Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I'm Proud of You

"I'm so proud of you honey" my mom would say. Thank you I would say back to her, be shy about my accomplishment and move on. I never knew how much I would miss those words coming from her. But I do....a lot.

For whatever reason I am stuck on this word proud. You know that feeling you get when you are proud of someone? The immense joy you feel, the smile on their face shining through as they see how proud you are of them? Or the feeling you get when someone is proud of you. How it makes you feel proud of yourself. How it makes you feel loved. I love/d that feeling and yet I am often hit with grief when I see it around  me. I think how I will never hear my mom tell me how proud she is of me or how I will never get the chance to show Mckenna my pride in her. I love/hate seeing parents proud of their children. It's a beautiful thing and yet a hit to the gut.

My mom was so full of pride in both of her children and was never afraid to tell us. When I graduated with my BSW she couldn't get to me fast enough to be the first to hug me. The look on her face that I didn't "see" till after she died was full of pride. I never doubted it I always knew how proud she was of me.

I know others are proud of me and it really means the world, but there is something about your parent being proud of you that truly makes you see your accomplishments. It makes you feel proud of yourself and know you can do anything. I took for granted what it felt like to hear my mom say those words to me. To put her hands on my face and tell me how proud and how beautiful I am.

I yearn to have these moments again with my mom, I yearn to to watch my daughter grow, learn and do things that make me proud. It is two different sides with me being the daughter missing those words from my mother and me being the mother missing sharing those words with my daughter.

I miss my mom, I miss Mckenna. It's a tough time of year and I am feeling it deeply.....

Friday, August 28, 2015

I Was Once...

How does one discover who they are? How do you find yourself when all your identities have been stripped from you? I have found myself struggling with who I am, knowing the core of my soul. Who am I? This is what I know about me....

I am a care taker. Loving and caring more for those I love deeply than I care and love myself. I would literally die for those I love and be ok with that as long as they are safe and alive. I would suffer just so someone else doesn’t have to suffer. I would go with out to give to another. My heart hurts for animals, children, elderly, those who are hurting. I want to help, I want to fix, I want to be there. All of these things sounds like I am a beautiful soul with so much to give this world and yet I feel like I have no purpose in this world, that I am not good enough, smart enough to be what I need to be for others.

I am a people pleaser. I am so afraid of hurting others that I would do anything to not hurt them so I often don’t say anything at all. I get hurt easily. I have too high expectations so I am disappointed a lot. I say I’m sorry for anything and everything I do, I cry when I receive constructive criticism for something I have written or said to someone, I feel stupid when I don’t  write well which makes me cry.

I am sensitive.

Highly intuitive.

And extremely observant

I was once a daughter. I lost my dad the day before my 14th birthday. I never got to know him like my siblings did. I have few memories but the ones I do have are some of my most fond memories. He loved me deeply and I knew how much he loved me. I had regrets after his death. I didn’t see him enough and when I did I couldn’t be around him because it was too painful. The man I knew was wasting away right before my eyes. So I sat in the other room and played video games. I was a young girl who didn’t know how to be with her dying father. Though those regrets do not linger anymore. I was 14 struggling to figure out how to deal with my dad’s death while dealing with my mom’s drinking. I lost my mom when I was 29. Her death shook me to the core. Still does. The night I found her I didn’t care about the drinking because I just wanted my mom back. Though in reality that life was challenging. Dealing with an alcoholic is almost impossible. Since her death all I can think about are all the ways I didn’t help her. How I could have done more. I have to be reminded of the ways I did that I did all I could do with what I had. I feel like I failed her on so many levels.  I was the child but I was more of a mom to my mom. A role I shouldn’t have had to take on. I loved her fiercely, I loved her with all of my being and in the end that wasn’t enough, she still died. I couldn’t save her. I yearn for her. I ache for her. I miss the mom I knew behind the alcohol. Yes your parents are supposed to die before you, but I just wish it didn’t have to happen when I was 14 and 29.

I was once a wife. I thought I was a good wife. I would have gone to the ends of the earth for my ex husband only to be treated like I didn’t matter. He never stood up for me. He often made me feel like I wasn’t as loved as I loved him. I felt like I was the last thing on his priority list. Yes this was not my fault but it was what I felt deep down I deserved back then. I didn’t deserve to be treated with respect so I just took what he did give and loved him with all of my heart and soul. Being a wife was so important to me, I took my vows seriously. I gave my all and in the end I lost everything. My love could not save it.

I was once a mom. I LOVED being a mom. Waking up to the beautiful sounds of Mckenna made life all worth it. It didn’t matter what I was going through as long as I had her I knew I was going to be ok. We were buddies. I loved watching her explore her world. Making new sounds, learning new things every day, taking the world in (she was observant like me). I loved her beyond this world. She trusted me completely, did not know fear and knew I would be there. Knowing how much she trusted me breaks my heart because all she wanted to do was be next to me and I drop a television on her. Yes unintentionally, but it happened because my hands moved the TV and I wasn’t paying attention. My love ultimately killed Mckenna.

I was once a different person though I don’t know who that person was. How do I try to be the person I think I am if I don’t know who that person is? I don’t have anyone to take care of anymore. I have not been a daughter of a father for 17 years, a daughter of a mother for 2 years, a wife for 7 years and a mother for 7 years. I know these roles should not define me as who I am. I just want to be content with the person I am and know me to my core. As my friend said…the struggle is real.

I want I was once to be I am. I am fearless, I am lovable, I am funny, I am worthy, I am beautiful, I am smart, I am, I am, I am....All the things I feel I am not need to be I am. 

It has been a struggle for a few weeks to try and figure out who I am. I love deeply, I hurt deeply and I wish I knew where life was taking me because I feel a bit lost in the world. I guess we all feel a little lost sometimes.  

I am blessed with some beautiful friends who walk with me along the way. I may be sharing some of my pain publicly but I share my deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings with a select few. They help remind me of the person they see, what I did for my mother, how my ex husband is an asshole, and that I really was a good mom. I need to hear those things from time to time. They sit with me in the space and understand how it feels. They aren't afraid of my pain and thoughts, they listen, they love and they honor my journey. I love you and thank you for loving me. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Love, Compassion and Vegetarianism

You know, we all oppose animal cruelty. But sometimes we forget that animals on farms suffer and feel pain like all other animals. They, too, deserve to be protected from harm and cruelty. 
-- Charlotte Ross

When I was a little girl I always felt pain when I saw an animal hurting or even felt bad if I accidentally stepped on an ant hill. I would feel terrible. I didn't use my voice back then to stand up for the animals. For example my Nana had a pig. She warned me what was going to happen to the pig and to not get too attached. Well I ended up naming her Daisy and gave her bathes, loved on her and took care of her. I actually don't remember the moment she was taken to be slaughtered but my family did not help. We would be eating and they would say you know we are eating Daisy then proceed to say things like, "Ashley why did you let them kill me." I'm surprised I didn't become a vegetarian right then and there. I didn't even know what that was and I didn't know how to stand up to my family who made fun of me for loving a pig, a hunting family, a meat eating family.

 I have been a vegetarian now for 3 years. I cannot even imagine going back to eating animals. It all started after I watched the documentary Vegucated. It took me 3 days to watch this film because I couldn't get passed what they were doing to these animals. Those videos changed my heart and I stopped eating meat right then and there. I threw everything out and just couldn't stomach eating them. Ever since then my heart has broken open even more for animals, ALL animals. On a trip to Colorado there were cows roaming and I got so excited, they were beautiful and had calves with them. I squealed like a little kid with excitement. How could anyone eat this beautiful animal?

I recently got into a FB fight with a family member about this very thing. It made me realize just how passionate I am now for animals. I am starting to wonder how people can watch those videos and not feel compassion and love for them. Is it out of sight out of mind? Would you be able to eat a horse, a dog or a cat as easily as you can a cow, pig or chicken? Do you not feel pain as you see the fear in their eyes? They know know pain, they feel deeply just like we do. They cry when their babies are taken from them, they cry when they are hurt. Factory farming is disgusting and no animal should have to live in those conditions and treated the way they are.

I will never go back to eating meat because I love them too much and I care about how they are treated and in my opinion so should everyone else! A friend recently became a vegetarian and it makes my heart happy. "I looked at my burrito meat chopped up and for the first time saw what I was eating. Dying, crying, slaughtered soul. Ugh." When your heart is broken open to see these precious animals as more than "meat" it changes you, it changes your soul. My family doesn't understand, some of my friends don't understand but I will no longer silence my voice.

Open your eyes people....

Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.
-- Albert Schweitzer 

Monday, August 3, 2015

I Should/Would Have a Second Grader....

Mckenna's "school" picture (possibly, who knows, I don't know, maybe)

The first day of school pictures have started to fill my FB feed. I have been mostly avoiding FB and I was doing it naturally without even thinking about it. I know what I will see and I know how it will make me feel so I avoid looking when I can. I can feel her absence as she should be starting 2nd grade this year. No school shopping, no clothes shopping, no getting school supplies, no excitement to start a new year with her friends, I will  never do these things with Mckenna.

 I don't even know what it would be like to have a 7 year old let alone a child going to school. How is it that she would be starting second grade? How in the world is it possible that I would have a 7 1/2 year old little girl?? Seriously blows my mind. I am sure I would feel this way if she were here, but it's different when you've never got to experience each milestone.

When Mckenna was going to start kindergarten it was at the tail end of the summer my brother died, my mom died, I failed my internship, friendships changed, it was just a shitty summer. It didn't hit me as hard since I was going through hell. I must have put it out of my thoughts because I could not add anymore pain to my already shattered heart. Last year, 1st grade, I was getting ready to start a new chapter, move, start grad school that it didn't seem to bother me as much and frankly I have a hard time remembering that time in my life. Must have still been in a fog. Second grade seems to be hitting my heart. I ache to be 7 year old, second grader Mckenna's mom. I ached to be her 1 year old mom, 2,3,4,5,6 year old Mckenna's mom (wow so many years I missed already...sigh) and I am sure that will never change.

Several of my beautiful bereaved mama friends who are like me, no living children, have posted about this. Some may not even think about this as it is their "normal" for first days of school. Our "normal" is far from "normal". Please cherish this time with your children. Back to school is stressful I know and it's hard to see past the normal everyday life. Just give them an extra hug and kiss, always say you love them and listen to their days as we would give anything to have these moments with our children. Stress and all.

Not all children get to start school this year and their parents miss them.... It may seem silly to some, but it is our reality and some years it's just painful.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015


I often find myself longing for things I can't have. Not material things. I long for Mckenna, I long to mother Mckenna, I long to have my mom, I long to be mothered. Things I won't ever have again...

 Even before my mom died I longed to have my mom. My sober mom. I longed to have a mother daughter relationship.I actually had a glimpse of what this looked like for us when she was sober for a year and a half. When she started drinking again after that year and a half I was absolutely devastated. My heart shattered yet again and this time it would never be put back together. I would spend the next months and years of my mothers life angry, hurt, sad, distant, cold towards her. I wanted her to get sober and stay sober not just for me but for her.

In that year and a half I got to see my mom again. We laughed till we cried, she would be my mom and make me breakfast, dinner, lunches for when I stayed at her apt before work. I was able to be the daughter and what a wonderful feeling that was. I let her mother me, take care of me and I was slowly letting her into my world. The moment she drank again was the moment I lost her forever. It would never be the same and it never was the same. I was the mom again. I took care of her. I worried about her, I showered her, checked on her. I knew deep down that I would never get my mom back.

Now that my mom is dead I long for her so deeply it physically hurts. As painful as it was to be her daughter sometimes, she was alive, she was here. I long for my sober mom....

I have many mothers in my world who have daughters. Every now and then when I see them together, or hear about them I am hit with the realization that I won't ever have my mom, we will no longer get the chance to be mother and daughter again and it hurts my heart. I don't have my mom and it really sucks....

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Children? Probably Not....

To have more children or to not have more children has been the question that has been coming up for many weeks. Especially over the last few weeks. I've had dreams of me being pregnant or having a baby. People have asked me if I will have more children more than normal lately. This is a tough one for me because I haven't really had the baby itch since Mckenna died. It has come up a few times but not as much as I would have thought almost 7 years later.

In the beginning I couldn't think of having any more children because I didn't want more children, I wanted Mckenna. I wanted to raise Mckenna, only Mckenna. I have mostly been single for 6 years now and still have no desire to have more children. Sometimes I feel like there is something wrong with me because I don't want more children. I love children, I love babies, I love snuggles, and making them laugh, they seem to love me too, but that doesn't make me want more of my own. This could be because I have yet to meet someone or it could just be I know I won't have more children or want them.

I have been missing Mckenna very much lately. I was talking with a friend the other day about it and she asked me what I miss most right now in this moment. I miss everything was my answer. I miss baby Mckenna, not the 7 year old Mckenna because I never knew anything else than those 9 months. I still just want Mckenna, I want her back and to raise her, I want to be her mom no one else's. Which I know isn't fair or shouldn't be reason I don't want more children. Another friend and I talked about this very topic recently and it was an eye opening conversation because she spoke the words others have never said to me and it was how I felt. It was nice to hear another bereaved mom say the things I have felt. Different in some ways but the same in so many other ways.

Will I have more children, I don't know. Do I want more children, I don't know. I am now 31 years old and I am setting an age on if I do not have more children by then I will never have more children and I feel I will be content with that. Most in my life would love for me to get married, have more children, have a family and I truly feel that this may not happen. I may meet someone, I may get married, but I may not have more children. I am ok with that and truly it is my life and my choice to make. For me there are so many reasons I don't want more children and I think that needs to be ok.

I know that if any of my wishes came true I would want my baby girl, my Mckenna and I don't think that will ever change.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


For several years I wanted to get Mckenna's age progression picture done. I needed, wanted to know what she would look like because my imagination would never form any other age than a 9 month old baby. I asked a friend about my need/want for this and was advised to wait, so I waited. Once the urge came on strongly again I decided to go through with it. It was expensive and I broke down and asked family and friends if they would be willing to help me raise the money and they sure did. I was able to go through with it with no regrets.

I opened the picture with a trusted safe friend in case I had a melt down. To say I was nervous is an understatement. As I was communicating with the women who did her portrait I would get a physical reaction just getting an email. I was so afraid I would see it and think it didn't look like her (how I would I really know though). I let my friend see it first and her reaction was "wow" no other words spoken, just wow. When she showed it to me tears as I turned away, overwhelmed. There she was, my beautiful, smart, happy, curious, full or life baby girl. It is so bittersweet. I was happy to see her but she is dead it shouldn't be this way. I wanted her here, I wanted this Mckenna, I wanted to get to know her as a 7.5 year old little girl. I went back and forth with tears of sadness and joy amazed that she was mine. I was staring into the eyes of my baby girl who I swear was looking right at me. I just stared at her, turned to my friend with tears in my eyes saying she's so beautiful.

As the day went on I was "fine." I could feel the tears under the surface. I felt like I was going to cry on and off all day. I just couldn't get over it. I had her image in my head all day trying to wrap my brain around it. The day turned into evening and I really could feel the pain, the heartache, the sadness and the tears were just waiting to be released. I did what I do best and I avoided it until I could no longer hold back my tears. I wanted my baby girl. All the things I lost the day she died. I lost her at every age. I never even got to hear her say mama more than one time. Yes it was one time but it was never again.....

I don't even know what kind of mother I would be to a 7 year old. I'm sure I would have been just like any other mother, learning as I go making mistakes, feeling like everything I was doing would screw her up. I would like to think I would have been a bad ass single mother who was able to support us, struggling but making it work.

I hung her picture up in my room where I can see her everyday (still avoiding looking at her, though it's getting easier).

I do not regret it however, if my bereaved friends wants to do this some day have therapeutic support because it really is a lot to process.