Friday, April 23, 2010

Grief and Loss

It is hard enough to deal with grief and loss as an adult ... but when children have to cope with grief and loss, it is another story all together.

This has been a bad week in my world. A friend/acquaintance of mine died tragically on Saturday, and I've kind of been reeling from that all week. But what happened yesterday took my grief to a whole new level.

(Photo courtesy of Kathleen Souder.)

At 4:pm yesterday (Thursday) I received an e-mail from my oldest child’s school principal saying that a student who attends the school had died on Wednesday, and that the students had been in grief counseling all day. So when I got home, and had the initial discussion with my children, not only did this student pass away on Wednesday, the student took their own life. My oldest was very upset. He knew the child, and had spent most of the day at school crying. My youngest was not nearly as upset, but she did not know the child, and so I think that had something to do with her initial reaction.

By bedtime, my oldest was better. He was still upset, but after talking with my husband, and myself, and with all of the counseling they received at school, he seemed to be dealing with it quite well ... considering that he is only 13, and all that he had been through yesterday.

But by bedtime, my youngest was worse. When I tried to put her to bed she was crying inconsolably. I just could not say anything to her that would reassure her that everything is going to be okay. Finally I brought her into my room and just held her.

What can I possibly say to my children, that could somehow make sense out of what has just happened, when I myself don’t even understand it. They are scared, and sad, and confused and I have no earthly idea what to say to them other than ... I love you ... God loves you ... everything is going to be okay.

There aren't very many times in which I am at a loss for words, but this is one of them for sure. I think yesterday was one of the most difficult days I've had as a parent.

This to shall pass, but I just can’t shake this feeling today.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, and to all who are grieving this loss. May this child's soul rest in peace.

Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.


Thursday, April 22, 2010


Today would be D-Day. For all of you non-sports fans out there, that would be NFL Draft Day.

Now typically, I am not overly passionate about NFL Draft Day. But this year is another story.

(Photo courtesy of Mark Wurfel)

I am, most definitely, a passionate Notre Dame fan. But my passion right now is a tad bit different than it usually is.

When Notre Dame Quarterback Brady Quinn entered the draft, I was his biggest supporter. It was very painful for me to watch the draft that year, watching every team pass him by. And while I was happy to see that he got drafted by the Cleveland Browns, his childhood team, I had a bad feeling that it was not going to end up well for him. Which it hasn't. (Good luck to him, by-the-way, with his new team, the Denver Broncos!)

Flash forward to 2010. Typically, I am all about supporting my Notre Dame guys in the draft. This is where this year comes in to play. I am not, NOT a Jimmy Clausen fan. He turned me off from the very beginning when he showed up in a limo to the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana, as a high school senior, with his four high school championship rings on his fingers, announcing his intention to play college football at Notre Dame. Strike one. Then comes Beano Cook, announcing that Jimmy Clausen will win four Heisman Trophy's at Notre Dame, before the kid has even stepped on the field (aghh ... flash backs to Ron Powlus). Strike One-A. (I can't really count that is strike two, as that really wasn't Jimmy's fault.)

Then comes the overwhelming ego. I realize that a quarterback has to have a certain level of confidence in order to succeed at any level, but there is a difference in being confident, and being cocky, and Jimmy is the latter. Case in point ... he was driving down the field at the end of the Notre Dame/Stanford game, doing his best to score the winning touchdown with just minutes left on the clock, TAUNTING the Stanford bench BEFORE he even scored the winning touchdown. Which, by-the-way, he did NOT end up scoring the winning touchdown. Strike two.

And finally, while being interviewed about his recent cover on ESPN Magazine, he was quoted as saying, "I'm just a humble kid who likes to play football." I'm sorry, humble and Jimmy Clausen do not belong in the same sentence together. Strike three.

Now, I do not wish Mr. Clausen any harm, and of course, I wish all Notre Dame players heading into the 2010 NFL Draft much success. However, I just pray that my St. Louis Rams do NOT draft Jimmy Clausen.

So there's my little rant for the day. Happy D-Day! May my Notre Dame guys do well. May the Rams draft well. And may they draft ABC ... Anyone But Clausen.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Our Lady of the Lake

My Alma Mater.

I'm not sure if other people feel the strong connection to their Alma mater, that I feel to my Alma mater, the University of Notre Dame. Well, I'm pretty sure a lot of people don't feel this way about their school. I have tried to explain this to non-Notre Dame people before and they just don't get it.
I guess for a lot of people, when they think Notre Dame, they think it is just a school with a great football team, and nothing more. But it is so much more than that to me.

Whenever I head back to my beloved Alma mater, I truly feel as though I am going home.

I guess the first time I experienced this was when I was still at Notre Dame. In the fall of my sophomore year, my parents came up to Notre Dame for a football game (yes, there is that pesky football reference). At the end of the weekend, after my parents had gone home, one of my very best guy friends made a comment to me that every time my Dad was on campus he had this "perma-grin" on his face the entire time he was there. Up until that moment, I had not really noticed this. But after he said that, I paid more attention the next time my parents came up for a visit, and sure enough ... there was the "perma-grin" on my Father's face!

Fast forward twenty years ... now that I too am a graduate of Notre Dame, and make visits back to campus ... I also notice this very same "perma-grin" on my face.
Maybe it's because I really grew into the person I am now while I was at Notre Dame. Maybe it's because my spiritual self developed so much while I was there. I am not really sure. But I feel this peace ... this calm ... this overwhelming connection ... whenever I am there. And no matter how chaotic my life may be at home, once I step foot on that campus, all is right with the world.

I am headed up to visit my beloved Alma mater in the not-so-distant future, and I can't wait. I am ready for a nice walk down memory lane, and the centering and refocusing that happens whenever I am there.

I surely hope that other people feel this way about their Alma maters. All I know is that Notre Dame was way more for me than just a school ... it was the bridge from who I was ... to who I am today!

Notre Dame our Mother, pray for us.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Is Friendship the Caterpillar that Turns into a Butterfly?

Just when I thought I had it all figured out, everything went ahead and changed on me!

I thought I knew what it meant to have friends, and to be a good friend, but lately things just haven't been going as I had planned.

Want to read more about the changing thing I call friendship? Read my guest post on "Then Life Happens!"


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Weight on Your Back

Some times, or should I say some days, I think I have bit off more than I can chew in my life. But when I look to find something to cut out, I just can't seem to find anything to cut out. I firmly believe that God does not give you any more than you can handle, but some days I think he's pushing me to the edge. And then you have that "ah ha" moment.

Mine was on Sunday. I was with my family celebrating the Easter holiday, when I saw they were passing around a letter from my cousin Jake who is in the Marines. Here is this 18 year old young man, writing home to describe the trials and tribulations that he is going through at "boot camp," and I'm complaining about my life? He's talking about the "hell week" that he's getting ready to embark upon (the last week of boot camp), where they have to hike 14 miles with a 100 pound pack strapped to their back ... and I'm complaining that I have more than I can handle??

Seriously, that made me take a huge step back.

This 18 year old young man has had the clarity of mind and heart, to commit to serving and protecting his country, yours and my country, with no selfishness at all. Giving his all to make sure that you and I have the "opportunity" to complain about all that is on our plates. Well, I feel quite humbled today.

God Bless the USA.

God Bless all of our service men and women, who often sacrifice more than just their time and talents, so that we can enjoy the luxuries of our lives.

And God Bless my cousin Jake. God speed in your journey, and hurry home!


Life Lessons

Sometimes being a parent is terrifying. Well, more than just sometimes. But on this particular day, it was definitely terrifying.

I know that you cannot be with your children at all times. You do your best as a parent to teach your children right from wrong, and how to make good decisions. And you hope that when they encounter difficult situations, that you have taught them well enough to make the correct decisions. I surely hope what I've done is truly enough, but all the same, I am using recent events as a teaching point.

Over the past few weeks, several teenagers/young adults on spring break in Panama City, FL have died from falling off hotel balconies. One young man in particular caught my attention. He had everything going for him. He was an upstanding young man, well liked in his school and community. He had fantastic grades, and a full scholarship to a prestigious University. And yet his life ended tragically early.

Now I understand that kids in High School drink. And while I hope that mine will not, I know that they will be presented with opportunities to drink, and I hope (and pray) that I have prepared them with the tools they need to handle themselves appropriately in these situations.

So while in the car over the weekend, I used the recent events as a teaching moment. I explained to them how important it is to make good decisions. How this young man had some much going for him, and that he made a bad decision which ended in tragedy. And how dangerous it is to drink while underage, because an underage person just does not understand how much alcohol effects their behavior, and alters their judgement. Overall, I think it was a very productive discussion. I think at this point in their lives they have surrounded themselves with good friend, and hopefully their friend's parents are instilling the same values in them. But at least I know that I am doing all I can to prepare my children for the obstacles that lie ahead!

I am still very much bothered by these deaths. I cannot imagine, as a parent, losing a child in such a way. More accurately, losing a child in ANY way, is absolutely unthinkable, but these deaths are such a tragedy to me.

God bless this young man, and may his soul rest in peace.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Are you the Jester or the Court?

So, I'm a pretty smart girl. I had straight A's all four years in High School. I graduated from the University of Notre Dame with better than a B average. I have changed career paths twice, learned two new professions, and have seemingly pulled it off with only a few bumps and bruises. So how come I always get "taken" on April Fools' Day?

I get up this morning, fully aware that today is April Fools' Day, and promise myself that I am not going to get "taken" again this year. The morning started out pretty well, until the dog pooped on the floor that is (TWICE I might add) and suddenly I am NOT a happy camper. And not on my game either.

So my son comes downstairs, as I am headed off to take care of poop duty, and he says to me, "Mom, I didn't finish my homework last night." And I whirl around, look straight at him and say, "WHAT??" (Remember, the dog has already made me NOT a happy camper.) To which he replies, with this coy little grin on his face, "April Fools'."

Aghh. Foiled again!

On a side note ... I am already kind of traumatized by April Fools' Day as my acceptance letter to Notre Dame arrived ON April Fools' Day. I was so sure that my Mom was pranking me, and that it was not my REAL acceptance letter, that she had to physically open it in front of me to show me that it was real! haha

Hope your April Fools' Day was prank-free! :)