Friday, November 4, 2011


I finished reading The Lovely Bones today and came across the following line written from the perspective of a girl who was killed but she had the capability to watch her family from her "heaven."  The passage said, "My father dreamed that one day he might teach another child to love ships in bottles.  He knew there would be both sadness and joy in it; that it would always hold an echo of me."

Bittersweet.  This is a word I have not just known the definition to, but I've lived its meaning and it's not fun.  I lived it when people saw me with Brooks and asked if he was my only one before innocently asking if I would have more.  I lived it as I completed pre-school enrollment papers for him - leaving all of the contact information for the father blank.  I lived it when getting Brooks his passport and I was told by three different people that I wouldn't be able to get it for him unless my husband was there with us too.  Finally I had to just tell them that his death certificate was in my purse.  Ah, yes, I know bittersweet.  To an extent I live it everyday.  But I also know redemption.

Yesterday I finished reading Redeeming Love and I related even moreso to the concept found there:  I have been redeemed.  The Lord didn't hang me out to dry; He sent me someone to live my life with and for that I will forever be grateful.  My heart, which once was broken, has been repaired.  It's full.  It's content. 

My sister got married a month ago and Patrick was able to come in town for her wedding.  The Beasleys, Keith's parents, were also coming in town for her wedding and when they found out Patrick would be there they were happy because they could spend some time with him.  Patrick's parents, the Copelands, also came in town for the celebration and they were able to meet the Beasleys.  It was upon realizing that this situation could take place - a merging of my past with my future - that my heart was overflowing.  In case that wasn't enough, both the Beasleys and the Copelands had breakfast together with Brooks the morning after the wedding.  At one point we were all at my parents' house - Patrick, my parents, his parents, Keith's parents, Brooks and me - and as I watched everyone spending time together I could hardly comprehend it.  I can't tell you how much it meant to me for that weekend to have happened. 

My goal in the near future is to be a better blogger...we'll see.  Now that I've finally sat down to write I feel like there are a million things I want to talk about.  Have a good weekend.  :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

the bema...

Last Sunday I sat through a very powerful message.  It was only the first half and the second half will be this weekend on Saturday evening and two services on Sunday.  I would like to encourage you to watch the video (I think it will only be online for the weekend) and if you live in the Dallas area to attend the second part in person at Bent Tree Bible Fellowship.  More information should be on the website: then click on the link that says CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE BEMA PART ONE.  I think it's close to an hour, just so you know.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Isabella came home with Mark on her heart. The project for the dads got her thinking a lot about her Papa. But she dealt with it so well! She really amazes me. She told me how she did a project that says Papa and there is a picture of her to put in the word. She seemed a little sad at first, and then she decided it would be a great idea to put the project in the playroom with a picture of Papa in it. How amazing is she? She also came home and drew a picture of our family and Mark with angel wings and a golf club.
I picked her up today by myself so that we could spend some alone time together. What a great day I picked! I think she really needed it after today.
She also mentioned to me that she heard Marks favorite song on her teachers phone...I don't know if this is true but she said it was amazing. We always find ways (and God always send us little signs) that Mark is with us...

We went to get a dessert at La Madeline and then went to pick Anna up so she could see her school.
Anna had been waiting for me for a while and was sitting on the teachers lap when we went into the classroom. I let Bella walk in without me and go up to her and you should have seen Anna's reaction...I really wish I had video of it because you would think that she had not seen us in a was so heartwarming to see Anna get so excited and with tears in her eyes hugging her sister because she could not belive Isabella was in her school! Then she saw me and kept running from Isabella to me yelling our names and tearing up. It was one of the sweetest moments of my life....I can only imagine what it will feel like to see Mark again. I find peace knowing that at the end of our wonderful life here on earth we will have reunions like this in heaven with all of those that we have lost and love so much.

Monday, September 5, 2011 a nutshell...

Last March Patrick and I realized that our friendship had the capability to blossom into something great.  He decided to book a flight from Australia to Dallas over the Easter holiday and then we flew to Birmingham to visit some of my friends.  It was important for me to see how he would interact with Brooks and vice versa.

They loved each other.

After spending more time together in Dallas I knew that the Lord was blessing me with the chance to have a traditional family and experience love in a way that I thought was gone.  I called Keith's mom around the first of May to let her know that I had found someone for Brooks and me and that it was serious.  I hope anyone in a similar situation is as lucky to have such a solid response given as the one I received from her.

In June I went to Australia for three weeks. 

We had a blast...

and fell in love.

He flew to Lake Tahoe in July to join my family for a week-long family vacation.  His parents flew in for the weekend and everyone enjoyed meeting and spending time with one another.

Patrick helped Brooks with his golf game...
took him fishing...

and we all just enjoyed being together.

On this trip, Patrick spoke with my dad regarding our future...

so we would like to let you know...

that we're getting married.  :)  Yay!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


On August 28th, 2010, Keith left his earthly body and began life anew.  August 28th landed on a Sunday this year and I found myself sitting next to my mom at church.  When the pastor began speaking I simply looked at my mom and said, "Are you freaking kidding me?"   It was fantastic.

I want to share this sermon with you in case you're missing Keith or someone else equally as special to you.  It really is good.  CLICK HERE.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

happy birthday to you...

Today would've been Keith's 33rd birthday.  Happy birthday, Keithy.  I miss him everyday but today was harder than most.  I took Brooks out to celebrate and we had a really good time.  We went to the Melting Pot, somewhere Keith and I had been, and had a really fun time together.  As we were driving away Brooks saw one of his favorite things, the moon.  He said, "The moon!!!"  I said, "You know who is up with the moon?  Daddy!!!"  We then turned and and he said, "Can't see moon!"  I looked and said, "The moon is behind us - but the moon sees us."  It was at this point that I realized the metaphor.  I continued to say, "The moon is watching us to make sure we're okay."  And that's how it is.  Keith is in the heavens....but he's watching.  And he's happy.   Happy birthday, Keithy.  I've been wondering how they do bdays in heaven.  Can't wait to see you and celebrate together.  Love you tons.  xoxox

Friday, June 17, 2011

a new season...

I did it.  I finished my school year on Wednesday.  While this might not seem like quite a feat, to me, it's huge.  Last summer, right around this time, I felt like the Lord was preparing me to go back to work.  I had so many reservations about this, but I knew that if it was meant to be then things would fall into place.  Long story short, they fell into place perfectly.  More than perfectly.  However, at that point there were still so many things going on that my mind couldn't comprehend how working would even be possible.  Keith passed away on August 28th, 2010 and I missed the last bit of teacher in-service plus the first three weeks of school.  Once I started back I remember thinking several times, "Man, I hope I can get through this year.  If I can just make it to the end..."  And I did!

The kids left last Thursday and at the end of the day when I was in my room by myself I looked up to the ceiling and said, "I did it, Babe.  I did it."  And I felt so...accomplished.  More times than not I've found myself looking back this year to where I was the previous year at the same time.  Last year at this time Keith was in the nursing home and his hospital trips were becoming more frequent and more serious.  I've been through much since then and I've come a REALLY long way.

I'm ready to see what this next year has in store and I pray it's full of good things.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


After Keith died I had to face the realization of my situation - I no longer had a husband and Brooks no longer had a father.  Deep within me I really hoped that the Lord had someone else out there for me, but of course I was unsure.  Whenever I would think about it I automatically thought of this person as my #2 with Keith obviously being my #1.  The more that I thought of this the more discouraged I got.  I didn't want a #2, I wanted another #1.  A #2 to me would be settling and, consequently, not what I wanted. 

What Keith and I had was terrific.  Top-notch.  Solid.  We spent significant amounts of time just hugging because we fit together like a puzzle.  In fact, I can see the two of us in our kitchen.  It's locked in my memory.  We would stand there, embracing, and Keith would let out a deep breath before simply saying, "Just like a puzzle," and I would repeat, "Like a puzzle," and there we would remain.  He was made for me and I was made for him.  Several times we spoke about how we might not have tons of money, but we were rich in love and that's the best way for it to be.  He would say, "We may not have a back yard.  We don't even have our own mail box.  But I have you and that's all I need."  He said those types of things and he meant it.  And after thinking about these things I made a decision - I was no longer looking for my #2; I wanted a 1B.  I didn't want a step down; I wanted a continuation of what I had since time with my 1A was cut short.

I decided that I wanted someone of Keith's caliber and that if it wasn't possible, then I wasn't interested.  I had five fantastic years of marriage and was fortunate to have conversations with Keith about how we might have loved each other more in those five years than some people love in a whole lifetime.  This formed the basis and foundation of what I was looking for as I thought about what I wanted for the remainder of my life.

I quickly realized that I was not looking for someone to come in and save the day.  I wasn't miserable.  I was making ends meet and planning for the future.  I didn't need someone to swoop in and pull me out of a terrible situation.  My situation was far from ideal, but manageable, and I had come to terms that there was a really good possibility that I might've had a lifetime of marriage packed into five short years.  There might not be anyone else out there for me.  If that was the case then I was okay with it;  I would be content knowing that what I had was real.

I also realized that what I was hoping to find was a tall order.  I'm sure there is a chunk of the population that doesn't find it once so who am I to think I'll find it twice?  Did this person even exist?  And if so, would he understand what he's signing up for?  Would he understand my situation?  Would he be able to love Brooks like his own?  Would he feel like he's living in Keith's shadow?  Yep, a tall order for this one I was hoping to find. 

At the first of this year I decided I wanted to take a trip somewhere this summer.  A trip of a lifetime.  I didn't know where or with whom, just that I wanted to do something BIG.  I stumbled across our friend from San Diego who had recently moved to Australia and thought I might be on to something.  He was Keith's friend and I really only knew him in passing.  I knew a lot about him, however, because Keith LOVED him.  He ended up moving away from San Diego and landed in Keith set him up with all his buddies. 

In April of 2009 Keith had his accident.  Patrick came to Austin and cried over his buddy who was laying in a hospital bed.  He read him scripture and prayed over him.  Later that fall, before he moved to Australia, he sat in the nursing home with Keith, Brooks and me just as many of Keith's friends did throughout his time in various hospitals. 

As odd and random as it might've seemed for me to plan a trip to Australia, it always seemed completely normal.  Although I didn't really know Patrick, I felt like I did because of how much Keith revered him.  As my trip began unfolding, Patrick and I began communicating more and more.  Suddenly there was a shift in our conversations and we both realized the magnitude of what we were dealing with.  It's still very early, but I think I found my 1B. 

Not all that long ago I thought that if there was somebody out there for me it would be because I was scraping the bottom of the barrel.  From there I became completely content in my situation and trusted the Lord to provide in whatever shape He deemed appropriate.  Never would I have imagined that He would blow my mind and knock my socks off at the same time. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Marathon...

I did something on March 27th, that I have been wanting to do since the day Mark passed: I attended the Rock n Roll Half Marathon - the 1/2 marathon Mark ran last year. I went with my dear friends Miles and Sarah Durham. We got there late and stayed for about 2 hours. We worked our way to the finish line and a nice police officer took us to the paramedics' tent right at the finish line. My heart pounded being there and I know that this is what Mark lived during the last seconds he was on this earth. I felt very close to him.

Last summer I went to "the site" and it was so surreal. Right next to where I was told Mark collapsed there was a pole with a yellow sign on it with a big black "9" and the word "yellow". When we were there, I turned to Sarah and said "Wow, it's like he is here saying hello!" The number 9 was Mark's trademark through all his athletic events - he even marked his golf balls with a red or black 9.

At the time I was blown away with that I saw, but it brought so much comfort. It is signs like this that kept me going all year - and they have not stopped. There have been WAY too many to list here...some people refer to them as "God's winks,"...I like that.

Even though you see those signs, sometimes you think that those things happen to get you through that moment, but the more they happen to me the more I see God's reassurance and I hear Him say - "Don't doubt that I am here." So I obey.

Back to the marathon - I asked around to see if I could speak with a paramedic that was there last year. When I told them who I was they looked at me like I was crazy for being there. Finally, one of the paramedics (actually the second one to get to him) spoke to me. She was very nice and tried to remember as many details as she could. She showed me exactly where he fell, what his symptoms were, and answered the most important thing to me - Did he have a chance to know what was happening? She said that he probably did not know what was happening, but that he was conscious enough to hear them tell him that he did finish the race and I know that in those few seconds he thought of my girls and me and God.

I was also able to get the images I have been living with for the past year (ones that I had created) out of my mind and saw what he actually lived, breathed, heard, smelled and saw for the last hours of his life up to the last seconds.

So as all of this is happening, Brett Michael (yes, from Poison), is playing in the background and screaming in his typical manner. Of course, this kind of ruined the mood a little and broke up the seriousness of what I was experiencing. This is something that has happened to me throughout this whole year - when I want to get really down Mark won't let me (most of the time).

We stood there for about an hour and a half or so and before the last couple of runners crossed the finish line the police officer let Sarah, Miles, and me cross the finish line. We stood where they told us it all went down. We said a prayer and right then "Every Rose has a Thorn" started playing. Mark played this on the guitar ALL the time. It was perfect. I was actually thankful for Brett Michaels at that moment. Miles got a medal for me and told me I deserved it after the year I have had and what I have accomplished.

We then saw the last person cross the finish line and the very peppy cheerleader finish off the race and ride off on the hood of the pace car. We joked about how she might have been Mark's last thought - she had a lot of energy! The mood was good and I felt so released from the past year. I don't know how to describe it, and please know I hope this does not offend anyone, but I felt like I could start my life again.

I have felt Mark with me at ALL times. This time, as I was leaving the fairgrounds, I felt him say to me that he would be with me, but in a different way now. To live my life, to close the book on the suffering and loss and instead remember the great life he led and we shared together. To take care of the girls and myself, to look forward to my life. And the greatest thing - that he was okay with that.

As we walked out of there, I felt renewed. I never thought that going to the marathon would give me this much peace, but it did. God works in such mysterious ways. You just have to be open to receiving His grace. It is abundant!!!

I waited a couple of weeks to share this experience because I wanted to make sure it was true. That the grief I have felt has been lifted up. So far, even though I have missed him, I feel like Mariana again, as opposed to the grieving young widow and mom of 2. Don't get me wrong, this is very difficult but I felt re-energized and capable to live my life. I feel we have adjusted.

It feels good to breathe again and most of all, continue to feel the hope, faith and trust I have learned to live with this past year. Regardless of what happens, I know He will provide.

I do want to mention that I could not have gotten to this stage of my life without the help and support of all of my friends, family and people I do not even know. The power of prayer is amazing and it has carried me through this experience. As always, I want to thank all of you for every prayer and support given to us. When I have my down and challenging days, I offer it up for all of you who have prayed for us, that you may see God's grace as clearly as I have.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we enter this next year of our lives...

Friday, April 1, 2011


An old friend of mine recently experienced a loss at the high school where he coaches.  A student in the senior class was in a condition similar to Keith's and ended up passing away after a couple of months in that condition.  He emailed me wanting to know certain things and after responding I wondered if other people might benefit from me sharing our conversations.  I copied and pasted the communication then realized it was super lame and decided against sharing it.  When I told him I changed my mind about sharing it he told me that I should because it really might be helpful.  I was very frank in my responses and was going to tone them down for this so I don't end up sounding like a total a-hole, but figured if I was sharing my honest thoughts to him then I should share my honest answers on here.  He told me that the bluntness is what makes the answers effective and that the truth is our friend and should be embraced.  This is just my take on my situation and I know that everyone views and appreciates things differently.  How I thought and what annoyed me might have been what got someone else through a similar situation so please know that nothing is meant to offend.  Anyway, this is it and please remember that the responses were to someone I am very comfortable with.  If I was responding to someone different I would've been much more polite.  Feel free to read it if you so desire:

Okay - I'll do my best to answer these. Although very similar, my situation was also very different based on the amount of time that passed. If Keith would've passed away just after two months I don't really know how I would feel. Actually, he was dying (one of the seven times) close to that timeframe. In July he suffered massive heart failure and I was told he wouldn't make it through the night. He also had the same blood infection that Luke had except he acquired it in May as I was giving birth to Brooks. I was told I couldn't even see him even though I was just three floors up because the infection was so severe. I digress...

What did you want to hear? Was it simply people's presence or words?

I didn't really want to hear anything. People are stupid and they don't know what to say so they end up rambling and making no sense. To me, the only people that get it are those who have been through something similar and they are the ones who speak the least.  Just knowing people were there if I needed them was enough.

What encouraged you? What gave you hope?

See, this is going to be TOTALLY different for them. I was encouraged that I could regain my life and move forward. I believe that I will have a second shot at a happy home because I'm still relatively young and Brooks is awesome. I had and still have hope that the Lord has someone else out there for me. However, that family will probably not ever have another son. It's probably like the Beasleys. Keith is gone and that's all they have. In all honesty, it would be extremely difficult in that situation. I mean, what do you hope for? That they come back? That you don't forget the memories because that's all you have? I don't know. I guess you fall back on the fact that as Christians you will see them again so you know it's only a matter of time before that happens.

Was there a sense of relief, closure, bitterness (the range)?

MAJOR relief. Major. It was time and I believe we both knew that. I think that somewhere deep within Keith knew Brooks and I would be okay if he left us and deep within I knew Keith needed to be made whole. My biggest fear was that Keith would remain in that condition forever - or at least until we were grandparents or something. If that was the case, I knew what my future held for me and it wasn't exactly encouraging. I couldn't make plans, I couldn't go out of town, I couldn't do anything because I never knew when Keith would have a downturn and end up back in the ER, then ICU, then who knows where. When I drive by places where Keith was admitted - Baylor Hospital, the nursing home, Select Specialty Hospital - I still blow kisses towards the building, think of him and say, "I miss you, Babe," but I am SO GRATEFUL that I can keep on driving to wherever it is that I'm headed.

Our school is devastated and we even had counselors in to tell the faculty what to say, what not to say, how to respond to the questions.

I would LOVE to know what the counselors told you guys to say and not say. Please indulge...

He was admired by all and folks are just stunned. I don't know if the time itself helped (not losing him right away)? However, maybe you can answer that for me as well. The loss sucks, but I wonder if the time in the coma helped others reconcile - being able to still talk, caress, pray with and for, read to and stuff like that.

Yes, the time helped FOR SURE. Because it was so sudden, the time allowed me to wrap my brain around what was happening and let me get used to being on my own. I still had Keith there so I could go and talk to him, cuddle with him, and try to hash out our situation even though he couldn't respond. The more I did that the more I realized that I COULD do it without him. I wouldn't trade those 18 months for anything. However, I wouldn't wish them upon anyone either. My situation worked for me and it was what I needed to be able to deal with everything. I can't help but believe that your friends had the length of time specific to their needs as well. At least that's what I hope. I hope this is what you were looking for and that it helps in some way. If my answers produced more questions then send 'em over. :)

I think the Srs to whom Luke was close go day to day and are now struggling with the guilt of enjoying themselves, having fun, etc. It was tough because he was such a dynamic young man, ton of integrity. He just drew people to him. He was a starter in baseball, football, basketball and in fine arts as well. Stud. The next big Sr markers: graduation, Sr trip, those might be tough.

If it comes up, tell them there should be NO guilt. Luke would want them to have fun and do things the same as if he was there doing it with them. Of that I am sure. Oh, ha, that reminds me of another thing that people did that was SO ANNOYING. They would send me forwards of stuff that was really lame. The one that comes to mind based on what you said about him is a poem about how God only takes the best. That's how he chooses who to call Home - only the best. It said how Heaven needed that person more than the people left on Earth. This type of stuff drove me crazy because 1) it's lame and 2) it's foundationally wrong.

You had a great trip to *Eden* I see! How are you these days?

The Virgin Islands were SO MUCH FUN. Jessica and I had a blast. It was tough, though, because that was one of the last trips I took with Keith. Jessica and I stayed at the same house and ended up doing a lot of the same stuff (restaurants, beaches, etc) from when I was there before so it's like I saw Keith everywhere. However, by doing that I think I am crossing bridges that will ultimately take me to where I want to be.

I think what was most striking/cringe-worthy was the 'prophecies' the family received and probably you, too.  "Your son will wake up on the 40th day!"  Uh, no, he didn't and he died on the 72nd day.  I know folks meant well, but that stuff in the midst of our prayers may have been a buoy to them for a moment.

The prophecies and visions made it much more difficult. I've wondered about it because on one hand it gave me hope, but on the other hand the people were wrong. Hope is good, but it made it that much harder once Keith was gone. Of course the people meant well, but it was still a pretty crappy deal.

We got the news on the way home from a baseball game and I had one of his best friends in the car with me. I told him and he just sobbed all the way home. You know, Luke was essentially ‘gone’ but the finality of that moment really struck me. For you, what was that moment like when it was ‘final’?

The final was one that I dreaded. I didn't want to be there. Of course I was each time they said it was happening, but I never wanted to actually see it. I would go to be there for Keith, but deep down I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to see him take his last breath and realize he would never take another. It's not how I wanted to remember him. Consequently, the day it happened I wasn't there. His mom was at the nursing home and the nurses asked her to step out while they bathed him. He passed away during the bath. When she came back in she said that he looked different, something was different. She called me immediately and said, "Judy, honey, you need to get up here now." I could tell by her voice that something was different. I knew what was going down and I took my time getting ready. I didn't just change clothes real fast, I decided what I wanted to wear. It was really strange because I thought: what am I going to wear the last time I see Keith? I did this before at the hospital when I stopped his medicine and blood pressure medication. His family flew in and I remember wearing my shirt that appropriately says: Save Me. Anyway, the phone rang a minute or two later - not more than five - and I was simply told, "He's gone." My shoulders relaxed and I let out a deep breath. My mom gave a loud wail and we hugged while she said, "He's at peace. He's whole. He's with the Lord." Then I dried my hair and went up to see his body. It's a very strange and surreal situation. It's so crazy to me that I even have that story to tell.

So, is it cathartic to go through the details of the 'day' or does it just suck the life out of you?  Yeah, when do you start to process "I'm available"?

Nope, not cathartic.  At least not yet.  It just pretty much blows - for lack of a better term.  I found out the other day that he's still frozen.  That sucked too.  It's exhausting.  Takes a bunch out of me.  I actually blogged about it earlier since my wheels were turning after emailing you. 

Thanks again for taking the time to respond. Cory and I pray for you often and my prayer specifically for you is for Brooks to have a father that loves God so much that all he can do is have that love pour out to you and Brooks…and that he has lots of money!

Hahahaha - keep that prayer going...I like it. You hit the nail on the head!  :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

where I'm coming from...

My sister and I went to St. Thomas for spring break.  We had a really great time and it was a trip I needed to take.  See, this was one of the last vacations Keith and I took together and when the opportunity presented itself for Jessica and me to go, I really wanted to make it happen.  We stayed at the same place and ended up doing a lot of the same things that Keith and I did a few years before.  This was difficult at first because it was as if I saw Keith everywhere I looked.  The house we stayed in overlooks a golf course.  As I looked out toward the water, my mind saw Keith with his friends hitting golf balls.  As Jessica and I went to different beaches I saw Keith sitting in the sand smiling at me.  Winking at me.  Loving me.  This was both hard and healing. 

Once I was back my dad received a letter regarding my grandmother, the one who passed away in February.  Her body was donated to science, as was Keith's, and the letter was asking for direction on where to send her remains.  It stated that if they do not hear back within forty-five days then her ashes will be spread in their memorial garden. 

My brain froze.  Did I get a letter like this?  I didn't think so.  But maybe I did?  What if it was when I was so overloaded with paperwork that I didn't open it or never saw it to begin with?  Is Keith in their garden?  This made me sick to my stomach and I didn't know how to proceed.  After a day-long funk I realized I had to call and see what the status was.  I thought other phone calls I made were tough, but this was one of the worst. 

I called the medical center and told them I needed to the know the status of someone who was brought there.  I mean, really, how do you word this?  She looked it up and told me that Keith had not been cremated.  I responded by saying, "What does that mean?"  Obviously I know what that means, but I was at such a loss as to how to ask what I wanted to know:  Where is he and what condition is he in?  I don't know for certain, but her guess was that due to Keith's age and maybe his condition, he would be used in some sort of military course to help with those types of injuries.  He will remain frozen until this course becomes available. 

I hate thinking about this.  It's like as soon as I feel like I'm making real progress and moving on I find out something like this.  I really hate my initial reaction:  If his body is still here, then maybe I can go see him.  Who thinks this?  And if I'm really honest, I hate my reaction to my reaction as I try to justify why it's not a sick thought to have:  It's pretty much like how he was for over a year, except frozen, and I really want to see him.  It's totally sick and I hate that my thoughts even go there.  Because it's sick.  Of course I don't want to see Keith like that.  I want to burn those images into my brain of him sitting on the beaches of St. Thomas and St. John smiling at me.  Winking at me.  Loving me. 

That's what I want to remember and that's what I'll never forget. 

Monday, March 28, 2011


weekend with friends in San Antonio...

San Diego friends in Florida...
Pensacola, Florida...

St. Thomas

St. John

get busy living...

...or get busy dying.  Keith and I watched "The Shawshank Redemption" many times and it was one of our favorite movies.  In fact, people have asked if that's where we came up with the name Brooks - it's not just in case you're wondering now, too. 

I have been missing Keith big time lately.  Overall I am doing really well, but I still feel like there is a huge void within me.  It's almost as if the more I move on, the more I miss him.  But I continue on because that is the girl he married so, in part, I do it for him.  Mainly I move on for Brooks but I also do it for me. 

I continue to take trips and see friends and plan more fun things to do in the future, but the void remains because the ONE person I want to do these things with won't be joining me.  Ever.  And that sucks.  I have found that the more I do these things the easier it becomes and that leads me to believe that I am healing.  However, then I I forcing the process?  Am I doing things to propel myself in the right direction?  All of the psycho-babble and reasons for doing things is enough to make you crazy without the weight of your problems.  But when I cut away the fluff I see the choice I am making:  to get busy living.  And I'm okay with that.  This process takes time and I'd rather get through it living rather than dying.  Maybe I'll post some Spring Break pictures when I have the chance.  :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

my grandma...

My grandma is going to die today.  I got a call from my mom yesterday as I was driving home from the gym.  She told me to hurry home because my grandma had a massive stroke and they were careflighting her to the hospital.  After I got home we learned that they were actually careflighting her to a stroke recovery hospital in Dallas which meant my family would all get to see her sooner.  It turns out she had a brain aneurysm and consequently was suffering a massive brain bleed, the worst one a person can have.  She was put on a ventilator and we were told she would not recover.

As the nurse spoke I hated that my family was in a situation that seemed all too familiar only with another loved one in the hospital bed.  I hate that we knew what questions to ask.  I hate that we understood everything she was saying.  I hate that we all had to politely nod as she explained about brain swelling and what happens when the pressure begins to affect the brain stem.  I hate that my dad had to spend another night in ICU.  I hate that this will be the third death in my family in six months.  But I'm glad that we were able to go and tell her goodbye and that we'll be there as she takes her last breath this afternoon.  I'm glad that I have thirty years of memories with her.  I'm glad that I saw her on Saturday and the first thing she asked me about was a trip I'm taking this summer.  I'm going to visit a friend, he really is just a friend, and she said, "Tell me about this boy you're going to see?"  I said, "What do you want to know?"  She said, "Is he attractive?"  I said, "Actually, he's extremely attractive."  She said, "So is he going to move here?"  I laughed and said, "Grandma, he's just a friend."  Then she said, "You need somebody local.  You need to find someone who will take you out to dinner.  Because men that take you out to dinner are fun."  And then she giggled.  I'm glad that that is one of the last things she said to me in addition to telling me she loved me.  And I'm glad that SHE was out to dinner - with her man-friend - having fun as she experienced her last earthly thoughts.  But most of all, I'm glad that the Lord chose her to be my grandmother.  I will miss her dearly but rejoice knowing I will see her again.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

the weekend of love...

Mariana and I had plans to go out on Friday night.  As we were determining good days to go it took a little while to realize it was Valentines Day weekend...oh well, we thought, no big deal.  In theory, the two of us going out for a low-key night on the town seems very normal - people do it all the time.  However, the surreal-ness of our situations creeps up during times like this and the magnitude of what we're dealing with makes it hard to wrap our brains around.

We were sitting downtown at Victor Tangos having a good time when the parallel of a different time was realized.  It's something we would have been doing ten years ago in Lubbock but with a totally different mindset.  Who would have thought that so much could have changed in that length of time?  Ten years ago we were in college with nothing but high hopes for our futures.  We had both met the men we would marry and the world was ours.  We led happy lives, loved wholeheartedly and started families.  Life was good.  Then our husbands died and we were left to fend for ourselves on behalf of our family that remained.  So rather than get upset about this, we laughed and we joked.  We told happy stories and started making new dreams for our new futures.   We talked about how even if we met some cute boys we couldn't have them go to the next place with us because there were too many car seats in the car and no one could fit.  And we were thankful that out of everything we could've done that night, we wanted to go out somewhere different and fun rather than meeting at the neighborhood Applebee's or nowhere at all simply for the fact that this weekend is the weekend of love and our loves are no longer with us.  Yes, we are the girls in unimaginable situations but we are doing our best to move on and regain some of the footing that was lost.  Happy Day of Love, everyone.  xoxox

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Approaching 1 year...

Well, this month will be 11 months...I remember everything we did the whole month of January and February last year mainly because we were so happy and so many things were starting to change for us. We had big plans and we were excited about them. Our baby girl turned 1 year old and we were so in love with our daughters.
He was also traveling a lot and missed a lot of fun things with the girls and I and I missed him being gone. I could not wait for him to be home. At the same time I was getting myself ready for him being gone for 6 weeks and travel more frequently.
Little did I know then that God was preparing me for this. But looking back at all the emotions that I went through exactly a year ago I am amazed at how God prepared me in a way. There are too many things that happened exactly a year ago to list here, but just trust me when I say it is amazing.

My relationship with God has changed too. I have not been able to go to Bible study or immerse myself in any kind of study or prayer group right now - even quite time. I am too raw. Too much talking or too much quite time are not good for me right now. And I am ok with that. I know my limit. But I do feel such a sense of comfort in that I do not feel farther away from God in any way. Instead I feel like the "Footprints in the Sand" poem.
I feel like I am completely in the hands of God and He is carrying us through this journey of healing. I feel that He is in everything we do everyday. He hears every cry I send his way, every heart ache I endure during the days. He is in my girls life and heart. I know that the path God leads us on will be good. I don't know what that path is and it might be something completely different from what I envision for us right now, but that is why I am learning to live in the present. God is truly taking care of us.

I am also relating to Judy's last post. I feel like my "time" is running out because in one month I will no longer be able to say that we did such and such thing with him last year. Time is moving on and we have new pictures and new memories now that do not include him. That hurts me to the bone. But it is life and we are survivors. We are still here and we have a purpose so we must continue to make a life full of memories. We will very often go back to the days when Papa was here (this is how we have been referring to them lately) and we will always remember him and love him.
There have been so many times where I can see Isabella thinking of him and I know what she is thinking because it is the same thing I think about...what he would be doing or saying at that moment. I can hear him nonstop in my head - the silly comments he would say about stuff, his mannerisms, how he would react to the girls. I sometimes feel he is looking over my shoulder at stuff with me. She tells me that she hears him and he tickles her. I guess these are ways our minds and hearts find to soothe our souls and make it more bearable. At these times we always manage to come out smiling :)

The biggest shock to me is how I have survived not seeing or touching the love of my life for almost a year. When I put it in one phrase like that I can't breathe and I feel my heart skip a us unbearable pain that you feel deep down - the reality of it. Then I swallow and remind myself I will see him again.

Thank you for reading and following our stories. I hope that I am able to help those of you going through hard times. I hope that all the readers have made the most of the time with loved ones.

God bless and thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for us especially for this next 2 months.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

life in pictures...

I hesitate to write anything like this because these feelings are not my norm.  Sometimes when I put stuff like this people misinterpret it and think I'm in a really dark spot and I'm not.  It becomes annoying enough that I would rather not put anything at all, however, these are honest thoughts and I want to share them so I will.

My mom has a very dear friend who lost her only child around seven years ago.  It was 2004 and we found out about his accident during one of my wedding showers.  Ironically, he and Keith were both taken to the same ICU hall of the same hospital in Austin although years apart.  I was browsing through Facebook the other day and I saw an album that she had entitled "Sweet Memories".  That's probably where I came up with the title of my last blog, although I did not do it intentionally.  Anyway, I looked through the pictures of her son and as I looked it hit me.  I thought, "He looks so young!  I can't believe how young he looks!"  Then my brain stopped.  That's how it works with me.  I'll be doing something seemingly harmless when a connection is made and then my brain freezes.  Everything stops and it's as if everything that has stopped is channeled into a piercing correlation of what that means for Keith and me.

As I scrolled through pictures of Jeff and Jeff with his daughter and Jeff with his parents I got it.  I understood what was in my future.  He looks young because we are older.  Everyone is getting older but him.  And Keith.  And anyone else that is no longer with us.  Their age is frozen and they will never get any older.  A friend of ours emailed a picture of Keith and me at the Alamo Bowl when Texas Tech played Iowa back in 2002 or somewhere around there.  When I saw it I thought, "Man, we look like babies; we were so young."  Eventually that statement will ring true for every picture I have of Keith...and I have a lot.  I'll get older and he never will. 

Again, just for clarification, these things happen every so often but then I move on.  I don't dwell on them and force myself into a funk realizing that Keith will never have another birthday.  I continue to move forward and I believe these things are all a part of that process.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

sweet memories...

I'm not sure what made me think about it, but my mind was taken back to a night that happened several years back.  Prior to this night Keith had told me that he heard a song and he really wanted me to listen to it.  This wasn't uncommon so I didn't really think anything of it.  One of our favorite places in San Diego was World Famous, a restaurant right on the water.  They had dollar shrimp or dollar lobster tacos two nights a week and we were there almost as often.  On one of these occasions we were driving into Pacific Beach to eat, the sun was setting over the ocean, and the song came on.  He told me that he couldn't listen to it without having tears form in his eyes.  As I listened to it I was speechless.  As the tears formed in my eyes too I told him that it was as if he wrote it for me...every part.  This stuff makes me miss Keith more than I normally do, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

praying for peace...

The time that I come up with the best things to say on a post is usually when I am getting the girls down and my mind is starting to wind down. I am usually too tired to get back up and get on the computer. But usually I recall the great moments of the day and then as I am dozing off I realize all over again what has happened and how Mark is not waiting for me downstairs and sometimes I just flash back to being back in the hospital. I don't cry much but tears do stream down as I relive those first 2 weeks.
Today was a tough day. It snowed here in Dallas and it was fun, but really hard at the same time. For those of you who knew how Mark was, you know what he would have been doing today - it would have been a perfect family day. No golf today - too cold, so he would have been 100% enjoying the full day with us. It would have started out with a full buffet of breakfast foods, followed by going out in the snow and starting a snowman with his girls. Then hot chocolate and a nap with football in the background. Then another round of snow and playing hide and seek and other silly games in the house. We would have done some chores and just enjoyed each other. Probably worked on our goals for the year.
Well, as most days, I did what we would have done (and most days it is fun and we create new memories) but today it was just hard. We did go out in the snow and had a good time - but it was just hard to do. I imagined him the whole day and then that lead to the ugly feeling of being mad. Today I just became mad - and that is not my personality so then I was just moody. And I got moodier as the day went because I could not get a break and I still had to care for my daughters, smile and not pass on my moodiness to them. When I read this and say it out loud I see how "whiny" it sounds. God has blessed me a lot and I know this. But today I am giving my feelings their place.
I am mad. I am not mad at God, but I am questioning certain things. I don't understand why He would give us such wonderful girls and have them grow up with out a dad. I am mad we have to tell the same story again and again to keep his memory alive, I am mad that I could not play in the snow the way I wanted to, I am mad that he is not here, I am mad that I cry in my daughters bed at night, I am mad that I am having to make such big decisions by myself all the time, I am mad that there are so many unknowns, I am mad that my friendships have all been affected by this, I am mad that my loss is what is the focus is daily, I am mad that I am writing in this blog because of what has happened, I am mad that I know what Myocarditis is, I am mad that my girls are growing up so fast and this made them grow up even faster, I am mad that I have no chance of having another baby, I am mad that everywhere I look or hear something, something reminds me of him or that he is no longer with us. I AM MAD.
I know I will be fine, I know that. I know this is a valley I am in and I will come out of it, but that does not change this feeling. I am so mad that I am going through the feeling because it is so typical of what they say of the grieving steps. Anger is part of it. I am so mad that I am even going through this process.
As much as it is going to hurt to go through change, I am ready for change...a different house, a different drive home, new acquaintances. I want to feel loved, love and be loved again. I want to have a connection with an adult again. I know what Mark wants for me and I am at peace with that. I am just ready for things to happen. I pray for God to continue to heal me and those around me.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Oh what a difference a year makes...seriously.  Last year I spent New Years Eve sitting in a hospital bed with Keith; he was in ICU and in pretty bad shape.  On New Years day the doctor ordered all kinds of testing so I got to anxiously await the results ~ he had a spinal tap, a CT scan of his head, probably one of his organs too (I can't remember), an echocardiogram and some other stuff.  I very vividly remember thinking, "If today indicates how my year is going to go then I'm SCREWED."

Last night I took Brooks over to my sister's and we had a nice low key evening.  He played toys while we played Scrabble and everyone had a good time.  This morning we woke up and went to a party.  I was able to spend good, quality time with friends I don't see often enough and Brooks had a FANTASTIC time playing with all of the other kids.  It was pretty close to perfect.  If today indicates how my year is going to go then I'm going to be okay; I can't tell you how nice it is to think that and actually believe it.  A year ago I had no idea if I would ever resume a "normal" life again and, sure enough, now I'm back to taking stupid pictures and doing things I would have done before Keith's accident.  I'm me again.

Happy New Year, everyone.  :)