Remembering Faith Elizabeth

Remembering Faith Elizabeth

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just a Car

It is, after all, just a car.

My sweet, red 2001 Mazda Protege is no more. It officially has a new owner, sold this morning after some new problems became apparent that were out of our financial and emotional capacity to try and fix. So, in the last 48 hours I went from hoping we'd be able to CPR the "little car that could" once more to mourning the loss of my little car. The "go-cart." The "saki runner." "Betty-Lou." All our nicknames for my very first car that I ever bought. Ten years old and 160,00 miles. And rationally, I do know that it's JUST a car. But in my heart, I miss that little car, and I admit that I shed a few tears over losing it. Because in my heart, it wasn't just a car, but it was full of memories and my life over the last ten years.

It was the first car I ever bought. It had a sunroof, and I loved that sunroof!

Tracy and I drove to Colorado and through the mountains in that car.

Jamie and I drove to the old Busch Stadium for our first date in that car.

I've been stuck in traffic in that car more times than I care to count...once on the interstate between here and my parents' house in Ohio that had me turn off the engine and read a book for awhile!

That was the car that I brought Jamie home from the hospital in after his colon surgery five years ago. It was the car that drove us to tell his dad that Jamie had cancer.

That car took us to the hospital where we had Faith...and back home when we came home without her.

I've replaced the tires, the brakes, even the driver's side window (and many, many more parts) multiple times. There were stains on the seats and on the floormats, most of which I couldn't tell you the source of and a crack in the windshield that's probably been there for seven plus years. The front quarter panel had a dent from a fender bender two years ago. The #3 radio station preset button has been missing for years and the keyless entry on the driver's side door broke some time back.

Nonetheless...I loved that car.

I loved all that it held...the memories, the way the seat fit me just right...the way the car felt like mine and mine alone. I fit in the seat "just so" and was most comfortable zipping around town in that - despite the miles and it's imperfections. It just holds so much of my history and so many memories. Jamie reminds me that we'll have other cars that will hold new memories, and I know he's right. I know it was the right thing to sell that poor little car and let it go. Yet, I can't help feeling like I've lost a good friend - one that was unconditionally there and available, no questions asked, who's seen and done everything with me for most of my adult life. I have laughed in that car, cried in that car, maybe even napped a time or two in that car. My brain knows it was the right thing and truly, the best thing, to do. My heart will get there eventually.

It is, after all, just a car. Or not...


Sunday, December 26, 2010

A morning run

I hope this finds all of you rested from Christmas. For the first time in years, we had a genuine white Christmas. Several inches fell on Christmas Eve and we had a beautiful white layer covering everything when we woke up on Christmas morning. It was, as Jamie said, the "perfect recipe...clean roads, but snow covering everything else!" We spent the day with Jamie's family and enjoyed the cacophony brought by our young niece and nephews who couldn't contain their excitement at Santa's (and grandma's and grandpa's) generosity. It was a pretty perfect way to spend the day. Our house is now a wreck, but it's a nice kind of brought on by plenty of joy and celebration.

Laundry is going and I'm relaxing on the couch, watching an old Disney classic, "Swiss Family Robinson." I awoke at a very early hour this morning to go join in the Frostbite Series - a 5-race series held in Forest Park throughout the winter here in St. Louis. Now, I registered for this about a month ago and thought it sounded like a great way to keep myself motivated at running through the winter months. However, when I woke up this morning before 7:00 a.m. and found that the windchill was 12 degrees, I started rethinking that position. But, I got my butt out of bed and called Tracy, a dear friend who had also signed up for this madness, to make sure she was up and going. We headed out, and I am proud to say that I successfully ran 2 miles and finished the course in 25 minutes!

Now, I know that to some out there, this might be laughable...after all, 2 miles is not all that far and a 12-minute mile is not exactly a record-setting pace. But - for me - I accomplished something I've never done before. I found myself incredibly proud of completing the race at my intended pace and running the whole thing.

I have never been much of a runner. I played soccer when I was younger and through high school, but as I've gotten older, I've found running to be something I didn't think I could really do. My body didn't care for it, it hurt all the "softer" parts of my body that jiggled when I ran, and my feet practically screamed when I tried. Well, with losing weight as a goal in mind and Tracy encouraging me to start small with running 1/4 mile at a time, I have worked my way up to what I accomplished today. (A good pair of well-fitting running shoes has helped, too.) I have found a new respect for my body and a new pride in working my way up to a goal I had set. Turns out, I can run. I don't see myself as a marathoner, but I can see 5Ks in my future.

For now, I'm going to enjoy the rest of this beautiful day on my couch. I see a good Danielle Steele book, a Rams game, and leftovers in our near future. Merry Christmas! Hope you get to enjoy your day, too.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow Day

If you are a teacher, you will understand the joy I felt at 5:49 a.m. today when my phone rang...yes, a snow day was called. Except to call it an "ice day" would have been more appropriate. After hardly any precipitation actually falling, but doing so at the perfect temperatures onto already frozen ground, we were treated to our first ice storm of the year. A very thin glaze was left on everything...the sidewalks, the driveways, the roads, the cars. It was treacherous to say the least, and a snow day was very much called for this morning.

So, today I set about using the time. We grocery shopped (so, apparently, did everyone else) at the local store that about once a month has their $10 off $50 offer. We ran back out to get a forgotten ingredient when I started baking snickerdoodle cookies, and I have quite happily spent the last several hours baking and cooking and feeling like I am actually getting something accomplished. It is truly amazing what can get done when I don't have to go to work!

I am just about done wrapping presents...and Jamie is at Walgreens getting more tape so that I can finish. Dinner is cooking, and finishing up some school stuff is last on my list for the day. I feel rested and less stressed than I have in weeks. Now - if only I could figure out how to pick the winning lottery numbers and do this EVERY day! Happy Snow Day to all!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Time of Year

We've had a very nice weekend...and one that felt very deserved after a hard few weeks recently. We were in Hermann for the weekend at a fundraising event for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society that we attend every year. We wandered through the streets of Hermann yesterday and made it home before the temperature really started to drop. We went out to dinner on Main Street and drove through the beautifully lit trees...and I finally, finally felt like I was okay with Christmas being here.

I have not been myself lately...I don't feel like myself and I just generally feel like I'm in a huge funk. I am short-tempered and snippy with my students at school and with Jamie at home. I feel as though I have absolutely no patience with anyone or anything, and I can literally count on one hand the number of people that have NOT worn my nerves thin recently. I don't want anything to do with anyone...I feel as though I am hanging on by a thread.

Now, "normal" people will remind me that it's December and the holidays can be stressful...particularly when you spend 8 hours a day with 10-year olds. : ) What a joy...but in my mind, I genuinely feel like it's more that just that. I know it in my soul. What I feel isn't "normal"'s my life.

Last weekend, I began crying - seriously crying - out of the clear blue, for no apparent reason. Jamie just stared at me, bewildered, because it was literally brought on by nothing obvious. When I was finally able to blubber out something about, "I don't know what's wrong with me," his response was so wise..."Erica, did you think the wound would ever heal?" Ahh...sigh...

And, duh. What's "wrong" with me isn't actually's our new normal. It's realizing that another holiday is upon us without Faith...that my Christmas tree is without gifts for her and no one is asking me what size clothes she's in this year, (though a couple of friends have remembered her and asked what they could do to honor her, which we greatly appreciate.) It's just the emotion of the time of year, all tied up in one. It's putting ornaments on the tree, knowing full-well that those ornaments on the bottom branches shouldn't be there because we should be trying to figure out how to keep a 16-month old from grabbing onto them and breaking them. It's sadly knowing that everything we have of our daughter fits in a beautiful, hand-made cedar trunk my dad made for us for her birthday. I'm grateful for the trunk and for the few items we have - but I'm still sad that I'm not tripping on toys and wishing that my toddler would just sit still. All the normal things that parents are frustrated by - see...we would give anything for those moments. I would give anything for the smiles, the laughs, even the frustrations that I know are normal. I know we cannot have them with Faith. But there is something about this time of the year that makes it seem ever more emotional and the hole in our hearts just a little bit more raw.

This is not an easy time of year...before Faith, I never really understood why people felt so much stress around the holidays. Yes, there was a lot to get done, but my nice, normal, "Norman Rockwell" family meant that I lived a pretty stress-free life at the holidays. Now, it's different.

Now, I struggle with whether or not to send out Christmas cards this year, because I just don't really know what to say. I avoid parties and social things because they require more energy than I have. And when I go, I plan strategically and make sure I have "buffers" (a.k.a. good friends) around so that I don't actually have to mingle with or talk to new people. New people means conversation and questions I just don't have the energy for. Socializing can be exhausting...and frankly, I'd rather spend my time with Jamie or our families and close friends. With the people I don't have to entertain and can just relax and be myself. With people where no explanation is required and pajamas are an acceptable form of dress.

To someone that has not been through this, all of this may sound strange. Not that anyone expects you to get over it, but they do expect you'll be "fine" one day and move forward. They don't understand why going to parties and events is stressful and out of your comfort zone.

I don't want anyone to think we are wallowing around in our grief because we aren't. Work, going to classes, seeing friends and family, laughter - are all a part of our lives. We enjoy being with friends and our nieces and nephews, but it is not the same life...and so my energy is different, my time is different and my priorities are different. We enjoy our life, but is different. It just it what it is.

We think about her everyday...when I see a dress in a size she might be wearing, a toy she might like, or a Christmas ornament that I'm hanging FOR her, instead of WITH her...she is always there.

Take a moment tonight and cherish the toddler that won't sit still, the 3-year old that is trying your patience, the 10-year old that thinks he knows everything. Love them harder tonight...just because you can.