Apr 11, 2014

Big 6!

Often, when we are so wrapped up in grief, things slip past us. The concept of time can slap us right in the face and we are scrambling to put things together for an event or holiday. 
Worse, at times, we just wish the event/holiday/social gathering/appearance
would altogether disappear.
While I adore my baby boy so very much, I would be lying if I told you I had been looking forward to preparing for his sixth birthday party. 
Truth: I was full on dreading it. 
And with so many other things falling apart, the day crept up on me faster than I wanted to admit. 

The planning was drowning to me:


Trying to laugh.
Cleaning up.
Deciding where to have it.

Having to pick an outfit for myself that wasn't sweats and my brother's brown hoodie.


For someone who is still grieving a party with screaming toddlers, balloons and party favors 
was my personal version of hell.

Little Man wasn't the most help either. 
On days I felt like I was in a frame of mind to plan, I would ask him what he wanted to do for his birthday.

His answers would range from taking his entire kindergarten class on a play date (Uh, NO!!!!),

to The Hero and I buying him a b.b. gun (UH, DOUBLE NO)

to all of us going to Disney World (Not in the budget).

He also refused to settle on a theme.

He would tell me "Mom, you know I like it all."

"And minions."
"Lots of minions."

With not much else to go off of and no real energy to peruse Pinterest looking for ways to entertain six year olds, I buckled under the pressure.

The invitations were by Facebook invite only.

Family and a few of our dearest friends whose children I knew I could socially tolerate.

Decorations were a hodge podge of all of his favorites.

Cupcakes were of the store-bought variety.

We topped off the whole cupcake/punch affair with a candy-crammed pinata, sang Happy Birthday and celebrated our newly turned six year old. 

We even made it, just the four of us out for dinner to the Ethiopian restaurant in our area for an extra dosing of celebrating. 

All of it was beautiful and special and he felt on top of the world. 
And for one small glimmer of an afternoon, life felt....well, I would like to say normal, but I hate that word.


I know that's not a real word. 

I made it up. 

But grieving through my brother's death has left most of my breaths like they are unable
 to be let loosed from my chest. 

And for one small, Sunday afternoon surrounded by our family and friends, I felt
covered in enough love to let out a breath and not immediately feel the need to fall apart. 

Which allowed me to embrace and enjoy this smile:

Happy Super Six to my favorite Dinosaur! And to all of those we know and love us who made the day extra special and who didn't even notice that the party was not Pinterest worthy, but was worthy for nothing more than the company. 

Apr 9, 2014

Seeing You

I saw you yesterday at the grocery store. It caught me by surprise at first, to see you standing there, but as I approached you from behind, I saw traces of your hair and your stance. I held my breath and rationalized to myself that it was not, in fact, you, but a person who faintly resembled you. It was my heart that wanted it so desperately to be you.

This is the status of my life these days.

Trucks that look similar to yours that pass me on the street, late-twenties boys who stand near me pumping gas; these things make me pause to doubt.

As I past this person with my shopping cart, I couldn't help but turn over my shoulder to make sure that it wasn't you. Do you think it's silly that I was actuly saddened that it wasn't you? Double check that it isn't indeed you. I may never again look at my phone and not wonder if it is you calling to chat or hear the "ding" of a text message and hope that it is you sending me a joke.

My child mentioned you at dinner a few nights ago. You know, that child of mine who loved you so. The one who climbed in your lap when you would visit and demand every bit of your attention? He said it so sweetly and innocently, I almost didn't notice. He could have asked me for more bread. But when The Hero reached for my hand, I knew the small one had said something about you. I asked him to repeat it. Slow. Soft.

"I miss Uncle Guy."

There were no tears in his eyes. No softened words. Just forward and truthful; like kids do.

Tonight the little one and I made dinner, filled our plates and was five minutes into watching The Voice. We were discussing hair styles and singing when he said "Mommy, I guess it's ok that Uncle Guy is in Heaven. I have two uncles and it doesn't matter that he is in Heaven. He is still my uncle."

I tried to hard not to let him see me cry. But my kids are use to me disappearing into the kitchen these days.
I guess I'm not the only one whose been missing you lately. I suppose the hole that you left in my life and in my heart was not only a hole for me, but for others too. I suppose I've just been so awash with my own grief and hurt looking for you that I hadn't much noticed. But it appears that we all are looking for you.

Mar 30, 2014

Then She Shows Up

She was one of the first people I told the night we lost my brother.
As The Hero drove to my parents house , I texted my out of state soul sister
begging for scripture and prayers.
She was working on both within minutes.
She was adamant about flying in for the funeral.
I begged her to stay; I knew we would be unable to just be with everything else going on.
She checked on me constantly.
Lifted me up so deeply and fervently I could feel it.
And then came the day she just showed up.
In real life.
On my doorstep.
Four states away from Colorado to Oklahoma.
With her amazing little family.
All five of them.
Four full days of friendship. 
Friendship that has gone beyond Amy and I and has infected our children and husbands. 
A true blending of hearts and lives.
  We played with our kids,
laughed and cried together
and spent an entire afternoon engaging one another while moving two tons of
dirt and mulch in our backyard garden.
Our kids were actually begging us to go out again and play in the dirt some more!

She offered to take me out to dinner or shopping
just the two of us on more than one occasion.
And while we did get some great "mommy time",
what I needed most in those four days was just the presence
 of my friend and her little family.
To embrace our kids and giggle at kid antics and
sibling quarrels and to be reminded that friendship
is never completely what we bring to a relationship.
It is not only the sum of what we can offer someone else.
It is the ebb and flow of what we give to and what we take away
 from one another that makes it deep and pure and yes, even holy.
She gave all of herself and I hope she took away a new appreciation for how amazing she is at meeting somebody in their suffering.
I gave her a glimpse into my hurt and the hole in my heart and took
from that the knowledge that we are not meant to suffer alone.  
An example of Earth as it is in Heaven.
Perfection in my recent darkness.
My little family was devastated to see them pull out of our driveway.
We were renewed and revived just by spending time together.
Then my amazing friend drove four states home and wrote a blog post about what a gift it was to serve me and mine during our suffering and the meaning 
of just showing up in the midst of someone's hurt.
And show up she did.
In so many ways, with very little words
and yet in the middle of grieving,
it was everything myself and my little family needed it to be.

Mar 25, 2014


Being the youngest of three, my brother was always doing things to make us laugh, or to turn our heads. When my sis and I started dating, in the age before cell phones, we would crowd around our parents' phone on a Friday night in the kitchen and wait for it to ring.
My brother, even in his pre-teen years, towered over my sister and I and was almost six foot before he was fifteen.
When the phone would ring, Laura and I would leap for it and he would barrel past us easily.
"Uh...she's not here."
"She left about an hour ago with some other dude."
Then he would hang up.
We would be fuming, demanding he tell us who was on the other end
and which of us they were asking out.
He would shrug his shoulders, laugh and head off to his room.
"I've got no idea girls. Good luck with that."
He got his first tattoo before his twentieth birthday.
My mother was horrified that her baby boy had inked himself permanently.
For at least a year, he convinced her as only the baby of the family can, that it was only a henna tattoo and he went every three weeks to have them redone.
She was livid when Laura and I broke it to her that those tats would never be coming off. He finally got her to laugh about it when he told her he was getting her name tattooed on his backside. When she finally realized he had meant he was going to get "your name" tattooed on his butt, she gave up on trying to parent him and just laughed at his joke.
He and I talked about getting tattooed a lot.
 He loved it.
I think he believed that his tattoos had to be temporarily painful so he'd permanently
remember all that he had been through.
He also said that Laura and I would never go through with getting
one because we were too big of chickens.
(Actually, I know he said that to me. I think he believed Laura always had the guts.)
After his funeral, Laura and I decided that there was only one way to appropriately remember all the pain that his loss would carry with us for the rest of our lives.
We decided on the Bible verse that we had chosen for his coffin.
Isaiah 46:4 "I have made you. I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you."
And I insisted that it be in Laura's handwriting.
His Bible verse.
Her handwriting.
Sibling love.
I think my mom is secretly pissed we marked our bodies.  
But I know he is smiling his face off on his cloud as our witness, as we muddle through this race of life without him.
P.S. Laura was a trooper and went first when we got our tats.
I cried like a baby.
Some big sister I turned out to be. :) 
He was right all along.
I miss you precious dude.
I wish we would have gotten inked together, but I'm honored that my first was in ode to you.

Mar 24, 2014

Musical Monday: The Afters' Broken Hallelujah

This song is such a great description of how I have felt over the last month. Losing my brother has changed how I pray, how I look at death and how I view the rest of my days on this earth. So many times throughout the day, I just stare up at the sky and think

 "How are you going to bring beauty from ashes?" "How can I be any good to You after this?"

I am thankful for the reminder that He is God and I am not. It helps relieve the stress and is a great peace that whether my Hallelujah is broken or not, it's offering it up that makes all the difference. Happy Monday ya'll!

Mar 19, 2014

The Anger Side of Grief

I tried to "google" the different stages of grief after my brother's funeral. It just made me mad and I stopped looking to the Internet for answers that will never come. I do remember in my research that there is supposed to be an anger stage of grief. This makes sense to me because I reached the anger stage of grief quite easily on my own. Actually, I believe that I may have taken up residence in this stage.

I had even suggested to my sister that she buy two sets of boxing gloves and whoever had a problem with anything for the rest of forever could meet me in a dark alley and I would be glad to school them. I was angry at every doctor who ever saw my brother, every medication he was prescribed to take instead of investigating the cause of his depression, the funeral director for a ridiculous suggestion for music and various friends and family members who dared to suggest that my brother's death would be a mere event that I "got through". Oh yes. I am quite familiar with the anger side of grief in the past few weeks.

But out of every flash of anger, each rage of emotion that crossed my heart, I never was mad at my brother. Several people have suggested that it will come; that it is customary, acceptable and even appropriate to be angry with those who take their own lives. But I have read my brother's journal, his emails, his text messages and his notes to himself. And there is no way on this side of heaven that in the midst of his depression and loneliness that I could ever be angry with him. Am I devastated by missing him? Absolutely. Angry with myself that I did not know the depths of his sorrow? I will be for the rest of my days. But mad at my baby brother for fighting off demons that I have never understood, nor fought off myself? No.  Never.

How could I be angry at someone who fought so hard to conceal what he battled, so that no one else would know? Why would I, for one second be cross with a soul that would have never harmed another living creature? And how could spend one minute of my given breath being upset that my brother's struggle had ended in any other fashion than him back in the Father's arms?

I may forever be in the angry stage of grief, but it will never be because I am angry with my brother.


Mar 18, 2014

Grief Doesn't Come With A Handbook

It's a miracle that both of my parents are still sane. Having three kids under five must have been a circus most of the time. Heck, sometimes have two almost five years apart is more than my feeble mind can process. One thing I always remember my mom saying when we got in trouble or we were trying to reason through some family issue was "Maybe that was the wrong parenting move, but you guys didn't come with a handbook on how to parent you."
She's repeated the same thing to me when I became a parent and I would call her about whether or not some behavior issue of mine or my child(ren) was adoption related or a personality conflict.

"Linz, go with your gut because God doesn't bring kids with a handbook."

She wasn't kidding.

Grief is the damnest thing I've ever been dealt. It strikes me in the most inopportune, ridiculous places in a day. A parent screaming during my 5 year old's basketball game sent me into a full blown panic and a house full of guests playing cards, led me to crying in my bathroom. Neither of these instances have any explainable reasoning. Maybe it was the undue pressure parents were placing on their children during the game and perhaps it was the most merriment I had felt in weeks made me feel guilty, but grief is definitely getting the blame.

Just as children don't come with a handbook about parenting, neither does death have a guide for how we are supposed to grieve. Tears will find me in the oddest times and sadness can creep inside my heart while there is still a smile on my face. I sometimes catch myself wondering "is this normal? Am I supposed to react like that?" But then nothing about death and living with the loss of someone you love is normal and since no one has written the handbook on grief, I'm giving myself the grace to muddle my own way through.