Mix it Up

So last weekend, Memorial Day weekend, I was in New York for several reasons. The first was a bachelorette party, the second was to visit Michael for his first anniversary in heaven and the third, was for a wedding. What a hectic weekend. NY always seems to be hectic when I visit no matter how long or short the visit actually is.

First the bachelorette party. I flew in JFK on Saturday and was supposed to land around 2:00pm and then be in NYC by around 6pm. Well turns out that the Memorial Day airshow (which happens every year at Jones Beach) tied up airspace around JFK and I landed half an hour late. Not bad, except that the beach traffic was horrendous so by the time I got home it was near 4:00pm already! (It should only take 30 minutes to get home). My sister and I got all ready and then went to pick up Carolyn who was also coming to dinner with us but leaving before the rest of the festivities. So by the time we made it to NYC it was almost 7:30pm. Bachelorette party games ensued which involved pinning wacky uh... "fire hoses" to a half-naked fireman. (No, not a real one, just a poster.) Sarah opened up all her racy gifts and we all giggled.

We then went to eat dinner at Pranna which was a bit pricey and the food a bit well different but tasty none the less. After a little chatting in the lounge we headed to Ultra on 26th street where we danced the rest of the evening away and got pictures of Sarah with some sailors! (heeeelllo, fleet week!!!) By the time I got home at 2am, I was wiped. I sat in a very hot bath and finished the book I had started on the plane. Of course, that means I didn't finally fall asleep until 5am. Oops.

Sunday was cemetery and visiting day. Around 1pm Laura and I went with Frankie and Kelly to visit Michael's grave at the cemetery. Most of the time there we recounted memories and dreams and gripes and just laughed. Afterward we headed to see Mike's parents who live nearby. We chatted with Mike's mom and grandmother for a while and then his brother, Matt showed up. Then, two of Mike's good friends, Harris and Nathan pulled up as well, so we stayed a little longer. Then Mike's dad came home from work and by this time, it was a full out mini reunion. I got all the updates on Mike's family (please pray for his great uncle Al) and endured what I thought was going to be never ending flack for not living in New York. I'm sorry, I actually like the South and I'm not coming back to New York. I've been here almost a year so the jokes?... they're starting to get a little old. Get over it and let me be content please.

After that it started raining so Laura, Frankie, Kelly and I went out for dinner at Olive Garden. That was sooooo yummy. Louisiana has LOTS of AMAZING food but I can't find Italian like I used to have it in New York so that filled a spot for me. Again, I ended up staying up late until 4am because I was upset and feeling bothered. One night I'm happy go-lucky, the next I'm down in the pits and upset. At that point I just wanted to get back to Louisiana. However, I had one very important matter to attend to first.

Monday, the day Sarah and Brian tied the knot! (finally) Sarah and Brian's wedding was amazing. It was at Windows on the Lake in Lake Ronkonkoma and they could not have asked for better weather. I even got some sunburn to prove it! The entire ceremony was perfect (it had Sarah written all over it) and the reception and music too. Sarah's hair, dress and makeup complimented each other perfectly. She truly looked beautiful and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I was sitting at a table with her family so at first I was nervous that I was going to be bored or say something stupid, but they are HILARIOUS!!! Such easy people to get along with and by the end of the evening I realized that I really enjoyed myself and even went to attempt and catch the bouquet. (Her sister caught it by the way).

As soon as the wedding was over, I went home and within the hour left for my flight back home. See, the flight was much cheaper the day of the wedding so I grabbed it. The pilot must've floored it (or the equivalent of doing so) because we arrived about 40 minutes early. Very nice.

There's other news floating around that I can't share yet but there is something special that I would like to share with whoever reads this. I've been dating for quite some time again now and at first I wasn't sure if I wanted to make that public. I'm not sure what people will think of me dating again so soon after Michael has passed away. This past weekend however, I witnessed how happy Sarah and Brian were and earlier today, I learned of some more good news. I realized that I want to be able to share that too and openly speak about my special someone. I also realized that just because I am in the process of moving on doesn't mean that I'm forgetting. Besides, I know that Michael would want me to be happy right?

So here is a short rundown. His name is Kristopher and he lives here in Lafayette, LA. He's a wonderful man with a spunky 10 year old daughter coincidentally named Michelle. He knows about Michael and has been my biggest supporter so far. He has helped me realize my feelings and constantly gives me a reality check when I need one. It seems that we get along really well; Kristopher and I seems to have more similarities that work well together.

If you have happy comments send them my way, otherwise please keep any negativity to yourself. I'm over negatives and am only looking for positives in my life. That plus faith in God's will keeps me going. I'm not through it all yet but I'm certainly making my way the best I can. <3


This Past Year I've Learned...

It doesn't get easier but you learn how to cope and how to make the most of it. I've learned to dwell on the happy memories and not the what ifs, could'ves, would'ves, and should'ves. I've learned that I am stronger than I could have possibly imagined. I've realized that without him, I can go on. My life has changed and I still miss him but I know I can let go. I don't expect everyone to understand the change I've made in my life in the past year but I am content and my heart is happy.

I still go through moments where I realize, "wow, last year at this time, you were looking forward to so many things." I thought that because I was happy that everything was just going to just continue going as planned; that I was on the right path but it turns out God had something entirely different planned for me and it's hard to accept that which you cannot see. That's where faith comes in handy.

There were lots of stresses in New York for me. I cannot disclose them here but my closest friends all know what I am talking about. Louisiana has provided me a place to unwind, to think, and to do what I want, feel how I want... for that I am grateful. I still miss New York, certain parts of it, namely my closest friends and the beach but I see living in New York as a different chapter in my life and this past year I've been transitioning to a new one. Not a new life, just a new chapter. (I wish they had Italian ice here though...)

Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of Michael's place in heaven. It's the day life changed for many people including myself. Although I won't be there personally to say hello, I know he's there, watching me and everyone he loves. No pain, no hardship, no suffering. Tomorrow I'll be changing my profiles to something new. My mark of moving on; of letting go of everything that is still there holding me back. It won't be easy but I know it's necessary.

I just want to extend thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way this past year. Weather you know it or not, you've contributed to my healing and helped me along. It goes without saying My Family is number one. If I listed all their names... this post would never be finished. My friends from New York who I don't talk to that often but know they are always there and always thinking of me: Kelly, Frankie, Annemarie (I don't care that you've moved... you're still a "NY" friend) and Annemarie's family (Mommy and Breanna!), Tara, Betty, Carolyn and Lou, Melissa, Harris, Nathan, Izzzzzy, Ruben, Carol, Sarah... if I've missed you I'm sorry but those are the ones that sprung to mind from the top of my head.

To all my Lafayette/Houston friends... thank you too! Whether you knew about my circumstances upon moving or not, you've all made the transition easy and enjoyable. You may not know it but you've all helped quite a bit... Kristopher and his mother, Leah, Blake, Scott, Jon & Erika (and Sake!), Brian and Beka, the guys from CiCi's (the chatroom! ha ha), Kayla... I probably missed more people but that just means I'm blessed to know so many.

*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><*><* Gone but never forgotten and always in our hearts.
We were two to become one but instead are apart.
Although it hurts that you're not here with me,
I know that in heaven you're as happy as can be.
Your smile, your laughter and loving touch,
are the three things I miss so much.
Though it may seem cruel and harsh I know,
I think it's time I start to let you go.
While I wish we could still be together,
I know our memories will be with me forever.

Michael R. Eckhoff



They Say It's (It Was) My Birthday!

Okay, time for the monthly rundown huh? So much is going on this month emotionally with me. There is such a huge mix of feelings and it's hard sometimes to sort through them all.

My 26th birthday was a small fun gathering. It was nothing like last year and I'm coming to realize that it's okay. I was with the people I considered my closest friends down here in Lafayette. I spent the day making my birthday cake and putting the finishing touches on the BMW cake that I made for my friend Blake who turned 25 on the 9th. Then Kristopher, his mom and I met up with Scott, Blake, Blake's friend and Bret at Shinto on Ambassador Caffrey Parkway in Lafayette. We sat in the hibachi section hoping for a fun show. It wasn't too bad but the food was soooo delicious. After we made sure that Kristopher's mom wouldn't faint from lack of O2 (they asked us to move either her or just the tank to the Sushi section because they were afraid it would explode), we sat back and enjoyed the show. Our hibachi chef was pretty entertaining though most of us concluded that we've seen better. Maybe he just wasn't that into it. Kristopher did make sure to embarrass the heck out of me by telling them it was my birthday. (EDIT: It was Blake who informed them of my birthday not Kristopher!) At the end of the meal, they came out banging on a drum and making all sorts of noise, sang Happy Birthday in Japanese (or what they said was Japanese) and presented me with a fruit boat and the opportunity to wear a fun hat. My birthday spoils include a Coach wallet in fushia (from me), a three-candle set with extra candles (from Kristopher's mom), a bonsai sago palm tree (from my sister), a red Coach swingpack (from Marty, Kristopher's cousin), and there are two more bags and a gift from my brother on the way... I can't wait!

After dinner we all went back to the house for cake. If you haven't seen pictures of them in my Facebook albums already, here they are. I kept the BMW cake a total surprise from Blake and I think most of my joy that day was seeing how much Blake loved his gift. He took zillions of pictures of it (which he needs to e-mail me...) before deciding, he just couldn't cut it that night and would eat it tomorrow after showing it off to some more friends. I was fine with that - I don't think I could've watched him cut into it without crying. Better that he cut it somewhere else where I couldn't witness the murder. His cake was chocolate with chocolate icing, mine yellow cake with vanilla icing. Sammy, Chris and Matt showed up in the middle of cake to also hang out for a little bit. It quickly turned into a super WoW conversation and I guess I started to get bored at that point and started thinking too much about my birthday last year.

After everything was over and we went home, I was in a horrible mood. I was just upset that I had somehow lost attention during the celebration and started thinking about the people that I missed who weren't at my birthday. Michael, Kelly, Frankie... I got home and I shed some tears. I just missed being with them for that day so much but at the same time, I knew it was my fault because I had moved. I wanted Michael to be with me so bad. For the last five years he has always celebrated pre-birthdays, birthdays at midnight and all day and post-birthdays with me. He'd always break out into song at midnight and most times came down with an Entemann's cake or cupcake with a candle in it. I missed that and it hit me hard. My birthday was like another holiday that had changed dramatically just because Michael isn't here. All I wanted for my birthday was to remember him and so I tore through my Michael box filled with his previous birthday cards to me and read them all. I cried hard and it felt good.

Following that day things have returned to "normal." I have been thinking about Michael every single day and night. I still haven't been sleeping through the night and whenever I'm awake, I tend to think of Michael -- the morning he died just replays in my head over and over and it makes me sad. I wish I could figure out what my brain is trying to tell me... it's so painful to think of that morning but at the same time, I guess I'm glad I was there every step of the way with him although it wasn't that long at all.

Mother's Day has just passed. Happy Mother's Day to all you mom's out there and expecting moms. It seems like so many people I know are now in the baby stage of their lives. I'm almost a little jealous. Between all the weddings and babies being born this year -- I'm surprised I've been able to keep it together as much as I have been. I'm just so ready to be a wife and a mother and was getting prepared for that with Michael and I hate to say it this way but it's like I have to start that process over. I can't rush into it with just anyone you know, have to be emotionally ready and all that but it seems like I've just taken a giant leap backwards in that part of my life while I watch everyone else go forward. It makes me jealous, I admit it. Last year was the first year that Michael's son, Mikey Jr. had decided that he wanted to make me a mother's day card. Michael didn't put him up to it at all. It was the night before Mother's Day and we had just finished having Mikey write in his Mother's Day card for his grandmother, Penny. He called Michael into his room and asked him, "What about Michelle?" The next morning I was surprised with a hand-drawn Mother's Day card that said, "Dear Michelle, Happy Mother's Day, I love you." Accompanied by drawings of every TMNT weapon, and a copy of Michael's John 3:16 tattoo. I was so touched that at five years old, he understood the relationship we had and would have when Michael and I got married.

Anyhow... no need to be even more sentimental, May is just a hard month for me even though it used to be the best month. The anniversary of Michael's passing is coming up soon; much sooner than I anticipated. I've decided not to be in NY the day of but I will be there the weekend following for Sarah & Brian's wedding (!!!) I can't believe it's almost been a year, it's unreal to me and I still wish I could just freeze time.

I've gone back to some arts and crafts type things like needlepoint, cross stitch and scrapbooking. I think it's been good therapy to do those things.

In general: sentimental, unemployed (still), yet content. Here are some pictures for you (and Sarah) of the kids.
1. Sushi and I playing video games.
2. Lucy getting comfy on the daybed.
3. Keisha the doberman laying on me at Kristopher's mom's house.