Thursday, February 15, 2018

It sucks to lose a child

I have so much to do tonight.....so many productive, society enhancing projects and instead I found myself in a gun debate.

F$CK!

I gotta tell you, these shootings make me crazy; sad, mad, frustrated. And I keep thinking.....just walk away. Walk away.

But I can't.

I fought so hard for a life. And so many others fought for her life too.

This taking of lives is so far beyond me.

The crater that person leaves, the lives that have been blown up. I cannot put my head around why anyone would want to create such destruction and why it keeps happening more and more often.

As a society, it is hard to comprehend the impact these loses have over time.

It sucks to lose a child.

I cannot tell you how much it sucks.

The first week you wonder how your eyes can generate so many tears. You think you are all dried up but they come again- in flooding waters. You think your eyes might wash out of your head.

And you get through weird things. Things that are so awful there is no dialogue in your brain to process it. How do you process your child's funeral?

"What music do you want played?"

"What the holy hell? How the f*ck am I supposed to answer that god awful question?"

But you come up with an answer. And it is brilliant. Because everyone is looking at your flood-water eyes for an answer.
 
And you think "okay. I might be okay."

But you are not. You are so not.

You get a freezer full of lasagna.

You hate that lasagna. It will stay in your freezer for years. Stupid, grief lasagna. Dropped off at your door with the very best intentions.

You congratulate yourself for putting on pants.

You forget to brush you teeth.

You think you are in hell. You wish you were in hell.

Someone tells you that you need to brush your teeth.

Two weeks later real grief sets in. A grief so powerful you feel like you are in the movie Alien and that stupid monster will push through your chest. Maybe it will and that will be it.

But no, it just pushes It is sickening. Heartbreaking. Physically painful.

You walk into her room. It smells like her. You take a dress a breathe that smell until your lungs cant hold any more. It is the very best smell in the entire world

My God. Can this be bottled?

A year goes by and you congratulate yourself on a year. But then the truth sets in. This is your life. You will forever live this life without this person. And sometimes that reality is too much.

The alien subsides but is still there....pushing at times. And sometimes you are hopelessly sad.

People wonder if you will move on.

You will never move on. You lose friends. You embrace those who allow you to ugly cry and howl like a lone wolf.

More time goes by and you still drive to work and cry for no reason. That all becomes okay because this is your new normal.

Your life is now on the outskirts. You are that person who lost a child. You choose to engage when you can but find at times that the triteness of life is sometimes too much and you need to retreat.

You will always miss.

Always.

And there is nothing anyone can do about it- nothing anyone can change.

But we need to change.

We need to change.

It sucks to lose a child.



Monday, February 12, 2018

The House that hubs Built

We moved.

You might have guessed from my last post which took me over thirty days to recover from.

But we did relocate.

In May of 2016 (yeah, like 20 months ago) Hubs texted asking where I was.


"Hey! Where are you?"

"Um. Fort Lauderdale?"

"Florida?"

"Yeah."

"Home soon?"

"5ish"

"Come look at a house."

And so I landed......from Florida and went to look at a house.....during a thunderstorm.  A house on 20 acres during a thunderstorm with lightening shinning off of its three stories. Three stories of unloved home that looked like it was occupied by the frickin' Adams family.

I drove up, parked and thought 'oh hell no.'

I walked into the house and thought 'oh double hell no.'

But then Hubs walked around the corner with tape measure and a gleam in his eye.

"You like it?" He said.

"Do you?"

The tape measure clicked shut.

CLICK!

"Yeah."

And with that he was gone. Scampered off.....tape measuring something else.

The next day we had a contract on a house I called Hogwarts.

20 months later, Hogwarts is not compete but habitable. It was taken down and rebuilt.
Rebuilt with the eye of an engineer.

Rebuilt with determination, tenacity, f-bombs, errors less than an 1/8th of an inch and a sense of ownership and love.

I am in awe of the house that Hubs built.

And is still building....just a little bit.

But here is a preview.

Stairs before:

 
 
Stairs after: 
 
 
 
 

 

Kitchen Before


Kitchen After:


Bath before

 
 
Bath After:

 



Master closet before:



After:

 
 
Alas, the new house. A new chapter. A house that needed a little love. And us. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

In This House

Tonight is the last night in this house.

I am a bit of a mess.

It's caught me by surprise.

But in this house.....

In this house my husband made me dinner when we were dating. I drove up and thought "where the hell is Loveland?"

In this house I said yes.

In this house I sat in the living room and wrote wedding invitations.

In this house, in this house, in this house.

I packed for Paris.

I pee'd on a stick. I drove to Hubs office when I saw the positive sign. We bought a car. I built a nursery. I fretted over installing a car seat correctly.

We fretted over a pregnancy.

We lost a son.

Hubs drove me home to an anxious and sad family. I sat outside; ate a turkey sandwich and drank a gin and tonic and talked about a future I still believed in.

I pee'd on a stick.

We greeted a daughter.

We greeted an ambulance.

We greeted an ambulance.

We greeted an ambulance.

I grieved a motherhood that would not be mine.

And then we grieved a daughter.

Friends brought lovely champagne and we sat on our stoop.  In this house! In this house! IN THIS HOUSE!

Our new house will never have formula stains on the ceiling or poop on the carpet. If an ambulance shows up at 2:00 in the morning, one of us will have the knowledge to direct people where to go because now we have a history.

We learned it in this house.

I walked into Hubs office as he was packing Jack, Samantha's and his Dad's ashes.

And we embraced. Just us two

In this house, In this house, In this house.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

I Love You the Way I Learned how to Ride a Bike......Scared but Reckless- Rudy Francisco Part one

The summer after we lost Samantha I rode my bike.

I rode it thousands of miles.

Thousands.

I felt my heart beat furiously, pounding to beat out of my chest. I took in every wispy breath; my lungs cursing my legs for more oxygen.

I took in my grief and breathed out a hope for solace and peace.

I stood at the top of mountains and realized I was still alive. Every part of my body beat alive; demanded oxygen and water and food and it slowly convinced my sad, tired soul that it was alive too.

I fell in love with my bike.

Seven years later, my mind has forgotten what my soul needed and my relationship with my bike turns into something like this.....

"Heather"

"Heather"

"Heather!"

"What? Yes?"

"We have not gone out together in weeks. When you are home, you ignore me. Is it my flat tires? My rusty chain? Is that it?"

"No, no, you're beautiful."

"Well lube my chain and take me out for a ride." I swear this conversation is not as dirty as it sounds.....

And so we go. Seven years later, my ride is still therapeutic but not as desperate. I now know I am alive and my heart can beat without another but the pounding grounds me to this world.

The air is warm, the view is lovely, my heart beats, my lungs demand oxygen. I overlook vistas, gaze at the changing sky as it grows from blue to pink and always, always think of my girl.

And still, seven years later, it is my religion, my solace.

I reach for my pack of orange flavored Goo with an extra shot of caffeine, I farmer blow into the weeds, wipe my hand on my bike shorts and wish that everyone could experience what I see, breathe, smell, feel at the top of this mountain.

That's right....biking makes you super posh and a master of the farmer blow.

And this semester, a group of CU Masters of Engineering Students are making this happen.

Making WHAT happen??? Part two tomorrow J

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Your Charity Gives me Gas

A couple months ago, I picked up a friend from the airport for a girl's weekend.

It was early.

We were meeting other friends for brunch but due to her early arrival, we both needed a Starbucks.

Desperately.

We pulled into the intersection driving my new fancy car and waited for the light to change. Next to us was a homeless man. My friend grabbed her wallet.

"Crap, I don't have any cash," She said,  "Usually I have granola bars in the car to give out. Do you have anything?"

"Really?" I said, "This is all just a ploy. Do you know how much these people make? He owns this block. This is a good block too."

I stopped myself. "I sound like an asshole, don't I?"

"Oh no." she said, "We are just riding in your Mercedes to get $5 coffees before we go to brunch and you are criticizing the homeless man."

I love my friend for this. And so I took this to heart and made a metal note to change.

The next week I pulled into Starbucks and saw a man with a sign that said, Coffee?

I thought of my friend and my attempt to less Assy.

So I ordered my coffee and ordered the man on the corner a coffee too.

"Milk and sugar?" The Barista asked

I thought about being on the streets, being hungry and needing calories. Of course milk and sugar!

"Yes please. And I'll take a bacon gouda sandwich too." Because bacon gouda sandwiches are delicious. And if I did not have a place to go, I would covet a bacon gouda sandwich.

I stopped at the man at the corner.

"Hey! I got you a coffee." I pulled it out. "I wasn't sure but I had them add milk."

He looked at me and wrinkled his nose. "I can't drink this. I'm lactose intolerant. Do you know what this will do to me?"

Oh. My. Stink....literally.

"Well then, I guess you can't have this sandwich."

"Does it have milk products?"

"Gouda."

"Gouda?"

"It's a cheese."

"Oh no, hell no. Do you know what that will do to me?"

I handed him a dollar and wished him luck.

I also called my friend.

She laughed and said that's what I get for being a part of Boulder county. She also told me not to give up.

At work I told my story and tried to pawn off a bacon gouda sandwich. A co-worker went into detail about what happens when a lactose intolerant person consumes milk.

"It's not pretty," she said, "And not having direct access to a bathroom? I can't imagine. He made a good choice."

"Whatever." I said, "Do you want a bacon gouda sandwich?"

"No, I just ate."

Today I pulled out of the grocery store. A man stood at the intersection. He held a sign that said, "Put some cheese on my cracker!"

I assumed he was NOT lactose intolerant because he spoke about cheese so enthusiastically. I thought of my friend and the granola bars in her minivan and I stopped.

"I don't have any cash," because I don't, truly, I never do, "but would you like a yogurt?"

I held out a Noosa Peach Yogurt.....the very best yogurts of yogurts.

"I would love a yogurt," he said, "Thank you. You have a fantastic day."

I drove off reminding myself to buy granola bars. Because giving back does feel good. And because you know.....lactose.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Embrace your people

My senior year in high school I dated a young man who was searching for his identity.

In the meantime he introduced me to great morose music. The Smiths, Morrissey, Kate Bush....Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dduZbDFCG_E


In times of uncertainty, I go back to this music

In this proud land we grew up strong
We were wanted all along
I was taught to fight taught to win
I never knew I could fail

This week I have been tasked with taking black and white pictures and posting them on Facebook. I took this today while waiting at a red light.


These are Samantha's pink shoes. They sit on my dashboard of my car. I like the crack in the windshield along with the rain, along with the pink shoes. The dichotomy of life.

My girl who is no longer with me but with me everyday- perched next to the crack in the windshield.  

I watched in disbelief today and cried. I hate who we are sometimes.

I don't know why we do what we do.

But I have met enough people along my path, heard enough stories in my life to know that there are bad people in this world.

And nothing will change that. Bad people will find a way to be bad.

And that is outstandingly shitty because most of us are not bad. Sure, we all have moments of assiness but 99.99% of us cannot fathom what the bad people do.

And this evil rocks our world

Because it should.

Where do we go from here?

Grab your people. Hold them tight. Look in the eyes, kiss on the lips. Tell your loves you love them.

All we have each other. Which sounds trite- it is not skin or bone but it is connection. At times it is pink mary janes on a dashboard.

It is who we are; our stories, our vulnerability, our ability to relate, embrace, love, laugh, connect.

It sounds like nothing when so much has been taken. But sometimes when all has been taken, it is so much.

And at times it is all we have.









Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What Mito Took

This week is Mitochondrial Awareness week.

Which is funny because if you know me, you know about your mitochondria.

But I truly wish you didn't know.

My loss hits sometimes.

I was in a college town on Saturday. It was a weekend for high school seniors to tour the campus. The hotel lobby was full of anxious, potential new students and overprotective parents. I got into the elevator with a mom and her daughter. The daughter held a bear shaped travel pillow in one hand and her mom's hand in the other. She sighed deeply and put her head on her mom's shoulder. Her mom instinctively turned and kissed her daughters head.

I, ironically was going back upstairs to work and held a glass of wine in my hand. I took a sip and examined the buttons on the elevator.

They got off on the fourth floor and continued to hold hands.

The ease of this intimacy between mother and child....I miss....I will covet for the rest of my life.

Mito took that piece of my life and dared me to find a different one.

It took many pieces.  

It sat across from me with irksome eyes, returned my life after loss on a platter; steaming, stinking, painful, unidentifiable and goaded me to find a new purpose.

And so I dug through the mess and tended to what was salvageable. It took a lot of digging, a lot of scrubbing and searching.....searching through the shit for what was good.

Eventually, I constructed my new life.

It is piecemealed together, fragile, continually searching and changing to find what makes it complete but it is a life in spite of all that Mito tried took.

I am broken. My new life presents me snarky, impatient, unpredictable and horrifically judgmental.

This morning I watched Madonna being interviewed by CBS this morning. She is doing great work in Malawi, Africa. Good, commendable work. But she said she is doing it because she is the embodiment of whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

I spit my tooth paste out and said Bullshit to the TV.

I have become the woman who yells at the TV.

At Madonna.

In this new life I have met many beautiful, humble embodiments of strength. They do not tell you they are strong. They pick through the remnants of the old life, polish, scrub and redefine.

Mito takes. It takes strength, energy, power and our Loves. It returns us as voyeurs in an elevator daring us to continue on. Challenging us to find our life again.

It takes a lot. And it takes a lot to not allow this disease to take everything.

The antonym to take is to give. And perhaps that is how I must right size all the taking; to combat it with giving. Not because giving is the altruistic thing to do; that part is the icing on the cake. But because the giving stands up to the taking and I need some soldiers in my court or at the very least in my elevator.

Happy Mitochondrial awareness week.









Monday, September 4, 2017

Hope is the Dream of the Waking Man

This is a quote I found on 'the google'. It's a French proverb and I like it.
 
Because what are we if we do not have hope? In the flooded streets of Houston, in the incomprehensible situation unfolding in the Pacific, in the stressful realities of our special needs community, we all need hope.
 
On Thursday we officially finished up another year of riding with the Courage Classic and fundraising for our Mitochondrial Clinic. It was another amazing year.
 
As we finished nine years of riding and six years of funding the Mito Clinic, certain things are starting to happen; really good things. Ideas and projects that only start to come to fruition after years of consistent fundraising and establishing ourselves as a partner in the mito community.
 
And as we finish up another year, I am in awe of a group of people can do.
 
No matter how small.
 
For all of you following, donating, riding, volunteering and supporting us. This is what you have done this year:
 
1. This year Children’s Colorado became a site for an international clinical trial for those with mitochondrial myopathies. We are one of 50 sites internationally. You can access the trial info here: http://www.stealthbt.com/clinical/.


It's a reason to smile :)
 
2. The protocols used by the clinic have  been approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for Mitochondrial Disease. These are all super big words but what it means is that Colorado will become an international hub for research in this field. Our goal moving forward is to establish Children’s Colorado as a Mitochondrial Center of Excellence. This means more research money and support will be funneled into our state.
 
 
One reason why Jim does all of this :)
 
3. Dr. Austin Larson joined us as a fellow in 2014 and is staying on as an Attendee focused on Mitochondrial research, treatment and clinical testing at Children's Hospital . Dr. Larson spoke and met with families this year at the United Mitochondrial Disease conference- we are very excited to have him on board and representing Colorado
 
Cal is THRILLED about this
 
4. We have sponsored a grant between Dr. Larson and Dr. Green to fund a research project looking at the link between mitochondrial deviations and type one diabetes
 
 
Makes Maria smile (Joakim too :)  
 
5. We also supply families in the Rocky Mountain region with supplements not covered by insurance through the Metabolic Food Store at Children’s
 
 
One reason why this beautiful group rides
 
6. We continue to fund the research lab at CU
 
 
 

Six items for our six years. Not too bad.

This team has kept Mito research in Colorado.

This team is what will help continue that research.

I started with a Hope. You all supported a dream. And we kept it a dream in our state. And we continue to support our local families.

You keep me awake.

During the ride, I climbed up Battle Mountain with John Denver in my head, the mountains around me and the lack oxygen in my lungs.

I cry every time I hear Rocky Mountain High. 

And yes, I do realize this might be a character flaw.

I stopped, took in the beauty, wiped my eyes. And thanked God, the universe, my tribe, Samantha and this crazy life for bringing this all into fruition.

And I so leave you with the first verse.

He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Coming home to a place he'd never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door


Thank you for helping me find my key :)