On all the Firsts…….

Good Morning, Dad!

Wellll, I returned from Europe six days ago and and leaving for another tour in about an hour.  I’ve been wanting to write to you for such a long time, but things have just been too busy.  But, oh my, you have been on my mind.

You know what?  Everyone keeps telling me about how hard the “firsts” are going to be, and, well, they’re RIGHT.  SO HARD.  I celebrated my birthday, and it was absolutely bitter sweet.  I mean, Danny took me for a beautiful adventure through the countryside of England…..what’s better than that?!?!?  You know what’s better?  Having Danny take me on that adventure AND hearing your voice sing me happy birthday, and getting a card in the mail from you that I know you took hours to pick out, and telling me how proud of me you are.  I guess I realized I no longer have that person that is ridiculously proud of me!  Only dad’s can be that proud. Plus, what’s a birthday without a dad?  Still a birthday, I know.  But it’s just not the same.  Nothing is ever the same.  But I really did think of you a lot.  And cried a lot.  And just let myself feel a little shitty, while at the same time laughing and celebrating with Danny.  It was a great day, and to be honest, it feels good to get these “firsts” over with.  Here’s a picture of how excited I was to visit this awesome castle:

Carrie on her birthday!
Carrie on her birthday!

And then there was yesterday.  Our one year wedding anniversary.  Let me just say, it was a fantastic day.  We had beautiful community time with our most amazing friends, went swimming, ate green chile stew and a bunch of other celebratory food, etc…On a side note, did you hear me?  We’ve been married ONE YEAR!!!!  In celebration of our paper anniversary, Danny and I attempted to make each other origami figures and failed at it, and then opened the special wedding box.  This box consists of a bunch of pieces of paper with everyone’s name that attended our special day.  Along with their name, it said how that person knows us.  All of those pieces of paper were strung up around our Huppah.  It brought such a sense of connectedness to our wedding day.  So we took all those papers down and put them in a box to open on our anniversary.  That’s what we did last night.  And it was AMAZING!  We loved it.  And then I got to the card that said,”Rich Elkin. Carrie’s Dad.”  Oh boy, dad.  Oh boy.  It took it out of me.  I am so thankful you were with us on our wedding day.  I’m so thankful you walked me down the isle.  I’m so thankful we got to dance and laugh and be silly.

Our paper anniversary
Our paper anniversary

*ON GRIEF*

Hmmmmm…..I think I put most everything that’s been going on in the above couple paragraphs.   I’ve been thinking a lot though, about how, since you died, I am so much more aware that I’m only a visitor to this planet.  And I love that feeling, actually.  It makes me live better.  It makes me live more presently and with more awareness.  I feel more connected.  I feel a deeper sense of purpose.  AND, I’m understanding that grief doesn’t only happen when someone dies.  Grief is all around us, in all different sorts of situations, but I think we sometimes forget that.  My friend is about to have a double mastectomy and I keep thinking about the grieving involved in such a thing.  Something so personal.  Something so about being a woman.  Wow.  I mean, really.  It just gets me thinking about it all.  About the loss of  relationships, about moving, about losing a job, about all the fertility stuff……it’s just crazy to think about how resilient we all are, right?  GO US!!!!!  WE ARE SO COOL!!!!!!! (we need to remind ourselves though).  OMG, dad, did you just LOVE that pep talk?  You TOTALLY would have given the same talk to me!

*ON TOURING*

Oh man, our European tour was so beautiful.  The shows, the countryside, our time together.  Danny is a beautiful soul and he played beautiful shows and there’s no better word than beautiful to describe everything I just described.  And now I’m back to Europe with Sam Baker…..TODAY!  I’m leaving TODAY!  AND, guess what? Mom’s coming with us.  How fun is that going to be?  We’ll be in the Netherlands for one week and England for a week.  Another thing you taught me……don’t wait to do shit……just do it.  So mom’s coming. YES!

Well, this is all I have time for.  I could write to you for hours…..

I miss you, dad.  So much.  That’s all there is to it.

Here’s some awesome tour photos…..

Danny on his birthday
Danny on his birthday

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You would LOVE Europe!

Good Morning, Dad!

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Life has been busy (in a good way)!  I woke up so many times throughout the night thinking of you, and realized upon waking this morning it’s September 16th. It’s been three months since we said goodbye to you.  I’ve been inspired to write to you many times during the past month, and every time I think about it, it feels too difficult.  But today, it feels right, so here goes…..

*ON GRIEF*

I received a book from a friend called “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis and it is the most healing book to me.  I got all teary eyed from the very beginning.  He said. “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” This is so very true to me.  Really.  It is.  That’s exactly how it feels.  And I think this feeling starts to dissipate, but at the beginning, it’s unbearable.  I highly recommend this book to anyone that has lost someone close to them.  Thank you to my friend Carolyn for sending it to me.  I believe C.S. Lewis was doing what I’m trying to do, which is to find healing in the writing.  He was SO GOOD AT IT! Thank you Mister Lewis for the raw emotion you expressed so perfectly.  I am inspired by you.  Trying to figure out where God is in all of this is the hardest part for me.  It’s difficult not to think God is such an asshole sometimes.  And that sounds harsh, I know.  But who hasn’t felt that way before??  Where is GOD? Why did you die, dad? UGH!

*TOURING*

DAD! You would love it here.  I always wanted to bring you on tour with us….especially over seas, but never got around to it.  SO, I’ve decide not to waste such time anymore.  Mom will be coming back to Europe with me for my next tour here beginning on October 19th!  I keep gently reminding myself to make things happen NOW instead of making excuses of being too busy, or saying we can just do it next year, etc…..We just never know what will happen, right?  For now though, Danny and I are in the Netherlands playing beautiful shows.  You’ll be happy to know, when I first landed in Amsterdam, I thought to call you.  You always liked when I checked in straight away.  You always wanted to know I was okay.  And safe.  I am.  We have the most kind driver named Koos.  He’s getting us to our destinations safely.  Next up, we fly to the UK for a couple more weeks.  Then flying home on October 12th.  Then flying right back here on the 19th with Sam Baker (and with Mom!).  WHOAH WORLD!  It’s good to back out and singing.  It would make you happy, dad.  OH, and we’re here celebrating the release of Danny’s new album, so I’m just singing with him (which you know I love).  BUT, I had one festival performance of my own and I shared the song I wrote for you. Every time I sing that song, I can feel you with me.  It makes me want to sing it all day long.  I miss you and love when I feel you so close.

*YOUR CELEBRATION OF LIFE!*

WOW WOW WOW.  Thank you to everyone that helped me write your celebration of life ceremony.  I took pieces from all the suggestions y’all made, and it was a joyous occasion.  I hope you think so, dad.  I mean, how could it NOT be joyful?  It was all about you. And your best friends from childhood are just the most wonderful group of guys.  And, all the cousins were together in one place for the first time in probably 20 years!  You were always so good at bringing people together in life.  In death, you do the same.  Thank you for encouraging me to have life long friendships. AND, I think all the cousins will get together next year again. We will continue to have joyous occasions in your memory, dad.  On a side note, we scattered your ashes on second base of the little league field you grew up playing on and it was so great.

*ON HAVING A BABY*

Well, in three months, we lost two pregnancies and you, dad.  We’re hopeful though.  Found our new egg and sperm donors and are moving right along.  Jeeeeesh……….what a ride this has been.  Taking a break from all the hormones for another six or so weeks.  Will be back to normal just in time to start on all the hormones again!!!!!  I guess we have the choice to lose hope or have hope……so I’m sticking with having hope.  I’m sticking with believing it will happen.

*SENSE OF PURPOSE*

I’m still working on this one.  I’m excited to be home in November.  Excited to be still for a little while.  Excited for rest.  I believe this is when the light will shine on the thing it is I’m meant to be doing right now.  I know music is part of that, but I also think getting involved in helping others with grief is a part of it.  I’m not sure what that will look like.

I guess it’s time to hit the road here in he Netherlands.   I wish you were here with us, dad…..

I love you.

Our very amazing host in Elmshorn, Germany
Our very amazing host in Elmshorn, Germany.  Thank you Rolf!
Elmshorn, Germany - Rolf's beautiful getaway. He calls it Lomaloma.
Elmshorn, Germany – Rolf’s beautiful getaway. He calls it Lomaloma.
Danny meets our fearless driver's grand baby......OMG.....adorable
Danny meets our fearless driver’s grand baby……OMG…..adorable
Otis Gibbs playing in Eindhoven, The Netherlands at Meneer Frits.....one of our favorite venues.
Otis Gibbs playing in Eindhoven, The Netherlands at Meneer Frits…..one of our favorite venues.
our gracious canal boat tour guide before playing in Warmond, The Netherlands
our gracious canal boat tour guide before playing in Warmond, The Netherlands
Our canal boat trip in Leiden, The Netherlands....so amazing.
Our canal boat trip in Leiden, The Netherlands….so amazing.
Koos is keeping us SO safe over here in the Netherlands. Getting us safely place to place and being joyful company.
Koos is keeping us SO safe over here in the Netherlands. Getting us safely place to place and being joyful company.

Baby Quilts and planning your celebration of life……

Good morning, dad!

I find myself writing to you in my darkest moments.  The moments that make no sense.  The moments I can’t stop crying. And really, I feel broken.  I’m waiting for the void to be filled up with all the wisdom you passed along, but right now, it’s just stocked full of tears. I am officially sad. There’s no other way to put it. I’m sure writing your celebration of life ceremony isn’t helping.  And you know what the hardest part is?  I keep wanting to call and ask you what I should say.  It’s so difficult to put you into words, because I’m not sure words exist to describe the amount of joy and goodness you added to the world.  So I’m stuck.  I keep meditating on it and I keep finding pennies on the ground…..so I know you’re with me through this.

SO, I’m going to reach out on this blog and ask folks for their help in writing your ceremony.  If anyone has suggested poems, for instance.  Or even a reading from the scripture (as long is it’s not too Jesusee……you asked that this shindig not be religious)….I’d love suggestions and thoughts from the folks reading this blog.  Please feel free to message me or even comment.  Your comments might help someone else at some point, too.  And that takes me to my next thought.

As I was cutting the fabric to make two baby quilts late last week, I got the call from the fertility clinic letting me know we’re not pregnant anymore.  So there’s that.  The quilts are gifts, so I wasn’t jumping the gun or anything.  I’ve learned my lesson on that front.  But it got me thinking about a lot of stuff……like WTF is going on?!?!?!?!  Did I do something bad when I was young and it’s coming back to me now?  Did I do something bad in a past life?????  Why is 2015 proving to be such a shit show? And I realized the reason for all of this.  And I believe it’s the reason for all bad things happening.  I am becoming a better person.  I am more empathetic.  I can help people more than I could before. I’m a better listener.  I don’t always know what to say, but all of these things that are happening make me so much more present.  I swear I can hear every heartbeat right now. It’s nearly unbearable, but it’s also making me stronger and more connected to the universe in a way I didn’t even think was possible.  And I’m looking forward to the day when things quiet down a bit.  But now is the time to embrace all of this with openness and pureness.  And once again, you continue to teach me, dad.  And what a beautiful gift that is.  What a beautiful gift life is.

In a nut shell, here’s the scoop:

  1. I’m writing your celebration of life ceremony and would love to hear from the folks reading this blog to help me with poems, scripture, stories about you, etc…
  2. We had another failure on the fertility front and it sucks.
  3. I’m making baby quilts for my awesome friends that are having babies.
  4. You continue to teach me so many things, dad,  and I’m thankful.
  5. AND, danny and I got a new mattress and I love it and I still don’t sleep, but I still love it (that’s just a side note….I didn’t mention that in the body of this message, but it’s a nice thing to celebrate!)

It’s been about six weeks since you passed. You already know that, of course.  I keep trying to not keep track of that part of things.  It doesn’t really matter how long you’ve been gone, I guess.  The fact is, you’re gone and I miss you and I will always miss you and I’m so sorry you got sick, dad.

I love you.

c

p.s. Thank you for always letting me scream madonna songs at the top of my lungs.  And not just me, actually.  Thank you for letting me and all my best friends scream songs at the top of our lungs.  I wouldn’t be a singer had you not allowed that.  And my friends wouldn’t be patient mothers.  So thanks.

It’s been a month and I wrote you a song….

Good Morning Dad!

Well, it’s been a month since you continued on to spread beautiful energy around us.  I can feel you with me always. I sure miss you though.  And I can’t seem to talk to you without crying my eyes out.  But here I am.  Surviving.  Like I’m supposed to do.  Thanks for teaching me how to survive in this crazy world.  And really, thanks for teaching me how to survive like a CHAMP.  I mean, you don’t get all the credit…..mom gets at least 50%.  Although y’all divorced a million years ago, you know how awesome she is.  She’s been amazing through all of this (AND, she just sold her house and bought a new one and still manages to be available 24/7 for me.  GO MOM!).

I made it to the Woody Guthrie festival this past weekend and really enjoyed it, dad.  It felt impossible at first.  I think I was just overwhelmed with the LOVE from my most fantastic music community.  Thank you MUSIC COMMUNITY.  There’s no way I could do this without you.  Seriously.  I am blessed and it never goes unrecognized.  You met a whole lot of these folks, but I sure wish you could have met them all.  They are a shining light in my life.  They shine like you did…..like you do.  I wrote you a song and it was the first one I sang at the festival. I felt like throwing up when I stepped onto the stage.  I was pretty sure I would just cry out my songs.  You must’ve given me strength though, because I made it through and managed to have a good time.  You were with me, dad.  Thank you.  I made a crappy video of the song, but wanted to share it because it represents my reemergence into music again.  Playing music helped me feel human again.  So I’m back in the saddle!  Watch out world!  I’m going to write A LOT of SAD songs!

Danny and I left Okemah, OK (home town of Woody Guthrie) and hauled ass to Denver where we surprised Danny’s mom for her 70th birthday!  OMG.  It was the best.  You would have loved it, dad. To be honest, it wasn’t a surprise.  Donna already knew (but she shrieked and smiled so big it must have hurt her face).  We didn’t think she knew, but after much talking, she couldn’t keep it in any longer.  It’s a long story how she found out, but man is she sneaky.  We’ve been celebrating since Sunday!  Headed back home tomorrow to get back into our lives in Austin, but this has been a time of JOY for us.  Being with the Schmidt’s is so healing.  Please know I’m taken care of, dad.  This family has wrapped me up tight and hugged me so hard.  I’m so lucky (I’m sure I’ve said that like a million times, but it can’t be stated enough). Here’s a photo of the birthday girl and family  just before we went paddle boating on Evergreen Lake…..

donna's birthday

On the craft front, I’ve been embroidering like crazy….see…..

I am
For Telisha
do epic shit
For Annie
damn it feels good
For Jo

I’ve been thinking about volunteering for hospice, dad.  The things happening in my life seem so insignificant after spending that month with you.  I mean, I’m appreciating all these moments and I feel present with my friends and family, but nothing compares to the feeling I had when caring for you.  I do realize you were an exceptional patient, but still, I’d like to help others.  AND, I’d love to help people navigate through some of the business stuff, too.  It’s SO CONFUSING and I’ve learned so much about it all.  So please send that out to the world…..to those folks in need…..I’m here to help in any way I can.

And to end this post, here’s the final photo before they took you away.  I can’t believe it’s been a month.  Wish I could hear your voice.  I miss it so much.

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I love you, dad.  I promise to write soon.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad!  You would have been 74 today and you would have said,”Isn’t life just GREAT?  I feel younger every year!  Isn’t that great, care?!?!”  I would have laughed and made some comment about how much I love you and how you were going to outlive us all.  I love you, dad. And I’m sorry you didn’t outlive us all.  You deserved to.  Yesterday I was running errands and I picked up my phone to call you.  That’s what I do when I run errands.  I call you.  It’s so strange now.  Everything is strange.  I don’t have an understanding of the world. I miss you. I miss hearing about your bike rides and about how many reps you did at the gym and about who you met that day and about how friendly everyone is in Peachtree City and about how every day is the most beautiful day EVER.  And I miss you stating the facts with no commentary.  Like “wow, there’s a lot of traffic.”  And it would stop there.  You wouldn’t complain about it.  You would just get it off your chest and sit there being all positive.  Thanks for doing that.  I’m really good in traffic because of you.  I’m still working on Danny though…..

I went for a bike ride in your honor today!  My first time ever on a road bike.  Thanks for passing that sweet ass bike onto me (did you noticed how I swore???  I thought that might make you smile).  It’s fast!  I’m now on the hunt for some folks that’ll teach me to ride that thing.

On my bike ride I was thinking about how beautiful it was to take care of you during your final few weeks.  You never complained.  Not one time.  And you ALWAYS thanked me. Even when I sat on the floor crying not knowing what to do to help you.  You said,”I don’t know what I’m doing either.  We’ll work through this together.”   I realized, from this experience, what the definition of GRACE actually is.  Thank you for showing that to me.

Danny took some photos of our final two days together and I’m going to share them with the world if you don’t mind.  I actually know you don’t mind, because I asked you before you died.  They’re difficult for me to look at, but so healing….I’m thankful to have them….

Oh, and your ashes were delivered today.  You knew something big was going to happen on your birthday…..you kept talking about that throughout this process…..now we know what it was all about.

I miss you.  Happy Birthday.  Their are actually still no words…..this is just a bunch of gibberish, it feels like.  But I’m trying, dad.  It’s hard to talk to you sometimes.  I really want to hear your voice…..

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Good Morning, Dad!

Good Morning, Dad

A blog in memory of the sweetest man on earth to let him know about my travels and time at home….

I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to start a blog.  This past Tuesday, June 16th, my sweet papa died peacefully at home and I’d like to continue talking to him…..continue to let him know what’s going on in our lives.  To tell him about our journey to have a baby, to tell him about my life on the road as a singer/songwriter, to tell him about what craft projects or house projects I’m getting into while at home.  My dad has inspired me to live the life that best suits me. The most honest life I can live.  He told me the world would be a better place if we all did what we love to do.  He said it was the most responsible way to live.  My dad was the healthiest man on earth until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer three weeks ago.  He died one month to the day of his last bike ride of 13 miles. He was a champion sprint triathlete, never had a drink in his life, ate a perfect diet, was a champion weight lifter in his younger years, was a guidance counselor to his entire family and his friends, was the most positive man on earth…..no joke, he was.  He never had a health problem.  Not one.  Never took a prescription drug, never had a headache, and only vomited one time in his life after having bad pizza.  That was 30 years ago. My dad was my favorite person on this planet.  He was incredibly kind and generous.  He was pure joy and anyone that spent even a second with him knew it.  He was a special force in this world and when his energy was leaving his body over this past week, I could feel it.  It was impossible not to feel it.  He gave me the strength to take care of him.   We had some nights of no sleep during this past week.  He said he was never in pain, but was having trouble getting comfortable, so night time was difficult.  When I was a little girl and couldn’t sleep, my dad would sit on the end of my bed and run his fingers between my toes.  It’s one of my first memories of his care and love for me.  Six days ago, after a night of no sleep, dad was sitting at the end of the couch and I was napping on the couch with my feet toward him.  When I woke up, he was running his fingers between my toes.  He literally had no energy left and that’s what he was doing.  He cared for me while I cared for him until the very end.  That’s the kind of man he was. When my dad was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer, the doctor said he probably had three months to live.  My dad asked if there was any way to make it faster.  It actually made us laugh.  His body was not his own, he couldn’t exercise, he couldn’t eat, he lost all his muscle mass in what seemed like a matter of minutes.  Fourteen days after his diagnosis, he couldn’t walk on his own anymore.  He had no interest in living in his new body.  We didn’t want to watch him live like that for long either.  We wanted him to die quickly and he did.  He died just like he wanted to.  We joked that it was like a sprint triathlon.  On Tuesday morning, we called Hospice and let them know we thought he was getting close.  Our nurse and social worker came over straight away.  I’d like to say, having hospice around is like having a bunch of angels in the house.  They were amazing over the past couple weeks.  And they loved my dad and were amazed at how quickly he made dying happen. My cousin, Dave arrived at around 10AM the morning of my dad’s passing.  I believe he was waiting for him to arrive. Dave looks just like my papa and is goofy like him, too.  Once Dave arrived, we each took turns saying goodbye to him and letting him know it was okay to let go.  My brother and his kids were a huge part of this process.  We were all caregivers together. My husband, Danny, opened his heart so big I’m surprised it didn’t explode from love for all of us. He was our rock.  After we all said our goodbyes and sang him a few songs, Dave, Danny and my brother, Rick sat on the bed and told stories, just chatted a bit, and then looked over at around 4:00PM and noticed he wasn’t breathing anymore.  Just like that.  He willed himself to die.  That’s how true he was to his own life.  That’s how connected he was to his body and to his spirit.  So with his family present, his spirit lifted.  I swear the world must have felt it.

For the two mornings since his death, I found myself saying,”Good morning, Dad” as I was waking up.  It’s the strangest feeling knowing he’s not part of our physical world anymore.  Knowing this Father’s day will be my first without a father.  My heart is broken.  But I promised him we’d be okay and I meant it.  For he passed his joy onto me and I am committed to spreading it……..

Thanks, Dad.  For being my biggest inspiration, for spreading so much joy, for being a father figure to so many of my childhood friends, for your generosity, for your honesty, for your unwavering commitment to leading a healthy life in every way.  Thank you for being a beautiful father for the 41 years I’ve been on this planet.  I haven’t wrapped my heart around what life will be like now, but I promise to do my best to follow in your footsteps…..

Thank you, also, for always letting me order the biggest, most expensive steak on the menu starting at the age of six.