2018 and Free …

2017 was a year filled with so much LIFE … and I couldn’t be more thankful.

I started 2017 in full recovery mode. My second round of meningitis at the end of 2016 was no less devastating than my first ten years earlier. I knew the healing process I had laid before me. At times that knowledge made it worse. Other times it made it better because I knew what to expect. I think in a way it made me more compassionate to myself. A rarity, indeed. But I wasn’t myself and I loathed it. I spent months in a fog. My days were filled with naps to combat the unrelenting fatigue and lists because my memory was so poor. My anxiety was at an all time high. I dealt with a significant amount of PTSD that came with an intense amount of anxiety. I was frightened I would have another recurrence. And that pain is NO JOKE. Understanding the severity of my encephalopathy was unnerving. No one can figure out how I was functioning “normally” with the amount of brain swelling I had. But I believe that the terrifying drug reactions I had after I got home really pushed me into a whole new level of fear. I literally thought I was dying. I don’t think I had ever been that scared in my life and sadly it has stuck with me. I can still get to that level of panic with even the smallest of triggers. Yes, healing is a long process. But I am happy to have to the opportunity to do it all again. This could have gone a different way for me and my precious family. And I refuse to be anything but grateful. Refuse.

In January 2017 I somehow convinced my doctors to let me train for a marathon. I truly believe that this was a huge part of regaining my strength again. As the days passed I got stronger and stronger. My memory improved and my fatigue got better with each passing day. If ever there was a time in my life to redefine myself, this was it. And it was incredibly liberating. Who could have ever imagined that the very illness that confined me gave me so much room to grow?!?! Definitely, not me!

When I look back on 2017 it is with mixed emotions. My illness and recovery made it hard. But life still happened. And that made it WONDERFUL. I was able to celebrate George’s high school graduation and watch him plan out his future. I was in awe of the growth that I saw in all of my children. Being a part of their daily lives is a gift from God that I will never take granted. NOT EVER. Summer was just straight up FUN. Having all four kids home for the entire summer was something I needed more than anything. Family heals folks, family heals!

Traveling was also a huge part of my 2017. We took lots of little trips and I was blessed with an amazing trip to Alaska. We celebrated birthdays and accomplishments. YAY, I was there and healthy enough to enjoy all of it! In 2017 I even managed to complete all 16 CEUs to keep my nutrition certification. Now THAT was a miracle having struggled with memory issues, HA! There was so much more too. The privilege of having these experiences and all the others often left me feeling overwhelmed. Like “WOW, thanks God! I’m here, alert and actually living this life!” Words can’t capture how I have felt time and time again. “Humbly blessed” comes to mind but it still falls gravely short.

Anyway, my point of writing about all of this is that regardless of the underlying need to heal and recover, life amazingly still engulfed me and took me with it. Despite the tough times I faced I felt an abundance of joy. I loved every difficult and fantastic moment of 2017 and everything in between. And surrendering to my new journey released me and allowed me to redefine who I was … again.

2017 was hard, but it was also beautiful. THAT sums up life in a nutshell. And as long as I have breath I will cherish every moment of it. If 2017 has taught me anything, it was that I do not have to remain tethered to unpleasant circumstances. That my mind, body and soul can still seek and find the freedom that hope gives us even in our darkest of hours.

So I guess that brings me to my 2018 New Year Mantra. Here goes …

Well, I hope you all have a year where you feel FREE!!!

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An early start (and LOOK, I’m not crying) …

I am so excited that my son George is graduating from high school! This is a nice reprieve from my cry-fest. It’s an emotional roller coaster having your child graduate. At least it is for me. I reacted the same way when Sid graduated two years ago. Ecstatic one minute and crying the next. I was NUTS! And I am NO better this time around. With excitement driving my mental status today I decided that it was a great day to decorate for George’ special day. Graduation isn’t for over a week but I just had to get this celebration started … ya know, until the hysterically sobbing starts again when I think about how my baby boy is all grown up.

Well, I hope you all have a day where you get an early start on it!!!

Living lovingly in denial …

I absolutely love having all of my kids at home. The laughter and conversations. The loudness and busyness. Listening to them “catch up” with each other. I love it ALL! Being a parent who was only child I wanted so much so to have a home filled with lots of children. I have been blessed to live that dream.

This may sound silly, but as my kids where growing up it never occurred to me how much it would affect me when they left home to go to college. At minimum, I WAY underestimated those feelings. It has been terribly hard to be so far away from Sidney. I miss her very much when she is gone. And the worry! Let’s not even discuss THAT one! YIKES!

Anyway, I remember when Sid’s second semester of her senior year rolled around, my emotions where similar to that of a roller coaster on steroids. I was utterly shocked at myself. Even I didn’t know it could be THAT emotional, HA! And now, with G3 just a few weeks shy of graduating, I have been overwhelmed with all the same emotions. The same feelings of loss and elation all over again. I’m tearful one minute and excited the next. How is this possible?!?! Isn’t this process supposed to get easier?!?! Because it’s not, at least not for me. And that’s OK. These feelings remind me of just how blessed I am to love so deeply these wonderful beings I get to call my children. I am thankful that our close bonds have made these milestones emotionally charged. Love really does crazy things with your heart. I have written before, that as painful as this growing-up process is, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I have found no greater joy than loving my children and watching them plan to leave home to chase their dreams. It truly is beautiful.

I am so thankful that we are all together again. I know it’s not going to last very long. But for now, for the next few months while they are all home, I’m going to pretend that I don’t know that times like these will become fewer and farther between. I’m going to love them like always and relish in the joy I feel just being their mom … appreciating every precious second.

Well, I hope you all have day where you live lovingly in denial!!!

I am trying really hard to let her grow up …

It’s graduation day eve. I am still oscillating between ecstatic and a blubbering mess. But I have made peace with this madness. An event like this, for someone I love so much was bound to bring this wildly emotional woman (me) some mood swings, HA! Heck, I wouldn’t be me without them!

Truthfully, I am loving all of the ups and downs of this whole thing. To share this with Sidney is such a joy. I am so proud of her. And, as sad as this makes me, I know it is time for her to start making her own way through the world. I want her to, but it also hurts to know that this is actually happening. My baby … is not a baby … anymore. 

Well, I hope you all have a day where you try really hard to let someone grow up!!!

Growing away …

Today is Sidney’s 17th birthday. Typing that is just down right shocking. It’s absolutely unreal to me how fast time flies. But it does. I have been very lucky to have been home with all my children. I have virtually missed nothing of their growing up years. And for this I am truly thankful.

I have mentioned before that losing my mother so young made me focus on “staying in the moment”. I appreciated and continue to appreciate every experience I share with my children, good or bad. Those moments make up OUR story, never to be written the same way again. Raising my children has been my greatest joy in life. Nothing compares to this kind of love. And I’ve got it TIMES 4 over!

I realized something a few months ago, when Sidney passed the one year mark until her high school graduation. All of my efforts to help her (heck, all of them for that matter) grow and learn and become who she is now and who she is going to become in the future, all really translate into one thing.

Growing … away.

I have been preparing my children to live a life away from me. To not need me and to be able to rely on themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I will always be there for my children. If they need me, I’m there! And even if they don’t, I’m there! But this whole growing up thing really does mean getting them ready to leave. Albeit to start a wonderful life of their own, but for me at least … it’s all just a little sad.

I would be lying if I said this hasn’t proven to be a difficult process for me. It has. For months now I am thinking behind every outing, activity, and holiday that “this is a last of sorts”. A series of losses in the midst of realizing my first born baby is going to be a REAL adult in 364 days … and will likely leave for college even sooner than that.

As a parent you rear out of love and definitely in preparation of THAT DAY that your child will “leave” you. You hope that they will be strong enough emotionally and physically to take care of themselves. That you have prepared them to be independent and successful. I have no doubt that Sidney will take life by the horns and show it who’s boss. The MOM in me is excited to watch her THRIVE and KICK LIFE’S ASS! And trust me, Sidney is EXCITED to do so! But the MOMMY in me just wants to hold her baby girl in her arms … forever …

BIG TEARFUL SIGH …

Well, I hope you all have a day where you love someone so much that it hurts!!!