Friday, August 14, 2015

A Little Piece of My Heart: Conner's 1st Birthday

This week has kind of sucked. And not for the normal reasons of a sucky week like sleeping past the alarm clock, losing my corporate credit card somewhere in the abyss of my dirty car or stressing about media deadlines at work. Tuesday, August 11th was not only my mom’s birthday, but it was the due date for the baby that we lost. In my mind, it would have been his (or her, although we feel it was a ‘him’) 1st Birthday.

As I silently struggled through the week, I wondered if I was normal. Do other miscarriage mommies mourn like this? Am I too upset? Who can I talk to that will understand?  And then I decided that I was sad and didn’t care what anyone thought. On Tuesday, I literally couldn’t get out of bed. I was paralyzed with sadness. I then felt guilt about this sadness, because if this baby would have been born- I wouldn’t have my beautiful little Charlotte. So, my emotions are all very confusing and hollowing and lonely. 

After the miscarriage, we named the baby Conner. This week, I prayed for God to show me Conner. In Heaven, is he whole and healthy? Last night, in between getting up with my teething little Charlotte, I saw him. Conner has brown hair and chubby cheeks. He has big brown eyes like his big sister. A huge smile with two little bottom teeth. His chubby legs are just beginning to walk. We talked for awhile and couldn’t decide if he likes trains or elephants more. While this entire encounter could have been a figment of my imagination and broken heart, I choose to believe it was the beautiful gift of a few minutes with my happy baby boy.

Today, I’m glad August 11st is over. I feel joy for my beautiful daughters and joy that I am a Christian, because my faith gives me the knowledge that my son is in the very best hands. And that we will all be together one day in Heaven. I’ve decided that every year in honor of Conner’s birthday that I will do something kind for another family. This year, Conner’s birthday gift was delivering meals to my friend Hillary who is busy with her three children, including her daughter Livie who has many health struggles. I loved Conner through loving them. And it felt right. The perfect way to honor his short life.

Over the past few years, losing Conner and watching both my parents conquer cancer, I’ve learned to be a more loving, forgiving and compassionate person. I’ve learned to put my phone down and enjoy life. If you’re struggling through a tough time, please know that you’re not alone- and that there are many people to talk you through it. It’s okay to be sad sometimes.

Happy 1st Birthday, Conner! And Happy 8 Months to my Charlotte. Life is a funny thing. 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Goodbye, 804.

Around my pre-teen years, my grandparents made the decision to invest in a beautiful little condo at Panama City Beach. I’ve grown up coming to this condo and within these walls are many of the best moments of my life. However, nothing is more special than the balcony. On the 8th floor balcony, you literally feel as though you’re sitting on top of the ocean. The smell of salty air is thick and, if you listen carefully, you can hear as each special wave gently laps the sandy shoreline. In summary, it’s pure bliss. Heaven on earth.

On this balcony… Oh, this balcony. A lifetime of memories. It’s hard to even put it into words. On this balcony, I’ve giggled with my best friends over Ms. Newby’s hunch punch. I’ve cried. I’ve prayed. I’ve dreamed. I’ve wondered. I’ve argued. I’ve contemplated. I’ve smoked cigarettes (sorry, Mom). And, eventually, I grew up. Jason and I slept on the balcony underneath the stars. We talked about our hopes and dreams for our future. The balcony saw my marriage piece together. Held the steps of my firstborn as she stared out at the Gulf for the first time. And, now, it’s my last time sitting on this balcony. Just me and my 6-month old second born, Charlotte. Just a year prior the balcony held my fears as I was cautiously expecting this little girl following a miscarriage.

Oh, this balcony. The sound of these waves. I’ve left my heart here year-after-year for the waves to swallow and carry onward.

I say goodbye to unit 804 as our family prepares to occupy a larger condo on the beach to fit our growing family. It’s a new adventure full of bunk beds for little ones and larger dining spaces for family dinners. A perfect turn of the page for our next chapter of life.

Goodbye balcony, 804. And… thank you.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Marriage Equality: Hear My Take

The issue of marriage equality is something I’m especially passionate about, and I invite you to read my opinion. As many of you know, I grew up in the bridal industry. Like the fashion industry overall, the bridal industry is a wonderful melting pot of diversity- different races, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations. While I was raised in a conservative Christian family with traditional values, the people that surrounded me within the bridal industry taught me to love everyone just as they are with no judgment. I am blind to differences, and I love that about my upbringing.

As I’ve scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed, I’ve seen so many people post comments against gay marriage that come across as brash, hateful, judgmental and condemning. I invite those of you who may not know many gay people (or any gay people) to think about the subject differently. Please contemplate this simple question… in high school, remember dying to have the latest fashions so that you could fit in? It is human nature to desire to belong and fit in.

Gay people don’t just wake up and decide that they want to be different- that they want to go against the societal norm. Until now, the gay population had to accept the fact that if they “came out”, that friends and family who they loved might be shocked or disappointed. They might not be blessed with children. Finding a “normal” executive job might be difficult. And, most of all, they would never be able to legally get married. Being gay meant living with a sense of rejection. And who would voluntarily jump up and down with his or her hand raised for that kind of life and treatment? It’s who they are.

Throughout history, various cultures have tried methods of teaching, medications, counseling and even hypnosis to reverse the desires of a gay person. Do these methods work? No. You cannot pray away the gay. Randy Fenoli from Say Yes to the Dress New York explained to me one evening at dinner, “Mollie, I was weaving together colorful pot holders with my mom, while my brothers were outside wrangling horses on the farm. I was always different.” This resonated with me then at age 10- and now.

So many of you desire to have a fun “gay guy friend.” You want a gay man to dress you, to help select fabulous shoes and to laugh at during your favorite television shows. You’ve had a gay man beautifully style your hair or apply make up for a special occasion. Has it ever occurred to you that this gay person, hidden underneath layers of humor and humility, wants and deserves a life that is secure and validated?

I have countless gay people in my life. And not to generalize, but my gay friends are sincere, witty, kind and understanding. Why? Because they’ve known a lifetime of adversity. My daughters have legally married gay Godfathers, because I couldn't ask for better people and servant-minded role models for my girls. 

One day, when I get to Heaven, all of God’s word and the manipulation of His word will be made clear. I do know that His greatest commandment is love. I choose love. The Supreme Court chose love. And guess what? #LoveWins today and always.