As we travel through the different seasons of our lives, we experience “firsts” and “lasts” often and sometimes even simultaneously. My goal as a woman and as a mother is to try to treasure and find joy in as many of them as I am able to. As a mom, I have been blessed to witness lately an incredible first of my Kylee’s and some bittersweet lasts of my MiKayla’s.
Kylee has had such an exciting first! Kylee has had the wonderful opportunity of being on the track team of her university and just recently broke the university record for weight throw while competing at a track meet in Alabama. Kylee is currently a junior at her university and is in her third year of their program.
Kylee’s track career was brief while she was in junior high and high school. Kylee threw shot and discus for one year in junior high, and she did very well. Kylee’s dad was able to watch her throw for that year in junior high. We would laugh as he would stand and watch her compete and would tell her to grunt loudly as she threw. He would grunt loudly as he watched her as if he was helping her. He was so proud of his first girl for so many reasons. Tragically, my husband died in a work related accident in August 2011 and was unable to see Kylee’s future accomplishments. This is such a part of grief… wishing that our loved ones were still able to be a part of life’s moments. This is definitely a part of Kylee’s grief… wishing her dad was there to cheer her on and see all of the amazing things that she continues to do in her life. She also wishes that her big brother was there as well. My only son PK was killed in a car accident instantly at the age of 18 in June 2013 just 22 months after we had lost Kirk.
Kylee played traveling basketball in the spring seasons after that season of junior high track and did not compete in track again until her senior year of high school. It was exciting to watch Kylee throw discus and shot again, and MiKayla and I were so happy for her when she qualified for the state track meet. Kylee placed fifth in the state for discus. It was awesome!! It was such an exciting time to cheer Kylee on. When Kylee received a scholarship for track for the university that she would be attending then we were thrilled for her. I remember a funny conversation with Kylee before she left for her university. Kylee was telling me that she thought she would like to just throw discus at the college level and not shot as shot was not something she enjoyed very much. I remember laughing and saying to her, “Kylee, you will be doing whatever your track coaches say, and my guess is you will be throwing shot as well.” She was not happy with my response, but I definitely felt that it was important to prepare her for that likelihood. I still remember when Kylee called me from her university after some time with the track coaches, and she shared that not only would she be throwing discus and shot but the hammer and the weight as well. I have to confess that I went online and looked up the hammer and weight throw as I had no idea what she was referring to.
It has been such a joy to watch Kylee grow and learn in her track program. As her mom, I was really happy for her that she was going to be able to continue to be on a team. I was concerned for my daughter having to journey out on her own after all of the grief that the three of us had been experiencing and trying to work through. We had been traveling through so many heartbreaking and difficult changes that when I thought of Kylee being on the track team at the university then I was so very thankful. Kylee had been on teams since she was in fourth grade, and I felt that this would be something that she knew and loved and would help her in her transition to university life. Kylee has had to endure so many painful changes that I was truly thankful that this was something that she would not have to change- she could still be a part of a team. She has done so well with her coaches, and her track team members are some of her closest friends. I thank God for this opportunity for her and truly believe that it has been a gift for her in many ways as she transitioned to university life and continues to grow and heal.
Kylee has grown to love the weight and hammer throw more than the discus now which was previously her favorite. She had never thrown either before but is truly thriving in each competition. Last year, Kylee shared with her sister and I that she had a goal of breaking the university record in weight. I was so proud of her for setting this goal and for going for it. As a sophomore, she was truly getting so close to the record in her meets, and at practice she would throw past the record distance. This year she started out with a bang and broke her university record at her second indoor meet of the season in Alabama.
What a true blessing that it is as a mom to have the opportunity to watch Kylee set goals and meet them. She is a true example of being resilient as I shared in my blog last week. I am thankful for her each day and the hard work, effort, and determination that I see in this incredible young woman! Yesterday at her indoor meet in Houston, she beat her own record and increased her distance in the weight throw!! Congrats to my Kylee girl on this incredible first that you have accomplished!! I am so proud of you. I thank God for you every day. I love you with my whole heart.
Last night was MiKayla’s senior night. Her last home game in basketball. After 10 years of cheering on my children on that basketball court, that was the last time that one of my children would play on it. WOW. So bittersweet. When I was talking to someone last night then they asked me how could there be a sweet part. The sweet part is this… as a mother who had to bury her only son, I am so thankful for each moment and opportunity that my two daughters have. PK died before his senior year and did not get to experience his senior year. During Kylee’s senior year and now MiKayla’s, I truly thank God for each moment that they have. I celebrate each one. I am so thankful for each moment that we have had. Even though my eyes were welling up with tears multiple times last night and continuing on this morning, my heart is still thanking God for each game and each moment that she had on that court.
It has been such a joy to watch MiKayla play basketball. She started in the fourth grade and had three years in elementary school on her school team. Her dad was able to watch her 4th and 5th grade years and loved watching MiKayla play. Her big brother PK also was able to watch her play in 6th and 7th grade seasons. This is part of MiKayla’s grief… wishing that her dad and big brother would have been able to see so many more of her games and of her life. Kylee and I have been so thankful to be able to cheer her on and to witness all that she has done on the court! What a great journey that we have had with her.
I remember when MiKayla was in 6th grade, and my sister was with me at MiKayla’s games. She would laugh as I would yell out to MiKayla, “Steal it MiKayla” and we would have so much fun watching her steal it again and again. MiKayla had so much fun playing on her school team and with her friends. One of my funniest memories on that team was when MiKayla’s best friend Olivia got warned that she would get a technical next. I still burst out laughing at this memory and of the vision I have of Olivia’s face. Olivia was the sweetest girl and was not doing anything deserving of a technical foul. Poor Olivia! I think I laughed through that entire game.
MiKayla was excited to join her new team as a 7th grader at the big junior high! She had a wonderful season and loved it and did so well. In June after her 7th grade year was when her big brother was killed. I remember the first week of 8th grade when MiKayla told me that she should quit basketball. As her mom, I was convinced that the reason that she wanted to quit was because of the pain that she experienced when she stepped out on that court. She had watched and cheered on her big bro PK on that very court for 5 years. The pain she was experiencing felt so overwhelming that my hurting baby girl just did not know how to handle it. As her mother, I sure wished with all my heart that she did not have to. However, as her mother, I also had watched her play for four years in the sport and knew that she loved it and did so well in it. I asked her to stay in that season. I told her that we were in such pain that it was not a good time to be making big choices. I also believed that it would be good for her to remain on that team and to still participate in the sport that she had truly loved.
After that time, MiKayla never discussed quitting again. She learned how to live and play with the pain of missing her big bro and to still be able to go out on to that court and to do her best. What an incredible journey that it has been, and I am thankful that it is not over yet as we enter tourney season this next week. One of our true highlights was watching MiKayla’s basketball team win the state championship last year. What an incredible journey that season was last year and what a special group of girls that MiKayla got to travel it with!! As much as we grieved not having her dad and big bro there with us during that season and ending with the state championship, we could still find so many things to be thankful for! We were truly thankful for each one who was journeying with us and for each lesson learned.
MiKayla is a true example of being resilient as I shared in my blog last week. I am thankful for her each day and the effort, joy, and determination that I see in this incredible young woman! Congrats to my baby girl on doing so awesome in basketball!! I am so proud of you. I thank God for you every day. I love you with my whole heart.
MiKayla and I are experiencing a lot of “lasts” this year as she finishes her senior year and prepares to start college in 6 months. As I was with Kylee, I am so thankful that MiKayla is experiencing her senior year. I went through PK’s senior year without him which broke my heart. I went to what should have been his senior football games and he was not there. I went to what should have been his senior basketball games and he was not there. I went to what should have been his high school graduation and he was not there. Instead, I spent what should have been his high school graduation staring at an empty chair that had flowers on signifying his spot. I miss him with all of my heart. On Thursday, I was asked by someone that I knew, “do you still miss PK as much?” It so difficult to explain… parents, think about how much you love your children and you understand that love for them will not change. EVER. I still love PK with all of me and miss him with all of me… I have just had to learn and am continuing to learn how to live with the pain of his loss. I am ever thankful for each moment that I had with him but my heart will never stop wishing that he was still with me.
As I reflect this morning on the incredible first for my Kylee girl and for the bittersweet lasts that I am experiencing with my MiKayla, I can truly say Thank you God for each one. I praise you God for my three incredible children, and I thank You for each moment that I have had with them and for all of the moments that I still look forward to with them. I will find joy and gratitude in all of it. As Dr Seuss 🙂 said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I disagree with Dr. Seuss on the crying part as I believe we should cry whenever we need to and detox emotionally 🙂 However, I am most definitely smiling because these moments with my children have happened and am ever grateful.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” Melody Beattie