I usually don't write too much personal stuff. Sometimes I would love to. I think that I'd be pretty good at it. But I find that my time is too precious lately and I make a conscious choice to BE in the moment.
To hug little bodies. To feel the way the wet grass feels beneath my cheek as I tickle tackle my kids outside. To kiss away tears. I mean REALLY kiss them away. Taste the salt. And the snot. :) And know that through it all...my kids are going to know that I love them. REALLY love them.
That I put the work away. That I don't twitter because as cool as I might think I am or as important as what I had for breakfast just might be...it's just NOT.
MY KIDS ARE MORE.
That facebook to me is a way to find out how my old friends are doing and who died. But if you have my phone number, use it. Because I want to hear your voice the old fashioned way. I want to hear you and just know that something is wrong...not broadcasted out to 437 so called friends who we both know wouldn't hold your hair when you were throwing up. Wouldn't watch your 3 snot nosed brats kids while your mom is in the hospital. Wouldn't help you move in St. Louis in the middle of July.
Because real friends are hard to come by. And real friends take the time to listen. And hold you. And laugh with you. And laugh at you, because c'mon...ya gotta give them some fun! And pray for you. And would walk a country mile to hold your hand just because you were sad.
1 year ago I was in Mexico celebrating my 5 year wedding anniversary to my ridiculously awesome groom. We had only been there for 1 day. And for anyone with two small kiddos...perhaps your day 1 of vacation is something like this:
Did I leave out short sleeved and short pajamas AND long sleeved and pant pajamas (because October in St. Louis could be 100 degrees or could be 30 degrees...perhaps even in the same day)? Did I email Aunt Cindy the itinerary so she can go and rescue Grandma at such-and-such time? Can Grandpa hook the car seats in properly or is he just going to let them stand on the front seat like he used to let me do? Perhaps I should have left the date and time for the Children's Hospital Car Seat Safety Check to make sure. Did I write down that Tristan will freak if she happens to cut his waffle in half? He wants to eat it like a big boy! the list goes on...
yeah. That's me relaxing on day 1. But day 2...whoa baby!
So on day two of my vacation...10.20.09...I was sitting at breakfast. On the beach. Drinking a mimosa. The questions and concerns of leaving my children were going out with the tide. ahhhh.
Just then my phone rang. And as anyone who has two small kids at home...you answer it. No matter what.
And then I heard it.
I heard it in her breath.
I heard it in the pause.
I heard it on a cell phone with thousands of miles separating us, in a different country, with the ocean crashing in the background.
I heard my sister breathe...and I knew something was wrong.
My brow furrows. My chin quivers. My throat gets a lump the size of Montana. Tears form somewhere in between.
She cries. I cry. Our dear friend is gone and there is no explanation that can ever fill the unending question of why.
Dawn Walters. So many things to so many people.
I've known Dawn my whole life. Literally. She got a speeding ticket in my mom's car when I was like 4. She caught the bouquet at my sister's wedding in 1980. She was first a family friend, then a college soccer coach, then a mom to my niece's friend and lastly a friend to me. How can one little woman have fulfilled so many roles?
Dawn was a friend. Dawn was a mom. A mom who laid in the grass with her kids. A mom who kissed away tears and had FUN with her her kids. A woman who fell head over heels for a guy and never looked back. She was a giddy school girl in love with her hubby until the day that she died. Dawn was a grump until she had her morning coffee but pure sunshine thereafter.
And Dawn could get people to do things. She just could. She got me to manage Men's and Women's College Soccer teams. She got me to take Stats. She got me to buy Quark Express (I'm dating myself aren't I) to DESIGN an entire Media Guide, sell ads, and print a College Game Day Book. I designed that bad boy in Quark! With no experience?! I might as well have designed a space station. She got me to gallop across a college soccer game in a Zebra costume.
Oh wait. Maybe I did that on my own...
She got her kids to give her backrubs all the freakin time?! I think she paid them....but notheless. Her kids gave her backrubs ALL THE TIME. Hell, I think I even gave her one. She could just get people to do things.
She got perfectly rebel-rousing-catholics and anything-but-Baps to GO to Mo Bap.
You know who you are.
She was amazing in every way I could list.
But the things that stand out most to me are these:
She was an amazing friend.
Nothing was more important to her than her kids. She continued to grow and flourish and take time for herself (luxurious backrubs HA!) but devoted and invested her time in her kids. They were the reason she lived. They were the reason she felt alive.
And she was an amazing wife. I hope that 20 years from now I look at my husband with the same sparkle she did when her husband would kick the ball around with the college kids and show 'em how it's done. She was smitten with him. Hands down, lay me down, succumb to the love cuz-it-ain't-a-leavin kind of love. The kind of love that makes you hurt way down deep it's THAT good.
So one year ago today I hung up the phone and I buried my head in my husband. And I cried a big-fat-ugly-cry. The kind of cry that made me embarrassed to stay at my fancy-schmancy table so I walked off and started running. Running with tears and a big ole lump in my throat.
And for those of you that know me...I don't run.
Well maybe from the car in a rain storm but that's the only good reason I can think of.
I ran the beach. I ran and I cried and I ran and I cried and I ran.
And about 1/8 of a mile in I had to stop to rest.
So I sat and cried some more.
Because that's what people did when they found out Dawn died. That's what you do when a friend like that dies. We cry. People stand in a line hours long to pay their respects. High School kids put up styrofoam cups in fences at Lafayette to remember her.
But then I wiped away my tears and got up. Brushed the sand off and got my wits about me. The sun was still rising and it reminded me that it was dawn. The dawn of a day. The dawn was breaking...but life still goes on. It's a new day.
So I grabbed a stick and I wrote.
iwroteandiwroteandiwrote. Do you have any idea how hard it is to write something pretty long in the sand and get the water coming up to it without going over it and washing it away?!
Good lord. My ass was in more pictures...and NOT in a very flattering way. My rock star husband stood on that beach while I crazily wrote in the sand and tried to take these pictures when the light was *just so*. Because I wanted to remember that day. The day that Dawn died. Not for me, but for the mom, husband and 4 freakin awesome kiddos that she left behind. Because they were what was important to her. And that's why they are important to me and the hundreds of other people that have continued to love this family and want to scoop them up and hug em and love em and tell em that Dawn is remembered. Because she is...by so many.
Her faith. Her friendship. Her love lives on. She is walking with angels. Walking with the big guy upstairs.
Rest in peace Dawn Walters. My love and heart goes out to her family. T, T, C, N & Z. We love you guys.
And we miss her too.