Hey there! I am beyond blessed to be the wife of Mark Andrew and the stay-at-home-mommy of Quinn and Morgan! I love to decorate, create things, and generally make life more beautiful! Come join me, and let's see what we can make today!

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Moving Forward

It has been several weeks since I have been on here.  It's not that I just took a break for the holidays, or that I didn't have any projects to share.  I actually had five posts that I wanted to share with you, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  Why?  Well, the answer is a bit long, sad, and random, but it is the truth.

I am very intentional about the words I choose--in real life AND on my blog.  This has not always been the case, but over the last few years, I have learned that my words can hurt or help, and I need to be mindful of EVERYTHING that comes of out my mouth (or heart, in this case!).  So, for me, part of being intentional with my words means not talking just to talk.  (If you know me in real life, you know I talk.  A lot.  A LOT A LOT!) While I don't always get it right, my blog is a great place to practice saying what I really mean.  I can't just say something on here.  I need to think about it, type it, edit it, etc.  

All that to say, I have sat down several times over the last few weeks, and the message that has been on my heart has not been one that I have wanted to share.  Because there was something in my heart that I was trying to hold back, I was unable to share the projects that I wanted to.  They just felt false, and silly, really.  I have not been ready to write this post, but I am ready today.  I don't know if, in writing this, someone else will benefit or if it will just be me.  Either way, I am writing it.  

I miss my mom.  She died when I was 10.  I will be 33 in a couple of weeks.  It's not like this was my first Christmas without her.  So I was totally blindsided by the unbelievable grief that I felt this season.  

My mom loved Christmas.  She went all out with decorations.  I remember stringing cranberries and popcorn garlands with her.  Five pieces of popcorn and one cranberry.  Five pieces of popcorn and one cranberry.  

I love Christmas, and I go crazy with decorations. (So does my MIL, which is so fun!)  I even have a number of my mom's vintage Santa's that I decorate with.  It reminds me of Christmases past, and I really enjoy the decorating process.  This year I bought cranberries to string with my kids.  I couldn't do it though.  I just let them sit in a bowl and rot.  Then I bought more and those rotted too.  Ugh.  

Why, after 22 years, is this year so hard?  Well, I think I know why, but it doesn't make it any easier.  

Last year, a very dear family friend died on New Year's Eve.  We didn't think she would make it to Christmas.  Every day was a horrible waiting game.  This year, I was very aware of each day leading up to the anniversary of her death, and I was sad.  Really sad.

Also, I always associate Christmas with a time for family's to come together, even if just for the day, and get along.  My family history is interesting to say the least, and the holidays don't mean a time of reconciliation.  It wasn't a surprise to me, but it was still sad.

Deep breath.  Now for the hardest part.  My children are very aware that my mom died when I was a child.  They talk about their "Grandma Jill" a lot.  Even at a very young age, my son seemed to have a very real understanding of what it meant that his mommy lost her mommy when she was little.  

When Quinn was almost four, he was just getting into dinosaurs.  So we went to the library and checked out a bunch of dinosaur books and several dino DVDs.  One of the DVDs was the original Land Before Time.  (If you have not seen the movie: SPOILER ALERT! Right at the beginning of the movie, the mom dies and the little dinosaur has to find his way without her.) At the end of the movie, Quinn shakily asks, "Mommy?  Is Little Foot's mommy really dead?"  I scooped him up and said, "Yes."  Quinn said, "I don't want her to be dead," and he started to cry.  I said, "Honey, we can pretend that she didn't really die if you would like."  He said, "Okay," and then he burst into sobs and said, "But she really did die!  And Little Foot needed her!  And your mommy died and you needed her, too!" The fact that he made this correlation at such a tender age nearly knocks the wind out of me, and I start sobbing, too.  My sobbing causes my daughter, who is not quite two, to start sobbing.  At this point, my husband walks in after a trip to the hardware store, and cautiously asks what has happened.  When I tell him, he very calmly walks over to the DVD player, removes the disc, and says he will return the movie to the library.  He is not easily shaken.  I really love that about him!

Picture of our family around the time of the great dinosaur sobfest

We talk about death quite a bit at our house.  (I am in no way suggesting that everyone go and have a talk about death with your very young children.  Death has greatly affected our life, so we talk about it.)  That may seem morbid, but death is a part life.  I think that by talking about it, it helps my kids to not be afraid.  By NOT talking about it, it turns it into something scary for them.  We try to talk about it in a very matter-of- fact way.  Everything that lives dies.  Flowers die.  Trees die.  Grass dies.  Animals die.  People die.  Mommies die.

Since we always talk about it in such a matter of fact way, my kids feel very free to ask questions, and I am thankful for that.  However, this season, the kids talked about my mom so much, it was almost unbearable.  My son is so curious, and he wanted to know what it looked like and what it felt like for my mom when she died.  He wants to know if she was scared and if it was hard for her to breathe.  I explain that I do not know for sure, but that it was probably scary.  Her lung collapsed, so I figure it was hard to breathe.  He starts to ask more questions, and I ask him if we can please not talk about it.  He moves onto questions about Legos without missing a beat.

I am crying now and losing my train of thought, if there even was a train to begin with…

Oh yes.  The "mass".  This part is hard, too! What a bummer of a post!

My husband has been having pain in his jaw for about five months.  He has gone to the dentist several times, with no real answer.  A couple of weeks ago, he went in for another visit, as the pain was getting worse, and the dentist discovered a mass growing in his jaw that was not there on the most recent X-rays.

I try to take the news calmly, but I have a tendency to jump to the worst case scenario, and this was no exception.  I do trust that God is in control and that this is part of His plan, and I find much peace and comfort in that.  When I start to get amped up, I just take some time and pray.  So, basically, I pray 24 hours a day!

My husband and I met with an oral surgeon last week, and he is scheduled for surgery on the 16th.  The surgeon feels 90% confident that it will be a cyst that is easy to remove with no follow up surgeries.  He feels that there is about a 9% chance that it could be a more aggressive cyst, and need more surgery.  And there is a very small percent that it could be something else.  Those are the surgeons estimations, not mine.  We feel very at ease after meeting with him.

Despite the sadness, I did have a very joyful Christmas and we are all doing well.  I am so thankful for all of the blessings in my life.  

Picture of our family today

Now that I have this message off my heart, I hope to be able to return to sharing my projects with you very soon!  Enjoy the Son today--I promise you will have great day if you do!

Reader Comments (15)


January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSherri

Holly ~ My heart aches along with yours as I also miss my mother terribly. She died just one year ago (Jan. 2nd, 2011), so the holidays were extremely emotional/difficult for us as well....re-living everything we went through last year at this time. On top of that, my husband was diagnosed with cancer last fall and underwent surgery in Nov. Thankfully, the cancer was caught in the early stages and is non-aggressive ~ the surgeon believes that he removed all of the cancer. We have felt the very tangible presence and peace of God throughout this whole diagnosis, surgery, and recovery process.

I strongly empathize with what you are feeling as you walk through this "valley". Please be encouraged to know that you are not alone....others are also traveling a similar journey. Cling tightly to the Lord and He will be faithful to carry you through this....

Thank you so much for being open and sharing!
Holding you and Mark close in my heart and prayers....lifting all of you up to the Father's throne of grace....seeking God's peace, wisdom, patience, and healing for you!

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Oh Holly, thank you for sharing this. I had no idea you lost your mom at such a young age. No matter how many years go by, I know you must carry this close always and I can only imagine how difficult that can be. We also talk about death quite a lot over here as Paige was witness to my grandmother's illness and death last June. I think it is a healthy conversation to have with children. They alway have fear when they don't understand things and by speaking openly and honestly, you are helping them tremendously. At one point or another they too will face the death of a loved one and will be so much better prepared. This is such a gift you have given them.
I will keep Mark, and all of you, in my thoughts and will keep him at the top of my prayer list. I know this must be frightening, but give it up to Him.

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie D

I just wanted you to know that I will most definitely keep you in my prayers. I'll not get into it but if you read my "new years" post you will understand that I do understand the grief of losing a loved one. Just know that you have many friends that are lifting your whole family up in prayer... not just in dealing with losses but for wisdom for the doctors and your husband as well.

Take care now,

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy

Holly - That's certainly a lot to trip you up during the holidays! One thing I do recognize is the kid's interest in speaking about death and knowing how it feels. Mine talk about the same things (they are 10 and 6). So while it certainly is on the winning side of a tug-o-war on your heart, their interest and discussion about it is totally normal for little kids their age. The loss of a mom...I don't think that is ever something you 'get over'. And that fact that you are now also a mom must certainly play with your sub-conscious and rise its sad head every once in a while. Sending good energy your way...all the way from Sweden!

Holly, I think it is great that you are willing to share your memories of your mom with your kids. My dad lost both of his parents before the age of 12. I remember growing up being very aware that the same thing could happen to me that happened to my dad, and I could lose my parents too. I can really relate to Quinn in this post. However, I know very little about either of my grandparents because we were always afraid to ask questions of my dad in case we would upset him. You are doing your kids a great service by sharing who their grandma was with them, and although the grief will never be gone, maybe celebrating her life and who she was to you will be helpful for you as well. Also, I think it is great that you can be so candid with your kids about death. I have been struggling with how to handle this with my kids ever since Heath's mom was diagnosed with her cancer last fall. I don't know how much to tell them...when to tell them...I don't want to scare them, but I also don't want it to come as a surprise to them when the cancer finally takes her life. I find myself wishing that I had explained more to Aiden when we went to a couple visitations of people he wasn't close too. Hindsight is 20/20...so now I answer questions when he asks, but don't dwell on it, since we don't know how long Rachel will be here. It could be a couple months, but it also could be a couple years. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I think you are doing the best for your kids and they are lucky to have you for a mommy. And I hope everything works out well for Mark and his surgery! Take care! Kathy (Crossland) Thomas

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Thomas

Dear Holly,
I think it's wonderful that you took the time to put your thoughts and pain into the words of this beautiful (though sad) blog. Christ is shining through you--even in your suffering--and this is a beautiful thing. I once heard a retreat speaker explain that even though we're pots made by the Master Potter, we are flawed since we live in this fallen world. So basically we're all a bunch of crack pots! But God inside of you is leaking out through your "cracks"--through your suffering and tears--and is touching others' lives. Thanks for sharing through your blogging platform and allowing Him to use you in this way. I'm so blessed by your friendship. Hugs.

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeanette Miller

I'm so glad you took the time to write your story. Through all my sobbing I can't hardly think of a thing to say other than that you are in my thoughts and in my prayers! I hope this new year brings you renewed strength and peace! Can't wait to see what you have to post next!
Your friend in Christ,
Leah Koenig

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeah

I just wanted to write and say that you are very much not alone! I missed my mom more this year at Christmastime than I have in years. She died when I was 16 from breast cancer. January 7th was the 14-year anniversary of her death. This year was particularly difficult because my half-sister, related to me through my mom, died in June from breast cancer. She was only 47 and left behind five kids, two of whom are girls under the age of 13. It's been such a hard time to get through, and, to be honest, I get quite upset that my own two-year-old daughter will never get to meet her maternal grandmother and never have any memories of her only aunt on the maternal side.

I dread when my daughter will start asking questions about my mom and my sister. I know it's coming sooner rather than later.

But I completely understand where you are coming from!

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Wonderful post. I'm so sorry about your mom. I am very sure that she's very proud of all your your accomplishments.

- James

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPrinting Services

My dear Holly,
Yes, I understand. I have been there before, too. And yes, it does knock the wind out of you sometimes when you least expect it. And yes, explaining your mother loss to your children is perhaps one of the most difficult processes.

If there is anything I have learned about grief in the 30 (yes, 30!) years since my mom passed, it is that it is unexpected and random when it appears. And I have also felt it more deeply as a parent. Somehow becoming a parent made it not just my loss, but my children's loss as well. My only "words of wisdom" would be to allow yourself to feel it, and it sounds as though you have. I love that you waited until you were ready, and then you shared it. And how courageous that you shared it in such a public way! You are obviously following the course God has set. By sharing it this way you are allowing God's light to shine through you to others. What a gift!

I, too, have a wise husband who knows what needs to be done to support. We are fortunate to have these wonderful partners in our lives! My prayers for Mark as he goes through this procedure, and know you all are in my heart and prayers. This time of darkness will pass, and in the meantime you have many holding you up as you walk through it. Love, Katie

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie OC

Thanks for being real Holly and letting God use you in a mighty way!
Love you!

January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKrista

Holly, I'm glad you were able to finally share what was on your heart. To know there are others having been in the same situation will help you and your readers.

I miss my mom too. AND my dad. Being without either parent during Christmas was really hard on me for some reason this year too. I guess we can only be super brave for so long, but the truth surfaces at some point.

Wishing your husband a successful surgery on the 16th!

And... I'm glad you're a believer. It will most certainly help!


January 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFunky Junk Interiors

Wow! Hard to believe you and the boys are going to be 33 this year. I just became a grandma on Jan. 5th and it was weird how I thought about your mom that night and how she would have already been a grandma. She would be so proud of you and your family. Loved your Christmas card and hope you got my card with change of address. In the move I changed my email and lost your email address, so if you wouldn't mind sending me a quick email so I can put it back in my addresses. How weird about Mark, just this summer we had a similiar scare with something in my jaw that the dentist and the oral surgeon couldn't understand. Went ahead and had surgery and it came back as nothing, I was just sick from being put under and had lost feeling in my lower lip for quite some time. Take care and I'll pray for you all!
Sue (mom's childhood friend)

January 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue

I love you Holly! Quinn and Morgan are lucky to have you as their mother! I am very proud of you and hope your pain subsides with time.
Your little brother,

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBlake

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