How Do You Support Another While You Yourself Are Crumbling?

Back in April I was going to share some posts for National Poetry Month, but as you can see, I failed. As the world was turned upside down as we dealt with a pandemic, stay-at-home orders should have made it easy for me to find the time to write as much as I was compelled to. What I didn’t take into account was that the issues behind my own poetry were heavy, and sometimes dark. I wasn’t ready to unpack those emotions. I wasn’t ready to let anyone see that part of me. Even as I sit here now I know that I will never be ready. Some things are always going to hurt. Some things are better just left in the past. But I’m still going to share them hoping that by sharing them it will help parts of me heal.

So here it goes…

Picture a man pushing a shopping cart around the back aisles of Costco. Since his son is at preschool he’s taking his time picking up the things that he needs, and the things he doesn’t because you know, it’s Costco! His wife is out of town of town on yet another work trip. Washington, D.C., Alabama, New Mexico, it’s hard to keep track.

As he turns down the detergent aisle he gets a message from said wife asking if he has a minute to talk. Since he is just mindlessly wandering the chasms of Costco, of course he has time. While they talk she tells him that she was late so she took a pregnancy test just to make sure, and to her surprise, it came back positive.

The man is speechless. As tears begin to well up in his eyes he tells her that even though they weren’t trying, he is so happy. They say their goodbyes, and as he stands there in the back aisles of Costco, the emotions wash over him like a river. He can’t hold back the tears of happiness any longer, and as other shoppers pass by him, he openly weeps in front of the bulk paper products.

That man was me. I cried in Costco. But little did I know that in the coming weeks I would cry tears not of happiness, but those of loss and sorrow. After a doctor appointment where the heartbeat was slow and faint, we waited anxiously for another week to find out that instead of planning for a life with two children I would have to watch my wife go through the heartache and pain of a miscarriage.

A part of me died that day. A part that I will never get back. An emptiness that, even with the birth of our second son two years later, will never be filled. Days and weeks went by where I simply went through the motions. When I was alone I couldn’t help but break down. I was lost. I became a shadow of myself. I became distant. And what I didn’t realize at the time was that I had completely abandoned the one person who needed me and my support the most.

***

Distant looks and furtive glances.
Days go by and so do chances
To lift you up and hold you close.
You break down but no one knows.
As you go on completely shattered
I search for something that matters.
You feel so alone even by my side.
No one knows a part of us died.
The light has gone out in your eyes.
No warm hellos, only hollow goodbyes.
You cry out, needing my shoulder
But as I die inside I only grow colder.
And as we lose our little creation
You need your rock, your foundation.
But I can’t be what it is you need
Because I can’t even be there for me.

***

To this day, one of the things that hurts the most is knowing that as my wife went through the mental, physical, and emotional anguish of the miscarriage, even though I was physically there, I wasn’t truly there for her. I didn’t know how to support her as I myself crumbled.

It has taken a long time to forgive myself for drowning in my own grief and not recognizing that of my wife’s. Instead of being there to help keep a light burning, I retreated into the darkness, leaving her alone to find her way.

We never got to meet that combination of us, and to this day we both suffer in our own ways. We are blessed to have the family and life we have built together. We are blessed that even through those dark times we eventually found our way into the light. But still, there is that emptiness inside each of us that can never be filled. There will always be that scar on our heart reminding us of what we lost.

***

Ten little fingers,
Ten little toes.
Your daddy’s smile,
Your mama’s nose.
The heart of a lion,
As cunning as a fox.
Eyes as blue as the sea,
With wavy blonde locks.
Full of compassion,
Full of wonder.
As bright as lightning,
As loud as thunder.
You could have been
All of this and more.
Have traveled the world,
Seen every distant shore.
But we never held you,
Never saw you grow.
And our hearts still break
More than anyone knows.

***

I wish in those hard times I would have been better for my wife, and for myself. But because of those hard times I will continue to strive to…

Be Good, Do Good.

ABCs for My Boys

ABCs for My Boys

“Each letter of the alphabet is a steadfast soldier in a great army of words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories. One letter falls, and the entire language falters.” ~ Vera Nazarian

 

One of the first things we learn as children are the ABCs. They are the foundation of our language. Individually they are just letters. But together they make words, which together make sentences, which together make up communication. Each letter helps to tell us a story, teach us a lesson, give us information to pass on to generations to come. So, to my boys, these are the ABCs I pass onto you.

dvocate. For others. For animals. For anyone and anything who needs a voice to fight for their rights.

B e true to yourself. Others will undoubtedly try to influence you or take advantage of you in some way. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe.

C atch your breath. These days everyone is trying to do more, have more, be more. They try to cram so much into each and every day that they burn out. Take time each day to relax, reflect, meditate, and breathe.

D on’t ever give up on your dreams! Whether you dream to be an astronaut, a doctor, a professional athlete, or a man who disconnects from this world to live off the land, you are the author of your story. Don’t let others edit the outcome.

E ach day is a new day. With each new day there are new decisions to be made. Although the choices you made yesterday, last week, last month may affect you today, today is different than yesterday, and tomorrow will be different than today. So always ask yourself, “How can I make today great?”

F ind beauty in the world. This world can seem like a cold, dark place but there is beauty all around. In nature. In the person you pass every day. In the simple words you hear when you are struggling. Find the beauty in every moment.

G ive. Give your time. Give yourself. If you have more than you need, give to those who need more than they have.

H old your head high. Losses will come. You won’t always be right. You will have trials and tribulations. Through it all be confident that you will learn from each and improve.

I magine. Great ideas come from those who imagine great things. Innovation is driven by the imagination that something can be better. Don’t lose your imagination because it will forever bring you joy.

J ump into the darkness. It is normal to be afraid, but don’t let your fear keep you from doing something you will remember for a lifetime. We don’t know what each day will bring so take a chance, and JUMP!

K iss and hug. Affection can heal. Affection can save. Affection can warm. A kiss, a hug, they are the simplest ways of saying “you are loved, you are accepted, I am here for you.”

L isten, learn, laugh, and love. If you don’t take anything else from this, please read this one over and over. Listen to others. Your voice doesn’t always have to be heard. Just by listening you can spark change. Never stop learning. The more you know the more you’ll grow. Nothing cures sadness like laughter. Laugh fully, laugh often. Love freely. The amount of love we can give and receive is infinite so spread your love.

M ake memories. Chances are, as you get older, you aren’t going to remember what the toy was that you got for your 6th birthday. You know what you will remember? The wonders you got to see, the places you got to go, the adventures you got to live. Fill your life with experiences instead of things. Fill your life with memories.

N o one will ever love you as much as your mother. People will come and go from your life but the one who has been there from the day your hearts started to beat together is the same person who will be there for you in every success, every failure, and every moment in between. Love her, cherish her.

O pen yourself up to the possibility of getting hurt. I wish I could tell you that you are never going to feel pain. There will be failure in your life, you will get your heart broken, you will experience loss, but our greatest lessons in life come from these. If there isn’t a possibility of getting hurt it’s probably not that important.

P lay. No matter how busy your life gets find time to play. It can be as simple as a game of cards, building a castle in the sand, or jumping off rocks on a hike. Our lives become so structured that our minds and bodies need that unstructured play that we have as kids. Never stop playing.

Q uestion. The greatest change comes from those who question. Listen but make your own conclusions based on the information and what you know is right.

ead. Do you want to know the one thing that will keep you young? Reading. You can never know too much so read everything you can. You can never get too lost in a story. A good book can make you feel every emotion. Read to learn, read to escape, read for fun.

S tay humble. You can accomplish great things but you will always need the help and support of others. Know you can’t do it alone and be sure to thank those who have helped you along the way.

T each others. We learn most from what we can teach others. We learn our own comprehension. We learn the ability of others. We sometimes learn that not everything we thought we knew is true. Teach so that you can learn.

U se your talents for good. You know what makes a hero? It’s not a cape. It’s not special powers. It’s using the talents we are given and the ones we cultivate through individual growth, to improve the world around us. Be someone’s hero.

V isit. Visit your grandparents. Visit the places you want to see. There is so much we can learn from taking time to visit, talk with, and experience the people and world around us.

W ear your heart on your sleeve. It’s ok to show your emotions. Everyone cries. Everyone feels anger. Be open about how you are feeling and allow others to do the same.

eit this world knowing you lived a full life.We only have this one life. Do all the things you want to do. See all the things you want to see. Be all the things you want to be. Don’t leave any wish unfulfilled.

ou are the only you. My boys, you are my boys. No one else will ever be you, and you will never be anyone else. We are all different. We each have something unique to give to the world. Be you.

ippers hurt. Make sure you have everything tucked in.

Be Good. Do Good.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Today I Let Go – A Father’s Letter to His Son on the First Day of School

Today I Let Go – A Father’s Letter to His Son on the First Day of School

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” ~Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood

Every parent has that moment in life, the first moment you truly throw your most important, most vulnerable part of your life out into the world, and you hope they don’t get eaten alive. For me, today was that day. The first full day of KINDERGARTEN. The first full day my baby boy will spend with kids he doesn’t know, in an environment that is completely foreign to him, with a teacher he may not fully trust yet.

As we pulled into the drop-off line and waited for B’s turn to jump out, beginning his new adventure, we talked about what this year might bring. We talked about the Spanish-Immersion program he has been so excited to be a part of since the start of preschool last year. We talked about how he was shy at the open house but now that he knew some of the other children he was not going to be shy today. We talked about what was going to happen when we got to the front of the line – he’ll unbuckle, an adult will open his door, help him out, and point him in the right direction.

But when we got to the front of the line no one opened his door. B simply unbuckled, we said our customary “I love you,” he opened his own door, jumped from the car, and after I told him to “have a great day,” he closed the door with a smile and turned to blaze a new path into the great unknown. He didn’t wait for an adult to help, he just joined the other children making their way into the building, beginning his first year of school and subsequently ending our last year together.

As that door closed, I couldn’t tell if what I felt was my heart breaking or if it was my heart exploding from the love and pride I had for that little kid who was running off into an unfamiliar world. Either way, I couldn’t stop the tears from welling up. I couldn’t stop him from growing up, experiencing the world, and thus, leaving me and his mother behind. But one thing that will never change is the fact that that little blonde haired boy with the bluest eyes will forever be a combination of the best and worst parts of me.

That drop-off line was never going to be long enough for me to tell him all the things I wanted to tell him about school, about life, about anything and everything in this crazy world. So, B, here are some things I want you to remember as you go forth in your life.

  1. Believe in Yourself – You have an amazing thirst for knowledge. It will take you further than you will ever comprehend. The more you know, and the more you experience, the more prepared you will be for everything in this life. You are capable of great things as long as you believe that you can.
  2. Be Thankful – We have been lucky thus far in this life. We have more than we need and that is a reason to give thanks. Always be thankful for the things you have because all of it could be gone in an instant.
  3. Be Giving – Just as we have all that we need, there are others who do not. There are others who go without the basic necessities of life; food, clothing, shelter. Help those who are less fortunate. It doesn’t have to be a monetary contribution. Most times an ear to listen, a hand to hold can mean the most to others.
  4. Learn from Others – You will never know everything there is to know. Others will know more than you. When someone talks, listen. The information they will be giving you could help you later in life. Some of your greatest lessons and skills will come from people who have had less schooling than you. Test scores don’t mean jack once you are in the real world. Applying what you have learned will be your ultimate test.
  5. You Won’t be the Best, You Won’t be the Worst – Chances are there will always be someone better than you. Likewise, you probably are never going to be the worst at anything you might try. Always be gracious in both victory and defeat. Celebrate your accomplishments while still being humble. No one likes a sore loser, but more importantly no one can stand one who is continuously boastful. No matter what others say, winning is not the most important thing. Being kind and helping others succeed, or even recover from defeat is a true victory.
  6. Be Loving – Give your love freely. You have such a big heart, show it to others. Giving your love to another person – girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, family, friends – will show your true character. Everyone is deserving of love and if we all gave more of ourselves – our mind, our body, our heart, our soul – this world wouldn’t be such a cold, dark place.
  7. Don’t Rely on the Love of Others – Always remember that the love of another person can be momentary. If by chance you are denied the love of another whether it be a significant other, family member, or a friend, know that the heart is resilient. It is not the end of the world. One day you will find someone who will make your happiness their primary concern. That is when you will have found love.
  8. Find a Woman or Man who Makes You Laugh – If you find a love who can make you laugh, and laughs with you, hold onto them, they are a keeper. The truth is, for all of us, our good looks will fade, but laughter will keep you young at heart, and laughter together will be the foundation of an everlasting love.
  9. Always Be You – You are smart, loving, funny, and you brighten the lives of those around you. The world can be a scary place but I know that you will go through it with a childlike wonder that will touch every heart.

Be Good. Do Good.

Te amo mi hijo.

The Measure of Your Beauty: A Valentine’s Day Love Letter to My Wife

The Measure of Your Beauty: A Valentine’s Day Love Letter to My Wife

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but if every single one had to happen to make sure I was right here, right now, to meet you, then I forgive myself for them all.” ~ K. Towne Jr.

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. Not because I don’t have anyone to spend it with, but because I have always felt that we should tell the one we love the most just how much we love them every chance we get. I try to do that every day but sometimes the words can feel repetitive, rehearsed, scripted.

Though I always make a point to tell my wife how beautiful she is in my eyes, I know that she has the same insecurities that many women have. What she and those other women don’t realize is that to the men and women who truly love them, those things that lead to their insecurity or low self image are what add to their beauty. So, as we go into the holiday of love, this is my love letter to the woman who gives so much of herself and never asks for anything in return.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Your curves and lines, they draw me in.

The curve of your mouth when you smile, the one that can light up the darkest room.
The curve of your brow, the one that gives away your every emotion.
The curve of your shoulders, the ones that carry the load of our family.
The curve of your fingers, the ones that fit so perfectly within mine.
You are so much more than your womanly curves. So much more than the figure that only I see.

The lines that you cover and curse, the lines that you only show to me, they are the scars of your greatest gift and sacrifice.
The lines around your eyes and mouth, they aren’t a sign of age, they are a sign of life. They tell the story of a life full of laughter and love.

Your beauty to me is not measured by numbers. Not the numbers on the scale nor the tags on your clothes.
Your beauty is in your love, compassion, empathy, ambition, and humility.
Your beauty is in the way you make each person feel as if they are the most important person in every moment you give them.
Your beauty is in all that you give to others, and that you refuse to take anything for granted.

We only get this one life and I am thankful for every day that I get to spend it with you. Thankful that I get to call you mine. Thankful that you continue to push me to…

…Be Good. Do Good.

With Love,

Rob