It's been 3 weeks since "Catch Me if You Can" closed. It was such a great experience. For those of you who missed it, here are a few photos from the wonderful mayhem.
As always, a huge thank you to Vic for holding down the fort with the kids so I could do another show. I made new friends, danced my butt off, and just felt the absolute joy that I always do when I'm on stage with fellow crazies. I wish I had the time and energy to share all the details of my experience...the letter we got from Frank Abignale, himself!, the unexpected wedding proposal closing night (no one proposed to me...it was Keith, our lead actor, who proposed to my sweet and wonderful friend, Adrianne--a fellow dancer), the kindness, the friendships, the hard work, sweat, and tears. It all added up to an unforgettable show.
More photos below--
(the entire story behind this couple is beautiful and unique...I'm so happy for them!)
Listen up! You may have seen this same giveaway two weeks ago on my Facebook page (the winner from the Facebook contest was already chosen and notified), but now we are doing the same giveaway on ye old blog.
It's super fast and easy AND it is helping children. How is taking a survey (9 questions) helping children? Let me explain: There is a fantastic woman named Karla Jay who specializes in children with learning disabilities. Karla runs a school, has written books, and is now launching a new computer program/website where children can play games online to enhance their reading comprehension, sight words, and overall learning abilities.
By leaving your email address at the end of the survey, you are entered into the drawing for a $100 gift card AND you will receive one month free access to her site, "U Can Connect". This program is on the ground level and they need your feedback! Take 2 minutes and answer these questions and you could have an extra $100 to spend at Target. Easy peasy, Lemon squeezy (as Peter says).
You guys. I've gone weeks and weeks where I have forgotten to blog. Or I've just not wanted to. But this time? I forgot that I even HAVE a blog. Instagram killed the blog star. Amiright?
You want to know what made me remember that I still have this thing? We went to Festival of Trees two nights ago, and among all the amazing gingerbread houses and trees and generous donations to help the families at Primary Children's Medical Center (and the tears), two different darling women stopped me to say hello and that they read my blog. Oh! That's right. I have a blog. I used to write. (Hi, ladies).
It still amazes me/is crazy to me that people read this. I am "that lady who lost her daughter when she choked on an apple." I am that lady who performs and deals with the madness of motherhood and "isn't as profound in real life as you are on your blog". (One of my all-time favorite comments).
My blog isn't fancy or trendy. I don't have the time, energy, or know-how to do cool things with my photos or make things look hip and alluring. I just...enjoy sharing my life. For posterity's sake, for gratitude's sake, for the sake of connecting with my fellow humans and trying to understand myself.
So here I am. Where do I even begin? How about New Mexico? That seems like a reasonable place to start.
We drove 9.5 hours to visit Vic's sister, Joy, in Albuquerque, New Mexico for Thanksgiving. The drive was much less painful than we were anticipating. It was so nice to all be together, singing songs, coloring, talking, eating. Peter was SO excited to see his cousins! Joy has 5 adorable kids and was an incredible hostess. Her cooking was DELICIOUS. We had such a great time.
We took more of the scenic route home, by way of Durango, Colorado, and it was absolutely worth it. I had never been to Durango and it utterly charmed me. The photo above of Zoë looking down at her feet was taken on Durango's main drag. I could have spent the entire day there exploring but we had to get home for my final two shows. I want to go back!
As we drove out of Durango, the sun began to set and I felt so much peace. I thought back on the last time we visited Joy's family in New Mexico. Peter was 8 months old and I was still grieving HEAVILY. I wasn't sleeping. I was so stressed and overwhelmed. It was amazing to me, as I looked out the window, the sun setting over the lake, to realize how far I've come. I talk about this a lot, but it has reason to amaze me. I was truly on the brink of disaster--mental and emotional.
On this vacation I went on several runs, had a great time road biking with Vic and Jason (Joy's husband), ate wonderful food, slept (!), played with my kids at the Explora museum, and didn't experience anxiety. This is a HUGE thing for me. That sunset was the perfect ending to our trip. The kids were playing quietly in the back and Vic and I marveled out loud, again and again, at the beauty we beheld. It was such a simple moment, but the feelings in my heart were so profound and clear. Nothing earth-shattering. Just peace and gratitude and happiness.
My life is an embarrassment of riches. My family. My friends. My opportunities. My health. It is truly humbling and overwhelming at times. I have my daily battles (besides motherhood, my daily internal struggles lately are mostly centered around "what to do with my life" and making money), but I am managing at a level I never thought possible. I ache for my Lucy sweet like my body needs water. But as many people have commented to me lately, "Wow, you are like...alive. And living! And doing things!" Yes. Yes, I am.
And with that, I will crawl into bed and wait for Vic to get home from his boys night out. Welcome back, blog. It felt great to reconnect with you tonight.
At some point over the past few weeks, I've gotten it in my head that I must have dried pineapple from Trader Joe's. Little did I know, this craving would lead me on a fun adventure downtown with my Zoë June. (Now, when I say "adventure", we must remember that we are talking about stay at home mom who considers it an "adventure" to walk outside with the kids to get the mail).
Nonetheless, the day started out with a fun surprise for Zoë. She was going to go to work with daddy! I volunteer every Tuesday morning in Peter's Kindergarten class and struggle to find a sitter for the one hour time slot. We decided to take a chance and send little Miss, armed with toys and movies, to daddy's law firm. It worked like a charm...and I got to spend some quality time teaching and interacting with Peter and his peers at school.
Here's where the pineapple craving comes in. After saying goodbye to Peter (he unabashedly kisses me on the lips and tells me he loves me in front of his class. Please don't grow up!) I picked up Zoë and we headed to TJ's where she insisted on pushing the "baby cart" (customer in training). After loading up on far too many dried fruits, nuts, and trail mixes, we made it back to the inner warmth of the car. Don't you love cold Fall days where the sun is shining and your car is the perfect temperature to climb into?
But I didn't feel like heading home. I love being downtown. I tried calling Brighton, but she was heading to lunch with her hubby (newlyweds...who can blame them?) It had been such a long time since I'd been in the downtown Salt Lake City Library so I decided to hit it up. Zoë was going to love it!
It was a pleasant surprise when I discovered that street parking was free. Hmm..Must be a Veteran's Day thing. You know what is also a Veteran's Day thing? A closed library. Darn. But then I remembered that Intermountain Donor has a "Donate Life" memorial section on the grounds of the library..and Lucy's name is etched in glass, along with hundreds and hundreds of others, because of her organ donation.
Zoë and I made our way to the corner of the library square while I searched frantically for Lucy's name. I'd seen it before, years ago, when we went to the dedication of the memorial. But there are so many names and they are difficult to read. I couldn't remember where hers was. Anxiety was building up inside of me as I scanned row after row of names. They are not in alphabetical order and I could not remember where to find it. I had this feeling that if I was lucky enough to find her name, it would be like she would come back to life again--just for a minute or two. It was like looking for her in a crowd of people. My eyes were scanning so quickly, my heart racing. Then suddenly, I hear Zoë's little voice, "LUCY!!"
I raced over to find Zoë sitting here in "mommy's" lap, pointing up at "Lucy". She knew I had been searching for "Lucy" on the glass wall and she was so excited to let me know that she found her. I cannot tell you how it made me feel to hear Zoë say Lucy's name so many times. The reason I can't tell you how it made me feel is because I don't know. I'm still processing it. It was...like magic. No, really. You know when you watch a magician and you are AMAZED at the tricks he does, but part of you is disturbed and entirely curious HOW he (or she) does the tricks? That's how it felt. Let me hear you say it more, Zoë! The sound of her name! The sound of YOU saying her name! It's...beautiful. It's amazing. Do it again! But...why does it make me feel so sad and curious? Why does it feel so foreign and mysterious to hear you say it? Magic.
Zoë found a "secret pathway" (a walkway made of engraved stones) and walked up and down it about 5 times. This particular stone stood out to me.
On the walk back to the car, Zoë noticed the City Building across the street and her entire face lit up. "Castle!!" She really wanted to see the castle. We made our way there to discover that it was also closed. But Zoë made the most of the situation by curtsying to her crowd and waving at the common folk. (She really did).
Who knew my craving for dried Pineapple would lead to such a glorious Fall day downtown with my sweet cheeks? The thought occurred to me, as I think back on the frantic way I scanned the memorial wall for Lucy's name--I didn't find it. I wanted so desperately to. I wanted to see her name engraved for all the world to see. But I had to keep an eye out for Zoë. I had to make sure she didn't run into the street or into the arms of the several homeless men hanging around. I didn't get the surge of pride moment I was hoping for when discovering her name.
My life hasn't followed the "story" I had made up in my head. But I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job experiencing the new and wonderful story life has presented me. I don't want to waste time trying to change it or mold it into something I think it should be, or used to want. I want to let it be what it is. Dried pineapple and all the other wonderful, horrible things thrown in too.
You had a birthday this summer. It was your 8th birthday. I'm sorry this birthday letter is so late. I think about you everyday and have wondered exactly what is going to spill forth from my heart in this letter. I guess we are about to find out.
When I think of you, I think of your sister. When I am with your sister, I think of you. I suppose it is because she is my strongest point of reference. Zoë has passed you in age, but not in size. She's just a tiny little thing.
We miss you. Your brother and sister talk about you all the time. They tell your story to their teachers and friends, and they love looking at pictures and videos of you. Zoë points to your picture and says, "Lucy choked on a apple."
I don't know how much they really understand. But I know they understand that you are part of our family. You are part of our prayers. You are part of our conversations and plans and part of our heart.
Your daddy and I were sitting in church earlier today and glanced over at your brother and sister. Believe it or not, they were sitting quietly, holding hymn books and trying to sing along in Spanish. Zoë sat closest to us, then Peter, then...You. No, we didn't see you sitting there, but it is what we wanted. They were stacked up so nice and neat on the bench-- shortest little red head, shorter Peter with his brown hipster haircut, then a spot just above his head and shoulders where your blonde would fit perfectly.
Your cousins, Jack and Thacker, closest in age to you (along with Luke earlier in the Spring) were baptized this week. I still can't believe I would have such a big girl. Is it fun for you to watch your family growing up? I don't know how much you get to see or be around for, so I'll fill you in on a few things:
Zoë is so darling it hurts. She loves to dance and sing and walks around saying, "I be in a show, OK?" Peter is doing excellent in school as well as his music lessons. He can read sheet music, play chords, knows his notes and his intervals too! It's so exciting! Daddy is still hoping to find a new job. Will you comfort him, Lucy? He's really down. Is there anything you can do to help him find a different job? A job where he will be happier and able to provide more? I don't know how things work on the other side...but try to pull some strings, OK?
I'm busy performing in my show, taking care of the kids and the house, and trying to balance everything. I have come to accept that you died. I have come to accept the horrible tragedy that happened. But as your brother and sister grow, I realize I will have to someday accept the fact that they are missing out on an incredible older sibling. It is a whole new element to my grief.
We celebrated your birthday this year by taking pillow cases to Primary Children's Hospital. We went to your grave and had a picnic. We love you. So many people love you. So many people suffer greatly everyday. You have taught be how to be more aware and tender toward that suffering.
I love you, dear daughter. Forever and ever. I've said it before, but you make me much less afraid of growing older. I have something so incredible to look forward to.
1) Forceful rushing rage will descend upon you without a breath's notice. Years and years will have gone by since the loss of your child. A general sense of peace and functionality will have returned to the better part of your life. But in the blink of an eye, fierce anger will race through your veins because your child is no longer here and you'll have deeply violent urges to punch and kick and break something...or someone. 2) A helicopter or ambulance speeding by or overhead will NEVER go unnoticed by you. You could be singing along to your favorite George Michael song in your car at the top of your lungs, the sun shining on your face and the moment you hear the chopper or siren, your heart races. Your eyes glance upward at the racing life flight helicopter and you get a pit in your stomach. You shake your head and pray for the family involved in the accident. You take a deep breath, turn off the radio, and continue driving in silence.
3) Every fun, beautiful, adventurous moment with your other living children is always, ALWAYS tainted by the gaping hole of your child's absence. Always. You grieve even for your LIVING children because they are missing a sibling. So much grieving. 4) When you hear conversations involving sick children in the hospital, children undergoing surgery, children waiting for a transplant...any child who is still ALIVE but in a very sad and painful situation in the hospital...all you can think is, "At least they are still alive. At least they are going to live." You want so badly to empathize with your friends and acquaintances telling these stories and sharing their feelings, but all you can think when they talk about how difficult it is to see your child suffer is, "SUFFER? How about suffer AND DIE?" So instead, you get very quiet and drawn inward and you remember those painful, painful, heart wrenching days and years after your child died. You don't want to become bitter. You don't want it to be all about you. You know the difficulties your friends are sharing are real and painful, but...it makes you feel disconnected and "different"...which makes you feel sad. 5) The circumstance in which your child died will always be on your radar. If your child drowned, you will ALWAYS be worried about your children and any other child near water. If your child died because she choked, you will ALWAYS be extra alert and aware of any young child putting hard foods into their mouths. If your child died in a car accident, you will ALWAYS have a tinge of anxiety while driving with children. It gets better and more manageable, but it will always be a part of your world.
6) You know how you ask yourself what would have happened if you'd married Joe instead of Jake? Or if you had moved to Boston instead of L.A.? Where would you be in life right now? Well, you live with that everyday...because you are living the actual life that happened after your child died. And you wonder every time the sun comes up what your life would be like if your child had lived. Would you be as wise and as sensitive as you are? Are you even wise? Or were you just forced to "grow up" way too soon? Would you be as angry and broken? Would you, would you, would you...You live in a constant state of "what if". 7)You can never have just a plain old, regular "bad day" because every bad day or negative emotion is layered with thoughts like, "Now, how much of this is because I'm having a bad day, struggling with my marriage, stressed about work...and how much of it is compounded by and effected by the fact that my child died?" No emotions can ever stand alone as they are. They always arrive with unannounced company.
8) Your spiritual and religious beliefs become rocked and questioned. Life after death and all the specifics involving it (resurrection, etc.) is a beautiful doctrine to discuss and pontificate over, but until your heart is ripped out of your chest and your world truly turned upside down and inside out, you aren't forced to face what you truly believe. You start entirely from scratch and realize that so much more than you thought is simply unknown.
9) Tears become your most valued commodity. When someone takes the time to talk to you about your child and learn your story and sheds tears with you or for you, it buys you more desire to continue living. It reminds you that you are not alone. It reminds you that people have good and caring hearts. It forges beautiful friendships and connections of great value. And it opens doors to learn about THEIR heartaches. It humbles you and reminds you how special your child is/was. (And here comes that anger again that you just had to type "is/was")
10) You write Huffington Post-like blog posts ("13 Things Only People with a Flat Butt will Understand! " #4 Will blow your mind!) to try and formulate your thoughts and put your angst into place. You don't speak for everyone who has lost a child in a tragic accident, but you know that those who have, will understand where you are coming from and try to calm your racing heart as you muddle through life.
It was a good one. Cousins, Bear Lake, my sister staying at Solitude for the entire month of July, swimming, splash pads, Red Butte Garden, friends, games, parks, swings, BBQs, photo shoots for the kids...
Just wanted to mention it before the first snowfall.