This is a strange but awesome feeling to have, especially on a Friday. I haven’t been to work in a week and I was totally okay, happy, in fact, to go to work today. I’m not even mad that I have to work tomorrow…on a Saturday and it’s not even overtime! Man, that’s love. I’m new to librarianship and I’m sure with time, the excitement may lull a bit. But until then…I’m enjoying every moment.
Even more than feeling good about my job, I’m feeling even better about my daughter giving birth to my second granddaughter! I’m beyond excited to be these girls’ grandmother and am truly thankful that God allowed me to live in this moment of my child becoming a mother. He didn’t have to do it BUT He did!
Happy Friday y’all!
If you’re feeling good on this Friday, please share in the comments. That’s how we spread joy in the world.
By default, my daughter was the first to know what I was doing. Now, she may not have believed that I actually going to go though with it because she knows how big of a decision leaving my job is, especially not having one to go directly to. After all, I have always preached to her and, now my 17 year old son, that you don’t leave a job without another one waiting. Well, I’ll explain, it’s a little different when you’re 45 and you’ve spent the last 23 years in a place for the sake of providing stability for your family and now you’re ready to live more for yourself. And, the decision was not made with the expectation for someone else to take care of me.
Anyway, I knew the word would get out at work after I turned my paperwork in to my manager. But I wanted to ensure that my actual friends at work heard the news from me before they heard it from the grapevine. Rather than communicating with them individually, I decided to send a group text. They all responded with congratulations. All of them know of my literary efforts and probably think that I’m leaving to pursue my literary dreams.
Sharing the news with my family wasn’t going to be as easy as a group text. My core family–mom, sister, brother, and son–would definitely receive the news differently than my friends. Though they know I wouldn’t make the decision lightly, they’ll still wonder why in the world I’m leaving my “good” job. Either that, or they’ll think I’m sitting on a pile of money that I haven’t told them about! LOL
I had planned to tell them on the 4th of July when they were over celebrating on my new deck. But when the day got going, my focus was grilling and accommodating everyone’s needs. It was a few more people there than usual so I got lost in the chaos of all of it all. So, family group text it is! (With the exception my mom–she doesn’t like important news via text.)
When you have news to share with family or friends, how have you shared it? Let me know in the comments.
It took a long time before I got to this point with my father. I wrote about what started it in a story that was published in an anthology Daddy: Reflections of Daddy Daughter Relationships. My father’s first rejection of me, his second oldest daughter, the one he used to call my love.
At the particular time, I hadn’t given up on our relationship. I professed my commitment to our relationship because he was the only father that I had. I didn’t feel that I had any choice.
Then, in 2018, my husband died and my father didn’t push past his own pride and reach out to me, his daughter. Then, in 2019, I suffered a stroke and he still didn’t call.
I didn’t need any other non-action on his part to know where I stood with him. It took all of that non-action, coupled with my ignored text messages and unanswered phone calls to him to finally get.
I gave my relationship with Dad to God and continued to live my life to the fullest.
When Dad’s birthday rolled around in December it everything for me not to reach him. His birthday was etched in my brain like a name scribbled in wet concrete that had dried. I’d never forgotten to call him or text him. This year was no different except that I was deciding to not to call him. I was no longer subjecting myself to his lack of response or reciprocation when my birthday, his daughter’s rolled around. My intent wasn’t to hurt him. I was simply protecting my feeling from being hurt by him.
After no “Happy Birthday”, “Happy Veteran’s Day”, “Happy Father’s Day” from me, something must have clicked in his brain. Suddenly, when October 15th, my birthday, rolled around, I received a “Happy Birthday” text from him.
I nearly fell out of my chair!
After the text for my birthday, I got another one for Christmas. Several months later I received one for Mother’s Day.
I didn’t know what had gotten into my Dad or how long these gestures of love would last? I didn’t know if he was trying to get me back on the bandwagon of displaying the love that he knew I still had for him.
But what I really didn’t know was that these gestures would lead to my Dad inviting myself and my siblings, whom he also had limited conversations with over the years, out to dinner with him Father’s Day 2021.
I started early at 19. But I was so ready for it and blessed that God had allowed me to conceive and birth a child. At 19, I didn’t realize how hard that is for millions of women around the world. I didn’t take it for granted. Over the years of raising my daughter, and nine years later, my son, I thanked God for His provision in my life and covering my children.
I remember testifying one Sunday in church about how good God had been to me. I’d raised my children, primarily, as a single mother although I was married twice to their father and then my late husband. Unfortunately, though, neither of them were very helpful in crux of parenting. By that I mean, I was the one responsible for transportation to and from school, doctor appointments, emergency visits, extra-curricular activities, the birds & the bees talk, assigning chores, transporting to part-time jobs, disciplining, homework, college planning. All that! But the consistency with which God showed up in my life, I never considered it a struggle.
That doesn’t mean, however, that it was easy breezy. Parenting is parenting. The hardest and most important, and most rewarding job I would ever have. I made the sacrifices I considered necessary. Partially to make it easier for my support system of my family to help me. Partially because I wanted to be as available to my children as my mother had been to myself and my siblings when we were growing up.
My mother said something profound to me that her mother said to her. I don’t know if I was sharing my life goals with her or complaining about the overtime I was missing out on at my job at the time. But she said said my grandmother told her, “Your children won’t always be little.”
Of course, when they are little, you can’t see that far ahead. You just see the right now. But not too long ago, when I realized that I have a 26 year old and a 17 year old, those words resurfaced in my mind. And I was, wow, where did that time go?
My daughter is off on her own with a husband and baby, and, though, my 17 year old son is still in high school, he’s kind of doing his own thing.
I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about when this time in my life would come. But, I sure hadn’t expected to be a widow when I was entering the empty nest phase of my life. Nevertheless, I’m enjoying this space of time in my life.
I love that I can go on vacations with friends without having plan babysitting for my children. I love that I can pay for a membership to a Pilates class, that ten years ago, I would have swore was too much. I love that I can splurge on a private Hot Yoga class, if I want to. I also love that I can sleep in on my Saturdays because my son can drive himself to Saturday morning bowling league.
This is a good feeling. While I know that parenting never truly ends, the declining level of responsibility that develops over time is to be appreciated.
On this Mother’s Day, I’m celebrating my mother’s unwavering support and love of me and my children in the early years of parenting and right now. I’m celebrating God’s grace and ever-presence in mine and my children’s lives. And I’m celebrating me because…
The anniversary of my husband Kevin’s death, 12/18/17, feels more like a weekend event rather than one day. Because we had such an eventful weekend leading up to his death, my memory of his passing begins on the Friday before that fateful day…
In December 2017 the 15th fell on a Friday. Kevin and I are had plans to celebrate his sister’s surprise 50th birthday which was the day. I remember being at work that day and talking to my friend about possibly not going to the party. The terminal illnesses Kevin was dealing with, interstitial lung disease, caused him to be increasingly angry, resentful, and quite frankly, not pleasant to be around. For me, as his caregiver, at least. I was beginning to tire of the Kevin that Kevin became in the presence of his family. Positive, glass half-full, God is good all the time Kevin. Because with me, in the privacy of our home, I witnessed the total opposite. Full disclosure, he was often a jerk. But the expectation was for me to be with him. Not because he enjoying my company but because I was his wife, his support.
However, this day I was considering letting him go on his own and use the time with him away to enjoy some peace at home. I had a conversation with my coworker about it and she understood but she encourage me to go. And by the end of my workday I decided to do just that. Putting Kevin’s needs before my own.
I didn’t tell Kevin that I had thought about not going to the party. That would have just soured whatever mood he was in when I got home. Plus I had decided that we were going to have a good night. I was not going to press him about us being on time to the party to be apart of the surprise. He hated when I rushed him for anything. I told myself, “This is his sister’s party, and we will get there when he wants us to.” Once I relieved myself of that pressure, I was able to relax to tend to his his needs.
While Kevin prepared himself for the party, I prepared Kevin for the party. I put 8 full sized metal oxygen tanks & all five of the liquid oxygen tanks in the back seat of Kevin’s truck. We would need enough oxygen for the 35 minute ride to and from party and for the time we were at the party and anything that came up along the way. The time we had been dealing with life with supplemental oxygen we tried our best to prepared for anything.
Thankfully we made big to the party in time to yell “surprise” along with everyone else. Though kevin was physically struggling breath, I could tell he was happy. Kevin loved being around his family and his family loved to be around him. There was a lot of love between them.
If there was a prayer to be a given during a family gathering, Kevin was always the one to do it. But at this event, after taking family pictures, Kevin’s mom or sister requested prayer for Kevin. We formed a circle around him as the minister present prayed for him. When the prayer was finished Kevin had his own words to share.
“I don’t want y’all to worry about me. My God’s got me and I’m gonna be alright!”
He’d moved everyone in the room, in kid me, to tears. In that moment I couldn’t have been happy that I decided to attend the party with him. To witness the heart of a dying man who thought so much of his family to have comforting for them when he was one in greater need of comforting.
When we got home, I was in such a good mood. Kevin was too. The night had been a good one.
In this second video of my Life After Vlog, I talk about celebrating my 2nd birthday last month without my husband as well the approaching holidays. It still seems surreal that I’m living without him.
When asked in those early months how I was doing following my husbands passing, the answer was the same as what it is now.
“I’m fine” or “I’m doing okay”.
But what else would I be in those particular settings–at church, in the office, at a sorority function, at a party. I was absolutely fine in those moments. No one was there , however, to ask that question when I was alone in the rental house awaiting the repair of my home, or driving in the car listening to a song Kevin loved to sing or traveling along a route we drove so frequently together, or when I was enjoying something that I wished I were enjoying with him.
I wasn’t always fine when I said I was. Sometimes I say, “I’m fine”, to convince myself that I was. Other times, like I say in the video, it’s because I actually was in those moment. The best advice I can give when dealing with the widow in your life is to prayer for her continued strength. She’s needs it.
Though my dad and I are currently estranged, his choice, I might add, I still take the time to honor him for his service to our country. My dad served in the United States Army and fought in the Vietnam War. I hadn’t been born yet, but it would be many years after my birth that I would begin to touch the surface of what he truly sacrificed for this country.
My dad never talked much of his time in the war. I can count on one hand how many times he mentioned something about it in my 44 years of life. But from what he shared about what he endured during the war coupled with his abandonment issues from his youth, I know my dad returned from the war physically whole but with emotional issues that only issues that God deliver him from.
My understanding of this is the only thing that allows me to focus less on my own pain from his deliberate absence from my life and to pray for his pain. I know my dad is only one of thousands of Veterans who return from war forever damaged. I’m sorry for the other children suffering in relationships with their mothers or fathers who suffered emotional damage from war. Our Veterans deserve so much more than the freebies they get on this day.
Today I texted my dad “Happy Veteran’s Day”, pushing away any expectation of a reply. It could go either way. Instead I reflected on fond memories of these pictures of better times with my dad. It was November 2015. My late husband, son, and I had gone to meet my dad at one his favorite steak joints. He way happy. I was happy. My husband and son were happy. It was a good day.
I was sharing these photos with a coworker when I received a text.
I hope you all are enjoying your summer as much as I have been. I knew it had been a while since I posted on this site but I hadn’t realize it had been that long. Over a year!
So much happened during that time.
My daughter got engaged!
My best friend and I joined the newly engaged couple on a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas.
I took my son on my 25th high school reunion cruise, his first cruise, the next month. Both of these trips were equally desired, deserved and needed after everything we endured at the end of 2017. Plus I figured we might as well enjoy some time away as we awaited the repair of our home. All in all we had a blast. It was surely the highlight of our summer.
If the stress of grieving the loss of my husband and dealing with contractors with the repair of my home, I decided to apply to a graduate program in Library in Information Science so that I could–obviously–work as a librarian. Classes started in August. And I wouldn’t be my over achieving self if I didn’t jump feet first and take two classes the first semester.
Needless to say I was swamped with fitting lectures, research papers, and group projects into my already full schedule. So blogging found its way at the bottom of my to-do list. But I missed it. So as of this post…I’m back!
I have so much to tell you fill you in on. From grieving through year two, surviving the contractor from hell, adventures with my new dog, dating (if you can call it that)! Be on the lookout for my next post!
P.S. Forgot to mention, I also had surgery on my left-hand in the middle of the semester, putting me in a cast for 5 weeks! SMH!
Less than a month ago I was contemplating my end of year post. I didn’t want to follow the usual course of declaring what I’d planned to do in the new year. Instead I began compiling a list of what I was leaving behind in 2017.
Stressing over weight loss
Lack of confidence
To name a few…
But the night of December 17th changed all of that. After a day of church, movies with my son, and an evening stretched out on the couch watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel, I fell asleep easily on the couch feeling that it had been a good day.
Then at about 11:30 that night, not long after I’d fallen asleep, the fire alarm broke through my restfulness. I leaped from the couch and came upon a torch-like flame blowing from my husband’s oxygen tube in the hallway of the kitchen. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. From there everything went so fast.
My husband was standing in the doorway of our bedroom. Not panicked at all. He calmly told me to get the fire extinguisher. I did. I pointed it toward the flame, squeezed the lever and hardly anything came out. I didn’t waste anytime with it anymore. My son was there too. Both of us tried to extinguish the flame to no avail. I thought I saved the day by carrying the burning cord onto the porch, throwing it in the snow, where eventually that flame went out.
But, apparently, something else was burning. When the fire department arrived and I stood outside hoping that they arrived in time to get our dogs out of the house, I saw a flame coming through the other side of the house. Obviously, the firefighters were as cautious as I was about entering the house with oxygen inside. Still, I thought we’d only end up with some smoke damage in the back of the house.
Within a few hours I’d lost my home, my two dogs, and my husband.
My husband’s scarred lungs and heart couldn’t handle the smoke inhalation and trauma of the night. He suffered cardiac arrest, I believe, before the fire department even arrived, which was within 10 minutes of me calling. From one hospital to another, he never regained consciousness. He was never able to tell me what happened, what caused the fire, if he even knew. He was never able to tell me that he loved me. Not that night. But luckily he expressed his love to me all the time, even when the frustration of his illness got the better of him and he wasn’t so nice. I never doubted for a minute that he loved me and appreciated me for being there with him during this challenging time in our life. And he knew I loved him.
Now I’m beginning a new year without him. Totally didn’t see that coming. Nothing in my plans for 2018 included him not being apart of it. I had bought into my own optimism that my husband wasn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. God knew better.
My husband departed his earthly body in a hospital room with myself, my children, and his two daughters by his side. I know he didn’t want to leave. But when the Lord says its time, it’s time.
My heart is broken. I miss my husband. Still I was able to receive Happy New Year wishes and express the same because I know healing and restoration is coming my way.