Monday, November 7, 2011

What a Year Can Do - my final blog

I'm not sure where to start...

Well, here we are. November 7th.

It's hard to believe Brad has been gone a year today. Every day can have it's own challenge, but this particular day has been in my's been my finish line. The night that Brad died, I vividly remember telling myself that if I can just make it to see the sunrise - I was going to be okay. I stayed awake all night (and many many nights after that), just looking out the window and waiting for the sun to appear. I made it. Then I set a goal to survive the funeral. Made it. One week-Two weeks...One month...Two months...Three months......and finally, make it through a full year.

Made it.

I've learned so much - about myself, my faith, friends and family. There have been so many tears that I think I have maxed out a lifetime limit. There has also been so much joy and appreciation for this life - I'm blessed to be here, and I will never forget that.

Here's the deal. I do not pretend to have this figured out, but I do know I have gained some wisdom that it could have taken me a lifetime to learn. Do I screw up every single day? - absolutely, but this is what I know:

- Faith in Jesus is everything. You without a doubt CAN DO ALL THINGS through Christ who gives you strength. In Him you find peace, rest, and the best part....everlasting life. Every time I tried to do things my way - I crashed and burned. And when I finally decided to hand over my decisions, thoughts, fear and heartache to the Lord - I could see hope and a future.

- Live YOUR life. You answer to one person and one person only - GOD. People will always have their own ideas of who you should be and how you should act, and they will judge the hell out of you. Guess what? It doesn't matter. My entire life I was convinced there was a certain order of how things should be done and how I should go about life. You know....go to college, get married, buy a house, have kids and so on. Well you know what...that's lovely and all, but it's not reality. Keep it simple - God's got a plan for each and every one of our lives - it's all stop getting all worked up when things don't go your way - and just enjoy the ride.

- It's about relationships - not stuff. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't see just how amazing my family and friends are. I still haven't sat down to thank everyone personally for all they've done for me. Phone calls, letters, care packages in the mail, hugs, and goodness -what a blessing. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone that has reached out to me. I know a simple thank you is a bit lame, and it will never do justice, but please know that's what has helped me make it this far. Your encouragement kept me moving forward. So this is what I'm getting at. When you hit a wall - rock bottom, stuff isn't going to be there to help you up...and it won't even comfort you. Make it a point to invest in your relationships with friends and family - every single day.

Brad's parents had a beautiful grave marker made and I think they did a great job capturing some fond memories of Brad....Dallas is even on there with his big ol' tongue sticking out as usual. It's not out at the cemetery yet, but should be before the end of this year. The background is from pictures of some of our hikes through the Tennessee mountains. I think Brad would like this.

I know a lot of people are hurting today especially, and I know Brad could have never understood the hurt and severe pain that he left behind for all of us to face. He wouldn't have wanted that. I miss him everyday - and I'll always hold on to the great memories we shared. I have hope that I will see that sweet smile of his again one day. And oh what a day that will be.

I'm wrapping up I appreciate all of you that have been kind enough to actually read my rantings over the past several years, and follow me through the most difficult time in my life. I'm so thankful that I've had this blog to document the last couple years of Brad's life, and to keep friends and family posted this past year. I've had some encouragement to keep blogging, and I have thought of starting a new blog. To be honest, I'm on the fence about it. If you have an opinion either way, let me know :) If I start a new blog I'll post the new web address on here and facebook. Thanks again.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pursuit of Happiness

Happiness is good medicine.
Proverbs 17:22

Lord, You give true peace to people who depend on you,
to those who trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3

There is a time to weep and a time to laugh.
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
Ecc 3:4

He heals their broken hearts and bandages their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

Don't remember what happened in earlier times. Don't think about what happened a long time ago, because I am doing something new! Now you will grow like a new plant. Surely you know this is true. I will even make a road in the desert, and rivers will flow through that dry land.
Isaiah 43:18-19

The Lord has chosen me to tell good news to the poor and to comfort those who are announce that the time has come for the Lord to show His kindess...
Isaiah 61: 1-3

But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the HOPE you have.
1 Peter 3:15

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'll Let You In My World


Yeah, that's me.

I am not capable of living a normal life....whatever that might be. So it was a fun Friday night with friends...and get this....

Dallas gets hit by a car!

WHAT the ....!!!???

Don't worry! He is fine, but I lost it. He was in hot pursuit of a ball and ran out in the street before any of us could do anything. I saw it - then dropped to my knees and cried like I've wait...yeah...I cried kinda like that. Also, it was May 7th - exactly 6 months since my world turned upside down.

I should probably have my blood pressure checked out.

I feel compelled to share something very private and dear to me. When crazy or difficult things come my way, i.e. Dallas being struck by a vehicle, I so badly wish Brad could be here to handle it. He could remain calm while I'm a basket case. He always knew how to ease my fear and my occasional hot temper. I found this note not long after Brad died. He gave this to me when we were in college, but it sure seems like it was meant for me now. I hope you can see his tender heart through his words.

In case you aren't skilled in translating Brad's handwriting, this is what it says. Also, that is probably 8 year old cereal stuck to the page.

Hello. I know you're stressed right now,
just shut it all out while you read this. No one
said that life would be easy. No one said that
we are perfect. It may seem like you're confused,
but I assure you that's the way anyone would
think in your situation. It's part of it. The
only thing that will help is going on with your life
every second of every day. When you get frustrated
because you can't concentrate, pray about it. You may
have to pray every second, but eventually it will get
better. I'm praying for you, every part of your being
I'm praying for. I know it's hard to see that school
should be important right now, but if you try, and
keep trying, you'll realize that you're capable of
doing things you didn't expect. One thing that that will
make you feel better is to confront your stress, one
step at a time. One page at a time, then one chapter,
then one class, it will require you to challenge yourself,
but I believe in you with all my heart. Just
know that God would never give you anything
you can't handle. Like you always say to me: "I can
do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Every time

you get frustrated, say it to yourself, and believe.

Keep it up sweetheart, You can do it!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back in the saddle

First week back to work - a success!

I'm so thankful I was able to take the past 6 months off of work to just be. It was necessary. I've faced a lot and worked through it. Many sleepless nights and difficult days - so much that I wasn't sure how I would function back in the real world. You think I would have learned this by now...God's timing is perfect.

It felt great to be back at the office last week. I had missed feeling productive...the feeling of contributing to society or having a role other than "the 28 year old widow". It was nice...even if I had to end my 6 month love affair with sweat pants.


Now for something different.

The following is my sincere apology to all of my friends and family that are frustrated with my lack of communication.


I get that it doesn't take that much effort to answer my phone, check my voicemail, respond to texts, or check my email. I GET IT! Perhaps I don't initiate going to lunch etc blah blah blah. All true. All I can say is:

I'm lazy, tired, and me not talking or responding to you is no reflection of how awesome you are. I am just a difficult person to be friends with for this season - but I will get better. The somewhat attentive version of me will emerge one of these days and you'll be happy you stuck it out.


I'll go ahead and step down from my soap box and get my butt to bed.

If you aren't familiar with the iPhone format, this is a screen shot of my phone showing just how lazy and unresponsive I am. Yep...18 unchecked voicemails.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

I am so very thankful that Jesus died and rose again for me. It's hard to grasp the depth of that love. Incredible.

Happy Easter - from my goofball family to yours.

Lookin' good Kristen and Taylor. Typical....

I just love him so much.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bad Bad Hard Drive...Bad!

This just in from the Geek Squad - $350 to get my newer laptop back in order. I have a bad hard drive...thanks Dell. I guess it's too late to trash that computer and get a Mac. You live and you learn. I'll get back to my sporadic blogging soon :)

p.s. Blonde bear and I are doing well. We are actually having some fun. God is good all the time, even when your computer turns into a mild money pit :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It figures...

It computer would have a major melt down. Oh well. Just another day in paradise ;)
Any advice on where I should take it for repair? I was married to a computer wiz, I didn't need to know these things. I am trying out a blog post from my iPhone just for kicks. So far so good.

I'm happy to report that I've been doing well. Yep, you read that correctly. I am doing well, and I mean that sincerely. I think a lot of that has to do with me finally joining the gym and getting a personal trainer. I'm sleeping better and I'm more productive during the day. I don't give a rip about losing weight or my looks right now. I just want to feel healthy and strong, not malnourished and defeated like the past months. When I joined the gym I was asked, "What's your motivation?"

I quickly responded,

"To be able to beat-up people."

And that pretty much sums up my attitude lately. Don't mess with me, I'm one tough lady!

Also, Dallas is doing great :). Thank you thank you thank you for all those prayers. Keep em' coming.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A sincere THANK YOU

Thank very much. I had no idea my late night rant would generate such an outpouring of support. I appreciate it more than you'll ever know.

Dallas and I have been enjoying this nice warm weather the past couple of days. I'm so thankful for the sunshine. To celebrate this new season, it was only fitting for Dallas and I to do our usual redneck routine - baby pool in the front yard. One slight problem. Dallas's pool was somewhere buried in the floor to ceiling stacked boxes in the garage. So you know, of course I didn't do the logical thing...which would have been spending $10 on a new one. Instead I spent way too long and risked my life spelunking through the garage, carefully distributing my weight across the tops of the boxes.

All worth it. His reaction made my day :)

One last thing before I go. Music is a great form of therapy for me. I have it on all the time and it usually helps me sleep. I've been listening to this song over and over. I wanted to share it on the blog so I checked out the video on youtube. Even though this lady has quite a few years on me, this really hit home.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Late night confessional

I want to sleep, but I can't. I close my eyes and I feel my heart pounding through my chest. My mind races. How long will I have to relive this horror night after night? I wish I could wake up from this nightmare. God please protect me.

Time heals all they say. Why isn't this true for me? Maybe all the hype has settled and I'm supposed to be normal. So I play the part. Friends and family have all gone about their own business by now. And why shouldn't they? goes on - oh I wish I were that lucky. I just keep missing him more and more. The hurt grows. The loneliness lasts.

I've got no fluff or nice things to say. Perhaps I'm ticked because I'm tired and frustrated. I don't like having a bad's not in my nature. I'm annoyed with myself. This isn't the life I expected or wanted...and there was no prep for a world this hard.

I'm sick and tired of the devil trying to steal my love for life. With all the energy I have left, I'm clinging to the truth that God will never let me be pushed past my limit. He will always be there to help me come through this. He will never leave me nor forsake me. That is the small ray of hope I see through these dark clouds.


Most of you know that Dallas has also had a difficult time lately. A few weeks ago he had a seizure. Poor baby, and poor mama... me freaking out is an understatement. I NEED this dog. No really... I NEED him. Luckily I was right there with him, and my mom-in-law was at my house within ten minutes to help me get him to the emergency vet. Long story short, the seizures are most likely stress related and Dallas is on some meds to help take the edge off. I think things are looking up. It's like the devil just wants to knock me down every time I try to stand up. I really want to kick his a$$.

I don't like handouts. I don't like to ask for help. I don't like to say much of anything about my internal struggles.
But I'm asking for you to please pray for Dallas and I. We need all the prayers we can get. Losing Brad, the scary nights, the new life, new's overwhelming us. Pray for protection of our fragile minds and hearts. For the strength to make it.

- Thank you.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I feel the need to share something very personal. I know, I get this whole blog thing is pretty personal, but for the most part, I keep it high level. Lately it seems as if I'll take one step forward and 10 steps back with my progress. That's probably not the just feels like it some days. Being alone has forced me to deal with some of these deep grieving emotions that I wanted to run from. The first few months after Brad died were such a shock, I was just numb - cold and numb. There is a new wave of hurt that I'm dealing with. Fantastic.

Oh, yes. So the point I was wanting to make about sharing something very personal. A few days ago I was so frustrated. Fear was overwhelming me - Was I going to be this broken forever? I got up the nerve for the first time to go back and look at the first journal entry I wrote after Brad died.

This journal was given to me by a dear family friend that came to Tennessee with my parents the day after Brad died. She encouraged me to start a journal, and I'm so thankful she did.

This is what I wrote:


In your arms I find mercy...
I find rest

Dear Lord,

I don't pretend to understand, but I'm trusting you. I need you. Please Please Please protect me from the enemy - and the horrible thoughts that try to enter my mind. Please give me peace in this storm, please give me rest. I know you hold my heart in the palm of your hand. It has been shattered - a million pieces. And I think Brad took most of those pieces with him. I'm so broken Lord. I've come undone. Carry me.

Ever faithful,

My heart is racing. It's so hard to go back and think of that time. It hurts. But here's the thing, I wanted to share that piece of me because I am stronger than that broken girl who wrote in her journal on 11-11-10. And God heard me....he listens....he comforts. This is so real. If I didn't have my God to carry me, I'm not sure I would make it. Here's some good news: He is available for EVERYONE. Even screw ups like me! Let Him be a part of your life - even better, let him be your life. You're gonna need Him.


Dallas update: I just turned around from my desk and this is what I saw. He is worn out from the dog park today. Also, he is nice and dirty and desperately in need of a bath. The fuzzy ninja knew I was distracted and made his move for the clean bed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

So this is my new normal

It has been Valentine's Day for 45 minutes as I type this......gross.

I can't sleep...again - I suppose that's part of this new normal thing. So why not catch up on some blogging.

You'll never believe this. Heck, I can't believe it. This old gal who was afraid to be in a room by herself for 2 months has been living on her own for 2 weeks...or has it been 3? Ugh, I don't have any concept of time these days. Well, let me rewind and explain how I got here.

If you need living proof that God is real, please come talk to me; however, don't call me, because I rarely check my - that thing overwhelms the h-e-double L out of me (I had to throw that in there for my friends and family that want to strangle me).

Enough about my flaws. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't remind myself of Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." This grief business is tricky. It's different for everyone and you never know what to expect, so please spare me the advice on how I should be doing things. I've heard at least a hundred different takes on my situation. One of the biggest things I'm experiencing is I am so easily's exhausting. I need a secretary to keep up with my voicemails and text messages. There is so much that needs to be done, yet I consider it a victory if I can get out of bed each morning.

I worried constantly about how I was going to move everything from Tennessee to Texas.

Where I was going to live???
How was I going to afford it???
How could I handle living alone???
Why was I having to face these problems???
What job should I take???

...and the list goes on.

And you know what?

God provides.

Through the help of the most amazing family and friends, things have worked out better than my worn out mind could have planned. These angels of mine helped orchestrate moving everything from TN to TX, finding the most perfect place for Dallas and I to live, and making sure the last thing I have to worry about are my finances. These people know who they are, hearts of gold, and I am forever grateful.

So just like that, Dallas and I loaded up in the "family truckster" (can anyone name the movie? Todd, I know you can!). Dallas and I had left our Tennessee home in the country to live with my parents for a few months in New Mexico, and now we were leaving for Texas to start our new normal.

Don't worry, I always leave enough room for Dallas. He knows the drill.

And wouldn't you know it. Dallas and I moved into our new home...and a snow/ice storm kept us locked inside for days. We made the best of it, even without tv...internet... oh and electricity for that one day. Thank goodness Brad's dad was brave enough to come rescue us. Waking up to a 55 degrees inside the house is not my idea of fun.

And there you have it. I'm another step closer to getting back to the real world. How am I doing? Umm, well... I'm okay. I'm making it. This living alone thing, well quite frankly, it sucks. I always thought I loved being lazy at home. And I did... I just loved it when Brad was there with me. It's absolutely gut wrenching to have to go through our things that we once shared. I finally have some familiar surroundings, but that is also an even bigger reminder of what I've lost. The good in this is that Jesus and I have been having some lengthy conversations. When you find out God is all you have, you truly learn that He is all you need.

My heart beats, standing on the edge
But my feet have finally left the ledge
Like an acrobat

There’s no turning back

I’m letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams
I’m losing control
Of my destiny
It feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
So I’m letting go

This is a giant leap of faith
Trusting and trying to embrace
The fear of the unknown

Beyond my comfort zone

Giving in to your gravity
Knowing You are holding me
I’m not afraid

Feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
Feels like I’m falling and this is the life for me

"I'm Letting Go" by "Francesca Battistelli

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

So as I was saying about all of those amazing friends I have...not to brag or anything...but yeah, I am...

My best friends from way back in the Baylor days, Steph and Todd, they know me well - so well, they gave me a plane ticket for a Birmingham getaway to visit them. I have a bad track record of being a homebody and often need some encouragement to get out of my cave.

Artists in the making

Meet my nephew Thunder

I'm going to patent the "Stephanie and Todd therapy method". It's good for the soul. It consists of some great late night food / staying up until 4 a.m. lost in deep conversation / a walk through the woods / annnnd....riding around in a super sexy red convertible - top down - cold January air blowing through your hair - oh yeah - perfecto!

more please :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Part 2

I need to make this snappy. I'm in a bit of a pickle. I want to tell all the details of my trip back to Tennessee. It's part National Lampoon's Vacation meets Wowza God is good. AND, I've got a fun little twist at the end for you... and if you don't already know, it just might knock your socks off.

So here's the deal, I just got back from visiting my best Baylor buddies in Birmingham, and I've got my 4Runner packed to the roof to leave for Dallas tomorrow to start this so called next chapter of my life (a lot of good has been going on). It's almost midnight. I'm just going to type like a mad woman and say to heck with the editing. I'm getting this done.

So there I am, in the car heading east. Keep in mind, where my house is in Tennessee is so far it's almost in Virginia / North Carolina. About a 24 hour road trip, but I don't mind (Lana is saying, "Of course you don't... I drove your butt for about 85% of the drive"). I have over 1,000 super cool songs on my iPhone and I LOVE beef jerky and Sprees. Bring it on.

This whole time I have NO IDEA how I was going to feel or react to what lied ahead. I just knew there was something in my head... no... my heart, that was pulling me there. Is that your voice God? I made a quick pit stop in Lubbock to stay the night with my sister Kristen. No offense Krissy, but I'm always amazed that you are capable of living on your own. Maybe I just can't get past those memories of you destroying my Barbies and wetting the bed ;) Loooove you...and your cat Pamela that slept on my head that night.

Next stop, Dallas Ft Worth.

That drive was a little more tense. I knew what was about to happen. I hated it. But I can't hide from it my whole life like I wish I could. My sweet friend Curtis was going to pick me up as soon as I got there to take me to the cemetery. This would be my first visit since the funeral. It gives me chills as I type this. I was in such a blur on the day of the funeral... memorial service... whatever, I hate any word you want to call it. I had no idea where his grave site was, but luckily Curtie is good at keeping me together. I don't know how to describe that experience. There are no words. I'm not sure I can make sense of it in my brain. I just sat there touching the ground, like just maybe I could feel him. I know Brad isn't there, I know he is living in Heaven, but I don't know how to comprehend that such a handsome and smart man is buried somewhere under there. I just want to see that freckle above his lip one more time, crack a little joke about the grey hair he was getting, and those size 14 feet. Oh I miss him.

I was able to spend some time with Brad's parents before Lana and I headed to TN. Brad would be proud. We went to Snuffers and feasted on fried pickles and mushrooms. Brad really loved "fried fill-in-the-blank". Such a health nut.

You know it's an official road trip when Dairy Queen is involved. We do it right.

I need to back up and really explain how incredible my friends are....all of them. I know I could have asked every single one of them to load up in a bus and go with me to Tennessee, and they would. I asked my friend Lana to go with me because...well, because of many reasons. First of all... she can handle my quirks :) One of our favorite jokes throughout the trip was that she wasn't driving Ms. Daisy... she was driving Ms. Crazy. Lana just has this way about her. She knows how to talk to me. What do I mean by this? Well, she doesn't ask me those stupid kind of questions I've been asked over and over again. Lana is one of my best friends, and she was also one of Brad's best friends. Why am I trying to list why Lana went with me???... I could easily list another five hundred reasons.

Lana and I drove from DFW to Nashville on the first day. It was fun. A lot of fun. We told stories and laughed a lot. If you ever want to know the most hilarious Brad stories, spend some time with Lana. They were partners in crime. We stopped at an Irish restaurant that night for dinner. Earlier when I mentioned the stupid questions....perhaps that was a little harsh. They aren't stupid questions... I just have no idea how to respond. And if I do respond, I just make everything so freakin' awkward. Exhibit A:

Waitress: "Where are y'all from?"
Alicia: "A little bit of everywhere."
Waitress: "Are you on vacation?"
Alicia: "Not really."
Waitress: "Well what are you doing?"
Alicia: "Taking care of business."
Waitress: "Oh....." (as she slowly steps back and walks away)

See. I just make things awkward....and sound like I'm in the mafia.

Moving on...

The drive from Nashville to our house is about 5 hours. Again, we knew what was waiting for us at the end of this long drive. So nervous. It's like nervous on steroids though. This is no pre-job interview jitters. This is saying goodbye to your life ripping up your entire being jitters.

This was on a Friday. I knew there was several things I needed to take care of that day besides just sitting in my house. On our way there we made a quick stop by Brad's office. They had boxed up everything from his office. A huge box full of all things Texas. Such a Texan. I know they miss him. He carried a lot of weight around there. So smart, always thought outside of the box, so much promise.

Next stop was to see the Phalens, my neighbors that sheltered me the night Brad died. Tim had to leave for a business trip that day, but I had to get to him before he left. He was my angel. It was their house I ran to in the middle of the night. Tim ran to try and save Brad. I knew if there was any chance, Tim could do it. The Phalen kids comforted me and prayed for me all night. What an incredible family that God placed in our lives. Incredible.

I needed to get to the courthouse for more paperwork fun, but we couldn't drive past our house without going in.

I left that house terrified of it, but going back I felt something that I did not expect nor could have anticipated.


I wasn't scared. I felt comforted. We shared so many wonderful memories there. I missed it. We walked in and I went straight to our bed. I just wanted to lay there and not get up. There was a beautiful blanket of snow outside. I looked out the window and couldn't help but long for the Saturday mornings when Brad would wake me up at sunrise to go play in the snow with him and Dallas. I just wanted to rewind the clock, make things all better. But that's not possible, and I needed to make the best of this time. I needed to try and say goodbye to that life I loved.

And I did.

I went to Dallas's doggie daycare that I loved so dearly. I got to hug them and tell them thank you for taking care of my fuzzy angel. I even got to love on some goldies that were there.

I went back to my old office. We sat in the back drinking coffee and laughing about all the crazy happenings I had missed out on.

Those hugs, those thank yous, those goodbyes - I needed it.

I'm so thankful I was able to spend time with friends and neighbors. I wanted them to all know how much I appreciated them. My old boss and his wife treated Lana and I like queens. I'm tempted to move back and live with them if that is the kind of breakfast they serve up. Tennessee hospitality. You can't beat it.

Lana and I managed to take care of a lot that weekend, but one of the most productive things for me was just doing nothing. We sat around my house watching movies. We went to the grocery store because I wanted to cook dinner one last time in my house. I wanted to set the table...the table where I could look out the window and see the mountains. Gorgeous.

As my fantastic luck would have it, we had to make a quick decision to leave Sunday night instead of later on Monday because some nasty weather was headed our way. Oh you know, it was just a state of emergency through Tennessee and Arkansas. God always has this plan I don't get at the time, but looking back it just makes sense. I was getting pretty emotional about having to leave my home for good, and I'm afraid Lana would have had to peel me out of there. God knew that a quick surprise would catch me off guard and prevent a total melt down.

Thank you Lord.

We had planned on staying with my adopted family across the street that night. Their little boy was mine and Brad's little buddy. He was not too happy when he decided that I had lied about staying the night. He decided my punishment would be that next time I would have to sleep on the bottom bunk, not the top. Just tragic.

These people aren't just my friends, they are my family.

It was a quick goodbye. It's probably for the best. I had accomplished a lot during those few days. I wasn't so scared. I was feeling stronger. I could almost look ahead for once, see a future. Before we drove off, I walked through the house one last time. I knew that if I did come back to help move, it just wouldn't be the same. I went into the room where Brad's life ended. It's a heavy feeling in there. I have so many thoughts and emotions that come out of me in that room. I'll never forget what I saw in there that night, though I wish I could. But mostly, I just hurt for him. The severe pain he had to feel at that moment. I always wanted to make it better, but I couldn't.

Lana and I made it to Nashville that night. She deserves a medal of honor after getting us home safely. Those roads were horrible...perhaps that's why the highways were closing.

Well, I have a confession to make.

I have had this certain thing on my mind since Brad passed away. Now, never in a million years would I dream that I would do this. I mentioned several posts ago that right after Brad died I opened my Bible and the first thing I saw was a highlighted "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Please understand that one of the few pet peeves I have is when ink gets on my hands. I would NEVER write on myself. Gross.

Well.... for some reason I kept writing that verse on my hand. And when it would wash off, there I was... writing it again. Looking at that verse helped me make it through picking out a casket, seeing Brad for the first time, and that reminder helped me keep taking one more breath after another. I would tell my mom, "I kinda want this on me forever." But I am the person that blacks out when I get my blood drawn.

Never say never. I had made up my mind that before we crossed that state line, I was going to have that verse on me forever.

Now check yourself.

I can imagine you are judging me right now. I know this because I would have been doing the same thing too. But please don't. Walk a mile in my shoes. I can promise you this is the least crazy thing I could be doing...

Yep, hurt like... uhh...can't say that word on here.

At this point Lana says, "I've never seen your neck this red!"

People tell me it looks a lot smaller in person. But you know, I don't regret it one bit. I love it. And little Taylor even told me I kinda look like Angelina Jolie - a much less sexy version of course.

And a true friend wouldn't let me suffer alone. She would get a tattoo with me :) Thanks for making me look like a huge baby Lana. I screamed for a solid 20 minutes. You just sat there like you were reading the news.

In honor of a tattoo going down my ribs, it's only fitting that we finish up our Tennessee trip with some famous Memphis BBQ ribs. I'm not sure why the waiter is in this picture. Once again, TN hospitality.

After Memphis the roads went from worse to, OH MY this is horrible! I-30 was being shut down, semi trucks were flipped over all along the side of the highway. No bueno. We had to pull over and stop in a small town in Arkansas. Problem is, all of the decent places to stay were booked. Interesting, the night before we stayed in a very nice place in Nashville, and I recall Lana telling me, "I'm a hotel snob." Well this night we were taken down a notch or five. Oh the "Relax Inn". Not so relaxing. We were a little nervous for our well being. Okay, a lot nervous. Lana moved the table in front of the door, and stacked these pee stained chairs in front of the window. She also slept with her hood like that. Very smart.
Lana and I have a list of quotes from our trip that I kept track of. We are pretty darn funny, and we also had a potty mouth on that trip ;) I'll have to type up a bloopers take on the trip with our outbursts.

I'll let Lana sum up this unforgettable trip:

"We are on a freakin' journey dammit!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My journey back to Tennessee, part 1

Journey indeed - for real.

Hmm... where to begin? I'll take it from the top. Stick with me, it's going to be a long one.

The pain and trauma of losing Brad should be all I've had to deal with the past 2 and a half months. Key word - "should"...but that's not how it works. I was forced to flee my home, my job, my neighbors and friends, my LIFE. All I had was a suitcase with a random assortment of clothes and my dog. At first it didn't really matter - I was in shock, to say the least. After a couple of months it started to sink in...not only did I miss Brad, I missed my life.

When I left TN to make the 15 hour drive to Dallas for Brad's funeral, I had some strong feelings about our house. That's where Brad's life ended. That's where I saw what I saw. Heard what I heard. Our house scared me... no... it terrified me. It felt evil. At that time, I didn't want anything to do with the house. I didn't want to be there or see it again.

Mom and I debated having friends pack up boxes of my clothes and have them shipped. We discussed plans to take care of everything without me having to step foot in that state. just didn't feel right.

As the days went by, I kept feeling a need to go back to our house. Not to pack. Not to work. Just be there. By the way, therapy helps. It has helped me work through those deep fears and realize that I didn't have to be afraid of the dark, our house, our stuff. I may never have closure on Brad's death, but I thought that just mabye I could grasp some closure to my old life.'s a great way to test out how great your friends are:

It went something like this, "Hey Lana, what are you doing next week? Want to drive me to Tennessee?"

AND, this incredible friend of mine dropped everything to drive me halfway across the country and support me during the hardest time in my life. Wow. Amazing.

Here we go! I left New Mexico and headed east. Before I drove off, I turned around to see my sidekick Taylor and fuzzy shadow Dallas giving me the look. I usually take Dallas with me everywhere, but he had finally started to act normal and the last thing he needed was more stress. And honestly, I knew he would go looking for Brad if I took him back to TN. He is a smart dog with a sharp memory. No sense in breaking both of our hearts even more.

No turning back, I was going to do it, face my fears...I was going home....

to be continued...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year, A New Look

It had to be done....

My "Tennessee Adventure" is no more (check out the cool Tennessee picture at the very bottom of the page, courtesy of my talented brother Justin Lingo). I really debated whether or not I should keep blogging. After all, I started this whole attempt to be a fancy blogger in order for Brad and I to stay in touch with friends and family when we moved to Tennessee.

So I thought....

and I realized some of my habits just can't be changed. This habit I'm referring to is my inability to communicate verbally :) My mom and closest friends are all nodding their heads in agreement. I'm not a fan of the phone, not so hot with text messages, and heck, I too easily just stay to myself.


the late night blogging shall continue. I now know how many people care about me and want to be involved in my life. In fact, it's very overwhelming... in a good way. After Brad passed away I learned that I can appear to be very strong on the outside, but give me a pen and paper and I can show my true self - vulnerable/ hopeful/ broken/ angry/ thankful/ fragile/ scared/ blessed

and blogging helps...

I have no clue what my new life will look like. Living alone....ugh. I've never had to do that before. Actually, a sweet blondie bear with big brown eyes just looked up at me to remind me that I'm not really alone :) I think it will be important for me to keep this up - let everyone know how I'm doing - that I'm still hanging on to hope.