Thursday, January 18, 2018

What Doesn't Kill You

You are strong.

You are so strong.

I don’t know how you do it.

These phrases, and variations of them, I have heard quite a few times in the last five years. Each time someone says this to me, I mutter something along the lines of thank you, while my mind is squirming and uncomfortable inside. They are comments that just don’t sit well with me.

Because the truth is, I’m really not that strong.

I look at the people in my life, and there are so many that are truly strong. My children quietly go about facing, and overcoming their fears. People I know fight battles for their children, to make sure they get the best possible health care and education for them. People I know have fought cancer. People I know have helped their loved ones fight cancer and other debilitating diseases. People I know have become widows and widowers. People I know have battled lifetime long diseases. People I know are serving or have served in the military, protecting our freedoms. People I know have walked away from abusive marriages. People I know foster and adopt children, as infants and growing children, to provide a safe and loving home. People I know fight for human rights.

I am in awe of you all. I don’t know how you do it all.

I also look to you all as a source of inspiration to be stronger in my life. I know we all have our battles and fears . . . some public, and some private, that we are facing. There are fears that may loom large in our life, but look trivial to others. We all have fears. It’s part of what makes us human.

There has been a fear inside of me for the last five years. Every once in awhile it rears it’s head, almost as if to mock me. Knocking me down a peg or two, and reminding me, no, you’re really not that strong.

As most know, when Chris collapsed, he was at our child’s soccer practice. It was a soccer field that we had been to countless times. Practices, games, and tournaments had been played on those fields, by all of my children. At the time, we had one child who played year round, on a travel soccer team, one who was looking forward to being old enough to play travel, and one who had moved on to baseball. We spent an inordinate amount of time at that soccer field. I could practically drive there with my eyes closed.

Then November 3 happened. Chris collapsed at the soccer field. After receiving the phone call, I drove to the field, not really seeing where I was going. Rather as if I were on autopilot. I won’t go into detail about what was happening at the time. Those are not details that I will ever feel the need to publically share.

All this to say, November 3, was the last time any of us were at that soccer field. It was the last day one of my children practiced on a team for soccer. It was the last day a child of mine had played the game of soccer as part of a team. On that day, it was as if the game of soccer ceased to exist for our family. So much of what had defined our time together as a family was gone.

And for the last five years, I have not set foot on a soccer field, let alone the soccer field where our lives changed.

There have been times I have thought about going. Facing that fear. But each time, something has mentally held me back. About eight months after Chris died, a friend called to tell me about the possibility of having the soccer field renamed. It would be named in Chris’s honor. I admit to being floored that someone thought it would be a good idea to rename the field, and had even researched how to do it. After I got off the phone with my friend, my mind raced with too many thoughts. Thoughts that would not settle down. The most prominent was, oh God, I would have to go to the soccer field again, and see where he died. Later that night, I would find myself in the hospital, wondering if I was having a heart attack. No, I wasn’t. It was a massive panic attack.

I never went back to the soccer field.

Until today.

You see, for whatever reason, it has been on my mind all week. Thoughts of that wretched soccer field have been plaguing me. Thoughts of inadequacy, because I haven’t yet faced that fear. It’s a soccer field. It cannot hurt me. But every time I started to think about going, my heart would race. My palms would begin to sweat. My hands would begin to shake. Every image that was seared in my brain on November 3, comes to the forefront of my thoughts. 

I couldn’t bring myself to go.

Then this morning, as I was wondering the aisles of Target, contemplating the soccer field, I saw this t-shirt on a mannequin.

I’m not exactly sure why I took a picture of it. Maybe I was trying to talk myself into believing it?

As I left Target to head home, I realized that with one right turn, I would be headed in the direction of the soccer field. I took that turn, and I found myself driving on autopilot towards the soccer field. Every light I hit, was a green light.  The closer I got to the field, my heart started to beat faster. I parked the car in almost the same spot I had parked that day five years ago. As I got out of the car, and headed to the well-trodden dirt path, that leads to the real path, I realized my hands were shaking. My ears were ringing. And my chest was tight.

But I kept moving one foot in front of the other, till I found myself at the field.


I made it. A flood of images, and a wealth of emotions passed through me, as the sun shone blindingly bright, and the cold wind buffeted against me on that empty, grassy field.

I'm not sure how long I stayed there. 

But I survived.

I beat the fear that has been plaguing me.

When I got back in the car, and started it, the radio came on. The song playing was, and I wish I was making this up, Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson.

I thought to myself, yes.

This didn’t kill me.


Today I put one foot in front of the other, and kept moving forward. 

Today I am a bit stronger.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Finding The Bright And The Beautiful

I’m going to begin by saying . . . Please bear with me. I’m hoping this will all make sense by the time I get it all written down!

You see, for the last ten days, I have felt compelled to write something. I just didn’t know what.

Then, today, like I do every day, I made my bed. Sort of out of the blue, an idea came to me. The idea came from this pillow:

I bought this pillow at Target a few years ago now. I have to admit, it was kind of an impulse buy, but it absolutely was a perfect choice. If you had ever spent anytime with Chris, at some point, I’m pretty sure you would have heard him whistling. Now, unlike my son, who whistles a variety of tunes, Chris usually stuck to one tried and true song: Monty Python’s, “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life.” Seriously. The only words to the song that he would sing, were, “Always look on the bright side of life,” and then he would whistle the rest of the song. It got to the point that the crew learned how to sort of whistle/hum the tune. For those of you that know the rest of the words to the song, I am sure we can all agree, it was probably best that Chris stuck to singing just the title words, while the crew was still young!

Which leads me to today. Well, really this entire week. You see, this week is a challenging week. Chris died five years ago last week, and it was five years ago today that he was buried. Yes, it has been five years, but there is still something about this week that just knocks me down. I know I make it through the other 51 weeks of the year, but every year, for this week, my brain is scattered, I don’t want to be an adult, and I would really rather be taking a nap.  And as I hit my low point this morning, I looked at that pillow that sits on my bed, and realized, I have not been looking on the bright side. Instead it has been thoughts like, my eyes are red, probably pink eye.
Oh, I have a sniffle. I must have the plague. My head hurts, it’s probably terminal. (For the record, I’m fine. I have allergies, we spent almost the entire weekend outside in Williamsburg, (explains eyes and sniffle), and I went a day without coffee, which gave me a headache).

So this afternoon, I am working on changing my mindset. I need to recognize the bright. I need to see the beautiful that has been right in front of me this entire week. I need to take a moment to recognize and appreciate it. I need to take a moment to share it all.

We’ll begin with last Friday. (Don’t worry, I won’t do EVERY day of this week) This school year, I have tried something new with the crew. I had read about the idea in a parenting blog this summer, and thought I would give it a try. (If I can find the original blog, I will be sure to share it). Anyway, the idea is, to give the children a goal you know, for a fact, they can accomplish on any given day. So rather than saying, “do well on your test,” (cause hello, tests are stressful, and at some point we all fail one) I would tell my youngest to avoid getting eaten by a boa constrictor. One was, to avoid an avalanche of ping-pong balls during PE class. Or, avoid getting abducted by green space aliens, but if you are, please be home in time for dinner. The more outrageous, the better it is. Now the crew is coming up with some ideas of their own for their goals for the day! It’s something ridiculous and fun, and usually has us laughing in the morning. Well, last Friday, I told the crew in the morning, before we headed out the door, that the goal was a bit different this time. Their goal last Friday was to do a random act of kindness. If they saw an opportunity, they could do more than one. Hold the door open for someone. Smile at someone in the hallway between classes. I told them, they didn’t even have to tell me what they did, or how many acts of kindness they did, but rather, take a moment to be kind. They all agreed, this was a perfect goal for the day.

Then we walked outside. That was the morning our neighbors showered us in love. Literally hanging 200+ hearts on our tree. They knew Friday was a milestone, and they let us know, we are not alone. The children saw, first hand, what kind of impact they could have with an act of kindness.

We left town the next day, to run away for the long weekend. We escaped to Williamsburg and had a wonderful time. The weather was absolutely perfect. The historical interpreters patiently answered hundreds of questions from my crew. It couldn’t have been better. On Sunday night we went to our favorite restaurant there, Maurizio’s. Most of the tables were full. Our table of four was kind of in the middle of the room. There was a table of what appeared to be three couples sitting near us. They were having a mighty fine time. We were having a pretty typical dinner, but not too crazy (for us) dinner conversation. When it came time to pay the bill, I had something happen that I have only read about in stories. The waitress handed my card back to me, and told me the bill had already been paid! One of the gentlemen at the table of three couples had paid our bill. I asked the waitress, really? She assured me it was true. I looked up, and said thank you from where I was sitting. When we were ready to leave, as I stood up, I caught his eye and said thank you again. I had intended to walk over to say thank you, and to tell him he had no idea how much his act of kindness meant to the children and I, but he waved off the thank you, as if it wasn’t a big deal. In the long run, it’s probably better, and a lot less awkward for all of us, that I didn’t walk over and begin a conversation. I probably would have ended up crying. I will never know why he felt compelled to do such a thing, but it has definitely made a lasting impression on all of us.

Other beautiful moments this week included all the phone calls and texts from family and friends. I’ve had short to long conversations. I’ve had conversations that have covered a wide range of topics. Each conversation has let it be known, that the crew and I are loved.

And finally, I come to today. Like I said, today is not an easy day. I’m coming to grips with the fact that this day will probably never be an easy day. But even Mother Nature, as she brings us sunshine and cold arctic feeling wind, is reminding me, to look on the bright side of life. You see, the first time this plant bloomed, was the week of the funeral five years ago. It’s blooming again today . . .

Friday, September 1, 2017

Time To Eat . . .

I have a story to tell you.

It may seem a bit harsh, but I have to get the truth out there.

It’s been on my mind for years. My family and some close friends know the truth, but it’s not something I have shared with everyone. I think it is time to put it out there.

Bear with me for a moment.

I know many who will disagree with me. I’m okay with that. Each to their own and all that.

So here it goes. The truth:

I hate chicken noodle soup.

Loathe. Despise. Detest. 

All of those words apply. I cannot stand the look, the smell, the taste, or even the mere THOUGHT of chicken noodle soup.

Now you might be thinking, why? Or maybe, even how could someone have such strong feelings about chicken noodle soup? Has she finally lost her mind?

I am here to assure you, I have not lost my mind! There are some very good reasons why I don’t like it.

You see it all began, a long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away . . . wait a minute. Wrong story. (I may have seen too many Star Wars ads online this week ;) )

Okay, really this story is in a few parts. So bear with me.

Way back in time, when I was in third grade, I was quite ill. Like the doctors thought I had spinal meningitis kind of ill. I was so sick, I spent time in the hospital. I’ll spare you ALL the details – although I did give the doctor a black eye. But I digress.  So here I was in the hospital, spending most of my time sleeping. However, when I was awake, people kept trying to feed me. Every meal was exactly the same: chicken noodle soup and red jello.* My loathing of chicken noodle soup all stems from this. I completely associate it with being sick and in the hospital. The good news in this story, I did not have spinal meningitis. Not sure they ever did figure out what was wrong with me. But I was sent home a few days after arriving, and am here to share all sorts of stories with you.

Now fast forward a few months in time from the hospital stay. Imagine if you would, a family dinner. Grandma, Mom, Dad, Brother, and I, are all sitting down at the table to have dinner. Family dinners at the table, using our best manners, (especially when Grandma was visiting), and staying seated for the entire meal, was the expected course of action. For this particular meal, Grandma had cooked all day to make us a special meal. Everything was made from scratch and the cooking smells wafted through our home. Grandma was an amazing cook! Now imagine my parents, and Grandma’s surprise, as the food was brought to the table, and I took one look at it, and threw a colossal fit.

A stubborn, slouched back in my chair, crossed my arms at the dinner table, refused to take one bite of dinner, because it was so disgusting, how can you people possibly eat that, kind of fit.

It was chicken noodle soup. Homemade. HOURS had been put into making this aromatic dish.

I wanted no part of it.

I refused to eat it.

I left the dinner table.

I was told to go to my room.

In other words, I was a complete pain in the ass.

Bless Grandma and my parents. They handled it well. And as far as I can recall, we never had chicken noodle soup again.

Now you may be asking yourself, why is she telling us all of this?

Well, I needed to tell you all of this, to bring you to tonight. Tonight was a moment of truth. You see, my child has been sick all week. So today I was brainstorming, trying to remember all the things my Mom would do to take care of me. I wanted to make sure that I had added them all to my arsenal to get my child well. We’ve done the showers to cool down. The lemon and honey to sooth the cough. There have been countless naps taken. Then it occurred to me, there was one last item that I had never considered trying.

Chicken. Noodle. Soup.

It popped into my brain today, and once the idea took hold, I couldn’t let it go. Part of my thought was, isn’t chicken noodle soup, what every mother and grandmother, in every story, brings to their child when they are sick? Homemade food is an expression of love! Everyone always feels better after having it. Somehow, in my brain the x number of years that I have hated, loathed, despised, and detested, chicken noodle soup ceased to exist. I was on a mission to make soup for my child. Fortunately, last week I was part of a discussion with neighbors that included recipes for how to make chicken noodle soup. As soon as I recalled that, I texted my friend and asked her for the recipe! Like the good friend she is, she typed up the recipe with directions, and emailed it to me about 15 minutes later. With recipe in hand, I ventured to the store for the ingredients. A short while later, I was home, and began my cooking.

And I was on the phone with my Mom.

She wanted to know how everyone was feeling. What was everyone doing tonight?

I told her I was making chicken noodle soup.

There was a moment of silence before she started laughing.

I started laughing.

We finished each other’s sentences reminiscing about the fit I threw. After all, it was one that has gone down in family lore. We finished the conversation with her wishing me luck on my cooking endeavors, and to let her know how it all turns out.

So now, I feel I have to end this by sharing another truth.

It’s going to be difficult for me to write this.

You know what? Chicken noodle soup is actually pretty tasty.

*(FYI I will NEVER eat jello).

Friday, March 31, 2017

Facebook and Lent

What is Lent?

I asked Google. Cause a) Google would know and b) I figured it would give me the most concise answer.

According to Google, “Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days.”

As you all know by now, I gave up Facebook for the season of Lent. 40 days of not reading posts. 40 days of keeping thoughts to myself. 40 days of not seeing all the fabulous things happening in your lives. 40 days of not seeing the challenging days. It’s not on the same scale of sacrifice as withdrawal into the desert for 40 days, but I have to admit . . . this whole, not logging onto Facebook has been a challenge for me. I would like to say it has given me more free time to complete projects around the home, or to write more, or to read more too, but no.  While all of this is true, I haven’t really taken advantage of this free time, in all those ways. I mean, I could have, and it would have been great to have a clean home, and a bunch of blogs to share at the end of 40 days. But, no, didn’t happen. Won’t be happening. Well, ok, maybe I have read a bit more, cause you know, “It is a truth universally acknowledged,” that I love to read. 

Instead, what has happened, is that I have had a lot of free time to think. And all of those thoughts are stuck in my head. “Don’t panic!” I am not going to share ALL. THE. TOUGHTS. I don’t have that much free time to write, and you don’t have that much free time to read! So today, it’s just a few thoughts about the month. Cause as I write this, I am only 30 days into this challenge. One month. March 1 to March 31. Have you ever paused what you are doing, and really thought about the month that has just passed, and everything that can/did happen in that time frame? I’m pretty sure we fit almost a year of living into the last month.

We began the month on a wonderful note! The oldest participated in his high school One Act performance. For those of you who don’t know what a One Act is, it is a one act play, about 30 minutes long, and performed in front of judges. Based on scores/evaluations a play goes from districts, to regional, to state competitions. To make it a short story about a short play, our high school won the state competition!!! They are officially state champions. Even better, the students brought joy and laughter to all that saw the play. Definitely something we could all use more of.  

Midway through the month, we had a challenge to face. On March 10, my father in law passed away. Once again, a time to tell my crew a loved one has died. Over time, it hasn’t gotten any easier to tell them, and it doesn’t get any easier to say goodbye. What has happened though, is this family has once again shown me how to celebrate life with laughter through tears. Although we were unable to attend the funeral in California, we talked about the lives of Grandpa, Grammy, and, of course, Chris. We talked about how they may all be together again, and what comes next. Cause, there is always a next.

The next, for us, in the case of the end of March, brought us full circle, to joy. We have had birthdays to celebrate!!! Mom and Miss B both had their special days this month. (Because they are ladies, we will not state their ages.) There was quite a bit of smiling and laughing as we planned celebrations on both coasts of the country. Miss B was a bit easier to plan, because she knew about hers. Mom’s party was a bit more involved, as all of the family helped my Dad plan a surprise birthday party for my Mom. The conversations that took place via phone and text, between three states, a handful of adults, and all while keeping it a secret from Mom (still not sure how that happened) will be providing stories for some time!

So here’s the thing, I really don’t know how to end this. When I sat down to write today, I had a completely different topic in mind. I had not intended to give you a brief run down on the month of March. Rather, I wanted to write about music, and what kind of sound track we all have running in the background of our life. I guess things don’t always turn out how we think they will turn out when we begin things. Kind of like me, in giving up Facebook. In my original thought of giving it up for Lent, I wasn’t really approaching it from the religious standpoint. I didn’t think to myself, “I need to reflect.” Rather, I approached it as a challenge. A challenge to back away from something that was taking up a lot of my time; something that kept me distracted from my family; something that kept me from fully appreciating the life that is happening around me. Lent just gave me a definitive amount of time. It has a start and an end date.

But as it turns out, not only was I able to be more present in Life, and truly enjoy my time spent with my family, I have also had time to reflect. I’ve been thinking that Life, like Time is going to continue to move forward. Good days, bad days, life, death, tears, joy, laughter, it’s all going to be there. It’s a matter of whether or not I choose to be present, and make the most of the time I have. It’s a decision we all have to make.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Couch

The story you are about to read, is a bit of a love story. Well sort of. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight. It was more of, “Seriously?! You like that?!”

The story begins in the spring of 1998, a bit more than a month before THE BIG DAY. (Also known as, our wedding day).   As many of you know, Chris and I were young when we first began dating. It took years of school, traveling, and personal growing, before we finally said the big “I do.” After so many years of dating, I thought I knew him pretty well. However, getting ready to take the step into marriage, you get to learn more about the person you love.

Everything was going well as we planned for the wedding. (It should be noted, it went really well, because my Mom listened to what the two of us wanted, did all the legwork to find options that met our requests, and then we would travel to Phoenix to go through the options and make a decision. Then she would convince Dad it was all in the budget. Best. Mom. Ever.)

As the wedding plans were taking care of themselves (please note again: Mom was taking care of it) we had to take care of other things. You know, like, where to live? We had each been living with roommates since the time we left home and went to college. In fact, at the time we were planning the wedding, we were each back to living with our college roommates. (We were both blessed with wonderful roommates at school!!) After several stressful months of looking, we finally found a home for us. A two bedroom, two story townhome. It had a living room, a dining room, kitchen, and half bath on the main floor. The two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and some of the best closet space ever, were on the second floor. It wasn’t exactly huge, as it was Los Angeles after all, but it was ours, and it was empty. Yes, empty. It became apparent quite quickly, that between the two of us, we only owned furniture for the bedrooms. We had nothing but a tv for the downstairs. So it was just a big, empty, living room, waiting for inspiration!

So what do you do when you are a young, practically broke, in need of inspiration, and in need of furniture, soon to be married couple? Naturally, you go to IKEA! The room ideas are endless, the furniture is affordable, and they have tasty food to keep you sustained in your furniture shopping. It was here that I learned that Chris and I had quite different styles. There were several battles started that day, but one in particular was over The Couch. Yes. The Couch. An extremely comfortable, well padded, and long enough for Chris to stretch out on, couch. These are all good things. The problem being, the couch was ugly. Seriously. It was dark blue and green plaid, with a red line running through it. We sat there on the couch, in the store, arguing the merits, and the ugliness of it.

He told me that it was comfortable, and that is what a couch should be.

I said, yes, but it’s ugly.

He told me that at 6’, he could stretch out on it, and not have his feet dangling over the edge.

I said, yes, but it’s ugly.

He told me, that because of it’s color, if anything is spilled on it, it won’t show.

I said, yes, but it’s ugly.

He told me that one day, it would no longer be in the family room, but in the basement. Then I wouldn’t have to look at it every day!

I asked, do you promise?

He said yes.

He won the argument.

A side note: we lived in Los Angeles. We had planned on staying in Los Angeles. I have never met anyone who has a basement in Los Angeles. Why I listened to that part of the argument, I will never know, lol!

We brought the couch home, already assembled by the good people at IKEA, in his pick-up truck.

That was in the spring of 1998. It is now the winter of 2017. That wonderful, comfortable, easy to curl into couch, has moved from Los Angeles, to Brooklyn, and to two homes in Virginia. The couch has been used by family and friends, as a place to sit, and sometimes sleep, when they visit. Our babies have been snuggled and fed on the couch. They have napped with us on the couch. The couch has been a sailing ship, a fortress, a trampoline, a slide, a home for dolls and action figures. It has been a place to read, to watch tv, and to play video games. It has been a place for silly talks, and life altering conversations. Over the years, it has heard a lot of laughter, and soaked in as many tears. It has been a bit like an anchor, in an often, unpredictable world.

After almost 19 years, the couch is looking worn. There is stuffing coming out of one cushion. The material under the cushions is torn in parts, so you can see the wood frame underneath. The couch is still comfortable. It still pulls you in, and lulls you to sleep. However, it is a bit more difficult now to get off the couch, as the springs aren’t what they used to be.

It is finally time to say good-bye to The Couch. A new couch was delivered today, and The Couch, will be picked up tomorrow.

I know deep down, it is just a couch. It is an inanimate object, without feelings. In the grand scheme of life, it is but just a thing, and things don’t last forever. Things come and go in our life all the time. There are much bigger problems in the world than whether or not I have The Couch. Knowing all this to be true, I have been sitting here for some time, wondering why I feel like crying. Why would I want to cry over a couch? A couch I didn’t even want in the first place. Then it hits me: it’s all the memories. There are so many memories tied to this couch. Events, for which the majority of time, they were just average events of the day. Moments in time, we take for granted in our daily lives. It isn’t until we add all those moments together, that we see the mosaic of time that has passed. It is with these thoughts, that I now look around my home, and realize, there are so many things I have held onto, that are just things. With this new year, I think it is time to start letting go of more things, and holding on tight to the memories. For it is the memories that are cherished and shared, that can last forever, not the things.

So it will begin, by saying good-bye to The Couch . . . that wonderful, comfortable, memory filled, loved, and still ugly, couch.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Thank you Washington Nationals!

Dear Washington Nationals Organization,

I am writing to you today, to tell you all thank you! Thank you for helping me share an experience with my children, that I thought we would never have.  

I should probably explain.

First of all, my husband and I both grew up huge baseball fans. Of course, we each had our own favorite teams that had good seasons and bad. However, just because we had our favorite teams, it didn’t mean we only attended those games. We enjoyed going to professional ball games because . . . well you know, for the love of the game! Whether it was the bleachers at Wrigley, the nose-bleed section of Shea Stadium, or the Dodger dogs in Los Angeles, we went for the fun. The love of baseball was something we shared with our children. Our son played ball for over ten years. My husband would help coach, spending hours playing catch with the children on the team, with our children, and many a weekend afternoon with the neighborhood children. Our youngest was only five days old when she attended her brother’s first t-ball game. My crew has kind of grown up around the little league ball field!

Although we could share the professional baseball experience with our son, (thank you for the Little League events at your stadium), we could only provide the Little League field experience for our middle daughter. You see, almost 11 years ago my daughter had her first allergic reaction to peanuts. Over time her allergy has gotten worse. She has even had contact allergic reactions. She and I both carry medication that can help her in the event of an allergic reaction, and even though we do, we go out of our way to avoid situations where a possible allergic reaction could occur. We have a completely peanut free home, we read ingredients labels for everything, and I will call ahead when we go to a new restaurant. The idea of taking her to a professional baseball game was akin to a living nightmare, filled with stress and anxiety of the highest levels . . . too many peanuts!

This is where you all come in. I found out late last year about the opportunity to sit in a peanut free section at Nationals Park. It sounded a bit too good to be true. So this spring, I checked your web site to see if I could find out more information. I followed your “Contact Us” link on your web site to send you a message to find out more about the peanut free section. Within two hours I had a response from Mike: All of the games that were going to have a peanut free section had already been sold out for the season, but would I like to be contacted if more became available? Absolutely. I received a message from Mike last week, that there was a peanut free section for the game on Labor Day, and there were extra tickets. Would I like to get them? After a discussion with my crew, I said yes.

When Monday rolled around, I have to say, I regretted buying the tickets. There were too many variables, and it suddenly seemed like the risk might be too great. Three children, one adult, and peanuts all over the stadium, except one cleared area. All sorts of what ifs raced through my mind.  Since my husband passed, I have done my best to step out of my comfort zone, and face new situations. This one took an amazing leap of faith in all the things I could not control!

Washington Nationals, you knocked this one out of the park! (Yes, pun fully intended). From my first contact with Mike and getting the tickets to actually attending the game, I could not be more impressed. From the ticket takers who helped direct us to the correct gate, the security people who welcomed us and directed us to our seats, to the folks at the concession stand for water . . . all of them were amazing! They provided great customer service, and went out of their way to help us. Also, a big thank you to the employees we did not see – the ones who cleaned the area for the peanut free section. I’m pretty sure I have never sat on such clean stadium seats! When we arrived at our seats, I took a look around the area, and actually breathed a sigh of relief, as I thought, yes, we could make it through a professional baseball game, and my daughter should be safe. It is not often that a bit of relief happens, and I had to hide tears from my children.

Thank you. Thank you so much for making such an accommodation for families that love the game, but otherwise would not be able to attend. We stayed for the entirety of the game, witnessed two home runs, multiple doubles, and all around a fun baseball game. In addition to the game, my daughter was able to enjoy the singing of the National Anthem, the running of the presidents, and the famous seventh inning stretch. Thank you. Without you all creating a safe space, these things would not have happened.

Seeing as this is the longest thank you note I have ever written, and I am not sure my words have accurately conveyed my appreciation, I will conclude with one more thank you.

Definitely Nationals Fans for Life,

Amy and crew

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wrapping up the year . . .

As we come to the end of another year, like many I know, I have grown reflective about what has happened during the course of the last 364 days. It has been a year of medical issues (so very thankful everyone is okay now), a year of change (I entered the dating world? How did that happen?), a year of gifts (time spent with loved ones), and a mystery.

Yes, a mystery . . .

About a month ago, I realized Christmas was rapidly approaching. This happened when my Mom called and asked, “What do the children want for Christmas? What do YOU want for Christmas?” Every year this conversation happens. It usually takes place in November, when the serious shopping and wrapping needs to take place. Thankfully, the children are still young enough, they usually create a list, that is easy to share with Mom. A list really makes our lives easier! As for me, the answer is usually, “well, hmmmm, I don’t really know. There is nothing I can really think of that I need. Whatever you find, I know I will love Mom.” Admittedly, I am a pain in the a** when it comes to stuff like this. Pretty sure my Mom won’t argue that point. It boils down to this, I used to be like my crew, and I would have a really long list of everything I absolutely had to have in order to keep going, but now as an adult, I really don’t like asking for things.

However . . . this year was different! When Mom asked the question, that I usually don’t have an answer for, I was prepared! The conversation went something like this:

Mom: Honey, what do you want for Christmas this year?

Me: This year I would really like a Garmin.

Mom: A what?

Me: A Garmin. It’s like a Fitbit, you know the things that count your steps and such, but I would prefer to have a Garmin. You can find them at just about any store, just like the Fitbit. I would wear it like a watch.

Mom: Okay then! A gift idea (I’m pretty sure there was a sigh of relief at this point that I had an answer!)

About a week later, on a Wednesday, as my panic of what am I getting my children for Christmas was kicking in, I was using the fabulous world of the internet to place some orders. My Mom called to discuss my Christmas gift. She wanted to make sure she had the correct information about what kind of Garmin I wanted. She had already been to five different stores, and all of them were sold out at the time! So I opened a new window to the internet to look up the exact one I wanted. I didn’t want to lose the items in “my cart” that contained Christmas gifts for my crew. After a detailed discussion, Mom apologized that it wouldn’t be much of a surprise for a Christmas gift, but she would make sure she had the correct item for me. I’m pretty sure I told her that would be okay, I was going to be thankful for the gift! We ended the conversation with me telling her, I really should finish placing the order I had open for my crew. I completed the order shortly after we said our love you, and talk to you later.

Fast forward to Monday. A box arrived from the store that I had used to place the order for the children. Because I was working, and because my children are always with me, the box sat, unopened until Wednesday. After everyone went to bed, I finally seized the moment to open the box to check that all three of the items I ordered were there, and that they were the correct ones.

When I opened the box, and took out the filler pieces of air, I had a moment, of “What in the world . . . “ Then a moment of, “what did I order?”

There, sitting on top of the three items I ordered, was a Garmin. Not just any one either, but the one I had told my Mom about. The one that I specifically wanted. I wondered if I had accidentally ordered it, so I pulled out the packing slip to see. There on the packing slip, the list only included three items. Not one of them was a Garmin. I turned on the computer and checked my online order. Only the three items for the crew were listed. What in the world had happened?

I called Mom. Talk about throwing someone for a loop . . . she had just found what I wanted about two hours prior to my phone call! She still had it in the car with her. We agreed, it’s just weird. Why would the only thing I asked for show up in this box?

I called a friend. I was in a bit of shock. We agreed, it was odd as to why would the only thing I asked for show up in this box? I said, I am definitely calling the store. In good conscious, I can’t just keep this.

I thought about it all day Thursday.

On Friday, I called the customer service line. I explained to the lovely woman, the entire story. I said this is the only thing that I have asked for, for Christmas this year. I told her about looking up the information for my Mom while I was placing the order, but looked on a different web site. She pulled up all the orders for all the Amy Deckers (there are quite a few of us as it turns out), and not one of them had placed an order for a Garmin that I might have received by mistake.

She then asked me, who else knew what you wanted for Christmas? Did your husband know? Maybe he ordered it, and had them add it to your order?

I took a deep breath.

I said well, actually, he passed away three years ago.

I could hear her indrawn breath. Followed, by the words, I am so very sorry.

We were both silent for a moment.

Then she said, Amy, here’s the thing. I can’t find anything here on the computer as to why you mysteriously received the only thing you asked for, in the box of items for your children. What I do know, is you have a Guardian Angel looking out for you, and you are going to keep the gift. I hope you have a blessed Christmas.

So here I am at the end of the year, pondering what has happened this year, the good, the bad, the odd . . . 

What are you thinking about as the year comes to a close?