Friday, January 19, 2018

Remembering...My Boy... My Angel... Anthony

  It's a little easier to get through the holidays, but this year I was missing my kids. I wanted to share a special picture of my Anthony today. I will post about my girls later, but for now... this is my Anthony. He was such a joy. My first... my son. I got pregnant two weeks after getting married, to my best friend. It's funny to see people do math in their heads when I say his age and how long I've been married. He was so precious, so cute.
  I was so happy to find out we were having him. Then within months after he was born we saw the first signs that something might not be right. He wasn't focusing. He couldn't hold his head up very well. My husband was training in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, and then he trained to work in Ophthalmology. This was one of many moments where God had our lives in hand, even if we didn't know it at the time. I had just turned twenty-years old, we moved to San Diego, California for his first duty station, and Tony got the chance to work with some of the best eye doctors in the country. He mentioned what we noticed about Anthony's development. He was suspicious and we took him in to get checked. This is when they discovered that Anthony had Glaucoma, which is almost always linked to brain issues when presented in children. This got a very sticky, and created a snowball effect that we could not have believed would happen if you had told us.
  Our perfect, precious baby boy was about to live a three year, nine month nightmare that forced us to face just one of many horrors that would happen to us in our young lives. Anthony, only fully diagnosed after his death, was suffering with Muscle/Eye/Brain disease, an extraordinarily rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. He had an underdeveloped brain in his pons, cerebellum, and white matter. He had Glaucoma, extremely low muscle tone, his eyes stopped developing in the womb making him blind to the point that they thought "maybe" he could see lights and shadows. He was also deaf in the way that he could hear, but they suspected that his sound signals got mixed up in his brain. So we don't know what or how he could hear. Later we found out that he was missing a lobe of his lung and the other was deformed. On top of everything, he had grand mal and petit mal seizures. We almost lost him seven times to grand mal seizures with respiratory failure. He eventually could not eat and needed a feeding tube and lost what little muscle and brain matter he had.  We worked tirelessly with the Louisa May Alcott School in San Diego, and then with the local special ed school in Landover, Maryland. We worked diligently with physical and occupational therapy and tried so hard to understand what was happening to him.
  Anthony was number thirty in the world to have this disease. Needless to say, even the doctors didn't know much, or how to help him. At the time of his death the doctors were explaining that they had no idea how long he would be able to live. They threw out numbers like maybe ten years. In our hearts, after countless prayers, we knew in our hearts that it would not be that blessed. It was only months later that he took his last breath, as we held him in our arms and watched his innocent soul leave his struggling, withering, still so adorable, fragile body. My heart shattered that day. I had to break the news to family, who in a panic, were trying to get to us, from Ohio, as quickly as they could.
  We had to learn that God had a different plan for him, for us. We had to learn to trust God in a new way, and we had to decide where our faith would lie and whether we believed God's promises. And I can tell you that those challenges were tried many more times since then. We lost two of our daughters to the same thing that Anthony had. We also faced a lot of judgement. Family especially turned on us and felt that we brought this on ourselves by having them. But when you pray, trust God, and search your heart over and over, until the desire to have that child is overwhelming... what else do you do?
  I cannot say this more clearly, I DO NOT regret my children. Was it horrible? Was it the worst things to happen in my life? Was it all what I wanted for us... really? Do you have to ask.  I can only repeat... I DO NOT regret my children. The experiences I had by taking a chance on them made me who I am today. I have more compassion, love, wisdom, joy, and fulfillment, because of them. I am a better woman, mother, and wife... BECAUSE of them NOT despite them.
  Anthony was, and is a light in my life. He is a treasured memory. He is my boy. He is my angel, when he was alive and now that he is waiting for me in heaven, still being a big brother to his siblings. He will NEVER be a regret. I look forward to the day we will be reunited. We were sealed as a family ten days before he died and I will forever be grateful to my Heavenly Father for that blessing. He waited to give his baby sister Tia her second birthday. That is the kind of boy he was. What a grateful mom I am. I have been blessed to give birth to some of the finest people I have ever known.
  For anyone who has never had a child, cared for someone (disabled), or lost a child... NEVER try to tell me that my faith failed me. Don't ever try to tell me that my God is my imaginary friend. Don't you ever try to tell me that I'm ignorant for believing in God, or an afterlife.  You DO NOT have that right. This is my right to believe what I will. It is my decisions, and my right to believe in and to believe God and his promises. I CANNOT and WOULD NOT survive the tragedies that I have been through without my faith and beliefs.
  I'm sorry, but nothing makes me madder than someone trying to force their views on me. If you have not lived my life, or even a portion of it... you have no right to judge me. Besides, I also have the right to teach those who wonder, who are curious, or who need to hear how and what I survived. I am a survivor and I am me... That's it. I'm doing my best.
 If you have read this... "Thank you." If you are judging me harshly... I feel sorry for you and that is because I believe that we learn from each other, if we listen with an open mind. It is hard not to judge... I get that. I struggle with that myself. My hope, and "my" prayer is that this blog reaches someone. I hope it helps someone. I hope that I can teach and encourage anyone who needs it.
  I love you Anthony. Thank you for letting me be your mommy. Thank you for loving Tia the way only you could. Thank you for making me a better person, in every way. You are my love and my life and though you have been gone, for longer than I can imagine, you are never far from my thoughts. Thank you for being mine. I love you. I miss you. I treasure you and all that you taught me. I treasure all the memories that continue to make me strong and very, very happy.
Rest in Peace my love.
- Mommy  

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Giggle For A Monday

I absolutely love, The Farside. It is still one of my most favorite comic series. There is so much seriousness in this life that we have to find ways to laugh. This strip has gotten me through a ton of tough times. I just wanted to share a giggle. Have a great week guys.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Another Big Loss for Our Family

  Our pets are special spirits here on earth and no matter how little or how much time we get with them we are blessed. Vladimir was special even among dogs. However, being a giant breed comes with some difficulties. Most are healthy and strong, but we learned, quite suddenly, that they can develop structural heart problems. His arteries began to dilate, while his veins weakened. His heart began to enlarge and he developed Cardiomyopathy. Ironically, I have the same condition. He simply began to get weak. He was losing balance and then stopped walking all together (over just a couple of days). He simply could not get up. We took him to the vet and then to the Emergency Hospital. I thank God for those wonderful people who devote their time to these wonderful spirits. They took such good care of him, and it was all simply our of our hands. The Cardiologist was out of town, and we had to come to the quick decision about what was best for him. It is easy to be selfish in these cases, but we decided to end his suffering, although the doctor believed he would not make it much longer... even with intervention.  Our neighbor and his family was kind enough to bring two of our children, the ones who needed to come (the others finding it too difficult) up to the hospital. He waited for them, as his body was already beginning to fail. Minutes felt like hours. His heart simply could not sustain his huge body. It was another horrible tragedy for our family.
  I have to tell you though that even though, like our children, we only had him for four short years, we would not give back that time for anything. He was the dearest, sweetest, drooliest, and most loving creature I have ever had the privilege to love. I thank God that he was ours, and will be waiting for us too one day. We love you Vlad always and forever. Rest in Peace big guy! We miss you so much. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Monday, August 28, 2017


Do we listen? Do we know?

Do we listen to those who have come before us? Do we learn from the history that was our ancestors path? Do we thin that we know better than those who have come before us?  Do we think these problems that we face... that stem from human nature... are new? They are not. We are destined to repeat what mistakes we have already made, because we continue to make them... over and over again.  I do and have. It wasn't until I took a good hard look, an analytical look at my mistakes that I began to heal and learn. We are not struggling with new trials, we are not making new mistakes. We have a human nature, with human frailties. We would rather blame others than look at ourselves. It's easier to blame others. But what we don't realize is that blame gets us nowhere.
  We make excuses. We make endless excuses. We don't want to look for the reasons, because that would mean that we would have to look at ourselves. We would have to face our traumas, our bad memories, our trials, and our own guilt.  We can't have that. We use escapisms. Can you think of any. I can think of a few, like alcohol, shopping, the need for branding (nothing is good enough unless it is the greatest, newest and most popular item you can wear, scent yourself with, drive, or show off with).  We create stress. We create images and stylize ourselves. We worship celebrities, musicians, and social media stars. We admire those who are different, or unique, but work like we are driven by devils to become them. We do not work to improve ourselves, to see what it is that we can offer the world. 
  We have those who settle, those who succeed, those who thrive and love themselves, and those who lack the courage to do anything to rock the boat, or find their talents and skills. They don't believe that they can do it, or have the time, or the ability.  Or like me, they've been beat down so many times that we don't believe in ourselves anymore. We are the ones who have the most potential, the most to share, but we are afraid. We have been bullied by family, "friends", bullies, and cruel judgers.  We are the suicidal, depressed, and scared. We don't know what to do, and we are afraid that if we try we will either fail, or not "fit in". It is a horrible, depressing, suffocating state of mind. It is a state of being that makes everything feel impossible.
  I have seen good men and women fall. I have seen clever, talented, loving, creative people die inside and give up. I have seen people born into unbelievable circumstances over come everything to become great... the greatest. I have seen and worn the masks that we all wear. The ones that make it look as if everything okay, when inside your anxiety, hurt, anger, shyness, and lack of self-esteem is ripping us apart. 
  I talk about these things because as my husband has said, I am an observer. However, I am also a survivor, not of just the trials, traumas, sorrows, belittlers, and horrors of my life, but I have also survived all of the side effects of those events, the sorrow, depression, and anxiety. This is not an easy life. This is not a life to be wasted on the superficial. It is too short. My son had only three years and nine months to live it. My daughter only had twenty months to live it. Another of my daughters never took her first breath. Now my husband is struggling with a disease that will eventually take his life as well. He is only forty-six, and he is wasting away. We have no idea how long he has... no one does... but we try to make each day the best that we can. 
  I've lived a life with God as my Father. Then I ran away from Him. I lived a life without Him, long enough to know that there would never be hope again.  It is not the way that I wanted to live. I found my way back into His good graces and I found hope again, love again, and acceptance for the first time. I quickly learned that you cannot attend church for the people. People will fail you. People will wear a different kind of mask. The hearts of "men" will fail them. I had to learn how to go... for me, and for my relationship with God, and what I could learn about Him, me, and my family, and how we could be eternal.  I believe that three of my seven children were taken to teach me to have an eternal perspective.  I have found that I cannot live without hope of an afterlife, an eternal reward without them. I simply cannot! I defy anyone who thinks that they can take that hope from me, because it will not happen! My heart is strong. I may struggle with my communication. I may struggle to keep my temper. I may struggle to see my own worth, but the worth of my children, my husband... no one can change that.  They are a gift to me... from my God.
  Do not think for a second that I would devalue your God, or what your belief system is. I do not know your God, or what you have been through.  I don't devalue anyones experiences, or thoughts, because they are your own. Also, because I know that my heart is an ocean, one that I have not explored fully yet, I can imagine that your heart is an ocean as well.  Two people could have the same exact moment, the same exact experience, and yet they will take from it a unique thought, a unique feeling, and probably a very different memory.  We do not do ourselves justice to judge like we know anything about each other for a fact.
  We all walk around wearing masks, remaining silent, allowing those around us to make their judgements, but never do we realize that others are wearing masks too.  How often do we consider, even for a moment, that others have their own pain, their own reasons, their own insecurities, and our own life lessons. We often look at each other without the least degree of compassion.
  Our skin, our background, our education, our memories, our experiences, our opinions, our ideas, our beliefs, our talents, and our thoughts all make us who we are. After that, we have to decide how we will use all of that information. We cannot presume to know someone, because we have seen them for a moment. We just can't. We are all hiding something. We are all living with some level of insecurity. We are all struggling to make our way on a dark path, because we cannot know our future. We cannot know more than we find out or are told. Ultimately, we have to be fair, forgiving and do our best to survive, learn, grow, and do our best to change into the people we want to be.  We can also teach and encourage others along the way.  We just have to believe that we can do it if we try.  We have to believe that we are worth being the best we can be. We all deserve happiness, peace, and love. My God does not want us to fail. He does not want us to hurt. He does want us to grow. He wants us to do our best. He wants us to find our potential.  However, you have to hurry... we are not promised tomorrow.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Passionate Emotions and Strength

  This is something that I have struggled with my entire life. I have always been emotional, and I have always believed (by design) that it was not an honorable thing to "rock the boat". What I have learned about myself, though, is that I am in possession of a very large heart. I have a heart that loves deeply, feels deeply, and is hurt easily. It is not easy for me to hold it all in. I also had a long hard history of trusting without second thought. I was trusting to the point of gullibility. It was a painful lesson that gave me an extremely thick skin, though anyone who can relate to this problem would understand, I can still be hurt... easily and terribly.
I have recently learned in therapy that people think that the opposite of happiness is anger, but it is not. It is indifference. I feel passionately about those I love. My heart is an ocean deeper and more vast than any made of water. I have more love and passion than I can ever express. There are times when I want to let them loose, but I'm afraid that if I did... I would never be able to contain them again. I would be burned alive by their force. I've learned hard lessons, and because of that I still struggle to show them. I have gone too far the other way now. My emotions still frighten me, but I am learning, and I am praying for help to be able to share that side of myself more easily to those in my family who deserve to receive it. I try to imagine what i could do with such powerful passion, but to be honest... it still scares me. I need to work on that. I am was created by God, and if he made me this way... there must be a purpose to it.
  I have faced tremendous loss, loss of innocence, loss of three of my children, and loss of friendship. Those types of losses can be difficult to overcome and even more difficult to recover from. I have an incredible amount of love. I have an incredible amount of faith. I have an incredible amount of devotion to my family and those I care about, even if they do not return it. I have lived a hard and troubled life and came around to the other side. I am stronger, but I am still afraid of opening my heart completely. Pandora's got nothing on me. Obviously I still have work to do, but a place of compassion and empathy is my home. It saddens me that the world is so cynical. I am saddened by the closed minded attitudes of intolerance and judgement that are wielded like weapons in society.  I pray that I can teach my children to think differently than the rest of the world. I hope that my heart will get the chance to change the lives of those I come into contact with. My heart aches for those who get no compassion in this world, especially from those who are supposed to love you the most... family.  I pray that prayer will continue to change lives through compassion and love.  
So my thoughts... if you are emotional, but believe that you are a good person at heart, despite what others might feel about you, I ask that you figure out what it is about you that makes you worth knowing, and allow your talents, love, and passion shine forth to change the world. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and if you struggle like I do. Keep praying, and get help. Therapy is changing the way I see myself, my thoughts, my experiences, and life's purpose. Live, laugh, love, and don't be ashamed. Find strength in yourself, and let your wings spread and soar. You are a child of God, and he made you knowing what you are capable of. Figure out how to believe in him and yourself and above all... do not let anyone convince you that you are less than.