Five Far From Home

I originally created this blog in 2006 so that our family and friends could keep up with us as we lived abroad with the Air Force, now we will use it to keep you all updated on our journey forward. As we step out where the sidewalk ends after our dear father and husband's untimely death after a brief, but fierce battle with a rare form of cancer. You can read about his 10 month fight on his caring bridge page -

Thursday, April 10, 2014

just because i'm losing doesn't mean i'm lost

“It's the skin and bones that keep me on the road
The shoulder blades of a beast that haunts my soul
Wandering lonely and scared
I live the tragedy I shared

It's quick to drag you in but hard to shake
It gives but doesn't match how much it takes
Growing stronger and loud
I lived it, but now I'm wanting out

I built the fence, I hung the sign
Wine red letters said 'Keep in mind
Where I been so don't come in'
But how long can you live in shame
And drop a life long curse on your own last name?
The trouble is, I'm used to it”
(Avett Bros., “Skin and Bones”)

So, bear with me because this one’s got a few song quotes – they’re all relevant, I promise.  And there really should have been a Nine Inch Nails one, too – but then it just got too long…..
            I’ve been nothing but honest on this blog.   Especially from the very beginning of this particular journey.  When he was first diagnosed, when we knew, and the aftermath.  I’ve taken you with me – on every step.  I talked about being diagnosed with PTSD (maybe talked around it and never actually used the acronym, but it was there). I think it’s also no secret that things haven’t been fun, and not getting better.   Right after Thanksgiving, though, is when I think I can pinpoint a true downhill path that I started to take.  I cannot tell you all the things that were worse, because I didn’t recognize them as such.  I thought it was coping.  It wasn’t.  I WASN’T. I don’t mean drugs or alcohol – there are other things that aren’t healthy that can be equal or greater to the damage of substance abuse.  *Eating.  *Gaining weight.  *Obsessing over things I could control – mainly, my kids.  *I wasn’t sleeping.  *I kept getting sick.  I was so *irritable or *sad or *despondent.  All the time.  All the time.  And I didn’t recognize it for what it was.  I thought this is what should be.   I gave myself excuses to be this way because of what I’d been through.  Almost giving myself permission to not care at all, or to act this way.   I’m not going to write about the weeks leading up into the next paragraph.  They were ugly and dark.  But they served their purpose - because I knew.  I knew that this wasn’t working. 

“Just because I'm losing
Doesn't mean I'm lost
Doesn't mean I'll stop
Doesn't mean I’m across

Just because I'm hurting
Doesn't mean I'm hurt
Doesn't mean I didn't get
What I deserved
No better and no worse

I just got lost
Every river that I tried to cross
Every door I ever tried was locked
Ohhh and I'm...
Just waiting 'til the shine wears off “
(Coldplay, “Lost?”)

            So I started therapy.  I found a psychologist that I like and I’ve been going for almost 6 weeks now.  It is good.  Things aren’t better, but I kind of feel like I have hope that they will be.  I think I was missing that before. 
The first thing we did was work on ways to help me sleep (without medication).  I worked on learning to breath (I’m not kidding, there’s technique!  And, ASLO, not kidding – it really works!) Calming my mind so I didn’t obsess and worry and drive myself crazy lying awake most of the night.   I’ve been sleeping a little better.  I think I will sleep even better once my ankle is healed and I can go on my normal walk/run again.  (side tangent – I sprained my ankle March 14th and I’m still not able to do more than slowly walk, and only a mile or two) 
Next we worked on setting goals.  Which is an ongoing thing.  These are things like journaling, expanding my LOCAL social support network (with people other than my kids), setting limits to comfort eating, etc. – and that seems a little overwhelming when I write it down like that, but they’re small steps and the homework is not a burden. 
   This approach to therapy is work, though, and it’s not a lot of fun.  But it’s better than the alternative of staying where I was or being on medication.  I’m still sad.  Still overcoming the urge to obsess over things.  And we’re not going to talk about the number of cookies consumed this week.  But some things have gotten better.  I’m praying again.  Sarah and I are laughing together again.  I’m willing to do the work.  I want to be happy again.  I want to find some kind of balance between holding on to some of who I was, and Rob’s memory, and what the future looks like for me now. 
Which brings me to what I actually wanted to talk about in this blog post. 
   One of my homework assignments for this week was to try and quiet my mind, close my eyes, and visualize where I see myself in 5 years.  NOT where I see my kids, or what I see myself doing with/for my kids – but where I see myself.  When I mentioned this to a friend she said that she found digging deep  - or the “who are you” questions - impossible for her because outside of being a wife and mother was a black hole in her own thoughts.  Which is exactly how I RIGHTLY felt – because I was perfectly content in that role. Now I have to explore that black hole, because things are very different for me; my identity can no longer be wrapped up in who I was.    I have been struggling with this assignment.   
  But, finally, I think I have come up with an answer that’s good enough for right now.  In TRUE ‘Krissie’ fashion: it’s a song.  Because I think in song lyrics,( sometimes I even dream in song lyrics).
  I cannot really visualize what I see myself doing in 5 years.  But, I think that those scenes will come.  For right now, I have decided in 5 years I want this to be my theme song – I want to be able to sing this song at the top of my lungs and have every word be true.  Just thinking that this could be true is enough.  It’s enough for now. 

“Don't look back
A new day is breakin'
It's been too long since I felt this way
I don't mind where I get taken
The road is callin'
Today is the day

I can see
It took so long just to realize
I'm much too strong
Not to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down
I'll turn it around, oh yes I will

I finally see the dawn arrivin'
I see beyond the road I'm drivin'

It's a bright horizon and I'm awake now
Oh I see myself in a brand new way
The sun is shinin'
The clouds are breakin'
'Cause I can't lose now, there's no game to play

I can tell
There's no more time left to criticize
I've seen what I could not recognize
Everything in my life was leading me on
But I can be strong, oh yes I can…”

(Boston, “Don’t Look Back”)

Friday, March 21, 2014

because it's March 21st

thinking of Rob, who today would have been 42.
I would love to do his favorite thing and go for a run on the trail today, but my messed up ankle and knee are keeping me indoors.  
     We'll have a Mt. Dew, some dark chocolate, and perhaps try to grill out, though.  Maybe watch some Star Wars or old Godzilla movies.  
   For Rob, go for a run, drink a Mt. Dew, grill some meat, spend time with your family, remember your faith, wear something purple, and break out your converse.  These simple things were all Rob needed, and he was at his happiest in his recliner, with his dog on his lap, and a beer in his hand.  He never needed the grand gesture and wasn't big on making them, but we KNEW how very much he loved us.  I thank God every day that my kids, that I, know how well loved we were.  
     How I wish I could hear your voice, smell your skin.  I close my eyes and I can picture you - young, skinny, long-haired - coming to pick me up from work when we were 19.  When I am out on the trail I can hear your footfalls beside me - healthy, fit - training for your next run.  And I can't help but remember your frail, ravaged body struggling in the hospital bed.  
It's everyday.
For me, it's every day.
How very, very loved you are.  

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


I am tired all the time. 
I am tired of dwelling
I am tired of trusting,
 trying, or pretending
tired of succeeding.
And, dear God – I am so tired of failing.

In psychology class we recently finished a chapter on human development.  As the authors described the latter part of the life span there was a paragraph on the stresses older adults face.  Death of a spouse has been found to be the most significant, stressful event in a person’s lifetime.   Most never recover and it’s not uncommon for couples who have been married a long time to die within 2 years of one-another. A broken heart.
But what if you’re 40? 
I saw a table where life events were given a rating (a stress factor) of 1 – 100.  (The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale
Death of a Spouse sat at the top with a solid 100, 
followed twenty-seven points later by divorce at 73.  
Death of a child ranked at 63. 
What do you do with that?  
I’m one-hundred tired. 
and I can't go back

I moved out of my parents house and lived with Rob at 19.  We were so young.  Stupid.   
 Neither of us had ever lived on our own.  We grew up together and figured things out. We became parents at a young age and, for the most part, we figured that out together, too.  Neither of us were attending church when we started dating – but through God’s grace we made God the center of our lives and learned that part together as well.  We didn’t know a whole lot about anything, but the little things that each of us brought to the relationship complimented the others lacking knowledge and so we made our way. 
We messed up - A LOT.  but, we laughed a whole lot, too.

 A friend recently pointed me to a blog called a lovely frame, and asked me if I felt like this woman in one of her posts titled “a girl named wild” (if you chose to read it, be warned, it’s explicit). 
this. every day.  

I don’t want you to tell me how great you think I’m doing or that you’re praying for me.
I just want you to know that it doesn't get easier. 
I don't want to figure anything else out by myself today   
I miss him. 

And I’m so fucking tired.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

on this day

I don't expect that this day is especially significant to most.  
it doesn't mark anything particularly extraordinary 
but this was the moment everything changed.  
Two years ago, today,  in a hospital room with ugly yellow walls and cold tile floors
We'd already had weeks of ups, downs, scares, tests, and waiting.   
and today, as that doctor entered the room, we knew we were done waiting to find out.  
now we knew what we were up against.
This is when the real fight began.
Though his fight was short, it was fierce.  
and his story was so much more than the cancer.
He lived out his faith in every moment of his battle.  
He fought so hard to stay, but he was not scared.
We are forever changed for having shared in that. 
and today we remember
cancer is viscous and our loss tremendous 
but God is good.

Psalm 121 (ESV)
I lift up my eyes to the hills
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
  who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
  he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
  will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
  the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
  nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
  he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep 
  your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore.

Friday, February 14, 2014

to just be home

“The only time that I ever really suffered in body or mind, the only time that I ever fancied myself unwell, or had any ideas of danger, was the winter that I passed by myself at Deal, when the Admiral (Captain Croft then) was in the North Seas. I lived in perpetual fright at that time, and had all manner of imaginary complaints from not knowing what to do with myself, or when I should hear from him next; but as long as we could be together, nothing ever ailed me, and I never met with the smallest inconvenience." – Mrs. Croft in Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” 

Before catching the bus this morning Micah was feeling a little under the weather, just a slight stuffiness and tired feeling. He wanted to go to school so badly because today was the Valentine’s Day party. I sent him on his way with instructions to call me if he started feeling any worse. Since I didn’t hear anything from him, I assumed all was well.
He is the last one to get home in the afternoons, and so when he arrived at 4 PM the other three of us were already involved in separate tasks all over the house. Micah walked in the door and I shouted up, “HI!” to which he replied, “I’m sick” in a defeated voice. I exclaimed, “Oh, No!” and ran up to the door to start fussing over him, instantly feeling his hot forehead. Sarah followed close behind and began to help Micah off with all his snow gear and express concern. Hearing the commotion Noah came running and seeing Micah he said, “Are you ok? Did you throw up?” Micah then melted into a puddle of tears, and after I got him into pajamas and onto the couch he was able to try and tell me why he was crying. 
“It was just so good to be home,” was all he could explain.
On this Valentine’s Day, I know exactly how you feel sweet boy. We’ve been wrestling with some issues of the heart in our home lately and have not been looking forward to this holiday. But, at the end of the day – when all is said and done – God has given us each other, these 4 people and a furry little friend – to uplift, care for, and watch out for each other. Home.
It was nice that a couple of our sweet friends from far away remembered us with flowers. Sarah and I went out to lunch together. We are all home for the evening and my sweet kids are sitting with me through a Jane Austen movie (for the thousandth time!!) 
Things will be ok.  
Broken hearts will mend, with time.  
Bodies will heal.  
We will lean on each other 
We will remember our faith.
We know not what the future holds, but we know the One who holds the future.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Overtaking Indolence

"Well I've been lockin' myself up in my house for sometime now
Readin' and writin' and readin' and thinkin'
and searching for reasons and missing the seasons.
The autumn, the spring, the summer, the snow.
The record will stop and the record will go.
Latches latched, the windows down,
the dog coming in and the dog going out.
Up with caffeine and down with a shot.
Constantly worried about what I've got.
Distracting my work but I can't make a stop
and my confidence on and my confidence off.
And I sink to the bottom and rise to the top
and I think to myself that I do this a lot.
World outside just goes it goes it goes it goes it goes it goes...
and witness it all from the blinds of my window."
                                                                               - The Avett Brothers ("Talk on Indolence")
       We are a couple weeks into the new term and the strangest thing for me, even as a brand new college student (at the age of 40!)  is still to be out and among people again.  For so long I was kind of able to hide away, going largely unnoticed.  While we stayed in Germany I stuck to my routine and had a close-knit circle of people checking on me.  
      When we moved to Wisconsin I didn't really know anyone - so it was easy to hide away for a while.  Slowly, (and more so for the kids' sake than for my own) we began to go places, do things, accomplish things.  But, I really haven't felt a part of things - connected - I still don't know if I definitely feel that, totally.  More so now, though, than before.  I talk to people.  I am reading something non-fiction (besides the Bible or commentaries on it).  I have places that I'm to be (meaning, not because it's a lesson or meeting for the kids).  
     That's been the hardest part - the feeling like I am moving on, and slowly accepting that I'm okay.  
"And I'm there
Looking up at the sky
And I'm scared
Thinking 'bout the way that
I don't understand
Anything at all
How it overtakes me
And I'm just so small
Do I stand a chance?"
                                                             - The Flaming Lips (It Overtakes Me)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I will miss the days we had

"Tell me something', give me hope for the night
We don't know how we feel
We're just praying' that we're doin' this right
Though that's not the way it seems

Summer gone, now winter's on its way
I will miss the days we had
The days we had
I will miss the days we had
Oh, I'll miss the days we had"
                                                                             - The Head and the Heart (Winter Song)
The new semester, after getting off to a rocky start with the infamous "Polar Vortex", is now in full swing.  Homework (and LOTS OF IT!) is a regular activity for all 4 of us.  On Friday Jan. 3rd I posted a status message on faebook that read, "Today I picked up all my books; classes start on Monday. 
With each obstacle the kids and I overcome, or each step in a new (and completely different) direction - like starting college at 40 yrs. old, or buying a car for Sarah - we are slowly moving on, moving forward. It is bittersweet every time it happens because part of me so desperately does not want to move on, to move away from who we were with him."   
   Sometimes it feels like life is just going through the motions.  But then, there was an evening where we were all at home and working on homework (Sarah was in her room, Noah practicing piano, and Micah and I were at the kitchen table), and Micah whispers, "you're doing great, Mom" that I just know things are right.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

January Hymn

"On a winter Sunday I go
To clear away the snow
and green the ground below.
April all an ocean away
Is this the better way to spend the day?
Keeping the winter at bay
What were the words I meant to say before you left?
When I could see your breath lead where you were going to.
Maybe I should just "let it be"
and maybe it will all come back to me
Sing, Oh January, Oh
How I lived a childhood in snow
And all my teens in tow
Stuffed in strata of glow
Hail the winter days after dark
Wandering the gray memorial park
A fleeting beating of hearts
What were the words I meant to say before she left?
When I could see her breath lead where she was going to
Maybe I should just "let it be"
and maybe it will all come back to me
Sing, Oh January, Oh"
                                                                                        - the Decemberists, "January Hymn"
these pictures were taken this morning on the Great River State Trail that Phantom and I frequent 

 We've really settled in well and made this little corner of Wisconsin as much of a home as we could in the short months we've been here.  We each have things we're looking forward to in the future and a lot of that has to do with living here, in our small corner of this great big world.  We approached the holiday season with little expectation, as has been our mantra - to not expect things to look a certain way or plan for much.  We slowly started to incorporate our old traditions with new ones. It was tough.  More for me than the kids, and that seems reasonable.  There are things about this time of year that Rob and I had done together - that I was now carrying alone.  Two of the hardest things this year were:
- picking out the Hallmark ornaments for the stockings that we buy for the kids every year. 
- we would be wrap the presents on Christmas Eve because (even though we swore we wouldn't wait until the last minute this year) we got too busy, so we'd open a bottle of wine, put on the Bill Murry classic, "Scrooged", and stay up way too late wrapping the presents.

There were new things we did this year that are sure to become traditions with the four of us, customs that mean we're moving on. We were all so excited for this, our first Christmas, in our new home, but with everything that was different I was painfully aware of how much further we were stepping away from that piece of our world.  The piece that was him.
 I was so grateful when  My brother and his lovely Suzy chose to come and spend Christmas Eve and Day with us - then when Sarah's boyfriend, Evan, was able to make plans to come up during his school break it was a complete reunion of last year.  They filled the house with laughter, games, good food, and activity.
I was so pleased when a few close families' who knew us in Germany (and some that I least expected it from) sent little care packages and small gifts to let us know they were thinking of us.  It brings tears to my eyes even now, because it means a lot that some of you remember and know how hard it is for me to try and carry on.  
 I was recently telling a friend that anytime I get sad or frustrated with things, I try to list all the obvious doors, windows, nudges, and blaring sirens that God has put in our path to let us sternly, but lovingly, know that this is exactly where He wants us.  It's hard to argue with that.  I get impatient sometimes for things to seem normal again.  To feel whole.  Then I think, though, that part of feeling those things will come at the cost of not missing Rob so terribly much, and as painful as it is to so desperately long for him, I don't exactly want to move on from there.  And so I start reciting the list in my head again.......
"Maybe I should just "let it be"
and maybe it will all come back to me
Sing, Oh - January - Oh"

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas cards

Christmas at the Murphy's on Monday night was a great time full of card games, treats, presents, and more card games.  Grandma had a great time teaching the kids a new game.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Snow! Snow! Snow!

We traveled to Waukesha to celebrate Christmas with Ann & Lee (Rob's Mom and step-Dad) and were treated to 6" of snow!  The kids had never seen so much snow and enjoyed a little time outside being goofy, throwing snowballs, and figuring out what it tastes like (Evan!)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

the great sleepover reunion

In the transient life that is the military you come along friends that you know will be with your for a season, neighbors and coworkers that you enjoy during your time (or theirs) at different bases around the globe.  Every so often you come across a friend that you know will be around despite the different  time zones.  It doesn't happen very often for kids - especially young kids - as they just kind of move on, but for these 4 boys they just connected in a way that makes them friends for life.  Our families also became friends and we were so blessed when they decided to make a trip happen to visit us.  Just the moms and the boys, this time, but it was such a welcome reminder of times-past and reaffirmation for a future with friendships that last.  
The boys spent most of the time in the house enjoying all their favorite things.  I ended up with a nasty cold and so my dear friends took care of me and we enjoyed good food, wine, and endless laughs and conversation.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Piano recital

We have found a great new teacher for the boys and enjoyed being a part of her annual Christmas Recital.  She teaches a lot of talented kids.  After the recital we came home for some hot chocolate (it is COLD in Wisconsin)

Thursday, November 28, 2013


We spent Thanksgiving with Bob, Elaine, and Jaime & Adrian and their crew.  It was the first Thanksgiving in a long, long, long time that we were with family and not Air Force family. It was a bittersweet reminder of how much we miss that military life, but also how wonderful it is to be living near family again.  It was also the first time in over 15 years that I didn't have to make the turkey!  I was only responsible for desserts.  The meal was fantastic and my kids had an amazing time getting to spend hours with their cousins.  Sarah was smitten with the newest addition, Joshua, and I suspect he appreciated the "nap buddy" too.
    Bob is Rob's Dad, Elaine is his wife and Jaime is her daughter.