Sunday, October 23, 2016


Before I had Henry I took a lot of vacations. Everything from long trips to Peru and Hawaii to weekend trips to Sonoma, Joshua Tree or New York. Since Henry came into my life it has been so much harder for me to relax. The complete truth is that adjusting to motherhood has been much harder than I ever anticipated. Everyone always told me I would be a good mom. I loved children and I wanted them badly. When I had Henry I learned that the reality is that I'd lived my life very selfishly (not in a bad way but I was just always only responsible for myself and doing what I wanted). I also learned that I have zero patience. I've really struggled with anxiety, with getting frazzled when he won't stop crying or won't sleep. Much of that has been the hormones and the stress from my dad being so sick but it was also just areas where I needed (and still need to) grow. I've been very lucky having a patient husband.

Because of how stressful motherhood was to me, anytime our routine was broken up, I'd get upset and anxious. I could not handle any glitch in our system. That meant that trips and traveling were more stressful than not. We have been camping several times and we also went to Newport, but none of those were relaxing for me. I only felt refreshed if we left the kids behind. That creates a whole slue of other issues with leaving your baby, finding people to watch them, etc. 

Recently we went camping and for the first time, it was actually relaxing.  I was pretty easy going about getting ready and packing up.  Even though we had some stressful moments, on the whole, the trip was really relaxing.

It feels so nice to be at a point where I can relax with my kids least for now!!

Henry's first bike ride! He loved it and kept using sign language to say "more."

Henry's first boat ride.

After we went camping at the lake we went to Michael's drag races.  I thought Henry might not like the loud cars, but he was totally unphased and had a great time.

After the races, we spent one last day at the lake before we headed home.  It was so nice there, it was really hard to leave.

His belly kills me.  I guess it is time to get a new swim shirt!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


I last blogged in July and I don't even remember doing it.  For so long I have meant to sit down and do this, but just haven't.  Somewhere along the way I got so busy and felt so restricted that the blog just became a chronicle of happenings instead of it including any real, honest thought.

Part of that is because when I had Henry, I felt a strong urge to protect him and keep his life private.  The other reason is that something else has consumed my mind and heart for months now that I didn't feel I could talk about.  Two months after Henry was born my dad confessed that he had cancer.

He downplayed (or was in denial about) how serious it was.  He had a stage four abdominal sarcoma.  He was diagnosed in July 2015 and by July 2016 it had spread all over his body.  None of the treatments worked and he was in indescribably horrible pain.

That's something about cancer I never knew...the pain.  People talk about it making you sick and tired.  I never knew it would be so so painful.  My dad was on extremely strong opiate painkillers and was still in excruciating pain.  In addition to chemo and radiation and endless doctor's appointments.  The pain medicine caused him to slur his words, fall asleep mid sentence, hallucinate, experience paranoia, forget things and overall deteriorate mentally.  Yet he was still coherent enough to know he was losing it and suffer from depression, guilt, embarrassment and loneliness.

It was so unfair and such a poor reflection of his wonderful life.  He fought long and hard.  He kept a positive attitude and it wasn't until the last week that I realized how serious it was and how much he had suffered alone and in silence until he passed on September 6, 2016.  Three days before Henry's first birthday.

His final week was spent in the hospital surrounded by tons and tons of visitors.  We had steak and lobster and pastries and ice cream and all the best food.  We had good conversations and many happy moments.  I was with him 24/7- sleeping, eating, showering, everything in that hospital room with him that last week.  It was far and away the hardest and worst week of my life, but I wouldn't have missed it for anything.

There are no words to describe how hard this last year has been.  No words to describe the depth of this loss or the sadness I feel.  So far, it only gets worse with time.  It is a deep aching that I cannot even describe.  It comes in waves.  I'll be cooking dinner or doing laundry or pumping gas and start crying uncontrollably.  And the weirdest part about it all is that life goes on.  I still love my husband.  I still look at Henry and love him so much my heart feels like it is going to burst.  I still laugh.  I still work.  I still dream for the future.

I don't know how you move on from something like this or if you ever do.  I am not sure I even want to, but I know you do keep moving and maybe just moving is enough.

On a family vacation in Hawaii.  My dad loved Hawaii so we are going to spread his ashes there.
Me, my dad and my brother at Christmas when I was little.
My dad is from Belgium.  This is me and him on the beach in Knokke, Belgium the first time I had ever been and the first time he had been back since he left as a kid.

My law school graduation.

Walking me down the aisle.

Toasting me at my wedding.

Meeting Henry the day he was born.  I didn't know it then, but my dad stopped by the hospital after receiving a chemo infusion.

With Henry in his backyard.

When my dad was really sick he was having a bad day and he came over so he wouldn't be alone.  Henry stayed up 2 hours past his bedtime playing with Grandpa Greg and cheering him up.

My dad worked for Hilton Hotels for 50 years (yes 50!) as of July 2016.  We were able to have a party to celebrate his 50 years before he passed.

My dad and his brother in the hospital the last day that he was awake.  He looked so good it was hard to believe he was dying.

All photos are the property of Chantal Marie.  These photos are not to be used or distributed in any way without prior written approval.

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