A Time to be Sad

Today is International Cat Day, it’s also exactly 4 weeks since Duckie escaped the pet sitter’s house while we were at the beach. It’s been a rough four weeks here. Mostly because I get sad, but then convince myself that she well come back, or we will find her, or someone will recognize her from the flyers or she’ll “homeward bound” her way back to our house. It’s a lot of back and forth and wishful thinking. Duckie is a part of our family and the house just hasn’t been the same without here begging for more food, sleeping on our faces and teasing Belle. However, after four weeks I have to come to terms. I think it’s time I let myself be sad and start to say good-bye to the best cat that there has ever been.

I don’t want to be anymore depressing than that, so we’ll just leave it with some of my favorite pics of Duckie for us all to enjoy. After all, it is National Cat Day.

The Best of Duckie

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Me and Ducks when I was about 8 months pregnant.
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Duckie’s favorite spot in the house.
Belle pretending she doesn't see a cat in the bad.
Belle pretending she doesn’t see a cat in the bed a couple of days after we rescued Duckie and brought her home.
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One of the first photos taken of Ducks.
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When Luna and I came home from the hospital and took a nap. Duckie just had to be the one closest to me.
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And, when we first got home from our 10 day hospital stay…we had the sweetest welcome home crew!
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Duckie’s first Christmas

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In case you missed the story of how we found and rescued Duckie almost two years ago, you can read it here.

We love you Duckie.

Cheers

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Showing Up

friends

I can’t say enough how lucky I am to have such great best friends. Last week, after I lost my Grandma, I received so many calls, texts, messages, etc from my closest friends. They were all there for me in whatever way was possible and sent their love and happy thoughts to not just me, but my family.

The night of the visitation, I was so sick. I couldn’t eat or sleep beforehand and felt l may pass out from sheer anxiety of being in the same stupid funeral home I have been in too many times. I roamed from familiar room to familiar room like a zombie, hugged my relatives and made polite conversation with the many people who came to show their respects. I smiled and talked about my baby bump while trying to force myself to forget the reason we were all brought together.

At some point, I looked to the back of the main room and saw my friend Misti standing with her baby. Relief flooded over me. I basically ran to her and soon discovered the other half of us (our group) would soon be arriving. I have some very close and wonderful friends in Texas, but the four of us have been an inseparable group for a while now.

We huddled together in the lobby where we hugged, felt sad together, laughed together and told stories together. Having them there for me was just as calming, maybe more so, than taking a klonopin with a glass of wine. I was happy they came, but not surprised. They showed up, and I guess deep down I knew they would because that’s what friendship is about, right? Showing up?

Sometimes we drive to funerals, other times we Skype overseas. It’s not always easy to actually be there, but friends find one way or another to “show up”.

After returning to Tennessee, my Mom called to tell me she was writing thank you cards to everyone who sent us flowers and food. She had received flowers from “the BB’s”, but wanted to know who were “the BB’s”.  She assumed from the address it was my friends. I told her that yes, indeed, “the BB’s”  were my friends. Here’s how the rest of that conversation went…

Mom: So, what does “BB’s” mean? Is that like “Best Buds” or something?

Me: Ummm…no.

Mom: Well, what does it mean?

Me: Umm, well…. Braless Bitches.

Mom: I shouldn’t have asked. Although, I can’t say that I’m surprised.

-Silence-

Mom: So should I address the letter to “the BB’s” or the “braless bitches”?

Thanks for the laughs BB’s.

And thanks to all my friends for “showing up”.

Cheers

P.S. For those of you who are wondering…”the BB’s” is an inside joke from many many moons ago. And, no, I am not going to explain it.

A Grandmother’s Legacy

Me and my MawMaw
Me and my MawMaw

I should preface this post by saying it may be a little sad, but it’s mostly happy and uplifting. It’s a story worth reading and a little comfort and closure for myself.

My Grandmother passed away last week. I just got home from Texas where I spent time with my family and dealt with all the unpleasant funeral stuff. I could write a book on how much losing a loved one sucks and the crazy roller coaster of emotions I have been on this week, but I have something much more special to share.

My Grandmother, we call her MawMaw, turned out to be keeping a secret from us the past 88 years. After she passed, my Mom found a journal, and a lot of other random writings, hidden around the house. We knew my MawMaw wrote every once in a while, but she always kept her writings private and told us she was a horrible boring writer. I assumed she wrote about gardening, building puzzles and watching TV dramas…regular Grandma life stuff.

What a liar my MawMaw turned out to be. Not only was her writing smart and entertaining, but every journal entry reads like a beautiful poem. Some parts are sad and hard to read… She wrote about caring for my bed-ridden PawPaw, losing 2 of her sons, dealing with another son’s cancer, losing a grandchild and many other hardships. However, in the midst of her depression she wrote about every beautiful aspect of her life, what she was thankful for and how she truly saw the world around her.

MawMaw was a Mother to MANY, a passionate Christian (possibly the most Godly person I have ever known), a strong-willed, not afraid to speak her very opinionated mind, kind of woman. She grew up in the south in a time when women were not seen as equals and should hide their real feelings. Depression and anxiety were shameful. She lived an honorable life and did her best to keep her sadness and anxiety to herself, which is why she wrote.

(Much of MawMaw’s words stem from her relationship with God. You may have a relationship with a different God, or no God at all. That’s okay. I believe there is a message in her words for each of us.)

The following words are bits and pieces of her daily thoughts over the last 19 years. (My favorite quotes) It’s the hills and valleys of her final years and a glimpse into the mind of a secretive and brilliant woman.

The family at Thanksgiving 2013 (She had 9 children, 19 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, 2 on the way and 4 great great grandchildren).
The family at Thanksgiving 2012 (She had 9 children, 19 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, 2 on the way and 4 great great grandchildren).

Life can be harsh and sorrowful. God, sometimes I need a little childish fantasy.

Joy and love and the awesome wonder of God are absolutely fantastic. It can’t be so hard to slip from the fantasy of elves, Santa Claus and fairies sitting on toadstools into the belief of God and all his angels, Fantastic!

Dec. 2, 1994 and it is almost sunrise- I venture out into a day of something.  I do not know what is around the corner, but God grant, courage will be with me. Each thing I do will be new; each daily duty will not be a repeat of what was done yesterday but an adventure anew in itself. We shall see.

It seems some people think they have reason to be miserable. They pick up on every word or happening to analyze it and extract all the misery like squeezing a dishrag and seeing only dirty dishwater instead of the clean dishes in the drainer. I want to enjoy life now; all the good, happy and beautiful things now so when I get to Heaven the transition won’t be so jolting.  From joy to joy will be like sliding on a satin ribbon. Poor miserable Christian what a jolt you will have. There was joy all through life and you missed it.

When I reach 80 I want to remember ten years of feeling the wind in my face, rain so refreshing, blue skies and stormy nights. I will find the big dipper; enjoy things that grow and children at play. Sad times will only be remembered as that by which good times are measured.

Right now there is just one thing I know of that makes sense and that is simplicity.

When bad times come it is hard to bear; but when it is past, replace sorrow with beautiful thoughts just like God said, “whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are beautiful, think on these things.” What a wonderfully easy way to cover yourself with His love and comfort. And it doesn’t cost anything; cheaper than a nerve pill.

As I grow older music touches me deeper to elate emotions that were always stifled by others but now I really feel the beauty of melody and movement.

Just imagine to what melody the limbs of trees sway in the breeze; unheard by the ear but felt in the heart.

(Her thoughts on depression and healing. She often wrote about “moving up the ladder” and reaching that “second step”) I’m convinced that I will never be without problems of all sorts, but still I must never see the dark pit again. Only an idiot is continually happy, joyous and has no problems; but stupidity is another thing. A stupid person hangs onto that first step and enjoys all that muck he is in. Boy, this second step feels better all the time.

The only good I see from this anxiety and stress is that it gives me understanding of others in similar situations.

I feel like a little girl going around and around a tree with one hand touching the tree trunk. Going nowhere but so tired of just going around and around. Depression is real. It’s a dark place, which seems so hopeless, no way out.

[My MawMaw’s 10 Steps to lead a successful life]

I.               Never be satisfied; for therein is danger, you may rust like a tin can in the rain and the weeds will grow over you.  The only time to be still is when you listen to God to receive His instructions for moving on. 

II.              Never take criticism at face value.  Examine the critics’ remarks closely.  Look in the “mirror” for a true picture of yourself.  If need be, correct yourself then smile and go forward.

III.            Pick a goal that seems a little more than you think you can attain.  You will work harder to get there.  Put lots of prayer into choosing a goal.

IV.            Don’t wait to be chosen.  Volunteer.  Choose your own friends and associates.  The only way to be ahead is to step out and move.  Go with God always. 

V.              Read much.

VI.            Be quick to give a compliment, especially to children.

VII.           First thing every morning look out the window and smile.  It’s all God’s world – rain or shine. Last thing at night smile even if it’s through tears for He can wash away tears.

VIII.         Don’t be overshadowed by fears, feeling of helplessness, guilty feelings.  Remember that you are a real person, better than some, and as good as most.  No one has the right to put you down or categorize you according to their ideas. Stand up and be counted.

IX.            Be straightforward.  When you are sure you are right, say so and don’t back down.  “Well if that is the way you want it” is out!  Especially if it affects you.

X.              Be kind, gentle, nice, clean and a real lady or gentleman.  Leave a legacy of good memories.

And, the very last line in her journal…

When all hope is gone heaven has been attained.

This wonderful woman will be very missed, but never forgotten. What a legacy she has left behind.

MawMaw trying on the Mouse Ears we sent her after our wedding.
MawMaw trying on the Mouse Ears we sent her after our wedding.

With all my love,

Hilarie

P.S. I want to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, kind words, flowers and food sent to the family. The amount of love shown to us has been incredible and I am oh so grateful. Thank you.

A Nightmare

Today’s the day I’m actually able to sit down and write for at least a full hour. The last week has been INSANELY busy. We have had two friends staying with us, and of course work has been busier than ever. Oh, and it’s the holiday season! All week I have been mentally writing my blogs. What should I share first? How do I describe this?? When am I going to talk about that?? How do I select out of my thousands of collected photos???

Then, today happened.

My Mom called me the second I finished teaching my last class to ask if I heard the news.”No.” I had not even had time to look at my phone since 8:30am. Then, she told me about the school shooting in Connecticut. I listened to her describe the events in detail and my eyes welled with tears. We spoke until I got home, where I found Husband and I cried to him.

As a teacher, my biggest fear is losing a student. I once had a child get in a car accident and for the split second I waited to here “He’s okay”, I felt I might die. I cannot begin to comprehend what this school and its employees are feeling. We love our students as our own. The pain of losing one must be tremendous. I imagine we will here lots of heroic teacher stories over the next few days.

As a woman who cannot wait to have her own children, I am devastated. Parents all over the country are counting their blessing tonight. My heart breaks when I think of the parents who heard the news and rushed to the school not knowing if their child was safe.

It does not feel right to share any “positively panicked” posts today, just positive prayers and thoughts to everyone affected by this tragedy.

Hugs, Kisses, and Lots of Love

Hil