Everyday

A letter to my father on Mother’s Day

Dear daddy,

Hey there, how have you been?  I hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying whatever it is out in that big great unknown.  Tell grandma Mary, grandma Betty and grandpa that I say hello.  Oh and please give Raspberry and Pudge a pat on the head for me!  I hope they are keeping you company and your lap warm.

So today is Mother’s Day and  I wanted to thank you for giving me the best gift I could have ever asked for.  I know you paid the ultimate sacrifice but you didn’t leave us, it was just your time to go.

Thank you for giving me my mother back.

I missed her so much over the past 13 years and now I get to spend the first of many more holidays together.  Even though I wish it could have been on better terms, I can’t tell you how happy I am to be able to spend time with her again (you understand, you were with her over 40 years).

Sure we have our moments, but just so you know, mom is doing just fine.  She misses you like crazy and still talks about you like you are here.  But I have seen her grow so much in the short amount of time you have been gone.  She is so much stronger than she gives herself credit for.  Honestly, I’m just so proud of her.

She helps us around the house and thinks your son-in-law is a hoot.  She laughs at the crazy songs I sing for all the animals (yeah you’re a grandpa to 5 fur babies).  And I know you would have never guessed it, but Mom has fallen in love with our newest family member, Lola!  I know, right?  Mom loving a dog so dearly; I never would have seen it coming either.  We rescued Lola but in so many ways she has rescued us and helped us all through the hard days.  I think about you a lot when I go on walks with her.  I think you would have liked her.  Lucy is still not too sure and I think she misses you too.  She lays in your chair a lot and sleeps there at night.

But back to mom.  I notice more and more that she doesn’t worry as much and I think she likes herself better more each day.  Being vegan suites her just fine and I like when we have dinner together every night.  I cook and she cleans and it’s just nice to feel like a family again.  She’s lost weight and has been so excited to buy new clothes.  She spends money a little more freely now, nothing crazy but just enjoys herself more (sometimes I have to remind her of what you would say “just buy the damn thing”).  She has become so much more spontaneous and just “goes with the flow” when it comes to last-minute vegan hot dogs or ice cream trips!  We laugh together a lot and are there for each other no mater what is going on.  Sometimes she is stubborn but you already know that!  I try my hardest to be the best daughter and wife and fur-mommy I can be.  You had something to do with that and I hope I still make you proud from wherever you are.

Sorry I keep getting off target.  So mom’s still not too keen about living in Texas but I think it is growing on her more and more everyday.  Sunny days are her best times.  I got her a necklace with a little sun to remind her of the better times.  We go for walks together with Lola a lot and while I work she makes sure the fur babies are safe and well fed.  We even have little happy hours in the backyard and watch our crazy neighbors.  She spent her first week alone with all 5 animals while Hector and I went to Hawaii.  Again, something we couldn’t have done without your gift to us.  I had a good time visiting with you there.  When you look into the ocean and realize how small you are it’s easier to connect to those who have passed on.  The beauty was amazing and I hope wherever you are is just as beautiful.

I also wanted you to know that I have tried my hardest to keep up my end of the deal as well.  I said I would make sure we took care of each other without you and we have.  Hector loves mom too.  He likes having a little family to take care of and he wishes it could have turned out differently.

Truth is, we all miss you.  Whether there is a holiday or a vacation or just another day, we all think about you everyday.  You are with us all the time, but I know you already know that.

I love you,

Ashley

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Appalachian Trail, Blogging, Everyday

Here, is where I belong

The other day I had a friend that I haven’t talked to for a while email and ask me if I was still going to hike the trail.  See, I had planned on doing a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine in the spring of 2017 (see blog posts starting here).  He lived in Georgia at the time and was considering starting off with me just for the weekend.  Things in my life changed and as my start date got closer and closer (April 10th), I realized that this year was not going to be the right time for me.  Even though I was a little disappointed I was also a little relieved.  The year before I was in a weird place in my life where I felt like I needed to alter my viewpoint and what better place to do that then on a 2100+ mile trek?  I felt the need to walk out of my life and walk into a trail life for what could be over 6 months.  Although my family and friends were supportive, I think they were all relieved as well that I had changed my mind.

A couple of months before what would have been my start date, I had let one of my 13-year-old cats cross the rainbow bridge because she was loosing her battle with cancer.  It was devastating and as I was going through those emotions, I couldn’t even imagine leaving my husband and our other cat behind at the time.  So April came and went and then in the summer I had to face an even bigger loss in my family when my father passed away from cancer as well.  If I had been on the trail, I might have been too late to have ever said goodbye and I can’t imagine how my life would have been after that.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and there was a higher power that was holding me back from the hike so that I would be able to be with my loved ones in a massive time of need.

I replied back to my friend that, for now, I didn’t have a new start date in mind.  Not that I would rule it out for the rest of my life but that my life had changed so much in the past 6 months that I have been looking at it differently.  I told him that “…before my father died, I felt the need to find myself on the trail, but after he died I feel like I have found myself right where I am.  If that makes sense”.

And even though I don’t know exactly what 2018 is going to look like, I am confident that I will discover even more of who I am, right here where I belong.

 

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Everyday

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my wonderful mother’s birthday.

I wish that I could give her everything she would desire, but I know this year the only thing she would wish for is to have my father back.  He died on July 21st and both of our live’s haven’t been the same.

My mom loves to receive Hallmark cards for every occasion.  She has told me in the past that even if I was late with a gift, that I better always have a card for her.

This year, I didn’t get her a card (sorry mom).

When I was at the card store searching through all the birthday cards they all seemed “fake” and “cold”.  Something that a million dollar corporation puts out that really doesn’t cater to all of the emotions that a single person can have at any given time.  How exactly do you wish anyone a happy birthday after they have had one of the hardest years of their life?

All I can do today is to let my mom know that she is very loved and that my husband and I can only hope to live up to my dad’s last wishes to take good care of her.  I try my best everyday.  I hope you know that mom.  I love you more than you could ever know and I miss daddy too.  It is bitter-sweet.  With his death, he gave me my greatest wish, to have you in my life again and not with miles between us.

Thank you daddy and I love you.

The holidays are coming up fast.  We all will be faced with new emotions as we feel the void of our missing loved one.  I’m truly grateful that we have each other and we will get through it all together.  I promise that to you, today, as always.

I love you mom and Happy Birthday.

 

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Blogging, Everyday

Feeding my fire

I feel like I need a reset button.  A control, alt, delete for my life this year.  End task now and restart.

2017 has been a really hard year.  I’m not writing this looking for sympathy, but to merely remind myself that even though things were treacherous at times, I have to keep moving forward.  My husband tells me that I am stronger than I give myself credit for but I need a break and a hard reset.  I need to look past the sadness and come out on the other side stronger than before.  I’m not sure yet what that might look like, but I have a feeling deep down in my very being that some big changes are in my future.

This year was full of changes.  I had to say goodbye to one of my fur babies after 13 years back in the spring.  I had never felt my heart hurt the way it did as I said goodbye for the last time.  Loosing her brought me to a different level of empathy.  And just as I thought I couldn’t hurt any worse, I lost my dad to cancer.  It went undetected for what was probably years, but took his life in less than a month.  I never understood what it was like to lose a loved one; a parent.  It feels like a small piece of your very being dies right along with them.  One of the two people who made you whole, who gave you life, is no more.  My mother lost her life partner of over 40 years.  Literally half of her heart and soul.  She had been with my father longer then any other signal human being.  I cannot even begin to understand her loss.

Loosing him meant gaining her in my life.  I am an only child and I was the only family she had left.  So she chose to pack up and change her entire life and move 1000 miles away to be with me and my husband.  We have all faced an array of feelings because of this.  The three of us are reforming the small family that I came from.  Years of being apart are bring us closer together but it is tragic that we had to lose someone along the way to get here.  It is bitter-sweet.

In the last week that I spent with my father he made me promise him to keep writing.  Yell from the roof tops about my beliefs.  To make sure my voice was heard any way that I could.  He had always believed in me and I want to make him proud.  I want who he was to live on through who I am.

This is one of the first entires I have made since he died.  I have been so tired and so uninspired.  I haven’t been writing, reading, running or really anything else that I used to enjoy.  Each day feels so long but at the same time goes by so fast.  But lately I can feel a small fire inside of me that keeps pushing me forward.  It keeps me from wanting to just crawl up in a ball and give up.  If I do that, then I would fail myself and worst of all fail him.

You only need one small spark to set the world a blaze.  

 

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