sit with me

Aaron is going in for what will be his first outpatient procedure post birth. He will be under anesthesia. I am feeling fine that he is going in for this procedure. I really liked the doctor that we met with and it is something we need to have done.

I talked to my mom and she is going to come down that night and stay for a few days so that I can work from home and be there for him but that she can ultimately take care of him for me. It was a plan and it all sounded good.

The other night when talking to my mom she said, “Alyssa…dad and I were thinking that maybe I should be there to sit with you during the procedure so you are not in the waiting room by yourself.”

The thought itself is proof of how wonderful my parents really are. They are always thinking about me and making sure I am OK. I am blessed beyond belief having them as my parents.

My response was “I didn’t even think about that…yes I would appreciate it if you could sit with me.” I try to hold in my emotion before thanking her again and then hanging up the phone.

I hadn’t even thought about being in the waiting room by myself. Knowing the procedure is safe it didn’t even cross my mind that I will have a groggy 3 year old. Nevermind how sitting in hospitals isn’t something I do for fun and can and probably will set off a few triggers.

After I got off the phone with her I broke down in tears. Why? I wasn’t all the sudden scared about the procedure. Tears fell because I was humbled. That in a moment I didn’t even imagine would be difficult, there was someone thinking about me and most of all willing to sit with me.

the question

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In the last couple weeks, Aaron and I have visited  2 new doctors.  It is the initial conversations with these doctors that forces me to remember a hard reality.   I am a single parent.
Since May 9th, 2012 I have worked through many mixed emotions about this reality.  These doctors do not know this history.  I cannot blame them for due diligence in asking the questions they need answers too.  “Does his dad have any allergies?  Is his dad in fairly good health?”  I hear the question with Aaron by my side.  I take a deep breath and with every ounce of strength I can find I answer the questions.  “His dad did have a few allergies.  His allergies were [fill in info].  When Aaron was 6 months old, his dad died of a massive heart attack.”
I finish my answers and I see the reaction I have not seen in awhile.  The first response I get from them is “I am so sorry.”    I try to smile as much as I can and I say “thank you.”
Early on when Aaron and I would have alone time at night I would find myself crying.  My heart hurt, not just for me but for this beautiful baby boy that deserved so much better.  He would look at me a little confused and then start to cry himself.  He couldn’t know why his mommy was crying but he hurt because I hurt.  I cry less often nowadays.  I have worked hard to move forward and accept life as it is because life is meant to be lived and I need to do just that…live.
The blog title is “the question.”  You may think I am talking about the question asked of me from the doctors but it’s not about that.  You see Aaron was only 6 months old when Jay died.  The fact is he doesn’t really get what his reality is.  He knows he has a mommy that hugs him, loves him and takes care of him.  He knows he has grandmas and grandpas that spoil him and love him.  He doesn’t quite get yet why they embrace him and cherish every second they get to spend with him.  He knows he has an aunt, uncle and cousin who love him to the moon and back.  And that his mommy has many friends who love him and care for him, again in a way that he has yet to fully understand.
The question that concerns me is when he is old enough to be in school and someone asks him “Where’s your daddy?”  He knows his dad in pictures.  I think he knows his daddy is not here but what happens when he realizes why?  What happens when he comes home from school with tears because he thinks his daddy left him on purpose.
I imagine the day will come when we sit down and his tears are not from being a 3 year old and not getting what he wants but of him realizing his reality.  I imagine he will cry and as he cries I will cry too.  I will hurt because he hurts.
In a moment of calm I start to feel grief is over.  I feel I have conquered a big hurdle.  And then events like this happen that remind me grief does not end.  It changes.  It is a constant learning of how to navigate through life.  A continuous learning of how to move forward.  I am better equipped to not only move forward myself but my hope is I will be able to help Aaron move forward when he is presented the question.

Criminal Minds

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IMPORTANT NOTE: If you watch Criminal Minds and don’t want part of tonights episode spoiled, stop reading here.

I don’t watch much television.  An occasional check of the news is possible in the morning or when I have seen something online about weather.  I’ve also been known to watch The Big Bang Theory new or rerun episodes continuously.  My reasoning is simple…there is a lot of negativity on TV and if I don’t have to be part of negativity, I avoid it at all costs.

Tonight I was relaxing on the couch and just happen to watch the show Criminal Minds.  I didn’t watch close enough.  What I did catch is it contained a topic close to my heart so you would think I could engage.  The general summary is that the killer had a family member on the waiting list for a life saving organ.  I believe it was a kidney.  He worked at the DOT.  Was he killing those on the list ahead of his family member?  Was he killing those that said “yes” to the question of whether they wanted to be an organ donor or not?  I didn’t watch the end to find out.  I didn’t want to know.

I have made it part of my mission in life to help others understand the benefits of organ donation.  I speak at drivers education groups specifically explaining to kids the importance behind what appears such a simple yes/no question.  From what I watched, this episode hit really close to home.

Now to be clear I don’t hate the show now.  I don’t mind on occasion the shows that have you guessing “who did it?”  or “why???”  My only hope is those not educated on the  good organ donation can do not only for those waiting for life saving organs, the families left behind or those amazing people that decide they want to be a living kidney donor are not skewed away from it from this episode.

Some simple facts are the following:

If you filled Jack Trice Stadium in Ames and Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City full of fans you would have the number of people who are on the waiting list for life saving organs.

Every 10 minutes someone is added to this list.

Every day, 21 people die while waiting for a transplant.

And the most important piece of information, ONE person can save up to EIGHT lives.

I won’t be specifically not watching the show.  I won’t lie though because should it show up on TV next time I am sitting down to relax, I may look at the information about the episode insuring it isn’t this specific episode before continuing to watch.

I don’t push people into life decisions.  They are our own to make.  I work to better educate on a topic that hits close to home in hopes the decision you make has all the facts behind it.  I’m not sure I am ready to understand Criminal Minds.

For more information about organ donation and the data above visit www.unos.org or https://www.iowadonornetwork.org.

 

I will always

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Driving home the other night the song “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston played.  For some reason I was extremely focused in the moment and in the lyrics.  It was like I was having a conversation.  I imagine it starts off me talking, then Jay and then ends with me.  I talk about staying in the state of grief that makes it impossible to move forward.  He tells me not to cry and hopes I have joy, happiness and most importantly love.  And I end it  with tears in my eyes (as that is what happened while driving) telling him I will always love him.

Loving him and the life we had when he was here starts a fight in my mind.  How can I love him and the life we had and still move forward with another love and life?  I have watched other widows do this seemingly impossible task with grace.  My admiration has no bounds for these women I share such a tragic life event with.   Their strength gives me hope that maybe I can do and have again.

The other night while talking to the new man in my life he could tell I was “off.”  Thinking it was something he did he asked…”Did I do something?”

It wasn’t him.  It was me.  Something happened that prompted a memory to surface from my previous life.  It was a happy memory.  And then I was sad.  Then confused.  And then ultimately frustrated at life.  A trigger that come out of no where as they often do.  Many say they can read me like a book and that is exactly what he had done.  My response didn’t help him any as I said “I can’t explain it.”  Truth be told I could, but how would he react?  How do you say “I miss Jay.”  How do you say “I will always love him.”

It was his response that to this moment still brings tears to my eyes.  He said, “You miss him don’t you?”  As tears ran down my face he then looked at me and said “You will and that is OK.  You will always have your memories, how could you not?  You have Aaron.  You will always love him.”

Being a widow is tough.  The world around me got nothing on the fights my mind has with my heart.  Tears wiped from my face I realized I needed to blog this feeling.  Explain what I could not say.  I am so lucky for those around me that try to understand me.  They take the time and I love them all from the bottom of my heart.

It is these people who accept and know that I will always…love Jay.

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“I Will Always Love You”  Whitney Houston

If I should stay
I would only be in your way
So I’ll go but I know
I’ll think of you every step of the wayAnd I… will always love you, ooh
Will always love you
You
My darling, you…
Mmm-mm

Bittersweet memories –
That is all I’m taking with me.
So good-bye.
Please don’t cry:
We both know I’m not what you, you need

And I… will always love you
I… will always love you
You, ooh
[Instrumental / Sax solo]
I hope life treats you kind
And I hope you have all you’ve dreamed of
And I wish you joy and happiness
But above all this I wish you love

And I… will always love you
I will always love you
I will always love you
I will always love you

I lived

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On my way home tonight after speaking in front of 40 or so underwriters the song “I lived” by One Republic played on my radio.

I had just run into a friend I went on spring break with my junior year of college and had literally just finished telling her I have often thought Jay knew he wasn’t long for life and was able to travel and see so much in the time he had.  He traveled to Thailand for work.  We had one summer that we called Tabertripallooza which became known as the summer we decided any trip over 5 hours warranted a serious discussion about air travel.

He lived life to the fullest.  He made friends with so many that met him.  He had a smile that could make anyone feel better.  He was someone that called his friends his family because that is what they were to him.  People who knew him left his presence laughing and/or knowing he was an amazing person.  He lived.

The lyrics to the song are the following:

Hope when you take that jump
You don’t fear the fall
Hope when the water rises
You build a wall
Hope when the crowd screams out
They’re screaming your name
Hope if everybody runs
You choose to stay
Hope that you fall in love
And it hurts so bad
The only way you can know
Is give it all you have
And I hope that you don’t suffer
But take the pain
Hope when the moment comes
You’ll say…
[Chorus]
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived
[Verse 2]
Hope that you spend your days
But they all add up
And when that sun goes down
Hope you raise your cup
I wish that I could witness
All your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes
I’ll say…

My life event from May 9, 2012 has put me on a path I never imagined I’d be on.  It hurt but I heal more every day.  I was lost, but I have since found myself.  I want people to meet me and be glad they did.  My family is my family.  My friends are my family.  My life is not how I imagined it would be.  In many ways it is more amazing then I could ever have imagined.  My mission in life is not to just make it out alive, I know that is not possible in the end.  My mission in life is now to be able to say I lived.

Freedom

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As I prepare for my speaking event in front of 40 underwriters, I challenged myself to find another way to explain to people what life insurance does for people.  More specifically those left behind.  In front of this audience I don’t need to explain why or how we went through getting the insurance.  They already know this information.  So I am tasked with explaining to these life insurance savvy individuals what life insurance does.

Early in the grieving process I felt an immense amount of guilt.  I was guilty of living.  I was guilty of having an amazing man and some how losing him.  I clearly did something wrong to have such a life event occur.  I was trapped in grief.  I was unable to move through the guilt.  And then, one day as I sat in my jail cell of grief with no foreseeable way of getting out of what seemed like a life sentence a key appeared.  I tried it on the locked door and in shock I watched the door open.  Was it possible that this grief and guilt I felt wasn’t a life sentence?

That my friends is what life insurance allowed me.  It protected me from myself.  It allowed me to let go of the guilt.  It gave me the strength to survive.

When I stand in front of those underwriters I will share our story.  I will tell them what life insurance does for those left behind.  And then I will thank them for what they do.  They help people, who know better than others, protect those they may leave behind.

What Jay did, protecting us, is what is giving me the ability to fly.  He gave me the strength to do things I never thought I would or could ever do.  He gave me the strength to do it all on my own.  He gave me the time to figure it out.   The ability to do what I am meant to do.  All of this allows me to have the one thing I need more than anything, freedom.

A second chance

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As I start this blog tonight I put my headphones on and put on a slow calming song.  It is with this mindset I can conquer a topic I have wanted to share for awhile now.  It is time.

When given a second chance, you shouldn’t waste it.  It is what I have always heard and always believed.  I haven’t always felt I deserved a second chance and there in lies my problem.  I am my own worst critic.  I can tell you without pause everything I have not done right and find it difficult to tell you the things I have done well or “right.”  It is where I was stuck for sometime after May 9th, 2012.

This critic did not jive well with moving forward after losing Jay.  It has taken time to melt together, this thought that I would have a second chance let alone deserve or expect a second chance…at love.  And this is where we will see if I can finish such a difficult topic to share.

I sit here tonight having had the most unique and beautiful last 2 weeks.  Aaron and I had Christmas with my side of the family and I brought my boyfriend.  Then Aaron, my boyfriend and I had our Christmas at home.  Then we went to his parents and then Aaron and I went to Jay’s parents.  It is the end of the Christmas/New Year crazy weeks where Aaron, my boyfriend and I went to his family’s Christmas gathering.  I feel normal.  I am exhausted.  My heart is happy.  I know I am blessed.  I know life is good.  And then my mind clutters with the thought, “do you really deserve this?”

With a second chance the door opens for the chance of losing it all again.  I’ve been here before.  I’ve felt this before, it was wonderful and then it was gone…in a heartbeat.  The phrase “gone in a heartbeat” is one I say often when I speak.  It emphasizes a point.  It is also quite literal in my world.  Not even a heart of gold can beat forever.  A second chance allows so many amazing firsts, feelings and experiences again.  A second chance allows for life to be pretty amazing.  It allows you to understand better what to not take for granted.  To feel beautiful, loved  and put back together.

Listening to a song now, timing again amazes me.  The song “Let her go” by Passenger plays.  I used to hear it a lot and thought I understood what it meant to me.  Hearing it tonight it hit me.  I could never understand who “her” was in my world.  “Her”…that is the Alyssa who doubts what the Alyssa who walks this journey should have in life.  It is the part of me who I need to let go.

I then hear the song “The Rose” by Bette Midler.  I will let you google the lyrics but I am listening and reading them.  Tears fall from my eyes.  Why?  As I have thawed from being frozen in grief it was then I went on a date with the most amazing man who on our first date walked into the restaurant and as I walked up to him, he handed me a rose.

A second chance at having it all.  A second chance at doing it right.  A second chance at doing it wrong.  I am waking up everyday feeling blessed knowing I have a second chance.

Here is to 2015

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I declared 2014 the year of me. I took that declaration and ran…fast. I have no regrets from 2014.

In 2014 I learned the following:

It is ok to let go. People, events, feelings and something even scarier…control. It is not easy but it is ok.

I can be content with my past. The events, people and feelings that got me where I am today. And I am…finally.

It is important to take care of me.

2015 promises to be pretty amazing. It won’t always be easy, to expect it to be easy is silly.

I have this feeling that it will be a wonderful year of growth, fun and happiness. My resolution is to declutter. Most think this strictly of stuff but my resolution is to declutter the house, my mind and my food. I have a pretty good start on much of this but there is more work to be done and I am ready.

I am making my declaration this year. I will be fierce. A force to be reckoned with.

I enter 2015 with a happier heart, a clearer mind and a fire within me to make this the best year yet. Here is to 2015.