Thursday, December 11, 2014


I am definitely struggling right now.  I feel like I am failing Catelyn's legacy.  Her fifth birthday is in about three weeks, and I haven't done anything to recognize it.

Ideally, I wanted to do something thoughtful and amazing for other children, such as donate toys, books, etc. to the children's hospital; or purchase a bunch of angel tree gifts in her name.

When it comes to celebrating Catelyn's life, I feel like the sky's the limit.  I often forget that there are boundaries to my abilities to give.  I can't do it all by any means, and honestly, I shouldn't want to do it alone.  This is partly why I'm kicking myself right now.  I haven't done anything in her name, and, worse yet, I haven't even spread the word reminding family, friends, my blog readers, or strangers either.

I feel like a crummy angel mom.  How is anyone else going to remember her if I don't remind them?

I bawled my eyes out last night thinking about all of this.

Of course, there are the 'worldly angels' who won't forget my baby girl.  They will do things to honor and remember her on Christmas, on her birthday, even daily.  It just feels like I need to do more.

And it's me who puts the intense pressure on myself....

Honestly, Catelyn isn't disappointed in me.  She doesn't feel like I've failed her.  She loves me whether I am saying her name, sharing her memory, whether her Christmas stocking is stuffed with written notes of good deeds done in her honor, or it sits empty on a hook somewhere.  It's my complex.

I think I feel if I could just do enough in her memory that maybe she could come back to me.  Silly, perhaps, but my guess is that a lot of bereaved parents can relate.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Some people's kids...

This is actually a message of love, contrary to how the title may sound (especially for those who know me personally).

Last weekend, I was hanging out with a dear friend, whose daughter, let's call her "R", needed some help with homework.

I volunteered to look at 1st grade math problems on a worksheet, which "R" rocked out in a matter of minutes - she's very smart!  Once the worksheet was complete, it was time for reading.  "R" only needed to read for 10 minutes, but quickly, 10 minutes became 25 minutes, and then mom said it was pajama time.

"R" didn't want to stop reading, but I promised her that if she took a break, and put her jammies on, we could finish reading in her room.  She was a little hesitant, but soon she had her jammies on and I was piling heaps of blankets on top of her because she said she was very cold.  :)

Once "R" was snuggled under the covers, we picked out a new book to start reading.  As I sat alongside her bed, I realized that this was the type of thing I might be doing with Catelyn.  It was a bittersweet moment.  I found myself sad about what I was missing with my own daughter, but so happy to be having the experience with young, sweet "R".

Within a few minutes, it seemed like it was time for bed.  "R" didn't want to stop reading, but I assured her that I would place a bookmark in her spot and she could pick up where she left off the next day.  She seemed okay with this plan.  I was thinking I would give her a quick squeeze and peck on the forehead, when she said, "Can you lay by me for a while?"

I nearly started to bawl.

What a dear, sweet girl to ask such a thoughtful question.  I knew that if I laid down I would surely start crying, so, instead, I told her that I snore & talk in my sleep (both of which are very true - ask my friends!), and didn't want her to be weirded out.

I gave her a hug, and a quick kiss on the forehead, wished her sweet dreams, and said goodnight.

The experience was tough, but well worth it.  I am grateful for other people's kids - they help heal my heart.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Random acts of Catelyn

Catelyn's third angelversary is 3 days away.  I posted a Facebook event in her memory on August 11th, asking that people consider doing something nice for another person and thinking of Catelyn as they did so.

The response has been overwhelming.  Strangers, acquaintances, friends, and family have generously given their time, talents, health and wealth, all in Catelyn's name.  It is such a beautiful gift to see people unafraid to recognize and honor the life of my daughter, whether they met her or not.

It's hard not to wonder what Catelyn would be like now.  She would be starting her second week of 4 year old kindergarten (4k) today.  

I am blessed to have such amazing support,  and can only hope that the good acts people choose to commit in Catelyn's name/memory comes back to each person tenfold.

Friday, May 9, 2014

a mother's day gift

In her short life, Catelyn was a budding artist.

She had a star-shaped magnetic drawing toy, the kind with an attached stylus and a sliding bar that erased scribblings.  It was made for children ages 3 and up, but she rarely put items she shouldn't ingest in her mouth, and she loved scribbling.  We carried it in her diaper bag, with a variety of other distractions, and it was frequently used.

It wasn't just drawing with that toy that she loved.  She loved crayons and chalk, too.  Even pencils and pens.

Several times, in a pinch of desperation, I was seen pulling a pen and a random piece of paper out for her to scribble with, and one such time was at a board meeting I was attending.  Catelyn's dad and I both had meetings scheduled, and I didn't want to bother anyone by asking thrm to watch her.  I had been told once that my fellow board members loved children and would all understand if I ever needed to bring Catelyn to a meeting.  Our meeting started around 5:30, so I fed Catelyn, grabbed a stash of distractions and headed out to my meeting.

Around 6:30 or so, Catelyn was tired of sitting around at my meeting.  As i recall, she was squirming and vocalizing her discontent.  Everything I had tried was failing, but I had one last trick up my sleeve.  I handed her a fine point pen and a piece of paper.  She proceeded to scribble for the next 15-20 minutes while we wrapped up.

Less than a month later, Catelyn died.

Nearly each time I came across a piece of her art, I would frame it.  Catelyn's dad took one piece to work, I gave one to his parents, and I gave one to my parents.  One day I came across an envelope she 'colored', and I kept it for myself.

Now that Catelyn's dad and I have separated, I have found myself longing for a larger piece of artwork.

Tonight, my eye caught sight of something tucked between my piano and a curtain.  I gently pulled the curtain away and found a treasure.  I couldn't believe it.  I actually found the art piece Catelyn created at my board meeting in August of 2011.

There is no greater gift I could have received as we approach this mother's day weekend.  Interestingly, I had been thinking just today that I was less excited about this mother's day than others since I wouldn't have anyone to recognize me as a mother.

Yet again my very own angel has come through in a way that no one else can.

Thanks for the amazing mother's day drawing my sweetest buggy girl.  Mama loves you!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014

Happy Easter.

Today was a bit tough.  It was hard not being able to spend Easter with Catelyn's dad's side of the family.  Though I had several invites of people to spend time with, I chose to go through it alone.

I feel like Catelyn knew i was a little glum; I received several unique gifts from her today.

First, I walked outside into the driveway and as I approached my car a little voice exclaimed 'Mama!'  It sounded just like Catelyn.  I actually looked for her, only to turn and see a little child with their mom getting on a porch swing.

Second, I was walking out of a grocery store and a family of four was exiting with me.  As I returned my cart, I noticed the daughter was wearing a white Easter dress with pink ribbon, just like Catelyn's easter dress from 2010.  And, to top it off, the little girl was enjoying a banana (C's favorite).

Finally, I was playing words with friends and had a lot of vowels and only two consonants, so I pressed shuffle and up came 'Catie'.

It's always nice to know her spirit is with me.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

looking for planks

There is a huge disconnect between the way I see myself, and the way others do.  I don't know how to begin to incorporate 'reality' with my own very skewed perceptions of myself.  Sadly, according to my thoughts, I have no value to offer this world.  I have an enormous laundry list, in my head, of all of the things I've done wrong, and why I am not good.

I've been talking to my therapist, and, as it turns out, I have spent way too much of my life basing my value on the wrong things.  Basically, instead of placing any value in myself and who I am as a person, I placed all of my value in 'things'. 

According to my narrow thoughts "I only have value if I get a college degree in a reputable field of study, if I have a job in my field, if I can afford nice things, if I am married, if I am a mother, if I meet & exceed the highest expectations anyone could have for me.....and so on."  The list is exhausting, and sadly, the items on it really aren't the things that make me valuable to the world.  Besides, in one way or another, I have either denied or lost every single significant item that is on my list of what supposedly gives me value.

Trying to find value in myself and my life feels like an endless struggle.  It is beyond tough. 

Since I don't see any value in myself as a person, I truly cannot fathom how anyone else can.  I have stopped believing people want me in their lives, I have made up stories in my head to convince me why they don't really want me in their lives.  I think things like: "they get paid to tolerate me, they just feel sorry for me, they are my family so they have to care."

I have disconnected myself from so many people, things, and even reality, that it is as though I am out on a ledge on one side of a ravine while everyone else in the world is on the other side.  I feel so separated.

But, there is good news.  My therapist, working with my visual bias for comprehension, explained to me that somehow, there are ropes in place, above the ravine, and if I can find some planks, I can actually start to bridge my way across the ravine.

So, what are these 'planks', and how do I find them? 

'Planks' are when I notice that people around me care.  It's when someone is nice to me, writes me a note, talks to me about my life, invites me out, calls me in the middle of the night to check on me after I make a comment on Facebook that I am having a panic attack, directly tells me that they care about me, sends me a text message, offers me a place to live, checks in on me, etc. 

It's not my job to determine/wonder why they are being nice to me.  It's just important that I recognize people care.

Eventually, after I find a great many planks (perhaps it will take years), I will be able to connect to the fact that people care about me, just because I am me.  And that, my friends, is reason enough.

Now to find those planks...

Friday, April 11, 2014

keep chipping away

According to my login page, my last published entry was submitted on December 16th, 2013.  A lot has changed for me since then. Christmas came, Catelyn's fourth birthday came, the new year began, and somewhere in there I found out my marriage was over.

I have been struggling to know what to write.  I don't want to offend anyone, and yet I really want to keep writing about my life, and how I am doing since Catelyn died.

All I can write is what I know...

Emotional control has been extremely difficult for me since I found out about my impending divorce.  I have actually endured many of the same feelings of inadequacy that I did when Catelyn died.

There was one particular day when I felt like everything was going wrong at work, and my thoughts moved to 'I am such a failure that I can't even do simple tasks at my job.'  A coworker happened to walk by my desk at that moment and mention that lunch was ready in the kitchen.  His kindness during my internal ambush overwhelmed me, and tears began to pour down my face like a raging river.  I scurried away from my desk and took refuge in the ladies locker room.

As I slunk down in anguish, on a couch, berating myself over losing control of my emotions at work, I thought, I'll just call my husband.  Then I quickly remembered that was no longer an option.  My thoughts, once again, turned against me, proclaiming, 'you fail at everything: life, work, marriage, motherhood.'

After an excruciatingly painful mental knockdown drag out in the minutes that followed, I finally took a moment and realized my thoughts were only making things vastly worse.  So I started in with the 'Stuart Smalley' school of thought.  I looked up at the ceiling, perhaps for strength from above, and began saying things (out loud) such as:
'I am a good person.'
'Everyone makes mistakes.'
'My boss said it's not a big deal.'
'Many people get divorced.'
'I am not a failure.'

I began to smile as I remembered the old SNL skit where Michael Jordan was asked to look into the mirror and say "...because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me."  After a moment I went back to my desk, collected and renewed.

Catelyn's death has provided me an opportunity to learn some very important tools on how to overcome the mean thoughts I have toward myself.  I can only hope to keep chipping away at my cruel self-talk in the hard days of grief that lie ahead.