Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Alcohol, Change, and Loving Myself...

For many years alcoholism was a part of my everyday life. I was constantly worried, scared, sad, angry, annoyed, heartbroken, and hopeful. I hated watching my mom change right before my eyes. The mother that was deep down in all that pain, the mother that loved me, the mother that I loved deeply became more and more of a stranger. I feared for a long time that I would find her dead. I tried to distance myself from her because the alcohol mom was too hard to be around. I could not save her, I could not help her, I could not see her, I was angry, though that did not stop my worry. I would call and when she didn’t answer I would worry. I was on constant alert, in constant fear that she was going to die. That fear came true the day I found her dead. I was in shock, I stood there in disbelief looking down at my mother’s body, shaking, crying, at a loss for words. It is a moment I will never forget. Alcoholism took my mom’s life, it took her away from everyone she loved, from everyone that loved her, it robbed her of a beautiful life, it robbed my brother and I from our mom, it took so much from us, all of us.

Though the day I found her the alcohol did not matter. I just wanted my mom back.

I have noticed for the last few months just how easy it is or can be for alcohol to become a problem. I notice in me the moments I crave it, the moments when it is all I can think about, the moments I feel this need for it and it scares me. When sadness creeps in I can feel the craving, the urge, the want to drink. I do not want to feel the sadness, the pain, the guilt. The guilt is usually the driving force for wanting a drink. The guilt of my moms last weeks of her life. I did not do enough, the look on her face haunt me, knowing she died lonely eats me up inside. The guilt of Mckenna's death can be too much to bare at times. There are days my breath is taken as the image of her feet sticking out from under the television I moved pops in my head and I am brought to my knees. I feel this panic inside me and drinking sounds way more appealing that feeling all that guilt. I do not drink where I am living, so often times when these cravings and urges happen as I am in the middle of a guilt attack I either avoid or talk my self through it, with avoiding being the my usual choice. Neither is healthy. 

I also like to drink because drunk Ashley is the Ashley that I wish I could always be sober. I feel I am more sociable, fun, funny, approachable, silly (though I am sure many feel this way when they drink). I have very few in my world that I can be my total authentic, full, self with sober. When I can be my authentic self it lights up my world and I love how I can let my wall down. I was recently told (by a loving, caring friend who I can be my authentic self with) that I can be a bit rigid, not warm or approachable. This made me cry. I cried because my mind went straight to my mom who would tell me I was cold.I do not like that part of me, I do not like that people feel they cannot approach me, that I don't feel warm because that is not me. Alcohol will not allow me to be my authentic self or help me let my wall down. Awareness, not drinking and opening up sober is the only way this can happen.

This is going to be a challenge for me because I like to drink, I like the feeling, I like how I can be silly, more open and almost carefree. I don’t want alcohol to be my liquid courage anymore, I just need to trust in myself, believe that I am fun, silly, funny, and approachable sober. I want someone to see me as the warm, loving, caring, compassionate, generous person I feel I am with those I feel I can be my full authentic self with.

I do not want to end up with the life my mom died in. I want my authentic self to shine through without alcohol being the driving force.

This is important to me and I hope my family and friends will understand and be supportive of this decision. Don’t judge me for making this choice and don’t judge me if I happen to have a couple drinks. The more I say no, the easier it will get…..

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Friendship and Forgiveness

I am a very forgiving person (some say too forgiving). I am not sure why or if it really matters why, I just know being a forgiving person also comes with a lot of pain. While I may be forgiving of friends and family, some may not be forgiving of me. I am a people pleaser and always have been. I don’t like it when people don’t like me, I hate it when someone is made at me, I want to fix things and move forward stronger with friendships and family, though I feel I am unique in this aspect.
I have had many friends come and go in my life and I know this is a part of life. Sometimes it is because we grow apart, or move away or are just not on the same track, whatever the reason it happens. For a long time it was hard for me to accept when this happened. I always thought, why does this have to happen, why can’t we just remain friends even when life happens and things change? Many factors are usually at play when a friendship dissolves. It is never simple.

For me personally I feel the reason I forgive is because if something were to happen to them or to me I would not want there to be regrets.  I live with many regrets in my life and a lot of it has to do with forgiveness.

I have friendships that are very unique. I have a friend I have known since we were 4 years old. We may not talk often, but I know she would be there if I needed her and has been there for me at times that I felt I had no one to turn to for help. I have a friend I have known since 1st grade and was reunited with when we were 21 through the friend I have known since I was 4. They are beautiful inside and out. I have a friend I have known 20 years, she has supported me in everything I do and will always be willing to kick someone’s ass for me. She has been around for all the good and all the bad. We started out on very rocky terms, but I can't imagine her not in my life. She inspires me to live life and do things that scare me and have fun. I have a friend that was a former marine wife. We went through things together that bonded us forever. She flew out the day after Mckenna died despite having 6 week old twins and a 2 year old at home. She may live in a different state, but we always pick up right where we left off. She is a gift to me in so many ways. I have a friend that has seen the dark side with me and understands this grief journey when many do not. We have laughed together, cried together and we share the bond of having a dead child/children. It is a bond we wish we did not share. I have friends that are older than me that have been a huge piece of my growth and becoming. Without these beautiful souls who have cheered me on, help guide me in this grief journey, held me while I cried, and laughed with me in embarrassing moments I don't know where I would be. Despite my flaws they all still love me. I love them and would go to the ends of the earth for each and every one of my friends.

When things get hard, when life happens and things change, when there is a misunderstanding try and remember that life is short and either you or they could be gone tomorrow. If you feel it is too big to forgive try anyway, don’t live with regrets in your life. The friendship may not be saved, but it does not need to end of bad terms. If you or they die tomorrow then at least there is peace of mind that you parted ways peacefully with better understanding of each other. Talk, communicate hurt feelings, be vulnerable, ask for forgiveness, show forgiveness, be genuine and authentic, you never know the gifts that can come from loving one another despite the challenges and flaws of each other and your friendship. Love big or go home…

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ah ha Moment....

For years I have often wondered why I am so worried about how others feel or why I felt/feel so judged when I am grieving. Where did it stem from? A couple weeks ago I had a bit of an, ah ha moment and figured out where it started (or at least I think I know). Let me give a little bit of a back story…

When I was 13 my dad was diagnosed with brain cancer and died 10 months later, the day before my 14th birthday. This was a devastating loss for me. Before his death I lived in Tucson with my Nana and Papa, my mom lived in Phx and my brother lived with our dad. We all moved back in with each other that summer of 1997. I was so excited to get the chance to see him more, stay at his house, get to know him like my siblings got to, but that was taken away when he was diagnosed the same month we moved back to Phoenix. As a 13 year old girl you are already confused, emotional, in that in between stage of a little girl and a young lady and then your dad gets sick and slowly dies right before your eyes and you are left with the aftermath. It wasn’t an easy time in my life and is still one of the hardest things I ever went through.

I did not take his death well. I was not ok with the fact that my dad was dead. I wanted my father, especially when my mom was an alcoholic and I became the mother. I was trying to navigate his death, my mom’s drinking, me being a teenage girl all alone and I will admit that I was sad. I was lost, in a dark place, I rarely smiled, I clung onto anyone who would see me, hear me and love me. My home life was falling apart and I was suddenly thrown into the adult world at 14.

When thinking about all this I figured out when it started. One night while lying on the floor watching TV, my mom came over to me and said, “So I talked to Nana today. She told me that you need to move on, that it isn’t normal for you to still be this way about your dad.” I laid there on the verge of tears and said, why would she say that? Why would you tell me that? I was confused. The rest of that moment isn’t clear and I am not sure what was said after, but I remember how I felt. I felt shamed, confused, alone, exposed and broken, this women that I loved dearly just judged my grief. I thought it was normal to feel the way I did after a parent dies. I thought I was allowed to feel this way, cry, play songs, be sad but in that moment it all changed. I started to question my feelings, I started to hide my pain, I started to push people away, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to grieve, I felt like my pain wasn’t valid, I felt like everyone thought I was crazy, all from that one moment.

That stayed with me, I carried that with me and I feel subconsciously affected me more when Mckenna died. The moment of her death I was always concerned with what people thought, I couldn’t show my emotions, I couldn’t show my pain, I couldn’t feel my pain because everyone would think I was crazy, I couldn’t let people think I was crazy. I held onto my pain because that is what I knew to do after learning to mask it for so long.

It almost angers me because I felt I wasn’t allowed to grieve the little girl who gave me life, who was my entire world and who was ripped from my life in an instant. I felt I couldn’t express my pain because people would judge, people would label me, they would look at me differently, that matter more to me than saying, screw you I will feel this pain because I have the right. This is what angers me.I have the right to miss my daughter, my mom, my dad and who ever I want, because I love them. I was told at one point that we feel pain deeply because we love deeply. We don’t stop loving them so when they are gone we don’t stop grieving for them, we just learn to carry it and bring it into our lives.

My Nana lived in a different generation. She held her pain, but I know she loved deeply.

Don’t judge those who are grieving, it is their pain, their loss, their love that they are feeling. Just sit with them, let them talk, let them cry without judgment. That is the greatest gift you can give someone who is grieving. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

This Too Shall Pass...

I don't know if it's the time of year, the weather, the changing of seasons , or my hormones but a sadness has washed over me the last few days. A loneliness I get from time to time. A loneliness that brings me to a place where I feel like there is something wrong with me, why I feel so different than others I know. I start to question my life, I start to question me as a person and wonder why I am the way I am, I get discouraged and I feel like I am destined to be alone the rest of my life.

 I am a 30 year old women who has a hard time making new friends, keeping friends, having friends my own age. I am an old soul, a mother hen, a 50 year old women in a 30 year old body. I am old fashioned, stubborn, a loner, a homebody, quiet, I get attached easy, and I am more like my mom than I ever wanted to be.

I try to think to myself that maybe it is the little steps that will allow me to grow into that person I envision? Maybe I set to high of standards for myself? Maybe I am just always going to be this way and I just need to accept it? Maybe I am judging myself too much? Things will happen when they are supposed to, be patient. You are lovable, and you are likable....

Then that little voice screams, no one will love you, no one will put up with you, no one will try and get to know you, the real you, who would really like you....all things I know aren't true deep in my heart.

Self love, and self compassion are not a part of my vocabulary when I am discouraged and lonely. Though I do try and allow these emotions to be there and to just be, just sit in, and just trust. I am only human and it is all a part of this life's process. Sometimes it is easier said than done...

This too shall pass....

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Beginning

As I reflected on my journey yesterday I was brought back to that painful part of my past. Not just with Mckenna’s death, but everything before her death. My marriage falling apart, having to find a place to live, not making enough money to support Mckenna and myself, taking care of my mom after her surgery, packing up the house by myself, doing everything on my own because that life was no longer what he wanted. I lost everything in a matter of 3 months. I felt alone, lost and broken.
Looking back I can see just how broken I was, how out of my body I was, and feeling a little bit more compassion for that 24 year old Ashley.

After Mckenna’s death I felt as if I was drowning, slowly dying inside and trying to pick up the pieces of my life. The one place I felt safe was no longer safe, I distanced myself from my family, I distanced myself from my friends, I was in a dark world where I was slowly being deprived of air and suffocating.  My life seemed to be spiraling out of control and I slowly reach a place where if I did not do something I was going to die.

I was having flashbacks, I couldn’t sleep, I was anxious, scared of my thoughts, I wouldn’t allow myself to cry, I pushed the pain so deep inside that when it tried to escape I felt like I was going to explode so letting it out was not an option. If I let go I would surely die. But it was the not letting go that nearly took my life.

 I know I have written about my journey and why I am where I am today, but I just want to share for those who may be scared to reach out, those who are scared no one would show up and see them, see their pain, for those who need to be seen, heard and upheld while they feel like their world is spiraling out of control after losing their child. I had a voice inside me telling me that I needed to get help, I needed to find someone to help me and I needed to reach out. I went on a trip to Australia and told myself that I would make it my mission to get help when I got home. It took me 3 months to walk into a support group. I was terrified to go, I was so nervous I felt as if I was going to throw up. I was about to open up to strangers that my daughter died and not only died but died from me moving a television. I thought, what would they think? Would they judge me? Would they run from my pain? Would they be able to handle my story? As it got closer to me the more terrified I got. When it was my turn I was shaking, the tears came and I spoke quickly hoping the words would just hurry and fly out of my mouth without causing me too much pain. I looked at the ground as I told a part of the story and I was watching it before my eyes, I was in my own world, I looked up and saw the sadness of the facilitators face but I also saw the compassion, the empathy, the understanding. I knew in that moment that I was where I was meant to be, I knew that that is where I would find the strength to work through this horrific tragedy.

I will never forget that moment because it was the moment that saved my life. I listened to that little voice (which I feel was Mckenna) and followed my heart. I have grown in ways that I truly never thought I would after Mckenna’s death, but I did and here I am carrying the grief, trusting the grief and allowing the pain to come and go without judgment. I allow it to be what it is and trust that I will be ok. It has taken a lot of work to get here and it has not been easy, but it has been worth it. Love is the reason we have so much pain when we lose those we love, but I would never want to not feel love in fear of pain. The pain validates my love.

I am forever thankful for those who have sat with me in those darkest days and never really left me. I may have done the work, but their guidance is also what saved my life. Truly saved my life. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Yes Even After 6 Years....Sigh

Mckenna  has been gone 6 years, 6 years. I just don’t know how that happened and yet this year it feels like it hasn’t been that long. I yearn for her, long for her, and when I look at her pictures I cry, yes even 6 years later. Sometimes it is hard for me to fathom that Mckenna died, that she is buried in the ground, and that I held her when she died. Just does not seem possible.

Dead and died were not a part of my vocabulary in the beginning because those words hurt my soul, they didn’t feel “right” (as if saying my daughter is dead would ever really feel “right.”) And still sometimes when I say those words my breath is taken as it is hard to believe that my child died. How she could wake up one morning and 3 hours later be fighting for her life, how 9 hours later she was in my arms as her heart stops beating, how I could go to bed that night without her? I listen to those words coming out of my mouth and they feel as if I am telling someone else’s story, a story from a movie, a story that could not possibly be my life.  

Not sure why this year has been more intense with grief than last year, and I guess it shouldn’t really matter why, it just is. Tears come easy as I think of Mckenna and sit with the pain. I wish it was easy for me to lay on my bed, curl up into a ball, and cry those deep cries out like I know I need to, like I know I should. Silent tears fall, as I just wish this wasn’t my life.

This past year has brought me to a place of peace that I have not had in many, many years. Though I am more at peace it doesn’t mean I don’t have days of grief, that I don’t miss Mckenna, that I don’t have sad days, because I do, still even after 6 years. Though this peace has been needed for many years, it also reminds me to stay humble because at any given moment it could be taken from me yet again. It is teaching me to not sit around and wait for the ball to drop, but to embrace the moments of joy and pay attention to the moments of sadness and be ok in each and every moment. Self compassion isn’t easy for me as I have many stories I tell myself, but I am being reminded every day that it is ok to feel how I feel without judgment, that if I am sad and miss my daughter I have the right to miss her, and if I am angry (which has been a big emotion lately) that it is deserved that and be ok.
6 years later I can still be back to that day as if it were happening all over again right before my eyes, the difference between now and 6 years ago is that I can sit in that pain and tolerate it better, I can carry it better, I can just be with it and know, trust, that the darkness will fade into light all while knowing the dark will come around again. I have learned that it will go just as quickly as it came, I don’t have to sit in it all the time to feel connected to Mckenna, that joy, tears, laughter can all coexist in the same sentence, and that my love for Mckenna will never end and that means my grief will never end. 

I miss her fiercely, from the depth of my soul, to the tips of my toes.

My dear Mckenna,
I wish I could wrap my arms around you, squeeze you and never let go. I wish I could kiss your face all over and make you laugh, I wish I could hold your hand, I wish I knew what you looked like, I wish, I wish, I wish…..I love you baby girl and miss you so very much. Hope you feel the love today as there are so many who are thinking of you. Sending you big love and big hugs.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Peace Holds my Heart

The peace that has washed over me is so magical. I feel like a whole new person and it is such a wonderful place to be, and it has been needed for almost 6 years. In the last 6 years I have had nothing but heartache, sadness, pain, hurt, loss, a sense of worthlessness, shame and guilt that controlled my life. I hated my life, I hated me and now I am loving life, I am loving myself, and I am ready for this next chapter in my new book.

 Life happens and it will continue to happen, I will have bad days which I trust will end, I will have good days which I will embrace, I will cry and allow the tears to come, I will feel pain, love, sadness, peace, joy, sorrow and know that each one is just a part of life, my life forever and always.

I have been through a lot in my 30 years of life and this is the first time probably since my dad died that I feel at peace, truly at peace. Possibly my whole life. I love myself enough to become who I am meant. I can carry my grief, I can breathe, and I KNOW I am going to be ok, I trust and for those who have walked this journey with me know what a big deal all of this is.

I have come a long way and seriously curious to see where it all takes me.

Peace is a beautiful feeling that I am fully embracing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Peace Out PCH...

Now that is has been a couple days since I said goodbye to PCH I figured it was time to express just what it all means to me. I spent three years at PCH. As I look back on the last three years it is hard to believe that I survived it all. When I started at PCH I was terrified. I had some serious doubts in myself and how I was going to walk into the building where Mckenna died every shift, how I was going to be around sick children, broken children, children who are alone, children who are abused, and children Mckenna’s age. I just didn't know how I was going to handle it all and I would be lying if I said it wasn't challenging. It was one of the hardest, most challenging things I have ever done.

 In the beginning I really struggled to work there. I would cry every shift, have flashbacks, I would be distant, closed off, shut down, just to survive the shift, my life, everything. I wanted to quit many times, I would look for jobs and even put in applications but I would never follow through with quitting. I guess it never felt “right”. I wanted it to feel like the right time and no matter how much I complained, something kept me there and I guess I am thankful for that voice that kept me there as long as it did.

After some point, though I can’t pin point when it was, I found a peacefulness working there. I no longer cried going to work, I wouldn’t dread each shift with every ounce of my body, I was more talkative with my coworkers, patients, patients families. At the time I thought this was great, I reached the place I never thought I could or would and it was a great accomplishment. And then my mom died. My mom’s death was devastating to me and I found myself going back to the days from when I first started. The flashbacks started again, I would cry to work every shift, and it would take over half the shift to recover.I recognized that it longer was serving a purpose for me and I was no longer growing and becoming, I was falling and going backwards. I don't use the word hate very often if at all, but I truly began to hate it. Working at PCH, working nights began to take its toll and I knew I needed to quit. It was no longer peaceful, it was torture so I set out on a couple missions which brought me to where I am today.

 My last night was a great night with great people, great nurses, and lots of conversations, laughter and peace with my decision. It was time. I clocked out, said my goodbyes, walked through the old PICU where Mckenna died, down the hall one last time and out the doors feeling free. It was almost euphoric, I was happy, excited and in that moment I knew that I fulfilled my goal and I don’t regret ever working there and I don’t regret waiting to leave and I most definitely don’t regret quitting.

I lost a lot while working at PCH, but I also gained so much. Leaving PCH wasn’t a hard decision. I have seen things that are heartbreaking, sad, amazing, humbling, and unforgettable, but I no longer feel the need to be there and to put myself through what I have when I first started. I want to live life and for Mckenna to be proud of me for challenging myself yet knowing when it was no longer benefiting me. I lost a piece of me the day Mckenna died in that hospital and even though it did not bring her back, it did put together a small piece of my heart with a scar. I will never forget my time at PCH, I will never forget how it forced me to grow, I will never forget the last three years and what they brought me. 

Peace out PCH….

*The* Room Mckenna died in.
 (No patients were on the floor when I took this picture,
the unit was empty)

Friday, June 20, 2014

She wasn't supposed to be with me.....

While I was with a beautiful friend this week I was taken to a place deep within my soul that I have not visited in a long time. It is not easy to visit places that I have not visited in a long time because they are so painful, yet it needs to happen from time to time. Mckenna’s story was the place, the details I don’t share often, the injuries, the images that swirl in my head but are hardly spoken came out as I sat with my beautiful friend. The injuries were discussed in detail and this brought me back to that day as if it was yesterday. The tears started and did not stop for some time as I retold parts of the story, the parts that take my breath away, the parts that should not be a part of my life, the parts that bring me to my knees. My friend asked me as I am sharing a painful part of the story, “did anyone ever say I’m sorry to you,” and this has stayed with me all week. For years I have placed the blame solely on myself. From the moment of the accident I was saying I’m sorry to everyone. I’m sorry I took your daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin away from you, I’m sorry I moved the tv, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…..But not once did I hear I’m sorry from the people that were a part of that day. The people who chose to not watch her because they were going Christmas shopping, the person who wanted to “sleep in,” the people who were supposed to have her any way….

I have replayed that day over and over in my head for almost 6 years now and each time I share those details it always ends with, yeah well I’m the one who moved the tv so none of that really matters. Well in reality it does matter. I do not place blame on them and that is not what this is about, it is about being angry. I have never been angry towards the other people involved that dreadful day, but it seems to be creeping up at times. Angry for how I was treated, angry for being lead on by my ex, angry for never hearing the words I’m sorry from them and the role they played that day.

What I keep hearing is, she wasn’t supposed to be with me that day, she WASN’T supposed to be with ME…..I will always blame myself, I will never forgive myself, I will always take responsibility, but sometimes I get angry at the other people involved that day. I think I have the right every now and then….

I am thankful for those in my life willing to sit with that story and allow me to tell it from time to time. Lots of tears were shed as I remembered that time in my life, tears that deserve to be shed because Mckenna is worth every tear, every sob, and every heartache.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Tough Mother's Day...

Mothers day has been a tough holiday for many years. Even before I lost my daughter and my mom it was always hard.

Mothers day can be difficult when you grow up with an alcoholic. I often stood in the card section with tears in my eyes because none of the cards fit our relationship. “You’re an amazing mother”, “you have always been there for me,” “you’re the best mom in the world” didn't exactly speak to our relationship. At the time I held so much anger towards my mother for choosing alcohol over her children, over herself. For years that anger made me distant and eventually making the decision to take a step back and love her from afar. I still called her, checked on her, but was cold and distant in order to protect myself. I could no longer stand there and watch her “kill” herself with alcohol. Doing this came with a price, it meant I closed off my heart, my love for her because I couldn’t think about losing her and thought that in doing this losing her would not be so hard. Then…

 A few short months later I found her lifeless in her bed and all those feelings were gone. The alcohol didn't matter, the anger went away as if it never existed, all I wanted in that moment was for her to be alive. My fear became a reality and I sat there one last time with her telling her just how sorry I was for failing her, for not being the daughter she wished I could have been.

In the time since my mothers death I have discovered the pain, the heartache, the hurt, the loneliness, and the sadness that she carried with her. The beautiful person and human being she was, and what I would give to have her back. I hate that death made me see my mom, truly see her and that I will never get the chance to make things right.

I knew my mom and I loved her so deeply that her death has really affected me the shoulda, coulda woulda’s haunt me. I couldn’t save her and I live with guilt every day.

This mothers day is double hard as I will not get showered with gifts, homemade cards, hugs and kisses from my should be 6 year old daughter, and I will not get to show my mom the love I have for her, give her a homemade card and give her hugs and kisses. Being a daughterless mother and a motherless daughter I hurt deep in my soul.

 I miss my Mckenna and I miss my mom. Mother's day is hard when you're a bereaved mom and a motherless daughter.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

From Disconnected to Connected

Being disconnected has been my world for a few years, disconnected from feelings, love, and life. This past weekend we were asked to think of a word that would be our intention for the weekend as we embark on some heavy, beautiful grief work. The first word that came to mind was connection. I wanted to connect to my feelings, others feelings, Mckenna, my mom and feel with my whole heart without disconnecting from the world around me. I needed to feel what came up and allow myself to just be with it, trust it, honor it and love it. I needed to love myself enough to dig deep and reach in and feel what I try so hard to disconnect from. Being disconnected is a lonely world and it’s a world that I really don’t care to live in anymore. I let my guard down and allowed myself to be vulnerable which allowed me to truly be with Mckenna the entire time. I felt her with me, I honored her life, I was her mother and mothered her the only way I can now.

My head was swirling with memories of Mckenna’s life, our life. I felt her in my arms, I felt her in my heart, I felt her all around me and she made her presence known in more ways than one. I have missed her since my heart has been consumed with my moms death. I have felt more disconnected from her than I ever have. I tried telling myself that she is allowing me to grieve my mom because she is a busy little girl changing lives, but I missed her and felt as if I was forgetting her. This weekend reminded me that I will never forget her, I will never stop loving her, and I will never stop being her mother.

 For many years I have allowed others feelings and emotions to control how I grieve, share and feel, in order to make them feel better, to not feel so judged and to feel accepted. In doing this I have allowed myself to become more and more disconnected from my child. The child that I gave birth to, the child that I was so honored to watch grow, the child that I held as her heart stopped beating. How could I allow this to happen for so long? How could I allow others to make me feel like that there is something wrong with me because I miss my child? How could I not share her beautiful life? Mckenna was here, she lived, she was so very beautiful and she was mine. I no longer want to feel disconnected from her and I want to share her and be able to be her mom because I have every right to miss her and talk about her because she is my daughter and she died. Her little body is laying in a little pink casket underground wearing a purple dress with her favorite play phone and a book, that is not the way it is supposed to be and for me to feel like I can’t miss her is not fair
I too was the mother who could not imagine living without my child, I was the mother who missed her child when she was away from her, I was the mother who cherished every moment, I was the mother who took pictures, videos, gave kisses, gave hugs, tucked her in at night, I was a mother just like most mothers. Now I am the mother who held her child when she died, the mother who buried her child, the mother who misses milestones, the mother who will never get to watch their child grow up, the mother I wish I wasn’t.
Just remember a bereaved mother/parent is just like you, the difference is that your child is still with you….
I took so much away from this past weekend, and I am so very blessed to have had the chance to be there and learn about so many beautiful children and to be with such beautiful parents who love and miss their children.


Monday, February 17, 2014

***Sensitive*** My Memories, My Pain....Everyday

This is my reality, this is in my head every day, this is my memory of the day and night that I lost my mom…..

I call you, no answer
(you will call me back)

This is your new pattern, don’t pick up, don’t call back
(slow worry sets in)

Call again
(why aren’t you answering? Please pick up)

Continue on with my day
(call mom again later, you will answer, you're just napping)

Call again no answer
(What the hell mom why aren't you answering…….you're fine, probably drinking)

Go to my internship, worry on the back of my brain

Call again, no answer
(ok this is not like you mom, please answer your phone so I know you’re ok)

Call Brandon, maybe he has heard from you
(nope, well shit, you're ok, you have to be ok)

Driving home
(I will check on you tomorrow)

Nope tomorrow is too long, check on you now.
(you're ok, I know you're ok)

Put the key in the door, deep breath

Lights are off, TV is on. I slowly walk in
(you're ok, just sleeping, or drunk)

Stand in the dark staring at your body, trying to focus to see your breathing.
(why aren't you moving? Why aren't you waking up? You're a light sleeper)

I turn on the bathroom light
(Why aren’t you moving mom? What’s wrong with your feet?)

I slowing move towards your head, I notice your hands, the colors not right
(no, no, no. no, no, no, no, no, no…..MOM!!!!!)

I run to turn on a brighter light, run back to your side and yell your name, Mom!!! MOM!!!
(No, no, no, MOM! MOM! Can't touch you, but I have to)

I touch your leg…Ice cold. Shaking, crying, dog jumping on me
(you’re really dead, you’re really dead, no, no, no, no)

Call 911, hands shaking, heart pounding.
(you can’t be dead mom, no, no, no, no)

“My moms dead”
“Ok what is the address”
(shaking, tears, panic)
“Do you want to start CPR”
“No she’s dead, her fingers are black, she’s ice cold, she’s dead”
(I need to call Brandon, I’m all alone)
“Ok go outside and wait for the police”

I hear sirens, I see lights, I need Brandon
(You’re really dead, this can’t be happening)

Time passes fast, time passes slow. We cry, we talk about you, we cry in each others arms. We are now without you, without dad, it’s just Brandon and me.

Sitting in a daze, having conversation, crying

It’s time to say goodbye. I’m not ready. It came too fast.
(How can this be happening, not ready to say goodbye, not ready to see you for the last time)

Brandon and I hold hands, I pull down the blanket, we cry, I come around and sit with you, I place my hand on your head, I tell you how sorry I am, how much I love you.
(No, no, no, no, no, no deep, deep cry from deep within me escapes my soul)

I kiss you, I touch you one last time, it’s time
(no, no, no, no, no….I don’t want to say goodbye to you mom)

I can’t control my tears, I can’t control my sobs, I can’t control my pain it is out for all to witness. Brandon holds me as I kneel to the ground. The sobs release.
(Damn it mom I miss you already, why did you have to die?)

I watch them take you away in a body bag, put into the back of a van and driven away. A piece of my soul left with you that night.
(This is really happening, she’s really gone, I just found my mom dead)

I carry these memories; I carry this moment with me every day. Different parts of this night pop into my mind at any given moment taking my breath away. Losing my mom has been the second hardest thing I have had to go through. No matter what my mom and I had a special connection and I will always and forever miss her.

Mom I love you beyond words…You are my mom. Love is bigger than death and in that very moment my love for you was breaking my soul, breaking my heart because I love you so very much. We are connected more than I could handle, my love for you was too much for me to get too close and I am so very sorry. You will never be forgotten and I miss you so, so, so very much. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Change of Plans....YAY!!!

I have been on this journey of going to school in Houston for months now. It has been my every focus and thought since Aug/Sept. I wanted to go to Houston so bad because it was what I felt I needed. It was a clean start with a great opportunity to grow and step outside of my comfort zone and get a great education. I went for a visit last month and to be honest I wasn’t overly impressed with Houston. The school was beautiful and old and the social work program is rather impressive. There were things I liked and things I didn’t like about the program, but overall it seemed to be a good program. Though I struggled with Houston as a whole. The city, the people, it was all very overwhelming for me and kind of discouraging.

I came home not as excited and was kind of disappointed. Ever since coming home something about it didn’t feel right. This past week I have felt somewhat lost and nervous about feeling this way after all these months of making these plans. Then I had a conversation with a beautiful friend and something she said really stuck with me. She said, “some of the worst decisions I have made were based on fear, and some of the best decisions I have made were based on love.” I have sat with that all week and came to the decision to not go to Houston.

The main reason I have decided to stay and go to school in AZ is because of my family (love). We have been through so much the last few years and we are just now getting closer and I want to actively participate in their lives and I want to live life with them. I just couldn’t leave because I would be missing out on so much.

Now for the good news that so many have been waiting for…..I will be able to take a graduate course online class this summer to get me caught up and start classes in the Fall in FLAGSTAFF!!!! I will be MOVING in Aug up NORTH. I am beyond excited and feel that this is just the change I need but still close to my family. I will get the best of both worlds.

I am blessed beyond blessed to have such amazing souls in my life. Talked to a beautiful soul friend this morning and she reframed my through process of looking at this Houston journey as a failure. She said that your journey of working through this process has allowed yourself to process of parts of my life that may not have been addressed if you had not been working on this Houston journey.

It’s all growth and I am just glad I saw it before I actually moved.

So Flagstaff here I come…..Oh how exciting!!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


For years people have said to me, “it’s not your fault”, “don’t blame yourself”, “it was an accident”, and those words have always hurt me. Many may not understand why it would hurt me but many do not know what it is like to kill their daughter…unintentionally. Those words may be uncomfortable for others to hear or even say, but they are truth, they are my truth. I did not intend for the accident to happen, I did not drop the television on purpose, I did not mean to kill my daughter, but it is what happen…unintentionally. My hands moved the tv that fell on my daughter, the tv that took her life. I have replayed what happened in my head thousands of times, the moment that changed my life forever. Many could not comprehend what it was like to have this vibrant, happy, healthy, beautiful baby playing, following me around carefree because she had nothing to fear and the next she is laying under a television that you moved….gone in a matter of seconds. That moment has taken my breath away more times that I can count, that moment has changed me and that moment I have taken responsibility for. I killed my daughter…unintentionally and telling me to not blame myself, that it’s not my fault is not the truth. I am able to live with this and I am able to say it out loud.

The magnitude of what happen sometimes simply takes my breath away and I really am not sure how I have survived it. How I can continue to live my life without my daughter, how I can continue to live with my truth but I do. It has taken me a long time to say the words unintentionally because that word did not matter I killed my daughter end of story, but that is not the whole truth,  it was unintentional and now I am able to combine the two without having a bad taste in my mouth.

I will go to my grave with what I did and I will always have the regret of moving that television. I will not sugar coat my truth because it is hard for others to hear, I will only speak my truth.

Mckenna is so very loved and is missed every single day and there is not a day that goes by that I do not wish that I didn’t move that television. I have worked incredibly hard to be in this place, it has been hell but I am here…..I have survived.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hopes the Word for 2014

I had written a blog for the new year but it just didn’t seem to feel right, so here is my reattempt.

2013 was a year of joy, loss, grief, sadness, sorrow, happiness, growth, empowerment, disappointment and pure love. It will go down in history as one of the most challenging years of my life. That being said the words that keep coming up are growth and living.

Looking back on my moms’ death I have come to see or have chosen to see it this way, that my mom has given me the gift of life. Yes she gave birth to me, but it runs deeper than that. My mom faced a life of many challenges that started at the tender age of 4. From that moment on the beautiful, innocent little girl grew up and was lost in a world that slowing spun out of control. My mom wanted so much out of life, she was so beautiful, loving, compassionate, giving and full of love, but with so much pain and sorrow in her heart it was hard for her to see the light. Her life was sad, and lonely, (I so wish I could go back and just hold her and tell her life is beautiful and you are worth living for, you are worth loving, you are worth so much more than you ever know). I was slowly seeing that I am just like my mom in so many ways and I did not want to be sad, and lonely for the rest of my life. I wanted to live truly LIVE.  

After my moms death I was driving and I heard something that has stuck with me and has been my reminder to live life,  heard, “you’re too beautiful for this world to let it devour your existence like it did mine”. My mom gave me the gift of life just by saying those words. I feel deep in my soul that my mom is at peace and she is free from pain, sorrow and heartache. I feel she is now and forever will be full of, joy, happiness and pure love. Everything she deserved to have while she was here.

 Last year was a year that I graduated with my BSW, I lost my brother, I lost my mom, I failed my internship and yet through all that I found myself wanting to live life. I want to live a life that if I die I will know I lived, really lived. I am not setting expectations on 2014, but I am going to have hope. I am going to take it moment by moment and cherish this life and all it has to offer. I am going to look around me and see the beautiful things around me, be with the ones I love, and allowing myself be still and feel. Reaching a place in my life where I can be sad, happy, empowered, lonely, joyful all in the same day is what I call growth.

Here’s to the new year and to everything that may come my way……