The lady who is first in line…

Hi All-

It has been too long since I took a moment and wrote what was on my heart and just shared it here with all of you.  This is the space where my healing started and I don’t want to forget that.  I want to try to remember to pause and come back here and write just because I love it.  Just because it connects me to the girl I once was, to Heidi, and to a life before Cancer.  Some of the below story you all have heard before, but some of it is new, it is where I am, it is where I am trying to be.  It seems right to share it today, the day after Mothers Day.  Cheers to all of the moms out there who are trying…because trying is all we can do 🙂

Thanks for coming to this space and following along with my life and my journey.  Sending love to all of you

xxoo 

 

Close to a year ago I found myself in a difficult situation. I was failing in a number of areas in life and felt lost. The biggest issue was my husband and I were not seeing eye to eye. I felt the divide but told myself we were OK and it was just a bump in the road. As time went on the bump was slowly but surely growing into a mountain.

Last year when I went to celebrate my birthday, everything seemed to crash down around me. I had kept myself overly busy, and tried to find enough to do so that I wouldn’t have to feel my feelings. In one year my best friend, both of my grandmothers, and an uncle had passed away. I was struggling with life.

I was trying to be all things for everyone, show up for my family, my friends, all while throwing a fundraiser for the scholarship we have started at our local high school in memory of my best friend. The fundraiser was a huge success, and the money raised was wonderful. I had stretched myself too thin, though and my husband and I were at odds over where I was putting my focus and spending my time.

I was looking to numb and not think. I wanted to escape the grind of life and the idea that I might have to feel things. It worked for a while until he and I shattered and then I was left to try to figure out what in the heck I was doing.

We got into an argument nothing crazy, but it was a realization that neither of us was happy, and things needed to change. I called the next morning and set up counseling. We did the work and went. It was hard, but we learned a lot. Our problems were not huge, considering the year we had, had. We were not communicating and were both struggling with grief and sadness. When you feel this way, you are not able to support your partner, you can’t even support yourself. It was a small problem that over time rolled into a big problem.

The counselor told me things I didn’t want to hear. He said things like; “Quit looking in your rear view mirror.”  Over time I saw that he was right. I was trying to move forward, but I was also stuck looking back. It took time, hard work, and an understanding that my husband and I were truly committed to each other, to get through the difficult times and learn to communicate again. Say the hard things, and forgive each other. To pause, and remember when we are wrong or right. To think about what really matters and learn to let the rest go. It was hard, but we did it.

I found a new way forward without letting go.  I found a way to pave a path with my husband while continuing to carry Heidi and my other losses in my heart.  To look forward, to remember the past, but not stare back at it.

In doing all of those things, I had to look inward, and focus on my husband, my daughters, and a bit less on outside social things. It was super hard for me, my friends are such an important part of me. I couldn’t be at all the things to everyone. But, I did it for my husband and for our family. I couldn’t make every dinner and ever party. I missed things, big things.

In order to do my most important role, the one of a mom and wife I had to pause. I had to find work I enjoyed, and support my girls in events they enjoyed. There needed to be less passing the baton parenting and more sitting at the table, making dinner, doing homework, connecting time for everyone. I did it. It worked. My husband and I found a place in life where we were both happy again.

Not too long ago I had to miss a dinner that was important to me. I felt sad about missing it, but rather than glossing over it, I leaned into the feeling and realized it was OK, I was OK, they were OK.  We are in each other’s hearts, always.  I love my friends with so much of me, and when these kids of mine are just a bit bigger, I can give them more of my energy again.

Pictures of my friends at dinner started to circulate the internet, and I suddenly had serious FOMO. I started to feel sad again, but then I paused and took a breath. Right after that, my 8-year-old daughter appeared holding the below picture. I smiled and realized that was the picture I should focus my energy on. Look at that smiling family, and look who is drawn first in line.

It is the Mom, the one who is never sure she is doing it right but is trying really hard to make a living, for her girls that allows them the chance to feel loved and strong.

I am trying to balance my feelings and do what serves me and my family best. This balancing act is not always an easy one, but it is one I am learning to accept. I CAN NOT do it all. I want to. I really do.  But, to be the best me I need to pause and breathe.

To find what and who brings me joy, and to do that. To be OK loving people from afar for a bit, and putting myself first. To find friends who get it.  To hope others understand, but be accepting if they don’t. To be OK with me. It is not easy, but I am trying…and sometimes trying is all we can do.

Until next time…

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Until next time…

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Wish- Cleveland and me :)

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Hi All-

I have been doing something amazing lately and contributing to an online publication called Wish Cleveland.   I am excited to write and share with a new audience.  I have recently spread my writing wings a bit and started to write about things besides grief and my personal story.

The piece I am working on now is about my first baby Farmers Markets and local fresh food.  The excitement I get when working on it is hard to describe.  It takes me back to a girl I once was.  To a love, I had long ago.

I am changed now, but that girl is still a part of me.  Writing, researching, and getting paid to share about it seems like a dream.  I would honestly do it for free,  but to be asked to do it for payment, gives it something different, something earned. 🙂

Thanks again for being you, for following along, and for loving me.  As I have said so many times recently #mycuprunnethover #teamheidi

https://wishcleveland.com/showing-up-snow-globes-coffee-cups-and-grief/

https://wishcleveland.com/healing-movement-walking-group-offers-support-friendship/

Until next time…:)

 

 

 

 

My love letter to A Star is Born…

 

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Dear Bradley Cooper,

Thank you.  Thank you for being brave, and sharing A Star is Born with us.  It touched my soul on a level I wasn’t sure a movie could. It poured into me and filled all my empty spaces.  To you I am just one of the many adoring fans, but to my family I am their one: wife, mom, daughter, and sister.  This movie helped me come back to myself, and reminded me what it is like to FEEL again.

With a grateful heart,

Emily 🙂

If I was half as brave as Mr. Cooper, I might actually send him this note.  lol

This past weekend, I saw A Star is Born at the theater.   As I watched I felt my soul opening and falling in love with it, all over again.  As I did, I paused and wondered what was drawing me back in? Was it the love story?  The chemistry between Jack and Ally? Bradley Cooper’s dreaminess?

I realized it was all of those things, or maybe none of them.  This movie flowed into me and I felt it. No numbing, no dull edges, it gave me full power feelings, and that is what I keep coming back for.  To fully feel again.

My best friend Heidi died March 10, 2017, and my life has been forever changed.  I miss her each and every moment, of each and every day.  It will always be that way.  But, as the 2 year anniversary of her death approaches, I have feelings. I am no longer numb.  I can feel. Having real feelings of love, and sadness about a movie may seem insignificant to most, but for me it was a way back to myself.  

Heidi loved life and was an amazing human.  She was my life’s greatest blessing. Her life and death shaped me into the person I am today.  I know she is smiling and telling me to keep going, keep trying, keep coming back.

Two years feels like forever and yesterday, all at the same time.  I am happy I can feel that again even it if it hard.

Take a moment on Sunday March 10th and call your friends.  Call your family. Tell them how much you love them, and how wonderful they are.  Remember what it is like to feel the love and life in them. When the life leaves the memory will remain, and it will be something you cling to forever.  Feel those feels, it is what life is all about

Until next time…

One Wild and Precious Life….

 

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Beautiful beaches, wonderfully organized homes, adorable family photos…these are just a few items that pop up as I scroll Facebook and Instagram.  In a land of so much lovely, why do I sometimes log off and feel not so lovely?  In an online world with so much connection, why do I feel alone?  This seems silly, but lately I have began to wonder if it is true.

Yesterday would have been my dear friend Heidi’s 39th birthday.  It has left me questioning what it is I am doing with this one precious life.  Even before Heidi got sick with Cancer she left Facebook behind.  She felt it was taking away from her present moment, and somehow stealing her joy.  She felt it distracted us from the right now.  Nothing drove her more crazy, than when someone choose to check their Facebook page, rather than talk to her.   I can hear her now, “Put that phone down!” lol When Heid was done with something she was done.  She walked away from Facebook and never looked back.

I now find it a bit ironic, to use social media as a way to remember her.  I sometimes wonder if I should “walk away.”  But then I worry people wouldn’t hear about the scholarship, the blog, and the Relay for Life.  I know how much wonderful support and love I get from this space.  I can’t leave.  I also realize a huge reason the Heidi Lagasse Memorial Scholarship has been so successful is because of the social media support .  When I pause I realize just how THANKFUL I am for ALL of it.

I shift gears and think what a first world problem this is.  I am too attached to my online friends.  When I really think on this I realize, it’s not the online friends I am attached to,  rather that they can  “like” what I am doing and saying.  Sharing Heidi’s story gives me comfort, and knowing others see and appreciate it makes me feel good.   At the same time, I worry if people aren’t liking what I say, does that mean I have said too much? Over stayed my online welcome?  The back and forth is exhausting.  How do I say enough without saying too much?

Then it hit me, as it sometimes does in this journey through grief.  Maybe I am trying to fill a void that can’t be filled.  Maybe the undo stress and worry is about my wanting people to tell me it is OK to miss Heidi, to validate our friendship, to make me feel comfort when I miss her.  Maybe that is both OK and something I can work on.

I started this blog to share her story , the way I remember it.  What I didn’t realize was that in sharing her story, I also share my story.  I now know “we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures.” ― Gail Caldwell, Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship  I am not sure if losing Heidi has made me a kinder creature, but I do know it has made me a new creature.  The loss of Heidi carved me into a different person.  This makes me proud.  Proud to have known her, proud to have loved her, and proud to keep going.

I don’t need to walk away from Facebook or Instagram, rather they are a source of great comfort.  This interweb of wonderful people offers support, and allows for Heidi’s story to be told and retold again.  I am so thankful that this exists.

What I need to do is refocus what I expect from social media. I want to stop feeling the need for “likes.” To stop worrying who has seen this, if they think it is too much or not enough or whatever it is I think I need. To pause more. To breathe more.  To take a bit of what Heidi said and remember to live in the RIGHT NOW.

The comfort of my story lives within my heart, and Heidi has become a part of me.  I write as a form of therapy.  If everyone reads it or if no one reads it, the story is the same.  It is in the writing, the remembering, and the story telling that I find my greatest comfort.  To allow Heidi’s name to be typed, our stories to be told, and for my present and future to be shared.  Happy 39th Birthday Heidi.  Thanks for continuing to guide and teach me even across the universe.  If anyone can supersede death and continue to be a part of life, it is you my friend.

Until Next time…

 

 

 

Dream a little dream…

grief group today

 

Ding (Text message)- Hi Emily!  My friend just lost a close friend to cancer.  It was a terribly sad incurable case.  Would you be able to reach out to her? I don’t know how to help.  Could you try?

Me (Through a million tears)- Yes a 100 times yes.  I am so sad for your friend, and would love to get in touch with her. xoxo

Also Me- Continue to feel emotional and all the feels the rest of the day, because a little dream I dared to dream is coming true.  (If you are new here, my little dream is to help others with loss)

When Heidi died, I was in shock.  I was strong and brave, and did the best I could, but I was in shock.  I didn’t break into a million pieces.  I kept going, and when I came to places where I realized I wasn’t doing my best, I paused.  I wanted to find a way to live more authentically and heal but that was HARD.  What if my healing made other people upset? What if I lost friends?  What if I said too much? What if it wasn’t my story to tell? What if I try and I am not good?  What if…What if…What if…

I felt like I needed permission.  Permission to write.  Permission to share my story.  Permission to heal.

I went inside myself a bit, but I continued to listen.  My family and friends told me to keep going, so I did. I sought counseling, yoga, and movement and started truly healing.  I followed and gained strength from other peoples stories.  People like Nora McInerny (Terrible Thanks for Asking Podcast) and Rachel Hollis (author of Girl Wash your Face) and others who had gone through difficult things and come out on the other side.

At some point I realized, these amazing humans were amazing because they spoke their truth.  They shared their lives, and didn’t fear the unknown.  When I started sharing my story, I told both of them(via direct message on Instagram OF COURSE lol)  and they said things like “Keep going.”  “See you wrote, now you are writer.”  I realized  I could do this.  I had stories to share.  I only needed to find the courage to share them, and to keep trying new things.

I am learning that I don’t need permission. No one has to listen.  It is my hope that people will, but if they don’t that is OK.  It is the act of being authentic, continuing to dream, and helping those that want to listen, that helps me heal.  When Heidi got sick and died, I didn’t know how to do any of this. Who does? NO ONE, until they go through it!

I am not an expert.  Everything I have done, you can do.  By no means, in any way am I saying I GET grief or loss.  I don’t.  I simply keep trying, learning, and sharing.  What comes up and out, is my truth.

I spoke to a group of 13 year olds a few weeks ago.  I talked about my career and my life. I realized in speaking to them that sometimes our stories set us free.  I am finding new ways to share and talk and learn from others.  I hope you continue to come along for the ride.

If my story speaks to you, then I am doing the right thing.  I don’t think everything happens for a reason.  I can’t think of a reason my amazing, beautiful, life of the party friend had to die.  But, if I stop and breathe, I am learning to finding meaning.  To focus on how she can live on, not how she died. To tell my story and DREAM(again) while carrying Heidi in my heart.

Until next time….

 

 

 

A never ending pile of books…

Over the last few weeks I have been so busy with Christmas, New Years, balancing family, and get togethers that my mind hasn’t had too much time to escape. I haven’t had time to reflect and remember, which is hard but nice too.   I have been able to be present in my today, which I feel thankful for.  I saw a quote which brought me out of this busy fog it said:

“Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful.”

I am slowly learning this.  My life has been a balance of sad, and happy, and devastation, and excitement.  This journey comes with many ups and many downs.  My job is too simply hold on and LEARN TO LIVE!

For the first year after Heidi passed away there was a bit of denial, or I don’t know what to call it exactly.  More of an inability to focus and fully except the fact she was gone.  I would say it, I would think it, but for a time my mind couldn’t really take it in.

I had this thing, this really sad thing over in the corner of my life that I just thought if I keep going, if I keep moving, I will be OK.  Yes this thing in the corner is sad, but I am here I am moving, I am living, I am good.  Until more sad things happened, and more and more…and suddenly it was almost like what am I doing?  Where do I even focus?

I have told you all the stories about how I found counseling, and yoga, and walking, and being with my family, and how it all allowed for me to refocus, to accept this terribly difficult thing, to lose control, and to move forward in life.  Not to move on from this loss, that is impossible, but to accept it.  When I accepted the loss, it allowed for me to live again.  It seems impossible even still that she is physically gone, but learning to carry her with me and continue to live has truly saved me.

In all this holiday buzz there have still been a few times my mind wandered to a far off memory.  One that popped in my head a few weeks back left me laughing out loud.  I felt a little crazy.  My husband asked me what I was laughing at, and by that time I was nearly crying.  For some reason I remembered in college when Heidi had an on campus job.  We both got work study jobs, and hers was terrible.  She called it a dungeon!  She worked in the campus library returning books, complete with a little cart.  There was a never ending pile of books to put back on the shelves, which fueled Heidi with lots of silly stories.  I could picture her in my head so vividly, when our roommates and I would walk to the library to pick her up for dinner, and she would be pushing that cart making a hilarious, miserable “kill me now” face that only she could make.

After I told the story to my husband it struck me that there may not be too many people carrying that memory around in their heads anymore.  It wasn’t something Heidi always shared, this little on campus job, but it is something she did and I was a part of it.  I now carry that story and that memory and that laugh in my heart.  It is small and some might think insignificant, but it allowed me to feel that SHE IS STILL HERE with me.   In a different form, in a different way, but she is here.

Heidi’s daughters came over during Christmas break and having them laugh and run through my house brought me such joy.  So much of her lives on in them.  I was reminded in a different way, on a much larger scale how she continues to exist and touch people through her girls.

Today I traveled back to our middle school and spoke to 8th graders about their “future choices.”  I couldn’t help but be reminded of my time at the school.  What it felt like to walk the halls with Heidi and many other lifelong friends.   I talked a bit about what I spend my time doing now, and I was able to tell them about the Heidi Lagasse Memorial Scholarship. The idea that these students could apply for something done in honor of her made my heart pitter patter.  There she is again my mind thought.  A part of me now.

2019 is here.  I am ready to be present in this time, to be thankful for it.  To be comforted and reminded of my friend and so many others who have gone before me.  To continue to carry her, feel her, and be thankful for the time she had here on earth.  Especially for that 1 year she pushed around a cart in the library and made funny faces to make me smile.  Feeling comfort from my friend across the universe.

Until next time…

Relief…..

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As I scroll back through my memories of Heidi’s illness I often feel sad.  I think about the bad news calls, hospice, and our final visits.  A cloud of darkness moves in and frankly  it is something I try not to think about very often.

Today, I was sweeping the floor and allowing my mind to wander.  Somehow it landed on the word RELIEF.  I stopped sweeping for a moment.  I stood and thought in my stillness.  Good (I struggle to call them good, but in reality they were) memories from Heidi’s illness rolled into my mind.

I remember when she was diagnosed and the results of her first PET scan showed that the Cancer had not spread. We were so happy with just a bit of good news.  The relief that washed over me after Heidi’s surgery was called a “success” is indescribable!  The idea that in that moment she was OK was such a RELIEF.  I can’t begin to describe the happiness we shared after months of chemo had produced clear scans.  It was right before Christmas and it gave us HOPE.  It fueled all of us (including Heidi) to BELIEVE she would continue to be a part of our time here on earth, for a bit longer. There are more too, if I slow down and allow my mind to open they are there.

In the end it sometimes feels like those little victories didn’t really matter…Heidi’s Cancer was aggressive and mean and took her life.   But when I paused and thought, I was reminded that those little victories DID matter.  I remember the joy in how she and all of us felt, if even for a short time.  The idea that there was HOPE was something almost magical.  I am forever grateful that we celebrated the little wins and enjoyed all of life even when it was hard.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving I am feeling grateful to have walked with my friend through so much of her life.  The good, the bad, the ugly, and the RELIEF.

I sure miss her.  It was nice to remember some of the little wins on this cold cloudy day.

Until next time…