I am a Sweetheart to One and a Mommy to Four Loveable Babes, one of which is smiling down on us from Heaven. I am learning to dance in the rain. Come with me on my journey as I make the most out of Life's mud puddles.

Put on your rain boots. Great adventure lies ahead.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Grief Observed: The Mind and Body

I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care;
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

(Howard Arnold Walter)

Remember this post? I wasn't kidding when I said that that Grief and Stress can greatly affect the body.

In October, I learned of some health issues that I was experiencing that were likely brought on by the overwhelming stress caused by multiple and major Life Changes last year. So I began treatments and started to simplify my life. I thought I had everything under control.

And then November hit.

One evening, I was sitting in bed, going over the digital files for our Christmas Card before we sent them to print. I remember looking over the content with David, shaking my head that this was REALLY our card this year. I couldn't bring myself to sign our individual names and not include Bennett and so I opted for signing our surname. Who would have thought these little things would be so hard?

Awhile later, the kids were tucked in their beds, long asleep, and David had drifted off into Dreamland. I had just switched off my lamp and laid my head on the pillow when the world began to cave in on me. I started choking, I couldn't breathe, my entire body was shaking, my heart was going crazy and I felt like I was going to black out.

In short, I felt like I was dying.

In fear of passing away in my sleep without David knowing, I shook him and muttered that we needed to get to the hospital. Fast. I was dying. I could feel it. I looked at the clock. It was 1 am. I picked up the phone and called my parents. I awoke them (of course) and begged them to come and watch our kids while David took me to the emergency room.

To be honest, I didn't know if I'd be coming back. I felt Life slipping from me. I have never been so scared in my Life.

Actually, I take that back. January 22nd takes the cake.

Now, a little clarification here. I am not afraid of Death. Quite the contrary. In a healthy way, I quite look forward to the Next Life. But right now, my family is in a vulnerable position. My kids need their Mommy and my Honey needs his Sweetheart. I knew that. And so - for their sake - I knew that it couldn't be my time to go. It just couldn't.

As my parents spoke to me on the phone, David pulled out the lap top. We started typing my symptoms into google. The results were not promising. A heart attack, Aneurysm, or Acute Anxiety Attack. The symptoms were hauntingly the same.

Ugh. Options, not good.

My Mom and Dad told me to get in the bathtub and see if if the symptoms subsided. If it was an anxiety attack, they would gradually diminish. If not, I probably should get to the hospital. Stat.

So I did.

Over the next hour, the symptoms DID subside. Eventually, I drifted off to sleep in my husband's arms, promising that I would get to the doctor sometime that week.

Well, that was #1 out of 4 attacks that occurred in the next 7 days. Each episode happened at different times, triggered by the unknown. Nothing overly emotional, upsetting or troubling preceding each one. They arrived unannounced, paralyzing me without a moment's notice. It. Was. Hell.

By the end of the week, I knew I had to see a Doctor. And fast. I made an appointment for that morning and was soon sitting knee to knee with our family practioner. As I discussed my symptoms, he asked me a series of questions surrounding my current Life Situation. When I gave him the Readers Digest version of this year's happenings, I thought he was going to fall off his chair. He just stared at me wide eyed.

And then we began to discuss options.

Side Note - At Bennett's viewing/funeral, I had multiple people recommend that we get on medication to help "numb the pain." I thought that was crazy. I felt it important that - as a family - we all be on the same page in our Grief. If we were going to walk this path, we were going to walk it together. That was my opinion.

That is, until the attacks began.

So my Doctor told me that a few things were necessary.
1 - I had to simplify. Everything. And I. Mean. EVERYTHING. That calling that I had just accepted to Chair our Congregation's Christmas Party? It was a no go. Wow. For Little Miss "Sign me up for it", this was going to be hard.
2 - I had to learn how to relax my mind, body and spirit. My Doctor suggested Meditation. I prefer prayer. I needed to find a way to take my mind to a Peaceful Place when I could feel Anxiety coming on. Hmmm . . . this was going to take practice.
3 - Medication WAS necessary. This would take care of itself in time but - until then - I had to be functioning. For Myself, for my Children and for my Sweetheart.

And so it goes. I've been on anxiety meds for two months now and I am happy to say that I am fully functioning and coherent. I am not numb and I completely feel the ups and downs of Life and Grief along with my family. The difference? I am not paralyzed with Anxiety and Fear. We have had to make changes and I have had to develop skills. Skills that I will use for the rest of my life. I don't know what triggered the attacks 10 months into our experience. It was probably more of "the straw that broke the camel's back" scenerio. But it is what it is. And we're dealing with it. Together.

Is my battle with Anxiety over? Hardly. I know I will deal with anxiety - to one extent or another - for the rest of my life. Especially when I have another babe. But I am not willing to let Fear get in the way of the greatest Joys in life. I will not. I will choose to Love. I will choose to have Hope. I will choose to keep Believing. And I will continue to Live.

The moral of the story? There are many things in life that you have no control over. And - at times - that sucks. But what you CAN control is the way that you deal with it. And taking care of yourself is the LEAST selfish thing you can do.

That's what I know for sure.

Guess Where I'm Headed?

To the Olympic Trials in Iowa to see my brother - Ben Kjar - vie for a place on the 
United States Olympic Wrestling Team. 

I'm thinking London in August sounds pretty good. :0)

Thursday, February 16, 2012


So, I've been out awhile. The cause? A combination of things. The health issues of a child, an upcoming move and simply the fact that I didn't feel like writing.

So, I didn't.

So where am I at?
I am sad.
I am grateful.
I am nervous.
And I am hopeful.

In a few weeks, we'll be moving. Again. And with that move will come a wave of emotions. I'll be unpacking items that I haven't seen in over a year. A crib, a carseat, bins of clothing, bedding and items that were oh-so-special to a precious little blonde, blue-eyed boy. And - in all honesty - I'm scared.

I'm scared of going back to a really raw place. I'm scared that I may not be ready to deal with some very real feelings. I'm scared that I won't want to use the crib my son died in. And yet, I'm scared to get rid of it. And I'm scared of moving on to this new chapter without my son.

I'm grateful for new begginings. I'm grateful for a home that is customized to fit the needs, lifestyle and tastes of our family (particularly me ;0). I'm grateful for a fantastic new neighborhood, congregation and friends that have already blessed my life. And I'm grateful to God who is the Great Giver of all these Gifts.

I am nervous for what's ahead. I am nervous that I will deal with infertility again. I am nervous about the anxiety I will feel when having another baby. I am nervous about my baby sleeping . . . period. I am nervous about what the core of another child's health concerns are. I am nervous about my ability to adapt to even more change. And I am nervous that my children will grow up with a worry wort mother.

But I am hopeful for our future. God loves me - He tells me daily - and has a plan for our family. He has led us this far, guiding us every step of the way, and will not leave us comfortless. We don't have all the answers but we are closely connected with The One who does. Will hard times come? You can count on it. But are there good things ahead? You. Bet. And we'll celebrate it all. The Good AND the Growing.

Because that's who we are. And that is who we will continue to be.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lessons Learned from Death

Last night, my Grandfather passed away. He is quite an amazing man. I could write chapters on all that he accomplished in life but - for now - that will have to wait.

I want to write about what we have learned from Death.

Saturday morning, we received a text from my Mother telling us that Grandpa was going downhill quickly. This came as rather a shock. Though his body and mind were aging, we didn't necessarily think he was at Death's door. That all changed last week. It quickly became evident that his time was at hand.

As soon as we heard that hospice had been called in, we hurriedly dressed our little crew and took them up to see Grandpa Saturday morning. When we arrived, we were surprised to see him in a hospital bed in his room. He had been medically sedated for the past few days to control the pain he was experiencing. However, when we came in the room, he responded to each one of us. He is famous for calling each one of his daughters/granddaughters "dear" while referring to every male posterity as "son." And so it was. We each received our term of endearment and he kept looking around muttering "oh boy. oh boy." He was so happy to see his grandchildren.

As he drifted in and out of coherency, we stood by his side, telling him all the things we loved about him. As we stood together, I looked at my children. I was amazed how comfortable they were with Death. They knew what was happening and they weren't afraid to witness it. Given our alarming discovery and circumstances, that is a miracle.

I watched with amazement as my Gracie cupped Grandpa's weak hand between her own as my Emma rubbed his feet. They were administering to him with so much love and tenderness. My mind immediately took me back to almost exactly a year ago.

Despite the shock and terror of finding Bennett cold and stiff in his crib, David and I felt divinely inspired in how to handle our situation. Even in the early hours of realization, we knew we could not change the situation. We felt - however - that the way we dealt with it would mean EVERYTHING to our family.

How right we were.

Because of that, we as a family spent as much time with Bennett's body as possible after his Death. In that time, my children became very comfortable and familiar with the effects of Death on the body. We told them that - though this was Bennett's body or shell - the Bennett we knew and loved was in Heaven. They needn't be alarmed that he was cold, stiff and unresponsive. Because - when they would see him again - he would not be. He would be the same Bennett they tickled, cuddled, knew and loved.

They listened. They heard. And they believed.

And so - not even a year later - when their great grandfather who they cherish passes away, they are not alarmed by this change. They have walked this road before. They love him in Death as they did Life. And they know we will be together again.

And - until then - Grandpa will be playing catch with our Bennett.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dear Me

Dear January 2011 Me,

Something is about to happen. You don't know what and - quite frankly - it's best you don't.

Right now, you are just getting the kids back to school, trying to keep the house tidy enough to show at a moment's notice (p.s. it WILL sell) and starting to get into a practice routine for Emma on the harp. So many new beginnings. Though not perfect, Life seems charmed. And you know it.

But soon, something will happen that will shake you to your core. It will make you redefine what Life is about and will make you reevaluate who you are and where you are going.

Because of this, I want to tell you a few things.

First of all, I want you to know that you WILL survive. No. Matter. What. Just keep taking one breath after another and trust that the Lord will provide the next. Believe it or not, there will come a time where you won't have to think about breathing. It will become automatic once more. But - for now - just take it one moment at a time. That's all.

Second, know that there are Angels in Heaven and on Earth that will hold you up. You are about to experience a wave of Love, Compassion and Charity unlike you have ever encountered. People will come out of the woodwork to serve you, weep with you and offer their prayers and support in your family's behalf. And - more importantly - the Heavens will open and encircle you with a Love, Peace and Comfort that is more powerful than you have known. Know from whom these Angels come. You are not alone.

Next, it is entirely up to you what you Become. Period. So much in Life is out of your control. But you CAN control how you act and react. This is your opportunity to show Yourself, your Family and your God who you are and whose you are. That is the real test. Don't forget it.

And lastly, in the depth of your Grief, you will be prompted to do something. Something that you would never consider on your own. When that impression comes, follow it. No matter how scary it may seem. As you follow that impression, you will be blessed beyond your wildest imagination. You will widen your circle of friends, you will find a support system that stretches around the world and - in sharing your story - you will find Healing. In the end, it will save you.

In closing, I just want to wrap my arms around you. I want to encircle you with all the Love, Peace and Perspective you will need to get through the next twelve months. It will be the roughest of your Life, to be sure. But - with the strength of the Lord - you can do ALL things. Even the Thing that may break your heart.

Remember this.

Bless you, Mother Heart -

The Woman You Will Become

Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Thoughts this New Years

This is a picture of our last New Years Eve Celebration. My sister and niece joined us and we had a rip roarin' party. So fun.

This morning, this was my Facebook Status:

While I am eager for New Beginnings after the most difficult year of my life, I am also melancholy today as I close the book on the last year that bore my son's breath.

But I am changed. Changed for good.
And - though at a high price - we are more fit for truly LIVING, loving, learning and giving while we "live in the moment." In other words, we are more prepared for moving Home with Bennett.

So thank you, 2011. Thank you.

That about sums it up. There's not much more to say.

Happy New Year, friends. Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thirty Five

Tomorrow is my birthday. My 35th.

When I was a child, I thought I'd die by the time I was "that old."

When I was a teen, I thought 35 was a lifetime away.

When I was in my twenties, I thought I'd have life figured out by that point.

But - once in my thirties - I've realized that my life has just begun. I am just beginning to learn all that I need to learn. I am barely sensing what the Lord needs me to be. And what I DO experience means so much more because of the context that lies beneath.

I have never been a person concerned with aging. My mother gave me that gift. I own every year of my life and have tried to fully LIVE every season Life has offered me. I am not concerned about age spots, wrinkles, or sagging tummy skin. Each represent a memory, laughter or - one of Life's most sacred experiences - child birth. All beautiful things. Things that make me smile with gratitude.

I have loved this season of being a Mother of young children. Can it be monotonous and exhausting? Oh yes. But the joys . . . oh, the joys. There are none greater. I feel so blessed to be a Mother.

So, in honor of being alive, I am making a list of things I want to LIVE, EXPERIENCE and BE in 2012. I feel that the coming year will bring great blessings for our family. I sense healing, happiness, adventure, new beginnings, creative ventures, new friendships, service, growth and - hopefully - new additions.

So as I anticipate the celebrations of tomorrow, I will set some time aside to quietly sit and contemplate what I want to do, be, and become. In essence, what difference I will make in the world. Most of all, my own.

Every breath is a gift. And I will not waste one.

That is my Birthday Wish.