Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandpa Paul!

I think that its fair to say that at some point in all of our lives we have all felt "cheated" in some way, or muttered the words "its just not fair." For me, the best example of this started on August 13, 1995 when we lost my dad to a long, hard fight with leukemia. After all, how fair is it for a 13 year old to lose her dad? This feeling has continued to repeat itself through the past 15 years of my life. My dad wasn't there to teach me how to drive a car or to watch me walk across the stage for my high school or college graduations. He wasn't there to walk me down the aisle and give me away on my wedding day. He won't be there to hold and hug and kiss his baby girl's little baby girl. Is any of that really fair?? Isn't it only natural for me to feel cheated??

On January 18, when we found out that there was potentially something wrong with our baby's heart, I would be lying if I said that I once again didn't feel a little cheated. I work in a department where one woman after the next was having a healthy baby, why didn't I get to follow in suit? I can admit that I struggled with this, but over the past 4 months I've come to a pretty "profound" realization-

Maybe its the things that seem to be the most unfair in life that we simply just don't understand. Maybe there are things in life that we just aren't supposed to understand.

Take my dad for example. His long battle seemed unfair, but his courage and determination to beat his disease taught me to never give up...even when life gets hard. Losing him at such a young age may have seemed unfair, but it taught me to cherish the every memory I had, no matter how big or small, and to never hesitate to tell someone you love them. My family has always been very close, but we are undoubtedly closer and stronger because of the pain that we have experienced together.

While I would give anything to have had more time with my dad, I know deep down that he's never really left me. He was there watching (and probably laughing) as I learned to drive, he was cheering me on and bubbling over with pride on my graduation days, and I'm guessing he shed a tear or two on the day my mom gave me away. And I know that the same will hold true when it comes to our little girl. She has very special guardian angel watching over her. One that will help her stay strong and to fight life's battles, even when things seem "unfair."

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! I love and miss you with every single bit of my heart!


  1. Kristen,
    I really do know how you feel...sometimes I feel cheated and think it's so "unfair" that my son has autism. I often think about what his future holds...and think it's not fair. But every day he teaches me something new and wonderful. He teaches his classmates something new and wonderful and meaningful. He teaches neighbors and strangers something meaning and wonderful. He teaches us to be happy with what we have and to live each day to it's fullest....and you know what...he doesn't think it's "unfair"!
    I'm sharing this incredible poem that someone shared with me when Abram was's so simple, but so powerful.
    Love you!


    Emily Perl Kingsley.

    I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

    When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

    After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

    "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

    But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

    The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

    So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

    It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

    But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

    And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

    But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

  2. Wow! You sure have a way with words! I feel the same way sometimes too. Dad has always been there for his girls and will continue as our guardian angel. I know that he is with his grandchildren everyday too and Dad is someone that we talk about often in our house. I so wish the kids could have met their Papa Paul, especially now that the boys are into sports. He would be having so much fun! Dad will always be with Little Miss Ritchie! Love you so much!

  3. Kristen, I love to follow your blog and see how you all are doing. You are such a remarkable lady and are so brave. I would totally have to agree with you about the "not fair" factors in life, even though you've had to deal with a lot more than I could ever imagine. But you handle everything with such grace! You are such a wonderful friend and can't wait to see your new little addition to the family! Love ya, Tara