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993 Days...How Can It Be?

I am struggling with things lately. I feel like I should be doing more on here and I have so much to update and share with the world, but there's a part of me that is so broken and sad that I don't know where to begin. Next week will be 1000 days without the littlest love of my life. I am sickened when I think about how long I have had to live without her.

<3 Everywhere we go, we will tell people about you <3

So, I am sorry that I have been awful at updating things here. I have had so much to say and yet have not known how to say it all. The sadness that I have felt this summer has been some of the worst and it is has been something that I continue to struggle with immensely. I want to be able to be present and happy for my other children and for Shane. Recently Shane told me he was so sorry that he can't make me happy because I am just sad all of the time. I hate that this is the me that my family sees. I don't want to make everyone feel like they can't make me happy or that I will never be happy. I just don't know how to have more than moments of happiness with the longing and sorry that fills my soul.

Sometimes in my dreams, you're still laying right beside me

Oddly, the medium who gave us the most beautiful reading has become someone who I almost think of as family. At the times when stuff is going on that is extra heavy in life, I get texts with messages from Adeline. How beautiful is that? I feel so blessed to have this woman in my life and honestly I want to meet her some day and get to know her.

Adeline had some very special qualities about her. No matter how bad my day was, no matter what emotions I was experiencing, I felt joy when I was with her!

So many things have happened since I last posted. I have went through some huge ups and downs emotionally, mentally, and honestly there have been moments where the thing that I longed for the most was Adeline telling me how proud she was of me. I know that if she were here she would be so proud of me right now. I know this because of how she was proud of me when I went back to school and started my master's program. I'm going to quickly attempt to update the status of our family and where we are as well as share how these experiences are shaping my grief.

Forever my very favorite breakfast dates!

Shane continues to do well in life. We are working on changing our eating habits to be healthier and hoping to start get some walks in each week together. He remains the most supporting, kind, and loving human I have ever known. I feel so blessed to have him in my life and I know that many of Adeline's amazing characteristics were from him. He is doing well with work and I am so proud of the man that he is and the dad that he continues to be. I only hope to be half of the wife to him as he is a husband to me.

I am so blessed that at 41, I still have two of my grandparents here with me.

Andrew has started his junior year of college after finishing his second year as a park district camp counselor. He has started education courses, is living in his first apartment, and stepping up into leadership roles both academically and within his recreational interests (music). I am so proud of how hard he works and the things that he is able to accomplish. Sometimes I sit back amazed because when your kids move out or move on from this world, you really reflect on every single mistake that you have ever made. Since Andrew was my first child, he definitely came along for the ride while I went through some emotional ups and downs, marriages and divorces, and things that really could have shaped him into a different kid. I did always strive to do my best but if I had things to do over, there are definitely some things that I would choose to change.

For your golden birthday wear gold, see Phish, and eat cake on the lawn.

Althea is a sophomore in high school. Next week her crazy schedule returns as she goes back to dance. I am excited for her to be back in the dance studio, because I love to watch her dance. I have seen her grow so much after her intensives this summer that she has truly become the most beautiful dancer. I am a little sad that she is giving up on her dream of being a professional ballerina. She had that dream for so long that it was a little shocking when she said that she didn't think she wanted to do that because of the grueling schedule. (As someone who left the demands of job within social work to pursue a job as a higher education instructor, I can certainly understand this desire.) She is actively pursuing color guard and is excited for thespian activities (fall play/spring musical) to begin.

When it's your sister's birthday, have your cake and eat it too!

Huxley is in 8th grade. I can't believe that next year I will have all high schoolers and college students. It is so crazy to think that all of those years with three small babies running around are over and we are at this point. (I think that this is even harder when your changes come far quicker than you had planned after a tragedy.) He is playing football this year and was chosen to be one of the first ballboys at the high school game. This is an honor for the 8th graders as they are chosen based on their hard work and efforts to do well within their football team. I am so proud of him. His 8th grade night is next week. (That will be another hard moment as it is a reminder that Adeline will never get to experience those types of nights.)

Forever we will feel as though we were robbed of the joy that Adeline brought us. Althea is forever robbed of having that special lifelong sister love and bond. She had it for a short time and then it was taken from her. We continue to talk about Adeline and the things that they did together to keep her memories alive, but I can tell that Althea wishes that she still had that connection here.

Now for me....I have so many things to update about myself. I stepped down this past year from the two board positions that I had occupied. One board felt like the wrong fit as something that used to really serve me and make me feel better about myself seems to be something that no longer serves me in that way. The other one felt like it was too much stress for the benefits. I didn't feel like my contributions were valued and after two years of trying my hardest, ultimately I decided that I was not the right fit. It was a hard pill to swallow but after being a volunteer in so many spaces over the past few years, this was ultimately the thing that I needed to do. I got a job!!!!! I am a history instructor at one college and am teaching one section of US History 1 this semester. I hope to eventually work into a full time position at this college because I love their mission, their values, and that the people seem to be on the same level ideologically with me which is amazing when you are standing in front of a classroom. I do not just want to work in a position where I am not valued ever again. I feel valued here. (I am a little nervous about my impending observation on the 20th, but I know that I will be fine and to just take a deep breath and be myself. I have gotten wonderful feedback from students so far.)

In addition to teaching there, I have joined two committees. The life of an adjunct instructor is wild. I am currently on 4 adjunct lists, but only had one course offer this semester. I did do a guest lecture and serve as a community member on a committee at this school. I also received an email back from a 5th community college who is interested in potentially having me teach a course with them. They have expressed that I should be getting a call this week to set up an interview and see if I would be a good fit for what they have to offer. I am hopeful that I will eventually be teaching 5-6 classes in the fall and spring and possibly 1 or 2 online classes in the summer. I do not want to be tied to a location in the summer, so only online for that semester.

I have also decided to return to graduate school. I know, I know that is just what I need...but I have noticed a trend where community colleges are not hiring as many full time faculty. I am hopeful that with additional credentials, currently seeking out the ability to teach Political Science in addition to History, I will be able to land my dream full time job. After I finish getting what I need in Political Science, I have also considered taking the necessary courses in Sociology and possibly additional subject areas if I still have not found full time employment. The hope is to find full time employment by Huxley's senior year in high school.

I finally feel like I have found the place for me. It's funny because I returned to school with the goal of teaching at a community college and now that I am actually doing it, it is everything that I thought it would be and so much more! I am enjoying getting to work with my students to have a grasp of history and an understanding as to why history is so important.

This girl has more talent in her toes than I have ever had in my life. She is such a beautiful, talented and amazing dancer who has risen above adversity and things that have been thrown in her path with the most beautiful resistance and grace.

So, how is this all impacting my grief, because let's be honest, that is why you are all here. The impacts to my grief have been wild. Being in Indiana with Althea for 16 days in June was tough. I was away from everyone else and she was in class all day long so I was essentially alone. When you go from being at home with your husband every day and your children when they are not in school, it is certainly an adjustment to not see anyone for that long.

I can't imagine any greater blessing in the world than to be married to my soul mate and have the most amazing children that a girl could ask for.

After we returned home, we didn't do much for the next month. Then we took a short family vacation (Shane, Althea, Huxley, and myself). We traveled first to see my grandpa who we had not been to see but once since we lost Adeline. I have really missed him but it is hard to visit and not have her with us. It's another level of pain. We then traveled to Muscle Shoals and visited Fame and Muscle Shoals Recording Studio. We then went to Birmingham and experienced the student march as we read about the history together. We also got to see the 16th Street Baptist Church where so much tragedy had once taken place. That was an emotional stop for me as I wept for those little girls' moms. I know how much pain that I am in and I cannot imagine the pain of knowing that someone intentionally and purposefully attempted to murder your child for the color of her skin.

Phish with my family is always the best time where I get to create some of my favorite memories. I'm so thankful for these experiences and the band that makes them all happen.

We traveled on to Atlanta where we saw Phish at Alpharetta for Althea's golden birthday. Then we went to Chattanooga for a day and explored the city. It was a beautiful trip and one that I am sure will leave me with lasting memories for many years to come. I'm only sad that Andrew chose not to join us.

A few weeks after this, I got to take Huxley to the KC Chiefs training camp with my friend Amber and her son Keem. We had a great time even though I am not a fan of football. Amber's excitement was great and Huxley and Keem loved it so it was totally worth it!

Finally, Shane and I took a little solo trip before summer ended. We got to see Phish on my birthday in Philadelphia. Then we went to upstate New York to visit my friend Jessica and to hang out with her and her partner, Marty. It was an amazing time where we got to see The Woodstock Museum and Willie Nelson at the very grounds where Woodstock took place. It even rained (A LOT!!!) and I was happy because I was dancing in the mud and getting the full Woodstock experience.

Shane and I continue to be blessed by the amazing people that the universe continues to put into our lives. Our time with these beautiful souls is time that we will forever be thankful for and we are definitely planning more time together in the future.

Not a day goes by that I am not heartbroken. Not an adventure happens where I don't long to hear her laugh or to hear the things that she would say as we visited these places. The reason that I keep going and doing things is because I am 100% confident that Adeline would want us to keep living, that she would desire for us to keep going. So, that is exactly what I am going to do. I am going to keep living for her. I have found that there are many great places where there are sticker collections and that we can add our own stickers to memorialize her life.

Habitat for Humanity and Adeline's school district's building trades program have started construction on a house on our old lot. It's so weird seeing a home being built there, just as it was so weird to see that lot sitting empty after living so much life there. It's a ride of emotions for sure. I am so sad that I am not living there with my little girl, that my old life, the life I knew is over and that there is nothing that I can do to make my life better in those regards. I am also so thankful that I was able to do something kind for the community that supported us after our loss with so much kindness.

One day a new family will be living there. If they are able to create even half of the amazing memories that we were, they will have a very happy life. I am so thankful for those years in that big old house, for the town that my little girl loved most, and for the very people who touched our hearts while we were dealing with unimaginable tragedy and loss. I remember when I lived there I always looked to everything that was wrong, and I honestly wish that I could have seen all of the good then. I wish that I had been a better person before I lost Adeline and that I would have made her more proud by being the best person, the person she deserved.

I don't think the sorrow will ever stop feeling the way that it does today. There are days when I can watch a video, listen to her joking, and laugh. Then there ware days when I struggle to breathe and feel like I am being drowned from waves of my own tears. I don't want to move on some days. I want to stop and not grow and be exactly who I was when I last held my little girl, when she last put her tiny hands only cheeks, looked into my eyes and told me she loved me so much, and kissed me with the biggest kiss ever. However, I know that growing and moving forward in life is what she would be proud of.

I will spend every breath that I take trying to make that little angel, Huxley, Althea, and Andrew proud of me. I just want them to know that they are loved, cherished and truly the most amazing humans that I have ever been lucky enough to know and I am so incredibly proud that they are my humans.

For all of you who continued to read, I am sorry that I have not been consistent. One of my goals starting in October is regular weekly blogging. I like to add goals one at a time to my plate, rather than jumping in with multiple goals at once. October was the right timeline for my blogging adventures. I need to make sure that I continue to put my mental health and wellness at the forefront of my decisions with things to do. I have not been doing this. I have not been journaling or blogging (the two things that make me feel the best) and I can see where my mental wellness is at a standstill because of this. I am hopeful that next week I can add back in the journaling and then the blogging in a few weeks.

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