Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Eulogy for Scarlett Rose Mehring

Those of you who were at the service heard this read aloud by the pastor.  But for those of you who were not, this is the eulogy I wrote (with Jeremy's blessing) for our beautiful daughter.



Scarlett Rose was born perfect.  Perfect size, perfect weight, perfect pink, soft skin.  From the day she came into our lives, on July 20, 2010, she was a happy child with so much love she couldn’t contain it. 

At restaurants, she would harass other patrons with toothy smiles and persistent waves.  At gatherings with children, she insisted on hugging every other child – to the point that the other kids had to push her away or she would just keep hugging them.  We gave her so much love, she had to spread it around.

Scarlett loved to dance.  To anything.  To the dry cleaner commercial on TV, or to a phone ringtone.  And she loved to sing, her recent favorites being ABCs and the Spiderman cartoon theme song. 

She had a big vocabulary for such a little person.  She would attempt to say any word you asked her to.  Before we were aware of her early ability to mimic, one of us accidentally called someone an “a-hole” in front of her – and she immediately turned to us and, with a quizzical look on her face, said “Apple?”  So from that point on, bad drivers and other annoying people were called “apples” in her presence.

And boy could Scarlett eat.  She would try almost any food you put in front of her.  Her favorites were fruit, cheese, and any sweets we would indulge her with.  But above all else, she wanted whatever anybody else had – even if it was the same exact thing on her plate.  We still hear the echo of her voice when we sit down to a meal… “More?  More?  Done!”

Scarlett was as girlie as they come.  She loved frilly dresses, sparkly shoes and baby dolls; and stole Mama’s jewelry so often we had to buy her a set of plastic necklaces, bracelets and rings so she could have jewelry that was all her own.  The first thing she did in the morning was come downstairs and put on her jewelry.  Then she’d prance over, lift her necklace for us to see, and say “Neckies!”

If there was any child without fear of animals, it was this one.  Scarlett loved, and I mean LOVED horses.  Jeremy once brought her up to pet a couple of large carriage-pulling horses.  The horses’ heads were bigger than she was, and she delightedly squealed and kicked in Jeremy’s arms as he helped her pet their noses.  And of course, she asked if she could hold them. 

“Hold you?” was her favorite question.  She asked to hold those horses, she asked to hold the bears at the zoo, she even asked kids and animals on TV if she could hold them.  When Scarlett looked at you with those big blue eyes, happy or sad, angry or joyful, and said “Hold you?” there was no way to resist.  You had to hold her.  And then she’d probably beep your nose or kiss your eye.

That echo of her voice is what is both keeping her alive in our hearts and breaking them at the same time.  Every time we put on a hat or drink our coffee, we hear her – “Hat, Mama, hat.  Hat,”; “Hot coffee, Dada”.  We can feel her blowing on our food to cool it, tackling our legs as we stand in the kitchen, flopping on our lap and asking to have her back scratched.  Her spirit was so big, and so bright, that even with her body gone we can still feel her every minute of every day.

Since both of us work out of the home, we were blessed to spend every single day together with her.  For 19 months, our home was a little heaven filled with giggles and happy squeals, messes and crayon art on the wall, and the ever-present threat of a tickle attack.  We have 19 months worth of hugs, kisses, and laughs to remember.  And we feel so blessed to have had her, even for that short amount of time.

Scarlett was an angel, and on February 23, 2012, God quietly called her back up to heaven because her job was done here.  And we want to be angry, we want to fall to pieces, but all we can do is tell stories of how silly she was.  That laughter is her legacy.  And we will thank her every day for it.



Sunday, February 26, 2012

No Words

There are no words.  I've tried writing this post a dozen times, but I'm out of words.  I've written emails, announcements, posts... and this morning I wrote a eulogy.

I wrote a eulogy.

And I could have written a novel in that.  Having to pick and choose a few little stories that encompassed a life -- it wasn't justice.  I wanted to write EVERYTHING.  That life was the best story I've ever been able to write.  The best story I will ever write.

I wanted to write about bath-times, tippy toes, cheesy smiles.  I wanted to write about the dozens of grapes I had to cut in half that still weren't enough to satisfy her desire for MORE GRAPES.  I wanted to write about her clobbering the cat and licking the dog's head.  I wanted to write about nighttime snuggles and sleepy kisses.

But picking and choosing, I wrote a eulogy.

We have family portraits on our entryway wall.  Every time we walk by, we kiss her picture and tell her we love her.  And it helps.  It feels like she's still here.  I can still tell that smiling face, "Sweet dreams, baby girl," and "Good morning, my bright-eyed baby."

I will write more.  As I can.  I have to.  Writing is the one thing I can do to process and communicate and deal.

But for now I will leave this post with these details.  I know everyone wants to know what the hell happened that God would take such a young angel.

My darling baby girl, Scarlett Rose, one year, seven months and three days old, died peacefully in her sleep in the early morning hours of Thursday, February 23.  I was home alone at the time.  I thought she was just oversleeping.  I went into her room to wake her, and she looked like she was peacefully asleep.  I reached down to stroke her head and I knew.  She was gone.  She went to sleep and just never woke up.  There was no pain.  No crying.  No suffering.  She just never woke up.

I had to call Jeremy in Utah (he was on a one-day trip to run an errand for the family business) and tell him over the phone that his daughter had died.  He was home within hours and we have not left each other's side.

You don't think something like this can happen to you.  You certainly never think it can happen to a child.  We don't know how we're supposed to deal with this.  No one knows how to respond.  But the Northglenn police department sent a wonderful victim's advocate named Amy to help me while the police and emergency crew were here before any of my family could arrive, and she kept saying over and over that every reaction was a normal reaction to this very abnormal situation.  And that's what I keep telling people -- every reaction, every response, is normal.  We don't expect you to know what to say or do.

I don't even expect anyone to read this blog.  I can imagine all of you parents are clutching your children and crying as you read this.  And damnit, you SHOULD.  Hold them, kiss them, know that every single moment is precious.  Even the moments that they are screaming at you, arguing with you, disobeying you.  Because if you woke up tomorrow morning and your child was gone, NONE of those things will be remembered.  You will only remember the laughter.  You will only remember the hugs.  You will only remember the way they smelled when they had just had a bath.

In closing, I just want to tell everyone I love you.  WE love you.  Jeremy and I are flabbergasted at the support we've received, and the respect we've been given.  Maybe it used to be awkward to tell non-family members that I loved them, but it doesn't feel awkward anymore.  I LOVE YOU.  And thank you.  And we will get through this and you will see us smile again.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sick Kiddo

Poor Scarlett caught a stomach bug this weekend.

We went to pick her up from my parents' house yesterday before lunch, and she was acting fine.  In fact, she was fine all day.  But then at 4:15am this morning, she called out for Mama and Dada, and when I went to check on her -- well let's just say it was coming out both ends.

I know most people deal with their kids throwing up on a pretty regular basis -- but we don't.  Scarlett has been an unusually healthy child.  This is only the second time in her entire life that she has thrown up.  She was a little confused by it, but not upset or scared.  It didn't take too long to get her back to bed after we got everything cleaned up, thank goodness.

Today she doesn't want to eat much, so I have a variety of crackers sitting out in a bowl for her to munch on as she pleases.  Not much in the way of nutrition, but it's something to settle her stomach.  She's acting normal.  No fever.  She's playing and happy.  She's probably the happiest sick kid I've ever known.  I'm counting my blessings, as always.

Valentine's Day Weekend

We celebrated Valentine's Day "officially" this weekend.  Saturday morning we drove down to Castle Rock and dropped Scarlett off with my parents.  Then we headed into the mountains.

We drove past Winter Park to the stables at Snow Mountain Ranch, and enjoyed a sleigh ride under crystal clear blue skies.












Halfway through the ride, Brian, our driver, stopped the sleigh and we got out to roast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate.  This was also a great opportunity to meet our crew, Friesian horses Babe and Pearl.




Afterward, we had an amazing lunch at Deno's.  I even got to have a glass of wine!

Later on that evening and back home, we went to see the new Ghost Rider movie and eat dinner at the dine-in theater.  The movie was... weird.  Good, but weird.

And to top off our weekend, we both got to sleep in on Sunday.  Bliss!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Inspiration Needed

Today is one of those days I am praying for inspiration.

I want to paint, but I don't know what my subject should be.  I want to write, but my current WIP is stuck in a boring place I can't seem to pry it out of.

Even our Valentine's Day night was boring.  Officially we're celebrating this weekend -- but still, we should have done something special today too.

I've got a new purpose brewing.  I can feel it.  Something new is on the horizon, just about to peek over and say hello.  These are the calm waters before the inspiration storm.  Mark my words.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hennis Visit

Josey and Connor came up to visit us this weekend.  They arrived Friday night and stayed until Saturday afternoon -- and you would have thought they lived here with how comfortable Scarlett was with the whole situation.

As soon as Connor got within view, Scarlett was waving and saying "hi!" and trying to hug and kiss him.  And within minutes Scarlett was asking Josey to hold her, and mooching food from Josey.  Every time Josey sat on the couch with Connor, Scarlett would climb up and join them.

The weather was bad and neither Josey nor myself was feeling all that well, so we pretty much just hung out in the living room, chatted and let the kids play.  It was really nice, actually, just relaxing and catching up.  Jeremy did make us a special dinner on Friday night, though: his famous mac 'n cheese, fried pickles and fried jalapenos!

Josey took some pictures of the kiddos, and I hope she posts them soon so I can steal them for my blog.  :)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Blessings of This New Life

To me, the greatest thing about having a child is the focus it has brought into my life.  Having another person to care for forces you to prioritize everything, and to drop the activities that are unnecessary or don't bring you joy -- because if you're spending time away from your child to do something, it had better be worth it.

For me it meant paring down my hobbies and letting my groups and classes go.  I stuck with writing because it's frankly impossible for me NOT to write, and I stuck with art because it's brought me so much pleasure.  But instead of a routine of exercise classes, I work out with videos at home or go for walks/runs around the neighborhood or on the treadmill, and the occasional yoga class (or kids yoga class) will get thrown into the mix.  And instead of attending spiritual groups, I now am trying to find a church I can bring Scarlett to.  Finally, instead of joining writing and art groups, I actually write and create art.

And although I never thought I would want my life to change in this way, although I swore I would be the same person after I had a child, I have never been happier.  I love this life.  I am a better person, all around.  I am more focused than I've ever been, and my writing and painting skills are improving because of it.

The only thing I really miss is hiking.  And a big part of why I haven't hiked as much since we moved out of the Springs is because I'm not as familiar with the trails up here -- so I have to prepare a lot more beforehand to figure out where I'm going.  And that extra preparation time means I can't squeeze hikes in to small amounts of time, which are all I have these days.  The other big reason I haven't hiked as much since we've lived up here is I want to take Scarlett with me, but she's been too young to really enjoy a vigorous hike.  Sure, I take her on walks with me, but at her age the kind of hike I like to do is just too much to ask of her.  I think all that will change in the future, though.  I think hiking will get added back to my priority list very soon.

Anyway, my point is that having a child came with benefits I never saw coming.  I'm happier, calmer, more patient, and more focused than I ever thought I could be.  In all honesty, I was TERRIFIED of having kids.  I thought life would get so much harder -- and though I was prepared to deal with that, it was still scary.  But now that I'm a mom, I can tell you that life is different.  But it's not harder.  I'm more exhausted, but I feel more accomplished.  And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Every single day is a blessing.  Every single breath, every single baby smile, every single husband kiss is a blessing and I count them one by one.

Green Spaces New Member Tour

The Green Spaces new member tour was tonight.  Nick (who runs a pedal bar service in Denver) gathered all of us newer GreenSpacers and walked us around the neighborhood to show us the hidden shops, cafes, bars and restaurants among the lofts and warehouses.  It was a great opportunity to meet some of the other new faces at the coworking space, too

The RiNo district is definitely starting to build up -- but it has a ways to go.  A lot of the business owners reminded me of hippies I knew in college.  LOL.  But some of the architecture in that area blew me away.  Not only were there those gorgeous old Victorian homes that Denver is famous for, but also new construction made from reclaimed materials, and architectural designs that were straight out of a magazine.  If you like architecture, the River North district should be your next destination.

There was also a "town hall" meeting at Green Spaces today.  Basically a forum for Jennie to tell us about what's coming up, and for us newer folks to introduce ourselves to everyone.  After the meeting, one of the other GreenSpacers came up to me and started asking me about copyrighting his work.  I had to gently explain to him that I'm a copywriter -- I write copy.  He was embarrassed, but I told him it happens to me all the time.  And actually I was able to answer his copyright questions because they had to do with writing.  Copyright, and rights in general, are one of those tricky things you have to learn about if you're a writer.

But now I'm home.  And my new Saundra Lane Galloway painting was waiting on the front porch, so the first thing I did was put it up in my office.  It's so beautiful!  And now I'm so exhausted I want to go to sleep -- but Jeremy and Scarlett are due back in about an hour and a half from their trip to the Springs, and I want to kiss my daughter goodnight.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

God's Artwork

I've always been a spiritual seeker.  I've never found one set of beliefs, one church, or one doctrine that completely matched the way I feel about the universe/god/spirit.  When asked to define my beliefs, I've always just said I believe in god, and I believe when we die our spirit joins the universal energy force until it is called down to the physical realm again.  Energy cannot be created or destroyed, after all -- it can only change form.

And I have always believed that there was a force of energy out there, one that we could tap into at will.  One that fed us back whatever we put out -- positive actions/thoughts brought the return of more positive energy to us.  And same goes for negative energy.  And the gods of the different cultures of the world are just facets of this one energy.

And I have always believed in evolution -- but not in the strict scientific sense.  I guess I fall in more with Jewish beliefs on this one.  There is no way we can simply be an accident of nature.  We are too complex, too creative and too curious to simply be an accident.  AND, each leap forward in evolution, each mutation, something caused it to happen.  Again, no accident.  I think there is a divine force that helped us along, and helped us become what we are today.

But in thinking about this altogether, how can I believe that there is a mass of energy out there, but then also believe that we are guided?  I have a hard time putting a human face or impressing human intelligence on a force.  I mean, there's got to be more to it than just that.  God has to be more than an anthropomorphic intelligence -- but more focused than a mass of energy in order to guide us.

So I prayed.

I've been doing that a lot lately.  I pray for answers, pray for guidance, pray for positive energy to be sent in someone's direction.  And last night as I lay in bed, I prayed for help understanding this spiritual force.

Soon after I let that prayer go on the wind, my thoughts drifted to art.  I remembered the feeling of putting paint on a canvas.  I remembered the love and care I took with each step, and how the painting took on a life of its own before the final stroke.  And I started to drift off to sleep...

When suddenly I was struck awake by a very clear idea.  We are God's artwork.


That spiritual force of energy that I know is out there is actually a force of CREATION.  This energy, God, has an intelligence and a purpose far above our human understanding -- but suddenly I could wrap my mind around it.  Suddenly God was right there in front of me, and I understood that he/she/it (let's just say he for the sake of simplicity from now on, k?) had meticulously created us like a piece of art -- this whole world we know is an expression of God.

Layer upon layer, section by section, glaze over glaze, he created this whole universe that we know.  And it's a masterpiece.  It's something to be admired and appreciated for all its greatness, and for all the work, skill and raw talent it took to create it.

And sure, over time, some of the color is starting to run a little.  Maybe some sections are cracking and yellowing.  The canvas is buckling and the support is warping.  But all of that can be fixed with a little restoration work.  It is all fixable, and it doesn't make the masterpiece any less valuable or impressive.

Suddenly I have an understanding of God.  God is literally the great creator.  He's the artist that made everything from the supernova to the atom.  And probably well beyond -- which the curiosity he imbued into our paint will no doubt uncover over time.

And maybe we're not his only work of art.  But with how great this world is, with how vast the universe -- how vast our own ability to seek, discover and create -- I guarantee he loves us.  I guarantee he stands back and looks at this masterpiece and says "that is amazing".  And as he enjoys everything he created, he also wants us to enjoy everything he created.

But enjoying this masterpiece means treating it gently and reverently.  It means being kind to each other, taking care of the planet, and opening our eyes to all the possibilities that God put into each brushstroke.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Valentine's Day Gift

I fell in love with this painting by Colorado artist Saundra Lane Galloway, entitled Mt. Evans Inspiration, and Jeremy let me get it as my Valentine's Day gift this year.  Yayyyyy!

February Snow


It was supposed to snow 1/2 inch overnight last night.  But the snow didn't stop until around 11am this morning, and added up to about 5 inches.  That's in addition to the storm we had on Friday, so we're really buried out here!  It squashed our plans today (I was supposed to go to Green Spaces, and Jeremy wanted to take Scarlett to visit family in the Springs), but we're fine with that.  We're all cozy warm in our house.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Man!

I'm sitting upstairs in my office.  This is what I'm hearing from downstairs:

Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can...

(Scarlett) MAN!!!!

Slings a web, any size, catches thieves just like flies...

(Scarlett) FSS FSSSS!  MANNNN!

Look out!  Here comes the Spiderman.

(Scarlett) MANNNN!!!


Yes, apparently Scarlett brought Jeremy his iPad and kept saying, "Man?  Man?  Man?" until he figured out she wanted him to play the Spiderman song for her.  He found a video the other day of the intro to the 1960's Spiderman cartoon.  She's obsessed with it.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Epiphany

I had an epiphany today.  Actually, if it's possible, I had an embarrassing epiphany.  Because it's absolutely embarrassing that this didn't occur to me before.

I think I may get a Master of Theology degree.

I consider myself a spiritual person.  Heck, a quarter of my writing portfolio is spiritual articles.  And though I have a BA in European history, a good portion of the classes I took to earn that degree were religious history classes.  I've always been fascinated by religion, from an academic perspective.

So I've been tossing around the idea of going back to school for something in the last year.  Two paths struck me as no-brainers, given my career path and interests: writing and graphic arts.  And though entertaining, a degree in English, journalism or writing doesn't really do anything for my career.  And a degree in graphic arts, again while it would be fascinating to get, is only useful if you're going for graphic arts jobs -- which I'm not.

Why theology never occurred to me is beyond my comprehension.  Not only would it be fun to get, it would satisfy my need for spiritual connection AND it would be a helpful credential for some of my writing clients.

And to dream even bigger, here, I plan on taking continuing education courses in multiple religions, such as Judaism, Buddhism and Wicca.  My religious education will be as rounded out as you can get.

The only downside is that we don't have a ton of money to put toward this -- and we don't want to take out student loans for something that isn't going to immediately translate to a high-paying job.  So I'm stuck with online courses from accredited (though not major university) programs.

But that doesn't bother me.  I'm not going on to start a church or become a chaplain.  I'm doing this for the education and to get closer to that universal force that has been leading me in the right direction my whole life. The force, in fact, that I know led me to this epiphany today.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Tuck Your Faith in Your Back Pocket

The universe has always taken good care of me.  I've said this before, and I'll keep saying it.  Even in the toughest times, I know I'm experiencing those challenges for a reason -- the universe has something great in store for me.

If you build it, they will come.  Or rather, if you have faith, it will happen.

But faith is a tricky thing.  When you focus too much on the positive thinking aspect, doubt starts to wiggle in.  I know this will happen for me... but if it doesn't, it'll be okay.  I know I'll get what I want... but it may not happen for a really long time.  And then the universe just hears the "it doesn't" and "not happen" parts of those statements.

True faith is something that you keep tucked in your back pocket.  You say I know this will happen for me, and then stuff that into your purse and carry it around with you, not analyzing it any further.  Just know things will go right for you.  Know the universe is guiding you in the right direction.

I am a living, breathing example of this.

At the end of 2011, I affirmed that I would build my freelance client base.  And in true Jessi fashion, I went gung-ho.  From mid-December to mid-January I worked my butt off trying to reach this goal.  I knew I would succeed -- there was no doubt in my mind -- but I felt I had to make it happen.  I ordered new business cards, printed postcards to send to potential clients, signed up for a paid membership with mediabistro.com, updated my website, and networked my little heart out.

All that work, and I got one new client.  A client, actually, that had been in the pipeline since November.

So my motivation flagged.  I backed off.  And then I beat myself up for letting my motivation dwindle.  And it was a sad downward spiral for a week or so.

And then I got over it.  I remembered that I'm not the only one looking out for me in this endeavor.  I remembered that I knew I would meet this goal.  And that the universe (or god, or whatever you want to call that spiritual force of positive energy) would take me down the right path toward that goal, if I just let it.

I relaxed.  I didn't drop all my efforts, but I stopped forcing them.  I enjoyed time with my family.  I read good books.  I took long walks.  And two new clients sprang up.

So now I've got a new monthly ghostwriting gig for an eco-minded client and I'm bidding on a website-editing project for a spiritual writer with an incredibly positive message that I am excited to (potentially) help spread.

I tucked my faith in my back pocket, and the universe, as always, took care of the rest.