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
~j
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. 😙

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