Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"Though I gently leave your side, I will never leave your heart."

It has now been two years. Two years since we had to say "good-bye" to someone we expected in our hearts to live forever. You know, grief is a funny thing. Despite all this time, I still battle with that side of my mind that refuses to accept that Dad is gone. Maybe it's because he's not really truly "gone" in the sense that death makes us think he is. But he isn't here anymore in that way where I can just pick up the phone and get an earful of his wisdom or feel the embrace of one of his incredible hugs.

I finally, two years later, made it to visit Dad at Arlington National Cemetery. It was a stunning day - cold, but the sun was shining and the ground was covered with snow. I'm not sure what I imagined the day would be like on my first visit there, but it was quiet and peaceful because of the snow.

Words started pouring out of my mouth as I stood where he laid to rest. My voice sounded confused to me as I fought to accept that I was standing where he now is buried. I begged him to hold me and to help me understand the grief, to help me work through the things that were challenging in my life, and to let me share all of the amazing things that have happened in our lives since he left us two years ago. As I gathered myself to leave his side, I walked down the street and was offered a ride from an older couple who had been there to visit their son who had also died less than two years ago. We talked like we had been long-lost friends and shared in our grief. The man told me that my Dad was among great company, and when he dropped me off, we were all in tears. It was a powerful moment, but one I know that we were all thankful to share.

Life isn't fair, we all know that, right? People we love get taken from us long before we are ready to let them leave our sides. On my Dad's tombstone are the words, "though I gently leave your side, I will never leave your heart." Those words were written by my Dad in a letter that my stepmom found. She said it didn't matter who the letter was to or what it was about. Those words captured who he was so completely and she imagined he was saying them to us when he died.

Life might not be fair, but it is glorious. Although he is not with us now, my life was full because he was a part of it. He taught me so many things about myself and how to look at the world even when I was reluctant to understand them. 

I am thankful that he was my father through all of it both good and bad, through the tears and the heartache, and the through the joy and laughter. And I am forever grateful that he is in my heart - that he will always be in my heart.

I miss you, Dad. It doesn't get easier, it just gets more normal that you are not here. I love you with all my heart. 


Saturday, January 10, 2015

This is my 40

Wow, 40, you truly snuck up on me. It seems absolutely crazy to me that I am 40 years old. Heading into a new decade of my life, and I swear it just gets better. I don't feel 40. Then again, I have no clue what it is supposed to feel like. A wise man once told me (that wise man being my grandpa) that you are only as old as you let yourself feel. Amen to that.

So, this is my 40. I would say it feels more like 20, but I was not a fan of 20. My body was younger, sure. My mind though? Yeah, not so much. My mom has always told me I was born with an old soul. That may be, but emotionally, I was a lost soul in my 20s. Constantly searching for who I was, while leading a life codependent on my relationships to help define my worth...

Let's just say, I couldn't wait to get to 30. I entered the last decade in a completely different place. I was single for the first time in forever, I had just completed my first semester of law school, and I my heart was confident and ready to take on the world. That's when I met Big R, and the rest is history. No wonder my 30s were so incredibly awesome :)

So, what does my 40 look like? It looks like another step into this amazing world I have somehow created with the love of my life. It's being a mother of two incredible young boys that fill my days with adventure and insanity. It's venturing back into the world of work as a newly revived attorney armed with far too much knowledge about how to globally effect change. It's embracing my rediscovered love for writing and finding ways to share it with other people.

At 40, I have finally accepted my body and all its imperfections. All those rolls and flab that remind me I created two beautiful children and the extra pounds I happily put on sharing a bottle of wine and too much chocolate with Big R. I'm slowly but surely figuring out the things in life that are important (i.e., see previous sentence), and those things that our society wants us to think are crucial but really mean nothing in the whole scheme of things. I know now that I can find myself with a quick yoga practice or an invigorating run, that going to the gym often depresses me (unless, of course, it has free child care - the little details, hehe), and that sugar is my nemesis.

Yep, it has taken 40 years, but I think I'm finally starting to figure out a few things about myself.  The biggest thing I have learned about myself is how much more I need to learn. I'm finally comfortable with who I am. I understand now that life is full of obstacles, adventure, impossible challenges, and sweet successes. It can be hard, and that's ok. My approach for this new decade is to remain open, to love life, try new things, and savor my experiences both good and bad. This might not always be the recipe for success. I can guarantee though that it will be all of the ingredients needed to live a full life.

So, hello 40! It is so great to see you! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hello 2015

Wow, 2015, here you are. I feel like I have been looking to 2015 for awhile. Perhaps it is because this past year has been absolutely full of nonstop memories or maybe it is because this is the year I turn 40 (I know, what?!). It is truly hard to believe that only a year has passed since we last celebrated the coming of a new year. Before I sat down to write this post, I glanced at what I wrote last year.  I was ready for a fresh start, but I also braced myself for a year full of challenges. Let's just say that 2014 did not disappoint us in that category.

It is very strange to think that we started the year off skiing in the Austrian Alps, and spent the first half of the year traveling constantly. We definitely knew we were going to miss living in Europe, and we tried hard not to leave with any regrets. But despite the travel, life did not stop. School stayed busy for me, the Army worked Big R to death, and the boys kept things exciting all the time. Our biggest adventure by far though was our move back stateside. The transition felt like it lasted forever. If you have ever been fortunate enough to experience an overseas assignment, you know exactly what I mean. It. Never. Ends. The process for us began in late January when we found housing, and once Big R's orders were finally cut in late March, the planning, scheduling, and packing went into full swing. Our house was packed up mid-May right after we sent one of our cars back. In July, we received and unpacked all of our household goods, and things finally ended when we had both cars parked in the driveway in August. I'm exhausted just thinking about it, and I am so very happy that whole mess is now behind us.

We had a blast finishing our tour in Germany including a Mediterranean cruise and a final trip back to Sweden to visit with family. It was downright awesome. Getting back to the U.S. was bitter-sweet because even though we were sad to leave Europe, we got to see so much of our family over the summer and spending holidays with them was just that much easier. It's pretty amazing what a difference it can be to have your friends and family in similar time zones.

So, this next year...I'm not sure it'll be much calmer than the last. It certainly promises to be exciting. I'll be heading back to work (so crazy, right?). It's only an externship, but it's with an amazing legal environmental nonprofit in Nashville and I can't believe I'm getting the opportunity. Another research project is also on my agenda to keep me on schedule to receive my degree in May. Yep, I'll officially graduate in May, and I have no clue what I'm going to do with myself when that happens (maybe I'll actually start blogging again!). Big R will keep doing that thing that he does to make sure the Army is happy, and the boys will undoubtedly work very hard to test my sanity on a fairly consistent basis.

I am going to try harder to post stories about what's going on in our lives. There are too many things that happened over this past year that you never heard about. Great, amazing, and awesome stories. Sure I'm busy, we are all busy, right? Life is just flat out busy, but that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. If it's life that keeps me from writing about life, I'm going to bask in the irony. But when life gives me a moment to share, I promise to do just that.

This next year promises to be an interesting one for our family. I'm both excited and anxious at the same time to see how it develops. So, hello 2015! It's so good to finally see you.

Happy New Year, Everyone!