Since You’ve Been Gone…

How has it been five years since you left us? Some days it feels like a lifetime longer and some days it hurts like it was yesterday. So much has changed! Some days I can hear your voice in my head clearly and other days the noise of the world drowns you out. I was in the garden two weeks ago tending the garden and your tree (that should be dead after the 2021 snow storm) has fruit on it. Between that and the wind chimes going insane it felt like you were sitting there with me like you always did when I worked in the yard.

Will always be my favorite picture of you and the kids

Kids are all doing well. You’d be proud of chicken lips. She has a job she loves (most days!), and an independent streak a mile wide that I’m pretty sure you taught her. She is fiercely protective of me and puts up with nothing from no one. We affectionately call her “Mama Spice” among her friends because she is the nurturer of her group. I have no idea where she learned that from! She literally got “Chicken Lips” tattooed on her body – thank you for that one honey. Truly. HAHA

The boy kind is about to get hitched. He is living in Florida and is making it on his own two feet with no help. I know you’d be proud of him for that!

Ames & I continue to grow together. She’d make you cry with how lovely (one of your favorite words!) she is. And with how hard she works at her business with Arbonne and how she has blossomed as a teacher. We’ve learned how to communicate with each other and she reminds me of you a little more every day. Zane makes me proud for how he has stepped into the role as Em’s friend, brother, and person who she trusts to talk to. Watching him and Ames grow together has brought me joy. Can you believe they just celebrated six years of marriage?

Always in Hot Springs

Me? It took a lot of work these last two years, and being trapped in a house from a pandemic, to dig in and work through what you leaving me did to me. What grief is and how it changed me. What grief will always do to me at certain times of the year. Who I am as a person – not as the kids’ mom and not as your wife. Counselor continues to tell me how proud she is of me. We’ve made a lot of progress the past two years. Doesn’t matter how far my life moves on – I’ll always want to make you proud. Not gonna lie – fear of the kids growing up and moving on broke me for a bit and made me someone you wouldn’t have been proud of. But I figured it out and I know you would be proud of the woman the last two years has shaped me into. The one you always saw that I couldn’t see.

It took me almost five years but I finally did what you asked. I’ve learned how to love again. Kristal and I had a conversation the other day about how clearly you saw me…you knew God made me better as part of a duo than being alone in the world. I think you’d like him. He’s gentle and protective of me – same as you were. He’s deeply respectful of the love I will always have for you. Keeps me (and Em) in awe at how patient he is when we get on a memories of you tangent. He’s good to your girls – all your girls. To be loved by two amazing men in one lifetime could only be God’s work.

Love you too!

I know you know Mom came and joined you about a month ago. That one is still raw. But I bet it was joyous to see her and PawPaw back together. You three behave up there – alright? Down here we’re trying to keep our promise – to only be sad for a little while – but it still hurts. You are loved. You will always be loved. Fly high angel of mine.

A

December 21st Thoughts

Another year has gone by…so much has changed. 65 years ago today a pair of twins was born. One is still with us and one has gone on to watch over us. Each year this day brings such a flood of emotions that the range could make a sane person look for the nearest cliff. So far this morning this year my thoughts are positive. Though I did hit the snooze button for almost an hour because I just didn’t want to get up (I’m sure the insane December calendar didn’t have anything to do with that, right?).

In the years since Fred left us this day has been one the kids and I dread. Flooded with memories, a reminder on the calendar that he is gone, it’s been another day in December we have to “get through”. Starting back in November when the girls, Zane, and I started talking about holiday plans we decided this year would be different. We’d gather tonight like we always do…but we are doing our annual family gingerbread house decorating tonight so that the tone for the night isn’t sad. It’ll be exactly as Fred loved best – his family gathered together making memories and having fun. Nothing brought a smile to his face more than that. His family being together is what made him the happiest in life.

Wedding of Zane Harrington and Amy Lanford, June 4, 2016

As I reflect on the changes this year has brought I know he would be incredibly proud that life is finally moving on. One promise Fred asked of me over and over again was that I not close my heart off when he was gone. I gave him the promise he wanted but at the time was sure I couldn’t keep it. Like so many other times, he knew me better than I know myself. The smile on my face each day now as my world blossoms again is a testament to that.

I know he’s watching over my babies and can see their lives more clearly than I can. I know there are things going on in each of their worlds that are making him “leak” as we called it and that are making him proud. I know that he is their biggest cheerleader and walking beside each of them no matter what choices they make. That brings me comfort as I learn the art of letting go that he was so much better at than I am.

As you go out into the world today, do something #fredly. Think of the sweet kind man that he was and put a little good into the universe. It’s the best way he can be remembered!

Blessings y’all – Amy