Fight Like Mike Friday
Dear Fightlikemike Mike army.
I hope this blog finds you well today. I know it is so long… I have compiled a mini summer recap of all my writing to Mike. So feel free to skip , ignore, or not read . I repeat myself , but I will blame the grief on that although my forgetfulness has been a problem all my life. I am also not skilled at getting to the point quickly , ha.
I often feel fear in posting blogs. I guess that’s what makes me human. It seems these days that we are also scrutinized for every accidental, unintended way we might offend someone. I hope you know my words are always out of love for each of you and for everyone.
I also feel fear that you will think I’m “overly sad “. And some days I am. It is impossible to lose someone like Mike , the epitome of the life of the party and the life of our personal home , and not feel deep sadness. That joyful and humorous energy , gone from bouncing off our walls, for sure makes us sad.
( kids still do plenty of bouncing off walls though 🙄)
His voice and laughter is missing and we feel it. We owe it to him to feel it.
But what I hope my letters to Mike can be , is a source of hope for you.
So I send with the hope of helping just one person that is missing their person too.
I hope you can see how hard we are trying to find joy. That yes we feel sad , because it is.
Yet we also search for joy and hope, every single morning we wake up.
I know you can’t have joy without the sadness.
And we grateful for every day we are given.
The message I hope you gain from reading is that you can do this too. I am no more brave or any more stronger than you.
Being vulnerable is frightening.
But I believe it’s a way to freedom.
Our bodies are meant to feel everything.
That is truly , living life to the fullest.
Jake and I argued all summer about him being allowed to watch the fast and furious movies.
Although I still picture him as a curly headed 4 year old watching Mickey Mouse with a sippy cup , deep down I'm aware he has graduated past Disney kid’s.
He has experienced more real life tragedy than any movie could ever display to his innocent blue eyes.
But I still feel the need to protect him from bad words and scary villains, and tragic accidents.
And still more than anything … I wish Mike was here to watch these movies with him. That was there thing.
I prefer romantic comedies 🥰
One night last week, we had a rare night just the two of us and it had just come out on Apple TV.
So I connected to my inner Mike, and told him yes.
We would watch it together.
Of course , like so many Hollywood movies , the story line is based around the dad dying.
Sometimes i find these movies helpful and sometimes it’s too much.
We watched together. And he loved it. And I felt Mike smiling at me , proud for me doing something I know he would have allowed a year ago 😜
I’m sure many of you have seen the series . The gist is the main character has a hard time letting go of his dad dying in a horrific race care accident. And the way the tragedy ripped the brothers apart because of the different ways their guilt and grief engulfed them.
Long story short , healing slowly takes place after a friend shared this quote with the main character,
“you have to find peace in the past , in order to find hope in the future “
And so I rolled my eyes as there was a message in this movie for me too
Sometimes I need to stop resisting change.
Sometimes I need to accept that Jake’s no longer entertained by Mickey mouse clubhouse.
Sometimes I need to accept the past.
Find peace with the past.
My blogs and journals are my every day attempt to work through that.
As I know the only path to peace, the only path to a hopeful future , is forgiveness , surrender and acceptance. Even forgiveness of the stupidest disease , cancer.
And so I pray that prayer for us this year , acceptance as a path to peace.
( and more acceptance that my kids will have to grow up 🙄)
Mike wants that for us. That I do know.
“I think grief puts us in touch with our vulnerabilities. I think the feeling of grief lets us know the power of wounds to shape our stories. I think it lets us know how capable we are of having our hearts broken and our feelings hurt. I think it lets us know the link that we each have because we’re human. Because we’re human, we hurt. Because we’re human, we have tears to cry. Because we’re human, our hearts are broken. Because we’re human, we understand that loss is a universal language. Everybody grieves. All of humanity grieves. All of us have setbacks, broken dreams. All of us have broken relationships or unrealized possibilities. All of us have bodies that just don’t do what they used to do. Though grief is personal, every person grieves. ”- Richard Rhor
I miss you. The summer has come and gone. We were lucky to have so many fun adventures and a new baby niece born , making me so grateful for each one . You were with us every day.
Not the way I really want you with us, but I am learning -painfully slow- how to find you and feel you with us.
You are making it loud and clear. And I am grateful.
I will not lie and say it is easy, although some days do feel easier than others as time slowly and quickly passes.
But missing you each day is by far the hardest thing I have ever done.
I thought watching you endure treatment after treatment, anxiously waiting for scans results , our family being separated by the never ending stays at the hospital , chest tubes and a week of you on a ventilator was hard. Because it was.
But nothing compares to missing you each day.
Grief, they describe with many different analogies. It comes in stages, layers , waves. And yes there are many layers we work through in any given moment on any given day. Anger, guilt, bargaining , depression , regret…
But my dad says it best…
We just flat out miss you.
When I have dug deep through each emotion. Released anger. When I have exhausted myself with the stories of what I did wrong . Moments I wish I could go back and change. Stories that play in my head like a song requested on repeat from Jake , Celia and graham.
Over and over.
Thoughts that seem impossible to shut off , just like the new Alexa 🤦🏽♀️ ( Nancy and I said , I know you are still worried the government is listening in now , the same reason you wouldn’t let us get one before 😂)
When I finally surrender and forgive myself for all my human mistakes.
Beneath all these layers, at the core , the center, the bottom of the ocean.
When the heart stops beating, and the rhythm slows to a flat line.
Whatever metaphor it takes to get to the bottom.
At this very flat line , very deep bottom layer of grief.
Here at the core.
There is really only , missing you.
I simply , flat out miss you.
Sadness because you are no longer here.
Your enormous elephant 🐘 size love and personality left a hole that size in my heart when you physically left.
A price I am willing to pay, over and over , to have ever known what it felt like to be loved by you.
How were you here with my arms wrapped around your alligator thickened skin ( true to your Cajun core 🥰), breathing ..slow drawn out breaths ,
snuggled next to me in our bed one night.
And the next , you were gone.
I could not then and still can not understand.
Life and then death,
one day and the next.
There is only a thin space between.
A thin veil .
And yet I can not touch it .
I can not reach through.
I couldn’t then and can not now.
As close as I could smell it, see it, and feel it in your finals days.
I still couldn’t not grasp it. I could not grab hold. Could not understand it.
I could only be next to you and watch you go through it.
And being left on this side.
Still breathing .
It all is a mystery.
Where did you go.
In the early days , this put me in a complete panic.
Would make my heart beat fast and stomach ache.
Now I realize this is a gift.
To still be here.
To watch our children grow.
I do not take it for granted.
It doesn't make me miss you any less though.
And over time, I AM finding peace.
Peace in the mystery.
Peace in the unknown.
Peace in knowing that life does not end.
Just in a different way.
“Trust in the Lord , with all your heart. And lean not into your own understanding but surrender to his path “
You are showing up for us.
You are making me believe in the continuation of life.
Because things that have happened this summer ,
Are no coincidence.
They have been orchestrated by a God, a power, a spirit ,
a force of nature, angels, a mystery that I do not understand.
I believe it to be love.
I believe it to be true.
Grace. Forgiveness. Love.
Truths I have learned in losing you.
The irony in that , makes me realize how human I am.
How little I know.
And I thank God for that.
And leaves me with peace
, I am taken care of.
Your love is still very much alive. This is the only truth I really know.
And I believe with all my heart, that wherever you are, you are safe and free and whole again.
This gives me hope.
The kids and I believe you are that elephant I asked you for. You are every beautiful sunset, every 29, every song on the radio, every rainbow, every cardinal. You are the crescent moon. And the lights flickering in our home.
We believe you are with us everywhere. ( I repeat this all the time , I’m aware 😜 but I need reminders too ).
When Graham broke his arm , you were with us. As our parking spot and his room number were both 29. I miss you most when the kid’s are injured or sick or have questions or want to do things I know you are better at. I’m not good at being the bad cop either 🤪
Yet I am grateful for my mom that stayed, knowing that being at the hospital triggered a longing for them to wheel YOU back in on a stretcher to the room where I waited anxiously, after a simple procedure like surgery to fix a broken arm. Your problems never were that simple or were never called the “ bread and butter “ surgery as they described Graham’s. We never left the hospital knowing you would be ok.
Yet when they wheeled Graham in , I was beyond grateful for the easy fix . And he let me know you are still alive , as the good drugs hit him as they often did you 😜 he made the nurses and us laugh , the same way you did. You brought laughter to every scary moment we had together and I still find that spirit in me when I am worried or scared. Thank you for teaching me that humor is the best medicine.
And when we sent pictures to family - they responded he looked like you , as well as a preview of college party graham.😂( won’t lie , I’m already nervous about that day too 😝)
I am thankful for every single person who fills in on these difficult moments for you. From basketball lessons , new bike wheelies , deep sea fishing trips , motor home sleepovers , beach days , four wheeler riding , target trips , peachtree road races , cousin sleepover , endless walks , visits, calls, texts . I have had sacred moments and special conversations with all of our people this summer and each brings healing. We are taken care of here. I feel sure you are guiding them as well. It takes a village.
On fathers day we went and found you in the healing garden at Winship . A friend donated a brick in your memory. As we talked to you that morning, the cardinal you , flew down and sat in the tree beside us. I told the kids that here at this sacred building , you were a legend. You gave people hope in your courageous battle with cancer. That they had the bravest daddy in the world, and they could ask anyone there. You made everyone smile . I told them that the three of them made you smile the very most
When we went to Destin with your (our) family, the 29 you , was with us on the beach as our umbrella and chairs we rented for the day (out of hundreds) was of course number 29. Celia noticed it first.
She is my spirit animal. You must talk to her all day. The connection of her between us is a gift I treasure. She finds you when I can’t.
On our girls trip we counted all the 29son license plates. This one made us smile the most.
( UCI backwards we read as ICU( I see you , not the dreaded ICU :)
When we flew into Ponce Inlet, I kept watching the 29 latitute on the monitor on the plane as we landed. Only later as a wooden sign was being hung in their new condo that also read Ponce Inlet - Latitude 29.09 , we realized the message from you.
A place my great grandparents bought many years ago and our favorite light house house that kept our hope alive in the darkness of our scariest days.
It is perfectly located on latitude 29. Permanent Light and love in my darkness without you in my favorite place.
Like the light house steering ships.
You and God , together are guiding us through this sadness. This darkness. I know it , without a doubt.
When we went to dinner with Joey and Alix at our favorite Mexican restaurant , post quarantine , for the first time without you. We all felt the elephant in the room of your absence and one missing seat.
The kids were coloring on a paper menu, the picture I noticed Graham coloring was you. …An elephant with balloons strung from your trunk.
The exact thing I secretly asked you to show up as for me, only months later , on a day I was trying extra hard to put one foot in front of the other. I told others about my request for an elephant but not the balloons. I still had to have something to be just ours. 🥰
It took my breath. And I felt brave enough to share the story with our dear friends.
Acknowledging your enormous elephant sized absence, helped those balloons lift the weight of the heaviest grief elephant out of the room.
And we laughed. And we drank our margaritas and remembered and talked about you. These
Moments make me know I will
Be ok. ( you could send them a little more often 😜)
You are with us , I know that.
But I still flat out miss you .
Some days I find peace in all of these things, And somedays I fall apart.
Going back to school has hit me hard again as I fill out paper work and have to leave the second parent , the “fathers cell phone “ , blank . (My heart hurts for all of you who know this feeling. I know I’m Not the only one . I know so many people have it worse than us. You are not alone .)
We always talked about when Graham started Kindergarten , I would go back to teaching. Or should I say actually start teaching haha.
And the time has come, and my life looks more different now than I ever envisioned it.
I am grieving that loss too.
I feel lost without you.
And now the way the kids need me , is changing too.
I know our roles in our lives do not define us .
I’m working on that.
Yet I also have many more roles that I am blessed to fill each day.
And still , I miss being the role of your wife. So so much.
I somedays feel lost with no real direction on any path going forward. I need your reassurance , your voice , telling me “it’s going to be ok “. I need you to calm my nerves for first day of school jitters. I need you to shake me and roll your eyes and say , every child goes to kindergarten 😜
When I was at the beach I sent a couple of sunrise pictures to Dr. Kota.
I still harass him for you , just making sure he still knows you are ok too.
His text back has stuck with me ,
He said , Both pictures look like a path leading to something bigger We must follow them towards the future.
The sky will always lead me to you. And I suppose a path forward too.
I still believe like the song-“when I look to the sky” -
you are with me.
It never fails that comes on Pandora while I am running at the beach .
“ Cause when I look to the sky something tells me you're here with me
And you make everything alright
And when I feel like I'm lost something tells me you're here with me
And I can always find my way when you are here”
I believe that you are everywhere.
Your love is as big as the sky.
I find you there.
I just have to keep looking upward and onward.
I know you and God have a path for me, for the kids, for our family and friends who flat out miss you everyday.
I know your life had purpose , meaning, and was full of nothing but love.
And it is our job to carry that with us and share it everyday.
And although I do not always understand why things have to be this way.
I do trust that If I keep fighting like you did , and surrendering to God with all the rest...
The path will be both beautiful and painful .
But mostly filled with peace and contentment for just the day at hand.
Thats all, I could ever wish for.
Your life left an elephant sized foot print on my heart ( and everyone who knew you ).
Your personality and love was bigger than life.
Big as the entire elephant.
And when you died that foot print felt something like the entire elephant standing on my chest.
Maybe my heart briefly flatlined too.
Or maybe it just left a hole that big and I have been spending the days ever since trying to close it or find space to breathe.
Our parents , siblings , uncles , aunts , nieces , nephews , cousins , our friends, teachers , neighbors ,strangers, other widows , your precious Jakearoo, sissy , and Gam - they are helping me fill this hole with their love.
They are dragging me forward and loving me through my sadness.
And I thank God for them every night.
When I share your love with others , when I talk about you , when I cry and then stop feeling sorry for myself the way you never did.
When I help someone else.
When I gain perspective and look to the sky , and realize how small I am.
I find more breathing room too.
When I am vulnerable , The elephant of grief is lifted from the room by weightless balloons.
What a mystery and miracle it is , that the heaviest loads simply need air to breathe.
They simply need to be released from our chest , from our grip.
And maybe heard by someone else.
Definitely heard by someone else .
And we feel lighter in the next moment after it has been lifted.
I do not understand.
But I am grateful.
Ps. Although I wrote much of this last week. Yesterday afternoon , while we were at the kids counseling sessions, you were with us .While we wait on each of them I take the others the market down the street for snacks and icees. Yesterday I noticed this napkins and felt you with me .
Thank you for filling all my needy request for big signs. Thank you for showing up when we are doing hard things.
I miss you , Snookie. But I will never give up . Like we said , FLM will always deep down mean -Forever Lindsey and Mike 🧡your death will not change that. I love you forever .
I find the most purpose and hope in the future , with the dream of healing in the world of cancer.
I am attaching an article about Dr Kota and the first Car- T transplant done in Augusta.
A transplant Mike and I dreamed of happening for him. Reading a story of it coming to life in Augusta and reading about the patient who received it , gave me so much hope. I am forever inspired by these doctors, nurses, scientist, and teams that never give up hope in what feels like the most unbelievably hopeless fights. What a gift why are to our world.
I know Mike is smiling and so so proud.
We must look forward , we must share love.
Healing is always possible if we believe it.
I just learned of another brave cancer fighter - nightbirde- . You probably heard of her. She was picked up by Simon Cowell on AGT.
She did an interview with Chris Cuomo , I’m posting sharing below.
She said something ( well many things ) that have motivated me this week, but this one has stuck the most.
“ don’t you want to see what happens if you don’t give up “.
I also have been listening to this song -
I believe , one day , there will
be complete healing if we never give up ❤️
2 years ago, first day of school :)