Time is slipping away

It’s happening.

On Monday, my firstborn will enter high school as a freshman.

Wasn’t I just feeding him a bottle and putting him down for a nap?

Weren’t we just in the beginning stages of potty training?

Weren’t we just teaching him how to read a book and write his name?

Somewhere after July 17, 2008 time seemed to blur – that was the day the twins were born and life as I knew it before being a mom to one kiddo evaporated.

Within a few short hours, I went from devoting all of my time to one kid to sharing it between three.

What I would give to have a few moments left where I just had one child. That’s not to say I don’t love my other kids. I do. I just miss the one-on-one time spent between my firstborn and myself.

Sure, we make time to chat, but gone are the days when I was his world.

For more than five years, he was my everything.

He was my errand-runner, picnic-partner, pool-entertainment and my only son.

Then in one quick swoop, I had to share my time, energy and love.

Eight years seems to have gone by in eight seconds.

One day I was watching him get on the school bus at the end of our driveway, crying as the bus drove away. The next, I sat in the back of a classroom listening to all the required requirements for graduating from high school.

Excuse me. No. This cannot be happening! I refuse to believe I am old enough to have a freshman in high school. In my mind, I am still 25 years old. I don’t feel old enough to have a kid in high school.

But I do.

During orientation, I saw his name on the PowerPoint presentation as class treasurer. At varsity soccer games, his name is announced over the loudspeaker as goalkeeper.

I am just a sideline spectator now – watching with baited breath that he makes the right decisions and chooses the right path in life.

And while I am not 100 percent OK with that status, I accept it because after all I was a high school freshman once – 24 years ago – and I’m pretty sure my parents felt the same way.

 

 

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‘Only the Good Die Young’ — RIP Lo’

Image

Photo credit – Kristin Bauer

Take a deep breath, take a look around. Enjoy every day as if it’s your last. Life goes by too fast.

Rain showers are expected today and it’s supposed to be humid – I am guessing Logan Stiner had a hand in planning today’s weather forecast. He probably wanted it to rain a little so those who are mourning him and crying can do so without wondering if they are the only ones shedding tears.

That’s the way Logan was … he wanted everyone to feel loved and safe, no exceptions.

You see, Logan died on May 27 – just days before he was set to walk with his classmates at their graduation from high school. Before Logan’s death, the Class of 2014 agreed on Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This” for their song. It’s a song telling the story of a young lady who can’t wait for the next phase of her life to begin – high school, college graduation, marriage and kids. For Logan, this is what he would want for each of his classmates and it’s what he wanted for himself too.

The Keystone Class of 2014 was thrown a curveball when Logan died last week, but they handled it with dignity. They were forced to grow up far more quickly than other graduating seniors.

On Friday, they graduated. On Saturday, a benefit was held in Logan’s memory. On Sunday, the visitation at the funeral home went on for hours. Vehicles lined the parking lot, street and grass. Everyone who wanted to say good-bye to their friend did. Today, the Stiner family is lying to rest a son, brother, nephew, grandson and to Morgan, her boyfriend.

As a journalism student at Bowling Green State University, none of my professors taught us newbies how to cover deaths. There was no clear cut way to make a phone call or walk up to a house. No one told me it would be the hardest job assignment of your life. No one told me how to approach a family whose loved one died. But, you can’t teach compassion. It’s learned.

But on the evening of May 29, I became much more than a reporter as I sat on the garage floor, listening to 20 teenagers tell stories of the one they grew to love and admire over the course of 18 years. I became a sounding board.

I heard stories of Logan being terrified of spiders. I learned he loved chocolate milkshakes – minus the whip cream and cherry. He loved to fish in a local pond. To avoid edging grass at the golf course where he worked, he played, “rock, paper, scissors” with his co-workers – “BEST TWO OUT OF THREE.”

And, I learned he met the girl of his dreams one year and six months ago.

“She was his world,” a close friend said of the couple.

My hope is that Morgan carries the love she had for Logan in her heart forever, but that some time down the road, she lets a new love in. It’s what Logan would have wanted for her. And he will be with her through her life journey – never too far away – he will be there, because he wouldn’t want to miss it.

“These are some good times, so take a good look around … You may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this”

An open letter to the graduating seniors

Many of you were born in 1996 – the same year I graduated from high school. Chances are, I was old enough to be babysitting you and your siblings at one point in time.

In 1996, the world was a clean slate for me just like 2014 and beyond will be for your and your peers.

As a reporter, I have covered my fair share of graduation speeches from valedictorians and salutatorians alike.

Many of these high-honor roll students spent days, if not weeks, preparing a speech that none of you are going to care to listen to – trust me, I have been there and done that. All you want is for your name to be called so you can shake some school administrator’s hand, grab your diploma and declare “I AM DONE!”

But, trust me, you are nowhere near being DONE. You are not done until the day you die, and life is too short.

Here are a few lessons I have learned since 1996 (and remember, you folks were still wearing diapers!)

  1. If you are lucky, you will remain friends with a few classmates from school, just don’t expect everyone that signed your yearbook to call, email or text you every day. It won’t happen. But, also, many of them will fall off the grid – maybe even you. Falling off the grid is OK … make something of yourself.
  2. Do something great each day. This doesn’t mean do something FUN, but something great. Make someone else smile. Lend a caring shoulder/ear. Help an elderly person carry his/her groceries to the car while you carry your 12-pack of beer in the other arm.
  3. Don’t be afraid to succeed – too many times we are told to not be afraid to fail. Be proud of what you become in life. Push yourself to the limits. No one can hold you back except for YOU.
  4. Take your time. Don’t wish for the next five or 10 years to fly by. Because honestly, they do.
  5. Unplug. Leave behind your cell phones and iPod and enjoy the world around you. Chances are, life is more exciting than what you are reading on a teeny-tiny screen anyways. No one is ever going to say, “Man, I wish I looked on my phone more often!” on their deathbed. No, you are going to wish you saw the clouds, sky, grass, flowers and people around you. Engage in live conversations with people. Don’t hide behind a computer.
  6. Keep in touch with your parents. You may be itching to “leave the nest” but the nest they created for you will always be there. Let them know how your classes are going – even if they are tough and mind boggling. Let them know if you like your job. Just because you have graduated from high school doesn’t mean they have graduated from being your parents. They still love you and want to hear about your life.
  7. LOVE.
  8. LIVE.

 

 

A glimpse into my future 15 years from today

Pre-school graduation

Today, I saw my life flash before my eyes as my 3-year-old twins graduated from pre-school.

When my oldest graduated from the 4-year-old program, I was pregnant with the twins and while I do remember the ceremony, what I remember most is what I was HUGE and hot, and just suffered through what may be the worst haircut of my life.

So, once I enrolled the twins for the 3-year-old program, I didn’t think the year would end like it did today.

When I dropped them off on their first day of school back in September 2011, I nearly cart-wheeled myself out the front door.

Today, I wanted to crawl at a snail’s pace as I took my place on the grassy lawn.

I was fine while the children were playing on the playground; coloring pages; eating ice cream; and making a craft.

It was what came next.

The little paper graduation hats, standing in line singing the ABCs and other cute songs and then … the diplomas.

As their names were called, I grabbed my camera and took photo after photo.

And then, she started to cry.

And by “she” I mean my daughter. Out of nowhere, came the flood of tears. Meanwhile her brother just looked at her and I am pretty sure he was thinking “What is the problem? We just had ice cream in the morning! And we played at the park!”

But she said, “I am so sad. I love Ms. Julie and Ms. Lora!”

Other moms started to gather around, and then I started to cry!

The sad thing is … when we cry, my daughter and I look like the twins as we get all blotchy faces and red eyes. And, I bet you a million dollars, 15 years from now, when they graduate from high school, we will both be crying and have blotchy faces together … I just hope the next 15 years slow down a teeny tiny bit.