Happy Mother’s Day, anyway

Each year for the last six years I’ve dreaded this day because of my infertility. This is the 6th Mother’s Day I’ve spent praying that no one tells me happy Mother’s day because I haven’t been blessed with that title. I hated Mother’s Day services at church. I was bitter about the fact that when all the mothers got to stand up, I sat there looking at the floor trying my best not to break down. I took for granted the fact that I had an amazing mother to celebrate. I took for granted the time I should have spent praising God for choosing her to be my mother, and spent the day bitter and sad because of something I didn’t have. I took for granted what I did have. An amazing mother who I no longer have here to celebrate. This is the third year that Mother’s Day has had a whole other meaning. I just thought Mother’s Day hurt before, but I had no idea what true pain was then. I can no longer go out to eat or shopping with her. I can’t bring her peanut m&m’s and flowers. I can’t shop for the perfect funny Mother’s Day card. To spend Mother’s Day with my sweet Mama, I now have to visit her at the cemetery and look at her name on that headstone.

I say all this not for pity, or to make you sad, but as a reminder to those who still have their mothers on this day. Don’t take time for granted. Don’t let things you don’t have take precedence over what you do have. Savor each and every moment you can spend with her. One day, when you no longer have her, you’ll wish you had. Hug her a little tighter this year. Make memories that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Take pictures. One day, those pictures and memories are all you will have.

God knows the desires of your heart. He’s heard every prayer for a child whether through words or broken hearted tears. Don’t let this day be full of sadness. Know God has you, and He knows the perfect plan for your life. Enjoy the moments with people you have. Think happy thoughts. Make happy memories. Laugh. Hug. Love. Be present.

If you don’t have your mother on this Mother’s Day, remember the good things. Remember her laugh and beautiful smile. Remember the way she said your name, or the way she hugged you so tight. Remember the good things. She may not be here now, but great grief comes because of great love. Celebrate the one who meant so much to you. If your mother was anything like mine, you were blessed to have her for any amount of time, even if it doesn’t seem like it was long enough. If you need to cry, cry. If you need some time alone, take it. Just remember, whether here or in Heaven, if you miss her that much, she’s worth celebrating still. I see you. I feel you. I love you.

Even if it’s hard, Happy Mother’s Day, anyway.

Love always,

Cody Jill

To the Motherless Daughters and Childless Mothers on Mother’s Day…

This post is going to be a two parter (is that a word?). Mother’s day is a happy holiday for most all. We get the chance to show our appreciation to those wonderful women who raised us. It may not have even been your own mother, but there was some woman in your life that you probably considered “like a mother” to be celebrated. I was blessed with lots of amazing women in my life that always treated me like their own. My grandmothers, aunts, Mama’s best friends. Of course, there is my sweet Mama. My angel. I can’t celebrate with her on this Mother’s day like i’d like to. I can’t hug her or bring her flowers or chocolates (her favorite thing in the world). I took so many opportunities for granted with my Mama thinking i’d have forever to make it up, or finally pull off that great idea for a gift, or even spending as much time as I could with her. Days like Mother’s day make you think of those things. All the memories you missed because you took life for granted. All the things, you shoulda, coulda, woulda done if you knew what was coming, or just had one more opportunity. Losing a mother is like losing a part of you. I felt like I now had to be both child and parent. It’s the first hard thing you go through without your mother, and unfortunately also the hardest thing you might’ve been through. I didn’t have her here last Mother’s day either. She passed just a few weeks before. I was in no place to give anything but a bitter opinion on the unfairness of it at that point, but here now, a year later, I feel a little differently about it. I still miss her like crazy, and I will cry on Mother’s day because she isn’t here. It can feel like your an orphan when you lose your mother. I won’t say time has changed my perspective in a year, it’s been nothing but God’s healing grace. They won’t be bitter tears this year. They’ll be tears of a daughter who just misses her Mama because she was absolutely amazing. Tears of a daughter who just wants to hug her one more time. Tears of a daughter who is thankful to have had the amazing mother she did, even if it wasn’t for anywhere near long enough. If you don’t have your mother on this day, try your best to think some thankful thoughts for having the mother that you did. I know it’s hard, I promise, I do. I’m just asking you to do the same thing i’m asking myself to do to hopefully make this day a little easier. If you had a mother that you loved enough that you still grieve her no matter how long its been, you had a good Mama. Be thankful for that. Think of good memories, and things she’d want for you and from you on this day if she were here. She’d want time with you, some good hugs, and happiness. As hard as it may be, i’m going to try and spend this Mother’s day the way she’d want me to, and with the people she’d want and that she would be with if she were here. If you do still have your mother or mother figure, don’t take time for granted. Make the drive, make the phone call, buy the present, bake the cake, or whatever it is that you know she loves. Just be present. That’s all most mother’s want, just your presence. I miss you, sweet Mama, and I love you more than all the sand in all the oceans.

Now, for the second part of this two parter (i’ve used it twice, it’s a word now). HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY (that’s me shouting it at you) to all those mama’s in waiting, and mama’s with precious angel babies. If your heart’s desire is to be a mother, and it hasn’t happened yet for whatever reason, Happy Mother’s day to you for having the heart of a mother, whether it’s your official title or not. If I was a betting woman, i’d be willing to bet you’re a Mama to every kid you’re around. That’s a mother’s heart, right there. Keep trying, keep praying, and don’t lose faith. God knows your heart, honey, and if we are praying His will, we’ll get exactly what we are supposed to have. Whether that baby is carried in your womb, or someone else’s, God’s plan for you is perfect, even when we can’t see it for all the tears in our eyes. I see you, I feel you (been trying for a baby for 5 years), and I LOVE YOU! Cry if you need to, stay home if you need to, but get up Monday morning ready to start a new fresh day with tons of possibilities. Your story isn’t finished yet.

Sweet Mama’s with angel babies, Happy Mother’s day to you! You may not be holding that baby in your arms, but you hold it in your heart, and held it in your womb. You’re a Mama. A mama who’s little one had some other purpose for God that we may not ever understand, but you’re a mama all the same, and YOU were chosen for a reason to carry that little one to fulfill God’s plan for it and you. You were chosen for a reason. You are strong enough that He chose to use you for whatever miracle or message He needed someone to see or hear through your struggle. I commend you, I pray for you, and I know there are special things waiting for you in Heaven for what you’ve been through, including a big hug from your little one who has only known paradise and not the things of this cruel world.

Mother’s day is a good day. There may be bad times in it, don’t let moments ruin a whole day. Hug your loved ones tighter (but don’t tell anyone, because you know, Corona), and appreciate who we do have or did have for the wonderful memories we made with them. If you’ve lost your mother, lost a child, or haven’t been able to have your own children yet, don’t let that hurt be wasted. Be a comfort to someone else going through the same thing. We don’t have to hurt alone. I’m here, I love you, and I pray that you have a wonderful Mother’s Day, even through the tough moments.

Love Always,

Cody Jill

Rotel made me cry…

Yes, that’s what happened today. Rotel made me cry. Not because it was spicy, or got in my eye, or any other thing my clumsy self could accomplish, but because of a random memory that it brought crashing to the forefront of my mind.

My Mama was a great cook. I try, but i’m no comparison to her, even when using her recipes (kinda makes me mad, but what can I do). She made this Chicken Spaghetti that was DIVINE. Whenever I wanted to make it, I would always call her while standing in the store, staring at the different spiced Rotels, and ask which one she used that was always just the perfect amount of heat. Literally. Every. Time. I could never for the life of me remember. This morning, I was thinking about making some chicken spaghetti tonight, running through the ingredients in my mind, and making a list of what I didn’t have. I didn’t have Rotel. No stinkin’ Rotel. Then, I thought, “Well, i’ll just call Mama real quick (for the 100th time) to see what she uses”, and remembered that I couldn’t. I can’t call my Mama. I can’t ever call Mama to ask about which Rotel she used again. I broke, y’all. I broke down over a can of Rotel. It’s embarrassing to admit, and as we’ve established, I’m an emotional hot mess, but crying over Rotel. Really?! There are pictures of her everywhere. I think about her constantly, but this, THIS is going to get me today. It was just one of those things that hit me out of nowhere, and y’all, I folded like a lawn chair.

I’m sharing this random, slightly embarrassing story with you to say this, if you’ve lost someone, you’re going to have a “Rotel moment”.  You’ll have those days where its all normal and you’re just going along with your day, and something will slam into you like a truck. It’s okay. It’s not crazy. You’re not too emotional, or being a baby. You’re being human. You’re being reminded of a piece of your life that’s missing, even by something as simple as a can of Rotel. Have your moment. Talk to someone about it. Talk to me about it if you have no one else. Lord knows I have no room to judge anyone’s breakdown moments. Then keep going. Do the next thing. Think of that next ingredient you need for your recipe and move forward. As I’ve said before, I have an awesome support system, and the piece of advice I got today while sharing my crazy that helped the most was, “You are not crazy. One day, buying Rotel will make you smile because it will remind you of the conversations you had when you had to call her over what kind to get. Today is not that day, but it will come.”

One day, whatever your Rotel is will be a happy memory. One day we’ll smile over things that still make us cry right now. One day, we’ll be a little more okay than we are today. Don’t rush yourself. Grief is an emotion, that while shared by all at some point in our lives, is totally unique to each individual. Cry over your Rotel today, and remember one day, you’ll smile about it. Don’t lose hope. Don’t feel bad about yourself, and always remember, it’s okay to not be okay, just don’t stay there.

Love always,

Cody Jill

The fastest and slowest year of my life…

It’s crazy to think how time can pass so quickly and so very slowly at the same time. It happens with many things in our lives. Marriages that seem like yesterday are suddenly celebrating seven year anniversays (while at the same time it seems like you’ve been putting up with them for 70 years, love you Hubs). Christmas as a kid seems forever away, but as an adult it comes and suddenly six days later its like its Christmas again. Trying to start a family and feeling like a month is so long to wait to take that test, and suddenly when its time your freaking out because how has it been a month already. Grief and loss have seemed to work this way for me as well. It’s been one entire year since I lost my sweet Mama. One whole year since I saw her gorgeous smile in person, heard her say Cody Jill, had her hug me and tell me how much she loves me, been able to hug her back, touch her, talk to her. This has been the longest year of my life, but at the same time, somehow its gone by. I don’t know if it seems faster because it honestly feels like life can’t really keep going without someone so important to you in it, but it still does. Life keeps going, even with the big void you feel with someone missing from everyday things. It took months before I stopped picking up my phone every morning to text her and check on her. I still to this day hear things or have things happen and my first thought it is, “I’ve gotta tell mama about this!”, only to remember I can’t, and it breaks my heart all over again. This is a year I honest to goodness did not know, and for a time, did not care if I survived. I did though. If I can say one thing about the past year, its honestly that I survived. It wasnt, and still isn’t easy. I still cry most days. I still try to call her most days. I still send her messages on FB messenger just to feel like i’m talking to her. I still spend lots of time at her grave and talk to her just because it was the last place I saw her physical body.

This year has taught me a lot. I called mama for her opinion on everything, once I couldn’t, I became more independent and decisive out of necessity. I learned that somethings I thought I wasn’t really paying attention to or wouldn’t remember, I do. How to handle some things on my own, because she and I had to a lot with dad working out of town. I do or say things and think, that sounds just like my mama. I love those moments. I can remember her voice so clearly in those moments, and what she looked like when she would say or do them. Her life is a legacy that lives on through me and others. She touched so many, and so very many people love and miss her. It’s hard to believe i’ve survived a year without my very best friend in the entire world, but sometimes I can still feel her in things I do. I still hear her opinions on things. I remember her everytime I see a hibiscus or a hummingbird. I take peace and comfort in knowing how much better off she is now than she was when she was so sick. She is happy and whole. She kept a prayer box by her bed where she would write her prayers and then write when they were answered. In this box, I found where she had written about her cancer coming back. I wrote the answer for her, and that picture is included in this post. I pray she is happy and whole. I pray she can’t see how much we have suffered without her. I pray she is nothing but laughter and light as she worships our Savior face to face. I pray when I get there, the first thing she does is give me a huge hug and say, “I’ve been waiting for you, Cody Jill.” Cancer may have taken her earthly body, but she lost no battle. She’s with Jesus and that’s not losing any battles. Her verse through all this was Matthew 9:22 “But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” Her faith made her whole, and even though we are still feeling the huge loss, she wasn’t whole here with us anymore.
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Mama, I love you more than all the sand in all the oceans, and I know that I’ll see you again one day. Happy first anniversary of your home going. I know its been more amazing than we can even imagine.

Love always,

Cody Jill

Is this crap storm EVER going to end? Is this my life?

Y’all…just bare with me a minute before you high tail it out of here just because of the title. Yes, it is negative. No, it is not the least bit encouraging. You know what is though? The answer to those two very dramatic, (Hi, my name is Cody, and I’m dramatic) questions. If we are being honest with ourselves, at some point, a version of one or both of those questions has gone through our minds, or if you’re like me (again…I’m a teensy bit dramatic) even come out of your mouth. At the time, in that awful place we seem to be stuck in like the rice I can’t get out of my Instant Pot (don’t ask), these questions seem completely valid. Sometimes, things are difficult. Sometimes, things go beyond what we think we can take. Sometimes, things just suck. Sometimes, they seem to stay that way. I get it. Like I get it on a deep deep level. This past year, it totally and completely sucked. Just being honest, or in my Hubs words during some of his sermons, let me be transparent with you. This has been, by far, the worst and most difficult year of my entire life. I didn’t know what pain was until this year. I didn’t truly know what being at the very end of my rope was until this year. In fact, it’s taken me a year to even be able to write this post, and i’m still afraid of how it’s going to come out, but I know it needs to. I feel it in my soul that it can be used for His greater good, even if it’s only one person that is helped. You, whoever you are, I see you, I feel you, and I love you.

If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, my sweet Super Mom was battling cancer for the second time. This time last year, she had lost over 70 pounds. This time last year, she couldn’t get up and down without help. This time last year, she couldn’t walk without a walker. She couldn’t eat. She had episodes of manic confusion, and amounts of time she had no memory of. I stayed with her a whole day and decorated her Christmas tree for her, and then the next time she saw it, she had no idea how it had gotten put up and decorated. Witnessing a loved ones suffering, and not being able to fix it, is like a thousand razor blades tearing through your body. This time last year, on April 4th, the day before her 57th birthday, we got the news that she had very little time left. A couple of months, if we were lucky. The cancer had spread like wildfire, and the radiation and chemo weren’t touching it. Twelve days after we got the bomb of how little time she had left, she passed away. She went to Heaven with her loved ones gathered around her, and the very last thing she did on this earth was throw both hands straight up in the air, reaching for the Lord she loved who was calling her home. Then, just like that, she was gone.

Lots of you reading this knew her before she was sick, knew the woman that she was my whole life. My Mama had always been a force to be reckoned with. She was kind, giving, independent, and the only thing she loved more than her family was her Savior. Praise God for that. She lived her testimony throughout her life, and especially throughout this whole battle, right up to the end. She trusted Him. I wish I could say I was as strong as her. I wish I could say I handled myself in ways that would have made her proud, but I can’t honestly say that. Somehow, life seemed to move on for others, and I was sitting there watching it, wondering how everyone could be so ok, when I was dead inside. I’ve dealt with chronic anxiety, depression, and migraines for almost twenty years. It was nothing compared to the pit I fell in to after my Mama was gone. It was so many overwhelming emotions, that I became numb. Completely and totally numb. I never knew pain and depression until it was mixed with the grief of losing my best friend for my whole life. The depression and migraines got worse, the bitterness at God was overwhelming. I didn’t understand how so many of us had prayed, begged, and pleaded for her healing for so long for her to still die. I didn’t want to do anything. Living life and being happy seemed like it would be an insult to the beautiful life that was now gone. Nine months after we lost Mama, my precious Paw Paw, her daddy, passed as well. In less than a year, i’d lost the two people who’d instilled everything I am in me. The whole time, throughtout those nine months after Mama, the questions kept circling. Is this crap storm of my life ever going to end? Is this feeling of emptiness, and bitterness, and complete lack of understanding going to be my life now? How do I keep going, when I know that there is now a huge void in everything I do where my Mama should be? How do you enjoy big moments, when the one person who’d been my biggest supporter in every single one was now missing. Then, her birthday came on April 5th of this year. Her first one in Heaven. She’d have been 58, and up until she got sick, she didn’t look a day over 40. Most people thought we were sisters. The day after her birthday was a lot like what it felt like about a week after she died. Lots of kinds words, well wishes, happy heavenly birthdays, a few wishing her many more birthdays, but we won’t get in to how THAT made me feel. Then, the day after, it was back to that feeling again. Reliving her death. Everyone living their life and going about their day like my world hadn’t just exploded with pain all over again. I know no one understands the pain unless they’ve dealt with loss, and i’m not throwing myself a pity party, but its just hard you know. It’s hard to think of life just moving on as normal, when it will never be normal again. I’m blessed with friends that let me vent and helped me through both her birthday and the day after. Today is better. I can think of more happy memories today. Anyway, back to the dramatic questions we were talking about before. We have to go back in time a little for this.

I recieved my answers to the title questions in two different ways. I was lying in bed, sick with a migraine and completely depressed and uncaring if I ever left my bed again. However, even through my running away and bitterness, God gave me this thought, “How would she feel about you wasting your life because she’s in paradise now? You are still here, and you’re wasting life and time after a precious one was taken home. Live for her. She showed her strength, and you have it too. Show it. Live it.” Talk about a wake up call. A literal slap in the face, kick in the teeth wake up call. She’d be furious with me. She’d tell me she raised me better than this. She’d tell me she didn’t stay strong and faithful to the end for that strength to end with her. That was not long before my Precious Paw Paw passed, and it helped me to deal with his passing with a little more grace than I had before. He too was a devoted servant of God. He had lived through more than most of us ever could, and if you asked him on his worst days how he was, he’d grin and say, “I’m doing good.” He knew, and often told us, he was a winner either way.

My second answer to those questions came just a few days ago. It was getting closer to April 5, her birthday, and April 16, the day she passed a year ago. I have been super emotional, and letting my thoughts get the best of me again. I have an old wooden ammo box that I bought (Trade Day for the win) and painted blue that I have lots of her things in in my living room. Its my treasure chest of her. For the first time in almost a year, I felt the ability and the need to go through it. Her bible is in there, and as I flipped through, reading her notes, I saw four different time where she had written, “God never wastes a hurt.” Four times. In her own handwriting in her bible, God let HER tell me what I needed to hear. This pain is not wasted. This pain is not to end me, or make me run angrily away from Him. This hurt is not wasted, because it can be used to help others in the same situations. It can be even more of a testimony to the strength she instilled in me that I can keep going forward faithfully. I can’t waste this hurt, because it would make her death be in vain. If I can come through this hurt with Him, it’s not wasted, because she lives on through me being able to help others.

So yes, sometimes things are more than you can handle, and yes, sometimes the crap storm feels neverending, but everything ends at some point. There will be more bad days. Refer back to what I said about her birthday and the day after. I’m not perfect, none of us are, but there is a greater purpose to whatever you are going through. He never wastes a hurt. Don’t let the hurt you have be in vain. Lean on Him, and use it for something greater, if not for you, then for others who need you. Whatever your hurt may be, someone out there needs to know they aren’t alone, and when they aren’t turning to God for help, you can be the one to help them and set them back in the right direction with your story. Don’t waste your hurt.

Love always,

Cody