Monday, April 13, 2015

learning to love life again...

the above print can be found here...

Grief can be a tricky tide to navigate. I know that each day I have a choice to make. Some days it's quite easy to get up and go about life's busyness. The laundry, the housecleaning and the food prep. It's rote at this point in my life. Muscle memory takes over, if you will.

Then there are days when my body feels like it's carrying and extra thousand pounds and my heart is weighed down with such grief that I feel I cannot breathe. 

On these days, choosing to find the joy hidden within daily life, is freaking tough my friends. As in "Lord give me the strength to stay upright and out of bed curled in the fetal position for the rest of my life" kind of Herculean strength that can only come from God. 

Yesterday and today have been hard Herculean days. They weren't any different than any other day, nothing particularly special going on but for whatever reason they have been extremely difficult to navigate. 

The tears come with every photo I see. An email arrives talking about our sweet girl and I lose it, missing her so. A song is played on the radio and in an instant I am shot back in time with my Courtney. It just doesn't end on these days.

I am told that this pain never really goes away, but the weight and power of it lessen as the heart grows to carry it all. I think of it as scar tissue growing over an open wound. 

It will take time I know, but golly it's exhausting to fight my way through it some days. I have so much to be grateful for in my life. Courtney was a gift from God who taught us how to love without limits. She was the BEST part of our family. We all agree on that. She was a miracle from day one and her presence is still so strong here in our home. 

It's just that she not really here to hold and cuddle, to read to and care for. I had no idea how much time we really spent together every day for twenty-two years. I just cared for her and now she's not here and my days are so very empty. 

I do not mean any disrespect to anyone. I love my babysitting job with my two sweet girls twice a week. I love lunching with friends and meeting for coffee and critique group with my writing homies. 

October of 2014

It's just not the same as being with my Courtney. 

I guess that's how it's supposed to be when your child dies. Life changes in an instant. I am not who I was on December 26, 2015. I never will be again. As to I am supposed to be, I'll let you know whenI figure it out. 

For now, I just try to surround myself with as much joy as possible. It makes it a little easier to find it within myself. And when the Herculean days come, I just head to the nearest Baskin Robbins and begin and flavor #1. 

Just keeping real my friends. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

what i wore ~ vol.68...catching up...

This morning...Divine Mercy Sunday...

As I am slowly getting back into the swing of things here at blog central, I have begin to take photos of what I wear as each day goes by. I know there are many readers who love these particular posts and you know I hate to disappoint. So this morning we will play a little catch up. 

Today I went with a blue/lavender theme. The blouse from Eloqui is a little out of my wheelhouse. I am not a big collar girl since I suffer from "short squatty neck" syndrome. However, I am trying to press forward and try a few new things, so collar it is. I paired the blouse with a classic floral printed pencil skirt from Charter Club and some fab shoes from the Macy's house brand Style&Co. 

During this grieving process, I have gained about ten pounds so my middle and face are a bit fuller than usual. Not to worry though, I have begin to literally work it off. It's time to reclaim my life, one day at a time. 

I went bold this week with my nail color. Teal all the way. 

Moving on tho the last two weeks of fashion choices. First up we have Easter Sunday. This was the only dress that actually zipped up in my closet. Yep, ten pounds will do that to you. 

Anyway, the dress is orange and cream from ElizaJ and the navy coat is Charter Club from three seasons ago. It was a very brisk Easter Vigil so a coat was definitely a good call. The shoes are once again Macy's Style&Co. They fit like a dream. 

Me and my beloved before Easter Vigil.
 It was Jerry's 16 year Anniversary from coming into the Catholic Church. 

We can go back further to Holy Week. This first dress is from Holy Thursday service. It's a cotton damask from Lands End. It's so comfy and really elegant. I think I paid $35 for it, again on sale. I love the new look of Land's End. I call it the affordable JCrew. Shoes are black strapy wedges from Edleman. 

Next up was a ladies tea I attended. I decided that it was time for spring so bright and bold was the call. The dress is from Dress Barn and the sweater from somewhere deep in my closet. The shoes are last season JCrew. Gotta love a good end of season sale. 

Finally we have the two casual outfits I actually have photos of. This is what I usually wear Monday-Friday. Comfy linen pants or soft jeans and flats. Color is always present and any time I get to play with pattern, I am happy. 

So there you have it my friends. That's all I got. It is a beautiful spring day here in NoVa land so hubby and I are off to a Divine Mercy Holy Hour followed by Youth Ministry. 

I pray you have an AWESOME Sunday!!

Go take a photo and join us won't you? Head on over to FineLinenandPurple and link up. Then you can head over here to Watch What I'm Wearing, celebrating modesty and fashionI'm also over at Sunday Style @ Plane Pretty , Tucker UpGet Your Pretty On and The Pleated Poppy. It's a party!

Friday, April 10, 2015

7 SQT...can you handle it???

Three blog posts in three days. Can you handle it??? I mean that's a whole lot of Passionate Perseverance to handle but I know y'all got the chops so let's just dive in shall we.

I cannot remember the last time I participated in 7 Quick Takes but I thought I would give it a whirl this cool foggy spring morning here in NoVa. 

Can I just say how much I am looking forward to sunshine. I need it badly. 

OK enough about the weather let's talk life shall we???


The power struggle among pre-schoolers is real my friends. I am watching too little girls, two days a week now. One is 3.5 and the other a newly minted 4. They are a hoot, but those .5 years in age difference are HUGE. 

For example:
#1 - "I am 4. I'm older and I know so much more 'cause I was borned first."
#2 - "Well, I go potty all by myself. (stomp foot with hands on hips)"

Yes indeedy, these are important things to establish oneself in the grown up world. How could I have forgotten this in the 23 years since I had pre-schooler in the house?? 

The other thing I had forgotten about were the endless "knock-knock" jokes. Lordy my. 


This...this is my husband's sense of humor. 

Yes, I am that lucky. 


He also loves dogs. Really loves dogs and has begun the full court press for us to get a puppy. I am so not ready for that commitment right now. Dog sitting is my speed at the moment. Puppies will come later. Maybe. 


Today is a special day in our house. Today, April 10 we honor St Rebecca Irene, one of God's special little saints. Today she would have turned one. She went home to Jesus when she was a few days old. Miss Beth has been an on-line friend for several years and we have shared much over emails and through snail mail. St. Rebecca and St Courtney are now running around in Heaven helping Jesus with all there is to do to assist those of us left here on earth. One day, we Mama's will be reunited with our girls. That day will be glorious indeed. 

Send up a prayer for Miss Beth and her family today won't you? Also, do something kid and wonderful in St. Irene's name. Let's spread a little love around in her name.  

Is there anything more lovely than a china teacup. I think not. 


Back to those 3.5 - 4 year old jokes. Here's a good one for you.

Why kind of cheese is not yours?
Nacho cheese!!

What did the dog say to the tree?

Yes, my brain may start bleeding...


Coffee...I need more's how I roll...

PS... Please keep Fulton in your prayers. Hopefully he and Kelly are heading home from CHOP today. Prayer moves mountains people. It truly does. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

a return to {p,h,f,r}...2015, vol.1

Easter this year was very different than in years past. That's to be expected when you lose a piece of your heart. There were some beautiful moments and some filled with deep grief. Jerry, Jonathan and I held no expectations other that to "survive" it all and we did. 

We attended the services for the Triduum as we have in past years. For the first time in four years, there were no emergency room visits and no seizures during Mass. It was strange and wonderful all at the same time. To sing the "Gloria" again on Holy Thursday was a high point. I wept as the bells rang out. My Courtney loved the bells at Mass, always smiling when she heard them.

I can only imagine what those bells and choirs of heavenly angels sound like to her now. One day I pray I will hear them with her by my side. 

Jerry and I were open with our grief throughout these days. Jonathan as well. It's not like we could hide it. When the heartache comes, it comes. In public, in private, the pace or time does not matter. I am learning to embrace the moment and be in it. It was the same when Courtney was alive. One day at a time, honoring the moment and embracing the pain or the joy, whichever came. 

Good Friday arrived with it's own share of grief both for Our Lord and for my baby girl. Once more in my heart I acknowledged that the glory of the Resurrection cannot be without the suffering of the Cross. Kissing the feet of Jesus on the cross that day, I imagined kissing the feet of my daughter who had walked the path God laid before her with such dignity and grace. 

Looking at Jesus's emaciated body, ribs poking through taught skin I was transported back to Courtney's final days, with her clinging to life one breath at a time, her own ribs sticking out through taught skin as she walked her own Calvary. It was a difficult day but one I will never forget.

Easter Vigil brought the blessings of the baskets. What a joy to take part in this tradition once again. Last year I had started embroidering a Pascha Cloth for my friend Christine. I spent many hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament stitching and praying for her as I made this gift. I finished late Holy Thursday night of this year, just in time. 


I think it turned out rather well. The lace was a bit tricky but in the end, perfection was not the goal. A gift filled with meaning was. 

Father B blessed oil, salt, butter, meats, candles, etc. There is even a special blessing for bacon and beer. Jerry was very, very happy. 


After the basket blessing in the morning, it was time to head home and make the German Donuts that are an Easter tradition around these parts dating back several generations  in my mothers family. 

I mean who can resist deep fried dough rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Here is the recipe. I make it only once a year on Holy Saturday. It is quite the treat. 

Once they are done we color eggs. We have done these two things on Holy Saturday as long as I can remember. They bring such happiness to my guys and to me. 

Traditions are a beautiful thing. 


Taking a selfie with a few of your nieces and nephews while waiting for Easter dinner to be served and while wearing a Dalmatian doggy that's funny. 


We went to the Easter sunrise service this year, which is held at the Historic Church. Our Courtney is buried on the church grounds so it seemed fitting to spend our first Easter morning without her here as close as we could be to her. 

We brought white tea roses to her grave after Mass and sat with her a bit. These flowers will forever remind me of my sweet Courtney's purity and innocence in this world. Such beauty and strength in each bloom as they open little by little to the light. Just like my daughter opened our eyes, little by little, to the unconditional love of God. 

We spent the rest of the day with family and it was a very good thing. We even decided to take a few family photos which depending on the day, can be hard for me. I am glad though, to have them now. Me, my guys and my Mama. A strong lot we are, not because we want to be, but because we are called to be. 

One day at a time...

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

grieving with grace...most days...

Hello My Sweet Readers, 

Happy Easter! Thank you for the patience and kindness you have showered me and my family with over these last eight weeks or so. The prayers, notes and emails have been such a gift to us as we begin a new life without our Courtney. 

Lent was tough. Really tough. 

"ToughMother" is my new call sign. I can do all things because I have faced the worst nightmare any mother can face and survived. 

Summer 2014

My daughter is dead and I am not. I have spent many an hour sitting quietly with this grief of mine, wrestling with the sadness and loneliness that has seeped into my daily life since her passing. 

Our relationship was so unique. As unique as each of us were as people. It was also very physical, with lots of lifting, cuddling and snuggling throughout the day. I miss that so much. 

I miss the way she laughed and that when she did, the whole family would come running just to be in the moment with her. These moments were so very precious to us. The memory of them is no replacement for the actual events, but they are all we have. So I will have to be satisfied with that. 

We are all dealing with our grief in our own way. My guys tend to compartmentalize things and when the grief bubbles up to the surface, they meet it head on and we talk through it. There are tears and laughter all together. 

Courtney's presence is strong in our home and for that I am so grateful. I am so glad that I took so many photos and videos while she was still alive. They have helped keep her here with us for a little while longer. We need that for now. We really do. 

Life around us continues to move forward as we deal with our grief. Jonathan begins a new job on Monday and is prepping for his first computer certification exam. He misses his reading buddy but has such peace about where Courtney is now. She has become his prayer warrior from heaven. It makes my heart happy when he thanks Court for the help she gave him that day. 

You know what?? I have two really awesome kids. I don't know what I did to deserve them but I am blessed. 

Jerry has a new job as well. He remains with his old company but in a new contract. To say we are relieved would be the understatement of the century. He is adjusting to his new schedule as well as our new found freedom as a couple. 

We have actually gone to happy hour twice in the last three months. Happy Hour!! I mean who does that after almost 27 years of marriage. It's been fun. Weird but fun. 

Fall 2014

Due to your generosity and kindness, we have paid off all of Courtney's outstanding doctors bills, at least the ones that are not sitting on a credit card. Those will take time to pay off but we are determined to be debt free once again. 

First though, we need to save up to purchase Courtney's tombstone. Then we will go after the rest of the medical/daily care debt that's left on the credit cards from the past six years. It will take a few years of consistent budgeting as well as continuing our frugal lifestyle but it will be worth it for the peace of mind. 

Thank you, Thank you to ALL of you who helped us get this far. You are truly a gift to us. 

As for me and my new routine/daily life, it's one day at a time. I am now watching two little preschool girls two days a week. It's amazing what glitter, glue, sidewalk chalk and time spent coloring will do to heal the mind and spirit. They are a joy and I am grateful to have laughter in the house again. 

I am still working through all of my craft/sewing/art supplies to get organized in Miss Courtney's room. Again, it will take time to find a happy balance in that room, but I will get there. All of her belongings have been sorted through and either given to family or donated to charity. Big Bertha, Courtney's wheelchair van, is now blessing another family and I am driving a new to me used car that we purchased with the remainder of Courtney's life insurance money. 

It's weird not driving such a large car, but amazing that I can now park in a parking garage. It's the little things that bring joy. A parking garage on a rainy day. Joy...unlimited joy my friends. 

I am finally cooking again. It feels god to get back to routines again. All of us picked up a few (cough, cough) pounds over these last few months, so veggies and lean protein are the name of the game, with a few stray peanut butter cups thrown in for good measure. Thank goodness spring is here and summer close behind. Lots of yummy veggie variety to choose from. 

Jerry and I are still participating in Youth Ministry every Sunday at our parish. It's been a good thing to surround ourselves with life, even in the complicated form of teenagers. They teach us as much as we do them. It's an honor to be a part of their journey getting to know Christ on a more personal level. 

I have also started meeting with girlfriends and getting out of the house more as time permits. It's slow going and at times overwhelming, but one step at a time is how we roll. 

What the future holds?? 

I have no idea. I have decided to just concentrate on blogging. homemaking and re-establishing relationships for now. The memoir will come when the time is right. Our good God will let me know when that is. For now, being here with you, as well as taking the time to re-claim my home from the last year of clutter and sadness, is enough. 

So that's where we are. I pray your Lent was fruitful and your Easter filled with abundant joy. 

He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!!

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