The Power of Now

Today is one of the hardest days of the year for us.  We wake up with a weight on our chests that regardless of what we do, just won’t budge.

I’m no neuroscientist but here is my analogy of how our memories work.  When we are young, our memories are like a soft malleable record.  The needle doesn’t have to weigh much to make deep penetrating grooves that stay with us for a lifetime.  As we age, that record begins to solidify and the grooves don’t go as deep.

When there is something very traumatic, the sheer weight of it makes a deeper groove and therefore the memory lasts.

When Stefanie was killed, the most recent memories I had with her I played over and over in my mind deepening that groove and those memories.

For the very first time, a few days after Christmas 2007, Stefanie, Ian and I decided to spend their Christmas money shopping in the States.  Stefanie being 14 was thrilled, Ian, at 12, maybe not so much.  But the idea of spending 2 days together, just the 3 of us (without the constant noise of their 4 and 2 year old brothers) was very enticing.   We took off for Grove City PA and had a blast the whole time.  How clear those memories are of the laughs we had together.

I’ve relived those memories 1000 times and they are clearer than most I have of any other time.

Each year since, Ian and I have spent the same couple of days, just us, continuing the tradition that we would have otherwise spent with Stefanie as well.  But this year was the first that we returned to Grove City proper.

As Ian slept early in the morning, I got up and walked over to the mall.  There was no one there but me and as I walked around, the memories of each store, each conversation, our exact “plan of attack” for the stores, washed over me.   I was shocked at how vivid each memory was and how grateful I was for those few moments alone to truly relish each one.

Of course, the memory doesn’t distinguish between pleasing and disturbing memories and the events of this day 4 years ago are as clear as the day itself.

Even memories that I didn’t personally experience but those of Stefanie that I only imagined repeatedly in my mind are as real as if I had suffered them myself and they hurt equally as deep as they did that tragic day.  I have a feeling of dread that is just under the surface.

In 2008, Patrick had only turned 2 a month and 1/2 before.  For those of you who have had a child that age, I don’t need to say anymore.  Suffice to say that they are oblivious to anything except themselves and force their parents to attend to their ferocious immediate needs.

Last night, as I visited with a friend, Elena (who turned 2 in October) dropped a glass snow globe which broke and smashed into a million razor sharp pieces of glass.   Talk about being transported from any other thought fully into the present moment.

It was as I lay in bed last night praying for a nightmare free sleep that I realized how powerful the present moment can be forcing us to focus on the needs of the moment rather than the past.

So as the day begins, we’ve had a joke played on Ian that he didn’t find very funny, a drawing of Patrick’s wrecked by Elena, a fight for the iPad, one kid who wants to be alone (as if), and 4 little kids easily brought to tears because of a late night and the fact that it is Jan. 1st.

As miserable as this might look to those of you who are childfree, it’s exactly what I need to stay in the present.  Without them I would be lost.

When we first awoke and that weight pushed us almost through the mattress and onto the floor, in came 4 little monkeys.  With their hugs and kisses professing their immeasurable love for us, we felt a few rays of light shinning through the darkness.

Thank goodness for anything that helps us stay in the present because it’s only in the present that we can find any happiness.

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16 Responses to The Power of Now

  1. Sandi says:

    You are such a great writer! While reading all of your blogs I have laughed & cried. I have followed everything to do with Stefanie since that tragic day. It’s hard to believe it has now been 4 yrs. I have a daughter (only child) who is going to be 23 in May. I think that is one reason why your family has affected me so much. I also don’t like this time of year because I lost my mom, my best friend 8 yrs. ago on December 29th. I can’t imagine the pain of losing my daughter. I also feel sad for the parents of Melissa as I’m sure they have gone through hell in the past 4 years. They have also lost their daughter in a different way. I’m glad she has to go to adult prison. I think/hope it will be better for her to accept what she has done & hopefully do better in life.

    I could keep going with this but I’m sure you don’t want to read more or have the time to. ha! Your kids are all very cute & I hope Ian is doing well. Take care

  2. Dear Patricia, our hearts are with you today. We have not forgotten Stephanie. Happy New 2012. May God comfort your family.

  3. sue says:

    I think of you all so often.
    I remember that day so vivedly.
    I hope you can take comfort in knowing that many think of all of you at this time

  4. Heather says:

    You and your family were in my thoughts all day yesterday. With each blog, you show me so much strength and courage. We truly are blessed to have a God who gives us comfort in our time of sorrow, strength in our time of weakness, and peace in our time of need.
    In keeping with your theme of “The Power of Now”, I wish you &James and your family, all the best in 2012, with a year full of hugs, smiles, laughter, and yes, peace.

  5. Joanna Jackson says:

    Patricia, our thoughts were with you frequently yesterday, as we treasured every minute with our little ones. Big hugs to the entire family!

  6. Jill says:

    Hi Patricia — Your blog is a wonderful tribute to Stefanie and an eloquent, inspirational reminder of what really matters in life. My daughter Steffa attended Presteign with your Stefanie, and my younger daughter Helena was a friend of Ian’s at GA Brown. I didn’t know Stefanie personally, but whenever I saw her walking down our street or waiting at the bus stop, her positive energy and fun fashion sense always made me smile. I think of her often, and you are all in my thoughts and prayers every Jan. 1.

    • Thank you Jill. It’s especially nice for Ian to have that connection with Helena and her older sister who was a friend of Stefanie’s. He has had such a great community of her friends and his own which has helped immensely. It’s very nice to hear that you think this blog is a tribute to Stefanie. Happy New Year to all of you.

  7. Dorothy says:

    I have said many prayers for you and your family, for Tori Stafford’s family, for Holly Jones family, for the two young victims who were murdered by Paul Bernardo and other families over the years who have lost a loved one, especially a child, to such a horrible act of violence. I saw your pictures plastered on the front page of newspapers when this happened and my heart ached for all of you. I will never understand how these human beings, at least I will call them that, can take another human beings life and feel no remorse. I will continue to say a prayer for you and your family. It is something that you really never recover from they say – but hopefully the pain lessens a little every day and the precious memories of Stephanie bring you peace. My deepest sympathy to you and yours. Your comments are very touching and your speech was so deeply felt. I hope you can feel my hugs:))))

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