Middle School Dropout

Middle school has started. (Insert panic and chaos here πŸ˜‰). I am a momma on edge right now! He got all advanced classes, to include advanced world history, not sure how you get advanced world history when you’ve never even taken regular world history but whatever. All in all it’s been a good start to the school year. Aidan seems to be enjoying it and isn’t too much of. a miserable cranky person from having to get up at 5:45am every day so I’m going to call it a win! πŸ™ŒπŸΌ

You know what does suck though?!?! All the projects! Seriously teachers! We had 1 project in all of his elementary school years and we are on week 4 with his 4th project! I am not a project momma! I can help write essays, do research, math problems (kind of), reading, but not projects. First of all it boggles my mind that advanced classes means more projects. Anyway, just a shout out to all the other non-project working moms (and dads) out there…I feel your pain. Teachers, be kind to us. πŸ‘©β€πŸ«

Aidan is at a new school with only a few of his good friends. Most of them went to a different middle school down the road and he’s still a little salty that he didn’t get to go there but I just keep telling him this is helping him build character. I’m sure you can imagine the eye rolls I get at that one! While he doesn’t enjoy not seeing all his friends everyday he is enjoying changing classes and having more autonomy and independence. Also a win.

We have also move to a video game free household during the week! That means NO FORTNITE! πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌ Can I get a woot-woot from all the other mommas out there? Don’t really have anything else to say about that, just had to share because it has been amazing! My kid is actually pleasant since the video games aren’t even an option. Don’t get me wrong he still asks if exceptions can be made but I haven’t caved yet – just keep telling myself to stay strong! 🀣🀣 #deathtofortnite #momsunite

Anyway, lots of adjustments going on over here at the Smith house. With one in middle school, the other in daycare, a demanding work schedule, travel baseball, rec baseball, and a new puppy 🐢 we are just trying to hold it together! If you happen to come across me and I’m crying in the corner now you will know why. Don’t be alarmed just keep on walking and let me get it out. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜©πŸ˜’

To all you other moms and dads out there feeling the same pain as me right now I’m here for you. Well, not really. I’ve got my own shit to deal with. But you can know that I get you and we should have a drink sometime to commiserate. Until then god speed.

Maggie

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Almost 3

Facebook memories are a blessing and a curse for me sometimes. There is one post in particular that reminds me we are approaching the time of year where my pain began. It reminds me of the light I lost almost 3 years ago and the light I gained at the same time. It reminds me I am about to go through it all again. The wave of pain is coming my way.

This 30 minutes of my life are as clear to me as if they occurred yesterday. Aidan was at flag football practice and it had started to drizzle so Reagan and I headed to the car. We listened to music, chatted, and were just silly together while we waited for her big brother’s practice to be over. She always loved to have photo sessions and that day was no different. Of course we had to take pictures and she had to get all her poses. She would always make sure to inspect them after and if there was a pose missing we took more!

While we were sitting in the car the song “Fight Song” came on the radio. Reagan LOVED this song and knew all the words. She started singing it quietly to herself while watching herself in the side mirror. Of course, I started to video. It was a magical 30 minutes forever etched on my heart.

For those that don’t know “Fight Song” became our/my anthem after Reagan died. We opened her funeral with a moment of silence as the song filled the church. It was a powerful and sobering moment. It was a way to celebrate Reagan and to impart some of her joy and wisdom on to others.

Reagan left light wherever she went and with whoever she came to know. She was the small boat on the ocean. She was the one match that made an explosion. She is my fight song.

That’s why the post from September 10, 2015 reminds me that the end is almost near again. It reminds me of the light she brought into my life everyday with her joyful spirit and her loving approach to others. But more than that it reminds me of the light I gained when we lost her. The loss of a child is not something any parent should have to endure but parents do. I do yet I endure. I can only do so because I understand the light I gained through Reagan’s death. She has taught me just as much in her death as she did in life. We should learn from our children. Learn to lead with love and kindness. Becoming a mother changes you in a deep and profound way. Burying your child changes you in unimaginable ways. As I enter this period of grief and process again what happened 3 years ago I will lean on Reagan for strength. I will lean in with love and fight through it with the hopes of coming out the other side with just a little more grace and hopefully a little peace.

…like a small boat on the ocean…

…I might only have one match but I can make an explosion…

Until next time…

Maggie

Three Birthdays and a Wall

Today we celebrated your 8th Birthday. The third one without you on this earth. That’s almost as many as I got to celebrate with you. We will always celebrate your birthday but tonight I realized that in just a few more years I will have had more of your birthday cake without you than I did with you. That makes me sad because we deserved to have many, many years of birthday cake together. It’s not right.

Today has not been an easy day and I hate that. Today I cried the whole way to work and then sitting at a stoplight I got a text from a close friend and I had a minor meltdown. I had to sit in my car in the parking lot at work waiting for my tears to dry up and my eyes to look less red. I did not want to walk into work and have to answer any questions or get any funny looks. I just wanted to escape and work let’s me do that. I don’t have to focus or think about any of my stuff. It is an escape for me right now.

If I’m honest this past month has not been easy and I hate it. I’m not angry anymore. I’m not sad. Not happy. I just am. I feel like I’m stuck. Not really living just going through the motions. I’ve hit a wall and don’t know how to get over it. I think I always knew this would come for me. I just didn’t know when. I remember back to the parent grief meeting two and a half weeks after your death listening to the mother talk about year two and three being worse than year one. Listening to another mother share that she didn’t hit her wall until almost five years later. My “wall” looks and feels different than how they described it but I’m there. I know I am.

The crazy thing is that I always thought I would have some sort of trigger that would push me to this point. The spot where I just didn’t know what to do next. But I didn’t. There wasn’t any one thing. It just kind of happened. I guess since your death I have had a lot going on that has helped keep me focused on the positive. Buying the boat, becoming pregnant with Ryan, buying our house, starting a new job, Ryan’s birth, and now nothing. It’s just normal, everyday life now. Normal, everyday life that isn’t normal.

Anyway, here I am on your birthday, at my figurative Wall. I miss you like crazy. I wonder what your voice would sound like now, how tall would you be? Would you have cut your hair yet or would it still be those long golden locks? I know you would be obsessed with your baby sister and spend all your time teaching her how to get into trouble and torture your big brother. Oh how I miss you. We all miss you.

I know I will get over my wall. Just don’t know how yet and that is maddening in and of itself. This grief journey thing is for the birds. I just wonder if there is ever an end to this journey. My bet is no but maybe one day I will settle into a peaceful and content place in this journey. Somewhere on the other side of my wall I hope to find that place. Someday. For now, Happy Birthday my sweet daughter. I love you.

#insearchofpeacefulness

#happy8thbirthday

#alwaysmyfightsong

XOXO

~Mom/Maggie

There’s always a choice.

Lately life has been good. Each member of my family is happy, as a family unit we are happy and healthy, I’m enjoying my job, and all in all things are looking up. It wasn’t always that way of course and I (we) didn’t get here overnight. It won’t always stay this way but that’s life. You can’t expect it to always be good. But when it’s good you’ve got to enjoy it. I remember being in a pit, a deep dark pit I didn’t know how I was going to find my way out of. I knew I would. That was never a question. Not for me. The question was when and how.

The When

No particular moment. It just happened over time. It happened as time passed and I learned how to cope with the pain. I learned how to help others cope with the pain. I learned how to find the light and joy as Reagan did. The good hasn’t been consistent, it ebbs and flows. Lately though I’ve felt something more permanent about the current phase of my life. I’ve found a way to honor Reagan in everything I do even if no one knows I’m doing it. She is with me every step of the way. I have also found a way to focus on the parts of my life that bring me joy. My husband, kids, family, friends, and career. It will forever be a work in progress for me but it finally feels like the good is settling in and here to stay.

The How

Oh, the how. This has been the biggest lesson of my life. Honestly I kind of already approached my life this way. Reagan’s death has just amplified it for me. Made it even more clear that in everything you have a choice. You don’t control others but you sure as heck control you. You decide how you will respond. You decide what your next steps will be. You decide to make it good or bad. There is always a choice. It’s not always easy but it’s always there. Looking back I think I started making the choice to find the good in everything about two months after Reagan died. Now don’t get me wrong I am not smiling and laughing all the time. I still get angry and upset. I still find things that make me sad. But even in those times I am making a choice. A choice to allow myself to be okay with being angry or sad. Allowing myself to process those emotions too. But then making the choice to pull out of it. Not to stay in that space for too long. Make the choice to let go of the anger and sadness.

I made the choice not to let it consume me. I am making the choice every day. So make the choice to feel the good, the bad, and the ugly. Without it you can’t appreciate the light. Just remember to make the choice to come out the other side sooner rather than later.

Until next time,

Maggie

#whatsyourchoice

#youaremyfightsong

My Stand Up Moment

This post is dedicated to my father-in-law, Bernie Smith. In a dreadful moment he laid the foundation upon which I could find the strength to stand up and move forward. A simple, honest moment and wise words from the heart of one grieving parent to another truly left a lasting impact. So thank you for your wisdom Bernie. Thank you. πŸ’–

Third Grade Dropout<<

before you read my blog post click the link above and watch. Watch and listen. Really listen to what he is saying to you. Once you have done that then you can proceed with reading my blog post.<

My STAND UP moment happened on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 around 11am. It had been less than 24 hours since our Reagan took her last breath. It was a quiet morning. People were moving in and out of the house. Only ever staying for a brief moment. I barely noticed any of them. My thoughts were consumed with worry about how we were going to move on without her. I was lost.

I didn’t really sleep the night before. I hadn’t really slept in days if I’m honest. Hadn’t really eaten either. I was just floating through the moments. Each day seemed to get longer than the one before. When I got out of bed on that quiet morning I wasn’t sure what to do. As I sat there just staring I picked up my phone and got on Facebook. It was around 8:30am at the time and as I started to scroll through my news feed I saw multiple posts about the death of my daughter. I saw posts from people that knew me and from those that didn’t. I panicked. In that moment by myself on the porch I panicked. She was gone. It was Facebook official. She wasn’t coming back and everyone knew it. Well, not everyone.

My mind quickly shifted as I realized that several of our close friends and family didn’t even know that Reagan had been hospitalized. They had no idea. Facebook could NOT be the way they found out. They deserved more than that. Reagan deserved more than that. So I moved to the back porch and closed the door. I sat there and made phone call after phone call to tell our loved ones of Reagan’s passing. They all offered their deepest sympathies. They cried with me on the phone. One of my friends responded with, “Oh Marg, I have no words except I love you.” That was the most perfect response in that moment. And we cried. Then we hung up and both proceeded to make more phone calls. You see, for some of them I asked for their help. I asked them to help me make phone calls because I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to get to them all in time. They kindly obliged. Between each call I took a few minutes to gather my composure and work up the nerve to be able to speak the words again to someone else. To let the words, “Reagan is gone. She died yesterday,” pass through my lips. It took me a little over an hour to make the calls and at the end I was exhausted. For the first time since it started I felt the exhaustion but not in a tired I need to sleep kind of way. Exhausted in a way that cuts much deeper than that. My heart was exhausted. My head was exhausted. My body was exhausted. My souls was exhausted. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t go forward. There was no way.

I’m not sure how long I sat there by myself staring at the trees and creek out back but eventually my father-in-law walked out. He didn’t say anything at first. I didn’t say anything. We both just stared out the back window looking at the trees and creek. Me sitting on the bench and him standing to my left. Then he said to me, neither of us breaking our gaze, “somehow you will find a way.” He said, “You will never get over this. It will always be with you but somehow you will find a way. Time will help a little but it will always be with you. She will be with you.”

I didn’t respond. I couldn’t. You see my father-in-law knows my pain. He too has a daughter that passed away at a young age. So I knew he got it. He knew a little bit about where I was in that moment. What he doesn’t know and what I didn’t know until much later was how much those words would stick with me. How much him telling me that this will always be with me but that I will find a way would help me stand up and keep going.

Trust me, when tragedy strikes EVERYONE has words of wisdom or advice for you. Most are well-meaning but most tend to slightly irritate you or just piss you off altogether. If anyone else had spoken those words to me it would have angered me. Coming from him it gave me peace. In that moment I felt peace within me. Felt peace around me. The exhaustion subsided for just a few moments. It didn’t last but it was there. A glimmer of hope that I would find a way. That we would all find a way.

799 days after those words of wisdom we are still finding our way but we are standing. Each day I choose to stand up. I stand for Reagan. I stand for Aidan and Ryan. I stand for Alex. I stand for myself. Some days I stumble but I keep going. It’s not a perfect journey and certainly not an easy one but I am finding my way. I think we are all finding our way through. Together we are doing it. With Reagan soaring above us and beside us we are doing it.

As we move into a new year a lot of people will be making resolutions. Most of the resolutions will be about ones self. Goals to lose weight, eat healthier, run a marathon, etc. I challenge each of us to not only make a resolution about yourself but also a resolution to make an impact. Make a resolution to make each day greater than the last. To be kind and to approach each other from a place of grace and understanding. In 2018 I hope we all strive to be better for ourselves and for others. The last 800 days since Reagan passed have been hell on earth but each day I choose to stand. Stand with me. Standing together we can make quite the impact. How will you live in 2018?

Cheers to 2018!

~M

#juststand #bekind #howareyouliving

#seekoutwisdom

#youaremyfightsong #hugsandfistbumps

What the frick?

Of course it would happen to me. Why wouldn’t it? Bell’s Palsy. Ugh.

To be clear this is NOT a pity post. Shitty things happen in life and you have to find your way through them. But this one is seriously just pissing me off. I️ don’t have the time nor do I️ deserve to have to deal with a half frozen face! Ok so maybe it is a bit of a pity party. Maybe. Just a small one. Indulge me for just a minute.

So seriously not much gets to me. Like really, there isn’t a whole lot in life that bothers me or really impacts my life in a meaningful way that actually slows me down. This has done just that. I am impacted in ways I have never been impacted before. The paralysis of half of my face has effected every part of my life. My speech, my eating, drinking, socialization, confidence, personal hygiene, sight, hearing, productivity, etc. You name it, I feel the impact. In all honesty this is the first medical issue I have faced that has truly impacted all areas of my life.

In all honesty this Bell’s palsy has been brutal. I have for the first time in my career felt inferior and less than confident in myself. Mostly due to the physical appearance that has resulted from my medical condition. I am self-conscious of my face when I speak … wondering whether or not the paralysis in my face is as noticeable to others as it feels to me. The mental and social insecurities from this medical diagnosis has had a rippling effect on my life.

I have had to make adjustments in the way I eat and drink. My sight is different out of each eye. My hearing is different out of each ear. My taste is all but gone. My smile is one-sided. When I laugh only half of my face reacts which then inhibits my laughter out of social insecurities. My left eye is constantly “crying” which leads to red eyes and dry skin. In all it is a miserable diagnosis that impacts all areas of my life and causes me to find different ways to adjust. It all it sucks. It’s not fair. I don’t deserve it.

In my 32 years of life I have faced heart surgery, chronic migraines, asthma, the death of a child, and colitis yet none of those things have impacted me in such a deep way as this facial paralysis has. In a way it has made me reflect on myself and what is important to me. It has made me think about why I have struggled so hard with this paralysis. All of those other ailments I had previously, from the migraine to the colitis to the death, I could hide all of those. So even when I was having a bad day I could bury them beneath a smile and just push through. With the paralysis that is not an option. My issues are front and center for all to see whether I like it or not. That’s tough. I have no control. I just have to deal and find a way through it. I have to find a way to manage the medical and social aspect of my diagnosis. I have to learn to live with the suck. Because this sucks. Ain’t no other way around it but straight through it…this sucks.

That being said I had one night where I allowed myself about 20 minutes to wallow in my suck. I vented to my husband about why it wasn’t fair that it had to be me that got Bell’s palsy. Even went so far as to tell him that it was crap that I got it and not him. Like it would make it any better if it were him but that was my truth in that moment. In that moment it wasn’t fair that it was ME that got Bell’s palsy. It that moment it wasn’t fair that I had to deal with yet another life challenge. In that moment I was having a pity party. I think that might have been my first pity party EVER. And probably my last. Hopefully my last. Because pity party’s are no fun but sometimes they are necessary. Sometimes you have to embrace the suck so you can stand up and march on. You have to acknowledge the shit that is being thrown your way and then have the fortitude to say “I am stronger than this day. I will overcome this hurdle. I will fight. I am a warrior.” It’s not always easy and sometimes, I guess, a pity party is needed. A pity party is needed so you have the strength to push through. You know what my husbands response to my self-wallowing was? He rubbed my back and said “babe, it could have been worse. You could have had a stroke.” He was right. It could have been worse. Much, much worse. Pity party over.

Someone said to me recently, “I admire the optimism you and your husband have.” No lie, that is a direct quote. Someone actually admires the optimism Alex and I have. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ That is a remarkable thing. That simple observation astounds me because Alex and I are not naturally optimistic people. We are realistic and work hard but by no means are we optimists. But then again maybe we are. I don’t know. I think maybe people see us as optimistic because they know our story. Or part of our story anyway. They know that we had a child that died and so anything after that is perceived as optimism. On the other hand maybe we are optimists. I don’t know. What I do know is that no matter what we all get one life on this earth. Just one…that’s it…one life to make the most of. One life to make a difference. One life to make an impact. One life to leave a legacy. I think about my life. What have I done that makes an impact? What have I don’t to better this world for my children? My answers to those questions right now is not enough. I haven’t done enough. So Bell’s palsy or not I’ve got to up my game. It’s time to make an impact. Time to leave a legacy. Time to make a difference. How I don’t know but it will come to me. I have faith. It will come. In the meantime I will persevere. I will be the example for my children. I will show them that no matter what challenges are thrown your way you find a way through. You stand up and march on.

#embracethesuck

#standup

#bethechange

#marchon

My Grief Journey

How do you survive without your daughter? Another grieving mother asked me that question and honestly I don’t have an answer. Β Not a simple answer anyway. As the 2 year anniversary of Reagan’s death approaches I find myself questioning how I have been able to move through these last two years without her. The only thing I know for sure is that I have to do it day by day. I can’t focus on the weeks, months, or years. Focus on one day at a time. Try to make the day one that Reagan would be proud of. Find joy in each day just as she did. Some days though just suck. There’s no other way around it. Lately the days suck because I feel guilty for never really being “depressed” (I use that term loosely). Let me explain more what I mean by that.

Everyone reacts differently to challenges and grief in their life. Before Reagan died I heard that multiple times. When Reagan died a couple of people told us we all would grieve in different ways. I get it now. I mean I really get it. It’s difficult to deal with though. I have grieved by trying to find the joy each day. I went back to work full time 3 weeks after Reagan died and haven’t stopped since. I keep myself focused and busy. Lately I’ve been questioning myself because i wonder how is it possible that I have been able to do that for almost 2 years and not have a breakdown. How have I been able to get up each day and keep going? There must be something wrong with me.

I know in my head that nothing’s wrong with me (at least I hope not πŸ˜‰) but sometimes I feel like there must be something missing if I haven’t had days that I couldn’t get out of bed. Surely that means something is amiss. I don’t know. Maybe there is something wrong.

I shared in a post a long while ago about a story that was shared with me shortly after Reagan’s passing. Another mother who had also lost her child several years ago shared that she kept going for four years. FOUR YEARS! And then she couldn’t go anymore. She broke down. She fell apart. To this day I remember that moment that I heard that story so vividly. I remember because I could see myself in that mother. I remember it because it scared me shitless. In that moment and to this day I am terrified that I am going to have the same experience. I’m going to keep going and then one day, poof! Everything will stop. I won’t be able to go anymore.

The crazy thing is that part of me hopes I never get to that point. The other part wonders if that would make me feel better about the way I am grieving. Like for some reason if I can’t go anymore that would make my grief more valid. I’m telling you grief this deep will make a person crazy. It just tortures you in ways you never imagined possible. Because seriously whether or not I break down or not does not make my grief any less or any more real. My grief process is my grief process. Learning how to accept that for myself is a challenge I am currently working through. As I am writing this I am coming to the realization that this is it. I need to focus on accepting my grief journey as it is. I have been so focused on others and trying to make sure I accept the way they grieve that I haven’t allowed for acceptance of my own journey.

So to the grieving mother that asked me how I keep going I don’t know. What I would say to you is to ensure that you accept your own grief process. Find a way to make each day better than the last. The journey is long and difficult but you can do it. You have the strength of an angel with you. Don’t compare your journey or grief process to mine or anyone else. We all share a common thread but our paths are different. That is ok.

*PS I don’t share this with y’all because I want sympathy or need reassurance that my process is okay. I write and share because it is helpful to me and hopefully helpful for someone else. I try to be as honest as possible when I write but please know I am not looking for you to feel sorry for me.

#hugsandfistbumps

#mostlyfistbumps

Until next time.

M