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76 Balloons!

76 Balloons!

Happy Birthday, Dad.  Go Bucks!

Happy Birthday, Dad. Go Bucks!


August 6, 2015.  Today my Dad would have been 76!  He passed away after a brief, brutal illness when he was 68.  Gone, never forgotten.

As the Big Brothers continues to grow into a young man, I notice more ways he reminds me of my Dad.  As I said in this blog post a couple of years ago, they are Subtle Ways.

I can hear his voice in my head, it was deep and smooth.  Unless you screwed up big and then he had a yell that stopped you in your tracks and brought you to immediate tears.  In retrospect he was a quiet guy. In a large group his words were sometimes few but to the point.  He didn’t need to raise his voice because he could change your behavior with one quietly spoken phrase, “I’m really disappointed in you.”  I pretty much dreaded hearing those words.  Thus, it was excellent motivation to shape up!

He was also the original life-coach.  With one speech he made you believe in the power of your permanent record, holy days of obligation and the parent teacher conference for slight of grades and heaven forbid, bad behavior.  You dress for church,  don’t lean your rear-end on the pew when kneeling during mass, you don’t leave before the closing prayer and you better put something in the collection basket or he would nudge you with it.  Through the power of his persuasive speech you believed you ate well for “poor people”, children in another country would be  glad to have what you did, you had nothing to whine,  cry or complain about and the ultimate Life Coach statement that has me unable to throw in the towel, “He did not raise a whiner, quitter or complainer!”

At 49 I still hear that motivational speech in my head.  With some fear and trepidation I just registered for my first class to earn my Masters Degree.  I can hear him saying, “just do it, Ames, you’ll be fine.”  Just wish I could hear him say in the end, “Aw, I’m proud of you, Ames.”

Happy Birthday, Dad!


Part Two

microblogGrief splits your life into two parts.  Before and after. I was looking at a picture of The Captain and I from a baby shower my neighborhood had right before Madeline was born.   I look at the picture and I think, look how relaxed we look and there is a  sparkle in our eyes.   There was worry as we knew we faced many challenges but we had something precious, hope.  Therein lies the root of such sorrow… lost hope.

That Word

Today, March 5, 2014, is the day to Spread the Word to End the Word.  Below is a post I wrote last May after a painful experience right here in my local, “educated” community.  Before you speak Think, Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary.  What one may think is a casual, harmless comment may make one who longs for the presence of their Baby Girl feel a moment of gratitude that she never has to experience such hatred, ignorance and ugliness.  Spread the Word!


There are many a day that I think I, perhaps, am no longer fit to mill about with the general population on a day-to-day basis.  A certain tolerance seems to be required that I am pretty sure, I no longer possess.

I try hard to remember that I have endured life events that may make me extremely sensitive to day to day happenings and random interactions with friends and strangers.  I also know that as sensitive as I might be,  is as insensitive and callous as others behave.

To add to my dumbfounded state, is that we live in a society that is all about being “PC.”  We all know that many derogatory names, sadly, can be used to describe various groups of people.  And I would like to assume that none of these names are used in this day and age… but that would be both foolish and ignorant.  However, you generally don’t hear these words bellowed at random places where families gather.

But there is a population that does not seem to always be worthy of such sensitive and “PC” protection and it both breaks my heart and makes me physically ill.  In this day and age, why?  I ask you, WHY? does it seem to be perfectly acceptable for a grown woman to bellow, “I can’t believe my check is the wrong amount, I’M SOOO RETARDED!”

I felt my blood go cold and my stomach flip.  This was my pool.  This was a lady I would  possibly be seeing on a daily basis.  I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry, I wanted to PUNCH HER IN THE FACE.  But I didn’t…and I don’t know why.

So I plead you, Dear Reader, to explain to me, why?  WHY?  I am the one that gets the stare down when I composed myself and responded, “Don’t use THAT word, it is really very offensive.”  Que long uncomfortable stares.  Luckily, thanks to my circus act, I am used to being stared at.  Cause that’s RIGHT…I AM the one they stared at.

I even looked the “word” up in the dictionary.  I had to read through two entries that stated, “retarded child.”  One that is “retarded.”

The third entry down I found this definition for “retarded”:   to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action,process, etc.); hinder or impede.  

Never a mention of not having the ability, just that it might be delayed.  And guess what…IT MIGHT NOT!  Children with “developmental or cognitive delays” are extremely capable.  Capable of overcoming what others might see as limitations.  My experience is limited to Down Syndrome and Autism.  Both Madeline and Johnny amaze me with what they were able to overcome and what Johnny continues to achieve on a daily basis.  While delayed in some areas, Johnny’s first pre-school teacher said it best…”no one ever said Johnny is NOT SMART.”  And they never said it about Madeline either.

Shaking off that interaction has sucked my energy and sent my spirit plummeting.  For my Sweet Madeline, whom I ache for every day, I had a moment where I actually thought, “Thank God, she will never experience such ugliness and ignorance.”  And then I cried.  Because I would give anything to have Madeline here and be able to continue to experience all the ways she would charm and delight us.  

I am just so sad to know that in others eyes her life might have been viewed as less valued and unworthy.  And now she is forever protected from such hate in her heavenly home where I am sure she is delighting all that gaze upon her.  But that she had to leave us to escape such ugliness has sent me in a tailspin and I can’t seem to find my way out.

And now I feel sad for “that lady.”  (And I don’t want to.)  Because perhaps she will never know the value of every life.  She might not have a Madeline or a Johnny to bring joy to her heart and a smile to her face.  Does that make her “delayed?…I don’t know…but IGNORANT…yep, I think that’s THE WORD.








Golden Girl

Fall is proving to be a difficult time of year.  I love the gilded sky and the crisp air.  The leaves crunching under my feet as I continue to run to staff off so many mixed emotions.

The calendar ticks off yet another year.  Another year without our Sweet Baby Girl.  November 2.  That date screams at me from the calendar.  It has been 3 years now.  Madeline has been gone from this life twice as long as she graced our presence.  Sixteen months that completely altered my 47 years and forever changed my mind and heart.  The time that is supposed to “heal all wounds” does not exist.  That time simply passes as I continue to search for comfort while forging a new path.

Madeline would be 4 years old now.  As the holidays approach it is painful to watch all that I perceive I am missing, as well as my family.  I watch the Big Brother play with the neighbor kids who are that age.  He is a gentle giant and I ache for all that he could have had with his baby sister whom he adored.  It touches my heart to see that in all of his adolescent craziness his screen saver, on the electronics I despise, is a photo of his sister.  He wants to go to a high school that is an inconvenient drive.  One reason, “Mom, they have kids there that have Down Syndrome, and they are really cool.”  So, you have probably already guessed who is going to be driving a lot.

The Little Brother struggles with all of these emotions that he can’t understand or control.  We have been told he is, “academically gifted”.  I just want him to get through a day at school without melting down.

Johnny is a classic case of still waters running deep.  He is acutely aware of his own sadness.  There was a memorial service at church for all those in our parish on “All Souls Day.”  He didn’t want to go.  I said, “it will be a nice time to remember Madeline.” He said, “I remember her all the time.  It makes me too sad.”  Me to, Johnny, me to.

Life continues, despite such loss, that is the cruel irony.  I have a job that I never thought I would have.  I teach middle school reading.  180 new children who have endeared themselves to me.  Without Madeline’s lessons I would probably not have the patience for this.  The irony, if she was here, I would not being doing this.

As I look at the remaining leaves on a wet fall morning, I have bittersweet memories of a similar view from a hospital window.  A hospital I couldn’t wait to leave but long for the time that room was filled with a Sweet Baby Girl.

Exactly a year ago I wrote Gilded Tears.  I still pray for a  crisp fall morning in a gilded sky with my Sweet Baby Girl.


Boy of Fall

I have been on somewhat of a summer hiatus from writing here.  More precisely I am currently in a perpetual state of analysis paralysis, otherwise known as much to say, much to do, so as all “normal” functioning adults do, I freeze up in all the “thinking” about doing and don’t get to the actual doing.  So I decided to thaw out a little, with the help of a cup of brew, and put some recent observations down.

This seems to be Little Brother Week.  He is a definite work in progress.  An enigma, if you will.  A child that puts his clothes on backwards, can barely tie his shoes, can’t remember where said shoes are, has a school desk that would make the saltiest teacher weep,  and generally is a textbook definition of a “hot mess.”

Remember Napolean?  You know the guy from France who story has it was a small man with a big chip or attitude or arrogance.  I think they call it “The Napolean Complex”.  Yeah, well, possibly we have a classic case right here.  Don’t be mistaken, Dear Reader, he is not arrogant, it is hard to be arrogant when your underwear is on backwards.  Rather,  he is more like a frustrated Little Leprechaun.  Because within this little body that falls around the 7 to 10 % range of size for his age, is a head that is the  95th percentile.  Hand to God, I have the bladder control to prove it.  And within the 95th % head is a brain that thinks and thinks and thinks.  And this brain wants to do and be good at many, many things.  Usually immediately, out of the starting gate, with no previous experience or extra effort required.

Therein lies the rub.  He is a Little Guy that seems to be built for speed and agility.  The rub, his big brain doesn’t seem to be able to get this message to his little body.  The result, Napolean, who is officially 69 pounds at age of 10, could read an entire playbook and school you on what needs to happen on the field.  Rub, he has these tiny hands that seem to deter him from grabbing that ball when thrown his way.  I would like to say this only makes him stronger and he says, “throw it again, Coach, I want to try again” but in reality, it goes more like this…Little Brother running away in tears or trying to find a way to make himself disappear in plane sight.  Either way, for a kid with a big brain, he has yet to learn that this coping skill fails him every time.

But because we seem to be a family of non-quitters, or just plain foolish, the obvious is now happening…LITTLE BROTHER IS PLAYING TACKLE FOOTBALL…his idea.  This is the first week.  I can’t watch.  I mean it, I can’t.  The Captain took him the first two nights but as luck would have it, The Captain played the National Security card and I had to go last night.

The first night of practice, apparently,  there were many tears of frustration.  Lots of running and drills that he was having trouble signaling his body to do.  The Captain, turned him around and sent him back to the field until practice was over.  But in true Little Brother fashion he walked off the field that night telling Captain Daddy he wants to be a linebacker.  So we returned on Tuesday, cause possibly linebackers are supposed to cry a lot, I mean, I never did understand football.  Tuesday there were fewer tears and the Coach asked the eternal question, “How come you can do the complicated footwork drill but not the easy one.”  Good question, Coach, when you get the answer, you just might have cracked the code.

Wednesday’s practice was the big guns…full gear…helmet, shoulder pads, mouth guard, practice pants with pads…and Mommy on duty.  It was with great trepidation that I set out on this adventure.  On the quick ride over he explained to me the probability of “upchucking” during practice, “cause you gotta admit Mom, my stomach isn’t protected and if someone grabs me by the waist and pushes up before they throw me down, and there is any food in there, it is only going to come up.”  See what I’m dealing with here, Dear Reader.  My response, “that’s nice, now get out there and remember, “it might feel weird, cause you have never worn a helmet before.”  And then being a good mom, I looked the other way and deferred all pep talks, lets check that helmet to “The Husband”.  “The Husband” is the spouse of “The Friend”, also known as “The Teacher” of the Little Brother for two years.  He proved highly qualified,  so I hired him.

Mommy always knows best and yes the helmet did squeeze his ears and the weight of it made him look like a human bobble head out there.  But the distraction of the helmet proved to keep the tears in and smother the frustration a little because we had what I call success…caught every ball and performed all drills to perfection???…NO!  But, NO TEARS, not a one, and that, my friend, was success enough for me.

Getting in the car to go home, he was all smiles when he realized how dirty and gritty and “real football player like” he looked.  So, I jumped on the band wagon and attempted a couple of football type questions.  His response…”Hey Mom, you know what question is even harder to answer than the meaning of life?  What is the exact time that the earth turns on its axis?  I  mean, you gotta admit, that might be harder to answer.”

Finally, the talk went to football practice…”Hey Mom (he starts every sentence this way), I think I know why my helmet is so tight.  It’s cause my head is big from my brains.  Must be cause I read a lot.  Right, Mom, right? …”Hey Mom, why are you laughing?…”

No reason…I was still thinking about your earlier revelation that “Medieval Architecture reigns supreme” and that “knowledge is tricky cause you always know what you can’t do but you don’t always know what you can do.”  And then I was thinking…what a wise Little Leprechaun you are and it is exhausting keeping up with your brain and then I wondered…if Kenny Chesney knew about you when he wrote “Boys of Fall.”



What goes around

I went to a Memorial Service last night.  My dear friend, “Em”,  lost her cheer coach,as the result of a tragic accident.   He was smack-dab in the midst of embracing  life, his time, his talents, his gifts and  sharing them selflessly with all who knew him and even those that did not.  I went to the service to support my friend.  I had met this man once.  I think I cried harder than anyone there.

As we were walking into the church for the service it dawned on me that this would be the first memorial or funeral I had been to since Madeline’s.  The circumstance and my purpose for being there seemed different enough so while at first choked up  I was not worried about pulling myself together.

But then a switch flipped inside my head and a slide show started to play.  You know, like a power point presentation where the slides flip and flash at you.  Like that.

The first slide was of Madeline’s funeral and being hugged by another Mother who had buried her child.  I remember thinking “Wow she never met Madeline, she is really upset.”  Now I know, she wasn’t as much crying for Madeline as she was for my loss, for my pain, and for my future.  My future without my Baby Girl.

The second slide was at home, in my room, a week or so after Madeline’s funeral,  talking to a woman on the phone.  The nursing company who cared for Madeline had connected me with this woman in hopes that it would be of some comfort.  Funny, I cannot recall the woman’s name, as many events from the initial months without Madeline are a blur.  But her words, those I remember, those I will never forget, those words and her voice played as in Dolby sound.   She said in a broken voice, “I want you to know that although I never met your beautiful daughter, I have already cried for her, and for you, and I am so sorry.  I am just so sad for you and I wanted you to know that first thing.”  I said, “thank you.”  I didn’t get it, really.  But now, now I get it.  And the floodgates opened.

Slideshows played of this amazing man showing a face that radiated joy and a spirit and dedication that drew others to him.  It was a life cut too short.  The minister put it in more literal terms.  The Lord had given him just over 10,000 days and he had lived each one “full out.”  He was an amazing coach and mentor to my friend and all those on his teams and I am so sad for those girls.

But he was also someone much more important than a coach.  He was a son.  At 27 he was someone’s baby.  And for this I cried…a lot.  For a mother who buried her child.

His mother got up and spoke.  She was amazingly strong.  This made me cry harder.  She told us he was her “only child and her whole world.”  And he was taken from her in the blink of an eye.

The man with him at the time of his death came up and hugged the Mother.  A slide flashed in my head of “Our Hannah” who shared Madeline’s last minutes.  And I cried some more.  For life and how it can take a cruel turn and someone becomes a new central figure in your life because they were blessed with the last minutes of your child’s life.  And for his Mom,  who now has this bond, I cried some more.

Seeing her incredible strength I thought of the blur she must be in and the raw, numb feeling I remembered.  And I prayed for her.  I pray for her days and years to come and though a woman of strong faith, there will be days when that will not soothe the constant ache in her heart.  I thought of the people in my life, the bond we never wanted to share and the tears they have cried for me and I for them.  And the day will come when this Mother will do the same… cry tears for another Mom… another Mom who will bury her child, because that’s how a Mother’s love goes around.




Not My Brand

It’s that time…time to Warp… Time Warp that is.  My friend, Kathy Benson of Bereaved and Blessed, invites us to visit old posts and reflect on our life when we wrote them and what has happened in our life and journey since.  This months topic is advice.  Getting it, giving it, what do you think of advice and what is your favorite brand.

Advice, unsolicited, is all around.  The one thing in these tough economic times that is free, yet, even with that low, low, low price, it is over valued.  Unsolicited advice, in my humble opinion, is pretty much someone’s opinion being thrown your way, and you know what they say about opinions…well, let’s just leave it at that.

This brand of advice,  you might say I am a snob but this brand, the one labeled unsolicited, well, I don’t like it…at all.  In fact I won’t even buy it with a coupon.  My brand is what I would call, sought after, yes, that’s my brand.  What I prefer about my brand is that you go to a source you know and trust.  It is usually advice of good quality, which is the result of more experience in an area, similar experiences, values, and usually a certain amount of mutual respect.  The other brand I have found is somewhat watered down and seems to leave a bad taste in my mouth and a significant cramp in my stomach.

My brand can be difficult to find, but the other brand, well, that is everywhere.  I know, Dear Readers, this is not so unique.  I just think that I have enough circumstances in my life that make me a target consumer for the unsolicited brand.  I seem to be top of the market for “guidance” in parenting, autism, and grief.  Any advice that starts out, “what you need to do is” or “don’t you think it would be better if”, “I know they say he is autistic but”, or generally any statement about Johnny or Madeline that begins “you need…”  The exception is if I say, “What do you think I need to do”, in which case I reverse my previous statement.

Autism and grief, on their own, carry a huge weight and require a strong back bone.  Put them together and I pray I can  somehow manage to stand upright.  An incompatible pair, autism requires Mom to be on her toes, and never let her guard down; whereas, grief, causes me to have trouble staying on my toes and operating with a certain amount of distracted thoughts for my Baby Girl.

It is rough to stay on my toes with these heavy boots.  I re-visit a post I wrote where I discuss advice about moving on a year after Madeline’s death.  It is in its unedited raw state as I originally wrote this piece, Progress?”.

A year and a half has now passed, and yes, I do still get that “other brand” of advice at times but I try harder to consider the source and their intention. It doesn’t make it easier but I know some well-meaning people just want to make things better, that simply cannot be repaired.  Like I said in my piece “unless you’ve walked in my boots” but be “careful they are pretty heavy.”  Now that, Dear Reader, is some of the best, trusted advice I have received from a very reliable source.

My boots are still heavy, but the weight shifts and some days they are a bit lighter to walk in.  The body begins to adjust to this ever present weight.  The path is still rough terrain but sadly, familiar.

I leave you with this, please remember,  unless you have stood in someone’s boots and are sure you know their weight, think carefully and twice, that’s my advice…for what it’s worth.


You’ve Got a Friend

What are the odds?  When we first learned that Madeline would have Down Syndrome, I remember thinking that we would be all alone, the only ones.  Why?  I guess from all the stats I heard about pregnancies being terminated after a diagnosis of Down Syndrome.

I have said many a time that the day I learned Madeline would have Down Syndrome I broke down in a puddle of tears and a heap of fear.  “I swore I saw the sky turn a different color of blue that day.”  Perhaps this moment was the foreshadowing of things to come.  The new sky a vibrant blue for the joy we would  know.

When Madeline was six weeks old in September of 2009, her and I boarded a plane to Virginia to settle into our new life and learn our lessons about joy.  We spent much of this time in somewhat of an isolated state due to multiple surgeries and hospital stays.  Aside from Doctors and Nurses, I was not exactly making new friends.  And with all that we had going on with surgeries, cross-country move, new job, new schools and a side of Autism, you could say it wasn’t my focus.

Finally, in the Spring of  2010, we were able to get out a bit more and I began to take Madeline up to The Brother’s school for different occasions and I began to meet other families.  It was there that I learned that not only was I not alone in my new world but I indeed had someone who lived under the same vibrant blue sky of joy.  Her name was Linda and her joy came in a little package of sass named Olivia.

Ms. Olivia and Ms. Madeline were born just months apart and both had the same golden hair and heart melting smiles.  My conversations with Linda became more frequent as we discussed everything from Down Syndrome, navigating the military Exceptional Family Member program, Navy life and a common interest in running.

Our goal was to get Ms. O and Ms. M together for a little battle of the sass but crazy schedules and Madeline’s fragile health didn’t seem to leave time.  And then, like that, it was too late and we were out of time.  God called Madeline home one November morning in 2010 and my sky went from vibrant blue to a haze void of color.

In my raw pain and grief I recall saying, “I can never see Linda and Olivia again, it is too much, I can’t take it.”  “I won’t be able to take it.”

Word must have gotten to Linda and I’m not sure but I think she said, “it is too much, and I won’t let you live under a new sky void of color, you must visit often under this vibrant blue sky because once you know this joy it must be shared.”

Why do I think this?  Because the morning after Madeline’s death, my doorbell rang at 7:30 a.m. on a stormy November morning and there was Linda to wrap me in a hug, let me know I would not be alone and with her quiet strength has remained by my side.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s not all warm fuzzies, who do you think is part responsible for my Cafeteria Lady Gig.  She was also the one to ask me if I ever would be interested in running a half-marathon.  I said, “maybe,” and the next day she handed me my training schedule and we were off and running, literally.  Four half-marathons later and we never learned our lesson.  Except the lesson on friendship.  That lesson I think we’ve got.

Linda and Ms. O

Linda and Ms. O

She has shared her bundle of Sass with me over the last 2 years and let Ms. O become a special part of my life.  That little piece of vibrant blue joy in my world.  Ms. O isn’t a push over either, and I love to  hear her little voice yell, “NO, ABY, NO!” When I come towards her with a hug.  And at times, I think she just knows I am too sad and comes at me with a hug that causes whiplash.  I crave her fiestiness and sass.  Her presence can always make me smile.  They have brought me much healing and love as I navigate this new chapter of my life without Madeline.  And now yet a new chapter must begin.

As is the downside of Navy life, the time has come that I have been dreading.  Their time in the Navy is done and they will begin a new chapter of their life in Michigan.  I will miss them all terribly and this good-bye is so hard we have avoided it…but soon we cannot.  We must give that final hug but I think I will refuse to say good-bye.  Maybe see you around.  Even though my sense of direction stinks I can get myself to Michigan and I will be pounding on her door to get a much need hug.

Someone recently told me, “you know you’ve got a real friend in Linda.”  I simply said, “I know.”

Thank you, Linda!  Thank you for sharing your love, your joy and your vibrant blue sky.







It’s Complicated – A Little Boy’s Heart

Life is messy, we would all probably agree.  Add children and it is a bit messier.  Most messes can be cleaned up, even rather quickly.  Maybe an apology, a hug, a kiss and assurance that all will be right.  Other life messes, however, are much like trying to re-finish an old bookcase that has been layered with paint.  Each time you scrap away a layer, you get a whole new mess staring right back at you.

That is how I feel about loss and grief.  As I have said before, my misery I can handle, not that it is easy, but I have no choice but to get out of bed in the morning.  Even with the constant dull ache that makes me swear there is something heavy standing on my chest, onward I go.  In the two years since Madeline’s death, I have developed a few coping skills to get through these days.  I can recognize a day that requires a good long run and those even harder days that require a good cry and nothing more strenuous then folding laundry.

My children’s grief.  A different story.  That is where the real mess is.  It is the bookcase with many layers of paint that need to be tenderly scraped away to return to a fresh surface.  Except in this case, there is quite possibly no fresh surface underneath.  Because the surface has been forever marred with the pain of a Little Boy that lost his baby sister.  A Little Boy who was called from his classroom one November morning when he was in first grade to go with his teacher to the Principal’s office.  There his Daddy was waiting to tell him that his beautiful baby sister died suddenly that morning.  I believe at that moment he lost his freshness, his innocence.

His innocence was now replaced with the pain of loss, an adult, grown up size pain, smack in the middle of a Little Boy heart.  What is a Little Boy to do?  He doesn’t know, so he hides, he runs, he cries, he crumples papers, and he smacks his head and calls himself “stupid.”  And what do us big grown ups do to help?  Tell him he is 10, he can’t do this anymore, that he is a smart Little Boy (an understatement) Why?  Because we don’t know what to do.  Because this layered mess is just that…A MESS.

We talk about his lack of maturity.  Funny that we say this when, in fact, he is dealing with all this grown up mess.  Perhaps he is acting out what all of us grown-ups stuff deep inside.  I am right there with him.  Since Madeline’s death I to want to run, cry, and throw things but I’m supposed to be more mature than that, so I suck it all in while I tell my Little Boy to let it out and tell us what is bothering him so we can help him.  But how can you help what cannot be fixed.

The Little Brother told me last week, “Mommy, sometimes I think what life would be like if Madeline hadn’t died.”  I said, “do you like to think about her?”  “Yes,” he said.  “Me to”, I said.

No one likes to see the messiest part of themselves in someone else.  I think that is what I see in this Little Boy.  Trying to keep all this pain stuffed down until the frustration becomes so great you run and cry….or write.

The teacher sent me a message one day to look in Little Brother’s folder.  That he had written something she thought I would really like.  And he did.

Listening intently to her brother.

Listening intently to her brother.

He was to write about “If you could spend the afternoon with any member of your extended family, who would it be?”  His Little Boy heart chose Madeline.

“I would spend it with Madeline because I really miss her.  We would play games like peek a boo and enjoy being with each other again.  We would hug each other for the whole time and probably relax.  It would be the best day of my life.”

Happy Together!

Happy Together!


Me to, Little Brother, me to.  My hearts greatest desire, just one more day with our sweet, precious Madeline.  Perhaps, Little Boy, we are more alike than not and just maybe maturity is over-rated and wisdom is less messy.

Perfect Moment Memory

Perfect moments are those both big and small occasions when all of your Angels agree in song, your stars align and the God’s are smiling and for that one moment in time all is perfect and right in your corner of the world.  Lori at challenges us to be mindful of such moments in our daily lives.  Turns out, she is right and the more you notice your stars aligning, the more your Angels tend to sing.  Trust me at times you must dig deep and look far and wide to find your stars.  Not always easy but always worth it.

As I reflect over this past month my mind has gone back to such a moment, on a day in May, ten years ago that I feared would never come.

Before The Captain was “The Captain” he was the “OIC” (Officer in Charge) of a Helicopter Detachment in the Fall of 2002.  There was much turmoil on the other side of the world and he was scheduled to deploy on a ship headed to the party.  Times were a changing and he was deploying with a detachment of 4 women and 1 man.  Constantly asked how I felt about this, I would respond, “I just hope they don’t throw him overboard, my resume is grossly outdated.”

Who cared about women?  Not me!  I had bigger fish to fry.  Three weeks before his scheduled departure we discovered we were to be blessed with baby #3!  Never a good planner I tried to take it in stride but I am sure if I divulged names you would get another story:)

My initial game plan of lots of coffee in the morning and a glass of wine at night was now tossed aside and I was left with two choices: 1.  Suck it up; and 2.  Suck it up!  Tough decision but I went with number 2!  I would like to paint you a picture of a dutiful Navy wife sending letters to my husband in between getting my pearls strung, making care packages and entertaining my children so that there young minds were constantly stimulated.  But that would be, you guessed it, a big fat lie!

In fact it all started a little like this…The Big Brother, Johnny and I standing on a pier waving to Daddy as he slowly faded into a dot on the ocean, while I bit my lip in half trying not to cry as to not scare my babies.  We then went home where I tried to establish a new routine which consisted of yelling at a plumber that there was S**t floating down my hallway because Johnny flushed my mascara down the toilet.  Things were starting off a little rocky.

As the months progressed the excitement continued.  The Big Brother was a crazy three-year old and Johnny was 17 months old, not walking or talking and I was beginning to be concerned that all was not “normal.”  But I tried to push this into the back of my mind as I was preoccupied with watching a constant stream of CNN and FOX News as it became more and more apparent that things were heating up and there was no homecoming date in sight.  Then one night in March I felt my world crashing down as I watched in horror the missiles being shot from the ship The Captain was aboard and not knowing when and if he was coming home.  While the boys watched an endless stream of “Blues Clues” in the living room, I bit on a towel and sobbed in the kitchen.

Despair and fear began to set in as I became overwhelmed with delivering this baby on my own.  Military families do this every day.  And though I knew this, it didn’t make it any easier.  But I was grateful for my Dear Friends who assured me I would NOT be alone and continued to carry, push, pull and whatever else it would take to get me through.  As I had developed some strange reverse morning sickness toward the end of my pregnancy, I needed all the pushing and pulling I could get.

About 7 months into my pregnancy this “reverse morning sickness” caused me to spend my days retching in the bathroom and sipping purple Gatorade.  The boys’ diets were just a step above with an alternating menu of grilled cheese and chicken nuggets.  It was survival of the fittest and I was determined…or just downright insane.

Month 9 and at my wits end on an early Saturday morning, already perched in front of the news, I received what must’ve been a message from God above.  It was the banner on the bottom of the screen telling me that the battle group The Captain’s ship was in was heading HOME!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  It was almost over, but not yet.

Finally, we received a homecoming date and as luck would have it, it was my due date.  Not a problem really, unless you consider I had already given birth to two babies on their due date and number three didn’t act like he was going to wait around much longer.  So The Captain did the unthinkable.  He left liberty in Hawaii and got on a plane to San Diego.

In the early morning of May 25, 2003, I dressed my boys in the required red, white and blue, put “I Love Daddy” signs in their hands, wretched one last time and went to the airport.  And after a very long Nine Months I no longer had to tell The Big Brother that NO, that man in a flight suit is NOT your Daddy.  Daddy was no longer words in an e-mail, a voice on the phone, or a face on a video but he was here, in the flesh to kiss and to hug.

Daddy's Home!

Daddy’s Home!

What a wonderful moment, the stars were aligned and the Angels were singing and a family was almost complete.

Almost Perfect!

Almost Perfect!


Then three days later the Gods smiled,  and Angels rejoiced and all was right in our little corner of the world in this perfect moment, on a May Day, ten years ago.  Happy Birthday Little Brother!

Perfect May Day!

Perfect May Day!


On this occasion we were very blessed but I do not forget those families who do not get this moment, of husbands, daddies, sons and daughters who do not come home.  To those families, my prayers for peace and thank you for your strength as you made the ultimate sacrifice.  May we always remember.  Memorial Day – 2013