Saturday, December 31, 2011


It is the last day of 2011, and lately I have been doing a lot of thinking and reflecting on this year. It's really been a heavy year, so I have a lot of rambling thoughts to share. I have experienced some very high highs and the most extreme lows of my life in 2011. I am going to try to capture it into words as best as possible.
 I had the conversation with just about every one of my co workers this week as to what the best moment of their life and the worst moment of their life and the most memorable moment of their life was in this year. IN asking that, I of course thought about the same for myself. I will share those and then I will go into much more depth.
 The worst moment is probably obvious to anyone and that was losing my mom.
 The best moment of 2011 would be getting my new job with Guckenheimer. I absolutely love it there and I am so happy that I have that job. Getting a house is also one of the best things.
 The most memorable moment is hard to say....but one that sticks out very strongly is the last time my mom told me she loved me. I can see where we were sitting and even what she was wearing. I remember it specifically because we never knew if we'd hear her talk again. So to hear her tell me again that she loved me ...that was a moment I marked in time. Knowing that there would be a chance I'd never hear it again.
 Those are a few of the "big" things to share. 2011 is a year that will never be forgotten, for so many reasons. I made some new friends, who've become some of the closest to me. I discovered through thousands of changes this year who my true friends are. I've learned new things about me and what priorities are. I have discovered newfound passions and abilities. I have cried more than any year ever, and I have experienced awful anxiety attacks. I have hit rock bottom emotionally and been lifted up by my Savior-the only One who could truly carry me through such hard times. I have learned to laugh at myself and the silly things I do. I have bonded in new ways with my family. I have experienced God's love and patience in all new ways. I have a new longing for heaven. I had to say goodbye to my best friend-my mom.
  In saying goodbye to my mom, I learned depths of pain I'd never experienced. Watching mom die was the hardest experience I've ever had to face. I will continue blogging through this process, as we still haven't reached a year mark yet. But grief has been a crazy experience. It is quite private, really, most of the time. I choose to share pieces of it here, but most of my tears and sadness are experienced alone. As painful as it has been, I have learned to cling to God in new ways. I can't say I totally understand why He took mom, but it's not my place to understand it. I have learned to lean on Him through it. I have learned to become vulnerable. I have learned that there are others I can help because of going through this myself. He uses the bad for the good, if I choose to let Him. Losing mom has pushed my passion harder to fight cancer. We started a 5K in mom's memory to raise funds for a scholarship in her name, and that was a way to carry mom out still, and also a great experience in 2011. Being the worst experience saying goodbye to mom, she will forever be in my heart and I hope will live out through my life in little ways. My mom was amazing-I can only hope to be half the mom she was. I cry still. Mom was my biggest encourager in life, so it is so hard not having her here , especially when I need that support. But...God is faithful and teaching me to lean harder on Him when I need that encouragement.
 The best thing being getting a job at Guckenheimer has been the best thing for a thousand reasons. I love my job. It is not stressful at all (usually.only on a few occasions has it been.) I  have loved meeting all my new customers. Some of them have even become good friends and supporters in my life. I love my co workers so much. There is really no drama among us, which is a really nice change from my previous job. I have connected with the girls at work in great ways. Nellie  is the "mother" of the group with all her life experience and I always enjoy her hugs and laughter. They used to call me Nellie Jr., as we have a lot of the same expressions and actions and similar build. Nellie has endured many of my stories...and always listens. Tiffany is a girl I laugh with harder than most people. She is one of the few who can make me laugh at myself. I remember the first time I really laughed hard after mom died-it was with Tiffany. It was a moment that I'll remember b/c I hadn't laughed like that in months. We make up silly games to have even more fun. We also run together(during fall and spring anyway). Kim and I have gotten really close. We hang out on weekends sometimes and we have shared a lot of good moments. Kim has been kind enough to endure a lot of my tears as much as my silly stories. She has been a huge support in so many aspects of life. Kim is a big blessing in my 2011. My customers who are my good friends now-you guys know who you are. I know you read this. So please know I am so thankful for you. My boss is a friend, too. He is one of a kind. An Australian...and confident in his beliefs and opinions. He is a great chef and I really enjoy working for him. There are others I work with who I also love , just don't get as much interaction with. We girls go out sometimes, and that has become a big blessing of 2011. I love those girl nights:)
 I think I may have to continue this blog, as my thoughts are overflowing....I am ready to say goodbye to 2011. It has been really hard. I am excited to see what 2012 will bring.I am not ready to post my goals yet....but maybe soon. I can't say that I wish 2011 never happened. Yes, it has been the most painful year of my life. But it is a part of my life. Part of me. And so I do not wish it away. But I am ready to move forward . One day at a time. Soon there will be more words on this.....

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Today is Christmas. What a difference one year makes. It has been a strange day in some aspects, not even feeling like Christmas at times. There is no snow and it is in the high 40s/50s (which I am not complaining about because I really do not like the cold, but it is strange for December); we just moved into a house, so there are no decorations up and we only did stockings, we did not do any presents; and the biggest standout strange part is of course not having mom this year.  So it has been a very different Christmas.
 Christmas is not my favorite holiday, though it is one I have always enjoyed and have some of the most fond memories of. Allow me to reminisce a little and tell you a few of my favorite Christmas memories.
 One year my little brother and I both really wanted a game. I wanted hungry hippos; he wanted trouble. We were not typically "peekers" when it came to gifts around the house, but for some reason , this one year, we chose to peek in mom's closet and we saw what we were getting. Mom being mom, she somehow knew we'd done that. So on Christmas Eve when we were opening gifts, we were so excited to get our games . Imagine our surprise (and mom's cleverness) when we opened our gifts only to find mom had switched them. OUr mouths both dropped and we yelled "I'll trade you!" We must've been only like 7/9 or something there a bouts. But it is a Christmas memory that still makes me laugh.
 My most favorite Christmas memory though is one year when our heat went out. Our furnace broke probably just a day or 2 before Christmas and no one could come out to repair it right away. It was a really cold Decemeber, too. So, we crashed out our best friends/neighbors home. However, we decided to go back to our home to open gifts Christmas eve. Mom put a blanket over our kitchen doorway, we turned on the oven and opened it for heat and we also had a small space heater. We all wore our coats and ate around a card table and opened gifts. I cannot tell you a thing that I got that year, and I really don't care-that is one of my favorite Christmas memories by far. My mom (and dad) always made things positive, no matter how crazy the situation was.
 I had some really precious Christmas' growing up. Now that I am an adult, new traditions begin taking place. But this year everything about it was different. It has been exhausting both emotionally, missing mom and getting through this first one without her, as well as physically, working full time and moving without taking any time off. The kids have been amazing, though. They haven't cared about opening gifts. The deal is this year we are going to all go out and just choose one thing, with very little limitations. I will be getting a new pair of running shoes. It's all just different.....
 I held up pretty well, though, all things considered, but of course I had my moments of crying, too. But there were plenty of moments to laugh as well. And enjoy waking up in a house. :) Goodbye apartment life...I will not miss you :)
 Last year at this time, we knew it was going to be our last Christmas with mom. She was fighting hard, but cancer was beginning to take its toll. Mom came home from the hospital on Christmas eve and we celebrated as a family the day after Christmas. Some very dear friends came in and made the entire dinner for us so we could just enjoy the evening together. They made all our favorites and they really lavished their love on us. Mom was wore out, but we saw her smile too. We were blessed to have friends take care of us-they even made all of mom's special recipe cookies and did an amazing job. It was a day I held tightly to and will have good memories of forever.. I will end this blog with some pictures from last year. I did not take any this year, as I was just different. But some new traditions were started, too. So we keep moving forward, all the while still remembering.
 So, Merry Christmas, friends. I am thankful to each of you who read this...and know that your support means so much to me. There will still be monumental days to make it through, but God is good and continuing to prove faithful as He promised. One day at a time, we keep moving forward....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011 memory of mom.

Well, most of you know I am very involved with Relay for Life, the event put on nationwide by the American cancer society. I have had a lot on my mind in recent days, a lot of it being that I miss mom terribly bad right now. But instead of writing about my grief experience, what I am feeling, what was going on last year at this time, I want to write this blog about why I relay. It's still related to mom and my experience with cancer, of course. But it's a redirected post for today anyhow.
 I first did a Relay for Life in 2010. I heard about it from a friend and decided I wanted to do something to make a difference in fighting cancer. At that time, my mom had gone through a partial lung removal, rounds of radiation and chemo. I started a team called Java Joggers, based off my love for coffee and running put together. Being that it was my first year, I learned a lot and was not really sure what to expect. I fell in love with the event from the start. I was able to form a pretty good team, and we raised somewhere around 1,000$ that first year. Every year, the event starts off with a survivor lap...people line the track and clap for the survivors as they go around. We are celebrating their lives! The caregivers go with the patients. Mom couldn't walk it-she didn't have the lung capacity. So she rode a golf cart, and I went with her, as her caregiver. It was an incredible and emotional experience.Mom said to the golf cart driver, "Thank you. Next year I will be walking it." I could go on and on, but I'll just say it was a great experience.
 As 2010 turned to 2011, I wanted to be involved again. Mom was dying. I felt desperate to do something in some way...and Relay had given me that way to give back to cancer patients and their families. So I signed my team up again, knowing that likely mom wouldn't be there for the 2011 Relay. I told mom everything, all the time. I would tell her about signing up and the progress I was making in raising money. She was always one of the few in my life who always wanted to know everything i was doing-she would patiently listen to every ridiculous story I had, whether they were silly, stupid, frustrating, exciting, or completely irrelevant to anything. Of course, my team name was the same "Java Joggers". As days plugged along, what I was raising kept coming in. It was really exciting on some levels....I'd tell mom by her bedside or as we sat quietly on the couch "Mom, another 100$ came in today!" She would always smile in such encouragement. Most of the time through the process of watching mom get worse, I felt pretty helpless. I could do nothing to stop her disease. It was growing. But maybe I could raise some money to help someone honor of my mom.I would tell her this every time-"Mom, I do this for you. I love you. You inspire me."  Mom inspired me-to help others, to pick a cause, to use the bad experience for a good thing. Mom kept a journal through some of her process, and sometime I will share an excerpt or 2. She was amazing. Sometimes people would tell me what I was doing was commendable. I really don't see it that way. It's just something small I can do to fight this disease which is growing so prevalently.
 I love Relay for Life. One thing I love about it is that it covers all cancers-it's not related to one specific. As the 2012 year for Relay for Life approaches, somehow I agreed to be the chair person for Greene County Relay for Life. It is a huge position, and at times I feel so inadequate to be doing it.Sometimes  I wonder what I got myself into. But other times I am so glad to be serving in that-it's kind of my new mission field in life right now. I get to meet so many people. And by God's strength alone, I get to talk about my experience and hopefully help someone else through theirs. There are times that is so hard. But God promised to use all things to work together for His good for those that love Him (Rom. 8:28) and He promised that He'd give me the strength (Phil. 4:13), so by Him I Relay. For Mom. For my mother in law, who is a cancer survivor-I don't mention her as often. I love her very much-it's a different cancer experience and so I leave her to tell what she may or may not want to share. I relay for those fighting currently who I know-Tara, being one of many names I'd like to mention. I relay in celebration of survivors I know-that list could go on forever, but to name a few, Bobbie, Jim, Paula,Chase, Travis,Aunt Pam, Uncle Larry, Uncle Jerry.........
 I attended a conference last weekend about Relay for Life, which prompted the need to write this today. It's just in my heart. I love to do it. I do it for Mom primarily. But I do it for all those facing cancer now, and to help those who may have to hear that news in the future. This blog is not an advertisement (though if you do want to know more about it, just comment or email me or Facebook me; or if you want to donate to my cause, just let me know). And it's certainly not about making myself look good-because it is only a God thing I am able to do it. It's more just what's on my heart today. Especially as the holiday season is here, and I am missing mom with a heartache.
 So, I Relay. In Memory of mom. I'm including some pictures from 2011 event. I miss you, mom ! But I will Relay forever in memory of you and to carry out a piece of you a little at a time. One day at a time.