Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Saying goodbye to 2014

It has finally come to say goodbye to 2014. Or in my case it's more like a "Good riddance. Don't let the door hit you on the way out!" 2014 has been the hardest year of my 30 years of life. Even the year my dad was going through chemo didn't seem this bad. Maybe because that was one thing where as this year has been one thing after another. Still.... it hasn't been all bad. So let's take a little journey through 2014.

The year started off with me being SURE it was going to be a great one...

By the end of the month, I lost a friend in the same week that I saw a friend and his wife deal with the death of their little girl. I had to work the day my friend died and thank goodness for Casey who let me just sit in my office and cry while he led youth group until I was ready to do our balloon release.

These kids are so great and let me grieve and just do whatever I needed to do. They joined me for the balloon release of 2 people they'd never met. They are so great! 

Following Cassandra's death, it seemed like everyone put their differences aside and we all grieved together. The cliques and drama were gone. It was nice. We went to the memorial service and got (or at least tried to) our closure so we could move on. Kelly and I went out for burgers and fries in memory of Cassandra and had a really nice chat about a decision I had to make. 

By the end of February I made my decision, put in my 2 weeks notice and cried every time I thought about it. A new chapter in my life was coming and as much as it hurt, I knew it was something I had to do. So I packed up and said my goodbyes. 

I decided to sign up for my very first Triathlon. Yikers! But I got to do it in memory of Cassandra and raise money for her family. So that was great!

I started a new job working with kids from Infants-6 years old. 

March was fairly uneventful. Had a lovely girls night with my best friends from middle school and was finally starting to feel like myself again. 

And just like that everything came crashing down. 
My grandpa had fallen and was not doing well. He was on life support and they were talking about taking him off. I had to prepare to say goodbye. And of course this was all during a retreat I had with my middle schoolers. Coincidentally... this all happened the same night I sent my ipod through the washer... for the second time

They managed to keep me in high spirits and made me laugh during our hikes and games of Quelf. 

My grandpa ended up making a miraculous recovery and my brother and cousins came out for a visit. We had a good time with each other. 
One of my favorite DJ's decided to leave the radio station. I cried when he played his last song. At least my other favorite was still there......

Katy and Dustin got married! What a great ceremony it was!

Mother's Day Meltdown! In the midst of my new job plus trying to get things ready for Vacation Bible School I had a total meltdown. On Mother's Day, after working at the church I walked into my parent's house and my mom said "how are you?" and I burst into tears. It was then that we decided something needed to change. So I called my boss at my old job and asked if I could come back as a sub (spoiler alert: She said yes) and I put in my 2 weeks notice... just 3 months after starting there. Another hard decision. 

I turned 30. 

I did my very first color run. With a migraine.... I wouldn't recommend that. 

I did my very first Vacation Bible School as Director! What a ride that was! My friend Noah came and played Jesus for me. How nice!

I ran (biked and swam) my very first triathlon! It was tough, but a wonderful accomplishment.

Taste of Fort Collins with Cortney! I love that festival!

I led my very first mission trip! And as we all know, my grandpa died while I was there, but everyone I was with was so great and kept me smiling. 

While in Seattle, I ran my very first 5 mile trail run. Hard, but very therapeutic. 

Came home from Seattle and got violently ill. 

Saw Andy Grammer twice in one day. One to take (and surprise!) the munchkin and then once with Kelly!
Grandpa's memorial service. A hard day but good to be surrounded by my amazing family and friends to celebrate one of the best guys that ever lived. 

I BECAME AN AUNT!!!! Best day ever!

I took an ENTIRE week off of work to go to California for a little R&R and to meet my niece. Love at first sight!

It was a great trip but towards the end I just wasn't myself. My brother had asked me about it but I just chalked it up to being tired but even I knew that was a lie. I just didn't know what was going on 

Upon returning home i started having a number of health issues. I finally decided to go to the doctor and see what was going on and that was when I got the lovely diagnosis...

Depression. And to counseling I went...

My OTHER favorite DJ ALSO left the radio station. *Sigh* Things still aren't the same without those two guys. But in true Jessica fashion, I brought him some snickerdoodle cupcakes on his last day. 

I was offered a position as school age coordinator which was awesome. I accepted and love being back with the kids I had when they were in my pre-k class. 


Pretty uneventful month. I went on antidepressants. 

I saw Andy Grammer for the 10th time and sneaked this selfie with him. :) 

I also got to meet Trista and Ryan from The Bachelorette so that was pretty cool! 

My counselor recommended I put together a memory book of my grandpa so I took a trip to my grandma's and we spent the weekend going through pictures. We also skyped with my brother and niece and that was fun! 

I ran the Homecoming 5k, despite wanting to be anywhere else and it ended up being a ROUGH day. But I did it! 

Veteran's Day in Grandpa's place 

My 22 day work streak. I wouldn't recommend doing that. 

Christmas with my awesome family!!! And I got to play with my favorite niece! 

2014 wasn't ALL bad, but a lot of it was really tough. You can find good in any good situation though. It was definitely a year of growth for me. I'd rather not grow in 2015 though, so I'm hoping for a good, happy, healthy year and the chance to get back to being myself. 

So, join me and my niece in saying "GOODBYE 2014!!!!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Share Your Expertise: Depression Edition

It's my second year of doing Elf4Health! I just love the 4 weeks of this program. So many great challenges, so many uplifting people and this year I have made some pretty awesome new elf friends. Social media is such a great thing! If you remember, last year for the "Share your expertise" challenge, I wrote a blog about teaching, getting healthy, believing in yourself, going to the gym, surviving and thriving, and pretzels and hip hop.

Almost the entire time I've been doing this challenge I've thought about what I should write about since I covered so much last year. And then I thought how my life has changed in the last year. I'm in such a different place this year so here we go.... Elf 4 Health's Share Your Expertise: Depression Edition

For those of you just joining, 2014 has been awful (to say the least) for me. I started off the year dealing with the death of a friend and it really was just one bad thing after another. In June, my grandpa died and that was really just the straw that broke the camel's back. In August I was diagnosed with depression (I went to the doctor for some health issues I was convinced were cancer or something else terminal). I've blogged through it so if you are really interested just read back a few months. :)

Part 1: How to Deal With Grief and Depression
When things in life take a turn and you are faced with grief and/or depression it is so important to take care of you. Taking extra time to sleep will help you get through it. When your energy is low, it is important to ask others for help. One thing that really helped me was that when I did have energy, I would go grocery shopping and stock up on foods that were easy to prepare, otherwise in those low moments I just wouldn't eat. I created "Self Care Saturdays" where I just did what I needed to. Most of the time that consisted of laying on the couch all day in my sweats. Other times it meant going shopping or having lunch with a friend.

Another very important thing is to find those people who you can talk to and be around. Not everyone will understand what you are going through, so find those who do and who can support you. Find someone who you can call, even in the middle of the night, and keep their phone number handy.

Go get the book Life After Loss by Bob Deits. Such a phenomenal book that can help you!

Seek counseling. Finding someone you can talk to is going to be so helpful. Also look into GriefShare.

If you doctor wants to put you on anti-depressants.... GO ON THEM! I was very hesitant to take this step. I was scared I would become numb, but there are so many different medications out there that they can start you off at a very low dosage and switch prescriptions if one doesn't work the way you want it to.

Cry. Let it out. Feel. Don't shove those feelings down. When you keep them in, you keep those sad feelings in. You want to get them out. Start to journal about your feelings. Sometimes when you journal feelings come out that you didn't even know you had. This is good!

SPEAK UP!!!!! Being vocal about my struggles brought so much more support than I ever would have imagined. Share your story with others.

Part 2: How to Help Someone Going Through Depression
Maybe I should title this part "What's Not Helpful" as here are some things NOT to say to your loved one dealing with depression.
*You don't seem sad.
*Just cheer up!
*You're not going to commit suicide, are you?
*Everyone goes through this. You just need to figure it out.
*You should be over it by now
*Just smile
*Why are you depressed?

Here are some things that are GOOD things to say to someone who is going through depression.
*I love you
*I care
*You're not alone in this
*I'm not going to leave you
*Do you want a hug?
*I'm sorry you're in pain
*You are important to me

Being there for someone going through depression is quite simple actually. Just BE THERE. Acknowledge what they are going through. Understand that their energy might be low. Meet them for low-key things. Help them cook or do basic household chores or even cook a healthy meal for them. Don't ignore them. When they tell you they are sad, don't ask why. Ask them questions (about what they are going through or the loved one they lost if that is the case). Help them keep clutter at bay.  Get them outside. Ask them to help you understand what they are feeling. Encourage them to focus on self care. Hug them. Laugh with them. Reassure them that you can handle their feelings. Challenge them to their destructive thoughts. Remind them why you love them.

This is best summed up in a letter....

 My dear friends,
I have experienced a loss that is devastating to me. It will take time, perhaps years, for me to work through the grief I feel because of this loss.
I will cry more than usual for some time. My tears are not a sign of weakness or a lack of hope or faith. They are the symbols of the depth of my loss and the sign that I am recovering.
I may become angry without seeming to have a reason for it. My emotions are heightened by the stress of grief. Please be forgiving if I seem irrational at times.
I need your understanding and your presence more than anything else. If you don't know what to say, just touch me or give me a hug to let me know you care. Please don't wait for me to call you. I am often too tired to even think of reaching out for the help I need.
Don't allow me to withdraw from you. I need you more than ever during the next year.
Pray for me only if your prayer is not an order for me to make you feel better. My faith does not excuse me from the grief process.
If you have had an experience of loss that seems anything like mine, please share it with me. You will not make me feel worse.
This loss is the worst thing that could happen to me. But I will get through it and I will live again. I will not always feel as I do now. I will laugh again.
Thank you for caring about me. Your concern is a gift I treasure.
Sincerely, Jessica

Depression is an awful awful thing and I would never wish it on anyone. But, the good news is that there are SO MANY resources out there to help get you through it. And with a good support group around you, you can get through it.

To Better Days

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The First of the Firsts

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving.

My life had gotten so busy that Thanksgiving kind of sneaked up on me. And the week before it I realized this was the first of the firsts. The first big holiday without Grandpa. And I started to panic. The last 5 years or so we have been spending Thanksgiving with my grandparents. Prior to that we always spent it with my dad's side of the family and a lot of the time, my grandparents would come join us.

I'm CONSTANTLY looking into the past. I discovered that AOL doesn't delete any e-mail, so rather than working one day, I started going through old e-mails from my Grandpa.

It's weird how just the mundane things that you don't even realize are traditions become the things that you really miss and wish you could do again. 

The Friday before Thanksgiving I came down with the stomach flu and called in sick to work for the 2nd time in my life. I actually was still going to try to go to work until I vomited my brains out (TMI? sorry) and then collapsed in my bathroom. 3 days in bed gave me lots of time to catch up on sleep, but once I was feeling better and it was just days before Thanksgiving I really started to worry. I wasn't sure how I was going to react to the first Thanksgiving without Grandpa. It was one of his favorites. He loved to eat, I loved to make food for him, we loved to spend time together and then spend time lounging in the TV room. This year it wouldn't be at his house so I guess that was different. I also learned that my cousin, his wife and 3 sons would be there as well. And I started to worry about what if I couldn't keep my emotions in check. What if I started crying in front of everyone? What if I just couldn't handle it?

I HATE to cry. Even more, I HATE to cry in front of other people. Very few people have seen me cry. In fact, my counselor has only seen it once and it was at the very end of a session, right before I made a quick escape. I don't know why I'm like this. I just am. And it's funny because I was so paranoid about crying in front of my family. I say funny because as a young child I had the reputation of ALWAYS crying at family functions. Being the youngest and only girl, I was always getting left out and therefore crying. Maybe that's why I have this aversion to crying in front of family. At any rate, I was nervous. I voiced these concerns to my counselor and we talked about "worst case scenario" vs "best case scenario" and decided that even if I was a hot mess (worst case scenario) my family would probably understand, I could excuse myself to another room, etc. 

Thanksgiving Eve came and I started to get pretty sad. I was feeling better by then and I think everything was starting to set in. Thursday morning, I got up and got ready but it seemed like everything was going in slow motion. I drove down to Aurora to pick up my dad and was quiet the whole way there (usually I sing in my car like it's my own personal stage) and the car ride to my aunt's house was silent. We got to my aunt's house and I was quiet and awkward. It's hard to explain. I guess I just didn't know what to say to people. Maybe I thought that there was a stigma attached to me, since I've been so open about my depression and struggles. 

Right before dinner, there was a conversation about who would do the prayer. With my grandpa being the resident Reverend, he always offered the prayer. None of the kids wanted to do it, my mom tried to get me to do it (calling me Rev Jess) but I didn't want to, having just done that Veteran's Day thing so we had her do it. We circled up and my mom led us in prayer and talked about how Grandpa was in the circle with us. 

Before we ate, my aunt had us perform a ritual. She brought out mini muffin cups that were each filled with stuffing. She said how Grandpa's favorite part of the meal was stuffing and so we were all having "stuffing shots" as our first bite in memory of him. (If I had known we were doing that, I would have taken pictures of them. Sorry friends haha) This made me happy... and made me smile because stuffing is MY favorite part too! 

Dinner went fine. I had a good time with my family and then after dinner we watched football and laughed a little bit. 

I survived. I didn't cry, but the whole day did seem to go in slow motion. And I just didn't really know how to act. I didn't know what to say. But I didn't cry. 

I imagine Christmas will be similar. I imagine the next year is going to be similar. I only hope it gets better. 

As Christmas approaches, people keep asking me what I want for Christmas. And I can't think of anything because there is only one thing I want and I can't have it. (Bargaining phase of grief) So if you have any suggestions of what I should put on my list or how to deal with that, they would be greatly appreciated. 

December is an INSANE month for me (I'm working 95 hours this WEEK) and I know it's going to be a struggle to maintain balance... Finding time to take care of me while still getting all my shopping and work finished. And finding time to reach out and be social. I'll just have to prioritize and keep on top of everything. 

To better days

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Filling In For Grandpa

Happy Veteran's Day. A little background. For years (we think about 30 or so?) my grandpa has helped with the Veteran's Day Service at the Veterans Home in Florence. My family has always gone to it, though I could never take time off work to go. :( This year I decided I needed to take time off to be with my family and go to the service.

A few weeks ago my Aunt Laura called me and told me that she had contacted the Veteran's Home and asked if someone from the family could step in for my grandpa and that she wanted to ask me to do it. I thought about it and decided to do it.

So my task was this: To write and give the invocation, help read names of the veterans who had passed in the last year, and also write and give the benediction. I was nervous but hoped my grandpa would help guide me.

I had kind of formed a few things in my head, but hadn't really written it and decided the perfect place to do that would be my grandpa's desk (where I am sitting now actually). I got it written, spent some time with my family and had a nice little break from life.
Working at Grandpa's desk
I got up and got ready this morning and with each minute that got closer to the service, the more nervous I got. So many people have said nothing but wonderful things about my grandpa, but also that I had some big shoes to fill and that added to my nerves. 

We got the Veteran's Home, I got everything in order and sat down. Music was playing. In fact the first song that was playing when we got there was "My Way" by Frank Sinatra. Thanks for the sign Grandpa. 

As I sat in my chair I started thinking. I kept seeing his name in the program and praying that he would be with me and my eyes started to well up with tears. I told myself to be strong but my emotions would have none of that and the tears began to fall. I managed to stop crying by the time the service started, but my voice was still shaky during my Invocation. 

I also got to go up there and read the names of those who had passed within the last year and got to say my grandpa's name. 
There was a balloon release that my grandma, mom and aunts participated in. Grandpa's balloon got caught and wouldn't fly away at first. He still doesn't want to go. 

Right before my benediction, the director announced to the group who I was, who my grandpa was and a little bit about our relationship. 

As scary as it was and as much as I would have given anything to have him be there to take his role, I feel honored and blessed to have been able to take his place. 

To my favorite Veteran, I miss you and love you and thank you for setting such an amazing example to our family. Each day I will strive to live up to your legacy. 

I love my family

Thank you to all who made this possible, who supported and encouraged me. I'm sure this will be helpful in my healing. 

To better days

Thursday, October 23, 2014

One Step Forward.... Two Steps Back

I thought I was making good progress and then this week happened.

My last counseling session, we talked about how social I'd been (which wasn't very). I kind of quit reaching out to people for a little bit. Part of that is probably because it was no longer my "homework". So when she asked I had said that I hadn't been very social, but I had a very social weekend coming up that would make up for that. Even in my counseling session I'd said I was a little nervous for the weekend and thought I might be trying to do too much. That should have been my first clue.

Friday evening, I drove down to Denver for a friend's birthday party. We had a good time laughing and what-not. Still, my social anxiety seemed to be acting up a little bit.
I <3 him

I only stayed a few hours because I had to get back home and get to bed since I was running the Homecoming 5k in the morning. The race started at 8, and I set my alarm for 7... which may not have been enough time. 

When my alarm went off I wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep. I was not in the best of moods, but I told myself I had to get up and do the race. So I got up, put on my running clothes, ate my breakfast and headed out the door. I parked at 7:45, had to go get my race packet, put on my bib and take my other things back to the car. I was exhausted and grumpy. And remember that social anxiety thing? Yea, there were over 2,000 people there. 
The run itself was tough. It was nice to be able to run through the campus of my alma mater, but it was TOUGH. I had intended on making a playlist specifically for this run and never got around to it, so I just had my music on shuffle which turned out to be nice because I heard this line:

You wanna raise your voice
Don't be scared to breathe
Don't be afraid to hurt
Don't be ashamed to need

And that really stuck out to me. I heard this during the last mile. The last 2 lines are totally me. If you've followed me from the beginning of this journey you know how much I put up a front so people don't see me hurting and I don't ask for help. I know I need to change this. 
This was definitely my worst race. My time was the slowest I think I've ever done. I was in a bad mood, tired, and just not in it. HOWEVER... I did run the whole thing. And I got to see some really pretty Colorado Fall scenery. 

I was mostly annoyed by the number of people just STANDING at the finish line. Luckily no one got the brunt of my anger. After the race I went home and crawled back in bed. I was excited for my 2 hour nap....


So that annoyed me. I finally got up and showered and got ready for the football game, ran a couple errands and then went to meet everyone to tailgate. Going into it, I still wasn't feeling very social and I probably should have listened to myself when I felt that and I should just have stayed home. But I told myself that I had to go. 

I was still tired, weak and not feeling very social so the majority of the tailgate I sat in a chair and tried to relax. The game was a great one. I'm not very smart though and was in flip flops and a light jacket. And once that sun went down, boy, it was cold. (And I'm cold all the time)

Just before halftime, I got this from my brother:
"I bought this record today, in honor of grandpa. :)"
And I started to tear up. I wanted to go home, but introvert, awkward Jessica didn't know how to do that. I need to work on letting myself cry when it comes and I almost did, and then someone I was with turned around and looked at me and rather than explain what was happening I quickly shut those feelings down. 

I ended up staying for the whole game and we won in the last 4 seconds. YAY!!!! The second I got in my car, I started sneezing uncontrollably. Uh oh.... 

I had another early morning on Sunday having to go down to work. The day itself was fine. As I was getting packages ready to be mailed off to our college students, one of the members of our congregation sat in my office and talked to me. I was able to tell her about what I was going through and we had a very nice talk. It made me feel better. 

Since the sneezing fit Saturday night, I've come down with a bit of a cold. I sneeze a ton every morning when I first wake up and my energy is even lower than it already was. Awesome. I think I just overdid it this last weekend. I've had so much work to do and no motivation to do it. 

Tuesday morning I woke up and it was Cassandra's birthday. That was a hard day. They say the first year can be the hardest because it's the first of EVERYTHING without the person you lost. And so, it was the first birthday. Like so many other people, I wrote a message to her on Facebook and as I was writing it, my eyes welled up with tears and when that happens I just want to stay in bed and cry, but I had to get to work. It was just a tough day all around, not to mention the night before I'd had a dream that I was being chased by a murderer boyfriend so I didn't sleep very well. 
Tuesday night I had a very nice chat with one of my friends. It was refreshing to be so open and candid with her and talk about our love for fitness and food. It made me feel like I was ready to get back to that part of my life. 

I was starting to feel a little bit better yesterday morning. I got up and actually started doing some work... until my computer decided to lose what I was working on and all my motivation went out the window. We hadn't gotten the mail in a while, so right before leaving for work I walked to the mailbox to get the mail. 

Among other things, I got a card from my aunt....
And cue the tears. By the time I got to work, I was definitely not in the best of moods and again... just wanted to be in my bed where I could cry freely. 

Still not feeling great and now with this, I still managed to go to hip hop last night. 20 minutes in I was exhausted. The next 40 minutes were rough. I had moments of energy, but it didn't seem to last long. I did manage to push through the entire hour but I was exhausted. Physically, emotionally. Just exhausted. 

On my way home I heard a song that really resonated with me...

This has most definitely been one of my weakest days. (or weeks really...) but I have to hope that it's all making me stronger. 

Luckily I got most of my work finished last night (and moved a bunch of furniture since my carpets are being cleaned today) and was able to sleep in this morning. Luckily I have counseling this evening after work. 

I am very much looking forward to Saturday. I think we'll go back to my usual "self care Saturday" and spend most of it on the couch or in bed and probably also work on my memory book a little bit. From now on, I will not try to do too much, especially when I know it's a bad idea. Lesson learned. 

To better days

Sunday, October 12, 2014

30 Years of Pictures

I haven't blogged in a while.  I decided to go on meds. I started the Celexa at a very low dosage (10 mg) and felt a little better, though I was experiencing some pretty intense headaches. Around the same time, I also cut my hours a little bit at work which seemed to help. The mornings have been the hardest part for me. I went back to my doctor to evalaute the meds and we ended up changing to Zoloft and increased the dosage a little. I've only been on them for a few days but I haven't experienced any headaches or any other wacky side effects so that's good.

I've been starting to function better too, for the most part. I'm trying to be social as much as I can as well as honor what my body needs to get through this. What that means is that some Saturdays I spend all day in bed. It's not something I like to do, but I guess it's what I need. That's what I'm most looking forward to getting through. I want my energy back. I try really hard to focus on self care and even deemed Saturdays "Self Care Saturday". :) I'm trying to exercise and eat better, though the exercise is still not the greatest. I am in the middle of a 21 day get fit challenge. Each day I have to check in and report what I eat and do for exercise so at least that's helpful for some accountability and my eating is definitely better right now. My counselor said she is really proud of how I'm trying to function and honor what I need to get through this grief.

For the past month I've been meaning to get down to my grandma's to go through pictures with her but something has come up almost every weekend until this one. So I called her and asked if I could come down. I was excited for it, but a part of me was a little nervous. It was the first time I'd been back since the memorial service.

I got there Friday evening at 9:00 and we sat in the den and talked for a little bit. She had her handyman get a box of pictures down, but she got my birth year wrong and they were pictures from the 70s and of my mom and aunts when they were in school. Grandma and I went through the box of pictures, she told me stories of them and it dawned on me how amazing her memory is. She could tell me what year they moved to what town and all the details. It was amazing. When we were finished, we looked up and it was midnight! We decided it was time for bed and off we went.

I awoke Saturday morning around 9:30. I had thought about going for a run, but it was cold outside and I had a headache. Usually my mornings I spend a long time in bed before I get up, but I forced myself out of bed. We sat down and had breakfast and chatted for a bit. She was doing some work around the house and I ended up going on a bit of a wander around the house looking at some of Grandpa's things and thinking.

This is the last Father's Day card I sent him. It is still sitting on the shelf where the cards sit. I believe it's the only card up there. That struck me as pretty cool.
Just under the card is the flag my grandma got in the frame the grandkids gave her. She told me how happy she was when she got it because she had been looking for something to put the flag in. I really like the placement for it. It's also in the room where he died. It's hard for me to go in there still. Sometimes I'll go in there and just look at where his bed was.

This was in the guest room where I was staying. Grandpa always always always had a comb in his pocket (and a pen!) and later Grandma told me that she has found more combs and toothpicks around the house than she could count. It made me laugh and think that he's probably laughing from Heaven at her finding all the reminders of him like combs and toothpicks everyhwere. :)

I sat down in his chair and started watching some tv. I turned on the University of Georgia game. He loved his bulldogs. Since I was out of town when he died, I've had a hard time really accepting it. I told myself that once I went there and didn't see him sitting in his chair, it would really set in. That has yet to happen. In the book my counselor gave me, it says to focus on saying "he's dead" versus "he's gone" or "he passed away". Acceptance is definitely a part of grief that I'm not through yet. I sat in the chair and started to tear up and I thought maybe it might be too soon to be there and face everything. I was trying to make myself stop crying when my grandma came in and said we should probably get to work. So we got a box of pictures and headed out to the dining room table.... Where we sat for the next 8 hours.

We took a 2 hour break to skype with my brother, sister-in-law and niece and to eat lunch, but other than that we were working hard. After lunch I was pretty tired of going through pictures and really could have stopped, but Grandma seemed to be on a roll so we continued on until 8:00 that night. I came away with some really great pictures. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Grandpa and I walking hand-in-hand. I imagine when I die, this is how I'll get to Heaven.

How precious is this?! I love it so much.

This was taken the day I was born. <3

I'm excited to get the pictures in my memory book but I know it's going to be quite the process and be pretty emotional. But it's necessary and in the end I'll have the final product that I can look at years down the road.

After we went through all the pictures and ate a little dinner, we went back into the den and pulled out an old home movie from our family reunion in 1991. Grandpa was narrating it and it made me really miss hearing his voice.
7 year old Jessica is so funny
At one point, Grandma came and got me and told me she had laid out all his cross necklaces and wanted me to go through them and see which ones I wanted. 

There were some really great ones. I ended up taking 2. It's funny because recently I was wanting a new cross necklace, wondering about any crosses he may have had that I could make into something wearable. But I'd told no one about that. 

I wore the cross and flame one to work today and was so proud when people asked me where it was from and I got to say "It was my grandpa's!" and it made me feel like he was really with me today. 

I had a few whacked out dreams while I was there. The first night it was that my cousins and I were at the dining room table and one of them had a dandelion and was blowing it right as Grandpa was walking by and we were talking about how mad he was going to get, and he just looked at us and kept walking and never got mad. 

The next night it had something to do with the nativity in this picture.  But I don't remember exactly what it was.
Wasn't my brother the cutest???
Today I am exhausted. I don't know if it's because I didn't get much sleep last night or from all the emotions or what. I came home from work and took a 2 hour nap and honestly could have slept until tomorrow if I allowed myself to. I think it was really good for me to go there and have the weekend with just Grandma and me, even if it wasn't super easy and now I'm kind of an emotional wreck. You have to go through it, right??? I guess I'll just keep trucking along and try to deal with this grief as it comes. 

To better days....