Grief and Hope 

Grief. The word itself is ugly. It leaves an ugly black hole in the pit of my stomach. 

Grief comes from the Old French, grever, which means “to burden”.  It feels like a burden too, something we carry around on our backs like a heavy load. 

Some would think that grief gets easier with time, but really it only changes. 

My shock has worn down as the years have passed, but my grief is still as heavy and present as ever, and each passing year I forget more and more of the details. Like the sound of his laugh. Oh, how I wish I could remember what it sounded like. So, that grief, the initial shock of his death, morphs into grief for the loss of the details. I fear that eventually I’ll even forget his big bear hugs. 

I’ve written a lot about suicide since Will died, but it still needs to be talked about. Mental illness, depression, anxiety; these are all very real things. Until we, as a society, can get over the stigma attached to these things, then more families will continue to lose loved ones. And not just to suicide, but to things like addiction as well. 

I will live with my grief, carry that “burden”, and cling to the memories I have left until they, too, fade away. 

But there is hope as well. Hope that one day I may see him again. Hope, that by talking about these things another family may be spared the grief and heartache that we have experienced not once, but twice. 

Hope that someone may see this and know that they are loved and cared for and suicide is not the answer. 

And also hope in the Lord, for we do not have to carry this burden alone. 

Don’t wait to talk to your loved ones, don’t wait to talk to that kid at school that everyone makes fun of or the guy at work that keeps to himself. Your call, your smile or your hello could mean the difference between life and death. 

If you are the one suffering, please know that there is hope. You are not alone. 

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

J❤️

Already Enough


This is me. The real me. No makeup, filters or flattering photo angles. Hot and sweaty from watching my girls at cheer practice, before which I backed into my husband’s car (for real y’all). 

Tired, oh so tired. 

I am a daughter of the one true King, beloved and treasured, but I have a hard time remembering that. Remembering that my joy lies in Him and Him alone. 

I post this so you know that we don’t have it all together. I yell at my kids sometimes, and they are not always perfect angels. (The 4yo only made it half way through cheer before she had a meltdown). My house isn’t clean, I don’t cook gourmet meals, my kids are lucky if they have PB&J sometimes. 

Don’t compare yourself to what you see on social media. We all have stuff, no one is perfect. That photo I posted of my two sweet girls holding hands and smiling? It took 20 shots, lots of tears, and most likely a fist fight between the two to get. 

What you have is what you have, and what you have is already perfect because it’s yours. Live for the moment, because they go so fast. Put down the phone and spend time with your kids. I promise you will learn things about them you never knew. 

And LOVE yourself. The self you have now, not the self you want to be or think you should be. If you don’t love yourself now, you won’t love yourself when you get there either. 

You are beautiful, loved, treasured, important, intelligent, amazing. You truly are. 
“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:18

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I post this for and to myself. I need to put down the phone and stop comparing myself to other people, AND I am just as bad as the next person about only posting the good and “perfect”. I would hate to know that someone would see something I’ve posted and think less of what they have, when really they are only seeing half truths. I’m not trying to be preachy, I’m only calling it as I see it in my own life and mind. 

And again, you are already enough. YOU, reading this right now. You are loved, cared for, intelligent, strong, important, amazing. 

Don’t ever forget it. 

Until next time, 

Left Behind

This girl.

Beautiful Helper

She looks so much like a man she will never meet.

The other acts so much like that part of me that’s made up of the same stuff that he was made of.

I mustache you a question...

I still remember the moment that suicide directly affected me. It’s something you always hear about, it’s always there in the background but never had it really hit home.

I was 8 months pregnant with Scarlett, sitting in the floor of her not yet put together nursery trying to assemble a night stand. My dad called and asked if I was sitting down. Will had died. He killed himself. That was September 9, 2010.

Fast forward three years. In bed 6:30 am, Adam rushes in, you need to see this. Scott is gone. Will’s little brother, Brad’s twin. He killed himself.

I will never pretend to understand what would bring a person to that point. I’ve battled depression since my teens, I’ve been in low places. I’ve had the, “the world would be better off without me”, thoughts. I was a cutter. But I’ve never been to THAT place. The one of no return.

What could we have done? What could I have done?

What can we do?

I did something drastic the day before our second funeral, the one where we buried one more son, brother, nephew, father, cousin, friend. I went into the tattoo parlor and marked a part of me that I will always see. 1mt 1mt, One more thing, One more time.** I will never give up. It’s a reminder to do one more thing than you want to do, one more time than you want to do it. Pick up your pieces and keep moving. I had their birth dates put underneath to keep them near me always, and to remind me to keep going when they thought they could not.

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November 23rd is International Survivors of Suicide day. It’s about recognizing the people that are left behind, left to wade through the pieces and pick up where someone they loved could not.

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photo credit: afsp.org

Please consider donating to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is a very real and tragic thing, and it could be prevented. If you know someone who you think is struggling please reach out to them, if you don’t know how, then tell someone else that might could help. 50% to 75% of people who attempt suicide tell someone about their intentions.* Visit the AFSP’s site for more resources and info about suicide prevention.

Please, please take the time to reach out to someone you love today. You never know what internal battles they may be fighting. You never know when one conversation may save someone’s life.

Until next time,

J♥

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Note: I was not contacted or asked to write this post by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. All opinions and statements are my own. This is a subject and organization that is close my heart, I just hope to spare another family the grief we have experienced.
*Resource: afsp.org
** 1mt 1mt is credited to Josh Sundquist. He is a paraylmpic ski racer and an awesome motivational speaker. Check him out when you get a chance. 

Whirlwind and Topsy Turvy

A few days ago I was  laying in bed listening to the baby cry over the monitor wondering how long I would have to *act* like I was asleep so Adam would get up with her. As I was trying to fake my perfect snore I thought back to the time before children. The Saturday (and Sunday for that matter) mornings when we slept until 10 or even “laid” in bed all day. When our mornings didn’t revolve around Mickey Mouse or sippy cups, and our plans didn’t have to be made around nap times. We could go to the grocery store whenever we wanted without the worry that someone would throw a screaming tantrum in the middle of the store (unless of course they didn’t have my wine in stock). I wondered how our lives would be if we had never had children.

Adam and I had a whirlwind courtship. I knew he was the man I was supposed to marry on our first date. We dated for six months before we got engaged and a year later were married. We discussed starting a family but I had been told that I might not be able to conceive because of issues I had had in the past. We decided that just wasn’t what we had planned for our lives. We were going to travel, and spoil our dogs, and enjoy each other.

A month after our first anniversary I found out I was pregnant. I cried. Not because I was happy, but because I didn’t know what Adam would say. This wasn’t what we had planned, how were we going to afford this. Our world was topsy turvy, upside down. My initial shock only lasted a few days, soon I was over the moon for this little life growing inside of me. It took Adam longer to warm up to the idea. I think he mourned longer for the life that we had planned, the one that flew out the window with two little pink lines.

We finally started to settle somewhat into our new life, and a month after Scarlett’s first birthday I found out I was pregnant again. Adam’s first response was “Again?”. Seriously. I cried again, because, how were we going to afford this, this isn’t in our new plan and the new feeling of how can I love another as much as the first. When she came I knew the answer. Your love as a mother, as a parent, doesn’t divide with each child, it multiplies.

We’ve had a crazy year. Again we are starting to settle into our new life as a family of 4. But on this particular morning, the monotony of it all came crashing down on me and I began to wonder what our lives would be like if we didn’t have these girls. No sippy cups or bottles, no cartoons or tea parties, no waking up at the crack of dawn every single day. To go and do as we please. Then, in the middle of my daydream of vacationing in Italy, I hear Adam come back into the bedroom and I roll over and see this face.

Savannah

And shortly after this one crawls up in the bed.

Scarlett

All my thoughts are washed away. I think to myself “You big idiot!”. This may not be the life we planned, but nothing ever goes as planned. Some of the best adventures are the ones you never expected. We may not travel as much as we would like or get to sleep late on the weekends, we may be on the fast train to the terrorist threes, but our lives are just the way they are meant to be. Perfect.

J ♥

Our first baby (WW#2)

Our sweet Labrador, Jersey, passed away last Saturday. She was born December 26, 1999 and was with my husband 7 years before he and I ever met. She was our first baby, and survived a lot in her first few years. She was a good dog, one of the sweetest I’ve ever met. I will miss her dearly.

Is this not the cutest picture?

Is this not the cutest picture?

Jersey collage

Jersey5

Jersey2 Collage

Yes, that little black dot is her. She LOVED the river!

Yes, that little black dot is her. She LOVED the river!

Our first baby with our first baby...

Our first baby with our first baby…

I have to believe that she’s in a better place. She’s waiting for us on the other side. She has all the new tennis balls she could ask for, and we will play fetch again one day.

Love you sweet Jersey.

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♥ J

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Happy and Head Down…

For most that don’t know, I had a c-section with my first daughter because she was stubborn and decided not to turn head down. She was breech until the end, they checked her the morning of my scheduled c-section (at 39 weeks 2 days) and she was STILL head up. She’s also still stubborn to this day, so I like to think she was just giving us a peek at her personality.

So this little peanut isn’t really so little anymore, AND she is head down. I know exciting right?? Ok, so I’m a little scared. I know what to expect with a c-section, I’ve never actually given birth naturally before. We are letting her progress and decide when she wants to make her appearance on her own. That is as long as she decides to come before 40 weeks.

Now it’s a waiting game. I’m actually really excited. No really, I am. I felt like I was robbed of Scarlett’s whole birth experience since we had to go with a c/s. I did get to hear her first cry and see her right after, but then the whisked her away and I stayed in recovery for an hour. No skin to skin, no breastfeeding right away. I’m also excited that my mom gets to be there this time. She and Adam were to be my support people, which didn’t quite work out since I could only have one person in the OR with me.

So I’ll be keeping you updated. Mom and I are still working on nursery furniture. My mother-in-law is coming over this weekend to help put the finishing touches on Scarlett’s new big girl room. I’m frantically trying to finish up a big project at work. So life is pretty much like it always is, always something going on, and life just keeps going on around us. 🙂

Hope everyone is having a great week.

♥ Jess

This Moment…

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
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If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ over at SouleMama for all to find and see.

Baby Shower

Last weekend my Aunt and Cousin threw me a baby shower. Technically I guess I should call it a Baby Sprinkle to be proper, since this is my second child that it also a girl. As you can imagine I still have a lot of things left over (or that I’m still using) from Scarlett. Mom and I went through 5 or 6 boxes of clothes 6 months through 18 months. This chick had a lot of clothes!! So Savannah now has two 20 gallon bins of clothes. I sold all of the 3 months and under that I had before we found out we were pregnant.
Anywho, we received a lot of cute clothes. Mostly NB to 3 months, thank goodness. We got to eat great food and spend time with the lovely ladies, that are near and dear to us. 

Everything was delicious!
Scarlett of course received some presents too!
She decided that she liked one of the blankets we received too much to let Savannah have it.
She had a grand time putting her babies to sleep. 🙂

Of course we didn’t really get any other pictures of anyone else. Scarlett was the life of the party! Adam did take a couple of S and I after we got home.

Please excuse the awful lighting!
Sweet baby girl. She was done taking pictures at this point. She just wanted to play!
Everything turned out amazing, and we have a wonderful time! Big thank you to Kim and Holley for all the work they put in!

Can’t wait to Baby Savannah to get here now!!

Jess ♥

Grief…

Today is June 6th. Just any regular old day, nothing special about it.

Except it is special. It’s Will’s birthday. Today he would have been 26 years old.

It’s been almost 2 years since my cousin left this world. There are still days when I feel like I should call him up or stop by his house to see him. Drop in just to get one of his big bear hugs, and find out how he’s doing.

But I can’t…he’s gone. A young life cut so short.

I still feel guilty. I should have called him more. I should have let him know that I was here, and that I loved him and that everything would eventually be ok.

If you love someone, tell them every chance you get. Tell them until you’re blue in the face. Scream it from the mountain tops.

You never know what internal battles someone is fighting. Be there for the people you love. Call them just to say Hi. Drop in for a quick visit. Tell them you LOVE them. You never know when it might save someone’s life.

I didn’t mean for today’s post to be such a downer. Sometimes grief hits you like a ton of bricks, when you least expect it.

I love you Will. I hope you are at peace, and that we meet again on the other side.

Jess

Making up for lost time…

So I’ve been MIA for the last couple of days. My baby cousin graduated from High School Sunday. She was Valedictorian of her class! I am so proud of her. We threw her a graduation party that night, so I was just a little tied up this weekend.

So here is what I missed….

Day 19 ~ A favorite place…

Mexico Beach, FL 
This is one of my favorite places! My grandparents have a place down there, and I’ve spent many a long weekend hanging out on the beach. ♥
Day 20 ~ Something I can’t live without…
Adam, my husband. I love him dearly, and he jokes sometimes when he can’t seem to find his wallet or his belt or his keys, that he doesn’t know what he would do without me. Honestly, I don’t know what I would do without him. I hope with we forever feel that way about each other. 🙂
Day 21 ~ Where I stand…
Yup, could have gone a few ways with this one. But this is literally were I “stand” about 99% of my time…At my desk in my office! ;p Notice the nice puffy feet, the only shoes I can wear now are flip flops!
Day 22 ~ Pink!
Because there’s nothing cuter than a little munchkin in a pink dress!
So that catches me up a little! I posted the pictures, even if I didn’t meet my deadlines! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. 
Until next time,
Jess ♥