You Smile I Smile

You Smile I Smile
Sonshine: My Journey After the Loss of My Son

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

When Andy was growing up, we took hundreds of pictures of him. What a blessing those pictures are today. We were able to track his life and growth through the years. As he got older, he didn't love having his picture taken as much, so they became fewer. Thinking about those pictures made me start thinking about living in the here and now. Aren't photos an amazing thing? You can freeze one moment in time to have forever--a moment that can never be relived.

Think about that...any given moment of your can never relive. Doesn't that make you want to appreciate every moment more? I think we get so caught up in our daily lives that we don't recognize the wonder all around us. Like right now, I am looking at my Christmas tree and really focusing on it. It is so beautiful...the white tree with the twinkling white lights covered in clear glass ornaments and angels and white poinsettias, all topped with a long, shiny silver bow. And as I turn off all the lights, it is even more magical. I hadn't noticed until just now how incredibly gorgeous it is! But I'm glad I took the time to live in this moment and really appreciate my tree.

I used to relish every hug I ever got from Andy. He was the best hugger, even as a young adult. What I wouldn't give to get one of his awesome hugs today. But I sure appreciated them when I had them, and for that reason it is easy for me to remember them. There were times I could have enjoyed his wanting my attention more. "Watch Mom!" was a phrase he used often. And usually I did, but sometimes I was too "busy" to pay attention. Those were missed opportunities for me to appreciate the wonder that was my son. Now, I know that we can't drop everything every time our child wants us to, but I guarantee it is possible to do so more often than we do. Oh, I would stop anything I could possibly be doing to watch Andy do anything today.

The day he died, I had a sticky note stuck on my kitchen cabinet saying "take a picture of Andy." It had been there about a week. It had been awhile since I had taken a snap of him, and I really wanted a recent picture. But I was so "busy", I kept saying "oh yeah, I really need to do that tomorrow." How I wish I had taken action in the moment and gotten that picture. I don't blame myself...we all get wrapped up in day-to-day living. But I sure do wish...

So here's what I am asking you to do because I know for a fact you will be happy you did it some more present in the moment, especially with your children, if you have them. And do yourself the favor of appreciating the everyday wonder all around you. Don't miss a golden opportunity to create a wonderful and lasting memory!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gratitude from A - Z

Borrowing this great idea from Dean Dauphinais. Gratitude from A - Z.

A - Andy, of course you are #1 on my list. I love you infinitely and forever. We will save you a place at our Thanksgiving table. Thank you for being the best thing that ever happened to me!

B - Bentley, my sweet little pup who has given me so much unconditional love and companionship.

C - Children. I love children so much, and they always make me smile and bring me joy.

D - Donations that people have made to help end the stigma of drug addiction. Thank you for your time, talent, and your stories!

E - Eyeliner. Every girl looks better with eyeliner!  ;-)

F - Friends and Family. I am so blessed to have the best friends and family in the whole world, and I love you!

G - Grandmas. I have such wonderful memories of sitting on my grandma's lap while she told me stories and sang me songs, like "Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue" and "A Bicycle Built for Two." Her house always smelled like coffee, and I'm sure that's why I love coffee so much today.

H - Home. How blessed I am to have a warm, inviting place to live. There are so many who do not, and it haunts me.

I - Idealism. Without it, I think there would be far less good in the world.

J - Jingles. My sweet kitty who has been my constant companion for 13 years.

K - Knitting. My favorite stress and sadness reliever.

L - Love. There can never be too much love in the world, and I hope every person will share it generously! Oh, and lipstick too :)  And laughter!

M - My Mom, who is so young at heart and who raised 8 kids with love.

N - Now. Learning to appreciate the here and now has made my life richer.

O - Oakwood Cemetery. Final resting place of my Andy. The beauty and peace and calm are hard to beat. It is an oasis in the middle of the city, and I love spending time there, just being.

P - Parks. I love strolling through parks and enjoying the trees, water, flowers, birds, and other beautiful sights.

Q - Quilts. There is nothing better on earth than being cozy under a pile of quilts on a cold winter night! Except maybe being under a quilt and having a roaring fire in the fireplace.

R - Rainbows. Proof that there can be beauty through the rain.

S - Smiles. They can turn your whole day around. I strongly encourage smiling a lot! You'll feel better, and so will everyone you smile at.

T - Thunder. I just love falling asleep to rain on the roof and lots of thunder. (Under a quilt haha!)

U - The universe. Its vastness and the beauty of a starry night tell me there is a God watching over us.

V - Vacations! Love having time to unwind and disassociate from day-to-day worries and responsibilities

W - Waterfalls. There's just something so majestic and awe-inspiring about a waterfall.

X - XL flannel nightgowns with lots of extra room and length. See "Quilts".

Y - You! I appreciate each and every person I have ever met as you have helped make me who I am today. And you have helped me through my struggles--some of you I've never met in person, yet I feel that you are very close friends.

Z - Zippers. I mean, don't they just make life easier? :)

Wishing everyone a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. With love,


Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Napkin

I was just browsing through the internet and I saw a video for KC and the Sunshine Band…Please Don’t Go. What a blast from the past. When I was young, I loved that song. Back in the days when hopes were high and the whole future lay in front of me.  I would listen and smile and dream. Today I listened to’s still a great song, but I heard it with different ears. The ears of a mother. And I listened with tears instead of a smile. It actually has more meaning now than it did back then:

So please don't go
Don't go away
Please don't go
I'm begging you to stay

If you leave
At least in my lifetime
I've had one dream come true
I was blessed to be loved
By someone as wonderful as you

So please don't go
Don't go away
Please don't go
Don't go
I'm begging you to stay

When did it all go wrong? Why did it all go wrong? What happened to the dream? Well, those are questions that will likely haunt me the rest of my life.  But “what ifs” are useless, so I try to stay away from them.  Instead, I live on beautiful memories. 

Here’s a particularly happy memory I have:

Andy was never a school lunch kid. He wanted a lunch from home. So every day for 13 years I made him a bag lunch. And every day with only a handful of exceptions, that lunch included a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I would say “How about ham and cheese tomorrow? How about that leftover chicken?”  And he would always say “No thanks, I’ll have peanut butter and jelly.” And so, that is what I made. And always seedless raspberry jelly. Still makes me smile today. On his first day of kindergarten I packed 2 things in with his lunch. The first was a baggie with my picture on one side and his dad’s picture on the other side so he could see us if he got scared or lonely. The other thing was a napkin on which I wrote “You are my sunshine. Have a great day!”  The next day he asked me to write on his napkin again, so I did. He asked the next day and the next day and the next…

And so began a tradition for he and I. Every day I made his lunch, and every day I wrote a message on his napkin. It was a little different each day, but always included “You are my sunshine.”  One day I wrote “YAMS” on his napkin, and he figured out what it meant…”You are my sunshine.” From that day forward his napkin always said YAMS on it until his last day of high school. I can’t look at a paper lunch bag without smiling through tears. I still have the last bag of lunch bags I ever bought. Silly to some, I suppose, but those bags hold more happy memories than all the gold on earth could ever provide.

I love you Andy! YAMS forever and ever…

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Life Goes On

What an amazing month it has been. Two beautiful new babies came into the world, and another one celebrated his first birthday.

Baby Hadley Alexis Crist arrived first. She came into the world as a tiny little thing, only 4 pounds. Hadley is the daughter of Alexis and Jason Crist and the niece of Jeff Howard, my Andy’s dear friend. Sadly, Hadley’s mommy passed away due to complications during her birth. It was a devastating time, it was a joyous time. Hadley’s mom, Alexis, was a beautiful girl, with long, long, golden hair, pretty as a picture, only 24 years old. She was very excited to have her first baby. Only God knows why she had to pass on and leave a deeply grieving family and a beautiful baby without her mommy. It is very hard to accept, and my heart hurts very much for her loved ones. But one thing I know is that she is smiling down at her precious little baby with love and pride. And Hadley is so incredibly beautiful. I believe she has a very important purpose in this life, and she will bring so much love and joy to her adoring family. Welcome to the world, little Hadley!

Then I got to spend a whole week in Atlanta with my brother Jeff, his wife Kelley, and my adorable-beyond-belief nephew Sam. Sam turned one on April 6. It’s hard to believe a whole year has gone by. He is growing by leaps and bounds, and when it comes to precious, well, he wrote the book. Not to brag, but he is kind of a perfect little boy. He is a beautiful little thing with a sweet and happy personality. Just looking at him makes me happy. Oh, and he might be a baby genius too! I was so blessed to spend his first birthday with him. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The best part of my day was rocking him to sleep at night. Is there anything more precious than a sleeping baby? And feeling his tiny breath on my neck, I would think “this must be what heaven is like.” It brought back beautiful and happy memories for me. He so reminds me of Andy when he was that age.

And last but not least, my friend Rebecca and her husband Steve welcomed a beautiful new baby boy into their family on April 10. His name is Holden Hunt, and he is perfectly adorable. I got to hold him at the hospital today. Even though he weighed in at 9 lbs. 1 oz., he felt light as a feather after carrying Sam all week! Did I mention how much I love holding babies? Holden has two adorable older sisters who I know will dote on him and give him lots of sisterly love.  Lucky baby, he has two wonderful parents and two awesome sisters! I see a happy life ahead for the little guy.

Some might think that seeing other people with babies would make me sad, but nothing could be further from the truth. I celebrate each new life that comes into this world, and it brings me great joy to see people I love receiving such a precious gift. Life does indeed go on. Do I still miss Andy? More than life itself, but I have learned that he lives on in a wonderful way, and I see a glimpse of his spirit in each new life that comes into the world. So I celebrate these 3 special babies this month with great love and gratitude.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy 2nd Angelversary Beloved Son

My beloved Andy, I miss you as much today as I did the day you left us. Your passing leaves a gaping hole in my heart that will never heal. The world is less bright without your light in it. There are no words to explain how much I miss you and how much you meant to me….my life, my reason for living. I know I have to go on even though I just want to be with you. I am trying my best, and everything I do is to honor your life and memory. I love you so much honey, and my favor to ask of you is for you to exist in peace, bliss, and love until we are reunited. Wait for me…I’ll see you soon!