Tuesday, December 4, 2018

on the eve of my daddy's birthday...

It’s crazy how the heart just seems to know… I was driving home after dropping off the babies today and as the tears started flowing I wondered if there was no calendar to tell us.... would we know… would it hurt as bad… or are dates just a constant reminder.

It’s the eve of what would have been my Dad’s birthday. A day he SHOULD be here celebrating and all I can do is cry.  Grief is so very hard to navigate. As the years pass I had this assumption that it would get easier, but for me it is very much the opposite. I miss him so much. The words ‘I miss him’ pale in comparison to the feeling in my heart right now. They sound so insignificant to what loss truly feels like.

I had this moment of panic this morning that people are forgetting.  He was loved by so, SO many people and I am smart enough to know that life goes on and I just wanted to scream from the mountain tops, please don’t forget him. I am guessing that is a stage of grief that everyone goes through.

I often wonder if I had been able to say good-bye...if it hadn’t been so sudden and I had the chance to tell him I love you one more time would that make this easier… that wasn’t up to me though,  so I remind myself that he went fast and in the throes of doing what he loved and that was most certainly what he wanted. So if him getting what he needed and wanted in his final hours means me hurting a little more then I will endure this… for him.  I will try not to be selfish and wish for more because in the end I know he knew. He knew how loved he was. He was a sappy ole thing and never let a day go by without making sure we all knew how much he loved us. And we were never to shy or embarrassed to reciprocate.  We were and are PROUD.

The dates hit me hard.  The calendars are a constant reminder year after year and some days I wish I could take away the calendar, but then there are days where for no rhyme or reason the tears just flow. He was such an intricate part of our lives; our patriarch. Suddenly not having that after having it for so long makes it really, really hard to find footing without him. Life does go on though and so I pull myself together to shuffle kids to school, then let it all out as soon as I get back in the car because that’s what he would have done.  He would have held it together for us. He taught me when I was a wee one that it’s ok to cry, but then we have to get up and go splash cold water on our face and continue on. So I am going to go do that right now and I will leave this here… Man his dash was freaking incredible.

Happy Almost Birthday Dad. Today I cry and tomorrow morning I will wake up, turn the faucet on extra cold and then we will celebrate YOU. Your dates and your ONE IN A MILLION DASH.  I am SO proud to be a product of you. To be a Sommer. To have been raised by you. But most of all I am so thankful to have been loved by you. “MORESTER” forever and ever. Your Jennie Bean

I had never heard this poem, but shortly after his passing he was inducted into the Coaches Hall Of Fame. We were all still reeling from his sudden death and a man got up there and read this poem. We were all speechless after listening because it resonated so deeply in that raw space we were all still in.  So if you haven’t read it… please take a minute to do so. It is powerful stuff.

Friday, October 5, 2018

39 isn't so bad...

Me??? Writing... I know. It's weird and it's been a LONG time. And I can't lie, it may very well be another year before I do it again. My life is crazy busy. 5 kids is definitely a FULL time job and leaves little room for writing. One day, I hope to get back at it more because lord knows I miss it, but for now.... my kiddos come first.

Two days ago was my "birfday" and I turned 39!!! Like what even.... I can't seem to wrap my head around that. I'm still in my 30's y'all and I am definitely clinging hard ;)  That said, I am not going to sit here and insta filter this life I live..... It is hard. HARD. And messy. And loud. And I screw up. I yell and then I regret it. But then I get hand made cards like this (without being asked I am told):

and I'm reminded that they SEE me even when I think they don't. Mom life is often a thankless life for a long time...today though, I see that I am doing all right. These last 10 years have taken me to the brink. Had me begging for mercy, can't take another step. But, they have also shown me that I am stronger than I could have ever thought possible..

I know that now.

I have been pushed, pulled, stretched and knocked down. I have a lot to get back up for though so even when I LITERALLY don't think I can pull myself off the floor (and the floor and I are good friends btw) I somehow do.  I attribute SO much of that to my Dad and the tenacity that he instilled in me. I also love my kids something fierce and no matter what, I will NEVER back down for them.

My Pax was born just after I turned 30. I was a week away from giving birth to my VERY sick boy 9 years ago. I had no idea how much my life would change or just how strong I would become for HIM.  His journey transformed me. I remember blowing out the candles on my cake just days away from his induction... my ONLY wish was just me begging ... BEGGING for my baby to please just live and be ok.  That is all I so desperately wanted.... And here we are today.... he texted me this from school with happy birthday balloons flying on my phone screen.

SO many texts, cards and messages, because that's how we do things now, from those closest to me making sure that I know I am loved. As a Mama to five kiddos who barely even has time to lets be honest... pee. They all meant so much to me.

As my birthday came to a close I was so grateful for the I can't even begin to count text messages. The phone calls. The cards. The facebook messages that I waited until days end to check. My sister who made sure my day super special and to my besties who jumped on the band wagon.

The "Cat to my Nat" for taking me to breakie that legit turned into lunch and for spoiling me with a giant bag of goodies. Easy friendship is rare and I am so thankful.

I have found my voice this last decade. I have found (somewhat) of a backbone.  I've learned to say no. I've learned it's ok to do what's best for me instead of pleasing others. I've also learned that whatever I plan will most certainly not happen... and that's ok too. I've learned to take the hits and power through. I've learned when I don't think I can pull my rock bottom, hovered over my bed, exhausted, crying self off of the floor... to do as my dad would tell me and "get my ass in the bathroom, splash your face with cold water and get it together".

Most and MORE importantly:

I've learned that this life, as hard as it can be at times, is ridiculously profound.  It is bittersweet, hit you straight in your gut, takes your breath away BEAUTIFUL.
We get  ONE.... and while the road less traveled can often be a bit bumpier than taking easy street... I have never been more grateful for those that line my road. Cheering me on. Giving me grace. SO. MUCH. GRACE.  They are my people. My rocks and I know that no matter what the years ahead bring.... I got this. I've done this. And I will continue to do this.

Cheers to another year conquered. I'm pretty damn proud!

Again, thank you to every person who reached out. It meant the world. Truly.

Love and hugs~Jenn

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Birthdays In Heaven

I haven’t written in awhile… Im at place in my life where words often escape me. Today is heavy.  

He should be here.

As I get older and the world gets more crazy there is so much clairty in the fragility of life.  Losing my Dad so suddenly only drove that clarity home. I keep waiting for the sadness to pass. I keep waiting for the depth of missing him to ease.  I keep waiting for the dreams to suddenly stop.  None of it has and there is a part of me that is so very, very grateful for that. Somehow, those things have become a comfort to me as the years have passed. Like an old, tattered blankie. Sometimes we hide it and it isn't very pretty, but brings us comfort just the same.

I know “he would want me to be happy”. To “not be sad”. And yet just as my sister and I always discuss; had the roles been reversed he would be exactly where I am today. Sad and missing us.  Is there more happy than sad? Of course. I have a lot to live for. I am an example to my children and while I have not navigated this unflawed, I have shown them that even when we stumble…. to always get back up. Dad would be proud of that.

His pictures are all over my house. His jacket has hung on the back of the door since the day I received it.  It even still has the grease stain from what I’m guessing were wings on it.  That grease stain… it’s so silly but it reminds me that he was here and very much alive. Sometimes I just walk up to it,  put my face in it and cry.  There have been to many times to count that I have needed him so desperately these last couple of years, especially these last two months,  and I have come up empty.  Even at 38 years old he was that place of solace for me.  No judgement. Only love, even at my worst.  That is something that is hard to replace and perhaps only comes in the form of parental love. Forever and ever that is gone for me and as I navigate raising five children, being an incredibly imperfect human being and learning to live with a broken heart I find myself mourning that place of comfort more than ever. I hide it a lot because I feel like by now I should be on the other side of such thick grief.  It should have eased. I should have learned to live without him by now….but it hasn’t and I haven’t.  

In everything I do, I find myself innately finding a way to include him. It has become second nature to me.  My heart is so adamant about remembering him in the deepest form that it just happens and often I don't even realize it until looking back. Whether it be his iconic color orange, a quote, a picture, a shirt, a toast, a song or a letter.  Wherever I go, there he is and those little itty bitty ways my mind and heart have way of including him only confirm that. A reminder that he was such an intricate part of me that even years after his passing he is included in everything I do without even thinking about it.

Sommer continues to be my beacon of hope every day. She is the greatest gift he ever left behind and that baby has truly gotten me through some of my darkest hours.  Life is simply stunning like that.

I don’t know when or if it won’t hurt. I just keep hanging on and look for the signs I so desperately looked for just after losing him.

In the rays above his granddaughters head...

In the cardinal that has a nest right outside our front door...

In the song that comes on somehow at just the perfect time... 

In the boys when they bring home artwork with DDD on it, pick out orange anything "for Papaw" or even make the cars in their games just for him.

And especially and mostly in the wee hours when he emerges in my dreams as clear as the day is long. I cling to them in the hopes that one day I will see him again…  

I allow the tears to come when they won’t let go...especially today.
but when they ease and they always do….

I celebrate.  I remember.  I am proud.  I am #SOMMERstrong.

Happy Birthday Dad!  I never thought I would be living life without you so soon, but you are with me every breathe I take.  Thank you for being the most imperfectly perfect Daddy there ever was and for laying the foundation for me to be the same as a Mommy. I would be nothing to them today were it not for you. I miss you.  Somehow more and more as time goes on but I “keep hitting the curve balls” for you. 

MORESTER always~jennie bean

PS~ thank you to each person who has reached out only just this morning knowing how hard this day is for me. it is everything to me. truly.

"I hope everyone has a great day. I know today might be hard for all of us but just remember we have each other. You know I'm always just a text/phone call away. Love you all. Happy Birthday Dad. I love you and miss you so much" ~ Adam Sommer

"Happy Birthday to Dad in heaven.... Thinking of you today. xoxo" ~KB

"I know today is a tough day for you. Thinking of you. I wish I could have had the pleasure of meeting the man that built you. xoxo" ~ SL

"I'm thinking of you and loving you always"~ JB

" Happy Birthday Coach!"  Thinking of you my friend. You are such an inspiration, always remember that."~BM

Even when I feel alone, I am not.  Thank you sweet friends.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

2 years #SOMMERstrong

 I have been sitting at this computer for awhile pondering how to get all of these thoughts that constantly swarm around in my head out.  My life is so very busy with five kids and my poor brain even busier trying to make sure they all stay alive.  There is one thing though, that no matter how consumed I get, never ceases.  Dad. 

He is always just below the surface.  Swirling in the back of my mind. His voice not even a little bit faded.  His face clearer than it has ever been.  The dreams are constant day in and day out, even two years later.  Some are good.  Some are far to intense.  They are ALL hauntingly beautiful.  I adore seeing his face with such a vividness.  I crave his voice telling me to hit the curve balls and I like to imagine that is the only way he knows how to get to me now.  In my dreams.  Where my mind continues to swirl just as intensely as when I am awake.  I have been bracing myself for THIS day for weeks now.  The tears have ebbed and flowed in anticipation of reliving the most devastating month of my life.  I have spent countless hours in counseling trying to work through the heartache of losing the man who is the very reason I am alive today.  He didn’t have to be so incredible at 21 and take on raising his daughter alone, but he did. 

He was all I had ever known for so long and while Paxtons illness has blacked out a lot of my memory, the memories of my younger years are crystal clear.  So clear that I can remember learning to tie my shoe under my grandmas kitchen table with Dad cheering over me.  That never ceased. He was always my biggest fan; even when the “Jennie shuffle” came in dead last.  “Bean if we turn this race around you would WIN! Now SHIFT!”  As long as I live I will remember his sheer joy at seeing me run like a goddamn snail.  I can remember Dad having to buy me my own water bed (yes... you read that right, ‘waterbed’ lol :) because I refused to leave his and the poor man probably wanted some hottie in there instead.  So a queen waterbed I got...except like Talon is to me now... I still always made my way back to the safest, most non judgemental, loving place I have ever known; wherever my Dad was.  

Lord have mercy could I make bad life choices and he wouldn’t even bat an eye.  His love for me had no limits. Never faltered. Even in his busiest years.  If I called, he was there.  Love like that can never be replaced and I am beginning to realize that healing from losing a love like that may never happen.  Am I scarring over a bit? Yes. But am I still raw as hell 730 days later? Oh dear God, yes.  

I haven’t really gone into to much verbal detail about what it’s like to see your life force laying in a casket gone.  However, last week my counselor urged me to talk about it. She said she wanted to know...that it mattered to her. Hearing someone say it mattered opened up the gates.  So, after months and months of two days a week with her (and someone I could be besties with were we to meet in a different situation) I knew she meant it. So I sat on that couch and picked at her blanket while I ripped that scab off. I choked out detail after detail about how today and the days after played out two years ago.  The tears were relentless.  The tissues piling up beside me. There is nothing in this life; just like walking in to see your four day old on a ventilator with his chest cup open or peeking around the corner at a funeral home and seeing your 58 year old Dad lying in a casket, that can fully prepare you for how your world will instantly crumble. 

Talking about it and acknowledging those devastating memories somehow eased me. I left that day utterly drained and yet feeling lighter. Somehow, to open up and put those words out into the universe became a balm to my raw wounds and I knew I would be ok when today came. A gift I am so grateful for.  Thank you A. 

He was an organ donor.  Of course he was right.  What didn’t my Dad do to help others.... when we saw him for the first time since he passed away, we instantly noticed that his closed eyes were extremely swollen. I asked the funeral director why and he told us his eyes were donated to someone. Oh my heart. Those baby blues are helping someone see again.  If only we could have passed along that smile.  But then again,  I think he did... and it walks around in a 24 pound little girl who will carry on his legacy all the days of her life and perhaps her Mama too.  

So while the tears come when I expect and also least expect them; this morning we laughed.  A LOT.  I got my butt out of bed at 4 a.m. to head to the field where I spent four years of my life running and training.  Oh how those stadium lights as I turned the corner brought back all the memories of my untethered, teenage life.

Never though, without my Daddy just beside me yelling to “shift!”,  or ahead of me coming back to bring me through the finish line and most of the time behind me screaming “HOLD ME OFF OR WE DO IT AGAIN!”  How many of you readers have heard that out of Dads mouth?? Oh how he had a way of motivating us didn’t he?!


My Dads people have continued to celebrate, honor and love him and us through this journey. 

This morning before the sun even thought about rising. As the skies lit up with lightening, thunder rumbling and sirens going off with no rain (definitely Dad ;) parents and runners, past and present ignored the alarms and gathered around us ‘Sommers’ like hugging an old friend.

They made us laugh with dirty jokes and memories of the big and certainly LOUD goof that my Dad was. How someone can be soooo perverted, so funny, so giving and yet so tough and SO respected is a balance very few can achieve!  There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not BEYOND proud to be a Sommer.  I would scream it from the mountain tops if I could because, in the words of J. Cole, "damn they don’t make em' like you no more."

And as the sun began to set on this bittersweet day I loaded up my babies and we all headed to Estero High school to run Dads favorite loop with my Sister, my nephew and brother in law.  I actually wouldn't call it running, more like trying not to pass out in true "Jennie shuffle" form, but we did it. For him. 

And as I let lyrics from all of our favorite songs power me through, I thought back to all of the years I ran with him there having no idea what my future would hold at that time.  I looked down through sweat filled eyes at my angel in her stroller peaceful as ever running with her Mama. It's like she knew, but then again, it's in her blood.

When we finished we wrote our notes to heaven on orange balloons and glued our eyes to the sky smiling at the memories of him and the legacy he created right there on that track.  

I miss and love you MORESTER than any “morester” we have ever said to each other Dad.  Not a day goes by that you aren’t forefront in my heart and no matter how many years pass I will always celebrate you, your legacy and the love you gave me and SO many others.  

That one Sommer that changed me.... 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A long time coming....stream of consciousness

In light of my recent, very hard to post... post,  and all of the outpouring that came with it, I thought I should have a "stream of consciousness" post after almost another year of neglecting what I love to do the most; write.

I prepped this stupid...." BEFORE" pic hours before I actually hit the post button.

I had asked my trainer Brad if I HAD to do a before picture and he said I didnt have to do anything I didnt want to, but his look said sooo much more. I sat with that for awhile as minutes turned to hours. 

Was I ready to put myself out there on 'SOCIAL MEDIA' like that.... 

I was in truth; terrified. 

For those of you who knew my Dad, the Jenn today would be unacceptable to him. However; I do believe if the roles were reversed and he lost me, my sister or my brother that Dad wouldn't have had a leg to stand on. The suddenness of his loss rocked me to my core. And yet, I know it would have done the same to him. That loss is still just as raw today. Perhaps that is what happens when you have no warning and yet no warning is just how he wanted it to go down. Dad and I had a bond right out of the gate, like no other. I dream of him easily 3 times a week and it is vivid, raw and SO seemingly real.  In the months past, I have found those dreams haunting. Today, I find them motivating. After nearly two years of suffocating grief, missing the first love I have ever known,  I am choosing life. For my kids, for my family and for ME. I know Dad is smiling that giant smile we both share from wherever he is, SO proud that I have pulled myself out of this quicksand.

********I spent last night watching well over 60 comments come through my phone after posting what I consider a "fat pic" of myself and yet.... not one comment came through that didn't bring me happy, bittersweet tears. The truth is, I cried myself to sleep last night missing my Dad so deeply, and yet all the same, feeling wrapped in love and motivation. Overweight or not. I wasn't alone. We are all on our own journeys.... and that was SO comforting.

I also found myself realizing with a clarity that I haven't had in a looong time that being true to where we are in this very moment of life has the power to move mountains. I stood in front of that camera at my most vulnerable and put it out there for the world to see. Yet, the only thing in return was a stark reminder that there is power in numbers. That if we all just stick together we can change the world. Make it better for each other and our babies. Not one of us is perfect. We all have our demons and our stories, but being true to what brought us to this point has the power to transform us all.

There is a sign at Burn Boot Camp that says: Real Women Lift Each Other Up Not Tear Each Other Down...

Every day that I step foot in that gym, self conscious as ever, with beautifully fit bodies surrounding me; I remind myself that they too; started somewhere. Then I look at the other Moms still trying to find their footing outside of being just "Mom" and know I am not alone. I watch as full time working Moms and wives rush in last minute to change just before class starts and again, I am reminded that we are ALL taking it one day at a time. One workout at a time. One step at a time. Sure, our stories help make us who we are, make us stronger if we allow them, but they do not define us!!! The harder the fall, the greater the fight. Thank you to each and EVERY friend who commented last night. Each and every one of you will never know how much it meant to me. Truly! Many I know well, some I don't know at all and lots whom I haven't heard from in awhile. As crazy and daunting as this world can seem these days; there is still a community out there unwilling to let this shy, hermit of a girl go and for that I am forever grateful!!   #SOMMERstrong #burnbootcampnaples

Love and hugs
For the record, these babies above are worth it ALL!

PS~ see you in 30 days burn boot camp ladies and trainers! Couldn't do it without you. 😙

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sommer Elizabeths Birth Story 7 Months In The Making...

It's been over a year since I have last written. My how life has been so very heavy and utterly breathtaking in the same breath.  I have tried to write since this post and words have failed me time and again.

Today I will move forward.

Today my therapy begins again. My heart will open back up and do what it loves to do the most. Write.

Today I will share with you my daughter, yes DAUGHTERS, birth story. She deserves that.  He deserves that because there is no doubt Dad went to the throne and helped make this happen. 

(kelly goggin photography)
I knew that I was pregnant just mere weeks before losing my Dad.  Because I had lost a second trimester baby in the past, we decided not to tell anyone until we got a little further along. To say we were shocked at this ‘suprise’ is putting it mildly.  This baby would make five for us and holy hell five is a lot.  Some of us were happier than others, not naming any names David ;).

As I pushed through the first trimester suffering from pretty intense migraines, I would come to find out laying in a hospital bed that my Dad, the man who raised me as a single Dad for years, had died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 58.  My world suddenly crumbled as I shared in my last post well over 365 days ago.  Suddenly I didn’t know up from down. Couldn’t eat. Couldn’t sleep.  My family and I lived in a haze for weeks on end.  We did everything a loved one is supposed to do when someone dies.  We went to the funeral home. Planned everything just so (with the help of hundreds of Dads people).  We saw him lying in a casket.  Gone.  Forever.  We kissed him. We talked to him. Laughed over him and loved the shit out of him in those final moments.  Stood in the auditorium, shook hands, hugged and thanked over 1000 people who came to say their good byes. Listened as he got a flyover from the Lee County Sheriffs department and watched as those thousands of people formed an aisle for his casket to be carried through and away forever.  This would also be the day standing in the middle of Estero High Schools courtyard; my Daddy’s second home, when we decided beyond the shadow of a doubt that should this baby be a girl (we never find out gender) that she would be named Sommer. 

Today, I cannot really say how I got through that.  The truth is, and I feel guilty saying this, but he was mine first.  Just the two of us growing up together. Him as a single Dad and me a wee little one.

I clung to that gift in those days and weeks after his passing. I still do. Perhaps that got me through or perhaps the baby in belly, who was so unexpected, was my lifeline to well... life.  I had to continue on for the baby.  For my other babies too, but without one in my belly I didn’t have to eat or take care of myself.  

Fast forward 7 long months of highs and the lowest of lows:

~Sommer Elizabeth West~ November 16, 2015

(just before leaving for induction)

We checked into the hospital on a Sunday night for induction due to uncontrollable high blood pressure.  I had my blanket made of all of Dads shirts tucked tightly under my arm.  I remember stopping just outside the hospital around 6 pm. I looked up to the sky, closed my eyes and just inhaled as fully and completely as I could.  I just knew I would never be the same the next time I walked out of that place. If I close my eyes I can take myself back to that exact moment. I wanted to suspend time. I wanted to remember that feeling of anticipation, gratefulness and joy after such heartache for all of eternity.

Every moment of those 3 days is so crystal clear to me, even now.  We anxiously waited in the waiting room for them to call us back. People would walk by, see the bags, my big belly and know what was to come. I was so proud.  So excited.  

Once I was all set up they started the slow process of induction.  The room was full of Grammys and Aunts so eager to meet this baby, however it was going to be a long night so they got hotel rooms nearby.  I slept wonderfully and woke up around 5 when they started my pitocin. Today was the day. I couldn’t even contain myself. 

I had decided after Dad died that I was going to try to have this baby with no epidural. This was going to be my last baby forever and ever and something in me really wanted to experience the entire process.  Besides,  nothing could hurt as badly as May 2, 2015.  I had mentioned it to my husband, but he wasn't to keen on the idea, so I just tucked the goal away in my heart, never losing sight of it.  Family arrived around 9 and we were all just so ecstatic. Because I didn’t have an epidural for the first time ever I was able to wear my own clothes, get up to walk around and even use the birthing ball which was awesome. Those were never options before due to an epidural and having to stay in bed.  I remember facebook blowing up the entire day with everyone wanting to know updates.  We had SO many people pulling for us on this day. Dads people. My people. Daves people.  SO MUCH LOVE for a baby not even born yet.

I don’t know if it’s because I get migraines or what, but labor was totally fine. I never faltered. I don’t say that to imply that I am so great, but it really was so easy for me.  I breathed through them and kept my eye on the prize.  My nurses were INCREDIBLE.  The best EVER!  They kept asking if I wanted anything and I kept saying I am ok.  Even when she looked at me puzzled and said that I should really be hurting from the contractions and was I sure I didn't want anything, I truly was fine. I am guessing I wasn't alone in this fight through labor.....

Everyone there knew of our story. Of Dads story.  They all asked about his blanket and then we heard about the bets going at the nurses station as to whether this was a boy or a girl. This baby though was going to take its sweet time.  I labored from 5 in the morning throughout the day until finally around 6:30 my OB came in to break my water. I remember him saying just before “if you want an epidural you need to get it now”.  I just knew I could do it, but fear was setting in. My family, bless their hearts, all just sort of sat there to scared to influence me.  So I looked to my nurse who had been with me through Talons birth too and asked what I should do. She was an old soul and she looked at me and said “look how far you have come! look how wonderful you have done all day long laboring!” and so, thanks to her empowering me, the decision was made.  My OB did not know I had chosen not to have an epi as he had left right after he did his business.  In years past, once my water breaks it’s game over and I just knew this too was going to be quick. Naturally a West baby decides shift change is a good time to make an entrance.  I knew within minutes that it was time. I told my nurse who was about to change over and she said to the new nurse “ he just broke her, she isn’t ready yet.” 
Oh’ but I was.  I began to panic and retreat inside myself because I knew this was it.  NO ONE could help me now. I had to do this.  Alone. Through whatever pain it brought me.  I kept saying out loud, the baby is coming.! It’s coming!  As I was crying out and the nurse saw me starting to push, she scrambled to call for back up and the room became a whirlwind of people.  They kept telling me to breathe. To hold on. BUT if you have ever had a baby with no epidural then you can understand there is NO stopping or holding on. I vividly remember thinking you can sit here with this utterly overwhelming force or you can push and get it over with. And so I did. I looked into my nurse Kellys eyes. They literally saved me as the sheer force of giving birth took over my entire being. She didn’t break contact once and her eyes seared into mine as if siphoning me the power to do this.  

The utter power that filled my body as I gave birth is like nothing I have or ever will experience again. I had zero control over myself. My body knew what to do and it was going to do it come hell or high water.  It took maybe 3 pushes and SHE was out. Born at 7:11 pm on November 16th, 2015 weighing 7 pounds 14 ounces and 19 inches long. 

I fell back onto the bed nearly passing out. My Mom told me after that she thought I was done for. I begged for oxygen. Could hear all of the cries and screams that IT’S A GIRL, but couldn't lift my head. I remember hearing Dave squealing through the tears that she looks just like Mason but the power that had taken over my body wouldn’t allow me to lift up and see her.  

Finally I was able to get my bearings as they laid her on my chest with a giant bow on her head.  One of my nurses Darla had made it for her before shift change and passed it on to Kelly before she left. She said she just knew it was a girl. 

My first look at her drew me deep into to her eyes as she looked up to me.   I remember mumbling that they were so big.  It was like she knew already what a gift she was and as her eyes bore into mine she began healing my broken soul.

I was in complete awe. I  had a baby GIRL and she did look just like Mason.  Sommer (after Dad) Elizabeth (after my Grandma who became my mom once my birth mom left us) West. I just stared in utter disbelief. I cried. We all cried.  I remember looking to my Aunt who was laughing and crying at the same time and saying “she came straight from Dad, she really did.” 

My brother later told me that as he waited outside my room for the all clear to come in that my Dr. walked out, saw him and said “man this is a good, good day!”  Oh’ how my heart swelled hearing that.  He has been with me through it all. All the migraines. The miscarriage. Paxtons diagnosis. Dad. He knew how much we wanted a little girl too. 

Delivering her on my own is single handedly the proudest moment of my entire life.  There truly aren’t words to describe how primitive and omnipotent that experience is.  

After all of the ooh’ing, awwing and stuffing my face (dear lord was I ravenous with no food all day) we were moved upstairs.  My nurse even got us the suite room after all we had been through the past year.  Sommer was already a princess.

She is very literally an angel from heaven.  I don’t have a single doubt in my mind that this baby that was such a ‘ surprise’ to us initially, was a part of our story all along.  It is no coincidence that after four boys, our little girl, who we would name Sommer came when she did.  I don’t know what happens to us when we die. I like to believe there is some form of heaven where we are reunited with the ones we miss and love most. I wasn’t brought up religious, so I don’t have any certain intrinsic belief in me, but I do know that we are powerful beings with the potential to mighty things.  My Dad did in life and in his death.  My daughter is the by-product of that. She is the very representation of the circle of life. That soothes me as I continue to navigate this grief.  

(thank you jaime for being there as she made her entrance and for always just getting it)

She comforts me every minute of every day. Her soul is so angelic and her demeanor heavenly in every sense of the word.

(kelly goggin photography)

I will never know why my Daddy had to go so soon. It hurts. SO badly, even now. I literally miss him more with each passing day, but in his wake he left me a perfect piece of himself.  A little girl who is Sommer genes through and through. Identical to her Mama who likes to think she is just like her Daddy.  Their stories will forever be intertwined and one day she will come to understand how special she really is, because you don't get a name like Sommer unless you are #sommerstrong.

(me on the left, sommer on the right)

Until we meet again, we will remain #sommerstrong Dad.  Miss you and love you morester.

and p.s.~ thank you.

My Peeps