Life After Brain Surgery

A week ago my family was all meeting up at a parking garage outside of University of Maryland Medical Center Baltimore, gathering our belongings necessary for the long day ahead, and rushing inside to get to where I needed to be by my 5:30 appt time. Sadly, the hospital sent us on a long run around until we finally landed right where we needed to be, but we got there. Tension was high among the group, of course. The nervousness in the air; palpable.

I was asked if I was ready, more times than a few. How do you answer that? How are you ever ready to risk leaving your family behind? How are you ever ready to risk not coming back to them the same as you left them? So I lied. I was ready, yes. I lied and said I was fine. I lied and said I was going to be okay. I was petrified.

Questions began, IV was started, prepping was moving at the speed of light, but I was still stuck. Lingering, waiting for my entire family to hug me all at once. What would be my last thing to say to each one of them? How do you decide that? You cannot scare the kids, Kristen. You cannot upset your sisters, Kris. And my God, don’t let my parents feel my fear.

Last night I was asked what I felt in those moments. What was it that I told myself to help me get through it and make the final decision to go through with it.

The answer is my life. I wanted my life back. The vibrant, exuberant, fly by the seat of her pants girl was gone. She was replaced long ago by a zombie of a woman that was barely surviving this world. She could no longer head out on grand adventures, planned or otherwise. She spent her days hardly able to make it up and down the stairs let alone to a school event with homemade brownies.

She couldn’t make it to concerts with her sisters anymore. She had to cancel plans with friends more times than a few. She couldn’t get outside and run around with her two sons anymore. Life as she knew it ceased to exist.

But this morning. 7 days after the scariest decision of her life, that girl woke up at 5 am without an alarm clock, went downstairs without a single creaking or aching bone (stairs are a different story), and made herself a cup of coffee. Do you realize how long it has been since that has happened? I won’t count the nights where sleep never happened and I got up at 5 to start a day after a night of no rest. I’m talking actually slept for hours, woke up, went down, and made my own damn coffee??

Let’s ask my little baristas when they wake. I bet ya it’s been a while.

Good morning, world. It’s good to be back.

Death Will Find Us All

It is truly a sad time in my life right now. I am not writing this seeking pity or condolences. I am writing this because I have so much to say on the topic of death and how we don’t ever know when it will find us. Today, we buried a 56 year old grandmother. Three months ago, my 34 year old brother-in-law. My poor children (my daughter especially as this was her grandmother today) have seen so much death in their young years. And it makes me ache from deep within my soul.

I have a special place in my heart for children. And to see so many show up to Mrs. Audrey’s funeral today really broke my heart. But it also made me happy to see just how many children she mattered to. Just how many children she helped in so many ways. But that heartache, that grief, will follow these children. As much as we like to think that children are more resilient than us adults, we must recognize that they will forever hold these memories in their hearts, aching and not understanding why they had to endure it at such a young age. They will think, 20 years from now, back on this day and remember the tears and the sobs of those around them. They will remember just how much they loved Mrs. Audrey and all that she did for our little farm family. And for some of them, it will be their first memories of death.

That is truly heartbreaking. To think of how many children will most likely cry at our first horse show of the season. Shows where normally Mrs. Audrey would show up late, barreling up the dirt lane pulling a horse trailer, stopping at the porch to drop off the cooler full of ice for our food stand. The times we will laugh remembering those times and her heart of gold will be the only thing that gets many of us through the upcoming show season.

It is times like now that we reflect back on how we interacted with others. Did we show them enough appreciation? Did we let them know they were loved? I know that I thanked her many times over the years for her love for my daughter. She showed her love in many ways, never faltering, never failing. And my daughter will hold on to those memories forever. I know that I have raised my daughter well and she never let Audrey’s good deeds go unnoticed or unappreciated.

As I sat through the service listening to all of the things said about her, I could only hope that when my time comes, those same things are said of me. I hope that people note my strength and resilience, my love for my children and my family and friends. I hope that by the time death finds me, I have achieved all of my goals and watched my children reach theirs. Death finds us all, but will we be ready?

Kristen A. Ruchalski

The Day Needs More Hours!

Good morning all,

I wish there were more hours in a day! We all wish for that, don’t we? I feel like no matter how hard I try to plan, I can never accomplish all that I set out to do each day. Between school work, my new freelancing gig, and my family, I have about 4 hours not filled with anything. And if it’s okay, I’d like to sleep during that time!

I have not had any time for writing my novel and not a bit of time for my blogs. Which hurts my heart. These things are important to me. Sadly, I cannot focus on them as much as I would like. Who knew transcribing audio files would take up so much time?!?!

I’m doing what I have to do, however, to make a little extra cash. Kids are damn expensive little creatures, aren’t they? Love their hearts!But it’s Christmas, so all other things take a back burner while I ensure they have what they want.

Maybe book sales will rise soon. Perhaps people are now telling their friends, who are telling other friends. Or perhaps the number I’ve sold now will be it. Perhaps the sales are done. I will have to accept that. And ya know what? I’m pretty proud of my accomplishment. I can actually say I’m published. Even if it was self-published, it still counts in my book!

Well I better get to my to-do list. I will probably only complete half of it anyway. Cannot waste any more time!

~Kristen

Thankful! 

Good morning everyone! My house is filling with the sounds, sights, and delicious aromas of Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for this life of mine. I appreciate all of you as well. 

I’m almost positive that some of my blog followers have purchased my book of poetry. And I want to say thank you. I appreciate the support. I cannot believe how this dream has come true. 

In the coming weeks I will share additional excerpts from my novel. I would love to hear feedback from everyone regarding my novel. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember, be kind, always. 

~Kristen 

Late Night Thoughts: Book Sales

So as all of my friends and family receive their copies of my book in the mail, they are taking pics of the book and posting it to facebook. My aunt (Dad’s sister), who was the first to receive hers, even wrote a long review and rave of my book on fb, which included the names of her 3 favorite poems. Tonight, my uncle (Mom’s brother) posted photos to show that he had received his copy and even a picture of his favorite poem. Friends, some that I have never actually met in person, are supporting my dreams along with my family.

However, something just hit me tonight. These people, from all walks of life, are finding something they enjoy within my writing. I am touching the hearts of young, old, male, female, American, Canadian, and the list goes on!! That is so incredible to me!

Yes, I know that family may be biased. But they could just write a simple note saying they got it and even lie and say they loved it. These lovelies are finding something in this book that brings back feelings in themselves. Feelings that they may have felt were only their own.

It sometimes helps, as people, to know we are not alone. It helps to see that others feel the same things, good and bad. It puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? It sure has for me.

Good night all.

~Kristen

Collection of Poetry, Available in Paper Back and on Kindle

This girl of mine! 

So I’m sitting in the physical therapy gym with my eldest child. And a million thoughts are flying through my head. 

My daughter is barely 15 and taller than me! Ok so I’m pretty short, but still, it’s weird. It wasn’t that long ago I was carrying her on my hip, now our hips bump into each other as we walk side by side. That’s rather amusing at times, honestly. 

Everywhere we go, people stare. But I can’t blame them. My child is stunning. Not only is she gorgeous, she’s a bit exotic. How did an Irish woman birth an olive skinned beauty?! How did this average woman create such an extraordinary young lady? 

Over the years I’ve teased her about not really being mine. It’s all jokes, people, and she knows it! But I have made up stories about adopting her from Russia or finding her in a dumpster. I even had a made up Russian name! It’s been hilarious for over a decade!! 

Truth is, though, I’m so glad she’s mine. Regardless of how I got her, she’s mine. And I do believe that if I hadn’t been blessed with her as my daughter, I would choose her as my friend. 

She’s funny, kind, charismatic, and loving. She’s a million wonderful things wrapped up in a beautiful package.

And until the right man comes along and snags her up, this girl is mine! 

~Kristen 

My beautiful boy

Today was a monumental day. Today my little boy took his first of many tests in karate. I watched my beautiful child fight, struggle, and push himself just to take one little step up. But for him, it was a major accomplishment. Ya see, my boy struggles to get through most days. He struggles to voice his emotions. He struggles to get along with others. And he struggles every day in school to read and write. 

Ah, but today. Today my beautiful boy showed that group of students and parents what determination looks like. He fought and fought hard. Damn hard. I was already beaming with pride by the time his instructor announced that he had passed and handed him his new belt. 

However, nothing could have prepared me for what happened when he walked over to me. He looked me in the eyes and said, “I passed” and then burst into tears as he fell into my arms. My beautiful boy was so incredibly proud of himself that he couldn’t hold back his emotions. He soaked my shoulder with his innocent tears as I rocked him and told him how truly proud I am. 

Oh, the tears came pouring from my eyes too. And nothing, nothing has ever made me so proud before today. 

~Kristen