. . . In My Life

7 Aug

. . . In My Life

someone who shall remain nameless mentioned via FB the ‘Fall’ seasonal items she saw at a store.
This got me thinking about Fall, my favorite time of year…
I put my basic year into a little ‘shareable’ post (below).
I am greatly affected by heat and ‘gosh darn’ when I think about a ‘year’ I can’t help but include my feelings about the temperature… bleh!
Here it is…
A Year… I begin with Fall:
– overcome my selfish-totally-insane (for me) desire to homeschool Magdalen and Emerson (so I can hold them all day).
– keep sweating… who knows when Fall weather will actually come.
– enjoy 4 weeks between October and November- Holiday stress has not yet started and it’s cool enough for skirts, tights and Mary Janes (my favs).
– turn into a frazzled mess for 2 months of Holiday Nonsense.
– early January be happy and relieved that the Holidays are over.  Fall in love with life all over again, and, of course, once ‘again’ ~ fight urge to homeschool the kids because you want to hold them all day…
– Allow children to go back to school.
– spend the rest of Winter in a coma of hazy dullness.
– Replace ‘Winter Blahs’ with stinkin’ hot cruddy Summer weather where my darn Spring was supposed to be.
– Get super excited about the Green and Sunshine you see.
– Plant things = therapy.
– Try to fight the yuck you feel due to the Stinkin’ hot crud temperatures that you now have until October…
– Be happy that the kids are home for Summer so you can hold them all day.
– Sweat… Sweat… Sweat.
– Woohoo! It’s Fall!
   . . . Start all over again.
(don’t forget to do something thoughtful for Melissa P.  if the weather is not to your liking… She has ‘ways’.)

Popcorn + Scrambled Eggs for Dinner

19 May

Celebrating Moms   <–CLICK TO VIEW

speaker:  Shauna Niequist

@Willow Creek Community Church, Illinois
May 13, 2012 

I was ‘very good’ at pretending. It’s a skill that I was born with I think or inherited maybe.  Genetic? probably not, but sure seems that way.  In 1999 I fell flat on my face and have since then lost my ability to pretend. When I try to keep things ‘in’ I end up fumbling and it is torture. Torture for me and everyone around me. I would probably ‘appear’ better if I had a ‘vice’ of some sort but I don’t. I have so many amazing friends who will never know how important they are to me and to my well-being and how they were there when I started to really try to be ‘me’ and a ‘mom’ at the same time and not just a ‘mom’. One of them posted this video and I can’t stop watching. I want this woman to be my friend but I don’t think I need her because I have her already, she is saying things that many of my friends already know, they ‘live it’… ‘It’ being her advice…
Today, right now, right this very moment I am thinking of my Village (near and far)…

To those who make ‘popcorn and scrambled eggs’ for dinner, for the ones who say ‘I’m not ok’ and would listen if I said it, for my friends who are ‘tired’ and admit it and are there for me when I am and to those who get ‘scared’ and let me be there for them as best I can and for being there for me when I am scared… Thank You


Shauna Niequist
author of Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet

Rabbit Hole

24 Apr

Rabbit Hole

Does it ever go away?

No, I don’t think it does, not for me it hasn’t…
It’s going on 11 years.
It changes though.




I don’t know,
the weight of it,
I guess….
at some point it becomes bearable…
it turns into something that
you can crawl out from under.
You can carry around
like a brick in your pocket…
and you even forget it for a while
but then you reach in for whatever reason
and there it is……..…
‘oooh right, that…’
it can be awful…….
but not all the time….
it’s kind a’…
not that you like it exactly but it’s what
you’ve got instead of your son, so…
you carry it around….
it doesn’t go away,
it just…


book n. A set of written, printed, or blank pages fastened along one side and encased between protective covers.

14 Jul

I found him first and he’s mine more than he’s yours…
This is a simple fact.
Well, at least that is how it has felt when I’ve come across some who have enjoyed reading about a certain fictional character that, if I may say, helped me come back to life. It was 1999 and I saw a sweet young woman being interviewed on a talk show that I watched regularly, the woman was relatively unknown especially to the audience watching in America and to me as well watching in Canada. The host of the show was rather excited to be breathing the same air as another human who could write such wonderful thoughts to share.  Fast forward and I am at a bookstore, Chapters to be exact, in London, Ontario.  If ever a person finds they are in a state of complete despair? If they want to leave their home? They should head straight to a bookstore. While there you can drink any number of beverages from water at a drinking fountain between the men’s and women’s restrooms, numerous coffee drinks and chocolate drinks as well or a nice selection of healthy bottled juices… Use them to wash down a nice selection of desserts from a plain old Riced Krispie Square, an oatmeal raisin cookie or my preference- a chocolate croissant. There are a very solid handful of people, real people-not fictional, who helped me ‘back to life’ in 1999 but a fictional character helped me ‘forget’. I needed a moment here and there to forget and no person on this Earth could help me until Rosie O’Donnell introduced me to a woman who then introduced me to a special young man.
I spent quite a bit of time, as I said, at Chapters, and I began, ‘surprisingly’ with a name that I remembered from high school. From my Catholic High School.  Elizabeth Kuhbler-Ross. I didn’t remember anything much except I knew the name from memory, I remembered the phrase: Stages of Grief and I know I learned about this when we discussed Death & Dying in Theology class. When we were at the hospital that Sunday evening and came to learn that our child had died there were a few things that needed to be taken care of… The wretched phone calls. The horrid, wretched, disgusting, terrible, gut-wrenching phone calls to our parents. I went first. That memory is yet another in my list of  ‘Awful Moments’ that I’d love to erase. My mother was a seemingly calm woman to me, I saw her mad, sure, horribly mad even… and at me too… I mean there were 7 of us and she had been through let’s just say
‘alot’ … But while on the phone with her that night, my mom couldn’t quite come to grips with what I was telling her,  it was as though I was speaking another language, one she didn’t understand that’s for sure. She yelled to my father and I heard his voice come closer and, well, the rest is at least at the moment I am typing, a bit fuzzy, but, it still makes my chest tighten up to think of that call.  The next thing I remember that evening was a doctor who was on call/already at the hospital who came in to see me… Not only was my OB on vacation but my stand-in OB (who I liked and expected to deliver with) didn’t make it in to the hospital until a few moments after I had the ignorant on-call OB masquerading as a ‘Helpful Person’ come to talk to me. The main thing I recall about this OB, a woman, is that she came in a moment after Mark went to call his parents. A nurse had asked me if while Mark went to make the phone call would I like anything, should she stay with me or she noticed that our records said Catholic so she could get a priest for me. I was incapable of anything but I think I nodded or something because a priest was on his way. He ended up being a very nice young man and frankly that was all that mattered at the time, I don’t even recall him saying anything about God or asking me if I wanted to pray, he just talked to me. I liked him. He arrived right when the Awful OB was leaving. Her biggest advice was that I needed to be very “careful with my relationship because losing a child can be quite straining on a relationship.” She left and in walked the priest and he stayed with me, held my hand which was surprisingly comforting and just…. was there. Mark returned, Father asked if we’d like him to come back when the baby was born, Mark looked to me, I said yes and that was that. He came back… He was kind… He helped… The rest of my thoughts surrounding him are more about what he represented big picture wise and not at all who he was. That is for another time. HE was lovely.  This was all I knew, I didn’t think it was necessary at all but Mark had to make a phone call, he didn’t seem to want to do it with me in the room. Mark exit stage right, Priest enter stage left. The priest came back around 6am Monday, did his thing, then we needed a priest again. We needed a priest to come to the cemetery in Cleveland. Thankfully the priest who married us, Brother Timothy, was able to come. He had married us in November of 1998 and was at the burial of our first child in August of 1999.  He was a teacher at Mark’s high school and Mark always liked him. He didn’t perform marriage ceremonies much ‘at all’ but Mark was certain he was the right person to do the job for two people ‘posing’ in some ways as Catholics who at least at the time, were prepared to raise children in the church.
Fast forward a number of weeks, home in London, Ontario and Mark is able to get me to leave the apartment to go to the bookstore. It turned out to be sweet perfection. Unless you ask for help or ‘look like’ you need help? Nobody speaks to you at a bookstore. BLISS. I sat part time in the ‘loss/grieving/self help’ section sitting on the floor reading literally every book on the subject that dealt with the loss of a child and then I went and found Elizabeth Kuhbler-Ross… Since then I’ve been told that even though I ‘claim’ to have somehow ‘skipped’ the Anger Stage that, well, I didn’t. I’ve stuffed it. It comes out sideways. It will be 12 years in August and it’s still coming out sideways but I’m extremely lucky because Mark knows when and how to ‘duck’. (most of the time anyway)
It happened one day, I read all of the books at that bookstore. All of the books on the subject anyway. I may have skipped some chapters in them that were not relevant but pain never stopped me from reading so I read the good, the bad and the horrible of all of the stories. It was a wonderful thing in the end because I came to realize that I had some beautiful people who were there for me at that hospital and for days after in the office of my doctor. The names Ingrid, Nancy and Kirk will always have an extremely special spot in my heart for after reading so many accounts of others and their experiences in hospitals I learned that I was very lucky to have had Ingrid by my side for 10 hours and Nancy caring so much afterwards that she couldn’t bare to look me in the eyes for a day and her boss Kirk who saw me through my pain and helped bring us Magdalen 11 months later. The healing as I make perfectly clear is still happening… There are no fast forward buttons with healing, believe me, I’ve looked everywhere. Even though I mention all of these people, even the ‘whackadoo’ doctor who upset me talking about the future doom of my relationship with Mark was still a part of my experience that I won’t let go. Her mere existence helped me realize how amazing MY doctor was. None of these people helped me forget though. Not the priest, not my perfect doctor Kirk Hamilton, his perfect nurse Nancy and not even Ingrid who sat by my side the entire night along with Mark… and no, not even Mark could help me forget…

But a young wizard did.
Harry did.

I have been breathing calmly and typing fast as usual this entire time until I typed the word ‘wizard’… as I typed it my eyes filled up and I had to catch my breath a tiny bit. Rosie O’Donnell had a mousey lovely quiet young English author on her show in 1999 who had recently made a tiny bit of a name for herself in Great Britain but nowhere else really, certainly not in the US as of that time. Rosie was as most will agree – full of life – on her show (like her or not) and boy oh boy did she like this book! Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone. When I completed my section of ~Death and Destruction Books~ I was a bit upset… It had been days at the bookstore and a bit of a mission that helped me… When I was done it was like ‘oh my God! Now what do I do!’  I remembered that author from Rosie, I looked for the book and found it. Mark and I had not just ‘squat’ in the bank, we had negative ‘squat, zippo, nada, nothing’. I showed him the book and I started to open it up and I remember he said, “Buy it”. I said no but I am sure my eyes said yes. He shrugged his shoulders as to say ‘big whoop’… so, I bought it. I took it home and I read it. Every second I spent reading that book I was not Susan… I did not lose a child… I was not in Canada… I was not scared… I was not anything… My first memories of anything other than pain, panic, terror and emptiness are of Harry Potter.
I have that book. I bought it in Canada, in London, Ontario at the Chapters Bookstore. It has the original title and was printed in London as are the rest of the series that I have since ordered from Chapters to finish out the set as the books were published… most of them before we ever left Canada for the states.
Tonight is the last film.
I’m not pining over a vampire, I haven’t read those, I’m not trying to bond with my child with a piece of literature that we both can read, she reads a lot but I never pushed her to read Harry. I don’t know what I’m feeling actually, I’m feeling something strong and somehow I ‘feel’ like I want to go stand in front of the theater and tell the women age 30-55 in particular that they can ‘stuff it!’…

They don’t know anything about the real power that Harry had.

Not long after he came into existence a fictional boy helped me find moments of peace. Upon finishing  The Philosopher’s Stone I insisted Mark read it and the 2nd glimmer of light for me was to tell Mark that it ‘felt’ something similar, not quite the same, but, similar to when I first read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. To my SHOCK Mark had never read ‘Wrinkle’.  I had a paperback copy at home in a box in Ohio, it’s on my shelf in the living room now,  but we immediately went out to buy a hardback ‘Wrinkle’ at Chapters.  Mark read it aloud to me every night until I fell asleep… until he finished it… and from then on,  many evenings that I have needed a little ‘peace’ before bed Mark has read aloud to me from whatever book I wanted or what he was reading himself. Mark has read all of our Potter books. I’ve had my ups and downs over the years. Some who I introduced the book to went on to read all of them as well. I never have shared this, this, I don’t know, story? This nonsense about a piece of children’s literature and how it has a place in my heart. There’s no way to talk about it in a regular conversation.  I AM still trying to land ‘the plane’ but what’s in my heart never comes out simply… The desk my heart sits at is a stinkin’ mess. There are webs and chains and branches and who knows whatsits to every experience I try to share. I haven’t finished the last book. I started to read it and I didn’t finish it. It wasn’t a deep dark dramatic reason, I just simply didn’t finish it, I wasn’t quite in the right mood ever.
Now here I am.
I don’t know what is going to happen.
I’ve never known what is going to happen.
I never ‘will’ know what is going to happen.
At midnight with Mark and 2 of my children I will go to see ‘on screen’ the end of the last book and I’m scared.

me…take #1…action

2 Jul

Those who ‘truly’ know me know that I do not put people with ‘Faith’ in a simple square box. If I were to list people I adore and would bring w/ me to MY ISLAND? The top of the list would be friends who are ‘Devout Christians’…That being said, I will never understand/agree w/ the belief that -Prayer- has power to affect an outcome. Prayer is a ‘positive’ thing that is being sent out into the Universe and I adore that, but, it will NOT ‘cure’ miraculously.  ‘Psychologically’ prayer can be intense! I don’t know exactly what positive ‘vibes’ are, I can’t simply draw them on paper but I think they can be ‘mapped’ or you can see a path where they have been in many cases. I sincerely believe that ‘Positive Vibes’ can affect people when sent out. I did not pray to Jesus or to the one who is called the Father/God or to a Holy Spirit or any other known deity when Mark and I lost our son. However I did pray. I was on my knees and often. I asked why but didn’t expect a response nor did I get one. I begged for my life back, to ‘feel’ something again. It was a process… one that continues. Never did I expect ‘action’ to come out of my words and thoughts, not from any outside source. It was for me, the ‘Praying’. Anything I would get from private prayer was going to be something ‘from me’, something ‘I’ realized or a click or something from inside ‘me’ coming to the surface, my brain helping me heal. Inside me are words I have heard since about 5:30am on an October day in 1972. Words like ‘hello….Susan….Susie….Tiny….mommy, daddy….birthday….kindergarten…..supercalifragilisticexpialidocious…. all the way to words I always knew but are given new meanings/have new uses as my life continues…. Heartbeat…Son, Daughter…PUSH! ……Love….. love is a word that continues to ‘morph’ in my life…. the love I felt for my parents can’t compare to the love I feel for my partner in this world…Can’t compare to the love I feel for my children… The stringing together of words coming through my mind while I do what some call ‘praying’ is where I have found comfort…………’I have choices…..what am I going to do?…. Chances are I will wake up in the morning…. Take a shower…. Yes, I will take a shower….I am going to take a shower…. I am going to leave the apartment…He said I am healthy…. we can try again… I want to try again…. I have to take a shower and leave the apartment before I can ever be well enough to try again…. I’m going to wake up in the morning, take a shower, leave the apartment and try very hard to ‘live’ and ‘love’ so that I can get stronger and try again…’……..I would think these words, say this prayer, over and over many times…. We got exactly what I wanted, Magdalen…  I don’t ‘What If?’ ever, I don’t recall if I ever did it much before but I definitely haven’t done it since August 1999. The words that I thought quietly and often said out loud were my prayers…Me working through my life… I have yelled, cried, sat silently, rejoiced, thanked and wondered in my ‘prayers’…. But, for me, to believe that ‘praying’ in the way that many organized faiths teach and that prayers of the faithful can be answered with action in some way? I am unable to ‘stomach’ that. I refuse to believe that because I was not praying ‘enough’ and to the ‘correct being’ that THAT has anything to do with why our son died. I can’t have an in depth conversation on this subject with people who disagree with me, I am not capable of that and I don’t expect I ever will be. Those who accept me and my ways will also accept my ‘prayers’… I am timid about using the word ‘prayer’ with regard to what -I- do when speaking with those who have a ‘Faith’ but I am no longer going to concern myself with this… I will never like to ‘hear’ or ‘read in print that someone’s prayers were ‘answered’.  THAT I know………. but, if someone says they will ‘Pray’ for me? As always I will be grateful… If I am so moved to do ‘my’ praying for someone else? If I wish ever to say, ‘I will be praying for you’ to someone? I am going to just say it… BECAUSE I PRAY TOO.

The most important person in my life has pushed for me to do this ‘blog thing’ for years. I hope I don’t find I’ve made a mistake. Sitting here I can’t recall important advice he ever gave me that was unwise.
For Mark,
Emerson ~Feb. 2006,
Magdalen ~July 2000,
Nikolaus Josef ~August 1999
and for me…