Destination

30 minutes of driving.

Enough time for about 10 songs. Sometimes the same song on repeat 10 times.

Some mornings tears prick at my eyes. Triggered by words strung together and put to music touching my heart in a way that’s a little too close to the surface.

Some days I count every mile, and sometimes I arrive at my destination with minimal memory of the drive.

Some days the sun is shining, and I sing out loud.

Some days I ride in silence, my thoughts racing… creating a whirring of their own. My heart races, and worries rise to the surface.

Some days I can’t stand the alone-ness. So I call anyone I think might answer and talk to them until the car is in park again.

It is my time. I treasure it and loathe it at the same time. I look forward to it and dread it all at once. It is mine, even though the destination is always theirs.

The morning commute.

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2 Months Gone

Winter 2008 015

You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she’d want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

—David Harkins

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Things I Want to Remember

Dear Casey,

I want to remember the pure love in your Dad’s voice when he told us he’d been going over to have coffee with your Mom at the funeral home every morning since she passed away. Although in the moment I couldn’t think of anything sadder than that image – it was really a gesture of love. He didn’t want her to be alone. Their love has always inspired me, and in that moment I’ve never been so in awe.

I want to remember holding you the night we buried your Mother. You cried. I cried. And we fell asleep with tears on our faces – but together. Always together.

I want to remember buying our new car, sitting in the parking lot of the mall, laying the seats all the way back and looking through the moon roof at the night sky. Talking, laughing, wasting time. Being us.

I want to remember showing up to see Frozen (the Sing Along) and realizing we were the only ones in the movie theater. Oh wait, we’re supposed to take that one to the grave. My bad.

I want to remember the moment that we found out we were officially licensed as foster parents. I texted you immediately and didn’t stop smiling all day. One step closer to being Mom and Dad. One stop closer to family. We came home that night and my Mom started the annual silly string fight. We were ambushed. She’s going to be a great Grandmother. And you are going to be an amazing Father.

I want to remember always how you look at me in the morning when our eyes first meet. You are bursting with love for me and I feel it. Thank you for always letting me feel that.

I want to remember the way that we did 63 Random Acts of Kindness to honor your mother. It was the best thing we could have done to celebrate her life – we spread joy throughout our world, and inspired others to do the same. We’ll never know who was affected by our kindness that day, but I have no doubt everyone who was touched by it spread it on. You are brave, and giving, kind and loving.

I want to remember the day we first opened the sunroof in the new car, and drove down the road, putting our hands through the window, singing at the top of our lungs and laughing. Feeling free. It’s priceless.

There are so many things I want to remember, these are only a few. Thank you for our continued adventures.

I’ll love you more tomorrow and even more the day after.

JennCaseyHoteChocolat

 

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Unpacked

It only took 1 year for us to unpack everything since moving into our house. We finished last weekend and it feels like a weight has been lifted. What was left were the unnecessary things… pictures, memories, decorations. I forgot how actually necessary those things are for my soul- I’m happy to have them back hanging on my walls.

****

I’ve been writing letters to Casey’s Dad every week. You know the snail mail kind. He’s not on Facebook, he doesn’t love texting, and if Casey talks to him for 5 minutes on the phone that’s a long conversation. So I decided to write letters. Just about our weeks. Good things, bad things, all the things in between. I’ve added my Uncle and Dad to the list of men-folk that receive the letter. I hope to write 52 of them this year. Every week. So far, so good.

****

It snowed here in North Carolina. You may have seen on the news. Unfortunately for the kids around here, it was mostly ice with just a small covering of snow. And because it didn’t warm up for a couple of days, the area was pretty shut down for 3 or 4 days. There’s barely any equipment here, and the ice was very dangerous. I went out one day, and even though I have 15 years of driving-in-winter-weather-experience, I shouldn’t have been on the road. Ice doesn’t care about experience or what kind of car you drive. I got very annoyed with people in the North mocking the southern states about shutting down. After all, the south is just not equipped to deal with ice or snow. And no one down here was making fun of anyone in the North when hurricanes made it up that far. In fact, we had all kinds of people express concern for our families up North and feel very badly because the North doesn’t know how to deal with hurricanes. Stacey told me that Northerners are just meaner. Guess that’s so!

****

Well, as my mother would say, that’s all the news that’s fit to print from our place. Hope y’all are doing great!

 

 

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Resolve

I have read so many posts about New Years resolutions. It is that time of year, the time for beginnings. The time for the notion of a blank slate. The notion that somehow the world is shining and bright, and that we have within us more resolve to follow through on January 1st, than we do on December 31st.

For me I just hope for healing and peace in 2014. I hope we will find peace in whether we can be foster parents or whether we can’t. I hope that time brings a level of comfort to Casey’s heart as we venture into the first year of his life that won’t include his mother.

My word for last year was “family” and while we didn’t add any kids, so it was not what we hoped for, it was about family in ways I had not imagined. Our family changed in ways we could not and would not want to predict. The lesson this year was – take nothing for granted, especially family.

It’s not that I don’t have any hopes for 2014. I hope to read more, and write more. To stop and smell the roses more. To live the ordinary and see the extraordinary within it. I hope to be gentle with myself and my expectations.

2014 will be a year of change and transition, but also of settling in. A constant ebb and flow – just like every year before it, and every year to come. So this year’s word? Kindness. To my family, friends, strangers. To myself.

 

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Gone

“I’m never going to see her again. Ever.”

Your words fall into the air between us. Heavy with the weight of their reality.

Slowly, I shake my head. Left to right. Left to right.

I turn and look out the small oval window, as the airplane takes flight.

And we leave her here.

Buried in a casket you helped them lower into the ground.

Gone, forever, from our presence.

***

The reality hits us both at different times.

I bite my tongue when I start to ask, “Have you called your Mom today?”

Tears well in your eyes when you catch her smile, forever frozen in time, in a picture on your nightstand.

This Christmas will forever be the one where sympathy cards arrived, co-mingled with Christmas cards. . . both hung on the wall, because they were all sent with love.

The Christmas that the heaviness was felt just as much as joy.

The Christmas where I felt guilt for still having a Mom when you no longer have one here on Earth.

***

“She’s gone,” I say reluctantly as I turn back to look at you. My hand finds yours and you squeeze it three times as always – once for each word. I love you.

 

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Merry Christmas!

Just a quick note from my new tablet with a wireless bluetooth keyboard (I’m so fancy now!) Here’s a couple of pictures from our Christmas! Hope your holiday was wonderful, I hope to be back writing more soon.

IMG_33482651398579 IMG_33473929543950 IMG_33447895899687

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On The Day You Died

On the day you died, Casey woke up and told me that he had a wonderful dream about you. You were 20 years younger, and telling him about a wonderful meal you’d just eaten.

On the day you died, it was raining the morning.

On the day you died, “What a Wonderful World” came on in the car on our way to work, and I looked over at Casey – the tears streaming down his face mirrored mine as he whispered, “My Mom loves this song.” 

On the day you died, I cried all the way to work after I dropped Casey off. I couldn’t shake a terrible feeling.

On the day you died, I glanced at my phone at 11:47, saw a missed call from Casey, and knew you were gone.

On the day you died, the sun came out at noon and we wondered if you were lighting the day.

On the day you died we held each other. We cried, we remembered. We said so many “I love yous” as we tried to fill the void you left.

On the day you died Casey and I fell asleep holding hands, tears streaming down our face silently in the darkness.

On the day you died, the world didn’t stop spinning, but our world did– at least for a moment — as we took time to honor your time on this Earth and wish you well on your journey to the next.

 

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May Angels Lead You In

caseycharlene

I wish you so much love and peace in your next journey, Charlene. And know that I will keep my promise to you – I will always take care of your son.

Spread your wings, fly without pain, and may angels lead you in.

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Calling all angels..

We got word yesterday that Casey’s mom has little time left on Earth. A few weeks.

We’re leaving for Maine this afternoon, but I can’t wrap my head around it.

How do you say goodbye? How do you help your husband say goodbye to his mother? How do we get in our car after this weekend, and drive away knowing we have seen her alive for the last time?

How is this happening? And why does the world not slow it’s spinning?

It’s surreal, and my brain and heart are in shock.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers, as we begin down this difficult path.

“Calling all angels, walk us through this one… don’t leave us alone.”

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