Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Letter

A couple weeks ago I was headed in the front door of the house after a long day of work.  Sarah was trailing behind me upset that she had to carry HER backpack, HER lunchbox, HER jacket. I was very politely ignoring her and lugging MY coffee cup, MY purse, and reaching to check the mail.

The mail is typically 90% junk and 10% bills.

I grabbed the hunk of mail and headed into the house and plopped the mess of papers onto the computer keyboard.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a handwritten envelope in the mix of car sales ads, pizza ads, and the ever so popular Penny Saver. 




I assumed it was for Sarah (Grandma Joanie treats her to letters now and then).

I ignored it for the time being.

I went about my normal evening routine of making dinner, yelling at kids, cleaning after dinner, yelling at kids, directing bath time, yelling at wet kids, reading stories and saying prayers.

After the routine of the evening was complete I went to the computer to start my other job: Photography.  But before I could get to work I had to move that stack of mostly junk mail. 

I remembered the handwritten envelope.

I pulled it out and it wasn't addressed to Sarah, but to me.

I immediately got a little nervous and excited.  Not sure why.  Somehow I just knew that this wasn't gonna be something normal.

Kim walked by and talked to me about something.  I didn't hear him.  He asked me a question.  I didn't answer him.

I opened the envelope and inside was a card and a piece of binder paper tucked inside the card. 

I recognized it instantly, but yet couldn't place it.  The binder paper was folded in quarters and was so soft. The fibers were like a soft flannel material.  Binder paper gets that way when it sits for years. 

Kim was still talking and things around me were normal, but I was moving in slow motion and everything was on mute except for my heartbeat.

I opened the card and read it. It was from my daughter in law.

The binder paper was filled with Joshua's handwriting. A letter to me.

The letter wasn't dated, but I knew immediately when it was from. The weekend of May 16th, 2009.

As soon as I read what he had written I was overwhelmed with emotion.
Kim was standing in front of me while I held a handwritten letter from his son. I wanted to share and hide it all at once.
Joshua wrote me a letter full of love and kindness.
I miss Joshua and have so much I want need to say to him.
Joshua always had a way of giving people love/acceptance when they needed it most. I don't know if he knew he had this gift.
I miss Joshua.  But, in that exact moment that I read that letter and held it in my hands I felt like I was near him. Like, I could feel him.
I haven't held anything of Joshua's since the last time I held his hand on September 13th, 2012.
I smelled the paper. Seems odd, but it was such a natural thing to do.
I ran my fingers over the inked words as if I were touching the hand that wrote them.
I want more things of Joshua's so I can soak him up.  I want a few of his clothes so I can make everyone pillow cases out of them, I want to see more written words, I want to display things that he loved.
I miss Joshua.

The letter.  

I love this letter. I love that Breanna was willing to take the time out of her day to write me and to share Joshua with me. I can't thank her enough for that gift. I love that Joshua wrote to me, that he wanted to tell me something. I wish I could tell him "thank you".

The letter.

The letter was written after our family, the whole family, had a very exciting and very rough weekend together. In May 2009 Kim and I hosted a weekend getaway to Dillon Beach in which we housed everyone (Dad, me, Sarah, the big kids, their significants, grandma, uncle, their mom... all 12 of us). We all had to be  present at the beach on that weekend.  Brian proposed to Harmony on that weekend.  That was the AMAZING part.

The rough part came when Joshua had the opportunity to talk with all of us present about his future.  This was 3 years before the transplant would ever come to be.  This was when Joshua was thinking he would opt out of having a transplant.  This was when Joshua wanted us all to know that we would have a difficult future together.  This was the weekend that Joshua made us look at our reality and asked for us to PLEASE talk to him, now, about how we feel about him.  This was a weekend Joshua made us stare into his reality that he was not going to live a long life.  

A verbal fight ensued.

We are Mompeans, we are strong, we kick butt, but we are also like anyone else in that we don't like to look to closely at ugly truths.

Joshua was demanding that we talk to him open and honest, now, and not save it for when he was sick, mad, scared, frustrated, in pain... and in the hospital. He wanted us to talk to him as though he were dying... because he was dying.

"Joshua, don't be so negative." "Don't ruin the weekend." "Don't be morbid." were just a few of the comments. 

We were all scared.

Eventually I spoke up and DID talk to him like he was dying.  And I told him my fears, my hurts, my aches... and I cried. A lot.  I told him how it would be heartbreaking to not have him in Sarah's life. I told him that the thought of him not being at family events was overwhelming and made my physically ache. I told him that I was scared it would break his Dad. I told him lots of stuff.  And I cried. And cried. And cried.

Eventually the weekend came to a close and we all celebrated the good and ignored the rough.

The letter.

The letter was written after that weekend. 

The letter was mailed to me on the 3rd anniversary of Joshua's double lung transplant.

The letter was mailed to me 5 months after Joshua passed away.

The letter thanked me for being honest with him and sharing how much he means to me.

The letter told me that Joshua loved me.

The letter came at a time when I am filled with worry, remorse, and uncertainty as to whether or not Joshua knows... really really knows how much I loved him.

The letter came at a time when I am lost for where I stand as a step-mom in the lives of these kids that mean the world to me (Joshua, Harmony, Jacob).

Being a step-mom is hard.

I work diligently to love these bonus kids immensely, but only from the shadows... so as not to disrespect their mom. 

I give them everything I have but work hard to expect nothing in return because I don't want them to feel like they are being disloyal to their mom.

But the truth is.  I love them.  Completely.  As a mom. Joshua got it.  He called me mom. HE CALLED ME MOM! He once said he loves his mom very much and he loves me very much. "Having two moms is a bonus!", he said.

The letter reminded me that Joshua did love me, that he understood me, that he appreciated me.

The letter.

Five long months after he is no longer here, Joshua is still gifting love and acceptance.

I take back what I said earlier, I am sure Joshua knows what he's doing. 

Thank you, Joshua.  I love you.

Sincerely,
Your bonus mom.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Kindness

Who knew I would get such a tickle from this, but I did!

Last night I picked up the kids from school and daycare after spending my day home sick in bed. I looked a little miserable and felt a lotta miserable and was in no mood to cook.  The husband and I agreed to eat out at a restaurant we noticed doesn't get toooo busy on weekday. My goals were simple:
1) feed everyone without accruing any dirty dishes
2) receive cup after cup of hot coffee

We got to the restaurant where there were only two other parties enjoying a hot meal.  Within ten minutes another 5 tables filled up -- right next to us.  Within 5 minutes of that my 2 year old lost his mind and went screaming crazy.  Loud, screaming, crazy.  I was mixed with concern for him and embarrassment for me. I know, I shouldn't be embarrassed, after all, he was acting two -- he was being NORMAL!

But there I was, feeling miserable, looking miserable, and my cute little two year old was acting miserable.  I got a little worked up.  Mr. Mom came to the rescue and whisked Elijah away to calm him down.  I ignored the 10 sets of eyes that stared in my direction.  I ignored them and I colored with my 7 year old daughter who calmly said "Elijah needs a little love."  I was thinking I could use a little love, too.

After about 5 minutes the boys returned.  Everyone stared as they walked back to our table to have a seat. Elijah was calm, Mr. Mom was smiling, and I took a deep breath in and exhaled slowly.It wasn't until then that I looked up and noticed a woman across the way dining with a friend.

This woman smiled and said "You're doing great!" and I tell you I just about crumpled into tears. I didn't feel great. I felt sick, tired, embarrassed, frazzled... but in that moment she made me feel ok. Her smile and her words put me at ease and the rest of my night out was just perfect. Loud, but perfect.

As I headed to pay the bill I asked the waitress for a pen and piece of paper. I wrote a note to the woman thanking her for her kindness.  I told her that her words made my evening enjoyable and that I appreciated her... and then I left $10 toward their bill.

When we were leaving Mr. Mom said "Are you doing secret squirrel work?" to which I replied, "Yes, I am."

I was nervous that he might be a little frustrated with me, after all, we really shouldn't have gone out to eat at all, and to pay for others on top of it was not a line item in our household budget.  But he wasn't mad.  He said, "I love that you did that, it was a very good thing to do." 

It was a very good thing to do.  It made my night.  And it made my morning.  I get a tickle every time I think about the possibility of making that woman smile.  

It seems to me like we should all do more of that - that kindness thing.  If someone does good by you, outwardly appreciate it.  Whether with a smile, a kind word, a gift... whatever it is you have to give... go ahead and give it.  And when you can... be the one to do good in the first place.  I tell you what.. it feels amazing.  :)  Kindness Rocks!

What was the last thing you did to outwardly appreciate someone? When was the last time someone was kind to you?