Thursday, December 30, 2010

Auld Lang Syne

"Should auld acquaintence be forgot, and never brought to mind?"

Um, what's that now??? Does anyone know what the words to the famous song sung on New Year's Eve stand for? Well, I do. Now. Thanks to Wikipedia.

Auld Lang Syne is a poem written by Robert Burns. The song's Scots title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago","days gone by" or "old times". Consequently "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, is loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times".

So, for the sake of old times, let's recap the high points of the year that was 2010:

Running a half marathon. Jon getting a new job. Me getting a new car. Refinancing our house and saving $200/month (sweet!). Seeing 2 lines on 7 pregnancy tests. Being pregnant. Celebrating a year of marriage. Going to DC with my BFF and having a blast in our nation's capitol. Feeling my son's sweet little baby kicks for 4 weeks. Eating at Las Margaritas every week over the summer. Our weekend in Michigan. Name that Tune. Inside jokes. Splurging on sushi and coffee. New additions and new milestones for the people I love.

Dear 2010: You had the best of times. You had the worst of times. I am not someone who would ever wish my life away, but I am ready to bid you adieu. I am really looking forward to capturing all of the positives that will come our way in 2011.

Buckle up and get set. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The 12 Pains of Winter

For years, my dear friend JMP and I have had a slight obsession with the song "The 12 Pains of Christmas." It's hilarious and if you've never had the pleasure of hearing it, do so now.

As I mentioned a few posts back, I have always loved the Christmas season. But with the season comes the cold. Yes, for those of us who live in the northern part of the US, it starts getting REALLY cold around this time of year. As I was struggling to get out of bed this morning, I started thinking about all of the reasons that make me strongly dislike the winter.

12. Your alarm goes off in the morning and it's dark outside.
11. Gray, slushy snow that gets the bottoms of your pants dirty. Yuck.
10. When you open your car door, no matter how hard you've tried to brush off all the snow on your window, the snow drifts in and lands directly on your seat.
9. Car troubles! Your car is cover with salt, your windshield cracks (my Tuesday) and you need 4 new tires because you're sliding all over the place (my Wednesday)
8. All your motivation goes out the window. Go to the gym and suffer in the cold, or go home where it's warm??? No brainer.
7. Speaking of cars.... people forget how to drive when there is a millimeter of precipitation in the air. They either drive way too fast and scare the jeebies out of me, or so slow that they are actually a hazard to the people around them.
6. Dry skin. Chapped lips. Dry hands. Red nose.
5. Every task takes twice as long to complete. Going to the grocery store? We'll see you in 2 hours.
4. Everyone around you is grumpy. Sunshine makes people happier, and lack of sunshine = Grinch-y folks.
3. Your nice warm bed is oh-so-comforting in the morning,  but you know the second your piggies touch the cold floor, the chill sets in and it sets the tone for the day.
2. Your desire to get "fresh air" is trumped by the burning in your lungs from breathing in sub-zero temperatures.
1. There will be people around you (skiers, ice fishermen, etc.) who inevitably say "Oh, it's not that bad! It's not even that cold." That is crazy talk and you're a crazy person.

Needless to say, I don't love winter. But since this is a blog about happiness and finding the positives in life, here are the GOOD things about winter (I could only come up with 10):

10. You'll appreciate the renewing feeling of spring and 50 degree weather so much more.
9. When snow is pretty and fluffy and falling from the sky anytime before January 1, it seems kind of magical.
8. Chili, Tortilla Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup... enough said.
7. If you don't feel like going somewhere or doing something, you can use the "weather" as an excuse.
6. Big fluffy sweaters can hide the fact that your diet doesn't start until spring.
5. Chilaxing by a warm, cozy fire.
4 You completely justified in your need to grab that second cup of coffee/hot cocoa.
3. You can throw snowballs and feel like a kid again.
2. Cuddling under a warm blanket with the person of your choice :)
1. You can't have Christmastime without winter!

Stay warm everybody!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Song Lyric of the Day

"You are the best thing, that's ever been mine."

So true buddy. So true. <3

Friday, December 3, 2010

Oh, Christmas Tree

Ever since we lost Jack, I have been telling Jon that I did NOT want to put a Christmas tree this year. I love Christmas, and I love everything about the Christmas season, but this year feels.... different. It's just not the Christmas I expected it to be. We were "supposed" to be one month away from delivering our beautiful son, and I just couldn't see how Christmas could possibly feel like a time to celebrate this year. So even though I love having a Christmas tree and the way it makes our house smell, I just didn't think I could bring myself to celebrate knowing that our little one wouldn't be there to celebrate with us.

So imagine my shock and awe when I walked into our door last night and saw this beautiful sight:

I was so confused at first. Then I looked over at Jon sitting on the couch, and he had a look of terror on his face. The first thing he said was "You're not mad, are you?"

He told me that although I said it didn't really "feel" like having a Christmas this year, he knew how much it meant to me, and he didn't want me to miss out on something that has always made me so happy.

As if I don't say it enough, let me just reiterate that this man, my husband, is without a doubt the most wonderful human being I have met. He went through all that trouble just to make me happy. Instead of feeling sad, that tree brings me so much happiness. It's not just a tree that makes our house smell good, it's a symbol of love.

The best part about the tree? A few weeks ago, the new bride and I were in Target, and we found the most perfect Christmas ornament. A baby boy angel with blue eyes. I knew it was perfect, because I know Jack would have had those beautiful blue eyes just like his daddy. Even though we weren't getting a tree, I love having things that are in memory of or remind me of Jack, so I bought it. Of course, Jon had it placed front and center on the tree, and it brought tears to my eyes immediately.

Did you know that trees symbolize life and new beginnings?? I'm wondering if our tree can be both the celebration of our life together and the life of our beautiful son, but also the beginning of a new journey in our lives. Happy Holidays everyone!

The songs in my head

If there were a disease that made you prone to having songs constantly stuck in your head, I would be the poster child. For the purposes of this blog post, let's call it "Stuckularitis."

I have been debilitated by Stuckularitis since I was a little girl. Gosh darn it, if I hear a song one time it will be in my head ALL day (all week even, depending on the song's lack of quality). That's right... there is an inverse correlation between how good a song is and how long it stays in my head. And I always seem to remember to lyrics to the worst songs, and often forget the lyrics to some of my favorite songs. It's bizarro.

Going along with Stuckularitis, I also have a very serious condition called "Musical Association Disorder." I posted a few weeks ago on Facebook how I found an old CD from college. Seconds after popping it in, I was taken back to April 2006. The most profound characteristic of M.A.D. is when there are songs, CDs, musicals, etc. that will forever represent a time stamp on your life. Since I listened to the aforementioned CD over and over again leading up to and following Spring Break 2006, I will always associate the songs on that CD with what was happening in my life at the time.

M.A.D. also has the ability to bring out certain emotions in a split second. For instance, just hearing the first few bars of "Look After You" by The Fray immediately fills me with love. That is "Our Song." We heard it when we went to our first concert together; it was playing when I walked into my surprise birthday/engagement party; and it was also the song that we danced to at our wedding. I'm sure our close friends also associate Look After You with me and Jon.... see, M.A.D. is contagious!!!

About a month ago, I heard a song called "September" by Daughtry on the radio. I think Daughtry ranks right up there with Nickleback as one of my least favorite bands. Anyway, I told my BFF J-Mo that the stupid bald lead singer obviously wrote the lyrics of that song to torture me. The lyrics talk about having a wonderful summer, and once it's over and only the memories remain,  in the end it was all worth it. So of course as I'm listening to the lyrics I started crying hysterically. All I could think about was the amazing summer we had with our baby boy. I longed for the joy and anticipation and naivete of our wonderful summer.

When I got home that night, Jon was there to intercept me and my tears. I told him about how sad the song was, and he gave me a huge hug and said "Sweetheart, Jack would have HATED Daughtry." (I love that man, he says one line and I instantly feel better).

I have heard this song several times since then, and each time the tears would start within seconds. I will most likely always associate that song with the tremendous sadness I felt in the month of September 2010, when I lost my baby Jack. But last night, for the first time, I heard it and did not cry. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm sure my little guy is up in Heaven wishing and hoping that his mommy will stop listening to such lame music.

So I've decided that I need a new musical time stamp. I need a new series of songs for this point in my life. I have been through all 5 stages of grief (and then some). Now I want songs that will give me hope for the future, or will simply remind me of this time period and how I was able to rebound from the worst experience of my life and was still able to feel happy.

And if you see me around, and I'm quietly mumbling the lyrics to a cheesy song, please save me and give me a new one, because I will undoubtedly need your help to cure my Stuckularitis.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hey new guy, wanna marry my sister?!?!

I'm not sure how I could possibly be more excited for two people than I am today. Last night, one of my best friends asked my sister-in-law to be his wife, and she said YES!

I want to put it out there right now that I am completely at fault for this beautiful union. Haha! Yes, they will both tell you how often I have told them over the last two years that I want a special mention in both their wedding program and during their wedding toast.

So let's see.... it all started about 5 years ago. A great group of friends at the SRWC (the place where ALL Kent relationships and friendships are formed) were walking out of the building after working our weekend afternoon shift. Mark, future brother-in-law, was just leaving as well. Mark had just started working there, and didn't really know many people yet. So, feeling guilty for the lonely new guy, I shouted out something to the effect of "Hey new guy, we're going to Olive Garden, wanna go???" Mark said yes, and from then on, our friendship was solidified.

Mark and I realized early on that we were friendmates. What is a friendmate, you ask?? Well, that would be a person of the opposite sex that you know instantly will be a really, really good friend (but nothing more..... his "soulmate" would come along a few years later). It was just understood that we were buds - we had so much in common, and over the years we have proven our friendmate status by always saying the same random thoughts at the same time.

Fast forward a few years. I have become very, very close with my sister-in-law Lindsay since Jon and I started dating. She and Kenny welcomed me into the family with open arms, and I was so excited to be able to call them my sisters once we got married. So as a sister, I (like everyone else in the family!) was never particularly thrilled with Lindsay's choice in men.  She is a gorgeous, compassionate, giving, and sweet girl, and nobody that she dated ever seemed to be good enough. As her roommate for about a year, I would shake my head and just wish that one day Lindsay could find her prince charming.

In 2009, BStaw and I were in the process of trying to convince my friendmate Mark to move to Columbus. He was living about 2 hours away at the time, had just become single again, and didn't have a whole lot binding him to his current city. And since Brian and I are notorious for convincing people to make life-altering decisions, we figured Mark should be the next one to bite the dust. I mentioned this plan to Lindsay, and she pointed out how cute she thought Mark was and how innnnnteresting it was that he was single again. Oooh, the wheels in my head started turning!!!

I covertly arranged a "Let's Move Mark to Columbus!" weekend, and I coincidentally invited Lindsay out. The two of them hit it off right away, and it was so cute to watch the sparks flying. They were dating exclusively within the month, and Mark made the move down here a few months later. I am taking TOTAL credit for both the introduction and the move to Columbus :)

At our wedding in May of 2009 those two had only been dating for a few months, but I think they both knew it was something special. After the ceremony, our officiant asked if we had witnesses to sign our marriage license. The only two people around were..... Lindsay and Mark. I grabbed them and had them sign it. I shouted out loud and declared "Ok guys, it's foreshadowing!! One day I'll be singing your marriage license!"

And now, it's really happening!! I am just so happy for these two. They bought their first house this weekend, and things are just falling into place for this wonderful couple. After everything they have been through, I am happy to see that they have found their perfect match in each other. I love you both - I cannot wait for your special day!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Thanksgiving was hard, and I know no one can blame me for not feeling particularly "thankful" this year, but despite everything, I am reminded EVERY single day of how lucky I am to have this wonderful man as my husband.
So this year, I am most thankful for every person, place, and event that helped the stars align in order to bring the two of us together.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Weekend Getaway

A few weeks after our loss, Jon and I decided that we needed a "weekend away." A time for the two of us to get away from all of the sadness in our house and spend some time together. Since he had just started a new job and couldn't really take any time off, we had to go within a 4-hour radius of home.

So we decided to go to a University of Michigan football game. All of my friends that are Buckeye fans are groaning right now. But don't hate my husband... he is a very loyal fan, and his excitement over their success makes me happy. He is like a little kid in a candy store when he is watching them play, and I love watching him cheer on a team that he has loved since he was 5 years old.

So we drove up to Ann Arbor on Friday night and stayed at my favorite hotel chain, the Hampton Inn (a HUGE thank you to McNolte for hooking us up!) A quick aside: Hampton Inns are Huge, comfy, clean beds, really nice bathrooms, and a breakfast buffet... what more could you ask for?!? I am easily pleased....

After checking in, we went out to explore Ann Arbor... yeah, there wasn't much. However, we did get to sample some local cuisine at a cute little sushi place (read this post about my love for sushi). Afterward, we managed to stay awake long enough to go see "Due Date." Hilarious movie, filled with tons of awkward comedy, which I happen to enjoy.

Then on Saturday we went to the big game. I am an awesome wife, and I found some pretty sweet tickets. If you're a college football fan and you've never been to the Big House, you've got to check it out at least once in your life. It is one....big..... stadium. I mean, huge. And it holds 113,000 people! Wowza! Here is a picture of it just as we were walking in:

And here is another from our seats as the game started:

Nice right?

Sadly, U of M lost, but we still had such a great time. Jon was thrilled to be surrounded by so many fellow fans (since he is clearly in the minority at home). The weather was perfect too. I did shed a tear when we walked in, realizing that if we hadn't lost Jack, we wouldn't be at that game. But even though that realization stung, we did thank Jack for giving us such beautiful weather that day.

The weekend also reminded me how lucky I am to have Jon. He is such a wonderful husband and father. He amazes me every single day. He always knows what to say, how to make me feel better, and how to make me feel loved. Not that I need reminded, but when I do get those reminders, it makes me smile.

Though our weekend getaway is over, we only 3 day work week this week. Wahoo! Happy Monday :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

At least we think we're funny

I think I burned 6,000 calories this weekend because I laughed SO much!

On Friday night, my wonderful SIL Kenny bought us all tickets to see the Chelsea Handler show. She is one funny broad. Her crude sense of humor had us all laughing hysterically. My secret dream is to be a stand-up comedian, and going to her show reminded me why. I love making other people laugh, and I love seeing other people laugh. Laughing is contagious, and it's good for the soul.

I spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with some college friends, where the laughing continued. We have this ability to repeat the same inside jokes over and over again, and they never get old or get less funny..... well, to us at least. In fact, we even joke that we could have a 2-hour long conversation that just consisted of quoting the last 5 years of inside jokes.

Inside jokes are awesome. To the outside world, it's a meaningless phrase. But to you, just repeating that nonsensical quote can elicit a slew of laughter.

Case in point: "Hellllo Dean!" To anyone else, that phrase means that I am saying hello to a friend named Dean. To my friends, that phrase means 5 minutes of uncontrollable laughing.

The other funny part about inside jokes is that when you try to explain to someone why something is SO funny.... no matter how hard you try, that person will never fully understand the true extent of the funny-ness. That's why I so often utter the phrase "You had to be there."

I think my friends are my friends because they can appreciate my sense of humor. I love corny, cheesy jokes, puns, plays on words, and I laugh at anything that's mildly funny. I can't help it! But my close friends are the same way. Hey, if you can't stand the cheese, get out of the dairy farm. <--- I made that up, I am hilarious!

So what's your funny???  i.e. What makes you laugh till you cry? The following two videos are my contenders for guaranteed laughs:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday is the new Saturday

I love Thursdays. I'm serious, I do. Sure, we all say TGIF, Saturday has the bliss of having a full day ahead of you before you have to go back to work, and Sundays are relaxing. But I LOVE Thursdays.

Thursdays are like Christmas Eve. You know that tomorrow is the only thing that separates you from opening presents. But the anticipation is so high that the wait doesn't matter. You feel like a little kid again!

Occasionally, we make big plans for the weekend that never come to fruition. "Oh, I'm going to do x,y, and z on my to-do list on Saturday" or "We're gonna go visit so-and-so on Sunday." But sometimes plans fall through, or we're simply too tired from the week to have enough energy for the weekend. Sad, but true. (Just ask my SIL who just started her first 9am-5pm job how she feels on Friday nights now!)

But Thursdays never disappoint. Even if you don't get the presents you want on Christmas Day, the excitement and the buildup will be there on the day before. This is what Thursdays are to me. Full of energy and anticipation and excitement, even if I know there is nothing "special" going on that weekend.

It certainly doesn't hurt that Thursday happens to be "Sushi Day" at work. The cafeteria chefs make made-to-order, fresh sushi, and everyone around campus knows how happy this makes me. Sushi is a gift from heaven. If you don't like it, I don't like you. Just kidding..... kind of.

I discovered this wonderful creation about 4 years ago when Jon and I were feeling pretty adventurous at a restaurant one day. Like most things that I deem "trendy," I had initially written sushi off as disgusting. And, like most things in my life, I eventually give in and discover why things are "trendy." (All of my friends are smugly smiling as they remember how I said I would never get a phone with the internet. I have the Droid Incredible now. It is awesome.)

Thursday also has the best selection of television programs. TGF Tivo.

So here's to Thursday: the most under-appreciated day of the week. I salute you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Greatest Form of Renewable Energy: Conversations with Great People

Last week was a bad week.

I was running on "empty" in every sense of the word. I was tired every day, but I couldn't sleep. I decided to switch to decaf (soooo not the same as regular). I was feeling really sad. I couldn't believe it had already been over 6 weeks since we lost JBF... it feels like a lifetime ago, even though the pain is still very present.

On a whim, I decided to visit some friends for the weekend. I needed a few smiles. What I got were dozens of belly laughs and a renewed sense of self.

I met JM and MN in a cute little uptown area, where they surprised me with a mani/pedi at a salon. I have gotten a total of one pedicure in my entire life, and holy moly, it is heaven. The three of us gals were perched up on these amazing massage chairs, chatting and gossiping away like nosy southern belles. I swear we probably disturbed every single person within city limits, but we didn't care. I loved every second of it.

Then we all headed to one of my favorite restaurants of all time (see blurry pic of our manicures on the menu... I have abnormally long fingers). And then to top that off, we went to the Melting Pot for dessert and proceeded to embarrass ourselves from one end of the restaurant to the other. I am not sure if I've ever laughed so hard in my entire life. It was wonderful and exactly what I needed. I can't image life without these two... every visit is full of happiness and laughs. I am so grateful for their friendship.

The following morning, I was able to meet up with one of my other life partners, JMP. We made a random pit stop at a local fave, and it was nice to catch up. We haven't had one-on-one time in awhile, and it was wonderful. JMP is such a good listener, and let me pour my heart out over my lunch of cottage cheese and chili (Best combo ever, btw). I love having a friend who is so genuine and can give me snippets of advice while also telling me that it is OKAY to feel how I feel. Always, anytime, my feelings are justified to me by my understanding and encouraging friend. I love that.

To add to the positivity of the weekend, I had two long conversations with both my mom and my dad. It has been hard to talk to them since we lost JBF, because I know they are hurting not only for the loss of their grandson, but also hurting for their daughter. But yesterday's conversations were filled with happy thoughts about the future, and I got off the phone with both of them smiling. Cap Sunday night off with dinner with one of my favorite groups of people, and this weekend became one of the best I've had in a long time.

I woke up this morning feeling re-energized. I truly feel like the people in my life are what keep my going at the speed I'm cruising on. Every time I feel like I need to make a u-turn, I have someone in my life who is there to keep me going in the right direction.

So I just want to say thank you to everyone in my life... I'd be stuck in a ditch without you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Normal is Just a Setting on the Dryer

People often make remarks about how "unique" I am. Good or bad (hopefully mostly good), I have a cheesy sense of humor, awkward comedic timing, and am shamelessly clumsy. Which is ironic, because as a career counselor, I am supposed to say all of the "right" things and knows all kinds of important information in order to send students on the right path. A job like mine requires being a "normal" human being, right??

Oh, to be normal. I can't stop focusing on this one word. Normal. I have never felt like I was "normal" (again, mostly in a good way) but as I got older, I embraced the qualities I possessed that helped me gravitate toward the people and places in my life that make me the most happy. My family and close friends are all unique in their own ways, and I would not be the person I am without their influence. They make me happy, and gosh darn it, I like being happy.

I mentioned in my first post that I am trying to adjust to a new version of "normal." What I thought was going to be my normal is no longer my normal. It's hard not to think about what "should" be, instead of what "is."

I *should* be 27 weeks pregnant.
I *should* be having my first baby shower this weekend.
I *should* be in my third trimester.
I *should* be huge and swollen and uncomfortable.
I *should* be 13 weeks away from taking Jack home.

But I'm not. This is life, and it's hard sometimes. Two months ago, I was so blissfully happy when thinking about what life was going to be.... nothing could upset me. Now, thinking about what *should* have been can wipe the smile right off of my face.

I think that the only way for us to move forward is to be reminded that this, right here, right now, is normal. What we're feeling is normal and how we behave is normal, because this is our life and this is how it is supposed to go. We cannot live our lives focusing on what *should* be. I can think about what might be, but I have to accept that all of those *shoulds* were a dream, and this is reality. It may seem unfair, but it's not up to me. For some reason, Jack is not with us here, and as much as I think that he should be, he is not. The only thing I wish for is that losing him will serve a greater purpose than I will ever understand.

All in all, I think I'm starting to realize that normal is a relative term. Some people may think I'm normal, others abnormal, and still others won't know what to make of me. Here's an example:

This is a picture of my lovely sister-in-law and my other "sister" Mark. And that's me, giving a closed-finger peace sign. I have no idea why - I was tired that night. Strangers might see this picture and think: "Why can't that girl make a proper peace sign??" But my friends and family that know and love me will look at this picture and think "Yep, that's Audra." I love that. This is the normal me, to them.

This hazy phase in my life after Jack makes me feel uneasy many times throughout the day, but that is normal... for me... right now. And someday soon, my normal will once again be happy and carefree, but also with wonderful memories of a son that changed my life forever.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Since It's Halloween

I made of list of things that scare me..... BOO! Ha ha.

1. Clowns (Have you seen the movie IT?? Enough said).
2. Ants, especially when they're in huge herds and you're running by and you see them on the sidewalk but you think it's pile of dirt until you get close and realize it's not dirt but actually a gigantic swarm of tiny, creepy crawly ants.
3. Driving next to semi-trucks. Sheer terror.
4. Hopping into the shower without letting the water run for a second. But who does that, that's just insanity.
5. Sleeping alone when Jon is out of town - surely the axe-murderers out there are aware that I'm home by myself.
6. Close-minded individuals.
7. Having to going somewhere early in the morning without having the opportunity to shower or brush my teeth.
8. Accidentally leaning a chair too far back and plummeting to the ground.
9. Playing any kind of sport where someone is watching me because I am neither athletic nor graceful.
10. Never having a healthy baby that we can take home.

Everyone is afraid of something (well, except Chuck Norris). I am often overwhelmed with fears, whether rational or irrational, that consume my thoughts and don't allow me to move forward or take action. But I have to remind myself I can't let fear control my life. As Babe Ruth said "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game." Oh Babe, so wise.

So, what are you afraid of?? Is there something in your life that is holding you back from playing the game?? Don't let it. You miss out on 100% of the opportunities that you don't pursue. Just say yes!

Oooh, speaking of saying yes, I love this song!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reasons to Laugh at Myself

Last night, I was frustrated with myself because I couldn't remember an important detail. My brain was not functioning properly. I was tired and grouchy, but I couldn't fall asleep until I remembered said important detail. I made a big sigh, and it came out like "Ugh!" Well, somewhere from the depths of my mind, "Ugh!" triggered me a memory from my past.

When I was 9 years old, I went to summer camp. Yep, I was cool even way back then. As a camper, we were required to "sing" little camp diddies on our way to and from our sweet camper destinations. Well, somehow "Ugh!" reminded me of one of those diddies, and I sang it in mind from beginning to end. The whole thing. I kid you not. Even down to the name of my cabin that year (Hernando De Soto, in case you were doubting me).

And then I just starting laughing (well, laughing on the inside, because my husband was already asleep - I swear he can fall asleep with zero effort, and I hate him for that but that's another blog topic). I couldn't believe how easily something so unimportant can be so fresh in my mind, as if it only happened yesterday, not 18 years ago.

So this little trip down memory lane got me thinking about other things in life I remember that have seemingly little effect in my life today. And I thought it would be fun to create a list. So heeeeeeere we go!

Things I Remember But Have No Real Reason To:

1. Camp songs
2. The entire scripts of Forrest Gump and The Princess Bride
3. My 2nd grade teacher's first name (Sally)
4. Every lyric of the N*Sync album 'No Strings Attached' (Oh, stop your judging)
5. What I wore on my first day of college, including jewelry.
6. The song we sang in 6th grade to learn the Spanish alphabet.
7. My first telephone number
8. The movements to "Macarena"
9. Almost all facts learned through watching Pop-Up Video on VH1
10. The exact place I was sitting when I learned Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston had broken up (Hotel Windsor lounge, KW was on my left, BS on my right, it was 1:05am)

Things I Should Remember But Can't For The Life of Me:

1. The framework of the majority of student developmental theories I learned in graduate school
2. Any phone number except my own
3. Pretty much anyone's birthdate. Months? Sure. Days? Fogettaboutit.
4. My 2nd grade teacher's last name.
5. The date of any dentist appointment I have ever made
6. The first time I met most of my friends from college * But since I can't remember the actual moment, I'm going to assume it's because we've always been friends on some cosmic level :)
7. Any mathematical formulas learned in high school

When first reading through these lists, you may pity me. How can someone forget certain details, and remember such trivial information? I don't have an answer for you, Magoo.

But I can say that sometimes it's nice to not have the weight of the world on my shoulders. As I go through the grieving process, I find comfort in the parts of my life that still feel "normal" as I adjust to what my new version of "normal" is without Jack.

Sometimes getting caught up in the mundane, ordinary parts of life can actually be a blessing. I like thinking big, and planning for the future, but reflecting on the past keeps me grounded. And I know I'm not the only one. Besides, who knows when that information may come in handy. Anybody need an idea for a diddy??????

Monday, October 25, 2010

To Write Their Names In The Sand

I found this amazing website while perusing the internet a few days after we lost Jack. To Write Their Names in the Sand is a memorial website for children that were lost too soon. The owner lives in Perth, Australia, a beautiful city which has arguably the world's most beautiful sunsets.

As the sun is setting, the team will write out the names of those who have requested to honor their precious little ones. They provide this service free of charge so that anybody in the world who has lost a child can have a special place to come and remember them. My little guy got a shout-out this weekend, and it was too gorgeous not to share.

To Write Their Names in the Sand

How fitting... a song about rain

I recently bought the James Morrison album - I love his soulful voice. Wouldn't you know that this is the first song I heard off of this album. The lyrics are so fitting, and they make me me smile, so here we go. Take a listen.

You see life is a crazy thing

There'll be good times and there'll be bad times

And everything in between

And I don't know which ways it's gonna go

If it's going to be a rainy day

There's nothing we can do to make it change

We can pray for sunny weather

But that won't stop the rain

Jack's Story... A Little Bit of Rain

On September 22, 2010, my world was shattered...

My husband and I had to say goodbye to our son, Jack Benjamin. No parent should ever have to say goodbye to a child, especially a child who was so loved and so wanted.

I consider myself to be a very happy and optimistic person. Sure I've had struggles, but I always prefer to look on the "sunny" side of life, and things usually turn out okay. However, losing Jack will remain a mystery to me for as long as I'm on Earth. Everyone told me "Everything happens for a reason." I know they meant well, but I don't know if I will ever see a "reason" for losing my baby. But since I cannot change what has happened, I have to get through the pain so that I can live the life that Jack would want me to live. We know now that Jack wasn't meant for Earth, that he was an angel all along. We just didn't know that then, and we had been excitedly planning for the life we thought we were going to have.

I have crawled through tremendous amounts of grief by reminding myself daily that I am still blessed. I am married to the most sincere, loving, sweetest and funniest man in the world. I have an amazing family on both sides. I love my job and feel rewarded by it almost daily. And I know that I am lucky for all of the gifts given to me in my life. There will not be a day that I forget about my angel, but there are still reasons to smile. And I know that our lives were made that much better for having our sweet baby boy in them, even if only for a short time.

So now to the title of the blog, "A Little Bit of Rain." Since most of my close friends and family know the story of how we lost Jack, there's no need to mention it here. But I was so inspired about what happened a few weeks later that I felt I needed to write it out. The more often I acknowledge the wonderful things in life, the easier the journey toward healing will be.

A few weeks after losing Jack, Jon and I had to return to the hospital, to the very site at which my dreams and hopes were lost. We had a follow-up appointment with our doctors to talk about the "future." Being in those little rooms again was simply awful. My blood pressure shot up, and at any moment I thought I was going to toss my cookies.

However, the appointment went well. What happened to Jack is what they consider a "lightning-strike." We had a 0.05% chance of it happening before, and a 0.05% chance of it happening again.  To look at it another way, we have a 99.95% chance of having a healthy baby in the future. Funny how un-comforting statistics are when you're the 0.05% on the tragic side.

After losing a child, the next child you have is considered your "rainbow" baby. I guess the phrase "After the rain comes the rainbow" is supposed to be of comfort to women who have lost their babies. Right now, this seems wrong. But since our loss, many women have come to me saying that they too had lost babies in the past. Though they miss their lost babies, they thank God every day for their rainbow. I know how powerful this is... my amazing husband is a rainbow baby, and I thank God every day for him. But that day I couldn't think about the rainbow. All I could think about was the rain.... I wanted Jack back.

Earlier that day we got a call from the hospital chaplain... Jack was ready to come home. We had until 4:30 when they closed to pick up his ashes. We got to the office at 4:44. I was distraught. Jon knocked and knocked and knocked on the door, but no one answered. I was ready to give up, but Jon refused to leave, knowing that our son was right behind that locked door.

We walked over to the information desk, and I mumbled through a tremendous amount of tears, "We need to pick up our son." The poor receptionist must have felt terrible, because she immediately paged the on-call chaplain, who graciously rushed down and opened the door for us.

We walked over to the Chapel and sat down. I was amazed at how tiny and light the box was. I don't know what I expected, but holding a tiny box that contained your hopes and dreams was a little too much for me to handle. It still felt so surreal. Surely this couldn't have happened to us.

We cried for a long time. I told Jon the night before that I felt guilty that I couldn't talk to Jack. I talked about him all the time, but never directly to him. So there in the hospital Chapel, mommy and daddy talked to Jack. I was happy that he was finally able to hear me.

We drove to the hospital separately, so after we pulled ourselves together, we headed in opposite directions. As I walked to my car, I felt empty. I felt guilty for talking to the doctor about the future when all I wanted was for that future to include Jack. I was happy that I was able to talk to him, but sad that he wasn't still in my belly, kicking away.

As I walked through the parking lot, I felt warm rain on me. Perfect, I thought; Rain to match my mood. I thought it was odd that it was such warm rain, since it was a chilly day. But I walked slowly, letting it rain on me as I cried.

I looked around me, and I noticed that it didn't really seem to be raining anywhere else. The sun was out and it was so bright, and there was nothing else in the sky except a few white clouds. It was so bright, in fact, that I looked up to see if I could see a rainbow, but I didn't.

I got into my car, and also noticed that there was no rain on any cars except my own. I even had to use the windshield wipers, but all the others cars were dry. There was also no rain on the ground.

I sat in awe for a second, still crying, when I finally realized that I had received a "sign" from Jack. The warm rain was just for me, and I truly believe that it was him letting me know that he heard me talking to him. I was certainly not a person who believed in things like that before, and I am also not a person who needs to ask for signs in order to know that miracles happen. But that experience was exactly what I needed. I knew he had made it safely to Heaven, but I was happy to know that he still knew I was his mommy and that I loved him.

I know I will not heal overnight, and I will probably always have a Jack-sized hole in my heart. But he came into our lives for a reason, and the best way to honor him is to be the happy, friendly, positive person that was chosen to be his mother in the first place.

Everyone has thunderstorms in their lives at some point. Horrible things happen every day, and when it happens to you, it feels like you're hitting rock bottom. I can honestly say that losing Jack is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But if I can survive this and still be strong, then maybe some of the smaller storms that come my way won't seem so bad.