Moving on After a Tough Year

As I sit here reflecting on 2017, I’m overwhelmed with thankfulness. I hear squeals and laughter coming from my three boys playing in the other room. I scroll through pictures from our 15th wedding anniversary trip to Costa Rica earlier this year. I stop to work a little on things for next semester with my third grade students.

As I soak in all the good in my life, I’m not quick to forget how I got to this place. My mind slips back to seven years ago when all of the above mentioned things seemed so far from reach.

My husband and I were both recovering from job loss. Dwindling enrollment at the school I worked at caused me to be working as a teacher’s assistant and dreaming of one day having my own classroom again. My husband suddenly lost the job in the field he thought would be his career.

We had just lost our precious triplet sons, and didn’t know if our oldest would ever have a sibling.

Below I share the blog post I wrote on December 31, 2010. The emotion and devastation in my “voice” is painful to hear.

“Looking back at 2010 and forward to 2011…

It was very hard to read what I wrote on New Year’s Eve last year. I wished for a sibling for Josey, more financial security, and Mike to continue to have fun with his band. Little did I know that we would be desperately close to all those things, but in the end lose them all.

2010 began just fine until May 1st. Mike left for work that morning and returned just a few short minutes later. We never saw a dime of unemployment because they blamed him for getting fired. Don’t ask me what circumstances unemployment is for because I don’t know. He did nothing wrong, they simply were done having him around and paying his high salary I guess. So there went financial security…and for five long months, no income at all. We found out 5 days after he was fired that we were pregnant. We had been through rounds of fertility and were EXTREMELY excited. Two months later we find out it was TRIPLETS! Another huge excitement, but with worry as well. Then only 3 weeks later, the morning that will haunt us forever. I lost Johnny and then 2 weeks later lost Jaxsen and Asher. I’ve already written endlessly about the loss but it was the biggest part of our 2010. Looking back it doesn’t even seem real most of the time. Seems like it happened to someone else…because things like that WOULD NEVER happen to me. Mike worked random jobs off and on and hunted endlessly for something steady. Finally in September he found a low-paying job, but a job! We are still struggling financially. Maybe struggling is an understatement.

Looking ahead to 2011, I still want the same things as last year. I hope to look back and read this next year as I hold a little baby in my arms. Yes, I do still want that, and no pain, suffering, or sacrifice will change my mind. I am still praying for a classroom job next year, but no matter what, I am doing what God intended me to do. I will continue to teach children and care for them in any position I am placed. I hope that Mike finds true friends to play music with that will stand by him and appreciate the amazing man that he is. Maybe he will find a better paying job, maybe not. I simply wish for his pain to fade. Most importantly I hope that next year finds us stronger than ever in our love for eachother. We have been through more in this one year than all 8 years of our marriage put together. I hope we continue to provide a stable, loving, life for Josey. He is our world, and remains our focus through it all. I wish the best for all our family and friends who carried us this year when we couldn’t walk on our own. My personal goal is to mold myself into the old Allison that was not angry, sad, and confused all the time. I struggle daily with wanting the memories to fade, and wanting to never forget the way my sons felt in my arms, or what their beautiful faces looked like. I simply want to be more “normal” again. I will embrace God’s plan for my life…whatever that may be.”

I share these words now, seven years later, to say that we made it. Somehow we crawled out of that dark, hopeless place and came out standing on the other side.

We have THREE beautiful little boys now. My husband has a great job. I have been back in a classroom teaching job for almost seven years. My husband did find musicians that share his passion for music. His music even lead to us finding our dearest friends.

I had no idea how hard we would have to fight for our marriage as the grief of losing our children threatened to tear us apart. I wish I could say that we were able to quickly get back on track, but it took us years of trying to really understand each other again. Celebrating our 15th anniversary was a testament to the work we chose to put into strengthening our relationship.

I’ll never know why we were faced with the trials of 2010, but I can say that we learned a lot from that devastating year.

Most importantly, I learned that sharing the difficult stories is just as important as sharing the good ones. You never know who might be watching and might find hope in your journey. If your 2017 was like our 2010, please know that it doesn’t have to break you. No matter what trials and losses you faced, you can choose where 2018 takes you. You can choose your attitude and how you will react to challenges in the new year. It won’t be easy, but you can survive whatever has happened. Get up, put one foot in front of the other, and keep on going. 2018 just might be your year.

Sometimes a Biscuit Isn’t Just a Biscuit

A biscuit. Such a simple breakfast item, yet today it was so much more. A bacon biscuit allowed two very different moms to share a connection.

My five-year-old son is home sick today with a very high fever. He has been sick for over 36 hours now and the fever just won’t let up. I was going to leave him with my amazing parents again today, but my momma heart was just tugging at me to stay home with him. I was up with him most of the night so around 4 am I started making lesson plans and arranged for a substitute to teach my class today.

Of course I needed to drop the other two boys off and make sure copies and plans were ready on my desk at school, so I had to drag my sweet sick boy out as well. After everything was settled we started the 20 minute drive back home. Despite the fact that he hasn’t kept anything down in over 24 hours, he wanted to stop at a gas station for something to eat. Last year when he was in preschool, his Daddy would stop on the way to school if they needed gas and let him pick out a breakfast item. I knew this wasn’t a great idea, but I couldn’t say no to his precious little request.

Unfortunately, by the time we got to the gas station he had to rush inside to be sick again. As I ushered him back out to the car he again asked politely for a biscuit. I thought it was probably a waste of $2.50, but decided to let him pick something out anyway.

All my son wanted was a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit, but there were none. I asked the cashier and she said they no longer made bacon biscuits. They only had breakfast pizza, sausage biscuits, and bacon croissants, which he wasn’t interested in eating. In his true kind, understanding fashion he reassured me it was okay and he would just eat some Jello when he got home.

As we once again started out the door a sweet voice called out to us from the deli section of the gas station. The lady behind the counter said she noticed he wasn’t feeling well and would be happy to make him a special biscuit just the way he wanted it.

I thanked her for going out of the way to show us such kindness. She said although her kids were grown, she was a mom too and understood how hard it is when your kids are sick. As she loaded up a biscuit with extra bacon for my little bacon-lover, she reminisced about when her kids were small. She said that one time a year she would let each of them stay home from school to spend some special one-on-one time with her. I could tell she was taken back to a happier time as she talked about how they lived in Seattle and would usually take a little day trip to a fun location.

I told her how much I loved that idea and that I try to spend time with each of my three boys too. She shared with me that she had two daughters and a son. I felt her body tighten as she said those words. What she said next took me by surprise. This sweet woman stood there behind the gas station deli counter and shared with a total stranger that one of her daughters had died.

My reaction might have surprised her too. I didn’t say a word at first. As she looked up, our eyes met and I could tell she knew I understood. I asked what her daughter’s name was and then shared with her that I too have three sons that are no longer in my arms.

In that brief moment, we weren’t just strangers standing in a gas station making small talk. It was more. We were two moms separated by more than twenty years in age, obviously from very different walks of life, connecting over a bacon biscuit. We were moms who both carry the unimaginable pain of losing a child who were able to find comfort in a stranger’s story.

Neither of us were passing judgement of the other. She didn’t comment on the fact that my son was still in his pajamas. She didn’t seem to notice that I didn’t even bother to use make-up to cover up the tired bags under my eyes from a sleepless night. ¬†We stood there as two moms who were just doing their best on a Friday morning.

As I sit here watching my sick little guy rest on the couch, I can’t help but to be thankful for the biscuit that he only took one bite of. This story isn’t really about a biscuit at all. It’s about a random act of kindness and moms supporting other moms. The last 36 hours have been filled with worry, stress, and fatigue for me, but today the mess that is motherhood turned out to be pretty beautiful.