Grieve and Live

One of my best friends posted this on Facebook a few days ago and it really hit me.  She is my friend who has been through more in her life than anyone else I know and yet she is always encouraging others.  She is always smiling and her faith is strong and rock solid.  She is a single working mom who has a son with spina bifida.  She was in a bad marriage, got out, put herself through nursing school, and all while raising 2 kids; the youngest of which is totally dependent on her.  Donna and I met at Canine Companions for Independence.  She and her son Andrew were there getting him a service dog and we were there getting Henny for Hannah.  Donna and I had an instant connection.  It was like we had been friends forever.  Our sense of humor was the same, our likes, our faith, our political views (ha).  She and Dennis even hit it off all because of their love for Andy Griffith and Arnold Palmers!  If I had ever had a twin sister, Donna would be that twin!  She is probably one of my biggest supporters and most faithful encouragers!  All she goes through and she is always worried about me.

When she posted this picture on FB it penetrated my heart and soul.  It is so true.  My life, the one I thought I would have (the one I planned without asking God what His plan was) looked so much different from the life I live now.  In some ways it was like a death.  The death of hopes and dreams of the life that I thought I would live.  Once you grieve that death then you start back with the life you have been given; the journey you have been asked to walk.  It isn’t always easy but you have to let go of and grieve what you thought your life would be so you are able to move forward with the life and journey God gave you.

This week has been difficult for me (for many reasons); but when Donna posted this it reminded me that I can still get my life back, it is just not what I thought it would be or look like and that is okay.  I keep reminding myself that one day none of this earthly stuff is going to matter……Heaven will be perfect and as Hannah prays every night there will be “no more night, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more sickness, no more death and HAPPY all the time.”

As I was typing this, I got a text from my friend Donna and she is actually in the hospital right now with chest pains and having a heart cath this morning.  Please pray for her.  She had a heart attack and open heart surgery 2 years ago so I know she is scared and worried, as am I.  I wish I lived closer to help her, but unfortunately she is in Alabama and I am in Florida.

If you are struggling, like so many people do around the holidays, you aren’t alone.  I get it.  I tend to struggle around Thanksgiving and Christmas myself.  I love this time of year…..but in my world it isn’t what I wished or dreamed it would be like once I had Hannah…..with her complex medical issues, life isn’t what we had hoped for especially during the holidays.  We make it work, but there is some sadness and grief in the air.  Just know you aren’t alone.  Know that it is okay not to be okay.  Grieve the life you thought you would have but remember to pick up the pieces and move forward with the life you were given.  I promise you aren’t alone and someone out there is struggling right along with you.

Me, Henny, Kendra and Donna! Love my friend!

In NYC with Donna and some random stranger jumped in our picture in front of Fox News Studios! We were dying laughing!

My people…….

Until next time……..


Time Doesn’t Heal

They say that time heals all wounds but I am not a believer that it does.

I feel that over time the pain lessens and wounds might scab over and perhaps begin to heal but then all it takes is a song, a memory triggered by something, a moment, a date on the calendar and all that heartache, grief, pain and sadness floods back to your heart, mind and soul just as bad as the day the heartache started.

There are a few things that trigger this for me and one thing is the week leading up to Thanksgiving and especially the weekend after.   You see, the Sunday after Thanksgiving 6 years ago, I lost my most precious friend and no period of time can heal that aching in my heart.  I am thankful I got to tell say “see you soon” prior to the Lord calling her home.  I know some people don’t even get the chance to tell their loved ones goodbye or tell them they love them; so I am thankful I had that chance.  But the week prior to Thanksgiving always gives me an empty and void feeling because I wish so badly I could pick up the phone and call or text Angie.  Today marks 6 years since she has been gone and so far time hasn’t healed the aching in my heart.

To know Angie was to love her.  She didn’t have an enemy in this world.  If you met Angie you immediately felt drawn to her and wanted to be her friend.  She just had that way of making everyone feel loved, included and special.  I met Angie when we were babies in the church nursery.  Our friendship started and she was my treasured friend for 40 years until God called her home.  I see her everyday in my entrance foyer.  I have a picture of her and her 3 precious children.  Sometimes I smile as I look at that picture and I say “hi friend, I miss you.”  Angie was the most Godly person I ever met.  She battled breast cancer for 4 years with faith, fight, honor, courage, grace and perseverance.  I have never known anyone who had such a strong faith in God as Angie did.  Right up until the moment God called her home, she believed and she trusted His plan for her life.  Our hope and prayer was that God would give Angie an earthly healing, but He chose a Heavenly healing for her instead.

I miss her.…..I miss her.  She was the person I called when I needed advice.  She was the person I called when I needed a laugh.  She was the person I called to share anything good or bad that happened in my life.  She was the first person I called when I found out I was pregnant with Hannah and I had to wait 5 minutes for her to stop laughing before we could continue our conversation.  You see, Angie knew I was NOT a kid person and that I never planned on having one.  When I called to tell her I was pregnant she found that so funny and the next words out of her mouth were…..”not your plan but His, huh Tamara?”  HA!  She was also the first person I called at week 17 of my pregnancy to share the news we received that Hannah would most likely not survive birth and if she did she would have a lot of issues mentally and medically.  I even told her “God must hate me.”  She replied……”no Tamara, He loves you and He will equip you to handle whatever comes your way.  He is entrusting you with a special gift and I believe that He has a special purpose for you and sweet Hannah.  I believe she will survive and she will teach us all something amazing.  You just rest in Him…..He has you and I always will too.”  Until the day we lost her Angie called Hannah “baby Hannah.”  She loved my little girl and proved it over and over and over again.  There was a special bond between Angie and Hannah.  Hannah still to this day talks about “Aunt Angie” and she will say, “I love Aunt Angie.  Aunt Angie in Heaven with Jesus, happy all the time.”  Yes, sweet girl, you are correct and one day we will see her again.  I will have a very long line to wait in once we get to Heaven and I am reunited with my friend.  Angie was loved by so many people.  I am just fortunate enough that I was one of those people.

I cannot imagine how Angie’s family feels on this day.  I know the ache in my heart is strong so I cannot imagine their hurt and longing to see her again.  I was blessed to call her my life-long friend and even though in my opinion she was taken way too soon I know God used her testimony to touch many people for Him.  I rest in the promise that His plan is perfect and that we will see her again.

Until next time…….

Worst Sister EVER

Okay, I am officially the worst sister ever.  I am totally a day late writing this blog post.  I am going to chalk it up to several things…..Monday was a holiday so ALL week-long my days have seemed to be a day behind.  Yesterday, all day, I thought it was Tuesday instead of one of the most important days of the year.  Also, I had a visual angiogram done and my vision was so bad all afternoon/evening that I couldn’t have sat in front of the computer if I had tried.  So….here is the blog post that should have been done yesterday……

November 14th…..a very special day in my family because it is “my person’s” birthday.  This year, in fact, he hit a milestone of birthdays (I won’t say which one but it was a biggie).  My brother……my hero……truly one of my favorite people on the planet……my longest friend and truthfully, my person.  He is the one that puts me in my place when I need it.  He goes to bat for me.  He supports me.  He has fought for me and with me and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loves me (even though he is not the kind of guy to throw the “I love you’s” around).

He is older than me (by a little over 3 years) and liked me until I was about 6 months old and then wanted my mom to trade me in for a boy.  We had those typical growing up kid fights, but when push came to shove (even to this day), nobody has my back like my brother.  He is dependable, likable, funny (in a dry humor kinda way).  He has a work ethic like I have never seen before (seriously he works practically 24 hours a day it seems).  He is loyal, kind, strong (physically, emotionally and mentally) and he is probably one of the most honest people on the planet.

I have always adored him (even those growing up years where we fought a lot) and that adoration has never wavered, in fact, since Hannah was born it has only grown.  He loves his niece and she loves him deeply.  Nothing more special than seeing your brother with your daughter and the love between them.  I joke a lot about “marrying my brother” as he and Dennis are very much the same in many aspects….I love their relationship and brotherly love.  They might not be blood but their bond is stronger than any blood relation.  I am so thankful for that.

So, yesterday was Tracy’s birthday and I am so thankful he was born.  I am so grateful and honored to call him my brother and I truly love him dearly.  Happy Birthday Tracy…..hey and look…..I kept this blog post short just for you (as I know it is the only way you will read it)!  HA!

Those cheeks


He is going to kill me for these pictures!

“Mommy, please can we keep her?” My mom said he said that…..he has eaten those words since!

Brothers……not by blood, by choice!

Favorite picture ever!

YEARS ago (prior to Dennis)…, my brother, my niece Megan, my sis-in-law, my mom and dad

Hannah LOVES her “Unc.”

Until next time……..

Gratitude and Contentment In The Valley

I have been writing another blog since my last blog post but I have put it aside for right now to blog about something else.  This has been a difficult season for me but a much-needed and learning season.  Lessons I needed to be taught and most likely they couldn’t have been learned otherwise.

I know I have been vague and I will continue to be somewhat vague until I know for certain what is going on with me medically but I felt the need to just blog about some of the things that I am learning in this difficult season.  When I got sick in May  I had no clue it would still be going on in November nor did I think that I would still have so many unanswered questions.  We do know a few things about what is happening but I still have much more testing to take place.  I have another brain MRI coming up, a CT angiogram, a Visual angiogram and most likely a spinal tap.  I am putting the spinal tap off as long as I can.  I have had one before (in 2009) and I still remember that and it was not fun.  I do know there is a lot going on in my body.  Lots of inflammation, pain, and issues with my brain …..(my brother would say he called that years ago, ha) and Central Nervous System.  I have been blessed with a great group of doctors and even though the things I have learned and know right now make me sad at times and cause some concern I have learned a whole lot about myself and just how important it is to take care of YOU!

Taking care of me has been on the back burner since Hannah was born.  I mean, her needs were and still are my highest priority.  I have always eaten fairly healthy, or so I thought.  It wasn’t until 4 weeks ago that I started monitoring and journaling everything I eat and really taking notice of food.  I have since realized just how much crap I put in my body along with the good stuff.  For 4 weeks I have eaten almost completely clean!  I have cut out all sugar (except fruit).  I have cut out all processed food and fatty meats.  I have loaded up with fresh vegetables, chicken, beans, and no bread except a whole grain english muffin for breakfast because I am a horrible breakfast eater and would skip it otherwise.  In just a month I have dropped 8 pounds.  I know….I didn’t look like I had 8 pounds to lose, but honestly I did.  I am not doing it to lose weight, it just happened.  But, I feel so much better.  My energy level is better and let me tell you that part is a miracle because since May my energy level has been that of a turtle.  I feel better.  The bloat/swollen feeling is gone, the sugar crashes are obsolete (cause there is no sugar) and I am sleeping somewhat better.  Still have some insomnia but not like it was.  My pain is better, although still there but I am even walking everyday and pushing Hannah in her wagon and that is huge for both of us.  Prior to this change in eating and pushing myself to exercise, just walking hurt my joints, muscles and head.  Now I am walking at least a mile each day.

I say all this to say this is now a lifestyle change for me….out of necessity but now it is becoming what I want.  I am looking at food now as the source of some of my issues and pain; but when you put good, quality, healthy nourishment in your body that pain lessens and it turns into energy and helps with the inflammation.  I have always heard, you are what you eat and I am beginning to really believe that.  So, one lesson I have learned through this is we have ONE body and we need to take care of it.  Nutrition and Sleep are 2 critical things we all need…..oh and LOTS of water.  This doesn’t mean I won’t splurge because I will…..I am making a cheesecake for my brother’s birthday and I WILL eat a small piece.  But, overall this is a new change of lifestyle for me forced because of medical issues, but I am not about to let medical problems keep me from doing all I can to feel my best.

God has also used this time to make me grateful for things I take for granted.  Do you know how blessed we are to have our eyesight, hearing, use of our legs, arms, hands and feet?  How blessed we are to have the ability to think and talk? When some of those things get threatened, it makes you immediately grateful for all God gave us and how He made us.  It is up to us though to take care of this ONE body He gave us.  I wish I had learned this as a child.  I would have taken better care of myself.  We have to put time and effort into our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.  At nearly 47 years of age I am finally grasping that well-rounded concept of overall health…..body, mind and spirit!

I wish I hadn’t had to get sick to learn these things and BE THANKFUL for this body and life I do have.  But, some of us learn slower and are more stubborn than others.  I had a dear friend ask me this week how I was emotionally with all of this.  I was honestly able to say I am okay.  I have had a few little breakdowns after doctor appointments and bad news but believe it or not I am content in my life, I am not depressed and even though I have concerns about the “what-if’s” I am not worried and dwelling on those concerns.  I am going to live my life!  I am going to continue to push myself and do what has to be done and what I want to do.  I am not going to dwell on the pain and I am not going to let it stop me.  I am going to pray hard, eat healthy, take care of my family and push myself to always move forward.

I have too much to lose if I quit…….

These pictures were from last fall but there are some of my favorites……I love and adore my family and I am so thankful they are mine!  I will add this…..I have never in a million years thought that a husband could be as loving and supportive over the difficult years we have had like Dennis has been.  If you knew just half of what he has had to do with Hannah for 13 years you would agree he is dad of the century!  There are not many men who would be willing to do all he does…..y’all… just don’t know what has been required of him and asked of him.  Hannah is 13 years old….she is grown and yet still so young mentally.  Then you add my issues on top of that and ALL the loss our family has had this year and Dennis continues to prove his love for Hannah and me over and over again.  He is a warrior at heart and in his mind.  He is truly resilient and continues to persevere through the trials.  I am so blessed to have a husband who is so loving, supportive and kind.  Thought I needed to throw that in here as until you walk in our shoes you have no clue what is required of my hard-working husband…..he truly should win some kind of award!

Until next time……..



Where Did Respect Go

There are so many issues in America today that really make me angry.  One of the top issues to me though is the war against police.  As an officer’s wife and the sister of an officer I am sure you sit there going “oh well, it affects you so much that is why it makes you angry.”  The fact is though, it should make everyone angry regardless of your connection with an officer.  Here are my thoughts:

I was taught from the day I came into this world to RESPECT the police.  I was scared of the police.  I remember at the age of 16 driving over one of many bridges here in Jacksonville.  I was nervous anyway driving and then realized I was heading in the wrong direction.  I decided to make an illegal U-turn but I didn’t see the police officer sitting there.  Of course, after making the turn I looked in my rearview mirror and saw those lights.  My legs started shaking, my hands trembling, tears began to fall…..all before I had time to pull over and stop.  He was very kind (thankfully) and gave me a warning (which I thanked him for profusely).  But, I was scared of him out of respect for him.  I can look back over my life and the encounters I have had with officers (I might have had a lead foot in my earlier years) and I have always been respectful and appreciative of their service and what they sacrifice.  It was marrying Dennis though that showed me exactly what that sacrifice looks like and I want to share that today.

After Dennis and I got married he was still working the street.  He would basically work 4-5 days on and then 4-5 days off.  They were long days when he worked.  In fact, I worked a regular 8am-5pm job and he worked a shift of 1:30pm-1am.  So, the days he worked we didn’t see each other.  We were ships passing in the night.  He would get ready for work and I would call it getting into “police mode.”  His personality would change once he put that uniform on.  Not in a bad way, just a confident and serious way.  He took and still takes his job extremely serious and his philosophy has been and continues to be to come home after his shift safely.  I remember after we got married begging him to get off the street.  I hated the shift and I was scared for him every time he walked out that door (and this was 17 years ago….imagine what it would be like today if he was still on the street).  We hadn’t been married long and he put in a transfer to Detective Division and he has been there ever since.  Of course people hear “Detective” and they think he is safe.  So let me clue you in on what he has done in his Detective career.

There have been many nights of staking out a business (especially when he was in Robbery).  There was the dreaded night-shifts, serving warrants, dealing with the scum of the earth (kinda what he does now in my opinion).  Did you know that while your kids were safely out trick-or-treating last night my husband was driving around to Sexual Predators homes to make sure they were in compliance and not passing out candy or having lights on or decorations to entice kids to come to their home?  Most people don’t realize the behind the scenes of what a lot of officers do to ensure yours and your children’s safety.  I have always said that the cops on the street are the ones directly in the line of fire.  They are in marked units and in uniform.  I have the utmost respect for our street officers, but also our undercover officers and detectives.  Do you know the danger some undercover officers have to put themselves into to get the bad guys off the street?  It is some scary stuff.  Things  you don’t hear about and you can’t ever get the real picture by watching TV shows (that isn’t reality).

Our officers, men and women leave their homes every morning, afternoon or evening KNOWING full well what their mission is and what they have to do.  They take a sworn vow to protect and defend; even if it costs them their life.  Let that sink in.  Most officers I know are married and/or have families that they leave behind each day to go into an evil, crime-ridden world to protect and defend innocent STRANGERS.  WHO does that?  Can you even fathom not having that protection?  I can’t.  I never want to live in a world without the police.  I never want to be in a situation where there is no one to call for help.

I also never want to get that call where something has happened to my husband or my brother.  BUT, that is the reality I face especially in this day and age we live in.  Kids nowadays aren’t being raised to respect the police; heck there are so many adults who don’t respect what that shield means.  We have people running for government offices who don’t respect them (Case in point…..Andrew Gillum who is running for Florida Governor has ZERO respect for law enforcement and it will be horrific for Florida if he wins).  Killing cops has become what seems to be a favorite pastime for criminals.  People don’t care anymore when an officer is shot or killed; it is just business as usual but that shouldn’t be the case.  I take it personally every time an officer is shot or killed in the line of duty because I know that could have been my loved one.  The videos of disrespect and hate that surface are difficult to watch… fact when I see someone fighting the police it makes my blood boil.

I have said many times that I know there are some bad cops just like there are bad doctors, lawyers, politicians (okay that is a lot), nurses, teachers, electricians, car salesmen, etc….every profession has a few bad apples but you don’t blame the entire profession.  I send my husband out praying for his safety and yes I am counting down the days to his retirement (11 more months).  I KNOW what he does each day and I know the types of people he has to deal with.  It is unsettling to me but I am proud of him, the profession he chose and his heart behind his chosen profession.  You see, he always wanted to be a police officer.  As a young boy the career chose him and he has done it well, just like all the other officers I personally know…..they do their jobs and they do it well.  With hearts and souls willing to sacrifice it all.  There are 3 professions that I can think of that put their lives on the line to protect you and me.  Our military, our law enforcement and our fire fighters……where is the respect for those men and women in today’s society?  It has become non-existent especially in so many of our celebrities and politicians views.  People like to throw the “bad apples” in my face and the face of society.  There is WAY more good, kind, compassionate officers than bad ones.  We need to teach our children respect for those protecting and defending us…..heck, I know some adults who need to be taught that same respect because the fact is without these men and women there would be NO law, no order and our world would be in chaos; more so than it already is.

Take it from this wife and sister……our loved ones make many sacrifices for YOU and your family…….I am so sickened by the lack of care and concern that many Americans have for those willing to pay the ultimate price for our safety and our freedom.  Law Enforcement Officers are not the problem in this society people with lack of respect and concern for human life are the problem……this brings me to my next blog post tomorrow……..

Until next time…….