Wednesday, June 15, 2016

If You Can't Say Something Nice... Shut Your F*cking Mouth

So much is going on in our world right now.
Bad things - because that is all the media reports.
I'm sure there are thousands of AMAZING things going on... but that type of news doesn't pay.
The shooting in Orlando.
The shooting at the Kenyan University.

A child at Disney World, that was dragged into the water by a alligator.

I can't imagine any of these situations.
I can't imagine how anyone involved must have felt.
Must still be feeling.

Besides the act themselves, the comments break my heart.
"Well, they were at a gay night club, who cares?"
"It's Africa, they always have violence."
"Where were the parents during this attack from an alligator. They obviously should have been watching closer because most people on a Disney vacation think of alligators attacking, outside of the Peter Pan area."

Yes... it makes COMPLETE sense to blame the people the violence happened to.
Oh, I'm sorry, you were at a gay night club with your loved one? (boy/boy, girl/girl, boy/girl) From what I have seen all sexualities were at this club, celebrating, dancing, having a regular fucking night out! Yet.... they are at fault because they were there.
Because none of them had a gun to shoot back.
Completely their fault.

I go to school.
I go to class.
I am preparing myself for the future.
However, I was not prepared for someone to come kill over 100 people on my campus!
My bad.
I totally should have known that would happen.

Disney vaca.
Saved for a year, picked the perfect place.
So happy, playing.
Slides, people, open water....
A fucking alligator.
Who in their right or left mind would have EVER thought about an alligator coming and grabbing their child?
It's not even a thought in most parents minds.
Especially at a resort. (as I understand it was, but could be proven wrong).

But yes people behind the computer,
lets blame the parents, the guns, the school.
Lets comment on how you would have done everything SOOOO differently.
Talk shit about all these people, their life choices, their love choices, their vacation choices.
Do it all behind the comment section on a computer.

Or man the fuck up and say it to one of their faces.
You have NO idea.
You will never have the WHOLE story, because that is not what the media provides.

I hope you never have to go through anything so horrible.
Yet, at the same time, I'd love to see how you handle the situations and the aftermath of comments from strangers in the comments sections of the news story.

Empathy.... Empathy.
Not blame.
Empathy for the people going through these situations.
It's sad that the 'greatest' country in the world.... has NO empathy.

1. the ability to share and understand feelings of another.

Please think before you comment.

    Friday, May 27, 2016

    It's Messy.... and It's Honest.

    January of 2015.....
    Jerry and I had been married for less than a year.
    I'd been off birth control for 4-5 months.
    The first pregnancy test I ever took in my life was positive.
    I was in shock.
    I told Jerry and he kissed my tummy.
    We were happy.
    Doctor appointment showed I was only about 5 weeks along.
    Set another appointment for when I'd be about 9 weeks along.
    I was so tired.
    I had to take a nap every day.
    I felt hung-over; I wasn't throwing up... so that was a plus.
    But the tummy problems, the blah feeling; I had all of that.

    We went to the OBGYN at our 9 week appointment.
    I was excited to hear the heart beat.
    I couldn't wait.
    I knew it would make it real.
    I'd told CLOSE family and very FEW friends that I was expecting.
    I was talking to my tummy.
    I was loving this baby, that wasn't even the size of a lima bean yet.
    I couldn't wait to hear that heart beat.

    Jerry sat there; I laid there.
    Slimy stuff on my tummy as the ultrasound took place.
    The tool was moved around on tummy and the technician said "Lets try internal".
    I grabbed Jerry's hand.
    I knew.
    Tears fell from my eyes.
    Our baby had no heartbeat.
    The internal ultrasound showed a lot of things.
    One of those things was that our baby, by measurement's was 6 weeks and 2 days when it stopped growing.
    So at our 9 week appointment our baby had been dead for almost 3 weeks.

    At first I didn't feel anything.
    I went home, told my job I couldn't come in that night, but I'd be in the next day.
    Jerry told them he'd be in late.
    We laid in bed and cried together.
    But I was fine.
    I was perfectly fine.
    I told him to go to work, we were supposed to have them all over for a holiday party that night.
    Jerry went to work.... lasted  about an hour.
    Told them he needed to be home with his wife.
    He came home and laid with me.
    I contacted the job... told them, I won't be in tomorrow either.
    They were wonderful.
    They told me not to worry.

    I was scheduled for a D and C...
    Dilation and curettage...
    Or as our wonderful insurance papers showed. ABORTION.
    Every time we got a bill..... ABORTION.
    I didn't want this.
    I would have done anything to avoid this.
    Believe me.... I figured I did something wrong to have to go through this.
    But I didn't need insurance papers to note it as an ABORTION.
    My baby had died.
    My baby died, before I EVER got to hold it.
    Before I ever got to know him.
    I was positive it was a boy.
    God.... Jerry would have raised an amazing boy.

    The thing about being early in a pregnancy, not many people know.
    So we didn't have to tell many people about there being no heartbeat.
    I told my mom.
    She told my sisters.
    They never asked how I was feeling.
    I get that.
    It's not something you just start talking about...
    "So..... how are you doing since you were having a baby and now you're not?"

    I mean shit,
    I didn't talk to anyone about it, which is probably why, a year and a half later, I'm still in pain.
    I was ashamed.

    We are no longer trying.
    We are not going to have a baby. (So quit fucking asking.)

    The thing that sucks is as I write this... I don't want attention from this.
    I don't want people to feel bad for me.
    The thing is... this happens ALL THE TIME.
    And NO ONE thinks they should talk about it.
    I mean, it's not good dinner conversation.
    "Hey Holly, how's your life?"
    "Oh it's great... I lost a baby.... you might consider it just a 'fetus'... but it was my baby."
    "Um, ok.... so last night I went to a concert."
    No one wants to talk about the fact that I lost a baby.
    I just need people to know.
    I need them to know that I've had DARK days.
    I've gone over in my head of all the things I must have done to cause the death of my child.
    .... A week after my D and C... my body still didn't know there was not a baby in me.
    I was still exhausted and had cravings.
    That is the worst punishment ever.
    My poor body.
    My body still thought it was going to have a baby.
    My mind was the only thing that knew it wasn't happening.

    Over a year later and I still feel like a failure.
    I'm a woman that will never have her own baby.
    I will never give birth to a child.
    Crazy... but there are plenty of woman who never have children.
    Yet part of me thinks I should be more upset about never having my own child.
    I have a beautiful step-daughter.
    I hug her, and truthfully.... she's enough.
    She is the most honest, caring, beautiful 8 year old ever.
    I would do anything for her.
    My God... I love that child.
    She'll never understand how much.
    She is the only baby I will ever have.
    My lord she makes me mad when she rolls her eyes at me.
    I wouldn't trade her for the world.
    We had told her we were having a baby.
    The pictures of her reaction was amazing... she was so excited.

    When we had to tell her we lost the baby, she looked at her dad.
    She looked at me.
    She jumped on my lap.
    She cried with me.
    She cried to her 2nd grade teacher; and her teacher held her. ( I love that teacher BTW).

    It's something people don't talk about.
    I think it's because people don't know how to react.
    I don't need someone to relate.
    I don't need anyone to understand.

    I'm tired of feeling that I'm an outsider.
    I'm tired of feeling like if I talk about this it will make others uncomfortable.
    I'm fucking uncomfortable.
    I lost my baby.
    I'm fucking horribly uncomfortable in my own life.
    The guilt.
    The thoughts of what would be.
    I carry enough of the 'uncomfortable' side of it; just talk to me.
    Just be ok with me.
    Just know that I know... I know PAIN.
    And anyone who hasn't had a miscarriage... I hope you NEVER do.
    I wouldn't wish it on ANYONE.
    It is so painful....

    I just needed to write this.
    I just needed this to be out there.
    I just needed people to know when they ask a person.. "Oh.... when are you going to have kids?"
    ... You never know what that person has endured.

    Think  before you ask that question.
    Just know everyone is dealing with their own nightmares.
    I've been dealing with mine for over a year, and I need to get back to being a wife.
    To being a step-mom.
    To being a friend.

    I will never forget the baby I was going to have.
    But it's time to let the baby go, and it's time for me to forgive myself.

    I will forever love the child I never had.
    That baby existed and it's time everyone knew that.
    It's time for me to no longer be ashamed that I miscarried.

    I take a deep breath.
    I'm ok.
    I'll be ok.
    I just needed to put this out there.
    I needed people to know.

    Jerry and I had a child.
    Our child died.
    It doesn't matter that it was 6 weeks.
    It was ours.
    It was loved.
    It was so loved.
    It existed.
    I hold that baby in my heart and I always will.

    So now you know what my tattoo is about....
    tiny tattoo | Tumblr:


    Monday, January 18, 2016

    He's Amazing

    My husband, he is amazing.
    He has a very important roll at Nationwide.
    He is a father.
    He is my husband.
    He takes his personal time to pursue a 'acting career'... :)

    On the 23rd, he has his opening night of "Caucus: The Musical"....
    He's playing a Presidential Candidate.
    It's advertised on the big screen outside of the Civic Center.
    This is a big deal people....a big deal.

    He comes home from a stressful job.
    He eats dinner and checks on me and Mary.
    He heads to rehearsal.
    6 days a week for the last few weeks.

    I'm so proud of him.
    It takes a confident person to enter the world of entertainment.
    He takes it very seriously, but has so much fun.
    In August he did The Soldiers Play.
    It was amazing.
    He did sooooo awesome.

    Now he's doing Caucus, and even though completely different then the last play he did, he's enjoying all of it.
    Mary and I miss him.
    It's hard when he is gone so much, but I know when we see him on stage, singing, dancing, enjoying all of it, it's totally worth it.

    My husband is amazing.
    I am continually proud of him, admire him and have his back.

    I hope everyone takes the opportunity to go see the play.
    It's going to be awesome!

    Image result for caucus the musical 2016

    Sunday, January 10, 2016

    Guest Post from Jerry Jr - My Trip with Dad

    My Trip with Dad
    By Jerry Brantley, Jr.

    Sometimes you think you are doing something to help someone.  Sometimes you think you are called
    upon because people need you.  I feel that way often.  My wife needs me, my daughter needs me.  I am there to help my friends when they call, I will be there for family, etc.

    Today I took my dad to Iowa City to visit with Medical specialist to discuss how they are going to treat his cancer because I thought he needed me. He had called me a couple of days ago asking if I was busy Thursday morning and to tell me his wife could not take him and wondered if I would go.  I told him let me check my schedule and I would call him back.  Now you may be thinking what kind of asshole tells their dad that they have to check their schedule, but I am that kind of asshole.  I honor my commitments, and I wanted to make sure that I hadn’t agreed to do something in that time frame.  My word is my bond!  I got home looked at my calendar saw it was open, and called Dad immediately and said I will be there. 

    Last night before leaving I had a bad feeling, I kept thinking there is something I don’t know, something Dad is not telling me, he doesn’t usually ask for stuff like this.  I am wondering if he wants to use the 2 hour drive to tell me something.  I wonder if there is something that he knows that doctors are going to say that he needs me to hear first hand.  I told my wife this and she said, well make sure to go and ask a lot of questions and hopefully you will get answers. 

    We left at 6:00 am this morning, and made the drive from Des Moines to Iowa City.  The drive was
    smooth, not a lot of traffic and Dad and I talked the whole way.  About Sports, about life, and he also for the first time let me in on the things he goes through battling his cancer.  It has given him lesions on his skin, that itch terribly, to the point where he has to take sleeping medicine (that doesn’t work) to get to sleep through the night without itching.  He still wakes up itching, and also the skin growths fill up with puss, that will leak on to his pillow or hand, so he sleeps with a rag in is hand so that he is not leaving puss everywhere.  He also has these lesions in his ears and can’t reach them, there other more gruesome things I will leave out.  I wouldn’t describe my dad as vain at all but he has always taken pride in his appearance.  So much so that two years ago when I showed up to his house at 33 yrs of age, and I had on brown wingtip shoes that were scuffed I got a 30 min lecture, and spent the next 20 mins shining my shoes.  To this day I now don’t wear my wingtips outside to avoid scuffing them.  One of the things about his disease that affects him the most is the fact that he doesn’t like what he sees in the mirror.   It’s easy to tell someone that you don’t care about how they look, that you love them and just want them to be healthy, but in saying that we forget about the person actually suffering.  I had said that before to my dad, and I apologized on our ride up.  Not because he was upset, or even pointing out that it bothered him, but because as I reflected on it and put myself in his shoes, I would get tired of people saying Jerry we don’t care about how you look we just love you.  I would be thinking the whole time well that’s nice but I F&*CK*&G CARE ABOUT HOW I LOOK!!!

    We got to the hospital and started walking into the Cancer Center.  This as I said earlier is the first time Dad had asked me to come along, so it is the first time I got to make this walk.  I will tell you when I saw the words “Cancer Center” a wave of emotions went through me.  I felt my stomach drop like I was on tip of a roller coaster that was heading downwards.  I wanted to tear up, but I fought it back.  Brantley men are tough, and I was there for my dad.

    We got to the office and were called in.  A very helpful nurse came in and took information.  She gave him a gown and asked him to change.  When she left he asked me not to be too grossed out from the things all over his body.  I thought you are my Dad you could have a second head growing out of your belly button and I will still love you.

    Later a Resident of the facility came in.  She said she had read the chart but asked dad the main reason he was here today.  This as you may understand irked him a bit.  He has been suffering with this rare form of cancer for years.  He has seen many doctors and had been misdiagnosed with Eczema, Psoriasis, and MRSA infections.  Finally when nothing was helping he went to an ER Dr. who sent him to Iowa City where they finally figured out it was a cancer - Mycosis Fungoides Lymphoma.  This is a very rare disease which is why it was not diagnosed properly.  So he has had many trips to Iowa City, has had pictures taken, biopsies taken, been poked and prodded and whatever you could imagine.  So when the young resident asked why he was here today, he grew a little agitated.  He explained a story that I could tell he has told time and time again, and ended by saying, “I am here because I want to get some answers on treatment, I am a little tired of being poked and prodded and not hearing anything.”  She assured that when we left today they would prescribe a treatment.  She was going to go talk with the other doctors, a skin specialist and a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma specialist, to put the game plan together. 

    At this point my dad and I both relaxed.  The two doctors came in later accompanied by the resident.  The first doctor had my dad go through his story again, to be thorough and make sure they understood the full picture.   Dad told the story less agitated this time because he knew that something was going to come out of this.  I can’t imagine how painful his wait has been to get a treatment.  The doctor explained the reason it took so long is because they had to get all the facts, and really look at the puzzle to make sure they fully understood what Dad has and the best way to go about.  How severe it was, what “flavor” of cancer it was (which was his fun way of saying what are the cells doing and attacking), which dad asked “So do you think strawberry or watermelon!!” and ultimately the best way to fight it.  The second doctor had not said anything really but his foot had not stopped tapping the whole time he had been in there.  So the first doctor turned it over to the second who was the specialist with Lymphoma.  His first words were “since reading your charts and now seeing you I have been chomping at the bit to get to you.  I can tell you are in pain and I am confident that we can treat this and control it.  It is not curable, but it is controllable.  There is something comforting about a doctor that’s excited to get you taken care of; who realizes that you are suffering and wants to help.  I also appreciated the word “controllable” in that sentence because to me that meant it was not life threatening. 

    Since I heard my father had cancer, and the doctors thought it could have spread in his body, I had been consumed with the thought of losing my father.  How I would make sure my little brother and sister were ok, what would I need to do to take care of family, basically writing his eulogy in my head.  I know if he goes I am the patriarch of the family, and that is a duty I don’t take lightly.
    It had been on my mind so much, that without knowing I think it closed me off a little to family and
    friends.    I cried the day I heard about it, but then really didn’t want too afterwards.  I didn’t talk about it a whole lot because that made it more real.  One of my best friends even called me out saying “you haven’t said boo about your dad since you told me he had cancer.”  I simply said I wasn’t ready to talk about it.  I even found myself down a little at Christmas, I thought it had something to do with not feeling like I gave my wife and daughter enough this year, but now I know that was not it.  I couldn’t fully enjoy the holiday not knowing what my dad’s fate was.

     My dad was prescribed a pill form of Chemo; that will hopefully help.  I say hopefully because being a specialist he let us know that the treatments prescribed may or may not work on different patients, and they have no way of knowing until they try.  “We will try X and it doesn’t work we will try Y, if Y doesn’t work we will try Z, but we will figure it out.” My dad and I were both excited about the prospect of him getting this treated.  We thanked the Drs. and were on our way. In the car ride home we stopped at the diner, we talked more sports, Dad shared stories about watching me play football in high school and college, and how proud it made him.  We talked about marriages plural as we have both been married multiple times, and we talked about leadership and life lessons.  He said one of the things he appreciates about me is that I am a consummate professional, I need things scheduled, which is why he was never mad when I told him I would check my schedule…”you have
    always been that way.  When you were a kid you were never late, you always did what you said you
    would.  I have always appreciated that about you.”
    He also told me something that hit me like a 100 lb weight.  Truth be told I had been worried Dad had
    not been as aggressive as I would like getting answers, I told him before I left Christmas night, that if he didn’t have answers by Jan 4th, I was taking him to the Mayo Clinic in MN.  I am not defiant or
    authoritative with my dad.  He is and has always been my hero.  But this time he said he could tell I was serious and he wasn’t going to fight me.  So during our drive home he told me “son thank you for driving me today.  I knew this would be a good trip for both of us.  I hear how serious you were at Christmas and I wanted you to meet the doctors and see the people working with me, and know that I am getting good care, and I knew if you heard it yourself from them it would make you worry less, which would help me worry less".  WOW!  My dad fighting cancer, going through stuff that as he described he would rather have four hip surgeries then go through, wanted me to take him not because he needed it, but because I needed it. 

    Again I was rushed with emotions, but I didn’t tear up… Brantley men are tough. 

    Our ride home was great, Dad and I had not spent this much time together in a long time.  I dropped
    him off he thanked me again, and this time I thanked him.  He walked into his house I backed out of the driveway, and I cried.  I cried for 25 damn minutes on my way home, I am crying as I type this right now.  At first I thought why am I crying, and smiling at the same time?  Well sooner or later the emotion you hold in makes it way out.  It has been knocking at the door for a couple months now, and finally I let it out.  Happy tears, because my dad is ok, tears because I am in awe of a man going through cancer who has enough love for his son to bring him on this trip to help him see.  Sad tears because I know I haven’t been the Husband, or father that I could because my mind was preoccupied.  I blamed it on being busy, work, life etc.… but really it was because I just hadn’t been happy.

    So I thank my Dad.  Thank you for asking me on this trip, thank you for knowing your son.  You will never have to fight this alone, I will always have your back, and I hope to mean to my child or children what you do to me.  He said to me that as men grow older we grow in wisdom.  We look at things differently.  I can honestly say, I took a trip today, which changed me forever.

    Wednesday, December 30, 2015

    5 Years

    It's been five years since I've heard your laugh.
    I think that is the hardest part.
    That laugh was... original.
    It wasn't a sound I thought about until it was gone.

    5 years is a long time.
    Lots of things change.
    Life goes on.

    However, I do not think a day passes where I don't have at least a moment that I think about you.
    It may be brief, just a slight flutter in my brain.
    Or a whole car ride home by myself.
    I have come to the conclusion that you will never leave my mind.
    I used to try and force you out.
    Mad at myself when you entered.
    Then I realized, ignoring those thoughts, was just a try at controlling an uncontrollable situation.

    It's been five years and I believe I'm past the stages of grief.

    Denial: When you first died, I was sure it was some kind of practical joke.
    You'd show up any minute at the bar and say something stupid like "YAHTZEE!"

    Anger: WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU DOING!!!??? This one hit hard. I was already mad/disappointed you hadn't come to my 30th birthday party. You died when I was mad. Goes to show, you never know what might happen, never hold on to anger.

    Bargaining: I begged you... BEGGED you to show up in my dreams. I said I would move on. I'd do good things, I'd be a better person... I  just NEEDED to see you. I am not a religious person.... but I know I attempted to make deals (bargins) with God to just have you back....

    Depression: I suffer this bitch anyway... but it was deep. I changed. I cancelled plans. I drank constantly. I disappeared into the grief and didn't want to come out.  In the grief I was closer to you.

    Acceptance: I know you are gone. I know I won't see you. I know you will always be apart of me though, because in your own fucked up way, you taught me so much about myself during the 7-8 years we were friends, roommates.

    So here I am... 5 years later, remembering VIVIDLY the phone call telling me you had died.

    I know....
    I will never listen to certain songs again. (Dirt Road Anthem, Over You...)
    I will never enjoy Southern Iowa, 4-wheeling or dive bars like I used to.
    I will always miss you, that smile and that laugh.

    I miss you and I always will.

    Thursday, December 24, 2015

    Merry Christmas Eve!

    It's cold.
    It snowed.
    The ground is covered in white.
    The PERFECT Christmas Eve.
    Sitting in the living room with my husband and my dogs.
    Mary is with her mom on Christmas Eve....

    My Christmas gift from my parents is in the basement.
    A treadmill they gave us money for a few months ago.
    I bought on Craigslist, it's pretty nice actually.
    I've used it... a few times... since August.

    My gift from Jerry is on my finger.
    He took a ring of my Grandma's and had it reset for me.
    It's an opal.
    I held back tears when he gave it to me.
    It is a birthday and Christmas present.
    So we sit here on Christmas Eve, looking at the presents under our tree.
    There is not a lot.
    Mary got a few things from Dad and Holly, some expensive, some not.
    Jerry has a few gifts from me, but his main gift is a new smoker/grill, which we do not have yet.
    As I said, my gift is on my finger.
    I love it
    I love it.

    We look at our tree, with very few presents under it,  thinking we should have bought more.
    There is thought.
    There is love.
    There is need/want in those gifts.
    Even though the tree is not as full as we are accustomed to; it has gifts under it.
    Some people don't even have that.

    I know as kids we got a lot of toys and things, probably more than what my parents should have gotten us.
    But it seems to be the universal symbol, that a Christmas tree is not REALLY a Christmas tree unless the gifts are PILED up beneath it.
    The 3 gifts I  remember most are:
    1. Red Rider Wagon (metal, not that plastic shit. Still have till this day.)
    2. Chris Mutt (holiday animal Target had every year. Still have till this day.)
    3. Mr. Cart.... a cart with three 'levels' that I pushed around the house (and still have till this day.)

    But I don't remember much else when it comes to gifts.

    I remember the scents, the people, the warmth.
    F--- the gifts.
    Give me those memories, the family together, the good food, the happiness that comes with the holidays.
    I rather have a tree that is bare of gifts, then a house with no family.

    Can I get an Amen?

     Merry the Eve of Christmas.
    And please know, that the lack of gifts, never has to mean a lack of love.
    Image result for the grinch who ville

    Monday, September 21, 2015

    F#ck Cancer

    I got an email from a good friend today that an old co-worker of mine passed away last night.
    I hadn't seen him in a few years.
    Hadn't seen him since he was diagnosed with cancer.
    My friend is obviously upset, as this guy was pretty awesome.
    He was a dad, husband, friend and one of those co-workers that was always smiling.
    I didn't know him well.
    But I know he will be greatly missed by everyone that knew him.
    Image result for cancer sucks
    A old friend and co-worker was diagnosed with colon cancer years back.
    She is having to have surgery again to remove some questionable looking spots. (from what I understand)
    As she wrote on FB "Going to be a little more tricky than the first time as he will have scar tissue to work with and because my organs have been previously operated and disturbed. He says he'll ultrasound the entire liver to make sure he got everything."
    She is the mother of two, married to a great guy and an all around good person.
    We aren't close, but I care for her.
    Image result for cancer sucks
    A friend I worked with in my early 20's (who I haven't seen in years)...her teenage daughter is battling cancer.
    This is her FB post from earlier:  "Without a successful surgery, Kenzy's life expectancy goes from below 20% to 0%. This is the ugly truth about Osteo when there is recurrence. We are not looking at statistics cause Kenzy proved all the doctors wrong last time."
    Image result for cancer sucks

    This all came across my email/social media today.
    I can't even imagine what ANY of these situations would feel like.
    All I know is I am hoping and thinking of those that are fighting and those that have been left behind.
    I know it's set me back emotionally - thinking of all these wonderful people.
    Makes one think.
    Image result for cancer sucks