About Being Honest

The thing about being honest and vulnerable is, you don’t know where it will take you.

It took a lot of courage and time for me to summon up the strength to write about what happened on my 30th birthday. After I told the story, even the hard parts, I felt a sense of relief.

And then, the next morning, I felt immediate dread and a bit of regret for publishing one of my most intimate moments on the internet.

This little blog of mine is not so private anymore. Since I’ve started freelance writing my bio with links to my blog has become public, and I have blurred the lines between writing for just my small community of blogging friends and myself to writing to an audience that is very public and not at all intimate. My blog no longer became my safe space, because anything I write here could be read by anyone in my life, including people that in real life I would never share such details with. And that, is a scary thought.

But I didn’t start this blog to write about only the good things in my life or to paint a pretty picture about motherhood. I started this blog to tell the tough stuff. I started this blog to be honest.

And the truth is, I was finding it more and more impossible NOT to tell the story. I couldn’t come to my blog and posts pictures of Halloween (which I will do, though, because we went all out and it was awesome :) ) and pretend that nothing had happened because a major thing had happened. And it was the only story weighing on my mind.

Not very many people commented on that post, but I have received countless emails and private Facebook messages. I have received phone calls from people in real life who didn’t know. And it is both terrifying and amazing to see what happens when you are honest with your story, even in a terrifyingly public way.

There were people who had gone through the same thing and never told anyone, carrying around a small secret of pain on their own because it’s too hard and too personal to let it out.

And there were people who have never been through a miscarriage, who don’t know what to say, but want you to know that it’s ok to talk about it and to reach out and tell you how much they care about you. And that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

There’s a fine line between regretting the blunt honesty of letting you into the most intimate details of my life and then feeling the rush of relief that comes with telling a story that had been weighing on me. And if I had never told my story, I never would have gotten to share in the beautiful and comforting email exchanges and phone calls in which you told me yours.

For me, it was never even really just my story. It happened to me, but if I never told anyone about it, it would be like that baby never existed. And it did. If even for a very short time. I don’t want that baby’s story to have never been written just because it ended so early.

So I want to thank you for letting me tell my story and for those of you that shared pieces of yours, I am incredibly honored.

That’s the thing about being honest. It takes you to beautiful places. You may never know who you are touching with your words and who needs to read them, but you must believe that the events in your life, even the hard ones, are worth telling.

(image credit: www.leahfruthblog.com)

 

Welcome to 30

I stopped writing.

I do that. Stop doing things I love when I find myself at my most lost.

I stopped singing when my Dad died.

I stopped a whole lot of things after the birth of my son as I went through postpartum depression and processed my difficult birth experience. Some of that related to being a new mom; the missed showers, the lack of sleep. A lot of it related to how traumatized I was; the missed laughter, the missed enjoyment of almost anything for a long time.

It’s strange to go through segments of your life like that; where you find yourself going through motions and not really present. Before you know it you’ve lost some indescribable amount of time and some irreplaceable amount of present living and some inexplicable self-deprivation of things you love.

“You need to write about it,” my husband said. He would leave the computer window open to my blog, sitting silently on the screen collecting cobwebs and losing meaning.

“I will,” I would reply, and then busy myself with the comforting monotony of daily life tasks that never find themselves completed.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you write anything,” he would say again urgingly.

“I just don’t have anything to say,” I would lie, and he would pretend to believe me.

And so tonight, I’ll write about it.

The last time I wrote anything was on the eve of my 30th birthday. I was not-so-subtly freaking out about it and I had all these great post ideas about how I was going to reveal my hidden worries about turning thirty, or the things I was actually looking forward to about turning thirty, or maybe even breaking down that terrible list of what a woman “should” have accomplished by the time she turned thirty and revel in what I’ve accomplished instead.

Instead, I woke up on the morning of my 30th birthday and got ready for a hair appointment. In true “oh-my-God-I’m-turning-thirty” style I planned to get a drastic hair cut. I stopped on the way at this very nice French restaurant that serves lovely chocolate croissant pastries and a special Ginger Chai latte and ordered it to go. Only it’s been so long since I’ve treated myself there that they no longer serve the ginger chai latte and someone had just purchased the very last chocolate croissant.

Still optimistic, I continued on to my hair appointment where I showed my stylist a picture of the new cut I wanted, one that required chopping 7 inches off of my hair, adding layers, and adding some red highlights. (Did I mention the whole I-was-freaking-out-about-turning-30-part?) In order to add red, first we had to get out the blondish highlights that had been in during the summer, so my stylist matched my hair all back to it’s original color and than cut off all of my hair. Per my non-chocolate-croissant-eating request. (Side note: I don’t make good decisions when I’m hungry. Or, apparently, 30.) Then we went to add in the red.

And it came out bright purple.

Truly.

Like, Halloween witch purple.

By the time all of this had occurred it was time for me to go pick my son up from school.

With short, purple, wet hair.

Despite my speeding I was a few minutes late to pick up my son who greeted me with a “Mommy, why is your hair purple? Is it for Halloween?”

I got us home and settled the toddler with lunch. I was feeling a bit sick but thought it was probably from the lack of eating and just my general state of being stressed about the day.

I went to the bathroom and then I saw it. All of the blood.

It had soaked through my clothes and the sickness I was feeling was cramping.

And then, I knew.

My husband came home from work about an hour later to find me hunched over, crying, with purple hair.

“I don’t think there’s a baby anymore,” I sobbed.

We quietly whispered our conversation and spelled words between the little voice that asked “Why is Mommy crying?” and “What are you guys talking about?”

“Do you want me to call and cancel tonight? I have something planned but you don’t have to go.”

“NO! It’s my fucking 30th birthday. I don’t want to spend it being completely miserable. This just isn’t how I wanted this to go,” I continued sobbing.

I found myself laying in our king sized bed surrounded by the hugs of my husband and my son and realizing that the short lived excitement of a June 2014 baby would never come true.

I had discovered the two tell tale pink lines on a pregnancy test just a little over a week before. And just to be sure, seen the words PREGNANT on another test. Within a week my husband and I had both discovered and lost a baby.

I called the OB/GYN who put told me to wait for the triage nurse to call. When she called she encouraged me to go straight to the emergency room.

“Why?” I asked. “Can they do anything? Or would it just be for informational purposes?”

“It would just be for informational purposes, but it’s important to know what’s going on with your body,” she replied.

“I already know what’s going on with my body. I’m having a miscarriage” I replied in my mind, but in reality it probably came out more like “Ok, thank you.” I’m an eternal people pleaser.

I talked to my husband about it and ultimately decided not to spend my 30th birthday sitting in an emergency room. I took some advil, splashed water on my face, and went back to the hair salon to get out the purple.

It was, after all, my birthday.

A few hours later my purple hair had been dyed black because it was the only way to cover up the color. It was not the look I was going for but it was styled and curled and I purchased a lovely red lipstick to fully embrace my bold new look. The reality of what was happening set in every time I went to the bathroom and every time I let myself think about it. I found myself crying as I drove home and again when my sister called and my husband accidentally answered the phone.

I had been avoiding all of the happy birthday calls and messages all day.

By 6:00 that evening I was dressed and had fixed my make up. A friend picked me up and drove me to a local restaurant where I was surprised by a group of girlfriends waiting for me. My husband had organized a girl’s night complete with pre-ordered appetizers and wine (which I happily drank. Because, in light of recent events, there was no reason for me not to.)

We laughed and drank wine and told stories. I was so thankful to be in the company of such sweet friends and to find moments of genuine joy in a day that had certainly not gone as I had imagined.

I came home late at night and curled into the arms of my husband. I heard my son sigh in his sleep across the hall and felt my cats curled up at my feet.

And finally, I slept.

Welcome to 30.

My surprise girl's night on my 30th birthday. I am in the blue dress, black belt, and newly acquired black hair and red lipstick .

My surprise girl’s night on my 30th birthday. I am in the blue dress, black belt, and newly acquired black hair and red lipstick .

 

 

 

11 Years

The last picture I have of my Dad and I was taken in May of 2002. I was a senior in high school and was wearing all black and stage make up to perform in my high school musical. I had the leading role and would be going to college on a voice scholarship in the fall.

My Dad wore a red t-shirt tucked into his blue jeans and a belt; his signature style. 

We have our arms around each other and big smiles. 

Then, at 7:20 in the morning on October 5th, 2002, he would pass away.

I kept that picture in a small frame with pink metal flowers for a long time. With me in my college dorm room after I dropped out and returned, changing my major. With me in my first apartment and the first home my husband and I had together.

And somewhere along the way, with moves and with time, the little frame with the metal flowers and the picture of my Dad and I got packed in a box. Packed away as more of a memory than an item to be unpacked and displayed.

A lot changes in eleven years. Graduations, marriages, jobs, babies, moves.

Eleven years feels like a long time. It is a long time. Its an amount of time that allows a lot of things to change.

And people say that time heals all wounds.

I thought eleven years would be a long time.

But today, on the eleventh anniversary of my Dad passing away, I found myself in tears. Sobbing, hysterical tears. Not able to get out of the bed tears. Or talk to my son without crying tears.

I didn’t think eleven years would have felt like that. So I decided to have a regular day. I had 8 hours worth of rehearsal today. And I went to them, just like I was supposed to. And I made a spectical of myself and cried the ugly cry and had to explain that even eleven years later, the passing of my Dad felt as if it had just happened.

How even eleven years later, the wound was fresh and I could remember the details of the entire day. Like the hole in my heart had just been created.

The first few anniversaries of his death I gave myself permission not to do anything. I would skip class and spend the day crying in bed. Perhaps not functional, but it was my own version of therapy and it allowed me to avoid the inevitable embarrassment of public crying.

The anniversary in 2006 was the first one that I actually went about as a normal day. I was teaching in England, and I got up and taught. And the day was actually good.

There have been other anniversaries like that. Where it wasn’t so heart wrenching; it just WAS. I dreaded last year’s the most; the tenth anniversary seemed like such a milestone and a significant time period. My mom, brother, sister and I wanted to commemorate that occasion so we went on a weekend get away, just the four of us. It was a lovely weekend and the perfect way to celebrate and remember.

This year didn’t feel so significant. Eleven isn’t even a significant number. I had rehearsals and regular life on the calendar.

And yet, as it tends to happen with grief, this anniversary took me by surprise and left me inconsolable well into the afternoon.

The people who came to tell me it would be ok at the church rehearsal were older ladies who would say, “I lost my Dad a couple of years ago. I know what you’re going through.”

And I appreciate it. I do.

I can’t imagine that losing a partner would be easy at any point in life.

But we all know that this happens. We know that we grow older and pass away. We know that as we age our parents age, too. We must expect that at some point, in their old age, our parents will pass.

I feel like it’s entirely different losing a parent when you are young. They didn’t get to live their entire lives. They didn’t get to do everything in their careers, or travel everywhere they wanted, or become a grandparent. They didn’t get to be there for all of the things in yours. They missed your graduations, your wedding, and your baby.

I don’t think you know what that’s like unless you’ve experienced it. To have your heart entirely broken and then pieced back together again, every so slowly, and then every once in a while it loses one of the pieces all over again and you feel that you are starting over.

Starting back at the beginning of the most vulnerable time when you lost a part of yourself.

The truth is, I hate this day.

I hate the way that it always makes me remember losing him. I remember the good parts and the bad parts and our family and who he was as a father and a husband. But I remember those parts everyday. Those are the parts I can tell to my son when something makes me think of my Dad, or when I look into my son’s eyes, because I am lucky enough to have a child with my Dad’s eyes.

I hate that it makes me ponder all of the things that could have been different; SHOULD have been different if he were still here.

I hate that this day makes me remember the details of the day we lost him. The sting of that realization, the exact moment when you are told that your whole life is forever changed.

And I hate that I will never know, for the rest of my life, what days it will strike like this. What days the grief will become so overwhelming that you just can’t plaster on your usual smile and get through your day. That being comforted by someone who says “It’s ok” and “I know what you’re going through” seem meaningless because you are absolutely certain that no one knows exactly the extent of your pain or your loss.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds. It lessens them, perhaps. I’m not grief stricken every day. It’s not as intense as it was at first, or as paralyzingly hard as the very first anniversary.

But when the grief comes washing over you, it unavoidably takes you back to that first place. The first time that you felt yourself break.

And sometimes there’s nothing you can do but to live there until it passes.

I can’t believe it’s been eleven years. I miss you every day, Dad. I love you.

My Dad 2002

My Dad 2002

 

 

 

Why Father’s Day Annoys Me

“Happy Father’s Day to the best Dad in the world!”

“I have the best husband and father a girl could ask for!”

“Happy Father’s Day to my amazing husband and my very own amazing Dad!”

“I have the best Dad in the world I just don’t know what I would do without him!”

My enthusiasm for my daily Facebook browsing quickly weaned as I read status after status of Father’s Day wishes.

It seemed like all of the women my age in my feed changed their profile picture to one of  them with their Dad on their wedding day. Why is that thing?

Some people posted about thinking of those that are missing fathers that are no longer with us. A sweet tribute, but it felt empty. When you lose someone, you don’t need to be reminded of how much you miss them on a specific day. The truth is, you miss them every moment, every day. A random day in June neither amplifies nor diminishes that reality.

I found my self becoming increasingly more agitated and exited from the social media world for the day. As much as I wished we had a nice Father’s Day planned for our own little family, my husband is on nights and he slept the day away, just like he did last year. I don’t really remember what we did for that first Father’s Day after my son was born so it couldn’t have been too spectacular.

I haven’t celebrated Father’s Day in 10 years now and though I used to find the day to be very emotional, now I just find it trivial, jarring; a reminder of something I can’t have and the circumstances with my own husband mean that it’s not even a holiday I can fully embrace now.  I go through the motions; I never forget a card to my father-in-law and a present for my husband from my son. It all feels very obligatory.

I took out my emotional cocktail of bitterness and indifference by doing yard work today. A ton of yard work. It takes much longer to accomplish yard work with a toddler glued to your side all day, and my legs can easily be mistaken as diseased with the amount of mosquito bites I got, but at least the yard looks good better.

I realize my anger towards this day and its intentions are misplaced. I’m jealous that I don’t have a picture of my Dad and I on my wedding day. I hate that my husband’s schedule makes it impossible for us to ever do normal things like hang out with friends on the weekends or celebrate holidays. (Or that my husband actually would be the one to do the yard work.) I hate that even if I wanted this day to be significant, it can’t be.

When my husband finally woke up, my son and I gave him his Father’s Day presents. I unintentionally spoiled him this year (because good deals on all the things!) with a t-shirt, a hammock, and an adorable pillow I will tell you all about soon. We spent the evening covered in bug spray relaxing on the new hammock and catching up on a bit of family time. We have dinner reservations tomorrow to take advantage of a Father’s Day special. (Because free dinner!)

So I guess we are celebrating Father’s Day this year. Just not in the “oh my gosh you are so amazing what would I do without you” way. Because whether you know it or not, you would do what you had to do without your husband or your father. And you wouldn’t love them any more or any less no matter what date was on the calendar.

Happy Father’s Day to everyone that found meaning in it. I promise I will try to work on my attitude (and get some decent sleep. I’m grumpy when I’m sleep deprived.)

But can we please all agree on one thing….it is impossible for ALL of you to have the best husband/father/boyfriend/cat/dog/brother’s sister’s cousin in the world. Have a contest, figure it out, and then only the winner can brag.

Because obviously the heart of this issue is annoying Facebook statuses.

 

October 5th

I remember the day vividly. Of course I do.

Over time, its events have transpired into a movie in my mind, playing on a continuous reel that occasionally makes its way to the forefront. In it, I am watching myself as though I wasn’t a part of it, as though it wasn’t me living those moments.

I see myself as I get the news, as I cry, as I process.

I remember all the details; even the blurry ones.

So on the morning of October 5th this year, I was transported back to that day ten years prior, the day my Dad passed away.

There was my mind made movie, playing all morning as I recalled those things that I already know so well; the events of the day that changed everything.

This October 5th, I woke up in sobs and let the tears stain my pillow as the toddler slept peacefully beside me.

The anniversary of this loss is hard every year, but ten years seems so significant. Ten years. A decade. A milestone.

I miss him everyday. I grieve all of the momentous things he has missed in my life. College graduation. My wedding. Meeting my son.

But there is so much I have missed seeing of him. The way he would have loved seeing the Phillies win the World Series in 2008. The way he would have loved the historical election where Obama became President. All of the Christmas presents I missed getting to see him open and Father’s Days we never got to celebrate. Getting to see him be a granddad.

He is forever a part of me. I see it every time I look in the mirror as his eyes stare back at me. I hear him every time the Beatles song “Imagine” is played, even all of the bad cover bands. I feel him every time I say my son’s full name, because we gave our son my Dad’s name, Richard, as a middle name. I smile every time I pass a chess set, or watch my son play soccer, or stare into my son’s eyes, because, luckily, he has those same big eyes, too.

Yes, I remember that day. But I remember so much more of him as my father and I missed so much more of him in these ten years since he has been gone.

So on October 5th, rather than transporting myself back to that day, I let my mind movie play and I let my tears fall. Then I got my little boy dressed and we had a play date at the Botanical Gardens, surrounding ourselves with butterflies and flowers.

And then I think my family gave each other the greatest gift; we gave each other a weekend of each other.

Leaving the husband and toddler at home, my mom, sister, brother and I went away for a weekend to Charlottesville, VA. We immersed ourselves in laughter and conversation, scenery and adventure, and no shortage of extravagant food.

Nothing will change the significance of the loss, the way his presence is missed daily, the way my heart grieves eternally for the man that I was lucky enough to have as my father.

But this year, on this tenth year of the day we lost my father, we celebrated my Dad with love and laughter, just the four of us.

I know for certain that there were still five of us there.

“Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

Spending time with my family, remembering and celebrating my Dad who helped create it.

My Dad

Heavy Grey

Clouds coated the sky in a blanket of grey, clinging to the sky and soaking into my bones.

The heaviness of the earth mirrored the heaviness of my heart, as my footsteps interrupted the calm of the puddles decorating the pavement.

I even mirrored my mood, ever so subconsciously, in an outfit of blue jeans, a gray and white striped shirt, and gray cardigan.

It’s almost here, isn’t it? This day that creeps up slowly and then presents itself quickly as it makes it presence known; this day that changed so much.

October 5th will be the tenth anniversary of the day my Dad passed away. It will mark ten years since I have seen his face, heard his voice, or felt his hug.

I don’t exactly dread the day, but I do feel it’s presence and it’s significance. It is a day that changed everything, a day that forces me to remember, but the moments that I miss my Dad are much more frequent and emotional. October 5th is not a cursed day for me like September 1st. October 5th was awful ten years ago, but the day itself has not been repeatedly bad, just saddening.

People say time heals all wounds, but I don’t think you ever heal from the loss of a parent. I think the intensity of the pain becomes much less, and time may distance you from the event, but never from the emptiness.

The best description was explained to me by my grief counselor who I saw for a few months after my Dad passed. He said losing someone is like throwing a rock into a calm lake. At first, the ripples are large and big and interrupt the calm of the surface. Eventually, the ripples calm, and if you watch long enough, you will see the silent stillness of the water once again. But the rock will always remain, sitting there, just beneath the surface, changing the foundation of the lake.

And so it is when you experience a loss. Time will take away the ripples. Time will distance you from the event. But time can not change the way it changed you, the way you miss them, the way you wish they were still here every second of every day.

This was my day of heavy grey  Of anticipation of a ten year anniversary. A day where the world gave me the gift of gray to mirror my thoughts. For it is only by my walking through the fog that I can once again return to the sunshine.

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose them all at once; you lose them in pieces over a long time—the way the mail stops coming, and their scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in the closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of them that are gone. Just when the day comes—when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that they are gone, forever—there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.” 
― John IrvingA Prayer for Owen Meany