Going back through my blog for a New Year's post was difficult. I see the photos from the beginning of the year and realize that the days that helped this year turn have been racked with change, heartache, loss and struggle. But then I looked again. I looked harder. And past the days of loneliness, cold, and complete sadness there were also days of joy, hope, triumph.
This year I fell out of love and back into it. I watched my children literally suffer at the loss of their dad in our family. Mabel cried almost every day for the entire year and tested every strength I thought I had gained. My heart was broken and my heart was mended. I lost faith and re-gained it in new, exciting ways. This year I made new friends and let go of some.
This year was a beautiful, messy, tangled web of jubilee and total devastation. And yet, I feel like it was the most splendid adventure I've ever had. I wouldn't change it now, but I would spare my kids the heartache they experienced if I could. However, I do believe that they will be better people because of it one day as well. All that said, here's a look at our 2013:
Year of change.
2013 started extremely hard with the loss of our sweet Stevie. It's hard for me to believe he has been in Heaven for an entire year. But in that truth I also rejoice. I'm so thankful for the days that we shared with him and the inspiration that he was to my heart.
In January, we found out that Becky's fourth baby was finally a girl. Sweet Finley enchanted our dreams from that moment forward...
In January Mabel was still sitting on her own, unassisted. Now, even with assistance she is unable to do so. January is the month when I started Mabel in hospice care.
In February I started doing body pump, something I loved immediately and have tried hard to do off and on throughout the year. It gave me physical strength to match the emotional strength I would need for the months to come.
In February, Jeni and I traveled to St. Louis for a much needed night away with her. Looking back, that night was so symbolic to what was about to take place in my life. Lady Gaga put on an amazing concert; one that truly set me free. I loved this night!
February was the month that we learned that Mabel's wish had been granted!
February was the month that Daniel left our family. I didn't post about it until March but before I opened up here, I posted this post that is still one of my hardest to read.
In March, we prepared for our Disney Trip that would take place in April! March was also the month that was most conflicting for me as I filed for a legal separation from my husband after he left our home.
In April we celebrated Harper's 3rd birthday! A few days later, Jeni and I gathered up the kids and took the trip of our lifetime to Disney. All of our dreams came true and I saw healing take place in the hearts of my children that week. I will forever be grateful for April 2013. It was the greatest gift we have ever been given, by far!
My Disney posts started here:
In May we came home to a busy summer awaiting us! Nora started T-ball.
We spent several days at the beach during those first weeks of summer along with daily bike rides and stroller walks. Summer, this year, was beautiful!
In June the girls and I saw Luke Bryan in concert! Another amazing night that I'll never forget.
In June, our 'hope' baby, Finley was born!
I made it a point all along to encourage Becky not to feel the pressure of letting Finley heal all of our hurts. I wanted her to just be Finley. But immediately she was a precious reminder that life does go on and even when life and death collide, there is something unique and brilliant about it.
In June, Mabel made her TV debut! She was wearing her 'Tiny Superhero' cape and our friend Robyn's beautiful gift was featured on ABC news. It was spectacular!
June was the month that my divorce was final. It was quick and necessary.
In July I visited Abby in the hospital after her brain surgery.
Sticking with tradition, we held our annual 4th of July Party in our front yard. It was so much fun and I felt the love of so many people that day. It was as if a breeze blew through and scattered hope from the wind among all of us.
In July, during the dead of summer, Mabel and I experienced a 'first.' She sat alone in a shopping cart. And I cried.
July was the month when we got to meet Connor for the first time in person! He was incredible and touched my heart from the very first moment I laid eyes on him.
Quite literally as I write this post, Connor's mom, Crissy is laying her sweet boy to rest. He joined Heaven a few days ago and my heart has been physically aching ever since. It's a hard reminder that in between these fun, spunky moments that we experience throughout the year we also live a very hard, very true reality.
In July we celebrated Mabel's 3rd birthday! The actual day was amazing but almost every other moment during this hot summer month looked like this:
In the months leading up to July, Mabel's hair had begun thinning. Finally, Jeni and I decided it was time for a haircut. It was the cutest thing I've ever seen.
July was the month that our outside cat (who just showed up last year) delivered one single baby in our shed. Lucy was born and birthed hope in my children.
A few weeks later, we celebrated Nora's 7th birthday!
In August we went to the balloon festival as usual. We went with good friends and had a great time!
We celebrated a very special guy for his birthday.
August is the month when I felt my heart heal and open itself up to the possibility of loving again. I had been really hurt, really betrayed and really very broken. Suddenly I decided that I wasn't going to allow myself to stop living; there was too much joy to be found in this extraordinary life I had been given.
In August, after months of debate and letting go of so many of my heart's deepest dreams, my biggest kids started public school. And Harper too!
In September, Mabel visited her doctors and they finally got to see the way she had been crying for months. This is the month when Dr. S (who is a genius and we adore) told us that he wasn't so sure that there isn't a secondary disease happening in Mabel's body. We drew more blood; more tests were started.
This was also the month when we started her new medicine, the one that ultimately stopped her crying and has given us so many good days!
In September we celebrated Braden's 6th birthday and we also went to see the Dinosaurs!
As always, we used September to usher in Fall!
We attended the homecoming parade with friends and enjoyed shorter days outside with hoodies and campfires.
In October we went to wiener roasts, took hay-rack rides and ate far too many s'mores.
October is the month that Noah-on-the-Run made his way to Clinton, raising awareness for Batten Disease. He stayed a couple of days and spoke to the students at our Jr. High School. This was an amazing memory from this year and I'm so thankful that we made it happen!
November is the month that I turned 29 years old.
We made an all-day adventure out of the big city of Chicago!
In November we enjoyed a windy yet warm day at the annual 'Plow Days.' The donations from this event were given to Mabel's Able. We were able to pay it forward at Christmas time with gifts to local families!
Unfortunately November is the month when sickness raced through our home. It hasn't left yet.
We ended the month of November by celebrating Thanksgiving with our family and it was a really great time.
The spirit of Christmas and giving came early in December when Rache ushered in the month by giving me this brilliant gift that her future mother-in-law drew of my sweet girl. It was one of the most memorable things of 2013 and something that I will always cherish.
My guy and I took several opportunities to have 'day dates' this year. They are filled with quiet moments and gentle glances. I'm so thankful.
Thankfully in December we got to experience the first big snow with friends. Mabel and Braden went sledding and it was a great time!
In December we celebrated our first Christmas as a single-parent family. It was different and yet we have fallen into the routine of this new life very fluently. I am thankful for the ability that God gave me long ago to adapt and cope. To move on and be in the now. That's really what I'm trying to do every single day.
This year I ate a ton of chex-mix, and walked a ton of miles. I cried a lot but laughed way more. This year I read a few books, listened to new music and traveled more than I ever have before. I mothered with other mothers. I grew closer to my own dad. I poured my heart out but learned to keep what was important tucked inside.
This year I feel like I learned to live with purpose and in the quiet I learned more about myself and God than I ever dreamed possible. I spent time with my friends that really meant something. I listened to their laughter and watched their expressions. I played with my children intentionally and cherished my home with new purpose. I advocated for my dying daughter both with the doctors and in a courtroom. I grew a boldness that I didn't know I had and I let go of things I didn't know I would want to. I fell in love and was treated with a kind of tenderness that I feel humbled by. I lost weight when I was sad. I gained weight when I was happy. And I loved every minute in between.
2013 was a crooked, twisted unfair and totally beautiful year.
I am more than ready for a new year and the growth that I know it will bring.
I'm so thankful for another day. Another breath. Another chance to learn, grow and love.
Here's to 2014.