Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Words and Remembering Can Be Wonderful Gifts

An old friend, a new friend, a friend across the miles I have never personally met, my mom, and a neighbor.  All these different parts came together this morning – all remembering.  All making me aware that there are people who surround us who support, who love, who honor.  Today is the day Jim died three years ago.  In some ways, it feels like a few months ago and in other ways, of course, so much has changed.  All I have to do to remember that one is look at how much our two children have grown and changed over the past several years.  But to think that people, some of whom I know only distantly, would remember this day and would think to honor Jim by remembering him – well that frankly is such a surprising blessing. 

Last night I was watching a television show that related to my winding and wondering thoughts on this anniversary day.  The show had a scene in it where a teenager died while texting and driving.  The grieving parents were sitting with the main character of the show and a pastor.  They were both recalling the need to try to make something beautiful out of things that don’t make sense, that are horrible and sad.  As so today, I realize the beautiful that comes from Jim in the children we had together – Jim’s son is a sweet, pensive, and athletic boy (just like his daddy); Jim’s daughter is a spitfire who likes to charm a room and knows what she wants (just like her daddy).  I also realize the beautiful that comes from Jim’s far to early departure from this world – that love is still here and friends and family will always be touched by Jim and I by their love back. 

The “why” Jim left so soon and “how” he could have been taken from his kids too early in life cannot be explained now, but for now I remember Jim and his kindness, his smile and laughter, his generosity, his perseverance, his perfectionism, and his love for his family and friends.  And I can find peace knowing he is hanging out with the coolest person who has ever lived on this planet (as the kids and I say) – Jesus. 

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Your Secret Super Power a Few Years Down the Road

I wrote a piece several years ago for a wonderful website called “Inspire Me Today”.  I wrote it while my now deceased husband was still alive and we were fighting for his life.  It is being reposted today and I hope you will revisit it by clicking here

As I reread the piece it made me reflect on how much as happened since I wrote it and how my view of the world has sharpened over time.  Even though Jim did not survive, our collective belief in ourselves, our family, our strength, and our knowledge that Jim would be healed in some way has not changed.  Our resilience got both Jim and I through some incredibly hard times.  Jim had chronic neurological Lyme disease that expressed itself with overlapping ALS-symptoms.  It got to the point that Jim could no longer walk, move, talk or breathe on his own.  Yet through these years Jim managed to touch people, to smile when friends showed up, to be present for our children.  His will was incredible and he survived longer than many physicians thought he would because of his belief in himself.  I juggled a job and raising children, managed to keep our family functioning as a family, and spearheaded Jim’s care because of my belief in self, lifted up with God’s help, and supported by many loving family and friends.

During the end of Jim’s life a friend said something profound to me that helped me realize that regardless of whether Jim would be healed while on Earth, it was guaranteed he would be healed after death.  In heaven, Jim is healthy again.  Our belief in self and our belief and faith in God supports that inner resilience and can make reality happen here or after in heaven.  My super power is still found within – it has taken a beating, but the joy I can feel for life and my children has been highlighted more brightly because of the pain of what we went through.  Not in spite of, but because of….. the secret super power is still present in full force – helping me carve a new path of my own choosing.

 

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Is Skiing akin to Life?

It was one of my late husband’s favorite activities. The exhilaration of moving with ease quickly down a mountain, the challenge of a steep section of terrain, the beauty and peace of nature and the rush of crisp air.  He wanted to share this experience with his children.  He wanted to teach them to ski.  He wanted to laugh at their successes and celebrate their improvements over the years.  But it was not meant to be.  Jim died before the kids were old enough to start their training.

So I have taken up the cause, knowing this was one of a handful of “musts” in Jim’s mind. The kids participated in two days of ski school (or in my son’s case – snowboarding school) and on the third day we went out together.  At the beginning of the trip, things started off questionable – my daughter’s boots were too tight and she wailed and flung her body on the ground; my son had a fall that knocked the wind out of him and scared him such that I wasn’t sure he would get back on the slopes.  But then it all clicked.  After a brief rough start on day three, we were all moving well down the slopes.  I stayed behind the kids watching.  My maternal instincts of “you are going too fast” and “you are getting too close to the edge” had to be kept in check.  I held my tongue and hoped for the best, trusting that everything would be fine.

My worry turned to pride. My doubts turned to confidence.  In the end, all was well.

And then it occurred to me that this ski trip was a metaphor of our life as a family. Shaky starts.  Doubts.  Periods of scary times.  The need to trust.  In the end, with some practice, we are getting it “right” just as with skiing – we are finding confidence, joy, and peace.  Skiing does teach life lessons and is a reminder to look inward as well as outwards – believe in yourself, work hard to accomplish something meaningful, but at the same time, look outward – appreciate nature, look to others for help, and trust in something bigger than yourself.

Needless to say, we are already planning next year’s adventure.

New Book Giveaway

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick note to let you know that today is the last day of my book giveaway on goodreads.  I’m excited for you to read the new book as it has some neat contributions – my 9 year old son wrote some insights, my 7 year old daughter illustrated the book, and a friend’s eulogy to Jim is included in the book.  It is entitled When Miracles Aren’t Enough: The Lessons Tragedy Taught Me.  It has been well received and I’m excited to be giving away 20 books.  Please share the link as well with your friends.  Thanks so much!  Erica

Here is the link to enter the giveaway (again make sure you do it by the end of today – Friday March 4th): https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27314454-when-miracles-aren-t-enough

 

Life is Unpredictable, Goodness and Gratitude are Constant

My husband’s health is deteriorating.  My children (ages 7 and 5) are growing more anxious.  I don’t know what the next many weeks will bring.  Jim is too young for any of this.  I want him to get his life back.  I want my kids to have a father who can talk with them, play with them, and teach them all the things he knows so well.  I want my husband back.  Still, in the midst of all the sadness, there is gratitude and goodness.

I wrote an article months ago that was just published.  It was a wonderful reminder of gratitude at the time I needed to read it.  I hope you will enjoy the article too.  Here is the link.

The Circus Lesson – Why a Kid Thinks One Act is Better than the Others

Ringling Brothers Circus

Ringling Brothers Circus (Photo credit: Bob n Renee)

Recently my kids and I went to the circus.  It was one of the smaller ones that comes to town for just a day and had that feeling of circuses from years past.  At intermission we were even allowed to visit  the floor to ride elephants, ponies, and have photos taken with all kinds of exotic animals.  The performances were quite dramatic as well – tiger tamers, motorcycle stunts, flying trapezes, magic, juggling (even with flames and knives), gymnastic routines, and trained dogs jumping through hoops.  There was even an act where a man and woman would change outfits right in front of your eyes.  I still can’t figure out how they pulled that off.  It was impressive to say the least.

 

At the end of the show, I asked my kids, ages 7 and 5, what they liked best about the circus.  I would have lost a lot of money for I was sure I knew their answers even before they said them.  My daughter loves gymnastics and horses these days and I was sure she would say one of those acts.  My son has always loved tigers and so my guess was with that performance.

But how mistaken I was.  Of all the acts we saw, what both of my kids said almost at the same time and with such enthusiasm and gusto that it took me a bit by surprise “The chairs!”  I stopped dead in my tracks for a brief moment.

The chair act.  Really?  This one act lasted only a few minutes.  It seemed to pale in comparison to the other more glitzy, fancy, and magical acts.  The chairs, really?

For this act, a man took one straight-back wooden chair and placed it on a table.  Then he took another straight-back wooden chair and placed it strategically on top of the first chair.  Then he added a third chair.  Then a fourth.  I never counted how many in total he added.  I am guessing six.  After he added the last, he gently climbed up the sides and then stood on top of the chair mountain, arms extended in triumph and music trumpeting his success.

The chair act, really?  I was still thinking about this as we walked to our car.  When I asked my kids why this was the best act, they didn’t really have an answer for me.  My son stated, “It was cool!”  My daughter basically said the same thing as she jumped up and down clapping.

What was it that got them so excited about this act?  Frankly, I was much more impressed with several of the other acts.  This one didn’t hold my attention.  I pondered this some more as I drove home.  Rounding into my driveway, I struck upon something I shared with the kids.  When I told them, they looked at me with that sweet child-stare that says without saying “Of course mom – that’s what we said.  What took you so long?”

As the car rolled into the garage, I stopped, turned off the car and then faced the kids in the backseat.  “Was the chair act awesome because it was something you can do too?”

After that sweet look and wide-eyed gesture paled, my son squinted his eyes, cocked his head ever so slightly and quietly said, “Yeah, but really I can do all of it if I really wanted to Mom.”

I was so proud…….

Stacked

Stacked (Photo credit: hypercatalecta)

Michael Jackson Bringing Back My First Life of Healthy Years

I was rollerskating the other day with my two children, ages 6 and 4. It was a special day for us – no school, no work – just trying to have a fun day together. Unfortunately the fourth member of our family, my husband Jim and my kids’ dad, was not able to join us. Physically he cannot stand, let alone skate, and the idea of wheeling around the wheelchair with the ventilator attached didn’t strike me as very safe. Still, like with most things in my second life, the “sick years” as we call it, I try to focus on the goods that are there and directed my attention to my kids and the fact that they were having such a good time. They were racing on the rink, laughing with pure joy, and dancing and singing when they knew the song. But then it happened. Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” came booming out of the speakers. I started to sing and my kids looked at me with strange glances. “This is Michael Jackson you guys,” I said. “He is one of the best musicians that ever lived.” My daughter was impressed and started to shake a little more. I smiled, but then my heart sank. Her movement reminded me of Jim. My husband could cut a rug in his days and this particular song I remember with such affection. At our wedding reception he and his buddies were on the dance floor doing all kinds of moves. I remember laughing at their silliness and thinking my future has started with this man of good dance moves. In that moment, on the roller skating rink, I missed my first life, the “healthy years.” I missed my husband and I ached for my kids to know their daddy as a healthy man, one who could play with them, teach them to dance, and tell them about famous singers.

 
I found it hard to skate from then on. I fought back the tears, shook myself about trying to get rid of the bad feelings. But then something else happened. I remembered that the bad feelings were bad because they had been so good at one point. The bad was sandwiched in a great memory, a happy time, and one at that wedding reception, that was so full of promise and hope and a future. As I skated round and round that rink with my kids I realized the promise and the hope and the future are still there as well. I choose to believe and know that dancing can still be a part of Jim’s future.

 
Click here to listen to the song and to see Michael Jackson dance!

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