Today is May 28th, 2013. It was one year ago today that one of the most amazing women I have ever known entered the presence of our Heavenly Father. A year ago today my cousin, Elliot Patterson Williams went home after an extremely brief fight with ovarian cancer.
I woke up today knowing it would be a hard day. I began my day in prayer. I begged for the Holy Spirit to comfort Elliot's husband, children, parents, sister, grandparents, nieces, nephews, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and everyone else I could think of. I texted my cousin Erin to let her know how much I loved her. I didn't know what else to do. So I went about my day.
Will started swim lessons this morning. The irony of that didn't hit me at the time, but it did while I was watching him. Our Grandmother had a pool in her backyard and it was the cornerstone of all of our childhoods. We all grew up within a few miles of each other, so I spent nearly every morning of my summers swimming with my cousins there. I remember the games we would play. Colored Eggs, Spider, and Diving for Pennies. Elliot and I would poof up our wet hair and pretend we were George and Martha Washington. Don't ask. We would come in and watch soap operas and eat junk food with our Grandmother. Again, don't ask. And then we would be back in the pool. All of those memories hit me lot a ton of bricks this morning completely unexpected.
I held it together until we got home and then I went in my backyard and sobbed. I miss her. I can't help but be angry. I am angry that her beautiful children won't get to grow up with their unbelievable mother. I get so incredibly sad when I see her family hurting. I want to do something! I want to fix it.
As I was crying, Bennett came outside. Completely on her own without any prompting she decided that she wanted to send a yellow balloon to heaven. We had done that at Elliot's celebration service last year and it made a huge impact on Bennett. That hadn't even occurred to me, but I thought it was a great idea.
So we went and bought balloons. Bennett wanted to tie pictures of our family to the balloons so Elliot would remember us. That was hard. But I decided we could do it. And then the kids dictated what they wanted to say on the back of the pictures.
Bennett wrote one from Lainey. She told Elliot that she was her BFF.
We wrote them on the back of these pictures so Elliot "would know who we are."
Bennett reading her note to Elliot.
I miss Elliot. My Grandfather once said accidentally, "I have four granddaughters. And they're all girls." Obviously he meant to say "grandchildren" but that became our family joke. There were four granddaughters and we were all girls. I loved being one of those 4. I felt like we were this tight knit secret group that nobody could penetrate. I loved our pink pong games, tennis matches, and dances to 80's music. I loved Christmas mornings and dance recitals. We did everything together and I loved that feeling of unity and belonging.
I know we will never have another Elliot. How could you? She was so beautiful inside and out. She was good at everything but she would be the last one to tell you that. She was athletic but she would never describe herself as that. She was a truly gifted artist, but you wouldn't hear that from her. Instead she would listen. When Elliot and I would meet for coffee or catch up at a family get together, she just wanted to listen to how you were doing. Whenever I tried to ask her a question, she would deflect back to you. She loved getting to know people and that's why so many people are now left with a hole in their hearts without her. How do you replace someone like that? You don't. They're one in a million.
I wish my kids could have really known her. She was so incredibly maternal and children flocked to her. Watching Elliot with her children inspired me. I hope they always know that they had a Mom who adored them. She wanted to be a Mom so badly and watching her fulfill that dream with her oldest son, Wyatt, is something I will always treasure. Her two beautiful children were brought into this world by a woman who wanted nothing more than to be their mother. And she was a wonderful one. The way she mothered her children with patience and understanding is something I am always trying to emulate.
This is the last picture I have of Elliot with Will. He was trying to kiss away her boo boos. I wish more than anything that he could have.
And I love this picture so much, even though I am in mid-sentence, because it is so typical Elliot. She barely noticed the camera. She had such a connection with kids. You can see the love in the eyes as she is talking to Bennett. And look at B's face. Kids know when they are talking to an adult who "gets them."
On this anniversary of Elliot's death, I remember the most selfless person I have ever known. Someone who pointed others to Christ even in the middle of incredible pain and suffering. Someone who wanted people to know about Jesus more than anything in this world and who used her terrible disease as an opportunity to praise Him.
Thank you, Elliot for your witness, your example, and your love. You will always be missed and you will never be forgotten.
2 Corinthians 4:18 "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
Let's face it. Until my husband retires, I will never have the Mother's Day that you picture in your mind. And when he retires, I won't have three small children, so it's a mute point anyway. But since my very first Mother's Day, Rob always has to leave the house at 6:30am to be at church. So my Mother's Day mornings consist of feeding the baby, changing diapers, getting breakfast for the older kids, taking a quick shower if there is time, ironing clothes, yelling at reminding everyone to hurry up, packing diapers bags, and rushing off to church.
And this year my kids were the ones who got breakfast in bed. But hey, it kept them occupied while I grabbed that quick shower. And in fairness my husband leaves sweet cards and gifts for me on the table before he heads out. But opening a card about how precious Mothers are loses a little of its sentimentality when as you're opening it, you have a baby drooling all over you and a three year old demanding juice.
But it was our first year being back in Alabama since 2008. Wow, that's a long time. The last time we were able to be here for Mother's Day, I spent the afternoon with my Mom, a 4 month old Bennett, and my beautiful Grandmother in her assisted living home.
This year we drove to a town halfway between me and my parents so we could see have lunch with my parents. I don't know if driving an hour after church with two hungry kids and a baby who needed to nap was the best idea, but we definitely wanted to see my Mom. We had a great meal and were happy we got to spend part of the day with my wonderful Mom!
Look at those three little things. I mean, did I hit the jackpot or what? Who needs breakfast in bed anyway? Okay, scratch that. I do. Maybe next year Mother's Day will fall on a Saturday. One can always hope, right?
But seriously, I hope all you beautiful mamas out there had a blessed day. We have a tough job. But every single bit of it is worth it.
Most days I think I have a pretty good handle on being a Mom of 3. I don't think any of my kids have ever missed a meal. Granted some of their meals have consisted of Cheetoes and juice boxes, but I can safely say they've never been hungry. They always have clothes on their body and shoes on their feet. The clothes may not match some days and the shoes may be a size too small, but hey, they're covered. They seem to be relatively happy little people, so all in all I would say I'm doing a fairly good job.
But then there are those moments. Those quick moments where everything falls apart and you feel like calling Child Protective Services first before someone calls them on you. This happened to me last week.
I walked into a store to look for end of the year teacher gifts. It was a very small boutique which wasn't really conducive to a stroller so I carried Lainey on my hip. Bennett and I were browsing the jewelry when Will needed to go potty. Right then! The store was tiny and the bathroom was a few steps away so I told Bennett to stay right there and Mommy would be in the bathroom with Will. Don't worry. There were very nice ladies behind the counter who I assumed had heard me as well.
No big deal, right? Totally manageable. Not so much.
When we get into the bathroom Will really needs help. I still have Lainey on my hip so I am trying to help him with one hand. It's bad. I won't go into detail in case a future girlfriend of his reads this blog one day, but let's just say he really needed my help. What do I do with Lainey? I have to set her down on the gross cement floor. As I am doing this Will is getting you know what all over his hands as he is trying to wipe with cheap toilet paper that is coming apart at the seams. I yell and rush over to help him. As I do, Lainey falls backwards. Thankfully she arches her back so her head doesn't hit the floor, but now she is rolling on a bathroom floor. I am trying to stop her with one foot while wiping Will with one hand. Then I hear Bennett yelling, "MOMMY!" Apparently she had been so engrossed in the jewelry that she didn't hear me say I was going to the bathroom. I hear a salesperson say,"Does anyone know where this little girl's Mom is?" I yell as loudly as I can, "IN THE BATHROOM" but they can't hear me over the running water that I am using to desperately scrub you know what off of Will's hand while Lainey continues to roll all over the bathroom floor. Bennett is now sobbing. I am trying to dry Will's hands and keep Lainey from rolling as I manage to prop open the door a crack and tell Bennett where I am. I am sure the salesperson wanted to keep Bennett and raise her as her own instead of handing her back over to her crack pot of a mother.
Needless to say I didn't buy anything. I got out of there as fast as I could and don't plan to go back anytime in the forseeable future. Probably a good idea since I am sure there are wanted posters of me hanging all over the store.
I got home and scrubbed Lainey with soap and water while begging Bennett to please pay attention when I tell her I am going somewhere and begging Will to please go to the bathroom before we leave the house. Then I put my superwoman cape back on, shoved the ugly incident to the back of my brain, and resumed my duties as an unflappable Mom of three small children.
I admit it. I'm competitive. I've been known to throw an elbow in a game of basketball. I get annoyed when Rob's trebuchet takes out my castle when we play Age of Empires. Losing a game of Wii tennis is not an option for me. But even I may have sunk to a new low on Thursday when I actively cheered for a team of sweet 3 year olds to lose in a game of Tug of War. I may or may not have yelled for Will to "put some muscle into it."
It really wasn't that bad. I do have some sort of self respect. And both of my kids won their respective games so I didn't need to yell too much. I hope you all know I am kidding. Maybe. Let's move on.
We had Field Day at the kids pre-school this past week. I loved Field Day when I was growing up. I remember them so vividly. I usually got ribbons in the track events and I think it was always a half day at school so you got to have fun, get ribbons, and then go swimming in my Grandmother's pool afterwards. Perfect Day.
Go, Will, Go!
Rounding that corner like a champ.
Poor Lainey never gets to nap on schedule. That's the hard part about being a 3rd child. But she did great cheering on her siblings despite her sleepiness.
Bennett got to be with her friend Brodie for the 3 legged race. They didn't really race but rather strolled leisurely together.
So stinkin' cute!
Carrying an egg on a spoon is serious business y'all. It needs total concentration.
We had a few tears after Bennett accidentally got elbowed in the eye. And no, it was not me throwing the elbows. This time.
And a quick kiss from Lainey made her feel all better.
B's turn to hop in the awesome popcorn sack.
Will looks a little embarrassed to have his leg tied to London's.
But are they not the cutest?
Ummm.... what is going on here? I do not think there were any races going on that warranted this unsolicited hug from Brodie. That's it. I'm locking her up for 15 years.
Here we go- tug of war! Get 'em Blue team!!
And green team! Look at those Moms in the back cheering politely. Not me. I demand victory.
I have to say that life around here has been extremely low key and wonderful lately. We have been busy with the normal every day stuff, but we try to spend as much time together as a family doing ordinary things. Registering Bennett for Kindergarten has been so weird for me. I think it's because Lainey looks so much like Bennett and every time I am on the floor just playing with Lainey I can't believe it has been 5 years since I did the same thing with Bennett. It truly does go by so fast and so we try to spend as much time just soaking in our kids and our lives together. You never know when things are going to change.
These are just a few shots from the past few weeks of life in the Webster house. We've had the normal things going on- I'm teaching drama, Rob has been busy with work and side projects on the weekends, the kids have had playdates, school activities, and gymnastics. But our best times are the times when it is just the 5 of us (and Meg) hanging out at home.
Little Lainey bug officially sitting up and ready to play.
To keep the kids from wanting to watch cartoons, I am always trying to think of new things to do with them. One Saturday morning I set up a store. I put a price tag on a lot of their toys, gave them each a few coins, and let them shop. Fun way to spend a morning.
It went on for hours. My favorite kind of game.
Bennett tried to sell Lainey at the store. Apparently she costs $7.
Bennett has turned into a super reader. It has all just clicked in the last few months and she can read anything (within reason) now. She will spend the longest time curled up on a couch reading. Here she is with her loot from the book fair.
Will's not as interested in books. He'd rather build and knock down towers. Fine by me.
The kids are obsessed with Monopoly. They ask to play it every night and I would say that we probably play it twice a week.
And they love Checkers too. Actually, Will likes it a whole lot more than Bennett which is odd. He hasn't quite gotten thinking ahead to the next move, but Rob is patiently working with him on strategy and he is starting to get it. Regardless, he loves to play it and as long as he isn't asking for an electronic device, I am happy.
Breakfast in bed. On Mother's Day. Interesting turn of events. Hey, Rob has to be at the church early on Sundays so when I am trying to get three kids plus myself fed and dressed and out the door by 8 am, I'll pretty much do whatever it takes to keep them happy.
Hugs before bedtime for little sister.
Melt my heart.
A shot I took of our house before heading out on a walk. Doesn't our porch swing look inviting? Come hang out with me on it. You know you want to.
Afternoon walk/bike ride.
In a staring contest, Meg will always lose. Eye contact frightens her. Really.
Lainey is old enough now to sit up and ride in our bike trailer. This has made our evenings a whole lot more fun.
Just a few pics of life at Casa de Webster. Not interesting to anyone but us, but hopefully blog posts like these will be fun to look back on one day and remember when life was simple and easy going. I feel extremely blessed and very grateful.
A family of red heads. Of course. And quite a fun one at that. Oh, and our last name is Webster. Hence the name, "The Red Webs." You may now proceed with your blog surfing.
A theatre loving, football watching, book reading Mom of 3 who loves the Lord, her husband and her golden lab. In that order. Oh, and she thinks her kids are pretty great too. Five seconds of reading this blog should tell you that.
A guitar strumming, video editing, picture taking creative dude. He loves Jesus, coffee, his kids and he thinks his wife is prety cool too. He dislikes exclamation points, comic sans font and the letter K.
"For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. If you need wisdom-if you want to know what God wants you to do-ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking."