everyday inspiration

Posts tagged “grief

5 years later.

5 years later I still miss you.

5 years later I want to tell you about how kyle and I are super into vinyls now – old and new, always growing our collection, because I know you’d just love that.

5 years later I still remember the worst phone call of my life and the longest, loneliest flight from arkansas to ohio.

5 years later I hold on to the few months leading up to this day that were full of memories – taking funny pictures while passing out candy at halloween, enjoying a gorgeous fall day tailgating, thanksgiving at home with the family and christmas together before we parted ways, us to vacation in seattle/vancouver and you back to ohio for work.

5 years later I still remember the last text you sent me – making sure we got home from our vacation okay and that you were watching Cash Cab, our favorite, and we’d talk tomorrow.

5 years later I still think of you every time I pass a woodie station wagon or finish a crossword puzzle or hear “classic rock”.

5 years later the holidays are still hard.

5 years later I want to tell you about my new job – about my amazing coworkers and how I’m doing something I love and how I’m happy, because I know you’d be so proud.

5 years later I want you to take me deep sea fishing in key west – because you talked about it all the time and we never got to go.

5 years later I want to sit on our back porch and drink a beer together.

5 years later I want to tell you we saw Ben Bailey from Cash Cab in NYC this summer.

5 years later I want you to know we’re happy, we’re all happy – but that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten you or love you any less.

xo xo
Love, your little darlin’

A Tribute: Wonderful Father, Loving Husband of 40 Years, Loyal Friend aka Donny “Rooster”

3 years later

Three years ago on December 30, my dad passed away.

It was completely unexpected and by far the hardest day of my life. I will never forget the phone call in the stairwell at work, the torturous flight to Ohio and the surreal days following. I can remember everything so clearly, yet it’s also so hazy at the same time.

I’ve written before about the all-consuming nature of grief and the only constant being change. I write today to offer the hope that things get better. That time really does heal wounds.

I know that sounds so cheesy, and you might not believe me. Here’s the thing – it’s true, but it is also still so hard. Three years later and it is still.so.hard.

There are still days where all I can think about is him, and I just want to lay in bed and cry. There are times when I want to call him so badly to tell him about something at work because I know how proud he would be. Or at weddings when I just wish he was there one more time dragging me on to the dance floor.

The memories are everywhere and there was a time when they would only make me sad. I would immediately push back tears and turn my attention to something else.

But something different has been happening lately – I’m learning to smile and rejoice in the memories instead. A month ago, I found this picture of us from New Year’s Eve 2008. I moved it in to our living room and now see it every day. The last two Christmases I wouldn’t have been able to do that. It would have made me too sad or upset every day, but this year it just makes me happy.


Time does heal, but it never happens in your time. It was three years before I could do a tiny thing like moving a picture. I still struggle, especially through the holidays, but it gets better every day. I don’t think it will ever get “easy” per se, but I think over time there will be less tears and more smiles.

And more pictures.

xo xo

M. Davis Diary Entry [June 20, 2015]

Sometimes your heart knows something before your head does.

It tugs and pleads and tries to give you all these clues that something is going on up in that head of yours, but you just don’t realize it yet. You think your heart is crazy and your emotions are going wild for no reason at all. There is no logical reason you should be crying this much at the Gilmore Girls finale you’ve seen 10 times before.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. And as much as I want to think it isn’t affecting me, it is.

This will be the second Father’s Day since my dad passed away. And this one seems harder than the first. Is that weird?

It’s just a made-up day. WHO CARES. Why would I feel any differently on this day than any other day?

Let me tell you when I hate social media – on Father’s Day. It is SO hard seeing everyone post pictures of their dads – throwbacks from when they were little, pics with dad at brunch, pics wishing dad a Happy Father’s Day from afar. It’s just hard to see. And I don’t blame you for posting it. I would be doing the same thing.

This week has been rough. Not for any particular reason, so I thought. I haven’t been sleeping well at night. I’ve been extra tearful. I’ve felt empty and moody and blah. My heart was trying to tell me something that my head hadn’t caught onto yet. I needed to face this. Think about it. WRITE about it, as is my catharsis. I want you guys to know it’s still hard. I want those of you who are also going through this to know I can empathize with you. I really can. It sucks. It really sucks.

Life is just hard. And I know everyone has told us this our whole lives, but there are moments when you really understand that. When something big is going on inside me, I get easily overwhelmed by the little things. Ask husband. I went on a tearful rant today about how it is just too hard to eat healthy, and to stay on an exercise routine, and to save money, and to not be greedy, and to pray more, and to keep the house clean, and to drink less, and to love more. [seriously, it was just like that.] I can’t do it all. And it all seems insurmountable in times like these.

Tomorrow, husband and I are going hiking around the Buffalo River. I’m not going to look at Facebook or Instagram and feel sorry for myself that I don’t have a picture to post. I’m going to focus on the natural beauty that surrounds us. I’m going to pray and reconnect my soul with what it needs. I’m going to soak up the sun, take time to notice the flowers and just breathe.

xo xo

The only constant is change.

My mom is getting re-married in February.

The end of January into February will be a rush – from a golden birthday bash, into a weekend in Vegas with my new sistahs (we’ll get into that), straight into the wedding weekend full of everything wedding, including a big brunch at my house on the wedding day.

But I’m stopping to breathe, think and write about it – my catharsis.

I found out a few months ago, so I’ve had some time to really process. I’ve processed day and night, in tears and in smiles, with friends and in solace.

Y’all know I don’t sugarcoat these things. I haven’t sugarcoated my year and the difficulties I’ve gone through while losing my dad. So I’m not going to sugarcoat this. It took me a while to understand. It took some words of wisdom from wise people, some prayer and a lot of love.

A few thoughts from the small-minded, selfish head of mine:

Why so soon? What’s the rush? What does this mean for me? Who are these new people who will be my family? How am I expected to interact with them? How long will it take until everything feels comfortable and normal? Will it ever feel comfortable and normal? Am I disrespecting my dad? How can I move on? How am I the only one who seems to still be grieving? Why can’t I move on?

But, here are a few things I’ve learned over the last few months (again, thanks to wise people, prayer and a lot of love):

Life is short. We’re meant to love. We’re not just meant to love only once in our life, but potentially more. We just have to open ourselves up to it. Why would I ever stop love and happiness in the life of one of the people I care about the most?

God knows what he’s doing. He purposefully puts people in our lives for very specific reasons. God cares for my mother and know what she needs at this time. Who am I to say that God’s timing is incorrect?

Everyone grieves differently. This one has been such a hard lesson for me to learn. If I’m still crying and upset, I don’t understand why you’re not. If I don’t see or hear you talk about it, I think you don’t care abut it. Not everyone shares their feelings publicly like I do, so I can’t then assume they don’t have feelings.

But, here’s the best news of all – my mom’s fiance and his family are the best possible people I could ever ask for to become family. Seriously. I’m not exaggerating. If I didn’t believe that, I just wouldn’t say anything about them at all. I consider myself beyond lucky – I now have 4 incredible families I get to call mine: the wonderful Appletons, who I spent the majority of my holidays with growing up and will always love dearly; the beautiful McLaughlin/Woodwards, who I’m enjoying getting to know more and more in my adult years; the fabulous Aldermans, who have openly embraced me into their family; and now the Nelsons …

Not only do I now have another great male figure in my life, who is an amazing man of God and gives terrific advice and sermons, I now have sisters – as an only child, something I only DREAMED about when I was young, but knew it could never possibly happen. I’m reminded of the Bible story of Sarah giving birth to Isaac at age 90 – when she heard this was to happen in a year, she laughed because she thought it was impossible, but the Lord said, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

So here we are, almost a month from the wedding. Our families have integrated seamlessly. We’ve had Thanksgiving together and Christmas together. We’ve gone pole dancing together and had incessant group texts together… AND we’re going to Vegas together the weekend before the wedding to celebrate (“the sistahs” – me, mom and the two sisters E + K).

As husband said as we left Christmas dinner, “If you were going to add to your family, these would be the people.”

Thank you, Lord, for providing love and happiness for my mom. Thank you for providing sisters (and their amazing families) who are thrilled to be part of mine and husband’s new life stages (babies… soon! disclaimer: not currently pregnant) to share their advice, hand-me-downs and endless love.

But most importantly, thank you, Lord, for helping me through this constantly changing thing called life.

xo xo

Seasons of Life, Seasons of Love

I’ve literally been wanting to write this post for weeks and just haven’t brought myself to do it. I’ve been nervous. I’ve been nervous about being honest and transparent. I’m not sure why, since I’ve done it multiple times before on this blog – “real talk” – as I like to say, but for some reason I was nervous for this one. Blogging is therapy for me, and I think I’ve just been afraid to let it out. As I’ve heard from some of you, you can relate to my ramblings and appreciate hearing the raw emotion and honesty, so here goes.

The holidays are hard. I mean, they’re always hard – busy at work, busy at home, shopping, decorating, Christmas party-ing, baking – it often just seems never-ending and can be very overwhelming. But this year, it’s even harder, so much harder, because it’s my first holidays without my dad.

First I do want to acknowledge how thankful I am. I’m thankful that I have such great memories of last year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas with my dad. We were living in my parents house at the time, so we got a lot of extra time with him and my mom. One night in particular stands out – the four of us were sitting on the couch the night after Thanksgiving watching Garth Brooks Live from Las Vegas. It was extra special because I’d gotten to meet Garth a month earlier and adored him. We can rarely find something we all want to watch on TV and this was just one of those special moments. We all sat there for 2 hours watching, singing, laughing.

I’m thankful for my mom and for my husband, who have been my rocks this year. I am beyond thankful to have them both in my life and probably don’t tell them enough how much they mean to me.

And I’m so thankful for all the rest of you who have played a huge part in my life this year – my family and friends near and far sharing words of encouragement through texts or over lunches, my beloved community group, my incredible work family, my best friend who is always there to just listen, and of course my puppy who will cuddle away the tears, whether I ask for it or not.

But it’s still hard. It’s so much harder than you could ever imagine. There have been so many times this year I’ve just wanted my dad to be here for the little things (like telling him about eating the best seafood in gulf shores) or the big things (like buying my first car and our first home). He’s missing out on so much, and I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that he will miss out on so much more.

I’m struggling. I’m struggling to move on, especially during a time that has such a big focus on family. I’m struggling to see the bright side and all the many things I have right here, instead of focusing on the one I don’t have.

I’m fragile and I’m broken and I can’t do it alone. I have to admit that to myself, my family and friends, and most importantly to God.

This week, I was reminded of a song that I love – Seasons of Love from Rent. I hear the lyrics and think, How do I want to measure this year? In tears? In strife? Or in love?

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments, oh dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love

Seasons of love
Seasons of love

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand journeys to plan
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned
Or in times that he cried
In bridges he burned or the way that she died

It’s time now, to sing out
Though the story never ends
Let’s celebrate
Remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the love
(Oh, you got to, you got to remember the love)
Remember the love
(You know that love is a gift from up above)
Remember the love
(Share love, give love, spread love)
Measure in love
(Measure, measure your life in love)

Seasons of love
Seasons of love
(Measure your life, measure your life in love)


xo xo

“Before You Heal, You Have to Mourn”

I’ve previously written about grief, and I’ve previously written about my newfound love of NPR. Here, the two collide.

It’s been about 8 months since my dad has passed away. This week there was something in the air. I was overly emotional about everything. I thought I might explode with tears and emotion at any second. My grief came barreling back in to my life, shocking me so much it nearly knocked me off my feet.

But then Friday, a few things happened. Sometimes you hear or see or read things that just grab you, speak to your soul – one of which lately has been Carry On, Warrior that I’ve blogged about multiple times, but Friday it was a segment on NPR.

The segment was called, “A Poet on Losing His Son: ‘Before You Heal, You Have to Mourn.'” You can listen to the full 7-minute segment here (or read the transcript). Below I share some of my favorite parts of the interview, words I can relate to so well.

I don’t like the whole language of healing, which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America, everyone begins talking about healing. But before you heal, you have to mourn. And I found that poetry doesn’t shield you from grief, but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it, seemed like something I could do. And it gave me something to do with my grief.

There is no right way to grieve, and you have to let people grieve in the way that they can. One of the things that happens to everyone who is grief-stricken, who has lost someone, is there comes a time when everyone else just wants you to get over it, but of course you don’t get over it. You get stronger; you try and live on; you endure; you change; but you don’t get over it. You carry it with you.

Excerpt from Gabriel – Edward Hirsch’s book

I did not know the work of mourning
Is like carrying a bag of cement
Up a mountain at night

The mountaintop is not in sight
Because there is no mountaintop
Poor Sisyphus grief

I did not know I would struggle
Through a ragged underbrush
Without an upward path

Because there is no path
There is only a blunt rock
With a river to fall into

And Time with its medieval chambers
Time with its jagged edges
And blunt instruments

I did not know the work of mourning
Is a labor in the dark
We carry inside ourselves

I’ve never been big into poetry, but I thought this was so beautiful and raw and emotional. You might think this would make me feel more grief-stricken, but it’s more so comforting. It’s always encouraging to hear others who seem to understand exactly what you’re feeling and can put it into words better than you can. I’m not alone in my emotion.

Friday continued with a few other encouraging things – a perfectly-timed devotional, an eye-opening talk with a friend and some absolutely wonderful news at the end of the day that made me cry tears of joy. After a painful week, God knew exactly what I needed to continue the healing process. He is so good and so faithful and so loving.

So, happy weekend friends. I still feel very reflective this rainy, Saturday morning, but I also feel just a little stronger.

Carry on, warrior
xo xo

Carry On, Warrior

It’s not often you find a book you relate to so well that you vow to re-read it every year before you’ve even finished it.

Thanks to my wonderful friend Nicky, I was introduced to Glennon Doyle Melton, her blog momastery.com and her book Carry On, Warrior. I honestly don’t even have the words to express how much I love this book. Its heartwarming, its hilarious, its smart, its inspirational. As Nicky described it before I started reading – “Its part auto-biography, part beautiful essays, all about life and Jesus and being a human.” Pretty perfect description.

What’s interesting about this book is that I could see how one could read it at different times in their life and learn different lessons each time. There are a lot of chapters about being a parent, of which I’m not currently, but when I am, I’m sure I’ll go back and read it and relate so much more.

As I’m about halfway through the book, I’ve already bookmarked several pages of her words that have been so inspirational and fitting for the time of life I’m currently in, struggling through death and grief.

On helping her sister deal with a tragic situation: “I learned that in these disasters, all we can do is tell them that their grief is real, and if it lasts forever, then we will grieve with them forever. As far as I was able to tell during those two years, there was nothing else worth saying. It was not going to be all right, ever. Everything doesn’t happen for a decent reason. I couldn’t do anything at all except feed her, hold her when she cried, pray angry prayers, keep showing up and know that time, and my home and presence would offer healing.”

To her son, on the death of their fish: “When he asked me, ‘Why Mom? Why does God send us here, where things hurt so much? Why does he make us love things He knows we’re going to lose?’ I told him that we don’t love people and animals because we will have them forever; we love them because loving them changes us, makes us better, healthier, kinder, realer. Loving people and animals makes us stronger in the right ways and weaker in the right ways. Even if animals and people leave, even if they die, they leave us better. So we keep loving even though we might lose, because loving teaches us and changes us. And that’s what we’re here to do. God sends us here to learn how to be better lovers, and to learn how to be loved, so we’ll be better prepared for Heaven.”

Y’all. I just had to share those passages. When I read the first one, I literally just started crying because she’s SO right. I don’t want people to know that just so they can understand what I’m going through, but I want to know that and remember it for when I’m helping others through their grief. Then the second passage – whether it’s a 6-year-old struggling with the death of his fish, or a 25-year-old struggling with the death of her dad, we all ask the same questions and her answer gave me HOPE.

Now is the part where I tell all of you to stop what you’re doing and go buy this book right now. I want to buy a billion copies and give them to everyone I know. And even if you don’t, I’m sure I’ll be writing at least one more blog post about what I’ve read, but in the mean time,

Carry On, Warrior
xo xo

I’m doing okay.

Remember that post I wrote about two months ago? Where I led with, “You want real, here’s real: I’m not okay.” Well, it’s two months later and I’m doing okay.

Guess what, friends, time works. Time heals. Not all, but it heals. It’s a Friday night. I’m laying in bed writing this after a great evening at home – taking Olli on a walk, cooking dinner barefoot in the kitchen (which Mom thinks means I’m pregnant … but I’m not) and relaxing with some favorite shows.

I’m trying so hard to be thankful every day for things in my life. I’m trying so hard to work through my grief. I’m trying so hard to praise God in all circumstances. It’s still hard, but I’ve definitely made progress.

I’m not here to sugar coat it and tell you it’s not all gone. Lord knows it’s not. I still feel a little hollow inside. I still feel sadder than I use to, lonelier than I use to, more reflective than I use to.

There’s still bad days. Days when all I want to do is cry. But those days are getting fewer and farther between. The perplexing part though is, I’m not sure if that’s what I want. I’m not sure if I want to be okay. It makes it feel more real and it makes it feel like I’m forgetting him. So some days I hold tight to my grief, letting it bury me because I don’t want it to go away.

I need to learn how to hold on to it and let it go at the same time. That’s where I am. Caught in the divide. I can see the light though. I can see the Lord pulling me in the right direction. He’s been so evident lately, putting specific people in my life at certain times to talk about certain things. I just love that. Love that I have someone looking out for me like that.

It’s getting better, friends, and I have all of you to thank as well for your continual love.

As Henry David Thoreau says, “Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”

xo xo

Life, it’s hard.

You want real? Here’s real: I’m not okay.

This situation has been more difficult than I could have ever imagined, and I’m tired of telling everyone I’m doing fine. I mean, I am doing fine, but I’m also not doing fine. Do you understand? If you do, please let me in, because I don’t understand. My thoughts, feelings, tears, emotions have been so scattered the past few weeks I honestly don’t know what I’m feeling. So often I feel numb – numb to the pain, numb to the world then all of a sudden I’m the opposite of numb (sensitive?) and I can feel everything all at once. All emotions come rushing to me. The tears don’t stop. The memories don’t stop. I can’t do anything.

I went back to work at the beginning of the week. I was so anxious about starting back, but it’s really been pretty good. I’ve enjoyed getting back into work and into a semi-normal routine. Everyone has been great, but someone shared a piece of advice that has stuck with me – Don’t just throw yourself into work. It will only elongate the healing process.

I’m honestly at a point right now where I can’t even imagine not feeling sad. I know it will happen, but it seems like such a foreign concept. When will I ever not be sad that I don’t get to see or talk to my dad again? When will that ever seem normal?

But life goes on. It’s amazing that it does, when everything around you seems to be crumbling and changing. But if I had any doubt in my mind, I look at Facebook or Instagram and it definitely goes on.

I love you all, and I don’t want you to read this and pity me. I just needed an outlet to be real. To be raw. If anything, just pray for me. If there’s been anything that’s given me peace and hope and strength through all of this, it’s been my faith. I honestly don’t know how people do it who don’t believe in our Lord Jesus Christ.

To end, I want to share with you my devotional from today. I pray it gives you hope in your life and your situation as it did for me today.

My face is shining upon you, beaming out peace that transcends understanding. You are surrounded by a sea of problems, but you are face-to-face with Me, your Peace. As long as you focus on Me, you are safe. If you gaze too long at the myriad of problems around you, you will sink under the weight of your burdens. When you start to sink, simply call out, “Help me, Jesus!” and I will lift you up.

The closer you live to Me, the safer you are. Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance. Fix your eyes on Me, the One  who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to proportions of My design. I am always beside you, helping you face today’s waves. The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future! Stay close to me.

xo xo