Friday, November 18, 2016

Words I never wanted to write...

Many who were at my moms funeral and those who couldn't attend have asked for a copy of the Eulogy that I wrote for her.  She was loved deeply and these words will never be enough.  These are words I wish I never had to write but know that there is no one on earth that she would have wanted to write and read her eulogy other than me.  We just had that bond....

Today will be one of the hardest moments in my entire life but I know with 100% certainty that my mom would insist that I stand here and speak of her and I can only imagine the audience that she has gathered up there in Heaven.  Mom loved a good compliment…maybe even a little ego stroke now and then, So MOM, this is for you!!! 
“A mother’s love is the heartbeat of a family”  Our mom wasn’t just the heartbeat of her children and her family but she was the heartbeat of so many people who know and love her.  My mom was my biggest fan, my best friend, and my sounding board for all of life’s stories.  She was my go-to girlfriend and I was hers.  My mom moved to Heaven too soon, just a few weeks shy of her 63rd birthday and although 62 is incredibly young, they say that it’s not about how many years you have in your life but the life that you have in your years.  Well let me tell you that my mom LIVED…she lived for her Children, her grandchildren, and for life littlest moments.  She put so much life into her 62 years and added to the lives of so many in that time.  My mom shared many many stories of her childhood with my siblings and I.  There are so many stories and memories that I will replay in my head over and over.  Some of the most memorable ones were her memories of life as a military child, Sunday morning room inspections by her father (she could bounce a quarter off a bed after she made it), her mother’s tireless work to put food on the table after her father’s death and the responsibility she had to carry to help out with her brothers, the way she would roll her hair in soup cans and the huge shift in her life after she became a mother at the young age of 17.  One of my favorite pieces of information that my mom constantly shared with me over the years was her childhood dream.  Whenever I asked her what she dreamt of as a little girl, she would tell me that her life dream was to be a mother.  For Tim, Katie and I, that is really where the best part of her life story began.  Our mom gave us real life…. honest, memorable, perfectly imperfect, precious life.  I grew up in a home where we could speak freely, whether it was our opinion, our feelings or even our grievances.  Our voices were heard and considered. I could ask tough questions and she was never afraid to give us tough answers.  She didn’t believe in sugar coating the truth and knew that with every tough answer was an important life lesson for us to learn.  My mom was filled with love and told us how much she loved us often, hugs and kisses were commonplace but so was reality…the reality of life, the reality of health, disappointment and perseverance.  She taught us so much just by the way she loved us and by her example of Grace and poise during adversity.  She was proof that a life that is well lived is not one that occurs without fault or hardship yet it is one where you face the absolute worst of times and still manage to find light in your life and in the life of others.  

As a child my mom confided in me often over the hours and hours that we spent riding in the car to and from gymnastics six days a week.  She would always bring along the newspaper so that I could read aloud to her and our days weren’t complete until I read her everyones horoscope and then we would ponder what they might mean.  She was always on the sideline letting my sister and I shine…every so often a little bit of stage mom would come out but who can blame her, she only wanted us to do our best.  As a teen my mom was the cool mom to our friends and all of our friends loved having her hang out with us when she could.  Maybe it was her chatty personality, her sound advice or her desire to know all of the juicy details of every story…whatever it was, we all enjoyed having her around.  She supported me tirelessly by driving me to and from my countless activities, spending her weekends at gymnastics meets, dance competitions and cheerleading competitions.  As her health declined she would conserve her energy all week so that she could be behind the scenes cheering me on on Friday nights and during Saturday competitions.   As a teen I always thought it was “cool”  that my friends referred to my mom as “Mom”.  I was proud that they confided in her and wanted her around.  But as an adult, as a mother and as all of your memories flood in, I realize the magnitude of importance she has been to so many…to so many of our friends who could not confide in their moms but had questions,  were scared or just simply needed a hug or a friendly reminder that “this too shall pass”.  Our friends always loved mom but at such a crucial time in our adolescence, they trusted her.  I could tell my mom anything with the confidence that she would listen and process and then have a conversation with me, her little girl, about the reality of my decision and the importance of thinking beyond the moment.  She never shamed me for my adolescent mistakes and always allowed me the freedom to experience life and grow but with a cushion to catch me if I should fall.  My mom would move mountains for us.  Often spending her days driving my sister and I around, sacrificing everything so that we could have and do.  Our happiness was her most important priority.  She went without so that we could have and that never changed.  Mom has always been my biggest supporter, telling me that I can, even when so many didn’t think i could. She encouraged me to achieve my dreams of cheering at NC State,  she let me go even though I know the distance broke her heart,  she was always genuinely happy for me even in the times that it was clear that I was growing up, I was changing, and I was developing a life of my own.  Despite my life changes, there is 1 thing that always remained constant.  MOM was always there…pushing me into the spotlight, filled with pride, lifting me up, wanting it for me just as bad as I wanted it for myself.  When I spent the better part of 4 years as a solo parent with my husband out to sea, Mom was always there.  Three simple words sprung her into action…I need you…she was there.  I always needed her in some way and that will never change.  When I tossed around the idea of starting my own business, she was the only one who believed in my vision and of course she was my first client and my best promoter.  From the moment she became a grandmother, she always took a great interest in her grandkids.  She would engage them with questions and always listen intently to their answers.  She was limited in the way she could physically play with them but made up for it in the way she made our kids feel like they were the most important people in the room and that what they had to say trumped all other conversation.  She was the Grammy….not just to our kids but to the kids of our friends also.  My boys friends went crazy when “Grammy” was in town…she played minecraft, batman, paw patrol, beauty parlor, kitchen and ninja turtles like it was her job.  She would always say “I love you all BUT I REALLY LOVE my grandkids….it’s just different”  Her love for those little ones was undeniable!  

For mothers day 2015, I gave my mom a gratitude journal with all of the things that made me grateful to have her as my mom….I told her to write in it when she needed a reminder of all the good in her life.  I found the journal the other day with nothing written in it….a little while later I found a piece of paper with the word Gratitude at the top….must have been a rough draft…but in her own words….
“Grateful….what a word, what a topic.  I am so grateful for all that I have been given.  Every morning when I open my eyes I am grateful.  I know I am the woman with 9 lives, the one who has been to hell and back.  The doctors wonder who I am still here and sometimes I wonder to.  But then I stop and think about it.  And believe me, I have a lot of time to think.  I have had a wonderful life, and amazing wonderful life and I thank God each and every single day for the opportunities I have had.  Sure, they were tough but I wouldn’t be the woman I am today with out those obstacles and I truly believe that my children would be the wonderful adults that they are had it not been for the adversities and sickness they were faced with.”

My mom was a true testament to overcoming hardship and always managing to shine brighter after the storm.  She was a beautiful soul both inside and out.  She was a free spirit in the sense that she could be completely inappropriate but with the best of intentions.  She loved hard and she forgave to a fault.  She gave to her detriment…her time, her advice, her money, and her heart.  Always giving of herself for the sake of others.  She was a fighter in every sense of the word but sensitive beyond comprehension.  She cried easily but was the rock and the strength of our family.  Her dreams were simple but the journey was oh so complicated.  Her heart was soft both literally and figuratively.  She always wanted more for others than she did for herself…For Timmy, Katie and I she always wanted us to know better, to do better and to have better than she ever did.  She was fiercely optimistic, always saying “it’s going to get better…it has to”,  her joy was seeing others happy….she worried way too much and tried so hard to protect us as her health declined.  Her smile was contagious, she laughed really loud, and she would dominate any conversation when given the opportunity to brag on her grandkids.  Over the past few days we have been wrapped with love, prayers and amazing memories which has been such a comfort and a great reminder that Mom made an impact on so many people.  

When I was little she would tell me that if she could bottle me up and sell me she would be a millionaire.  As a teen and young adult my mom would always say that she lived vicariously through me and my life experiences that she never had.  Over the past few years she would tell people that when she grew up, she wanted to be just like me.  I am her creation, she poured into me with everything she had.  I didn’t just become this person, she made me who I am.  

She gave us our first breath and we were there when she took her last.  She loved life but boy did she love her kids…motherhood was her dream, her life’s work, and her love and impact as our mother will be her legacy.  

Mom,  there are no words for how empty I feel without you but I will cherish knowing that we had an unbreakable bond that will always be with me.  I will spend the rest of my life trying to carry on your legacy of love and selflessness.  I would be nothing without you.  No one loves you more than I do and no one will ever love me more than you loved me!  You gave me your best love for 34 years….but I will love you my entire life.  There aren’t words for this loss but I can quote a favorite song of ours…”thank you, thank you, thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings”  I love you Mom

Friday, October 21, 2016

Life didn’t go as planned.  The short term.  The long term.  The now and the forever!  If I thought I knew what blindsided meant before September 16th…I was wrong.  My life forever changed.  Everything changed…everything!  My daily habits, my routine, my here, my now, my then and my could have been!  I am not a “poor me” kind of girl but this is like nothing I have ever even fathomed life could be like.  Strength is laughable…unattainable.  Everything about life just seems unimportant…insignificant…lost…even worthless.  I get it…most have experienced loss.  I have before, too!  My loss may seem so insignificant to many….and to others they will compare…they say they know how I feel…but the reality is that I don’t even know how I feel.  I eat, sleep, and breathe my loss.  I fall asleep with tears, “Sleep” with nightmares and wake up to sorrow.  I am not even sure that my next breath is worth it.  I am so blessed in my life…I know that with zero doubt.  I have a beautiful life…but I have become empty.
My mom died!!!  She was 62!  There, I said it!  I have said it a million times since that moment…it’s awful but necessary.  The bills, the creditors, the legalities, the money, the funeral, the flowers and the reality.  The reality that her whole life is now over….placed in my lap like a handful of weeds picked by my 3 year old….it’s a mess.  But I have to say it…people won’t let you handle her business unless you say it.  She died!  Our daily conversations…sometimes 3 and 4 times daily conversations have been replaced with me wondering what to do…where do I go from here?  This DID NOT have to happen.  This wasn’t natural.  This was negligence!  I sit here and question every single step that was taken.  From the day she entered the hospital on August 26th to our last face to face conversation on September 8th and our last phone conversation on September 11th followed by full chaos on September 12th, her intubation and her fight that ended on September 16th.  The devastating lows and the completely unexpected yet welcomed highs that just never fully developed…this should not have been!   A time frame that I have replayed over and over.  One that I will continue to play over and over for the rest of my life.  The medical terms, the legal terms and the emotional terms.  Medical directive, advanced directive, medical power of attorney, DNR, living will, personal representative, decision maker, next of kin or beneficiary.  I’m TERESA!  I’m HER DAUGHTER.  I’m not a number, a bureaucracy, a signature on your legal paper…I am her daughter.  She is my mom!  My best friend!  My person…and I was hers!  Right now it is not in her best interest to share details!  I have gone over them with a fine tooth comb for well over a month.  I have laid in her lifeless arms and sobbed for answers.  I have stared at her dead body…numb…sad…angry…curious!  Have you ever stood next to someone that has not had a heartbeat for days….maybe over a week?  I did!  I held her.  I cried.  I studied every single feature.  I cut her hair.  I positioned her face “just so”.  I talked to her.  I cried on her.  I have touched her cold face.  Kissed her stiff lips.  Just one more time!  Forever is way too long.
   I have blamed her.  I have blamed me, you and everyone I could point the finger at.  This didn’t have to be!  But the blame game didn’t help!  It didn’t take away loss, it didn’t bring her back, it didn’t change the past.  I pleaded with her!  I pleaded with the doctors!  I pleaded with God!  I laid at her bedside in prayer, in grief, in disbelief, in anger, and in a stage of helplessness!  I wouldn’t leave.  Nothing else mattered.  The outcome was laid before me early on.  I just couldn’t accept it.  I got my hopes up.  She’s a fighter…she always will be!  It just wasn’t her fight!  It was beyond everyone, everything and all possibility!  They let her die before anyone could notice and the damage was done!  I sit here left with everything.  With the wonder, the sadness, the responsibility.  With the awkward conversations.  The entire population of my life who just doesn’t get it.  You shouldn’t get it.  I hope you never get it!  This isn’t an isolated moment in time.  For you, it just might be!  But for me…this is forever!  This is every holiday, birthday, funny story, tear cried, success story, tough day, big sale, touchdown pass, alumni game or just a simple daily check in.  This is a void!  I am not 55, 60, 65,  or 70…I am 34!  My kids are babies!  I am so fortunate for the 34 years I did have…that was a blessing that not everyone gets!  But too soon is too soon!  Gone TOO SOON!!!!   

Many have expressed an interest in reading her eulogy!  Whether for the first time or for those at her service and heard me speak it, maybe a reminder!  In the next few days I will put in on my blog!  She always loved my blog.  She wanted me to write a book!  She wanted me to write a blog about her.  Time is fleeting!  I wrote so many things to her…none of which were public!  Perhaps just one of many regrets!  She knew everything…so did I!  Yet, I still have regret!  There was no question unanswered!  No word unsaid between us!  Thank GOD for all of our conversations but especially the one on September 9th!  We both said it all…but regret finds it’s way into grief!  SHE….She will never be gone in my heart!  A huge void….one that can’t be filled but one that is radiated with her!  Her laugh, her smile, her uniqueness and everything that she was!  The good, the weird and the Jeanette!  She just was!!!!!  Unapologetically her….OH, to be her!!!!


Monday, January 4, 2016

Will your resolution in January become your highlight of 2016?

I'm going to get a little deep here but bear with me.  It's that time of year where everyone is setting goals.  Most statistics will tell you that your January rush to make "2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 etc great" will last less than 2 months.  You'll stop going to the gym, stop eating healthy, stop saving money, stop whatever you resolved to do (again) and you will resume your normal life.  Therein lies my questions…are you happy where you are?  Do you have control of your life, your future and your destiny? Do you go to bed and wish…wish you had more time with your kids, wish you had more time to work out, wish you could travel, take time off, afford simple or even extravagant lifestyles?  What makes January any different than June????  Why give up?  Is it because society tells you that the "norm" is within the confines of 4 brick walls, a cubicle, standing on your feet all day cleaning houses, waiting tables.  We are lead to believe that we have work for and answer to someone…employment status on the terms of your boss have overshadowed self worth and creativity.  Society tells women that raising babies isn't a job, it tells us that not sitting at a desk or answering to the boss on top means that we are of less value.  That because I don't "clock in or clock out" my job isn't legitimate.    That working moms or nonworking moms or work from home moms are in this great debate about which is harder or which is more empowering.  That we are "wasting" our college education or our intelligence just because we chose a less respected or valued path whether it's parenting, direct sales, blogging, etc…respected by who?  Valued by who???  Are you valued in your everyday life….do you value yourself?  Will your resolutions of January be your highlights of 2016?  At some point you will have to fight past the fear and leap into action in order to achieve your goals.  Walk into a crowded gym, try new healthy recipes, learn to say no, learn to value yourself and make yourself a priority.   I've worked 40+ hour work weeks, I've climbed the corporate ladder, I've pounded the pavement for the benefit of someone else's bottom line, I've put my life on hold for the benefit of others…people think I am crazy because I left it all…left the corporate job (except the heels), left being constantly asked for more, and I've begun to pave my own way.  People think I am crazy because I now own a virtual franchise.  It's unconventional and new but trust me when I say I've done the research (ya know with that oh so important college degree).  Amazon was new and unconventional, uber, Apple, infomercials etc.  Unconventional and now wildly successful.  Times are changing.  People are ordering everything online?  You can schedule your grocery staples to be delivered weekly, your milk, eggs and bacon can be placed neatly in a cooler by your door, you can have a complete outfit shipped to your door monthly along with your razors and yours and your pets medications.  You can work out online, seek counseling online, figure out how to fix your car online and the list goes on.  Unconventional and growing.  Unconventional and becoming the norm.  I took a leap of faith, an educated leap but a leap none the less.  I didn't know anyone on the top but I knew where the top was and I knew and know that only I can control that.  
Bottom line is that whatever your goal is for 2016 decide why it's your goal and what you are going to do every single day to achieve it.  I am my own boss, I set my own hours, I succeed and I fail on my terms and the only person I disappoint is myself.  I set my limits, my goals and my income and potential isn't capped.  I receive a consistent paycheck and I pay bills along with leading other women to reach their potential.  People still think I am crazy, they still think it's a scam but what I am learning is that those opinions are really none of my business.  My goals are mine and my successes are mine too, as are yours.….I came across this quote the other day and I am going to share it in hopes that this will remind you to not quit in March, April or whenever you normally sell yourself short.  YOU can reach the smallest of goals or the largest of dreams but you have to take that leap…and sometimes you have to leap and leap and leap!  DO IT!!!  Ponder this...
"People  will stick you into all sorts of boxes.  They'll call you a genius, or a fraud, or an amateur, or a pretender, or a wanna be, or a has been, or a hobbyist…it doesn't matter in the least.  Let people have their opinions.  More than that let people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours.  But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else's blessing….and always remember that peoples judgements about you are none of your business"