The Balloon

Instead of hearing the sounds of children playing, the sounds of giggling and running in the streets, you hear quiet. There’s silence. It’s like a balloon floating around alone in the street. The balloon lifts slowly off the ground each time a breeze carries it. But it doesn’t go far. When the wind blows ever so gently it gives the balloon a slight push.

It’s a balloon alone in the street. No children running excitedly towards the balloon trying to catch it. No children giggling because two friends are running so fast to catch the balloon and instead of catching it smack into each other and fall happily on the ground. 

Those are the sounds that we miss. 

Now you feel alone. You are walking alone because there is no one around. Finally when you do see some life on the other side walking towards you you can’t help but think, oh my goodness does that person have the virus? As they get closer you try and force a smile behind your worried eyes as a greeting and keep on walking. You look back once in a while just to be sure that people are still out there. You try to get back to civilization or you try to get back to your everyday life but it’s no longer the same. It’s not the everyday life that you remember it to be it’s different. 

What we are all feeling is different. There’s a lot of fear still. There’s a lot of uncertainty. Instead of the excitement of looking ahead, which we can’t really do right now, we are presented with the fear of truly not knowing. 

I want to be excited about summer camp plans we made for our children. I always looked forward to picking up the kids after camp to hear all about what they did and learned. Staring at their red faces because you know they were sweating and having a good time. Their hair is a little wet and curling in some areas and you just see their smile and happiness. And although their face looks tired you know it was a fulfilled day. Vacation trips. Play dates with friends. That’s no longer in our reach right now. The end of the year actually the end of school year excitement is gone because the kids haven’t been in the classroom. Other than virtual classrooms and meeting with teachers online and seeing students it’s not the same. 

The interactions are not the same. The little groups gone. The friends that come together and start talking is no longer the same. Things are changing. Is it our fault?

Were we taking things for granted not really realizing the harm that we could possibly be doing to each other and the Earth.

As a mother, all I want to do is see my kids smile. And when something or someone takes away that smile it hurts you deeply. But you have to keep reminding yourself that they are safe. They are healthy. They are still very much loved.

And hopefully this too shall pass. 

But in the meantime, all I do is stare at this balloon. It just keeps floating and then just stands still. Just as I do.

Find your glue

Where to even begin? My fingers are becoming weak just thinking of all the emotions I have bottled up and need to type down on this blank canvas. All I can do is type my thoughts as I feel them and hope they make sense or even allow you to see inside my heart. 

I know this time is difficult for all of us. We are all feeling and reacting differently to what’s been going on in the world today. What I can say is fear is the biggest part that is being played. When fear becomes involved things and reactions are dealt with differently than what it would be on an average day. And that’s ok. You have every right to be feeling what you are feeling. That is your heart. 

For me being a parent during this time has my shell of a body cracking slowly around me. I’m doing my best to keep those cracks from fully opening in fear that once my shell shatters it will become hard to glue those pieces together. I can’t let that happen. The glue that usually seals those spaces are the little giggles I hear from my children. A kind gesture along the way. A hug from my mom. Holding the people I love dearly in my arms. Tiny blessings that surround me. The touch of someone you love. Your child’s expression when they feel a sense of accomplishment knowing they did something they set out to do. There are many little things that seal my cracks to keep me whole. Sadly, with all that is going on around us some of those things aren’t easily achieved. The light begins to shine through the cracks and that scares me. 

I try taking deeper breaths more frequently but that just makes me feel sick. 

I’m afraid. Yes, that’s it. I’m afraid of failing my children. I am worried that I won’t be able to provide all they need. I’m afraid that not having “me” time somehow will cause my judgement or emotions to shift. Shift in a more irritable manner. I don’t want to get upset easier. I don’t want to react with anger. I want to keep showing them no matter what difficulties come our way that we can make it all work. How do I do that when I’m fighting with that same thing within me?

Right now I am sitting outside in what little sun we have listening to the sounds of nature and my kids playing in the background and that softens me. It allows me to take my next step. This is it. Me trying to put into motion what I am feeling to help seal some more cracks and lift a little of the weight that I’m carrying. 

Now here’s a little craziness in my head for you. I look at the kids having fun in the backyard and all I can do is think, please God do not let them get hurt. Please allow them to have all the fun they can enjoy without injury. I want to continue to hear the laughter, the giggles, the silliness and the screams but I don’t want to hear them cry from falling or hurting. I keep repeating silently, please don’t get hurt. Please don’t get hurt. We can’t go to the hospital. We can’t go to the doctor’s. We’ve been working so hard staying quarantined. This can’t be the thing that makes it all worse. I’m not only thinking that when we are all outside playing. It’s all the time. In the house when they are doing their normal activities. Just running or climbing to get things makes me repeat those words. 

What’s even crazier is I say that to myself as well. As I am doing my daily activities or if I am trying to exercise. If I am running with the dog or even just cooking, I keep thinking, please don’t get hurt. I can’t slip. It’s a fear that’s very present in my head now. All this because of fear. Fear that we won’t be able to get the services they need because of COVID-19 or the fact that we will bring COVID-19 into our home. We are all worried but the worry has been intensified because of my daughters past respiratory issues. 

Seeing things so differently now. You use to feel so much stronger and secure of your knowledge to protect your child, kissing those booboos away didn’t seem so hard but now it seems those things could get worse fast and you become in a more aggressive protected mode. I’m not sure if that makes sense but I know I am feeling more sensitive to possible injuries. 

All I can do is what I’ve always done before COVID-19. Make sure both my kids know just how much I love them. How much they are loved and continue to support them. Make sure they know they are safe and we will continue to do our best to protect them but to also understand what is going on and be honest with them. Have the door of communication open so they feel safe to come to us. Help them explore outlets. 

I gave both my children a journal so they can write down how they are feeling. How the change in routine is affecting them? Do they understand why we are in quarantine? So many questions for little minds to explore. 

We will continue to all learn and understand together. This is new to us all. Let’s remember to soften our shell but keep the glue close by just in case. Hold on to the love that fills us even on days where we don’t feel it’s there. Dig deep and you will see all those memories that found their way into your heart and use that to help. In those spaces that is where love lives. 

I know we can all do it. I know we can all get through this. We have to. 

COVID-19 Emotions, Fears, Life

There are so many emotions out there and no place to actual put them. Different things are being said by different individuals. Media is blowing up and emotions are running wild about COVID-19. 

As a parent, you want to do all you can to protect your children. Even though you may not know what that is, you do your best to go with what you are feeling inside. 

What you are feeling may be different from what your partner is feeling. You try desperately to agree for your children but that doesn’t always come easy. The one thing you do agree on is the well being and safety of your children. Days become tough but so is all that is going on in the world around us. 

When fear overcomes ration things can turn ugly and in most cases they do. What do you need to do to bring you back to where you were? Now let’s rewind a bit.

Several days ago my husband decided to keep our children out of school. I was not happy with the decision and reluctantly went along with it. I felt the kids would be missing special and important activities in school. I knew they worked really hard on plays and projects. Things were happening that I didn’t want them to miss out on. It was becoming harder to protest when you were seeing all that was happening around the world getting closer to where you live. 

We decided to have a grown up discussion with our children. Although it was hard for them at first, they realized we want what’s best for them and with our daughters respiratory issues in the past we thought it was best to keep them home. 

That decision was difficult for me with of all the obligations I had lined up. I knew that keeping them home meant keeping me from fulfilling my duties at their school. I’m not good with pulling away from my commitments and letting people down. In fact, I strive to do what is best and helpful to others. That being said, what was helpful was keeping myself risk free for my children. 

Several parents had their own opinions about what I was doing and that was ok. I realized it wasn’t about them or what others thought, it is about me and my family.

We had a good support system and are blessed with amazing teachers too. Teachers who checked in and responded to emails. They helped send assignments along the way. At one point, a teacher even spoke to my daughter. It was a beautiful thing. The kids felt happier knowing they were still a part of the school activities in some way. It felt right and everything was falling in to place, at least in my mind.

Now for all those going back and forth with the decision to know what is right, just listen to your gut. What your heart is telling you to do. Do it. Only you will truly know what is best for your family. 

Remember what is going on around you. It’s not just targeting older people. It’s targeting everyone. No matter religion. No matter race. It is a virus that everyone will and can get unless they are distancing themselves. Staying vigilant and be safe.

International Women’s Day!

Today is International Women’s Day. Today is the day women are celebrated around the world. One thing is, I celebrate the women in my life every day. I grew up with some pretty amazing women. One and foremost being my mom. Her love, dedication, determination and loyalty to our family goes beyond all measures. She is a woman of strength, heart and love. No matter the situation or the fear she feels she did her best to always show her strength to reassure us that we are all ok.

As a child growing up, I could see her heart by looking in her eyes and still do. Maybe at times, I didn’t fully understand her beauty and perhaps at times, I didn’t show the respect she deserved but she always lifted me up and always held me tight no matter what I was doing in life, to her directly or indirectly. She was my mom. She was a superwoman to me. She was bigger than life. Little did I know that this woman would not only continue to be my hero but she is also my best friend. I can still see the love just by looking in her eyes. The only thing now her eyes show many emotions. They show the years that passed. The scares of heartache and loss. The fear of a husband in and out of the hospital. The marks of life are defined greatly but through it all her eyes show the beauty and love looking right back at you.

Today I celebrate her. Today I celebrate all the women that touched my life. From family, teachers and friends.

I was blessed and giving a second mom, my mother-in-law, who shows love has no boundaries or conditions. She embraces all that is given to her good or bad and allows her heart to take over and spill all that heart onto all of us. She gives direction and a helping hand to get us where we need to be.

The women teachers I remember as a child that touched me, I take them with me in interactions I have or situations I am in. Teachers that are now teaching my children which I’ve grown to love.

Friends that mean the world to me and have found a place in my heart as family. We all have beautiful memories that carry us each day through the path of life, scary at times, but we take them with us. I’m celebrating all of you! In a world where there is growing fear and hate. Choose to celebrate the love, admiration, kindness, and heart that we have all been shown and send it out in the world.

Hoping that I am a woman that touched someone that will help them along their journey.

What are you carrying?

I’m sitting on my stood thinking about the many memories that lead me to where I am now. Contemplating on life the way it was and how it is today. I feel like I’ve lived worlds within worlds. If that even makes sense.

Sometimes I get confused and my memories are clouded. I wonder with all that I went through as a child and what I continued to go through in each stage of my life brought me here.

Sometimes I remember things differently then what really happened. Is it because I’ve blocked some memories out of my mind or put them away so they wouldn’t hurt so much? Maybe it was to help me become stronger and prepare me for what is going on in my life today. 

When memories come to surface in full force they can be very scary and make you pull back into a shell you worked so hard to come out of.

We find ways to deal with different emotions. Even though you are unaware of what is happening to those emotions your mind does. Now comes the tricky part, when those memories resurface it is attached to feelings you weren’t able to fully feel because your mind found a way to hide them.  At that moment you are caught off guard. You ask yourself if you are strong enough now to deal with it. After all, you are older and wiser. You have gone through lifetimes and are still standing. So why does it still hurt? Why does your mind play tricks on you?

I have to stop for a moment and pull back. Think about all that has passed and what is right in front of me.

I’m a mom of two amazing kids. I have a family and a home.

There are some eye-opening kids books that I have read with my family. One particular one comes to mind. It is about an invisible bucket we all have. When that invisible bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty we are sad. If you do something to fill a person’s bucket you are both happy. It’s a beautiful book with a wonderful message to help kids be kind to one another. Help when it’s needed and to understand feelings not only their own but others as well.

As you grow, you feel the weight of that bucket on you in a different way. The weight you are carrying around is the pain of others that you collected to help them feel better. Combined with the hurt you are carrying makes it so heavy it brings you to your knees. This is when God takes that weight and helps you move again. Sometimes you don’t realize just how much you are carrying until it’s too late. You don’t realize that you have tucked away some really heavy things that you were afraid to carry without even knowing it was breaking pieces and making holes inside of you. It’s like your inside is struggling with the outside. You form protective barriers but what’s already inside continues to grow making it harder to heal. The barrier doesn’t allow others to get close or try to help. It’s a never-ending battle you are losing. The only way to stop the cycle is to understand it is there. Confront those feelings that have been tucked away. Let others in even though you are afraid of getting hurt again. You need to trust in yourself that you are where you need to be and that you are amazing. You need to know that only you are the person you are and there is no one more suited for your heart, you body and your soul then you. You are your own protected shell. We break. We crumble. We pick up the pieces and start bandaging the pieces back together. Some pieces will no longer fit together as it did before. You may see some light shining through those spaces but that’s ok. You are allowing the light to shine through you. That light will help lighten the load and help you bring light to the darkness you experience at times.

We are never completely healed and we will feel hurt sometimes like no other but we are here. We have the gift of life. There are no exchanges or returns. We just need to know how to see the beauty that surrounds us including the beauty inside of you. When you look into the mirror the reflection you see is your gift. Smile you will receive the most perfect smile in return.

Sometimes…

Sometimes you just need to smile through it all to make sure your children don’t see the fear or sadness. Sometimes you smile even when you are hurting because you want to always make those you love smile too. Sometimes it seems like you have it all together but you are holding on to a thin rope that feels like it will break at any moment. Sometimes you try so much for so many and can’t see that you are only good to them when they are receiving something they need from you. The calls stop for a while until something is needed and then you hear a hello. 

Sometimes you just want people to know you are tired not only physically but mentally too. Sometimes people see riches and material rather than your struggle and dedication to get what you’ve work so hard for. The riches I have is not money it’s the children I am blessed with. The husband that loves all of me. Not when it’s convenient for him or when I look the prettiest. He loves me and all my faults which are many. I’m rich in the life I live through faith, love, hope, honesty and being humble. I am rich for the family that reaches out to me just to say hello. For my friends that no matter the distance or days that go by I know they will always be there for me.

I am blessed that no matter what I do or the failure I feel I’ve done, God will never give up on me and for that I am rich.  

Goodbyes are hard

Sometimes it’s just unbearable to say goodbye even when you know it’s the right thing to do. There’s a pain that fills not only your heart, which is already breaking, but also your body and causes an ache in your soul. You feel it. It’s there. You know the time is coming but the closer it draws near the harder it becomes. You know it’s the right thing to do. You know it will help someone feel better and no longer feel pain but the burning pain inside isn’t going away. Do you continue to be selfish because it makes you feel better or do you say goodbye so there’s no more pain on the other side? 
The thing is love is stronger than you can imagine. Love is what will always grow. The memories you shared through love every step of the way will help you be stronger than you think you are. Sometimes saying goodbye will always be hard.

Don’t stop writing

Every morning you wake is a continued page to a story you have been writing. Sometimes a new chapter begins. Sometimes you are adding to a chapter you are trying to end. Whatever your story, it is yours alone to freely write as you choose. In each book things at times are forced without your permission, which forces your story to move in a different direction. Don’t stop writing. Keep moving as difficult as it may seem at the time. You just move that pen and see where it takes you.

Don’t ever let hurt, pain and confusion force you to put down that pen. You may want to stop for a moment just to be but then you raise that pen once again and keep writing. Others may help you lift that pen if you are feeling to weak so you can continue your journey and that’s ok as long as you keep writing.

Each one of us is creating our own book. It will be colorful yet dark. It will be light at times and then too heavy that it literally takes your breath away. At times, it will feel like you are floating on the letters of love. Experience it all and allow the pages to turn. One day when you are gone that book will tell your story and your life will move through all those you’ve touched.

Is it ever enough?

When you feel you are doing all that you can but it’s still not right or enough. When the cracks in your heart that have been working so hard to mend are pulling apart and your chest feels a little heavier. The heaviness makes it just a little harder to breathe and forces your eyes to burn with tears that you are forcing to control.

How do you change that feeling? How can you make it hurt a little less or learn to accept what you are feeling and move past?

It’s questions like these that cause many to struggle. I know just how real that struggle is. Some will get where they need to be and jump that horrific hurdle. Others will reach it and not have the strength to jump over it so they pull back and retreat in that shell. They go backwards in a downward spiral that makes it greater to ever get back to where they need to be in order to make that jump. Words and kindness from family and friends may soften the feelings for that time but the weight is too heavy to endure and the thoughts in your head take over the words of love and support. It’s a horrible spiral.

Each pain is individual. Yes, some feel the same but no one can ever truly feel the pain within you. Each is tailored to your body’s reaction.

Its days like this that you need to remember more than just that. Look around you as hard as it may be to see outside of what is inside. Whether it’s the beautiful miracles you have and the smiles on their faces each time they see you. Or it’s that one friend that looks at you and their eyes confirm your sadness and it allows you to soften just a little. Whether it’s that song that can take you to a place in time when you were happier than you are feeling at this moment. Each thing as tiny as it seems will try and fill each crack. It takes time and a lot of it but time is what we have right now. Jump that hurdle as hard and how high as it seems to you. Let that weight lift so it’s a little harder to pull you so far down. Reach for that hand. Look above you. Not at the person trying to help in front of you but keep looking higher much higher to the one that is trying to carry you.

I’m sorry for that sadness.

The ER

Today I was surrounded by many emotions. It is always difficult being in the emergency room. Even though you are not the one on the stretcher your heart is always sinking and your fear grows stronger with each passing hour. Your mind begins to wonder and the questions become more frequently. You can’t stop but fear the worst but at the same time be the positive voice for all that surrounds you. The things you witness can crush you or make you stronger.

You see people come in with their loved ones at the same time as you and you keep an eye on them in the hopes that what ever brought them in can be repaired and you can watch them leave. You give your comforting smiles and show of hope so they know they are not alone. It’s a scary time for all but for the patients on the beds it’s a scary kind of fear.

We were on our 6th hour in the ER when the horrible screams from three curtains away began to cut through all our hearts. The screams of pain, loss of faith and loss of hope that this would pass was felt through the entire unit. One woman dropped while others tried to lift her and console while all crying themselves. The words mama, mama NO were chilling and the sound of life you heard through the monitor turn into silence of life taken was heart breaking. The staff moved quickly but no matter how much they could help the fact that their mother was gone was final. The unit from that moment on was different. I looked away from the person sitting in front of me for a while because I couldn’t face her. Thoughts came to mind and it was killing me. I knew that I would NEVER be ready for a moment like that. I couldn’t look away any longer so I looked right in front of me to the most amazing woman I have ever seen, my mom. Tears filling her eyes as mine and we just stared. It was a chilling moment. I just looked at my mom and couldn’t NO I wouldn’t imagine a day without her. It really was a moment of no words only tears, feelings and sadness.

At that moment, I looked at my sister who was also lying on the bed with a look of fear and sadness. When something like that happens as you lay on the bed curtains away your emotions are turned up. You just want to get out of there. It’s times like these when your faith is tested. We can only be as strong as our heart allows.

Today, all day, was a difficult one and although we are back home there is more to come. For right now, I am thankful for the strength we had that brought us home. I am thankful for the family and friends that were with us in spirit along the way.

I watched life begin and life taken away all in a day. I saw family pull together and embrace each other to prepare for the journey ahead.

We are all tested in our own ways. It’s not what gets us down that will matter. It is what will bring us back to our feet that will make us stronger and help us walk further.

Although I can not erase those screams and that moment from my memory I can try to remember the moment that I looked in to your eyes and knew you were still here right in front of me and that will last me longer than those screams.