Thursday, October 20, 2016

Carpe Diem

When my father passed away suddenly, unexpectedly, in his sleep one night, my whole entire world turned on its axis.  Tilted if you will.  The thing I remember most about that day, that moment, that section of my life, is that I had never driven my car as fast as it was going, only briefly thinking if I don’t slow down, I won’t make it there alive…but I remember thinking this isn’t real.  This isn’t happening.  I am going to pull into the driveway and they are going to tell me they gave him CPR and he was alive, it was ok.  I didn’t know he had died many hours before.  None of us did.  And very few people know that we did find out the time he had passed, thanks to the miracle of science and a CPap machine.  By the time we realized my father had left this earth, it was over a day too late to save him.  But I also remember thinking; it is way too beautiful of a day for this to be real.  This is a horrible dream, and why are all these people in it.  There was not a cloud in the sky, it was so beautiful blue and the air was perfect, like 75 degrees, and I remember checking the temperature for reasons I will never know. 

The point of this is the following:

The person who drove in to that driveway is not the person that is typing this blog.  She is gone.  And it was not instant…in fact it took several months, because even when you are grieving, you don’t know you are grieving.  I was in a literal fog.  If you have ever lost someone this close to you, you understand.

The girl who drove in to that driveway spent a lot of the days prior to this moment, not living in the moment.  Not doing things I wanted to do, for reasons like: I did not have enough time, I could not miss work, I did not have the money, I was too tired, whatever reason, I had one.  And I spent a lot of time alone.  Not really sure what I was looking for, but I couldn’t find it.  Even after he passed away, I shut myself in my tiny little home and distanced myself from a lot of people because grief is ugly.  It makes you feel ugly.  It makes you sick to your stomach ugly.  And I did not want anyone to see it or me.  A lot of things happened during this time that I wish I had done differently but I do not regret it, because everything teaches us a lesson of some sort, and I do not even wish to go back and re do those things or do them differently, they happened.  They taught me a lot about myself.

Eventually, the darkness cleared and something happened.  Something changed inside of me.  I was no longer putting things off that meant something to me or that I wanted to do.  Opportunities that had always been in front of me were right there again, blaring, TAKE ME, TAKE THIS, DO IT!  And so I did.

Since my father died I have crossed off several bucket list items.  And it is not like I hadn’t done bucket list stuff before, but this time it was different.  This time I felt these things to my core.  LET myself feel again, but good stuff.  Not sad stuff.  And a funny thing happened when I did this…the universe opened up and said, hello Tiffany, we have been waiting for you.  And I finally got the guts (that were 3 years in the making) to talk to Kristina…and I wouldn’t stop talking…I made her listen to me.  Made her SEE me.  I boldly screamed HERE I AM and you are going to love me.  And low and behold she did.  But this blog is not about Kristina and I. 

Some very dear friends of mine have lost their sons to war.  Whether it was in active duty or as a result of a war, they lost them.  And since I will never have my own children, (sorry if I mention that often,) I will never know that kind of loss.  My step father lost his son in an automobile accident.  I cannot conceive the loss a parent feels when their child dies, at any age, for any reason.  I also, have never understood war, in any capacity, I mean I get it, but I don’t.  I don’t understand why we have to send our troops over to fight other countries battles and I may never get that concept as long as I live, I just know that there are men and woman who know or feel like, their sole purpose in life is to defend our freedoms. I do not understand wanting to do that, but I respect and deeply appreciate it.  And I wonder, if when they do go “over there,” are they expecting to come home or do they go every single time scared to death never really knowing that answer?  I mean, I expect they expect they are going to be returned safely?  Or is it just like being here?  Every day, we go through our routines and we do this and we do that and we EXPECT that all will be right in the world and everything we will be status quo, until one day, it just isn’t.

A friend of mine lost his son yesterday in Afghanistan.  He was a fairly newly married young man with two little children.  He was simply doing his job, which per the CNN news article was assisting and training Afghan security services, when a gunman opened fire and took his life.  Just like that, his very short life was extinguished for reasons we will never understand.  And I know that anyone that goes over there understands the magnitude of being there.  It is not safe.  Hell it is not safe in very many places over here anymore either.  I am positive his wife and family EXPECTED he would come home safely.  I did not know him personally, but what I do know is that he was serving his country and proudly.  My heart goes out to his family, friends, children, and his company he was serving with over there, all of them.  Another loss I will never comprehend in my lifetime.

What I do understand is how I am connecting this with my own loss.  Not one single solitary second is promised to us.  Not one.  We are all on borrowed time.  And I have no earthly clue how long my time is but after my own personal loss, I realized I needed to make every single day count.  Am I perfect at this?  Not one bit, but I do try.  I do try to live for the moment, seize the day, wake up in a good place and leave a little piece of happiness in the places I do touch.  My job is following art supplies after they get ordered, from overseas to the warehouse.  And making sure they get out the door.  I do nothing fancy or noteworthy, and I certainly do not protect our country.  My hope though is that I can touch some lives here and there and hope I do so in a way that makes people remember me and do so in a good way.

I cannot comprehend what is happening right now for the this family and I cannot conceive of their loss, but it served as a reminder to myself that we have no idea what tomorrow brings.  Are we doing what we want to do?  Are we proud of it?  Did we tell everyone we love that we loved them today?  Did I see the places and things I wanted to see?  Taste the tastes, feel the feels, and smell the smells?  We get so caught up going through the motions that we forget to live.  Truly live.  And I don’t want to forget and become complacent, I want to lay my head down at the end of the day and know in my heart I am at a great place with my life. 

I hate that one person’s tragedy has to wake me up, and remind me to live.  We shouldn’t need tragedies to remind us, we should just do it.  Live each day like it’s your last.  It isn’t always feasible, but damnit I have to try.  And I have to try harder.  Carpe Diem.

Friday, September 23, 2016

That September Day...

Alan Jackson has a song called “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.”  He asks this in the first line of the song and he goes on to say… “That September day.”  Well, there is a day in September, which was not September 11th, where my world did stop turning.  It’s today, September 23.

You have been gone for 3 years today.  3 years.  It feels like it just happened yesterday.  I remember every single heart beat that day.  I had literally posted one of my Questions of the Day and asked the World Wide Web, what they would do if they had one extra hour in the day.  We had no idea you passed quietly in your sleep.  We had no idea that life as we knew it would change forever that most beautiful day in September, and my God, it was beautiful.  I cannot remember a more beautiful day.

How are you Dad?  Sometimes, there is an ache in my heart and it is not like the normal aches, it is like the kind of ache you get when you know someone, somewhere, is missing you, real bad.  And your heart aches back because you cannot fix it or get to them.  I FEEL you missing me.  I FEEL you missing all of us.  And although I know you are at peace where you are, I also know you are sad you had to go.  Actually, I have no idea if you are at peace where you are, I just hope to goodness you are.

So much has changed in the last 3 years Dad.  You would be so proud of your grandchildren, who are no longer children, but grown young adults.  Ethan FINALLY graduated college, I wish you could have seen it…it was such an emotional time for Sister.  Bella is on her last year of college, can you believe that?  The one who hated school?  She has to work so hard to get where she is going, I hope someday life gives her a break.  Dalton is a beast and I mean a beast.  He is probably going to be in strongman competition someday soon and he is so handsome, he is a senior this year Dad, graduating High School!  Kolbie, oh my goodness, you would not recognize how beautiful she is, and a different hair color almost every other week!  She still loves school as much as she always has, not, but she is going to the homecoming dance this year and I am positive you would have raked that young man that is taking her, over the coals before they went.  Brother is doing well, I am so proud of him, you already know why.  I see so much of you in him anymore, it is kind of scary.  Sister works like 4 jobs and I hardly ever see her anymore, but we stay in touch. 

The most important news I have for you is about me.  I don’t even remember the last time I was able to talk about something positive about myself with you, it always felt like I was just going to be faced with many adversities my whole life and I guess I was getting used to just living that way.

Anyway, I am getting married; her name is Kristina.  On a Beach in the Florida Keys.  And most importantly to my best friend.  I never fathomed this day to would come.  Someone I feel like I have already known for a lifetime.    You would love her.  She is originally from Up North, near Green Bay, BOO, but she is smart, she is funny, she is beautiful, she loves me unconditionally, she was a total surprise and by surprise I mean I had been trying for years to get her to pay attention to me, and for whatever reason she finally did.  We work together, I know I know, but it works for us.  She is my car pooler and we have a lot of fun.  She makes me laugh.  A lot. 

She has 3 teenage boys Dad.  THREE!  TEENAGE BOYS.  They eat a lot of food.  And we always never have enough in the house.  They are active and involved in a lot of things so sometimes its major chaos and if you remember me, I don’t do chaos well.  I am not very good at this parenting thing.  Not good at all.  And I am always reminded about the time I was told 3 years ago that I would not be able to have kids and you grabbed my foot and said “they aren’t all they are cracked up to be.”  They are a lot of work.  They are a full time job.  I don’t parent them, as they have parents, I just try to support her and be supportive and it is hard when they push her buttons, to keep my mouth shut and let what happens, happen.  Contrary to popular opinion, she is a damn good mother and its one of the reasons I fell in love with her.

I am saddened to my core that you are not alive to see one of the biggest events in my life.  I can hear you say “Florida, what’s in Florida?”  Well, we both love beaches and hope to someday end up living close to one.  I know you would have made the trip, as you had become quite the world traveler before you passed.  I also know you would have driven me nuts once we got there. 

I am sad you will never know these boys.  I have a feeling you and Brock would have hit it off quite well.  He’s a ladies man and has these huge dimples which usually win people over, but he is quite ornery.  You would have loved all the boys and I would have said good luck getting much out of Drew, he’s the quiet one.  But don’t let that fool you; there is so very much going on in his mind.  You would have loved coming to the basketball games and watching Quinn play, he is amazing and very fun to watch.

There are moments, I cannot breathe without tears rolling down my eyes…and sometimes I just look at Kristina and say, he should be here and she knows what I am talking about.  You see, her father passed suddenly too, it was something we had in common and she gets it, she really gets it.

My health has not been the best, but you know I have fought this since I was 7.  We take one day at a time and Kristina has been a blessing…for the first time in my life, I don’t have to go through things alone.  After you died I took on the motto of getting busy living instead of getting busy dying, but this has made this hard to do sometimes.

Most importantly, I wanted you to know that I am no longer alone.  43 years…was a long lonely time.  She fills and continues to fill, all of the empty spaces.  She lets me be me, and honors and respects who I am.

I finally published my book and I finally made it to see Adele.  Never mind who she is, it was a great concert.  This year alone, I have been to Mexico, California, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Collecting memories not things.  We get a lot of grief about our travels, but if I die tomorrow, I sure as hell am not going to care about people who think I travel too much.

September is so hard for me.  On so many levels for so many reasons, but today, on the day we found out our father was gone, I try to take a moment and tell myself that I need to live life to the fullest.  To embrace all the good days and bad days because at least I still have the days.  I know we don’t tell the people we love that we love them enough.  I know we get caught up in the nonsense of life…
I am glad you are not here to see what the world is becoming, everyone hates everyone.  It is so sad.  Donald Trump could be our next President for the love of God, which you would absolutely love.  And you would love telling Crooked Hillary jokes…all day long; to whoever would listen to them.  God you would love it.  I don’t want either one of them running our country but I can assure you that if Donald wins, the world will never be the same.

I do not know where you are, or what you are doing today, I just hope you don’t have to relive what happened like we do.  I hope you are happy, laughing, fishing, and telling stupid jokes, whatever it is that makes that ache a little less today.  And wherever you are, I hope you know that I am finally, for the first time in my life, deeply loved.  And it feels amazing.

I love and miss you so very much.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


II bet most people would be surprised to know that I feel fear. I feel like if I say that, a lot of people would say, not you. You aren't afraid of anything. Wrong. I'm afraid of a lot of things. 

You know the phrase frozen in fear? The one time I remember being in such a state I was driving to northern Minnesota with my friend Dana and her very little daughter who was sleeping soundly in the back seat. In my peripheral vision I saw a giant blob came at the side of the car and in a fraction of a second the glass had shattered everywhere. I didn't slam on the brakes, I didn't swerve. I didn't even scream. In fact I just let off the gas till we coasted to a stop. I remember Dana speaking. Words that I couldn't hear. I parked the car looked at her daughter who was completely covered in glass and still asleep. I got out of the car and stood in the pitch black road staring at the ground. I could still hear Dana speaking but I couldn't speak back. I was literally frozen in fear. I didn't want her daughter to wake up and grab the glass. I was responsible for these two lives and I almost lost them. Almost lost myself. I was petrified. 

I wouldn't experience that fear again until years later on a lake, also in Minnesota, when I literally almost snapped my back in half. When I was completely frozen in fear my with face under the water not able to feel my legs. 

I fear a lot of things. I fear my mother will not be proud of me. I fear I won't do my job to the best of my ability. I fear Brodie will have a massive seizure and it will be the last one he will ever have.  I used to fear I would never love another human being or that I would never allow one to love me. But recently I have a new fear. And it's not one I am accustomed to. I fear I won't wake up. 

Apparently this is a common feeling or phenomenon that a person who has lost a loved one experiences. It doesn't feel common. It feels terrible. It feels ominous. It feels sad. 

My father was for all intents and purposes plucked out of the sky. He went to sleep. And never woke up.  

I live big. I love big. Everything I do I do it with my whole heart or I don't bother doing it. There is no point. Everything I do is out loud. Larger than life. Go big or go home. It has to be. Living is no exception. But recently my mortality has been nagging at me and it has created an enormous amount of fear. Not debilitating. It's just there. Like a cloak. It doesn't come in waves it's just there. Present. Tap tap tapping on me to listen. 

I don't profess to be the best person. I just try to be the best me I can be. There will never be another me. And I will not have children to leave this legacy of me through. I hate that I will never have a person say to me that he or she gets that trait from their mother. There are a lot of things I will never be. That one pains me the most. 

Do any of us know when our last day is? No. We don't. Or when. Or how. Or why. But we sure spend a lot of time not living. So when you see me out and about and your first thoughts are wow she's intense. Or wow she's so sensitive. Know this. I'm scared to death. Scared of not living while I am living because to be honest I can close my eyes tonight and that could be it. So while I am living it's going to be big. And it's going to be out loud. Or for me, it's just really not living at all. 

My wish for anyone reading this is to please live. Now.