The calendar hanging on the wall reads May 20. But I don’t need the calendar to remind me. I’ve actually been thinking about this day all month. I’ve been thinking of this month all year. I couldn’t let this day slip past without an acknowledgment, because this day is pretty significant to me.
Today is the due date of my second child.
I have no crib set up.
There is no freshly painted nursery.
No hospital bag is packed and waiting by the door.
There is only a what if and a why.
There is only my thoughts of how different my life would be right now… if only.
I think of her a lot. I call her Ivy Quinn. I don’t know that she was a girl, she didn’t make it long enough to find out, but I have a hunch.
Physically, she was only a part of me for a few weeks, but she will be a part of me until I take my last breath. She was mine regardless. Her life ended, but mine continues. Her heart stopped beating, but mine beats on–even with a hole in it.
There is pain. There is heartache. There is something missing that was to be. Then suddenly wasn’t to be.
I never felt her kick or held her in my arms, but I hold her in my heart and I always will.
I wash dishes in a sink full of suds, but there is no baby bottle to rinse. I fold clothes and stack them in piles on the couch, but they are absent of tiny gowns.
I can’t help but feel guilty. All the ‘ifs’ haunt me. If I had only wanted her more? If my initial reaction hadn’t been one of inconvenience? Would it have made a difference. If only she had known how very much she would have been loved? If I hadn’t been so overcome with doubt, worry, and fear? Would it have mattered. If I had felt more excitement? If I had told more people?
We had a photo taken. It was clever and cute and we were going to announce it when the time was right. I hung it in our bedroom. We told our little Emma. She was so excited. Then I had to tell her the hardest thing I’ve had to tell her yet. She was quiet and then she said maybe the baby will come back later. Then nothing else was said. Ever. I put the photo away in a drawer.
Out of sight, but not out of mind.
On May 20.
The due date of my second child.
We had to say good-bye to one of the finest dogs there was.
Our Drew Miller.
Our Drewby Dooby Doo.
He was somewhere around 11 years old. Give or take a year. He was named after a preschool classmate of Ashlynn’s. He was her second puppy after her first Drew Miller met an unfortunate end under a car tire. So when asked what to call the new puppy, he was Drew Miller too. Or Drew Miller #2. I guess technically he was Drew Miller #3 if you count the classmate.
He had the manner of a cat, not giving a flip if you pet him or not. or if you liked him or not. He was not a man’s dog. He was not a companion dog. He was a dog’s dog. Unlike most dogs that eagerly run to greet you, if he was feeling generous he might raise his eyebrows and thump his massive tail no more than four times on the ground in greeting. That was as good as it got. He wasn’t one to be bought or tricked or persuaded. Not even with steak.
He was a large fellow, narrow through the hips and broad in the chest. Built like a Marine but with an awkward gait that showed something wasn’t quite right in his hips. He never allowed that to stop him on our outings and he would run as far and as fast as he could before slowing to a crawl and lagging far behind. Tongue lolling. Then when you least expected it, here he’d come blasting past with renewed energy. He was rescued from the humane society and was labeled part border collie, which couldn’t have been the farthest from the truth. Part beaver and part killing machine was more accurate.
He was a wood chewer and loved a good stick to chew although fetching one was out of the question. He practically ate our house down to the shingles as a puppy. “You can’t fault him for being a dog,” my dad replied after my complaints
He loved to be outdoors in any weather and often had to be dragged inside with a leash on a frigid night.
He had the heart of a warrior, fighting anything that threatened his territory. Porcupines, badgers, skunks, possums, and rats. He was proud of his kills and laid beside them until we took notice and patted him on the head. He alerted us to snakes and strangers; yet was gentle around all things important: chickens, cats, and kids. His tail was a weapon in itself if he ever whacked you alongside the thigh on his way to chase a rabbit.
He was a country dog to the core. He lived a good life on many adventures with J-dub and me from the prairies of Texas to the mountains of New Mexico. He spent his golden years running, chasing, and occasionally catching out in the open range. The wind in his face. Untethered. Just being a dog.
On this day a year ago, we lost my grandmother on my dad’s side. She was a beautiful lady who just happened to be born on my daughter’s birthday 94 years earlier. She left this world at age 96.
Because we lived a good distance apart, I don’t have a vast amount of memories of her, but the ones I have I hold near and dear. I have blogged about her before here. As a testament to her greatness are her children. I truly have never seen children love their mother so much. I have heard others, and have been guilty myself, of complaining about our moms. I have seen children growing frustrated with their aging parents and speaking harshly at times. But not my grannie’s kids. They loved her, doted on her, spoiled her rotten up until her last days. We can only hope to be as lucky in love.
I remember when I heard about her passing. We had known it was near, but one can never quite prepare themselves for the grief that comes. To be very honest, I was surprised at myself for my emotion that followed, but it was an emotion that I had never felt before. I don’t even know if I have the words to convey it. But it wasn’t just loss. It wasn’t just sadness. It wasn’t an empty feeling. It was a realization instead. A deep realization, that if the world follows natural laws, all the people who came before you will leave before you. Of course logically I know this, but she was my last grandparent remaining. My father had already died, and I realized that now my mother only remains.
I experienced a deep understanding that I am one living person left of being an orphan. I know it sounds ridiculous. An adult orphan. But my last grandparent dying made me realize that my mom is all that’s left of the people who, because of them, I exist.
Maybe no one else knows this feeling or maybe I’m just terrible at explaining it, but it’s what I know.
But anyway, time marches on, there’s nothing we can do about lost time or lost loved ones but to keep on living and remembering them.
The only thing that stays the same is everything changes. We as believers however, have a hope because of our savior that one day we will meet again in our eternal home where there is no sadness and there are no tears. Until then, we carry on.
There are not many memories in my mental Rolodex that cause me to feel as warm and fuzzy as the memories of Sunday dinner (dinner meaning lunch here) at my mother’s mother, Grannie Silcott’s, house. The menu didn’t vary much. It mostly consisted of roast, potatoes, corn, and green beans. There was leeway at times with an additional hot roll or carrots or a salad, but there was always the top 4–roast, potatoes, corn, and green beans. Grannie S. would put the roast in the oven in the morning before she struggled into her stockings and applied a little rouge on her cheeks and off we’d hustle to Central Baptist Church for Sunday school and church.
You see I spent almost every weekend of my early childhood with my Grannie Silcott. She was widowed and now that I look back on it, I suspect she was lonesome. She was my safe place. She had a cozy home that was predictable and routine, not at all like my own. We would sit together on Saturday nights in her little TV room and watch Golden Girls followed by 227, and Cagney and Lacey. Then we’d head off to bed together. We would recite “another day, another dollar” even though neither of us had made a cent while she rubbed some awful smelling ointment on her knees for her arthritis. Then she’d lay down, pull up the covers, and roll away from me. I would ask her to snuggle me, but she wouldn’t. “You snuggle me,” she’d answer. So I’d wiggle myself up to her back and bury my nose until I grew used to the smell of that awful arthritis ointment and fall asleep.
She’d always rise early and have the roast on before I was up. We’d recite “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” before preparing ourselves for church where we sat about seven rows from the back.
At the end of each Baptist sermon, the preacher would have an altar call.
“With every head bowed and every eye closed,” he’d begin his prayer for the lost souls. I knew this was the time. I’d peek up at Grannie and she’d be gathering her purse, and with every head bowed and every eye closed, we’d sneak out the back door. We had a roast in the oven!
She wasn’t one to try to teach me how to cook; I was more of an inconvenience so she’d let me watch and at least I got to use the electric can opener to open the cans of green beans and corn. And setting the table. What kid doesn’t grow up having to set the table? I’d set her colorful Fiesta dishes around the old round table and always have to ask which side to put the fork on. I still don’t know the answer to that. We’d drag in some extra chairs from the living area and just as the potatoes were being mashed, the rest of the family would begin arriving. Cousins, aunts, and uncles. Grannie would be putting the food on the table as everyone was making their way to a chair. Then a day of fun and family would commence, with everyone talking at once.
It was in my early teenage years, after my mom and dad had separated, that Sunday dinner held a new purpose. My dad had left Pampa and moved back to Tahlequah. It was the time before cell phones and social media. Back when it cost money to call long distance. Grannie Silcott had upgraded from a rotary phone to a cordless that set on the desk in her kitchen. Just like clock work, every Sunday around 12:30 the phone would ring and it would be my dad calling to talk. Of course it interrupted our meal, but he knew it was the only time he absolutely knew he could catch us there together and could talk to me and my sister. I remember his voice on the phone, making jokes about what we were eating. “Let me guess,” he’d say. “I bet you’re having roast, potatoes, green beans and corn.”Most of the time he was right, but some times I got to tell him he forgot the rolls or the carrots or salad. He’d tell me he wished he was there. I always thought he meant because of the meal, but now, many years later, I understand it wasn’t the meal he was missing.
After Grannie Silcott died in 2004, the Sunday dinners died with her. We don’t get together as a family much anymore. Of course, there’s the big dinners: Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. And of course we always try to celebrate birthdays but it isn’t like it used to be.
In the past two and half years that me and J-Dub moved away from Pampa, I have come to understand the importance of family. Of memories. Of cousins and aunts and uncles. Of Sunday dinners. It takes just a little absence of family to begin to realize that it’s because of them we live and breathe.
Our world moves so fast. Our lives are complicated. We’re too involved in keeping our kids schedules cram packed that we often can’t sit down for a meal with extended family without an excuse like a wedding or a funeral. I want my kids to have the memories that I cherish. The love that was shown by my grandmother each and every week putting a hot meal on the table for all her kids. I want my kids to have some traditions they recall fondly when they’re grown.
So today I did it. I put a roast in the oven before I struggled— not into my stockings—- but into my skinny jeans for church this morning. I applied a little blush to my cheeks and hustled out the door. We returned to a house smelling like Grannie Silcott’s on Sundays. It wasn’t exactly the same. It wasn’t even remotely the same. There were more differences than similarities between my Sunday dinner and hers, but it’s a start. One that I hope to continue.
2) I occasionally run into ‘online’ friends face to face who say they miss seeing my kid on Facebook.
Okay three reasons
3) I need to document the cute, funny, wise, serious things she says and does, and the baby book isn’t cutting it.
So for starters, here’s a pic or two.
She wants to be Snow White for Halloween. Her costume came in and of course I let her try it on.
The problem is, I’m not sure if I snapped a picture of Snow White or Elvis.
I love this picture of her. Even though her eyes are closed. Even though she’s itching her cheek and her dress is dirty. Even though my thumb is in the picture and I didn’t have enough sense to crop it before I posted it. I still love this picture. This is beside our house in a “field” of wildflowers. But we call it the Bear Forest.
She has so many funny things that she says. People tell me I won’t remember and heck, I know that’s true.
This week, I took a piece of paper and pen and decided to write down some of the stuff she says. Some of these, I’ll have to set the scene, and it may be they turn out to be a “you had to be there” moment. But I was, so trust me, it was cute when it happened. Or I wouldn’t have written it down.
She loves to play with my phone and I’m one of those moms that let her. She calls people, texts people, and I’m sure annoys the crap out of people. She will blow up your phone with emojis. String after string of them.
After sending a text, she said, “I sent daddy a text. He got it in his pocket.”
She’s a thinker. Always trying to put things in their proper category.
“Why did an old lady live in a shoe? She’s supposed to live in a house!”
We had some friends come and visit for a couple of days and they happened to have some movies with them. One of them was Beauty and the Beast. EK had never seen it, but she knows all about the princesses, I can assure you. We watched that movie and of course when they left, they took it with them. The other day (months later) she was sitting on the potty….
Her: I wish I had the Belle movie.
Me: Maybe you can get it for Christmas. Maybe you could ask Santa Claus for it?
Her: Maybe Santa will go grab that movie from Suzanne.
Don’t forget we have a teenager in the house, and with that comes that horrid teenage music. Actually, there’s one song I kind of like. It’s catchy, even though not really appropriate. EK has heard it enough to be caught singing……
“I’m on the bass, on the bass. No trouble” (google it if you don’t know)
Speaking of singing,
“What are little girls made of?
Spice and onions and sugar”
This day finds me a bit happy, a tad sad, with a little hope thrown in. I’ve neglected my blog as of late simply because my life is boring, quite frankly. I do all the things that everyone else does. I have a wonderful bundle of two year old joy that keeps me entertained. I try to exercise. I try to read. I attempt to write. I avoid cooking and cleaning as much as possible. I have a stack of laundry that begs for my attention. It’s really the same, ol’, same ol’ day after day. I feel that I don’t have anything profound to say anymore.
I just feel quiet.
But today is Easter and so in an attempt to preserve some family memories, I’ll blog.
I’m happy today because I’m so truly blessed with every good thing that really matters in this world: family, friends, faith, and health.
I’m a tad sad because we haven’t been to church for the past two Easters. We have yet to find a good church home and that makes me sad. Recently, when we went back to our hometown we visited our church and it was so wonderful, so refreshing. I wish my dear old Briarwood would pack up and move here, then I would have the perfect world. Sure, I understand that I don’t need a church to worship, I can worship right in my own front yard, but I miss the fellowship and the sharing with a body of believers.
But of course, I keep my hope and I believe good things are always heading my way. A wonderful church, included.
For Easter Sunday, we did the “thing”. We colored eggs and had an egg hunt.
We attempted to take a family picture with a self timer on our camera. I regret to inform you that we did not get a good one. Big surprise!
The house is now scattered with candy wrappings and EK is green up to her elbows.
She fell asleep after her sugar crash reading Beauty and the Beast and I am soon to join her for a little siesta. All in all, I’d say we had some great Easter success.
He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today.
You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.
I sang that to EK today, and she got a kick out of it, especially when I tried to hit the high notes.
I hope you too had a blessed Easter, spent with your loved ones celebrating the true meaning of the day.
This morning I sent this 14 year old off to school.
It’s Homecoming here. Last night there was a bonfire, today a pep rally, tonight a football game, tomorrow a dance.
We be busy.
So later, I was replying to some comments here on my blog and I ended up clicking on something that took me way back to some of my first posts. I saw comments from my dad, which made me smile and brought a touch of sadness as well. Clicking here led to clicking there until I came across this post from a few years back that is entitled “Listen.”
I think it’s my favorite blog post of all time.
It’s a voicemail from that sweet 14 year old above when she was a bit younger. A bit more innocent. But still as fun. And crazy. And tender.
You have to listen to this message. It shows her heart.
A beautiful heart.
Here’s the original post from 2010:
My niece called me. She left the sweetest, most precious voicemail.
Before you hear more, I must tell you this.
“Mama” in the message, works in bail bonds. They were at the jail to bail someone out. Thankfully, not a member of the family…….this time.
My niece had been prostrate weeping and wailing for hours because her friend Perla couldn’t come over after she had been planning it for a whole entire week. She was devastated.
And lastly, Jesus is her homeboy.
Click on the link below. You must. It’ll make you smile, I hope.
Authors Note: It took me 17 hours, 904 online tutorials, and ten of my own dollars to learn how to post this to my blog. I have yanked every hair from my head and am now forever changed, not to mention bald. So it had better make you smile.