It Will Not Kill Me

Many of you know my struggles but we will see how many truly pay attention even when I feel as though I’m just on a pity party. Just remember I am fighting the biggest battle of my life that you may not understand but kindness and trying to understand goes a long way! If you truly care about someone who is struggling with cancer the best thing you can do is a little research and that may help understand a little better. I wish more people understood; its not a cold or the flu. I will never get better. A nap won’t help. I am not lazy but I am tired … tired to the point of a lethargic state. I’m on meds to try to make it easier to thrive and not merely survive. A couple people say that Im faking it or that I will just have to push through it. Well sometimes I can push through the pain and live my life, but there are days where I can’t even walk with out having to hold on to something. My joints hurt. My body hurts. My mood is varying and I am sad a lot. I try to control my mood swings. I take my meds everyday and lots of vitamins to help keep me up, but some days nothing works.

♡♡♡
This is in honor of all my family and friends.

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My Brother Died From An Overdose

When people ask me how many siblings I have, I have a hard time answering. If I explain that I did have 2 stepbrothers, 2 stepsisters, 3 halfsisters then I have foster sister but not really any now … its too much to explain & why I don’t anymore. If I do, I walk away feeling like I just vomited on the floor in front of them and now we are all walking around it trying hard to pretend it never happened. After I answer my soul screams out and I feel counterfeit for denying the existence of people so amazing.

My brother died yesterday.

Tonight I am writing this and crying. I don’t know how to say I used to be a sister. I don’t know how to make peace with something that seems so wrong. Losing Austin was never supposed to happen. Not this way.  Today I am trying hard to inhale deeply and find some measure of grace. It is okay to cry today. It is okay to cry today. It is okay to cry. Because he is gone.  I have deep sadness that resonates from my chest. I am angry. Three days ago the phone rang and I heard my stepdad say overdose, heroin, brain dead. In the thickness of shock, I guess I didn’t realize how much childhood pain I still have. Resentments.

I have experienced so much in my short life that sometimes my stories seem so unbelievable, even to me. My brothers, sisters & our past. Austin’s big blue eyes. His loud laugh. He was the co-keeper of our childhood. The person who was supposed to walk with us longer than anyone else in this life. The only other person who knew what it was like to grow up with our particular parents, in our particular home.

The future. How will we ensure that his essence won’t be lost? How each of are just figures in old photographs, a handful of stories?

An open letter to my boyfriend on our 4 year anniversary


(because he deserves a little bit of public praise once in a while)

William,

Four years ago today, we went on our first date. At 38 and 33, We didn’t know a lot back then, but we knew one thing for certain: we belonged together. And now, half a decade later, I can say with absolute certainty that the past four years have been the best of my entire life. I’m only 37 so maybe that’s not saying very much, but I mean it all the same.

I don’t tell you this as often as I should, but I love being your girlfriend. In fact, I’m proud to be your girlfriend. You continue to amaze me year after year with your ability to selflessly love me. Like just a few weeks ago when we had a strong heart to heart talk and you reassured me you weren’t going anywhere. You left for work without breakfast so I could still enjoy mine. Or like the times you make sure I am getting proper rest. Or like just yesterday when we made our funday Sunday football bets.

You would do anything for me. You put up with me and my shenanigans, day in and day out. You even put up with me during Hallmark Christmas months, and for that, you deserve more than a blog post, you deserve a trophy.

You have supported me for four years through three jobs, and were always the first person to tell me to quit when I wasn’t happy. You were the one telling me “you can” when I didn’t think I could, the one telling me “you will” when I didn’t think I would. You have supported my writing, my photography, and every other tiny venture I’ve taken on, all without blinking an eye or making me feel guilty once. I would not be where I am today, doing what I’m doing, chasing dreams, without you. That is a fact. You have been my rock, my coach in the corner, and my daily encouragement for four whole years. Thank you for believing in me, and for helping me believe in myself.

We’re on a new adventure now, you and I, and there’s nobody I’d rather be learning with than you. I love watching you with our girls, how attentive you are with them, and always being worried about every little thing.

You’re an amazing father figure, and an even better boyfriend, which is saying a lot. Our relationship is far from perfect, but I honestly believe it’s getting better and better with each passing day. Thank you for loving me the way that you do. Cheers to the second half of this decade, and many many more to come. I love you, William Kowalewski. Always have, always will.

XOXO

April McManus

We met on match.com 😙 I fall in love with you more everyday. #Williamkowalewski

I love my Marine

Father’s Day 2017

So I was gonna try and ignore today … It’s Father’s Day and my kids don’t have one. I was gonna just treat it like every other Sunday only…

Well last time I tried to run from one of the “big” days, like his anniversary death date,
like his birthday, like random days when his loss seems to be around every corner, I get slammed, Emotionally beat up, eaten and then spewed out.

It takes days for me to recover. My whole body, my mind, just like in the beginning, unable to focus, skittish, in a sluggish way.  So this time, instead of running from his loss, I turn into it. Not out of bravery.
Not out of “I’ll show it whose boss!”  I turn into it out of the idea that facing the monster diminishes its power. I’m not afraid anymore (or well just not afraid TODAY) Cause what I have learned on this 1,235 day since his death is: the loss won’t kill me.

Its unpredictability, won’t make my heart stop.
Its depth won’t suffocate me.  Its “holy-shit-this-hurtness” won’t be with me every single moment of every single day.  I have learned that all that pain that often brings me to my knees in random places like the kitchen, outside the car and yes, once in Whole Foods,
washes over me and then goes away.  And while I don’t like it, (I will never like the feeling of being left, abandoned and vulnerability),
every time, every fucking time afterward,
a rainbow appears and at the end of that rainbow is the new, better me!

It was a gift to have him even if he did stink up the bathroom.  It was a gift to loose him. I am standing here, not just stronger, but wiser, more open, more sensitive than I have ever been. I am standing here alive and alive means feeling all of it but knowing that “all” passes. The joy all and the yucky all, it passes.

Now as for the kids, cause really, the day is more about them, than about me …

This year I watched the grief and hopelessness catch up with Paytun and flip her and for moments pin her to the floor. I have watched her look for relief in food, in friends and in music. I have stood beside her, nodding my head, rubbing her back, or laying in bed with me.  She is walking her own journey and it is not for me to dictate it, fix it or say “No, no don’t go that way!” because she has to find her own place of strength. I have to remind myself that it is not one I can create for her.  Her blessing through this? It seems that it is dawning on her (slowly) that the outside things bring her only temporary relief. She’s learning to turn into the loss, too. (That’s more awakening most adults 3, 4 and 5 times as old as she is!)

For Taryn , I still worry. I’m not sure where she is. I watch her float around with her friends, and with me seemingly content. I worry but as the saying goes, “Worry is putting a negative spin on the future.  I watch her fear the fear of her loss, hold it in till she turns blue with it and then let it out because she doesn’t have the strength (who does?) to keep it all pent up! And then worry what we will think her less than when it comes tumbling out. I am waiting for her to discover, like her sister, to run from it, gives it more power.

They lost a father, a man that cannot be replaced. I lost a husband who frankly, can be replaced. (I don’t believe there’s only one soul mate per lifetime.)  The journeys my kids travel are their journeys. Not mine, I have to be careful not to confuse the two.

No doubt Father’s Day will mean different things to them as they grow up, as they discover and acknowledge their own courage and growth as it spills out of them in this life.  This year (cause next year may find me in completely different place!) Father’s Day is a day to give thanks to Cory for being a decent dad and for mourning the kind of father he “could have been.” It’s also day for me to marvel at my children as they make their way in the world without a dad.

The one thing I hope for them for forever is that Father’s Day doesn’t scare them, doesn’t become a day to avoid.

I hope that Father’s Day becomes their independence day.

XOXO

April McManus

Do Not Mistake Self Love For Narcissism

​I recently saw a post floating around called “10 things I like about myself“, and it seriously spoke to me…to read all of these beautiful posts. To see what they saw in themselves, and for that to just be okay. I love when people can just be proud of who they are…you know, I aint so bad.

So, what do I like about myself? Let me list a few.

1. That I stand for what I believe in. Whether it be my faith, treating people the right way, or something I have a great feeling about…I will always follow my gut and do the right thing.

2. That I’m emotional. Okay, so maybe that can be both a good and bad thing. I have this tendency to bottle my emotions up, and then burst at all the wrong moments…but hey, its who I am. I’m learning how to express myself better, and love myself for it.

3. My eyes. I get my hazel’s from my _________.

4. My freckles. They come and go with the seasons…but summer time really brings them out.

5. My passion for photography. Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve wanted to take pictures. I’ve always loved looking through photographs. When I was younger I remember checking out photography magazines, and gawking at National Geographic pictures like this one…and swore one day I’d take my very own “wow” photo.

6. I like my intentionality. I’m lucky enough to have a few best friends that I’m very close too. I’d like to think I’m pretty good about staying in touch, praying for them, and letting them know how much they mean to me! Besides, what’s a girl without her best friends?

7. My outlook on life. Almost always, you will find a smile on my face. I believe that the world is both a scary, but beautiful place. I love reading stories that restore my faith in humanity. I love hearing of random acts of kindness, just because. I believe if we don’t look at life in a positive way, how will we ever survive?

8. I like that I’m not picky. There are only 2 things in this world I don’t like. Liver, and green olives. Yuck. Want to make me dinner? Go ahead, I’m not picky at all. Take me anywhere you please.

9. That I stick to my word. You need me to be somewhere? I won’t forget. You and I have lunch plans? I won’t bail. You want me to come support you at your marathon? Count me in. When a friend needs me, hands down, no questions asked, I am there. I think it all comes down to treating others how you’d want to be treated.

& last but not least…

10. That I’m pretty tough. No, not in the muscle department (although I’m getting there!), I mean emotionally. I’ve been through my fair share of crap in life…no really, trust me. There were days when I was younger I didn’t think I wanted to be around, that I was the cause of my parents divorce, that I was a failure for not getting perfect grades…etc, etc, etc…but you know what? Those silly thoughts, and stupid things that have happened to me, do not define me. I know that I came out stronger because of all the cards my life has dealt me, and I’m happy to say I like who I am. All in all.

Self, you’re not so bad.

So, what do you like about yourself?

X❤X❤

My Beautiful Day

I Don’t Give a Tweet!

I used to be in love with Twitter.  No joke.  I loved that I could instantly pick up my phone and use the browser to see what everybody I love was doing.  I loved that I could put my computer next to me on my dresser while I was folding clothes on my bed and have long conversations with friends via tweets, only feeling frustrated that I had a character limit that I could use per tweet!  I used to love to update my Twitter status and let the entire world know what I was doing.

Used to.  I definitely used to.

Now, however, I have deleted my Twitter account and am likely to never sign up again.  You see, I never went so far as to have everybody’s Twitter updates sent to my phone via SMS text messages, as the texting plan I have for my phone is very minimal and I would have exceeded my allowed number of monthly messages in just one day had I linked my Twitter account to my phone!  Due to that, I was resorting to continually checking the computer to see what my friends were up to, and continually going online on my phone to make sure that the entire world knew what I was up to.

More often than not, my status message should have been, “I’m wasting time and ignoring my kids and my house to be on here and leave this message so you all know exactly what is going on with me RIGHT NOW.”

I have found that, if I devote even an hour to having a phone conversation with my sister or my mom or a friend, I’m still spending less time occupying myself with finding out what’s going on in the world around me than what I used to when I was constantly jumping on the computer to check my Twitter account “just for a second”.

I have found out that I am a lot happier and a lot better mom to my kiddos when my attention is focused on them and on having fun with them.  If I am so desperate to find out what’s going on with the people in my Twitter world, maybe I should just make a play date with one of them so that we all have fun too?! 🙂

I have found out that I am much happier being in a place where having the world available at my fingertips is not completely necessary.  This is part of the reason why I haven’t been blogging as frequently.  I’m taking a break from my computer, and spending time blogging when I feel like life has truly has given me something to write about, or when something fun has happened in our family, or when I have a certain topic (like today’s Twitter topic) burning in my brain and I can’t seem to let it go … and occasionally when it’s just been too long since my last post. 

I have found that, not being attached to my computer, I have much more time to do the things that I’m responsible for during the day.  Things like cleaning the house, doing laundry, getting groceries, playing with our friends.  Oh, and eating … I definitely do a lot of eating, too! 🙂

So, ladies and gentlemen, while I have had some people request that I come back to Tweeting, my answer right now is “no”!  I’m happy and content with the balance my life has found and wouldn’t want to go back to being a computer addict for anything!

XOXO

April

If my therapist is reading this…I’ll be in touch as soon as I hit “Publish.”

I’ve gotten a lot of comments, emails, etc. about my Facebook post yesterday.  So many of you understood what I was talking about (always a bonus when you think you’re living in the Land of the Insane.  Company is always nice).

And it brought me to this question: “I’m trying to figure out why we bother dating at all?”

I think part of it is that I have heard enough success stories within my own circles, widowed and not, to keep dipping my toe in.  And I am extremely happy for those friends; they’re all nice people who have found nice people and two rights never make a wrong (right?).  They’ve been able to put aside their own hangups and look past those little things that seem to annoy me (Yes, to my friend Wendi who posted on my Facebook ..I agree with Jerry Seinfeld and I really don’t like it when they eat their peas one at a time).

But there is one word that keeps flashing in my mind when I think about the whole dating thing.

Fear.

Fear that it won’t work out.  Fear that it will.  Fear that I’ll make the wrong decision either way.

What most people in my situation get stuck on is the idea that something will happen to the person they’ve fallen for and that is a very real fear.  I know I’ve had times when I’ve been dating someone, they’ll tell me some ailment they have, and if it’s anything bigger than a hangnail I start looking for the exit.

And we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about that.  We’re not being shallow – we just know what it’s like to lose someone.  And we’re not anxious to do it again.

It was such a violation the first time – something was taken from us.  I mean, if you’d been burglarized…wouldn’t you be a lot more cautious about locking the door?

So, the other fear is the exact opposite:  What if I’m alone for the rest of my life?

That’s the one that keeps me plugging away.  I have three children at home right now and my life is a tornado of loud, smelly, laughing, yelling activity.  But they will get older.  They will move away (no seriously…they WILL move away).

And my house will be quiet.

Will I like that?  Will I not?  Will I wish I had spent this time – before my breasts have to be rolled up into my bra (right now they just have to be shoved into the right spot)  – wishing I had been more proactive in finding a partner?

Or will I enjoy the silence and congratulate myself on having complete control over the remote?

I have no answer here, as is often the case.  But the one thing I hate about this situation is that it is all so based in fear.  That never gets anyone anywhere.  The problem is that at this age, I’ve experienced so much – some good, some bad – that I’m trying to do everything I can to find the good again without experiencing the bad.

And I should really know by now that that’s not possible.

The problem is that almost everything in life is so damn unexpected – both the good and the bad.  I didn’t expect my husband to die just like I didn’t really expect to meet him in the first place.  I didn’t expect to be on my own, just as I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do now.  I didn’t expect to come home one day and to a completely pristine house because my kids cleaned the whole thing while I was gone.  Which is good because that never happened.

Just wanted to see if you were still reading.

Is the secret to happiness to let go of all of your expectations?

But then won’t you just be expecting something to happen because you’ve given up your expectations?

(If my therapist is reading this…I’ll be in touch as soon as I hit “Publish.”)

XOXO Mommie