Some might think I’m crazy, but I left Facebook November of last year. I decided it was time to move on from the disillusioned spirit of that place. That said, I have maintained following my series of blogs, some of which I’ve been following for over two years now. I read these blogs because they bring me back to reality, they are a large representation of what life really looks like (unlike Facebook). They also demonstrate, for me, what it means to employ strength and courage, what it means to truly live, and what is means to live in spite of everything that consumes us in life. The good, and the bad. There will always be both.
The first blog I began following, over three years ago, is that of Stephanie Nielson. When I first found her, the idea of reading about someone’s life, continually, struck me as odd but that was her blogging style–a narrative. I sometimes found myself wondering why she would want to allow anyone into the intimate corners of her life, her home, to know her children. Then I listened to a recorded version of one of her written blog posts,
“I am Stephanie Nielson, and I am not my body. I was in the laundry room doing clothes and I went to the closet, touching all the clothes, a wave of emotion took me over for a few minutes. I missed me again. I mourned for that woman again. I felt that familiar sadness but then it was followed by a beautiful spiritual confirmation that this is my new life, it is good, it is oh so good. And then I felt I should bring home me, because it is still me, and those clothes still fit.”
At that moment, it all made perfect sense. She was offering a gift, a look into her soul, through her words, showing me how to accept my new life. Showing me that my life too is something oh so good. I’ve rejoiced in her accomplishments, I cried when she posted the picture of her newest addition, Charlotte. I cried because I realize that through her struggle, she was thinking of others, of me, all along. She took the time, a much wiser and stronger woman than I, to show me the path toward healing.
One thing you’ll notice from blogging is that you enter into a community almost instantly. All you have to do is start reading and you’re a part of it. Stephanie shared Ashley’s story and simultaneously I began reading her too–she was my second followed blog. I cried the first time I read her words, just weeks after little Preslee had passed in a drowning incident, but I didn’t keep reading due to the intrigue of such an accident. I kept reading to hear the words of a fellow mother, Ashley, she spoke these one day,
“When you find yourself in a difficult situation remember the phrase, “I CAN DO HARD THINGS.” It’s possible. Life is hard, we just have to learn how to plow through it.”
That post has reminded me time and time again that I can endure, here, a mother, only weeks after losing her young child in a terrible tragedy again offers comfort in the knowledge she has found. I’ve learned to love my little one more, hug him tighter, and be the best mother I can every single day because every single day counts. In motherhood I’ve embraced that it’s all about enjoying the little things because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things. This concept warms my heart every time I think of it, it helps keep my focus grounded not in the pleasures of this earth but in the beauty of the simple things God has granted us within this world–like our children.
From Ashley spawned Taleah, a little girl fighting leukemia. Her mother is real, “Salt Lake Trip = Nightmare”
We had 2 hours to kill before awards so we headed to Olive Garden. Again, quite the challenge with the kids but still fun. Taleah wanted to lay on my lap so I knew that was not a good sign. Scott took Slade back to the hotel and then Taleah informed me that she peed her pants. Turns out, she pooped her pants (due to the diarrhea form being sick). Awesome. I had no phone in there and no change of clothes. I am getting her situated on the toilet when she says she has to throw up, but won’t do it in the toilet. I run out to the sink (she is naked) while she pukes while people are trying to wash their hands and go back to their food. I leave her on the counter to run out and get my mom and notice there is poop on my leg from when she was throwing up. Awesome again. I wrapped her jacket around her and ran out of Olive Garden.
Every mother has had a day (or two) like this, but not many have experienced one with the looming shadow of a cancer suffering child to accompany the chaos. She handles it in grace, and she probably doesn’t even know it. She is fighter mother and an inspiration.
From Taleah came Mercedi, a woman learning to rebuild her new life after her husband Rob suffered a massive brain injury. She, like Stephanie, struggles with accepting all she’s lost, a career, a home, money, security. Though, I’ve seen her move to a place of comfort in that she still has Rob and therefore she still has her life despite it being different than she had planned.
From Mercedi I learned about Atticus Hansen, a little four year-old boy diagnosed by DIPG. The blog, written by mom, reflects on appreciating the time they have with their Atticus. This woman always has a smile behind her words despite this great challenge before her–losing her child gradually. There are times I wish I could just reach through my computer screen to help serve her and her family in this time of need. I’ve decided little e and I need to prepare something sweet for Atticus and send it their way.
Then there’s a most amazing story Crystal and Skyler. After losing her husband to a heart tumor, Crystal, a single mom, faced the huge challenge of her son’s diagnosis with leukemia. Her story is one of struggle after struggle; however, I’ve watched her rebuild her life too. I’ve read her words, I’ve laughed and rejoiced in the praise of seeing her boy play hopscotch and feed the ducks once again.
Then there’s Julie. And Megan. They’ve taught me that even those who have love, can always lose it, even if just temporarily. These women are so young and they face a full life without parts of their soul to share in their planned adventures. I marvel in their courage to live day-to-day.
Then my blog connections hit home, they came full circle. I found myself linked to this blog and upon reading my heart just broke. Then as I continued on, I realized that it was my friend. It was MY friend. She lost her boy. I wept for her, and yet, she still gave to me. She served me in her time of greatest hardship. She is an inspiration truly–I love you Kelly.
Then this blog. A guy I dated at BYU, his brother lost their baby, Ruby, to a rare liver condition. Ani his wife has a poetic way of expressing her feelings and her words always touch to the core,
I go into Ruby’s room everyday. I open her blinds in the morning, and close them, and turn on a light at night. I don’t always spent a lot of time in there, and in the past couple of months, hardly any time at all.
Today I rocked in her chair. I went through her clothes, and headbands, and stuffed animals. I hugged her blankets, and sobbed into her burp cloths. I was needing to feel a physical connection to my baby, so I touched and smelled, and looked at her things.
I opened her bottom dresser drawer, which I had not done yet….
Opening that drawer today, did not bring back painful memories, but sweet memories of me and my sweet husband serving our daughter. We were such a good team, and we worked so hard and so long trying to make those 7 months, and one week, the most comfortably for Ruby, and also for Kate. It was all we were; parents. Our girls were our only care, our only focus. They were all that mattered. Were they happy? Where they comfortable? Do they feel loved? One of us, alone, could have never parented our girls in that time, with out the other.
Those sheets remind me about what parenthood is. Teamwork, service, and love.
All of these blogs have taken me on a journey, they have taught me important lessons I needed to learn. They have inspired me through the words of their authors and they have shown me, mostly, that life is not a plan but rather an experiential journey. It doesn’t fit into a box. It can’t be defined. It can’t be predicated. It’s just lived.
Thank you for showing me how to live, each and every one of you. Thank you for showing me courage and strength in action. Thank you for giving me the gift of your words and the intimacy of your life. You have shown me that I am not alone in my struggles, we each have our own challenges, our own way of working through life, but the beauty of words is that we can share all of this to hopefully help others. These individuals have done just that in a beautiful way.