Fight On, Fighter

Fight On, Fighter

for KING & COUNTRY

I was there on the day that you were changed
You were scared and prepared for the heartbreak
Everything you knew faded out of view
Stole a piece of you

If I could, oh, I would be a hero
Be the one who would take all the arrows
Save you from the pain, carry all the weight
But I know that you’re brave

Fight on, fighter
Don’t let anyone steal your fire
Fight on, fighter
The Spirit is alive inside ya, yeah There’s a part that you hold that you lock down
Let it breathe, give it wings, set it free now
Time to make ya walk, break the prison bars
Show them who you are

Fight on, fighter
Don’t let anyone steal your fire
Fight on, fighter
The Spirit is alive inside ya, yeah

Stronger than you than you ever thought
I know you’re stronger
Braver than you were before
You know…

A week and a half ago, I wrote about a song that touched my soul. Once again, I found a song that describes how I’m feeling right now.

I feel as though I’m fighting. I’m fighting the waves of grief. I’m fighting for my story to be heard. I’m fighting with the guilt I have about not listening to my mom when she said, “Don’t come around.” I’m fighting with the image of seeing my mom dead in her apartment.

I’m fighting with people telling me that I need to get over it and move on. It’s not your mother and it’s not your story. You have never walked in my shoes. You don’t know how far I’ve come in order to be the person I am today.

I interpret the I as being God. He was there with me on the morning that my life changed. My life and soul was changed forever in that frozen moment of time.

It’s as though God is telling me that I can’t stop fighting no matter what is happening in my life. He’ll be there along side me as I attempt to tell my story. Whether people are receptive to receive it, well that is up to them. It’s not their place to tell me not to tell it. It’s the prison I’ve had built up around me for many years. It’s memories that have long been suppressed. People have been stealing my fire for many years not allowing me to break free from these prison bars that surround me.

Yes, I have forgiven my father for what he did to me. However, once my mom died so many of those feelings came back to the surface. Think of a boat that had wrecked and has been down at the bottom of the ocean. Suddenly some of the wreckage breaks free and comes to the surface. That’s what happened to me when my mom died.

I’ve got to work on fighting to forgive my mom and even myself. It’s going to be a long process. It’s not going to be easy. However, during the process I hope I can inspire other people.

Have a magical day,
Traci

What is Forgiveness?

So, what is it? When I looked it up in the dictionary, the definition states that it is the “act of forgiving” or “state of being forgiven.” This is so broad and just reuses the word in the definition. So, huh, what is forgiveness?

I then looked up the synonyms of the word forgiving, the words lenient, magnanimous, and merciful. Okay, we are getting a little closer to the definition.

The teacher in me needed to look up the definitions of the words to give me more clarity.

Lenient is defined as being tolerant, permissive, and/or indulgent. When I think about forgiveness, I don’t think of myself as being totally tolerant, but I do think of giving myself permission to begin to forgive the person.

Magnanimous is generous; forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness. All right, I don’t want to be vindictive towards my mom. I just want to share my story to help myself and others. So, we are getting closer to finding out what is forgiveness.

When you are merciful, you are compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender. As a result of me showing my mom mercy for the last three years of life, I was actually forgiving her for not always being there for me.

I’m on the brink of discovering what forgiveness means but at the same time am unsure of what it really means. Or how to do I as a flesh and bone human demonstrate forgiveness.

So, I went to the Bible. In the Bible, we learn that it means to pardon the person who hurt us. We are to cancel their debt towards us. We do it as an act of love, mercy, and grace.

It is important for us to forgive the other person for our mental state then for the person who offended us. It’s a way for us to move on with our lives. We are not to necessarily forget the offense, but to learn from it.

After you forgive someone, it does not mean you have to go back to being friends or whatever you were to them. Their behavior that offended you might continue on, so you need to set boundaries or stop all contact with them.

It’s not going to be easy to forgive people, but for your sake you need to do it.

An Example from my own Life

Back in 1996, I had to make the decision to forgive my father. He had done some terrible things to me that no child should have ever had to endure. Why? I had to move on with my life. If not, I would probably not been able to love Hubby.

I was planning to actually go see him in the nursing home. He died before I could say face-to-face “I have not forgotten, nor will I forget how horrible you were to me. However, I am releasing all the power you have over me.”

He ended up dying 23 years ago on November 13.

Back to the Bible

So what does the Bible say about forgiveness? Why is important?

Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Hebrews 12: 14-15 – 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Basically, we are told to forgive; because, God has forgiven us by sending his one Son to die on the Cross for our sins.

We are also told to forgive because we cannot allow others to control our lives because of our hurt feelings and emotions.

Moving Forward

I’m dealing with a lot of hurt.

Join me on my journey of forgiving my mom. She hurt me until right before she died. I have a feeling she knew that she was very sick and didn’t want me to know. That’s a hard pill to swallow. I need to forgive her for not trusting me to tell me the truth.

Yes, I might have taken her to the hospital. She might have been able to spend more time with me because she would have gotten the medical help she needed.

That’s only one way she has offended me in my lifetime. It’s important for me to forgive her so that I can be free from the anger I’m feeling.

As I said, join me on the journey towards forgiveness.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Mom’s 50 Boyfriends

Imagine driving through the mountains. There is nothing to do but to keep looking outside at the lack of real scenery except for a few places where you could see some landscapes.

           There is no where to stop because the exits are few and far between. You are so bored.

           It was at that moment you decided that you needed a way to entertain yourself.

           Cell phones were a thing but nothing like they are today. Plus, cell towers would have been few and far between.

           Reading would have been impossible because well car sickness. I’ve done that once while riding on the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lost all of my breakfast all over the backseat. Nasty business.

           So, with a pen and some paper, the best moment in my mom’s life was the creation of her imaginary boyfriends. You list all of the states and create a boyfriend for each state.

           Then you create a biography for a few of the boyfriends.

           When you get to Ohio, you stop at a rest stop and lo and behold you see a man who matches the description of the boyfriend you created for Ohio.

           This joke continues on for a while but later is not relevant. So, you quit talking about those boyfriends until your sister passes away.

           When you write her letter, you mention the boyfriends. Once again, it is relevant.

           So, I began to find you boyfriends all of the time. Every random guy, I would point at them and say, “There goes your boyfriend.”

           I don’t know how many boyfriends she ended up by the time she died.

           Her boyfriends were found around town and while I was on trips. Several times that I can remember finding her imaginary boyfriends were when my chosen sister, Molly, and I were briefly in Indiana. We went to the restroom at one of those truck rest stops, and this man walks out with cat litter. That’s the moment when Molly began looking for imaginary boyfriends for mom.

           The other time was when Molly and I were caravanning from Niagara Falls, Ontario to Erie, Pennsylvania. We were on the New York Turnpike when this guy rode past me on a motorcycle. I thought to myself, “Well, there goes one of mom’s boyfriends.”

           All of the sudden, my Bluetooth goes off.  Incoming call from Molly the wonderful. I safely answered the phone. “Your mom’s boyfriend just drove by on the motorcycle.”

           Molly was a true believer of my mom’s imaginary boyfriends.

           I don’t really know how mom really felt about me making her all of those boyfriends. I think she either rolled her eyes or pretended not to hear me when I started to talk about them.

           It’s a fun story that will not only be a legacy of hers, but of mine as well.

           Now, that list still exists but I cannot find it. One day, I will and maybe I’ll share some of the names. Some we were creative with, while others were not very creative.

           Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Isaiah 41: 11-14

A present that I got for myself was a new journaling Bible. God has been giving me strength during this difficult season of my life.

As I said, I went back to Sweet Blessings scripture writing plan at the beginning of this month. Oldest was going through his first break up so I needed to know how to give him encouragement.

After the death of my mom, I went on a hiatus of reading/ writing the scriptures. I’m now back.

My take away with this verse is that really you can’t please everyone. God will take care of those who oppose you. I’m not talking about physical harm but sometimes he’ll remove them from your life. You don’t know they conversations they are having about you so why should they be in your life. Don’t worry about them. Don’t allow them to take up residence in your brain.

I know as being flesh and bone humans we can’t always help letting people take up residence in our head. We need to pray to God with our worries. He’ll take them from you.

I’m dealing with that right now. I know of a few people who oppose me because of me trying to help them in a way they thought was threatening. It was more of me telling them I’ve been there. I know what it felt like being the one who was not favored. Please break that cycle. It’s not healthy. I was also trying to make sure one of their loved ones got some help because they were threatening self harm.

Even though I am left wondering why don’t they like me, I need to let it go. They don’t know me and my story. Only God and I know the story and my intentions.

To be honest, when I bear witness to this situation, people who do know me are so confused because I’m known for being kind and caring.

Until next time,

Have a magical day,
Traci

A Song that spoke to my soul

As I was driving to work on Thursday, I decided to put K-Love on the radio. They were talking all about the pledge drive which was annoying but I needed to listen to some feel good songs.

I understand that they need to raise money for the station. The annoying thing for me is that I just wanted to listen to music so that I could calm my soul before walking into work.

The one song they played was God Only Knows by For King and Country. Oh, my goodness that song spoke to my soul. It described how I was feeling right after Mom died.

I’ve included the two different versions of the song. I love both of the versions. Dolly Parton has such an angelic voice that she adds another dimension to the song.

Now, back to my story.

This is something that I actually have felt for a few years. That my story is not known by many people. They see one side of me and that side of me is only a small portion of my book of life. I get frustrated with the phrase White Privilege. I do understand that it does exist and I have benefited a little bit from it because people don’t judge me because I’m white. I’ll take that. However, I was not given anything because I’m white. Instead, I worked hard for it. No one knows except for me and God the story of my late teens/ early 20’s. However, that’s another story for another day.

Today, I’m speaking about the story of the relationship between my mom and myself. Our relationship was not one of me being able to confide in her. I often felt disappointment and sadness because she did not protect me from the people who hurt me physically and mentally. Or the times as an adult, I felt a sense of neglect when she was not there when I needed her most. It’s another story that only God and I know.

While the song played, tears just flowed down my face. Music therapy is so important to me. I believe in listening in music to calm my soul or to find something that I can relate to at that moment in my life. I found a song that described how I was feeling 2 weeks ago and for the days that followed.

When I got to work, I still felt teary eyed so 2 of my co-workers allowed me to cry on their shoulder.

God’s right there when I need him. He lets me know that I am special in his eyes. He lets me know that I am loved. And he let me know that he knows how I feel and it’s okay. It’s now time for me to tell my story so I can help other people who struggle with these same feelings.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Psalms 118:24

       The day after my mom’s death, my aunt and I went to the funeral home. Afterwards, we made memories. We visited Aullwood Garden and just talked. Then I took her to my 2 favorite places in the city – Wegerzyn Garden and Second Street Market. Places I had gone with my mom.

       While at the Second Street Market, we stopped at the one stall to get my cousin a charm. I saw that the charms in this stall were mostly Christian based.

       It was at that moment I decided I needed something to remind me that even with all this chaos in my life that I needed to rejoice that I’m still alive.

       At first, I got this huge bracelet and charm but realized that it would be too much of a bother, so I returned it for a much smaller charm and chain.

       So, what was on the charm that I needed it to remind me to rejoice in the day? It was the name of a book in the Bible with the chapter and verse. No other words.

       The charm says Psalm 118: 24 which reads “This is the day the Lord has made.

We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

       So simple but also so perfect.

       That Bible verse has been a favorite of mine for almost 30 years.

       In 1990, my youth group decided to go on a mission trip to the Over-the-Rhine area of Cincinnati. Not a good place to be for preteens and teenagers.

       I was 15 years old. Still very naïve about the world because this was before Internet. We learned from word of mouth or experiencing the world.

       Everything had bars on the windows. Doors were constantly locked. No one went anywhere without an adult. It was serious business.

       Anyway, I remember painting in some hallway and singing the song that is reference to that song “This is the day that the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. And be glad in it,” on repeat.

       That was the moment that that verse began to define my world. Now did I always rejoice every day. No, my next chapter of my life, college years, was not without trouble. I didn’t always rejoice every day. However, it is a verse that has constantly been by my side no matter if I have forgotten it at that moment.

       So now, I have a bracelet with a charm with a simple message. Find something to rejoice about during the day whether small or big. For example, yesterday I could rejoice that I got to see the beautiful leaves as Hubby, and I took a walk through the woods. Or today when an angry child calmed down because I was acting silly. Those are moments that I need to rejoice.

       My path right now is rough. It’s full of rocks and sharp thorns. However, I can look for some beauty along the way.

Have a magical day,
Traci

I Granted Her Mercy

          Three years ago, and almost 2 months ago, my life changed. It was dinner time. We were getting ready to eat so that we could go to see Weird Al Yankovic.

       My phone rang and I saw that it was my mom. I didn’t always answer the phone when she called. I would usually wait until later. We weren’t that close and spoke maybe every couple of weeks. I hadn’t seen her in 2 months at that point.

       When she called back, I knew I needed to answer the phone. That’s when she told me that my sister had died. However, she didn’t want me to come out to Brookville until the next day.

       It was not until the Brookville Police called me and said you need to come out right now. I took the longest time getting there. Meanwhile one of my co-workers kept talking with me to make sure I knew I was not alone.

       Once I picked my mom up that night, I had two choices. Either I could let anger take over my life or I could grant her mercy. God told me the path I needed to take was mercy.

       I first called my mother-in-law and told her that we needed to make sure she had the essentials, so she was comfortable.

       Then she moved in with us for the next almost 2 months. My grieving for my sister was done in secret – at night when everyone was asleep or on the way to work. I didn’t want to fall apart for her sake.

       After she moved into her apartment, we would get together for shopping trips, family Sunday dinners, and church on Sundays. We became closer but never truly close. She was never one I could truly confide my deepest secrets or dreams. That was never the foundation of our relationship.

       I’m so glad to have those 3 years together. We went on many adventures from seeing the fall leaves last year to going on one last mother-daughter trip down to Berea, KY in 2017. She discovered hummus, caramel macchiatos, and sparkling water. I showed her that life is an adventure. You don’t just float down a river until you die. Sometimes you just have to go out and discover what life has for you.

       I also required her to go back to church. I told her that she was not going to live at my house without attending church. Within 3 months of my sister’s death, she was once again a member of a church which was something that she enjoyed attending every week.

       Her face lit up with our many adventures. It’s not going to be the same when I go on some of these adventures alone. But I know she’ll be looking down from Heaven smiling at her fiercely independent and stubborn daughter who has endured so much in her life. So much that people don’t realize I have had to find the strength within to survive.

       I got those 3 years of cherished memories all because I granted her one thing, she needed in her life which was mercy. I had to put aside my hurt feelings to make sure she lived her best life.

       I’m sure God is saying, well done Traci. You have done well and followed the Commandment – Honor your mother and father.

       Good-bye mom, I hope you appreciated the love I gave you these last 3 years. All of your imaginary boyfriends are mourning your loss.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Dear Mom (My Letter To Her)

Dear Mom,

      This is the hardest letter I’ve had to write because today I’m saying good-bye to my mom.

      During the last 3 years, you have been my shopping buddy. We have gone on many adventures from visiting Berea, Ky to Jungle Jim’s to the Golden Lamb to our most recent adventure to Concord’s 200th anniversary celebration. We discovered that marshmallow coke is essential for road trips.

      In 2001 and 2002, Tanya, you, and I went on mother-daughter trips to Hershey, PA. So many memories were made on that trip from seeing the Backstreet Boys to my creation of your 50 boyfriends which by now exceeds 200. Each boyfriend was from a different state. Do you remember that we actually found one at a random rest stop who actually looked like our description? In the last 3 years, I would constantly point out random guys and tell you that’s your boyfriend. I even got Molly doing that also. You would just shake your head whenever I started that mess.

      One memory that has stuck out is when you took Tanya and I to Disney in 1990. I convinced you that the Big Thunder Railroad was a simulated roller coaster. We ended up in the front row. The look you gave me showed me how you were not happy with me. Oops. I was only 15.

      I have so memories from the years Tanya, and I were in Rainbow. Lots of Monday evenings and Thursday evenings were spent at either the Brookville or Dayton Masonic Temple. Thank you for making sure I was ready for those meetings, Installations, and Grand Assemblies. Do you remember the long “sobriety” line when George Bush, Sr. came to the Brookville Picnic during my Worthy Advisor term? So funny.

      All those trips to play Putt Putt mini golf and downtown Dayton – I will cherish those memories. All the times we went to the Salem Mall – My favorite part was getting the pretzel sticks with cream cheese. I still eat them that way. Although Nick says they are better with chocolate. LOL!

      I’m thankful for the 2 pieces of advice that you gave me when I was in my early 20’s. Both of those pieces of advice defined who I am as a person and changed my life path.

      In 1995, you told me that I needed to apply for the Disney College Program. I’m so grateful for that advice. It was the best experience of my life. I learned how to be independent and how to live on my own. I made memories that have lasted a lifetime. Plus, I made friends that are lifelong friends. One of which is now my chosen sister, Molly.

      The other advice is that I should become a special educator. This advice I didn’t follow at first. However, I was hired as an L.D. tutor when I got my first big girl job. Now I am in my 20th year of teaching special education in that same district. You constantly reminded me how much of a difference I have made in some of my students. You knew best. Thank you for the advice.

      I’m going to miss your constant telling me about the mail and how full your dumpster is currently. I’m going to miss calling you on Saturday mornings to say be ready at 10 am so that we could go to Aldi, Fresh Thyme, or Trader Joe’s. I’ll miss you telling me to buy canned peaches or bananas. I’m going to miss sitting behind you at church.

      Mom, we never were really close. However, in your own ways you let me know that your loved me. Seeing the smile on your face when I took you on another adventure. Finding all the photos you kept of me and the boys. You showed your love in quiet ways.

      Goodbye sweet mom. Your journey through life is complete. Rest up and watch over me and the boys.

Love your fiercely independent daughter,

Traci

The Worse Morning Ever

Last Saturday morning was probably the worse morning ever.

I did my usual routine of calling my mom. Usually I call her once or twice and then she would call me back. On that morning, I called her number 12 times. 12 times!

So I drove over to her apartment. Mail had piled up which was unusual.

I grabbed her mail and walked into her apartment which was unlocked.

I dropped the mail on her dresser in the living room and yelled her name.

As I turned the corner, I saw her lifeless body.

I immediately called 9-1-1 as I cried and screamed.

After I got off of talking to 9-1-1, I called Hubby who rushed over.

The police came and entered the apartment. They immediately walked out of the apartment and told me that she was deceased.

As they were doing all the legal stuff, I answered their questions and then began calling my aunt, best friend, and the funeral home. I began writing messages to let family know that she had died.

It got so overwhelming that I just did a Facebook status while the police officer talked to me.

I don’t know how many steps I took as I paced the apartment complex.

Random dudes came up to me and asked me what had happened. Neighbors came up to me and asked me what had happened to her.

It was very overwhelming. I was trying to hold it together and not cry.

Finally they told me that I could leave. I wanted to leave before the funeral home came and got her.

I attempted to do normal stuff like grocery shop and clean the house during the rest of the day.

All the while, I was trying to hold it together and not cry. Headaches and tiredness filled my soul during the day.

The house got picked up mostly. I fixed dinner. The Oldest got to Homecoming so I call that a successful day even with having the worse morning ever.

Have a magical day,
Traci

Please Remember to Say I LOVE You

I’ve got to finish my in memory of my mom posts but that will have to wait.

Today, Hubby told me to write for me not necessarily for an audience.

So I am going to talk about some of the feelings I have been feeling during these last few days. Maybe if I get it off my chest I’ll feel better.

Everyone has seen how much closer Mom and I have gotten since Tanya died. However, it was because I showed her mercy during her final years of her life. I showed her what it was like to have a joyful life. Not a perfect life but a life that discovered joy in finding adventures whether it be going to the sunflower field and then a local orchard or driving around random routes. Or just finding her one of my many imaginary boyfriends.

What people don’t realize is that she and I had a strained relationship. I knew that she loved me. She showed her love in quiet unassuming ways. However, I NEVER got to hear her tell me that she loved me.

I know she was proud of me and the boys but she NEVER told me that she was proud of me.

Sometimes we need that reassurance. We need our parents to tell us how proud and how much we love them.

Now that I’m a mother, I make sure I tell my sons how much they mean to me. The Oldest is more receptive to it. We tell each other several times a day “I love you.” One time he got off the phone and realized he hadn’t said it so he called me right back to tell me that he loved me.

The Youngest is going through the I’m a teenager please don’t say that you love me because I might not respond. Which is okay because I will still tell him that.

Now that my mom is gone, I can let my truths out. I’ve kept quiet about some of how I felt over the years out of respect to her. Now it’s time to be like dandelion seed and fly free.

Have a magical day,
Traci

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