Just When I Think I’ve Got It Together…

There are days when I actually think I have it all together. When I believe I’m managing this new life that was carved for us last year. Sometimes that feeling can go on for a week, even longer.

I made it through our entire family vacation last month, a week during which we hang out with my father and my brother and his wife and kids. We rent a cottage on a lake, the more remote the better, and we just forget about real life for a while. It’s a tradition we started shortly after my son was born, and have reenacted every year since.

Not a single tear leaked from my eye that week. I admit, I was surprised. Pleasantly surprised, because I gotta admit, this grieving business sucks. It’s really frustrating how the dead manage to control the lives of the living. I never gave that thought much consideration until last year, when I was slapped in the face with my son’s death.

The entire next week after vacation was fine, too. Well, it sucked, but that had nothing really to do with my son and more to do with the fact that vacation was over, and as always happens when you escape reality for seven glorious days, you get to play catch up for the next one to two weeks. Not that I won’t do it again next year. Or the one after that, and that, and that…

And everything was going along swimmingly, and I actually thought the words, Maybe I’m finally there. That place where I have my life back, where each day is not marred by the nightmare of losing a child. No one has ever told me that place exists; conversely, those who have been through this agony, who have many more years’ experience than me, say it doesn’t. The pain never goes away, the memories never stop haunting you, the cloud of grief never stops hovering over every single little aspect of your day-to-day life.

I don’t know why I forgot that. Because when you forget and then it slaps you back to your newly forged reality, it’s almost worse than when you’re working through it moment by moment, day by day.

Yesterday was that day. I was punched in the face with my own personal reality, or as I affectionately call it, hell. I was scrolling through Facebook like any normal, redblooded human being, when I clicked a link. I should have known better, but that’s what those articles are for, right? To lure you in, to sell you whatever the author’s cooking.

In this case, it was about a woman who was getting married. A woman who lost her own son, and she’d donated his organs upon his death (we did the same thing – now there’s a call you don’t anticipate dealing with literally hours after your kid dies, while you’re still reeling from the fact it actually happened). And as people tend to do at weddings, she wanted to acknowledge him, to pay homage to his memory. So she left an empty seat at the front of the ceremony, and there was a sign propped there, something about her love for her deceased child, I think.

And then a man she didn’t recognize walked down the aisle. A stranger, but not really, because her son’s heart beat in his chest. The man’s presence was a surprise, contrived by her fiancé.

And much like I am doing now, I sat on my back porch and cried.

Here’s the article, if you want to cry too: SCARY MOMMY BLOG POST

I cried for that mother’s loss as well as my own. Cried because life is so very unfair, and while that man was able to live, that woman lost a son, and why can’t we have both scenarios? Why do we have to choose? Or possibly worse, why is the choice taken from us? I didn’t get to decide whether my son lived. He made that choice, and now I have to figure out how to live with it.

I don’t have answers (obviously) and I don’t expect you to either. They’re rhetorical questions, of course. The thoughts that run through a grieving mother’s mind. The wishes, the envy over those who still have their babies.

Later that same day, I came across a neighbor’s son while walking my dog. He and my son were friends, went to school together, were only two months apart in age. Now he looks like a man. I had the ridiculous (or maybe not?) urge to rush up the driveway and pull him into a hug. He probably would have let me, even though he would have thought, Holy crap, she’s going off the deep end. And maybe I am. There are still days I walk around in a fog a lot of the time.

I didn’t rush the poor kid. I smiled and waved and kept walking. Back to my house, my life. This not-so-new-anymore reality.

Hopefully tomorrow it will go back to one of those days when it feels all right, when I feel like I have a grasp on this life I’m trying so damn hard to enjoy.

Hopefully.

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund is an author, wine drinker, award winner, and grieving mother. It makes her feel a teeny bit better to blog about her crazy, fucked up life.

Evolution of the Beach Experience

Readers often ask, “Where do you get the inspiration for your books?” Book Publishing PicThe easy answer is … Everywhere. I once concocted an entire novel in my head, about a wedding planner and one of the guests, along with some intrigue for excitement, while sitting through one of my husband’s cousin’s weddings. When the hubs nudged my arm and said it was time to go to the reception, I protested. “I haven’t worked out the ending yet.” (Luckily, he was used to this sort of behavior by then, so he did not make me an appointment for psychiatric treatment.)

A perfect example of inspiration is this particular blog. Last week, I read a blog about going to the beach and the differences between childless individuals who go to the beach and parents with children who go to the beach. It was utterly hilarious (because it’s so true), and the link is here: http://www.sunnyskyz.com/blog/286/This-Mom-Perfectly-Explains-Going-To-The-Beach-With-Kids-Vs-Going-Without-Kids.

This past weekend (not surprisingly, if you know me at all), I went to the beach, with my kids and a few of my neighbors and their kids. As I sat there, half paying attention to my kids and sipping cocktails with the neighbors, I thought about the above blog, and about my personal beach experience over the years. So was the inspiration for a blog about the evolution of my beach experience.

When my husband and I were searching for our first home (which happens to be the same house in which we still live), just a couple years after we were married (so yes, a long time ago), we had a handful of criteria:

  1. The house had to be located in a decent school district (for our future children)
  2. It had to have a fireplace (we live in the north and roaring fires go a long way towards helping one deal with the long, cold winters)
  3. It had to have a garage (see long, cold winter comment above)
  4. It had to have access to a beach (also see long, cold winter comment)

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Lakefront would have been nice, of course, but we were poor as dirt back then and were lucky to even afford a house at all. We ended up in an established neighborhood with residents that were a healthy mix of retired folk (my kids call one of our neighbors “Grandma”) and young couples either with children, or, like us, planning to start families of their own soon. The house also had access to a private beach that was owned by the neighborhood association.

For the first two summers, we simply walked down to the beach, towel, sunscreen, and book in hand. That’s it. Every nice weekend, all summer long. Then we had our first child. And then the second.

For years, my beach experience involved standing over two young children who were generally content playing in the shallow water near shore. This slowly evolved into two young children who were trying out their wings, or rather, fins, and were determined to give their mother a heart attack, as they swam into deeper and deeper water. I was afraid to turn away, even for a second. Except to grab another drink, that is. Drinks became a requirement at the beach, just to keep me somewhat sane during this phase.486541_10151192409961579_1171425848_n

One summer, a few years ago, the kids became brave enough to swim out to the floating raft. Without lifejackets. Then they became brave enough to jump off said raft. Without lifejackets. I can say with all honesty that my heart lodged into my throat every single time.

Now, finally, they are old enough and experienced enough swimmers that I do not think twice about them swimming out to and spending hours leaping from the dock. In fact, my thoughts are usually along the lines of, “Oh good, they will probably fall asleep early tonight.” The next rite of passage is the swim across the lake, but we’ll cross that bridge when we have to. Until then, I am enjoying this phase of the beach evolution.

We have not been alone throughout this nearly fifteen year cycle. In fact, I would venture to say we have almost never been alone down at that beach. This perfect neighborhood really is just that, and together, we are raising our children. We are standing over them at the beach and chewing our nails as they swim to the dock for the first time and holding our breath when they leap off the dock for the first time. Each and every summer weekend, I say a little prayer of thanks that the hubs and I were too poor to afford lakefront property back in the day. Because the experiences I have with this neighborhood are something I would not trade for anything.

320359_10151114685666579_519189452_nThere’s more where this blog came from. I post a new blog every Monday. I have also written a few books. You can check them out through my website. If you purchase them, and you like them, please leave a review. Thank you!

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Writing and Vacations

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My family recently returned from a cross-country vacation. We drove from Michigan to Dallas, Texas (nineteen and a half hours without spending the night along the way). From there we headed east to spend a few days in north Louisiana, and finally headed further east to Alabama before veering north again and returning home.

It was an adventure, to say the least.

There were many lessons learned along the way. The first was that my DH, who normally does the bulk of the driving on these trips, is not able to carry his typical weight when he is hit with severe seasonal allergies.

Also, he’s really grumpy and not overly exuberant about participating in vacation-like activities. Considering he isn’t an overly exuberant person to begin with, well, you can imagine my own frustration…

Another lesson I learned was that my eldest child only has the capacity to be what I like to call normal for brief periods of time. During those periods, he is such a spectacularly wonderful child that all adults in the vicinity are lulled into the misguided belief that he is such an easy kid to travel with, hang with, enjoy spending time with. Until he loses his mind just as spectacularly, leaving us all stunned and reeling and unsure of what just happened and how to recover.

The third lesson I learned, which goes hand in hand with the last one, is that my youngest is a wonderful traveler. easy-going, flexible, amenable, laid back, just happy to… be. I am strongly considering taking just the one the next time we travel. It would probably make us all happier….

The final lesson learned is that no matter my intentions, expecting to get more writing done than during a normal work week was an utterly unobtainable goal. I was far too busy corralling children, babying the DH, spending QT with my friends and family, and generally enjoying my vacation. Considering I have three different writing deadlines at the moment, not to mention the commitment of providing you with a new blog each and every Monday, I guess we all know what that means.

Just like in nearly every other profession, when one takes a break from writing, it means twice as much work upon my return. The lesson there, theoretically, could be that I should not take a vacation.

Which is one lesson I wholly plan to never, ever learn.

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