The holidays have come and gone and our home is full of the aftermath. A sad, dried up tree sits in the corner. Its lights haven’t been plugged in for days and I am dreading taking everything down and re cleaning the house for the billionth time since Christmas. The toys are taking over and I’m afraid a My Little Pony or a Batgirl action figure might kill me in my sleep. And then there’s the fish tank John bought Josie which is just a illuminated tank with fish that “swim” around and around. It’s been missing for a week and I can’t figure out where it is. When I ask Josie her story changes. First it’s “outside” but there’s no way it could be. Then it’s “I put it behind the wall.” I asked “what do you mean?” She replied, “I moved the wall and put it there and put the wall back” When did my kid become a ninja at hiding things? I’ve looked everywhere I can think and it’s still missing. It’ll probably be the mystery of 2015 unless it’s found while we get ready to move this summer.
The holidays are definitely a crazy yet fun time. At least for most. I know families who had to endure horrific tragedies that will forever change the way they feel about Christmas. And our family had our first Christmas without our wonderful mother and her mother, our sweet Nana. It was bittersweet for sure. To see the girls’ excitement as they opened their gifts from everyone and to know that Mom wasn’t there to see it was really hard. And as Christmas turned into New Year’s, I felt some sense of relief. What I hope is the worst year of my life is over. 2015 already has some amazing things in store for our family. And the newness of it is refreshing. Needed. I need a clean slate. And although time won’t change what happened, it can be used to change the people left behind.
I am a part of a moms’ group called MOPS (mothers of pre schoolers) which meets once a month. It’s a great time of fellowship with other mothers and military wives. During our last meeting just before the holidays, our MOPS leader encouraged us to pick a word to motivate, encourage and inspire us for the new year. My word I “evolve”. I want to evolve into a better person, a better wife, a better mother, a healthier person through one choice at a time. In some ways I want to be who I used to be. In others, I want to be someone new. But in all ways, I want to be a better version of myself, constantly changing into who I feel I should be, who God wants me to be, who my husband and kids need me to be. So, here’s to another year and I mean to take full advantage of it.


oh my god. How did this happen?

This thought goes through my head at least once a day. The loss of my mom is truly one of the worst things that I could imagine. It hits me hard some days. Other days I smile and sometimes laugh at my memories of her. Not a single one bad or negative. There was nothing about my mom I ever wanted to be different. Except maybe the way her story ended. I could always see her, this sassy little old lady, living with me and John in the home we would retire to in Tennessee once his Army career was over. She’d take care of us in the way she always did, quietly and humbly, never seeking praise. I could imagine holding her old frail hand and being flooded with memories of her. A long, happy life. That’s what we imagine is the story for us all. But my mom’s illness and death has taught me something I thought I knew but really did not: no one is promised tomorrow. When I think about things as they really happened, I am sometimes overtaken by a wave of grief that is so strong that I want to fall over. My chest feels like it’s falling in and my soul hurts. Physically hurts at the loss of her. I am not as sad as I once was that her life was so short, but that it had to end the way it did. That part is what hurts me. And one of my greatest struggles is to think that she was scared. I prayed then and even now that she had peace. The idea of her being scared makes me sick to my stomach.
The horrible reality is that my mother is no longer living. It’s beyond surreal. Sometimes it feels like she’s on vacation somewhere and I just haven’t talked to her in a while. I guess in a way that’s true. I scroll through her Facebook feed and relive her posts, using various social media outlets to feel like I’m reliving the good moments, reading her comments, her ‘likes’, anything to relive any moment with her.
And it stings every time.
Maybe I’m crazy but I like that it hurts so bad. It reinforces to me everything that she was and everything that is lost now that she is gone. If she wasn’t who she was it wouldn’t hurt. Then who would care? It’s good that it hurts.
And in the end, Heaven is truly the only consolation if there can be one. To know she’s at peace and that she’s perfect and can never get sick again. That’s the only thing.
I will miss her with every beat of my heart. Until my dying day. My mother was a part of me. She is a part of me still. I know I won’t feel whole again until we are together again in paradise. Her long hair whipping in the air as we do cartwheels together like we used to.



Running with mom

Since moving to Rhode Island I’ve started running again. It’s been a tough road for me. In the area we live, it is quite hilly. So no matter what route I take, it’s 85% uphill. The hills are unforgiving. Most of the time my knees and ankles hurt all day. No matter how often we run them, my husband and I always complain about them and how it doesn’t seem to get any easier. We share our routes with one another and try to determine if the circle at the front of the neighborhood is easier to run up on the right side or the left side (I think we’ve determined that the left hill is slightly easier). But hills aside it has been a good thing. I’m getting in better shape and notice that my times, pace and endurance are all improving. That’s a great feeling. And the runs are so beautiful. Even though I run in the neighborhood, it is very green, shady in most parts and covered with bunnies and birds. And being on the coast, there is a great breeze. It’s on the breezy, shady parts that I feel great about running. That combined with a runner’s high, quiet time, and thinking time, allow me to think about my mom.
She is always on my mind. And everything reminds me of her, from the rain, to certain foods and songs. There’s not a day or hour that goes by that I don’t think of her. But on my runs I have time to really think. Sometimes that’s good and other times not so good. I’ve been brought to tears several times during my morning runs because I am so overwhelmed by the weight of what’s happened, the sadness in my heart and longing to see her again. Other times I smile to think of her, a special memory or to imagine how she’d react to something the girls said or did.
Anyone who really knows me, knows how incredibly close I am with my mom. She was close with each one of her girls. We all joked we were her favorite for various reasons. And mom would say that that’s how your children should feel. Like they are all the favorite one. We shared a special, unique bond. I can’t tell you specifically why it was special. It just was. Is.
Sometimes when I run, I talk to her. I tell her how I miss her. How I’m sorry that things happened the way they did. And how I hope she can see the girls and see us and know we’re ok.
And when I have a really difficult run, I tell myself I can do it, push through it. Because if mom could push through as she did and fight, then I sure as hell can run one more mile.
So I’m starting to enjoy my morning runs with mom, hills be damned. It’s our quiet time together. I can hear her cheering me on and telling me she’s proud. I want to always hear that voice.

The end-part 1

I’m sitting on top of my bed. It’s bare. The mattress bumpy, a diamond pattern repeating beneath me. All around me is a city of brown cardboard boxes. Our name scratched in the sides and its contents as well. “Clothes”
“a new start”.
Tomorrow morning we will leave for Rhode Island. A journey that may take us up to a week. And as I walk around and see the house packed up, I see the memories we made here. This is the house we brought both of our babies home to. It’s the house where my mother met her grand babies. It’s the house where I lost my sweet Bella. It’s the house where I made so many great friends.
I remember laying on this bed, in this room almost three years ago, when my water broke. I remember parties downstairs in our too small living room with all our friends, the kids running amuck. It was so fun. I remember Josie taking her first steps in the living room. A jam session in the playroom with Josie, Pop-Pop, Grammy and Kiki. Dance parties in the music room when john would play his guitar, Josie would bang on the bottom of a bucket, Scout would bounce on the ground and I would be filled with so much happiness. :)
Tomorrow we start the journey. To New Jersey. Then to Rhode Island. I’m ready for the new beginning. Ready to make new memories in our new house. Excited to see Scout take her first steps. Watch the girls celebrate birthdays together this summer. Family time at the beach. So much. So much.
Goodbye Virginia. You’ll always be special to me.



One week

It’s been a week since my mother passed away, taking her one way trip to paradise. It’s beginning to hit me in little ways, the finality of it all. Tonight I wanted to FaceTime with her like I normally would when my husband is still at work. But I can’t now. Taking Josie to school this morning I cried because mom wouldn’t get to see Josie’s picture on her last day of school. It’s starting to set in and it hurts.


I’m struggling with the thought of where home is once your mother is gone. Georgia doesn’t quite feel the same. I think home is Heaven, for me now

On my mother

On May 14th 2014, on my 32nd birthday, my mother, Cynthia Lucila Gulledge went to be with The Lord. I was sad to have to say goodbye to my mom on my birthday, but something about her passing on that date seemed beautiful to me. On May 14th I took my first breath and 32 years later she took her last. Immediately I tried to call up every memory of her as if I was scared that with her leaving that the memories might also. I later realized that the memories would come throughout life as I saw her in everyday things.
The day mom went to be with The Lord it was a beautiful day. I remember describing to her how the sun was shining through the trees and the breeze felt so cool. Later that day it rained. Through the rain I saw her, walking with her friend Helen in Gadsden, her long black hair soaked and her twirling a blow pop in her mouth. Mom always loved a good rain.
And on the sunny days that followed, I could see her as she was when I was a child. Running through the front yard, doing cartwheels with Karli and me, her long black hair whipping though the air. Her tan skin. Her beautiful smile.
As we sat with mom last week and listened to praise music, I remembered the times mom took us to church. It was important to her that we know God and have a relationship with Him. I could hear her singing “This is the Day The Lord has Made” She always hated her voice. But her girls thought it was beautiful. Now she has the perfect voice she always wanted.
I see now that my mom will still be in my life every day through memories and through the people we loved together. I see her in Kelsey when she is so graceful and compassionate. I see her in Karli when she is silly. I see her in Aunt Chila when she sings “Jesus loves me” to my daughters. I see her in her granddaughter Josie who has her Grammys wild spirit. And I see her and feel her love when I’m with God.
When mom passed away, she looked at peace. She even had a little grin on her face like she now knew all the secrets of the universe. Though she is not in the body, she is walking with The Lord. And I rejoice to know that one day I’ll be walking with her again in paradise.


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