Thursday, December 29, 2011


My mom died in a stranger's bed. She slipped away peacefully on a painless wave of morphine as I sped toward her over the icy January roads between Texas and Oklahoma.

I was too late by hours, the letter I had written her forgiving her for everything arriving soon after her last breath.

I looked down at her in her coffin. Her hands so still, her mouth pulled down tight. The room smelled of roses, yellow as a sunrise and open to the sky. Roses my father had sent. Her favorite.

She died at the age of 46. Of cancer that ate at her lungs and body.

But she was gone long before that.

Why am I telling you this? I don't know. It's a story God has compelled me to share, stopping me in the midst of vacuuming to sit down and tell it.

She was beautiful. She could make any plant grow. She was mercurial, violent, and generous. She was a study in opposites, a study in what we now know is bi-polar.

She drank all of the time. She drank to tamp down her demon's voices, and to make her moods lie still for a time. But they came back with the sun and sobriety. So many years of mental anguish- and never a diagnosis of mental illness until she was nearly dead of cancer.

It's something I will never understand. Was God giving her a glimpse of what life should have been like- medicated and well? Was he giving me an idea of what she would have been like- or what she could have been? I've had to make peace with not knowing.

I have struggled with guilt all of my life. When I was 6, I was taken away from her- carried by a policeman into a waiting car while I watched the paramedice try to resusitate her. I kept screaming that she needed me. Now I think of the fact that she had taken enough pills to die. How much could she have possibly needed me?

I went back to her. And at 11, was taken away again. I don't remember much of these years, just holding a pillowcase filled with my dolls as I watched her in the doorway, pulling great clouts of hair from her head and crying.

I felt guilt, and anger, and fear until I went back to her at 15. That time when I left, I barely got out alive. She was hell bent on killing me in her drunken mental breakdown.

I tried. So many times. I went between anger and hope. I contacted her, and then withdrew.

And then she was dying. And she was well, all at the same time. A walking corpse with the ability to love me like I had never been.

Then she died.

I have spent hours wrestling with my guilt over what I COULD have done. I went to therapy, worked countless hours on getting in touch with the anger that blazed in me. Anger that was covering the guilt of a daughter who LOVED her mother, but didn't save her.

And it all came down to one moment. Holding my newborn daughter. Looking at the face of innocence and asking God if my mother ever felt this much love for me.

And hearing in the dark stillness- Yes.

Tears flowed, mixing with the milk from my breasts. Nourishing my daughter with both love and remembered grace as I continued to speak to God.

Father, I wanted to save her. I wanted to be ENOUGH. I wanted to be the reason she would save herself.

Nothing on this earth could have saved her. She was ruined for this world. Only the touch of my hand, here, in this place free from pain could save her.

Maybe if I was kinder...


Less selfish- I was always so selfish.


Maybe if I had stayed, all of those times.


Maybe if I had beleived in her more.


If I had only-

No. I am telling you no. Her life was as it should be. She died when I determined. She is healed now. Healed. Free. As you need to be. Nothing you did or could have done would have turned her face away from her own destruction. Her soul was ravaged by illness and sickness. Her healing was made whole the moment after she drew her last breath.

I could have held on.

To what?

For that I didn't have an answer. Because there had never been anything to hold on to.

The dog of guilt lies chained. I remind myself, have to remind myself, that I put these things away on that night. That no matter who I was, how much love I had to give, how much of my innocence was taken, she never could have changed her path. She was meant to live and die as she did. And although I don't know the reasons- I do know the outcome.

She is healed. She is free. And one day I will see her again.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I have been thrown away many times.

I have been pushed aside for the better thing, the feel good thing, and the less needy thing.

I have spent alot of my adult life battling the excessive need to cling, to claw, and to beg for love.

I still walk the line everyday between what is normal love, and what is excessive love.

Alot of days I get it right. Some days I don't.

I firmly believe God allowed my early days to be tainted by grief and horror. He watched as others abused me for their own sake. He could have stopped it. He didn't. And that used to make me angry, but now I can see it more clearly.

God was teaching me to treasure love.

Here I am. I am married, after swearing I would never marry again. I have 2 children, after acknowledging that I probably never should. That it would be an uphill climb every single day to not repeat the past.

But I have done it. And I would do all of it- all of the hurt of the past, relive it all, to be in this skin now.

Love is not easy to find. And it is not easy to keep. It is work, a constant state of compromise and revision of self. It is putting others before you. It is sacrificing for the good of the whole.

Yes, I have been trashed. I have been forgotten and tossed away. I have seen the turned back, the empty eyes, the raised hand. I have been bloodied. I have run away on legs that hurt, with a heart screaming "Please just love me! I am all ALONE!"

I have now, in my arms and heart, the things my own parents never had. A strong marriage, children whose needs are put first, a safe haven from the world. I have a family and loneliness is not something I carry today.

But because I remember, and because I carry just enough of the girl I was, I don't forget.

I have been trashed. But I have also always been treasured- rescued by the One who knows all and sees all- the One who reaches past and reaches higher than I ever could.

And that is enough.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Head shrinker

Yesterday I had my first psyc evaluation for the surgery.

I was nervous, but my aunt and Mark sent me off with a cheerful- "If you aren't back in 2 hours we will assume they threw you into the looney bin!"

Loving support. It's essential.

*huge eye roll*

So I walked into the office with paperwork in hand- 17 pages of paperwork.

I was shown back into my therapists office.

She was beautiful and skinny. I wanted to hate her.

But she was also funny and kind and sweet. So I had to like her.I hate it when that happens.

We talked alot about my history with weight, how long I have struggled with it- 23 years- and what my goal weight will be after surgery.

I said 160-170.

She nodded, but looked me dead in the eye and said- "You know you may lose more than that."

Well, no. I hadn't considered that. I don't know what losing that much weight would actually feel like.

How will I fit in my skin? What will I wear? How will I look? It will still be me, but will I look like me?

She also pointed out that I may get some very unwelcome attention from men.

I hadn't considered that either.

Being fat is isolating. It keeps people, especially men, from paying much attention to me.

And if I begin to get comments it's really gonna piss me off. If just the fact that I am slimmer makes men think they can then comment on my looks, I am gonna end up punching somebody in the mouth.

Well not really. I won't punch them. But I will definitely think about it.

I also had to take the most random psych test ever on the computer. True/false. 165 strange questions. So far that has been the most painful part of this experience.

So. We are down to one more psych appointment, and 2 dietician classes before I have my final appt with the doc.

One down, 4 to go.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sing, sing, sing...

My precious girl had her Christmas program today.

It was lovely, and funny, and sweet. I could barely see her through my tears.

And I wondered as I sat and watched and discreetly wiped my eyes- why does the sight of these little souls make me so emotional?

Because the songs they are singing are about my Savior. The One I know, the One I love, the One who saved me.

My path to Him has been quite broken, carved from rock and stone, wet with tears, trod with heavy feet and a heavier soul.

But these little ones- my sweet little girl up there singing- they are singing for the glory of a God they know and do not doubt. Their songs are pure, coming from a place of the most glorious worship- a place of belief.

Their hearts are open to the words they sing- "Silent Night, Holy Night..." Their minds find the wonder of the nativity, of the birth of the Christ child, lying calm and peaceful in the stable. They see Him in pictures, and hear about him in song, and to them he is as real as we are.

The room for doubt has not entered their lives yet. The cynicism we carry as adults is absent. It is pure innocent love, these little voices lifted to their heavenly father.

To be that trusting again...

We are to have faith like a child. But the world sometimes speaks louder than God does. His is a quiet form of communication. You have to be very still to hear Him. But the world, the world shrieks at us day after day, drowning out the whisper of the One we are longing to hear from.

But my daughter listens to that still small voice. There is room in her heart not taken up with the cares of adult life. There is room in her soul for God to sing.

And sing she did, today. Loud and with her whole heart.

"Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. The little lord Jesus lay down his sweet head..."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sponsored by saltines and rum

Apparently I am sick.

I have been fighting it for days, because that's what I do. I tell my body to suck it up and ignore the impending doom set to crush me like an anvil to the head.

Yesterday my body ached and my throat was that rare mix of scratchy and fire-ridden. I applied enough Vitamin C to kill a small horse.

I woke up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat. Drenched. Lovely, right?

So this morning it was no surprise that I felt like a truck had run me over. The promptly backed over me..then run me over again.

My entire body hurts- from my hair to my toe joints.

My throat is no longer scratchy, but my stomach has joined the cause and is rioting to rival the wall street protesters.

It is preeeeetyyyyy. Lemme tell you.

So, I do what most moms do. I spent the morning getting on with it until I collapsed in a heap around noon. I asked Mark for help- something I rarely do in the middle of a workday.

I then took to my bed and tried to read but the words make me feel all gnarly and swimmy and the world spins when I look around too much.

So mostly it's me and my computer, cuddled up like a honeymoon couple.

If a honeymoon included digestion noises never heard of before and lots of moaning. Well, pain induced moaning.

Errrmmmm. Moving on.

Anywho, why am I telling you this? Because I can. And because according to WebMD I am close to death.

So my last wishes:

Make sure Lily gets my jewelry. Not now, but when she is, like, 20. As long as she is a amature 20 and won't hock it to buy a tattoo or run away with a dude named Biff.

She can have it when she's 30.

Make sure Sam doesn't join the cast of Jackass too soon into his sure to be illustrious daredevil career.

Make sure mark remarries. In like 10 years. And make sure she is hideous but good with the children. And that she can take care of wood floors...because God knows I can't.

I am requesting "Dancing Queen" be played 5 times at my funeral. At 70 decibels. And make sure the speaker is right next to Mark.

My sewing machine should go to somebody who loves to sew. Wait... It should go to somebody who loves me and will include it in a wall sized shrine to me. Complete with airbrushed pictures of me looking daunting and skinny.

Every year on my birthday, you should drink a head sized pumpkin milkshake in my memory.

Tell the girl at the gym that we all know she's cute. She doesn't have to wear cut off t-shirts and "Juicy" shorts to prove it. One day she is going to give one of the older men a coronary.

Tell Santa I suspect he isn't real.

And now, on with the sickness and groaning and gnashing of teeth.

Goodbye, cruel world.

Or, see ya tomorrow. Ya know, whatevs.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I have been fat since I was 10. I fell, broke my ankle, and discovered sweets all at the same time. It took me one summer to become addicted to sugar.

I ate every feeling I had from then on, burying it under candy, chocolate, cookies, sweets...anything. It comforted me in the midst of some supremely uncomfortable circumstances.

I was chubby all through my teens, leaning out a few times when food was scarce or rantioned from me.

But I always went back to sugar.

I ate through a terrible marraige- stuffing pasta and sweets through a bruised and bleeding mouth far too many times.

I never exercised. I never played sports.

I can tell you that I utterly ruined myself. Without question the body I am sitting in today is of my own creation.

But seven years ago I began to change everything. My eating changed, my habits changed, and I discovered the feeling exercise can give- that rush of endorphins, the heady sense of accomplishment.

I worked out every single day before my wedding. I woke up at 5, got to the gym, busted my butt for 2 hours, and went to work.

And I never got below 200 pounds. I was toned and fit and had the stamina of a teenager, but I was still fat.

My eating morphed more and more into healthy mode- chicken, veggies, fish, fruit.

I never lost a pound.

I got pregnant with my daughter. I walked all through my pregnancy. I got diabetes. I ate nothing but cheese and veggies the last 3 months before she was born.

I weighed 232 the day I gave birth to her.

I joined Stroller Strides.

I busted my butt.

I never lost a pound.

My bp has always been an issue, and it rose steadily until I switched meds. Then it would be good for a few months, and go through the roof again.

I got pregnant with Sam. I avoided gestation diabetes through diet and exercise. I gained no weight with him. The day I delivered Sam I was 208.

I nursed him, I exercised, I ate well.

I have been exercising consistently since he was born.

My weight has climbed to where I was when I delivered Lily.

Now, alot of people will say they eat well. Many people will say they exercise vigorously. But they don't.


I have been to 6 doctors in the past 6 years. I have been vegan, done Weight Watchers, juice fasts, eaten nothing but fruit for days. I am up to doing cardio for one hour everyday, maintaining a bpm of 150-170 the entire time. I lift weights every day. I eat less than most people I know.

But here I am. In this body.

And I hate what I see in the mirror. I cry at the sight of my stomach and my thighs. I have broken down in dressing rooms, in bathrooms during parties, in bed next to my husband.

I hate my body. And I am trapped in it, despite my efforts.

I want to be a runner. But at this weight, my ankles and feet hurt so badly I can't walk the next day. I want to be able to run after my kids. I want to look into the mirror and smile.

I want to walk Lily down the aisle at her wedding. I want to watch Sam play pro football. I want to BE THERE for them.

And at this weight, with my blood pressure creeping up, I won't be.

I WILL develop diabetes. I may have heart disease. I may stroke out. I may leave my children when they need me.

And I cannot do that. I can't. I cannot do what was done to me.


In the next few months I will be having gastric bypass.

And yes, I know. I don't look like people who typically have it. My BMI is barely on the cusp of making me a candidate.

But I can say to you today, with total honesty and transparency, that I have tried everything else. Everything. I am doing all of the right things, but not getting the health results I am looking for.

It is surgery. There are inherent risks. But the risk of me carrying 100 extra pounds for the rest of my life is much much riskier.

It is painful. Recovery can be hard. I am ready to face that head on, so that 20 years from now, I am still standing at my childrens side.

I am not looking for a quick fix, or an easy fix. After all, what can be easy about major surgery? What can be easy about turning your stomach into the size of an egg, having only clear liquids for weeks, and getting incredibly sick if you eat the wrong thing?

There is nothing easy about not being able to eat sweets ever again, or to radically change my relationship with food.

I am not doing this because I dont want to exercise. I am not doing it because I need something extreme to make me eat differently.

I am doing it because I have no other choice. It is THIS, or diseases with a hugh mortality rate 10 years from now.

And I am refusing to go anywhere. I will be here for my children. I will be here for my husband. If it takes surgery, pain, and recovery to do that, so be it.

My blood will never be spilled for something greater.

I could hide this. I could not tell anyone. I considered it strongly. There is alot of shame in admitting that you cannot conquer your own body.But I have done the hard work to get here- this is just one more tool to help me achieve my goal of being healthy for the rest of my life.

And,I am going to take you with me. I am going to write about it. Because, after all, you have been with me through everything. Through birth and death and depression and joy and a thousand discoveries.

Here's another path we can walk together. Care to join me?

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I have this friend.

She is so awesome. And cute. And sweet. And skinny. And smart. So I wanna hate her.

But instead I love her.

And she is having a baby.

Her second.

I was there when she found out for sure.

We squealed and hugged and cried and jumped around together.

She looked at me through joyful tears as she held the pregnancy test and said "Oh my gosh I am freaking out!"

And I knew what she meant.

Cause I've been there.

There are so many things I want to tell her. A thousand pieces of advice I want to give.

But the truth is, we all have to figure it out on our own. How to be a mother to more than one.

It is a sacred thing, this opening of a mother's heart. It comes in waves during pregnancy, between the busy-ness of caring for your older child and anticipating the one to come. There is less time for reflection or daydreaming about what life will be like with another baby because you are busy with your first. Time flies.

And then they are there. And you look at them and your heart just doubles in size. And within a few spare moments, it is as if there was never a moment they weren't there with you, or a part of your family.

It is amazing and wondrous.

You will watch your children meet and you will cry because it is your dream made flesh, right before you. You will watch your older child kiss your newborn and your heart will burst.

You will lie in bed with your hand on the baby in the bassinet and listen to the other one on the monitor and you will smile at the wonder that is your life.

You will nurse the baby while making lunch for the other. You will hold both in the rocker and read. You will hug them both while they cry and then cry yourself.

And there will be a day when you will be tired and frustrated and you will look at them both and think you are not good enough for either one. You will wonder if you can do this. You will be beside yourself and the day will seem endless.

But it's not. It's not endless. And you ARE good enough.

You will look at both of your children together one day, and they will be playing side by side, in that sweet silent companionship that can only be shared by someone of your own blood. You will watch them and know that long after you are gone, they will have each other. You have given them a profound gift- a companion for life.

Being a mom of two is a huge transition. It means less rest, more noise, more chaos. But by God's grace it also means doubled joy and laughter. It means your family is one bigger, one stronger. It means you grow as a mother, as a child of God, and as a person.

It is another step on the journey of parenting, one that is momentous and huge- and so so worth it.