I love fall. It is by far one of my favorite seasons with it’s beautiful colored leaves, and crisp, cooler temperatures that bring out the sweaters, boots, and hoodies! I am a huge football fan, and it is so fun that football comes in one of my favorite seasons. The girls and I have been traveling through many seasons through these past years. August 2011 was when my husband was killed in a work related accident, and June 2013 was when my only son died instantly in a car accident at the age of 18. There have been many seasons on our grief journey, and the girls and I are continuing to pursue healing, hope, faith, and lots of love and peace.
Recently, the girls and I were able to travel to cheer on my favorite college football team… BAMA!! I love each time that I am able to cheer them on in person! I love the stadium full of people cheering and battling it out for the victory. The girls and I have made it a priority to travel and see some college football each fall. I love that my girls love to adventure with their mom. Neither has their own college football team, but Kylee is a serious Patriots fan. PK was a gators fan, and he and I loved battling between my BAMA and his gators. He would not be impressed to see how well we have done since he has been gone, but I sure had a blast teasing him while he was alive. PK also loved the saints. I am with PK as a Saints fan and will always cheer them on for the both of us.
One of my most fun surprises with my son was taking him to a Gators game. He had no idea we were going to cheer on his team. We had been in Orlando, and I told the kids that we were going to drive and watch scenery and stop and have a picnic. PK had his head in his phone the entire drive. He was completely oblivious to all of the Gator fan vehicles that either we were passing or they were passing us. They were covered in Gators flags and stickers. The girls and I were laughing all the way. While he was distracted on his phone, the girls and I had even changed shirts and had put on Gator gear ourselves. PK still did not notice. As we neared the stadium and PK realized where we were going, then his whole face lit up. “No Way,” he begin yelling! I don’t know who was more excited. PK was thrilled to get to cheer his team on in person, and I was beyond thrilled to have pulled off this great surprise.
As a family, we had a blast at that game. Kirk loved being at the “swamp” as well. I look back at this memory with so much joy! It was such a wonderful time. After Kirk died, we were able to go cheer on the Saints in New Orleans with my sister-in-law’s Liz’s uncle Bernard. Cheering on the Saints with Uncle Bernard was another memory that I will not forget. My sister went with us, and we headed to New Orleans after PK finished a basketball tourney. Tyree and Liz and family met us at New Orleans, and we were able to spend some time with them pregame. When we got to the game then we truly had a blast cheering on our Saints! I look back again at this memory with so much joy and gratitude. I hope that each of you who are parents or who become parents seize those opportunities to make the best memories with your kids!! It does not have to be football games as that is just one of our family loves. Just spend time with your kids making as many memories as you are able to. You will not regret it.
I am happy to report this fall that both of my teams have been doing great! I know that many of you are not interested in how BAMA or the Saints are doing, but I just thought I would let you know. 🙂 Each of these last four years when I have been at college football games, then I have sat in the stands of a few of the places that my son was looking at playing at and have been filled with emotions. My heart has felt many things.PK loved football so much and wanted to play college ball. I wish that he would have had that season of his life as well. I am thankful for each moment that I had with him, but that gratitude does not decrease my longing for my son to still be here with all of the vibrancy of life that was within him. I so wish that I would have been able to watch my son experience college and that he would still be here with me. He should have graduated from college this past spring just as his friends have and moved on to his next season of life. I feel lost in my wonderings now after five years since his death. I have no idea what profession my son would have chosen or where he would have ended up. That “lost” feeling is so sad to me. This longing and wishing is a natural part of the grief journey that travels with me that I experience in all sorts of ways. Despite of all of my feelings at college football games, I have remained determined to carry on our football traditions with the girls and to still find joy in our times together at football games. This is one of my loves of fall.
The girls and I had the opportunity to celebrate with some dear family friends at a wedding this past Saturday. It was a beautiful ceremony, and it was special for the three of us as both families of the bride and the groom are loved by all three of us. The bride has been a dear friend to Kylee through the years and has one of the sweetest personalities ever. MiKayla and I love her too!! Her dear mom has been a beloved junior high English teacher for all three of my kids. PK was in her class first being he was the oldest, and he adored her. Even after he was not in her class anymore then he still managed to visit her daily and get some candy from one of her. 🙂 Both Kylee and MiKayla love her so much, and we are ever thankful for the positive, loving influence that she has had on all three of my children. They have a puppy from our first litter of puppies and named him Kirk. We had no doubt that our puppy would be extremely loved in their home, and we were just thrilled when they got a puppy from us! Kirk is having a wonderful life with his family, and the bride’s dad showed Kylee many pictures of him while we were at the reception.
The groom’s family is very special to our family as well! The groom was a role model to my PK and was so good to him and even more so after PK lost his dad. The best man, the groom’s brother, was a classmate of Kylee’s beginning with the third grade, and they truly grew up together and are good friends. I also had the blessing of getting to know him through the years and am very excited to see how awesome he does as he begins his next adventures as he graduates from college this year and starts his new season in North Carolina! The groom’s family’s beautiful daughter is also so special to us. She was on teams with both of my girl as her grade was in the middle of my two daughters. She is smart, loving, and so much fun, and she is doing awesome in college as well. The groom’s parents are dear family friends that the girls and I think the world of.
I have now also had the blessing of getting to know the groom’s aunt. This dear lady is the one who lost her husband just a year ago. She is the one who I quoted who told me that she did not just want to survive but that she wanted to thrive. When she and her husband were living in California and had been married for many years, then her husband went on a bike ride and was killed in a hit and run. She loves and misses him so much. I am convinced that anyone who meets her would adore her just as I do. I was so excited that the girls were able to meet her this last Saturday at the wedding. She, in the midst of her pain, has a tremendous joy and zest for life. I cannot tell you how happy I was to see her out on the dance floor laughing and celebrating with her dear sister and family. I love her.
The girls and I loved the wedding. The girls are at a season in their lives where they love going to weddings. There are challenges for them at weddings in spite of the love that they have for them. When the bride is walked down the aisle by her dad, I watch my girls and know that it hurts their hearts so much that their dad will never be able to walk them down the aisle at their own weddings some day. They love and miss him so very much. After the wedding, when it was time for the father-daughter dance, then the girls and I were sitting at a table together that was right next to the dance floor. We glanced at the beautiful bride with her dad, and almost simultaneously both of my daughters got up to go and grab some appetizers etc. during that time. I went with my daughters. Grief accompanies us wherever we go. My daughters could have not been happier to be at the wedding and to be celebrating the bride and groom and their families as we love them all tremendously. However, the loss still travels with us as my daughters both would love to have their daddy at their own wedding some day.
My heart was experiencing it’s own grief not only in knowing of my daughters’ grief but also at the time for the mother-son dance. More and more of PK’s friends have gotten married or are engaged. I am completely thrilled and so happy for each one. I want all of them to find happiness and a wonderful partner to travel life’s journeys with who adores each of them. However, my loss is felt deeply as I so wish that I would have been able to experience all of these moments with my son. I would have loved to have watched him get married and to start his own family. My heart will always long for those life experiences that I wished that I had with my son. I watched the mother-son dance with tears in my eyes. I felt much joy for this family that I love and much longing and sadness for those moments that I will not have with my son. This is part of the grief journey. Longing for all that we thought was still to come. My heart is filled with so much gratitude for each moment that I had with my boy, but oh, how I long for so much more. I miss him with every part of me.
On our grief journeys, I think the girls and I are not “surprised” anymore at how we can be in a moment and how the grief and loss suddenly remind us that they are right there with us. I am thankful that we continue to learn how to thrive and not just survive along the way. I am thankful that as a family that we can go and celebrate other family’s moments of celebration and have pure joy and excitement for what is happening in their lives. I am thankful that when grief continues to travel with us that we are able to be there with each other and help each other through those moments when our losses are felt so deeply. We are ever thankful for each of you that continue to pray for us and journey with us.
“Grief is not a disorder, a disease, or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical, and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love…” Earl Grollman
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