Marco Island… Our timeline :-)

We were so ready to get away – especially since Monterry lost his mom in January and I lost mine in February. It was a lot all at once and then – added grief came with the passing of my uncle. I also had fractured my foot and was in a boot – causing limited mobility and no working out (which is my stress reliever). So when we got on the plane and headed to Florida we couldn’t get there soon enough.

Our flight landed and we rented a car through Hertz. We were on the road in a jalapeño color Nissan Sedan.

45 minutes later we arrived at the Airbnb on Fairlawn Court. It was amazing and we knew at that moment that we would love our stay. We walked through the huge house and then admired the pool. We knew we would spend a lot of time in the hot tub and pool. It was perfect. We then made a run to the store and came home to order Joey’s pizza and watch TV. I can’t remember what we watched yet we laughed together and enjoyed pizza and beer. I ordered a large pizza – note to self it was TOO much yet we had leftovers all week. Next time we order from Joey’s we will go with a small and New York style for something different. Yes, we will return at some point.

Tuesday morning we started with the hot tub and then the pool and then…

Our good friend Tosin arrived that afternoon and we chatted for a bit. She spent the evening at the house while Monterry and I went to dinner for our anniversary. We were celebrating 9 years. We went to an Italian Restaurant, Da Vinci, and it was amazing. We sat outside; I took off my boot; and we enjoyed the sun and our food. We were visited by a small lizard for some short entertainment. Just spending time together was the best anniversary gift. We finished our food and drinks and then left. It’s hard to believe that we have been together for 9 years and 9 years ago we were in Marco Island for our honeymoon. That’s why we came back.

Wednesday, March 30th I woke up and sat outside by myself. I did this each morning – enjoying the time when no one is around and feeling mom’s presence during this time. She loved to sit outside at home and when on vacation. We had more hot tub and pool time and then went to the store to get some things for the cook out that night. Our friend Karen was coming over (she lives in Hollywood Florida). I always love when my friends get to meet each other – we had a great evening – the four of us. I miss Karen being close but loved getting that time with her. We stayed up late and then headed to bed.

I got up early to tell Karen by and then once again we enjoyed the hot tub and pool. We went to the beach on Thursday and just relaxed. My skin was starting to get red so massive amounts of sunscreen was needed. It was worth it and beautiful. We left the beach and went to dinner at Pinchers. Enjoyed time with Monterry and Tosin. The food was just okay. I was tired walking around in the boot – so wish I could have came without it but following doctor’s orders.

Tosin went back on Friday and Monterry and I just hung out at the airbnb – enjoying what it had to offer. We then watched the entire series, “The Girl in the Window next to the Woman in the House.” It became better by episode and we laughed about the amount of wine the start drank – she would pour her glass full. The ending – unexpected. Then, on Saturday we were going to go to Fishermen’s village yet Monterry didn’t want to drive that far, so we just went to the shops near the beach and got ice cream. When we go back we will shop more – I’d love to go to the Esplanade area. My boot just got the best of me. We then drove by the condo we stayed at on our honeymoon before heading back to the Airbnb.

Sunday we relaxed and enjoyed each other and didn’t do much at all. Just the hot tub and pool and book and TV (not in any specific order). We took some items back to the store and then watched some more TV.

On Monday we left. But before leaving we dropped by Alvin’s to buy the hummingbird ornaments (one for me and one for my sister) in memory of our mom.

We got to the airport to find out our flight was delayed. We would make it to JFK airport in New York but would miss our connecting flight. We spent the night at JFK – hardly any sleep at all. We then flew the next morning to Minneapolis (loved this airport – it had so much: comfy seating and an art gallery). We enjoyed a late breakfast there and waited to board. We got on the flight – we weren’t sitting together this time. I was in the very back and someone didn’t show so I had the whole seat for me and my boot – perfect yet as we flew in the air I wished Monterry was with me in the back – if something were to happen I’d want to be with him.

We landed and booked an Uber. Our driver David was hilarious. Originally from Brooklyn, Puerto Rico decent – he shared his story and what brought him to Indiana. He was delightful. Home at last. Rejuvenated. Traveling and relaxing was the perfect vacation this time around.

Replacing our Fridge

Photo by Cleyder Duque on

After hobbling from the appliance section, to customer service, back to the appliances at Lowes in my heavy boot I stood there talking to Jamal. He just told me that I would need the serial number to the refrigerator. I looked at him and started crying. He had no clue how fragile I was. My emotions just took over – a wave of grief mixed with frustration and anger. I made sure to let him know that I knew he was just doing his job and it was not his fault. I apologized for my tears and shared that both my mom and my husband’s mom had passed away, I was in a boot, and we hadn’t had a fridge since November. I had been talking to many people on the phone from Frigidaire to the warranty company, to customer service at Lowes. He called a manager and in the meantime offered me chocolate.

We eventually got everything figured out when recognizing I had bought it online instead of in the store (who knew that made a difference). I was relieved and now composed and thrilled to find out our refrigerator would be in by April 20th.

I write this, not because of the story and not because of the tears, but because of how wonderful Jamal was – I know he probably was saying a few choice words in his head and wondering what crazy woman he was serving yet it never came off that way. He apologized that I had been sent back and forth. He was patient and calm. He had phenomenal customer service and I am so thankful that he was there to help me while I was so emotional. He could have sent me off to someone else or had me call someone – yet instead he stood there and helped work through it.

Jamal doesn’t know this, but his apology for what all we had been through in regards of the refrigerator meant the world to me and will to my husband when I tell him. You see, just a couple of weeks ago the warranty company that was fixing our refrigerator was supposed to show up and didn’t. He then was rude when he called and never apologized – instead just wanted to reschedule. As he spoke to me I felt as though he would have handled it differently if my husband had been the one talking to him. I was furious when I hung up the phone with my last words being, “I hope this conversation today doesn’t affect our service tomorrow.” He came the next day and… spark… the refrigerator was beyond repairable. Hence, me standing and talking to Jamal to get our replacement.

Thank you Jamal for your customer service and for the offer of chocolate again before I left. Your kindness and patience was so appreciated.

Relaxation, Memories, and Love #SOL22 #Day31

Sitting outside at our rental in Marco Island by the pool listening to the small waterfall brings me comfort. This week of relaxation has been needed in ways that I cannot even describe. As I sit here, I think about how much my mom would have loved this place. She, like me, would have been the first one up and outside enjoying the beauty.

We flew in Monday and have only left the rental to go to the store and to eat out on our anniversary. Everything we need is right here. Everything but the beach.

We are heading to the beach today – me in a boot to protect my fractured foot. I’ll hobble on the sand and I’m sure at times it will hurt but the ocean will make it worth it. As I walk my mom will be with me. She loved the beach and the sand and collecting sea shells. We found bags and bags of saved sea shells and sand in her apartment from her trips to Panama City Beach and Gulf Shores with family. One day my sister and I and our families plan to get a condo and decorate it with all the seashells we found and with the seashell decor that was in her house – some of it never opened or used. She had plans for it but not the energy to make it happen.

Mom – we will make it happen for you. And every time we go to the condo we know you will be there.

Today will be another day of not doing much and just enjoying my time off with my husband and friend Tosin who joined us. Today, our beach trip will be exactly what I need. Today I will have another day of memories to hold close to my heart. Today I will explore the beauty of the world that God created in peace knowing my mom is with Him. Today.

You are there #SOL22 #Day30

Mom, momma, mommy-
Sharing our memories this month with others by putting my fingers to the keyboard has been a form of therapy for me.

When you left us to enter the heavenly gates on Feb 11, 2022
We were not ready.

We wanted more years, more months, more days, more minutes, more seconds of your beauty and love.
We needed to hear your voice one millions, thousands, hundreds, tens; well at least one more time.
We wished for more memories together – more laughter, more tears, more hugs, more trips, more – you name it.

My daily writing to you and about you may be ending today at the end of this daily writing challenge;
Yet, my writing to you and about you will never end.

Memories will come back and I will write.
Sadness will swarm my body and I will write.
Laughter will ensue and I will write.

I know you are looking down on me and telling me:
Not to cry- because when you were alive you always said you didn’t want us to cry when you left us – that you would be in peace.

You are looking down on me and telling me:
I’m proud of you, your sister, and your nieces and nephews- because you said it often and you put those words in writing too.

You are looking down on me and telling me:
Spend time with those you love. Worry less. Relax more. Don’t let work take over your life – be around those in your life. Work hard, play harder.

You are looking down on me and telling me:
Every time you hear Elvis, see hummingbirds, smell yellow roses –
I am there.
Every time you drink a diet coke, go out to eat, or have chocolate –
I am there.
Every time you celebrate a birthday, a holiday, a graduation, a wedding, a life –
I am there.

Yes, mom. You are there. I feel you each day. I miss you each day. I love you each day.

Yes, mom. You are there. I see you in all that I do.

Yes, mom. I know. You love me and I love you too.

I’m saying it again because I wish I would have said it more.

Mommy – I love you. We love you. You are loved.

Remembering our Moms on our Anniversary #SOL22 #Day29

Today is our anniversary – Monterry and I have had 9 beautiful years together. We also had almost 9 beautiful years with both of our mommas. You see, Monterry’s mom passed on MLK Jr Day this year and my mom passed on Feb 11th. We know they both are saying “Happy Anniversary” from above. So today, I share our memories of our mommas from this very special day in our life.

There are memories of both shopping for their dresses. My mom and I went to several places and ended up buying the one she were at Macy’s. We had so much fun looking and trying to find what would be just right for her. I now have the dress she wore hanging up in my closet at home – not sure what I will do with it but I plan to cherish it – a memory to keep. I remember talking to Monterry’s mom on the phone. What size are you? She wasn’t sure so I bought her a few dresses to choose from. She wasn’t able to see well and wasn’t getting out as much so phone call it was. A few hours shopping and voila a few dresses to choose from.

His mom needed to be picked up and brought to the wedding. I remember Monterry wanting to do it and I was so nervous he would be late but it was important for him to pick up his mom and her be there with us. So he took the dresses, helped her get ready and they arrived with plenty of time. I got to see her before I had my dress on. She was so happy – her smile is forever etched in my heart.

While he was getting his mom, mine was busy helping. She had made snacks for everyone to have while we got ready. I remember the first time she saw me that day and my photographer caught the moment. It was beautiful. My reaction – her smile – memories of our love.

Then the time came for us to walk down the aisle. Sylvia (my mom) and Rosie (Monterry’s mom) lit the candles and sat down. They were there with us – their faces lit up.

The reception was fun. Of course, talking to so many people we didn’t have a lot of time to talk with them – but they talked with family and friends. And they both said they had fun.

That night, they stayed at our house while we stayed downtown Indy. When everyone woke up the next day, we went to Le Peeps for breakfast. Monterry took his mom back and all my family went home. We had time to look at all of our gifts and start thank you’s. We did not leave for Marco Island (where we are celebrating now) until Monday as we wanted to be with mom on Easter – holidays were important to her.

Our memories from this day are strong of family and friends yet our mom’s being there will also be vivid as we continue to remember them on our anniversary.

This old chair #SOL22 #Day28

This is my sweet mom 51 with my beautiful niece Tracy.

The chair she is sitting in represents memories from our family. It was her favorite chair. I still remember how mad she was when we finally took a picture of it and threw it out and bought her a new one. It had lived it’s life but she loved that chair.

I sat in that chair late at night doing homework, reading, and watching TV. One late night I watched Interview with the Vampire – why I remember that memory, I’m not sure but it does stand out.

Why did mom love this chair so much? Because it linked her to my dad and our life – before the divorce when we lived near Bargersville in the huge house. The house that we were forced to leave when my dad left. We couldn’t find him for a while. Mom drove us around – we slept in the car and in a few motels before moving in with my Uncle Bob and his family. When dad came back around, he moved us into the Hilltop Motel. Finally, we moved to the apartment my mom lived in for 34 years.

Dad went to the barn where our stuff was stored and brought us some of the furniture. This chair and the curtains you see were a part of that delivery.

Mom loved both, the chair and the curtains. She held tightly to the material things that brought her close to our life pre-divorce. She loved on us and my niece Tracy and the other grandkids that came along the way. She wished I would have kids but I told her I was a better aunt 🙂 I loved visiting and would joke around with her that I can take them and give them back – I liked that.

She spent a lot of time in this chair. It was old. It was broken. But it was beautiful. It represented what held us together as a family. Late nights, Pringles with melted American cheese, lots of read pages, crafts, and more occurred, snuggled in this old chair – the chair that reveals how closely mom held onto things and why she never threw anything away. This chair will always be close to our hearts.

Mom’s Writing #SOL22 #Day27

Yesterday, we found a journal that I had bought mom for Mother’s Day in 2005. This was at the peak of my own writing when I found solace in the written words on the page – I had discovered a way to process life through writing and wanted to share it with mom. Below is what I wrote to mom in the journal before I gifted it to her.

Mom wrote in this journal several times from 2005-2007, then blank pages. As I read through he words last night, I felt her warmth and love. She cared so deeply for all of us. She mentioned how proud she was of my sister and I. She wrote about the kids. She wrote about our trip to Panama City and trips to Kentucky. She shared when she was proud of us and when she was disappointed. I knew that seeing my mom and spending time with her was the one thing she loved most and her writing showed this. I so wish I had her thoughts and words from when I was born all the way until her death, but these few words are enough for us to hold onto along with the notes we have found from her and letters she wrote and never sent. Mom – I knew you well but am knowing you better through your writing.

Mom – I faintly remember you talking about it but you and dad were told you would never have kids after your wreck – the wreck that I wish I would have talked to you about more. The wreck I’m learning details now from dad and your brother. You wrote about this on Allison’s birthday in 2005. You shared what a gift Allison was to you at the time and that you were sick and on bedrest with both pregnancies – and that we were worth it. Thanks mom for putting the pen to paper to say this. Thank you.

Mom, I could write more about what you wrote but I’m going to hold those words close to my heart instead and revisit them over and over.

Writing – it soothes the soul. It brings meaning to life. It lasts beyond your time on this earth. I am so glad my mom left her words with us. I am thinking about leaving my words in here also – although I do not have biological kids I would like to write to her the stories of us – my sister and my nieces and nephews. I’d like to think about sharing this journal with my family. Maybe we each take a month and write in it and pass it on. I don’t know – I’ll talk to my sister about it today. Writing. It can bring us together and hold a space in eternity.

The Text that Came when Snow was on the Ground #SOL22 #Day26

Photo by Travis Rupert on

On a normal snowy morning when planning to go to Franklin I would wake up to a text from my mom telling me, “be careful and if it is too bad, don’t come down. I would love to see you but I want you to be safe.”

As I type and know I am getting ready to go to her apartment – this weekend being the last one there, I looked at my phone anticipating her text and was reminded once again that she won’t be sending me a text or calling me. Sadness streams through my body – I can feel it from my head to my toes – waves of grief.

And then I hear those words in my head. I know she is still saying it to me. She always will. Every snowy day that I need to go outside, get in my car and drive, I will hear her telling me to be careful. Don’t do it if it’s not safe.

And this is what I loved most about my mom. She wanted to always see me – she would text me to come visit more often than I did. I would sometimes feel guilty but make a choice to stay home and get things done.

She would text or call me. She’d always tell me something about my sister, my nieces and nephews or how she was feeling and then ask, “Are you coming down today or tomorrow or will it be next weekend?

I used to visit every weekend but when I entered into my current position and started driving more to work I started visiting about every other weekend. She knew this but would always ask every weekend.

Sometimes it would annoy me and I didn’t get it. But now I do. Us kids brought her joy. Any minute she could spend with us made her smile and that makes me smile.

I smile as I am typing knowing she always wanted to see me but wanted me to be safe so on a snowy day when the roads might be slick she would say, stay home. My safety came first.

We never get to spend as much time as we want with those we love before they leave us. We will say no sometimes because it doesn’t work in our schedule. We will choose no because it is not safe. Yet instead of worrying about the lost time, it is important to hold on to the many memories. Mom was my foundation. She was my rock. She was always there whether right next to me or from a distance.

And she will always be there. Just like today as I am waiting a bit longer before I hit the road – to be safe. Love you and miss you mom.

6 weeks… #SOL22 #SOL Day25

6 weeks, yes 6 weeks.

6 weeks without calling you

Talking to you

Hearing your voice

Seeing your smile

Feeling your warmth.

6 weeks you’ve been in heaven

flying above

looking down on us.

6 weeks you have been able to see the beauty

of our love

and us see yours.

6 weeks we’ve been separated

Far from one another

But close in our hearts

6 weeks is too long, too much, and too devastating.

It is reality.

It is life.

It is grief.

It just is.

6 weeks, today, Friday

Every Friday hard.

6 weeks. Yes, 6 weeks.

Final birthday celebration with mom #SOL22 #Day 24

The last birthday party with mom

Celebrating my nephew’s 12th birthday.

Family and friends and so much fun.

We sat at the table together and talked.

We laughed and joked around.

We made mom take this picture with Carson.

Glad we did.

If someone asks you to take a picture – do.

Photos are priceless.

Photos bring joy.

Photos allow for grief to live within us

Photos enable joy to permeate through our bodies

Photos are memories that let us live in grief and happiness simultaneously.