Sunday, August 28, 2011


Willow is a tiny little girl in Texas that needs a lot of prayers right now. From the Facebook page created for her:

Willow, the daughter of Dawn and Brandon Brandenburg. was born July 14, 2011. She was born with a cleft lip and palate. She will have her first surgery at 3 months old and will continue with surgeries until the age of 18. Medical expenses will be very expensive and while she has insurance, it does not cover everything. She has been denied Medicaid, CHIPS and SSI. I will be doing fundraisers to help raise money for her.

You can find more about her condition in this article by the Lufkin Times.

My friend Nikki put together a benefit auction on her business page, Sammi Cole Couture by Nikki Zoshak. Several sponsors donated items for the auction. Most of it is frilly dresses and stuff for little girls, since that what her business is mostly about.

I wanted to help out, and since I can't make frilly little dresses, and I'm nowhere near Texas to be able to do much of anything else, I donated one of my photos.

I took this picture of the sunset in Colon, right outside the Panama Canal. We stopped for the night to wait for our harbor pilot to join us the next morning before beginning our journey through the canal. The ships you see to the right are just a few of hundreds that lined up for several miles, waiting for their harbor pilots and their turn to begin the transit.

This is one of my all time favorite shots from my travels. I had a 20x60 print made and framed to hang in our living room last year. It is a big favorite of our visitors. Our neighbor actually tried to get me to put it in her boyfriend's art show, but I had to work.

Anyway. I'm starting to ramble. Haha.

I offered it to Nikki's auction as an 8x24 panoramic gallery wrapped canvas. I believe the starting bid on it is $15. If any of you are interested, or if you're interested in any of the other listings, you can find the auction here.

Sorry for posting back to back. I just really want to help her help this little girl.


Yesterday I was feeling pretty bummed about Andy's birthday. I wanted to do something, even something small and seemingly insignificant. To celebrate. To remember. To embrace the love I have for my friend and find a smile for him on his special day.

I wanted to have cupcakes. I wanted to attach a copy of the birthday letter to some balloons and let them go from the top of Mt. Erie. I wanted to have a chat with his mom. I wanted those few minutes of you're still my very best of friends and it's your day and I am remembering and celebrating for you.

But Bryan was in a bad mood. And we were supposed to be going to a birthday cookout for the wife of a coworker. And we were running late. And I was so ready to just throw the broccoli salad I made across the room and drop to the floor in tears.

As we were getting the dog in the truck and finally leaving the house, I was feeling less and less like being at a cookout surrounded by people that I would have half-hearted conversations with in between spans of just stuffing my face because I really don't fit in well with any one there. In my mind, I was apologizing to Andy for not getting up earlier, for not being more prepared, for not making the time to celebrate with him. I knew cupcakes didn't really matter to him because he can't eat them anyway, but dammit I could enjoy one for him, right?

Then we turned the corner by the elementary school. Right there on the corner was a little boy with a lemonade and cupcake stand. My heart stopped for a minute. I love lemonade stands!

I made Bryan turn around while I searched the truck for cash. When I didn't find any cash, I dug out every bit of change I could find piled up from work. (I think it was somewhere around $3.)

I got two cups of raspberry lemonade and two cupcakes. Two confetti cupcakes with amazing vanilla frosting and sprinkles. Wrapped in plastic and tied off with little strips of colorful fabric. Absolutely amazing and delicious. And just what I needed at just the right time.

I wish I would have got a few more. They were good. I only bought $1 worth of stuff, so I gave him the rest of the change as a tip. I wonder if he's back out there today....

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Letter to My Friend.

September 6, 2007. A Thursday. At Riders Bar, that used to be called Dexters. You were in a dark blue shirt. You were surprised to see me there. You sang “On Again Tonight”. You told me you didn’t want me to go, but you didn’t want to keep me from reaching my dreams. You told me you loved me.

Five days later, on Tuesday, I left for boot camp.

Seventeen days later, on the 28th of September, you were taken from this world.

Today you would be turning 30.

I wonder how you would take it. You were so upset about turning 26. Well, I guess it was more the things you hadn’t accomplished by 26. Would you have accomplished them if you were still here?

It’s hard to think about this day being your birthday and not having you around to celebrate it. I keep picturing a big party in my head, with balloons, a giant red velvet birthday cake, and lots of smiling friends and family. You would pull out Ol’ Bess and sing. It would be such a fun time for everyone.

Or maybe it would really turn out like your 26th birthday, right before you left us. You, Randy, and John were playing that show at Balls n Strikes. You were drunk too early in the show, and you were so upset with the guys for asking you to get down from the stage and just enjoy your birthday. I drove you to the hotel that night because I didn’t want you to drive home. We watched some Mexicans playing soccer on tv, and you poured your aching heart out until you finally fell asleep. (Your secrets are still safe with me, love. Even death doesn’t break a promise.)

Next month will be four years since you died. Four very long years.

I’ve done a lot in the last four years that you would be so proud of. There are many things you wouldn’t be proud of, but I think you would understand better than anyone else. You once told me that you have to take the good and bad to have a good story. If that’s the case, I’m writing on hell of a story with this life.

While I was in boot camp I got picked to serve on the USS Constitution in Boston. She was built in 1797, and she’s still part of our Navy today. I had to learn her history and teach it to the public visitors in a way that was fun and interesting, so really, I was a storyteller for the Navy.

While I was there, I got a chance to sail to Panama with the Coast Guard. I didn't like climbing in the rigging at first. I grew up climbing things, but there's a big difference between falling 15 feet from a barn loft and falling 150 feet into the ocean. One of the Coast Guard girls taught me to sing to myself while I was climbing so that it would help me focus on what I was doing, rather than being nervous. Let me tell you, there is no sunset in the world like the one you watch from way up in the rigging of a sailing ship. I used to write you letters from the boat at night, telling you about my adventures even though I knew I could never mail them to you.

A big tradition in the Navy is to fly an American flag at every place you are stationed or travel to and for various special occasions. I met one guy that had flown his flag more than 50 times in his career. I know how much you love Garth and considered his birthday a national holiday. So I had a flag flown on the ship in celebration. I flew home to give it and a special certificate to your mom for her birthday.

Your mom. Oh, Andy, I could punch you in the head for not introducing us while you were still alive! Your parents are two of the most amazing people I've ever met, and I'm sad it took your death for me to meet them. Your mom is one of my very best friends, and she is a beautiful example of strength, love, and faith. Her faith after losing you was tremendous in helping me as I struggled with my own faith after losing my own babies. I wish I was closer to home, so that I could visit her and your dad more often.

Yes, you heard that right. The girl that didn't want to settle down, didn't want big responsibilities, didn't want to do anything more than live like a hobo with a guitar, a dog, and some beer. That girl had babies. I got married in 2008, but things didn't work out like we had hoped. Whoever said all you need is love was horribly wrong. In the end, I realized I had to love myself enough to not stay where I shouldn't be. So 10 months later, I was divorced. It was one of hardest things I've ever done. I still don't think I'm completely over it, even though I like to think I am.

Last summer I was pregnant with my Lilly Grace. I lost her at 11 weeks. It was the single most traumatizing night of my entire life. I still have nightmares about it. Earlier this spring I was pregnant again. I made it 5 months, and then the doctor dismissed my extremely early labor pains as growing pains. I lost my son, Brake Patton, that night in another traumatizing nightmare in yet another bathroom. I held him all evening at the ER before they finally took him away. He had my smile.

I have dreams about them. Running through huge fields on ponies with Felichia. One night they rode up and Lilly was trying to hand me a huge bouquet of beautiful flowers. Some nights I see them with friends, other babies who were taken much too soon. Every night that I see them, they are smiling, happy, healthy, and beautiful.

I had a dream recently that you were in Heaven, dancing around in your boots and loudly singing Garth's "Friends in Low Places" with a bunch of others. It was quite a sight to behold. I told Kristin about it because I knew she needed a good laugh. (Kristin is another very dear friend of yours that I've met since you died. I feel like we've been friends our whole lives, even though in reality we've only talked on Facebook and text messages.)

Maybe if anything in any of my dreams is real, you'll see my babies up there some time. Maybe you've already met them. If you do see them, kiss them for me. Tell them some of my favorite late night stories. Like your love stories about your parents. I know they would love those as much as I did. I miss them, Andy. I miss them more than I imagined I could miss anybody.

I've been thinking about home a lot lately because I've been toying with the idea of getting out of the Navy. Naturally, thinking of home makes me think of you. Those fun summer nights at Dexters. Those long nights on Randy's back porch. (Random note, "On Again Tonight" just started playing on my itunes, and it made me smile.) Those early morning text messages. Those always there when you need them Andy hugs.

And the bad nights. Oh, those bad nights.

Like the night you asked me to come to your birthday party and then didn't tell me where it was and wouldn't answer your phone. I spent that night out in the pouring rain by the old ferry. I almost totaled my truck that night, and I was so mad at you that I didn't even care. That song "Boston" by Augustana was playing when my truck left the road. Ironic how that's just where I ended up a few months later. I still can't hear that song without thinking of that night.

Like the night you asked me to come to another show at Dexters, and you ignored me the entire night. You were with that blonde girl that Randy warned you was trouble and that you should stay away from her. You wouldn't even look at me, even though you asked me to be there. A few weeks later you asked why we let you get tangled up with her. I almost punched you in the mouth.

Like the night after your jet ski accident. I wanted to come see you at the ER, but you said no. A few nights later, when I was driving you home from Dexters, you found the card and candy I got you. You got mad and threw it into the floor and stomped on it. You kept shouting that I cared too much and I needed to stop caring. You even tried to get me to stop the truck and let you walk the rest of the way to Harrison because you were so mad at me for "caring too much". I refused to stop, and I drove the rest of the way with tears in my eyes.

I used to hear a lot of bad things about you. People definitely had some sour impressions of you because of some of your really bad habits and really bad nights. Everyone has their vices and bad nights though. Whoever says otherwise is a damn fool. No matter what bad things I hear, no matter how bad you pissed me off, no matter how bad you hurt my feelings, I can't see you as the bad person some people made you out to be. When I think of all the things I learned from you, of all the love you had for everyone you met, of the dreams you yearned to reach, and especially of that late night conversation in that hotel in Ringgold, I know without a doubt that nothing can ever convince me that you are anything less than that amazing person I got to know even better that night.

I had some tshirts made for you when I was in Boston. It's one of my favorite shirts. I even had a onesie made for the baby. Everyone says that you would have loved them. I hope so.

I love that I get to share part of your story when someone asks me about it. I love that every time I get to share parts of your story, a part of you lives on. As long as we hold you in our hearts, as long as we continue to share you with others, we can continue to love you like you never left us.

One day we'll meet again, and we'll have some great stories and adventures to catch up on.

Happy Birthday, friend.

Friday, August 26, 2011


There are freshly ripened blackberries growing outside our gate. I noticed them on my way in from work. So I grabbed the dog and the biggest mason jar I could find. They were amazing.

Yesterday I saw a post on Grieve Out Loud about a 30 Days of Muchness Challenge.

The lady, I believe her name was Tova, lost her twin baby girls last year. She later noticed that sparkly, sequiny things made her feel a little more happy, a little more like she used to feel. Her new love of sequins eventually brought about this 30 day challenge, which she has shared, in hopes of helping someone else find that little spark of happy.

(Yes, the word "Muchness" is from Alice in Wonderland. That's the line that really sparked this whole thing for her.)

Alice in Wonderland was coincidentally one of my favorite stories growing up. Yesterday I sat out on the front porch, remembering how much I was like Alice at one time. So full of spark and imagination. I thought about this challenge, and I decided I want to try it.

So today, whenever I can drag Bryan out of bed, I'm going out to Michaels to buy an easel and some canvases. I'm not really sure what I can come up with to do for 30 days, but I'm sure I can find something. And I'm determined to make at least a painting or two, even if it's only for myself. To prove to myself that I still have it in me. To prove to myself that my "pretty" doesn't matter to anyone else. To prove to myself that happiness really is in there somewhere.

Maybe I'll post about it on here sometimes.

On another note, I'm feeling much better than last post. No more crying. For now, at least.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Today is one of those curl up in my favorite comfy chair on the front porch with a giant pitcher of tea and watch the fog float over the bay while I cry my eyes out kinda days. (And yes, I do mean a pitcher, not just a glass, because today a simple glass just won't do.)

There a million different things running through my head, so I'll try to work some of them out as easily as I can. This might get a bit lengthy. Don't say I didn't warn you. 

Growing up, I was happiest running through fields on my horses and making pretty things. Painting. Drawing. Clay. Sticks. Flowers. Whatever I could get my hands on and fashion into something pretty. I even had a scholarship to art school (Savannah College of Art and Design, to be specific), but I ended up not going. One of my favorite things to do was make drawings and cards for my dad. No matter how old I got, or how silly the pictures were, he loved them. He still has most of them saved in a box in his dresser. When I started getting into painting, I did a picture of some hummingbirds for my mom. I don't remember if it was Mother's Day or her birthday. I worked my ass off on that thing, and her response was a simple, "Oh, that's nice." I can't say that her enthusiasm matched mine...not by a long shot. And that was the last time I ever drew, painted, or in any way created anything for another person.

Actually, I take that back. I painted a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote on a river rock when my cousin Thomas died, and I anonymously put it by his headstone. To this day, no one else knows where it came from. But anywho!

When Bryan and I started dating, the sunshine he brought back into my life during such a hard struggle with my divorce and being in a new place helped to spark those creative juices in me. I used to draw little stick figure pictures for him and write stupid little notes with my markers and leave them in his car. He thought it was hilarious that I was that childish, but he thought it was cute.

Over the last several months, I've been itching to be creative again. Because creating makes me happy. Because being happy makes me feel pretty. And Lord knows I need both with this constant struggle to not succumb to this nasty depression after losing my babies. When we moved into this new place, I got huge empty walls begging to be filled with something pretty. I decided that I wanted our bedroom to be decorated with us. All the other stuff can go in the rest of the house, but since that is our space, I wanted it to be covered in our pictures.

He cleaned his wallet out and left a huge pile of old ticket stubs on the table. Movies. Concerts. A ballet. Simple little reminders that he held onto from our first year of dating. Rather than just throwing them in a scrapbook that I know I will never get around to working on or finishing, I wanted to do something with them. So I made this with a map of Florida (where we met), some pictures of favorites dates or memorable events, and his ticket stubs:

I was a little disappointed that the glue I used soaked through the ticket stubs causing dark splotches, but otherwise I was pretty excited about it. Bryan said I'm an idiot. He later said he was just teasing me for being "so corny", but it hurt pretty bad. And I'm back to not wanting to make pretty things again.

Work stresses me out. It frustrates me. It pisses me off. It makes me wonder if falling off Deception Pass bridge would be a better, less stressful, less painful day. (I'm not thinking about seriously doing it, just so we're clear.) I vented about some of it a couple weeks ago, so some of you may have an idea of some of the things that get to me. My boss read it and tried to talk to me about it, trying to make it a little better for me. But that only goes so far.

I work with another female in the shop. One thing I've learned about females in the Navy is that they always think they have something to prove. And most times they automatically don't like you when you're new because you're a female. No other reason than that. You are a female, therefore you are "competition", even if there's nothing to compete about. It's annoying as hell, and it puts a lot of strain on the work center at times.

I came into the shop as an E5. But I was new to the job. And new to the command. So the majority of the shop doesn't see me as a senior E5, or even as an E5 at all. They see someone that hasn't put in the same time they have, so that makes me still the "new guy", no matter how long I've been there. And it means people get pissed when they have to go do bullshit jobs that they "put their time in for and shouldn't have to do anymore." Since the boss said he doesn't expect me to do some of those jobs, because of being a senior E5, somehow that has been taken as him placing me on a ridiculous pedestal.

I can generally brush off the negativity. But during the last week, people are getting mad about this stuff and instead of trying to talk to me or tell me they have a problem, they are running to the acting Lead Supervisor about it while the boss is on leave. So this morning I got lectured about how I'm not pulling my weight in the shop, how I'm sending my guys out to do bullshit jobs and carry the brunt of the workload, and how I'm building resentment on my shift because of it. All because the one job that I did with someone last night took almost as long as the shit load of tiny jobs they were doing, and we spent the rest of the night catching up the passdown log and recording the jobs as being done.

Regardless of what the problem was, the fact that no one on my shift could say something to me about it bothers me. I like to keep things within our shift when we can. Something like that should have been. There was no reason one of them couldn't have tried talking to me if they felt that way. Instead, they had to say something to someone else, giving the impression that I don't do anything during the night, and I had to be lectured about it. That makes me feel aboutthisbig. That makes me feel like I can't do my job. That makes me feel oh so very inadequate.

Most of this started with a plane wash that someone else didn't want to do. A plane was that I am allergic to. A plane wash that I was told I wouldn't be doing unless we were desperate for people. The last plane wash I did scarred my face. When I get hot or flush, like when I get out of the shower or when I laugh so hard my face turns kinda pink/red, that spot turns a bright burning red. So naturally, getting upset about all of this made that spot turn red, which upset me even more. Which also reminded me that I found out I was pregnant the day after that wash. Which reminded me that the only reason I would even be considered for a wash now is because I'm not pregnant anymore. Which reminded me that I'm not even supposed to be in this shop, or this command, anymore, but I'm still here because my baby is not here.

I have felt like I've been carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders all week. I have wanted to crawl into a dark hole somewhere. I have wanted to do anything but be awake, be around people, be at work. I feel like I'm upset over something stupid, that isn't worth worrying about. But if it upsets me this badly, how can it really be that stupid? Why can't I be strong enough to not let things get to me so much? Why can't I defend myself instead of wanting to hole up and cry? Why can't I just let it roll off my back and be happy about the good things? Why can't I grasp that I don't need other people to validate my value, my knowledge, my image, my anything?

Why am I still sitting out here crying?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sharing Their Pain.

When F died, I made weekly visits to the cemetery. Sometimes even a few times a week. I felt like I would kill over right there in the middle of that field, but I made myself do it.

Sometimes I would take fresh flowers. Sometimes I would just sit there and cry.

One day I noticed an older, broken headstone at the far end of the field. I walked down to check it out. It was a veteran's headstone with a military service plaque and a faded flag flying in front. I stood there for a few minutes, imagining what this guy looked like, what he did in the service, and how proud his family must have been. It saddened me that none of his family had been there to take care of his stone.

From his stone, I walked around to each and every one on the property. I stopped to read each one. To think of who those people were. Not just a name on a stone. But the person that once lived. What they looked like. What kind of job they had. What they enjoyed doing. How much they were loved by their families.

I brushed old leaves and dirt and dead bugs off the stones. I stood up flowers that had fallen over. I put the flowers I brought for F on other graves, the ones that never seem to have company any more.

It felt a little weird, talking to people I didn't know buried deep beneath those head stones. But at the same time, it felt like for those brief moments, those people I didn't know were allowed to live on, to be remembered, to feel love once again.

The new place we moved to is across from a cemetery.

I usually scan it over quickly with my eyes as I drive by it. I want to walk through there one day, to clean the stones and read the names, like I did back home.

This morning when I drove by, I didn't just quickly scan over it. My eyes felt drawn to it, to each and every stone across that big field. As these stones drew me in, I started thinking. Every one of those people buried there is someone's child. I thought of how badly it hurt losing my babies. I thought of how much more I understand my aunt's pain, now that I have suffered a loss of my own. Regardless of their age, when our children die, that pain is always there, always the same.

The idea made my heart heavy. For a few minutes, I felt like I was carrying the pain of all those parents in my heart. I felt like I shared their loss, their pain, their endless tears over their children. I felt like I should be on my knees weeping.

I thought my heart might explode.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Day of Hope.

August 19th, a Day of Hope, is a special day set aside by the amazing Carly Dudley to celebrate the babies that left us too soon, and by doing so, to help raise awareness and break down the horrible taboo that surrounds this awful loss.

I think of my babies every day. But today I'm especially thinking of all the other parents out there who are thinking of their babies. Each relationship, each loss, each struggle with grief, they are all very different. But the burden we bare is very much the same. I feel their pain. I feel their sadness. I feel their frustrations with a society that doesn't understand. 

There are some amazing parents out there that have fought with their grief and done some amazing things to help fight back. They can't bring their babies back, no matter how hard they fight. But they bring comfort and support to other grieving parents. 

Carly creates beautiful photos in memory of beautiful babies, as well as creating this special day. 
She and Franchesca created a gorgeous card line, especially for situations like baby loss.  
Kristin started a project, Doing Good In Her Name, that assists families with little ones in NICU.  
Ella's Halo was also founded to help the little ones and their families during their stay in NICU.  
Angie wrote about her daughter's story in her book, 'I Will Carry You'.
Kristin started Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope, an online support community.

There are TONS of more amazing parents out there doing even more amazing things. These are just the first few I pulled up from my bloglist.

Today there is one parent in particular that I'd like to share with you. Her name is Kristine, over at Cora's Story.

Cora died unexpectedly at only 5 days old from an undetected heart problem. Since then, her mother has been fighting this awful journey through loss and grief. She has also been fighting for legislation that will give babies pulse oximetry testing before going home. It's a simple procedure that will make sure more parents get to take their babies home and keep them there. She's been nominated as a "Mom Changing the World" at Babble, and she's second in her category (4th overall). If she wins, $5000 goes toward helping Operation Healing Hearts save our babies.

Please take a few minutes to go vote for her. Help her give hope to more babies and their parents. 

**As I mentioned above, the list was just a few that came up at the top of my blog subscription list. Please don't be offended if I left you out. Also, please remember that ALL parents are amazing parents doing amazing things, just by waking up and facing another day without their babies. I just chose to spotlight some of the work being done to bring more awareness and support to our unfortunate world of grief.**

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Peaceful....with some pictures.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that we were moving into a new place. A nicer place. Without spiders, or standing water in the backyard, or neighbors that can see way too much through every window in the house, or that damn bathroom. I still hate that bathroom.

We moved in here 16 days ago. This place is wonderful. And relaxing. And so very good for my soul.

I took some quick pictures so my parents could see it. I thought I'd share, since I love this place so much. I'm only sharing the outside though because I'm still working on getting the inside done. I hate unpacking, and working nights makes me even less motivated to get any of it done. Hopefully I'll get it done soon....

I love being surrounded by flowers and trees again. It's not quite like home, but it's close enough. Especially when I have cute little visitors like this guy every morning. He's out there, just chilling, every morning around the same time.

I could sit on the porch with a glass of tea and watch that little guy eat grass all day. It's that peaceful here.

I like peaceful. I've been needing it so badly. Did I mention how much I love this place?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cracked Paint.

Sometimes I randomly remember bits and pieces of days gone by.

I heard a song that reminded me of Andy, and I suddenly caught a faint whiff of his cologne as I was driving with the windows down. It took me back to those long, late night conversations on the back porch. The drinks, the hugs, the tears, the laughs.

The smell of fresh tomatoes at the produce stand made me homesick for the farm, the long walks with my grandpa, and the simple fun in summer nights spent under the stars. The texture of the vine sent me back to summers in the fields, picking and packing all day, with watermelon fights and four wheeler rides.

Sometimes I remember bits and pieces so vividly, so painfully real, that I am completely caught up in that moment again, and I feel like I am trapped, drowning, unable to breathe.

I was trying to tackle the piles of boxes that still need unpacking. I was sorting through piles of laundry that were just tossed in the closet to get them out of the way. I was feeling so strong, so motivated, so happy to actually be doing something and getting so much accomplished. And then I found them. My worn out, full of rips and holes, sewn back together three times and counting, almost completely thread bare favorite pair of jeans. I remembered.....and I thought my heart would explode inside my chest.

Twelve weeks ago. Twelve long Sundays ago. 11:15 AM, Sunday morning. Still in the dirty torn up jeans from the previous night's rodeo, still in the dusty boots I'd never even taken off, with barely brushed teeth and hair, I staggered through the front doors of the church with my sister's stuffed Ninja Turtle gripped tightly in my arms.

I was one of about seven people in the entire building, and I sat on the right side, in that same middle pew as always before. I was the only person on that side of the building. But I was there.

My head was spinning in circles, faster and faster and faster, as the choir echoed distantly through my mind.

Some glad morning, when this life is over, I'll fly away. A preacher I'd never seen before ended the song with a prayer as they all sat back down in their seats on the other side of the church.

Me. I was still there. In my middle pew on my own side of the church. Completely lost among the choir noise still echoing through my mind somewhere and staring at that first window that I couldn't see through. ...some glad morning... A crack in the white paint around that first window that I couldn't see through. That first window on my own side of the church. I was still there. Dirty, lost, and alone, but still there. 

I cracked like the paint around the old window. They were returning to their seats. The preacher's prayer echoed through the building. And I crumbled around my turtle and cried. There were no more choir songs, no more preacher's prayers, no more rustle of people getting resituated. Nothing. Only dirty crying me, alone in my middle pew; my head still spinning faster and faster. The thicker the silence got, the harder the tears fell down, but I didn't care. It was just me and God in my middle pew. 

A lady came over from the other side and sat beside me. She said she didn't want me to be alone. The tears kept on, and my head kept spinning. One by one the rest of the church members started making their way over to sit around me. My death grip on my turtle had already left my hands entirely white. They should have been tingly, like when your feet go to sleep, but I couldn't feel them anyway. Michelangelo was wet and snotty from my tears, but I didn't care. I couldn't feel it anyway.

As the congregation gathered around me, the preacher made his way through them. He squatted down in front of me and put his arms around me, praying and crying as he held me really tight. When he was done, I had finally stopped crying as hard, and he wiped away the rest of my tears as he talked to me. The rest of the church was nowhere around. I could feel some warm spots from their arms, but it was just me and this beacon of God. 

It didn't change anything that had happened. It didn't make anything better, including my dirty tear-soaked self. But I had done as I was told. He told me to come, and I did. I knew that I needed something more than I'd ever needed it before, and He was the only way to get it. I was dirty and lost, but I had to do whatever I could to get as close to God as possible. I wasn't alone in my middle pew on my own side of the church. He was there, holding me tightly, just like that preacher I'd never seen before had done. Things weren't better, but things were going to be okay.

When the preacher stood up, he told the church that they wouldn't meet for an evening service. He wanted to be at the funeral home with my family, as well as anyone else there that felt like going. The next morning, as everyone was gathering into that little room, those choir sounds echoed around me again as that same song played over the speakers. Some glad morning, when this life is over.... It wasn't a glad morning though, and I couldn't bring myself to walk through those doors. As those words echoed, I sat on the couch and cried as I held my turtle and my Aunt Emma held me.

The past couple months since then, I've needed that something just as badly. Sometimes more, on occasion. But instead of simply dropping to my knees, I've found myself beginning to drop to a bottle. When I feel myself starting to crumble again, there's usually no one around to lean on, so instead of leaning on God, I dive into a bottle and lean against whatever is closest to hold me up. 

I don't know if I'm trying to drink away the pain of everything that's happened, or the emptiness, or if I'm trying to drink away what I hate about myself and all that I've become since then, or something. Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Instead of being drowned away, it's only rooting itself deeper and deeper with every drink.

Sometimes I do have fun with it--not really because of the drinking but just because I'm fun like that anyway. But it's not fun. It's not comforting. It's nothing. Nothing at all. Well, sometimes, it is enough that I can put myself in another mind frame for a while, where nothing has to be real if I don't want it to be. So sometimes it can be like nothing ever happened, and none of that stuff or those people even have to exist for the moment. Sometimes though it just magnifies everything, and everything plays again, faster and faster, over and over, like a worn out film strip through my head. Every time it gets longer and louder and more horrible and harder to bear, until I just break down and cry and scream and try to shake it out of my head. Sometimes it's the only way that anything feels real anymore. 

Call me hypocritical, as some of you already have. I don't care. Ridicule me, talk some more trash, I don't care. I know that it's not the answer. I know it's not right. I know it's not helping anything. That's why I've always hated and avoided the stuff--because I know how people get sucked into it. But I'm trying, and I'm asking for help. I'm not asking you to listen or to understand. It doesn't matter if you understand. It doesn't matter what you think about any of it. All that matters is that I'm swallowing my pride enough to admit that I have fallen into something bad. Something that I can't seem to find my way out of. Swallowing my pride and asking for someone, anyone, to please pray for me because I know that I can't do this on my own......

I wrote this in October 2006, a few months after we lost F. That was one of the hardest, darkest times of my life. That is when I experienced my first truly broken heart. I threw myself head first into the deepest, darkest pit of grief, and I drank myself ever deeper with each passing week.

When I picked up those jeans, without even thinking, I was surrounded by the smells and sounds of that pew in that church. I could smell the rodeo dirt. I could smell the snot drenched turtle. I could smell the lady hugging me. I could hear those haunting words to the song that still gives me nightmares. It was so overpowering, so real, so knock me on my ass because it suddenly hurt so bad painful.

I couldn't even react. I couldn't think. I couldn't cry. I couldn't even breathe.

And then just as quickly as it came, it was gone.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

On Moving On.

I broke down and told my boss that I want to put in an early separation. It didn't go so well.

He wanted to talk about it because he wanted to understand, or try to, why my job depresses me so much. Somewhere in the conversation, that horrible, nails on a chalkboard phrase came out: "You eventually have to move on."

Move on.

My entire body tightens and cringes, and my skin gets all tingly when I hear those words. I'm shuddering just thinking about it right now. There are very few things that piss me off as much.

I don't think a lot of people even understand the concept of "moving on" as much as they'd like to think they do. Especially people who have never had to do so themselves.

Yes, I lost my babies. Two of them. Yes, I still have bad days. I still have nightmares. I'm still afraid of my bathroom. I still randomly cry for no apparent reason. Yes, I think about them, but not all day. Not even most of the day. Yes, events and conversations make those awful nights replay in my head. Yes, it depresses me. Especially when it involves things at work, like being reminded that I'm behind in my qualifications because of what happened.

But none of that means that I am dwelling on the past, on my loss, on any of it. None of that means that I am not moving forward with my life, one day at a time, as best as I can.

There is something about traumatic events that doesn't quite leave you, no matter how well you are "getting over it." The brain doesn't process that stuff so well, and it gets stuck in there somewhere. Sometimes you might react to the memories and flashbacks a little better than others, but it's still there.

I'm no stranger to traumatic events. I was raped when I was four. I watched my cousin get hit by a car when I was eight. I have smelled human flesh burning. Losing my babies was by far the worst trauma of my life. There is no way to explain the loss of a child to someone. It's just not possible to comprehend until it's your child.

When I worked at the nursing home, one of the ladies, G, was missing her right leg. She used to tell me stories about her adventures. Her motorcycle. Her Navy husband. Her kids. Her dancing. She also used to tell me about losing her leg. Life doesn't stop when you lose a limb. You just learn a new normal, a new routine, a new way of doing things. Life keeps going, and so do you. But you're going differently. And no matter how strong you are, no matter how well you adapt, no matter how many great things life throws at you, there will always be something that reminds you. That rears its ugly head and smacks you in the face. That says "You are not the same anymore". That screams "You can't dance like that anymore because you don't have a leg." That makes you relive that day, that loss, that pain of learning a new life. You can move forward, you can do great things, you can be happy. But it's always going to be there, lurking, waiting, just like the devil.

I thought of that conversation when I thought about this "moving on" stuff. Losing a leg and losing a baby are two completely different things. But the way she explained it, it's actually not so different.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I have a friend, W, back home. She was one of my little sister's closest girl friends in high school, so she's much like a little sister to me. She got married to a great guy last year. He joined the Army earlier this year, and she moved to another state to be with him.

We were both pregnant at the same time, only a couple months apart. In April, we both lost our babies, about 15 days apart.

She was young. She was alone, since he was still in training. She was terrified.

Seeing her like a little sister, I couldn't bare to see her in pain. Especially not THAT pain. I couldn't do much, being 3000 miles away, but I wanted to help so bad. She didn't want to bother me, since I had just lost my own baby, but I told her to call/text/email, whatever she needed to do, whenever she needed to. I know that pain and horror all too well to turn her away, no matter how bad my own pain.

Last night I woke up to an email from her.

A few weeks ago, she found out she was pregnant again. She was terrified. She wasn't quite ready for that so soon. She's been horribly sick this time. So bad that she lost 12 pounds in about 2 weeks. She finally broke down and went to the doctor again because she was so miserable and not keeping anything down.

Her ultrasound showed a perfect placenta. But no baby.

She was given the option of waiting for her body to pass the placenta naturally or go ahead with a D&C. She's in shock, understandably, and is overwhelmed by such a hard decision. A D&C would likely help kill the nausea and get her feeling somewhat better sooner, but she feels like she's killing her baby, even though there's no baby there. Naturally would put her through more sickness and pain, and she feels like she's reliving April's nightmare all over again.

To top things off, she's dealing with military doctors. (Many of you know how that can be. That's a nightmare in its own.) The doctor wants to do genetic testing on the placenta, but they are running into problems with approval because it's not her third loss. I'd like to punch whoever came up with that rule. I remember the head nurse trying to tell me that, and I wouldn't have any of it. Obviously, whoever thought of that has never endured that kind of loss or pain.

I should stop now before I get off on a very heated rant about military medical and ridiculous rules and the medical staff who really should find other professions that don't require dealing with people or sensitive issues.

Please keep W and her husband in your prayers.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Old Folks.

My cousin F used to work at our local nursing home. She begged and begged me, on several occasions, to come work with her up there, but it never worked out that way. A few months after her accident I got brave enough to give it a try, even though I was reluctant to be her replacement. Terrified might be a more accurate word for it. I look too much like her to work there that soon after she was gone.

This is me, shortly after turning 20, during the last week of the clinicals portion of my CNA course.

I was young. I was terrified. I cried every day my first few weeks because the residents and nurses called me by her name without realizing it. But after a few more weeks, I was at home. Those nurses and "old folks" were my friends. They were my family. And it became the single best job I have ever had.

When I was starting out and everything felt so overwhelming, I stopped and thought about what I was doing. I thought about what it might feel like if I was a resident, how I would want to be taken care of in there, how I would want to be treated. And then, just like that, it was easy.

I took the time to meet them. Each of them. Not tell them my name and be on my way. I sat down with them. I asked them questions. I learned about them. Their lives. Their childhoods. Their families. Their likes and dislikes. I asked, and respected, their opinions and their requests. It's amazing how much people open up and trust you when you do something as simple as listening.

I was a bit of a rule breaker. I had a big, handmade John Deere tote bag that my mom and I made when she was teaching me how to sew. I found out what kind of products they liked, and I carried them in my bag, stashed on my cart. Their favorite lotions. Their favorite nail polish. Their favorite sugar free candies. If they wanted to feel pretty, I had something in my bag for it, and I took the time to make sure they were perfect. If they had a sweet tooth, I had something for that too. I learned their sizes and styles, and I picked up clothes for them when they needed it or for their birthdays.

I was well known for snacks. Smoothies. Cereal. Sandwiches. Cookies. Social events weren't for everyone, understandably. So when there was a social event with a great snack, especially watermelon or cantaloupe, I was all over it. They were technically supposed to go to the event to get it, but that never stopped me.

If a staff member needed me, they typically had to come looking for me. I was seldom seen in the hallways. I was too busy with each person, listening, snacking, watching tv, to be out in the hallway or the break room. The good thing, though, was that the people I was taking care of always knew where I was, when I'd be there, where to find me. Like perfect clockwork.

One day I was having a conversation with four of my residents about what they would change about the place if they could. They live there, so obviously they would have some good ideas for improvements, in both care and facility. One of them, Bill, told me that he wanted more physical activities, like the physical therapy he used to do. He said it wasn't fair that they helped him build up his strength just to get through an injury and then just let it go. Debra wanted better tasting food and the opportunity to decide what she wanted to eat that day. Thelma wanted walls that didn't look like Pepto-Bismol. Margaret wanted to be able to spend more time outside in the fresh air.

And then they told me that I should open a nursing home one day. Then I could make my own rules instead of breaking them all the time. And I could make things happen for them.

I told my dad about it, and he agreed. He even cried thinking about it, the poor guy.

Bill and I talked about it several more times, and since that night, a nursing home of my own has become my biggest and brightest goal in my life. Not just a dream, because sometimes dreams don't come true. A goal. An attainable, bust-my-ass-until-I-make-it goal. We already have designs and plans. We even have a name.

The Farm. And it's going to be just that. A farm, with a single level residence. Porch swings and rocking chairs. A cozy dining room. A chapel room. A gym for therapy and training. "Homey" colors and decorations, especially in the bedrooms. Menus of fresh, healthy foods with choices for them to make. A salon where they can get their hair or nails done any day of the week, not just every other Thursday. A garden outside, that they can help with. A pond, so they can fish. Horses, cows, chickens, puppies. Stimulating and fun activities...that make them smile, feel useful, feel strong. A place that makes them feel like they are still people, like they still belong.

Our idea was to have the community as involved as we can get them. Assisting them with their flowers and vegetables, and of course, with their fishing. Produce from local farmers. Furniture and the like also from the local community. Ideally, if we hire people in the community for various things, the money helps out in our community. And if we have more community involved in activities, even if it's just a social hour and a meal, the residents feel like they are still a part of said community. That is, after all, what is at the very heart and soul of our small town, and other small towns around the country.

I've been thinking about my old folks a lot lately. I started working there during one of the hardest, darkest times of my life. But they became my friends, my family. They taught me so many things. About life, about love, about dreams, about myself. Their love and their belief in me literally saved my life. I honestly believe things might be much different if I was still around them now, in these much harder, darker times. This nursing home wasn't my dream. It was our dream. And I feel like I owe it to them to keep pushing forward until it really happens.

I mentioned a few days ago that I want to get out of the Navy. I was looking at houses and property back home because I want to have an idea of what the market is looking like. I want to be home within the next year or so. I looked at a large farm lot several months ago. I wanted to build a house there. Last night, when my old folks were so heavy on my heart, I noticed the same property again. The price was reduced. And it's actually bigger than I originally thought. It's perfect. Well, aside from the price, that is. But I'll get there. Some day.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I realized last night that not only do I not like my job, my job depresses me. Badly.

I'm fairly new to this job, so I'm still learning. I've been here about 8 months, I guess. Five of those months, I wasn't able to do much of my job because I was pregnant.

I hate the way some of the people in my shop (some more than others) treat me like I'm stupid and talk to me in the most condescending tones I've ever heard, just because I'm not always confident in what I'm doing or trying to learn.

I hate that I'm always made to carry the heavy shit because I'm "new".

I hate the beatings that my body takes from the tight spaces I force myself into, the ladders I stand on for hours, the chemicals I come in contact with, and all the heavy shit I drag across the flight line.

I hate that I don't want to do anything when I get home, but sleep. I work all night and then I sleep the entire day. I see the sun on my way home and sometimes on Friday and Saturday, on the occasion it's actually not raining here.

I hate that because all I do is work and sleep, I don't eat as much as I need to. And that I have to make myself eat because I don't have the appetite for it. I don't want it. I just know I need it.

I hate being bossed around by people that are technically junior to me, because I'm "new".

I hate being talked down to for not remembering how to do something that I only did once or twice....6 months ago before I was taken off the flight line. And how much it pisses me off when I'm told to "stop making excuses."

I hate that every time that conversation comes up, that night in my bathroom instantly replays in my head, followed by the awful feeling of dragging myself into the shop the next day to turn in convalescent leave papers and feeling everyone's eyes burning through my hanging head.

I hate that someone in my shop had the nerve to tell my boss that I had an abortion one time and that's why I can't have babies now. That's both stupid and really fucking rude, as well as not true.

I hate that I can't make friends with other girls at work. One girl told me the day I got promoted that girls only make rank by being sluts. (I had been in the squadron for a week.) Another girl doesn't like me because she sees me as competition and thinks the guys like her less when I'm around.

I hate that I bust my ass to learn as much of this stuff as I can, and then someone criticizes me for not knowing something else yet. I just rewrote 3 entire technical manuals into my notes in 2 weeks, and it's not good enough because I don't know what the barometric pressure is at sea level? Seriously?!

I hate that I have such a hard time getting up and dragging myself into work and trying to force a fake smile on my face. And I hate that no one knows or cares and that it makes no difference anyway.

I hate that no matter how much I convince myself that I am doing the best I can, that I am still getting where I need to be, that my accomplishments do matter, I still let them make me feel inferior, even though deep down I know I'm not.

I hate that no matter where I'm at professionally, I will always feel inferior in some way because I failed my babies. It wasn't my fault. There was nothing I could do. But I failed, and that's a failure I can't seem to shake.

I guess that turned into a whole lotta venting more than just things I realized last night. Oh well. It felt good to get some of that out. I tried talking to Bryan about it, but he doesn't get it. He's still gung-ho Navy, even though he got out, so we are on two very different wave lengths when it comes to any of this stuff. He doesn't understand why it's so hard on me, or why I get so stressed, or why it depresses me so much. But then I don't really understand either.

I used to work in nursing. I took care of people. I didn't necessarily "fix" them, but I made their day better and easier. I made them happy. That made me happy. I don't get that same satisfaction from fixing things. Maybe that's another part of my problem. I don't like things. I like people. People make me happy.

I've been praying for peace and clarity and anything else that will help me make sense of this mess in my life. I've been angry with God, and my faith has faltered at times because of it. But I know that eventually I will get where I need to be. And eventually I will be happy again. But I don't think it's going to happen where I am right now.

I've been debating on putting in for an early separation. I want to get out, go home to TN, and finish my nursing degree. I want to have a baby that I actually get to bring home. I want to watch him/her grow and flourish, and I want to be there to see it instead of working all night and sleeping all day. I want to work with people again instead of things. I want to kick this nasty depression and be happy.

This idea has been very heavy in my mind and heart lately, and I've been praying really hard about it. An early out means Bryan transferring schools. Breaking this brand new lease. Both of us being unemployed without our safety net built back up to where it should be. It means a LOT of uncertainty in the future. But in my heart, it means happiness. And I need that more than anything.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Not Enough.

Having kids is a common conversation in my work center. Not about any person's children, but being pregnant and having babies. As in, "Oh, this person will be pregnant soon, I just know it." Or "So when are you gonna start popping out those babies? You're married now, so they should be here soon."

I don't mind talking about pregnancy. Or babies.

But I hate listening to someone talk about how they're not having babies because they have a career to work on. Or because they want to have fun in life. Or because they're not that irresponsible.

Now don't get me wrong. If you don't want to have a baby, for whatever reasons, that is completely fine with me. It's none of my concern. But that I have to sit there every day listening to someone bash the idea of babies, when I would do anything in the world to hold my own again, is really disheartening. Especially when everyone in the room knows what happened with my babies.

I can't say that I ever saw myself as a parent, honestly. One of our childhood dreams for my sister, my cousins, and me was to grow up, raise our families, and grow old together. But in reality, I was never expecting it to happen.

Having a baby wasn't something that I was looking for or necessarily wanted. Until it happened. Then I wanted it more than anything in the world. And then it was taken away from me. Twice. And there is nothing in the universe that can ever bring them back.

I had my itunes playing earlier as I was cleaning the kitchen. (I finally got around to doing something. Something small, and just so that I could have sweet tea, but it still counts.) This song came on:

I thought of those conversations, and I realized how much this song is every bit of what I feel about my babies. I love those two more than anything in this world, but love is not enough to do anything, not enough to make it better, not enough to bring them back. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I hated the house we were living in.

It was a pretty house. But it was old. And I'm not tall enough to reach the ridiculously high cabinets. And it was super expensive to heat. And the yard was always flooded and smelled of stagnant water. And the last few weeks it was full of enormous spiders.

And there's the bigger issue. The nightmares.

After watching my baby die in that bathroom, I had a hard time even looking toward that door. If I had to pee, I would hold it to the point of almost pissing myself because I don't like going in there. If I had to pee while I was asleep, it would give me nightmares. I can't tell you how many sleepless nights I've had, just because of that damn toilet.

So this week we moved.

Lots of packing, cleaning, loading, and unloading. Lots of walking. Lots of stairs. Not much sleep. Not much energy. I'm too exhausted to even think about unpacking. I have clean underwear, clean socks, pajamas, and shower stuff. That's all that's really necessary, right?

The new place has stairs. From the top of the stairs to the front door is 25 steps, if you are walking normally. If you are walking up the stairs, carrying heavy things down the stairs, and the repeating all over again for 8 hours... that is absolute hell. (I'm in love with this place, so it was worth it.)

I think I may have pulled a muscle in my leg. But I'm too stubborn to go to the doctor. Hopefully a few more days of soaking and massaging it will help. If not, I'll probably just continue my slow hobble until Bryan makes me go have it checked.

Tomorrow morning we will finally buy some groceries for this place.

Friday, hopefully, the leg will be better and my energy will be back up so we can put stuff away. Then it will look like someone actually lives here. And I'll get some pictures posted.