When Do Moments of Failure Define You As Such?

sorrow
I am amazed, saddened and possibly even disgusted by the comments overheard by me, made by my own flesh and blood, that admit they like to see me struggle. I evaluate this and it seems this new crippled status of my children’s mother – albeit not a permanent thing, I hope – brings them some sense of joy. No wonder they refuse to help me, even go so far as to make it difficult for me to get around the house in a wheelchair … they like to see me struggle. I write this trying to calm my stomach as it begins to lurch within my core.

So I say to myself … and I know it is me because I recognize my own voice, “Self, maybe you were too resilient. Self, maybe you did not show enough strife when you were, in fact, struggling to cover the needs of your children. Self, did you make it look too easy?”

I reply back to myself, “Easy? No. I did not make life’s stumblings look easy. The moving here and there – 9 times in 3 years — was not easy during the stalking.” (Stalking that I am now told was not really stalking by my now 22-year-old.)

“Wait,” I remind myself, “the cops, judges and women’s shelters counselors thought differently and so did your oldest daughter when she was eight.” I do my best to remind myself that it was real. The convincing ramblings of the stalker to someone who has craved his love and attention for over 14 years does not change facts. Facts that she has forgotten and some she may well not even know about. I quietly accept it. Yes, we were stalked and I did my best to protect them.

“Wait until they learn that life, including parenting, does not come with a set-in-stone manual.”

I took what life threw at me and I, I, survived. After all, these struggles, they were not easy. But they had to be dealt with. I set my mind to – getting through life – long ago. The struggles, they were/are, in fact, surmountable. I thought that was what I was teaching my children. I did my best to not stay down on my knees each time I stumbled. And I did stumble. I thought they saw that. After all, they were there. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe it is just easier for them to forget, easier for them to alter history so it is easier to swallow.

“I didn’t try to hide the struggles from the kids, but they did say, once, years ago, ‘We had no idea we were poor.’ I guess I did a good job making sure they had everything they needed.”

I then ask myself, “Self, did you take care of so much, while the others in their life did not, that when the children accuse you of ‘falling short’ and take pleasure in seeing you in need that they are only striking out at the one who has tried to be there for them since before birth? Self, have you set the bar too high, too high because others have set their bars too low? Self, have you missed the mark merely because you are human?”

As I bow my head, allow the tears to fall, for a moment, but not much longer, I realize I have loved my trio to the best of my abilities. I am sure I have fallen short a multitude of times. I know I have only seen life through my eyes (not sure I can see it any other way) and I missed things. Yes, I will do my best to accept that I am only human and humans are fallible and therefore I will admit I have moments of failure. But moments of failure do not make a life of failure.

“I wish I had made better choices, self. Because the ripples in the pond, you know the ones I speak of … unwittingly marrying a fraud, having three beauties with him and all that has come after this has me bobbing my head in the wake of some of my decisions. So much that I wonder if I will drown in the sorrow of it all.”

Failure

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Do You Forgive? a loaded question

Over the last few years – since the murder of my son (Sept. 2010) – I have, and so have my surviving children, been asked: “Have you forgiven the murderer?”

I was asked this, as I walked into church one morning, about a year after my 19-year-old son’s life and future was robbed from him. I was asked this about a year after my would-be daughter-in-law’s security, trust of people and love of her life were brutally taken from her. I was asked this about a year after I had to inform my daughters (and the rest of a very large family in two countries) that they too were robbed of Ethan.

I was dismayed by the question, I will admit.

My answer was, “No, I am just not that big of a person.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve thought about it — this thing called forgiveness. I have, over the many years I have been alive, but more intently over the last four years — thought about it a lot, at times. But I choose to not let it consume me.

Dave, one of my dear friends and a longtime member of the Christian Motorcycle Association (Ohio) counseled my (then) husband and me a couple of weeks after the day someone else changed our family’s lives. I will not ever forget it, the subject of hatred came up. My then-husband, whose anger was overflowing, brought it up. He asked, “Is it wrong to hate what that guy did to our boy?” (This was only about 16 days after our son’s murder.)

Anger flared in this CMA man, before he replied through clenched teeth, “No,” and he took a cleansing breath before saying, “it is God who is charged with unconditional love, not you. It is okay to hate the acts this guy has done.”

Now, I know that “Forgiveness” is talked about a lot in the bible… over 70 times. So I understand it is important. But I still struggle with forgiving the guy who did more than just take my son’s life. This is someone who blatantly and repeatedly chose, via free will, to break the 10 Commandments and more! This Orange Blob repeatedly choose behaviors that tromped all over the 10 Commandments – the likes of:

The 6th Commandment — Thou shall not murder.
Oops, he forgot that more than once, it seems.

The 9th Commandment –- Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Telling the cops “this young couple were here to rob me” … hummm proven not true.

The 10th Commandment — Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field… or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Hummm forcing yourself upon my son’s fiancé, setting out to defraud my son out of the 10 acres that you acted like you had some right to….

The 5th  Commandment -– Thou shall honor your father and mother.
Wow… I don’t think any of these crimes honors anyone, least of all his folks.

Forgiveness, to me, seems to be intertwined with Respect and Love. In 1 Peter 2:17 it says: “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” The reality is I do my best to show respect to others. I really do. But I find that some people lose the respect I inherently give them due to their own actions. Hence I do not respect someone who chooses to exercise his free will to break the 10 Commandments repeatedly including going against the laws regarding the offense of incest and adultery that have been punishable by execution (The Levitical Code) for many, many years. And then again … what is the definition of the level of “proper respect” deserving to a reprobate like this?

Additionally, in 1 John 4:7 it says: “…let us love one another, for the love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” Okay, I love many and treat even strangers with loving kindness. But I know that this person (the Orange Blob) that others want me and my other children to forgive has broken so many of God’s laws that I struggle with going against the laws of the Lord. After all… why am I supposed to abide by these rules set out for all of us if others are not abiding? And why should I forgive those not living by the same rules?

After all this fella is one (Proverbs 28:13) “Who conceals his transgressions [and] will not prosper.” He was hiding my son’s body in a 55 gallon barrel. The Orange Blob only confessed what he had done (in part, believe you me, only in part), but only in hopes of not being put to death…. Well, mercy is not mine to give – I remind myself as I have trouble forgiving this serial kidnapper, serial rapist, serial incestuous creep, serial adulterer, serial murdering person who was born of God but chose a life filed with evil.

I know that I have promised to learn to not hate, as I have heard that hatred is like poison and can poison me from within. I accept that. To that end I have given up the hatred of the Orange Blob to God. It is not a burden I wish to carry and weigh myself down with. Especially because I will not let the Orange Blob rent that much space in my life. But I still hate the acts he perpetuated, which I worry means I haven’t given up the hatred, just done my best to relieve myself of the weight.

So back to the original question — “Do you forgive the Orange Blob for killing your son and the other things he has done that directly affect those in your life?” I would have to still say, “No.” But I do so knowing that as it is written in a multitude of spots in the bible, including, but not limited, to Acts 10:43 “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” And as I sit on bended knee I confess that my sins include not being able to forgive this serial kidnapper, serial rapist, and serial incestuous, serial adulterous, serial murdering person. And I have faith that God will still find me worthy to come home one day and see my son again.

Do you forgive? To what end?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you Forgive? – a loaded question

Over the last few year – since the murder of my son (Sept. 2010) – I have, and so have my surviving children, been asked: “Have you forgiven the murderer?”

I was asked this, as I walked into church one morning, about a year after my 19-year-old son’s life and future was robbed from him. I was asked this about a year after my would-be daughter-in-law’s security, trust of people and love of her life were brutally taken from her. I was asked this about a year after I had to inform my daughters (and the rest of a very large family in two countries) that they too were robbed of Ethan.

I was dismayed by the question, I will admit.

My answer was, “No, I am just not that big of a person.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve thought about it — this thing called forgiveness. I have, over the many years I have been alive, but more intently over the last four years — thought about it a lot, at times. But I choose to not let it consume me.

Dave, one of my dear friends and a longtime member of the Christian Motorcycle Association (Ohio) counseled my (then) husband and me a couple of weeks after the day someone else changed our family’s lives. I will not ever forget it, the subject of hatred came up. My then-husband, whose anger was overflowing, brought it up. He asked, “Is it wrong to hate what that guy did to our boy?” (This was only about 16 days after our son’s murder.)

Anger flared in this CMA man, before he replied through clenched teeth, “No,” and he took a cleansing breath before saying, “it is God who is charged with unconditional love, not you. It is okay to hate the acts this guy has done.”

Now, I know that “Forgiveness” is talked about a lot in the bible… over 70 times. So I understand it is important. But I still struggle with forgiving the guy who did more than just take my son’s life. This is someone who blatantly and repeatedly chose, via free will, to break the 10 Commandments and more! This Orange Blob repeatedly choose behaviors that tromped all over the 10 Commandments – the likes of:

The 6th Commandment Thou shall not murder.
Opps, he forgot that more than once, it seems.

The 9th Commandment – Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Telling the cops “this young couple were here to rob me” … hummm proven not true.

The 10th Commandment — Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s wife; and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field… or anything that is your neighbor’s.
Hummm forcing yourself upon my son’s fiancé, setting out to defraud my son out of the 10 acers that you acted like you had some right to….

5th – Thou shall honor your father and mother.
Wow… I don’t think any of these crimes honors anyone, least of all his folks.

Forgiveness, to me, seems to be intertwined with Respect and Love. In 1 Peter 2:17 it says: “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” The reality is I do my best to show respect to others. I really do. But I find that some people lose the respect I inherently give them due to their own actions. Hence I do not respect someone who chooses to exercise his free will to break the 10 Commandments repeatedly including going against the laws regarding the offence of incest and adultery that have been punishable by execution (The Levitical Code) for many, many years. And then again … what is the definition of the level of “proper respect” deserving to a reprobate like this?

Additionally, in 1 John 4:7 it says: “…let us love one another, for the love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” Okay, I love many and treat even strangers with loving kindness. But I know that this person (the Orange Blob) that others want me and my other children to forgive has broken so many of God’s laws that I struggle with going against the laws of the Lord. After all… why am I supposed to abide by these rules set out for all of us if others are not abiding? And why should I forgive those not living by the same rules?

After all this fella is one (Proverbs 28:13) “Who conceals his transgressions [and] will not prosper.” He was hiding my son in a 55 gallon barrel. The Orange Blob only confessed what he has done (in part, believe you men, only in part), but only in hopes of not being put to death…. Well, mercy is not mine to give – I remind myself as I have trouble forgiving this serial kidnapper, serial rapist, serial incestuous, serial adulterous, serial murdering person who was born of God but chose a life filed with evil.

I know that I have promised to learn to not hate, as I have heard that hatred is like poison and can poison me from within. I accept that. To that end I have given up the hatred of the Orange Blob to God. It is not a burden I wish to carry and weigh myself down with. Especially because I will not let the Orange Blob rent that much space in my life. But I still hate the acts he perpetuated, which I worry means I haven’t given up the hatred, just done my best to relieve myself of the weight.

So back to the original question — “Do you forgive the Orange Blob for killing your son and the other things he has done that directly affect those in your life?” I would have to still say, “No.” But I do so knowing that as it is written in a multitude of spots in the bible, including but not limited to Acts 10:43 “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” And as I sit on bended knee I confess that my sins include not being able to forgive this serial kidnapper, serial rapist, and serial incestuous, serial adulterous, serial murdering person. And I have faith that God will still find me worthy to come home one day and see my son again.

Do you forgive? To what end?

Finally, Breathing & Regaining a Little Bit More of Me

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It’s been a long time…
A long time since I have felt relaxed enough and at peace enough to do something….
Something that makes me happy to the core…
To create something
To create something out of nothing
Or create something out of the beginning ideas of another.
Something I have done
Something my son knew made me happy.
Something I did for him.
Something I have done for others.
Something I was able to share with my Ethan, and his siblings.
      He and his sister, Kayla, challenged each other (when they were 10 and 8 respectively)           and they used to get 12 stitches per inch, hand sewing.
Today, as I begin cutting fabric for a quilt
I do so with a tear and a smile.A tear as the murderer almost soured my heart and soul so much that he almost took this         artistic form of expression away from me
A tear because I know why I stopped
A selfish tear because I miss my Ethan
A tear because I am glad my mind, heart and soul have a thick enough scab to allow me to         begin again.

It’s another step in … the healing direction.

Things you can’t say in court, but it sure would be fun to…

Your honor, what makes this bastard think he has the right to stomp all over the rights of anyone, let alone my kids! (Okay, your honor, it is reported his mother and father were married when he was born.)

Having children and living with your sister, I don’t care if she is your half-sister… it’s not right … on oooh ssssoooo many levels!


Are there associations for incestuous bastards? Bet there is where you are going! (Sorry your honor you asked me not to address the defendant. My bad.)

Who thinks that it is okay to have a brandy with your sister, pursue her like she’s “just the gal next door,” bed her down, live with her as your wife, and father your twin nieces? Who? Who?
It’s just not natural!

The services I know you deserve are not allowed in this civilized nation we live in, but I have already volunteered to help with them if I could.
Castration. Skinning, after all I am good at both, but I would work on not doing my best job, just for you. Torturing — I can learn, after all, I am inspired by your cruelty, I could learn to give you a life lesson: “and eye for an eye”.

Wonder if I could find someone willing to violate you, repeatedly, against your will while you worried about a loved one? Hummm.

There is a valley, a valley in your life that is covered in shale. That flaky slippery slope you have been traveling on is mainly covered in “oh sh**” and his name is Ethan. His name is Ethan! Did you hear me? His name is E-t-h-a-n, Ethan! You may have taken his life, cut it short, but now you have met your match.

Bet you didn’t think that 19-year-old would get the best of you… did you, you orange clad blob?

I bet you expected the son of my ex-husband to show up that day. But, you were wrong. Dead wrong. You see I have raised-up our son. Ethan may have had a lot of youthful looks that one could imagine the ex had in his own youth, but the boy, the young bourgeoning man that showed up to deal with you one-on-one as an adult … that was MY son! And he bested you.
 He became that which you denied would come – your equalizer. Because God decided you needed to be stopped.

Remember that, you horse’s backside: a 19-year-old boy and an 18-year-old girl were sent by God to stop you. And stop you they have.

Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “an eye for an eye” – to others.
I hope you learn this first and for years to come.

Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “thou shall not kill” – to others.
Oh wait… were you out of class on that teaching day?
Oh wait… that is not something that is only taught on one day of a person’s life. Did you show up at all to these lessons? Did she choose not to teach her own?

Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor” – to others.
But isn’t that just what you did when you lied and told the cops Ethan and his gal where there to “rob” you? Guess the good Lord saw to that being proven to be “false witnessing”.

Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “not to covet thy neighbor’s house”— to others.
Yet you killed Ethan over a piece of land he was selling you.

Sure, your pastor of a mom teaches, “honor they father and thy mother” – to others.
Do you really think your actions as a serial kidnapper, serial murderer, serial rapist, serial incestuous creep actually honor your parents?

Maybe your momma didn’t teach you. Well, we can see she didn’t. You didn’t mom.
She certainly knew you were a bad seed; you knew, dam you, you knew.
She certainly knew that you accosted your own sisters.
She should have stopped you. You should have stopped him!


I wonder… did you, mom, really think that becoming a pastor would ensure any absolution for yourself, for your failings or absolve of your son’s bad acts?

You were wrong. You both were wrong on many levels.


Sorry judge. They were wrong your honor. They were wrong.


Your honor, don’t you think there is a proper cell awaiting her too for her apathetic ways?

When turning OFF the tracking of your Editing of a Document is more beneficial for you and your clients!

Have you ever been frustrated by the Edit Tracking feature in your MS Word program? I have.

Years ago, 15 plus now, I found the – tracking of editing – function included in my MS Word program… well, it was irritating at best. Okay, it was a smidgen helpful… but, it was difficult to follow for myself and for all of my clients. But all has not been lost.

You see, I was lucky enough to have a couple of sight-impaired clients who needed an easier system. They needed a system that would enable them to know what they needed changed and easily understand why this editor saw the need for a change in their manuscript(s). This inspired me to devise a color-coded editing system for my sight impaired client(s). And then I said to myself (and I recognized it to be me because I sounded so much like myself) why limit this color-coded editing system to just your partially sighted clients; especially when this system helps you be consistent?

It’s not a big mystery that tracking the changes in some manner is a good idea, but how and what works best? I am not sure if I can say what is the best way, but I know I have found something that works.

Personally, I change the colors of the fonts as follows:

Blue — I use this color to indicate something I have change or added in.
 For example: if I change a comma to a period, if I change a lower case letter to an upper case letter… I turn that blue. If I add words into a sentence, to flesh out the sentence or make it say what they meant to say or correct the tense of a word… I turn that blue as well.

Red — I use this color font for my questions, i.e. [did you mean John or Sam …?]

Purple — I sometimes highlight the thing that I have the question about.

Yellow — I turn the font yellow and add a Strikethrough for punctuation and words I believe need to be taken out of the document.

Green — I use this color font for my general comments.

In addition, I put my comments in square brackets so they stand out and are easier to remove later.

Editing is a meant to aid others by setting a fresh set of educated unbiased eyes on something written. This Color-Coded Editing system was born out of necessity over 15 years ago by me to help others. I quickly came to find it most helpful to all of my clients and myself. Because they can, for example, blow up the page, via the “View” and “Zoom” function, big as they need it, scroll down the document whether it is a one page resume, a short story, white paper, or a full manuscript and not only see the changes/edits, but address, for example all of the Red (the unclear spots in their manuscript) and know that this editor has questions about what they wrote and something needs clarifying. Thus making the unclear thoughts etc. easier to locate and something they can deal with first before going back and looking at the things I think they should take out and the things I have added in.

One client would even send me the chapters back with all of the color-coded editing marks in it, plus one more. He would answer my questions, which he found in Red, in Brown which helped me finish the editing of that section.

I have also found that if someone makes me laugh or cry or actually feel something, I let them know this via the Green comments. It’s a great way to give feedback to things. And if you are helping the writer learn a bit about English grammar or merely let them know why you are making a certain change, you may even say something towards the affect of [we put the punctuation inside the quotation marks.]

SAMPLE OF EDITING
…Again, I think every director should know the craft terms, or in other words know the tools terms of the actors and directors use (objectives, action verbs, images, substitutions, inner monologue and so on). While keeping in mind that you are doing your work, you should stand your ground as an artist. We will explore 17 tools of director [do you mean ‘of direction’ or ‘that directors use’?] in this chapter with samples and explanations.

One of the essential duty duties and responsibility responsibilities of a director is directing actors. We are beginning our critical look into the director’s “toolbox” – discovering, step-by-step, what it takes and what you need to know in order to direct actors successfully. [In this paragraph, Sentence 2, you speak of actors staying true to their craft and now you are, in Sentence 5, you are switching and speaking to directors. This is not good.] First at all, the director is an artist. Directing is a craft. Good directing is a skill. [Good. I like the short sentences and you make good points here.] ….

This Color-Coded system works for me as well when the client subsequently decides they want a clean copy sent back to them, because I know what is highlight and meant to be kept and what needs to be delete before selecting “All” and turning the copy to black. I hope it inspires you to devise your own, piggy-back off of mine or just let you know that you are not alone when it comes to desiring a less cumbersome way to track your edits, do a good jog, help your clients and make your response to their work easy for them to understand and follow.

Happy Editing.

Moments of weakness that linger

When the frustrations drip from the corners of your eyes

When the body’s communication is speaking Greek to you

When rest does not release the demons plaguing you

You beg for more

More time

More understanding

More guidance

More grace

Less cramping

Less uncertainty

Less confusion

Less fatigue

And you wait

The Holidays Can be Difficult when we are facing it Without a Loved One:

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My first Christmas tree that I choose to put up, in my new home, since my son’s murder. Progress is slow, but Ethan’s sisters and I are tired of being so sad all of the time. We all used to love celebrating, so we shall rebuild, slowly. Christmas 2013
___________________________________________________________________________

Here are a few suggestions made by people who work with those who are grieving and is Reposted from the Ohio Chapter of Parents of Murdered Children:

*Because of your loss, holidays will be painful. Prepare yourself for this, but also remember that anticipation is often worse than the actual event. Handle the pressure one day at a time.

*Simplify the event, don’t try to fit in all the usual routine. Go over in your mind the things you normally would do, places you would to, etc., then ask yourself, which of these things would be easiest for you to handle. Remember there is no right or wrong way to feel, do what is most comfortable for you. If some things are too difficult, decide what you will do and inform family and friends of your decision.

*You may decide to change your routine. The one missing person will make a big difference. You don’t have to do the same thing as you have in the past. Also, keep in mind any changes made this year don’t have to become a tradition. Take one holiday at a time.

*Take care of yourself. Holidays are stressful. They can drain us emotionally and physically at the best of times. Be realistic about your endurance. Get proper nutrition, exercise and rest and don’t take on too much responsibility for tasks which are not necessary.
*Be patient and gently with yourself. Buying gifts may be impossible to handle. Maybe a monetary gift is called for this time. This feeling won’t last forever, you can always do things different at a later date. You may also feel envious of others happiness during the festivities. Your feelings are natural. Admit them to yourself. These feelings will pass.

* Sometimes dealing with family after the death of a loved one complicates your feelings. Be open and honest with your family, let them know what you can and cannot do. Let them know how you prefer to handle things this year. You must teach others how to help you. Our grief forces us to become teachers.

* You may find that no one mentions your loved one at family gatherings. You, however want to share your memories and need to talk. Let your feelings be known. You may want to do something in your loved one’s memory, do whatever makes sense to you.

Remember holidays come throughout the year. Some are more special to one and not so special to others. Consider this rule throughout the year. Ask yourself, is this a holiday that I must celebrate? If the answer is no, then don’t.

May your celebration of life become something you balance with your loss. — Kathleen

Surviving the holidays

I was recently asked, ‘How do you survive the holidays?’

Survive them… I didn’t think I was. I thought.

Although I wanted to say this, I quickly realized this was not the answer this mother – who had buried her oldest son in June of this year — was looking for. So I have waited and contemplated this question for more than a week, because I realized we are coming up on the third holiday season with my first born in heaven. That’s him… standing in the photo below.

I don’t have solid 100 percent, sure-fire answer of success for the holidays. All I have is examples.

Image

My son, the goofball in the white shirt in this photo, was taken from the family in early September of 2010. The first holiday we were forced to experience without him was Halloween. This was one of his favorite holidays, so it was a struggle for me.

I let my daughters try to cheer me up. Looking back, I was, we all were, depressed, and after all — it had only been 5 weeks since the funeral and depression was natural. The girls brought out my favorite decoration, a 3-D jack-o-lantern with many little lights among the orange plastic. My smile was negligible. My defensive sarcasm was high.

“Silly me, I purchased a casket just a couple of weeks ago … and I just let them burn it. I should have planned that better and waited,” I said flatly staring into my cup of coffee one morning. “We’ve all been talking about making a casket, puttin’ it the front yard. Ethan could have been propped up and scared kids, just like we all had planned!” I said to my girls. Okay, I guess the wide-eyed open-mouthed silence I got upon looking up told me… that wasn’t so funny.

Thanksgiving was next. The husband, the girls and I stayed home. I cooked. It was a very low-key weekend as sadness permeated the house. We usually began putting up our elaborate Christmas light display Thanksgiving weekend, if the weather was decent. It was in 2010, but no lights went up. The husband was too sad. We all were too sad.

Moping around became the norm for all of us.

Ethan’s sisters and our exchange student must have gotten tired of seeing us this way, because, to my surprise, they strung lights and set up the blow-up lawn ornaments one crisp December afternoon. As I drove up to the house, greeted by the holiday decorations I began to smile.

“What are you doing?” I asked timidly adding, “I thought we weren’t putting those up this year.”

“We wanted to surprise dad. We know how much he loves Christmas,” my oldest daughter said. It was then I admitted to myself that there could still be joy for us. Maybe.

That weekend I bit the bullet. It is time to stop being such a stick in the mud. Okay, so convincing myself to decorate inside the house was difficult, but if my girls could do it, I needed to join in, show them life does not end. The pep talk I was having with myself was repetitive, often falling on deaf ears.

I started with moving the furniture around in the living room, a usual occurrence in our house with each holiday or change of the weather. This took much longer than usual the winter of 2010. The husband escaped to work in his wood shop. The girls helped, when I would let them. They checked on me often. It’s not like the projection style TV or the couches were heavy. The burden lay in the tears that blurred my vision and stung my eyes.

You see, Ethan used to help me move the furniture around. We used to love sharing the chore because it was always the pre-curser to putting up the Christmas tree. Something our family loved to do together.

Moving the furniture and vacuuming took hours this time. I was forced to take breaks due to uncontrolled sobbing and near hyperventilation. But cry through it all I did.

The next day I came home to my girls decorating the Christmas tree. With tears in my eyes I picked up Ethan’s Christmas stocking. I held it tight to my chest, not wanting to let it go. It was then that my husband walked in. Everyone had tears running down their face as dad grabbed the hammer and 5 nails. We put the stockings up on the wall, beside the Christmas tree just like we had before. I will admit, it took me a few extra minutes to relinquish the handmade stocking Ethan’s grandmother had made for him, but with shaking hands I hung it on the wall.

We’ve stopped putting up the tree now. I am down to one daughter left in the house at Christmas. No husband – that relationship finally withered away. And one daughter lives out of state now. But the dog does not seem to notice the house is devoid of a tree, so I anticipate garland on the fireplace mantle will be enough this year, along with the children’s stockings.

I don’t have solid plans for the holiday season this year. It is a constant evolution of actions and traditions. Sometimes the sadness of even planning to make new memories stalls this momma and Ethan’s sisters. But, I put on a game face now. I struggle through the cooking. Sometimes the tears blur the receipts and so I just stop. I allow the tears to come.

I have a loving and understanding set of family and friends that I interact with. They wait my tears out. They hug me, sometimes. But we allow the tears and redirect the sadness to happy thoughts of funny things Ethan used to do. It helps a little.

Each one of us grieves in a different way. Allow that. It’s a long process… this thing called healing.

Celebrate in a manner and at a level that you are comfortable with. And if it becomes too much, retreat, regroup. Say that loved one’s name out loud. Tell them you miss them. Only rejoin the celebration of life if you are up to it.

Remember there will be more holidays and there will be more minutes that will build into hours, when the holiday will not be so painful to endure.