Wednesday, April 4, 2018

9 years

9 years ago ,my life path changed.  At 9:01 on that Thursday night, I became a widow.  I was 37 years old, it was not how I expected my life to go.  We were happy and in love and life was good. Then, cancer busted down the door and turned our world upside down.  Donnie fought hard for 18 months against the cancer that took him from us.  The night that he left destroyed me.  I wanted nothing more than to die with him.  The pain was so blinding that I was unable to see past it.  In those moments, I'm ashamed to say, that I couldn't see my children or my family.  The pain overwhelmed me and took me to such a dark place that I couldn't fathom that pain ever ending.

For a long time, I wanted to know "WHY?  Why Donnie?" I just couldn't understand.  I don't ask that question anymore.  Because I know it wouldn't change anything.   No answer would suffice anyway or take away the pain.  But I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason, and all I can do is trust in God's will.

 Life has thrown a lot at me, yet here I stand, stronger than I have ever been and I am actually very happy.   I don't believe that time heals all wounds.   It still hurts.  It always will.    The only way I can describe my grief is to imagine someone gives you backpack that weighs a ton and puts it on your back and you have to take it with you everywhere you go.    There is no way you can carry this load, so you try  dragging it along behind you as you dig your fingers into the ground and try to crawl.   It barely moves and you feel so hopeless.  You just know that you will never be able to endure this.   As time goes on you are able to pick yourself up and crawl on your hands and knees dragging it behind you and sometimes you almost stand up but you fall over and over again.  Bruised and bloody, you keep pushing and as time passes, you fall less and less.   And eventually you find you can stand and even walk. It isn't easy and it doesn't mean that you won't still fall from time to time.   That back pack is grief.   No one takes it away from you. It never goes away, you just grow strong enough to carry it with you.

Of everything I have been thru in the last 9 years, I suppose I could fall to the ground and play the victim.   I could scream how it's not fair.    And trust me, sometimes it's hard not to.   BUT, that wouldn't change anything.    What has changed throughout this time is me, and I am ok with who I have become.   I found strength that I didn't know that I had.   I learned TRULY how precious life is and how to appreciate the gift we have been given.    I am different now and I don't know that everyone in my life is comfortable with the person I have become, but I am, and that is the most important thing.  I'm not perfect.   I make mistakes.  But, I know what is in my heart and I know I do everything with the best of intentions.  I am happy and have made peace with who I am and the path that I am on. I often wonder what Donnie would think of the woman I have become. As I look back and see how far I have come since that night, I would like to think that he would be proud of me.

Although I have had my share of heartaches, I am SO unbelievably blessed.   And believe it or not, losing Donnie made me realize how blessed I truly am.  I was privileged to have shared my life with him.   As painful as it was to lose him, if I could go back knowing the end result would be the same, I would fall in love with him all over again.    The happiness we found together was worth it.

I wouldn't have written my story this way.   But, I have to trust in God's plan for me.  I trust that this is the path that I am supposed to be on.   And I have to say I am so very thankful that God allowed Donnie to walk my path with me, even if it was just for a while.  The world was a better place with him in it and I am a better person for being loved by him.

If not for my struggles, I never would have found my strength.

Rest in peace Donnie.   Thank you for sharing your life with me.

I love you always and forever.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

6 years

6 years ago my whole world changed. We knew the time was near but didn't know how near. At 9:01 pm I lost my soul mate and best friend. Never again would I hear his laugh and see that twinkle in his eye. I would never again feel him wrap his arms around me and make the whole world go away. Never to see him crawling on the floor playing with Caley. He will never meet Ryder and be able to watch them both grow. Never will I ever hear him snore next to me. It's been 6 years and I still wonder how am I supposed to get thru the rest of my life without Donnie Reynolds. 

My world has changed so much in the last 6 years. I can't believe it's only been 6 years. It feels like an eternity since he held my hand. I haven't heard him say I love you in what feels like a lifetime. Since losing him, I have lost my mother, my step mother and his mother. I have been lost a lot of the time. 

A friend made a cancer donation in Donnies memory this week. That made me smile for him to be remembered so kindly. People seem afraid to mention his name. Like if they do, it will remind me he is gone. Like I could ever forget.

I know that everyone thinks I am over him. That I have moved on with my life. I have moved forward with my life but I will never be over him. No one  can take his place or take away how much I miss him anymore than he can take my mother's place or take away how much I miss her. Love is love and I still miss him every single day. I can't expect anyone to understand. Sometimes I barely understand my self. I just know that there is a huge gaping whole in my heart since he left. 

I wonder if he could talk to me what he would say. Would he be proud of me for moving forward as he asked or would he wish I had done things differently? I can't help but think most of the time that if it had been the other way around and it had been me that died , that he would have done things so much better. That first year was a train wreck for sure. 

I miss him so freaking much. I miss how he could easily take away any worry on my mind or fear in my heart by just wrapping his arms around me and telling me it was going to be ok. Because it was , he always made sure of it. After losing him I have lived in fear of the other shoe dropping and it has. Several times. We all know we all really all going to leave this world but I guess losing him so young shook me to the core. Silence became my enemy for it screamed the truth. The "path" I had laid out for myself in my mind was gone. Someone had wiped the slate clean. And I had to find a way to search for my new path. 

Losing Donnie changed me in a way that I cannot even begin to describe. Losing my Mom's so shortly after changed me even more. I struggle sometimes each day to find the sunshine and reasons to smile. There are days I still want to crawl back into the bed and pull the covers over my head and shut out the world because living without them hurts too much. There are people who don't understand or even like the person I have become. They may not think I did things the way I should have after Donnie died. But no one handed me a manual telling me how to get thru each day. I did the best I could and still get thru each new day the best I can. Some think I am SO strong to have survived all I have been thru in the last 6 years. I didn't realize I had a choice. I don't know that I am so strong,I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Life is short and time is precious. All we can do is make the most of what we are dealt and treasure those we love. I have great days and I have days I feel like I am barely hanging on and trying to make the most of this life until my time is done on this earth and I am finally reunited with Donnie. ( and Momma and Shelia and so many more ) 
I have been and am still so blessed to have loved someone who was so hard to say goodbye to. Even more blessed to find love again. As my Mom would say God is good all the time.. 

So today I will cry more tears than normal as I remember him and I will smile thru those tears because of the wonderful 14 years we shared together. 
Rest in peace my love until we meet again. I love you always and forever.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dear Donnie,

It’s been 4 years since you left us.  4 years.  208 weeks or 1,461 days.   Most of the time I feel like it has been so much longer because I feel your absence SO much.  Time ticks by so slowly when you are in pain. It feels like forever.   But at the same time, I can close my eyes and picture there next to me like you always were.   I remember for atleast the first year wanting time to pass so I would be further away from the pain of losing you.  Everyone said that time heals.  So I desperately wanted time to pass by quickly so the pain would be gone.  But the pain isn’t gone.  I have learned to live with it the best that I can.  I still miss you every single day.  There is still a part of me that is missing.  I don’t feel whole anymore.  The part of me that is missing is you.

  We were so blessed to share that kind of love.   Even though it means that I hurt as much as I do with you gone, the connection between us was truly special.   The pain that continues is worth what we shared.  I would do it all over again.  Oh how I wish we would have had more time.   There are so many things that I have wanted to tell you.  There are so many things I have wanted you to see.   A day doesn’t go by that I don’t want to tell you something.   I still have that “ I need to tell Donnie that”  or  “I need to ask Donnie, he will remember”   I miss our remember whens. So much of what we shared was just you and I so I can’t “remember when” anymore. 

I wish you could see Caley now.  She has grown so much.  I can’t even believe she is in kindergarten now.  How did that happen?   She was so little when you left us.  She is such a funny girl.  She can be so silly.  I know how you would have loved to be silly with her.   She is so beautiful.   And such a good big sister.  I can’t even fathom that you haven’t met Ryder and he won’t get to know you.  He is growing like a weed and just all boy.  He is a momma’s boy but I am sure that you would having none of that.  He would be a Poppys boy, just as Caley was a Poppy’s girl. 

Shantel is such a good mom.  Still overprotective as always, but really a good mom.  And Pat’s love for Caley reminds us all of you and how you loved the kids.  How they were yours.  No matter what anyone said.

Justin has become quite the pool shark.  You would be proud.  I wish you would have had more time together so he could have learned from you.  He’s pretty good.  He pouts when I kick his butt!  HAHA.  But I always remind him that you wouldn’t have given him any slack either.

Courtney has become quite the little career woman.  Being stubborn and persistent led to her last promotion.  I think you would have called it hard headed.  She hasn’t grown any taller.  Still the short little tutti butt she always has been.  I don’t think she will ever age. 

They have all grown up so much since you were here with us.  The kids have become young adults that you would be so proud of.   Losing you changed all of us.   In ways it made us stronger, because we learned what we could endure.  It made us appreciate the little things so much more. 

We all miss you so very much.  What I wouldn’t give just to hear you laugh.  I miss that.   There are so many things that we miss. 

But even though I struggle with losing you, somehow I have come out the other side. I learned to smile without you somehow.  I didn’t think I ever would.   The pain is still there, I guess I have just managed to figure out a way for the pain and happiness to coexist somehow.   You knew I would.  You always believed in me.  And you told me that I would get to this point.   You told me it wouldn’t be easy but I would make it.   You were right.  ( Yeah yeah, I know you always were)   It still isn’t easy but I do try every day to make you proud.  I don’t always make the right decisions and I can still screw things up pretty good. ( and you aren’t here to clean it all up for me)  But I try.  I have the best intentions.

I still THANK GOD every day for the blessing you were to me.

I love you still
Always and Forever

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

5 years

Written feb 28,2013
It  just hit me this morning when I looked at the calendar. It overwhelmed me and the grief came crashing down on me all over again. 5 years ago today, Donnie and I stood together in the Valley of Fire, right outside of Vegas renewing our wedding vows. We were celebrating 10 years of marriage a little early. For he was sick and we didn't know what the future held for us. How precious those moments were to me. Here Donne was fighting for his life. How did we get here? I remember back to our wedding day. We were so young. So in love. We had the future in front of us and endless possibilities. that map of our lives was drawn out before us. Growing old together. Raising kids and then spoiling grand babies. As we said those vows, till death do us part, there was no way of knowing that we only had 11 years. In some ways 11 years is a long time. When it's the amount of time you have left to spend with your soul mate, it's gone in the blink of an eye. I remember as we danced to our wedding song with Donnie holding me in his arms, for the first time in my life, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I had never been more happy or more content. I was marrying the most amazing man I had ever met. The most amazing father. My life was falling into place to have my happily ever after. The song played and looking back at the words of that song, some are so poignant now. 
What I wouldn't give to share another dance with Donnie. Just to feel his arms around me one more time. To look into those baby blues...... I miss him so. 
And I remember standing in the desert, just he and I , 5 years ago today. Those vows had taken on a whole new meaning. In sickness, was our everyday life and till death do us part was staring us down. It was so special to reaffirm the love and the life we shared together no matter how short our life together was. We shared 14 wonderful years together here on this earth. But Donnie lives forever in my soul and I know one day, I will see him again and we can share eternity together. 
Happy anniversary Donnie! I will always love you.

Our song
Me and you (Kenny Chesney)

Ordinary no, really don't think so
Not a love this true
Common destiny, we were meant to be
Me and you

Like a perfect scene from a movie screen
We're a dream come true
Suited perfectly for eternity
Me and you

Everyday, I need you even more
And the night time too
There's no way I could ever let you go
Even if I wanted to

Everyday I live, try my best to give
All I have to you
Thank the stars above that we share this love.   

Me and you

Everyday, I need you even more
And the night time too
There's no way I could ever let you go
Even if I wanted to

Ordinary no, I really don't think so
Just a precious few
Ever make it last, get as lucky as
Me and you
Me and you

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What dreams may come

In my last post I wrote about sitting in the closet of my house wanting to feel Donnie near me and wanting him to be able to tell me that it was ok that I had to sell the house.  I was missing him so and wanting to feel him near me. 
Well I got an email from a dear friend (family) She did not know about the post or anything I spoke of.  She had a dream.  She dreamed we had all come to her house, we had been moving and were tired and Donnie came in with us. She said he looked so good, khaki shorts, LSU shirt, full head of hair.  He wasn't sick.  She spoke to him and said we all looked at her like she was crazy and then in her dream she remembered that he had died.  She started crying telling him that he had to speak to us, that he had to let us know that he was there with us.   She said she woke up crying.  
What a special gift she gave to me.   She told Donnie he needed to tell us he was still with us.  He did.  Thru her.  
It's funny how Donnie always seems to answer me when I need it most.  I am a strong believer in the power of dreams.  
Before my grandmother passed, I had a dream that my grandfather came to me and told me that he was coming for her.   600 miles away she told my cousin to go get her shoes and her pink dress.  And when Bonnie asked her why, her response was "henry is on his way "  she died just a couple of days later.
I dreamed Donnie's death before he was even diagnosed. In my dream there was something in his chest, I didn't know what it was but I knew it was evil.  I remember screaming "GET IT OUT!GET IT OUT!" And i felt like someone was restraining me.   And it killed him.   The evil in his chest in my dream, is where his tumor was.   I had that dream 2 months before his diagnosis.  
Donnie has answered me thru dreams several times.  Just 6 weeks or so after Donnie passed, my son Justin was in a head on collision.  The truck was destroyed but Justin walked away without 1 scratch on him.   A friend of Donnies from San Antonio who I had never met emailed me that he dreamed of Donnie and Donnie told him that Justin was ok because he was with him.   I had gone to the cemetary just the day before and told Donnie what happened and asked if he was with him.   He answered me.
The day I decided to take off my wedding ring, I wasn't sure it was the right thing to do.  I struggled with the decision.   I wrote about it.  A very dear friend almost immediately emailed me begging me to call her right away.   She asked me was I in my bedroom in front of a mirror when i took off my ring.  I was.  She wanted to know if my bedroom was brown.   It was. She asked if I stood there with the box in my hand as I struggled with my decision.  I had.  There was no way for her to know any of those details.   Yet she knew them.   She had a dream the night before.   She said it was like she was inside the mirror watching me.  And as I stood there, Donnie was behind me.  Smiling. 

There were other instances that were similar to these.   He has given me several messages.

Thru Donnies battle with cancer, I became friends with a girl that ended up losing her husband shortly after I lost Donnie.   She went to see a medium.  The medium told her that our husbands would stay beside us until they knew that we would be ok. 

I had a dream about Donnie.  It was the 2nd week of May 2011.  I was in a house I had never seen before. I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes.  And I looked up out the window and Donnie was outside.  He was walking to his truck.   He looked so good.  He was heathly.   All of his hair.  His khakis and an LSU shirt.  I panicked.  I knew he was leaving.  I had to tell him goodbye.  I screamed WAIT!!!!!  And took off running for the door. I just had to get to him to tell him goodbye.   As I was running for the door, I stopped dead in my tracks in front of this huge picture window and he turned around.  Our eyes locked and Donnie smiled and in that moment, without saying a word, we said goodbye. No words were spoken aloud but I knew exactly what he was saying.  I woke up in tears.  It was so real.   I believe he came to me to tell me goodbye.   I believe that he knew that I would be ok. 

But even though he said goodbye to me that day.  I knew or I hoped that he still watched over me.  I wanted to know he was still there.  I wanted reassurance that he was ok with the choices I made.  And once again, when I needed him, Donnie visited Angel in her dream to let me know that he was still here,watching over us.  What an amazing gift for him to give me. 

Thank you Donnie, I still love you with all my heart and miss you every single day. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

An empty house

I walk thru this house and look around and what do I see? I see the kids on That first Christmas morning 12 years ago.  We moved in 3 days before Christmas.  It was the best gift we ever received.  Now here I stand 12 years later.  Alone. Donnie is gone and our world turned upside down. It's 4 days before Christmas and I am here in this house for the last time as I am on my way to sign the papers.  I have finally sold it.  Almost 4 years after losing Donnie, I am walking out of the home we made together.  It is bittersweet.  The house had become such a financial burden to me that I couldn't keep it.  So there was the relief of that burden being lifted.  But this was our home and I am walking away. We shared so many wonderful times here.  As I walk thru the house , I revisit those memories.......

I see our first Christmas, I see the kids first prom and homecoming pictures taken in front of the fireplace.  I can see Donnie sitting in his recliner with Caley asleep on his chest.  I see Shantel with her first car, coming in the driveway on two wheels and scaring me to no end.  I see baking cookies with the kids to give for Chritmas. I see Justin sitting in his room practicing his trombone and later his guitar.  I see the cat Izzy racing with Courtney to get to her room before Courtney shut her out.  I see the girls slumber parties, I see their fights.  I see Courtney leaning back in her chair at the table and daddy "popping"  her on back of the head. It will forever be known as the "Courtney pop" I see Caleys first steps. I watch Shantel become the most amazing Mom to that baby in that house.  I see our friends cooking on the back porch on Saturday night and playing washer boards.  I see Donnie and I snuggled up on the front porch swing watching it rain on a lazy afternoon.  I see all the family dinners and good times we shared.   I also see Donnie here sick.  I see our fight to save him.  And I feel so different here now.  I can still see all of those things.  But I don't have to be here to see them.   Strangely. This house isn't home anymore.  The home we made here is in our hearts.  We take it with us.   I walk thru this house and say goodbye to this house.   I go into Donnie's closet and close the door and sit on the floor.  There in the dark, I close my eyes and search for him.  After Donnie died I would curl up on the floor of that closet and cry at night.  It was the only place the kids couldn't hear my sobs.  And it still smelled like him even after he was gone.  Sitting here now, alone in the dark, it doesn't smell like him anymore.  I don't feel him the way I did before.    I want to.  I want him to take me in his arms and tell me it's ok.  Tell me it's ok that I had to sell the house    I want him to tell me he forgives me for letting this place go.    I want him to tell me that I have made all the best decisions that I could when he left.  I want him to tell me that I will be ok.  I want him to tell me that I can get thru losing another part of him.  I want nothing more than to hear his laughter ringing thruout this house as he chases the grand babies    Its so unfair that they won't experience here what our children did.  This was the only place that was ever truly " home" to my children and now I have taken that away from them.   I sit in the dark, alone in that empty closet, in that empty house and I cry.  I cried for everything we shared here and everything we lost.   I cry saying goodbye to the last tangible thing that Donnie and I shared.

And in all honesty, as I cry, I have hope.  I believe it is no coincidence that this house is selling almost 12 years to the day from us moving in.  I think that this house now is supposed to be home to Craig and Jennifer and their children.  They are good people.  They are in love with this house.   And I believe that it's time for this house to be home to another family.  It's time for them to make their own memories there.  And they have invited us to come to see them whenever we want to.  So in my sadness of walking away, I smile thru my tears happy with the hope that this house will bring them all the joy and happiness it brought to my family.  I hope the memories they make here sustain them for a lifetime.  The way ours will.

I have learned many things thru our journey of Donnie's cancer and losing him, but I have learned a couple of really big things.  One of them is " home isn't where you live, it's who you live with". I'm not leaving home today, it comes with me wherever I go.

I walk thru this house one more time, thru each room saying goodbye and I lock the door for the last time, I feel like I have done the right thing.  I think I have done the best that I could with the cards I was dealt. And I think the kids understand.   I hope they do at least.

Please keep myfamily in your prayers as mother battles breast cancer and my step mother continues to battle lung cancer.  I pray one day they find a cure so no one has to fight this awful beast.

For all that have followed our journey and  still do.  Thank you for your love and support.  It means so much to me.

Love to all
Keep praying

Sunday, April 15, 2012

three years

Dear Donnie,
Tomorrow makes three years since you left us. Most people can't believe it's been three years already. Part of me can't believe it's only been three years. It feels like an eternity since I've heard your laugh or felt the touch of your hand. But at the same time, I still find myself thinking " I need to tell Donnie that or I need to ask Donnie, he would know". I miss that " remember when" moment and being able to remember with you. I miss your laugh so much. And the way your eyes sparked when you smiled. I miss the way that it felt when you wrapped your arms around me and the whole world seemed to go away and I was afraid of nothing because you were there.
Each time I look at Caley, I can't help but feel those pangs knowing what she is missing out on without you here. I can picture you there with her. And now your grandson. Who bears your name. Ryder Reynolds Rodriguez. I can see you there with him the same way you were with Caley. And sometimes the hurt is so deep. You were such an amazing Poppy.
Our lives have changed so much without you here. I have moved forward with my life the way you wanted me to and I hope that you are proud of me. Learning to live without you was the hardest thing I have ever done. You were such a part of me( and still are) that I felt so incomplete once you were gone. I had to figure out who I was without you.
As I sit here and cry writing this to you, I know you are disappointed that I am still crying. I just miss you so very much. It would be a lie to say I don't still struggle
On each beautiful spring day, I think to myself what a beautiful day for golf and knowing that is exactly what you would be doing.
So many things still make me think of you. They always will. Regardless of what people think, you will always be a part of me and I carry you with me in my heart. You are so much a part of me.
For the longest time I felt guilty. For smiling without you. For living without you.  The thought of falling in love almost tore me apart. It took me a while to realize that loving someone else wouldn't take anything away from you. From what you and I shared together. That amazing love we shared is exactly the same as it was the day that you left. Nothing can change that. So I don't feel guilty anymore for smiling or living without you. I know it is what you wanted for me.
I still am so thankful for the life that we shared. No matter the pain and struggles that came along with losing you. I was so blessed to share my life with you. You were a gift from God sent to us and I can't imagine what my life would have been without you. I would do it all again. And I am also thankful that we were able to say goodbye. I hate the price we paid for it but having no words left unspoken between us brings me peace.
One of the last things you said to me was that you would wait on the other side of the path for me. That comforts me knowing that one day we will be together again. Until that time, you live on in my heart.
Always and forever
I love you