Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holy decade, Batman!

As the "aughts" or the "zeroes" or whatever you want to call them come to a close, it seems to me that everyone's looking back over the past ten years with a lot of negativity. I actually saw an ABC Nightly News segment last week titled, "making a resolution to forget the past ten years". Wow. That's sad.

It has been a difficult decade, no doubt. 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina, the crash of the economy, etc... But we can't really forget. And even if we could, how would that benefit anyone? Hasn't anything good come out of the past decade?

In looking back over the past ten years of my life there are a lot of things I wish I could forget, or change...but I can't do that either. It has been quite a roller coaster to say the least, and to really get into the details I will have to write a book. I think I'm going to call it, "OMG! WTF?!" Well, maybe not...but that title is fitting.

Here are some of the major events:

2000: I got married and began a whole new life, sort of. Well, I got married.

2001: A month after 9/11, which changed everyone's world forever, I found out I was pregnant with Kate.

2002: Kate was born and changed my world forever - in the most wonderfully amazing way.

2003: I quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom (an extremely difficult transition, but one I'm glad I made) and found out a few days later I was pregnant with Peter.

2004: Peter was born, adding more love and wonderment to my life. 2 months later my family moved from Buffalo to Pittsburgh (another enormously challenging transition...especially because we knew NO ONE here).

2005: I figured out my husband, Steve, was gay. (this is where the OMG!, WTF?! part begins) He was not ready to admit it. I had a ten-month-old and a two-year-old and no job. I realized a divorce was on the horizon and I freaked out!

2006: Steve admitted he was gay so we separated. This, in and of itself, wasn't so bad. We managed to support each other and remain friends.
Re-entering the dating scene at that point in my life, however, was crazy. OMG!

2007: Steve moved back to Buffalo and I learned what it's really like to be a single parent. Fortunately, I had the best kids ever so they made it as easy for me as possible.

2008: This year was the only one of the decade that was relatively stable and somewhat uneventful. My kids and I really started to figure out how to be a family of three, spent lots of time with good friends and truly enjoyed our lives together.

2009: My kids died. Again, OMG!!! WTF?!!!! Things were just getting good. We made it through the divorce, Steve and I were able to stay friends, my kids and I were doing well and that happened?! Seriously?!!!

So, yes, in some ways it might seem like the decade to forget. But I can't. And neither can anyone least not without some major drugs or a lobotomy. And if we could forget the bad, then we would lose all the good too! Even with all the shit that's gone down over the past ten years we're still here (at least those of us reading this are) so we might as well make the best of it.

When I figure out exactly how to make things better, I'll let you know. I'm committed to it. Seriously. For now, let me suggest that we all take a look at the past ten years and focus on the good, not the bad. And if we must think about the bad, let's figure out what lessons we can learn and how we've become stronger because of everything.

My New Year's resolution is to, EVERY DAY, come up with 10 things I'm thankful for. I know it's still 2009, but I'm going to start now. This may not be easy, but I'm giving it my best shot.

Here are 10 things I'm thankful for from the past decade:

1. My marriage to Steve. This may sound crazy because it turns out he's gay and now we're divorced, but I know I wouldn't be who I am today without him, and I certainly would've never known my kids.

2. Kate (there's so much about her to be thankful for, I can't possible write it all here...I'll put it in the book)

3. Peter (ditto)

4. My amazing friends and family.

5. Growing and changing spiritually. Being able to have faith that the universe is unfolding as it should, even when it doesn't seem that way.

6. Moving to Pittsburgh, which I am convinced is the best place in the world to live!

7. The hundreds of people who have supported me and helped me...especially over the past 9 months.

8. My health and the fact that I've actually gotten healthier in the past 10 years.

9. My therapist. I don't know that I'd still be here without her.

10. Hope, for more things to be thankful for in the coming years. And hope that someday I will be with my kids again!


  1. Love your post - admire, as always, your attitude / approach to life. I am late night girl (always have been - since I was a kid) - appears you are too :-). I was on computer again - replying to Facebook people - chatting with west coast friends - saw your update to blog (which is great, btw - lots of people following you - isn't it odd and great at the same time to know so many people listen and respond? - I totally dig yours and the other blogs I follow). Anyway - I was a single mother for years - my oldest daughter is from a previous relationship. As I get to know your kids through your words and photos, I see, all the time, similarities in how I was with my daughter - the closeness, the things we did, etc. - REALLY enjoyed our together time (I mean I do the same now with my other kiddies, but.. you know what I mean). Anyway... I'm with you, sister! Let's look forward to 2010 - focus on the good - move past the bad (and there is, sometimes, a lot to move past). I've grown quite intolerant of people who dwell on the bad (and by "bad", I mean people who dwell on being angry because someone "regifted" them or didn't return a phone call - ridiculous ;-). Happy New Year, Amy.

  2. I would buy a book with that tittle. Seriously. Happy New Year Amy, mine is better just because I read your blog and I got to "know" you. Thanks for being one of my 10 things to be thankful about in this past year.

  3. Great post, Amy. I second Anonymous's statement - I too would buy a book entitled OMG WTF?! Perhaps that could be your subtitle. If the book's anything like your blog you'd have a winner. I too am a bit baffled by all the negativity about the last 10 years. Yes, some horrible things happened I hope we learn and grow from but there are so many blessings we have to pay attention to. Even with the crap my family has experienced this year (nothing like what you've gone through I assure you but relatively speaking it still sucked) - like losing a parent, a college age step-son gone wild (big UGH here), husband diagnosed with prostate cancer, father diagnosed with Leukemia... okay that's all I can handle writing right now. Anyway - your blessings list mimics my own. Otherwise good health - the love and commitment our family has to each other. Our friends who are always there when we need them. Starbucks and liquor. And you, Amy and your blog. No, I don't know you. But I admire and appreciate you for the way you help me and so many others put life into perspective with every post. Peace.

  4. Dare I hope...are you really warming up to the idea of a book? I could see OMG! WTF? at the top of the best seller list! LOVE IT! And LOVE your perspective. Great way to cap off 2009 and head into 2010. I have often scraped myself off the floor during hard times with the thought -- OK, what am I supposed to learn from this situation? It doesn't always make things easier, but it does lend a mindset of strength and that's sometimes all we have to get us through. There are so many blessings in life and we don't have to look hard to find them. They do balance the bumps in the road. (Though, I'd have to say your road seems to have had more than bumps....giant potholes and craters perhaps?!) All the best to you in 2010, Amy. Consider me firmly planted in your cheering section!

  5. Thank you for giving me some perspective. Sometimes we lose it as we become absorbed in the minutiae of our lives. You are an inspiration and I look forward to reading your posts. Keep up the good work and remember you are not alone. I wish you a happy and healthy new year.

  6. Amy, thanks for sharing a little more about yourself. I, as usual, admire your perspective, and I think it is a wonderful idea to come up with 10 things you are thankful for. In the past, I have done five daily, though it often falls by the wayside. I do, however, have a more positive attitude thanks to some events in my life as well what you are going through.

    Looking forward to that book! Oh, and I am so glad you love the Burgh. It has its faults, but I cannot imagine living anywhere else, and I hope I don't have to.

  7. Thank you for sharing with us...the raw, the good, and the bad. I definitely agree that there is too much focus on the negativity and hearing it from you made me that much more aware. Hear's to focusing on the good, to appreciating what we have, and to a new year and new decade.

  8. Amy, I have to tell you how worried I was/am about you. When I bookmarked your blog after reading about it in Ginny's blog, I didn't realize that I only bookmarked the November page. I kept checking back and kept seeing the same end of November post. At first I thought that you were moving quietly into December and the holidays and you'd post when you were ready. Now here we are on 30th and I wanted to check in the morning and it was still the same November 27th post and I was extremely worried. I know how tough the holidays can be on a regular day, let alone when your two young children have died.

    I scrolled down to place a comment in the 11/27 post to ask if anyone had spoken to you or just offer a few words of encouragement. It was then that I saw the December listing of postings. I cannot tell you how my heart jumped to know that you were posting and it was my own error for not seeing them. I was happy that you were finding your way through the holidays.

    I wanted you to know that - to know that you, Kate and Peter are touching people's lives through your memories and your blog. We've never met but you've touched mine.


  9. so awesome.
    my crazy kid woke me up at 4am this morning wanting some popcorn & she's been hounding me ever since... WTF?

    your post rerouted my day that was headed down an ugly road of annoyance & intolerance & now I'm back on track.

    I'm taking your advice & implimenting it this very moment. I still won't give her the popcorn, but my daughter thanks you.


  10. LOL to OMG! WTF?! (See what I did there?!) Yes, I'm a huge dork. But seriously, What. The. Fuck. What a freaking ride you've been on, huh? And, please understand that I am in NO WAY trying to take your situation lightly - that's simply impossible to do - but my god, it's a wonder you've made it this far. You've certainly had the chips stacked against you, huh?! I'll tell you what though - you kick some major ass for getting yourself through all the bullshit you've had to deal with, and for staring it all in the face matter-of-factly.

    That's one thing I've noticed about you, Amy. About how you are improving. If you start at the very first post of this blog, and read all the way through to present-day (which I did when Ginny told me to get my ass over here from That's Church), you can see a change happening in you, slowly but surely. You (quite understandably) start out very defeatist and feeling very bad about your circumstances. AS YOU SHOULD. But. (And maybe you see this, too). As time goes on, you seem to be gradually accepting your situation as best as you can and trying to learn from it. For that, you deserve a fucking medal. Because I will tell you right now, the majority of people in this world (myself included) would have a pretty impossible time trying to move past the "Holy shit, my life sucks, why me, I'm never getting out of bed again" stage. You're LIVING - maybe not the way you once used to, but you are. I can see it. (Oh, and feel free to call bullshit on anything I'm saying as I'm just a stranger - but I do feel as if I know you somewhat from following your blog and I often think of you.)

    And then there's this: There is no way in hell it can go down from here, right? Things cannot get worse than they have already been. They simply can't. The only direction for you to go is up. To live more, to experience more, to love more, to smile and laugh and cry tears of JOY more. And guess what? Kate and Peter are right here with you, waiting to see what'll happen next - to see where, from here, you'll go. They want to take this adventure with you, and they will, allbeit from afar. There is no doubt in my mind about that.

    You can do this, Amy. You already are. I hope you give yourself some credit for that.

    Love and hugs, as always.

  11. I am in total awe and admiration of you. This post says so much about you as a person. Thank you so much.

  12. Wow, is all I can say, Amy. I am just in awe of you, of your total strength through the most horrible of situations. I didn't know about your ex being gay - that definitely adds an element to the whole situation. You are SO strong and I just think you are so special for writing this blog and sharing you and your children's lives with us. Thank you!

  13. Wow - that's an amazing post. Thanks for sharing your perspective on the decade. I find it so uplifting that you found 10 things to be thankful for - you are an inspiration!

  14. Also, I wanted to point out how I noticed your reference to Max Ehrman's "Desiderata". That poem has always been my mom's favorite - it got her through the dark periods of her post-partum depression, and it got me through the death of my unborn baby. It is such a wonderful poem. Always remember that you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here. Do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

    God bless you, Amy!

  15. Am inspired, btw, to write my own list of things to be thankful for over the past rocky (but not bad) decade.

  16. Thank you. For your words, your honesty, your courage, your willingness to share you journey with strangers like me, your attitude, and your wisdom. Thank you for it all! Much love and support.

  17. What an awesome perspective. I'm really going to try more to focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative. Thanks for the reminder. Prayers to you for the new year.

  18. Amy I just wanted to tell you that you are an inspiration to us all- you have made us all look at life when we think its tough and can't handle anything else, that in reality we can. It may suck but we'll make it- we just have to have faith that we will get through the rough times in life. I wish you all the best and keep writing as your wonderful stories of your beautiful children help make us appreciate every day we have.

  19. 10 things to be grateful for each day is a lot. We come up with one each at dinner; I'll work on that!

    It has been a nutty-ass decade. So much craziness. Memories of Kate and Peter and their bright smiles and sweet ways are among the memories that I hope to never forget. Love ya Amy.

  20. wow... what a decade in deed. My prayers are with you as always. xoxo

  21. I just read the article about you, your kids, and the blog in the P-G. It was a pleasant surprise to see you on the front page.

    Hopefully this will not only inspire more people to donate to the playground, but also give hope to others in your situation (and just people in general).

  22. I read the article about your tragedy and can't imagine the pain of a losing children. When I was 16 I was in a car accident in 2000 with my mother, and she was killed. A snow plow ran a red light, and before I knew it my life was turned upside down. I admire your strength, and your blog is such an inspiration to so many people.

    I am now the single mom of a 4 year old, and everyday I remind myself of my blessings. Thank you for sharing your story and being so honest and open about all you have survived. God Bless you Amy.

  23. I just learned about you through the Post-Gazette. I don't know how you have been able to deal with your tragic loss in such a positive and productive way. Reading about what happened to your family truly brought tears to my eyes. At 51, I have had friends experience the loss of a child and to me, it is the most difficult thing any parent can go through. Oh my, hang in there, you are one very special person.

  24. Well what a great idea - a book! I think that is perfect for you. And the daily list of 10 things to be thankful for - even better. You and the kids are definitely 3 things on my daily list. Love ya!

  25. Can I say that it is wonderful that you have so many great pictures of the kids. It's very evident from those pictures what happy kids they are and what a great effect they have on the people around them...heck...the people who don't even know them.

    Keep at are affecting a lot of people in a positive way.

  26. "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

    You epitomize this, Amy. God bless you on your journey.

  27. Amy, I just read about you and your blog on P-G. I think it is amazing at how you are dealing with such a tragedy. I admire your perspective and think that more people out there should read your blog so that they realize that they have a lot to be thankful for and to not take anything for granted.

    My first marriage ended in divorce because my husband was I can relate to your feeling on that. It is quite a shock, but it is awesome that you could stay friends.

    I have no children, so I cant even imagine what you are going through. I want to have children really bad, but my new husband and I are having fertility problems and may not be able to. Which is heart-breaking to the both of us. But as hard as that is for us.....I could not imagine having children, getting to know them and then losing them. I am in awe of your strength and the creative way you decided to vent your emotions. You give me strength to not give up in my own struggles. Thank you. I wish you all the best.

    PS..I would read a book named OMG! WTF?! too! :-)

  28. Amy, what a wonderful article in the post gazette. I found you from That's Church a while back and have passed it on to many of my friends and family. I am so glad that through this article even more people will learn about the incredible woman you are, the incredible life your children had, and the amazing thing you are doing for all or your readers.

  29. Amy,

    I'm a Pittsburgher who saw your story in the Post-Gazette. I struggle to come up with a word to describe you - strong? courageous? wise beyond your years? To have experienced so much pain when you are still so young - you could indeed say WTF! in an endless loop.
    Thank you for this blog - it has already helped me in a way - to keep things in perspective. I have been unemployed for about a year. Thoughts of suicide have occurred to me - suprised the hell out of me - I've never thought I would even consider it. I am not totally insane to actually go through with it. Knowing that the act would only hurt the very people I love - my wife and children - keeps me going. Just one step at a time, just breathe.
    And losing a job? How can that even compare to what you are dealing with.
    Thank you for your courage - you are probably helping more people that you could ever realize. I am not part of your community. Thank you.

  30. Amy,

    CORRECTION to my post - I AM a part of your community. (I need to work on my editing skills!) Thank you!

  31. Just read through your blog. I am in the inner circle that all mothers pray does not get bigger. I lost my son this past year and also trying to cope and figure the world out without him in it. I was fortunate to have Matt for 26 years but you still wonder what they would of done the next year and next year. Friends are the best at these time and I am glad to hear you have many around you. I as you did lose him in the Erie area and to make that drive knowing what you are going to cannot be explained.
    Thanks for the words and expressing so much that is in the soul of parents who have lost someone that was their blood and soul.

  32. All I can say is, even though I've never met you, I'm sending you a hug that I reserve for my family and closest friends. Stay strong.

  33. You have such an incredible strength and positivity. You make me want to be a better person and mother. Thank you for sharing all that you have. I am praying for you.

  34. Amy, your ability to share what's going on in your life with such honesty and humor amazes and impresses me to no end. I hope that when you write about your next decade in 2020 there's a lot less OMG, WTF?? and a lot more LOL! Best wishes for 2010 and always.

    Your fan,

  35. Amy,
    Greetings from Vermont. My friend Larry in Pittsburgh forwarded the newspaper article and blog URL to me this morning. I've been lookign through your blog on and off this morning, reading about you, Kate and peter and I feel a great kinship. I am resisting the urge to say 'I know how you feel' .. because I know that I dodn't .. We're just traveling the same road.
    Our beutiful 14 year old son Sam died in a traffic accident in November of 2006. He was an amazing person... an old soul. You can read a little about him if you'd like at I've been keeping a daily blog of our path as well. it's been such an important part of our healing.
    I guess my only reason for writing is to say.. that we feel for you.. and admire your writing. Keep it up.. it help more than you know. Good lock on your journey.
    -jc (sam's dad)

  36. Amy,

    Thank you for baring your soul. I found your blog through the Post Gazette link.

    I used to be a pediatric oncology nurse and I'm now a school nurse. Sadly, I know many moms who are living through everyday grieving the loss of a child. It jsut sucks.

    To think that society can just forget a decade just because it wasn't a particulary happy one is just bullshit. It is these challenges that we rise to that make us better people. To "forget" the 2000's would be to deny the existence of your children and many other children who have left their fingerprints on the hearts of so many.

    Please continue to share your feelings through this blog. I have forwarded it to some of those moms that I know as they have shared many of the same thoughts and feelings.

    I've had a little too much caffeine and I seem to be rambling, but Pittsburgh is a great place to be. I am currently living in the Midwest and nothing can compare to the Burgh.

    I hope that 2010 brings you peace.

  37. You are very special and very brave. Continue to keep those closely guarded special memories of your children and marriage that you loved. There are many of us who try to cling to those special memories who have been confronted by the conflict and loss of divorce.

    Take the time to find your "why" and you will live fully again. I am touched and humbled to read your words and the expression of your attitude in the face of your suffering.

    I hope that you continue to choose to live your life conveyed in the dignity of your words. The new year is upon us--all that I can say is "I am sorry-you are very courageous."

  38. I just learned about your blog today from your 'life' story in the PG. After reading your most recent blog, I just want to say, I'm proud of you.

  39. You are a wonderful writer and person, and your beautiful children are so lucky to have you. If you haven't already read them, I'd highly recommend these books - Touching the Edge: A Mother's Spiritual Path from Loss to Life by Margaret Wurtele, and A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss by Jerry Sittser. Both authors come from a Christian perspective I don't share, but that could not be less relevant. They are kindred spirits you might want to "meet."

    Elisabeth Kubler-Ross researched life after death and had numerous experiences of interviewing people involved in accidents where multiple family members were hurt or killed. She would hear a child close to death in one hospital say, "Mommy and Joey are waiting for me," when Elisabeth did not know that the girl's mother was dead, only to be told by the nurses when she left the child's room that the other hospital had called to say the mother had died.

    That reminds me of one other book you might find comfort in - Risk to be Healed: The Heart of Personal and Relationship Growth by Joyce and Barry Vissell. Joyce felt an irresistible call to get pregnant again after their family had felt complete with two daughters. That child then died in utero. The book is, in part, about what they learned about life and love from that angel/child.

    Peace to you.

  40. are truly a beautiful person and your children we awesome! I think about them all the time and I send my angels to play with them and keep 'em company! I always find comfort in finding pennies on the ground and knowing that one of my angels has sent them to me to remind me that they are still "here" and looking out for me as I am always looking out for them and remembering the happiness they brought into my life...peace to you!!

  41. You certainly have endured more than your share of heartache the past decade, Amy, and my heart goes out to you. Still, we cannot forget the past, nor should we wish to, as you so eloquently point out. We are who we are the result of everything that happens to us, both the good and the not so good. What’s important is going forward. We heal, to an extent, but the scars remain. Best wishes to you for the next decade, as you journey onward. I know words can do little to assuage your anguish, but take comfort in that others share your grief.

  42. Amy, I read the article about you last night in the Post-Gazette and was moved by your story. I have a 6 year old myself and cannot imagine going through what you've experienced. You're amazingly strong and inspiring. I'm originally from Pittsburgh, but have lived in CA for a while now. I've recently been making jewelry and wanted to offer you to pick a necklace from my website as something to give you hope and joy in the new year. My link is If you view the necklaces in the list format, I have the top 4 in stock at my house now and can ship 1 off to you. WIshing you happiness and peace in the new year.
    Shannon Smuts

  43. Amy,
    I check in from time to time (Thanks to Ginny at That's Church) and just wanted to offer my support as you begin your new year. I like your daily Top Ten list idea. When I'm having a bad day, I'll need to remember to do that because I definitely have more to be thankful for than upset over. Continue to write and continue to heal and we'll be here for support!

  44. I came across your website while looking for something else.

    Your attitude in the face of so much loss in the last year is inspiring.

    Hugs to you!

  45. I am new to reading your blogs but I am hooked now.

  46. I had the extreme pleasure of briefly meeting Kate and Peter at a small gathering a few years ago (I think it was a holiday party or something at Jeffrey’s apartment in Regent Square). I’d been thinking of you ever since Jeffrey told me the news. Like the many that have commented on this post, I saw the article of you in the Post Gazette last week and immediately went to your blog. I. Spent. The. Whole. Day. Reading. It. I was completely hooked. I hid behind my computer at work, crying. I admire your courage and your honesty and your spirit and your everything. You are an amazing woman.

  47. Amy, you are an amazing woman and I thought a lot about you and your kids over the holiday. Please know that you have many strangers praying for you.

  48. Hope you're doing okay - we haven't heard from you in awhile!

  49. No pressure, of course, but . . . please, please do the book! And, honestly, after the decade you've experienced, I'm thinking your publisher would totally let you go with the whole "what the fuck?!?" instead of the WTF...

    All that said, your idea to constantly remind one's self of the things to be happy about/thankful for has been a great tidbit of advice. So thanks.

  50. are AMAZING...i think of you so often...u have no idea. Your comment..."if we forget the bad then we forget the good too" is so true!