A piece of my heart got out of the car and told me goodbye at 4:54…


The time was 4:54 as I backed out of the driveway. I will never forget the moments and days leading up to the time.

A piece of my heart got out of the car and told me goodbye at 4:54.

About a half an hour earlier, she had finished packing up the car. She had one suitcase and a duffel bag. She had multiple boxes that were to be shipped out later. She came and told me she was ready to go. As I got into the car, she said, “Mom, don’t cry” I never responded. I couldn’t.

As I pulled in the driveway where she wanted me to drop her off, I put the car in park and pulled out the plastic baggy I had stashed in my purse while she was loading the car.  I had kept that baggy in my jewelry box for many years. It contained the diamond earrings from her great-grandmother who had passed away many years ago. I leaned over and put them in her ears one by one, telling her always to check the backs to make sure they are tight, not to take them out unless she gets a second hole and move them there, and never, ever sell or lose them.

I then handed her $100 and said, “If you ever get into a bind, you call me.”

She responded, “I will call you anyways Mom”.

She reached across the seat towards me. I grabbed onto her and lost it.

This surreal moment was happening. She was leaving early in the morning on a plane out to L.A. She was flying across the country.  She was going to a place I did not agree with and staying with people I am unsure of. She was going against my wishes. She was leaving school. She was leaving everything behind her. I felt like she was walking into the lion’s den and it scared the shit out of me.

She too lost it and she cried, “Thank you Mom. Thank you for everything. I know you still believe in me and that’s the only thing that keeps me going. Just thank you Mom. I love you more than anything.”

My heart broke in a million pieces in that moment. I wanted to scream at her. I wanted to lock her up in her room. I wanted her to finish high school. I wanted my little girl back.

I did not scream at her. I held her tighter in that moment that I had her. I was the last to let go. I knew from the first day she told me what this was going to be and how it would play out.

She told me a few months ago that she was leaving home when she turned 18.

Originally, I told her over my dead body. I certainly wasn’t going to make it easy for her. But in my heart, I knew what she knew. She was going to leave and I couldn’t stop her. I had to let go. And I couldn’t burn the bridge with her, nor did I want to.

No, I absolutely do not agree with her choice in her life right now. Out of everyone, she knows this best, and she knows why. But she also knows that no matter what I will always believe in her. I will always love her. And I will always expect great things from her. I expect her to dig deep. I expect her to remember her roots and all the lessons I taught her. I expect her to make it. I expect her to ask for help if she needs it along the way.

And I also hope that she finds what she is desperately searching for. I had a million dreams for her, but perhaps those dreams were mine. I still don’t totally understand all why she needs to do this. Perhaps there is a part of her that needs to understand herself and what she’s made of. She told me she feels “stuck” here in this small town.  And honestly, there is a piece of me that understands that feeling. I too have felt that before at a time in my life.

I hope she learns herself as she needs to. I hope that God will keep his hand upon her. I hope that she will one day return, wiser, still thankful, and with growth.

I hope she receives grace along the way and can fully recognize and appreciate it.

And more than anything, I hope she gets what she needs when she needs it.

© LifeasChristine, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Live a good life: An open letter to my oldest son…

An open letter to my oldest son Jonathon…


You called me the other night and forewarned me, “Mom, this is deep, but important and I want an answer”.

I heard you out and finally responded, “I will get back to you on that”.

Roughly a half an hour after hanging up the phone with you, I received your text, “Don’t forget!”

Remember what you said?

Remember how you justified it?

A few months ago you said, “Why would God give me this mind if he knew I was gonna question. I’m probably not a good follower because I question too much. But didn’t He know I was gonna be like this?”

You know how I sometimes grab my phone and start typing in the middle of conversations? It’s usually because I’m making a note and quoting words that I hear because they hit me profoundly and I want to remember them. I want to think about them later, long after the moment has passed. I made note of that remark.

First off Jono, you don’t need justification for wondering about the things you wonder about.

One thing we definitely agree on is that it is curiosity serves as a catalyst for searching for knowledge, understanding, learning, and wisdom. The greatest of these is wisdom. I will leave it up to you to figure out the difference and why that is the most important.

I know that you have thought about death from a young age and all that it entails. I think most of your siblings have experienced this as well. As I believe that the majority of individuals who experience death of a loved one start to grapple with the concept… what it means to live, die, and all the stuff in between.

You never needed to justify your question to me. I know you well.


First off, Aaron knows this part, but maybe you should be aware as well. If given a choice, I want to be buried in the back yard. If the back yard doesn’t suffice due to obstacles – find me a field, close to a river bank, or babbling brook – someplace weeping willows thrive. Do not spend money on a cemetery plot – that’s just plain weird to me and I don’t want to be buried in a cemetery full of people I never knew.  Having experiences with funerals, NO ONE is to buy me a $7,000 casket. I don’t care how pretty it is. I want you all to gather together and build me a pine box. It will give you all a chance to laugh, grieve, and work together as a team processing through stuff together. What you do with it and how you all make it, is up to you guys. Flowers can be picked from a field. Plant a willow tree over me. Years later, when the willow is strong, hang a swing, build a tree house, or do both. Don’t forget the hammock.

I want music – all the music that drove you guys nuts while growing up that reminds you of me that you begged me “Not this again”.  Let it be, Roll me away, I need a hero (you will all laugh remembering me yelling ‘Wooo” at just the right moment), Tiny Dancer, Lose Yourself, Runaway Train, etc.

I want food. Lots of good food – no chicken!

And at the end, I want you to blow off fireworks (if available). There’s just something about fireworks that I have always loved. They remind me that I am alive. They bring awe to me. I want you guys to remember that you still are here and to see the beauty in the darkness. I really want fireworks – just make sure you warn the neighbors, in the event that one may be experiencing PTSD.

I want lots of stories, lots of laughter, lots of hugs (good hugs – not those crappy one-handed-so-called-hugs), sharing of memories from those you don’t know, and honest eulogies. God, do not put me on a pedestal. Be careful, because sometimes we do that when we lose those we love – I’ve not only done it, but have witnessed it occurring from others.

So how do I want you all to live your lives after I’m gone? The same way I want you to live your lives while I still breathe.

I want you to question things your taught, not defiantly, but critically thinking things through. Never feel stupid for asking what others say are silly questions. Ask whatever question you need in order to come to the answer you need. But, know that sometimes you can ask all the right questions, and there is no answer. There are some questions in life that you will never get answers to – or the answers that sit well with your heart. When that happens, learn to LET IT BE. There are just some things in life that we will never know answers to. Maybe it comes down to “I don’t know”. Maybe it comes down to faith. Maybe it comes down to acceptance. It may be a combination of factors, but regardless, you all have to be okay with unanswered questions, because they can and do happen throughout life.

Remember when you were little over at the house on Durfee? Remember when we were coloring? I told you when you color, you didn’t have to stay within the lines. You could color outside the lines and you could use any color you wanted, even if it didn’t make sense (i.e. pink elephants, blue flamingos). You were not limited. I want you to understand there is a time and place for coloring outside the lines. It was not a metaphor for going against all rules or lines set before you. It was a lesson that coloring was a time for flow. It was a place and time for you to lose yourself, while gaining yourself at the same time. It was art therapy and never, ever underestimate the value of it. Some do this by yoga, some by running, some by weight-lifting, some by hiking, some by boating, some by music, some by gardening, etc. The means differ, but the results are the same. There’s a mental balancing that occurs. Find your yoga… whatever that may be. You all will need this many times throughout life – life demands balance.

Evaluate your values. Every single one of them. Take an ethics class (you will struggle mentally, but it is so worth it)! This will help all of you really get to the nitty gritty and decipher the difference between ethics, moral, and values. Your values are things that not only I have taught you since you were little, but things that experiences taught you. Critically think and evaluate them. In order to stand for something, you need to understand why you’re standing. Also, remember your values can change or shift throughout life – they are not always set in stone.

When you find yourself selling out, remember your values, and back-track. It’s okay if you screw up, you are human and you are gonna falter, but recognize it, and remedy it – ASAP.


God, please don’t quit! Life can get very challenging, even down-right hard, do not quit. Get oxygen when you need it, but hang on and don’t you quit.

Understand what your meaning of success is. Personally, my meaning of success does not equate to society’s standard. I’m okay with that. You need to each figure out what success means to you and go for it. You do not need to defend it to others – just live your lives accordingly. Obviously, don’t be idiots with this and look for justification where there is none. Don’t hurt others for your own gratification, etc.

That brings me to the next thing… at the end of each of your lives, will you be able to say you learned through your mistakes? Will you be able to say I did better when I learned? Look up the poem “The Man in the Glass”. I gave it to someone once and it was one that made a big impact on me – around the time when I was where you are at – questioning my life and what it meant to live. At the end of every day, at the end of every mountain climb, at the end of our journeys, it all comes down to us. Every choice and decision we made – are we okay with our choices? If not, turn around, or side-step. Whatever you need to do… do it. Doesn’t matter if we had the perfect story or not, we create the ending…make it worthy!

Never strive for happiness. Happiness is a fleeting emotion that comes and go. Strive for content. You can have a shitty day and not find happiness in it. However, you can have a shitty day and still be content.

Be a shelter for your siblings, family, or friends that need it. Light the way and bring them home if they get lost. Do this for each other because it matters. This is written metaphorically, so you will need to read between the lines and apply it appropriately. Follow your heart when it comes to this.

Which reminds me… listen to your head, but follow your heart – with almost everything: Relationships, marriage, parenting, friendships, strangers, career, etc.

Say what you gotta say. Even if it doesn’t end the way you want it to. This isn’t a free pass for being hurtful or rude, but don’t let things fester. Throw it out on the table and go from there. Sometimes you will have great conversations, sometimes you may be misinterpreted, and sometimes it may end badly. Say the words on your heart – and Jonathon, don’t let alcohol consumption alone enable this for you. Work on that one. Being vulnerable is strength, not weakness.

About vulnerability…. It’s scary as hell – I get it. But those ‘perfect’ people who never show vulnerability… they are a freakin’ mess and as unreal as they come. Maybe you are particular with who you show vulnerability to – that’s okay… but don’t run from it. Denying it leads to a host of issues… In the quiet corners of ourselves, we are all vulnerable and it’s what makes us human. For the love of God, be human – don’t try to be a super hero or stoic!

In regards to stoicism, ask for help when you need it and it’s okay to cry. There will come a day when you need help with something – nobody is good at everything. Drop your defenses and just get help with what you need help with. And if you need to cry – CRY. Scream at the corn if you need to. Ball up in a corner and give yourself a hug if you need. Point is, don’t stay there – refer back to ‘don’t quit’ and go get assistance. Whether it’s assistance with getting a mortgage, having a baby and being scared out of your mind, marriage, a lousy job that you question if you made the right move, or a fight you had with someone, etc. – seek wisdom and guidance always. Never be too proud for this. And listen, mull it over…

Moderation. Everything in moderation. Enough said.

Find and understand faith. This I cannot spell out for you. It has to make sense to each of you or it’s moot.

Always give grace – especially when it’s hard. This is especially important for it has been grace that has sustained me when all else failed. I hope you all come to understand this concept for yourselves and recognize what it is and the value therein.

Forgive – even the unforgivable. This isn’t about them – it’s about you. It doesn’t matter if they ever admit to wrong doing or hurting you – forgive them anyways. There will come a day in each of your lives when you will be standing at a crossroads – forgive or not forgive. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to be an idiot and subject yourself to being hurt time and time again, but forgive those that do you wrong. Because honestly, you’re going to wrong others too – and we need forgiveness from others as well. If you don’t forgive, you will find bitterness growing in your hearts. We have spoken about bitter people in the past. They distance everyone from their lives because their bitterness takes over their hearts and lives – do NOT become bitter. Learn to forgive. If you don’t, you will grow old alone and… well, bitter. Miserable. Figure it out and forgive.

There are probably a million more things I could come up with Jonathon, but honestly it boils down to each of you. I believe we are ultimately responsible for our own choices (past a certain point in life) and we have to be okay with the choices we made. Not being okay with our choices – well, therein lies depression, anxiety, etc. And I’m not saying that you need to live perfectly without screwing up. My God, you’ve already screwed up – all of us have. The point is to learn as you go and make those lessons mean something. You know?

Live a good life.

You will each come to decide what a good life is and what it means to each of you.

And this answers your question.

I want each of you to live a good life.

What does that mean to you?

Figure that out.

You know the lessons I have taught you. You know what matters to me, but I am not you and you are not me.

We have to each come to this on our own.

It’s our own unique journey – this gift of life.

You only get one shot.

Make it a good one.

PS – I love you. And I’m proud of all of you. You all got this – this thing called life. You know what you need to do, even when it’s hard. Even when it’s challenging. Even when you have questions. I believe in all of you.




© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.






“You said I wasn’t going to feel it!!!!”

She drove like a bat out of hell.

It was the first time I had ever heard her swear.

Picture this petite lady, very put-together, full of class, suddenly taken over with road rage.

It was actually kind of funny.

I’m not sure, but I’d guess we arrived in record time.

They told me it was false labor, but because we lived so far away and my due date being so close they wanted to keep me.

They induced.

I was not exactly a ‘good’ patient.

I got into an argument with a male nurse.

“I really need to poop!”

“No, you don’t. That’s just the baby bearing down making you feel like you do. Sorry, you cannot get out of bed.”

“Oh really? How many babies have you had? Listen buddy, if you don’t let me get out of this bed and go to the bathroom, I’m going to poop right here on the bed.”

He brought me a bed pan.

At one point I got so fed up with my male nurse that I got out of bed and grabbed my suitcase. I told Eric I was leaving.

He told me I being irrational.

“You can’t just leave the hospital! You are in labor!!”

I was so frustrated and scared. I threw the suitcase down and started crying.

Around the time they moved me into this big operating room, cold and sterile, the new doctor with bedside manner of a porcupine informed me that he was going to give me an episiotomy.

I yelled, “Wait! What is that?”

“I’m going to make an incision.”

“What? An incision? Where?”

“I promise you won’t even feel it. I’ll give you a few locals first.”

People shouldn’t make promises they can’t keep.

I screamed so loud that a nurse came and shut all the doors because they heard my screams from down the hall.

You know what I screamed?

“You said I wasn’t going to feel it!!!!”

He lied.

He threatened me that he was going to stick some gigantic salad looking tongs inside of me if I didn’t push harder.

The baby’s head had crowned and I could not get that damn head out.

“You are NOT sticking those things in me! Can’t you see there is no room for those?”

“Well, you’ve got 5 minutes and if you don’t push that baby out, I’m using them”

21 hours it took from start to finish.

The minute he came out, they started working on him.

It was a commotion and none of it made sense to me.

They wheeled me back to a room while they tried to figure it out.

A short time later, a doctor came in.

“We are flying your baby to Houston.”


He talked forever and it was all blurry. All I remember is the statement, “Open-heart surgery”

To be continued…

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



“It was the mayonnaise!!”…

I went to sick call that day. Sick call is what the military refers to as going to the doctors because you find yourself sick and can’t go to work.

I thought I had food poisoning.

I felt horrible and nausea as hell.

The smell of bacon made me want to throw up.

Something was definitely wrong.

I went into the office and the young woman asked me the date of my last period – standard procedure.

I gave my standard answer, “Last month. I don’t know the date because I don’t keep track”.

They gave me a urine sample – again, standard procedure.

I told her that was senseless. I explained I had it figured out.

“It was the mayonnaise!!”

I left the mayonnaise out all night and used it the next day.

I had food poisoning!

I was sure of it.

“Actually Airman, you don’t have food poisoning, you’re pregnant…”

“Uh no I’m not. That’s impossible.”

“Do you want to see the stick?”

Eric immediately started crying as I said, “There’s no way. They told me I couldn’t have kids”.

“I don’t know who they are, but they were wrong”.

“I’ll be damned! Are you sure??”

She was right after all.

Back then the military had an opt-out option for women if they found themselves pregnant… you know… a fork in the road – a change to your life’s plans.

I had had it up to my eyeballs with the military.

They lost my paperwork about six times up in Arlington after I had gotten hit by a drunk army MP. They lost track of me. They lost track of Eric. They didn’t want me when I was a medical burden, but when I healed, they suddenly found use for me again.

I chose to opt out.

I do not regret this choice.

There was a rule that if you got pregnant while in the service, you could have the baby at a military hospital.

The closest naval hospital was located in New Orleans and they did not have a maternity ward. My only other option was Ft. Polk Army hospital located roughly two and half hours away.

To be continued…

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

She had an open-door policy…


She taught me some valuable lessons that I found worthy of holding onto.

We all do that don’t we? Measure the worth of a lesson.

And if we find worth, we incorporate that into our own lives. It becomes part of who we are.

She had an open-door policy and stay as long as you need.

She offered clean slates.

Do you know what a clean slate is?

It means, I may have heard things about you.

It means, you may have done some things I don’t agree with.

It means, you may have made some mistakes.

It means that whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve known, I will offer grace and a clean slate.

I will give you shelter from your storm.

I’m a big believer in clean slates because truthfully, none of us are perfect. We have all made mistakes. We all need grace and a clean slate at some point in our lives – some more than others. We have all known storms and may find ourselves needing shelter.

It’s not a guarantee that all will learn and there is risk involved.

My door has been an open-door policy to many. I have given shelter to those that needed it throughout various times in their life.

It began with a troubled adolescent from Louisiana who I flew to NY.

Most of these refugees are adolescents going through things within life and some merely made a poor choice and had nowhere else to turn.

Most of the time there is a process that occurs prior to giving them shelter. It scares some and comforts others.

I talk to them.

I ask them to tell me their story; to know where they’re at.

I have had parents threaten to call the police because I gave shelter.

I have had parents throw their hands up in the air and say, “Good Luck – your problem now!”

I have had parents say thank you for letting them know their child was safe and giving them shelter.

I have had parents warn me of their child.

I have had repeat visitors.

Not too long ago my 18-year-old son was on his way out the door.

He turned around to me and said, “Mom, I love you. Do you know one of the things I love about you most?”

“I love you too. What?”

“You give shelter to those that need it.”

She taught me some valuable lessons that I found worthy of holding onto.

We all do that don’t we? Measure the worth of a lesson.

And if we find worth, we incorporate that into our own lives. It becomes part of who we are.

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.












Children Learn What They Live…


“I didn’t parent the way you and Mom did Dad.”

“I know Sis.”

“I took out the good and tossed the bad.”

“You did good Sis.”

It was a brief conversation I had with my father recently.

You ever heard that saying, “Children learn what they live?”

I have; long before I became a parent, though I never thought much about it until I found myself as one.

I find there’s a lot of truth in those words, but it’s not black and white.

I think it’s true in a sense that children learn what they live. They either learn this is the way to do it, this is the way not to do it, or take this and leave that.

And I don’t sit here all high and mighty. I’m a parent. I know my children will take out the good and toss the bad, at least I hope they do.

Because honestly, parents are people too. And where I may have corrected some patterns I “learned” from my parents, I’m not perfect either.

In many ways children do learn what they live, but in hearing that little quote one should be very cautious in taking it at face-value. It does not necessarily equate to mirroring.

I learned to hear my kids when they became adolescents with their own thoughts, ideas, and questions.

I learned to try to understand where they were coming from.

I learned to meet them where they were.

I learned not to walk away from them.

I learned that my stuff can never be so big that I don’t notice them.

I learned grace.

I learned clean-slates.

I learned letting go of defenses.

I learned believing in them even when they didn’t believe in themselves.

I learned to raise the bar for them when they needed it.

I learned how to make that bar attainable.

I learned the importance of laughter.

I learned how to handle hard truths.

I learned this and so much more from my parents.

I learned how to be a parent as a child that learned what I lived.

© LifeasChristine, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




In many ways, our son needed to scream at the corn…


“YOU HATE ME!” he cried.

“No, I don’t hate you. I could never hate you son.”


This went on for what seemed like an eternity. In reality though, it merely went on longer than I knew how to handle. I knew what was at the core of this. I saw the bigger picture.

It was a little boy hurting. A little boy trying to make sense of something that didn’t make a whole lot of sense. He was learning one of the hardest lessons in life, long before he was ready. Though I wonder, are any of us ready to learn this, no matter when it occurs in life?

Death sucks.

I consider myself pretty lucky sometimes, despite the fact that I don’t really believe in luck.

Raising four toddlers, I have only had to deal with one temper tantrum. For all you parents out there, let that sink in. One temper tantrum among four lively toddlers – ever.

Eric’s death changed that in a lot of ways. Our return back to normal life, wasn’t so normal.

There were outbursts. There was screaming. There was crying.

“I want to run into the road and have a car hit me so I can be with my daddy!”

The first time I heard that from that little boy, my heart stopped.

I knew this had gone beyond what I knew what to do.

I made phone calls. I sought wise council.

He needed this.

I needed this.

We needed this.

Grief became bigger than a mother’s love.

The counselor’s name was Steve. He had a special way with grieving kids. He allowed them to process at their own pace. He encouraged art therapy.

Personally, I’m a big believer in art therapy. I have seen emotions expressed through art when the words cannot be found, and when emotions cannot yet be understood.

It’s a tool I have used throughout my children’s lives. I owe a lot to Counselor Steve for introducing this to me.

He helped me help my grieving child. But more importantly, he helped that child grieve.

I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of his advice.

He recommended I let him scream it out.

“Let him scream at the top of his lungs. Let him rant for as long as he needs to.”

My eyebrows raised. I wondered if this guy had kids.

“The condition is that he has to stand in one place and cannot move until he’s finished.”

I thought, “This guy is nuts. What kind of advice is that?”

“And what exactly am I supposed to do while he’s having a rant, screaming at the top of his lungs?”

“You ignore him.”

“Ha! You’ve got to be kidding me!” I thought. Though I may have said that out loud; knowing me, I probably did.

“How do I do that?” I asked.

“However you can. Read a magazine. Read a book. Pretend if you need to. Just ignore him until he gets it out.”

I hated that advice.

I hated it even more when I first tried it.

I had a magazine. Reading was a joke. He screamed at the top of his lungs while he stood under the window in our living room. I flipped through the pages pretending to be reading.

Within me, I was dying. I felt like a terrible mother. I wanted to go where he was and wrap my arms around him. I wanted to hug him and say, “I know son”.

I didn’t though.  I was desperate to help him.

This was killing me.

But you know what? It worked. I don’t remember how long it took, but a few weeks and it all ended. No more yelling. No more outbursts. No more telling me he wanted to get hit by a car so he could be with his daddy. No more “You hate me”.

A few years following the death of Eric, I finally understood what that was all about.

When I lost a mother, I ran out my kitchen door to the back field and screamed at the corn. In many ways, our son needed to scream at the corn…

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.