“Time heals all wounds” – a cliche of words coined, I’m sure, by some well-intended person as a source of comfort during a time of grief.  But I call bull#@&*

Grief… deep, gut wrenching, paralyzing grief cannot be completely healed with this inevitable passing of moments in life we refer to as time.  It just can’t.  Often the rawness, the ache, the blistering red, burning wound eventually quiets some, but it’s almost always there. Always vulnerable of being broken open again.

I’m sitting here in a coffee shop on Mother’s Day.  Which simultaneously happens to be the day 9 years ago that I got a phone call, on the way to work, that my dad had a sudden and massive heart attack.

Today is a strange day, to say the least.  A part of me relishes in this role as a mom, my most fulfilling responsibility.  I am hightenedly aware of how incredibly blessed I am to even have this opportunity.  The other part of me is drowning in a seasonal wave of insurmountable grief.  I’m trying to process the time that has passed since this day. Since the days that follow this day.  The fragments of moments I can piece together, of the roller coaster of life, that flashes through those mental photos or videos in your mind.

I’m different. Broken. Pieced back together, but never the same.

I still try processing this timeline of angst, confusion, grief, self realization, strength… repeat.  I’m a (slow) processor.

Within a four year period of time, I had moved jobs, become a mom… twice, lost my dad suddenly and left my husband.  I know what you’re thinking – I left my husband because I was so broken after losing my dad.  I was broken, shattered, but the truth is my marriage died long before my dad did.

In fact, ending that marriage was probably one of the best things that happened during that time. I had lost my dad suddenly, but I’d been losing myself gradually for many years. My kids, my boys, were what gave me purpose. But outside of them I had no idea who I was anymore. What I stood for, what I loved, what I hated, what I was willing to take or give, what comprised all of the intricate parts of me.

Losing my dad, engulfing that grief, forced me to make decisions that I had been fighting to not make.   I had to choose.  I did not have the mental capacity to mourn my dad’s death and my dying marriage.  I chose to mourn my dad.  Actually, I’m not sure it was much of a choice really.

We each have our own individualized timeline of pivotal moments in life. Moments that forever change who we are, how we respond, how we think or feel, how vulnerable we allow ourselves to be.  I’m trying to remember the time between, the time that started shaping this next part of me.

That time between the phone call and his last breath…

That time between the his last breathe and his celebration of life…

That time between his marked end to leaving my husband…

That time between leaving my husband and finding a source of strength…

That time between finding strength and now…

All the beautiful, painful, simple or explosive moments that comprise what we always think starts out as a perfectly “normal” day.  The days that I thought were uncharacteristically irrelevant, to the days that had me sobbing on the floor, to the days that brought me heart-bursting joy.  Days woven in such a careful way that we never truly recognize them for what they are until they are in the deepest of our hindsight.

I’ve had thousands of incredibly simple and beautiful moments since that time.  Moments that have flashed by and moments that have kept me still. Moments where I can’t catch my breath and moments I’m rushing to get through. Moments of gut wrenching, piercing, never think you’ll heal pain and moments I would give almost anything to relive just once more.  They are each precious and purposeful in their own right… bringing healing one moment closer.

I’m still learning that there is a time for every thing.

“To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

This time thing is my worst enemy and yet my closest friend.

I’m still broken. But there’s beauty there now. Beauty that rooted itself over time.

– Rachel


p.s. I remarried that ex-husband of mine a few years later. Beauty from ashes. But that’s a moment to share at another time.



The House That Built Me…

Have you seen the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close ? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it but be prepared to ache.  There’s many profound quotes in this movie but the one that touched me the most was the young boy talking about how if the sun were to burn out it would take 8 minutes for us to realize it.  It takes 8 minutes for light to travel from the sun to the earth. For 8 minutes we would still feel warmth.

and he felt like his 8 minutes with his dad were running out.  So he sets out trying to fill in blanks to things he doesn’t know about his dad or reliving moments he had with him.  I can relate.  Every time I come across a picture I’ve never seen or a card I had forgotten about I seem to buy myself a few more seconds.  I will read all of the fortunes he collected or listen to his music we have recently been able to find all in hopes that I can delay the moment my 8 minutes are up. I still need to feel his warmth.

Memorial Day, Steve asked the boys and I if we wanted to go with him to ride go-carts and since the little guys and I were house sitting for mom we went to a place near her house.  We had a great time. Hudson and I won – shout out! 😉  and we even had time to ride the bumper boats.  I delighted in hearing the boys scream with laughter as we all tried to out drench the other.

After we left we were close to where daddy works so he drove the boys by to show them. A few blocks down I recognize a McDonald’s that was a huge visual trigger for me that we were in the neighborhood I grew up in until I was 8.  Since I could pretty much get lost in a circle, it took some convincing that I could actually find my way to the old house, so I was exceptionally pleased when I did!

As we’re driving past and I’m telling the boys that’s where momma lived when I was there age, the woman who currently lives there comes out and sits on a bench on the front porch.  My heart skips a beat because for a moment I think about how incredibly awesome it would be to go inside. I mean, who isn’t curious about how their old house looks on the inside now?  But we drive past…and I show the boys where my grandma lived and turn the corner to show them where my best friend Alicia lived…reliving childhood stories as we slowly pass each one.

We make the block to take a last look and courage overwhelms me…okay, I’ll be honest…courage I can pass off onto Steve. I somehow easily convince him to ask the woman if she would mind if we took a look inside my childhood home.  I figure the worst she can do is tell the crazy people to go away. But she doesn’t.  She immediately says sure and invites us inside. I’m stunned.

We get the boys out and the moment we step inside memories rush through me.  I’m instantly a child again – giddy with emotion and at this chance to look into the past for a few moments.  The “big” front room that my brother and I would jump from one red velvety couch to the other (jealous?),  I could now probably walk across in 3 strides. It’s funny how things seem so much bigger when you are a kid.  I point out things to the boys that are different, and SO much is the same. It’s, of course, been updated some in the last 26 years but the layout is pretty much exactly as I remember.  I ramble on about whose room belonged to whom and I decide to keep the info about how my imaginary friend Potsy B initially came to me while I was in the restroom to myself.  I didn’t want to freak the new owner out ;).

She takes us outside in the backyard and the same huge tree that Nathan and I had a tire swing on still stands majestically. The tree we leaned against to count for hide and seek and tagged as “home base”.  I don’t know why this is the particular memory that makes the tears finally spill, but it is.

And I allow the memories to come….

of Nathan and I playing outside on the swing set

my dad’s tomato garden

the hole in the fence where the neighbor kid and I would talk to and spy on each other

the old, rough couch that use to sit on the back porch (don’t judge people;)

busting a boy’s mouth at my birthday party with the see saw

playing with the water sprinkler in my purple swimsuit

the stage of plywood that my dad promised would one day be a playhouse

feeding my uncle’s hyper dog that would jump all over me and tear up my legs

the shed…the way it smelled

my chicken Johnny

I literally have to swallow the intensity of my emotions because if I don’t, it will be an ugly cry.  As we walk back inside, the sweet woman who lives there introduces us to her two boys. She is a single mom and she works as a daycare teacher at the daycare I went to when I was little!! and get this?!  the same director is still there! 40 years this year she said.  and I have to pause for a minute to realize how God put all of this together…it’s not just a small world. It’s His world.

She walks us out and I thank her profusely for allowing me this opportunity.  She is kind and gracious and even invites us back. I tell her that my brother would love to see the house and she doesn’t miss a beat, saying “bring ’em”.  We’re about to get in the car and I have this flash of hand prints. I’m not sure if it’s a real memory but it keeps nudging me so I ask her if there are hand prints or anything in the concrete anywhere? She tells me that the name Rachel is written in the driveway somewhere.

“That’s me,” I can’t help but scream!!

Without hesitating, she goes in the house to get her car keys and backs her car out to reveal two small hands and two small feet with the name “RACHEL” and the date DEC ’80 written between them.

The sob rising in my throat catches for just a moment before I can’t hold back anymore.  It’s my dad’s handwriting.

I hug this stranger tight and weep deeply telling her that she will never know what she did for me…

…she gave me 8 more minutes

In the depths of my heart…

found this fun site to make word clouds… and when I typed in my blog this is how it turned out.  Just some plain ole Fun 😉

no longer “free”…FOUR baby!

My “baby” boy Hudson hit a big milestone this Monday (or a big milestone for this momma anyway;).  He isn’t “free” anymore…he is now the big FOUR!!

I don’t know why FOUR seems like such a big number to me – but wow, it does.  It’s no longer a baby or a toddler. As he often let’s me know, he’s a big kid now.  A big kid with a big personality ;).  He is strong-willed and sometimes makes this momma oh so tired, but I admire how strong he is.  And I have no desire to break his will – I pray I can gracefully raise a boy who’s “strong will” becomes a strong self-motivated man of integrity.

I am so proud and just plain happy to be this boy’s momma!! His giggle is infectious, his hugs and kisses make me melt. He seems to have a very intuitive spiritual gift.  I love you Hudson Isaac Elder from here to the moon!! Happy Happy Birthday sweet pea!

Two Hands…

We spent ALL of Saturday celebrating this little man.  Daddy came over and we all went to breakfast. I pulled out some candles (which quickly had to be narrowed down to a single candle 😉 for his pancakes and we all sang Happy Birthday to him. Afterwards we went to Buffalo Nickel to play games and mini-golf.  Then we took the boys to a hibachi restaurant for lunch – where they had a blast!! The chefs are, of course, extremely entertaining. Ian’s favorite part was the explosive volcano he made out of a stack of onions.

I could never put into words what it feels like to be this boy’s momma…

He is smart and witty. He is sensitive and loving. He is a perfectionist (which he did NOT get from me;). He is ridiculously handsome…I mean just look above!! and he’s already girl crazy…sigh 😉

I remember the literal burst of what can only be described as “love” I could feel in my chest the moment I saw his little body for the first time.  I cannot explain what it is like to hold your child for the first time… it is like having your heart outside of your body.

….and now 6…SIX years later….(wipe tears away)  – that’s TWO HANDS people!!! It takes two hands for my little man to show you how old he is.

as hard as it is to let him grow up, I absolutely love watching each step he takes! I get to be a part of his journey…gently (and sometimes not so gently;) guiding his way, praying all along the way that I carry a light strong enough for him to follow. I could not be more proud of this boy who made me a momma for the first time!  I love you Ian Micah Elder!!! Happy Birthday sweet boy, I love you from here to the moon!

Soccer days

Both of the boys tried their feet at soccer this fall (I know…bad pun. I can’t help it;)  Ian was on the team Blue Lightening.  He absolutely LOVED everything about the sport – especially the socializing on the sideline and snacks after the game! He really did have a blast playing. His super sweet coach, Lisa, taught him a lot and was very patient with the kiddos.  We are taking a break this spring, while he is taking Spanish and Hudson will play t-ball, but he is SO ready to kick it back up again in the fall!! 😉

Hudson’s team was called the Lil’ Geckos and they were SUPER cute to watch. The 3 year old division is co-ed so Hudson only had one other little boy on his team and they were instant friends.  If you have never watched 3 year olds try to play an organized sport…I HIGHLY recommend it! It will make your day!  Besides the obvious of making goals for the opposite team, they will often just decide to sit down and take a break or run after an airplane they see in the sky.

Soccer days are some of my sweetest memories…

It melts this momma’s heart to see my boys learning and playing and making new friends. How innocent and just plain FUN life is for and with them!

They completely fill my heart.

100 days

In celebration of  the 100th day of school…

and 101 days of school…