Social Media……..A Love / Hate Relationship

Okay. So before I go too deep into this one…..let me just say, I HATE Social Media. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. “But Steve, I always see you on Facebook”!? So, first off….no you don’t. Because I don’t really post a whole lot anymore. Second, you see me on Facebook, because I LOVE Social Media. I know. I’m crazy. So let me explain.

I think Facebook is great. It allows me to keep in touch with family members that live far away. It’s allowed me to reconnect with some REALLY awesome people (you know who you are ;-). It’s allowed me a glimpse into the lives of friends from LOOOOOONG ago. And to continue to build relationships with new friends. So yeah! I think Facebook is great. But it’s only one piece of this phenomenon we have come to know as “Social Media”.
So first, lets answer the question……”What is Social Media”. So, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Social Media as “forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content”. So let me sum this up for you. If you communicating with someone and they’re not standing in front of you (or reading a letter you snail mailed), then you’re probably communicating using some form of Social Media. Facebook. Twitter. eMail. Text. Phone. eHarmony. Match. Heck, even my FitBit has me logged into a virtual community. And that’s just to name some of the more common methods. So now you ask “Steve! What are you fussing about?”. Well, I guess this is where I get to the point. I’ve had an epiphany.
It all started when I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about how much I text. But before you judge! I’m on the phone ALL DAY LONG!!!! I hate the phone. I don’t want to be on it when I’m on it. Let alone pick it up voluntarily for……………pleasure. I mean really? Can I not convey the same thought through a quick text message? It’s really not that hard. Why do I have to pick up the phone? I mean, if you really want to talk to me, lets go get coffee and talk. Face to Face!! Why do I have to pick up the phone?!?!?!?!?!?! Okay. I’m done my tantrum. So, I’ve had this conversation, and then I get slapped in the back of the head with the sermon on Sunday. It’s all about relationships and how we build and develop them………..and how Social Media may (or may not) be helping.Ugh. Alright already!!! I get it!! It’s not always the best form of communication!! But NO!!! That wasn’t enough. You see, because Monday (as I was helping cook wings for dinner on the grill) when I snapped a pic of the wings grilling on the Weber and promptly shot it to my friend with the caption “Oh Yeah.”, the thought came to my mind……”wouldn’t it be nice to hear her reaction when I describe to them the smell of the grill, the sound of the chicken wings sizzling, the popping of the charcoal, and the mouth watering taste as I chowed down on the home cooked deliciousness”? Oh yeah!! And it would be one more thing to talk about on the phone or in person!! Yeah!! So when the conversation starts to fade, but you still want to talk, you could bring it up! But NOOOOO. You had to snap that picture and send it right away!! Okay, so I recognize that last one was a bit silly. But!! That’s what we would have done years ago before we could text, right? And then there was this morning. I had a parent/teacher conference with Andrews teacher. It was the first one since I met her at the beginning of the school year. Now don’t get me wrong. We communicate. Through email and something called “Class Dojo”. But this was the first face to face meeting…….and it was at MY request. Now at this time I’m thinking…..’you know, his teacher last year cared so much more about Andrew. She was ALWAYS asking for input on how she could help Andrew. I was ALWAYS meeting with her…..at HER request”. And it wasn’t until I sat in front of Andrews teacher this morning that I realized, “wait, she does care”. The difference was, we communicate via a different method. And that’s when it really hit me. The epiphany. Social Media is evil!!!!! Okay, not quite. But I get it now.
There’s one thing that Social Media just can’t do. No matter how many emoticons you put in a message. How many words you spell in ALL CAPS. Or how many exclamation points you put after a sentence. It doesn’t matter. You still can’t get the true feeling of what someone else is feeling unless you are standing Face to Face with them, seeing the look on their face or able to hear the tone of their voice. It’s just not possible. And it’s been proven in studies that I quote all the time at work, and yet I only just now get it. That 93% of our daily communication is NON-VERBAL!!!!! NINETY THREE PERCENT!!!!!!! 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc). It’s no wonder everyone feels so misunderstood. We’re only communicating 7% of what we want to say to each other!! Maybe, just maybe, if we all put down our cell phones, tablets, computers, iPods, nose pods, your pods, my pods, whatever pods, we could get down to communicating properly, and make some progress fixing some of the messes we’ve gotten ourselves into. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m just a crazy man with a REALLY thick skull who just rambled for an hour about an idea that only just now makes sense, that’s been preached around the world for how long now? Just sayin. I can be pretty thick sometimes.
In conclusion, I will answer my previous question. NO!!!!! I can NOT convey the same thought through a simple text message. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been misunderstood because of a text message that wasn’t worded properly. A message that would have had at least an additional 38% chance of being interpreted correctly had it been given verbally. My point? Okay, so you can’t always talk face to face. I get it. But let’s face it. Long distance rates are at an all time low………FREE!!!!! Pick up the darn phone and call someone. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone and let them hear your voice. Let them know you care enough to take a little time to make sure they hear you correctly. You never know. You might just learn to like it. I know I did. 🙂
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Brothers

Okay. So my last few posts have been of a pretty serious nature. And I’ve been wanting to write something a little more light hearted for a while now. Just not sure what. Then this happened. And I figured I just had to share it. But before I do, let me give you some background. I have an older brother, and a younger sister. Yes, I’m the middle kid. And no, I didn’t get away with ANYTHING when I was younger. But when I think back to when we were all kids, I remember very little of the fights and arguments we all had. Mostly, I remember the fact that it was usually two of us against one of the others. And if it wasn’t that, then we were all getting along, and probably getting into trouble. All of which was, you guessed it, my fault. 😛

As the years have passed, we have all gone our separate ways. Started our own families. And thanks to technology and social media, never to far away from each other. My sister and I will talk periodically. Whether it be through text, Facebook, or on the phone. We always laugh during our conversations (although I sometimes have to remind her that she’s supposed to be laughing and not taking me seriously). We talk about life, the kids, the fact that miles prevent us from spending more time together in person and how much we don’t like that. We talk about the weather. How great her husband is. Whether or not I have a new love interest in my life. You know. All the important stuff. And when we do get to spend time together in person, it’s like we live next door to each other. My sister is awesome. And I love her dearly.
Then there’s my brother. I would classify our conversations as potpourri. They typically will start out going in one direction, and before you know it, we’ve made three u-turns, twelve wrong turns, j-walked in front of cops after getting two flat tires. Probably spending the night in jail because of said j-walking, inevitably with a 300 lb biker dude named bubba, who has less than reputably intentions. Only to be bailed out by our sister, who then lectured us because she had to sell her kids toys so that she could have gas money to drive 3 states over where she put up her life savings as bail, knowing full well she probably wouldn’t get it back, because as soon as Mom & Dad found out, they’d kill us and we would never make our court appearance. All of which started because one of us wanted coffee, and the other one didn’t feel like fixing a pot. Yeah. That’s pretty much how we are. And then once in a while, one of us will send a random text. And what follows, becomes a conglomeration of nonsense that could only happen between him and I. Take for example……the following:
On this occasion, I started it with a picture that I found. It read:
“I hate math tests. Because all through the chapter, it’s like really easy. And then you think you’ve got it. And then the test is like: IF I THROW A TRIANGLE OUT OF THE CAR AND THE CAR IS GOING 20KM/H, AND WIND RESISTANCE IS A THING THAT EXISTS, HOW MANY CUPCAKES CAN PEDRO BUY WITH ONE HUMAN SOUL?”. 
Chris: Seriously dude? The answer is quite elementary. The answer is phish, because purple.
Stephen: Nah. You’re forgetting about the wind resistance. Because of that, you have to multiply by the square root of pancake. Then divide that by green. Then add the phish, which gives you corn field. 
Chris: Indeed! But you’re also forgetting the effect of said wind resistance on the car. Thus you must divide the square root of pancake by blueberry squares to account for the vortices’s created by the open window. Once you’ve accounted for this, then you have to multiply “turn your head and cough by Dr. Jellyfingers” to the third power. Only then can you divide by green and finish the equation.
Stephen: Wait! Turn you head and cough by Dr Jellyfingers? You would need strawberry circles to get that. Which means you would have to divide hot dog by jellybean. Then multiply that by marshmallow.
Chris: But you’re forgetting to compensate for the Heisenberg Theorem, wherein strawberry circles are bypassed by using blueberry squares to punch through the space/time continuum. Unless you’ve gotten hold of a Heisenberg compensator, you must multiply turn your head and cough by Dr. Jellyfingers. Only then can we find out the cupcake to human soul ratio.
Stephen: Dude!! You can’t punch through the space time continuum without accounting for the black hole effect. And a Heisenberg Compensator won’t do anything for that. 
Chris: Unless the Heisenberg Compensator is powered by a flux capacitor!! Then you have the power to warp the black hole into a zero point singularity which will easily punch through the space/time continuum.
Stephen: That only works if the flux capacitor is powered with an Omega Particle. Which means you then have to multiply blueberry pancake by rose petal. And then divide that by the square root of peanut butter.
It ended there. And as you can tell, he has a much better imagination than I do (and I think I was hungry). But I’ve read this exchange several times since then. And I’m reminded of the unique relationship that my brother and I have. And how even though we don’t talk all the time, we can still have fun together, and bring continued joy to each others life. My brother and I share many commonalities. We’ve both been through some pretty traumatic events. And I think that’s partly why we have become as close as we are. And why we can be silly, and still feel like adults, sort of. My brother is awesome. And I love him dearly.
So what’s my point? Who cares? I’m not even sure there is one. But I will leave you with this. Life is a gift. Siblings make that gift even better. Don’t take it for granted. And don’t be afraid to be silly every once in a while. Trust me. It does a body good. 🙂   PEACE!!!!

Words

My dearest Christina,
It always happens at the oddest moments. Something happens. Somebody say’s something. And all of a sudden, we’re reduced to tears. Sometimes it’s me. Sometimes it’s the kids. Sometimes it’s all of us at the same time (THOSE are fun times). 😉 And while we all grieve in our own way, nothing breaks my heart more than to see the kids grieve. It’s an indescribable pain. And sometimes, it hits when I’m feeling my own grief. And it’s at these times that I feel at a loss. For example………….

I was out in the field for most of the day today with my new agent Jane (changing the names to protect the innocent). We met up for our first appointment on I-Drive. Since we had a few other appointments, we left my car in a parking garage, and I let her drive (she knew where she was going). Our last appointment was at the home of a really nice couple. The only down side…….they had 1 cat, 3 kittens, and a dog. A very, VERY hyper dog. As you can imagine, within about half an hour, I was starting to feel the effects of the animals. My chest started to get heavy, and I was finding it increasingly hard to breath. Fortunately, we didn’t stay long. Since we were so close to my house, I asked Jane to take me home so that I could get/use my inhaler. While I was home, I snatched up the kids, and we all went to get my car. On the way back to I-Drive, we all decided that it would be fun to go get something to eat, whether it be dinner or dessert. We opted for Carrabba’s, but somehow found ourselves in Outback. Still not sure how that happened. This is where the fun started.

We were seated quickly, and our waiter (who was absolutely fabulous) arrived shortly after. At one point, our waiter addressed me and referred to Jane as “your wife”. After he left, I mentioned it to see if anyone else picked up on it. None of them had. It happened a couple more times throughout our meal. I didn’t think too much of it. It was an honest, and innocent mistake. He didn’t know any better. I mean, let’s face it. Anyone of us would have made the same mistake. No sense really in making him feel embarrassed by pointing out the mistake, right? After about the second time, I started to feel that “tug” at my heart strings. And I realized……I really miss hearing that. It’s really interesting what gets me sometimes. And of all the things to get worked up about. Missing hearing someone say “your wife”. I hadn’t heard those words used with me for so long. And as I sit here typing this, the meaning of those two little words just really hit home for me. You were “my wife”. I was “your husband”. We chose each other to spend the rest of our lives with. You wanted me. And I wanted you. It’s one of the things that made being married to you so awesome. Knowing that no matter what happened, I could always come home to you……and you would always be glad to see me. It’s interesting to sometimes to realize the things that we miss. Something as simple as hearing the words “your wife”. Yeah. I had a bit of a moment. A moment that was short lived.

The last time our waiter slipped up, he addressed the kids referring to Jane as “mom”. I saw immediately in Alexys face, that one hit home for her. I could tell she was trying not to let it bother her. But then the anxiety symptoms kicked in. And as I tried to talk her through it, I could see the tears starting to well up in her eyes. At this point I decided that the waiter needed to be corrected. Fortunately for all of us, he didn’t make the mistake again. But the damage was already done. I had Andrew switch places with Alexys, put my arm around her, and try to comfort her as much as possible. And as we sat there, I couldn’t help but think that she must have felt something similar to what I felt. It’s been two years since anyone has used that name like that with either of the kids. And like me, Alexys probably hadn’t realized just how much she missed hearing that. I know how I felt. I can’t even begin to imagine how it made her feel.

There’s an old saying that goes “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. And while I understand what this is intended to do, and I agree with that intent. It does tend to undermine the fact that words are important. It’s our words that communicate things like love, compassion, trust, empathy, excitement. But I also think that the lack of words can sometimes have an even more profound effect on us. We may not realize it at the time. But eventually we will hear a word used, and realize just how much it meant to us to be able to hear and use those words. So while I’ll echo the words of a childhood song “be careful little mouth what you say”, I would also say “be careful little mouth, what you DON’T say”. Because it’s those words we use all the time, and so take for granted, that we will miss the most when gone. So use the words that build each other up. And don’t use the ones that tear each other down. Treasure those you love. And hang on every word they say. Because one day, you may find yourself realizing just how much you miss hearing those words.

Disclaimer: It’s almost 1am. I’ve been up since about 4:30am. Just throwing that out there in case it sounds like I’m talking crazy talk. 😛

Peace

My Dearest Christina,

Wow!! What a great night. I continue to enjoy the Grief Share classes I have been attending. Tonights class specific topic didn’t really apply to me per se. But the direction the discussion took totally did. I continue to be amazed at some of the realizations I have during these classes. So many times I hear something and think “yes! that’s totally how I feel!”. Or I just have a realization that what I’m feeling is okay, or right. It’s really been a great experience.
Tonights epiphany was a pretty cool one. I’ve gone the last couple years wondering when I would have my “meltdown”. You know, that moment when I finally crash into a valley of self pity. Unable to function. Questioning EVERYTHING!! I have been told several times by several people that “it will happen. It’s part of the grieving process.”. Apparently, I’ve been so strong for everyone else during this whole season, that at some point I would have to crash. It’s the rule. And while I won’t deny having my moments (to be honest, they happen all the time), I just cannot see myself “melting down”. But if it’s “the rule”, why am I not having mine? And there it is. The big question.
One of the best parts of Grief Share is that it dispelled the myth of “steps of grieving”. I’ve never really thought about it much. But I’ve always been taught (and have taught) that there are 7 steps of grieving……Shock & Denial – Pain & Guilt – Anger & Bargaining – Depression/Reflection/Loneliness – The upward turn – Reconstruction & Working through – Acceptance & Hope. And while I certainly feel that there are some that will experience all of these feelings, I officially don’t believe that EVERYONE will go through ALL of them. The reality is, we all experience grief in a different way. And while we may all share a similar journey. Our journeys are all unique. And the even bigger question then being…….where am I in my journey?
In our discussions tonight, one of the other attendees started expressing similar feelings to mine. So I began listening pretty intently (not that I wasn’t listening, but, you understand……I hope). And that’s when I heard the comment that turned on my light bulb. She said that while it still hurts, she is at peace. I thought “yes! I think that’s me!”. But of course, I can’t just jump on the bandwagon. I had to go to my trusty Merriam Webster App and look up the definition of “Peace”. It’s pretty extensive. But there is a part that resonated with me……..
                         “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions”
Yeah. I think it’s safe to say that sums up the status of my journey at the moment. Don’t get me wrong. This sucks. BAD. I miss you SO much. But………..I’m at peace. Life is still good. And God is GREAT!! But then, you know that first hand. 😉
I love you Precious. Can’t wait to see you again. XOXOXOXO
~If my heart had wings~
Stephen

Clothing & Other Belongings

My Dearest Christina,
Okay, so as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I have been taking this Grief Share class at church. And as crazy as it sounds, I’m actually liking it. It’s not at all what I thought it was going to be. Part of the class assignments are suggested journaling topics. Since the topics are suggested, I figured it would be a good opportunity to catch up on some of my blog posts. So with that being said, let’s talk about your clothes and belongings. Hmmmmmm……………..where do I start?

Well, to start, I still have pretty much everything. Although I’ll admit that I did clean out your closet. And sweetheart!? You had WAY too many shoes!! Alexys decided that she wanted some of your shoes, so she took quite a bit. The sad thing is, some of them actually fit her pretty good. She picked out a few articles of your clothing that she liked, and then left the rest to me. Most of your closet fit into 4 Rubbermaid bins (the BIG kind). The rest went into shopping bags (all 1000 pairs of your shoes). 😉 I still haven’t gone through your dresser or nightstand. As for regular belongings? Well, I’ve given some of it away to those that I thought may like them. We had a few of your blouses made into teddy bears for the kids and one for your Mom. But that’s about it as far as what’s been dealt with so far.

So I guess my question to myself becomes…….”why do I still have everything after two years”? And I know what everyone says….”in your own time Steve” or “you’ll know when your ready”. But I still find myself wondering sometimes if it’s something more? Am I subconsciously trying to hold on to you? Is there a secret hope that maybe this is all still a dream? Or do I truly just not have the time to do anything with it? And while I can honestly say that time does tend to be a factor. I would then be forced to tell myself that “if I really wanted to do something with them, then I would make the time”. And round and round I go. Welcome to my world. It’ll get done one day. I’m sure of it.

So here in lies yet another question. “What do I do with them when I finally get around to it”? For some reason it just doesn’t seem right to haul it all over to a second hand store and just drop it off.  Not saying that would be a bad thing. Just not feeling it at the moment. I’ve tried contacting various different organizations (women’s shelters, “Dress for Success”), but to date, they have all declined the donation. Then there was the thought of selling them, and taking the money to the CF Foundation, or one of the aforementioned charities. Of course, I could be seriously overthinking this all in an effort to hold on to them for just a little bit longer. Who knows.

What I do know is that God is good. And in time, I’ll figure this out also. The kids and I are doing well. Andrew had a great week at school last week. Cost me a new skateboard. But it was well worth it to see him excel in school. Alexys continues to dance, and loves every moment of it. We miss you dearly, and are living life to it’s fullest. I hope you’re enjoying wings. Stop in and say “Hi” sometime.

With all my love……..
Stephen

Ranting

Okay. So I have a rant. But I don’t know where to start it. So bare with me on this one. It may come out a bit, well, jumbled.

Okay, so it’s no secret that there are times when the weight of being a single parent seems too much to bear. And I’ve said numerous times that it’s at these moments when I miss Christina the most. Well, it’s one of those times. And yes, I’m having a bit of a “moment”. So, it’s been a pretty good day…..for the most part. Started normal. Get the kids up. Take them to school (just Andrew this morning. Poppy took Alexys to school). Stop at Dunkin to get coffee (and a free donut today). Then to the office. Meetings. Interviews. “Got a Minutes”. Same ol, same ol. Then I had a client meeting with one of my agents. It was at 6 pm. Which means I have to battle traffic to get there. And this…….is where it all starts. I HATE traffic. Okay. “Hate” really isn’t strong enough. Loathe. I loathe traffic. It’s one of the reasons I loved working midnight shift as a police officer. NO TRAFFIC!!!!! So I get to the appointment about 15 minutes late. Which is okay, because the client “had a headache” and didn’t show. Which wasn’t horrible, because as I pulled into the parking lot of the meeting place, mother nature decided it was a good time to unleash the worst rain storm I’ve seen in a while………for over an hour. So as I sit there talking to my agent about the client that didn’t show, somebody pulls in next to me, and decides to make a run for it. But not before opening his door into my door……REALLY HARD. And then run off into the rain storm of the century. I was so blown away that he did that while I was sitting in the car, that I didn’t even think to chase him down. I mean REALLY!!?? Am I the only one that tries to NOT hit the car next to me when I get out of my car?? Especially if the owner is SITTING IN THE CAR AT THE TIME!!!!! UGH!!!! So, now I’m faced with a decision. Wait for the rain to stop to get out and take pictures, and risk the guy coming back and leaving before I get the chance, or get out of the car in the middle of a monsoon and (at a minimum) get a picture of the guys license plate. Yeah, I wasn’t taking that chance. So, while I now have a picture of the damage and license plate of the very nice person who I’m sure didn’t even notice that he hit my car so hard that it shut his door for him, I’m also now wet. I hate being wet. And as I get back into my air conditioned car, I realize that I am now cold. I hate being cold. So I turn on the heat. But since I’m wet, it just makes the car hot and…….humid. Now the windows are fogged up. Put a little side to side motion to the car and I’ll be igniting the imagination of everyone that passes by. Sigh. So I’m once again just sitting, waiting for the rain to stop, and guess who returns to their car. With a “not me!!!” attitude. Yup, THAT guy. The nice one that decided my drivers side door would look better with a little kiss from his drivers side door. Anyway, names and numbers were exchanged. But he wasn’t shy about making it known that he doesn’t believe he’s responsible for the damage to my car. Hopefully the buffer will take it out and I won’t have to worry about him.

So I leave the parking lot, and drive home. Hoping to be able to say goodnight to the kids and go to bed. And then I get a text from Alexys……..”Are you on your way home?”. “Yes, why? Is something wrong?” “No. Andrew want’s to go to bed” (red flag….it’s 8pm. Andrew never wants to go to bed at 8pm). “No. Tell him to wait. I’ll be home in 10 Mins”. “Ok”. As I walk in the door, I find out that Andrew has just started his homework. Hmmmmmmm. That explains a lot. He doesn’t like doing homework with his grandparents. So he gives them a hard time. Which means……Daddy gets to help with it. That was at about 8:15pm. He faught me till 10:30pm. He is determined. But I won in the end, and his homework got done. But it was a battle.

So where am I going with this? Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, I am quite frustrated, stressed, perturbed, and any other adjective you can come up with to describe this feeling. And it’s REALLY hard to play both parents. In situations where I get frustrated and stressed, Christina used to come in and be able to instantly calm everyone down. Especially me. Or maybe she would just take over. Give me a break. Whatever it was, she would do it. I miss that. With me, it was a hand on my shoulder and a whisper in my ear saying “I got if from here sweetie” Oh, the touch of her hand was magical. It just took all of the anger and frustration out of me. I would just melt when she touched me.  I really miss that. It’s was like some kind of energy that just drained every stress of the day. Every problem. Every concern. It would just vanish. No longer an issue. Just from her touch. It was wonderful.

And she knew this too. Most of the time she would use it to make me feel better. Other times, she would use it to make me even more mad…….like when I wanted to be mad at her. She would just come over and touch my shoulder. And I wouldn’t be mad anymore. It was really frustrating at times. But wonderful at the same time. One of my most treasured memories of our last week together was the Thursday before she passed. She was feeling strong and was sitting up. I had just finished wrapping up the duties of the evening and had crawled (literally) into bed. She looked at me and said “you look tired, how about you lay your head in my lap and let me rub your back”. I looked at her and said “it’s okay sweetheart, I’m fine. Just tired”. In her typical, stubborn way, she said “look buddy, I may not ever get to do this again. So get over here and let me take care of you”. What could I say? Nothing. So I just obeyed. And it was a wonderful, intimate moment. I loved feeling her hands on me. I miss that. I needed that tonight.

Okay, so for all my worriers out there, I’m okay. Just having a moment. All is well. God is good. Loving life. I love my kids (yes, even Andrew). They are the best. And I don’t know what I would do without them. Thanks for listening. I love you all. And as for you Christina? I miss you bunches. Needed you big time tonight. And I love my memories of us.

“If my heart had wings, I would fly to you and lie, beside you as you dream. If my heart had wings”. ~ Faith Hill

Pleasant Thoughts (and a teenager)

My Dearest Christina,
Our baby girl is growing up. Tomorrow morning at 11:26, she will officially be a teenager. It seems like just yesterday, I was holding her in the palm of my hand. And now, she’s a young lady. Beautiful, smart, athletic, compassionate, loving, strong willed. Just like you. You would be so proud of her. She’s still a good mix, but I am starting to see more and more of you in her every day. Her looks. Her personality. Her way with kids. It’s so fun to watch.

So, I started attending a Grief Share class at church. I know what you’re probably thinking, “you? Really?”. So, yes, really. Tonight was my second night. And I actually enjoyed it. Although, the video portion was painfully long tonight. Of course, I’m sure my headache didn’t help with that. I was actually dreading attending the classes. But I said I would because my pastor asked if I would be willing to facilitate a class at Lakeside. I thought it would be like the last class I attended where I end up leaving depressed. But this has been different. In fact, tonight I left with a smile on my face as I was reminded of some fond memories of us. In particular, how we used to say I love you “I love you, I love you too, I love you three, I love you four, I love you infinity, I love you infinity…..and beyond”. It actually made me smile. That was just one thing though. There were actually several things that made me smile tonight. Which I think is a good thing.

One of the things we were talking about tonight, was taking the necessary time to work through our grief. Even though it can be unbearable at times. And even though we don’t always like it, we need to do it, so that we can get to a point where when we think about our lost loved ones, it’s not so painful. And it just got me thinking. That while I still have my moments of sadness, and I still miss you dearly. I find more often than not, that during my “moments”, my thoughts generally turn to fond memories. The ones that make me smile. The happy moments. Our “I love you’s”, your smile, that look in your eye when I walk in the room after being gone all day. A kiss good night. A kiss good morning. A kiss in general. 🙂 We had a good run together. And while I wish it had been longer, it wasn’t what God had in His plan. And while I still don’t understand His plan, I have faith that He knows what He’s doing.

The kids are doing great. Alexys is still dancing. And Andrew is focusing on school (although he is hoping to start taking classes to learn how to do tricks on his skateboard. Don’t hate me, I’m actually considering it). We all miss you much. But we are doing great. We still take it one day at a time. And some days, one moment at a time. But overall, we are doing great. We love you and miss you much. Till we get to see you again. XOXOXOXOXOXO

Timing

Okay. So I admit. I’m not always the best at being on time. And my timing in general isn’t always the best. But come on!!!! This whole grief thing is the WORST!!!!!

So, I’ve been meaning to write something for a little while now. There are so many things I want to put in writing, but I just never seem to have the time. And to be honest, I wasn’t even planning to write tonight. I’m supposed to be studying at this very moment. But somehow, I just don’t think I would be able to concentrate. Then again, maybe this is my subconscious looking for an excuse not to study. Who knows. All I know is, I just randomly had the wind knocked out of me, and all I can think about right now is how much I miss Christina. And it’s the most random things that get me!! Tonight, it was an email I found from her to me back in 2010 (don’t preach, I know. And I’m sure I have some emails from before that). She had forwarded me an email from Andrew’s teacher relating to her about how much of a pleasure Andrew was to have in his class. As I read the words that she typed into the email, I could hear her voice as she related how pleased she was to be getting a good report on Andrew (for once). I could see the joy on her face as she thought about how wonderful her little boy was, and the fact that someone else felt he was a joy to be with. And even now as I think about this, I can see the twinkle in her eye, feel the heart skip a beat as I know it did for her. The butterflies were doing all kinds of acrobats as she swelled with pride. I can picture it as if I were there with her 3 years ago. I have to admit that I sometimes chuckle at the randomness of the things that reduce me to tears, and paralyze me so that I can’t concentrate or focus on anything else. Fortunately it’s late, and I can just go to bed and sleep it off.

So, anyway, as I sit here wallowing in self pity for a few moments, I can’t help but think of the kids. I know how I feel having lost my wife and best friend. I can’t even begin to imagine how the kids feel. My only comfort is knowing that the kids know that Mommy loved them more than life itself, and that she was so very proud of both of them. And as I look at them now, and see how far they have both come over the last year, I can’t help but think of just how proud she must be of them now (I know I am). Probably feeling those same butterflies she was feeling the day she wrote that email about Andrew. She likely has that same twinkle in her eye. Blurred by tears of joy at how well they are both doing. Waiting for the day when she can once again wrap her arms around them and give them a big hug. One of the last things Christina and I ever talked about was how much it hurt knowing that she would not be there to watch the kids grow up. To kiss the boo boo’s. To hug them goodnight. She agonized over this for days. I can’t even begin to imagine what that must be like. What I can tell you is, the timing of this whole thing stinks. And while I understand that there is a greater plan at work. It doesn’t mean that at this moment, I have to like it. Sigh. I really dislike this part. It’s at times like this that I wish I could hold her one more time. Even if just for a moment. To see in person her wonderful smile. The sparkle in her eye. Feel the butterflies when she puts her arms around me. The heart rate get faster. The scent of her shampoo as I inhale through my nose. Feel the tingle all over as we fit together so perfectly. Sigh. I miss you Precious.

Stephen,

When you get a chance read the second paragraph of the e-mail I got from Mr. Baylor.  It feels so good to finally be getting some positive feedback on Andrew….way to go Andrew!!!

Christina”

 
Hello!


Thanks for checking….I honestly kept trying to send an email to you, but I kept getting side-tracked!   The fee is $17.00.  I appreciate that Mr. Cilento is able to go!

A side note…I am extremely happy to be working with Andrew this year.  He is such a kind-hearted boy and is so eager to do a great job.  It has taken him so adjusting to kindergarten, but is always happy and loves learning.  During tutoring yesterday he was working on the computer (Lexia) and was so excited when he was completing the answers correctly.  He was also very excited to get cards during our Letter Card Game.  Students like Andrew make teaching so worth it!

Have a great afternoon!


Justin “

 
 

Why?

Merriam-Webster:
adverb
: For what cause, reason, or purpose

So many times I find myself asking the question “why?”. Most of the time it’s of the kids (why didn’t you put your toys away, why did you hit your sister, etc). Other times, it’s a little bit harder to answer (why did Christina have to die?). Most of the time I tell myself that God has a bigger plan. And that even though I don’t know (or could possibly imagine) the reason “why”, God knows, and in His time I too will know. I like to think that as an adult, I deal with these questions pretty well (or, as well as I can). I have gotten pretty good at the self pep talks. Looking at the positive side of life. Always seeing the bright side of things. I won’t deny that I still have my moments. But overall, I’m doing okay. But that’s me.

The other day, I was trying to get Alexys to go to bed. She was giving me her typical “I can’t sleep/I don’t feel good” story indicating that something else was wrong. It took me a little while to figure it out, but I was finally able to get her to tell me the problem. With tears in her eyes, she said “I miss Mommy”. And then the question came……”why?”……”why did God have to take Mommy?”. She then started relating how “Mommy always knew how to make me feel better”. “She would play with my hair and rub my back”. I had to admit to her that I didn’t have an answer for her question. And for once, I was at a loss for words. There was a part of me that wanted to give her the typical responses (God has a plan, trust Him. He won’t give us anything that He and us together can’t handle). But then the other part of me said “that’s not what she needs to hear”. So I just shut up and let her talk. For me, watching the kids grieve, is harder than dealing with my own grief.

There are some things in life that just stick with you. And no matter what you do, you just can’t stop thinking about them. So I started thinking about the “why”. Why did God take Christina from us? Why did God take my kids Mother? Why did he take Guy & Jackie’s daughter? Why did He take my wife? All I could come up with was…..I don’t know. God hasn’t revealed this to me. I firmly believe that He will not bring me to, what he can’t bring me through. And He has strategically placed the right people in the right places to help us through this time. Which, of course, got me thinking some more (very dangerous). My logical brain had to examine this from both sides of the equation. All this time we have asked ourselves “why did this happen to us?”, “why did He take her from us?”. We look at the situation as if we are the center of the equation. But what about her? Couldn’t she ask the same question? “Why?”. Why did she have CF? Why did she have to struggle to do the things you and I do with such ease? “Why?” What if, our purpose was to be there for Christina? To make her life easier to live. Gods tool to help bring her through, what he brought her to. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to make myself look like a “holier than thou” person. I certainly don’t feel that way. I was thinking about this as I shared with Alexys my thoughts earlier today. I wanted her to know that she (and her brother) were the realization of a life long dream that Christina had. She (and Andrew) made her life worth living. She (and Andrew) were……her world. She (and Andrew) are evidence, that God will take care of those who love him. And, He will bring us through (using whatever tools he desires), what He brings us to.

Why? I don’t know. What I do know is, that if it weren’t for my kids and the rest of my family and friends, who knows what I would be doing right now. Thank you Lord, for all of your blessings.

Scars

It’s been said that “time heals all wounds”. And to some extent, I guess this is true. But what about the scars that are left behind?

If you did a close examination of me….you will see a number of physical scars. When I was little, I had a bad habit of falling down the stairs, and smacking my head into the cast iron radiator that some genius had installed at the bottom. This resulted in many trips to the hospital for stitches. While the injuries are long healed, if you look closely at my forehead, you will see a scar in the shape of a cross. If you look at the left side of my head (after a good close haircut) you will see yet another scar. This one the result of a young child not listening to his father when he said “DON’T RUN UP THE STAIRS!!!”. So what did I do? Yup. You guessed it. I ran up the stairs. And found the nail that was sticking out of the wall. I remember another time when my brother was “teaching me how to use a chisel”. Lesson #1….when teaching someone how to do something, make sure you know how to do it yourself. As the chisel skipped across my left pinky and ring finger, I remember thinking “OUCH!!! That’s gonna leave a mark”. I went to my Mom and asked for a bandaid (holding my hand behind my back the whole time). She asked me “what for?”. So I showed her my hand. Of course, by this time, the blood from the cuts had just about covered my hand, and I’m sure my Mom thought that I had cut my fingers off. There were many other incidents. Some involved bikes. Trampolines. And most from my own stupidity. Most of these scars, I look back on and get a pretty good laugh. Others, I don’t even remember how they happened.

Today marked the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9-11. I have written several times about my memories of this day. Where I was. What was happening. The events that transpired afterwards. And like many, I still get a little choked up when I see footage of this event. I remember a trip I took to New York City back in 2007. I went to “Ground 0”. And even 6 years later, you could still see the physical scars on some of the surrounding buildings. A constant reminder of an event that occurred years before. These scars though, didn’t bring with them a chuckle like the scars I have. Instead, it brought tears to my eyes, and a lump to my throat. I thought of all the people that lost there lives that day. As I was recalling my trip, and thinking about the different scars that we carry, it occurred to me that every one of us that remembers this horrific day, carries with us a scar from it. Ask anyone where they were on that day. What they were doing. And they will be able to recall (likely in vivid detail) everything. They can recall what they were thinking. What they were feeling. These are the scars that we carry from 9-11. As time goes on, you can begin to see the wounds of that day healing. It’s evident in the way we press forward and refuse to let this get us down. The way we insist on rebuilding. We as a nation are healing from the attacks. But we will always carry with us the scar.

Scars come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, meanings. Some are visible, others aren’t. Some make us laugh as we recall what caused them. While others make us cry. The scar that got me thinking today, wasn’t a physical scar. It wasn’t even anything that happened to me. It was the scar that was left on the families of those who lost a loved one that day. The wife who lost her husband. The husband that lost his wife. The parent’s who lost a child. These scars, in particular, are the ones I’m thinking about today. And it all started with a song I heard on the radio, about a young girl who lost her father in the attacks on 9-11. I don’t usually cry easy. But it took all of about 10 seconds for this song to reduce me to an emotional wreck. And I’ll leave you with this. Hug your kids. Call your parents and tell them you love them. Don’t miss an opportunity to make someone smile, or express to a loved one just how much they mean to you. Because you never know when it will be the last time. And another scar is added to your story.

P.S. Get some tissues ready