Monday, March 24, 2014

dear dad...

the following is a letter to my dad, marking the second year of his passing. 


we are quickly coming up on two years of you being gone. it's hard to believe and truthfully, it's still something i don't want to believe. these past two years have not been easy for me. my heart is still so sad and i just miss you. i really miss your tuesday phone calls and birthday cards. i've been afraid to cry (meaning, crying when i need too) because i don't think i would stop. i see you many times in my dreams. i see your car everywhere. seeing a baseball cap & flannel make me do a double take, especially if the fella has gray facial hair. i so badly want it to be you...

it's amazing how much happens in a year. there is a lot that i need to fill you in on, starting with the current weather. it's been an awful winter! it's pretty much been snowing since the beginning of january and as i sit to begin this letter to you, we are in a polar vortex. it's currently 4 degrees outside... as the high.

since that first anniversary, life has continued to carry on. i hosted easter for the samonie family. it was  the first time since the year before you died. it was a beautiful, somewhat chilly day. pretty much everyone was there, including matt, frances, and the boys. frances was expecting their third boy, jacob, at any moment. so glad they made it down! we had arabic food, did the egg war, and just enjoyed our time together. it was no secret that there was sadness. we all knew that we should have been at your house. oh, how i miss it dad & it's just not the same.
i took the egg war trophy & hiding eggs from your basement when we went through your things. they  still faintly smelled like your house. i love seeing your writing. 
your easter tree. not quite my style, but it was yours.

katy won the egg war! 

after easter, warm weather finally started to move in! we had kept talking about putting our house up for sale when spring came. well, spring arrived and the house went on the market. it sold within a week! 
haha…sorry dad, we never fixed the grass :)

in may, dan and i celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary by heading out to california. we flew into san francisco, where we spent a few days (including your birthday and memorial day) and then headed down the coast to los angeles. the coastal drive was simply beautiful & my favorite part of the trip. we took in a dodgers/angels game, toured the warner brothers studio and were total tourists along the hollywood walk of fame. 

on memorial day, i wore your jacket 

we found your favorite flavor cupcake to celebrate your birthday. 

heading down the coast

first time in the pacific ocean

i found rosemary clooney's star (and the rest of the 'white christmas' cast!)

for you, dad

i know we both loved the movie "angels in the outfield", but here's a confession: i'm a dodgers fan. (don't go getting all bent out of shape, the tiger's are still my number one) 

flying over the rocky mountains. this was so neat to see!

there is so much more i wish i could tell you about that trip! i would have loved to hear more about when you were stationed out there. 

after our trip, we learned we had one week to get out of our house… yikes! it all came together fine, but we ended up moving in with mom and craig. we enjoyed the summer there, especially with their pool since the summer was miserably hot at times. 
this kid right here, part fish. 

summer carried on and i still think mostly of you on the fourth of july. in august, we had katy's bridal shower. it was held at mama mia's (so you know that food was amazing!) and it was a great time! aunt sue, aunt deb and linda all came. i hadn't seen aunt deb since your funeral, so it was really nice to see her. 

katy was so happy. it was nice to see her smiling so much :)

in case you were wondering, stefanie is still around. we won't let her go :)

we ended the summer with our traditional trip to camp barakel over labor day weekend. it was wonderful! the wednesday after camp, a pretty huge life event happened…. isla started preschool. 

isla goes to preschool at ward church. she loves it! she enjoys learning and exploring new things. her teacher is amazing and she has made some new friends. she is growing up and there is nothing i can do about it...

on september 15th (which would have been aunt jan's 60th birthday), jamie, aunt sue, katy, and myself all walked in a 5k event for lung cancer. it was an awesome way to honor aunt jan and meet other families who have been affected by the disease. we hope to make this an annual thing. 

the tiger's made it into the ALDS! it was so neat to be there… the energy in the park was amazing! our boys lost that game, but nonetheless, it was a great experience! they came back to win the next game & that whole series! they went on to the ALCS, but lost to boston. 

october finally arrived, which meant that it was time for a wedding! katy and matt got married on october 11th at the redford marquee. we could not have asked for a more beautiful fall day! she was glowing, dad. you would have been so proud.
you still walked her down the aisle… 

you still sat in your designated chair…

mr. and mrs. salley …. doesn't she look beautiful!?

katy's "daddy/daughter" dance with her bridesmaid. we danced to "can't help falling in love" by elvis…one of your favorites.  

after the wedding, as in the next day, we headed to florida. isla did awesome on her first plane ride! she loved looking out the window! we stayed at the fick condo and enjoyed some relaxing time there, the beach, and disney world! i wish i could show you every picture and tell you about the whole trip (well, let's be honest, isla would have told you about the whole trip), but here are a few highlights: 
her first pair of wings

meeting cinderella in her castle!

meeting these three, was probably my favorite part. they were hysterical! 

she sure knew how to make waiting in line fun

this hug lasted for over a minute, and jasmine didn't care. it was so precious

twirling with minnie!  

our last night in florida, waiting at our favorite restaurant… mexican of course :)

fall was in full swing. lots of trips to the cider mill, including one with the samonie family. we all went back to aunt sue and uncle ken's after. it was really nice, but again, you were very missed. things just are not the same, but we are making the best of it. katy and matt hosted thanksgiving & everyone came! the best part of the day had to be when katy cooked the ham for fourteen minutes…when it was really supposed to cook for fourteen minutes per pound. we all had a good laugh. 

christmas. i can't accept celebrating this holiday without you yet. i broke tradition and watched 'white christmas' before christmas eve. it was playing at the redford theater, where it originally debuted back in 1954. it was pretty neat. the next day we went out to visit you (katy and stef came too). the cemetery looked beautiful, covered in snow with wreaths laid at each gravestone. 

on christmas morning, dan surprised isla and i with a puppy! we named him luke. sadly, a few days later he passed away. you would have liked him though, he was so smart and obedient! even though it was a dog, i cannot believe i had to deal with another death. another loss. jamie hosted the family at her house. it was nice to see everyone. we laughed a lot, opened gifts and ate lots of food. sometimes, it feels like you're there…just outside smoking a cigarette. i find myself looking for you still, hoping you'll come walking around the corner with kibbee in hand. 

2014. the new year came and so did lots of snow. in mid-january we moved to dearborn. we bought an adorable, eighty-three year old home near downtown. i wish we could have continued our weekly lunches at the new house. we did, however, learn to never move in the middle of winter again :)

a couple weeks after moving in to the new house, someone turned four! she had a princess & pirate themed party. 

my heart aches that you've missed these things. it's funny how life continues on, but it all looks a little different. i have been finding ways to heal and cope with your death. besides writing you these yearly letters, i also put together a scrapbook. it's a book of all the pictures i have with you in them. i also added all the mornings notes you used to leave and the cards you had given me over the years. it's a book i can pull out at any time when i'm missing you.  
i love your army picture. i've always been proud to be your daughter and grateful for how you taught me to love our country.  

we first danced at a daddy/daughter dance. then we danced at my wedding. 

this note means the world to me. i never had to worry about what you thought of me.

this is the last picture the three of us took together. the receipt from our target trip two days before you passed. the last birthday card you gave me. that five dollars was the change from our last lunch. you'd probably laugh, but i can't spend it. 

i found this card at your house. i will never forget how you cried when you found out you were going to be a grandpa. i love that you kept it. 

i continue to add to the book when i find more pictures or keepsakes. it brings me comfort. i've also started a samonie family scrapbook. our family has changed so drastically and i want to preserve every memory that i can. these books will eventually be for isla, so she will know who you were and where she comes from. speaking of which, i have several pictures of you on our fridge and when she passes them, she points and says, "there's grandpa!", usually with a huge smile. i'm so glad she knew you.

here's a funny story: dan had asked me why i didn't have a sweet tooth. i told him i wasn't sure why, but mentioned how you and mom both did. a couple of weeks later, isla said, "my grandpa had a sweet tooth. i wonder if he misses me? let's send him a card…with glitter!". oh, my heart! 

i've had your flag displayed in my living room since it came home with me after that day at the cemetery. gram surprised me with a flag box for it. doesn't it look nice? it even has your name engraved on it. 

there are still moments that i need to catch my breath when i realize that you are really gone. my heart just aches. i feel cheated on time i should have gotten with you. those twenty-eight years were simply not enough. lately, i have been remembering that sunday before you died. we were visiting aunt jan and shared in a couple episodes of "the golden girls" to make her laugh (really, we all needed the laugh). something wasn't right with you that day and i knew it in my gut. i had no idea that that would have been your last sunday on this earth. 

my faith has really been tested and i must remember that god is still good. i also hold on to the hope that in those final moments of your life (which bring me to tears, wondering if you were scared), you fully accepted jesus as your savior. 

"he gives and he takes away. blessed be the name of the lord"

march 24, 2014: today katy and i went to visit you. i brought you a flag and we both ended up wearing old michigan shirts of yours…with no planning! obviously, we're your daughters :) while we were there, there was another committal ceremony going on with a twenty-one gun salute & taps (gets me every time). memories of that day two years ago felt very real. after seeing you, we stopped by holy sepulchre to see grandpa & grandma samonie (a little bit of you & aunt jan are also with them). we also drove by your house and stopped by international market. katy and i enjoyed our day together, reminiscing about you. 

until you say, "i'll buy, you fly" again,

love you always. 

ps- they are finally fixing 96. the potholes are absurd. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

more, guaranteed.

i have used and been encouraged by the phrase, "god will never give you more than you can handle" many times. truth be told, i've been getting a little tired of hearing this because i feel like i can't handle it. i'm also not sure that the people i was telling this to could even really handle it. to my relief, i recently came across a post titled, 'god will give you more than you can handle: i guarantee it". boom.

what i love about this post is how real it is. the author is raw, clear, and doesn't shy away from scripture. she isn't going against god, but rather giving a new perspective on a well known sentiment. she stresses that when god gives us more than we can handle, it draws us (hopefully) to him. to lean on him. to call on him. to trust him. the author of the post went right to scripture and searched for confirmation whether god would ever give you more than you can't handle. it wasn't there.

i'm broken. i'm sad. i have had many things piled on over the last couple of years:  the death of my dad, death of my aunt (two weeks after my dad), secondary infertility, being part of a grieving family that's trying to find a new normal, leaving my church, death of a dear friend, loss of friendships, changes in friendships, helping care for my grand mother (usually while toting around my daughter), a failing in-home business, sending my daughter to pre-school and the fears that accompany that, getting a puppy and then he died a few days later and an on-going daily battle with fibromyalgia. i hold back tears, tell myself that someone has it worse than i and fight through it. again. and again.

i often find myself asking, what could i have possibly done to make god so mad at me? why has he chosen me to endure, what seems to be, never-ending pain. why does he want me to handle all of this? why, when i have a glimpse of hope and joy, does it get taken away? i know the enemy is at work. he would love nothing more than for me to curse god and dwell in self pity. but, i also know that god is allowing these things. he's allowing me to feel the pain, the suffering, and the discontent because he loves me. he loves me, it's true. truth be told, i've struggled with this concept over the last few months because i simply just don't understand why … why would a god who is love & does love, allow suffering? as much as i struggle, i also try to come back to the truth and turn my eyes to the comfort that i need.

along with discontent, comes comparison (that sneaky thief of joy). we all know the type that seem to have it all. they are the people that god seems to bless over and over again. i am often encouraged with, "you never know what they are going through", but honestly, i don't know if i believe that. some just haven't experienced anything really that bad. haven't experienced suffering… yet. let me make it clear that i do not wish suffering upon anyone, it's horrible. i am just sharing my feelings with what i know and that includes people i know.

some moments i feel like i want to throw in the towel. i want to turn to earthly things because they can give me instant gratification or instant joy. some forms of "instant" aren't necessarily a bad thing like treating yourself to a starbucks coffee or walking around target... alone. these things can actually be therapeutic, but ultimately we cannot find complete joy in that cup of coffee or a trip to target (unless you're lucky enough to have a target that has a starbucks in it… oh, trouble.). the truth is, that joy comes from choosing it and being ok with not having that instant relief just because you prayed about it. god wants you, all of you.

i do believe that god wants to give us more than we can handle because he wants us. he wants us to be knocked to our knees, pushed to our breaking point so that we truly call to him. surrender to him. for us to stop idolizing things that we shouldn't and start turning our focus to the word. the way & the time in our lives he will get us there will be different for everyone. as i am in the midst of this suffering, i look for advice from those who have been and i weep for those that haven't even begun. something profound will happen in your life that will make you do nothing more than bring you closer to the one who is giving you more than you can handle.

"for i consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed." romans 8:18

Friday, July 5, 2013


dan and i bought our first home three years ago. it was a small, two bedroom ranch in a quiet neighborhood with beautiful trees and a large backyard. i fell in love with its charm and character. it was close to some things, but further from others. we made it ours. 

we quickly discovered, however, that owning a home came with many surprises (some that our inspector overlooked). there were so many times we joked about how foolish we were with this purchase (that we decided on after six months of looking for a home), but knowing now how the last few years would have played out, choosing that home was one of the best decisions we made.

so much happened here! it was nice to be settled somewhere for more than a year. isla was only five months old when we moved in and watching her grow over the last three years was amazing! her first foods, crawling, words, steps...the list can go on and on. many conversations, get togethers, crafts, christmas eves, and just day to day life happened here. it was home.

our neighbors. took a year and half for us all to talk, but once we did it was awesome! these girls quickly became my friends & their children buddies for isla. three of the four of us are now moving. i'm grateful for the memories and to really understand what having neighbors meant. staying in touch won't be a problem, but the 'hey, wanna meet outside?' moments will be missed greatly.

thursdays with my dad. for almost two years, my dad came over most weeks. not really sure how this started, but once my dad discovered i only lived seven minutes away, it became a weekly date. i loved these days and so did isla. we would play eye spy for his car. dad would come in, pick her up, give me a hug and then take her to the back doorwall to look for the dogs. this house was filled with memories of him and a feel like i cam letting a part of him go and not sure how i feel about that...

when we finally decided to list our house, it sold within a week! we were not prepared for that and everything started moving along...except for the closing date. we waited and waited to hear when this would happen. we were finally told the closing date a week before and the buyer wanted us out that day. yikes. one week to finish packing and move out.

our things were packed into boxes. memories stored away. as i stood in the dining room one last time, among the quiet & emptiness, i thought about that last three years. the highs, the lows, the life moments. it then occurred to me that someone else would be living here. that someone else would be eating in this dining room, sitting on the deck and putting a christmas tree up in the window. we move, but the house doesn't. really, we were a part of it's history.

lots of meals, laughs, party tables and crafts were done in this dining room.

the kitchen. from making baby food to baking for countless events to numerous gatherings, this kitchen rocked. 
an empty little girls room. it once housed a crib for a five month old, a book shelf filled with so many stories and a little bed suited for a three year old. she grew so much in this room. 

in the midst of a quick move, i failed at taking pictures of the rest of the house. i'm trying to tell myself that it's ok...

where are we off to? not too sure. for now, we are currently residing at my folks. both sets of our parents opened their homes to us, which we are extremely grateful for! 

our house hunt continues. stay tuned!