Monday, December 26, 2016

I said, "Yes!"

It was August of 2005. I was sitting in a classroom at Wells Hall on the campus of Northwest Missouri State University. I was so nervous. It was my first Bearcat Update meeting. I was going to get my first assignment for the campus television station.

Steve Serrano came in and went to the front of the classroom to introduce his two producers. This felt big time to me. First guy was pee-wee (Bobby Taylor), who ended up being my roommate at college several years later. After his introduction, Steve introduced "Poop".

I had been immediately drawn to "Poop" when he walked in. He had on athletic shorts, a Northwest t-shirt, and ball cap that barely covered his head of hair. His chin-strap facial hair was so 2000 and so manly. He had piercing blue eyes. When Steve introduced him he cracked a smile that seriously melted me.

So, this is college.

I got to see Eric once a week for our weekly Bearcat Update taping. I could not get over how incredibly handsome he was, but I soon learned that he was also funny and kind, and super talented. Later that year we became friends. He would come over to my dad's house over the summer and we would "driveway sit". We talked about everything. School, work, future plans, religion, the girls he was dating. We actually called each other and instant messaged (because I didn't have texting on my phone). He became my best friend.

Then all of a sudden, every single Taylor Swift song seemed to be about my life. The unrequited love, the friend zone, dashed hopes and dreams. It took me a year, but I came to the realization that "Poop" was probably never going to love me the way that I loved him.  I professed my love through an instant message conversation sophomore year. "You know I love you, but I guess somewhere along the lines...I fell in love with you."

"That makes sense," he said.

That's all we ever said about it. Fast forward to Fall 2011. We spent a year making a documentary together and all the feels came rushing back. I wondered if I could ever find someone who could make me smile or make me laugh like he did. I wondered if I'd ever find someone else who could make me feel so safe and so whole. Like what if I just had to settle for less than whole and maybe I'd have to. Maybe God had other plans for me, and I'd have to be okay with that.

But something changed for him over the next few years. Like a movie, our love story unfolded into something I never quite imagined. Not all moments in time were out of a  fairytale, but they were always for better. I remember sitting up all night after a day hanging out with him, doing not much of anything, thinking...this was the best day of my life.

Then when we moved into our new house, I thought the same thing. I thought it again we adopted our puppy. I thought it again every time we shared Christmas with his family. I thought, "this is the best day of my life", day after day that we shared with each other.

I thought it again on Saturday when Eric asked me to marry him.

I can't really describe what went through my head as Eric got down on one knee, out here on our land, and asked me to be his wife. I also can't tell you what I saw because I was bawling uncontrolably.

What I can tell you is that it's never been easier for me to nod yes while crying every tear my body could hold and snotting all over the place. Eric is all the great things I wrote on a list of things I wanted in a husband when I was younger. He's a Christian, strong, funny, hard-working, and intelligent. But he's also a lifetime learner,  rugged country-man, uniquely talented, kind and giving. He  is so good to his family and it's been amazing to watch him with his nephew. He is constantly working to make himself better and he challenges me to do the same.

Eric is my best friend. I don't worry about living with him, I fear living without him. God has done some incredible things in our relationship over the last two years. I can't wait to see what new adventures await us and what challenges we will overcome together as husband and wife.

It was over a decade ago when I first saw him. Same head of hair, same captivating smile. If you would have asked me then if I'd be sitting here with a ring on my finger, typing this blog, I would have told you that you were crazy. But after 15 chickens, two ducks, two bunnies, two dogs, and a cat...maybe we

are the crazy ones.

That's okay. We'll be crazy together. <3

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A mother's legacy

My mom would be so mad if she saw how many times I'm going to refer to her as mother in this post.

My mother once told me that a sign of a great leader is that the leader's work continues and people continue to succeed, even when the leader is gone. My dad reiterated that to me years later, as I was leaving college. I think about that bit of advice almost daily, especially in my job.

I'm not a mother. I'm not sure if I will ever get that opportunity. Only time and God will tell. But I've been thinking about motherhood a lot lately. My best friend had her first child this year. She lost her own mom, like I did, years ago. I was invited to the hospital to wait for her little one's arrival. I can't tell you the feelings that took over me as I stood in the hospital room, holding my friend's little girl for the first time. I was in complete awe. I was so proud of my friend and her husband, calm and collected, smiling and laughing as they introduced the baby to all the people that loved her even before she was born. It was such a happy moment.

I started thinking about my nieces and nephew, how much they had grown, how quickly time had passed. And as I drove home, I thought about my brother and my sister. How did they do it? How did they handle careers, kids, relationships....anything, without our mom? 

I wondered how long my friend's family would stay in that room with her. I wondered how long the baby would sleep that first night. I wondered what it felt like to be a mother. And in an instant, I was overcome with grief. My heart ached, knowing that my friend's mom couldn't be there. I wondered how she'd do it.

She just... did. I've watched her become an incredible mom over the past months. I've listened to the stories, seen the pictures, and actually cried real tears when they sent me the video of their baby eating solid food for the first time. Who doesn't cry at that?  I finally got to see them a few weeks ago. My friend wore that baby like a champ as we shopped, talked, and caught up. I thought many times, I'll never be able to be a mom like her.

I wonder if our moms thought about us becoming mothers? We were both young, but I assume it had crossed their minds. I wonder if they were nervous or scared for us? What I do know is they probably both expected to be here for these moments. That may be what hurts the most, still, after all these years.

But my best friend, she's incredibly strong, and despite the sad moments, she really has owned motherhood. And she's simultaneously helped me stay sane as I've battled a difficult year without my own mom.

My friend is lucky. She had a great mom, just like I did. I'm not a mother, but I wonder if being a great mom is similar to what my mom told me about great leaders. Like somehow my friend, my brother, my sister, and even myself have managed to continue to grow after my mother died. We haven't been perfect. We haven't always made the right choices. But somehow, after 13 years being gone, I still feel her love and still hear her voice when I'm making decisions. And that's the part of her that I know I'll share with my kids if I ever become a mom. Not the times that she fed me ice-cream for dinner, yelled at me for no reason, or picked me up from school an hour late. Because let's be honest, she had her moments. But does any of that matter if I'm able to grow, succeed, treat people with decency and just live...even after she's gone?

I believe that you make a lot of choices in life that lead you different directions. Some are good and some are bad. My mother is not the  person responsible for my success or failure. But she did equip me to be able to make decisions on my own (good or bad) and held the promise of unconditional love, even when she couldn't show it. I feel like that is what counts, so I can forgive her in the long run for forcing me to eat meatloaf that caused me to throw up at the dinner table.

I've been wanting to hear from my mom the past six months, even knowing it's not possible. I miss her. Thankfully, I have my family and my friends that are like family to get me through the hard times. I bet she wondered how I would turn out, if she had messed me up royally. I hope she can see where I've been and where I'm going. I hope she can see how totally incredible my brother and sister are. I am just part of my mother's legacy.When I get really sad, or think about the bad times with her, instead of the good, I pull out the letters she sent me at camp in 2002 that remind me what a good mom she was and how much I was unconditionally loved.

An excerpt:

Carmen actually rode the horse today. I didn't stay for the lesson, but I guess everything went okay. She's not dead of anything. LOL. She said the horse was slobbery. 

We got Grandpa a pair of shorts today to mow his lawn and your dad is going to give him enough money to pay for his upper dentures.

Larry and Julia are going to St. Luis this weekend. The Royals play in St. Louis. I hope they beat St. Louis in their own stadium--that would be so awesome. 

Aunt Vickie went crazy when I told her you aren't allowed to call. The more I think about it, the sillier it seems t not let you call home. They could have designated times for doing that. If you decide to go next year, then we'll have to talk to someone about that. 

Time to turn in. Wish I had something interesting to tell you. You take care and don't drown yourself. Hurry up and come home. Okay?


Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. You're doing a good job.