My Two Valentines-How My husband taught me to love another man.

I met the love of my life at 18 years old. I was a brand new Soldier, and so was he. We fell hard and fast. We didn’t know what the future held, but we knew we didn’t want to spend another moment without each other. Before I even realized what was happening I was marrying the blue-eyed guy I locked eyes with just 4 short months earlier. 4PM couldn’t come fast enough that Friday, we piled in the car, vowed to love one another as long as we both shall live, and honeymooned at local cracker barrel with a handful of other soldiers in tow. To say we had a lot of growing up to do would be an understatement. 13 years, 2 kids, military life, and a thousand rewarding and painful lessons later, here I stand, loving another man, learning from my mistakes and building something beautiful, and my husband taught me how to do it.

Loving Nate taught me to have standards, to never settle for less than I deserve. He loved me more than anything, and even though,( due to my own insecurities,) I sometimes questioned that, the reassurance continues to exist. It exists in the form of our beautiful children, in the way we built our life. It exists in others. They saw the way he lived and loved, and they never let me forget it.

Loving Nate taught me how to communicate. Over the course of 13 years we have had to communicate in many ways about many things. Miles apart or face to face, it was a learning process. Communication is talking about the tough stuff too. The things no one wants to talk about. Life, death, guilt, interesting little conversations with a new relationship on road trips about what actually happens when someone dies. ALL of it.

Loving Nate taught me that no matter what we are faced with, if we never give up , we will be okay. Marriage, Children, Military life, Deployments, injuries, the constant fight to create a sense of normalcy, change, loss, ..soo many things, and yet still, I am okay, because I still haven’t given up. I haven’t given up on me, I haven’t given up on hope and I haven’t given up on continuing to live the life we created.

Loving Nate taught me that it’s okay to love again, it’s okay to be happy, and there is room in my heart for two. The one I loved first, and the one I’ll love last.

Loving Nate taught me to look for the good in everything. This year, I’ll grieve the loss of my first love, my heavenly valentine, but, I’ll also celebrate the gift that is my earthly valentine. I mean really who gets this lucky twice?


All or Nothing

Grief is funny, it has no timeline, and honestly I don’t know that I truly believe in these “stages” either. My grief doesn’t play by any rules, it does what it wants, and currently it is running the show. Some days I do so good, get through the days like a boss, and other days I can’t function. This is the part I need people to understand. Just because I “looked” like I was doing good one day, doesn’t always mean I will be the next day, or some random day next week. Grief isn’t an all or nothing process, finding some happiness in something, or moments of joy doesn’t take it all away. It doesn’t negate the fact that I am suddenly a solo parent making it on my own, and I am pissed about it. It doesn’t change the fact that I still wake up every single day reaching for him only to realize when I fully wake that this is my reality, and he isn’t coming back.

I thought about all of this after a comment from someone I thought was a good friend. He said, “I just didn’t expect you to be so upset still, you are going to concerts and out with friends, I thought you were doing good, what happened?”  What happened? Aside from the obvious? It’s not like I woke up better one day, and then something happened and now i’m upset about something completely unrelated. We talked this through after because the conversation just didn’t make any sense. He really had no concept of how this actually works.

I am sure others probably wonder the same thing then, when I’m out seemingly happy one day, and a crumbling mess the next. The thing is, he didn’t see what it took to get me there, he didn’t see that I tried to talk myself out of it 19 times that day, and he didn’t see me bawl like a baby when the band played a song played at my husbands funeral. I am not magically “better” because you saw me smiling yesterday.

I don’t have to be one or the other, or anything other than what I am in that moment. None of us do.

So yes, I AM doing this. Somedays I’m doing good, somedays I fully suck at life, somedays both in the same day. I am trying to find ways to create that happiness, for a little longer each time until the good outweighs the bad.


Getting Back to Me

I guess now is a better time than any to build a new life right? What better way for me to learn to not take life for granted, and  to always tell people you love how you feel. What better way to learn to take advantage of every opportunity to be happy, and live the life you love?

I wish it was that easy. I wish I could tell you I woke up one morning, decided to be happy and I just was.  I know ALL these things, and somewhere in me, I have every intention on living that way, but how do you push aside the pain, and the heartache that accompanies every single moment that I have to live without him? How do I look to the future when my own definition of the future always involved him, I don’t know. I have to redefine my future, and redefine my life.

I am not sure how I am going to do this, but I am tired of feeling like this. I have every opportunity in front of me to build a beautiful and remarkable life, and I am not taking every advantage of it. I know Nate would want me to.

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They say that public proclamation of goals, and intentions increases your success rate, and that when you seek support and accountability you are more likely to achieve your goals than when you don’t.

So, this is me, admitting that I am NOT happy, and I am so tired of pretending. This is me  taking it back to roots of who I am, rebuilding MY life, and looking to the future. I am ready to create the life I want to live. I am ready to be happy again.

I am starting here, with my list of things that make me happy, remember this is in no particular order and is by no means all inclusive, just some things that came to my mind tonight.

  1. Jesus, seriously, I can’t even grasp the gift that He is to us.
  2. My kids-who knew I would ever be capable of creating such amazing little people? I am not nearly as awesome as they are.
  3. Laughing until I cry, or feel like I am going to pee my pants, I mean really is there a better feeling?
  4. Music, all types, all the time. I turn on music when I get up, and keep it on as much as I can. Favorite genre? Hard to say, really depends on my mood, but my playlists will make you walk away shaking your head, I can promise that.
  5. Singing, I am soooo bad at it, but it makes me sooo happy.
  6. Watching my favorite movies 9848534 times just because it is on.
  7. Great friends, the kind you can tell anything, call anytime day or night, laugh and cry with, or not talk to for like 6 months and it’s perfectly acceptable.
  8. Rainy days curled up on the couch with someone you love.
  9. Good Morning Texts
  10. Babies
  11. Lip Gloss
  12. My Jeep
  13. Random Acts of Kindness
  14. Mail that is not a bill
  15. Meeting someone new
  16. A clean house
  17. Any body of water, lake, river, ocean
  18. Taking and looking at beautiful photos
  19. Clean sheets
  20. Running-the physical pain feels better than my heartbreak
  21. Backyard bonfires
  22. Camping
  23. Road Trips
  24. Traveling to a new place
  25. Concerts
  26. Stars on a clear night
  27. The whole state of Colorado
  28. Spotify Playlists
  29. Amazon
  30. Writing
  31. Sunrises
  32. Sunsets
  33. Fresh fruit
  34. Hammocks
  35. Office supplies
  36. Candles
  37. Getting up before my kids so I don’t get woke up
  38. Pedicures
  39. Lists
  40. Bread
  41. Reminiscing
  42. Pinterest
  43. Event Planning
  44. Pasta
  45. Wearing Heals
  46. Turtles
  47. Deep Conversation
  48. Self-Help Books
  49. Naps
  50. squishy pillows

What things make YOU happy?


When words aren’t enough.



Last night was a rough night, I was stressed out, the kids felt it, and they were stressed too. No one slept well which made this morning hell trying to get out the door and to school. It’s moments like these when I feel really weak, when everything seems to slow down around me, and it all becomes a blur, everything except for the pain, that seems come on strong. We pulled into the parking lot at school, and the tears are still flowing down my sweet daughter’s face. She clutched “dog” her extremely dirty, and well loved stuffed animal given to her by the EMT’s the night her Dad died. I tried not to look at her as I spoke, to prevent my tears as I told her, “You are going to school, staying home is not an option.” We walked to the front doors where we agreed to part ways. I held her for a few minutes, and sent her on her way. Her dog in hand my tiny 4th grader stepped into the hallway, surrounded by kids, but alone in her own right. My heart shattered all over again, knowing I can’t fix this for her. I can’t fix her broken heart, and I can’t certainly can’t dry HER tears with MY tear soaked hands. This is probably the biggest struggle for me. I wasn’t even there, how can I ever understand what they went through that day, and how can I fix a pain I don’t know. I can’t, and I have to learn to be okay with that. There isn’t a “fix” for this, there isn’t a magic solution, no words, actions, or material thing can ever bring him back. The only thing I have to offer them is authenticity. Letting them know that most days, I am not okay either, and thats okay. Showing them how to choose how they want to experience every day, and even in the most painful moments there is beauty, and joy, and even thought it doesn’t feel like it, we are getting stronger ever day.


Guilty for being happy-the Struggle is Real.

This morning, as I drove my son to baseball camp, I looked over at him, and I felt overcome with pride. He’s grown so much physically, and otherwise, he’s becoming a young man. It’s beautiful outside, I have the top off the Jeep, and my favorite song was on the radio. I felt happy. Genuinely Happy. And then, I shut myself down, I allowed myself to get in my own head, and I got frustrated. How can I be happy when my husband is dead? How can I be happy when my kids are growing up without a father, how the heck did I get here, why in the WORLD am I smiling in a family photo that he is NOT in? Because you still have so much to be grateful for, dummy. Because YOU are alive and breathing, and blessed.DSC_8149.jpg



Sigh, The last 13 years of my life floods me. Enter rabbit hole thinking pattern. I stole a moment of joy from….myself. I did that this morning, and I do this often. I did that, nothing else, me, my own thinking patterns, my own guilt. Why do I do this to myself, I know Nate would want me to be happy, here or not that was always his priority. I have to get out of my own head to build and live the best life I can. Whatever that looks like. I am caught between wanting to stay angry, and hurt, and wanting to live my life to the fullest, and be happy. I don’t know exactly what this is supposed to look like,  but I know being exhausted from being angry isn’t the answer. I know feeling guilty for being happy isn’t helping anyone in my world. I know not letting others love me because Nate can’t isn’t fair either. I never want to admit my own faults, who does, but it’s time. I have to make a change, I have to allow myself these moments of joy without taking them from myself moments later. I am tired of being asked how I am and feeling like if the answer is “Good,” that I have to follow up with a BUT, or even if I am good, I have to say i’m not. Fear is a liar, and guilt is fear, and today, I am letting all of that go.

#CharlieMike, grief, Grief Milestones, guilt, Life After Loss, Rebuilding, survivors guilt, Uncategorized

Five Things I Learned In My First 6 Months as a Widow

6 Months…

  • 15,724,800 seconds
  • 262,080 minutes
  • 4368 hours
  • 182 days
  • 26 weeks
  • 49.86% of 2018

It feels like its been so long, and yet, I remember that day like it just happened. It rips my heart out over and over again. Its been the most painstaking 6 months of my life, but everyday I get a little stronger. I wish there was a manual for all this, like when I walked down the long cold hall of the hospital that night without my husband that they would have handed me a magical guide that told me what the next 6 months would look like. Of course, that is not how this works, that’s not how any of this works. There have been several times in my life when I wished this, and looking back I made it through every single one, and I’m stronger for it. As I write this, I am sitting in the airport, on the second leg of my impromptu vacation because I thought if I ran away I could skip July, its not working. I didn’t have a manual, so I thought I’d share a couple things that I have learned in the last 6 months. Hopefully it can help someone else.



  1. Grief can make you do some really crazy things, things you never imagined yourself doing, things that other people probably think you are out of your mind for.  Let me give you a full picture of my current situation; I am sitting in an airport, on the second leg of an impromptu vacation, wrapped in a blanket that is very generously sprayed in the cologne of my husband. I remember the night this became a thing, I was on the phone with a friend and my daughter had gone into my bedroom and pulled a t-shirt out of Daddy’s drawer like she always did, but this time she sprayed his cologne. I walked out of the room I was in and the whole house smelled like him. It caught me off guard. I couldn’t breathe, it consumed me. I got upset with her, I didn’t mean to but it was my reaction, she didn’t know it would upset me. I didn’t expect to smell him like that. It made me cry, and then it made me feel close to him. And then I got mad because that was all the cologne we had and she just sprayed a ton of it. I panicked, and I ordered a lifetime supply, thanks Amazon. The next day I felt a little buyers remorse because that was weird. The list goes on for days, but just know that if it brings you some comfort in that moment, do it. 


2. You absolutely CANNOT do it all on your own. Surprise. I have had to ask for help. My super human abilities only go so far apparently. I am about as stubborn as they come, I like to do things on my own, I like the sense of accomplishment, and you could probably say I like to learn things the hard way, this is one of those things. In order for me to function, I have had to ask for help. I had to ask people to cut down trees, and figure out my child locks, and help me remember things. I have had to have help with simple things, and complicated things. Grief has a way of making the smallest task seem huge, and the biggest things seem not important, sometimes you need outside perspective. Accept help, ask for help, its crucial.

3. You are Not the same person you were, and you never will be. This was a hard lesson to learn for me, I hold myself to an incredibly high standard, and I am not meeting it. The person I have become is a little bit unreliable, a little bit angry, she’s unsure of herself, and then moments later she is as sure as they come. The person I have become doesn’t quite know where she fits. I am no longer part of a couple, and yet, I don’t consider myself single either. Single but not available? No, thats not it either. I am Nate’s wife, but what does that mean now?  Somedays I want to talk, and others I don’t. That old person, that old life, it’s not coming back, and in order to begin to find some happiness, we have to let go of the idea that we could ever possibly be the same after going through something so devastating.

4. You will break down and ugly cry at the most inconvenient times, let it happen. In an airplane, at church, in Target, at the beach, driving in traffic. No one tells you that you will spend entire days crying. No one tells you that you will cry over things you didn’t even know you remembered about them, and no one tells you that its also okay to not cry over something you feel like you should. Give yourself some grace.

5. You HAVE to LIVE. Its hard, I don’t want to do anything without him, I didn’t want to eat, sleep or breathe, let alone have fun. I’ve let guilt consume me at times, for having fun, for living my life. Nate wouldn’t want me to be miserable, he would want me to live the life he can’t, to live the life I want, just like I would do if he were here. Its not easy, but forcing myself to do things anyways, to make new memories, to have fun and find peace have been whats pulled me through.

We are doing this, friends. One day at a time, and if we can’t do that, one minute. Forward motion, no matter what it looks like is still forward motion.


Would you do it again?

If you had known the path you’d be given would you have walked it?

I didn’t expect that seeing this random meme on Facebook this morning would bring me to my knees, that it would make me reflect on my life, and the pieces that brought me to where I am today. It caught me off guard. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone, I wouldn’t wish the journey I have walked on anyone, but would I walk it again? Without a doubt. I still can’t quite process the series of events, but they have to point to something greater. So far, they all have. The hardest times have brought us to our knees, but from them something greater has always emerged. We couldn’t see it at the time, but looking back as we overcame each challenge, it was all there. It’s overwhelming, really. So to answer the question, yes, I would, I would walk it all again.

I would walk it again to meet him. To fall in love, and to know what true love feels like. Even if it’s the only love I ever know, and even if it means losing him all over again.

I would walk it again, to learn what true grit, dedication, and determination look like. To see him never give up on himself, or anyone else.

I would walk it again for the way he looked at me. For the way he spoke with intention, and never acted on anger.

I would walk it again to see the way others looked at him. To see the way our children looked at him.

I’d walk it for that smile, oh that smile, it lit up every room.

I would walk it again because he made me better. He made me want to be better, without ever making me feel like I wasn’t enough.

I would walk it again for the person he made me, and for the person I am becoming. For the lessons learned, for the lessons I will learn.

I would walk it again to know that I got to wake up by his side every day, until the day I wouldn’t.

I would walk it again.

I would walk it ALL again.

I would walk it all again for one more minute.





Fathers Day, grief, Life After Loss, Loss, Single Parent, survivors guilt, Vulnerability

Fathers Day after Loss

The start of summertime means pool days, bbqs, family vacation, and Fathers Day. The day we celebrate all those amazing Fathers in our lives. I couldn’t have created a better Father for my children if I sat down and wrote out a list of everything I wanted him to be and somehow manifested him into human form. Literally. Nate was patient, and kind,  and yet, he was consistent and firm. He taught them that life wouldn’t be easy, but provided them with tools to navigate it. He was working hard to shape them into strong, independent little people who love God, and love others. Their Father was busy, but he tucked them into bed every single night with prayers and heart to heart conversations. Every.Single. Night. Not going to lie, I was sometimes jealous. By the time he made it in to me, sometimes hours later, he was ready for bed. I knew Fathers Day was coming, and yet, I chose not to acknowledge it until it was literally crumbling me. I seem to have a way of doing that.

I remember our first Fathers Day together. It was around the time we had just found out I was pregnant. I was terrified. This was not how my life was supposed to look. He wasn’t terrified at all. He had the same calming ways about him that he did until the day he died. I remember going to my first appointment, he came to pick me up and brought me the book “What to expect when your expecting,” professing that he had already read the part talking about what to expect today, and presenting me with our baby’s first outfit, an orange striped Tigger character onesie. I was 19, still very much a child, but I knew in that moment that with this man, the Father of my child, I would be okay. Celebrating your first fathers Day was easy.

Celebrating this first Fathers Day though, is crushing my soul.

What now? Here we are 13 years later. Two children, and me. Alone.

Im tired.

I’m overwhelmed.

I can’t be him, and me.

So what do we do now? How can we celebrate Fathers Day when our hearts are shattered? This is just the first of many, and I know it isn’t going to get easier. I tried to buy Fathers Day cards for the other Fathers in our lives, to celebrate them, and I couldn’t.






the aisle.

I realized days later that wasn’t fair, so I went back. I cried the whole time, ugly cried, publicly. No one bothered me. They just went about picking their own Fathers Day Cards.  I didn’t want to be bothered and yet, it made me feel even more alone. The kids picked out their cards for Grandpas, and uncles, and a few others.

Without a beat, they also picked out several for their own Father.

I guess this means we will celebrate Fathers Day, as we always did. It will just look a little bit different this time.


#CharlieMike, Faith, grief, Loss, Vulnerability, Words to Live By

Grief is like an Onion

Grief is like an onion, sounds cliche right? It is, but it truly is like one. I strongly dislike onions, and I strongly dislike grief too. There is an exception, I’ll eat a blooming onion from Outback, no idea why, but that is the only way I will eat an onion. I am finding that everyday more and more layers are peeled back, some make you cry harder than others, much like onions. You don’t know what each layer is going to uncover either, so you could be just getting comfortable with the last layer and BAM! It smacks you right in the face again. For me, its the simple things, I can finally say, “he died,” and not skirt around it by saying things like “when all that happened,”

I am still having a hard time saying i’m not married, I still very much feel married to him, present or not. Saying i’m a single parent, can’t do it, even though I very much am. The word single in and of itself terrifies me, I haven’t been a single person since high school. That is terrifying.

This past weekend we went to Colorado and I got to meet my newest niece, and I had to come to terms with the fact that I will never have Nate’s baby, ever again. We spent years trying, we really thought this would be our year, we finally had a doctor who was figuring it out, long story short,  it had to do with brain stuff, and hormones, and the production of male hormones, something that no one really wanted to treat, or talk about, and at first we were just going to allow whatever happens to happen, but we finally decided to address it, and things were looking positive, and then he died. I carry a lot of guilt with that, it took me longer to decide we needed to work on this than it did him, and I can’t help but think if maybe I agreed sooner? Who knows, its a rabbit hole.

So that opens up another layer of onion, one I didn’t want to think about but my brain went there. Will I EVER have another baby? The thought makes me want to throw up, but I have time, and I don’t know what my future holds, what will that look like, how will I ever explain to another man that he will never be Nate, and Nate is my true love, and yeah, too much, I can’t right now,  it just opens layers and layers of onion that I just can’t even think about. I told Nate once if he died before me, that I couldn’t go on, I would have to die first because I literally wouldn’t be able to stand, and if he died first I couldn’t guarantee I would want to live. He told me that would be a complete waste, that if he died first I better just live my life, and do it well.  I couldn’t imagine my life without him, and yet, here I am, standing, on my own two feet, I’m okay, most days. Some days I crumble, but I pick myself up, and move forward. I feel a little stronger every day.

With Memorial Day coming up, I think i’m carrying a lot more this week, I’ll be out of town, but I’ll be able to go to Arlington and pay my respects to some friends that I haven’t been out there to see yet. I have worked through not being here to be part of that with Nate, I think he would be okay with this, we have amazing friends who are going to make sure he is taken care of here, so that helps too. The kids and I are attending the TAPS National Seminar, so it will be a good time to heal, and grow. I am going to meet up with a friend that I awkwardly avoided the last time I was in DC too, (loooong story, but a very onionesque one that I may blog about in time, )  so I am looking forward to that. I can’t help but  wonder though, is there ever a time you peel back all the layers of the onion? What happens then? Does the onion just go away?