Good Grief

Good Grief

Sunday, July 27, 2014

As Jake called her...LaWanda!!!

It's crazy when your day is just moving along as usual, spending the day at the pool, refereeing kids-then you pick up your phone and see a message that changes the whole day. Had a message that a dear family friend/past neighbor has passed away after a courageous battle with...cancer. I knew her most of my life-we first met when my oldest sis worked with her at a local record store. Later my sis and her moved out together with another roomie. As much as I hated to see my sis move out I thought it was way cool. I'm sure they shared some times that they would like to forget they shared, but also know that those times formed a life-long friendship. My sister eventually moved to the ATL but she stayed here and we kept in touch with drop-ins after she became manager of the record store. Then, after I grew up and Shane and I had 2 kiddos  we moved into our second house next door to her and her husband.  I was excited, as well as my parents, knowing there was someone close by if we needed anything. I was busy raising boys, getting settled in, but always knew she was next door. We'd catch up in the yard as neighbors do. She and her husband did not have children but never minded our crazy kids. She was always excited to see them out playing and loved having them "trick or treat" every October. Jake never got her name correct but she was fine being called "LaWanda." They even invited us over to their property so the boys could fish. One of the best afternoons and pictures of that day to prove it.  Think Shane had as much fun as my boys. She entertained us with a picnic after fishing.
 She kept a regular schedule and every afternoon we could count on her pulling in the neighborhood with a toot of her horn and a wave for all of us.  She may have never had kids but she always had fur babies, loved them like crazy. I remember one being very sick and her taking it to Auburn or UGA to have her looked at. I've always said you can read a persons character by how they treat their pets. Obviously, she was a women with character. Loving, caring heart. She worked hard with her husband and I always admired how they spent time with each other. Taking overnight trips to ATL, her husband sometimes surprising her with concert tickets. They were sweet to watch and I was sometimes envious of the childless life they led since I was in the throes of new mommy-hood.
One of my most favorite stories about her was when she got Shane...good. One particular winter night the boys had a ritual of stripping down and running naked before their bath.  This particular night our new puppy and the boys took off through the backyard to our storage building, which has a large light that lights up our whole backyard. As a mom that likes to catch her kids on video I was filming the boys when all of the sudden I heard Shane let out a true Talladega yell---Woohoo---and to my surprise the grown man had stripped down naked and was tearing off after the boys...buck naked, puppy in tow. Thankfully, I was so surprised that I dropped the video camera while I was yelling my infamous, "Shhhannnee!" So no video of that. However, a few days later she called and told me to tell Shane that she saw the whole thing while she was in her backyard with the dogs. The man was mortified I tell you. Mortified..and it took lots to mortify Shane Richardson. She truly had us both believing that she saw the WHOLE thing. It was  later she told us my sister had told her about the fiasco. Good one on Shane!!
Time passed and they eventually, sadly, put the house on the market to move into their dream home on their property. We would see them in passing but had lost touch, as time and distance sometimes causes. I had heard she was diagnosed after a long road of tests. Kept up with her through her family. I kept saying I wanted to see her, but remember out of respect-that sometimes privacy is the best in situations like this. As selfishly as I would have liked to have seen her I remember how I wanted Shane all to myself during his last days and can only imagine her husband felt the same. Today, as I was thinking and praying for him I couldn't help but wonder if having a spouse to pass without having children with each other is easier or harder in the grief of it all. I was thinking about the day Shane passed and how I at least had them to keep me company, be a warm body beside me, be a reason to wake up the next day. Or is it a bit simpler when you only have to deal with your own grief, having to deal with just your own heartbreak and not having to worry about your children's heart breaking as well. Either way my heart aches for him tonight. His other half is gone, never to return. He will eventually have to face going to work without her being there, and worse return to an empty home that they built together. I'm assuming he was her caretaker for the past few months and so there will be an emptiness there, a different kind. As a caregiver, time is spent making sure all of your loved ones needs are met, different from when they are healthy, an almost urgency. When they are gone-that urgency leaves yet another different empty hole. Life seems divided into before cancer and after cancer. My prayer tonight is that he, her husband-remembers the sweet times as her caregiver, that he puts away the unpleasantness of after cancer. I pray that he remembers all of the before cancer times, those weekends away, picking blueberries, building a dream home, just doing life with his wife, best friend, co-worker. I pray he knows he did all he could for her just by loving her. Sometimes love is not even a match for cancer. Tonight, I hope he finds peace knowing his crazy sweet wife is in the arms of her Savior. The Savior that I'm sure she was ready to meet. Although sadness filled her heart of leaving him behind-she had confidence in knowing he would see her once again and that she had confidence in knowing he could carry on. I pray God comforts her family and He fills the emptiness that only He can fill. Heart breaks for them, but so proud that she has beat stupid cancer. No more pain. Just her and Jesus and maybe an old neighbor welcoming her Home reminiscing about one cold night of streaking in Brookwood. "Lawanda/LaWana--you did it, you beat it!!! Congrats on your new and forever HOME!!

Friday, July 11, 2014


Mothering  = PAIN!

If there is one thing I always wanted to be it was a mother. That was really my only ambition in life growing up. I can't remember ever wanting to be anything more, other than maybe a dancer in NYC. When I was a little girl I constantly was a mother to my many dolls-doing the things I saw my mother do. Bathing those plastic faces, changing their clothes, washing  clothes. Just being a pretend mommie. As time moved on even into high school I knew I wanted to be a mom. Then my first nephew was born and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to be a mom of a little boy. I didn't know I could love another human being like I loved that little boy. Fast forward a few years i met Shane and the love I had for him just made things clear that our love for each other had to be multiplied.
I often worried that I may be the sister of three that wouldn't be able to have children. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. We easily got pregnant, I easily carried my babies and had relatively uneventful deliveries (minus one small drama queen), and did fairly well post-partum---ummmm many tearful nursings, mastitis 5x, sitting on inflatable rings, all just seem distant memories. Any of the bad was far outweighed by the sweet bundle of joy I held.
Jake, was our firstborn and was the wrath of Shane and mines nervousness as first time parents. Where the heck is the how-to manual?? Even with all the nervousness he was a great baby. We became best buddies, fast. I provided all he needed at his beck and call. Thankfully, Shane wanted me to be a stay-at-home mom, or maybe he knew I would never be able to leave this child, so he made a way for me not to go insane. Jake and I easily settled into our routine of just he and I. He was my world, day in and day out. Then at 5ish he was Shane's world. I relinquished him into his daddy's hands for the rest of the day. While I cooked, Shane and Jake did their daddy/son bonding. Thankfully, Shane was a hands-on daddy. He enjoyed bathing, reading and just being daddy when he was home from work and on the weekends. We just could not get enough of this little human. 3 years later we were blessed with Sweet Sam. He easily melted into our way of life, minus the first-born requesting "put him back in your belly" at first meeting. Jake's life didn't change much, just wasn't then one and only. He still recieved ample attention from Shane and I. To a fault, they were my world. It was years before Shane and I were comfy enough leaving them overnight, rarely did we even leave them for a date-night. Thankfully, we agreed that God had given us these gifts so they were ours to love and take care of. If I could I would change some of that---I would definitely do more date-nights if I had a do-over.
Time ticked on--we were in our groove. Shane working his way up the career ladder and me doing what I dreamed of all of my life. Those dreams never included crying, uncontrollably, ugly face-hiccup crying while dropping my firstborn off at 3 day pre-school. Those dreams never included feeling like an arm or leg was missing when he was away from me for even 4 hours. Those dreams didn't include being anxious about my second born being born and me having to spend overnight in the hospital...without my firstborn. Those dreams never included trying to figure out how to give them equal time after #2 was born and feeling guilty when #1 entertained himself while I tended to #2. Those dreams never included me having adult form separation anxiety when firstborn started to school. Manifested itself into full-blown debilitating anxiety disorder. Dreams never included Zoloft to be able to function daily. Dreams are funny that way, always leaving the details out.

Those dreams did include, however, pink, curls and all things girlie. Not the way we'd planned...that's a whole other post...allergic reactions and all. Nonetheless-God knew I needed the unconditional love of a little girl. Just when we were getting into the swing of things our sweet girl arrived.Thankfully, #1 had #2 while I tended to #3. Whew.

All in all I was living my dream.

Fortunately and unfortunately my dreams never included cancer, and me being left to parent #1, #2 and #3 alone. Still has to be my biggest question. Why did God choose me to do this alone. Unlike divorce and other circumstances-I did not choose this way.
My dreams were Shane and I raising these 3 TOGETHER, him retiring at 55 so we could be totally hands-on parents/grandparents. Then I woke up!!!

Now, I'm left with one teenage boy that seems to blame all that's wrong with the world on the one that gave him her all. One that's on the brink of puberty-please God stop time-I want #2 to stay the same. And one little girl that's attached at my hip-which is good and bad.

Right now, today, the one that breaks my heart is #1. I know it's probably being 14, hormones, boy turning into man, father dying, etc. All of that is enough to make me want to melt into a puddle of tears but right now what breaks my heart the most is ...he doesn't like me. I embarrass him, he thinks I'm probably the dumbest person on the planet. We were offered the opportunity to go somewhere as a family-#2 and #3 were good but #1's words were-"if it's with you, then No!" I literally think I saw pieces of my heart crumble to the floor.

Where'd my little boy go? Where'd the little boy go that hated being away from his mom, we were buddies, the one that thought I hung the moon, stars and sunshine?

I think of Shane and how he treated his mom, as we affectionately call Pooh. He gave her that name while he was in high school. They were always close. He was always so affectionate toward her, generous with his hugs to lil Pooh. I remember while dating him feeling a little twinge of jealousy at his affection toward her at a specific breakfast.  We had surprised him by driving to Brewton Parker ( I took off work and everything) to see him play ball. We arrived while the team was eating breakfast-he hugged his mom robustly and gave me a sideways hug, if a hug at all.  Later after raking his fanny over the coals about his lack of affection toward me he reminded me that his coach benched him that game after seeing me there--said I messed up his game, that he couldn't pitch when I was around. Haha! Oh to have that kind of hold on someone---whatever. Anyway-I loved how he treated his mom-I'd always heard the way a man treats his mom is a sign of how he will treat his wife.
That being said-pray for #1's future wife.
Moms of sons-please tell me it's a stage. Please tell me his affection for me will change. I can't tell you the last time I was able to hug him and show him affection. He's bigger than me now so I can't force it on him. After his comment about not wanting to go if it was with me, #2 had chimed in about not wanting to go with me-I heard myself saying out loud..."maybe I should have been the one that died and your dad be the one here." No comment from #1. After I said it I wished I hadn't-but then that's how I felt. #2 immediately said-can I take a friend? He saw my hurt, I know #1 did too but never addressed it. Of course #3 was reminding me of how much she loved me-unconditional love.

This is one of those times I wished if love could bring someone back it would. I need Shane to show my boys how to treat a woman. I need him to show them that it's ok to be affectionate. I need him to show them how he loved me. I need him to show them how a man loves a woman. I need him to show Molly how a woman is to be treated. How she should never settle for anything less. But since love can't bring him back-I'm asking God to help me help them. Equip me God to show them all of these things. God soften the heart of #1-remind him of the depths of his mamas love for him. I think about Jesus and His love for Mary. I want that. I want to know that they love me and appreciate me. Remind him that we are in this together that I am not the enemy. Father, help me teach them the way to love a woman the way Christ loved his church. Help me raise Molly to seek a godly man, one that will set her apart and never settle for less. Father, help me help them. Help me Father, to love these 3 that you gave Shane and I -knowing how it all would turn out, knowing I would be doing this without him. Give me strength, wisdom and direction. Father God, heal our hearts. In Jesus Name. Amen.