Letters to Dad...11 years

Dad,

I thought about you today, and for a moment looked at the phone to call you.  I wanted to tell you what I was struggling with right now.  I knew you'd have the right words to say.  And that you'd end them with "but do whatever you want, you are going to anyway."  But at least I wanted to hear what you had to say.  I was mad for a minute dad.  When I realized there would be no answer on the other side of the phone I felt mad.  I'm mad you are gone.  But mostly behind that mad is really really sad.  And missing.  Because sometimes dad.  I'm lonely.  And sometimes dad, I feel really lost.  And you always made me feel like I was home.  It's been a long time since I felt that. 

I wonder if you are playing music. Playing your violin, viola, or the flute.  If you watch me make mistake after mistake.  I make so many. If you see when I succeed.  I wonder if you are happy, or if you miss us.  Do you feel frustrated for us?  Sad for us? Do you ever wish you were here? In the quiet moments of our struggles here are you behind us, supporting us, lifting us? I look up at the sky and I wonder when I will feel whole again.

Today is 11 years since you left this world behind. 11 years of missing you. It feels more like a lifetime. If I knew the short years I would get to spend with you, there are some things I would have done differently. A lot differently.

I would have stayed home and not moved out as soon as I could when I turned 18. I would have understood that my time with you was short, and that I would have plenty time away from home later. I would have skipped out on all the time I spent away from home thinking friends and boyfriends were more important.

I would have listened to you more when you talked instead of thinking I knew better. I would have asked you more questions about YOU. And cared what your life looked like through your eyes.

I would have given up time with my friends to go on more trips and date nights with you. I would have spent soooo many more days singing with you.

I would have worked harder to make you more proud of me.

I would have taken naps with you under trees and gone on more Sunday drives with you.

I wouldn’t have fought with you that one time. You know when. I would have just stopped my words from coming out. I would have loved you more.

I would have held you longer that last time I hugged you goodbye.

But with all the things I wish had done different dad, there are so many things I’d never change. All those church girls basketball games you came to watch me play. All my dance competitions you hated coming to but still did, and cheered the loudest even if it embarrassed me in a proud way a little bit. All the times you let me dance on your feet and sang “I was waltzing with my darlin”. That time you told me I couldn’t go to that one party. The only time you told me no. Thanks dad. You knew. The time you told me you told the whole office how proud I made you. The times you took me to the university with you after I begged and begged even though I never let you get your work done. All the bags of skittles you bought me and would bring me home from work. All the rides on the lawn mower while you sang me songs. I’m sure I slowed down the work for you. You never said anything about it. The Sunday walks and every time you told me you loved me.

Dad, it’s going to be ok. We will be ok. But we will never stop missing you. Every day.

The secret behind Valentines Day

So every Valentine’s Day growing up I would receive flowers and a treat or stuffed animal from a “secret admirer” delivered to me during class from as young as I can remember. This always made my Valentines super special because I was always so worried I wouldn’t receive anything because I was afraid no one liked me.  It made the day so much better for me and I’d spend the rest of the day looking around wondering who my secret admirer was. Was it the cute boy that sat behind me? Or the blonde boy who never looked at me as we passed in the hall? Or the boy everyone considered a dork but I knew he was sweet? It was exciting to try to guess.

Fast forward to my first year of college. (Yes, I received flowers every year even through my Senior Year of high school) and I didn’t get any Valentines. It was a sad year for me. I was talking to my mom about it and about how much it meant to me that someone liked me enough every year to send me a Valentine.

Pause....

The look on her face was so sheepish I about died. “IT WAS YOU!!!!” All those years you let me believe a boy liked me enough to send me a Valentine?? At first I was a little upset, only pacified by the fact that at least some of the years It was someone other then just my moms valentine I was receiving haha. But then... I got to thinking how much it had always meant to me, and how much trouble my mom must have gone through every year to make sure I had a secret valentine. And then I realized how much she must have really cared about me and making sure I felt loved and cared about growing up, because as adults we all know that our parents are the last ones who’s love means much when we are teens and think we know everything.

So there’s my Valentines story haha. Now I have a Valentine who brings me Black tie mousse cake every year and doesn’t judge me when I shove the whole thing in my face. 😁🤓

I know Valentines is not a happy time for everyone, and some people feel really sad about it. I hope you get a Valentine today, but if you don’t, be like my mom and find someone else to give a secret Valentine to, and make their day. You never know who's life is made better by even a small Valentine letting them know they are thought about.  Let them know they matter and they are loved.

No matter how Valentines Day May look for you....

Excuse me while I go stuff my face with chocolate!! And I hope you are doing the same! Happy Valentines Day!

And while we are at it...Book a couples session with me this month for 20% off :)

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If you can't let it out....

It’s three in the morning and my soul fills stirred, like there is a fire bubbling up inside of me. I take a deep breath and a sob escapes my lips, I put my hand over my mouth and silently cry into my sheets, my body shakes with each silent sob. I pray that my angel dad will wrap his arms around us all and cocoon us in peace. A song he use to sing comes into my mind. I come to the Garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses. And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the son of God discloses, and he walks with me and he talks with me and tells me I am his own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

I hate seeing those I love suffer. I used to see this as a sign of weakness. Crying. A lack of faith. A giving in that the thing I’m sad about can’t be made better. That It wasn’t ok to feel sad and pain because then I’m showing a lack of faith in God’s plan, but I don’t feel that way anymore. In the Bible it says And Jesus wept. He knew all that would transpire, he had an absolute belief in God, he knew those he would bring back to life or create miracles for and still he took the time to mourn with those who mourned and comfort those who needed comfort. Its taken me a long time to know that it’s ok to cry. It’s not a lack of faith that things won’t just be what they are to be. It’s loving, and caring, and standing in a space of caring with those you love. The feeling of sad doesn’t last forever. It makes way for feelings of joy, or anger or a variety of other feelings, but allowing sad is ok too. Allowing yourself to feel, process, and release all emotions is ok.  Difficult emotions are not our enemy, they are a practice in releasing, letting go. When you express these feelings to others for some reason they are uncomfortable with those feelings you express, as I myself have always been. We want to tell them to have more faith or toughen up when others are experiencing feelings of sad or anger or empty. We see it as weak and self pity. We try to fix it.  Rather then just allow it. 

Jennifer Chrisman says “When we fight against emotional pain, we get trapped in it. Difficult emotions become destructive and break down the mind, body, and spirit. Feelings get stuck, frozen in time, and we get stuck in them.

It’s ok to feel those feelings and get them out. Western culture is uncomfortable with this idea of letting emotions out. Let them be uncomfortable. It’s not weakness or a loss of faith that miracles can occur or that all things have order and a plan. It’s standing in a space to say to another... I feel your pain, and I’m here with arms wide open to walk through it with you.

So if you are hurting, in pain, anger, joy, whatever you are feeling, I will stand in that space with you!  I will respect where you are, and support you in going on your journey. You deserve the space to feel what you need to feel.  I support you.

That shaking feeling you get in your chest before it bursts wide open and tears apart.

I went to post my blog posts today and I just couldn't get it done.  This morning on my family text thread we received a text from Jack my brother in law.  "Met with my oncologist this morning.  Besides the blood clot (in his lung), the CT scan showed growth in the abdominal wall cancer.  Also, new small cancer growth in the lungs and nearby lymph nodes.  I will start chemo next week.  I will also stay on blood thinners indefinitely." Jack has had stage 4 liver cancer he has been fighting for 2 years.   And more bloody noses then I'm sure he ever wanted to deal with in his life. The 5 year life expectancy for Stage 4 liver cancer once it spreads to other areas of the body is not good.  3%

We had thought it had been getting a little better.  We were of course hopeful.  There is no real cure for stage 4 liver cancer.  And the survival rate is not good.  But we tend to be a hopeful people and we believe in miracles.  Even after losing our precious Charlie to cancer a year ago, we are still hopeful and believers in miracles.  Some may call us crazy.  That's ok.  We have seen miracles happen before. Just not always the ones we expect or hope for.

Jack has been in my life - my whole life. He married my sister before I was even born.  He has always been a second father to me.  Someone I could go to with the hard questions, and someone who  always had amazing advice and a huge patient heart.  Oh man could he deal with grace during hard conversations.  I went to him in tears more times then I can count growing up, and always left uplifted and with direction.  He is just a part of me, just like my siblings, just like my mom, just like my dad.  I've known them all the same amount of time, fully immersed in my beginning. 

And I can't start crying because I know once it starts it's just not going to stop.  I feel that shaking in my chest.  The tight constriction, the shakiness that begins...right before it opens wide and everything comes out of you in one loud ground shaking sob.  Watching those you love suffer, and hurt, and go through day after day in pain, is so difficult.  

Look.  Jack is not one to act depressed in the open eye, or show much difficulty.  He lives on a lot of Faith and he works hard on staying upbeat.  But I'm pretty sure all this is taking it's toll on him.  He has constant bloody noses and a lot of pain that keeps him up some nights.  I can't even imagine all he goes through.  His life has been a devotion to his family.  He has worked, and even continued when his health is allowing him, to work to support his family.  It's a struggle most days.  Here is a little more about what he is going through and a way to help this wonderful family if you can.  Every little bit helps.  Cancer is expensive.  It takes it's toll in more then one way. https://www.youcaring.com/jack-mason-523566

Love you Jack.  Hang in there.

Personal Post // My favorite family // Shanda Call Photography

It's been crazy this past month.  I pulled my first 1 shoot every day for 30 days month - and to say the least - it was insane.  Fantastic. But insane.  I was so worn out by the end of the month.  Some days having two shoots or more in a day.  I was so blessed by all the beautiful families, wonderful clients, and friends I met and made.