Birthdays, Memories, and a Grateful Heart #GriefConfessions

What a difference a year can make! That line is so cliche and yet incredibly true. I’ve been thinking all weekend about what to write today for Chris’s birthday. What words to move from my heart to the page? What is there I could say that I haven’t all ready?

Last year I wrote a post about “Embracing Your Number” and how we should be proud of our age. I wrote those words through tears and heart still full of pain. I read this post this morning and this paragraph stood out to me.

“Tomorrow I’ll be 31 an age my husband will never reach and there’s so much heartache in knowing that. I don’t want to celebrate it (and I usually love birthdays.) I’d prefer to not acknowledge it, but I will. Because for whatever reason I’m here and while 31 looks nothing like I hoped it would it’s still a blessing, because life is a gift even if sometimes we’d rather exchange it or return it for a new one…it’s still a gift.”

Reading those words I remember that dark and dreadful feelings of not wanting to live. The times I begged for God to take my life and to give it to someone more deserving. I thought in that moment I was done on this earth–I had nothing left to live for. I kept faking it and pretending but in my heart all I wanted to do was go to heaven and be done with this place. To go to sleep and wake up in a place without heartache and pain and see Chris’s face once more.

When I woke up this morning with a heart not gripped by despair,  I took a moment to say a little prayer of thanks. I reveled in the feel of my heartbeat without the repetitious squeeze of pain and took a free breath without the constricting pressure of sadness that once rested on my chest.

I’ve learned so many things in this past year about grief, life, and all sorts of little details about myself and others. I wish I could turn to Chris and ask his opinion on my adventures. I wonder if he would like the new paint in the house? If he’d be happy to see I finally got the memo about taking care of myself–mentally and physically? Would he be proud of my decisions? Or would he be shaking his head? I can tell you I’d probably get a lecture about getting the house in order and another one on the state of the weeds in the yard. LOL! Sometimes I wonder if he’s standing right next to me laughing and shaking his head–and seriously I don’t know how he couldn’t have those reactions.

One thing’s for sure, it’s nice to miss him without my heart bleeding. It’s nice to think of him and not feel lost and alone. It’s nice to know he’s in a better place. It’s given me peace to know he’s at peace. I have no doubts that Chris and the Big Guy in the clouds have been busy this past year putting new friends into my life when and where I need them most as well as moving those “old” friends into new important places in my life.

Last year I would’ve given anything to exchange my life, to turn back time but this year is different. This year I’m grateful for being alive and I mean REALLY BEING ALIVE again. Being able to laugh without the tug of darkness, to be free from despair, to see the shine in my eyes I once had before losing Chris. I look in the mirror and I see this girl, this woman and I’m proud that reflection is mine.

I hope Chris is proud too because I know he’s had a role in pulling me through. Chris was a persistent guy and when he set his mind to something it would be done in the most productive gung ho way. Last November I said a little prayer and asked Chris for help to feel alive again. (I know that sounds a little crazy but geez you should know by now I’m a little unhinged.) I like to think he had a convo with the Big Guy and said, “We’ve got to do something about this situation.” Cause shortly after that my heart was changed and my life has continued to be filled with so many amazing opportunities and people.

So, today on Chris’s birthday I’m grateful for the years I spent with him, the lessons he taught me, and especially for the love and friendship we shared. I don’t know any other way to honor him than that. And I thank him so very very very much for all the gifts he’s given me this year that money can’t buy. I’m happy to say when my birthday comes tomorrow I’m ready to celebrate and laugh with all the amazing angels in my life. I’m anxious and excited to see what new adventures await me! I have so many things left to accomplish before I get to heaven!

Happy Birthday, Chris! Thank you for helping me find my way back to Michelle again! <3

Love, Hugs, and Sunshine <3

 

 

 

Stop and Watch the Butterflies #MichellesMushyMoments

My sister asked me the other day, “What’s with you and butterflies?” It’s a valid question I’ve thought about since I gave her my answer. I don’t really know what it is about butterflies but I love them. They are special enough I even put them in a very pivotal scene in my first book (Seth and Hailee butterfly scene in Soul Survivor.)

They hold so many different meanings to me. Have you ever taken the time to watch a butterfly as it flutters and cascades through the air? The larger species tend to intrigue me most but even the little white and yellow ones make me smile. There’s something so incredibly beautiful and strong about butterflies. The process of change they go through from caterpillar to winged beauty is touching enough but even more so because it reminds me of my life. I’m betting it resonates with yours too—we all go through trials to get to periods of beauty.

There’ve been times in my life when I’ve been seeking confirmation and a fluttering butterfly crossed my path leaving me with a sense of peace and knowing the road I was taking was the right one. It happened back when I was about to publish my book and many times since.

Depending on the day and what’s going on in my life, a butterfly sighting can feel like a message from Chris or God that everything’s going to be okay and to keep going. The past few weeks I’ve noticed them daily—maybe it’s the season or there’s some biological explanation for all my sightings, regardless they give me peace and put a smile on my face.

In the past week, I’ve had a butterfly land on me, one fly in and chill on the dash of my car for a few moments, and just this afternoon when I let the pups out two black and yellow butterflies danced across my backyard. I watched them until they flew circling each other up into the sky. It was such a breathtakingly beautiful moment.

Since I’ve learned to slow down my life and especially my mind, I find my heart leading me more and more. One of the side effects of enduring immense pain is how brightly joy now shines in my heart. There are so many miracles around us—big and small if only we take a moment to notice. You know the saying “stop and smell the roses,” today I’m reminding you to stop and watch the butterflies. Hopefully they bring you a moment of peace and joy.

Love, Hugs, and Sunshine! <3

#WatchTheButterflies #MichellesMushyMoments

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