Saturday, March 30, 2013


Saturday. Here you are again. You are not my friend.

It’s the day before Easter. A day of rejoicing, hope and promise. I’ll be honest, this past week I haven’t felt much like celebrating.  This Easter is the first of many firsts our family will experience with “the empty table”. Even though the last couple of years, Jillian spent this day with Steve’s family, I knew where she was. We still talked.

Another first: I was in a taxi cab a couple of weeks ago with my friend Sheryl. The cab driver wouldn’t shut up. He kept rambling, and once his conversation became political, I shut down. Then he asked me how many children I had.I answered him.
“Four. Three here on Earth, and one in Heaven”. Silence.

Sheryl and I exchanged glances, both secretly happy that those words stopped any further conversation in its tracks. Poor guy. Well, not really.

I know many  people are going through the same set of “firsts”.  I, (we) sometimes feel that we need to be upbeat and happy. Sort of like putting on that happy mask. The tears of a clown. I don’t particularly like pretending I’m feeling something I’m not.

As I was talking with my sidekick Mary last week, we discussed this very subject . Kristen, Mary’s daughter, left us 10 years ago at the age of 20. On Christmas Day.  We laughed hard together when I told her that I’m just overall crabby these days. Pretty blunt, I know, but I recognize this in myself. I’m embracing it as part of the grieving process. Mary and I also discussed some of the terms we don’t like when referencing our daughters that are no longer with us. This is her take:

“My daughter didn’t die- her earthly body gave out on her, but she hasn’t missed a beat- she lives on in Heaven, just not physically with me. She still lives”.

Mary and Kristen

Now here comes the next part.

I’m grieving. I’m sad, I’m mad, and I’m missing my daughter terribly, as is the rest of our family. I am not happy about it. In a way, you could say I lost the “joy”. Even though our family is moving on with positive things, something felt “off”.

We have recently started the Jillian HayesFoundation.
I was given the opportunity to share Jillian’s story and spread awareness on WOODV 8 Daybreak yesterday.( click on the video one you get into the website). These all all very good things, it's what we have been striving for.

 And yet. And yet……

Until this morning. A Saturday. Good grief.

I’m listening to Pandora, and the song from Rascal Flatts begins to play, “Stand”. Oh, how I love it when Jillian speaks to me through music.

"You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless
Like you’ve lost your fight
But you’ll be alright, you’ll be alright”

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you’re made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause it’s all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you’ve had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
 Then you Stand, Then you Stand"

Jillian is right there in my heart. She talks to me. She nudges me, and rolls her eyes when I feel sorry for myself. She helps keep me on track. I have been reminded once again that I must live my life like Jillian did. Falling Seven Times, Standing Eight. Always.

So tomorrow I will go into Easter with Hope. With the promise of new beginnings, with renewed strength. Hanging on to the knowledge that Jesus Lives. And so does Jillian, and Kristen. And your loved ones that no longer share the Earth with us.

Thank you, my precious daughter. I needed you this morning.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Are You My Mother?

I have always loved mornings. When my kids were little, I’d wake up an hour or so earlier than they did, just so I could have some quiet time to myself before all the busyness started for the day. And a cup or two of uninterrupted coffee. I still do that. Mornings are my time. Time when I can pray and try to sort through the chaotic, rambling thoughts spinning around my head. Maybe I need more than an hour.

I do not like Saturday mornings any more. Jillian died on a Saturday morning. Ten weeks ago today. I wake up now, on Saturdays, and I watch the clock. I relive every single minute of that last morning with her. Those moments are forever seared into my brain. Once 7:30 am passes, I breathe easier.

A dear friend of mine commented that I must have nightmares reliving what she endured. I try not to go to that place too often quite yet. Memories are sneaky though, they can appear unexpectedly. But even though some of those memories are unpleasant or painful, they are still precious treasures.  I have my own personal treasure box just jammed packed with gems waiting for me to open and examine. Some sparkle so brightly, I’m blinded by their light.  Others are scarred and caked with mud. I think with time, my handling them will polish them so they too, sparkle and shine. Just like Jillian did. My precious Jewel.

This week, as I’ve been trying to sift through my thoughts, I’ve been reminded lately of a favorite childhood book that Josh and I shared. “Are You My Mother?”. We would giggle together each time I read that book. We seem to share that same quirky sense of humor. Especially the Snort part. Another precious gem.

With my memories and my new life, I’m learning that I’m not the same person anymore. Cancer changes you forever. Whether you are the one with the disease, a family member or a friend, you just aren’t the same. How can you expect to be?  I had this conversation with Josh last week. His reply to my declaration was, “ We are always changing, mom. Life’s circumstances are constantly changing and we change with them. “ So, there you have it. I guess it isn’t so confusing after all is it?  Our lives change, we change with it. 

I’m not sure who I’ll end up being. I guess I don’t really need to know.  But I do know I’ll always have my faith, my children, my family,  and my wonderful supportive friends to share in the constantly evolving person I’ll become.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up being that Snort after all. And I’m okay with that.