Monday, June 30, 2014

Lucky Number 13

He wore glasses, an Abercrombie flannel, and blue jeans. The teacher's mouth was moving, but I couldn't hear a word he was saying. All I could think about was those glasses, his smell...that guy. What was wrong with me? This was so unlike me. I'm normally oblivious! 

I watched him each day, not in a stalker like way, but in an I'm curious and want to know more way. He carried a blue Jansport backpack, and a quiet, contemplative disposition. I could tell he was much more than quiet though. I sensed passion, and a definite fire behind the silence.

The teacher of our small group communication class decided to count us off into groups. Before he began - I knew. I glanced all the way over to the other side of the classroom. I smiled and to myself I said, "I bet we'll be in the same group, and ours will even be my favorite number - 4.

What the hell was wrong with me?!?! Who was this guy, and what was he doing to me?

1...2...3...4. I watched as the teacher weaved back and forth through the rows. He finally got to his 1...2...3...4. We were a group. 

I knew. How? Especially so early on. You know the feeling when you just do. Well, never before had I been so sure.

It was both the big and super simple. Simple such as these - for all my life, I've had severe problems with keys. One day I was sitting on the curb next to my white Honda CRX when he walked up and asked what I was doing? "Waiting for my roommate to bring my spare keys." I answered. He sat down to keep me company as I waited for my friend Summer. He later asked if he could make me dinner at my apartment. He not only cooked an entire Italian meal, but also cleaned the kitchen, swept the floor, and took the trash out. I was sold! Hook, line and sinker!

It wasn't long before this 22-year-old girl and that 19-year-old boy moved in together. We lived, laughed, and loved. We then fought, broke up for 8 months, and got back together.

We then got engaged, planned a wedding, bought a house, and in our first year - while everyone else is maybe in their honeymoon phase - we fought. A lot. We argued about what seemed like everything. We had a lot of fun in between the fighting, but... my gosh, it was a wild first year!

We soon found our flow. We began to realize certain things just didn't matter and weren't worth the argument. We learned to go easy on each other. We decided to let each be exactly who we are - together, and separately. I stopped screaming about how the dishes were supposed should be loaded in the dishwasher ; ) and just rearranged it if I didn't like it...because that's my thing, not his. I realized that same philosophy applied to many other areas too. With each passing year wbecame better, and stronger and have never looked back. We definitely enjoy our marriage much more than in those early years. 

When we hit the skids with infertility, the adoption process, and my bonding issues - we learned about each other and ourselves more than ever. We had some very difficult times throughout, but not with each other. We now knew to always put each other first. Often times, I remember glancing over and flashing back to that 19 year old flannel shirt wearing, backpack campus crossing cutie and thinking, "Dang, he's everything I'd hoped for. He's loading up needles and shooting them into me. He's quiet and smiling while I sometimes rage from what he knows are these insane fertility drugs pulsing through my veins. He's calm, cool, and collected as we handle the most insane process to this sweet girl sent from above. He's gentle, loving, and goofy as he whisks her off after a full day of work so I can regroup after a day of my own. He's everything. And the best part...he's mine."

I had no idea, but all those years of love, challenges, and even the early on fights - well, they were merely building blocks. They were slowly preparing us for the big one. I’m beyond grateful for all those gradual lessons. For learning to break up, and make up. For the all out brawls, and learning to always come back together. For learning that when the rubber truly hits the road, we are one, a united front, and face every obstacle as such.

Today is our anniversary - lucky number 13. We are celebrating in Lake Tahoe - our very favorite place. The place where we began 13 years ago today. 

When I look at Dave I see the same person I saw in class that day. He’s quiet, contemplative, and passionate. He's driven, yet wild. He's everything I wanted that day, today, and all the days in between. 

But back then; my 22-year-old self could never have stretched my mind to see a future such as ours. The vision I painted was much different... we were married; I, a stay at home mom to our two kids (a boy first, then a girl) both of whom we loved madly. We had many animals and lived in Lake Tahoe. Together, we shared a life similar to the one I had growing up in the woods. We loved deeply, and lived greatly. Nice, right? Naive...

No one daydreams of tragedy, or even believes something such as this could happen to them. Never would I have thought the pages from our story could or would read like this. But the truth is, I still love our story. I love it dearly. I wouldn't trade it. Not for a second. Even though there's a certain section that's rather short, it stands alone, and will brightly color all the remaining. Whichever the moment - up high, or down low, in the was spanned across these pages.

I love how we each love Aviana in our own unique way, but we are together sealed by the most unbreakable bond with her. There was never a moment I tired of seeing the way Dave loves, cares, and provides for each of us. He is the most unbelievable man. I had an idea of who he was, but never could have truly known until I saw him go through all he has in these past five years especially. When I slide into his shoes for a moment, my love, admiration, and appreciation grows a million-fold. 

Thoughts run rampant ~

He never had any fertility issues, and was nothing but supportive - always. 

He didn't have bonding issues. He and Aviana were like glue from the start.

It wasn't his family who was walking Aviana across the street that day. Did you know at first he was mad...because he lost her. He quickly realized it was an accident and forgave, and loves my mom and Gary very much... but still. I so admire him.

He would work all day long, and without missing a beat, walk straight through the door, hug and kiss our Meek, our pup, and me and it was straight in on therapy. After therapy, we had the huge task of cooking all that 'green' until we went to sleep. All to wake up and do it over...7 days a week.

He would spend his vacation days at the brain injury institute learning how to rehabilitate.

He always makes sure I'm taken care of - have I gone out with my friends enough? Is there anywhere I want to go? Is there anything I need? Am I okay? He's always checking in. Thanking me for all I've done around the house, for Aviana, Kama, and Rainey. When I'm sad, he doesn't try to fix, he just listens, and hugs me if I'm crying. He always knows when to throw in the perfect crack to break the mood and make me laugh. He knows I need to laugh!! He knows! He knows!

I never hear him complain. He just does. He knows what's right, what needs to be done. What's good for the soul. He's the best I've ever known.

Life didn't turn out exactly how we thought. Many years ago, Dave got Lasik and doesn't wear glasses anymore. No really, I do believe he said it best. A piece of his heart is gone and will never be replaced. There's a part of him, which will never be happy. I couldn't have said it any better. It's true. I feel the exact same way. In every part of my day, there is a piece, which will never find true happiness because she's gone. But at the same time, because she was here, and because she changed and rearranged everything about us - we can take what's left of both our hearts and lives and enjoy what we have that much more
Lucky number 13. We have some awfully special ones watching over us. I have a great feeling for what's to come.

Three for Thirteen : )


When this song first came out, I heard it and immediately thought of Dave. He is...

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Little Things

I can post without pictures, but it seems all I have in mind lately includes picture after picture! I have much written and in waiting.

With all the computer swapping, consolidating, calls to Apple Care, impending Blogger expiration, attempts to get a hold of Google (3.5 hour hold and still no talk), and on and on...I'm not able to include one single picture within any post. When I make an attempt, the rainbow wheel of death appears on my screen. Ahhhh! Force quit! Force quit ; )

I'm hoping to be back sometime soon : )

In the meantime, how have you been? How's your summer been so far? Is there anything I just have to try, see, or a place we really need to go?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Beautiful Life

I have been given much. Sometimes it's exactly what I want, sometimes not at all. Sometimes I understand, sometimes not at all. I realize I don't need to, and I'm finally okay with that.

Everyday, I am grateful for what life I have left. As much as I miss Aviana, I have to try always to live fully. Aviana had 7 years. I have no excuse to waste my life. When she was here, I would try to be fully aware of every inch of my moving body - all because she was barely able. Either way, here or not, I'm conscious of her throughout my every day.

Each comes with its own duality. When she was here, she was a visual representation of all we could, and she couldn't. She pushed me harder and further in every way. As her sweet eyes met mine, I would sometimes catch myself crying though. She had a knowing look at certain times, like when I was using my hands and arms to pet or throw the ball for Kama. I had to always push through and know that despite the difficulty, and in the grand scheme of everything, she was a physical lesson in using our lives for the betterment of ourselves, and maybe even others.

Now that she's gone, the same holds true. Most times and days I'm happy. I enjoy most every part of my day. I want to see, do, and experience so much of what this life has to offer. I am grateful for peace, perspective, and faith. I thank Aviana every day. But sometimes in the mix of experiences and thank yous, I'm overcome by the reason for this great gain. My mind skids off into the trade off. The loss. I once again have to push through, get back on track, and remind myself of how all those feelings are useless. Soon enough, I'm back to thinking about the gain, and how Aviana was carefully and meticulously placed on this earth, and into our family. She was here to help, to guide, and to love us. And we - we were blessed to know her, and love her - even if only for a short time. 

Everyday - I thank God - for so much. I thank God for Aviana. I thank God for allowing us to come through the way we did. I really thank God for knowing what was best for us, despite what we thought

I don't know if you remember, but the moment we decided to continue on I floated a silent, yet vehement prayer in a dimly lit hospital hallway, "Please God, please. All I ask is that you let her have some sort of recovery. If not, please take her now. Whatever you do, don't leave her like this!" We then traveled. And worked. It just wasn't to be. And for a moment, I was pissed. You could often find me shaking my fists at God and saying (to you and whomever else would listen), "how could you do this? How could you leave a little girl a few notches above death? Unable to do anything for herself? Why couldn't you just take her on the street that day? How cruel to leave her like this, especially after who she was before!! Is this a sick joke?"

This lifelong pray-er stopped for a while. I knew deep down I was acting out and really just plain sad over our whole circumstance, mostly because it all just didn't feel right. I knew God was still good.

Regardless, I remember a new artist came out with a song. I immediately posted it here because it took my breath away and perfectly captured the way I'd previously felt and how my mom currently was. At the time, I couldn't listen without crying through the entire song

We soon adjusted and accepted our newest situation and carried on. I have since listened to the song many times as it comes up randomly. I'm amazed because his words played out so perfectly in my life. I knew what was coming, and what I would need. I knew what I was capable of and asked anyway. I was provided for in every way possible and through the hardest times with Aviana. I'm still provided and protected over. I have held true to my promise and thank God multiple times a day - not because I have to, but because I want to.

I've learned to let go and trust. I used to look at life in smaller snapshots instead of the bigger picture. We were given a life. I definitely learned it's not always going to go our way, and sometimes it's going to be downright devastating. Sometimes people may wrong you, bad things may have happened in the past. You won't find me using the word unfair, but I will use it for this purpose only - sometimes you may look around and life will be unfair - but oh well, life isn't fair. It wasn't promised to be. That's the way it goes. Someone always has it worse - always. There's always something to be grateful and thankful for though. There's beauty everywhere. Sometimes because of what's happening you may have to look harder, and sometimes it comes more easily. But it's always there.

One of my very favorites...

"Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so let us all be thankful."


We will miss Aviana everyday for the rest of our lives. I can't count how many times we collectively think about her a day.  What sometimes fascinates me most is how for a few years we wished she would've died on the street that day instead of having to go through all of this. In retrospect, I find it interesting how we're all in agreement - if it had to be, and we could choose, this is how we would have wished for our journey to have gone.

It unfolded as it was supposed to, and in its perfect time...all the way down the very last day and moment. I wouldn't trade one single second for anything, because in each and every, I trust that Aviana was accomplishing her life's purpose. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Memory Lane

 Hello again! Our computer was on the fritz for a while so we ended up with a new one. I've been in the process of switching everything over for the past week or so. We decided to send all our music up to the Cloud via iMatch. I had no idea that for us it would be a weeklong process. Phew! 

I then took on a task which sounded harmless, that is, until I dove in. How couldn't I have known? I guess my head was still in the Cloud. I've been full steam ahead, streamlining our past five years of pictures. Hmmm. Some have asked if it's really necessary to take on now. My answer seems to be - if not now, then when? It's going to hurt all the same. So far I've deleted about 6000 duplicates, wasted, don't need, and why did I takes.

I've bounced everywhere this past week. I've cried so hard I could barely breathe. I've been completely and totally taken by both Aviana and Kama. I've laughed at how unbelievable that program was, but then cried thinking of how much I had to block out in order to continuously drag her through. At times, I've gone completely numb. Through fast pace scrolling, I've watched Aviana's true decline. I've visually seen the lights dim out, especially after Kama died. I watched how she really stopped trying. Stopped holding her head up, attempting to use her spoon, moving her arms. I saw her give up, and in. I braced myself with each and every surgery. I saw the pain on all of our faces, but especially hers. I remembered so much I had forgotten. I wanted so desperately to hold her, squeeze her, kiss her, to tell her just how much I love her!! But then, in just a few clicks, I was once again so thankful that she's gone. It's been exhausting at times. Thank God for the Pie and straight up Rainey pictures. They've helped to cover all the death we've endured in the past 5 years with Zoe, SeƱor, Kama, Snoozer, Chelsea, Zander, and Aviana. All our family pets and Aviana. It's unreal to scroll through and see three lying on the bed together and think, they're all gone

I still can't exactly believe what happened, where we've come from, and where we are today. I'm not finished sorting, but from where I'm sitting and after what my eyes have seen, I can say one thing...I'm happy we are still standing and in one piece. 

As hard as it is, it's also good to go through at the very same time. It's good to see how we all came together. It's nice to see that even through the hardest of hardship, we always kept our sense of humor and a positive attitude. Most importantly and best to see, there was a common thread running through every picture, and that was love! We surrounded Aviana and each other in it. We chose the best nurses, therapists, care providers, and school for her. As a family, we always tried to make as light of an extraordinarily heavy situation. 

I was happy to see the pictures reflected the overall way I feel about the past years.

I was contemplating putting five posts together summarizing each year of this journey.


Anyway, that was a side note gone awry!

Sitka was by far my favorite stop in Alaska. I would love to go back.

I'm a sucker for Sea Otters, so Dave and I decided to go on a tour. Their sweet faces make me crazy. We first walked around town with my mom.

This was St. Michael's Russian Orthodox Church. 

My mom wanted to each light a candle for Aviana.


We saw many bald eagles on the tour. Can you believe the biggest reported nest is 6 X 8 feet. Yes, you read that right. I still can't believe it!

On the video for the tour, they showed the otters up and around the boat. Come to find out, these guys are shy and don't like to come close to the boat? I had my zoom lens on and they were still specks in the water. This picture is not only zoomed, but cropped! They are so cute! 

Thankfully the day unexpectedly turned into a whale watching tour. We saw four different whales. Three humpbacks - two full grown, one calf, and a gray whale. 

This was the mom and calf swimming right towards our boat. 

You can find Gray whales in shallow water. Interesting.


I forgot - back to Juneau for a second. 

I don't know if you've heard of this bar, but it was really neat. It's one with saw dust on the floor, and an old country singer twangin' on his guitar.

Every square inch was covered...

So I had to find a place to declare our love. I tried, and tried. The third time was the charm. The others didn't look right, and my pen was running out of ink.

This was brought to you from behind and under our table. Ohhh, and it was written upside down and flipped. YEAH!

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Gary, Dave and I signed up for a beer tasting on Mother's Day. I used to drink like a fish, but since the accident, I can count the drinks I've had on my hands. I've recently started tasting Dave's beers when I go out with him and his crew on Wednesday nights. 

My plan was to take a taste and pass all my beers off on Dave. This was working well until...

I was called up for a competition. We had to down the beer, suck a cherry up with a straw and pass it to the next person. I am severely competitive, so even a slight headache from crying that morning wasn't going to stop me.

Our first stop was Juneau.

We took a seaplane over five glaciers to a lodge for a salmon dinner.

As we were eating, this little guy came out to lick the grill. Isn't he the cutest!

We went outside to get some better pictures!

They said ten different bears come out at different times. I wanted to stay forever.

There were four labs on the property. I sent our neighbor all these pictures and told him, "whatever you do, don't show Rainey!!" He immediately sent me a picture of her "mad dog" face and said, she's pissed!! He's a feisty one!



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

This trip was already planned, so we merely needed to say yea, or nay. We are so happy we said yea!

 We first flew into Seattle. We love it there, and were looking forward to spending whatever time we had downtown. We didn't even get on the boat before hopping a cab. We just passed our bags off and said goodbye to our family.

We walked all over Pike Place Market. I was backing up for this picture and then heard Dave, 
Jen! Stop, stop! 
Me: Whaa?
Dave: You're about to run into the news crew!

Yep, they were filming a story, and I almost backed right into them. Apparently, it's the quintessential picture of Pike Place Market. Prior, I couldn't remember the exact word order, so I searched. Was it Pike's Place, or Pike Place Fish Market, or Pike Place Where the Fish Fly, or Pike - The Place Anyone Can Smoke Pot in the Park and...Interesting, They Turn a Blind Eye, Pike's! The Best Flowers in the World for the Most Outrageously Low Prices, Pike's! We SOOO Badly Wanted One Millllion Tiny Donuts and a Side of Hot Cider, but Were Going to Lunch So We Had to Pass on Everything, Pike's - I Luh You Pike's, and wouldn't you know it...look at this picture

This was the highlight of our trip. Yep, there you have it!

For all you Starbuck's lovers. Here's the very first one. 

We walked all over, as we waited. We were meeting our Uncle John for lunch. The rest of the family met us towards the end of lunch. They live pretty close to Seattle, so every time we're up that way, we love to see them. 


The trip was a cruise, which included four stops. A cruise was suggested to us for our honeymoon, and while at the time we didn't think we would enjoy that type of vacation, we finally agreed. To make a long story very short, we missed our boat, and had to catch it in Jamaica. It ended up being the best thing that could've happened. We were quite stir crazy on the boat. Once home, I spoke with the travel agent and, with no other exception, they offered us a free cruise. We took it the following year and felt the same. At the time, we decided we must be of the land vacation variety, and prefer to see one place more thoroughly. 

That was 13 years ago though, and we are completely different people, so we thought we'd give it another whirl. We also agreed that Alaska was a good choice to try it again with.

The days at sea always seemed most difficult for us. We were grateful to have our family. It was nice because we would come together, yet break off as we chose. 

The first day at sea was Mother's Day. I was really happy we were going to be away, yet together on this day. I woke up that morning and couldn't stop thinking about Aviana. At that moment, I wondered where in the world she was. In the early morning Mother's Day haze of it all, I was lead to a place of not caring about all the reasons why it is the way it is. I continued on to the place I try rarely to go - the place that's useless and painful, yet also at times feels good and imaginary. I went to where all was right. I didn't turn back. Nor did I want to. Not this time. I stayed for a while. I let it all in.

She was with us. On our trip. Whole. Unharmed. Unaffected. In my imaginary world nothing ever happened to her, to them, to us. I could see her, feel her, smell her. She was charming every passerby. She was playing, dancing. I could see every movement of her hands and fingers. The swaying of her limbs. She was twirling, skipping, splashing. I watched as she moved her head, her mouth - talking, singing, even crying. But as she used to the majority of the time - she was smiling.  She was a part of every one of our exciting plans for the week. She was on Dave's shoulders. She was between Roger and Rella - holding each of their hands. She was eating - as she so loved - and to her heart's delight. Most of all, I had visions of my mom, Gary, and Aviana. These images were as clear as five years ago. I saw and felt the all too familiar glow. The one, which burned brightly from deep inside and created a bubble all the way around the three of them.   

She was tangible, real, healthy. She was 7 - and that morning - she was beaming as she proudly handed her favorite person her gift and said, "Happy Mother's Day Nana! I love you!" 

I rarely go so far, but that morning I did. When I do, the same thing usually happens, and happened it did. I came crashing down in a cascade of tears. Thank God for Dave. I am eternally grateful for him, and my family. We're our own little secret service, a huddle of people who intimately understand the intricacies and delicacies with a word, or even without. Interestingly, my mom started her day in a similar way. I suppose it was necessary. By the time we came together, we were good. It helps to have each other.

I have loved greatly, and lost dearly. But in losing, I have gained tremendously. I have Aviana to thank for showing me how to endure absolute hardship, but in turn, appreciate every day blessings that much more. I have her to thank for showing me how to enjoy the life I've been gifted and truly love the people who make every day worth everything.

I have her to thank... 

I have her to thank... 

I have you to thank...

I love you Aviana.