Friday, December 30, 2016

Aiden's Footprint

When you haven’t had your own children and now your friend’s kids are graduating from college and getting married and their proud photos boast on face book they’re grandparents for the third time, a sense of separation and loss continues to laugh in my face. Not because they’re doing anything wrong, but because now and then I’m reminded that my activities and conversations remain different and that is simply our childless reality.

The other funny thing that happens is it appears our friends with kids have lived a lifetime while ours has stood still. Sometimes I wonder what our life would’ve been like had children entered on the scene. Would my husband and I have been able to break the bad parts of our family habits while embracing the good? Would we’ve learned how to have a pillow fight or take our kids hiking? Would we have enjoyed family game nights? Played tricks on each other? Created traditions like taco night? Would we’ve been rigid parents? Or would we have seen the world through our children’s childlike wonder?

Infertility closed that window around fifteen years ago so it’s hard to know what we would’ve been like, but that’s okay now because our routine revolves around other things.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

My Cup of Coffee: Habit, Tradition or Reflection?

Who doesn’t like a cup of coffee? I know, not everyone does, like my sister. She’s a tea drinker. Actually I do enjoy tea, but I love my coffee. Thank goodness when we visit my family in North Carolina, I have a kindred java-spirit in my brother-in-law!
Sometimes I think I should give it up because I can’t drink it without cream and sugar. I did drink it black for a phase, a very short phase. I’ve also given it up for lent and a detox-cleanse. Believe it or not I once gave it up for a year! So like, what’s the deal? Why bother drinking it? I know, duh, dumb question!  
HKBC coffee mug
Because then a brisk fall or chilled winter morning comes and our living room, a porch or the mountains invite a steaming hot cup of fresh coffee where I can warm my hands around the mug. Or a friend invites me for a short three hour chat over coffee at Panera’s, or the hot summer beckons a tall iced coffee!
But why do I have this on again off again love hate struggle about giving it up? I don’t really know other than it got me thinking one day about my first cup of coffee.
During study hall in the cafeteria at Newtown High, I sat at a lunch table with a small group of friends near the back of the cafeteria which was lined with windows and a door that opened onto the patio. Making the most of our time to study, I utilized my budding secretarial skills by keeping track of the poker game scores.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Go Away Monsters God is Bigger than You

Saturday I was privileged to watch my husband do what he does best, sing and play music as he ministered to Alzheimer patients at a local assisted living facility. Actually, as I watched him, my husband ministered to me too.

Curtis Willey - music therapy 2016
After he warmed them up with Accentuate the Positive, he sang Deep Water by Bob Wills. One of the gray haired ladies waved me over and with a glint in her eyes whispered, "Is he singing that because you two had a fight? Are you in deep water?" We chuckled. For an hour he holds their attention and engages them in sing-alongs. Everyone loves Bad Bad Leroy Brown and try and stop them from choo chooing when he sings Folsom Prison Blues. It's literally a party!

When his hour was up and he packed his things, a woman in a wheel chair turned her face up to me and said, "Please stay with me," as she began to get weepy.

I said, "Okay. What's going on?"

She said, "I'm frightened" and proceeded to cry for a few seconds.

I asked what she was frightened of and she stated, "I don't know."

I asked how long she'd been here and without blinking an eye, no tears, she claimed, "I just arrived today."

"Oh and where did you come from?"


"That's a lovely part of the state with some nice old houses. Did you have an old house or a new house?"

With a stern look she said, "My house isn't old."

Then she became weepy again and begged, "Please don't leave me I'm frightened."

I took her hand and shared a story with her. Really it was a God thing because I felt helpless and didn't know what to say. As I held her hand I shared with her a condensed version of when our nephew first slept over our house at the age of five.

He had just moved to Connecticut and was missing his mom. He didn't want to sleep in our guest room rather he wanted to camp out in his Aunt and Uncle's room so he could feel safe. I made a pallet of blankets and big pillows for him and buried him with all my stuffed animals so he was like a snug bug with furry friends. Everything was fine until I heard him cry out in fear. I ran back up stairs to see what was wrong.

"What's up buddy?"

"I'm afraid. I keep hearing noises. Something's outside on the roof."

He was sleeping near an open window which was over our front porch. I sat with him and listened through the window screen until he could point out to me what he was hearing that made him so scared.

He said, "That's it. Did you hear that, that noise?"

I smiled and tried not to laugh too hard because his fear was real to him.

I said, "Oh honey those are acorns falling on the roof."

He didn't believe me. He was certain it was something else.
I couldn't convince him it was only acorns.
Finally I said, "Why don't we go outside and look at them."

At first he was hesitant to go outside in the dark with me but then he decided to trust me.

I held his little five-year old hand as we walked through his fear by going out the front door and stepping off the front porch onto the sidewalk. In the dark we stood between two big oak trees about 200 years old and watched it rain acorns.

"Look up there buddy, do you see that window?"


"That's where you're sleeping, right under these big trees that are dropping acorns on the roof near your head."

When I tucked him back in he felt a little better but it was still a foreign house to him with unfamiliar sounds yet he was a little more at peace because we put a different perspective on the fear in his head.

Looking out through the screen. I said, "You know what, next time you hear a noise that scares you, shout out the window, go away monsters God is bigger than you!"

We kneeled in front of the window and practiced several times as we shouted out into the dark silhouette of the old oak trees. I don't know if he was shy or thought I was weird but eventually he got the hang of it when I said, "It's okay to shout loud." And he did.
 As I held the frightened ladies hand, I said, "I don't know what you're afraid of but like I told my nephew, you can shout out loud to the air and say, "Go away monsters, God is bigger than you!"

She calmed down and stared at me. I don't know if she received it or not, but that was what I had to offer. That was what God put on my heart.

This was the second time I've gone to the Alzheimer facility with my husband. I was moved to go last minute. I'd been feeling sorry for myself these days because I've had a rough year between personal things and family health combined with the economy and this historical year of events. Life can be overwhelming sometimes and shake the tree of doubt.

So while I'm talking to this frightened woman, I was reminded that I don't take my own advice often enough.

Daily, I need to be mindful of whose voice I'm listening to and following and I need to shake the tree of life, not doubt.

I need to stop listening to the committee in my head that wants to paint everything with fear and impossibility and I need to remember what I told our five-year-old nephew when I said,

"It's okay to shout out loud, 'Go away monsters God is bigger than you!'"

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

We Still Dance

Celebrating 20 years of marriage August 24, and we're still dancing!

excerpt from my chapter: THE FRAGILE DANCE

Who are we kidding? When boy meets girl, boy wants sex and girl wants to feel loved. But when the infatuation wears off, we both want the same thing. To be noticed, respected, appreciated. To fix and to help. A companion. Someone to have fun with and grow old with when no one else would have us.

Perhaps the thing we are seeking is what true love is, but seldom do we recognize what is staring us in the face. Perhaps something deep inside doesn’t want to appear desperate yet we desperately seek to be loved. Rather than share a real part of ourselves, maybe we share a fake part so the infatuated encounter remains a stranger in our mind. But are we hiding or have we exposed that we are seeking? Perhaps we believe if we let our guard down, we will be exposed and vulnerable. Vulnerable, not with the stranger, but with this opportunity placed before us to cultivate real protection, safety and love.

The dance of these decisions is challenging enough when our seed is fostered in a loving home. When it isn’t, it is harder to believe, trust, give of ourselves, and perhaps know the difference. The crossroad of these choices becomes fragile as we dance with two left feet.

Who says Prince Charming has to come on a white horse and kiss me awake to a better life? Sure, a princess dress looks pretty but I’m not a fan of bras, never mind corsets.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother's Day Bloom: The Fragrance of Redemption

For those who have read my blogs which reveal a once strained mother-daughter relationship I share this so you can see the positive results of why I write the negative. May this encourage those who understand.

L to R: Cyndi Jo, Gram-maternal, Mike, Tammy Sue
L to R: Mom & Dad
Cyndi Jo, Mike, Tammy Sue

The reason I share the truth of past pains is so I can celebrate the gain of our victories!

L to R: Tammy Sue, Mike, Cyndi Jo 

L to R - Tammy Sue, Cyndi Jo, Mom, Mike in back
It is never easy to shed light on a situation that needs a change for healing. It’s a risky and vulnerable position to tread.

I am here to tell you that our families relationships have improved tremendously in the past couple of years. Proof that when it seems impossible, it is never to late for redemption.

Because our mom and her children (us) have been willing to dig in the dirt of past hurts, we can shed light on truths and begin to heal and grow a richer family relationship that talks about things other than the weather. What a sweet fragrance we are experiencing.

My mother has become my biggest fan, supporter, encourager and cheerleader of my blog and book. More than once she has told me, “I know you didn't have the best childhood and I wish more than anything it could've been different but you must keep writing and get your story out so other's can heal.” 

I share a couple blog quotes from her because this was foreign conversation between us not too long ago. I bring you into the world of our growth in an effort to offer hope.

Blog - Healing With Mom May 6, 2015 “Thank you, Tammy Sue. I couldn't be prouder of you! We've come through a lot; I wonder where the next ten years will take us. I love you with all my

Blog –  Infertility: The Empty Mother’s Day Womb May 2, 2016 “Nicely said! I can read this now, knowing how far we've come. I love you so much. Mom”

more redemptive healing...
Mom sent this in January 2016
And this is why I write, heal and write to heal!

Victory and Redemption!
I can honestly say with a true heart 
I love you and I am proud to call you mom! 

Thanks for digging in the dirt with me.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! 
Tammy Sue

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Infertility: The Empty Mother's Day Womb

This goes out to all the motherless wombs who grieve Mother's Day because it hurts.

Like many celebrations that our society recognizes, Mother's Day is one of those holiday's that has grown to astronomic proportions of flowers, cards and candy. God forbid we forget to thank our mother on the designated calendar date. I mean, there's only 364 other days where we might miss the opportunity to be thankful.

Yes, a little cynical but this holiday takes on different shades of grief for those who don't have a mother, never knew their mother, lost their mother, hate their mother, have angst with their mother, didn't have a good mother-daughter relationship or were never able to conceive and be a mother. I'm sure the list goes on.

At the grocery store I'd better get the frozen food last because of the hours I will spend at the card rack searching for the perfect Mother's Day card. Because I grew up abused it'd hard to find one that doesn't say Thank you for always being there and protecting me

And while trying to find a card to be kind guilt invades because I don't gravitate with ease to one of those flowery cards. And before tears can seep out, I set my jaw and grit my teeth to guard against the pain of my own infertility.

Warmed by the memory of a friend who found me wandering the card aisle while I held bananas, I was captivated by our divine encounter as she declared, our God has a plan for your life, not to harm you but to give you plans for the future.  I'm thinking, yeah, right, I'm not feeling it right now. But our eyes locked in the middle of my pain as she blurted, "I don't know where that came from." But we knew in our hearts it came from His peace that brings the hope of something I'm just not privy to know yet, while still clinging to my grief before I'm ready to let it go.
Our infertility was very painful during this time of my life for there are many layers to the scars of motherhood beyond the stretch marks and obvious duty stated on a Hallmark card.

I'd like to share an excerpt from my book.

start book excerpt...
During this time of infertility, several proud parents lined the front of the sanctuary eager to have their newborns dedicated on this special day. One by one, as babies were held up for the congregation to see, the moms’ glowed. I shut down.

Following one particular Mother’s Day, the Pastor at that time rattled off glowing attributes of motherhood. After the syrup was poured, he topped his sundae sermon with a cherry that said, “So come on ladies let’s get busy and have more babies.” Ouch. His verbal blow punched me in the gut where all my womanhood had failed me.
end book excerpt...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016


Post #2 of my infertility series.

I know this topic is emotional for some people, but I felt the need to share snippets of my journey for those going through it or grieving the loss. Whatever our situation, isn't it always nice to know we're not alone.

Although my stories are a reflection of my personal experience, my husband is very much a part of what I share. Yes, women tend to feel it deeper for many different reasons, but I'm not the only one in this relationship grieving the loss of our unmet dreams. Both of us were involved.

Make no mistake, he hurts too, we just handle it differently.

The following is an excerpt from my book in the making:

On the heels of me saying we couldn’t get pregnant I was ready to punch the next person who said, “just relax” as they recounted story after story about someone they knew who conceived because they weren’t trying so hard.

If one more person asked if we were going to adopt, I would scream. And if I had to hear yet another story about somebody who knew somebody who became pregnant after they adopted, as if adopting was the only answer for one’s loss, well, I didn’t know what I was going to do. Probably cry again.
Would you tell a person who recently lost their spouse you have a blind date lined up for them, or a woman who lost her baby, she can have another? 

In the immediacy of the wound, the fact was we were grieving the loss of our own unmet natural dreams. 

Although I wanted to scream, it occurred to me most people felt helpless. Their heart-felt advice that came freely like casseroles at a funeral was their way of offering help and hope to my hurt.

I learned that there is no formula to how or when one grieves their loss. And when they are ready to forgive the loss, they will choose whether to adopt or to marry. 

The wounds and the choices are personal.

Stressed? Try not to be stressed when fun and intimacy are taken out of what should be fun and intimate with my husband.

When everything I did revolved around my menstrual cycle, which worked like clockwork. When after practicing on oranges, I had to give myself shots in the stomach. CAT scans and MRIs ruled out the possibility of having a tumor on my brain stem. No stress there. In addition to a series of blood tests, I fell into the “small-unexplained-percentage” of infertile women who couldn’t get pregnant.

Every month I was reminded I’m a woman by my cycle. 

Yet every month the lack of conception reminded me I wasn’t a mother. Basal temperature, hormone shots, timed-sex, blood tests, doctor appointments continued.

Aware or not? 

You bet I was stressed!

~end of book excerpt~

Not all blog endings can make everything okay but they can share a piece of their journey. The only way we get through is to go through. If you've gone through a similar experience I feel your pain and your frustration. Depending on where you are at with this, you will either be mad, crying or laughing. After much prayerful time, I've done all three, and depending on the season will do all three again. But thank God for God and for humor!

Disclaimer: I am not against adoption. If you are adopted, or have adopted, thank God for the miracle of you and your child. This is not about adoption. This is about being sensitive in the moment of someone's loss.This is not a soap-box, just simply about awareness. Trust me, I've made my blunders because my heart felt helpless. I truly believe that is where most people are coming from when they offer advice.

Post#1: Infertility: The Hope of Spring
Post#2: Infertility: No Stress Here
Post#3: Infertility: The Empty Mother's Day Womb

Monday, March 14, 2016

Infertility: The Hope of Spring

Post #1 of my infertility series:

The April walk around the reservoir was a perfect place to share the news with my family. A phone call would’ve been quicker, but there are some things that need to be said face to face. Or should I say, more fun if shared in person.

After a few laps around the water, my husband and I plopped down in the grass with my sister and brother-in-law who were visiting. When the moment was right, I blurted, “I’m late!”

At first I was concerned the announcement was premature because let’s face it I didn’t pee on the stick yet, but soon the Saturday air filled with celebration. 

We cheered and hugged as the questions flowed, one after another. What a journey the past three years had been since a doctor’s appointment first revealed a slightly elevated prolactin level. Series of blood tests and doctor appointments monitored my prolactin numbers which continued to rise, causing leaky breasts. An elevated prolactin is common in pregnant women as their body prepares to produce milk for their baby.

However because I wasn’t pregnant during those three years, doctors had to rule out the other possible cause for this, a tumor on my brain stem. Once the third round of MRI’s and a CT SCAN detected no tumor, I fell into the small percentage of unexplained blah blah blahs. 

In the meantime, trying not to be stressed, we followed doctor’s orders, so to speak, and continued trying to make a family. Because my cycle was still regular they said, “Nothing to be concerned about while you’re trying to conceive.” In the meantime, five months before the reservoir walk, I was instructed to record my basal body temperature by taking my temperature each morning before getting out of bed. In other words, I recorded my ovulation clock.

Funny symptoms took over my body during the cycle of April 1999. I had to pee a lot more than usual. Even my breasts discharged a little. My back hurt, so did Curtis’. Pseudo symptoms we laughed. Our cat Lacer became extra needy so my husband’s theory, “Maybe Lacer is like a dolphin and can tell you’re pregnant.” A girlfriend said, “You have color in your face, have you been in the sun?”

Excited that this must be a sign, I blushed, “No.”