When Did I Lose Me?

I’m not certain when it happened. But somewhere along the way, I lost me.

I lost the me that loved spontaneity…the me that tried new restaurants on opening night. I lost the me that watched movies in the actual theater…the me that went out of town on a whim…the me that read a good book until 2am. I lost the me that would go to a friend’s house for dinner…as well as the me that invited friends for dinner. I even lost the me that would go to the beach with friends for long weekends. I lost the me that would shop all day on Saturday, do lunch and dinner before going home…shopping that was more about restaurants-with-friends than the actual shopping. God, where did that me go?

I think the last year we had with mom, knowing her time was short, made me lose the self that I once was. I had to rethink who I was and actually set that me aside for a minute. I certainly wouldn’t have had it any other way. But I now have to rethink the old me and decide who I am now that she isn’t here.

I’m now a daughter whose mama has passed on. I’m a daughter who has to use phrases like ‘I can hear mom say…’ or ‘before Mom passed’ or ‘if Mom were here she’d…’. I mean, I never wanted to be able to use those phrases. I didn’t sign up for that.

From February of last year when Mom was diagnosed with Cancer to January of this year when she passed, every single weekend and weeknight I felt guilty to do anything that wasn’t family related; guilty to do anything that would throw away precious time. And for the most part, I didn’t. I don’t think I even wanted to do anything but be with family…especially her. Time’s value escalated so tremendously during that short little year.

I’m not sure who “they” are, but “they” say the whole first year can be difficult because of the firsts. The first Birthday without, the first Mother’s Day without, the first Christmas without…well, even the first surgery without her was different. My hubby had surgery recently and this was the first time my little mama was not there in that waiting room with me. Goodness, did I need Mom there? Did I for some reason require her presence? No. I just wanted her there; missed her chatter; missed her making sure lunch didn’t pass without food. How different life is now.

How cliche it is to say life goes on. Time continues to march swiftly to whatever destination it has always been drawn. I continue to keep moving with it out of sheer momentum because if I don’t keep moving, in some way I know I will drowned. Keeping busy is the name of this game.

I really don’t know when I’ll find me again. Some days I think I already know this new, partially recognizable me. But then there are days like several days during the past two weeks, when what I’d really like to have done was just sit with Mom and tell her how my day went, cuz you know what, some were pretty crappy. But this is the me that doesn’t have a mom to sit with or call. I don’t necessarily like this me but, this is me regardless of what I want…so for now it will have to do.

Sipping coffee and wondering if I’ll like the me I find at the end of all this grief. ~paula

Music is the Sound of Life

How the art of music effects well being.

This was a topic suggested by a Coffee with Paula reader. When I read the suggestion I said to myself, “Oh heck yes, this will be an easy, smooth and enjoyable write as music is a huge part of who I am.” But as I sat to write, writer’s block seeped into the room and plopped itself directly onto my fingertips. What in the world, I asked. What, if any other topic, is more close to my heart than music? When I think of my sweet mama, I think of music. When I think of who she taught me to be, I think of music. When I think of church and worshiping my God, I think of music. Even when I think of work I think of music because I sometimes sing to my patients but always sing in the car as I drive between every patient’s house. So how in the world, with the topic of music, could I possibly have writer’s block? I decided to simply focus on the specific moments in my life where music has had a direct effect, where music has changed an attitude or transported to a different time or place. As soon as I coerced my mind to focus in that direction, the thoughts filled my mind to overflowing, just as excessive rain forces a river over its banks.

One workday I cruised the interstate toward a patient that faced end of life and a spouse who struggled to accept the pending loss. I felt melancholy as my thoughts focused on their situation; my desire to make things better for them was strong, but in vain. As a Social Worker, I have to be okay with the knowledge that I can not fix every situation. It’s a pillow I have had to learn to sleep well on…if I wanted rest. The wind rushed through the open window and tossed my salt-and-pepper locks to and fro while the sun beamed down onto my arm. As I steadily headed toward my visit, I cruised from lane to lane in traffic while the Jeff Healey Band “asked the stars above”. The uniquely delicious timbre of Jeff Healey as he sang about his lady’s Angel Eyes, magically transported me from a sad drive, back to a high school night where I was engulfed in an emerald green, poofy-sleeved, sequin-splashed prom dress that swayed with tuxedoed arms wrapped around that I would later marry. The music facilitated memories…the memories created emotion…these emotions created a fond smile…melancholy was removed.

One Sunday I swayed on the alto row, eyes focused on our director who was led to sing Amazing Grace this day during worship. With arms skilled in leadership, the chords on the piano were initiated, voices later cued and the age old story of Amazing Grace was shared. The mixture of melody and harmony created a steady stream of tears down my cheeks as memories flooded my soul of a sweet mama who, years ago, stroked the ivory with finesse in worship playing the same song, her favorite. The music instantly sent me back to the small chapel where I grew up; the faces of loved ones who surrounded the little piano flashed through my mind, faces who have gone on, just as my sweet mama. The music facilitated memories…the memories created emotion…these emotions created tears.

Sitting beside a patient who neared end of life and hadn’t eaten or spoken in weeks, I softly sang old hymns while I held her wrinkled worn hand to provide emotional support and comfort. I knew her story and that she was a dear old saint who had been a choir member for over 50 years at her little country church until frailness stopped her from climbing the few steps into the tiny choir loft. Family members saddened by her lack of response to I love you’s and can we get you anything’s were absolutely elated as her lips slowly began to move to the words of I’ll Fly Away. Very soft, a half-beat behind me, but every word mouthed while worship flowed upward from her soul to a God for which she had lived her whole entire life, and would soon meet face to face. The music facilitated memories…the memories created worship in its rawest, most simple form. Music.

One of the afternoons before or just after my sweet mama’s funeral, a dear Aunt brought cassette tapes that had been created by my grandmother years before, as in possibly 30 years prior to that day. Cassette tapes that held recordings of priceless moments of family gathered around the piano seated in my grandmother’s front living room. My younger, stronger mama stroked the ivories while belting out a splendid alto which mixed so perfectly with my Aunt’s impressive soprano. Aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins gathered around mama, varying voices intermittently louder than the rest within the audio, laughter between songs, laughter in the middle of verses with missed notes or wrong words. I could clearly see the vision created by this replay of family afternoons so many years ago. Precious time shared between family members who had a deep love for music; feelings created by music when shared with those you love. Music created a bond…music was the catalyst that pulled a family together into one accord…music was the glue that held those relaxing family Saturday afternoons together.

Music can transport us to long ago moments whose memories we cherish and wish for again. Music can bring us right to the feet of Jesus in worship. Music can heal a saddened spirit and provide light in the midst of darkness. Music can calm a troubled soul from the throes of anxiety. Music can incite clear thoughts to dementia patients for small periods of time. (If you don’t believe me, you should check out http://www.musicandmemory.org and look for Henry’s story. It will make you cry in amazement!)

Writing music and lyrics is a whole other blog entry; you can share your story of hardship, love, abuse, grief, trouble, excitement, money woes, unrequited love, good times, bad times, sober moments, drunk moments,…need I go on? Music is anything and everything that you need it to be.

Sipping coffee, humming Amazing Grace and hoping you can see how music effects more than well-being; it effects who we are and life in general. Thinking the next song on my play list might be Percy Sledge’s, When a Man Loves a Woman; might be some smoochin’ goin’ on later. Ha! What is music to you? ~paula

I Admit it. I’m a Pluviophile.

Are you satisfied now? I finally admitted I’m a pluviophile. I suppose all the years I commented negatively about rainy days, were the years prior to my epiphanous moment of “hey, I’m a writer”. I’ve observed that rainy days are my best days…the days I have the most creative thoughts…the days my fingertips are drawn intensely to the keyboard. And for a beach lover like me, non-rainy days are a must, or are they?

Collinsdictionary.com defines pluviophile as “a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days”. Yep. Sounds a lot like me.

Working as a Social Worker in Hospice and Home Health requires me immersed in the elements daily. Sunny days, rainy days, cloudy days, humid days, snowy days, hot days, cold days, just-right days. I’m one of the weirdos who gets much satisfaction from doing my job on rainy days. Why? I truly have no answer. It’s the weirdest thing.

What about rain gets the creativity flowing? I feel the same creative feelings when I’m at the beach. The roar of the waves and the roar of a heavy downpour absolutely irrevocably calms my soul and quietens my mind, making a clear path for good thoughts to take over and reign. Just the phrase roar of the waves or heavy downpour can jump start my mind to clarity. Maybe the recipe which creates a rainy day at the beach with a covered balcony on which to sit and observe is my absolute salvation, my holy grail, the utopia for my soul. That may have been a little too deep…it’s basically my happy place folks. Ha!

But I have gotten to a place in life where I want to truly know me. I want to know what makes me tick…what keeps my hamster wheel turning. Ha! I think that until a person truly knows themselves, they simply can not know true contentment. If you don’t understand you, how can you make decisions wisely and effectively of who you spend your time with and how or where you spend your time? You should spend some time with you this week! It’s your challenge, your homework if you will, from Coffee with Paula. You might be nicely surprised with who you find.

Sipping coffee this morning, wondering which Coffee with Paula fans are also pluviophiles and considering a move to Seattle…all while soaking in the sound of the rain. What have you learned about yourself lately? ~paula

It’s Number 20!!!

This marks the 20th entry for Coffee with Paula and I couldn’t be happier! (Well, you know, if the blog were making millions and I had just gotten the first installment maybe. Ha!) But I’ve learned so much about myself since the first entry, some things I can share, some I can not. But the moments I’ve spent considering my own viewpoints, ideas and thought processes have taught me so much. I really wish mom was here to read Coffee with Paula. She would have been the first to follow and my biggest fan…if she could have figured out where to click. Ha! But let’s face it, if it hadn’t been for her passing, I would’ve kept doing life as I had always done, journaled quietly for only myself to read. So, maybe a special thank you is in order for my sweet mama.

I’ve always loved to write but never considered myself a writer. I suppose I always assumed you had to be employed as a writer to be called as such. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. News flash! People who write are writers, because guess what, they write! Ha! Simple, huh?

I have made the decision to write a book. Definitely fiction. Definitely romance. Mildly steamy, but full of laughter. I want you to burst into an occasional fit of laughter while you read and have people stare at you because they have no idea why you are laughing. Now THAT’s the sign of a good book. Whether it will actually be published and adored by fans, read by ten or read by millions, I have no idea. And that isn’t the slightest bit important. (…well except for the fact that I also want to be a real-deal-making-a-living-from-it writer some day) But what is important is that writing is in my heart and soul and I’m following that dream.

I’ve determined that when thoughts come to mind, I need to write them down. If I can’t write it all down, I need to at least short hand it enough so I can go with it the first chance I get. Electronic methods are wonderful, but good ol’ pen and paper are super important to have in a pinch because electronics can let you down sometimes. And let’s face it, my memory just can’t be trusted. Ha!

I learned, surprisingly, that I can keep a blog afloat…for two whole months! Gosh, I can’t believe two months have passed since the first entry. Time has flown! I worried that topics wouldn’t continue to come to me. (I should’ve remembered, I always have something to say.)

And quite possibly, every 20th entry, I might “address the people”. You know, check the climate and see what is on your minds. See what topics you would like to see more of, which topics are close to you. I want to always be improving as a writer and I think it’s of the utmost importance to know my audience in order to accomplish that goal. And my audience is YOU!

Thank you so much for the support you have shown for the first 20! My desire is that Coffee with Paula will stay relevant, make a difference in someone’s life and most of all…make you think!

Sipping a coffee toast to my wonderful readers! Thank you so much! ~paula

I See You for what You are.

Dear Depression and Anxiety,

I truly despise you with every ounce of my being.

You steal joy and replace it with an empty, colorless void. You freely create disinterest where interest should be full. You cripple. You ostracize. You create a sense of hopelessness. You rob marriages of happiness. You steal parents from children. You make spouses lonely…even when they sit so close their hands are touching; lonely. You make co-workers see lazy when lazy is the farthest from the truth.

Most can’t see the two of you. Some see both of you; as vivid as if you were both entities of your own; living, breathing entities. Some see the symptoms you create but can only speculate as to the cause of those symptoms. Some see the absent friend, spouse or parent and assume they don’t care enough to show up to some special occasion or event. Because of you, negative thoughts and comments are exchanged such as “how could they miss this”. Even those that understand the why, can’t control the emotional response of anger and hurt from that missing family member or friend who just couldn’t make themselves leave the house that day…because of the two of you!

Depression and Anxiety, you are both truly disgusting and because of you, moments of intimacy for couples can be so few and far between they wonder if they ever had a sex life or what it would be like to actually have one again? Because of you, friendships are ruined by unanswered calls/texts and countless declined offers for lunches, movies, bowling, fishing, shopping. Because of you, jobs are lost when absences outweigh days present.

Depression, how revolting you are to me…you can make a person that is so full of love, willing to do some of the most seemingly selfish things…miss important events, leave bills for a spouse to deal with, not answer a call/text on purpose, not plan a spouse’s 40th birthday, miss family trips, leave children wondering why you missed their track meet, stop dying patients from spending precious time with family, stop adult children from attending their parent’s retirement dinner, make a spouse drink so many beers before bed on an anniversary night that they fall asleep in the recliner before any intimacy was shared. You’ve even made a parent miss their child’s baptism.

Anxiety, how revolting you are to me as well…you can make a person that is so full of love be grouchy and cranky and snippy toward the ones they love because you make them so worried about being worried that they are distracted with figuring out what the worry is, making them easily annoyed when approached with even the simplest of topics…because it adds more for them to think about. You also rob of restful sleep that could help them deal with you more effectively. Very low blow anxiety, very low blow. You sir, are no gentleman!

Just so you know, not that either of you care, but it must be said…Being married to a person with depression and anxiety can be the loneliest place in the universe. On the flip side of that, being married to a person who doesn’t have depression and anxiety, while you do, can also be the loneliest place in the universe.

Depression and Anxiety, you remind me of Satan. You sound like the biblical description of Satan. Let that sink in. You fit the Bible’s description of Satan. 1 Peter 5:8-9 …”the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”. John 10:10…”the thief comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy”. Depression and Anxiety, you both walk around like roaring lions, seeking whom you may devour; you come to steal, kill and destroy…but I want you to know that I am on to your ways. I see you for what you are.

I attribute the growing suicide rate to you both! I firmly believe you are the demons who whisper to your victims that suicide is the only way to freedom and true peace. You lure your unsuspecting victims toward you with a siren’s song of peace and tranquility; straight into the clutches of your death talons! I see you for what you are.

What a loathsome duet you both create!

As a Social Worker, I’ve heard countless tales of your effects; day in and day out; countless tales. As a Social Worker, I feel helpless at times as the tricks of the trade I teach are only minimally effective. The medicines prescribed are also only minimally effective and come with side effects that are often more distressing than just dealing with the original problem; you two! I see you for what you are.

As of right now, Depression and Anxiety, you are winning the battle but you will not win the war! This letter needed to be written so as to leave no room for doubt as to my loathing your existence, as do countless others. I pray daily that the two of you go back to the depths of hell from whence you came…and one day you will. I see you for what you are.

Angry inside for the millions effected directly and indirectly; sipping coffee like Kermit, but mad. ~paula

How Do I Have an Affair? (Asking for a Friend)

I sat down at the dining room table the other day and started making some notes. I decided I wanted to have an affair and I needed to make a check list of who I might want to start with. You know, make a list of who I wanted to have an affair with, places we could go together and ways to keep it on the down low…said no one ever…in the history of the world. (I had you going there for a minute, didn’t I? Ha!)

Comments such as “Hayden and Cameron are getting divorced because Cameron had an affair with the assistant coach” and “Reese and Taylor are getting divorced because Taylor had an affair with the secretary” are becoming so prevalent. The list goes on and on.

Who walks that magical aisle on their perfect day assuming they will one day have an affair? Who picks out honeymoon locations thinking in the back of their mind “Oh, in just 29 short years, I’ll be picking out my affair partner”? No one. No one does that.

It is often said in disgust, “they made the choice to have that affair, now they have to deal with the consequences”. Really? Did they make that choice? Did the guilty parties ever sit down and mull over the specific question…to have an affair or not to have an affair? My guess is no. My guess is that specific decision never ran through their minds.

Well, if that decision never ran through their minds, how did it happen? How did an affair occur? How could she agree to sit with him at that bar for two hours while they shared marriage woes? Because he had been coming into her office at work to chat most afternoons and they had developed a friendship. How could she decide to meet him for a scheduled and planned drink? Because she had accidentally ran into him at the pub two weeks prior, had fun and had gotten the attention she craved with two hours of conversation before going home to a spouse that is disengaged. How could he decide to buy her that single rose and place it on her desk at work? Because he knew she loved roses, she seemed very appreciative of the drink he bought for her the other night while his wife no longer shows appreciation for his gifts. How could she decide to meet him at the beach for the day? Because they had already met for drinks (one accidental, one planned) she was given a rose which was so romantic and she was getting the attention from him that she used to get from her husband and by this point, probably felt the proverbial butterflies with all of the attention. Why did he ask her to meet him at the beach for the day? Because he wanted to be more intimate and cozy with her, away from prying eyes, eyes that might recognize what was going on between them.

If he had invited her to the beach for the day without all of the initial chatty afternoons, chance meetings and romantic gestures, would she have agreed to it? Probably not. Would he have ever asked her for such a bold step? Again, probably not. Would either of them have moved past an accidental meeting for drinks if their needs were being met at home? Why would they need to? So nope.

The baby steps we take to the edge of that cliff aren’t as noticeable as the huge leap over. Casting Crowns is a band known for their song Slow Fade that sums up the descent so nicely. Excerpts are as follows:

Be careful little eyes what you see. It’s the second glance that ties your hands, as darkness pulls the strings…

It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away. It’s a slow fade when black and white are turned to gray. And thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid, when you give yourself away. People never crumble in a day…It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade…

The journey from your mind to your hands, is shorter than you’re thinking. Be careful if you think you stand, you just might be sinking….

Basically, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

So, how do we guard our hearts against an affair? How do we make our marriage a priority when we wonder if it’s even worth it to bother?

For all of us who have been married more than 20 years…or over one year for some…we all know what it’s like to feel ignored, unattractive, undesired, unimportant to the one person who vowed to be our person for all time. Gosh, we all get lazy in our pursuit of this person we chose to be our mate. We get complacent in our quest to win this mate because we already won that race, right? We already have our prize, right? We have their hand for all time, right? Wrong.

I’m pretty certain this “pursuit” should continue until “death do us part”. If not, you both are destined to have a fairly miserable life. We all want to feel loved, cherished, respected, sought after. If not, it’s very easy to be tempted by the first set of eyes that give a little attention. Slicing-through-warm-butter easy!

Spouses, you better be flirting. You better be setting up appointments to date your mate. You better be intentional about making your mate feel as if they are your priority. You both had better be attentive to intimacy needs…out of the bedroom as well as under the covers. You better be giving compliments to each other…in front of others. You better be putting your marriage before your kids, they are moving out one day, your spouse is not. (Settle down, I don’t mean neglect your kid’s true needs.) Spouses you better be seeking ways to serve others together. Spouses you better be constantly setting goals together, working toward them together, then setting more once they are reached.

Sipping coffee at midnight, thinking about our date tonight that was planned 100% by my honey as a surprise…feeling loved and cherished. Do I always feel loved and cherished? Nope. But do I tonight? Yep. ~paula

Rainy Days…

Rainy days are made for writing and lounging on the couch with some coffee, a blanket and Barney, the family wiener dog. (He’s not supposed to be on the couch…but sometimes things happen, right?) The baby boy had just headed back to Florida, the baby girl was napping, hubby was outside in his man cave. Me, alone in the quiet, sipping coffee and thinking. What to do? Blog, of course.

As always before writing, I sat there and let my mind clear. I asked myself what was heavy on my mind today. Missing mom? Half an empty nest? Social Work dilemmas? Those topics didn’t seem to inspire any deep thoughts worth capturing. Food? Travel? Parenting? Still nothing. Marriage? Certainly not. (Some things are best left alone on certain days. Ha!!!)

When nothing sparked an interest, what was a writer to do? How could I call myself a writer if I had nothing to write about? Am I a writer only when ideas flow freely or am I always a writer just with the occasional mental block? Yes. I decided that I am always a writer…just with the occasional mental block.

Think Paula, think. What should today’s topic be? It was the perfect weather for writing…the perfect set up for writing. Just absolutely nothing on the brain worth typing.

Lost in my reverie, I glanced up at the front door as a fairly large, disheveled man jerked back and quickly fled down the front steps. My heart thudded in my chest as I quickly chided myself for not locking the front door but my mind also flooded with thought for the approximate nanosecond long debate, fight or flight? Dad didn’t raise a pansy so fight it was.

Thoughts continued to flood my mind as I jumped up and raced for the door. Had he been watching me? How long had he been watching me? Certainly he had been there for at least a second or two. Muttering numerous cuss words under my breath because of the frustrating scramble between keeping coffee cup upright, the blanket from wrapping around my ankles and Barney from hitting the floor, I finally made it to the door and grabbed the pistol.

My mind raced with fear as I knew my husband was in the man cave. I dashed for the cell phone to give heads up of the man in the yard. No answer of course. I knew what must be done.

I locked down the house, woke the baby girl, provided brief instructions to not open her door until I told her it was okay, set the house alarm and headed quietly out the back door, pistol in hand, ready for whatever was necessary.

Rolling my feet in stealth mode for the descent down the back steps, my eyes scanned for any movement, finger on the trigger, ready. If I hadn’t been so aloof and on edge, I would’ve probably been thinking “Dad would certainly be proud of the awesome skills he had taught me through the years of how to be a bad ass, not to take any shit and to protect you and yours at all cost”.

My back to the house, now on the ground at the bottom of the steps, I squatted down to scan the area, making myself as small as possible to watch the man cave for movement. Keeping my eyes open in constant surveillance, I grabbed my cell phone, flipped it to silent and thought to myself “you should’ve done that before you went outside, goofball”. (Dad would probably deduct some cool points because of that but at least I did it.) I also debated as to whether to send a quick text to the hubby to give heads up…I didn’t want to let Mr. Stranger Danger know someone was out in the man cave from hubby’s ringtone if he didn’t already know. My heart could have almost passed for a double bass pedal as I quickly decided…no text to hubby. Too risky.

Where had Mr. Stranger Danger gone? Did he leave the yard? I never heard a vehicle crank but I hadn’t heard one arrive either. Had he walked up? Had he broken down? If he had no ill intentions, why would he run when I saw him at the door? Still no movement from the man cave. I was frozen in fear. What to do next? Call out to Dan? Just walk over? There was no cover between the house and the man cave. Dad would not be proud if I had been that stealthy and bad ass up to that point, then got abducted, robbed or shot from being stupid right at the last minute. Think Paula, think. Why did I have to keep saying that to myself today?!

As I squatted at the foot of the steps in deep thought, still aloof, scanning the area and making decisions, I heard laughter erupt. Was it coming from the man cave? It seemed to be. If that was someone the hubby had been expecting and they were out there laughing about him freaking me out, I would give them both a piece of my mind…a tongue lashing like none before.

More laughter. I stood up with knees who were angry and frustrated with the length of squat time. Laughter increased in the distance. Putting the safety back on, I bound over to that man cave door and peered in as I heard “mom, wake up, you’re snoring”. The baby girl and hubby stood by the couch in laughter. Nice.

Apparently, I was thinking so hard about what to blog, I dozed off for a nap. Maybe rainy days are also for napping? But as you sip your coffee, just know that I heart writing fiction…and that Dad would most certainly have never condoned me walking out of that house…til the next pot is ready. ~paula

There was this Kid

There was this kid who grew into a man…

This kid would drive a person insane by tattling on you for smooching with your boyfriend. This kid would try to get into your Barbie’s and rearrange legs, arms and heads. This kid would always want to go with you when you just wanted to be with your friends. This kid got approximately 27.8 cars during his high school years when you had only one. (That’s a serious exaggeration, but I’m doing the writing and exaggeration is how I roll. Ha!) This kid would “burn bugs” and our precious but slightly naive mama let it go as truth. (Calm down all you bug enthusiasts, he wouldn’t literally burn bugs, it’s an inside joke, just not my story to share. Ha!) This kid would play his heart out underneath the Friday Night Lights; but then work til exhaustion for a dear elderly family member on Saturdays, bright and early the very next morning.

Baby brother, I’ve watched you turn from a kid to a man.

I’ve watched you fall in love, fall out of love. I’ve watched you make good choices, bad choices. I’ve watched you carry yourself with dignity and self-respect; demonstrating integrity while my former friend and sister-in-law was oblivious that the words even existed. I’ve seen you give love another try and go on to marry the love of your life. I’ve seen you in despair, heartbreak and anguish in heated custody battles; but also saw you filled to overflowing with joy when a daughter finally made it home to you. I’ve watched you pour your heart into things that never came to be; I’ve also watched you succeed abundantly.

I’ve seen so many things baby brother, but what I will never forget, never stop thinking about, never stop adoring about you is the way you loved our precious mama.

For a solid year, you packed up your family and headed home for weekends. You cooked an insane quantity of the most delicious food to feed the multitudes. You spent time with our Dad. You spent time with our Mama. We cried together. We hugged often. We shared. We dealt. We coped. We laughed. We did what was important; spent precious time. You made a point to be at countless doctor appointments; always keeping the mood light with your craziness. And after a long battle fought, you held our mama’s hand while she neared the end. You held me afterwards.

You taught your kids important life lessons during this past year; taught them the importance of family and what it means to truly step up to the plate as a man. You were an example to your sons of what is expected of them as men; you were an example to your daughter of what she should require in a husband.

What more could I ever ask for in a Brother…other than for you to finally admit I’m the favorite? Ha!

Nothing brother…nothing.

I see your hurt and I see your grief over the loss of our precious mama. I see you trying to be strong when you’d rather just give up. I see your pain…it resembles my own. Be strong when you can; let go when you can’t. Talk about her. Write about her. Think about her. But above all else, keep on loving her. She’s still right here with us.

She’s still right here with us…in our thoughts, in our hearts, in our mannerisms, in our facial expressions, in our personalities, in our children.

Thinking of a sweet…but of course MACHO…baby brother tonight as I sip coffee. Praying he knows God has not taken His loving arms from around him this whole time, nor will He ever. ~paula

Siblings by chance; friends by choice. – Author Unknown

The Good Stuff

As I type this sentence, I’m sitting in the car while my 23 yo baby boy drives us to the little town where he plans to relocate due to a new job that begins in two weeks. Scouting out apartments, local eateries, where the beaches are (my own personal need), banks and all the other little necessities to get the baby boy set. I should probably add that I’ll continue to call him my baby boy until I’m 92 and in the nursing home on the dementia wing. Ha!!!

It was announced during church today that the baby boy is moving and will have his last Sunday on percussion next weekend. As I squeezed the mic tight, hoping for strength, I kept looking over at him during worship, trying to soak it in. I knew that my baby boy would only play in that role for one more day of worship. One more Sunday to prepare for worship with my son as a member of the worship team. One more time to feel my heart swell when someone tells him after church how he rocked those drums…and honestly, only one more Sunday to feel that old familiar mama-bear defensiveness creep in if someone sneers about how loud the drums were that day. (Super annoying, but whatever. Ha!) But the good stuff is what I will miss terribly in the months to come. The good stuff.

The good stuff includes moments in time spent with those that you love; folks you consider “your people”. Smiles given, smiles received, eye contact shared, acknowledgment made of a job well done or making certain others know, hey, you’re worth it, I love you and you play an important role in this crazy little circle of ours. Don’t forget the laughter which is one of my most favorite ‘good stuffs’ for the crazy situations we find ourselves in at times. (Man, I love to laugh.)

Often we go through life, weekend to weekend, month to month, year to year and never soak in those moments; those good times that we rarely notice until they are no longer. Those little moments that make the memories; the memories worth hanging onto.

I will always cherish the years of his booming foundation in our worship services; always wish for just a few more sundays; always wish it could have lasted a little longer; always wish that I had been a little more intentional with “soaking it in”.

But here we are. Getting him settled into his new life. Will I miss my baby boy? Heck yes. Will I learn the new normal of having an adult son living his own life? Eventually. Will new moms learn from my writings to savor the years so tightly? Probably not. But do I feel better having expressed all of this broken hearted but proud mama’s heart? Yes!

Praying for future visits with my baby boy, in his adult life, sipping coffee together made by him in his very own coffee pot. ~paula