kdimoffphotography white2013-3I always knew I loved my Dad… memories of  my Dad letting my younger sister take a nap on his chest as he didn’t watch the soap “General Hospital” after getting home from the bakery, the smell of flour and sugar mixed with the smell of cigarettes he didn’t smoke, and his deep voice calling me “Peaches.”  How he and I both would turn up the song “Sarah” and sing it to each other.  The small bunny  that says Happy on it, that he gave me after he and my Mom divorced, still one of my most favorite things.  My Dad is a fighter, and just keeps battling.  He has given me a spirit of never ever giving up, even when you’ve lost it all, you still live.  I never knew how much I loved my Dad until I almost lost him when I was 15 for his quintuple bypass surgery, and in the next 20 years as we have dealt with every health and life scare he has had together…I never knew how resilient someone could be.

I always knew I loved my Mom…sitting on her lap as she let me press on her mole above her nose, snuggling me in her arms.  The way she always knew just what to make me for breakfast, and make birthday’s special. How she always laughed at my crazy dances and songs and would play the piano for me. And while she won’t admit that she wouldn’t walk into a game with me when I was wearing bright green bell bottoms in high school with red spiked hair, she did let me sit by her.  I never knew how much I loved my Mom until she saw me with my first child, as she watched me in labor, as she loved me so completely when I finally understood what it felt like to be stripped of all myself in order to become a Mother. I watched her suffer with great love watching me suffer and I knew I could do it…there is no greater connection.

I always knew I loved my Bonus Dad “Papa John.”  We get each others jokes, he always made sure I felt special by writing me notes in my lunch – once even writing one and putting it in my sandwich – which I ate and never got to read the note.  He was always honoring to my Mom, loving her so completely – and in turn loved us. I’ve never doubted that.  He stayed up with me all night when I had the stomach flu and has always  dropped everything when I’ve asked for prayer. And he’s even forgiven me for telling him I was there when he had his surgery to remove his tumor, it was a moment of evil brilliance – even though I was there a day late but was there the whole time in a “spiritual sense”.   But I never knew how much I loved him until our house burned down when we’d only been married 4 months. He drove down to help us move our things into a friend’s place, and held me in the middle of the house, with the furniture ruined, everything covered in black and held me as I cried until I had no more tears.  He held me because I am his daughter.

I always knew I loved my siblings, which is why I was annoying and tattled on them, because I loved them so much.  Which is why they are the first people who really knew me, who I fought with, who I learned to forgive.  But I never knew how much I loved my sister Missy until she watched “Baby Boom” with me over and over again on the worst week of my life and was my rock because she’d been there too.  I never knew how much I loved my Brother Jer until we talked on the phone every night for 6 months as he went through a time of great darkness.  I never knew how I much I loved my sister Erin until I saw her deliver my god-daughter Maya, a scared high school senior she showed more courage in that night then I have ever shown in my whole life.   I never how much I loved my sister Hannah until we sat in the room after Papa John’s surgery and took turns singing to him her sweet voice singing Spanish, mine singing hymns.  I never knew how much I loved my sister Kaitlin until I saw everything ripped from under her and saw the raw strength she still doesn’t realize she has, but she will someday, I just know it. I never knew how much I loved my siblings until I saw the strength each of them provided during frailty.

I always knew I loved my husband. From the moment I met him, I knew he’d be mine.  Even when he told me he was going to be a priest.  I knew it, because no one else by God has been designed so perfectly for me.  And neither of us are perfect. We are actually Incredibly different.  But I love him.  I never knew how much I loved him until I had to fight for us.  When our house burned down and we didn’t have a place to go.  When we didn’t get paid after 9/11 and we had a baby and house to support and no income.  When he went through the academy.  When he was in the FTO phase.  When we had babies and he worked nights.  When he had a lousy Sargeant, and when he lost friends.  When we lost her.  And he loved me at my worst and had to fight for us.  When I’ve struggled with anxiety.  When I had postpartum.  When I slept on the couch every night until he came home when he worked nights. When my self-esteem was low or I was broken.  When we lost her.  I never knew how much I loved him, until he helped me dry my C Section incision after Grace. Or when he walked across Portugal and Spain and prayed for me the whole time, because that’s true love.

I always  knew I loved my kids. From the moment I knew they were there, growing, I loved them completely.  I have loved every stage of their lives, even the difficult ones, because they are the most rewarding thing I’ve been a part of.  They are the best thing I’ve ever done.  And they aren’t perfect either.  But they are still better than I anything I ever dreamed.

I always knew I loved Jonah, but I never knew how much I loved him until his first day of school, his blue eyes so wide and scared. I thought I was going to rip my heart out it ached so much, and each year it hasn’t gotten easier to let go. He is such a good kid. I love my  Jonah.

I always knew I loved Daniel, but I never knew how much until he jumped off the pew at church during Holy Thursday screaming and punching Buzz Lightyear in the face  “You wanna piece of meat?”  Because in order to not die of embarrassment, you’ve gotta really love a kid. He is so mine.  I love my Daniel.

Sigh…this next one is really hard…last week I had to drive to a house that is on the same street as the house we were in the process of buying when we lost her – I was shocked that I started to weep.  All these years later – grief is still so unpredictable. I still feel guilty  for losing  Mary, even though they said there was nothing we could have done. A friend going through the same heart wrenching loss right now and I talked about our anger – it was so red and hot it radiated from me.  But it wasn’t just anger at God, it was so much guilt.  because I always knew I loved her. And I still couldn’t save her.  I love her so much.  And I hate that I don’t have her.  I never knew I was pro-life, truly pro-life until I lost a child.  You can give me any political speech or any circumstance but this isn’t a political post.  I saw my daughter. She was not even 20 weeks and had fingernails. I held her.  No one should have to go through that.  Because no matter what the circumstances you never get over it.  Ever. There is a gaping hole in my life that can never be filled.  The only thing I have now is a box, a grave site, and these words.  I love my Mary Therese, and I can’t wait to meet her someday.

I always knew I loved Micah. But I never knew how much until he had a growth removed a few years ago, he had always been my golden child, never cried, so happy,  so easy, and I thought maybe we wouldn’t get to keep him.  He is pure sugar, our curly…I love my Micah.

I always knew I loved Grace.  From the minute she was lifted out of me, she has been trying to climb back in.  She really truly believes she is part of my body.  And she is.  I never knew how much I loved her until she was diagnosed with a kidney condition at 7 months old after a horrendous kidney infection and excruciating tests, I saw something that has challenged and inspires me everyday – she has fierce super powers. She really will move mountains, I love my Grace Mary.

I always knew I loved God. I was told from a young age that God is Love.  I was shown that God is Love. I never dreaded church, but I did fall away at times. Because I was looking for love in all the things that God doesn’t represent.  But I kept coming back…because there is no greater Love then the Love of God.   I’ve doubted it, with every heart ache, with every trial I have questioned Gods love for me…but I’ve come back. Because in those moments of complete hopelessness, moments of despair, Love has never failed. It has hurt at times, but it’s never failed…

In 1st Corinthians 13 it says…”Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

I never knew I loved God until I saw Him work in the people I love.   I learned in my own raw most frail moments, what love can do.  Love can change you.  Faith can transform you,  even when you feel your weakest, even when you don’t know how you can survive another day…because real love only works for good.  Real love brings you safety even when you have lost everything…because it can’t fail. Even when it’s gone, or seems lost, you still have that love.

I always knew I loved, but I never knew…

*photo credit of our family by kdimoffphotography.