Friday, March 17, 2006

I have no idea why this post talks about Sesame Street!

Today's post is being brought to you by the letter, W, and by the number 12. Remember watching Sesame Street (for some of you it was as a kid...for some of you it was a mere 20 minutes ago) and having this at the end of each show? Well, the "W" here stands for Wow...and the number 12 stands for the number of comments I was just starting to get used to seeing around here.
I say wow, because I've gotten a lot of emails and comments of support in the last couple of days- some from total strangers. I don't mean that you're "strange"; I'm simply implying that we've never met or been formally introduced. So, to every one of you, "Thank you". I appreciate that you feel such empathy for me. I find it somewhat surprising that after all these years my story still has a way of touching people in such a meaningful way. I think a lot of that has to do with who Teagan was to me in my life.
If you had spent any time with her at all you would know exactly what I am talking about. I looked back today at an email I had sent out to my family and friends 4 years ago as the first birthday of Teagan's approached in which we would be celebrating it without her. In this email I listed several things that reminded me of Teagan or specific things that she loved, that I hoped other people would do to honor Teagan's memory. They were things like, buy some purple balloons and let your kids send them up to Heaven to Teagan, rent and watch the movie 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' was the first one Teagan saw in the theatre and she loved it so much she stood up and clapped at the end of it (she was only 3!), buy and listen to the 'The Playground' CD by Tony Bennet or Kenny Loggin's 'More Songs from Pooh Corner'...Teagan loved to sing and dance to these. Those were just some of the ideas off my list.
When I look back and see how I was coping with my loss at that time, I am somewhat amazed myself that I was able to process and react to my situation as I did. I've had so many life experiences since then- I've watched other people around me deal with grief and hurt and pain in life. We all do it differently, and I'm not sure that everyone can relate to how I've been able to come to this point in my life.
I will tell you that St. Patrick's Day makes me think of my Grandma. She is and has been one of the biggest influences in my life, thus far. She claims to be 100% Irish- and we had big Irish dinners every year at her house for years when I grew up. I heard she was pulling off this same meal again this year- including Irish soda bread and potatoes with cabbage that you pour melted butter over. Mmmm. I'm getting hungry just strolling down memory lane!
Back to my story... if you met my Grandma Shirley you would be immediately drawn to her. She has a wonderful sense of humor, a zest for life, and a story of her own. The version she has told to groups of women and churches over the years is too long to share here- so I'll just highlight the main points.
She was left in a hospital by a teenage mother in South Dakota. After 3 months, she was adopted by her parents in Minnesota where she has lived her whole life. There was an explosion and fire in her home which burned her husband and killed her 6 year old son in the 1950's. Her husband was a guinea pig for 2 years of burn treatments at the University of MN hospital- as he had received third-degree burns over much of his body. Three weeks after getting out of the hospital (where he had been for 2 YEARS) my Grandma was driving the family to a birthday party for the afternoon and the car had carbon monoxide poisoning- which put everyone inside of the car to sleep. She hit a guardrail and the car crashed- the impact killed my grandpa and then my grandma spent 7 months in the hospital with broken knees and injuries. I am not making any of this up- I promise you!
Some years later she married and that husband was the grandpa I grew up with and loved with all my heart. He died in 1988 of grandma has been alone since then. But despite the hardships of her life (and remember, I just wrote the condensed version), she was my "funny Grandma". You know how Grandmas are all different?! Well she was the one who always had a silly prank to pull, or a funny story to tell, or a sarcastic way of looking at the "bad stuff in life". I think of all the times I heard these stories, or watched her live out the bad stuff of her life. I guess I didn't know it at the time, but I was tucking all that away to use later (which is now) in my own life.
I had the chance to spend some time with her in Minnesota a few months ago. She has health issues- but she still talks and reminisces and shares her life very candidly. She has given me much encouragment through my trials the past few years- and has constantly prayed for me and offered support. I thought a lot about what it was in her that I will remember most when she is gone. I came up with this statement- which I shared with her during our last visit. I told her, "Grandma, you have had a life of hardships and tragedy... and what I admire most about you is how you walked through this life. You made the suffering look easy."
She was humbled by that- but I told her it was so true. I know she has a strong faith in God and He was the One who helped her along her journey. I have felt the same comfort and peace that He gives in my own life. But, I think it was her example to me that life will throw you some curve balls, and you can let it bring you down or use it to grow and learn.
This St. Patrick's day and night before Teagan's birthday, I hope that I can be my grandma to someone else in their life. I know some of you think I am some sort of superhero (right? at least one or two of you out there, right?....just say so in your comments to me), but I'm really just a person responding to the life I've been given and it just so happens I grew up with one of the greatest role models ever. And then I was given Teagan- and I sometimes think she was truly an angel sent to me by God to redirect my life- and to teach me more than I could ever have imagined.
There you have it. My longest post yet. I just hope that I can be a small source of inspiration- however you might need it in your life. I don't wish my life on any of you- but I do hope that you can learn from it. And I hope someday to be the Grandma who has mattered in someone else's life.


Emily said...

Jody~ I think I tell you this in every comment I leave, but you are truly one of the most inspirational people I've ever met. And yes, I think you are some sort of superhero. Especially when I have a day like I had today where I felt totally stressed, inadequate as a wife and mother, and basically like nothing is going "right" in my life right now. But then I stop and think about the things you've been through and the amazing amount of strength and faith you still have. It makes me see that the things I'm dealing with are actually quite trivial, but the way I react to them make them seem a whole lot worse. I know things have been a bit more hectic these past few days around here, and I'm feeling really drained and overwhelmed. But you've reinforced the whole "count your blessings" and "relax/live a balanced life" aspect that I'm always in search of. (I think that makes sense...)Anyway, I know this is getting to be a long comment, but I just want to let you know that if I felt like half the woman you are, I'd be pretty darn pleased!~Emily

renee said...

Renee's new daily To-Do List:
-drink strong hot coffee
-kiss my boys
-read Jodi's blog
-kiss boys again

Jodi...I truly believe God is working his magic with you through Teagan. And having you share that with a cluster of faceless cyber friends is just about the most beautiful thing ever.
Please know that you are touching lives repeatedly with your honesty & warmth. I so wish we both lived in Minnesota again because I'd love to go to Caribou and have a heart to heart with you!
I will be thinking of you all day tomorrow and hoping Teagan sends you waves of love from heaven.
love, renee

Michelle said...

I am another who thinks you are a superhero and I imagine those who know you would make the same statement to you that you made to your amazing grandmother. When I read your blog entires, all I can think is WOW! You have such a way with words in the way that you share the "nitty gritty" with us. You always state that you are just living your life with what you have been dealt, but you are doing so much more than that. As you heal, you are helping so many moms keep things in perspective and be the best we can be. I have no doubt that you will be the grandma, friend or "blogger" who has mattered in someone else's life..actually MANY peoples lives!
In honor of you & Teagen I plan to put everything aside this weekend & really enjoy my kids & be present for with them, give them cookies & not lose my patience. You and your family will be in my thoughts.

Valerie said...

sending you lots of hugs, prayers, love & purple balloons....

suburban mom said...

Yes, this post inspired me. It touched me. Thank you.

laura t. said...

have in recent years tuned into an inner voice telling me to celebrate more of the not get bogged down by the nonsense of "orderliness"...but to pursue and embrace joy. Thank you for the reminder...will create a little more joy tomorrow in honor of Teagan's birthday.

Julie said...

Hey Jody, I decided to post here because, I want to everyone to know that are an amazing person not just here but in person as well. You are the most "real" person I know. You say what you mean and live what you say and I think you are great! My thoughts and prayers will be with you tomorrow and I will sing Happy Birthday to Teagan tomorrow even if it means funny looks from My husband. I feel completely blessed to beable to know and look forward to getting to know you more!
Love Ya,

mommygoingcrazy said...

Jody, I have been thinking so much about you the last few days! I wise someday to just give you a hug, because of all the times you have touched me I feel like you are a friend for life. I too have lost a dear person in my life that her birthday was today. I have cried for two days now, and reading about your strength has really helped me. Thank you and thank you again! You are an awesome person. If you are ever in Salt Lake City, remember that you have a friend here that thinks about you and looks to your for strength!

stephanie said...

I was so happy to see your post! thanks for visiting...You inspire me more than you know, and I dont even know you, except, now I do!
Sorry for the S.O.S e-mail yesterday, but I just knew that you needed to connect with her..anyhow, my son Benjamins birthday party is Sunday(he will be 7 on the 23rd)and I got these cute litte candles that are individual letters that spell out "Happy Birthday "and I want you to know that in honor of your little angel, when I light the "T" candle, I will light it in honor of Teagan...have a great day Jody...I am so happy that we have connected! Hope you visit my blog again soon!

ash said...

i would be one of the strangers:)I was telling my husband about your story last night at dinner and how amazing it is to me that through all this greif and pain your priority was to convey the love and grace that our Heavenly Father has to offer. He was blown away. We both decided that we would hope that would be our reaction. But I dont know. God has made you quite a mighty warrior through this. That paints a funny picture, but how else do you describe someone who has been through what you have and still puts thelove of God above all. I must say I agree with renee, my new routine is kiss my kiddos(all4 of them)and then read your blog. You bring things back into perspective...where they need to be for the here and now. Sorry this is so long:) Have an awesome weekend, your in my prayers

Portia said...

SUPERHERO! Oh, yes you are definitely a SUPERHERO! I absolutely LOVE your blog. I can't quite remember how I came across it. Your words, your feelings, your real life-- it's all so inspiring and really does put things into perspective.

I can not fathom your loss, but I do know the pain of unexpected loss. My father was killed in an automobile accident when I was 10. We will never know what really happened in that accident. I grieve everyday and yet try to celebrate and hold onto the memories.

On July 4th we will celebrate his 54th birthday with the usual 4th of July party. As I watch the fireworks, I always feel him so close to me. July 6, 2006 marks 18 years without my daddy.

When I read what you write it makes me feel like I'm not alone. What you write reminds that life goes on and to cherish it each and every day. I hold my boys a little closer and remind them of their "Grandpa Dave" who someday they will hug in heaven. Some days I look into my sons eyes and I want to cry because I want my dad here to see what I see. You remind that he is here-- even if we can't "see" him.

Today I'm taking my 3 year old to a birthday party of a little boy we hardly know-- but as we celebrate, I will think of your little Teagan and the angel we all know that she is. Bless you-- and your beautiful family!

Thank you Jody for your Nitty. Gritty. There are so many of us who need this-- each and every day.

Suezi said...

I love all the nostalgia. it makes me think of when times were just easy!! you know...just a kid looking for a really great day.
I went back and read your december archive. just beautiful!!!! adorable teagan. i love that you let her have reddi whip! I went and "breathed" in my kids right after reading your blog. I am new at this blog thing. my friend stephanie got me into it. i love that we can connect with people everywhere and not really kow them but it sure seems like we do. does that make sense??? i love your starbucks cup and t-shirts. awesome!!
I will come back and visit soon and look forward to stepping back in time with you.
ciao bella~

Anonymous said...

Your grandma sounds like a wonderful person...and an inspiration that we'd all hope to be like. You know, everyone in this life have 'something'...I've said that before. We don't get out of life without having trials (some are worse than others). God just wants our total devotion to him in spite of it all. It's a mystery to me...all of it. Why, if he knew that we'd mess up that he'd create us and all that goes into that story. But the gist of it is as I devotion! We're given a life then given some guidelines on how to do it but because we're in a 'fallen world' all the junk will come. People like your family give a bit of inspiration and hope to the mix. That 'yes' we can get through it all when we put things in their very proper perspective.
The neat thing with this story is despite all the pain here and loss's temporary. There will be joy later on and that's where the hope lies! If I can't meet you here..then I will at the banquet! :-)