 

Luckily, a good friend of mine recently had rhinoplasty done (such an unfortunate name for nose surgery...I mean...)and had spent an extensive amount of time researching surgeons and paying hundreds of dollars for consultations--all the way from California to Idaho and Utah. She basically did the research for me and referred me to the best of the best! Dr. Ronald Swenson. He's an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) doctor and a plastic surgeon. He's been practicing for over 30 years and he's wonderful! Terrific bedside manner (this is important to me. I had a HORRIBLE experience with a doctor at Primary Children's when Lucy choked), he's extremely professional, thorough, and all the nurses and staff at IMC raved about him. 

Again, let me go back to my point about not knowing how this was actually going to happen. I didn't know how Vic felt about it. I had no idea if my insurance would cover any of it. I didn't know how we'd pay for our portion of it. But I knew that if I was scheduling consultations, talking to friends, researching on the internet, and dreaming and scheming, that it was something I really wanted in my heart of hearts. And it turns out, Vic was extremely supportive. Not because he didn't/doesn't think I'm beautiful as is...but because he knows this is something I've wanted for a long time...and he has a hard time saying no to me. I love that about him. 

Once my friend referred me to Dr. Swenson, it all kind of clicked. I had my first consultation with him back in November--and that's when he told me he could "fix" the hole in my septum. He would be putting in a plastic "button", or divider between the top and bottom of my septum (to act as a normal, complete septum would). With the hole in there, mucus was getting caught and crusting over. Then I would pick at it and the process would start again. It also became a place for bacteria to live and grow since it wasn't sluffing off and exiting like most mucus normally would. 

I wanted to schedule the surgery right away but was cast in Les Mis and had to wait a few more months. Luckily, all the money I made from the show is going to pay for a large portion of the procedure! It pays to be a whore! (My mom won't think that's funny...sorry). Insurance will cover 80% of the medical portion. 

After doing a cat scan on my nose, it was not only determined that there was a large hole in there, but that the remaining portion of my septum that I DID have was crooked. They also discovered I have an extra sinus. About 10% of the population are born with an extra sinus. Interesting. It's not necessarily a good or bad thing..but it can get in the way of your turbinates--the airways that filter and humidify the air you breathe. 

Along with the hole was a small "spur" in the delicate bone of my inner nose. It was time to get to work. 

Here's the thing--I could elect to not have this surgery and just hope that my nose wouldn't collapse as I got older. Without the entire septum in place, there is a risk of that happening. Also, let's talk cosmetics here..there is the issue of my "butt nose"--a nickname my brothers gave me ages ago. 

As you can see here, there is a definitive line down the middle of my nose. I don't think most people notice it unless they are extremely close to me. If you were to feel it, it's quite pronounced. At times it is purple in color. The butt was one thing...but there is another component to the butt. 

The one sided saggy butt syndrome. If you look at the tip of my nose, you'll see that one side of the "butt" hangs down lower than the other. Dr. Swenson informed me that as I age, this will continue to droop more and more. 

SO. I can fix the hole in my septum so that mucus runs off naturally and doesn't get stuck, so it won't create crustiness and bacteria--which also insures no collapsing of the nose (forming a dipping look from the outside) as I age. He can fix the spur that sticks out from the perforated septum.  And he can collapse the extra sinus, allowing me better breathing. (Truthfully, I've never had a problem with breathing. The hole in my nose let in a lot of air! I have an excellent sense of smell as well). But if I'm breathing just fine before surgery, imagine how I'm going to breathe once everything is healed. Wonderfully, I hope. 

It just felt like the right thing to do. And since he's going in anyway, might as well get rid of the butt while he's at it. Aesthetically, there was more than just the butt that "needed" to be corrected (the bump on the top of my nose, noticeable in my profile, and the rotation of my nose--as it is quite pointy and rotated downward). 

The surgery itself really snuck up on us with our trip to Costa Rica, Zoë and Lucy's birthdays, and the general busyness of life--but despite feeling a little unprepared (mostly Vic), the entire process went so smoothly and felt so effortless that I knew it was the right choice for me. Never did my gut tell me not to do it. I got a little anxious the evening before (My sister and friend Rachael each talked me through it and let me vent) but woke up the morning of my surgery feeling very excited. 

Here are a few last thoughts before I end. (I'll blog more about the actual surgery...being put under, what they did while I was out, the kind of care I got at the hospital, photos of the damage, etc.--later next week). These are the things I talked about with Amy and Rachael:

-Augh! What am I doing? This is going to cost a lot of money. We could be paying down our mortgage or really helping someone in need. 

-What if I die in surgery? 

-Am I just so selfish and vain? 

-What if I miss my prominent Jewish nose? 

The thing I was most hung up on was the money. I am on the cusp of doing some more work with "A Good Grief" to really get it off the ground once and for all, as a full-fledged non-profit with a huge increase in donations. In the process of working with an agency to make this happen, they showed me some video clips of other organizations that they help fund. (The Red Cross is a huge client of theirs). One of the clips was an organization that helps prevent child sex slavery. Did you know that every year, ONE MILLION children are taken from their homes to be sex slaves? ONE. MILLION. I watched this promo/fundraising video the evening before my surgery and thought, "These children and parents are living an unimaginable nightmare. To me, it is much worse than death. And here I am, getting a new nose even though mine functions just fine." 

I stopped everything and prayed my heart out for those kids. It sickens me to no end. 

Am I the only one who can go from plastic surgery to child sex slavery in one post? I think you get my point. I was conflicted. I can't tell you any wise words of how I justified this decision, to spend thousands of dollars to make myself feel better. But it's what I decided to do. Not just for the present Molly, but for the future Molly. My nose problems are only going to get worse as I age. 

The other thing that might surprise you, is discovering how many of my friends have had a nose job. So many more than you'd think. 

Also, it has not escaped me, the irony, in that I was just posting pictures of me in a bikini in Costa Rica declaring self-love, self-acceptance, a healthy lifestyle, and celebrating all that our bodies are capable of. Hmmm...I'll have to think through that some more. 

Such is the life of a woman. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

This and That

First of all...COSTA RICA! I mean!!!! It was pure bliss! Here are a few photos to wet your pallet. I will share more photos and deets later this week. We spent 8 glorious days celebrating our 10 year anniversary. I am so grateful we had this experience. These photos are just the tip of the iceberg. If you follow me on Instagram (smallyspice) you have seen most of what we did. But there are so many fun stories to tell. 


Zoë June turned 2!

I have been composing a birthday letter to her in my mind all week. All about the wonderful little doll that she is--all that she does to make my heart swoon. I can't wait to put down in writing all that she means to me. 

Third--today is Lucy's birthday. Her 8th earthly birthday. It's hard for me to fathom that I would have an 8 year old. I am at peace today. I also have a birthday letter for my little Lucy love. 

And last but not least--

I'm having nose surgery on Friday, the 13th. Ummm...I didn't realize the date my surgery was scheduled for until I called a friend and left her a voicemail with the details. I hope this isn't a bad omen. You guys--I have a giant hole in my septum the size of someone who has been using cocaine for 15 years! I figure that while they are in there straightening things out and putting in a new plastic septum/divider, they might as well give me a nose job while they are at it. 

It's true! I'm getting a new nose! And I have no problem telling you all about it. I will be blogging a series of photos and updates pre and post surgery. I know many of my friends and family have mixed feelings about this. But the good news is that I do not. I know very clearly that this is what I want to do. 

"But you have such a beautiful, prominent, Barbara Streisand nose!"

"But what about the actress from Dirty Dancing who got a nose job and then she never got work as an actress again?"

Well--luckily, for me and my nose, I am not a famous actress and am not worried about no longer getting work. 

Oh, I will tell you so much more about it. Including the cat scan images of the inside of my nose and what they are going to do to it in surgery. This is going to be saving me a lot of problems as I age to have it done now. 

So there it is. Wish me luck!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mother's Day Interview

Vic sat down with pen and paper (while I napped the afternoon away) and had a little "Mother's Day" interview with my Peter boy. It went exactly as follows:

-What is something that mommy always says to you?
Her says, "a good example."

-What makes mommy happy?
Her loves singing. Maybe we can sing for her. 

-What makes mommy sad?
When I'm mad

-How does mommy make you laugh?
From tickling me and squeezing my tummy

-What was mommy like when she was a little girl?
I don't know. I think her liked her necklace that I found. (I still have my plastic charm necklace from Claire's)

-How old is mommy?
I don't know

-What's mommy's favorite thing to do?
Wow. That's a lot of words. How did you learn to write?
-I practiced and went to school
I wish you went to juggling school

-What does mommy do when you're not around?
Her changes Zoë's diaper

-If mommy becomes famous, what will it be for?
I don't know. Maybe her can be a rockstar. 

-What is mommy not very good at?
I want this question to be done so we can play checkers.

-What does mommy do for her job?
Her goes where we went for Tarzan. (The Hale Centre Theatre)

-What makes you proud of mommy?
The dishes

-If mommy was a cartoon character, who would she be?
I think maybe the unicorn who flys. 

-How are you and mommy the same?
Taps his lips--maybe because we don't lose

-How are you and mommy different?
The thing what mommy has when Zoë was born and there was milk in there.

-How do you know mommy loves you?
Because when I do good stuff, her loves me. I already know. 

-Where's mommy's favorite place to go?

I love this so much.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

You can't make this stuff up

Yesterday was an interesting day. It was just strange. I don't know how else to describe it. It was the day that Zoë was the exact age that Lucy was the day she choked. That may sound convoluted an odd, but I assure you that all "angel mothers" think of these things and make it through these milestones...the day your living child passes or reaches the exact age of your deceased child. You feel like if you can make it that far...everything will be OK.

So as of today, I can say that I have never had a daughter this old before. (Well...Lucy was still with us at this point, but on life support). With my girls having their birthdays only 6 days apart, it is "easy" to keep track of things like this.

I tried not to make more of it than necessary. I didn't want to dramatize things or obsess or over think. I just went about my day and tried my best, like I always do, to treasure my children. But I was cranky and anxious and nervous. I couldn't focus. I was jittery and had NO patience. I was really struggling. I don't know if this was all entirely due to the circumstances mentioned earlier, but something was going on in my heart, mind, and body.

I told Vic I didn't have the energy to make dinner and he suggested we get some take out and head to the cemetery. It was rainy and cold most of the day and I didn't think the weather would hold out, but he was insistent. (Which, frankly, I found kind of odd...since we'll be heading to the cemetery next week for her "Angelversary"). But I was excited about getting out of the retirement villa (ha) where we're living and going downtown SLC.

Between the time that Vic and I had the conversation over the phone about getting dinner at Cafe Rio, and his drive home from the office, Peter made a beautiful new friend. He ran into the house yelling, "Mom, mom! Come look!" I was in the middle of who knows what and it took me some time to get outside. Just when I got to the door to see what all the fuss was about, Peter proudly came inside with a huge, gorgeous butterfly on his finger. I was so surprised! The little guy just clung to Peter. It was pretty amazing to see.

Peter "fed" him (grass in a bowl) and named him Fink. After about 15 minutes Peter released him outside and watched him fly away. Just then, Vic pulled into the driveway. Peter ran back outside and somehow found the butterfly and brought him back in on his finger. I've never seen anything like it!

When we arrived at the cemetery it was cold and rainy. We sat in the car and ate our dinner in the hopes that things would clear up. I was about to give up when right in front of me appeared this rainbow. 

We ended up spending a good 30 minutes at the cemetery as the kids ran around and Peter tried reading the headstones. 

I know both of these little gifts, these signs or tender mercies, reminders, whatever you may call them, could have happened on any day of the week. It surprised me that they happened on this "strange" day.
They left me with several thoughts about how we attach meaning to things and how wonder is around us all the time, but we don't always notice it. 

Sometimes I feel like my life is too poetic to be true. All the little stories about how Lucy's nurse was named Molly and had a daughter named Lucia. And all the waiters we've ever had on our wedding anniversary dinners have been named Lucy or Peter. And the Peter Pan and Narnia parallels and symbols. There are just a million things. Every time I'd have a new experience, I'd call Justin and talk about it with him. It just sounds cheesy or forced or effected...but you can't make this stuff up. He would tell me these things happen to me, and for me, because I need to tell my story--I need to share. 

I'm so flawed. I'm selfish and I'm moody. I have so much to learn. But I'll keep sharing my life and my thoughts on hope, in the hopes that someone out there benefits from it. With Justin gone now, I want to continue doing what he always told me to do--share myself. 

All in all, I'm just grateful that people love me. I'm grateful yesterday had these beautiful moments. Thanks for letting me share with you. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Yesterday's Sadness

I was sad yesterday. Between the post-vacation blues, the upcoming 6 year anniversary of Lucy's death, the absence (death) of one of my best friends (Justin Kinnaird), the grey and rainy weather, and missing my Park City family... I was struggling. I still am. But yesterday I felt that deep sadness that I haven't felt in a long while. I was thirsting for something. But I didn't know what. 

When checking out in the grocery line, of course I saw the large, bright pink poster asking for donations to Primary Children's Medical Center. I think it is wonderful that they have these handmade signs with photos of real families going through difficult health issues with their precious children. I stared at the poster for quite a while, waiting for the cashier to ask if I would like to donate. I wanted to be asked if I'd like to donate. My heart was in the mood to answer, "Yes (like I always do), I would. Our daughter died there and gave her organs to save the lives of others. That hospital is scary and sacred and wonderfully frightening." 

But he never asked. And that's fine. I was pulled back into the scuffle of keeping my children from falling out of the cart and stealing candy bars, paying for my items and finagling the huge "car cart" out of the store. 

It had been raining off and on all day but as we exited the store, there was a calm outside, though still a cloud cover, and the cool breeze felt healing on my skin. That's when Peter excitedly pointed out the garden porch swing for sale in the front of the store, sitting amid the potted plants and dozens of colorful flowers. He and his redheaded sidekick anxiously scaled their way out of the cart and onto the swing. I stood there lost in thought about all the things I needed to get done. Peter patted the open spot next to him and said, "SIT." I hesitated for a moment but finally pushed our darn cart (I hate those big carts with the cars in front for the kids to drive. I can barely see over the cart and it takes my whole body weight just to turn the blasted thing) out of the way of the front doors and sat down next to my munchkins. 

I completely let go of all of my "shoulds" and "have to's" and held my head to the sun while we swung back and forth, back and forth. Customers smiled and waved as they entered and left the grocery store, causing me to smile back. The kids giggled as we took photos and I stole as many kisses as I could. 

Above us flew a life flight helicopter. "Look at that, Mom!" Peter shouted. "It's a cool helicopter!" I told him it was a special helicopter that took people to the hospital. My tears welled up as I started to tell him it was the same kind of helicopter that flew Lucy to the hospital. But he switched the subject and was on to another observation or adventure. 

But I was so grateful for that moment when my children took me out of myself. And for my dear friend, Emily Dunn, who, later that day, let Peter come over and play with her son, Tommy. Visiting with her took me out of my sadness as well. And meeting up with more friends that evening in Murray Park (friends who also lost their child when he choked on a pretzel) pulled me from my sadness. 

And I crawled into bed last night with a grateful heart. Truly believing that I have nothing to complain about. 

These moments of deep sadness I experienced in the morning reminded me of the constant state of brokenness and grief I was in for years after Lucy's death. And as many a grieving mother will attest--I actually miss those days. Why? Not for the pain. Not for the tears. But I miss them for the vulnerability, softness, and awareness they infused into my senses. It made the good times more glorious. When I did have a respite from my pain, it was like a cool drink quenching an aching thirst. And the satisfaction was beyond anything a well-hydrated person could experience. My thirst allowed me to empathize with others more fully and it made me more at one with the essence of myself. 

It actually felt good to experience the onset of dehydration and the desire to quench it by telling the clerk at the grocery counter, "Yes, I would love to donate to Primary Children's Medical Center...and here's why..." And to tell my son about the helicopter that took his sister's body away. "

It takes some silence to make sound. It takes some tears to make you trust. It takes some years to make it rust. It takes some dust to have it polished." 

On this Mother's Day, exactly 6 years since I sang in church, the Sunday before Lucy died, while she pointed to the speakers in the lobby during my song and said, "Mommy, Mommy!", I am thankful for yesterday's sadness. It makes me infinitely more grateful for today's joy. I am thankful for all that my unquenchable thirst taught me. And I'm thankful for the invaluable lesson I've learned that when I feel the pulls of that same thirst now and again, I know what a miracle it is that it can be quenched. Sometimes I forget that it can be quenched and I feel there is no way out. But with an open mind and a broken heart and vulnerable spirit, I think it is possible to set our burdens down, sit in a swing, and marvel at the beauty and the simple and the amazing people around us. 

*wow. was this all so cheesy? i don't know. things just spill out of me. all i know is i need a tall glass of ice water now.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Deep in the Heart

My sister's house!
Running in Hermann park
Crawfish boil
Museum of Natural Science
Cousin's talent show
Evening walk in Downtown Houston
Seeing old friends
Playing on the banks of Peach Creek
Frozen obsessed nieces
Toys, games, brisket, laughter
Night games
Cookies and ice cream
Bouncy house
Snow cones
Princess nail painting parties
Perfect weather
Photo overload