Saturday, November 28, 2009

an abundance of Padre Ramblings

*Padre is cleaning out the pantry and sticks a nutrisystem dinner on the table*
padre: I think that's bad...
me: well, you don't need to throw it out unless it's past the expiration should have one on the bottom...
padre: oh, maybe it's ok
--I check the bottom--
me: Yep, March of 2008...definitely needs to be thrown.
*Padre laughs*
(disclaimer: this story is especially funny because when I moved in, I essentially cleared out everything from his fridge. The rule was, if it's expired, it's got to go. Well...almost everything needed to go. And almost everything needed to be gone about 2 years prior to that...)

me: why don't you take those down? (referring to christmas pictures/cards from 2 years ago)
padre: why would I?
me: why wouldn't you? You get new ones every year...
padre: of those might have your future step-siblings on there
me: If you're referring to Janelle, which I know you are, then doesn't have my future step-siblings on there
padre: you never know
me: yes, I're never getting married again. YOU said that.
padre: yeah, but that doesn't mean her kids wouldn't be your step siblings ever...
me: um...that's exactly what that means
padre: no...not if they moved in here
me: that wouldn't make them related to me..
--quiet confusion for a couple minutes--
padre: well, after 7 years, it would...
me: no...what you're referring to is a common law marriage...that does not make her children my step-siblings

following conversation via text...
padre: wilds are gettin kilt (fyi, this is a common fight in the swanson household...he doesn't understand that they are the WILD, not the wilds...and he also doesn't understand that kilt is a skirt some men wear and not an action...)
me: they're down by one
padre: yeah, but colorado had a goal disallowed
me: they're still down by one...
padre: did you read my previous email?
me: email or text?
padre: i think you know what i meant
me: I don't...and even if I did, I still wouldn't know what you're referring to

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

While I'm Waiting

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

::John Waller::

Monday, November 23, 2009

back to square one

So...I am fully aware that this will make me sound completely ridiculous but I'm going to share it anyways. Well, the message itself won't make me sound ridiculous...just the fact that I got it from watching a movie. The new Twilight movie at that. I already seems ridiculous that I could get any type of life lesson from a teeny bopper movie!! But I did...and so I write...

I'm sick of 'just getting by'. I'm sick of my life not being what I wanted it to be. I'm sick of looking at other people and just wishing I could have the things they have. Not material things—things like true happiness, a career they love, a husband, kids (or at least the idea of kids).

I've never in my life been one to just sit back and take what life has given me. I have fought for the things I've had. I started working before I even turned 16...I had been working for years before any of my friends even thought to get a job. I didn't grow up having a lot of things—but I had loving parents, wonderful siblings and absolutely amazing friends. I didn't have a lot but I was fulfilled.

That changed the day I lost my best friend. I don't use Phil's death as an excuse simply because it's not. In fact, after he died, a lot of people told me “it's okay that you're not happy...your best friend just died” or “well, maybe that happened because of the affect Phil's death had on you”. There were people handing me this excuse left and right—it would have been so easy to say “yeah..ya know...I'm really not myself because of that.” But that didn't seem fair to me. So I never gave in. I never allowed that to be an excuse that crossed my lips. Where's the part where I take responsibility? Where's the part where I am accountable for my actions?

If I got to use Phil's death as an excuse, I would never move on. I would never live fully again. It would be a built in excuse for the rest of my life.

I don't want that.

But, as I've grown older and experienced more, I have come to realize that his death did affect me more than I ever thought. I knew I was in the depths of depression after Phil died. It's not easy to bury your best friend. But I thought if I talked about how strong I was, I would be that strong. Turns out it doesn't work that way. I focused so hard on proving to other people that I was strong that I didn't realize I wasn't. I was trying to convince everyone else and, somehow, I lost track of reality and ended up trying to convince myself I was okay. And I think we all know that if we are trying to convince ourselves of something, then there's a problem...

I digress. What I'm trying to get at is that Phil's death did affect a lot of things I never thought it would. But most of all, it affected my happiness. My drive. My motivation. I was in this place where I thought “Well...if I just stay sad and depressed, maybe I can just get through enough of life until I can see Phil again.” (Now, for my friends and family, let me reiterate that I have never once, before OR after Phil died, contemplated suicide. It just has never been an option for me. So that sentence implies me just getting old and “getting through life” until God decided it was my time. Just wanted to clarify.)

I thought I could just drag my feet through life, one day at a time. Eventually, hopefully before I knew it, I would be 70, 80 years old and ready to go. I just didn't have the drive to really live. To find the things I loved and do them. To figure out who the people were that really mattered and be with them. That drive—the thing that defined me before November 15th, 2004—was just gone. And that, I think, is what really threw me for a loop.

By now, I'm sure, you're wondering “ok...well, what the heck does that have to do with a new movie?” It's not so much the movie that incurred all of these thoughts. It's more so what the movie represents. I realized “dragging my feet”...just not my thing. My thing is laughing. Loving. Experiencing. Smiling. Those are my things.

I don't want to drag my feet anymore. I don't want to stay where I am. I want to be the one running, jumping and laughing through life. I want my drive back. I want my motivation back. I want to be someone that my friends and family can be proud of. And I don't want them to say they are proud of me just because they're my friends and family and feel that way regardless. I want them to really be proud of me. I want to do something that will make them proud of me.

So that's my mission. I'm working hard on finding myself. The old me. The pre-survivor of suicide me. The pre-I buried my best friend me. I'm done trying to convince everyone else, and me, that I wasn't me because of that. Because the truth is: that one second it took Phil to pull the trigger? It changed everything. It changed me. I'm done pretending it didn't.

But I'm not done being me anymore. I'm not done living. I have a lot of things left to accomplish. And I'm going to accomplish them.

How do you get over it?

You don't. You just wake up one day and realize
you don't mind carrying it around with you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Padre Ramblings

**during dinner tonight**

Anne: I'm so tired
Me: Me too...
Padre: You have school tomorrow.
Me: You're wearing a black hat.
*padre furrows his brow and his beloved confused expression starts to show up*
Padre: what??
Me: Oh. I thought we were just saying random things?
Padre: what you said doesn't make sense..
Me: Yeah...that's kind of my point...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

5 years*

A little less than five years ago--in fact, exactly 4 years and 361 days ago, I sat in my pastor's house..sobbing..because the day before I had buried my best friend. On the way home from her house, I heard the song 'Broken' by Seether for the first time.

Tonight (or I guess I should say, early this morning), I drove home from that same house. As I was going through my ipod finding a song to listen to, the same Seether song came on.

I wanted you to know I love the way you laugh
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

I used to believe in coincidences. Slowly, after Phil died, I came to realize that there was no such thing as a coincidence. I had seen too much--too many signs--to think that they weren't little messages from Phil to get me through life. After I mentioned one of these signs to my pastor and used the word 'coincidence', she said "Mel, I don't think that coincidences exist. Especially in this case. I like to call them 'Godincidences'." I know...funny word right? But it's totally true. These moments were carefully planned out by God...they didn't just simply happen for no reason.

And I keep your photograph, I know it serves me well
I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

I don't think that song just happened to come up on my ipod. I think that was one of those messages from Phil. He wanted me to remember 5 years ago. He wanted me to remember that conversation with Sarah and that drive home. He wanted me to remember that he's still with me.

Because I'm broken when I'm lonesome

Lest we forget, after 5 years, that Phil is still with us. He isn't forgotten, not in the least. As the time goes on, I learn more and more from my best friend, my guardian angel. There still isn't a day that I don't think of him. In fact, I don't think there will ever be a day that he doesn't cross my mind at least once. My memories are all that I have left--but what memories they are!

And I don't feel right when you're gone away
You've gone away, you don't feel me here anymore

As I was explaining to a friend the other day who is going through a hard situation, right away the bad days were the only thing that existed. I cried for months. I didn't sleep. I didn't eat. I couldn't focus on anything except that unbearable pain in my stomach, in my heart, in my head. His absence was all I thought about. The bad days consumed me. But as time went on, the bad days came less and less often. And as those bad days lessened, the good ones increased...until slowly, I realized that I was having more good days than bad days. There's no doubt in my mind that Phil got me through that period of incredible grief and sadness. He wasn't here physically..but he was in my head and in my heart all the time.

The worst is over now and we can breathe again

That's exactly how it felt too. I could breathe again. I wasn't gasping for air, I wasn't drowning in sadness and tears. Five years ago, five years seemed like an impossible feat. I was sure that I would never make it that far. I was sure that I could never make it to this point. Today, five years seems...right? Five years seems ok. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday and sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. Five years is not what I thought it would be.

There's so much left to learn and no one left to fight

So when I hear that Seether heart doesn't beat a little bit faster anymore. It doesn't remember that day at Sarah's house with sadness. It certainly still makes me think of Phil. It always will. But I can listen to that song--really listen to those lyrics--and instead of making me cry, I can smile, listen, and realize how far I've come.

Because I'm broken when I'm open
And I don't feel like I'm strong enough
Cuz' I'm broken when I'm lonesome
And I don't feel right when you're gone away
You've gone away, you don't feel me here anymore

Do I still feel broken sometimes? Sure. Do I feel like I'm not strong enough to deal with this on certain days? Absolutely. Will it ever feel right that he's gone? Nope. But those broken and weak days really do make me that much stronger on every other day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Well...Rascal Flatts has done it again.

when the sand runs out
what hurts the most
God bless the broken road

What do these songs have in common? They all make me think of Phil. I hear two beats into each one of these songs and my thoughts immediately go to my best friend. There are literally hundreds of songs that remind me of Phil--but RF always seem to have a song that fits exactly into what I'm feeling.

Their newest song is called 'Why'. As the 5th anniversary of Phil's death is approaching, this new song has touched me in ways that no other song has. I'm going to post the lyrics here (they alone will give you chills, I guarantee it--especially if you've lost someone to suicide). I highly suggest you find the song online and actually listen though...

I think a lot (if not, all) of Phil's friends and family have thought the exact words in this song. When you lose someone to suicide, I feel like the underlying question is always "why???" For me, that's all I wanted to know. I pictured the future. I pictured everything we were going to miss. And I always pictured Phil happy. But he obviously wasn't. So the hardest thing for me to think about was why. Why is this what he chose? Why did he want to leave? Why was he unhappy? And why didn't I know? I think those are pretty common questions for anyone.

Anyway...this song pretty much encompasses all of that.

Here are the lyrics (and if you get a second, say a little prayer for all of Phil's friends and family this Sunday--5 is a big one and it's hard to believe it's here already):

You must have been in a place so dark
You couldn't feel the light
Reaching for you through that stormy cloud
Now here we are gathered in our little home town
This can't be the way you meant to draw a crowd

Oh why, that's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could have said or done
Oh I had no clue you were masking a troubled soul
God only knows what went wrong
and why you'd leave the stage in the middle of a song

Now in my mind I'll keep you frozen as a 17 year old
Rounding third to score the winning run
You always played with passion no matter what the game
When you took the stage you shined just like the sun

Oh why that's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could have said or done
Oh I had no clue you were masking a troubled soul
Oh God only knows what went wrong
and why you would leave the stage in the middle of a song

Now the oak trees a swaying in the early autumn breeze
The golden sun is shining on my face
Tangled thoughts I hear the mocking bird sing
This old world really ain't that bad a place

Oh I there's no comprehending and who am I to try judge or explain
But I do have one burning question
Who told you life wasn't worth the fight
They were wrong
They lied
Now you're gone and we cry
Its just not like you to walk away in the middle of a song
Your beautiful song
Your absolutely beautiful song

Thursday, November 12, 2009


How many of you have heard of Compassion? It's a Christian organization that is spreading God's word and helping many, many children in third world countries. I followed along Angie's journey when she went on a compassion trip and I am now following along Kelly as she journeys to El Salvador with Compassion.

Kelly's words have really been sticking in my head these past few days (she and her husband have been there for 3 days so far). Her recap from Wednesday really got to me though. I just cannot stop thinking about all the children she's put pictures up of--especially those young girls (some just a few years older than Briana!) that shouldn't have a worry in the world but are instead about to give birth or have already given birth and are learning how to raise their child/ren.

How is that possible?

12 year olds having babies (the majority of whom were raped). Children living in the conditions that they live in. Many have no running water (one family has to hike up a dangerous road 3 times a day in order to get water--which is unclean anyways). That same family lives just steps away from the gangleader in that community. They have no toys, no television, no internet. But more than that, they have no cleaning supplies--no toothpaste, no toothbrushes, no soap.

So imagine my disgust today when I realized the things I have been worrying about lately.

My hair looks bad today. I missed my favorite TV show?! My face looks too red in that picture. Do these jeans make me look fat? I can't decide what to eat for dinner. I don't want to clean. Facebook won't let me sign on!

They sound so petty don't they? So inconsequential. So irrelevant. None of those things matter. When I read about the conditions these children from El Salvador are in, I literally cringe at what I consider 'catastrophe' in my life.

I have experienced hardships in my life. I have experienced a lot of things that people my age haven't. But in comparison to these children, I couldn't possibly have a better life. Even in the hard times, I've always had a roof over my head. I've always had running water. I've always had enough to eat. I've never had to worry about living next to dangerous criminals. I've never lived in circumstances like that.

And I'm lucky. We are so spoiled here in America...I don't know if I could survive like those kids. Reading through both Angie and Kelly's stories...actually seeing pictures of those changes your life. I'm not kidding you.

If you go to either Angie or Kelly's blogs (or the Compassion International website) and feel compelled to make a difference, you can sponsor a Compassion child! It's $38 a month to give a child a future. Think about it! Even though I don't have much, I know I'm blessed and have more than any of these kids ever dream of...because of that, I will be sponsoring a child through Compassion soon. I hope you all consider doing the same!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

the best thing about having a sister was that I always had a friend

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."

Me? I was lucky enough to find that friend in my sister. Love you Stef!