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Friday, July 15, 2016

What's Left of Me

The other day I was using spotify to chose music for me as I ran based on the steps I jogged per minute. If you're a slow jogger, slow songs will play, I'm talking sappy slow songs. I was kind of at that point where I was wearily wondering what in the world was going to come on next and to my disbelief, it was Nick Lachey, What's left of me. If you know me, you know 1) I absolutely despise country music and 2) not a huge pop fan. I prefer alternative rock depending on the mood I'm in, some days heavier than others. However, most of the time I just listen to whatever Si wants to listen do I even have a favorite station at the moment? Anyway, I'm running, okay, jogging. I find myself listening to the words of this song and realize tears are falling from my eyes. I'm sure it's normal to not realize whats occurring in your own skin, but that's kind of a portrait of how this past year for me has been. Partial memories of events that have taken place but it's all left behind in this fog that I can't seem to fight my way through. That fog is called grief, if you've never experienced it, that's some heavy shi fog.  I think back on this past year and it takes me a minute to think back on what all has happened:
1) My girl left me for a greater place
2) Panama City (My daddy got us out of town for a while, best thing he could've ever done for me)
3) My stepson moved in with us
4) I went back to work
5) Si started pre-K
6) Hell sank in
7) Boston, MA
8) Orlando
9) Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg

10) Holidays (HELL)
11) Orlando (again)
12) Finished out the school year
13) Swim Lessons
14) Jekyll/St Simons
15) July 15 - back to HELL again
We are about to start another school year and I literally cannot even tell you a thing about this past school year. The hardest thing is, I did all those things above with Si, yet I don't remember much. His entire fourth year is a major blur. That makes me angry because he didn't ask for this life. He doesn't deserve this life, this life of uncertainty and having to swallow death at such a young age. I mean he still asks me when she's coming back. I look into his eyes and don't know what to say. His big brown eyes so full of confusion. Speaking of confusion, there's me. What did I do to deserve this life? How could God allow this considering there are babies out there who need good homes.

Things go quiet for a while, between myself and God. I've read a few books others have recommended. While reading them life kind of made sense, He would never allow this to happen, it's how the world works, and Satan. Then I walk day to day and watch time continuously pass, and others grow farther and farther from what happened to us. Dates come and less and less check in. Others move on. And I become bitter. Bitter towards God. So, I can't really blame him for getting quiet on me. The good thing is He is forgiving. I realize even in my deepest, darkest hole, farthest away from God, that his breath is how I'm still going. The breath from others praying for my family. The breath of strength. The breath of Simons smile. The breath of David and I surviving this past year, together. The breath of co-workers who made sure I got through each day. The breath of a new boss (and his wife) who showed compassion and grace. The breath of family to love on us, and to hurt with us. The breath of a spiritual leader and his wife who show nothing but patience and never ending love. God is always there even when I think i don't want him. He will continue to breath these things in me until my dying moment. If we are just being honest, I didn't know how I was going to survive this past year, or how I will survive the next one, or the next. But I do. I keep surviving, even when I don't want to. So because of that, I know God hasn't forsaken me, yet some days it seems like He has.

So back to the song by Nick Lachey. I realized these words resonated with me. A little over two weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night (or maybe in the morning - I can't remember) and heard God speak to me, as clear as day. When your child suddenly dies, you're left with a life of wondering, no closure, blame, remorse. But I heard what God had to say to me. I'm still left with guilt, blame, remorse but  he gave me a small piece of closure which I'm sure over the years he will continue to piece me back together, differently. So read the words below. I'm trying here. Really trying. I don't 100% trust you, God, not yet. But I'm trying. So take what's left of me. I can't walk this walk alone anymore.

Here are the words:
Watch my life pass me by
In the rear view mirror
Pictures frozen in time
Are becoming clearer
I don't wanna waste another day
Stuck in the shadow of my mistakes, yeah
Cause I want you and I feel you
Crawling underneath my skin
Like a hunger, like a burning
To find a place I've never been
Now I'm broken and I'm fading
I'm half the man I thought I would be
But you can have what's left of me
I've been dying inside
Little by little
No where to go but going out of my mind
In endless circles
Running from myself until
You gave me a reason for standing still
And I want you and I feel you
Crawling underneath my skin
Like a hunger, like a burning
To find a place I've never been
Now I'm broken and I'm fading
I'm half the man I thought I would be
But you can have what's left of me
Falling faster, barely breathing
Give me something to believe in
Tell me it's not all in my head
Take what's left of this man
Make me whole once again
Cause I want you and I feel you
Crawling underneath my skin
A hunger, like a burning
To find a place I've never been
Now I'm broken and I'm fading
I'm half the man I thought I would be
You can have all that's left, yeah yeah yeah
What's left of me
I've been dying inside, you see
I'm going outta my, outta my mind
I'm just running in circles all the time
Will you take what's left?
Will you take what's left?
Will you take what's left of me?
Just running in circles in my mind
Will you take what's left?
Will you take what's left?
Will you take what's left of me?
Take what's left of me
This is the very last picture I took of Evie before dropping her off to take Si for his four year check up. It's been one year since this picture. My life is forever changed by her. I love you, munchie.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sweet Simon

Simon started pre-k this  past August. I wish  I could say he absolutely LOVES it. He only tolerates it. He's always asking 'Is there no more school' and I cringe when he asks on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesdays. By Wednesday, he will flat out cry when  you tell him he has TWO  more days  of school left. The good news is I don't have to leave him kicking and screaming every morning. He wakes up and we get dressed and eat on the way  to school. He never cries (I'm probably jinxing myself) on the way to school or once we get there. The first two weeks of school are another story entirely but we've gotten over that hump (the Walmart toy section benefited from his tears). His teacher sends me pictures sometimes and  he's always smiling in them so hopefully he is having some fun. Before school let out for the Christmas break I had a conference with his teacher. She only had good things to say about him (she better) so I'm hoping this  means she hasn't picked up on how much he despises her class. Good news is he seems to like her so I don't think this is a reflection on her part whatsoever. Simon is a homebody. He'd rather  be here at home than any where else at any given time. If you say, "Si, do you want to go to Disney World", he will more than likely tell you "No". Just who he is. With all of this said, sometimes he makes entertaining comments about what he'll do so he won't have to go to school. His recent fad is super heroes; Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider Man. I've heard him say things  like he's going to grow up big like Hulk so he can smash the school so he won't have to go. I laugh and tell him how silly he is but deep down I'm wondering if  I should be concerned...I mean he has 12 more years of this, at least. Let's just pray Kindergarten will be  a different experience for him and let's be  thankful there are laws about being  in school up to a certain age. Surely he'll be convinced by a law, right?

I say all of that as background information for a conversation he and I had today. Six months ago Si asked on a more regular basis about Evie. Questions I'll never forget. He asked the same ones within a few days apart but eventually he asked me this, "Will Evie ever come back?". I wish I could say I had this long drawn out,  extravagant answer. I didn't. I couldn't say anything. I shook my head and tears fell down my cheek. That look on his face. I'll never forget it. Disappointment. Simon experienced disappointment and that crushed what was left of my soul. It's hard watching your child grieve. It's  also hard to explain to a four year old where his sister is. She was here and then all of a sudden  she wasn't. He and I dropped her off that morning, July 15, and he never saw her again. We didn't let him be a part of her service or allow him to see her before the service in the casket. I don't regret that decision. He  didn't need to see her like that. But he misses her too. Heaven and God are mostly over his head right now but we've talked about it more in the last six months than he and I ever have before. He knows "baby Ebee" is in Heaven with God. He knows that she's safe and that she's still apart of our family. He will tell anyone he has a baby named Ebee (Evie). That's his baby, she was his from the beginning and to this day, that's still his  baby. It is so sweet watching him continue on her legacy. But its so hard as well. Imagine your precious child asking for  something, knowing you can NEVER give them what they want. My  words don't put a dent in the pain it causes me knowing he doesn't get to have his baby back either. 

So today, Simon had a dentist appointment. This was his second cleaning appointment. His first cleaning was back in June, when Evie was still with us. All three  of us went on that trip and it was one of  those trips that makes you realize life is different with two. That trip consisted of Evie's bottle spilling out all over the place, Simon having an accident, Evie blowing out her diaper,  then spitting up what little I could salvage of her formula. I walked into the Carter's outlet in  commerce with two naked kids that day. I specifically remember laughing so I wouldn't cry. On our drive to commerce today, I was talking to Simon about his first dentist appointment and how they just brushed his teeth and how sweet they were to him. We were talking about the last trip out there and he remembered Evie spitting up. I should have seen this coming but out of no where he says, "Mama, I'm ready to go be with God and Ebee". Ditto, my child. At this point  I can barely see the road through my watery eyes. I clear my throat and ask him "Why do you say that", and he says, "So  I won't have to go to  school anymore!". Literally a laugh out loud moment! This child is desperate for 'NO MORE SCHOOL'.

Most days Si is the reason I keep going, keep getting up, keep pushing forward. Moments like today help me see it a little more clearly. I need constant reminders of why I'm still here and God blesses me with those moments. Sometimes it through Simon, sometimes its through friends, and sometimes its through my kids at school. But I also know I'm not alone in my sadness and grief. My first born is still grieving too. He and I are on different  levels, but he lost his baby sister. He may be 4, but he knows our home is different.

For those of you reading this, I am forever grateful for your thoughts and prayers but I have a favor to ask of you; please pray for Simon as well. As he gets older he will understand a little better but he still misses his baby. When we visit where she is buried, Simon always asks for the key to the church so we can get her. For him, Heaven is a place here on earth where babies are. I'm always praying for the right words to help him understand but I always have a loss for words. Evie dying has affected everyone in our house, not just me, not just David. I'd give anything to have her back and it seems Si feels the same.

Friday, January 15, 2016

6 Months and Counting

I've stared at this screen more than once over the past six months. I get to a point where I feel like I know what I'll write about and I come here and I freeze. I've never been great with words but how do you write about your heart shattering? Your life forever changing? I cry. I grieve. I do things I shouldn't do to help the pain but the truth is, it's always there no matter what. But that pain is also what keeps me alive. If there were no pain, no tears, no feeling of absolute emptiness, that would mean the event that took place didn't bother me. It bothered me. It turned my world completely upside down and inside out and every twist and turn that could happen.

This past Wednesday was the first Wednesday that fell on the 13th, the date of her birth. I chose for her to be born on the 13th because my grandmother and I both were born on the 13th. If you don't know me, my grandmother means the world to me. She has been my rock when no one else cared or seemed to care about me. She's always been there for me, no matter what. No judgment or belittling. But this isn't about her. It's about my daughter, Evie, Evangeline McKenna List. My grandmothers name is Evangeline. Evie would be 10 months old now if she were still here with us. I imagine what she would feel like, smell like. How much hair she would have. If she would still be sleeping through the night. If she would have teeth. Curls? If she would be as attached to me as Simon was. I'm always wondering these things. I doubt that will ever stop.

Today is six months since the day she died. If you haven't said that out loud, you should say it. It doesn't seem real unless you've said it out loud. Go ahead, say it; Evie died. I don't expect it to make your heart shatter as much as it makes mine shatter all over again but I do hope you feel a slight ache in your chest where I have a huge gaping hole. A hole that can never be replaced by another relationship, another child, another life. She went to sleep in this life and woke up in Heaven. A beyond magical place I'm dying to get to now. The hardest part of this is wondering if I'm good enough to get into Heaven. Wondering if I do something could I sacrifice the chance to not be with her again one day. Do you know how intensely scary that is? To wonder if you'll make it into Heaven to be able to see your child again? If you aren't a Christian just move past this part, I won't explain to you my religion or my beliefs. I will tell you one thing though, God is how I've survived six excruciating months without my adorable, sweet, precious baby girl. God has placed so many awesome people into mine and Davids lives that have helped us through this most difficult time. If you don't know God, my prayer is something miraculous happens in your life that helps you find Him. He is the most forgiving, gracious being, without being.

My life hasn't ended. I should take every opportunity to live while I can. But I don't want to. I want to stay in bed every day. I want to dig a hole and stay in there. I want to pack all my things and disappear with Simon. I want to be alone. I don't want to be alone. I want to scream at the top of my lungs and don't have the energy. This life I live now, it's just different. I'm restless for my old life where I had both my babies, my husband, my house, my job. All of that is different. Nothing is the same. Sure, I still have my house, my job, my husband, my Si. And yet it isn't enough. A piece of our puzzle is missing. Evie. Evie is missing. She is gone, but that doesn't mean I've accepted it. I want her back. I want her in my arms. I want her back in her bed beside my bed. I want to smell her. I want to see her smile when she sees me, when she sees Simon, David. Her smell is harder to find now around the house. Her bedroom is gone. Her clothes have been made into a quilt. Her blanket is buried with her. All I have are a few things lingering around the house. Pictures, Memories, Her bed, her swing, two pacifiers, and no Evie.

I've not had the easiest life yet I've always found a way to claw my way back up and keep going. I don't know how to claw my way out of this one. I'm broken. Shattered. Misplaced. Restless. Sad. Grateful at times. And then more words I can't even think of. Time will not ever heal this but I'm told over time I'll learn to handle this better. I'll learn to walk again, with a limp of course. But please don't ever think for a second Evie isn't always on my mind. This pain, it may ease up over time but that hole will always be there. When you encounter a blow like that, you never fully recover. Ever.

Evie, if you're listening, I miss you every second. I'm overwhelmed with greatness that God chose me to be your mommy. I cannot wait to see you again on the most glorious day there will be.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Simon Turns 2!!!!

It is unbelievable how quickly this last year has flown by. Seems like yesterday I was stressing over putting the big first birthday party together. It's almost a literal blur...

I didn't go overboard with a HUGE party this year, instead we played it low key and did what I thought he would enjoy the most. We did have a very small party, and by small, I mean oh so small! Simon doesn't like cake, so he had ice cream instead, oh and goldfish :).

July 2, 2013 - I decided the game plan for his big day this year would be a petting zoo. He really enjoys animals and seeing them in their natural state (or close to it). Not too far from where we live is a little petting zoo by the name of Hollywild ( My cousin, Anna, joined us on this adventure.
Simon racing to see the animals

Have no clue what the name of this is, but the baby birds were adorable!
 I can honestly say I've only seen goats on rocks in the movies, never in real life. Check this out! These things jumped to get down to where we were. Oh, did I mention Hollywild provided us with a bag of food (crackers, corn, bread) to feed these sweet things?!?

Please feed me!

Sweetest animals! They were so gentle when getting the crackers.

Too bad we couldn't hand feed this thing.
Or this one....

Do you see all of these goats climbing the fence for food!
 Hollywild offers a 'safari tour' about every 45 minutes depending on weather. They loaded several crowds of people on a school bus and took us into the 'safari'. At the first stop we were able to feed cow, deer and emu (except they weren't so friendly).

Please notice that tiny baby doe.

Shortly after this I had to move Simon - the bird was trying to eat him
If you're reading this, and have little ones, or know kids that would enjoy this, I highly recommend this place! I think Simons favorite part was running through the puddles and feeding all the random chickens walking around but the animals were pretty cool for him as well. It started pouring  raining shortly after we loaded up for the safari tour but the rain didn't stop this little fellow from trying to get out there with them.

It was so awesome seeing him run around and having so much fun! They are only little once, but these experiences last a lifetime and I can't wait to make more of these with him in the years to come! I am so lucky to have him in my life! Happy 2nd birthday, my sweet Simon!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Funday Friday!

I don't know about you, but my favorite fruit has always been blueberries! Love, love, love them! When I was growing up we had three or four blueberry bushes and I remember picking them and eating them by the handfuls. Sadly my dad no longer lives in that house so I don't have access but leave it to Washington Farms to fulfill my blueberry picking needs. The weekend of the 4th (july), Simon and I met up with my dear friend, Caitlin, for some berry picking. We got a gallon of blueberries and blackberries. Simon ate more than he put in the bucket but he really seemed to enjoy himself!

Don't let this fool you, he was totally putting them in his mouth instead of in the bucket.

He found this stick and all of a sudden that was better than berries.

He literally ran through every puddle he could find, until he lost his shoe in this one...
See that juice stain...

San Fransisco Trip

I can remember as a little kid watching Full House and dreaming of one day seeing the Golden Gate Bridge for myself. It's been a life long dream to travel and this year we were finally given the opportunity to visit Northern California. I have a cousin (by marriage) who lives just outside of San Fransisco that invited us for a visit, so we made it happen...FINALLY! I was very anxious in the beginning about traveling with a little one, but I must say, Simon was a trooper! Not one tear on the airplane either way and pretty much slept the whole flight. He was awake for take off, so he will tell you all about the lights and the stars and how we were up in the sky. After that, he was out!

Day 1 (Tuesday):
We pretty much rested and tried to catch our breath. California is 3 hours behind so when it's midnight here, it's only 9pm their time. Let's just say the first few days, Simon and I were ready for bed by 5pm California time, 8pm our time. Yes, that meant getting up at 4:30am their time.
That evening, I walked outside to take the trash out (dirty diaper) and I heard music. I was overjoyed to see the ice-cream truck drive by. We were able to flag the truck down and everyone enjoyed an ice-cream from the truck. We also made a trip to Walmart for some Simon friendly food. Yep, they have Walmarts there!

Day 2 (Wednesday):
We had all caught up on some much needed sleep and decided to venture out to see what Northern California had in store for us. Sacramento, here we come! We walked around Old Sacramento. There was an old school building we walked through, as well as shops and a train station where (had it been opened) you got to ride a train and tour the area. We also toured the Old Sacramento Train Museum.

 Tower Bridge going into Sacramento
 Government building in Sacramento

 An old school house in the middle of Old Sacramento
 A bed and breakfast boat on the Sac River
Ziggurat Building off the Sacramento River
Enjoying his Whistle Pop Sucker in the Candy Store

We stopped for dinner but Simon wasn't too interested in eating, after-all, he had a sucker from a candy shop in Old Sac. 
Was going to clean his plate, even if it meant shoving it all off onto the table...

Feeding his daddy b/c he wasn't interested in eating his food.

Day 3 (Thursday): We ventured out to the Jelly Belly Factory.
 During the 20 minute tour, we had to wear the hats, as pictured above. Simon wasn't a huge fan but he did thoroughly enjoy the jelly bean tasting during the tour. I think they handed out a total of 6 different flavored jelly beans. The three pictures following this paragraph were all made out of different colored jelly beans. There were a ton of these hanging around the place but these seemed to be the ones David took pics of.

 After the tour, we were given a bag of jelly beans, all different flavors. David and Madison were feeling a little on the edge and decided they both wanted to try the 'dog food' flavored jelly bean (gag). Later on, David and I tried the vomit flavored jelly bean. Let's just say it really tastes like vomit. I'm not sure why anyone decided how or why to make that flavor.

Day 4 (Friday): I believe this way a good solid day of rest for the girls and Simon. David and Tony toured the Budweiser Factory but I don't have any pictures of that :/.

Day 5 (Saturday): If you've ever visited northern California, there are a ton of hills. Well, I guess you call them hills. They look super easy to climb and are covered in yellow/tan grass. David was dying to hike these so Tony took him to hike. This was the beginning of his hike. Seems pretty easy, huh. No tall grass, no steep hills.

Now we see what that yellow/tan grass really is...
And we have another trail.

And another...
A view of the beautiful hills from a little higher up.
Above: A view of Vacaville, CA from the top of the hill David climbed.

Isn't that such an awesome picture? I wish now I had gone with him on this hike.
If you'll look closely at the picture below, you'll see a row of windmills. Those windmills provide power for several nearby towns.
 A few other views of Vacaville, CA. Love the rows of houses he pictured below.
After his hike, we all piled up in the van and headed west for Dillon Beach, CA which is in the Marin County area. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

Day 6 (Sunday): We had another rest and recoup day. Madison, David, Si and I did go hang out at the local water park/pool but Si played on their playground instead of getting in the water.

Day 7 (Monday): Monday came around way too fast. I'm pretty sure we all adjusted to the time change and were pretty much settled when it was time to leave again. Instead of dwelling on the fact we would be flying out later that evening, we embraced our last day and took off to see the city of San Fransisco and tour Alcatraz. I will say, once you've seen a prison cell, you've seen them all but it was very interesting to hear the stories that happened behind those cell walls.

Pier 39


This was actually a man built island/restaurant floating by the dock

Golden Gate

The Rock

Approaching the Rock

I guess if they made it to Alcatraz, they didn't deserve a bed

Their play yard

Madison, Tony, Amy and Brooklyn

We really enjoyed our (short) trip and were sad to say goodbye but it was so good to be back home in our own beds, on our schedules, and back to our lives. This trip wouldn't have happened without Amy and Tony Crawford. They sacrificed their home and busy schedules to accommodate us and we will forever be grateful for them allowing us this opportunity!