I've noticed a major shift in life as I approach the end of my 30s. In my late teens I completed high school, went off to college and embarked on the beginning of adulthood. In my early-mid 20s, I met and fell in love with Solon. The year before and the year after Solon and I got married, we attended about a dozen weddings, and a few years after that, most every couple we knew (us included) were starting to grow our families. My early 30s were filled with new beginnings with our kids and the experiences that they added to our life. But as I started to move through my 30s, I became acutely aware just how short life is, as I (and the people around me) started to experience the loss of loved ones.
When I first created this blog in 2008, it was because I was expecting the birth of Quincy any day, and I wanted to create a record of our life to share with friends and family who didn't live near us, or who we didn't get to see a lot of. And I also created it to preserve our memories in digital form, for our kids to look back on the beginning of their life - a digital scrapbook of sorts. The first 6 or 7 years of my entries featured a majority of celebrations, holidays, vacations, and happy adventurous memories, but there has been a definite shift in our life in the last two years, and I know my most recent posts reflect it. As much as I would love to keep this digital scrapbook a happy place - a record of just the good times - I would be doing my children a disservice if we did not mention the struggles and the painful moments as well. Because we will all face them, eventually. And we all fear the idea of not being able to get through them. I want to show my kids that we can, and that we did.
In the last two years, our family has suffered profound loss. It started with losing my dad in August 2015. THE MOST HEARTBREAKING MOMENT OF MY LIFE SO FAR. Since then, we lost our Great Uncle Ralph (11/15), my mom's dog Che (who I had to put down) (4/16), my Great Aunt Eleanor (7/16), young Makenzie Rae (10/16), and this summer, our dear family friend Larry Vipond (7/17), and while I was back in AZ, we said goodbye to my Aunt Georgina - the first of my mom's siblings (8/17). Peppered in between these personal family losses, were the shocking deaths of many musicians and others who had influenced our lives. It has seemed, that as common as weddings were to us in the years 2004-2006, and babies in the years 2008-2012, that 2015-present day seems to be where our family is experiencing profound loss. The next big loss will come when we have to say goodbye to our Forrest, who is slowing down at a rapid pace. I cannot imagine what our life will be like without him, and believe me when I say that we are cherishing EVERY SINGLE MOMENT that we have with him.
I understand that this is all a part of the "Circle of Life". I get it. And I wouldn't change the amount of people (or creatures) I love, or the deepness that I love them, for fear of the heartbreak I will experience when their moment is gone. (And we're only here but for a moment, aren't we?) But that doesn't make it any easier. My children have been exposed to more death (or "real life") by 6 and 8 years old, than my brother and I had experienced by the time we were teenagers. In some ways, I guess I'm grateful for their maturity and understanding of death, because I was terrified of it until I was much older. These sad occurrences are what drives me to fill their lives with joyful moments, new discoveries, fearless (okay, semi-fearless), sometimes spontaneous, adventures. I have to. This is probably the most bittersweet part of all of it. LIFE GOES ON. Whether we are ready or not. We have to allow ourselves to grieve the losses, cherish the memories, and keep moving forward. WE OWE IT TO OUR BELOVED ONES TO DO JUST THAT. We keep living, one day at a time, with their memory in our hearts.
In my iPhone, I have a few voicemails saved from the last three years. Two are joyous messages. Two are painful. They are a constant reminder to me about the preciousness of life. I listen to them when I need perspective on what is important. They remind me to continue to love fiercely, and unconditionally. They remind me to live each day to the fullest. They remind me that I MATTER to someone, even if I haven't physically seen them (or hugged them) in years. And one of them is just an everyday message from my Grandma, that I save because I love hearing her voice, and at 94-years-old, she continues to live her life with class, and grace, and she never leaves the house without lipstick.
While there is always heartache hidden in the corners of life, there is most definitely love and happiness bursting through the seams. If I give love, I will receive it. If I choose to be happy and radiate positive energy, it will come back to me tenfold. I hope I convey that in the day to day, even through the moments I pause to grieve. And if you are someone reading this right now, who has gone through a bunch of shit (for lack of a better word), and you are suffering alone, or having a hard time seeing through it to the good that awaits, please trust that you ARE NOT alone, and that GOODNESS awaits, and that YOU MATTER TO ME, and to others. If you are reading this, you matter to me. Reach out to someone if you need to talk. And if you're someone on the flip side of everything I've just mentioned, check-in with people in your life who have just been through something heavy. Chances are... they will need to release something. You don't have to have any answers, you just need to offer an ear. Life can be HEAVY, sometimes. Having someone there... or BEING that someone, is a gift we all need. Let us be gifts to one another.
Here are some of the bright moments since my last post... it was a very full summer:
Snuggles with Forrest
A visit from Aunt Shelley
Dog-sitting Miss Maisy Mayflower
Much-needed Mommy's weekend off
with Christina in Las Vegas
Impromptu visit to the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento
The four of us visiting Sean in Benicia
Post-game beers with our co-ed softball team "Beach Bums"
Henna tattoos at the company picnic
Human bowling at the company picnic
A visit to Lucy & Bob's in Sonoma
Seeing Paloma's prize-winning drawing at Zachary's Pizza in Oakland
Dinner with our cousins in Huntington Beach
Visiting with Morgan
Lunch at Grandma Chacha's
Dinner with AZ family
Much needed pool time
Getting my Frida fix!!
Paper Flowers at The Heard Museum - Phoenix
Dinner with Gaga
Snuggles with Aunt Shelley
Bunny & Breezy! Big H.S. Seniors!
Much-needed Scrabble Night!
Our godsons have girlfriends now!!!
Friends since the womb
My "big brother" bookends!
Cousin Diego! The new architect in the family!
One last hug from my Grandma, Mama Mimi
Aunt Nancy and Uncle Bill
I want to be like her when I am 94
Saying goodbye to my Mom is always hard -
I LOVE AND MISS HER SO MUCH
These pictures were filled with smiles, despite the loss that hit Tío Raul, my Mom and her siblings that week we were in Arizona. We maximized time with family, so we could be there for each other, sharing many memories, laughter, and tears.
In loving memory of my Tía Georgina...
Cancer may have taken you from our presence,
but we will always carry you with us in our hearts.