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Goodbyes just plain suck. All of ’em. To hell with ’em. We weren’t built for ’em. Especially the permanent ones. You know, the ones where you know it will be impossible to see your loved one’s face again, on this earth? Those ones. They freaking bite. When you know that the next time you’ll meet eye-to-eye will be when your journey is complete. And, right then, you have no idea when that day will come and it feels like forever away.
Indefinite goodbyes suck.
Indefinite goodbyes without the hope of reunion suck even more.
I’ve been trying to explain goodbyes to Austyn these last few weeks because she’s gonna be missing some sweet friends of hers very soon. I’m her momma. I want to prepare her. So, I’ve been trying to tell her that, because of our move up North, she won’t be attending her awesome little Montessori school here in Seattle anymore.
Today was her last day. And on the way to school, I tried to warn her again. I didn’t want her to freak out but I didn’t want this day to slip by without her realizing it’s seeming significance. I told her that today there should be long hugs and extra kisses. In my heart, I know that these kids that she’s made into friends and the teachers she’s made into family will fade into the background soon.
But, she didn’t really seem to understand. I know this isn’t goodbye forever necessarily. We hope to visit back to her school a few times in the coming year at least. But, the day to day will be gone. Every day she doesn’t have school during the week this past year, she tells me she misses her “fwends.” I am nervous for the day she tells me this, this coming week. Break. My. Heart.
I’ve never really liked goodbyes. Not to my parents when they left for vacation when I was a kid, not to my friends for summer break, not to my bestie when we chose colleges that were states apart, not to the baby I never got to meet, and DEFINITELY not to my husband when he died of cancer just five years into our marriage. No, definitely not then.
I remember crossing the hallway between our master bedroom and Austyns nursery in the early morning, just hours before Nick would leave this earth. I had been watching his chest rise and fall for the last half hour, not much unlike the past two weeks. However, this time, when I had been awakened by my usual alarm to give him his next dose of pain meds, I noticed right away that something was different. The hospice nurses had warned me that would happen. They told me that his breathing would “change.” I had worried that I wouldn’t be able to tell. “You’ll know.” They had assured me.
And, I definitely did.
It was coming… Our final goodbye. I had spent the last two years saying goodbye to small parts of my husband, small bits of us, and large chunks of me that had been tangled up in him. First it was goodbye to cancer free conversations, then date nights, then grocery outings, then morning coffee, then goodbye to our sex life… Next came goodbye to his lucid words, goodbye to his sound advice and goodbye forever to our flow of conversation. Then, goodbye to his kisses. Goodbye to his voice and then his whispers. It was obvious that this real last goodbye had been a long time coming. And, yet, my heart felt so surprised. Already? We hadn’t had near long enough.
That last night of his on this earth was also the very last night I breastfed our little girl, Austyn. (Last night of breastfeeding because my milk supply cut off the very next day. The stress of losing my husband’s life proving too much for my body to handle along with sustaining my little girl’s life.) I remember wondering if I was nuts to leave Nick alone in that room, but I knew Austyn needed to eat and I had a strange peace that he wouldn’t leave me until I made my way back to his side.
As I crossed the distance between the two loves in my life, angels were with me every step of the way. God was physically present. I felt Him there, in the house. I felt Him in my bones. And, though, I was trembling and heartbroken, peace flooded me like none I’d ever felt. I remember caressing Austyn’s soft little hand as she sleepily drank and letting tears roll down my cheeks as I thought of not only my loss, but hers.
Nick died when Austyn was barely 9 months old. She hadn’t walked yet or talked yet. She hadn’t learned to count. Or ride a bike. It just all felt so unfair. At the very very least, it seemed a girl should have her dad for her first soccer game, for her first dance, even for her wedding. My heart ached for her and shattered for me. Split wide open, right down the middle, for us both.
Looking back now, I realize a silver lining that I hadn’t seen then. The innocence that was preserved in my little girl. Obviously it would have been an immense blessing if Nick had been able to live his life into the years that will eventually reside in Austyn’s memory. But, he didn’t. And so, my sweet girl doesn’t know goodbyes like I do.
As we passed Greenlake for the last time on our way home from school today, she told me something.
“My teacher sad today.” She frowned in the rearview mirror and I longed to see the dimple that shows when she smiles.
“Is she baby? Why do you think?” I asked.
“Because it my last day at school.” She said.
“Yeah. She’s going to miss you, sweetheart.” My girl captured hearts there, even through her terrible twos.
“Yes. BUT!!” Austyn’s eyes twinkled and that dimple appeared fast as her smile grew. “She will feel better soon maybe. Maybe I will give her a hug someday and she will feel all better. Soon, mom. Let’s see! She WILL feel better. Not tomorrow. But SOON!”
My sweet child. My heart swelled with pride and with grief, happy and sad tears threatened to brim.
I know she will miss her friends and her teachers come next week. But, I also know that she will make more friends.
I made a conscious decision long ago, with the help of my God, my pastor, my grief counselor and countless psychiatrists studies, that I wouldn’t share my grief with my little girl. At least, as best I can. I share my grief with you, with the world, with other adults in my life. But, not with her. Not yet. She’s been far too young to understand goodbyes of this magnitude. And, I’m trusting that decision even more now.
Nevertheless, she has surely seen me cry and have hard days. When as a single momma, I just couldn’t keep those tears from falling to the floor.
And, I don’t know if it’s so much that, or just who God has made her to be, but she is honestly one of the most compassionate toddlers I have ever seen. Her heart is on her sleeve and its pure as gold, untarnished. She’s got her bad days, I assure you, but her tenderness and care for others is as plain as day. She puts others needs first, especially if they are having a hard time. She pats backs, asks to kiss boo boos and all around wonders aloud “You doin okay in there?” And, I pray my daughter and this love for others always stays that way. It’s the very best gift she could ever possess.
In all her childlikeness, I realize how very much I strive to be just like her. And, sometimes, I really do accomplish it.
A sweet acceptance that a “someday reunion” is good enough. And, that living life for JOY in the meantime is all there really is to do.
Goodbyes suck. They sure do. But, you WILL feel better. Maybe not tomorrow. But, soon! <3
WE GOT A HOUSE!!
There was a time… not very long ago… when I decided that I would be just FINE. No matter what. And, I was.
I was just fine with so little of what the world thinks women my age need to be happy. I knew I didn’t NEED a husband, I didn’t NEED a house, and I didn’t NEED a normal full-time job. I knew that the ONLY thing I truly NEEDED was JESUS. And, at risk of sounding like a religious freak, I’ve honestly found this to be true. He is truly all that I need. He is truly, as odd as it may sound, ENOUGH.
You guys… I’ve been told over and over again (especially since finding a new, wonderful, beautiful love) that I am so lucky. And, while I do agree, I HAVE to say that I was lucky and blessed BEFORE all this. And, no, I don’t mean because I had the memory a husband who loved me, or because I had a bomb career, or owned a beautiful house… (though those things were blessings as well). But, I was blessed… Because, I chose to see what was real.
I was blessed because…
**I KNEW that the love of Jesus would hold me, no matter what this life held for me.**
So much of finding new love, new light, and new joy in this life is about CHOICE. These choices aren’t always easy to make.
LIVING after MAJOR LOSS is DAMN HARD. Heck, living life on this planet is equally as hard. People are broken. Times can be dark. Choosing to LOVE and LET LOVE can be the hardest choice you’ll ever make. The choice to LIVE instead of cower could bring a person to their knees.
Love is the *perfect* gateway for hurt.
Choosing to live will result in gut-wrenching changes.
Going after the things that your soul has always longed for will open you up to criticism and doubt.
Yes, God HAS blessed me. But, I had to make a VERY conscious decision to allow Him to do so. I had to make a decision, out loud, to let Him take over, no matter what. I had to DECIDE that I would be happy with WHATEVER He provided. Whatever the next step on His path for me might be. And just around the corner of that choice to live my life, God has lined up some of those blessings that I already decided I could and would live without.
Jay and I will be married this June (wooohooo!) AND (we are so happy to announce) we’ve purchased a HOME that is scheduled to be completed in May!!!
(The story of how and when we landed this beautiful place is a doozy… It’ll need its own blog post. Holy smokes! God is TOO good!)
Tears of joy have been running rampant as 2015 came to a close…. Equally so, tears of loss, as we approach two years without my sweet husband,Nick Magnotti. Life is so much of both kinds of tears. Always a contrast. Always happy with sad.
But, the good and the bad, that beautiful contrast, is what makes everything in life SO MUCH CLEARER. It gives DEPTH to that which used to be flat. It gives EXPANSION and SPACE to things that used to feel cramped.
I still don’t understand so much of the bad, but I will thank God anyway. I will thank Him for that which I do understand and I will thank Him for the hundreds of things that I don’t. Because, in the end, I know that God holds my life in His hands. I know His plan for me is beautiful and full of hope and promise. I will thank Him and praise Him on days filled with pain and on the days that are filled with unfathomable Joy, for He is worthy to be praised!! heart emoticon heart emoticon
Love ya’ll. Happy 2016!!! Cheers! xox
People tell me all the time, “You are so strong. I don’t think I could ever go through what you’re going through.” I normally think, “Yeah… I don’t think I will get through it either.” (But, of course I don’t say so out loud!) But, really… You never know if you can get through something until you face it, a day at a time.
I’m a 27 year old widowed momma and I’ve already lived through a lifetime’s worth of hurt. That hurt has afforded me so many lessons that I think you could benefit from. One of those lessons is how to stay strong and not buckle under the pressures of tomorrow… Let’s face it, some of us feel like we are going to cave any second, especially when facing insurmountable odds. So, how did I get through it? How did I keep a smile on my face? Watch and find out.
In the growing up and the knowing more, you realize that life isn’t really about figuring it out. That maybe it’s more about just going through it, together, with everyone else who is doing the same. Sharing in the good and the bad. The heavy and the light. And, the heavy light.
I sit on my mother’s couch, in her one bedroom apartment, reading my devotional, waiting for my sleeping daughter to wake. We are four days away from moving into my next new beginning, the home I aim to create for my sweet daughter and I. I read, I reflect on the things that I’m thankful for. I start my day with positive intention. But, my thoughts wander, as they do some mornings, to the people who are struggling to survive. The ones without the things that I am thanking Him for. What about those without power? Without water? Without the hope for health? The ones walking the cancer battles with their family now? What about those who simply never experience the feeling of safety? The ones living despite ISIS? The people who live out our nightmares? How do we help them? What can we do?
Austyn’s cries of “Momma” from the next room interrupt my thoughts. I push them aside. And I smile. She needs me and I can give her safety and warm fuzzy feelings. Though I sometimes feel desperate for others that I can’t help, I know what I can do, right now. I can help her.
As I lift my smiling girl out of her makeshift bedroom at Nama’s (which is a crib in a walk-in closet, exactly) she immediately requests the thing that she needs most in the moment. “Momma!” She uses her hands to make sure my eyes find hers. “Nack?” (“Nack” means “Snack”.) I assure her, a snack is most assuredly waiting. And, it’s called breakfast, in fact. Momma made oatmeal.
I lie her down to change her (I hope to start potty-training soon, and there is actually a chance that I will miss this bit of her dependence on me). Once I finish, I lightly touch her side, where she’s the most ticklish, to see if she might be in the mood for a giggle or two. The room erupts with her contagious and beautiful laughter. Light seems to explode from her and fill the room, and the sounds are heaven. She sparkles. I can’t bear to let this moment pass.
If I can give my girl this much joy, with just one touch, I will stretch this moment until it becomes too thin. So, I nuzzle my face into her side. Her laughter bounces, echoes, she squirms and she loves it. Suddenly, there are tears pouring from my eyes. I am overflowing. I am laughing, but I am crying. The joy is light… and it is very unbearably heavy sometimes.
We get up and make our way to the kitchen. She, a giggling mess. Me attempting, quite poorly, not to confuse her with the conflicting emotions so evident on my face.
Her easy laughter reminds me so much of Nick. So much of the joy that lived inside him. Right under the surface. Easy and sure and ready to break free at a moment’s notice. I think that joy lives in each of us. Sometimes, we just have to dig a little deeper to find it. And, sometimes, we need someone else to coax it out of us… Sometimes it only takes one word. Sometimes it only takes one touch.
The adventure that is this life stretches ahead of us. Austyn’s virus that added a fever to her asthma is gone now. She is healthy. I am healthy. We walk ahead, not alone. With God in every movement, every breath, every sigh. He is here. He is in the light. In the heavy. He is in the laughter. And, the tears. And, I know that Nick’s in it all a little bit too. Those we love, truly, don’t ever really leave.
Funny isn’t it? How a beginning of one thing requires an end of something else.
How we must open up our hands and let go to be able to grab on to the next thing? It can feel impossibly difficult to let go, especially when you are at the end of your rope. Especially, even more so, if the rope you’ve been holding onto is actually just a thread.
More often than not, these ropes and threads are made of fibers of fear. Our fists are tightened resolutely around what we fear we might lose.
We cling to our jobs, to our image, to our children, our spouses, or our bank accounts. What we want is control. What we want is security. We believe that if we hold something close enough there is no way it could break. But, what we tend to forget is that we aren’t gods. There are things we can’t control. And there are things that if held too tightly, and we aren’t careful, could shatter into a million pieces.
There is a time for everything. And, I think our time has come. To give up control. To let go and let go again. It’s time for you to be who you were made to be. It’s time to be brave. It’s time to open up those hands, drop that thread of security, toss those fears, and throw your empty hands skyward. Lift them and open them up to whatever it is that God wants to give you. Whatever it is He wants to show you.
Is it scary? Heck to the yes. Sometimes it seems like the scariest thing in the entire world. But, there just isn’t another way to do it. Living this life in fear… I promise you… isn’t what we are meant for.
Bravery is woven into our very being. Fear causes flying wings to flutter and falter. We must make the decision to let go of your fears if we truly want to fly.
You… You were meant to jump, friend. You were meant to live by faith.
What if you fall?
Oh, but what if you fly?
Your soul was made to soar.
This summer I let go of a few fears myself. I wish I could say that it was easy… that I was a natural. But, I wasn’t. Oye. I had to pry my fingers up one by one. It was painful and it sure wasn’t pretty. Living scared can feel a heck of a lot easier than living free.
Back in May, I was beginning to feel like God was telling me I was ready for a new relationship. And, I was scared out of my mind. Mainly for what people might think. Nick had told me over and over again at different intervals through his two and a half year illness that if he died he would want me to find someone again. Near the end he made sure to tell me again, except he didn’t say if, he said when. Inhale. Exhale. Yeah, that was hard. Overtime he told me, I fought him. I said I couldn’t imagine it. And, I honestly couldn’t.
But, once he was truly gone (and I realized that I was only 26 and not 76 like I had felt), I felt God telling me it was time to really consider being (or trying to be) in a relationship again. I had lost parts of Nick and parts of our relationship over such a long period of time and I had grieved those losses every second of every day for years. The thought of beginning again was scary, especially so soon. I was so fearful of what people might think. (And, that is a blog post in and of itself. The fears that one faces when you know what God is telling you but know that it may not be a “popular” path. Maybe I’ll go over that at some point soon.)
I remember putting Austyn down for a nap and going to my room to pray. My dad was living with me at the time, but he wasn’t home. And, that was definitely a good thing, because I collapsed. I couldn’t even make it to the couch. I fell on my hands and knees and the tears began to flow (that sounds dainty… It was more like pour, rage, cascade, gush…. Gross). The gravity of what I thought God wanted me to do felt too much to bear. How could I go on when I had finally begun to understand that there really was no going back?
I cried out to God and I prayed a big prayer. I asked God to look after whoever He had in mind for me next. I poured out to Him and my heart spoke. I knew that the only relationship that could sustain me at this point would be one that pushed me closer to Him.
So I asked God for that. I told Him that if I was to ever be in another relationship, I wanted one that brought me closer to Him. That made me stronger in Him. That made me more like Love.
Secondary to that, I wanted someone who could truly love me and love my daughter.
“And nothing else matters.” I proceeded to tell God what didn’t matter… Career. Money. Looks. Location. Dog or Cat person (I took that one back… He has to be a dog person… Just kidding).
After some time on that floor, I finally felt like I could pick myself back up. From there, I knew that God had it in His hands. I felt complete peace that He had a plan. And I didn’t know if I would meet this guy soon or in a few decades but I knew, as Nick had known and even shared with our pastor, that God had someone else in mind for me.
Fast forward a week or so. Life had gone on as normal, which included about a million diaper changes (tad exaggeration) and many wonderful moments spent staring into my sweet daughter’s eyes (when she would sit still long enough that is).
I had decided to create an account on a Christian dating site. And, let me tell you creating that profile was scaarrre-ey. Some of the emails that followed were downright horrifying (I kid… sort of). After just a few days, I was about ready to delete the whole thing when a message caught my eye.
There is so much I could tell you from there… About all of the things that God did to even get me to give this guy my number, let alone my real name. He lived in Florida so a quick coffee date wouldn’t work but we were able to get to know each other through email and, eventually, long phone calls. Then, he came up to Seattle for a week. We hung out and he was exactly who I thought he was. A strong man of God that had been through a lot, like me (well, not the man part).
This summer, I had the opportunity to take an extended vacation. I had been thinking about Southern California, but decided to change my plans. Instead, I went to Pensacola, Florida unsure of what would transpire. The month was lovely. I spent time and made time. And then spent it again.
And a good portion of that time was spent in the company of my new friend. As we grew closer, I knew that God had some kind of plan and, though I was so tempted to run in the other direction, I held on.
After much prayer on both of our ends, we became official (I felt like I was in high school again… I have a “boyfriend”… It felt like it had been ages) in August. And, before I left for Seattle, we began praying about our next steps. Neither of us wanted a long-distance relationship and we didn’t think God necessarily wanted it for us either. But, we were on literal opposite ends of the country. How in the world would we make this work?
It would be hard to write out what transpired in those last few weeks. But, God made it clear in our hearts that we were supposed to be in Florida. He started with me. And I tried so hard to ignore it; to pretend I didn’t hear or feel His prompts. But, eventually I gave in and admitted it. It felt like making that leap (or many leaps, across the stinking country!) was God’s best option for me.
Now, let’s take a detour for a second here. It’s not that I believe that God wouldn’t have blessed me had I decided not to move. God works in mysterious ways, that is for sure. And we definitely have a choice. We can follow what we believe is God’s voice or we can turn away. We can attempt to listen, or we can listen to the world. It’s really up to us and was up to me, but I felt like God’s best (read: best, not only) option for me was to make this move. Ok, back to the story.
Instead of holding onto my fears and refusing to believe He could be asking for such a thing, I decided to take a step. And, as soon as I made the decision to trust, I was given peace again.
When I told my family and my closest friends what was on my heart, they confirmed what I was feeling. That scared little voice inside me (you guys have one too, right, that’s not just me?) was actually hoping that at least one of them would think I was crazy. That at least one of them would beg for me to change my mind. But, honestly, they showed care, asked the right questions, said they would miss me like crazy but supported me through and through. I really do have the best friends in the entire world. (Why do they have to be so awesome?! I miss my Washington mountains, dangit!)
I sold my home.
I sold about a third of my furniture.
And, I signed a lease. (And, God worked crazy miracles – yes, plural – into each one of those events. Oh how I wish I could tell you fast enough!)
There you have it. I’m now living in an itsy-bisty Florida town on the Gulf of Mexico so that I can be closer to the one I love. So that we don’t have to be long distance. So, we can see what this is all made of. I took the leap.
Let’s fast forward again (because, let’s face it, I’m long-winded… I start a short storytelling bootcamp next week – psych!).
This move has taught me so many new things. It’s challenged me in ways I never imagined. It’s required bravery on days when I was sure I had none left. Though I can’t say that I know what God is doing or if this is a final destination, I can say that this adventure has brought me so much closer to God. And, if we remember from my uber blubbery prayer sesh on the floor back in May, that is exactly what I wanted.
And, my new relationship? It’s certainly pushed God and I closer still. It’s helped me see myself clearer than I have in a long time. I have an absolutely amazing man in my life. His heart is humble but brave, strong but loving, determined but gentle. He is certainly committed to a life filled with God, committed to me and committed to my little girl. This was my second request. I’m enjoying that for now.
So, here I am in a new city (on what feels like a different planet). Trying to be brave and aiming with all my might for hope. Working through a new, amazing (and different) love. I’ve got a beautiful daughter with a fighter’s heart. And, I’ve got a God on my side who I know will always have my back… I truly am blessed.
Unfortunately, I still can’t see the future (I know… shocker, right?!). I still want to clamp my fists so tightly around what I know. I’m often tempted to run headlong to my fears, grab on tight, and let all the things that could go wrong take over. Sometimes I long for the old, the remembered, the comfortable. But, then I remember something that someone very special to me used to say all the time… We aren’t to worry because “God’s got it.” (That would be my dear sweet late-hubby’s wonderful quote).
Whatever you are facing, whatever challenges, whatever fears keep you up at night… Maybe you can try, like me, to choose faith over fear. To cast aside your worry. To lift those wings, weightless, with nothing to tie you down. After all, that’s what you were made for.
Being brave is a choice. Choosing hope is courageous. I’ll let go if you will. …You first! ;]
PS: Stay tuned for more posts and videos coming soon! If you haven’t yet, follow me on Instragram and my other social media profiles to be updated of new happenings. The links are the beautiful blue icons to your left… No, your other left… ;]
PSS: I built this site on my own, but I had some major awesome help from two very awesome people (who both actually worked on the TeamMagnotti project with me too)!
BIG HUGE THANKS go out to Kyle Chicoine for his amazing logo design. He took my concepts and sketches and turned them into a little bit of delicious digital eye-candy. The logo is so perfect and cute, I could wrap it up and sing it a lullaby!
ANOTHER HUGE THANK YOU goes out to to my friend Jordan for his mastery of web design and superb coding knowledge. Without him, my site logo would probably still be in a very obscure and unflattering locale. Thank you, friend!