Thursday, August 18, 2011

Potty training and missing my mom

It's hard for me to believe that last week marked a month since my mom has been gone. People who have lost a parent too have told me that it will always seem like they just lost their mom or dad. Sometimes I just long to hear her voice again and have a conversation with her about nothing in particular. Sometimes I just want to call her cell phone and leave a message for her just to feel like she's still here.

But reality is hard.

It was especially hard last week when my babies hit two big milestones. And I just wanted to call her like I normally would and tell her the updates. She would always be so happy and excited for them. Just last week Jericho technically started to potty train himself. I've heard of kids doing that before, but I never believed it. He is 2 1/2 and I know a lot of boys that are potty trained already. My mom would always tell me, "Potty train him, it's easy." My response was always, "No, we have too much going on, it's too hard."

I would do all the things that people tell you to do to get them ready for peeing in the big boy toilet. Jericho watches his daddy go pee pee, he watches the potty training Elmo video, he has a toddler toilet that he sits on while he's watching the Elmo pee pee DVD, and I would always ask him, "Jericho, wanna pee pee in the big boy toilet?"

Until last Tuesday the answer was always, "No, mommy." I would never push him. I just figured when he was ready he would let me know. Really, I've just been so overwhelmed with everything, our move back to LA; James having a new job, having Karis, and mom being sick, that potty training was the last thing I wanted to worry about. But last Tuesday morning was a little different that usual mornings. Jericho usually comes running into my room and yells at the top of his lungs, "Mommy, wake up! Mommy, get out of bed!" And this morning he said, "Mommy, Jericho go pee pee in the big toilet." I jumped up and we ran to the toilet. Jericho officially pee peed in the big toilet. I know this is so silly to be so excited about, but you don't know my mom. She would be doing cartwheels with me if she could. I wanted to be able to tell her this huge event in our lives, and I couldn't.

Last week, Karis started standing on her own. As a mommy these milestones are huge. And I just wanted MY mommy to be able to celebrate with me and be excited with me too. I know at this point there are going to be many milestones that I will miss my mom being a part of. I will miss her for the huge ones, kindergarten graduation, Karis' first boyfriend, Jericho's first heartache, and the little one's like Jericho LOVING going to McDonalds with papa. But times like this, when I miss her so much, so much that sometimes it feels like it's hard to breathe, I need to remember the encouragement my sister received from her friend, Marc. Marc lost his dad unexpectedly, two months before we lost our mom.


Hey Jenny,
No one deserves to lose someone close to them. It's definitely the hardest thing I've had to go through. It's important to remember every positive thing about the present and that everything truly happens for a reason. We could have lost them while we were growing up and may have never known them at all. There are so many other worse situations - always.

There's really nothing anyone can say to take the pain away. And it's not about getting "better." It's more like being able to live without her and coping. You've always been a bright, loving person and I'm sure she gave you nothing but love.

And keep living your life and pursuing your dreams. That's what she would want. :)

When my sis shared his message with me, two things stood out, "There are so many other worse situations - always" and " keep living your life and pursuing your dreams. That's what she would want."

My mom would be upset at us for being so sad right now, especially because of missing her. She would want us to keep living life and pursuing our dreams. My mom was the most loving person I knew and she gave me, my sister, and my babies nothing but love.

I just wish she were here with me and sharing in all of it too.

This made me think, how do I want my kids to remember me and how I celebrated with them. What ways did or does your mom celebrate huge and little milestones with you, and how do you want to do this for your babies? Please comment and share your ideas!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Is this awkward?!?

I was very hesitant to write my last blog post about asking the question, "How are you?" I didn't want it to come across that I was bitter or angry. Some people said that my blog was helpful because they really don't know what to say during times like this. Because of the post, I was able to have a couple of really deep and meaningful conversations. I didn't want people to think that I couldn't be asked how I was doing. Actually, it feels really good to talk about how I'm feeling, especially to people who are asking because they truly want to know and have the time to hear me out.

I've thought about the question a lot and have come to the conclusion that everyone has something they are sensitive to. Two people I love dearly told me that it was hard to hear, "At least they are in a better place," when they lost their loved one. For someone else it will be something else. We are all different, and we all deal with grief in different ways.

After I wrote the blog post and spoke to a couple of people that I trust, I realized that what I had a hard time with was when the question, "How are you?" was used as a filler, just something to say, to fill the spaces of awkwardness, without giving any time to really say how I was feeling. My cousin told me, "Kris, do you really think people ask the question and not care?" and then I realized too that it really depended on the person, our closeness, and how I was feeling at that moment. I know this is not very helpful, but this part is the truth. My cousin also told me that she never felt like I was closed with her, and I never have been, but we are really close, and I know that she loves me and supports me. She has gone through this sadness too with her best friend.

So, I mentioned that I had two really good conversations come out of that blog post. Even though I felt a little uneasy to write that last blog post, these two conversations made it worth it for me. Last week we found out that one of our aunts was diagnosed with cancer. Below is a conversation via text with my same cousin, Julie, mentioned above.

Julie: "I haven't spoken with my cousins yet. I'm kinda afraid too because I don't want to lose it over the phone."

Me: "Call your cousins. It will mean a lot to them to know you care. It's ok if you lose it. You love her and that means that world when your mom has cancer. Believe me."

Julie: "You have me so self conscious now about saying how are Just talking to my cousins and I was trying so hard to not say how are you so I changed it up and you"

After I told my cousin I wanted to include our conversation in this blog post, she wasn't sure If she should remain anonymous and my response:

Me: "No, I think it's human, you don't want to make them feel sadder, but from my perspective being on the other side, it is so comforting to know how much my mom is loved and how I'm not the only one hurting. I've heard from many people that they try to be strong for me and try to give me my space, but the ones who have touched me the most have been the ones who have cried with me and have come to me with their sadness too."

Believe me, I know it's awkward. What do you say in horrible situations like this? How do you approach someone dealing with the hardest loss they've ever experienced? To me, it is better to say something to show you care, instead of not saying anything at all. If you are going to ask, "how are you?" make sure it is not asked in passing just because something needs to be said. The day my mom died, one of my other cousins (he is more like a brother to me), came up to me in tears, all choked up, and said to me, "I'm so sorry." And that was all I needed to hear to know that he loved her and loves me too.

Right after I posted the last blog post, I got a message from a dear friend of mine:


I've been wanting to call you for so long. You have been on my heart for such a long time and the Lord just keeps bringing up your name with everything that I have been hearing and going through.

Not sure if you saw but John's aunt is dying from cancer this week. We're going to say goodbye tonight and I just can't seem to keep it together. I've been crying on and off all day. Then I feel bad because it's not even my aunt who's passing and I have no right to feel as upset as I do. In essence it's a joyous thing as she's been battling this for 3 years and will soon be home with her Lord. Yet I think the thought that she's leaving behind her kids and a husband makes me so sad. I mean she was the glue for that family and I'm not sure how they will do without her.

But I think the thing I'M struggling with the most is what to say when we visit tonight. John is also at somewhat of a loss as to how to handle it. I feel awful and so selfish even talking to you about all this as I know you have your own grief to deal with but you're the only person I know who understands what we're all going through. I just wanted to let you know how timely your blog post today was and how much I appreciated it. It helped a lot.


My response:

I'm so sorry to hear about John's aunt. I did not know about it. Thank you for messaging me. My mom was the glue of our family too.

Do not feel bad about me, I've been meaning to tell you how much your Facebook post on my wall meant to me. Truly. Your words were so encouraging.

Tonight, give your uncle and cousins hugs. Just say you're sorry. Tell them all the wonderful memories of their mom and how you've learned from her how much she loves them. And yes, you have every right to be upset. She made a difference in your life and you love her. You feel sad for your cousins and your uncle. You're sad that your aunt has been fighting for so damn long and it sucks and it is not fair. Know that God is with her right now. Angels are singing to her and are waiting for her to join them in heaven.

Feel free to share my info with your cousins, my blog too. I am here for you and for them.

I am praying for all of you, and for your aunt. I pray that she is at peace and ready to meet her Savior.

I love you girl. Let me know what you need.

A recurring theme right now for me is that, God truly works EVERYTHING out for His good. I hate that my mom is not physically here with me anymore, but He uses everything we go through to bring Him glory. When we go through trials and hardships, they would only be a waste if we didn't learn from them and use what we've learned to help others. No matter what your trial is right now, you can always use it to bless others. God works everything out for His good. Always.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How are you?

Some people have told me they don’t know what to say during hard times like this. Because of this, I thought it would be good to write a little something about it. For me, it is better for someone to say something, than not to say anything at all. Something simple like, "I'm sorry about your mom" will not offend me, make me remember my loss, or make me feel sad. I wake up every day thinking about her and still everything around me reminds me of her. I miss my mom every second of the day. Nothing anyone can do or say can make me miss her more.

I know this sounds trite, but when I want to talk and share my feelings I will. Then you will wish you didn't ask because I have a lot to say:)

A hard question for me to answer is, "How are you?" How I really feel is that I wish this was just a terrible nightmare. I wish my mom was still alive. I wish that cancer didn't exist, and that she was still alive and cancer free. Just like everything else, getting married, having children, losing a parent, you just don't know what that really means until it happens to you.

One of my cousins asked me one day, “How are you?” We are really close; in fact we have had a secret name for each other since we were kids (ok, a really long time ago) We call each other our BCFs, Best Cousins Forever. I’m really not a closed person, but never have I experienced a loss or a hurt so deep, that I can barely talk about it. Losing my mom is one of those things. Because my cousin and I are so close I couldn’t give her the easy, “I’m doing good!” response. She would see right through that. But the truth is that it is really hard to verbalize how I’m really feeling, so I write. I told her if you want to really know how I’m feeling, read my blog. We got off the phone, and thirty minutes later she called me in tears.

I say all this because I never want anyone starting this journey or going through this journey to ever feel like they are alone, that no one understands, and that God doesn’t care. When you feel like no one understands, please know that I will support you, pray for you, and fight with you. During this horrible loss I have learned things that I could have never gotten a chance to learn any other way. This journey has made me more compassionate, more thankful for today, more in awe of God’s love through his people who have been loving me so well, and more aware of how great and powerful He is.

If you know someone going through having a loved one go through cancer or have lost someone to cancer, please share this blog with them. If something I have written makes you think about your relationship with your mom, sister, daughter, or someone else, share those too. Please share your thoughts with me and with others. The stories that have been shared with me already have really touched my heart. They really make a difference!

Please do not be afraid to talk to me about my mom. It feels good to talk about her. She is and always will be a huge part of my life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

“Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about Learning To Dance In The Rain.”

There were two quotes that my mom wrote down before she died. One I found the week before she went to be with Jesus, and I was able to talk to her about it. That quote was put in the program at her memorial service, and the other one was found a week after she was gone.

Below is an email I wrote one of my best friends right after we found out that the eight months of chemo and radiation, surgery, and chemo again didn't work for mom. I was sad and afraid and I needed to hear words from someone who had traveled this road already.


December 29, 2010
Hi best friend, so good to hear from you. I have been meaning to email you, but can't even get the words on paper. We found out two weeks ago that they suspect that mom didn't respond to the chemo and that it has spread. She has more tests on Monday to determine if indeed the cancer has spread and to what extent. We were devastated to hear the news. God's provision is that we are back here to be able to spend time with her and to be closer to her. At this point I am asking God for a miracle to heal her, and that we, especially mom will have peace. Cancer sucks so bad. I can't even talk about it. I have been so sad. I spend as much time with her as I can, but Jericho just got sick so we need to stay away from her for a while until he gets better. How do I keep enjoying her while I'm so sick thinking about how much longer I will have her? I need to enjoy her instead of worrying all the time and being sad, but it's so hard to find the balance. If you saw her right now, you would NEVER know she is sick. She looks great and is in great spirits, at least around me. Sorry to burden you with all of this. Please give me insight.

I hope you are doing good. Miss you and love you! Please give the kids hugs for me!

December 29, 2010
I am so so sorry to hear this. It breaks my heart that you and your family have to endure this. I hate cancer too, it's horrible. It is so hard to enjoy them when you're constantly worrying about the time you have left. It's hard to have a normal life. It's an emotional roller coaster! I can't believe this is happening. :(

I absolutely know how hard it is to say the words out loud, to talk about it makes it seem so much more real. And at a time when you want it to be a dream, talking about it and making it more real isn't easy to do. Does that even make sense? Sorry....but, what I'm trying to say is that I'm here to talk. I wish I could be closer to be there for you. If you need me I'll talk a few days off and be there! I love you, I love your mom.

This quote may not help at all, but it always reminds me of my mom and it fits your situation when you said, "how do I keep enjoying her while I'm so sick thinking about how much longer I will have her"...Life isn't about waiting for the storm to's about learning to dance in the rain."


Today, I was sad. I was missing my mom, really feeling the pain of what life is going to look like without her. In the movies they make it look like the worst part is when they die. In my case, the worst part is when the realization really hits that it will be a long time until I get to see her beautiful face again. It is especially difficult when life is harder than I could have ever imagined and all I want to hear is that "it is going to be ok, God is taking care of it." The words only a mother can tell her child and make them really believe it. I was feeling her absence so deeply, especially today....and believe it or not, in almost 100 degree weather, in the dead of summer, it started to rain. I can't tell you how many times in this last month when God would remind me in amazing ways that, "it is going to be ok. He is taking care of it." As I was driving, with tears streaming down my face, all I could think about was the quote that my best friend told me about in December, the same quote I found on the piece of scratch paper that my mom wrote...“Life’s not about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about Learning To Dance In The Rain.”

So we pulled into the driveway, I got Jericho out of the car, and we danced. We danced in the rain. Through this horrible storm we can and we WILL dance.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to DANCE..."

Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,4