Thursday, April 30, 2009

Carder's Birth

April 30, 2002 was a day to remember! I had asked mom if she wanted to be in the delivery room, and she said she wasn't sure. She just couldn't handle the thought of me being in pain. She finally agreed to come after I had the pain meds.
Around lunchtime a dear friend of mine came to visit on her lunch hour. Mom, Nate, Kelly and I sat and laughed and told stories. As soon as Kelly had to leave to go back to work, my mom ran to the restroom and I told the nurse my hips were really aching. She checked me to find the baby's head was crowning. I'm not sure what the nurse said as she went back into the hall, but my mom heard her, and came back into the room absolutely frantic.
Right behind mom was the doctor and three pushes later Carder Seth entered the world. Mom just kept saying "Thank You, Thank You, this is so neat. Thank You for letting me be here." From that moment, Carder and mom shared a really special bond.

It was years later before we realized they shared the same temper. Carder would get mad, cross his arms and slam doors, and mom's reaction was hilarious. She would say, "You just don't understand how mad we get."
Carder is seven and mom is in heaven. Sounds like a kid's rhyme. But no matter how short the time, I am so grateful mom was able to experience Carder's life. They were truly two peas in a pod!

Carder during one of his fits at Gaga's house.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Immobilized For No Reason

It is really odd how grief works. I am still me. I still think funny thoughts. I still love my friends and family. I still dislike some people. I still get annoyed by bad drivers. Yet, there is a part of me that is incredibly different. I will be as normal as normal can be, and then something so small just immobilizes me.

For instance, today I have a lot of things on my to-do-list, but I went to the gym and returned a business call while I was on the treadmill. We set a tentative meeting, and now I feel like I want to run and hide on an island instead of going to that meeting. That is SO SO crazy. This person did not know my mother. This person and I have not met, and the meeting would be super easy, yet that phone call has flooded me with emotions of grief and fear. I can just hear mom saying, "Suck it up and get some of that grit I keep talking about."

I can go for a few hours of normalcy and then sometimes I even feel guilty. Like why am I not crying. That is so stupid. I know she wouldn't want me to cry. I know God gives me the strength and wants me to live a GREAT life, but it seems like I should have a grief reflective of the love I have and had for her. As I write this, I know how crazy it must sound, but there is a sense of guilt that comes with having a better day. I know it is not a correct emotion, but it is there all the same.

Living a GREAT Life is such a minute by minute choice. As I enter back into the real world, I hope to truly be a better person everyday. I just got a text message from someone I love. My dear friend is a DOCTOR! Mom would have been emailing and texting me today to share the good news. I can hear her saying, "She did it, I knew she would."

I am thankful for all that mom taught me and continues to teach me through those she touched while she was here. I'm off to push through another day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rainy Days

We are on day 100 of rain in northern Illinois. Not really, but it sure feels like it. Funny, I am normally a rain lover but this is becoming a little bit much even for my standards. If I wanted to experience this much rain I would have moved to Seattle.

What I mean is, I normally love rainy days. God's incredible plan to water the earth has always been a source of peace that his plan is always sufficient and creative. I also have a very vivid memory of mom and dad and I at our house in Oblong in the spring. We had been mushroom hunting and it started pouring down and instead of rushing for cover, mom started laughing and jumping in puddles saying, "We're in the mushrooms, we're in the mushrooms."

Tonight, we had a food distribution night for the church. To be honest, I just didn't want to go. However, I find that if I push myself to do things then I actually feel so much better. As always, serving is the best medicine for any situation. Of course, it started to rain and we had to wrap up shop early, but again God is good, and we were able to disperse the majority of the food. Plus, we made it home before the big downpour began.

God's blessings are as plentiful as the raindrops in a thunderstorm, I think it just comes down to whether we count the blessings we receive or whether we choose to look at the puddles instead of the rainbows.

I catch myself looking at puddles more lately, but in my heart I know that God is so good, mom is so happy, and I am so blessed and rainbows are just around the corner.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

You Never Have To Do Something For The First Time, TWICE!

Wow, Carder had a FANTASTIC time at his party. With crazy dark clouds all around us, we managed to have just one little rain shower during the whole party. Great friends of mine helped make the Pokemon theme come to life, and he thought is was, "The best party ever!"

We cleaned up, ate a fantastic dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches, and then took to bed for an early night. However, at 3, the birthday boy woke to horrible chills and a very high fever. Poor little guy! Papaw took off for Walmart in search of pain reliever, and since he was up and awake, he hit the road for South Carolina.

He should be reaching home within a few hours, and we have chilled on the couches hoping the fever will pass. Nate had a great day at church and a leadership meeting with some exciting things coming to our church future in the upcoming weeks.

With all of life swirling in a positive direction, I still ache for mom horribly. She always encouraged me with, "You never have to do something for the first time twice. And it is always easier the second, third, etc." She first told me that when I got my first teaching job. I was nervous about every part of it. She would tell me to just take it one thing at a time and remember that after I did, I'd never have to experience that first-time anxiety again.

Well, we've made it through our first Easter without mom and our first birthday party. I don't know that easier will be the word for the second, third and many more to come, but I do think mom was wise in saying that there is an anxiety that comes with the firsts that time heals and conquers with the events that follow. At least that is my hope and prayer.

Much love to those that loved mom and continue to love and support our family.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Someone that is close to me has noticed that I have a need for "preparedness." Meaning, I am always thinking about what is going to happen and mentally and physically preparing for the future so that I can do my best.

I have noticed that when I can't predict what may happen, I seem to shut down. I think that is what happens during grieving. Because I can't imagine my life without mom, I tend to shut down. However, when I just think about the next day, I do much better.

I know for a fact that I will be in Heaven with mom. I know this because of Jesus. I have thought a lot about Heaven over the last few weeks. I want to be prepared for Heaven. I want to know that I have lived the best life possible here, so that in Heaven I am thrilled with what I have done here.

Nate bought me the book, "90 Minutes in Heaven" after I had heard about it from a friend. After reading it, I have such a peace thinking about mom's peace of mind. As long as I focus on preparing for Heaven each day I seem to find a little peace too.

Speaking of preparation, Dad is in the garage right now doing his nitty gritty cleaning for Carder's party tomorrow. We are so excited for him. I'm off to make my list of last minute items.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Good Time Away

Nate and I had a great night away. We ate some great food, watched some great entertainment, and I SLEPT for hours and hours. Wow, that felt so good.

We came back to a clean house and clean laundry. Dad is a Super Dad. Baking cookies for the kids just like Gaga did, and taking care of the house much, much better than I ever do. We are going to have dinner tonight, and relax after a great afternoon of playing outside. Papaw and Carder went to Kaden's soccer practice, and this time together is so great for all of us.

I feel the best today that I have so far. Sleep is an incredible healer to my soul... at least for a few hours anyway.

As I look to our near future, I see some things happening that could truly help me feel like I have some room to heal and become that greater woman that mom would be proud of. As I look around, I am truly amazed by the wonderful people that surround me. Everyday, I am humbled by the kind acts of friends, acquaintences and family.

Thank you for the constant prayers, constant encouraging words, constant phone calls, texts and emails. Even when I may seem miles away, I read, hear and feel the love in every message and it sustains me in a way I cannot convey.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Home Rain Home

Dad and I traveled ALL day yesterday IN THE RAIN. Yes, we made it from Summerville, SC to Channahon, IL in record time 13 1/2 hours, but we were in the rain for 12 hours of the trip. Whew, we were so glad to get here, and then guess what we woke up to....yes, you guessed it -- RAIN!

Dark clouds and cold weather, yet we still feel better when we are together, and the boys make us smile and remember the great parts of life. We hurried back to Illinois, so we wouldn't miss Carder's big night. Tonight was his 1st grade music program. No offense meant, but when did music become "non-fun?" Carder was thrilled and proud to stand behind a xylophone and never strike it. There were no songs, and the idea was definitely not entertainment. I think I need to go back to school to better appreciate the arts. Our focus is definitely Carder this week with the big birthday approaching.

Anyway, Dad and I made big headway on our thank you notes today, and hopefully tomorrow we will make it closer to the end. Our grief is now just becoming a part of our life. The question is, "How do you choose to live in light of this new part of life?" Somedays I am better than others. Somedays are terrible. We are praying for better days to come.

I am just taking each day at a time. I look forward to knowing better how to plan for the future. I really wish I could just take care of Dad, Grandma and Popsie, the boys, Nate and work and somehow take everyone's grief and carry it myself. I feel a responsibility to help those I love and that love mom, and yet I know that there is ABSOLUTELY nothing I can do.

It's funny, I have so many people constantly saying, "What can I do for you?" I have truly GREAT, FANTASTIC friends and family that are reaching out, and I feel guilty because I am not the 'normal Rachelle' with them. I can't find that gal. I know how they feel, because I feel that way too, I miss being me. I miss real laughter, real joy, real living. "Bring mom back just like she was, without Leukemia, perfectly healthy!" that is what I want to scream. That is the only way I know how to get Rachelle back. Yet, I know that isn't an option, so there is nothing else that can be done for me, or for any of my family.

Nate and I are going away tomorrow night. I think it will be great for all of us. Dad will have the boys to himself. Nate and I will have a chance to talk alone for the first time since I left for SC when mom was sick, and I can cry without anyone else in my house or space. Please pray for all of us that this is a useful, healing time and that the boys are feeling secure in their routine. I worry for them too. Ugghh, I know I have to find a "new" normal, but it seems very far away from normal right now.

As I reread this, it sounds like whining, and I can just see my mom rolling her eyes. Being tough, and getting "GRIT," as mom says, is harder than it sounds, but I am determined to be a better wife, better mother, better daughter, better granddaughter, better friend and better person on the other side of this grief.

I just pray that the other side of grief is a real destination because right now it seems as real as a unicorn.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dad and I just got back from the flea market. On the way home, a man called, "Yak-Yak" telephoned Dad. He needed his weed-eater fixed. We stopped by and after just a few minutes we were back on our way. Dad and I discussed this wonderful little old man. He comes into the coffee shop on a rare occasion only when someone can come and take care of his wife. His wife has alzeheimer's.

Today we are reminded that the way that mom left the earth is a blessing. It is a blessing to her. Not our blessing, but her blessing indeed. Yes, we miss her. Yes, we cry, we ache, we hurt like we have never hurt before, but in reality her blessing came by not having time to worry for us at her loss.

If you knew mom, you knew that her heart was always about those she loved. She worried about how her life affected others more than how her life affected her.

Today, after the visit to "Yak-Yak," we talked about that we would never have wanted her to suffer an illness where she thought someone would have to take care of her. That would have crushed her spirit. Praise be to God, Our Father, for knowing her well, loving her intensely and blessing her completely.

Dad and I will somehow pull it together, and live a life of greatness that will cause God to smile (and of course, mom too)!

Friday, April 17, 2009

At Peace With Dad

Well, I'm sitting here in South Carolina in a sweatshirt. Evidently I brought the cold weather with me. Dad and I are so sad. Yet, together, we just feel better. It seems that when I am with someone that really knew mom, it feels better.

This morning I went to the coffee shop with Dad. We had a hoot of a time. Those old men are just hilarious, and kind. They think I look like I'm 27, so I might have to visit the coffee shop a lot more often. Hee Hee.

Dad and I are talking about the future, talking about the past, and just enjoying the present together. I am so fortunate to have the Dad I have. We are hoping to mark some of our things off of our to-do list today. We have dinner with Barbara and Steve tonight. Barbara was mom's boss and great friend at Cummins. I am looking forward to the stories they share tonight.

May God continue to bless our healing hearts with thoughts and memories of one of the greatest women to walk the earth.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Survival is the theme of the day. I survived an hour long bus trip with really loud third graders. I survived a day of the Field Museum, and NO TEARS! YAY MOM! Kaden is such a wonderful son, and I offered prayers of praise all day as I watched him in wonder. I have so much to be thankful for.

Nate needs your prayers too. He is such a wonderful husband and father, and he is a wonderful pastor too. He is taking me to the airport tomorrow and will be "single" dad yet again for an undetermined amount of days. He has never complained. In fact, he just says, go be with your dad...stay as long as you need. While I know he means it, I also recognize single parenting isn't the easiest. So please offer some special prayers up for his survival over the next few days.

Everyone grieves differently. Survival is a good goal to aim for when you are in the depths of deep grieving. I recognize that there is more to living than surviving, but sometimes there is a great sense of accomplishment in the mere survival of another day.

Surving grief would be easier with a Grieving Button. I just wish I had a 30 second button for yucky life stuff like we do on our new remote. You hit it and it fast forwards through a whole commercial with just one push of a button. Commercials are the necessary evils of GREAT TV. I think the grieving process is a necessary evil of a GREAT LIFE. When someone has lived a GREAT LIFE, you have to honor it with grieving. When you desire to live a GREAT LIFE after someone you love has gone to heaven you have to get through the grieving stage. God is so good, I just wish he could give us a Grieving Button. Push it, your done. You remember your loved one with smiles, laughter and deep love, but you are able to LIVE really LIVE as an honor to who they were to you.

Well, since we didn't get the button, Dad and I are going to do this together the long, hard way. Anyway, I'm off to SC tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it. Please pray for safe travel, and for healthy, happy boys in Illinois!

A Big Day Out

Funny how life changes. My big day out today consists of going on Kaden's field trip to the Field Museum. When I planned to be the chaperone, I thought it would be a welcomed day off from my regular routine of business. However, now it feels like the biggest challenge of the year. I cannot wait to be with him all day. I look forward to watching him interact with his buddies, but I just pray and hope that I will not breakdown. That is not what he needs today.

Just in case, the tissue is packed along with the camera, lunches and Easter candy for emergencies.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Choosing to live is a hard choice. To exist, to breathe, to cope those are chosen for us. Choosing to live is a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute choice that is proving to be my life's biggest challenge lately. I feel like I'm working all day to take a step while it seems everyone else is on one of those moving walkways you see in the airport.

I've been on the other side of this so many times. I've watched people I love struggle with grief, and feel the pain. I've even felt guilt for living my life to the fullest while others were frozen. This post is for all of you. DO NOT feel guilt for living, for laughing, for enjoying. PLEASE enjoy your loved ones to the fullest.

I will get to the place I can walk at a regular pace in life again. I know I will. I will run and laugh and enjoy because my mom raised a fighter not a whiner.

On Wednesday, I am looking forward to being with dad. I'm headed to South Carolina and we are going to be us. I am so fortunate to have the relationship with him that I have. We can be totally honest. We can cry, laugh and be quiet. It is a rarity for a family to be as close as we are. I am grateful.

I am going to choose to live today. And that choice starts with laundry. May sound funny but that is a big accomplishment for me today.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cadbury Egg

Funny story about mom. When I was little, I had my same taste for chocolate and sweets as I do now. My mom always did as well. However, I detested eggs of any kind. So, as Easter was approaching, someone gave us Cadbury eggs. My mom told me I would not like them because they were "egg" in the middle. I believed her and wouldn't think of touching them. Then, as Easter dawned and we went to grandma's house, Granny Putt gave me a Cadbury egg. I scrunched my nose up and told her, "Grandma, I don't like eggs." Mom turned all red and admitted to me that it was candy. Grandma was super mad, and mom just giggled that funny giggle and shrugged her shoulders in her usual ornery way. To this day, I don't like Cadbury Eggs. It is a mental thing. Funny part is that I love real eggs now, almost every kind.

Today was a really hard day. I headed back to church for the first time. I did really well until communion time. It was as if it took on new meaning. We commune with God until the day we are reunited with Him, and I realize I won't ever share some of those most intimate spiritual talks with my mom until we are reunited again in heaven.

I am so thankful for incredible friends. What would I do without the love of those around me. Happy Easter everyone. Enjoy your life, and make it a GREAT day!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

GaGa's Gift

Today has been a day of mixed emotion. I had a wonderful friend visit me last night. We laughed, she brought me dessert, and I ate and ate and ate late last night and early this morning to the point that I felt sick. I shared with her how this grief makes me feel like I am wearing a 600 lb suit of armor and even simple tasks like unloading the dishwasher are unbelievably hard. She understood. She has felt this type of grief and much worse. So there is hope in her life of coping. There is hope in her words of encouragement. There is strength provided to feel the hurt, embrace the loss of mom and put one foot in front of the other towards a day when the suit of armor feels like a badge of honor because I was blessed to have my mom as my mother.

Hearing that, knowing that, resolving to love, grieving to live....Today has still been one of the hardest. Kaden's Nintendo DS has been broken for a few weeks. Yesterday, as he was watching Carder play his and NOT whining, I realized that was what mom bought him for Christmas. I just couldn't stand it. So we went today and got a new one. I recognize it probably wasn't the brightest move in parenting, but it felt so good to watch his little smile. I could just hear mom say, "It doesn't matter how it broke, I'm GaGa and its my present." Of course, then I got Carder a game because she never bought for one and not the other. This made me feel great and sad all at the same time.

I'm taking a friend to the airport today, and then I think we are going to sit by the fire tonight with the boys. Dad went fishing today and I'm waiting to hear from him as to how it went. I'm hoping he'll have some stories to tell the boys.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fighting, Not Whining

Well, today has been better. I decided yesterday to have a better day, and so far it has been. I joined a gym today. Exercise is supposed to help with grief and depression....we shall see!

Kaden has his first soccer practice of the season last night, and Carder has his tonight. The good news = their schedules do not conflict; the bad news=we have soccer practice M-F from 5-5:45 and Saturday Games until JUNE. The boys also received their report cards yesterday, and once again they were perfect. I am so proud of them.

Tomorrow I think we will go shopping for new soccer gear, spring clothes and a new attitude for me. Dad and I have been talking on the phone when he hears it ring (LOL) and laughing and coping day to day the best we can.

So today was a day of mentally fighting for good thoughts and productivity. Fighting, not whining, mom would be proud of this day.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Life's Not Fair, but God is Good

Mom used to say that to me all of the time. I can remember even in High School when my feelings would be hurt, and mom would say, "Rachelle, life's not fair." I would always sigh and tell her I hated it when she said that, and the she would say, "But, God is good."

Today has been a hard day. Daddy is in South Carolina having a hard day. I'm here having a hard day. Aunt Vicki is in California having a hard day. Grandma and Popsie are in Charleston having a hard day. Life sure doesn't seem fair today. Yet, as I look at my boys, as I read the Scipture I know God is good.

I have received countless cards, flowers, gifts, texts, emails from so many, and it helps so much. I see the good through the love of those around me. It reminds me that this life is meant to build our character, it is meant to draw us the One that can sustain us. I promised mom that I would be alright. I promised her that I would be happy. Today, I have failed in that promise, but tomorrow is a new day.

I am choosing to have a good day tomorrow, because a great life is always a choice.

Life Goes On... Click here to see Mom's slideshow.

Well, the boys headed back to school today, and I'm sitting here looking at a pile of pictures, thank you cards and a messy house. I can't seem to get anything done. I just go from one pile to another, and I'm drawn back to this BLOG. I keep thinking to myself, mom would not sit here in her pajamas, she would be like the tasmanian devil in a whirlwind putting things in order. I'm going to go get pictures printed this afternoon, and hopefully that activity will cause me to snap out of this lethargic attitude. Carder's Birthday is at the end of the month, so I'm going to focus on a GREAT Birthday party. Speaking of Carder, he lost a tooth yesterday. The tooth fairy brought $2 and he is on cloud nine. It is a beautiful day, maybe we can master the bike without training wheels today. He is going to be 7, but in his words, "Riding a scooter is just fine!" What a kid!

After reading our devotion last night, Kaden said, "It's too bad we can't call Jesus on the phone, it would be nice if we could just call him ask him how GaGa is doing." What a sweetheart.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My Mom Was My BLOG

I have never needed a BLOG to keep everyone updated with our life. Until April 1, 2009 I had a BLOG and her name was mom. She kept everyone in the loop as to the kids, Nate, the church and my activities. I've decided to start this BLOG to keep up with those that we don't see often but love dearly. I'm sure I will get better at it as time goes by, and I hope that blogging will help me heal the terrible hole that is in my heart due to mom's absence in my life.