Living

Dear Joey, (A Post Script)

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Dear Joey,  

 

Today is the day you left this world, one year ago.  

 

I've thought of you all day long, as have countless others who still follow your story. Because, people are still following your story. And while your story was supposed to end last March 4th as you drew in your last breath, it's still being written one year later. 

 

And thats how it should be. 

 

We should live our lives so tremendously effectively that the Writer of our lives keeps writing for us after we've gone. 

 

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He seems to have many more chapters to fill for you. Chapters that will continue to inspire and motivate others to savor the goodness of these lives we live.  

 

I still struggle, Joey. I struggle a lot still with fear and anxiety and existing instead of living. But, I've come a long way since I first wrote you. In fact, I'm on hour seven of a road trip I was scared to take five days ago.  

 

Almost home.  

 

I finished my book that you inspired. I've made harder goals, more meaningful goals, and remembered to enjoy doing the tiny little things that you reminded me to start enjoying. 

 

I started smiling a bit while making dinner, and those requests for more water or singing at night don't feel like fingernails on a chalkboard anymore. 

 

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I've found myself on the floor tickling and laughing more than I used to. Remembering a time when my own parents would do the same.  

 

I tried your eggshell gardening trick and it worked for a few weeks. Those sprouts made me think of you and gave me hope for a color-changing thumb.  

 

I carry you with me, Joey. Every day. Every not-so-pretty mothering moment, I think about how you just did your best to breathe in the sour with the sweet. In fact, I'd like to believe that you thought it was all sweet.  

 

It's where I want to be.  

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An example to others that embracing it all makes the perfect freshly-squeezed lemonade people crave on a warm summer day. 

 

Irresistibly, irresistible. Unquenchable life.  

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More eager to meet you than ever before,  

Alicia  

 

 

 

Talking Myself Out of It

Here we are.

Orlando-ish, FL

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 (I say Orlando-ish because we aren't actually staying in Orlando, but some suburb or something.)

Another road trip fo the books. 

 

For a family that used to feel allergic to traveling, in general, this is our fourth big road trip in less than two years. 

 

And all four, I've tried...rather desperately...to talk myself out of going. 

 

The packing. The exhaustion that settles in before even leaving the driveway. The mental and physical lists upon lists. The expenses involved in getting the vehicle in top traveling shape. Blah, blah, blah... 

 

After our 36 hour drive and back to Texas just 8 weeks ago, I vowed I wouldn't see pavement for longer than an hour at a time until at least six months have passed. 

 

But here we are...open road...our sights on warmth and sunshine. And I found myself mentally running thru all of the reasons why this trip is superfluous.  

 

The real reason we're going is so I can attend dōTERRA's leadership retreat. But I couldn't fathom coming to Orlando without my family. After all, Legoland beckons us again with their killer homeschool rate deal on Thursday. 

 

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For $13.50 a ticket, it's worth the trouble, y'all.  

 

The deal is, people, is I'm tired of dreading and talking myself out of these opportunities. Because I always end up blessed with a great time and great experiences. But my brain treats these times as if I'm walking around looking for my keys when they've been in my hand the entire time.

 

I forget the loveliness found in the experiences that travel brings. Even more than that, it's the memories. It's the adventure. It's making the hard/tiring thing, a thing to remember always.  

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Aside from travel, I often find myself talking myself out of things in and around my own home. Or I conclude that it would be better to wait.

 

Wait for what, though?! Better weather? A better attitude? Better behaved children?  

 

And what if all that waiting brings is just opportunities missed? There may not be another better time. 

 

So go be adventurers! 

 

We're trying to be. Five kids. Big white massive van. And a map. Oh, and lots of snacks and movies. 

 

Here we go again....

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Dear Joey,

Last night, you changed my life.  

 

I don't even know you, and yet, you spoke a thousand things to me in a single picture. 

 

I regret to tell you, that I've never heard your music. I had, honestly, never heard of you before last week. I guess I wasn't paying attention. I hope that doesn't offend you.  

 

So my intentions in writing you this letter, before you see our Savior, are as pure as gold. I am not seeking to bask in the shadow of your celebrity. 

 

I'm writing you because I, like millions of others, saw the photo of you cuddling your toddler baby in an article last night.  

Photo cred: RoryandJoey  

Photo cred: RoryandJoey  

 

I stared.  

 

I just took the whole beautiful tragedy in over the course of several minutes. 

 

I wept a little thinking of how you are doing exactly what we should all be doing as mothers: seizing the time we have left.   

 

Because, really, we all know deep down that these lives are just as changing and fragile as the leaves.  

 

I've lived this year fearful, anxious, panicked, and depressed. I've had some minor health issues, but nothing like what you are currently enduring. And yet, I've lived as though there was no hope. I'm embarrassed by that. 

 

You reminded me that while you are very fragile and filled with excruciating pain, that I am not, and I've chosen not to live life like I should.  

 

You reminded me that the present moments we have are all that we truly have, and that gift of "next breath" may never be breathed.  

 

You showed me that I should be thankful to still be able to make meals, chase my toddler, and carry the endless loads of laundry because I am able to do so. I'm sure I would miss that if it was taken from me. I can only imagine you would love to do that for your family right now. And I bet you would make them the most delicious feast, and the smile wouldn't leave your face. 

 

I can't remember the last time I smiled while making dinner. 

 

I bet you wouldn't grumble about folding tiny pink clothes before your sweet Indy throws them all across the room. The laundry game that almost every mother can relate to.   

 

I know you wouldn't turn down "just one more book" or that glass of water before bedtime because there can never be too much reading and serving, really.  

 

You've reminded me that the "just make it until bedtime" mentality is an outlook that doesn't welcome the mess-making and joy-filled chaos.  

 

And so, you've ruined me. And I'm glad you have. I needed the ruining; the realization that these family times are the best of times.  

 

Joey, I don't know exactly what you're feeling at this moment, but know this: you are still doing the hard work of motherhood. You're teaching all of us that motherhood is beautiful in all stages, even when it's time for motherhood to end.  

 

I will be praying for you and your family in the coming days, weeks, months, years. I hope your daughters can always somehow experience the love you have for them, even from afar.  

 

And I will always remember that you taught me more from a picture than any book, blog post, or mom friend could ever gift me. To love each messy, crazy, motherhood moment and to LIVE fully in each breath.  

 

Until we meet, Alicia  

 

******The tentative release date for "Dear Joey," is this weekend, January 29th, 2017! Stay tuned for the release announcement! 

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