“You were an angel in the shape of my mom”

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I think most of you know who I am, but for those who don’t I’m Lynzee and I’m Jan’s eldest grandchild. I lived with her and Grandpa so I got the privilege of spending a lot of time with Grandma. She raised me when she didn’t have to and she took me back in multiple times after I moved out when she didn’t have to. And she watched my son every single day while I went to college when she didn’t have to. I have a wonderful life now and I 100% owe that to them.

My grandma was the strongest person I’ve ever known. She suffered great loss in her life and was still just a wonderful, happy person to be around. I didn’t really understand what she had gone through until I became an adult and a parent, but now that I do it’s just amazing how gracefully she got through life. She was so passionate about and in love with her family.

She would do anything for us and one of the big things was sewing. I can’t even put a number on the Halloween costumes, recital costumes, formal dresses, and clothes she created or fixed for us over the years.  At the time I didn’t know how lucky of a kid I was because I could be absolutely anything I wanted to be for Halloween because Grandma would make it.  I think that really instilled in me that I can still be anything I’d like to be and there are no limits. Costumes continued for me even as an adult. I could call her up and tell her my husband and I wanted some for a movie premier and she’d do it without hesitation. Even when we would tell her only a week beforehand. It really sank in for me how much we depended on her sewing skills when my mom was shopping for a dress for me for today. My size options were either a little too small or too big and my first instinct was to tell her to go bigger because I could just have Grandma take it in…then I realized what the dress was for. So now I’m standing here being held together by a dress that’s too tight and wondering how many more little moments like that are going to stop me in my tracks.

She was so supportive of anything and everything we did. Between all of us, there were a lot of sporting events, plays, dance recitals…and she was always there. Once, Mykenzie decided to do travel volleyball and the St. Louis coach coached it. It consisted of practically the entire St. Louis team and three Alma girls, Mykenzie being one of them. Out of the 5 games they played that day the Alma girls ended up getting maybe 5 minutes of playing time. So after the last game was done Grandma decided to chew out the coach. Mykenzie ended up with her “nonrefundable” payment returned.

Now as that story suggests my grandma was also one of the sassiest people I’ve known. One of my favorite memories that pops up on Facebook is her calling Brey a shithead for not telling her what she’d like for Christmas yet. I remember once I was drinking Mike’s hard lemonade at her house and she looked at me and went “Lynzee! Is that your SECOND one?” I was like “umm…yes?” This was coming from the woman who one New Year’s Eve was sitting in the corner in her chair with her drink and after a while she got real quiet. I said “Grandma, what are you drinking?” She said “oh that stuff you guys brought me.” We had brought her jager because she loved black licorice so much and we thought she might like it. I said “What did you mix it with?” She said “oh nothing, it’s good.” So she was just chilling in the corner all night drinking an entire glass of straight jager having a great time.

Everyone here knows she was one of the kindest people. My sister told me a story about when she was in cosmetology school and could finally have clients. My grandma came in to let Brey cut her hair. Brey kept going over and over some spots and so by the end it ended up being about 2 inches too short–which is a lot when your hair is only a few inches to begin with. Grandma fluffed it with her hand when she looked in the mirror and neither of them said anything. They had to go meet our Uncle Randy afterward and when they did he mentioned she got her hair cut and she responded with “Oh yeah, I just decided to try a new look.” That’s just who she was. I’ve been blown away by the number of comments on her obituary from our friends and my mom and uncle’s friends talking about all the good times they remember at our house. She was everyone’s mom, everyone’s grandma, everyone’s friend. I hope she knows how special she was to us because I know I didn’t let her know enough and it’s killing me. I made the mistake too many people make…I thought she was invincible.

That’s the problem with loving strong people. You think they’re always going to be here. That we’ll always have more time. That they can survive any storm. So when they’re finally swept away by one so is the air in our lungs and we can’t breathe. I’ve had terrible nightmares about this moment for years, but they didn’t prepare me for the real thing. I have been completely knocked off my feet by this and don’t know how to proceed from here. My sister said “The pain I’m feeling lets me know how lucky I was to have you” and it’s so true and so bittersweet.

I will always be grateful she made it to my wedding and to Jonathon’s and that she lived long enough to meet my daughter. But I will always be ripped apart by the fact that now Luna doesn’t get to know the grandma that we all did. Grandma loved my kids so much and she fought so hard at the end to be able to go back home and see them. I thought we had a good 15 to 20 years left and I feel so robbed. I’m angry, I’m confused, I’m broken. I truly don’t know how to live in a world that she’s not a part of. She was this family’s rock and she has been the most consistent person in my life. She took care of all of us with all that she had and I don’t think three more lifetimes would even be enough to show her how grateful we all are and how much we’re going to miss her.

Rest in peace, Shay

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Shay,

My name is Lynzee. I didn’t know you and I’m not going to pretend that I did. What I do know is that this is the most I’ve ever cried for someone I didn’t know and that I had to get this out because you’re on my mind so often.

It kills me that with the number of mutual people we knew that we never met. Because obviously you and I have some pretty big things in common. We’re both young moms who have been working our butts off to make sure our sons are ok. We both feel things very, very deeply. We’ve both experienced unbearable pain. And we’re both really, really good at putting on a brave face to make the rest of the world smile.

And even though there are tons of people who are confused right now, I can tell you there are a few who aren’t. Because we understand. I don’t know what your reasoning was, but I know how you felt. I don’t know why this happened, but I know how this happened. I know how dark things can get and I know that you probably felt like you had to be even stronger than most because you wanted Liam to see you that way. And I just wish I would have met you.

Because I can tell you right now that a few years ago, there were probably dozens of times that if I’d been left alone, I’d be in exactly the same scenario. I know that in my heart and it just makes me feel for you and Liam that much more. And like with you, I’m guessing no one knew it was that bad. So I know you’re not selfish and I know responses like “how could she do that?” are not appropriate and I will be quick to shut down any that I hear. Because unless you’ve been there and have felt that much pain, you don’t understand it. You don’t understand that even though everyone around you tells you they care about you, you still feel like they’d be better off if you were gone…or at the very least, indifferent to it. Or you know they love you, but you can’t imagine the pain they’ll feel will outweigh what’s suffocating you and you just can’t do it anymore. You can’t see clearly when things are that dark and so it’s not a decision that’s based on selfish thoughts—it’s the exact opposite. And I know that when emotional pain becomes so bad that it’s physical that you are just desperate to make. it. stop.

I wish I could have told you that the immense amount of love you feel for your son now is only going to grow as he does and that is what’s going to get you through everything. That someday it’s going to become so strong that it’ll outweigh the pain and you’ll be able to see past it. None of it might have made any difference, but I just wish I could have told you—even once—that I completely understand what it feels like to not want to do it anymore and I wish I could have told you it gets better. And it’s so cliché…and one of those things you tell to other people, but have a hard time believing yourself, but it’s the truth. I wish that whatever had hurt you hadn’t happened because you seemed so full of life and something as ugly as depression didn’t deserve to have you.

Wherever you are now, wherever you believed you would go after this life, I hope you can see the amount of love that’s been poured your way. I hope you can watch your son grow up and see him be proud of his mom for all that she provided for him. You’ve left behind a wonderful legacy in Liam and in everyone whose lives you clearly touched in a big way. I hope they can all heal quickly and feel peace again. I hope you know true happiness and don’t feel an ounce of pain anymore. Rest in peace, pretty girl. Maybe we’ll meet someday and we can share hilarious stories about what it’s like being the moms of boys.

Love & Light,
Lynzee

Dedicated to Shaylicia Marie Fisher 1994-2014

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Rain

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Maybe it’s the Pisces in me, but I love water and I love rain. I love challenging it to races to see how dry I can stay. Or sometimes I love to just stand there and let it consume me. I love to lie on the ground and visualize it washing everything away. And I love to stand in the warm pools it makes on the earth and look at how it reflects the world, offering a new perspective on everything.

It appeals to all five senses. You can look at the sunshine and feel it on your skin, but you can’t hear it. You can’t smell it or taste it. You can taste rain. You can smell how fresh it makes the earth. You can hear it crashing to the ground and you can watch the drops race each other down your windows. You can feel it on your skin–sometimes in a refreshing shower kind of way and other times in freezing goose bump-inducing bullets kind of way. And sometimes you’re not positive which it’ll be until you’re actually engulfed in it. When you’re trying so hard to shut things out, it can make you stop and feel again. And feeling is so important. Rain makes you feel alive.

Rain has such a negative idea connected to it and it baffles me. It’s constantly being used as symbolism for sadness. Yet, we need water to survive. We ARE water. How wonderful is it that something that’s so important for us to thrive just falls from the sky without any work on our part? We don’t question or doubt it, we know it’s coming. Rain is a constant. But it’s also spontaneous. We can’t control how warm it is or if it’ll be a light misting or a curtain of water. It’s comforting and it’s cleansing. And sometimes you need rain to clean the world so you can see it a little more clearly. Rain is a cycle and rain is renewal. Rain brings life and with that brings hope. Maybe, instead of viewing rain as a gloomy mood setter in a funeral or break up scene, we can view it as rebirth. Not the ending of something, but the beginning of the next thing.

You are water. You are rain. You are life. You are hope.

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Strength

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I feel things so intensely. When I’m happy, I’m HAPPY. And when I’m upset, it feels like my world is falling apart. I have a ridiculous temper. And when I love people, I LOVE them. I will drop everything for people I barely know. I’m a hopeless freaking romantic and I hate admitting it because it makes me vulnerable. I’m sensitive. So so sensitive. And if I’m ever playing it off like I’m not then I’m a dirty liar because chances are if someone says something even slightly negative to me, I’ll be beating myself up over it for the next two weeks. And those are just the small things. I used to be under the impression that because I feel SO much pain so easily that I’m weak.

I have never thought of myself as a strong person. So much so that I’d actually get annoyed whenever anyone told me otherwise. Having a baby young then dealing with a deployment, followed by a long relationship ending—among many other events—that was all I ever heard. How “strong” I was. How “well” I was dealing with everything. All I could think every time was they don’t know me. They don’t know how many times I’ve cried myself to sleep or that the pain in my chest was so crippling that there were moments I would have done almost anything to make it stop. Sometimes people think they aren’t strong because they’re dealing with things they have to deal with. Like they don’t have a choice and therefore shouldn’t get credit for it. But you do have a choice and you can make it stop. I truly believe you can force yourself to stop caring if you so choose. You can let go of things and people and emotions. You can run away. You can become cold. You can choose to leave this world–emotionally or physically–and just make the pain stop. But it’s strong to keep feeling and it’s strong to push through to the other side of pain…whether it takes days or years.

Strength has nothing to do with the amount of pain you feel and everything to do with how you handle it. Strength is actively searching for that one flicker of light instead of just closing your eyes and embracing the darkness. Strength is moving forward. One day that might look like huge strides, the next it might only be getting out of bed. Strength is not about bottling things up and putting on a brave face for the world. It’s not about being perfect and happy and positive all the time. It’s about trying. Strength is being fearless and honest and raw. It’s strong to keep feeling things when it’d be so much easier to just turn it off and stop caring. It’s strong to be sensitive and forward and intense. Because in a world that’s constantly telling you what you should be feeling and when and to what extent, it’d be so much easier to just lose those things. It’s strong to be vulnerable and tell people how you feel, especially when the feelings aren’t reciprocated. And maybe you feel that way because those people need you to tell them how great they are. Maybe they need it more than you do and the world knows you can deal.

The fact that you’re even reading this means you woke up today and if you’re doing that in spite of pain right now, that is amazing. The fact that you’re reading something about being strong to possibly encourage yourself is amazing. Maybe you didn’t clean the house today or get that paper written, but you’re doing something for you right now and that is trying. Trying is strong. Maybe you didn’t play with your kids as much as you wanted to today. Or at all…because maybe you’re really depressed. But you fed them and you’re making sure they have a home and they love you for it. Taking care of other people when you feel too low to even take care of yourself is strong. So strong. Keep feeling. Feeling is what’s causing you pain, but it’s also what’s going to fix it. The only way out of pain is feeling excitement and happiness and love. You’re not where you’re supposed to be yet.

“Even when a bird walks, one feels it has wings.” – Antoine-Marin Lemierre

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Listen

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If you know me, you know I talk. A lot. I have a lot of things to say and despite popular belief, sometimes I am afraid to say them…but I do it anyway. This includes to Jayden. If he asks questions, I always answer, I never lie, and I’m probably more honest than you should ever be with a 5 year old…but hey, that’s life. However, during our walk the other day, I wasn’t feeling too ambitious so I decided to just listen to what he had to say. It turns out, kids have just as much to teach us as we have to teach them. For some reason as our knowledge expands as adults, some very important messages get pushed to the back of our minds and we start to neglect to use them in our everyday lives.

Don’t take things for granted.
That cloud shaped like a dinosaur is going to be gone in a few minutes. Same thing for that dinosaur one with the banana hat. The fact that the snow has all melted outside and springtime is bringing life again? That’s amazing. There is so much beauty and so much happiness around us every single day…and it’s not required to just jump out at us. Happiness is a constant effort and some of that effort is noticing the little things that the world is trying to hand to us every day. You can’t always get rid of your demons and knowing people that have depression–myself included–I know that happiness is not necessarily a choice. But you can make an effort to be happier. You can let nature clear your mind, meditate, and listen to your soul. The world is here for us to enjoy and take in.
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There are no crocodiles and sharks in a river in Michigan.
I know this. You probably know this…but you know what? Jayden didn’t know this. I’m willing to bet you’re going to run into a lot of people in your life that don’t know plenty of things that you do. It doesn’t mean they’re stupid or ignorant–they’ve just been following a different path than you. Don’t judge people for their lack of knowledge, encourage them to learn. Take the time to explain something you know that they may not know. Chances are, they can teach you something too. We all have our strengths–whether mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual–and we need to share those strengths with each other so that we can all become well rounded, successful, happy human beings.
(No crocs or sharks that I can see)
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Obstacles are something to be conquered, not avoided.
What happened to the days when we’d see a giant hill and it was just second nature to start ascending? We become so comfortable where we’re at that we start avoiding anything that seems to be a challenge. Even if it’ll help us rise higher. Climb your hill–whatever it is. You’ll become stronger and probably have a better perspective on things. (That would be his hand in the air with an Iron Man glove…taking on the world)
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Don’t throw pretty things in the river.
Don’t throw good things away. Don’t throw good people away. That person checking in on you, asking how you are, trying to make small talk, going out of their way to make you smile…they love you. Who knows, maybe they’re in love with you. Regardless of what kind of relationship you want to maintain with them, maintain something. People loving you is not something that should be taken lightly and they don’t deserve to be cast aside. Be good to them.
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Outside the Wire

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This is taken from a piece I wrote my freshman year of college while my then boyfriend was deployed when our son was less than a year old. That turned out to be a very important year for me. It’s the year I learned to be independent. It’s the year I found balance. It’s the year I learned I can do it by myself. Looking back when the relationship first ended, I was confused as to whether or not that year still had the same meaning to me and I realized it meant more. That year shaped most of who I am and that had nothing to do with the relationship and everything to do with me learning to be me. Learning to be strong.

I have friends currently going through the same experience so it seemed like an appropriate time to share.

Outside the Wire

I’m surrounded by company every day,
but I’m alone.

Red painted on lips
to brighten a nonexistent smile
and draw attention away from pained eyes.

You’re doing so well they say,
I bet he misses home they say,
Concerned they say, or maybe just nosy.

Time is my greatest enemy and
the second hand is a ticking bomb
waiting to bring bad news.

The possibilities build into
short panic attacks
where every heartbeat is a gunshot

What if’s creep around in my head.
There’s no use trying to push them back.
You can’t run from a missile.

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Follow up: The Woman Contacted Me

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So turns out, if you live in a small town, it’s difficult to be passive aggressive via blogging. I shared “To The Woman At Burger King:” on Facebook soon after I posted it and it quickly spread around my friends’ pages, then their friends’ pages and so on. Very soon after, I received a message. It was from the woman I wrote to. She read the post and recognized that I was talking about her. Obviously I meant what I said, but I was still nervous to read her response as I never thought she’d actually see it. (There’s a lesson in that somewhere…)

She introduced herself, explained who she was, and proceeded to sincerely apologize for her comment. She said she didn’t mean to hurt anyone and tries to be the best parent she can be. I told her not to take it personally as it really is a problem with society. We shared stories about the men who have screwed us over and she told me the blog actually made her tear up while she was reading it. She said she’d watch what she said to her daughter from now on and that my son is going to grow up to be great.

I’ve gained so much respect for her from that. She didn’t have to contact me–I never would have known who she was. And she didn’t have to take it well. Honestly, if it’d been me, I think my hot-headed self would have either ignored it or been sassy about it (just because I have this issue with criticism and taking things personally…I’m working on it). This turned out to be the best case scenario for how this could have played out and she genuinely took what I said to heart.

I didn’t expect that post to end up getting the response it has…and I definitely didn’t expect her to get the chance to read it. I’m grateful people actually took the time to share it and maybe it made a difference. So thank you.