One Year

One year

One year:  A span of time between date A and date B that can seemingly pass without you even noticing, or drag on interminably, depending on your circumstance.

One year:  365 days, 12 months, 52 weeks, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds.

One year:  an increment of time used to measure milestones, anniversaries, events.

So much can happen in one year.  The earth completes its revolution around the sun. You can create and birth new life in just one year.  You can fall in love and plan a wedding.  You can plan, save, and go on the vacation of your dreams.  You can start a new business.   So many things full of excitement, anticipation, joy and wonder can be accomplished in just one short year.

I have been thinking of “the” year anniversary that my dear friends faced yesterday.  It’s not the type of anniversary or milestone that is celebrated or even welcomed.  It comes with dreaded anticipation.  It’s “the” year since you last heard your daughter’s voice or welcomed her in your warm embrace.  “The” year since she sent you a silly text or funny picture.  “The” year where the pain of loss feels like yesterday, but the yearning for just one more moment with her feels like an eternity.  “The” year where every one of those 31,536,000 seconds your mind and heart was with her, while struggling to create a “new normal” for you and your family.  But it will never feel normal.

My thoughts have been with my friends every day since “that” day.  Every time I talk to my precious daughter, I think of them and pray that God will help them get through that day.  That He will find a way to give peace and joy in the sorrow.  And, if I’m honest, I thank God that he hasn’t given me that unbearable burden that outliving a child creates.  I have so appreciated their faith, grace, acceptance, perseverance, peace and even the sparks of joy I have witnessed this year as they have faced the milestones of holidays, birthdays and last days together.

I miss you for so many reasons.  I miss you, Megs, because you were a sweet, young woman that I considered another daughter.  I miss you because I watch my daughter miss you daily while she struggles to think of life without her dear friend, and it breaks my heart.  I miss you because I think of the dreams you had that will never be fulfilled.  You had so much to offer.  I miss you because of the dreams your parents had for you that they will never see realized.  I miss you because of the hole that you left behind in this world for all your friends, but especially for your dad, mom and brothers.

One year: a very long time to miss someone. 

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Going Home...

There's an old phrase, "you can't go home again" that has been on my mind all weekend.
I'm "home", but not really. It feels like home, but not really. It looks like home, but not really. I want it to be home, but not really.
I flew back to where I grew up to take care of some things. Cowboy had more important commitments, so I am alone. I don't believe I have actually ever been here alone before. It's strange, wonderful and awful at the same time.
It's been 28 years since my dad and grandma graced the home; 13 years for my mom; and four for my brother, yet I feel them so distinctly, and my mind replays events and conversations so vividly as I walk through the house. I am filled with half joy and half sorrow.
I pass my Mom's art room and I picture her in there with all her paint, canvases and easels doing what she always did best - create. A more talented, imaginative creator I have yet to meet. She was a top notch seamstress, was versed in all yarn arts, including tatting, an accomplished artist who had a show at the San Diego Museum of Art and an avid scrapbooker. Every new craft she tried, she entered wholeheartedly!
I continue down the long hall and pass the huge dining table where we gathered for many a dinner and holiday with family and friends. I hear the loud, boisterous ruckus of everyone talking and laughing and trying to one up each other with the Blanchard sarcasm. We always had a lot of laughter. We were a funny bunch. I can see my brother, Vern, pointing to a "spill" on my shirt and me looking down, getting his finger up my face. I fell for it E-V-E-R-Y time ! I hear Grandma's cackle above all the other noise and wonder if Grandma's passion and affinity for chickens was derived from the fact that she sounded like one when she laughed. 
I pass the living room, the heart of our house and I picture grandma in the chair by the window, singing along with the music Grandpa and Mom were making. Grandpa had been a professional trumpeter when younger and the piano was another art my mom mastered so beautifully. The boys and I would gather round and sing the old time songs and Broadway show tunes, a time of harmony for all of us, figuratively and real. Music was the essence of our home. We spent more time making music together than anything else I can remember, and I truly believe it was a good thing and contributed to our joy. If you know me well, you know I am always singing and have a song for just about every occasion. The music in my heart has gotten me through some rough times. I sit at the piano to play a few tunes, but I'm not ready for that yet and I can't see the notes through my tears anyway.
In the kitchen, I remember the lunches and dinners dad and I made together. Just dad and daughter, making spaghetti (our specialty), talking little, (he was the quiet kind- like my Cowboy) but enjoying the simple act of being together.
So many, many more memories replay in my mind - like watching a movie of my life and I miss them all so much. What I wouldn't do for one more word, one more moment, one more touch.

So, I guess I disagree with the adage that you can't go home. You can. It just isn't the same.

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My waking thoughts this morning were that this is a day that should not be. Today, we would witness a father, a mother and two brothers say their final goodbye to a precious daughter and sister. And we would share in their grief.
At the service, we heard what an exceptional young woman you had become and how your faith and love for God had grown over the years. We heard of your kindness towards others, your joys in life and your hopes and dreams. These weren't anything new to those of us that had watched you grow. But what was so special and unknown to me was the depths to which you had grown in your spiritual walk. Your journal entries that were shared proved what your priorities were in life and it humbled me that you had it figured out so young, when I, over twice your age, still struggle with getting my priorities right.
I watched your mom, sweet Sandra, time and again, comforting those who should have been comforting her, and I realized that the grace and wisdom you already had in your short years was instilled at home by your parents and the work of God in your life.
At the graveside, the reality of the finality of death hit everyone so deeply. My heart broke as I watched my daughter and her friend, the last two remaining of the three musketeers cry in each other's arms as they learned the hard lesson that death isn't reserved for the old and sick. Or the deserving.
Thank you, Megan, for living a life that inspires us all to want to live better, love more, be kinder, and most of all live for things beyond this life.

It was said that God only picks the ripest, sweetest fruit. We weren't ready for you to be picked yet, but you were and that's all that matters.

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When a Mother has a Son....

At some point in the life of a mom with sons, she thinks and frets about the woman her son will love. It can be a little daunting to think that someday you will have to welcome a female into your family that may or may not like you; may or may not share the values you sought to instill in your offspring; and since they are your precious sons, they may not even love and treat your sons the way you think they should and you really have no choice in the matter. Horror stories abound about the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law relationship, right? My mother-in-law had never met me before my Cowboy told her he was choosing me as his life partner. As a mother now, I can appreciate the fear and anxiety that must have caused her. I can also appreciate that she never made me feel like I wasn't good enough for her son and I was welcomed into the family as if I was chosen by them.

My sons have made their choices. I had no say in the matter, but I can say I couldn't have chosen better mates for them myself! They are the daughters of my heart.

The daughters of my heart are beautiful - from the inside out. I love them for that.

The daughters of my heart love my sons unconditionally, despite their faults. Having raised them, I know what a challenge that can be at times! I love them for that.

The daughters of my heart have given me two beautiful, smart, happy grandchildren. I love them for that.

The daughters of my heart have unconditionally allowed the Cowboy and I to spend a lot of time with our grandsons. Even as babies. we have been allowed to have them all to ourselves for extended periods of time. Because of this, we have a relationship with our two grandsons that is enviable to many and absolutely cherished by us. They could have easily and rightfully held the motherhood reins tighter, but they chose to share, and as a result, those two precious boys have enriched our lives in ways we never imagined. I love them for that.

The daughters of my heart have welcomed me into their homes and hearts, and if they have any reservations about me as their mother-in-love, they have hid it well. I love them for that.

The daughters of my heart are wonderful mates to my sons and exceptional mothers to my grandchildren. I love them for that.

So, on this Mother's Day, I think of the two most important mothers in my life right now. Thank you for who you are and who you love. I may not have birthed you, but you are truly my daughters.

Happy Mother's Day, daughters.

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Where have I been?????

Wow!  I never post anymore!  I have been so very busy and I thought it would be nice to let you know where I have been!

As you can tell by previous posts, I lost my brother in May, 2013.  He actually got very ill in January of that year and the Cowboy and I spent a lot of time in CA while he was in the hospital from January through May of that year.  Between working full time and traveling there, most of my crafting and thrifting activities have been on hold.  He was living in the family home, which has actually been mine since my mother passed; however, he wasn't taking care of it very well.  During his hospital stay, we spent a lot of time repairing and taking care of things long neglected.

After he passed, we had to make a decision of what to do with the home.  I could not bear the thought of selling it.  It is my DREAM home and always has been since we built it.  I also couldn't bear the thought of having someone rent it full time because we would no longer have access to it and it really wouldn't feel like mine or like home any longer.

So, I decided I would turn it into a crafter's paradise!  I had a craft house in Texas several years before I sold it because of city ordinances.  I loved having the house and visiting with the wonderful ladies who graced the home with their presence.

In order to turn the family home into a scrapbook/quilt/crafter's retreat, it needed a lot of work.  We have been going to CA at least once a month to take care of things.  So, that's why I haven't been around much.

Anyway, although we have a lot of things we still want to do at the house, it is now good to go for a retreat!  I'm so excited!

Do you craft?  Do you love the San Diego area?  Do you need a place to go?  Check out The Raggedy Inn

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One Down, Five to Go....

Monty Python is not dead yet!

This morning, I heard on the news that Monty Python is having a last reunion for a live show. When the tickets became available, it sold out in 44 seconds! They had planned on doing only one show, but because the demand was so high, they are doing nine additional shows, with the last one (July 20) being simulcast in about 2,000 theaters. 

My brother was a huge Monty Python fan and it was a tradition for our kids to watch The Holy Grail with him several times on each of their frequent visits out West. I’m pretty sure that they can all quote the whole movie verbatim and that possibly their first words hailed from scenes of the movie! I am not a theater-goer, but I think I should make an exception and find one simulcasting to share this last experience with the kids in honor of their beloved uncle. The date of the final show is also Chad’s birthday. I think there’s some type of cosmic significance to that fact.

One of the original cast died many years ago. The show, in typical Monty Python humor, is titled, “One down, five to go.” 

My brother would have loved that.
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May 05 - Cinco de Mayo

For much of the world, May 5th signifies victory and independence.  To others, it’s a great excuse to break out the margaritas and party.  To some, it’s just another day in a long list of days.  To me, it’s the day my oldest brother, Vern, was born (05/05/55), and the day our lives were forever changed when my Cowboy broke his neck and back (05/05/05).

On this particular May 5th (2014), I vacillate between incredible sadness that I will never get to celebrate my brother’s birthdate with him again and great joy that my Cowboy can still swagger.  Through the sadness and joy, I am reminded that God is good and God is in control.

My big brother was fun, irritating, brilliant in many ways, stupid in a few, talented, loyal and generous.  While the age difference between us didn’t foster closeness during the early years, he was protective and kind.  When my mom and best friend passed away almost 10 years ago, he graciously allowed me to cling to him as a surrogate and our relationship blossomed.  Mind you, he did complain about it, but it was his nature to grumble and tease unmercifully and the more he grumbled, the more cherished you felt.

Our family has an irreverent sense of humor and an irrational fear of expressing our feelings.  I worried about Vern living alone after Mom was gone, so our code for “all is well on the home front ”, “I love you” and “I miss you” was verbalized with the infamous Monty Python quote, “I am not dead yet.”   This phrase was such a huge part of our lives for 10 years.  It covered a lot of emotions – it was kind of like the “aloha” of the Blanchard family.  In fact, the musical version of that statement from “Spamalot” was his ring tone when he called.

Last May 5th, we celebrated his overcoming all odds.  After over four months in the hospital, he was home and things were going to be okay. We never anticipated or considered that we would say goodbye to him so soon afterwards.  I still struggle with letting him go.  He remains one of my ‘favorites’ in my phone contacts and I can’t bring myself to delete it, even though his number no longer works.

Someday, I will tell you about my Cowboy and the significance of this date for him.  For today, I just need to remember my brother, to relive memories in the past and contemplate the preciousness of each moment that God grants us.

Over the last year, I have often wished I could talk to him just one more time.  And I know exactly what I would tell him.   “I am not dead yet.”
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