“We Are All Just Walking Each Other Home” ~ Ram Dass

My mom and I
The day of my moms passing with her two best friends Eileen and Chris (who have also now passed)
Mom and Clarence.

I continued seeing my third psychiatrist into my mid 50’s. I remained in confusion as to why I was not getting better. But I kept looking outward. That was my problem. I didn’t want to look inward. I filed for divorce more than once, thinking that ‘we’ were my problem. I retracted my filing each time out of feeling that my marriage was most likely not my problem. If I really thought about Steve, I knew that what I really had for him was love and gratitude for everything he had put up with. For never giving up on me and for fulfilling my lifelong dream and much more. So I stayed.

Before doing such things as filing for a divorce, I had hit rock bottom and was so severely depressed that I did become concerned for my life. I couldn’t take going in and out of depression any more. It was exhausting. It was lonely. I felt helpless and hopeless, like I would never get better. This would be with me forever and as much as I loved my family I could not continue to suffer like this for the remainder of my life. I suddenly understood suicide. Why people chose it. To end suffering. If there’s no help, how could I live like this? I came close…but did not act out, I drove myself to a hospital emergency room instead.

The hospital did not have a psychiatric unit. I thought they did and because they did not, I was transferred to a mental hospital. I suddenly decided I wished I had not gone in. I had a feeling this would not be a good experience. Well, I was right. I entered and was stripped down to nothing like I was entering jail for them to make sure I had nothing dangerous on me. They put me on the floor with the most severe mental patients. I freaked out. I was scared to death. They were both young and older patients. Many patients would get angry and blow up and would have to be restrained. I felt like I was in the movie “one flew over the cuckoos nest”. You weren’t allowed to go in your room until bedtime but I was so upset and didn’t know what to do as other patients stood around in the halls fighting or screaming so I went to lay down in my room anyways. Soon after a difficult patient that I was rooming with came in our room and was very angry and getting more mad by the minute about something. I panicked but lay in my bed with my back to this young girl and before I knew it, she started hitting the room heater with something and screaming. I lay there shaking in fear and crying under my blanket not knowing what to do, than a fire started. I jumped up and ran out of the room and in the employees ran to restrain her and put out the fire. I was overwhelmed with sudden depression that I was there. (I thought, this place is not going to get me better.) Needless to say they realized I was on the wrong floor and moved me upstairs with the milder cases like myself. Honestly, it was like dying and going to heaven to move up there!

After my hospital experience I continued seeing my third psychiatrist but not for much longer. I could not take feeling bad all the time any more and the hospital stay got me nowhere. It was time to move on. I started my research for a new one and had great luck finding someone I felt very confident about after our initial session. He was younger into his new practice. I felt he would be up on the latest and I was right. I was excited to feel that I had finally found a good psychiatrist. I had started back up with therapy during the time I had filed for divorce. Steve and I went into counseling to help better understand each other. And to help Steve better understand me.

By this time in my life I was healing from the loss of my father, my mother and my step father. Losing all of them was a hard thing. But mostly the one that brought me into this world. My rock, my go-to for everything. The one my cord continued being attached to. I didn’t know what I would do without having her in my life any more. She had a pretty long life, but not long enough to me. And I knew she wished she’d had a few more years. It was a huge loss but most of her family was all there by her side to say goodbye while she passed. It was hard and I stayed back with sister Julie and my daughter Lindsay holding my moms hand, just staring at her face and holding her hand, not wanting to leave her. But yet, it was a beautiful send-off with us all there and I only hope I’m as lucky as she was to have my loved ones with me at the end. Not everyone has that privilege.

It took me about one full year of heavy grieving and a couple more to adjust completely to life without mom. She passed in December and by summer I would go out and do my chores outside with horses or mowing and I’d cry with deep emotion and I noticed every time I felt this deep emotion of loss, I would start seeing white feathers. It never failed, every time for the whole first year after she passed. So my symbol for my mother was a white feather and a few years later I decided to get my first tattoo of a feather on my inner wrist. I would never forget this symbol and carry my moms memory with me always. My mom and Clarence were very special people. I miss them each and every day. But life is an ever evolving circle. One is born, another dies. And as said by Ram Dass, “we are all just walking each other home.”

I was having success with my new psychiatrist. He gradually took me off some of my meds and adjusted what he needed. He did not feel I actually had BiPolar II as I did not fall under the description of it’s full symptoms. What I thought I was doing with the animals as being ‘manic’, he felt, was actually more of an obsessive/compulsive behavior within the illness of ADHD. And he diagnosed me at that time also with Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety. So he treated me with medication for those. I was beginning to experience more longer lengths of stable mood but yet still struggled in and out of depression. After a while I was able to get off my anxiety medication and no longer experienced that. I was so grateful for that. My anxiety would hit me out of nowhere when I suffered with it. It would cause me nausea and vomiting and this went on for several years but somehow it came to a stop. He continued treating me for the ADHD and depression. We were limited on what was available as a drug to treat me. We had luck with Abilify for the most part. The depression didn’t last as long, but I remained very emotionally sensitive all the time. A lot of changes were coming our way and I thought I was ready for these changes. But, I was not at all.

My feather tattoo in remembrance of my mother

Me and my siblings at a celebration after my moms passing

“There Is Love In Holding….And Love In Letting Go” ~ Elizabeth Berg

As I was nearing my 50’s, lots of changes had taken place in the family. Lindsay graduated high school, went on to college for a career in the marketing and merchandising area of fashion. She finished college in Michigan and decided to pursue her dream of continuing her education in New York. Her dad and I got her moved and situated there. It was very surreal leaving her behind in the city that doesn’t sleep, having not been familiar with it at all. I wondered how she would figure out the enormous subway system. She had more bravery than I ever could have. I was extremely proud of her and impressed with her determination to make it there.

Alexis finished high school and horse showing on the Arabian horse circuit. I lived vicariously through her with her abilities of riding. She had a natural talent with the horses she rode and competed on. The last time she showed we were in Indiana at a regional show and we sold her horse there and we both were silent all the way back home. I think we each went to our separate places to cry when we returned home. We had spent about 7 years with her showing. It was a hard thing to let go of. I told her my hope was that someday she could enjoy doing it again. She went on to college after for cardiac sonography and eventually ended up at University of Michigan Hospital. Another child to be extremely proud of for us.

Thus far, they had excelled and succeeded and each had a good head on their shoulders. I was so relieved as my kids grew, that they did not struggle with the mental illness that I had. Austin was the last one left at home. I was going to fight my illness as hard as I could to continue finding the right help so I would be able to spend much of my time with Austin during his last years of school at Milford High. He was very involved in sports, very active, very social and very academically inclined, unlike myself. I had to study very, very hard to remain in the average grade range. For Austin, it came naturally. I never had to make him do his school work. He just did it. He wanted to remain in sports like he had been all along and I’m sure that helped him make sure to study hard as well. He was very conscientious about staying on top of his classes. He remained having the same friends that he had started school with. I adored his friends and their parents. These were some great years. I lived vicariously through each of my children. Lindsay in the city that I loved, Alexis with her horse ability’s and Austin through just being the person he was with his personal gifts. I enjoyed his school years as much as he did I think. I knew with him being the last in the house, I wanted to really grasp and hold on to it all as long as I could.

I kept busy and involved with Austin. He played some football. He always played basketball and LaCrosse. Every spring brought excitement with it, to watch him play LaCrosse. It was an exciting game. He was quick on his feet and talented with the ball. There was never anything he didn’t seem to excel at in my eyes. And to top it off, he was always a very kind soul to everyone with his pleasant personality that he had from the time he was a baby. I think because I nearly lost my life when I had him that I felt a certain bond. I was so grateful to have lived and watch my kids grow. I knew I was a very lucky person.

I had a very difficult transition to adjust to each time I had to start letting go of Austin, being my last one. When he graduated elementary, when he graduated from Highland Middle School and was the last class to attend there and it was tore down after, and than when he started driving and he didn’t need me to drive him everywhere anymore as a chauffeur. The first time he drove himself somewhere without needing me, I think I cried myself to sleep that night. I knew that was the first big experience of letting go and it was just the beginning of learning to let go. Next came high school graduation. I could barely hold myself together. My baby was going on to college and I’d have no more kids at home with me. What would I do with all my time and what would Steve and I do with this big house? We moved Austin to East Lansing to attend Michigan State University for a degree in Engineering.

I could hardly stand not having Austin home. I dreaded this time coming. I was excited for him in college but at home I felt kind of lonely with all the kids out of the house. All those years of raising kids and they were all gone. I wasn’t sure how I’d adjust. I always dreaded change. I did not go with the flow to easily. I was not sure what would become of me when I no longer had my kids to keep me busy. They were everything to me. I was suddenly feeling confused again and immersing myself in my addiction. This will keep me happy…I thought. If I wasn’t still thinking about another pet, than I was trying to decide with the kids being gone, if Steve and I were meant to be together any more, maybe if we weren’t, that would be my answer to happiness within finally. My head was spinning again. I was still with my third psychiatrist.

Austin and I. High school prom day. I think I’m holding onto him for dear life not to leave me!
Austin #3 playing LaCrosse
Austin graduation day
Steve and Austin 2015
My beautiful girls (high school)
Lindsay and her horse Drifter
Alexis and her last show horse, Stepps
Lexie’s graduation from Milford High
Lindsays college graduation from LIM in New York
Lexie’s graduation from Baker College
Some of my family at Austin’s graduation party 2015.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

By my mid 40’s I decided after about five years or so of treatment with Dr. Einstein (my nickname for him, he looked just like him), I did some research and found a new doctor. When I finally got into him for my evaluation, I explained to him my mood changes. The different moods I went in and out of and the depression that came and went regularly. He proceeded to tell me after about 45 minutes of listening and asking me questions, that his diagnosis was bipolar II and got me off my anti depressants and put my on two medications. One anti-psychotic and a newer anti-depressant. I felt a sense of relief when he told me. I thought I finally had an answer. I didn’t care so much what I had, I just wanted an answer.

Shortly after I started seeing psychiatrist number two, the office called one day to let me know that his practice was closing due to the doctor passing away suddenly. I felt so bad for his family. Not because I knew them but he was a young man, and died in his sleep. So, unfortunately I was stuck researching for psychiatrist number three. I soon found one. He did not ever diagnose me. He continued the treatment the previous doctor prescribed. I told him what I had and he just adjusted medications up and down depending on how I was doing and was more than anything, a therapist to me than a psychiatrist. We’d chit chat about life, the weather, Michigan State University, his alma mater. And after catching up, we’d talk about me. I stayed with Dr. Einstein number two for another five or so years. My last appointment with him, I was in a deep state of confusion with all the meds I was on and between that and his therapy sessions, he had my head spinning deeper into that confusion. I knew I shouldn’t have been feeling that bad. It was time to search for psychiatrist number four.

During the years with psychiatrist number three, I hung in there under his care, not really knowing where else to look for help because my moods were still all over the place and still in and out of depression. In turn, this caused confusion for me as to why I couldn’t get better after all these years. I was also still buying and selling horses. Going thru a couple more dogs and cats. I still was clueless that this was a problem. I did not consider how that not only affected the pet and myself, but everyone close to me. My children, my husband, my closest friends and other family. Some were angry, some ignored it, or tried. And my closest friend at that time, would say nothing. She knew it was not right, but I’m sure she felt put in a very tight spot. After all, she boarded her horse with me and I don’t think wanted to have to leave. My care for my pets was always a top priority and I spent thousands taking care of them. And I lost thousands buying and selling them usually.

During these moody, depressed years, I always worked very hard at holding myself together for my kids. I think in some ways my kids were my salvation. All I ever wanted growing up was to be a mother. If it were not for being a mother, I’m not sure I would be around. My depression would get that bad. I tried to only suffer in silence, hoping to keep the kids from seeing their mother like that. I never attempted suicide but I had the thought and temptation more than once during these years.

I knew how blessed I was to have children and I did not want to screw that up with my illness. Sometimes my anger would be too strong to hold back and I was lashing out at Steve. I felt safe to be angry around him, or to him. I knew no matter what, he was still going to love me. Sometimes I didn’t want his love. All I wanted was to run away and hide like I felt my dad had done. Steve would say to me, “I’m not going to allow you to do the same thing.” As often as we may have argued, one thing was for certain, Steve was never going to give up on me as hard as I had tried to run, thinking it would make me feel better. I longed to feel that happy feeling and wondered why I couldn’t stay that way.

Myself on Sonny, my special Tennessee Walker.
L-R, myself, Alexis, sister Julie and Lindsay
Lindsays high school graduation from Milford High School, 2007

My Forties – A Time Of Searching Continues

We made many wonderful memories in our new home. Our business was thriving. The kids were growing like weeds. By this time I was mostly being busy as a mom. I loved life as a mother to my kids. This was everything I had dreamed of. I had a wonderful husband and although we had our issues here and there, we loved each other very much. Lindsay was nearly a teenager with Lexie not far behind and while they were off to school, I tried very hard to hold on to the time that I had solely with Austin. I knew they’d all grow fast, and I was so grateful to have Austin a little later in life to have around as the girls became busy with school and their social life, gradually slipping away as they became more independent.

Before I knew it, I was into my forties and Austin was starting school. I couldn’t believe it. Lindsay was in high school and Alexis middle school. Steve was working his usual overload of hours at our business with our partners. Me? Well, I found something that was helping me to feel good and I ran with it. Anything that would help me feel good, I grabbed onto. I would tend to over-spend buying clothes, shoes, whatever we wanted almost, for me and for the kids. I didn’t look for sales or bargains. If I wanted it bad enough, I’d get it. But the one thing that made me feel warm and fuzzy all over, was getting a new pet. The only problem was, I couldn’t keep getting pets so eventually I would justify letting a pet go so that I could replace them and experience that warm and fuzzy, happy, good feeling again. It was not a conscious thing. I had no idea what I was really doing. There was a reason for everything and that justified it all.

My mood changed like the Michigan weather. I never knew what the next day would bring me. I could go from hot to cold. Happy to sad. But I continued very hard to keep the “happy” feeling. I struggled continuously, swinging in and out of depression. I suffered with constant confusion about what was going on with me. Why was I like this and why was I not getting better with treatment? I had been on so many different anti-depressants. Nothing helped and in fact, I think it made me worse. I was experiencing quite a bit of anger which was making me very moody.

I kept myself busy by getting so many different horses, I cannot count how many, but a lot coming and going. I lost horse boarders over it. Yet, I kept doing it. The only good thing was, I did learn a lot about horses in a considerably short amount of time. I do remember most. They each had an impact on me. Some, I rescued. Some I just thought were pretty so I bought them. Those seemed to always be the mean ones. The ones with major issues and I flew off several of those pretty horses and poor Lindsay did too. Sometimes I don’t know what in the world I thought by putting an inexperienced rider like Lindsay on a pretty, new horse. When I would find some a new home, they would show me how unhappy they were when they left my farm when I would take them to their new home. Many I had gotten from horse dealers, so they were under nourished and starving for attention. Some, when I would re-home would show their insecurity about leaving. I had one chase after my car, whinnying as I drove away. I put myself through so much misery every time I’d say goodbye. Let alone, the stress it put on them. But I still could not see what I was doing.

I had been on so many different anti-depressants. Nothing helped and in fact, it made me worse. I was experiencing quite a bit of anger which was making me very moody. I kept searching for myself, answers. I was often a hot mess. It was time to find a new psychiatrist.

My first horse, an Arabian Rosie.
Some of our many horses. And my friends horse I boarded for several years
Tasha (the sheltie I kept). Tanner (the lab I did not)
The second Arabian I bought, Blaze. After selling Rosie. And I did not keep Blaze.

Life Is Good :)…but my struggles continue

By the time I left the hospital and got home, we had a grand opening for our business. I felt bad that I couldn’t embrace such an exciting time more but I felt too distracted by the concern of my heart. In fact, I felt I could not fully enjoy my new baby as much as I would have liked. I went in and out of depression for months after Austin was born.

As depressed as I would get, I worked really hard to hide it from the family and put on that smile and do the very best I could. There was so much good in my life to be thankful for and happy about and I had guilt for not being able to feel it all. People would say, “why is she depressed, she has so much to be happy about?” It made me very frustrated. I couldn’t say why. I didn’t know.

Our new business was doing well and we had bought acreage in the next township over to build a bigger home the following year. I was seeing my cardiologist once a month and had to do that for a year and after that year, it was great news, my heart had shown that it completely healed from the cardiomyopathy. I was a walking miracle he said and I never saw him again. He made sure I understood that I was not to get pregnant again because I would not survive it. That was not a problem. I knew we were done and Steve had surgery to make sure of it I went from St Joe Hospital to The Women’s Heart Center at Beaumont Hospital. The doctor there, I saw once a year to keep an eye on my heart.

By 1998, we had our home built on 4.5 acres. It was a beautiful two-story farm house with four bedrooms, so everyone could have their own bedrooms, they just had to share a bathroom. It had a large kitchen that was great for gatherings. Steve knew I wanted a horse. He knew it had been a life-long dream. He said he preferred to go ahead and build a barn and put up fencing right after the house was done to have it all completed together rather than wait years. I was ecstatic but as usual, it wouldn’t be long before a ball would drop on me or something would burst my bubble. Back down I would go. One day a friend called me. I was in bed, depressed and crying while Austin slept in his crib. My friend said, “what are you depressed about, get it together!”. She took it upon herself to call Steve and tell him what I was doing. Steve later questioned me about my behavior. I was hurt. I felt betrayed. I wanted it to be kept to myself. And I also felt very unsupported by this friend, however, it wouldn’t be the first time she would give me a hard time and I learned in time that even though she would say she’s my friend, her actions would prove differently and I had others that were just as un-compassionate. I longed for compassion and support and understanding and it was time to get some help for myself with my depression. This was a start to a long journey of trying to get better.

I found my first psychiatrist and I entered an outpatient program at the doctors facility for one week. It felt good to talk to people that were suffering like myself but the psychiatrist didn’t seem to be helping much. Being my first experience with a psychiatrist, I didn’t know any different but to trust his medical advice. After all, he had a large, successful business with many patients. He must know what he’s doing. However, every time I had an appointment with him, it could take three hours waiting in the waiting room to see him. I thought, he must be good! But every time I’d go in his office and sit down, he’d ask the same question, “ how was my sex life doing in my marriage?” and other questions, I’d begin to answer him and he’d begin to fall asleep (I guess my sex life didn’t impress him to much!) I could not believe my eyes though, but it was the same routine every visit. He had me on, up to five different medications at one time, trying to see what would help. I continued seeing him for quite a few years, but nothing was helping.

Our newly built home and barn
Lindsay, Alexis and Tasha. Our first Christmas in our new home
Steve and Austin
Our business grand opening
Lindsay and Alexis at the opening
Me, Lindsay and Austin at our grand opening

What Will Become Of Me? My Life On The Line

After I delivered Austin, Steve and I spent a short time together with him. They told me they had to take me to the “telemetry” floor where they could hook me up to heart monitors and they would be able to observe me 24/7. They took me immediately for testing while Austin went to the nursery on the Birthing and Delivery floor. I became suddenly very scared. They explained that I would have to stay on this cardiac floor while Austin would have to stay on the nursery floor. I was so sad that I couldn’t be with him or that he couldn’t come in my room either. To see him they would have to wheel me in my wheelchair to a very small room where we could spend a little time together when I wanted.

The tests continued and finally a cardiologist came in my room to see me. He proceeded to explain that my heart had been very stressed and became weakened and enlarged. They referred to it at that time as “post-partum cardiomyopathy.” They weren’t sure at what point my heart was starting to be affected by pregnancy and delivery but that it was very uncommon and in most cases patients do not survive. I was thrown into shock. I recognized this feeling. I fell into a sudden depression.

The day came after Austin was born, for Steve to take him home. I had to stay in the hospital for a time to continue tests and being observed. They got me in my wheelchair to say goodbye to Austin and Steve. I couldn’t stop crying as we all hugged goodbye at the nurses station and all the nurses were crying too. It was a difficult time. I was a wreck of emotions. All I could think was, what was going to happen to me? I knew my heart could ultimately give out at any moment. What was an exciting time turned into a nightmare for me. I wanted to be healthy, happy and enjoy our new baby. I wanted to breast feed and I couldn’t because they had to put me on Digoxin and other medication to help my heart. “Digoxin”, I thought, that is what Leah was on. I turned into a wreck. Nobody could console me. Floods of memories of Leah came back. I thought, “first Leah and now maybe it will be me.” I wanted to feel good about it possibly being my time and seeing Leah again. But now, I had three children I wanted to live for. I wanted to see this new son of ours grow up with his two older sisters. I pleaded and begged dear God to let me live.

Each hospital day brought more tests. Heart tests, lung tests. And each day I kept crying. I couldn’t stop. The staff was nearly losing their patience with me trying to run tests as I wept. I shook all over. I had a constant headache. I couldn’t sleep. I was afraid if I fell asleep I may not wake up. I just wanted to know I was going to live. I wanted to go home and be with my kids.

Austin went home to stay with Steve’s mother, while the girls were staying with my mother. My mother, grandmother and the girls came to visit me one day. I was so excited to see them all but still hard to hold back my tears. I didn’t want to scare my girls by crying but I knew you could see the sadness written all over my face. I had several visits from family and friends but nothing could cheer me up. My family had just lost David the year before. I didn’t want them to lose me too. Not after so many losses. My mother would never be able to live with two children gone. I continued praying.

Sweet Austin
Finally home with Austin
Steve and Lindsay.
Steve and Alexis
Myself and Austin.

An Answered Prayer

Three years after Steve’s brother Jim’s passing, my family lost my brother Dave to a sudden unexpected death. Dave was 42. He passed several hours after being airlifted to U of M Hospital after a rollerblading accident, in Kensington Metro Park on the 4th of July. He left behind a wife and son. I was the one to break the news to my mom. Clarence had already been gone to work that day and when I started to tell my mom, she thought something happened to Clarence. She never expected her child. Now, myself, my mother, my sister and my mother in law, had this dreadful thing in common, we each lost a child. Different experiences but one in the same.

Before I knew it, Lindsay was already 8 years old and Alexis was 5 and starting kindergarten. I was still busy working at home and Steve was extremely busy preparing to open his own collision business with his best friend in our area. I was feeling sad that both girls were growing so fast. In my heart, I didn’t want Steve and I to have only one child together. I longed to have one more. By this time I was 35 so I felt my clock was ticking away for more children so we’d have to decide now.

Steve agreed about having one more. I was thrilled but a little nervous as my doctor said I was considered a bit of a high risk at my age. I prayed I would be able to get pregnant. I also prayed without trying to be selfish that He would bless us with a son after my having had three girls. I did feel selfish though. All I could think was I wanted first a healthy child above all else, but please if you will Lord, bless us with a son. I found out soon that I was pregnant but days after I found out I ended up at the doctors bleeding. They did an ultrasound and the doctor let me know that I was having a miscarriage. I went home and had to rest. I was very sad. I thought maybe I was too old at the age of 35 to carry another child. I knew what was meant to be would be.

By my 36th birthday I had found out I was pregnant again. I was on cloud nine. Steve was too, but maybe more on cloud eight. He was happy but I think he struggled a little with a baby coming at our age. That didn’t bother me as long as myself and the baby stayed healthy. I felt older to be having a child but not too old at my age. The pregnancy was going good but by my ninth month, I felt very exhausted. More than I remember feeling in the past. I was driving my car one afternoon while the girls were at school and I started feeling dizzy and my heart started beating irregular. I panicked because I was on a busy road. I put my window down for fresh air and tried to breathe deeply. I drove fast to hurry and get home. I thought I was going to pass out but I made it home and whatever had happened with my heart, it had gone back to a regular rhythm at home. I laid down. I never mentioned it to my doctor.

It was later one evening in mid June that I went into labor and we headed to the hospital. My labor was harder than any others. By midnight or so, I was actually begging for a C-section. Something didn’t seem right with me. I felt I was working extremely hard with nothing happening but it was late and the doctor kept saying to let me continue through the night. By early morning I could hardly take the labor anymore but he was coming and it was too late for a C-section. I could hardly push I was so exhausted. Something was happening during the end of labor. The nurses started running around and hooking me up to heart monitors. I looked up at my heart rhythm on the screen and saw that it was not beating regular at all.

It was June 19, 1997 that we had our son, Austin Steven. We were blessed with the beautiful blonde haired baby boy. I felt like my prayers were answered once again, like they were when Steve came into my life. But once again, those prayers would not be answered without having some consequences.

Lindsay holding Austin
Alexis holding Austin
Steve and I with Austin
Austin Steven
Nine months pregnant with Austin

Alexis. About 4 years old
Lindsay about 6 years, Alexis about 3 years. With our first dog, Jake.

The Field Family Begins

Life was exciting between Steve and I. I was on cloud nine having met him and now being married to him. I was keeping busy with work at the salon and now had clients I would do at home as well. Steve finished a room in the basement for me to do hair and nails. I had quite a steady amount of clientele so I eventually decided to leave the salon so I could stay home with Lindsay and the baby when it came.

June 5, 1991 Steve and I welcomed a daughter. Alexis. I gave her my middle name Ann. She was a good healthy weight and the pregnancy and delivery went very well. Alexis had a head full hair and as she grew she had a lot of personality too. She was such a joy and Lindsay absolutely loved being a big sister. She loved to hold her. They grew to have a very close relationship.

My sister Mary gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, since Tommy’s passing. She delivered Julia two days after I delivered Alexis. I was so ecstatic for Mary and Phil. By this time, my mother had many grandchildren and our family time together was always a joy. Especially our Jeffery Christmases.

Life was full of joy. I was enjoying the girls so much. Steve worked very hard and was managing a tool and dye company. His travel to work was lengthy so he had a long day and wasn’t home a lot but we enjoyed the evenings and weekends together. Lindsay usually went to stay with her dad on most weekends and he’d pick her up some evenings to spend with her as well. As Alexis grew, she wanted to be with Lindsay when Lindsay would leave so eventually my ex-husband would take Alexis too. It was quite funny. But we had a good relationship and wanted the girls to just be happy.

By the second anniversary of Leahs death, which was around the Christmas holiday I started experiencing panic attacks. The closer the anniversary came, the worse it would get and eventually I would end up in the emergency room because I was in complete denial that it was grief. I always thought it was my heart but my heart was just being affected by my panic attack. I would begin shaking all over. I would start feeling scared and the first thing that would come to my mind was this fear of death and dying. I would feel helpless and anxious. But I couldn’t understand why this was happening and the panic would make feel safer at the thought of going to the hospital. I would think, “they’ll find out what’s wrong with me.” The hospital would always check my heart because that’s what I told them I was there for. My sisters and mom came to see me in emergency that second anniversary. Mary walked up to my bed and grabbed my hand and looked at me and tears started flowing down her cheeks. Without any words I knew what she was thinking and I looked back at her and shook my head up and down saying, yes, we both knew why I was really there. It’s because of Leah. She hugged me and said, “everything will be ok.”

As each year passed, I kept busy but I would suffer on and off with depression and I would have crying spells. I would do my best to try to keep my depressive state and tears away from the girls and Steve. I would only suffer in silence. I continued wondering what was wrong with me though. I worked very hard to keep it together if I felt sad. After all, as each year passed, it was getting farther and farther away from Leahs passing and I felt I should be moving past it with my new life. Everyone else had moved on and so should I, it seemed.

In 1993, Steve’s younger brother whom he was very close with, passed away at the age of 32 from brain cancer. It was a very difficult loss for us all. I had remembered Jim from junior high school and always adored him as being such a fun loving, happy and very funny person. I was so glad to be part of his family and always enjoyed being around Jim. Experiencing the loss of Jim and what everyone had been through, especially Jim, brought me a lot of anxiety and some more panic attacks. I became extremely fearful of death and dying again. I broke out in a rash all over my body and went to see a doctor. I found this doctor to be very in tune to my anxiety and fear and asked me if I had been under any stress recently. I explained the experience of losing Jim. He told me the rash was solely from stress. He was very compassionate with me. Rather than toss drugs my way he suggested a book. I was so overwhelmed with fear of dying he wanted me to read this to help me feel more comfortable with it. It was a book by Betty J. Eadie, titled “Embraced By The Light” about her near death experience. I found the book to be very helpful and it brought me some calmness. Death didn’t seem so bad after all.

Lindsay holding Alexis. June, 1991
Steve and I and Alexis at Christmas 1992
Steve and Alexis. Christmas with Steve’s family 1991.

A New Life Begins (without Leah)

By August 14th – 1990, Lindsay turned two years old. Steve and I had only been dating two months but we both had fallen hard and fast for each other and knew what we wanted, and that was to be together. I suppose that was a very good thing due to the fact that I found out I was pregnant when October came around. It wasn’t something we were expecting but the love we had for each other was very clear and there was no question about marrying. We didn’t waste any time planning our wedding and decided to marry in December.

Steve had been married previously like myself but had no children. He thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Lindsay but most of Lindsay’s weekends were spent with her father and often during the week when her father could. Lindsays father and I had no remorse toward each other for anything. We both wanted to be friends and get along for our daughter. It was our decision to divorce and all I could hope for was that Lindsay would not be affected in any negative way about her father and I not being together. I felt confident we could accomplish this as long as we both gave her lots of love.

My pregnancy and our upcoming marriage took many people by surprise. After all, Steve and I had only been together for a matter of five months by December. I couldn’t say I wasn’t scared somewhat. Everything was happening very fast and December would bring Leah’s first year anniversary of her passing but this would totally distract me from it. In fact, everything was distracting me from doing any kind of grieving whatsoever. I was way to happy and excited to let anything bring me down anymore.

I decided not to have Lindsay participate in our wedding. I felt at her age she had no clue about what was going on so she stayed with her dad that day. We had a very small and quaint wedding ceremony at a wedding chapel and celebrated with a nice dinner not far from the chapel among our closest family members and Steve’s best friend who was his best man. My sister Jane was my maid of honor. It was December 7th, 1990 that we married on. It was a beautiful snowy winters day. We decided to wait until our first year anniversary, after the baby was born to take a honeymoon.

Mine and Steve’s Wedding. December 7, 1990
With mom and Clarence
Steve and I dating
Steve and I with Lindsay at our favorite restaurant. Hector & Jimmys, Milford, MI.

Life Without Leah – A Little Time Helps With Healing

My mother was very supportive and I believe had a pretty good understanding of what I was going through. She continued her own grieving. Lindsay and I were no longer living with her and Leah was gone. My mother and I talked about Leah and what we were each experiencing. My mother used to always say to watch for signs after we lose a loved one. She believed strongly that our loved ones could send us signs to let us know they were in peace, or they heard us and were nearby. I kept waiting for a sign from Leah. Maybe a dream where I would see her, I longed for something. But nothing ever came.

My mom was having a very hard time. She let me know how very hard it was to not have Leah around her anymore. She told me one day that she had an experience but wasn’t sure wether to tell me. I was so glad she decided to. I needed to hear what she had to say. She proceeded to tell me, that one afternoon she was cleaning things out in her basement. She came across Leahs baby doll. She felt a sudden deep despair of emotion, grabbed hold of Leahs doll and sat down on her stairway, weeping and weeping and cried out saying “Leah….where are you?!” She knew where she was, but she was feeling so lost without her. As she was crying, her teapot on her gas stove, that was not on, went off. It whistled very loudly. My mom than immediately stopped crying and ran up to the kitchen and it stopped when she walked in. She knew than that Leah had sent her a sign that she was fine. She smiled as she looked at the teapot on the stove, knowing she had not had it on to brew any water and there was no water in it, but yet she knew what she heard. She proceeded to tell me that Leah was afraid of the noise her teapot would make when the water was boiling and my mom had to show her how it worked and what it was doing. Leah felt better about it than and it was that, that was chosen to send my mom a sign. I loved hearing this. It gave me comfort even though my mother thought it may not. I wondered why I hadn’t received any signs myself. I have never had any signs or even a dream of her to this day but I except that it is not meant to be. I know I will see her one day and that will be the greatest honor I could receive.

In April, just four months after Leah had passed, my sister Mary delivered a beautiful baby boy. Tommy Lee Pearson. We needed this joy in our lives. All of us. And to have a boy was so exciting. He was a beautiful baby. Dark skinned, dark hair and big dark eyes. I was so happy for Mary and Phil. They had waited a while to have a baby with both of them working full time in their careers, so this came as such a joyous gift to us all. Sadly, this joyful time with Tommy did not last more than three and a half months, and he passed away from sudden infant death syndrome. I could not believe we lost another child in our family. This seemed unimaginable.

It was just before Tommy’s passing that Steve came into my life. Steve was someone that I had attended junior high school with. We knew who each other were at that time but we were not personal friends and I went off to Milford High School, while he went off to attend Lakeland High School. Our districts two high schools. He was familiar with the salon I worked at and it’s owners. He heard about my situation and wanted to reach out to me and he called the salon and talked to my boss to get my phone number. My boss gave it to him, knowing Steve’s intentions were very good ones.

My boss told me what he had done and that I could probably expect a call from Steve. I let it be and before I knew it, he did call me. We talked for a long time and caught up with each other. We continued talking on and off and eventually we started dating. Life was looking a little up for a change. I had hopes that this relationship would flourish. My hopes came true. I believed that the man I prayed would come into my life, did. But this was only seven months after Leah died. Life was keeping me very busy with work, Lindsay and dating Steve.

Steve and I while dating. Downtown Detroit with Mom, her friend Eileen and Eileens daughter Carrie.
Steve and I