Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I have been wound so tight lately that you could bounce me off of the wall like when we used to throw "pop-flies" in P.E. My stomach is a vortex of emotion. It spins and churns until it decides to spit an emotion into my throat causing me to laugh, cry, yell, or stay silent. It is amazing how I can be so happy and yet so sad at the same time.

I love everything about our upcoming wedding, mostly the partnership, love, and commitment that Nick and I are pledging to share together. On the other hand, I am reminded of the grief for my Mom by every received package at my door. I am again allowing the space in ALL of my closets to be filled in hopes my heart will follow suit. My heart must not have the words to tell my mind that it doesn't work that way.

Since Dan received his call Home, I have felt him with me on many an occasion. The blue-jay that stood by my side as I mowed my first lawn post husband and the butterfly that landed on my shoulder the day Sputty and I took the kids to the park. I wondered while we pushed Lilly, Alex, and Charlie if I would ever have kids. The butterfly first kissed my belly and then landed on my shoulder, where he stayed a long while. When I go out on my deck, my blue-jay friend is never far away, even if I can't see him, I hear his squawking. Blue Jays have a very loud and prominent twitter...that doesn't surprise me at all.

This weekend while in NOLA celebrating in THE most amazing wedding ever of Kirty and Pete, there were also signs. Hilly and I were walking arm and arm through the beautiful and historic Jackson Square. We wanted to get close to a group of people that were setting up chairs, a podium, and flags. When we got closer, we realized it was a Marine Corps event. Nick and Daniel were walking behind us and one of them said, "Such and such was a Marine..." and then someone else chimed in with who they knew that was a Marine. I never spoke, because it isn't like I "used to know" a Marine. I carry that Marine with me every day in my heart. Just as I was thinking that thought and smiling a remembering smile, a butterfly zigged by our faces. Hilly and I were still arm and arm. I reached out my left hand and the energetic beauty kissed the back of my hand before fluttering away. Immediate chills. Immediate glassy eyes. Would you believe me if I told you that butterfly followed me down two winding streets and to one store? He did. He always will.

Last night Nick and I met with Mary, a friend, and our officiant for the wedding. I couldn't get through even hearing the vows we are going to say to one another without crying. Lord knows how I am going to hold up on our wedding day! I am not sure I have ever loved Nick more than in those moments that we sat at her dining room table and picked the words that will bind and seal our lives together forever. I am so blessed, and so happy. I had NO idea I could EVER love this strong and this fierce ever again. As we were finishing up our meeting, I happen to glance at Mary's china cabinet and there, peeking out at me, a little green memento from the past, the "peas in a pod" wedding favor Dan and I gave out. I know that he is giving his blessing from above, but I like to see it as another little salt & peppered sign.

I smile when I perceive the universe coming together as a sign from my past. Because I get happy during those moments, I want more of them when it comes to my Mom. A little sign would be nice, but what I really want is for her to call, hold a big sign from a cloud that says, "Good job" "keep it up" or if should could just answer my daughter to Mother questions in a drop box from the PO in Heaven, I'd be much obliged. All jokes aside, I need her to still be here. I think at times I try so hard to perceive a "sign" from her instead of taking the time to just sit still.

Well, I sat very still last night. Actually, I as laying very still in the bed with all the lights off and the quiet sounds of all my boys heavy into slumber. I prayed and started to cry. Lately my prayers start to be directed at God, but turn to a conversation I want to have with Mom. I cleared my mind, I let the soft tears flow out of the corners of my eyes, over my ears, and onto my pillow. I thought about "signs" from above. Images started to flash before my eyes and I said out loud, "Oh my God." Not in an OMG tone, but an Oh My God, you are so right, you do have all the answers. Even though I have to wait for them, you shine the perfect amount of light in the darkest of moments.

The images that crossed my mind were not butterflies, nor blue-jays. They were faces. The first face I see is Roman's and I hear him laugh. His laugh makes my heart ache with joy and love, so did my Mom's. He is 1/4 Mom, and he will carry the importance of laughter to every occasion. I then see Lilly, my angel Lilly. The sweet girl who put her perfect hand on my face during her birthday party and said to me, "Aunt T, I love your voice." Lilly is 1/4 Mom, and she will carry on the way that Mom made everyone in the room feel special. After that, I see my sister's smiling face. (I laugh a little at this moment thinking of her and I doing the "Boot Scooting Boogy" in Na'wlins and sitting on saddles outside of Urban Cowboy.) I see her, she is 1/2 Mom. She will carry on our traditions, be the matriarch of the family, always give her portion, always make more, always invite, always love, and always keep things in perspective. Jaime's face is my biggest sign. Next, I see Chris, my sweet Father Figure. He is 3/4 Mom, he has to be. He is our Mom, our Father Figure, AND Bud to the babies. He was the love of her life, and is ours to love for life, too. I rolled my head to the side and looked at Nick. When I did, I didn't just see a sleeping face. I saw the other part of my future. He will be 1/2 of our children who will be the 1/4 of Mom. He is going to be the partner who will help bring more of Mom's love into this world for all to see. He will be my husband. The husband who I know will keep all of the (secret) promises he made to Mom the day she knew we would wed. He will also keep holding me with those long arms on the nights that my tears don't cease as easily as they did in those late hours yesterday.

I chose this picture, and realized that I wore this SAME outfit today. I don't think I have worn it since the day this photo was taken. Looking at this picture and looking down at my dress, I can almost feel this moment all over again.

I have been wound too tight, running too fast, looking too hard, and not sitting still. When you are still the world spins around you with the ones you love. The ones that you can physically see, and the ones you can only remember.

Take a minute to be still. Let the ones who touch your heart dance in front of your face. You might be surprised at who or what you see.

My signs were so big they weren't in my direct line of sight, I needed a wider lens.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Lie Awake

I laid awake last night feeling confused. I am usually very confident and deliberate (sometimes impulsive) but nothing is done without thought. Last night I questioned every decision I have made since the beginning of this new life I speak about. This new life is not just the one as a widow, but one that is without her Mother now too. I thought of Dan last night, I thought of Mom, and I thought of the future. As I laid on my back with my eyes following the shadows on the ceiling, the thought of the future was more like a ride into The Fire Swamp than a skip into The Enchanted Forrest. I thought of Nick and the patience it must take to be pledged to spend an eternity with someone who's life has been so shaped by tragic events. I then wondered if he was scared too. I wonder sometimes if he thinks something might happen to him if he marries me. Reading this you might find it silly, thinking that "of course" I'm not cursed and God's plan is the one that rules, but I feel this way and it hurts.

In and out of sleep (with the help of Unisom) I look at the clock and try and push thoughts out of my head. Thoughts of Mom's final breaths, thoughts of hate and hurt that have occurred since Dan's death, and horrible thoughts of losing Gunner popped in my mind last night too! He seemed to have gotten even more gray when we were on vacation, so of course my mind found the worst thoughts and brought them to the surface.

The worst of it came this morning in a dream that felt so real. I know everyone has experienced a dream that when you wake up you are still feeling whatever emotion had occurred in the dream. My head was spinning, I was sweating, and everything around my eyes was foggy.

Dan and I were walking down the street. He was exactly as he always was. After some weird conversations that don't even make enough sense to write down, there was a moment in the dream that was so real. He grabbed my hand and looked at my engagement ring, then he showed me his ring finger still decorated with his wedding band. He told me, "I don't want to get a divorce." I started to cry in the dream, and said, "We are NOT divorced! You are gone! You left ME! We will never be divorced!" After some other strange happenings in the dream he pulled out his cell phone and asked for Nick's number. I knew in my dream that Dan was not alive, and I kept thinking about how scared Nick would be if he received a phone call from the after life. I asked Dan, "What do you want to say?" He never got to answer me, I woke up... just as confused as when I had gone to bed last night.

So now what?

I am sitting here sipping my second cup of coffee, tearing up, and honestly feeling a little sorry for myself. I hate that.

This morning might be the morning that I break the mental barrier I have had about running since Mom's death. Nick and I trained up until the actual weekend of the marathon, but Mom was so sick I couldn't bear to go. Since then, I haven't been able to get back into it. I haven't had the strength to use it as a tool of healing like I did with Dan. I think I will go dust off those shoes right now.

I also just confirmed a lunch date with my Michelle, and she always makes things better. I am so appreciative of my family and my good-for-the-soul friends.

Here are the things I want: I want to sleep. I want to stop thinking of the exact moment my Mom left this Earth and start thinking about all the smiles and hugs we shared for the other 32 years of my life her. I want to stop worrying. I am terrified something is going to happen to the ones I love, and I want it to STOP! I want to start running again, and I want to start now. I want to start praying again without the anger I feel in my throat as I speak. I want my anxiety to go away. I want to feel like ME again.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Last Night

I left school last night feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. By the time I got to the light I had run through all my stress mechinisms and was still feeling anxious. Just that fast, her face popped into my mind. Her smile, and more than anything her love filled voice. I wanted to call my Mom. I wanted her to listen to me complain about how much work I have to do, all the trivial things that are equivalent to a grain of salt in the ocean. But she would always listen. She would have had words of support, I would have instantly felt better.

My chest started to ache. The tears came without any control, and I could barely see the road. I pulled into my community and grabbed for my purse. The only other person in the world who knows EXACTLY what I am feeling right now is my sister. I called her and couldn't even speak for the first few minutes. By the time I stopped crying and was able to hear over my own moans, I could hear her tears. Honestly, if we would have just hung up the phone at that moment, I would have known that she feels it too. Jaim let me cry and talk and be mad and most of all we just talked about how shocking it is. Shocking that every day since May 7th 2012 will be lived without Mom. She hasn't seen Roman walk, She won't see me walk down the isle, she won't see Lilly walk to the bus on her first day of school, she won't see the birth of my first child.

She is here, I know, but she isn't here.

My heart hurt all night last night and I woke with that same twinge sadness today. I would love to be able to mope around today, but that's not the plan. The plan is to cowboy up and tackle the day.

Lord~ Thank you for my sister, for if it wasn't for her, this might be more than I can handle.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Prayers are Conversations

I had a great conversation with God last night. The first really good conversation I have had with Him since Mom's passing. It was prompted by finishing the book, "Heaven is For Real".

When Dan died, I did not have good conversations with God. I was angry with Him. When I did pray, I felt it was forced, and sometimes the only word I could muster to speak to Him was, "help". If I felt I could utter a phrase it was, "give me strength". As phrases turned into sentences and prayers became more normal again (consisting of praying for others and not completely self centered) the conversations were me "walking on egg-shells".

Well I probably shouldn't pray for that, because I don't want anything else bad to happen. I need to make sure I thank God for that today, because I don't want Him to take anyone else away from me. I hope God knows I am thankful for all the people I DO have in my life. I hope he doesn't sense  my questioning nature...I hope he doesn't get upset when all I ask is, "Why"?

Those kinds of prayers have flagged as time has passed, even though I know it will take my own trip Home to know the answer to, Why?

Of course I know Heaven is for Real, however, at a time this close to losing my Mom, reassurance never hurt anyone. I closed the book and the first message that rang loudly in my ear was, "Jesus really loves the children." At this point in the school year, I find myself becoming annoyed more easily, and possibly not giving my little gems (I accidentally just wrote germs and it made me laugh out loud, Freudian slip) all the care and attention they need as they progress toward the summer and fourth grade. I started my prayer with asking for the tools and gifts needed to continue to be the teacher/nuturerer they need and for patience, patience, patience!

After I prayed for Jesus's little loves, I thought, hmmmmm, this feels good, I am going to keep going. I found myself having the Lord relay messages to my Mom and then eventually started talking to her directly. Do I know my Mom hears direct prayers, absolutely not. Did it make me feel better, absolutely. I swear this prayer lasted an hour and if Jesus takes notes, I hope He was writing short-hand, because boy did I have a list.

I felt calm, and peaceful when my, "conversation" ended. I definitely cried, because it was the kind of conversation that my Mom and I would enjoy discussing over coffee under blankets. One day ALL of our conversations will be this easy, one day, when I Go Home To The Lord, too.

I rolled over and faced my night stand, knowing it was entirely too late to be awake, but strangley okay with that. My eyes batted open and closed and stayed open for another moment as I scanned in between the book ends on the stand. A flash ran through my head and a smile across my face. I thought about what happened this past Saturday morning. Take in and believe from it what you will, and I will do the same:

Nick brings me coffee in bed. I  sip and sleepily listen to and watch the news. I set my coffee down on the night stand because it is too hot to drink. I reach over a moment later to pick my coffee back up and I accidentally jostled my stand. Besides me spilling a little coffee out of my over-filled cup, my books fall over. One of them lands face up as the others tumble to the floor. It is covered in dust. I haven't seen this book, since, well. 2007. Title, "Hugs for Daughters". To: Tiffin Ann, Love: Mom. Message: Happy Valentine's Day, February 14, 2007. I immediately put it to my face and smelled it (nope didn't smell like Mom, but I might have sneazed...dust bunnies to be collected later). I must have stared at that title page for 5 minutes, just letting the tears stream down my face at just the sight of her handwriting. Then I saw a card poking out, it was posted specifically on this page of the book. The card was a cute teddy bear with an I love you message, but the message in the book kept me crying and immediately calling Jaime. It read: Tiffin, You have within you now all the elements that are necessary to make you all the Father dreamed that you coud be ~ E.W. Kenyon.

Yes, I do....and YOU my inspiration, my MOTHER made sure of that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Our 15 Minutes Alone

Well here I am again, trying to lasso my thoughts, organize them into some sort of sanity, and let the words bleed out through my writing.

As most of you saw on my facebook page a few weeks ago, my Mom said beautiful things to me as I entered hospice room number 6 on the afternoon of April 18, 2012. She called me beautiful, a treasure, a gift from God, and a gift to all around me. She held my face to hers as she whispered that Jaime and I were the center of her universe.

I always carry a journal in my purse to write feelings, thoughts, prayers, sometimes I even list all the candy I've eaten that day to force myself work out later on (but let's stay the course). I knew that I wanted to document anything my mom said in the coming days so I could cherish and treasure them forever.

After Mom and I had our precious greeting, I sat next to her and we had an amazing talk. My Aunt spent EVERY day and night with my mom even before she went into full time acute care. She went without food or sleep for weeks on end. This day, I insisted that she go get some rest, and it turned out to be the most memorable of our times together toward the end. 

My Mom quoted Proverbs 1, 2, and 3 and made me promise that I will bring up grand babies who know that Jesus is the sweetest name that could ever be spoken. Bring them up in Sunday school she said, so that when they grow up and make their own choices they won't stray away from that, it will be embedded in their heart. She asked me about churches that are close to me and expressed that she really wanted Nick and I to become part of a church, so we have that foundation to build the rest of our lives and family upon.

She told me how proud of me she is about my character and the person I have become, my strengths and accomplishments. She got sad when we talked about how I would be finishing up graduate school in the Spring of 2013. I know why she was sad, and I teared up too, but no words were said. She was my biggest fan, she didn't have to tell me that she would be there in spirit, congratulating me, I knew it.
She told me to remember her the way she was, not "shriveled and tired and weak" like she is now. Little did she know, how strong she glowed at that very moment. Cancer was quickly snuffing out the working organs in her body, but she was NEVER weak.

There was a pause for a moment as I swallowed the painful lump in my throat. I squeezed her hand and we looked straight into each other's eyes. I tried so hard not to break down and I was biting my tongue, I didn't want to let the words escape from my mouth, but they flew out like bats out of a cave.... "MOMMA, I don't want you to to go", as I crumble on her arms and cry into her hands. She cried, I know Bay-ba, I know. I don't want to leave you either. Life has been so sweet, but it seems so short. I have so much more "mommying" to do. Mascara filled tears, snot filled tissues, and a few deep breaths later, we were able to smile again.

She told me about her last day at her home and mostly about the Jamaican technition who had come to the house to ready her for the hospice home. My mom was in so much distress at that time and she asked the Jamaican woman if she was a praying women. The woman, said in her beautiful accent, "Oh Lord, yes ma'am. I've been a prayin' and a singin': Jesus come to your Patricia, come to your Patricia and visit a while. My mom said her words were like a lullaby, and she instantly felt some relief. I instantly thought of the book "The Shack" because while reading it,  I always heard "PaPa's" voice in my head as Jaimaican.

My Mom continued her fight for days after we had this time together. On April 24th (a Monday) Nick proposed to me in the kitchen. He told me that it was my Mom's birthday and he wanted her to know that I was going to be taken care of. I couldn't wait to tell my Mom the wonderful news and show her my ring. When I got there she was very tired, but very excited. I let her rest for a while that day, and eventually went back. When I walked back into the room she said, "There is my Mrs. Smith." I couldn't help but grin.

On the 26th Nick and I went to visit my Mom because she wanted to hug her son-in-law to be's neck. It was a beautiful visit and I am so happy we have the pictures to commemorate it.

The next day when I went for my after work visit, my Mom and I found ourselves alone again and holding hands. She said, "Bay-ba, How do you feel about me slipping away before you and Nick can take your vows?" I immediately started heaving crying. I said through tears, "How do I feel? How do I feel? You know how I feel, Momma." "I also know that you have to go so you can have a new perfect body to match your perfect soul." She said, "Yes, Darling, and you know that I will be with you every step of the way, I will be walking down every road with you." It wasn't very long after that that sweet Mom drifted off into a sedated sleep. There was a time though, when I whispered to her that I was going to wear her wedding dress to marry Nick. I could have made it up, but I swear she smiled.

We were all around her as she took her last breath on another Monday, May 7th. Things have been a mix of a blur and living in denial.

As I write this my feeling surface, and my heart begins to beat faster. I am so sad, and I can't call her right now. She will never leave another 10 minute message on mine or Jaime's voicemail (Jaime and I always swore that she spoke to voicemail like we were actually on the other end of the phone). Thank goodness I have some of those treasured saved. I will miss her for the rest of my life.

Ok Momma, I am walking down my newest road and it is a windy one. Let me feel your angel hand holding mine all the way.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tonight's Raw Pain

I am sick of walking to bathroom, so I brought the roll of toilet paper to the table. I can't stop crying. I have tried, but I can't. My nose is as raw as these emotions. God is not going to save my Mom. He has saved her spirit and soul in every sense of the word, but not her body. She has loved Him and lived her life for Him and now, He needs her closer. But I need her too. I need my Mom.

I never asked to start living this "New Life". The one that threw me into 'club widow' at the age of 29, but I did it. I picked myself up by the bootstraps and did it...I'm still doing it. Now, I've begged and pleaded and sobbed and am sobbing because I am not strong enough for the next, "New Life." The life without my Mom. I am not strong enough for this. My heart is broken into a thousand little pieces.

As I layed in bed with her today, she fell asleep holding my hand. I stared at her and for a long time, it is my hand. Our hands are the same, right down to the half moon cuticle on our thumbs. Those hands have held me up in my darkest of hours, for 32 years. Now my hands are the ones helping her to bed. I am not strong enough for this.

I must be the most selfish person in the world. My Mother is enduring torture, yet, still I cry... I AM NOT STRONG ENOUGH FOR THIS!

I lived in the land of denial for a long time. Reality is a terrible place right now. I deal with this by writing, crying, and sleeping. Jaime calls it my "turtle time" and that is where I feel safe. I am going to go into my shell now and sleep. I am not strong enough for this.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Prayer


There is a woman whom you created in your image some years ago. She is a daughter, a friend, a wife, sister, niece, aunt, a Gi-Gi and wearer of many other hats. She is Your daughter, but in my small world, she is my Mom. She was chosen by You to be this Mother. My sister and I never doubted the absolute fact that she is the best Mom in the entire world. Growing up and still to this day, she taught us that You come first. You are the foundation of all things in life.

I must admit to You that I doubted You when you took my Dan. I doubted you when evil tried to taint the love that Dan and I shared. I grew out of my doubt and have since apologized for ever questioning Your master plan. I told you, even standing at Dan's grave that I knew one day You would make it clear to me. One day.

Lord, I am subdued in doubt again. I am mad at You. Do you not see Your daughter? The woman who speaks Your love? The woman who shines Your light? The woman whose only prayer to you is that this sickness will bring others closer to YOU? Do you hear when she cries out in pain? Do you see her frail frame and bruised veins? Do you see the fatigue on her face? Can you see her Lord?

This woman lives for You!

Do you remember two nights ago when Your sick daughter was lying in the hospital bed? I asked her to eat some pretzels or a bite of a cracker, she couldn't. In her next breath, she said, "Honey, can you eat some?" "I know you must be hungry." "You usually eat around this time, Darlin', and I don't want you driving on an empty stomach." As I am staring at this beautiful (even when sick) woman saying these things to me, I remember the field trips she used to come on with me. If there were a student who didn't have a lunch, my mother always gave hers. She has been a mother to so many, not just Jaime and I. The thought whisked away as the nurse came in. She put her hand on her hip and said, "Your sweet mother would give away the cure if she had it."

No truer words have ever been spoken. She absolutely would. She would because she is the most selfless creature that You ever created.

Lord, she is a woman that deserves to stay on this Earth and touch other lives. I am pleading with you. Put your healing hands on my Mother, Your daughter. Save her life. I know this is far from a selfless request, but I NEED her. Please don't take her too.

Hold Your arms around my Dad who needs so much love right now, continue to make the bond between my sister and I the most cherished and valuable strength resource we have. Pull me out of this shadow of doubt so I can allow the power of prayer work magic, hear the prayers of others, and heal Your child. Save my Mother and heal her pain.

Forgive my outbursts and my angry tears,
Hear me now,