Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Storms brewing ahead


Today I took the dog for a walk at a local park. The clouds were heavy, dark, and hanging low over the fields and ponds. I felt melancholy and I wondered why.

And then I remembered.

The time is coming for me to attend another Sorrow to Strength Conference in Washington DC. The Truck Safety Coalition hosts the conference every two years; I’ve been to six of them since dad was killed by a sleepy semi driver in 2004.

The conference is a time for families to join others, all of whom have been damaged by preventable truck crashes, to share their stories, gain support, and learn about truck safety issues. Some families are struggling with permanent injuries, others are grieving the loss of loved ones. And some are trying to deal with both injury and loss.

It’s almost too much to fathom, all those people in one room.

But it’s a good thing too, because you won’t meet a better group of people to support a family in the throes of grief. These are people that know how it feels to get that call or to sit next to a hospital bed knowing that life will never be the same, but hoping for at least a semblance of normalcy sometime in the future.

It’s a difficult conference to attend, but it’s called Sorrow to Strength for a reason. We begin filled with sorrow, and leave, after several days, stronger for having been together. We’ll be talking to Congressional members, agency employees, and the media about truck safety issues. The current political environment in DC is not particularly conducive to regulation these days. But we aren’t giving up finding compromises that make our roads safer for everyone.

Everyone has trepidation as they head to DC for this conference. Attending dredges up all the old memories and emotions. Even after almost thirteen years I still get anxious thinking about the crash, anticipating the questions, planning for the meetings.

But then I think about dad. And so many others that I’ve come to know over the years. There will be new families attending this year, there always are. They are stark reminders that every year, every month, every day that goes by without solutions more people are being injured and killed. This is no time to let politics get in our way.

Wish us luck.


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On loss and spring


I’ve been to a lot of funerals held in winter and I used to think the hardest thing in the world was to walk away after a winter graveside ceremony, bowed with grief, huddled in a coat against the wind and rain or snow. Though you knew your loved one couldn’t feel the cold it was just so hard to leave them there in the darkening light of a winter day.

I used to think that was the worst.

But yesterday, when a local family had to leave their young man behind in the cemetery, the sun was shining and the bright blue sky was filled with puffy white clouds. It was a perfect spring day.

And now I wonder. Maybe losing a young life in the midst of the hope that is spring is the worst.

Yesterday a family had to come to grips with a life ended way too soon. I don’t know them, or the young man gone, but I understand their shock. Accidents happen, but never to your family. Never to someone with an infant and a wife and loving parents and a huge extended family.

Never just as spring is blooming with promise.

How can someone just be gone when so much around us is bursting into life? How does a young wife with an infant son survive without the loving husband, the doting father, at her side?

How does a family walk away from a new grave, bowed with grief, when bright blue skies are smiling down? It just seems wrong. Certainly the sky should be crying too.

But this young wife is strong, and she has a strong family to help her. She has good friends to listen and provide support. They know that sometimes the road takes an unexpected turn; they know how to navigate grief. They’ve been there before.

She’ll be OK eventually. And her son will grow up surrounded by people who will tell him about his daddy. How he loved his family. How he will always be there in their hearts.

It takes family and friends to get through grief filled but beautiful spring days when life is bursting from every tree and shrub, every bulb and seed, but tears are hiding behind every eyelid.

May the beauty of spring moving on into summer give some comfort to a family whose hearts have been broken once again.

And may that tiny little boy know that he is truly loved.


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Bling revealed

Katie here. I know. I’m hogging mama’s blog again, but I needed to get this out right away. As you know I visited my boyfriend Reilly Cowspotdog a couple of months ago. He and I got officially engaged after we introduced our parents to each other. (Reilly is a very conventional guy and likes to do things the proper way.)

My guy and me.

Anyway, he sent some engagement bling for me to wear on my collar. I think he wanted to make sure all the other doggies up here know I’m spoken for. Mama put it on my collar right away, and then you know what she did?

I’m sending Reilly kisses!

She forgot to take a picture!

I mean really? Mama forgetting to take a picture? I don’t know what’s come over her. I hear she got a year older yesterday, maybe it’s just old age making her so forgetful. I had to remind her that my guy would be wondering if I liked the bling and it wasn’t fair to make him wait. Because I really really like the pretty charm he sent.

Don’t you think I look beautiful in it? Me too.

Thank you Reilly. I love you and my pretty bling. You are definitely a class act sweetie!

I hope we get to spend time together again sometime soon!

Love,

Your Katie-girl.

I miss you Reilly!


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Surprise!

Katie here. No I’m not the surprise…you knew I’d pop up again sooner or later. I’ve been mostly resting since we got home from our grand adventure. I still get my mama up really early every morning, but then we go back to sleep. She seems to need more sleep these days. Guess she’s getting old.

Anyway.

Yesterday afternoon it started to snow. Mama made me go sit in it.

Really mama?!

She thought I looked pretty with the snow on my fur. I thought she was being ridiculous. I mean, when it rains I don’t make her go stand around outside do I? Oh. Well, yes I do, come to think of it.

Ahem.

Mama was surprised that so much snow had stuck around when we got up this morning. It was all over the tops of trees, but didn’t seem to get to the shrubs underneath. She says it was really pretty and we ran outside to take pictures.

Hey mama, come on out, the snow is great!

Well. She took pictures, I spent the time sniffing stuff, checking to make sure it was all safe you know. But when she called me to COME! I ran right over to her. I love doing that because, as you all expect, mama has a treat for me. Sometimes I run with my eyes closed, dreaming about that luscious treat.

Running for joy in the last snow of the season.

Mama was fascinated with how the snow emphasized the shapes of the trees…

Birch branches outlined in fresh snow.

…sometimes, she says, you don’t notice things like this until the snow points them out.

Look at all the cool shapes out there!

And then do you know what happened? The sun came out! Man oh man that sure made stuff even prettier!

Blue sky and fresh snow…with a little bit of cloud action.

Look at all the colors!

A special moment in time.

The green of the pines and the yellow of the forsythia buds next to the white shrouded birch trees was spectacular! I almost didn’t notice but mama pointed it out to me. She’s good like that.

But my feet were getting wet and cold and I was hungry. After all I’d only had one tiny treat and it was way past time for breakfast. So I made her take me inside. But that didn’t keep her from taking more pictures as the hungry birds stopped by for breakfast too.

Incoming chickadee!

I guess having a little spring snow isn’t all that bad, mostly because I know it will be gone by this afternoon.

Already melting.

And this weekend is shaping up to be warm and sunny. I’m going to get mama to take me to my park. Or maybe a couple parks.

A girl can hope anyway.

Waiting for summer.


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Spring redux

Spring. It happens in waves across the country. When Katie and I were in the South we saw spring in all it’s glory. We reveled in the sun and warmth. We forgot that it wasn’t spring everywhere.

One reason to be in the South in the winter.

And then we drove home, north into the gray skies, leafless trees, muddy trails. Cold. It snowed this week.

Why is it snowing??

It was a shock, but all is not lost. As Katie and I explored the yard this past weekend we found traces of spring. Daffodils are popping up from the wet cold ground. So are some of the perennials. The bleeding heart is reaching for the sky.

Purple pink sprouts pushing up through last garden debris.

It will be in bloom sooner than you think. And the monkshood is peeking out too….

Monkshood, excited to see the sun.

..it will bloom next fall — which will also be sooner than we think.

Katie and I went for a walk in her park this weekend. The sun was out, the water was blue. It felt like spring had arrived.

Mama! Is it spring now??

We weren’t fooled. We know, here in Michigan, that winter will take at least one more swipe at us before April ends. But don’t tell that to the goldfinches, they’re already changing into their summer gold.

Hey lady! This feeder needs to be filled!!

Katie and I are very lucky this year. We get to watch spring arrive twice! The daffodils are all done down South. But here they will be arriving any day now.

That’s a very good thing.

You’re going to make me pose with our Michigan daffodils next week aren’t you mama!


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Reboot

We’ve been home one whole day, moving swiftly into day two and I’m trying to get my bearings. Cupboard doors swing the opposite way of those at the lake house, the dishwasher stacks differently, I turn the wrong way headed to the laundry. I forget what I’m doing in the middle of doing it. I think part of me is still in the South; hence the random photos of our trip in this post.

Katie seems to have settled back into home life easier than me.

Neighborhood dog at the lake. Don’t know his name.

I sort through piles of paper; brochures from places we visited, lists of items to take, maps, advertisements. I come across a page, torn from a notebook, that I don’t recognize. But it’s my handwriting, obviously quotes from something I was reading. I don’t remember writing these down, I don’t know where they came from, don’t know who I was quoting.

But they seem pertinent in a general sort of way.

Beautiful tree near Jacksonville Florida.

I think this paper must have been in the car or on a table prior to the most recent pile of travel debris being deposited. I think maybe I wrote these down after the election, when I was feeling frustrated and fearful. Not that I’m less frustrated or fearful now, just more accepting of what is.

Or maybe not.

Beautiful birds at the Jacksonville Zoo.

Regardless the quotes will serve me well when I write my next post about an upcoming trip to Washington. Yes, the truck lady will emerge once more as there is work to be done, lives to be saved, families to comfort.

Playing with my girl on the beach.

The work doesn’t end just because a person takes a break. Nothing is resolved and everything is still important. The strategy may have to be adjusted, tweaked, but the end goal is still saving lives. It’s even more important now that the trucking industry has the Persident’s ear.

Stay tuned.

Another favorite lake.