Random Thoughts From An Avid Author

The In Between

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There are defined points on my timeline that have molded my spirit. Those stinging pinpricks that have changed the way I interpret life as it glides past me with deep definition.

When I became a wife…a mother…a devoted writer…those points are elevated and celebrated often.

But there have been distinct times that have gouged a piece of my heart out, leaving it to heal on its own…pulling me downward instead of up. Days that I know I’ll always remember, but that I have a hard time swallowing. The hard times that have made me stronger, but that have given me defining scars even though they are invisible to most of you.

Today is one of those days that changed my course of life in one swift movement. A child who would have turned 14 today, he isn’t here, but I feel him move. To some that may seem strange, but if you’ve ever lost an important person in your life, someone you truly loved, whether through death, a parting of ways, or any other measure of separation, I know you understand what it feels like.

My twins were born 2 1/2 months too early. At only 3 pounds each, my husband could slip his wedding band over their forearm. I had no idea that 15 days after their birth, a lifelong friend, a brother they didn’t yet know, made his entrance into the world as well. It wasn’t until 4 years later that our paths crossed. The smiling faces of the Pacocha family standing on the front porch of our new house. Strangers we didn’t know, but immediately grew attached too, especially when our boys connected over Thomas the Tank Engine, Star Wars lightsabers, and Nerf gun wars. Friendship was instantaneous for all of us.

With birthdays so close together, July 1st for my twins and July 15th for Andrew, we shared a number of neighborhood birthday parties. Andrew was the adopted triplet to Alex and Austen. It was natural, that amazing bond that they had, it stuck. Fate intertwined the life of our family with theirs.

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Years later, in late 2010, I slid to the floor, laundry basket in hand as I listened to the voice of Andrew’s mom whisper the words “Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia” on the other end of the phone. When cancer slithers into your life, it steals the breath from your lungs. Even if it hasn’t compressed your body, it still kills the joy when you know it resides in someone you love. Andrew was and still is, like a son to me. Even though he isn’t here physically, he still resides within the in between. At one point, I could wrap my arms around him. Now I can’t. And even though he’s left arms empty, he hasn’t disappeared from the memories I have of him. There are so many lives that have been changed because of the life he lived.

Cancer sucks. I despise the evil it instills into the world on a daily basis. The way it destroys things, in body, in mind, and in the cosmos of loved ones watching it take over like a ravenous beast through the eyes of someone they know.

My kids are quiet today. It’s hard not to be humbled when you know someone important is missing. Andrew is missing, and it isn’t fair. It will never be fair. But life isn’t fair. It isn’t meant to be.

So instead of cowering in the emptiness we feel, we relish the time that we had with him. My kids have defined points on their timeline too. The moment we lost Andrew, when he slipped away from us, that pinprick stings red hot for them today. I see it. A mother just knows when her kids are hurting. I can’t ease the burn, but I can remind them that the peaks and valleys of life don’t define us. They shape us.

To Andrew John. Your light lingers. You left your mark on all of us, but especially Alex and Austen. When the sun sets tonight, and the magnificent sky blazes orange, I know that is your sign to let us all know you’ve never truly left. And you never will.

~ VSK

Random Thoughts From An Avid Author

A Video of Memories

The 13th birthday festivities continue! You know creative little me would do something extra special for my boys, right?! They loved this, and we’ve watched and re-watched it a hundred times…laughing, crying and reminiscing in between.
Let’s just say two more HUGE surprises are left to unfold before Sunday. Our boys didn’t want anything for their birthday. NOTHING. No matter how hard we tried to get them to think of something. So instead of presents, we’ll make memories. In some pretty cool ways.

* Music – “I Lived” OneRepublic

Random Thoughts From An Avid Author

A Thirteen Year Long Love Letter

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Alexander & Austen,

This is probably one of the hardest blog posts I’ve ever had to write as your Mom. Not because it makes me sad, but it does make me sorrowful. Yes, sad and sorrowful mean two different things in my mind.

Sad means emotionally broken or beaten…like when you have your heart broken for the very first time, or when you don’t make the swim team, but your best friend does.

Sorrowful means ill tempered feelings or unease within your spirit. That’s me. On the eve of your 13th birthday.

13 short years ago your dad and I welcomed the two of you into this world 10 weeks too early. Alex came first, his tiny 3lb. 7oz. frame absolutely perfect as he took his first breath at 10:49am. Austen, you followed ten minutes later, feet first, weighing in at a whopping 3lb. 9oz., but the most frail out of the two of you.

Mom was exhausted after you arrived. I had been in the hospital for an entire week with preterm labor before you came. But despite the doctor’s ill wishes, you chose to make your debut even when we weren’t ready for to.

The first few hours of your life, Austen, were critical. Although I had fallen asleep a half hour after your birth because my body wouldn’t let me stay awake any longer, your Dad and Nena and Pop waited at the NICU nursery window for hours waiting for an update about you. Things were kind of bleak there for a while, to be honest. Later in the day, they transported you to a bigger hospital with a bigger NICU unit. You needed to be somewhere you could be watched over a little closer. That meant leaving your big brother Alex behind. We didn’t like that at all.

A week later, Dad and I had Alex moved to be with you. We thought it was pretty important to have you both together. For heaven’s sake, you had spent six months together in my womb! We knew you shouldn’t be apart if you didn’t have to be.

Alex, you were a champ from the very beginning. You were breathing on your own from the start, unlike your little brother. When you were about 6 weeks old, you developed an intestinal disease called NEC. It happens to preemies, especially little boys. You were gravely ill. Dad and I were told you had a very small chance of survival. Instead of panicking though, we prayed. God had brought you this far, we knew He wouldn’t let you slip away. Not now. After a long battle, you won, not to our surprise of course. Although Austen came home about twenty days before you did, you won the hearts of the NICU staff with your fighting spirit. That same spirit is alive and well in you today.

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Fast forward…your little brother Adison fell into our arms almost four years after your birth. I had two toddlers and a newborn. At times, I wondered what I was thinking. But then I realized it wasn’t my doing, it was His doing. God gave Dad and I the three of you. We simply couldn’t ask for more. Ever.

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I have watched your heart break when your very best friend passed away in 2010 from Leukemia. But I still see his presence in pieces of you. The three of you were only 15 days apart in age. It was destiny to know one another, love one another, and share your early childhood with one another. Although he isn’t here to celebrate the teenage milestone with the two of you, I know he’s here in spirit. Andrew was the triplet you never had…blood brothers for life.

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I have watched you walk out of public school and into the realms of homeschool. What a difference this had made in your lives. In my life. Not just academically, but having you home everyday is pretty cool, ya know. I know I may get on your nerves sometimes when I have to make you refocus on the subject at hand, and sometimes yes, you get on my nerves too when I have to make you refocus. But that’s what kids and parents do, right? But I can honestly say I don’t want you to go back to public school, because I’d miss you. A lot. When people ask me, “Don’t you miss having time to yourself?” I have always smiled and said, “Never.” And I never will.

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Now here we are. Today. I remember the way I felt. My labor had started right about now. Back labor. It hurts. More than I could ever tell you. But the result left your Dad and I in awe. Scared yes, but in awe.

You still give us both that feeling today. In awe. Of who you were, who you are, and what you’ll eventually become. That’s pretty special. And it moves mountains in my heart and in my mind to know that you’re mine. For a lifetime and then some.

I feel pretty honored to be a mom. Your mom. Don’t you ever forget it.

Happy Birthday, Alex and Austen! You have made me so proud, and you continue to do so.

Love you more than Soy Chai Tea Lattes, books, Pandora, Evanescence, Converse, H & M…and more. To put it bluntly, I love you to the moon and back a million and one times over. That’s a lot. And I mean it.

XOXO,

Mom

Random Thoughts From An Avid Author

Finding 90 In Heaven

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Today is a day I wish to sit and stare at the heavens, and somehow, hear the celebration of a life that has been and will forever be, worth celebrating.

Mema would have been 90 today. She left us just two months shy of this milestone that many rarely see. If only I could have watched her blow out the candles to her birthday cake, even though I know she wouldn’t have even realized we were celebrating a special birthday. Her birthday. I would have been able to capture the memory, even though she would have been unable to hold onto it.

Looking through pictures this morning, I found one of my favorites that was taken Christmas of 2000. My twins were only five months old. The expression on Mema’s face as she snuggles close to Austen is priceless. When she found out she was expecting her first great-grandchild, she was ecstatic. When my husband and I announced she would be receiving two great-grandchildren, she was over the moon. She wrote me a note at my baby shower for the twins. It’s a note that I keep in my bedside table, that I refer back to often. Sometimes I just need to hear her voice. In her words…

“My dreams were fulfilled when you and Darren told me you were expecting my first great-grandchild. Then the real thrill came when I found out I can hold one in each arm. Just can’t wait.”

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The magnitude of loss is felt daily, but the hurt intensifies on days like today when her absence feels somewhat unjust. Yes, she lived a magnificent life, surrounded by loving friends and family members, but if you’d only known Mema, you would know she deserved 90 years more. She was a rare gem. One who lived through mounds of heartache after losing her husband in her early 50’s, the tragic and unexpected loss of her son in her early 70’s, and the debilitating monster of Alzheimer’s that eventually stole her away from the rest of us.

Why do bad things happen to good people? I hear that question alot. I’ve pondered the answer myself, but then I am quickly reminded that His ways are not always our ways. Mema’s life was constructed the way He intended. And in realization, I know her faith in God and that of her family is what allowed her to survive the anguish and grief that many people in this world allow to swallow them whole. She never once allowed it. Instead, she woke up every morning with the valid intention to fill her world with GRACE.

That’s a word that resonates with me more than any other word with Mema. GRACE. Without it, I don’t think she would have been able to survive the life that she was handed at times. Yet in each heart-wrenching instance of emotional and physical pain, she found it. And the smile on her face, and the tone in her voice always proved it.

In my heart I know her celebration today is one of unbelievable stature. After years of being without her beloved husband, her sister, parents and that of her son, she is finally gathered at the table with those she missed so greatly for so many years, slicing up a delectable cake, and sharing it with those that missed so many birthdays beside her. I believe her 90th birthday, without question, is the best birthday she’s ever had.

And in that I can find PEACE, because I know she is filled with immeasurable GRACE today.

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With His Grace ~

VSK