Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Red bird run

I have been writing this in my head for months.

In January, I started running again. I did not like the person I had become physically and mentally after Christopher died. Losing my brother changed me. Changed the way I see the world and the way I see other people. It’s also taught me about my ability to endure things. Living through his death and all that followed made me stronger.

While running I think of him a lot…if I am being honest I think of him even when I am not running. I am thinking of him now, and will think of him when I drive to work, cook dinner, or put my children to bed. But back to my point here…when I am running and want to give up I think to myself, “Don’t stop you’ve come so far, you can go a bit further,” and then my thoughts lead back to Christopher. IF I can endure his death and living without him…I can finish this run.

One evening I was running up an incredibly steep hill, and talking to myself … “C’mon you can do it. Just imagine at the top of the hill is your brother and you will see him.” I lowered my head, pumped my arms, and leaned into the hill pushing my legs to run faster. I wasn’t letting up until I reached the top. Of course, I knew Christopher would not be there, but I let my mind wander to our heavenly reunion and how I will run to him. Oh, how happy I will be. I can hear his laugh now and see his smile.

As I got closer to the top of this hill I noticed a bird…but not just any bird. It was a bright red bird sitting on top of a white picket fence. Surely, it could not be a red bird…all of this running has made me delirious. I got closer to the top and see in fact it was a red bird waiting for me at the top of the hill. All I could do was smile and let out a giggle...and say out loud "I see you, Christopher." You may be wondering why I was so happy to see a red bird.

They say a red bird appears when an angel is near. I know in my heart God sent that bird to me at that very moment, to comfort me and encourage me. To keep going…“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God,” Hebrews 12:2

*Look in the bottom left-hand corner and you will see a red bird in flight. This wasn't the red bird from my run, but red birds visit me all the time since my brother, Christopher, entered Heaven. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Good Grief

Dear Christopher,

Good grief. No way there is such a thing. I have lived with grief for the last 10 months, and I can honestly tell you there is nothing good about grief. 

It hurts but at the same time its powers are numbing. My grief comes in waves. I never know when I’ll reach my crest or float to the bottom of my trough. 

For me, time has stopped. It’s the fall of 2014. You are trying to piece your life back together. God has sent you to the Salvation Army for help. Looking back I believe God sent you  there to prepare you to die. In your last days he wanted to prepare you to walk thru the valley of the shadow of death so you would fear no evil and know he was with you

Sept. 30, 2014 was one of the very last times I spoke to you, saw your face, heard your voice, and gave him you a hug. We sat on a bench inches from one another. 

This is the bench we shared, Sept. 30, 2014.

I asked you about your daily routine and you shared stories about some of the friends you made there. You proudly showed me the bike you got from the thrift store where you worked and a pair of shoes you got there, too.  

I have those shoes in my closet. I pulled them from the mangled mess of the car you died in. I see them every morning I open my closet. 

In every life there is defining moments…your death is mine. The simplest of things makes me miss you. I hear a song on the radio, and I think to myself, “Christopher never heard this song,” and I cry. 

I cry for you brother. A brother I can no longer call, and ask “what would you do?” I cry for a brother no longer here to see his children grow up, I cry for a brother no longer here to help care for our parents, I cry for a brother who is now brotherless

People say it gets easier, and life goes on. I’m not sure I believe them. Good grief, it’s been 324 days! 232 weekdays and 92 weekend days have passed since you left us…and not one day goes by I don’t think of you. 

Each time, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." (Phil 1:3)

Love your sister, 


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Picture of Jesus

My brother, Christopher, took this picture wile working offshore.

I have been struggling with what to write. I have always loved having two brothers, Christopher and Jared. My grief has taken me through so many valleys. I feel okay one minute and the next I fall to pieces. I torture myself with questions…what if I’d done this, what if I’d said this…what if I didn’t say this. I try to be strong for my parents. I know they are struggling with their own grief, which is so different from mine. Grief isn’t something laid out in perfect precision. For me, grief feels like I have an open wound and I need to explain it to people when their eyes catch sight of it... “Oh, that? You mean that blaring, oozing, deep red wound…that’s my brother, he died 16 days ago.” 

I remember seeing a picture of Christopher for the first time after learning he died. My heart dropped, I ached to see him…to tell him how it will all end. For days I couldn’t look at my bedroom window because it was there Jared knocked to wake me up just past midnight and deliver the news, (I know that must have been hard for him).
For days each time I walked into the living room, I saw Jared standing there in the dark, his hands in his pockets, the words, “Christopher and Adrianne were killed in a wreck” escaping from his mouth, yet his lips never seemed to move. 
Days later, I couldn’t look at my driveway…it was the last place I hugged my brother and told him I loved him, I was proud of him and how good he looked. Had I had known a week later he would never pull into my driveway again, I would have hugged him tighter, invited him in, or simply looked at his face – held his hand. It was the last time I saw Adrianne.

Looking back the week of his death felt hard to believe, it couldn’t be true, NO it was a mistake. The days seemed to last for years, I had no concept of time. Picking a plot, choosing a casket, making musical selections for the service…it was all a blur.  I’m not sure I will ever be able to describe my feelings during this time, there truly are no words.
I stood at the head of his casket…rubbed his head methodically. Surely, it can’t be true…he is here, his hair feels the same, he looks so peaceful…he looks like he is sleeping.

The days to come I would piece together the events leading up to his death, I needed to know. I would drive to the scene…just to stare at the tree I had driven past for five straight years never giving it a second thought. I would look for its branches stretched high in the sky as I passed by on nearby streets.

Now I know, I was looking to the wrong things, focusing on the wrong things, looking at the wrong pictures.It would take a broken washer and pile of laundry to open my eyes.

You see, my washer died five days after Christopher. The laundry had been piling up. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I gathered up a pile and headed to the laundromat.

Brent asked me why did I need to go right then and wash clothes and I told him, I just need to go. While the clothes were washing, Noah and I walked to the Christian book store. I thought about buying a book on grief. I left without purchasing one. Here’s why: On the wall of the store were dozens and dozens of pictures of Jesus. A feeling came over me, again one I cannot describe. As soon as I saw the picture of Christ, I saw Christopher, I felt Christopher, I heard his laugh. I saw him basking in the Lord’s glory.  I knew Christopher had seen Jesus and was with Jesus, while I stood there in the bookstore and looked at a picture.

I feel peace, knowing he and Adrianne were with our Lord, Jesus Christ. Enjoying the love they shared in life, yet this time a love without pain, without struggle…a love created by Christ.

It was meant for my washer to break…it was meant for me to go to the laundromat...it was meant for me to walk into that store. I can still hear my brother's laughter, and see his smile completely take over his entire face when he’s making fun of my cooking or my Christmas tree still out back. I miss him, terribly.

People say they’ve felt the presence of their loved ones, or their loved ones had sent them little signs…and I kept waiting for mine. I believe it arrived.

I love you, Christopher.
This is how I picture Christopher meeting Jesus.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mr. Masseuse

So much has changed since I last wrote. The seasons, my job, where I live, my weight (not for the better), Brent and I celebrated 13 years of marriage and my kids have celebrated birthdays.

Noah is a big 3rd grader, who likes a girl. Word on the street, she has nice handwriting and a 6.1 reading level.

Kipper is in 1st grade and has been missing his front teeth for a months and has developed a love for country music. Seriously, where did this kid come from?

While so much has changed, so much is the same.  And by that I mean my kids' ability to test my parental skills in public still exist and is going strong.

Most Sundays, when we aren't traveling the Southeast playing soccer, I will try to visit my grandmother. Usually, it's me, my mom, my aunts, my cousins and my uncle, sitting around the table, drinking coffee and eating whatever sweet, fattening thing one of us has brought over.

Noah and Kipper usually tag along, and spend time with their cousins. But one Sunday, Noah saw this as an opportunity to make a buck, or two or seven!

Here's how. I've taught Noah how to massage shoulders. And, I don't mean any old massage – he is actually pretty good. This particular Sunday, Noah decides to show off his masseuse skills by massaging everyone's shoulders for three minutes for a dollar. (Did I mention he's cheap)

Once he was finished, Noah had earned seven dollars. In the land of a 9 year old, or at least my 9 year old, that is BIG money!

So, after we left my grandmother's house we head to Books-A-Million. I had promised the boys a trip and a book…hindsight being 20 / 20 I should have planned to pick one up for myself, no doubt a self-help book probably titled...'Perfecting a poker face for parents.'

So, after we roamed the store a jillion times, Noah has finally made a decision and picked out his books. Kipper chose his within the first five minutes of getting there, typical Kipper fashion.

Anyhow, Kipper spies TWO books to his ONE nestled
in the crook of Noah's arm and says, “Wait, why did he get two books?”

I tell him, “Well, Noah massaged shoulders at Little Maw Maw's and earned extra money to pay for another book.”

Kipper stomps his foot at me as I am walking towards the checkout and says…(or SCREAMS which is how I remember it), “You didn't tell me I could rub people's FEET!”

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Neighbor to neighbor

Lately, life is stressful. We are in the process of looking for a new place to live. The landlord is selling our home and we have until August 1st.

It’s causing quite the stress for me! For several reasons - one, who wants to move? It's such a task! Two, Kipper tells people it's because we can't pay the bill...(not true) Finally and MOST importantly, how am I ever going to find neighbors like I have now?

So, for my neighbors-to-be I have developed a check list:

I don’t own a coffee pot, so you will be responsible for making coffee for me in the morning.  I like cream and lots of sugar. I also never bring my own cup, so you will need to purchase 16 oz. Styrofoam cups. Because if I take your cup, you will never see it again.

I don’t cook. So at least four nights a week, my husband will ask me to ask you what you made for dinner. If he likes it, he will ask me to ask you if he can have some.

We don’t own a lawn mower so you will be responsible for cutting our grass…oh by the way, first you have to clear the yard of the million soccer balls, goals and army men.

When we go out of town you will be responsible for checking our mail and watching the house.

When I run out of toilet paper, dog food, or soap I will come over, let myself in and borrow from you.

You must keep a large supply of juice boxes at your home for my kids. As well, as cookies, cheese and ice cream. My kids will grocery shop at your house, no lie!

My kids must be able to play in your yard…they will not ask permission, and will climb your trees, hide in the bushes dressed as Ninjas and ride their bike in your front yard.


My son Kipper will ask twice a week to spend the night…he will also want to take a bath there since he is spending the night. His decision, not mine.

My kids will sometimes be rude and ignore you when you come over to our house, or tell you to go home.

Finally, when my kids are sick and can’t go to school I will walk them over to your house so they can in your bed watching TV while I am at work.

If you know of someone or somewhere that fits this description please, let us know. While we sound like a lot to handle, we give just as much as we take. (Except for the cooking part) Just ask GiGi and Paw Paw our current neighbors.




Monday, April 29, 2013

Chewing the fat with Romeo

My baby turned six earlier this month, and my first baby will celebrate his 8th birthday in a few weeks.
I am having hot flashes already thinking of their girl crazed days ahead – who am I kidding those days are here now.
On a recent trip to Disney World, for a Soccer tournament, our resort was inundated with College cheerleaders and dance teams from across the nation! Kipper won a dance off and Noah chased down girls twice his age to tell them, “call me.”

Let me just say, I had a glimpse of what the future holds for my two Romeos come the year 2020. Noah will be able to drive and no doubt Kipper will be riding shotgun. I can already hear a Justin Beiberish musician blasting from the speakers, while my boys check out “hot girls.”
Being the mother of two boys comes with a big responsibility…making sure my “lover boys” grow up to be gentlemen.
I try and teach them, girls like smart boys, who do well in school and mind their manners.
Which in turn garners the question…”Is that why you married Dad?”
“Um…yeah, that’s exactly why.”

I also tell them looks aren’t important and one day they will fade – and your son or daughter will describe your then hot wife as “fat and old.”
True story.
Just last week, someone told Kipper they met a woman who knows him.
“Who?” Kipper asked.
“Well, she looked a lot like your Mom,” the person answered.
“Oh, so she was fat?” Kipper replied.
Realizing he had made a huge infraction describing me as fat, he quickly corrected himself and said…"I meant old, not fat.”
Actually, I do prefer old to fat – so thank you, Kipper D.
UPDATE: Noah is now 8, still girl crazy and so is Kipper.
I took the boys to rent 'Wreck it Ralph' the movie. Noah thanked me for taking them and Kipper as he is getting out of the car thanked me in his own special way.
He said, "You look skinny Mom!"
Awe, son...thank you! And to your future wife, "You're welcome."


Friday, December 7, 2012

The News Lady

This is a bitter sweet story I must share. 

It started many moons ago with a young girl and a dream. 

A dream that would take her to places she never dreamed of and places she does not want to go again. 

You see, as far back as I can remember this girl wanted to be a television news reporter. I mean what 10 year old kid asks Santa for a typewriter. I always thought I wanted to be a foreign correspondent until I realized the sacrifice it would take and by that I mean take me away from my family. 

(Little did I know then, a local news gal would spend plenty of time and many a holidays away from family. Brent and I celebrated every holiday for nearly four years at Waffle House.)

My broadcast career blossomed while in college anchoring the MCS News Team and shooting my video on a camcorder. You'll be happy to know my journalist integrity has come a long way since then, too. 

In college, I prepared a resume tape on VHS starring my college roommates and sorority sisters running stops signs. 

After college, I accepted my first television job. I remember like it was yesterday, telling my Dad I got offered a job in Panama City, Florida as its Chief Bureau Reporter in Marianna and they were going to pay me $15 thousand dollars a year. I was on my way to becoming the next Diane Sawyer. 

I remember my Mom drove me to Florida so I could pick up my news truck. (I cried the rest of the day, here I was 23 years old moving to a new state alone and about to embark on one of the hardest but most rewarding things I had done so far) 

The job was much harder than I anticipated, for several reasons. One of which, I was a newly wed, who would spend the next two years on call 24 / 7 hauling a camera, tripod and notepad around. There were days I thought I would never make my deadline...I would pace back and forth while I "fed" in my story. But looking back, that was one of the greatest times of my life. 

I also met one of my greatest friends, Natasha, she was my competition. "My Dawg" and I covered five counties of northwest Florida like it was nobody's business. 

While in Marianna I learned a lot about the news business; first, old women and metal pipes are not a good combination and will "kick your ass"...(her words not mine). I also learned what it is like to be taken to jail and that Honda's don't get near as good gas mileage as you would think. 

From Marianna, I headed to Florida's Capital City, Tallahassee. I would spend the next five years building my career and starting a family. Let me tell you, being on television is hard enough...but being pregnant and on TV. is even worse! 

Tallahassee will always hold a special place in my heart. Both my boys were born there, along with my career as a Television News Anchor. WCTV was my home away from home. I learned if it didn't make Frank Ranicky's socks go up and down it wasn't newsworthy and "who cares." It's also the place where I realized I had a talent...a knack for writing and for people. That confidence in my ability came from a coworker, Julie Montanaro. I will forever be grateful. 

Still, I dreamed of making it back home, of working for a television station my family could watch. That day came in November of 2007 when I landed a job with FOX 10. This of course meant my family would no longer be watching channel 5. 

I remember my grandfather introducing me to his neighbors like I was the Queen of England, or learning my Dad told everyone all about his "News Anchor Daughter." 

One of my first big assignments back home was the story of a man who threw his four kids off the Dauphin Island Bridge. To this day, I can't cross that bridge without thinking of them. 
I have seen a lot in my 12 years as "The News Lady" and heard even more. News has taught me it takes all kinds to make the world go round and that I am blessed beyond measure.

There are a lot of things I will miss about working in television; the rush of breaking news, my front row seat in a courtroom and my fellow journalist. People who work in news are one of a kind, with skin tough as nails...at least on the outside.

However, I will not miss trying to find a story, or people telling me..."You look different in person." And the next time someone says, "You look so familiar, do I know you?" I will be so tempted to tell them, "I am a stripper."

As I embark on this next adventure I will remember all news has taught me about life, loss and that I call pull 5 G's in an F-18 without throwing up!

Above all else, I will always cherish the friendships I have made along the way and hope that somewhere I made a difference...that because of me a voice was heard.