Sunday, June 28, 2015

pride.

just after noon on friday, june 26, my sweet mom passed away surrounded by my dad, my brothers, patricio and myself. she left this world the way she lived: with elegance and with grace.

i was in kindergarten the first time i realized my mom was something special. we had a career day and my mom came dressed in her flight attendant uniform, her chanel lipstick and ferragmos, and handed out boxed lunches (the same ones you used to get in coach before all the airlines went bankrupt). she did her safety demonstration, and let my classmates wear the oxygen masks. i went up to her afterward and told her "mom, you know how you and dad always say you're proud of me? well now i know how you feel. because i'm so proud of you." and i never stopped being proud of her. i never stopped thinking that the most beautiful woman in the world was my mom. even when she was blessing all of my friends with holy water when we left for a night of debauchery. or when we left for beach week and she chased the car screaming "make good decisions!" (i made...some. okay i made zero good decisions but her prayers kept me alive.) but these last seven months, wow. my heart has wanted to burst because i've been so sad, but every ounce of sadness is matched with a pound of pride. proud of how hard she fought, proud of how strong she is, proud that she is my mom - and always will be. i now know what true strength is, and it's not surviving heartache or standing up for yourself (althought i've done both and can't say that either is easy). it's having a disease in your brain and still waking up every single day with a "good morning sunshine!" and saying "i love you my dear, sleep easy." it's feeling like you are literally losing your mind because the disease is starting to impact your perception of reality and telling your family "let's just pray the rosary. if i can just focus on the rosary..."  i have seen what selflessness is. it's hearing that you have less than a year to live and the first words to your husband are "oh honey, thank god it's not one of the kids." it's begging your daughter to go on a date with her husband because "nothing is more important than being an attentive wife. even when you have babies anna maria, don't you forget about patricio." it's looking your daughter square in the eye and saying "you are stronger than i am. i raised you to be. do not let people pity you anna maria. you are strong. you are capable. when the time comes...tell yourself that over and over even when it gets hard. i will be with you. every step you take. every labor. every tear. i will be there whenever you turn your face and feel the sun's warmth. because our God is good."

i have chosen today, and hopefully tomorrow, and the day after that and the day after that, to look at this in the light of eternity. my mom is in heaven. and when i pass away, i will spend eternity with her and my brothers, and my dad and my patricio, and everyone i know and love. if i look at it any other way then that means i won't ever see eileen again. and that is too unbearable for me to even think about.

so many of you have said that you feel like you knew eileen because of all the stories i shared. that means so much to me. if anything, i hope i have done an adequate job of sharing her with you. to quote my father: "she is, quite simply, the finest person i've ever known." because the thing about eileen is that you didn't just like her, you fell in love with her. she knew everything about you in less than five minutes, she laughed at your jokes, she told you about a book you just HAD to read, a trip you just HAD to make, and left you with a hug and a promise of keeping you in her prayers. how wonderful this world would be if we all offered a fraction of that to each other.

i will be posting details regarding her arrangements as they are finalized with our church. thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you. we felt every prayer, every wish for healing. i love you all.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

a quick update

well, hello there. how are you? it's been a long long time and so much has happened. we moved to virginia about six months ago. geez, it has been six whole months. never did i think we would be here but life sure is funny, aint it? we live in a bedroom painted light purple - a color i very painfully picked out when i was 12. and we use the same drawers that until recently held my einstein's uniform, senior prom dress, and wedding veil.

i apologize to those who read this blog and have reached out to me and might not have received an email or text in return. right now, in this space, i'm not going to get into the details of my mom's diagnosis - i just can't. but many of you have asked how i'm doing. and the answer is quite simply: okay. i'm doing okay. i wake up hopeful and grateful. tired, but hopeful and grateful. hopeful that eileen will continue to be a miracle. grateful that my parents are eileen and ross. that they dealt with me from the time i was a colicky baby to a college student who may or may not have ended up in the rockingham jail. grateful that they continue to be an example of true love. two people who quite literally see this world in a different way because of the other. anything and everything i can do right now to help, to make their lives just a little bit easier, i'll do it with a smile on my face and a heart full of grace.

and i'm okay because i go to sleep next to a man who i quite honestly didn't know existed six months ago. and i say that with all the love and respect i have in my heart for him. because the thing is - when something truly terrible happens, you don't really know how you will react. you can assume and you can guess but you really don't know until that terrible thing happens. if you told me in october what was to come i would have told you quite simply: there is no way i could ever ever handle that. nope. i would crumble, be crushed into a million pieces. not be able to function. and yet i can. and i do. and i will continue for as long as possible. and patricio? for six years i've known that he was a wonderful person. but i never knew that he would wake up at 4am on a tuesday to soothe my mom back to sleep. pray the rosary with her. lift her. carry her. change sheets. do laundry. fix meals. bathe her. help me research, "natural ways to address high liver enzymes." i didn't know that the first words out of his mouth would be: "i'll call our landlord" when i told him "we have to move to fredericksburg." no objections. no "well what about me? what about what i want?" he hasn't complained once. he's cried with me. left me alone when i needed it. comforted my brothers and my dad. held my mom to his chest. he's the finest person i know and he married me. he. married. me. the aforementioned rockingham county delinquent. and we, all five of the lewis family, are so lucky to count him as one of ours.

i will try to update here more. but for right now, goodnight. i send you and yours a lot of love on this beautiful night. xo.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

one year down, hopefully a million to go


i can't hardly believe it's been a year since last october 12. both in the way that i can't fathom ever not being married, but i also can't believe that we're no longer newlyweds.

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everyone told me the day would fly by, and it did, but i tried my best to be as present as possible. i remember how the comb in my veil was loose and i was getting panicked that it would fall out in the middle of the ceremony. so 30 minutes before we were supposed to leave, my mom carefully took it out of my hair, and sat quietly as she sewed the comb back into that beautiful lace veil; the very same veil that she so carefully picked out for her own wedding day. i can't imagine what she was thinking, and i've never asked her. i'm sure it was surreal. holding something that her father brushed off her shoulders when he gave her away. something that had been with her since before my dad even proposed. (eileen is gangster like that) and right after the ceremony, one of my moms best friends, paula, gave me a big hug and whispered "that veil has been good to it's brides" and she reminded me that it was her "something borrowed," over 30 years ago. 



and i was so so overwhelmed, with everything, but mostly the rain and how there was not a single thing i could do about it. until a little something whispered to me "whenever it rains, you will think of this day" and the funny thing is, i do. when it rains on a saturday i smile and say those very words out loud to the universe, hoping that every bride that is getting married that day hears them. i smile whenever the sky opens up on my home from work and think how excited i am to see pat after being apart all day. and i think how absolutely lucky i am, that the only thing i didn't plan for, is the one thing that stays with me the most. 


i love being married. i love him more now, than i could have ever imagined. i love that it might have taken me a solid 8 months but i fully embraced the fact that i am anna maria lewis heckel (that's right, no hyphen!) i love that everything changed but we're also still very much the same. we watch the same shows, and love the same things. we still find compromise to be our go to solution for 99% of our fights and we try to avoid the words "never" or "always" in arguments. he still hates thai food, i do the majority of our cooking, he walks polly in the mornings, and when we desire alone time there are no mixed messages (iPad games for him, law & order/criminal minds/shonda rhimes television shows for me) 

it's a beautiful balance, being comforted by the promise of forever, but still being excited to simply hang out together. 



a year ago today, i got to marry my best friend. and every day after, no matter how frustrating or hard or difficult it might have been, has been the best day of my life. 


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

happy 3rd adoption day, polly!

we became a family of three, exactly 1095 days ago. 
and every single day since, our lives are better because of polly lewis heckel.


she cheers for our favorite football teams.


her favorite thing to do is relax


or politely ask for a french fry


she misses us when we are away


sometimes she wishes we could all just go to sleep


she likes to mingle with the local wildlife



she agrees, leonardo dicaprio deserved the oscar! 


she is a small but mighty watch dog


she helped us move into our new house


and she has, quite possibly, the cutest puppy dog face in the world

i never once thought that i would meet the love of my life in chicago.
how lucky am i to have found two?

 happy adoption day, polly!
we hope you like your life with us, because we can't imagine ours without you.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

lunch bowls

i have started making a weeks worth of lunch on sunday afternoons. it saves me so much time during the week, and i find it rather relaxing and a nice way to prepare myself for monday morning. loosely based off my obsession with chipotle, i have found that i really enjoy making "bowls" for lunch. i kind of made this up as i went but basically i chopped up two british cucumbers, half a red onion, and a ton of garlic. tossed that into a big mixing bowl with a little salt and pepper. i made a cup of gluten free israeli couscous with chicken broth instead of water (adds so much more flavor!). when that was done, i tossed it into the bowl with the veggies and added maybe a tablespoon of 'simply dressed' roasted tomato dressing and a little bit of feta.


i like eating this cold, but you could keep the israeli couscous separate to heat up and then toss everything right before you eat. 






so easy and so so yummy.


also, i usually make a big batch of hard boiled eggs, and so i chopped one up right before i dug in.