Saturday, January 23, 2010

I'm not supposed to talk about it...

I'm close to the final stages of divorce, but I'm not supposed to talk about it. I guess some people who read this (hard to imagine there are many left as infrequently as I post) are upset about it, or found out through the blog instead of being told. Or that it shouldn't be shared with the public. But I'm tired of censoring myself.

Tonight I had dinner with another single friend. I desperately wanted to ask what it's like on the other side. On the 'recovery' end of it all. Granted his situation is entirely different then mine, but I wonder. I'm not ready for dating, even if everything is finalized with the divorce in the next few months as hoped. But I'm starting to get those pangs of loneliness. Sometimes the pangs make me remember I'm alive, I'm still a woman and I have (ahem) needs. But other times they're a bit deeper. I'm scared of being a single mom of two girls. I don't take the responsibility lightly. But I'm ready.

The holding pattern right now is what's driving me insane. I feel like my entire life is on hold.

Career - have two businesses. Bored with one, can't make a profit off of the other. Found an interesting job, thought I had it, only to find out it was never there to begin with. Ready to go back to working outside of the home and dropping the 80 hour weeks down to something more normal, yet not really wanting to miss those small moments I can steal with the kids once and a while during the days.

Love - marriage is over.  Living in the same house with the 'ex' because financially it's the most logical thing. Hating every minute of it. Wondering if I will ever find love. Wondering if I will ever trust enough to fall for someone if I do find it. Wondering if my "irrational" decision to move in the next week if the situation doesn't change will ruin the children.

Education - had hoped to go back to school this year. Not happening. Not sure when and if it can happen. But need that masters degree to get to the 'next' level.

Finances - yowza. The start of this year has been a wake up call personally. Sure, you hear about he economy all the time, but now... well, now it's REALLY hit home. Really, really.

So there. I shared entirely too much personal poo with total strangers (and many friends, too, I know!) on mass media. And strangely enough, my angst is slightly relieved...

Monday, January 18, 2010

One of my favorite days. Ever.

Nothing makes you appreciate your own children more than after the loss of another's child. I've been mourning Charlotte's loss for some time now, even before she was gone. Yet I felt shut away from the girls. Almost guilty for loving on them, when my friends' child was dying. I know that makes no sense - especially since Charlotte's father's instructions to me every time I saw him was to "hug your babies" but it was just hard to think of how healthy they were, how unfair it was to the Reynolds. But I'm moving on.

The memorial was absolutely beautiful. Thanks to all my friends who helped out with it, donated or were there for me to commiserate with. I love you all, and the Reynolds thank you too.

The service was so touching. I've been singing "I'll fly away," gospel-style for the last few days. It ended with "Let's go fly a kite!" as we headed out to the balloon release (eco-friendly ones of course). It was such a beautiful site, and was a wonderful act of letting go. The reception actually went well, even though we crammed 700 people in a space for 250. The bands were hopping, there was laughter and tears, hugs and friends galore. I even ran into some old high school chums I hadn't seen in years, which was a bonus boost. I felt a great sense of closure - not necessarily for me, but as a collective group. And I am in awe of the Ashland community. That little town truly is the "Center of the Universe." I'm proud to have called it home during my high school years.

But to be honest, I was so busy preparing, obsessing about making it all right, that I'd neglected my babies all week. Yesterday I crashed and burned - a complete pajama day, lounging on the couch, finally showering in the late afternoon and snuggling with the girls all day long. It was bliss to be so lazy (though I did feel very guilty).

Today was back to business. Thankfully it was a school holiday, so I had a fantastic day with the girls doing everything they could possibly want - breakfast at McDonald's playland, shopping for new Schleich animals, playing with said Schleich animals, playing outside, going to the park, making home made pizzas together (my white pizza is the BOMB!) and just relishing the little moments with them. The sun was out, it was a glorious 58 degrees and I felt alive and happy like I haven't felt in weeks. My God I missed my girls. And the sun.

I had the most awesome time with the kids. I laughed at Sadie running from spot to spot in the volley ball court to make sand angels. I had a long talk with Katie about Martin Luther King Jr and his impact. (She brought it up - this morning she told me she wanted to make MLK's wish come true for his birthday and she was going to be kind to every person and treat everyone the same no matter who they were, where they came from or what they looked like. Atta girl!). I teared up when the girls took turns shouting from the playground mountain climbing rock "I love you Mommy!" at the top of their lungs. I was just plain and utterly happy today.

So, I'm ready to embark on the next adventure in life, and where ever it leads. I will never forget the lessons taught by Charlotte and her brave parents. I will forever be changed by this experience in living and dying, and I am the better for have being graced by being a part of the conclusion of Charlotte's life. I would give anything to have learned in a different way, but am thankful for the lesson none the less.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Memorial

I realized I never posted much about the memorial service. Many friends have been asking how that went, how it worked and whatnot. And so, here you have it.

The family asked my friend Meredith and I to plan the reception end of the memorial. We wanted to make it extra special, to put a smile on the face of everyone as they walked in and revive a warm memory of Charlotte in their hearts. We covered the room in butterfly art donated by local children, created a butterfly chandaler to hang over a giant chocolate fountain brimming with fruit, pretzels and marshmallows (chocolate was one of Charlotte's very favorite things!). Rachel, Charlotte's mom, came up with the great idea of tying custom made M&Ms in to tiny organza bags with a tag "chocolate makes everything better." We had a balloon release that allowed children and adults alike to say one final goodbye by filling out a tag to attach to the eco-friendly balloon. We had tons of food. Crafts for the kids.  It was a great way for the children to express their grief creatively.There was even face painting donated by the local Stretch and Grow group. I know, weird, face painting at a memorial? But it was perfect.

It took a lot of planning, but was one of the best events I've ever done. And I've planned a LOT of events in the past. Why was it so great? Because of community. The Town of Ashland (Center of the Universe!),,, St. James the Less (especially their youth group - amazing kids!), Duncan Memorial and total strangers to the family who gave monetary and in-kind donations to help the Reynolds give Charlotte a send off that would give us all the strength to let her go. That's not to say it was without tears. There were tears. Many. But there were also smiles and laughter, memories and hugs. It was a beautiful gathering, overflowing with love and sadness simultaneously.

I think a writer for the Ashland Herald Progress captured the day extremely well with her blog post. It was a day no one wanted to arrive, an event no one ever wants to attend, but was a great moment of healing and a grand show of human compassion and of love.

What was the best thing to come from this tragedy was something that I hope the CJSTUF foundation can expand upon - creating an extended support network for a family in crisis. With new advances in technology these past several years (yes, social media, there, I said it) there are new opportunities for nonprofits to give back to their beneficiaries in nontraditional ways.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Heavy Heart

Just watched the news on the earthquake in Haiti, and I'm feeling pretty sad tonight. I mean, I was feeling a bit melancholy before, but this tops it off. I want to jump on a plane right now and go and help.

Mad love to Haiti. So devastating that people who have nothing should be hit with such tragedy.

Yet another reminder of how very, very much I have.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Poem that found my soul tonight.

A Butterfly Lights Beside Us

A butterfly lights beside us, like a sunbeam...
and for a brief moment it's glory
and beauty belong to our world...
but then it flies on again, and although
we wish it could have stayed,
we are so thankful to have seen it at all.

Author Unknown

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Butterfly is Free...

Charlotte Jennie Reynolds: July 9, 2005-January 7, 2010