Remembering Faith Elizabeth

Remembering Faith Elizabeth

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Over the weekend, Jamie and I drove about 45 minutes north to a small community on the Mississippi River to participate in Eagle Days. Eagle Days is an effort by the Department of Conservation to educate people about the bald eagles that roost and nest along the rivers in the winter. We watched a movie about the bald eagle's near extinction, saw a live eagle program put on by the Wild Bird Sanctuary and watched the eagles fly over the river, hunting for fish. It was cold, but bearable, sunny and an almost-perfect way to spend a winter's day. And then Jamie's phone rang...

His cousin's son, only 21-years young, died unexpectedly in his sleep Friday night. No reason, no explanation, no discernible cause. Conversations of autopsies and 911 calls and the heartbreak of two parents...and innumerable aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, siblings, friends...

We were shocked. Tried to go about our day, keeping this young man and his family in our thoughts and prayers. We'd be talking about eagles one minute, exclaiming over the majestic sight it is to see them soaring above...and our conversation would suddenly shift, to conversation of Jesse, a life gone too quickly. It's safe to say that our thoughts were preoccupied by Jesse's death and the heartbreak of his parents. Because though we cannot know their pain or their circumstance, we know the pain of walking this earth when your child does not.

And so, many times throughout the day and into the evening, I found myself overcome with tears. Sad for a life cut short...sad for parents that will never be the same, that will miss their child until the day they die...sad at our own individual pain that never quite goes away.

Jesse...Kayla...Leah...Allison...Faith. Lives lost too soon, at various ages and stages, all leaving behind parents that are forced to figure out how to move forward when it feels as though the world around you has stopped moving. I know now that I will think about my child every day of my life. For the rest of my life. I have figured out how to move to honor her and remember her and how to be happy more than sad.

But, on days like these, those sad moments creep in because it so immediately puts you right back into that place of your own pain. Knowing how heart-wrenching it is to walk this path and continue on. It is a reminder of memories that haunt and hurt. And memories that bring smiles.

Though we did not know Jesse well, I will use this as a reminder to live life to the fullest because once again, the reminder exists that life has no guarantees. So if there is something you want to do, do it. If there is somewhere you want to go, go there. If there is someone you want to know, meet them. If there is something you want to be, be it. For life is short, without a guarantee and all too often, we are reminded of that too late for someone's son or daughter.


Friday, January 6, 2012

What I've Learned

As we begin a new year, I am reflecting on the past and looking to the future. I could wax poetic here about all the profound things I've learned. And truly, there are many...but that is a post for a different evening. Tonight, it's mostly about what my family has taught me.

What 2011 taught me...
1) Family matters - Forgive the cliche, but we spent New Year's weekend in Cincinnati with my family. We have grown to include my mom and dad, myself and the hubby, two sisters and their hubbies, another sister and her SO (significant other, since a man of 40 can't be called a "boyfriend" without cringing), and one adorable, gifted, and highly intelligent (I might be biased) niece and nephew. Seriously though, my almost-3-year old nephew has to be the most adorable, smartest child. Ever. Really.

What I so enjoyed about the weekend was the ebb and flow of it all. There were no schedules...nothing we "had" to do. We celebrated a belated Christmas together and opened presents. There was hysterical laughter over gifts of Orange Slices (I think you had to be there) that led to veiled threats and secretly swiped pieces of candy for the next several hours.

The weekend included good natured ribbing from the previously mentioned SO, who is a SERIOUS sports fan, to my hubby, who likes to get as much as he gives. So, the SO wore a jersey of a team he loves that my hubby detests, coincidentally with our last name. It had the desired effect...laughter.

Wine was drunk (drank?)...anywhooo...lots of wine, and beer, and champagne. Pretty sure that the trash and recycling company for my parents are convinced that a bunch of drunks were spending the weekend there. Games were played. Puzzles were put together.

"Apples to Apples" was the game of choice for the weekend. If you've never played, a brief summary is to say that you basically predict what someone else will say. It's a fun, funny, ridiculous game. The best part is that as the game is played, the discussions over answers turns into a sort of courtroom drama! Everyone begins to defend their answers, and you hear the most ridiculous things. Examples include...

"The potato is an undervalued vegetable."
"Whipped cream is more creative than DaVinci?!"
"Spiders are more arrogant than lawyers."

These are seriously some of the conversations that were had...and we got hours and hours of laughter out of them. They will give us stories for years to come.

I got to watch the hubby and the SO bond over a puzzle...yes, sir. A nearly 35-year old and a 40-year old chatting over a puzzle, bonding, and frequently celebrating the sheer joy of finding that "just right" piece that fit in that incessantly difficult spot! I heard "Shanananaaaa..." in celebration more times that I can count.

2) Breaking tradition can be fun...We arrived in OH coincidentally on my parents' 39th wedding anniversary. So, breaking with tradition, my parents invited us (and one sister that lives in town) to join them for dinner in celebration. The other sisters weren't in town yet, but we got to enjoy a lovely dinner with my parents. My favorite part was asking my parents about 39 years of marriage. "What was your best decision?" "What was the decision you were most unsure of that turned out okay?" "What have you learned?" It was cool, invaluable, and reaffirming.

3) Time flies. I looked around at my family this weekend and saw a changed dynamic. My "baby" sister that used to go by "mini-me" because she looked so much like me now goes by a different title - Mommy. She is a mother to 2 beautiful children. An amazing mother - and married to a man that is a wonderful father. It is difficult to realize just how grown-up she is because to me, she will always be "mini-me." Also, realizing how grown-up she is just reminds me how old I am! : )

4) My sisters (and me) have chosen incredible life partners. I love all of the men that have walked into my life through my sisters. I enjoy their company, their values, their humor, their wit, and their patience. Patience, because coming into this family has to be a bit like walking into a den of wolves. We are fiercely close and we love loudly and without reservation. I think it took these men some time to adjust to our chaos. The noise is deafening sometimes...but so sweet. It was the noise of four sisters living in a house where "interrupting" was not really in our vocabulary. I often joke that if you didn't learn to just keep talking, you never got heard. It has changed from that sound to one of a different kind of family - different politics, different viewpoints, conservatives and liberals, sports fans and hunters, women - and men. Laughter, the clink of glasses, the cheers over a puzzle and the arguments over the creativity of whipped cream (you really had to be there) makes us a new family. One I I cherish. So, to my family...I know that traveling and coordinating to be together is not always easy, but I am again reminded of how important it is. Because I know that when I'm 90, I will still remember days like the ones we just shared. And I'll still be able to tell you why a potato is an undervalued vegetable.