Hi Grandma

We got news this afternoon. Really big news to us. I wanted to call my Mom but couldn’t. For a minute, it felt like there is no one else in the world but Adam and I. That we are all alone. This isn’t true, of course but it felt like it. My siblings and I have had had this ongoing text thread between the four of us since my Mom’s death. I did the only thing I knew to do and hopped on it and shared our news with them. There’s this weird underlying desire to share this with my Father but I’m not going to. He hasn’t earned that right in my life. He can’t replace my Mom. He can’t even come close. No one can.

We sold our Mom’s car today. I hate it. I hate it. It simply shouldn’t be. She should still be driving it. I found my baby book earlier this week and my Mom’s drivers license from 1989. I don’t know how we go about this. How we literally sort through her life’s belongings. I hate it. I hate it.

I started reading a Christian book about grief. A basic timeline of grief was referenced. They say (and I have heard/read this elsewhere) that between 6-9 months is when things really amp up and feel worse. How can it feel any worse than now, I’ll never know….or, I guess I will (in about 5 months). It also said that when you lose a loved one unexpectedly it increases the average time of grieving from 2-3 years. Three years? How in the world will we make it through?

Oh, and I just heard Lainey in the other room with her toy telephone talking to Grandma (Hi Grandma!). So, there’s that.

The news you may ask? It isn’t even relevant in the grand scheme of things. My Mama is gone. That is the only thing that is relevant. Our offer on an amazing home was accepted-that’s all it was.

Seriously, three years?

Lainey signs to Grandma one last time.

Who do we call now?

She was always there. She was the one that always answered her phone. She always responded to your text message. I guess you could say she was the one person in my life (aside from Adam) that I could rely on answering her phone at any time. Sometimes late at night when I couldn’t sleep I could message her through skype to see if she was awake, too. She often was and we would just message one another back and forth until I was sleepy. She was the first one I wanted to call whenever something (good or bad) happened. She was the first to know about each of our babies, including Lainey.

Grandma and Lainey skyping for the first time

I think my siblings would agree that she was definitely our biggest cheerleader. It didn’t matter if we were wrong or right as in her eyes we were always right. We were her babies.

If you could look up a definition for MY Mother, it would simply say ‘strong’. Nothing ever came easy for her. She was essentially a single Mom to all of us, often working multiple jobs to care for us. Things at home weren’t always great. Life was often unkind to her. Her marriage to our Father was rough in every sense of the word. She was ever so faithful, however and didn’t give up on him easily.

She met her second Husband, Larry, five years ago and essentially began a new life. A life of security, kindness and love. A life where she was the center of his world. He would do anything for her and he did. Life was unkind again and took him from her last year. He fought so hard to stay with her and his passing was painful.

She was alone again. She spent the past 14 months deciding what to do next. Where to go. Who to live near. She was 67 years old and forced to start over once again. She packed her entire life into boxes, put it in storage and hit the road. She traveled a lot this past year. In fact, in the 6 weeks before her passing she drove almost 10,000 miles. She visited friends and family members all over the country. She went to the town in Illinois where she grew up. Each day, my siblings and I would get a picture of a state sign on the side of some interstate somewhere which was our clue to where our Mother currently was. Being alone didn’t phase her. She was strong.

On becoming a motherless daughter

It is always worse at night. The house is quiet, Lainey is sleeping and my mind explodes. It’s been 44 days now that I have been motherless and it feels like only 44 minutes. It feels like my sister-in-law just woke us up by pounding on the door that night. Adam was at the front door before I was and I heard her say it. ‘Cheryl is dead’. I fell to my knees right there in the kitchen. Nothing has been the same since. The reality is that she had been long gone by then. We had been without our Mama for 13 hours already and didn’t.even.know.it. How can that be? How can you not know the instant that part of you is gone? They said it was instant. Painless. I am thankful for this but horrified that she was alone. My Mother died alone. She died over my lunch hour. I ate lunch like nothing was happening, when the reality was completely opposite of that. How can that be? Adam, Lainey and I went out to dinner that night at a mexican restaurant that Lainey and I ate at with Grandma just the week before. I wish I was with her instead. I wish my brother wasn’t the one to find her. We turn the ringer on our cell phones down at night. We didn’t hear his call. We weren’t there for him. We didn’t answer. The weeping was instant and hasn’t stopped since. The next day my eyes burned from having cried for so long. The skin on my forehead was tender and felt bruised-perhaps because my face was in a different position for so many hours while crying.

This is all I can write now. When we lost our babies, I wrote because it helped me to feel better. I’m hoping this will do the same. I have so much sadness trapped inside that if perhaps I get it out somehow, the weeping will stop.

our winter wonderland

Hold on tight because there are a lot of pictures with a few words smashed in between coming your way!

This has been the heaviest winter in the Flathead Valley (where we live is a valley tucked among the mountains) in the past 15 years. Leave it to us to not only move in the dead of winter but to choose this winter of all winters. No worries though as things went fairly smoothly. The semi did very well, thanks to its EXPERT driver of course. The Uhaul got stuck only once, nothing that couldn’t be handled by a tow truck! We essentially had our very own football team (okay, the defensive line) to unload us so things moved quickly which was good because it was VERY cold.

We are renting a small home in Kalispell. We call it our submarine as the hallways are narrow and we are always bumping into one another. It is (a lot) smaller than our home in Cozad. Many of our things are in storage. But, this home is clean, updated and in an awesome neighborhood that is quiet. The yard is huge and fenced in and the owners are fabulous. An added bonus….we can have our dog and cat AND it is a month-to-month lease. Why is this important? We are looking for a small piece of land or a new home in a very specific school district which is prooving to be much more difficult than we thought. There are a bunch of little lots you can buy to build on in this district but they are so teeny tiny that you can see what your neighbors are having for dinner! #notforus We don’t need ten acres but we do need some elbow room. So, we wait. And, wait. The real estate market here is wild. We will likely have to pay at least twice what we were in Nebraska for that size home. Needless to say, we will need to get creative financially to meet our needs. Living here is completely worth it, though.

Adam continues to work from home and is doing well. When we bought the sign business we were hoping it would last until Lainey goes to kindergarten. He is the go-to parent, for sure. If she is sick, he stays home with her. He drops her off and picks her up from daycare. He works from home so he can be available, which he is.

Parade watching!

My job is 100% different. My career has changed. I mean, I’m still in medicine. My mother would say that if it was 100% changed I would be something like a veterinarian so as I am still in medicine, I can’t say 100%. But it is different for sure. I am no longer in family practice and to say it has been easy would be dishonest. There have been some very difficult days. Some day when I feel up to it I will write about how I came to changing career paths. I believe I am where God put me.  I know that God led Adam and I through all of the ginormous decisions that led to this move to Montana. This is what I remind myself during the difficult times. I am a constant work in progress for Him. As I said, I’ll write more someday when I feel up to it about what I am doing and how we came to the decision to go down this road. The one thing that is definite is that I miss the girls that I worked with in Cozad immensely. I cannot put into words how much. When I left they gave me a gift and a card. I miss them so much that I have been unable to open the card. I go to open it and start crying, so leave it for another day. These were the women that were there for me during my darkest days and they were there on the best day of my life. They witnessed the miracle of Lainey Noelle Carter unfold. Cozad, Nebraska is a place of magic to us. We will forever treasure our time there and the gift of life we were given.

Her times of sleeping with her bottom in the air are sadly coming to an end!

Lainey is our life. She is beautiful. And busy. So busy. The move itself was very hard for her. I packed her room last….like not until two days before we loaded the semi. But, still just the house being in constant chaos and disarray had her upset I believe. She wasn’t napping and she was hitting Adam and I. Lainey and I flew to Montana and she did awesome. My little brother picked us up and she gave her Uncle Jesse a great big hug! Her favorite, however is Aunt Linden and she gets super excited to see her cousin Colt (like put your hands on your cheeks and scream with excitement excited!). She loves to give Baby Jase his sucky (even if he doesn’t want it) and loves to slide and swing, snow pants, boots and all. She has been quite sick since the move, having pneumonia and then bronchiolitis and then an ear infection. She saw an ENT who recommends we remove her tonsils. Her new pediatrician is great. Please pray for her health and for wisdom for Adam and I as we make the decision as to when to move forward with her tonsillectomy. We aren’t quite sure yet how we feel about her new daycare/preschool. Daycare here costs twice that in Nebraska. We were very spoiled in Nebraska where she went to an in-home daycare. She essentially had a second mama that we trusted with everything. Here she goes to an actual daycare center. For the most part they seem caring and she rarely cries when we drop her off now, thank goodness. It is hard because many days we feel a deep, deep guilt when pulling out of the parking lot. She is only this age once! We want her happy and thriving! We are on the waiting list for two other daycares that will likely have a spot open for her this summer. We pray for the wisdom to choose between those two or the one that she is in by then. 

The last thing I want to mention is something I am sure most of you are well aware of! I am now a distributor for Senegence. I am not a full-faced makeup girl. Never have been and likely never will be…..but, I am finding out that there is something about putting on some lipstick that seems to make me feel pretty! And, lets face it, an exhausted mama of a toddler needs all the help she can get! I really am in love with LipSense…like full on have a crush on it! That is all I’m going to go into but if you want to know more, please message me or check it out:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MontanaLipsandMore/

Lastly, I leave you with Lainey doing “prayer hands” at the dinner table…