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Seasons

There is an old adage that says: “the only thing in life you can count on are death and taxes”. I would argue that “change” should be in there as well.

I have never been one to look to far ahead. When I was younger I used to be really fascinated with people who knew what the wanted to do, set a path, and went for it. I would always think how can you KNOW what is going to happen 10 years from now? I can’t tell you what is going to happen in 20 minutes. What if you decide you don’t really like what you are doing, or school, or people or, or, or….. so many things.

Looking back I was right, change has been constant in my life. Forty seven (no comments please) years later, I am glad I wasn’t afraid of change. Change comes in so many ways. Natural change happens with growth and education. Elective change when we make life decisions out of growth and, hopefully, our education. Circumstances can dictate change by no fault or input of our own. Even people who spend a lot of energy trying to keep things the same, experience change as time passes around them. Change is ever present and unavoidable.

Interestingly, I was pretty adamant that losing Greg didn’t change me. Three and a half years later, I would now argue it didn’t change who I am although it did change the way I look at the world around me. Life is very complicated! At times life is really tough. Then come the times when life is really good. If you have experienced any difficulty it should allow you to really appreciate and see when it is good. It is those times we need to step off the wheel, take a breath and enjoy.

I believe we should be the sum of our experiences and make the best out of the hand we are dealt along with the choices we make. As I think about this next season, I tick back over the ones that have lead me here. A lot of different emotions come over me. It makes me smile with a touch of sadness and nostalgia as a chapter closes but mostly excitement for the future. Today, I am no longer a widow… I never thought saying that would catch me off guard but it does. I never minded being on my own. However, I now realize how much more I enjoy being a partner and being part of the “we”. And with that comes peace and happiness, comfort and hope.

Today would have been Greg’s 48th Birthday. Even though it’s been three years, it’s still weird saying that. I decided this year to emphasis Greg’s birthday instead of the day he died. It was sort of a passing decision since he really didn’t say anything about it one way or the other.  With all the possible negatives floating around, I wanted to make sure to start focusing on the good.

Interestingly, on the 5th, Kate picked up on the date and said something to me quietly. She simply said, “today is the day daddy went to heaven, right?” I said that is was and she left it at that. So a couple of days ago she started talking about Greg’s birthday. She made a few hints that it was coming soon and asked if we could celebrate. As usual, I assured her we would. Last night she asked if she could make the cake and send up a ballon. We had a birthday party after Greg died and sent up 45 balloons in his honor. I thought it was sweet of her to want to send a balloon again. She went away to her room and came out about an house later with a note to put in the balloon.

She had a sweet smile on her face as I read it. She was really happy with the message and I was too.  Needless to say it made me sad and super proud all at the same time.  Today both she and Garrett made the cake, she sent her balloon, and we all sat and ate chocolate cake with chocolate icing!!

We miss him but he would be so proud of his kiddies today.

 

 

Remember to enjoy the time you have with the ones you love 🙂

 

 

Groundhog Day

I certainly hope all is well for everyone!

For the first time in as long as I can remember I did not send out a Christmas card. So instead of sending cards this year I thought it may be a good time to update the “Foster happenings”. Ugh, that was a month ago. This year has been crazy busy like years past. Truth be told, we haven’t had many years that were just run of the mill. As usual there have been a lot of changes but overall it’s been a pretty good year.

This time last year we lost Eileen after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Just saying that gives me a flutter in my heart. She fought a good fight for 4 years. And as sad as it was for her to go, it was also good to know that she’s not struggling anymore. I miss her so much.

Kate had the hardest time earlier in the year missing her grandma. It brought back a lot of memories of her dad as well. Even though she was struggling I was able to get her into some really great counseling, in doing so, she has turn around. Her grades have been great in school. She had a fantastic summer. She and Garrett went to special away camp for kids who have lost a parent or adult to cancer.  They were gone a week and loved it. And she spent the last fall playing soccer for the first time and really loved it too. Her team came in first place and one all but one of the games that they tied. not bad for a first season.

Garrett has been doing well. He tends to have smaller times where he misses Greg and Eileen but seems to take it in stride. He was diagnosed with Celiac in March so we had to make adjustments with that. I have to say he is really great about the diet changes. He never complains when things are different for him and just rolls with it. I have been super proud of his attitude especially since I really know how hard it can be.  G played soccer this year he played both spring and fall and really enjoyed it. So much so that in fall he tried out for the NASA Academy team and will begin Academy program this spring. He is also doing great in school.

And for me, I’m happy to say that it’s been a super busy but good year. I have been playing as much tennis as possible. Our neighborhood team went to the city finals this fall which was a first for me. It was a great accomplishment and experience with some great friends. My Real Estate business was amazing in 2014! I had my best year so far and enjoy my work more than ever. It  looks to be a good start for this year as well so I am looking forward to selling more Real Estate in 2015!!

On another note, I was introduced to a fellow widower (Kirk Smith) late last year through a mutual friend. It was supposed to be an opportunity to support someone else going through a similar time; which it was. I was really not interested in any other situation.  The funny thing is that we really hit it off and have been seeing each other since. He has three boys Jake (17), Will (16) and Cole (10) and when you add Kate and Garrett on the bottom its quite a mix. It does make things wild sometimes but we are really glad to be in each others lives.

So you might be wondering why I named this post Groundhog Day. First because it was groundhog day yesterday when I thought about this post so I thought it was appropriate!  And second when I was a kid I got really excited about the springtime and loved to see how soon it was coming. Now this time of the year is rough for our family/families with MANY significant life events (birthdays, anniversaries, deaths) happening in the next few months. Really, no matter how much time goes by I can get swept back by dates or times. I can be sad in an instant especially for the kids with all they have been through. Even though I know that isn’t what our loved ones would want it is hard sometimes to separate from the feelings when there are so many reminders. As we move through this time, this year, I want to be intentional about remembering the good and best parts of our memories and not going over and over the tough stuff. So even though I was a bit lazy, it’s think its good that I decided to revisit my blog on Groundhog day and get a renewed perspective for spring.

 

Kate Foster playing her first Soccer League

Kate Foster playing her first Soccer League

For anyone who knows the “Myers” side of our family, you know that we two Myers girls came by competitive spirit honestly growing up with five brothers. Not to mention, my dad is a total sports freak, so we were no stranger to all kinds of sports. I remember watching football as a kid thinking there was only 10 minutes left…. Ugh, longest 10 minutes EVER. For those of you who know me well, you know that I am all about tennis at the moment. I play as much as I can, win, lose, or draw and love it! Sports is in my blood.

So, when Kate was about four years old and could almost bleed “pink”, I accepted that she just may not be that into sports and I better start learning how to play barbies. There are still more dolls in my house than I remember seeing my first 15 years of life. Fast forward five years… we have tried T-ball, cheer, tumbling, piano etc. and she would be into it but fizzle out after the first couple practices. My rule has always been, if you start – you finish, no quitting mid-season which has lead to many discussions about having to follow through.

So when she told me she wanted to play soccer I was good with it but didn’t know how it would go. Her brother plays too and he has been a natural at pretty much anything that has to do with a ball since birth. Although his stint in T-Ball is good for comedy skits now days for the slowest base “saunterer” in the world. Kate also said she didn’t want to play the “no score” league like Garrett did when he started; she wanted to jump right in the real deal. So I signed her up for U10 at NASA for her first real organized sport experience.  We chose NASA for Garrett because he really needed the extra competition at age 7 so I was a little concerned for her. Thankfully we have a great team but she is the only one who hasn’t played before.

Last week was the first game and she rocked it! She had three break aways and a nice assist to a teammate for a goal. Her team won big, 14-4. As I watched I could see her figuring things out and it was great! I was THAT crazy mom. My throat hurt from cheering. I could not be more proud of how hard she played her first game out! That is until this week…game two. This week they played a much harder team and I saw her work even harder. She had five goal attempts and was in the mix whenever she could be. She went from waiting for the ball to see what was going happen to calling for it! You could almost see the light go on as she played on and her confidence grew. At one point, I just got all choked up for her accomplishment. I don’t know that I had ever had that particular emotion before.

You know, I don’t care if she ever plays more than one season of soccer. For the record, I never learned how to do the Barbie thing either! And there are times when being a single mom just gets all over me and I am ridiculously frustrated. I think “how in the world am I going to be able to raise these kids”. Then you have the chance to be your child’s biggest cheerleader. It is a beautiful thing to watch your child grow and develop in front of your eyes! In that moment, you realize what a big deal it is to be a parent.  It is in the small moments when you get a glimpse into the person they are becoming and those times of frustration melt away and you keep on…

This blog has been a great way for me to be able to document our journey while Greg was sick. It’s also been a way to give my kids a sort of first hand account of their life as it went down. I feel like I have a pretty good memory but I know there are many things I would have missed otherwise. I don’t really know who still gets this or if it’s relevant but I will still be writing as things come to mind, so thanks for humoring me!

It’s been almost two and half years since Greg passed and three and a half since the whole thing started. It’s crazy to think that much time has passed. Now we are, what I consider to be, a fairly normal little family. We have our ups and downs and there have been some bumps along the way with the passing of Greg’s mom. But overall things have been Ok, especially in the last year or so. Having said that, I have spent some time thinking about things since there has been some time and distance. I have also been asked if I thought I was different after going through such a life altering event. Really, it’s the age-old question… What came first? Are we able to endure because it’s a part of our makeup or do life altering events “make us” tough. I would say a bit of both.

I can honestly say the core of who I am has not changed.  My belief in God and who He is has not changed. I would like to believe that I was the kind of person who would be able to withstand difficulty. I would like to think that I have been the kind of person who would do their very best regardless of what comes their way. To be honest, loyal, and generous. These are all things that I would have hoped someone might say about me over the course of my life. So in a way, walking a person through a terminal illness is a test of who you are. Everyone is different so there is no comparison but when I look back over my life I hope I did OK. More that anything, if my kids think I did OK, I will be happy. Ultimately, I believe that is my real  test.

On the other hand, I don’t think you can go through such a significant experience and not be changed in some way. Life has a way of making an impact on us whether we like it or not. Just last week I went through the drive through at the bank, which I do maybe four times a year.  I still have the same account at the credit union and the teller remembered Greg’s name. I was a little stunned because I can’t say I had even met her before. But she remembered us and specifically asked how we were doing. A few months ago I was at Trader Joe’s loading groceries in my cart and saw a guy, probably early twenties with an all to familiar scar on the side of his head. I immediately knew he had brain surgery and that he was undergoing chemotherapy. There is absolutely no mistaking it. I stopped what I was doing and walked right up to him. I looked him in the eye,  shook his hand, and said I was impressed that he was loading groceries because I knew exactly what that scar meant. His mom (as it turns out) just looked at me with tears and thanked me. Just writing that makes me teary. Every time I hear of someone recently diagnosed or going through treatment it gets me. And I hope that never changes. Lastly, I would say that I am fairly laid back person over all. There may be a few folks who would disagree. If so, keep it to yourself! Just kidding. Now, there are very few things that I feel are important enough to get really upset about.

Relationships and people are way more important than any of my wants or quirks. It’s amazing how that perspective can change how you see people and what you are willing to give up.  We have been show such kindness in our trouble that there few things I wouldn’t do for someone if I am able. I also hope that never changes. We never wanted cancer to define us. To force us to be different or to make decisions other than what would have been ours to make. I think we did a pretty good job of that in the midst of things. In the same way, I haven’t wanted cancer or death to define our family afterwards. But what I have realized is that maybe the way I view that definition is off. Perhaps cancer has defined us. It’s tested our little family and our immediate family in ways a lot of people never get to experience. Its made me forever sensitive to things I may have just walked by or possibly dismissed before. And it’s made me acutely aware that time and people are the most precious commodity out there. And for that I am eternally grateful.

I was getting ready to do a quick Facebook post and realized I had more to say than just “Happy Mothers Day”. And something hit me this year looking at all the kids graduating.

I normally don’t say much about Mother’s Day mostly because I am not much of a self-promoter.  Secondly, because being a mom causes you to think about others instead of yourself, so being off the radar sort of comes with the job. I was thinking this morning that I have been blessed to have three moms in my life. Which I hadn’t really thought about before.

This is the first Mothers Day without my sweet mother in law, Eileen.  It has caused me to stop and think. Be jealous people! We had a great relationship and I miss her very much. In the end, you would have never known that she wasn’t my real mom. She treated me like her own, even to the point of getting on to me and questioning my thinking. Such a rare and beautiful experience that has made a huge impact on me.

Susie! What can a person say about a Bonus mom? She is just simply the best. I couldn’t imagine life without her in it. Thanks for being such a wonderful support, encourager and friend.

And then, mom. There is a moment in life where “rubber meets the road” as an adult, and especially as a parent. No parent is perfect; it’s as simple as that. And as much as don’t want to admit it, I get it now. All the sayings are rolling around in my head, the million times I heard something said but didn’t respond, and being frustrated beyond words with my almost 9 (going on 27) girl!  Whew. It’s all coming back to me now….(pretty sure that is a song too).

 

So my Mother’s Day wish to all is:
No matter what kind of mom you have had or you are, know that you make a difference.
 Be present, be patient, and keep being you.
You may not see the impact in the moment but the evidence is there, just look at your kids. 
Happy Mother’s Day! 

 

 

Today is the two-year mark since Greg passed. Sitting here writing this, it sounds weird and completely normal all at the same time. We have adjusted to his death and it is a part of our life so in some ways it isn’t remarkable. In another way, this will be our milestone for a quite a while. I did consider whether I should tell the kids. Kate has been through a really difficult adjustment since Eileen passed away just a little over seven weeks ago. Kate went through a second grieving period for her dad and a new one for her grandmother who she was very close to at the same time. Thankfully she has done really well the last 4 weeks or so and while we talk about Greg often, I didn’t want to upset her all over again.

So late today I decided to just mention it to them and see what they might like to do. I asked them if they wanted to go to visit his grave and take some flowers. Neither one seemed very interested in going. Kate’s did want to know if we would also be able to celebrate his birthday which is on the 13th. Of course, I said yes, we will always have a “forever 44 cake”. After which she said, “mom, how about we have ice cream tonight instead, it was daddy’s favorite”. And we all agreed that would be as good or better than going to the grave.

So after dinner the three of us scooped out a bowl of moose tracks and sat around the table. I started with Kate, asking her something she remembered about her dad…. “He loved us”…. and around we went. It was a really sweet time to eat ice cream and do some “Greg trivia”.

Foster Family Fall 2011 - 043   What was his (other) favorite food?

   Did he like to tell jokes?

   What sport did he play in college?

   What color were his eyes?

   Was he left handed or right handed?

   What was the first thing he said when he found out we were having a girl?

   Did he like to sing or play an instrument?

   And so on…

 

 

It was especially sweet for me to hear the things they remembered and to remind them of some things they may or may not have known.  I continue to learn there is no right or wrong way to move through these days and times;  you simply have to make your own way….

Let’s start with the old cliché’ the only thing we are guaranteed in this life is death. Interestingly, death can be a beautiful event. It wasn’t until three and a half years ago when I truly began to learn about dying.

First lesson: There is nothing pretty, comfortable or simple with the physical process of dying especially for those who are left behind. I can assure you that it doesn’t happen like in the movies. If only…

Second lesson: If you get caught up in the physical process you can miss the emotional/spiritual journey. I know we were blessed to have some wonderful, amazing, courageous people to walk this journey with but I have seen this in and though others as well. This is where the good stuff resides…God put us here for a reason so be aware!

One of my favorite things about sitting with someone who is the process of passing away is spending time reflecting on their life, loves, and how they have impacted me. I have found more laughter in these times than tears. It gives me a renewed sense of the present and perspective that you can’t get anywhere else. I can assure you that it will change you, in a good way, if you let it.

And, how come everyone is so quick to celebrate babies? I know they are cute but the only thing meaningful they have to offer is poo, pee and spit up! No has come up with a recycle plan for any of those so it leads me to believe – no meaningful contribution to society in the present…. On the other hand, each of us holds a piece of history in our hands. It may only be personal history but its history or experience none the less. As I look at those who are leaving this place with age and wisdom under their belts, it makes me wonder why we are not trying to tap into their experiences! Growth of the human condition comes through time and experience and sharing. From what I know, even the best inventions didn’t happen by chance, they were proven over time.

In saying that, I have been blessed beyond measure to have been changed by my loved ones and these experiences. They have not all been easy or pleasant. I would not have chosen the path up front but looking back I wouldn’t trade it either. There is nothing like being forced to live in the moment with a true understanding of what that means; just today, just now. I have been forever changed, for the good. For that I am one grateful girl.

 August 27, 1943 - February 12, 2014

Eileen B. “Gram” Foster

    August 27, 1943  –  February 12, 2014

Obituary

Random Update

Well, it’s been quite a while since I last posted anything. I have thought often about sitting down and putting something in writing but the words just haven’t come. So today I am making it happen instead of waiting for something profound to pop into my head.

First off – Haiti was a total bust. For those of you who aren’t on FB, we were stopped at the Miami airport because the kids’ passports were not the right ones. We got passport cards when we went on our cruise but Haiti is not considered part of the Caribbean so they wouldn’t let us on the plane. After quite an adventure to try get the right passports and get on the next plane out we flat ran out of time. Since it was a closed country we only had the one day to get there. We were disappointed but at the same time it was a great life lesson in doing your best, not giving up, and how sometimes things just don’t happen regardless of how hard you try. I really feel like there was a reason we were not able to go so it all ended up okay in the end. It doesn’t hurt to have awesome kids who can just roll with things.

Ah, and then there was Christmas! What can I say about that…. I was awful and great all at the same time. Last year we were out of town, so this was officially our first Christmas at home. As usual, there were things I couldn’t plan for. Even though it’s been almost two years, it was eerily silent on Christmas Eve without Greg there helping put out the gifts and doing the last-minute stuff. I keep changing things up in the hopes it will make a difference. The good part is that as empty as it was, there wasn’t a lot of sadness. So that was good. The other fun thing was that Garrett had the full blown flu the week of Christmas. I had to beg him out of the bed. Once he was up he “suffered” through the gifts and then went back to bed. Poor guy had to stay upstairs while we had Christmas dinner. He was a trooper and I bribed him with extra Wii time. Lastly, I finally had the whole family over for Christmas dinner. It used to be sort of a tradition but over the last few years it’s been hard to do. This was probably the most emotional time for me but really enjoyed seeing everyone smiling and happy in our house. That made my day!

So then I blinked, and it is February!!! How that happened I don’t know. I have been super blessed to be busy selling real estate over the past year. It’s been my best year so far in the 12 years I have had my license. Mind you that it’s also the first time I have been able to do it full-time but regardless, I have loved every minute of it. So grateful to be able to work and help people.

Lastly, My sweet mother in law is in the final stages with her battle with Ovarian Cancer. I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about her, mostly because they are much more reserved about her treatment and progress. Out of respect, it’s ultimately their decision to let people know. I mention it today because I could not be more proud to be a part of the Foster family. She has been such a great example of strength and dignity and value in the journey. I can see where Greg got his stamina from and a lot of other wonderful qualities. I hate that she is going through this time but it reminds me how I love them like my own flesh and blood! It’s such a great reminder that life is short and quality time can be even shorter. Do not waste time doing or saying important things with the people you love! You will never regret it…

I have no idea how it got to be November already. I don’t even know where fall went and now there are Christmas decorations up every where! 

It made me think back to last year at this time. As I look back I realize that we were doing fine, even good, as a family. We had gotten into a groove and everything was clicking along. The kids had adjusted well, but for me personally, I was still in a daze. For those who know me I can be a little stubborn! I think I was so determined to be “okay” that i was going to do it whether I wanted to or not. We traveled so much in 2012 that it was impossible to settle in. And my M.O. is usually to get away to cope (out of sight, out of mind) but it didn’t change anything here. So I decided that this year we were hanging around the house and hitting things head on.  And we have done well with that; just two trips so far. 

There is one thing I really wanted to be able to articulate to the kids over this last year; how lucky they are. I know they lost their dad. It stinks and I would have never chosen that for them.  They ate, breathed, and slept all those days and nights just like I did however there are lots of kids and people who have it much worse than we do. They have parents the chose not to be around, or perhaps having a difficult time financially, or even just being born or raised in a lesser environment. So last year, in January, I asked our Pastor if he would be willing to take us with him the next time he went to Haiti. There is an orphanage there that his daughter is heavily involved with. It seemed like a perfect way to see the other side of the coin. To show my kids what loss and being without is really like. That conversation seems like such a long time ago! Well, we are heading out to Haiti the first week in December; less that 4 weeks away. I am really excited and a little nervous but I know it will be one trip we/they will never forget. 

Last year the holidays seemed daunting and this year they seem manageable (I will let you know how that goes afterwards.) Most of all I am looking forward to my new set of eyes after our trip and to see how the holidays look in comparison! 

Hope everyone is well! 

Michelle