Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The 11th Month Mark


Happy New Year Everyone!!!
Welcome 2021!!!
I want to start out wishing you all many blessings for a wonderful and peaceful year.
Since the last blog the girls and I had a wonderful Christmas celebration with our family and friends! So many of you all texted, called and even stopped by with hugs and Christmas love, it meant so much to me.
We even got a few minutes of snow flurries Christmas Eve, it was a big God Hug knowing Ronnie was with us. We talked about him, remembered some fun Christmas memories and Santa even left HIM a gift!
It's for a brick that has a special message about him on it that will be laid at a new building near our home this spring, I will keep you all updated of course!
Our New Year has started off very nice too, for New Years Eve we were invited to a friends house for fireworks and pizza. The girls had a great time and I got to meet some awesome new friends. And come to find out we all had something in common, the recent loss of a loved one. When you find people who have gone through this and get it, it's pretty incredible and brings up incredible and healing conversations. So at midnight our group toasted to Randy, Ronnie and Josh. It was small but meant so much to me XOXO
The January days so far have been a little more relaxed than the holiday rush. I packed up all the Christmas decor and have tried to replace it with some cute snowman and warm white lights, I think it helps keep the holiday warmth somehow. 

We had fun seeing the Dawgs with a down to the last play win on New Years Day and filled the last few days of winter break with some putt putt and a trip to see the Gym Dawgs in Athens!
I have not made any New Year's resolutions except to just keep going and keep going after that. I know a lot of people like to have a word for the new year, the one that keeps popping up in my head for 2021 is endurance. Something about it makes me think that is kind of where I am right now. I have also had a lot of thoughts about peace and how valuable it is. When you have lived with an unpeaceful situation and then it changes, I think there is a new appreciation for peace and you learn you are in control of it. And you treasure it.
I'm ​a​lso been feeling a lot of hope again, like some excitement about what is ahead for us or maybe its because things can only go up from last year, right?!?!?
 Whatever it is, it feels good & I am so grateful for that!!
I was texting my mother in law the other day, we are both totally excited about my sister in laws engagement to Joe! A wonderful man who is great to Amy and her kids, an answered prayer!!! 

Aren't they gorgeous?! The look of love!
The Portmann genes run deep, she looks so much like Ronnie to me!
In our text though we had a similar feeling thanks to some Valentine decor we both saw...ughhh!!!
I told her I had run into The Dollar Tree looking for some snowflake decor, nothing to be found except an explosion of Valentine hearts.
As someone who loves celebrating, this is a first for me.
 I imagine it is the same if you have a loved one who passed away near Christmas, seeing all the decor can bring up a lot of mixed emotions. That seems to be what is happening with me. On one hand love is incredible and should be celebrated.
Then on the other it takes me right back to Valentine's Day Eve last year when Ronnie passed. 
The flowers that were from him that came in with a card that had song lyrics on it felt like a ghost.
 All the gifts and candies he had is his passenger side car for the girls and I they had packed up in a box when Mom and I picked up his stuff from the police department. The message he wrote on my mirror asking if I would be his Valentine.
All the hearts representing love when it feels my love left.
The Valentine cards he wrote his last words to us on.
I am like this will  go down as the WORST Valentine the 3 of us will ever get.
I want to cry/scream/hug/punch/kiss him and say, "What were you thinking?!"
Trying to figure out how to balance this one.  

But sometimes I can think as I find myself in what feels like the ashes after the wildfire has burned out or the quietness of my singleness now, in some way Ronnie thought this was an act of his greatest love.
I definitely can not speak for him or read his mind, but I do know for sure as the years went on Ronnie began to have a deep feeling we were better off without him. My Ron was not an angry man, he was the very opposite. A huge heart and very kind. He loved others so much, just not himself.
After each traumatic event I would find myself in with him, I could tell my heart would harden some. I could not get why he would do this. It hurt and it was scary. And he saw that which I know broke his heart because he told me.
Please do not take this as me putting suicide as a way of showing others something.
It is not that at all, it is a horrible experience and so complex.
It is a solution to NOTHING.
Add in some mental illness on top of that and you know what I mean.
It is just me trying to figure out why this happened and what do I do with it.
To fight the anger and bitterness because I know that is exactly what evil wants me to do with it and become.
Whatever went on in his head, I know in his heart he wanted the very best for his 3 girls and I am very aware of the great responsibility I have raising the girls.
I have been deeply loved everyday since 2/13/20.
How even when at times it has seemed like a year of winter, there has been a c0nstant light shining on the girls and I. Not a minute has gone by where I did not feel all the love, prayers and support we have been so grateful to receive.
And I am learning that He is not done with us yet.
There is a mission He has.
There is purpose in the pain for all of us.
I believe that deeply.
So if for whatever reason, Valentines Day or any celebration may bring out some not great emotions for you too, know you are not alone and are loved deeply.
We are promised 3 things will always remain (no matter how bad it feels), faith, hope and LOVE.
The greatest of these is LOVE.
And that will go down as the BEST Valentine we will ever get. 

Through the years of many ups and downs my family has stayed right by our side always offering their support and prayers. One of my biggest supporters has been my sweet brother Garrett. I asked him to join me this month and share some memories of Ronnie with y'all. I have tried to share the many sides of Ronnie, one of the best was him having a strong relationship with my brother.
G has stepped in many times this year and been a fantastic rock of an Uncle G and always there to listen to me when I have needed it. He makes me laugh and he's a big teddy bear!!
G has been there from the very first date!!!

When I first met Ron, I knew there were two things that were going to work in his favor, at least for me, that I considered a "plus" when Lindsey first started bringing him around our family. One, he was a fan of the Georgia Bulldogs and loved Georgia. If you have that going for you, then you were already way ahead of the game in front of everyone else when it came to Lindsey's boyfriend introductions. Secondly, Ron not only loved the Georgia Bulldogs, he loved sports. He specifically loved the teams I loved: Atlanta Hawks, Falcons, Braves and United. Throughout Ron's time with us, him and I bonded over sports and our love for the Dawgs more than anything else. Sports was our gateway with each other. We'd talk about anything and everything but it always boiled down to our love for the Dawgs and our Atlanta sports teams. 

Why I was so close with Ron, among other things was our love for sports. I was never the most athletic type and never was really good at any sport I played when I was little. However, as I grew older, my love for sports grew that much more. I felt if I couldn't play and really be good at any sports, I'd just grow up loving to watch them. Ron was that way too, however, he did have a little more athleticism than I did playing soccer when he was a kid and coaching soccer, whether it be for his middle school or coaching his daughter's team. Ron loved sports. Just like me and that carved our relationship with each other so much where he became a brother to me.

Now, being a Dawg and Atlanta sports fan, we went through TOO many lows with heartbreak and heartache but also had some really special highs. We shared the agony of defeat when the Falcons blew what many people to this day still can't believe, when they let that coveted 28-3 lead evaporate for their first ever Super Bowl victory. Man, that hurt us both hard. We shared in the Braves having so much success with good teams but then when the playoffs happened, they'd fall on their face in true Atlanta fashion. Even the Hawks we shared despair (yes, you heard that right). Man, how that special season they had when they went 60-22 and went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals but lost hurt us deep too. Atlanta United came on the scene later in our time knowing each other but they provided a nice trophy for us when they won the MLS Cup, Atlanta's first world championship since the 1995 World Series win. However, there was nothing that Ron and I bonded over more than our love for the Georgia Bulldogs, specifically UGA Football.  

When it came to UGA Football, Ron and I couldn't get enough of it. We'd text about what we thought about the upcoming game(s), how we thought the season would pan out, recruiting, everything when it came to UGA Football, we digested and couldn't get enough of it. Before Lindsey and Ron had their girls, we made an informal pact that we would go to one SEC away game every year and make a trip out of it. We did just that and had a good run for a while. Obviously, the thing called life eventually hits and when they decided to start a family, those trips dissipated but we were able to knock out a lot of SEC football stadiums BK (Before Kids, haha). Ron, Lindsey and my entire family have shared SO many UGA Football memories that it's hard to nail them all down because each holds a special place in my heart. There are two special games I'll talk about that I treasure in my memory that I've had with Ron and why we were so close.

The first game was when Lindsey, Ron and myself went to Tuscaloosa and watched Georgia, Mark Richt, Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and Mikey Henderson take down Alabama in Saban's first year as Head Coach in what Bama fans called "200-Saban. (2007)." We went up there I believe that Friday and watched a Cahtholic high school football game that Friday night which was really cool because we just kind of wondered to the game driving around the city and campus. Then on gameday, we had seats at the very top of Bryant-Denny and all I can remember is how high it was and the climb! If you're a Georgia fan, you know how the ending was with Stafford hitting Mikey Henderson in the corner on UGA's first offensive possession of OT. The play happened all the way in the corner of the endzone, opposite of where our seats were and we couldn't see what happened at first. We quickly realized when Georgia players were in a dogpile and the Bama students were throwing their trash onto the dogpile what happened. Georgia had won and Lindsey, Ron and I danced hugged and jumped for joy with each other. It was a feeling I'll never forget. I still remember walking back to my SUV and dancing with random Georgia fans on the street. What a time it was....

The second game I wanted to share is the most dearest to me when it comes to Ron and I. It was the UGA and Miss. St game in 2017. That was a special season for all Dawg fans for obvious reasons but that game I hold dear to my heart. All the girls decided to stay at the condo that night and watch the game on TV so that left myself, my dad and Ron to go to the game. Yes, we got to have a guys game with no women around! (Can I say that in 2021? Oh well...haha). As any Georgia fan knows, that game was never close and Georgia stomped Miss St from the first snap to the final whistle. I still remember when Fromm hit Godwin with the "flea flicker" and Fromm threw that ball in the air. I can still see it in the air with Godwin running under the ball, wide open. When Fromm put that ball in the air, I put my arm around Ron because I knew the TD was there and I started rocking with him with one arm around him and one arm in the air knowing that if he caught it, TD. It was a nervous squeeze of Ron but when Godwin caught it and ran into the endzone, it was pure pandemonium in Sanford. I hugged and jumped with Ron, he did the same with me, we high fived everyone around us. Pure joy on everyone's faces. The rest of that night was so special as Ron, my dad and me just enjoyed a stress free beatdown of Miss St. We were grinning ear-to-ear from the beginning to the end. I was so thankful to have Ron and my dad there to share that time and memory together and it will be one that I will hold onto for the rest of my life.

I don't know how Ron and I would have been if he didn't share the same love of sports as I did. I'm sure we would have still been close but our sports love made us like white on rice. He went through the same ups, downs, agony of defeats and joys of victory as I did. I'll always treasure all the special times we had together which always seemed to revolve around UGA Football and sports. I do miss not being able to talk to him, text him about this play, or that recruiting class or get his thoughts on what the upcoming season will look like. However, there ain't no doubt in my mind that he's keeping track of it all up there in Heaven knowing that soon his beloved Dawgs are going to deliver him and us that national championship and when they do, oh what a party he is going to have with all his other Bulldog buds up there!

This is a pic of Ronnie and G at Christmas, Ronnie made this for him!
Besides his girls, I always told Ron his other true love was his love for the group Phish!!
I will be honest, I never really understood it, but I could clearly understand it was Ron's favorite group of ALL TIME. He would always be jamming to them in the garage while working on something. Typically in August when the band was touring they would come to Alpharetta. While we were together I remember he went 2 different times. His last concert with them was on August 5, 2018 and will go down as one of the happiest I have ever seen him.
That is why I wanted to share these pictures from his phone.
I don't have much to say about them because I was not there, but I do know he was over the moon to take Taylor to her first Phish concert!
You can see it in his huge smile.
I hope Taylor will always smile seeing these, her Daddy loved her so much. They truly had a bond, she made him smile ear to ear!!  

I do remember it was a HOT August day!!!!

Ronnie always would carry the girls on his back, he would tell them, "Hold tight! Daddy won't drop you!

He bought her a pretty head wrap and necklace!

Daddy's Girl!

Ronnie loved and felt music deeply. 
Although at the time I had some deep reservations about him taking Taylor to the concert, I will forever be grateful I did. Wonderful memories were made and he gave Taylor an experience I hope she will always treasure and I think that is a big part of it is all about!

To close out I wanted to share with you about the annual review at work I had, a review of 2020.
Annual review's make my stomach turn, even though this is my 15th one!!! I get so nervous, always afraid I have messed up somehow or I am about to get the pink slip!
I remember one year my boss changed the time on mine to a Friday at 4 PM, I was for sure that was it for Lindo!!
But turns out they have kept me around :-)
So in the review I had to list what needs improvement (a lot) and my accomplishments. 
I wanted to write I SURVIVED 2020 and leave it at that!
But God has given me an incredible boss with strong faith. As we were talking yesterday we got to this section and she told me something I never knew. She said, "Lindsey do you remember 5 years ago when we were sitting in the conference room and your husband was in ICU. We didn't know if he would survive. Tears started running down your face and you said I don't know if I have enough FAITH to get through this."
She said everyday I prayed your faith would grow stronger and stronger for whatever God knew was before you and the girls. And God answered those prayers. He's got this.
And He's Got YOU too XOXO

"With you I'd travel thick and with you I'd also travel thin and all the spaces in between I'd travel with you. You're my sweet one"

Love you all,

Sunday, December 13, 2020

The 10th Month Mark


Happy Holidays sweet friends & family!
Thank you for checking in with us at the 10th month mark, especially this super busy time of the year. I know sometimes just finding a few moments to yourself is valuable, I appreicate you spending a few of them with us.
So lets dive in!
So it is proably no surprise the most frequent question I get these days is how are we handling the holidays?
Since its only December 13 when this blog goes live I can't say how Christmas will be, but so far we have been doing good. I feel some anxiety thinking about Christmas Eve night without him but we were blessed to celebrate Thanksgiving twice this year (my waist line shows it!!). My cousin Mindy hosted a delighful Thanksgiving lunch with my Mom's side of the family and my Uncle David and Aunt Karen had us over Thanksgiving Day for turkey Bulldog style in Athens. Both meals were delicious (except for the pecan pie I bombed on!! It was all runny...I called it a 2020 pie) but being around our family was THE BEST. It makes me so happy XOXO
While I was eating some apple pie with my incredible Aunt Judy and also fellow widower (my Uncle Glenn passed away in February too...not the best week in my family obviously). Sweet Kim was walking around Mindy's house looking for her Hubby.
 She said out load "I've lost my husband!"
I looked at Aunt Judy and said "So did we!!!"
She started laughing so hard!!!
You HAVE to find some humor in this to keep going.
Since Thanksgiving Day we have been on a roll with our Christmas traditions like seeing Santa, Christmas movie nights, driving out to see The Lights of Life and enjoying some yummy treats from The Marietta Diner. I am also hosting the dessert portion of my neighborhood Progressive Dinner! This was also all the stuff we did with Ronnie too.
 I will have a few moments like seeing the lights where I will think to myself, "I sure do miss you Ronnie, I want you here with us", but I have been able so far to keep going forward. 
With that being said and the risk of you thinking I have gone nuts, 2 things happened this Christmas season, and I feel as though they are Ronnie.
First one, I was sitting at my computer working and the girls were sitting on the couch looking at their IPads, even our friend Kinley was here. But no one had been moving. Then all the sudden an ornamanet fell off the tree and shattered. But no one had walked by it and we have no pets to knock ornaments over. When I walked over to see which one it was it kind of took me back:
See what I mean?! One of our precious Just Married ornaments we got at our wedding shower. Then to top that, Taylor's IPad has a big crack in it, it use to be Ronnie's. It has been acting all crazy ghostwriting. That is when the IPad seems to move on its on, something with the layering when you have cracks.
 Anyway, I was working at my computer again the not touching it, all the sudden it started turning on, like it enered the password while no one (at least alive!!) was touchiung it. Then it went to photos and starting playing all pics of just Ronnie.
I said outloud "Pickles is that you?!"
There have been other moments like this my Mother in Law share with each other, maybe that will be another blog post?!
We have even had some awesome moments of great strength!
Hauling in our Christmas Tree was one of those shining moments for us 3.
It was a moment of using our strength and will to do it on our own, and we did it!
Yes it is still standing!

A few days ago in my personal life I realized some things that really hurt my heart.
 I noticed though the way I handled it changed a good bit from the way I used to handle things before experienceing this type of deep grief.
I use to let my hurt feelings be in someone else's hands or actions.
 But I think now, probably with age too, I am in more control of how I feel and how I can make it better.
So if something hurts me, it is up to me to make it better.
We all have that power within us.
And you are too valuable to give it to someone else, especially someone who is careless with it.
I thought to myself, maybe there is some good stuff that comes out of this greif.
I do believe none of this will be wasted.
That somehow everything the girls and I have felt will carry us into something more incredible.
I have mentioned this before, but I can see in myself that I use to be afraid for people to know how I felt about them. Maybe it is the fear of rejection? Could they not handle my truth?
For so many years some of the actions Ronnie did under the influnce broke me.
But I did not say it.
I was afraid of his reaction. Would it make him more depressed? Would he leave?
If I say what I feel, can he handle it? And I kept it inside.
Until close to the end when it exploded out.
I carry so many feelings about that now, how I think I should have done this or that.
But I also know I can't change anything.
I do know I want people to know how I feel about them.
I say I love you way more frequent then I ever did before.
And I am not ashamed of it.
The way my thoughts are now, I would rather tell someone how much I care and then they can do with it what they want. 
But at least though know.
Along with expereincing this type of grief I feel like my fear factor has gone down BIG time.
Like, I use to fear what if someone leaves me?
What if I loose this income? 
What if I am alone?
What if I am single?
What if it hurts?
Then when the things you fear DO happen and you SURVIVE them, the fear is defeated.
It does not mean I don't take hits, because I sure do, everyone does.
And it doesn't mean I don't get hurt and wrestle with self doubt.
But it has changed into my knowledge that whatever happens, God has got me. I have 10 months worth of pretty incredible strength that keeps growing.
And even if none of the things you fear ever do happen, it does not change that God has you too XOXO 
It is Christmas time, the time to tell people how you feel (do I have any Love Actually fans out there?!?!) XOXO

For this month's blog entry I wanted to share the friendship side of Ronnie and I asked his best friend and one of mine too now, Dale to share a memory that was special for him of Ron.
Dale and Ronnie met at Haynes Bridge Middle School, both guys are excellent teachers. Dale will give you a little more on that here!!

After I accepted the job at Haynes Bridge Middle School in 2015, I was told that I would beworking with a teacher by the name of Ron Portmann. So, I searched Ron Portmann in Facebook and itdid not take long to see that he was a big UGA fan. Ron had a picture posted of his classroom which wasdecked in Dawg gear. 
 I am thinking this guy is going to hate me when he finds out that I’m a South Carolina fan, especially after SC had just beat GA the previous season. Nevertheless, I messaged him on FB to introduce myself as his new co-teacher.  His reply was something like this,& I quote "Yes, I am THE Ron Portmann." 
 So, my immediate impression was, I’m going to be working with a conceited, obnoxious UGA fan. Needless to say, this could not have been further from the truth. 
Ron was a remarkable teacher. He had a way of connecting with ALL of his students. They loved him too.
 I was more of the disciplinarian, so I wasn’t feeling too much love.  We co-taught 3 classes together and the 8th graders that year were particularly challenging. Because of this, we spent a lot of
time planning after school.  I had already taught 19 years and this was Ron’s 6 th year teaching.
 Even so, I learned just as much as the students, not only about math strategies, but temperament. Although we had different teaching styles, we worked really well as a team.
Over Spring break I invited Ron to go gambling at the casino in Cherokee, NC. Ron said, and I quote "I need
to see what Lindsey has planned for us."
 I was surprised when he said he could go.  Ron had never been
to a casino. It was a Wednesday morning, so it was not too crowded. I was teaching him Blackjack strategy until I realized he was doubling down and I was out of chips. When I told him that I was going to get
more money at the atm, Ron picked up 2 stacks of chips and handed them to me.
 This got us kicked off the table. Ron didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to pass, or share, money while sitting at a gaming table. I
tried to explain that this was Ron’s first time, he did not know any better. The dealer wasn’t having it.
The other players were looking at us with an evil eye so we bowed out as gracefully as possible at that point.
I could tell Ron’s adrenaline was racing from his winnings because he had just turned $20 into $240. We soon parked at a table to play 3 Card Stud. The dealer was a nice guy and coached us because
no one else was playing, and he knew we had no clue how to play. Ron won $350 in his first 2 hands.
I’m advising him not to bet so high every time. Within 20 minutes, we only had $40.  I pried him away and we spent the next 30 minutes playing the nickel slots while pondering the validity of the phrase,
Easy come, easy go. For the next 45 minutes, we found a $5 Blackjack table and decided we would either double the $40 and go home, or, lose it, and have no other choice but to go home. I was hoping
Ron’s beginners luck streak would continue so we would at least break even. We left the casino with $10 to buy gas on the way home.
There is something to be said about road trips. You are trapped in a car, nowhere to escape, so, we ended up having some good conversation and created a bond, a friendship. Neither one of us had brothers growing up. I would have wanted my relationship with a brother to be as close as I was with Ron. He was my co-teacher, business partner and my best friend, which I used to think it sounded silly
being a grown man proclaiming his “best friend”.
 But feeling silly is a lot better that what I feel now.
Ron's presence is so strong sometimes, I forget he is actually gone. Then, other times, when I am pressure washing, or using one of his math strategies with my students, I miss Ron terribly. Thank u for letting me
share a memory.

Ronnie was a great and warm hearted person, he was liked by so many people. When Dale and I first met, we were not that close but towards the final years of Ron's life, our love for him connected us. Dale was a friend like no other to Ron. He stood by him and did everything to help him he could until the very last day he was alive. Dale and I have a mutual understanding of what we both went through. Some of it was pretty dark and scary. Having people who get that is so valuable. Since Ronnie's passing Dale has stepped in whenever I have needed him. He has come over to pressure wash and help me with the garage clean up.
And he always makes me laugh!!
He will send me a pic of a crazy taco drive through he is at or tell me how he risked life and limb climbing a ladder! 
Dale also will just call to check on me and the girls. I don't think he will mind me saying this, but I think it can be a lot for him sometimes. Coming to our house for example can bring on a flood of emotions for him because it connects him to Ron. But he still does it cause he is just a good guy with a giving heart. I know without a doubt Ron is thankful to him for all he does for  "his girls."
Christmas time has so many meanings and is special for many reasons. One of those are the Christmas memories we make with our families. My hope is one day the girls will read this and know just how much their Daddy loved them.
I thought I would share just a few of our family Christmas memories through the years XOXO

Every November I take the girls to ride Macy's Pink Pig (except 2020, Corona took the pig out!). Some years it was just us and some years our extended family went with us. Here is 2014 with Avery and Ryder!!

Every Decemeber our church Johns Creek Baptist puts on the most beautiful Christmas show ever. It is a must see and will be a blessing to you and your family! They do a Saturday and Sunday show. From the ballet dancers to the GA Tech drumline playing Little Drummer Boy, it is a highlight of the Christmas season. When Taylor was 3 months old she even played Baby Jesus while we were Joseph and Mary. Ronnie looked perfect for that role don't you think?!
This was at JCBC in 2015, we did have to make an early exit and it was NOT because of our youngest daughter either! I am looking at you Taylor Portmann!!

Another Portmann Family tradition is riding The Blue Ridge Railroad to see Santa, Frosty and The Grinch!! This is a fabulous experience with yummy snacks and great picture opputunities. Plus riding through downtown Blue Ridge is so beautiful. The beautful dresses in this picture were made by my sweet boss Barbara.

Of course I know this is a popular for so many, reading the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. Ronnie ALWAYS did the best voices ya'll!!
My favorite was when he would be Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter!!!

The weekend after Thanksgiving we would take the girls to Lights of Life at Life University in Marietta and eat dinner at the Marietta Diner. I can't recommend this one enough, its close and not to expensive! You can park and walk around too. They have a petting zoo, funnel cakes and a littel train. Look at Daddy and Taylor sledding!

Seeing Santa every year was always a highlight for me! We have also seen this Santa at North Point Mall (except this year...Covid again). We would get our Santa pic, ride the mall train then go each lunch at the food court! Taylor always picks Chick Fil A, I usully get pizza and Ron would get a gyro or Chinese and we would all share. Then of course a spin on the merry go round!

Another hightlight is what our family calls Portmas!
Omma termed it back when Amy was working her different nursing schedule, sometimes she would have to work on the holidays. So we just celebrated on a differnt day!
This was the year we wore our Christmas jammies!!
It is always one of my favorite meals, Poppie prepares a delicious meat, Ommas does tradtional sides like green bean casserole and brown rice. Always a salad and sweet tea to drink. And when you talk about gift giving, my mother in law SHINES!
Each of us has our own wrapping paper pattern and everything is equal. We open youngest to oldest, it is so much fun!! Her Christmas home is beautiful too. Gold reindeer, kid ornaments and paper snowlakes in the kitchen like from Elf XOXO

Every December 1st I would prepare our Elf on the Shelf breakfast or breakfast for dinner and Ronnie would read the book outload about Elfie. We did do that this year but I was not quite ready to read the book myself yet. Not sure if I can do it Christmas Eve night either.
But that is okay.
Some things I am not ready for.
Always do what YOU are comfortable with and when YOU are ready.

One of our favourite date nights was my annual Christmas Party. Through 14 years of our changing economy my company has never slacked on treating their emploeeys with a faboulos end of the year celebration. The last few years it was at The Hotel Avalon. I am talking drinks, dellious buffetts, dessert tables, DJ's, poker tables and photo booths!
My inlaws always keep the girls for us that night and we love every second. Some nights we would even go to Waffle House after midnight then come home and watch Christmas with The Kranks!! 
I would always buy a new dress and Ronnie didn't want to see it until that night. No matter what I was wearing that year, I would walk out of our room and he would tell me I had never looked more beautiful.
I think this was 2 years ago now, but ya'll we were getting our picture taken at the party and the sweetest young girl asked me "when I was due?"
Ya'll, if you could have only seen the fire daggers that came out of his eyes!!!
I was totally fine, although I was not preggers I still had my baby weight. I looked like I could be, but I had just been enjoying the buffet :-)
Ron the other hand, my goodness he went off!!!
This year with Covid there was no Christmas Party, part of me missed it and part of me was ok with it, one less thing I have to "go thru."
Did you know I still have a pic of our first Christmas Party in my wallet?!
Ronnie didn't have the beard, just a chin strap!

I could probably go on with a couple more blogs full of Christmas memories, I have so many amazing ones with Ron and my girls.
They will forever be treasured memories for me in my life.
As we also all approach the end of 2020...finally, right?!
I huge thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love and prayers you continue to give to us.
I hope your Christmas season is filled with much joy, hope and sparkle.
A special shout out to all those who find this season a little harder, you are not alone. 
Keep going.
My girls are the greatest gifts I have ever gotten. They are the angels on my tree and hope to make this Christmas so special for them.
I hope it is special for you too.

Friday, November 13, 2020

The 9th Month Mark

Hello Friends and Family & Happy November!

Notice it is also Friday the 13th when this blog goes live...EEK!! But at this point, I am kind of like what is a Friday the 13th going to through at us that 2020 hasn't already?! It takes a little more to scare me these days :-)

It is raining tonight as I am writing this blog, the weather here in GA has actually been pretty warm. All the leaves on the trees are changing and beginning to fall. Driving around my neighborhood, I love seeing all the leaves on the ground, I know next season they will be gone and the trees will be bare so I try to really pay attention and soak it in now. So a little bit about what the Portmann Girls have been up to since my last post.

We got through some pretty big hurdles which I am really proud of us for. The start of October I attended my first UGA game without Ronnie. It was different anyway with all the covid stuff, but it had been over a decade since I had been to a game without him next to me cheering on the Dawgs. Very mixed feelings but I went and actually had a great time! One of my best friends Janet was there with us the entire time. She was on one side of me and Dad was on the other, so I was in pretty good company. We ended up dancing, cheering loud and being so excited to come out with a win over Auburn...that will help anything!!

       Our next milestone or hurdle or thing to get through (depending on my mood there is no telling what I will call it!!) was Ronnie's birthday. I obviously knew it was coming so it gave me some time to think about how I wanted to do it. Ronnie would have been 38 on October 22, so the girls and I took off school and work and spent the day celebrating him, doing things he loved. We first went to the creek where he would often take the girls to play (and give me some alone time!). We read some sweet cards Omma wrote and other messages so many of YOU all sent us that day, encouraging us. We released some birthday balloons into heaven for him. After that we headed to lunch at one of his favorite spots and I enjoyed an adult beverage...much needed right?! We did a couple of other small things and a beautiful arrangement of yellow flowers arrived. Yellow is my favorite :-) At the end of the day I felt really good about how it went. We chose to celebrate all the great things about Daddy, and there is so much we love about him it came very easy XOXO

After that came Halloween, my family came up to celebrate with us and it was my Mom's birthday so that made it extra special! Taylor dressed up as a black cat, Coco was Belle and I was a Maiden, going with what 2020 gave me it was either that or a black widow :-) Now if I looked like Scarlett Johansson that would have been an awesome costume!

And then the Sunday after Halloween hit and ya'll it was like I hit some kind of wall of disappointment, grief and a broken heart all in one! As the months have gone on I notice my patience with life seems to start fading some by Sunday night after the work week. Maybe it is just being worn out or feeling like I just need a little break but the complexity of this entire thing is that in the same sentence I write I just need a break, I also can feel totally opposite and be like no way, keeping busy is the best thing for me right now! Its been a huge part of my healing.
 It is the same thing about single parenting. If you watched my Instastories this week I talked about my "parenting on an empty gas tank" feeling. Kids are incredible, but lets be honest, they need a lot too. And sometimes I think having that adult partner helps keep your own gas tank up to be able to give and keep giving. Then in the exact same thought, I am often grateful for the peace I have now in my home. Please don't read me wrong, Ronnie was an incredible father and missed more then you can imagine, but there is a very hard side to mental illness too. Seeing ambulances and police officers is hard stuff for adults and kids. Being a single parent I have control over that now. I have the ability not to ever let that in my home again. I can keep it out and will fight hard to always do that.

It was like all these mixed emotions, I have started calling them suicide side effects. And there is one big one that I often wrestle with. And I know the enemy knows where to hit me, like a weak spot.

The complexity comes for me when I get stuck in this. I know and have seen how deep mental illness, depression, anxiety and addiction can be. We are talking about a powerful chemical imbalance, I believe. I know and understand it is not logical. But there is also another side, and if I am being real, having someone you love leave you in any way can take a hit at your self confidence.

I never want to be a wet blanket, I only want to share my experiences hoping it may let someone else know they are not alone in some of the harder feelings that can come up. I have often wondered if I will find someone one day who won't leave. 

 I can think "my own husband didn't want to stay, why would anyone else?"

 And then I am shown I already have that, its God. 

Talking to my Mom the other day on the phone I said without a doubt I can truly say this, everyday since 2/13 God has shown Himself to me. He does it in little God Hugs, here is what I mean.

 Last week I got a letter from the funeral home that cremated Ronnie, they are so sweet and made a Christmas ornament for us. Well, there I am standing on my street reading this sweet letter feeling the gulp in my throat come up and a neighbor who I have never talked to before walked by, introduced herself to me and said she has been praying for us. She had heard what happened. She said you and your home are beautiful. That little sentence was bigger to me then she will ever know. She told me of her granddaughter going through a divorce right now and how alone she felt. I told her, widowhood and divorce have a lot in common, if she ever needed someone to talk to, I would love to be there and gave her my number.

 Or my friend JRae calling me, not knowing that I was upset at that very moment, but just saying all the right things I needed to hear. It's not coincidence, I know that.

In this journey of grief and healing my heart I have experienced a season of feeling that there is no real danger. It is not to say I don't worry, cause I sure do! Going from 2 incomes to 1 can make any parent worry, lets be honest. Wondering how this experience will shape my girls thoughts of themselves, there worth and men can take me to a dark space. But the feeling of never knowing when something bad is about to happen has faded away. And I know He is good and will never leave us empty handed. I think we should all expect great things.

So I guess my point in all that was, even in the darkness, whatever you are feeling, keep looking for the light. Its right there, maybe not in the form you think it should be, but you will find it and it can bless you in another form. Greif is truly an up an down road so many of us know too well. Keep getting up XOXO

So if that wasn't totally depressing and I didn't put out the fire of your feel good mood, I wanted to share some memories of the girls last time out with Ronnie, all the pictures came from him XOXO

Every February since 2013 Ronnie first took Taylor and than added Nicole to Chick Fil A's Daddy Daughter Date Night. I remember their first one, when Baby Taylor was 5 months old and he put her in the CFA Cow's lap for a picture with her crown on, and she barfed up vanilla ice cream all over the cow...MOO!!!!

Here are my loves at dinner! I had strict instructions that night to do whatever I wanted, and Ron had strict instructions that night to take as many pictures as he could!
Ronnie said CFA would put questionnaires on the table to fill out while dinner was being served, questions like what was your favorite something they could ask each other. Get to know each other more.

After dinner the girls got some make up glitter put on by Sweet and Sassy! And their annual picture with the cow!

Since it was only an hour, Ronnie would take the girls somewhere special before or after the dinner. One year they went to Dave and Busters, another year they went to Target for a special toy. This year Ronnie did his best and biggest surprise yet for them, a trip to The American Girl Store!! Meet the 2 Chloe Portmann's :-)

Surfing at the American Girls store!!
Hopefully this will give you a chuckle cause it did me!! See that foot/ankle boot Ronnie is sporting?! Let me tell you how that happened, or better yet let me show you who did it...

Meet Buddy the Chihuahua!!
Now if you have known me for a while you may remember I had a chihuahua named Gizmo Garrett Kee (full name for full effect, he just went by The Giz!), it is safe to say he and Ronnie did not get along. Ron was not fan of small dogs! One time Ropo put his taco on the table and Gizmo snatched it, just like the Taco Bell dog!! I laughed, Ron got so mad he had to take a walk outside. He recovered fine :-)
So it cracked me up when I found out that while Ron was walking up the stairs at Dale's house, I think they were changing a light or something over the stairs, instead of stepping on Buddy, Ron ended up tripping over the dog and busted his foot up!!!! He also got a big cut in his forehead if you can see from the pictures, Buddy really got him!

Stories like Buddy vs Ronnie always make me laugh, and Ron would start laughing when I would, we shared so many of those laughs, I sure do miss that. He would say little stuff or make a face that he knew would crack me up, he was a really funny guy.
This picture will always be one of our most precious ones, it was taken a few days before Ronnie passed. As he always did, I got the girls dressed up so pretty and he knocked on the front door with flowers and balloons. He had the car waiting out front and opened the door for each of them.
I mentioned earlier I can worry about how the loss of their Dad will effect the girls and that is something time will tell. My hope is they will read these blog entry's one day and know without a doubt how very much he loved and adored them.
They were his princesses and that will never change.
A piece of him is in them forever and his big kind heart shines in them.
I heard this song the other morning while getting ready, it is called You Already Know by JJ Heller, I really loved her lyrics so I would like to close out with them here:

I can't seem to find the easy answers
Someday, I hope the suffering makes sense
I just need to know that you are with me
Even if you keep me in suspense
We talk so much these days
Because I have so much to say
You stay and listen to me closely even though
You already know
You already know
Everything I'm scared of
Everything I hope
You hold my tomorrow
And all tomorrow holds
You already know



Sunday, October 11, 2020

The 8th Month Mark

Hello sweet friends and Happy October!
I hope the new fall season has been going well for you, we have really been enjoying it!
 The girls and I have been doing some fun fall activities like football games, picking out some pumpkins, eating apple cinnamon bread and decorating our house for Halloween!

We have a lot of fun this time of year, and this weather, could it be better?!
 Most every morning after dropping the girls off at school I drive back home and see the most beautiful sunrise over Sawnee Mountain, all the orange and pink colors light up a new day.
Since the last blog the girls have gotten older!!
Taylor turned 8 and Nicole turned 5, their birthday party was wonderful!!
It was filled with friends, family and a unicorn.
Look at my beautiful second grader:

I had actually forgotten it was school picture day until she came home and told me it was school picture day, but I think her shirt came out pretty fabulous, just like her!
For this 8th month update I wanted to share with you a book that has touched me so deep and one of my favorite memories with Ronnie, our honeymoon in Jamaica!
If you follow me on social media you have probably heard me mention my incredible neighbors multiple times, they are absolutely the best and have been there for me and the girls everyday. 
One of my best friends and neighbors mentioned a group to me a few months ago his aunt was involved in called Never Alone Widows and I am so blessed he did because it has been wonderful! Its a group of women who are around the same age as me and also have young children. They even have smaller groups, for example there are military widows and I am in the suicide widows group.
It feels kind of weird to write that, but I have discovered there are more people in my boat.
It is a group where we can pretty much say anything good or bad and its safe.
It has truly been a blessing to know I am not alone in this journey. One of the sweet girls recommended the book, Fear Gone Wild by Kayla Stoecklein.

If I am being honest thru these 8 months I have had a few books recommended to me or articles,  yet I have not really had the heart to read them. But this one ya'll...has touched me so deep. All the words Kayla says about her beloved Andrew I want to yell out, "Me too!!" or "I get it!!! Ronnie did the same thing!!"
She touches on spiritual warfare, a widows anger, and being in a position of raising young kids by yourself when you never thought you would be.
The things she writes about what her Andrew went through, the visions, the depression, the praying to God to please take this pain away, and walking through the wilderness.
 It is all things Ronnie went through.
Andrew was a pastor, Ronnie was a teacher of the year, Robin Williams was a brilliant comedian, and Chris Cornell was a multi millionaire with one of the best voices ever.
 Yet this knows no boundaries. It is a wildfire out of control that once lit, can destroy anyone no matter who they are.
And Chris, Robin, Ronnie and Andrew both has the same result, death by suicide.
I can't recommend this book enough if you are dealing with the feelings of loss or grief or you need some encouragement and hope. 
I also wanted to open up about what happened last Friday and may use some of Kayla's words to help get through it. 
As many of you know, Ronnie passed away a few weeks before Covid hit,
 nice one 2020.
 It changed the world for everyone. When it happened I was told by the medical examiner it would cause some delays in Ronnie's toxicology results. So as the months have gone by I would check in with a very nice lady named Lynn who did Ron's exam and she would say the results were not back yet, but when they did come in she would have them sent to me.
You may be thinking, "Lindsey why the heck would you want to see this?!"
For me, some of it was curiosity and some of it was I wanted somewhere to put this anger that can build up.
 In my thinking, if I knew he was on some kind of substance I could take all my anger out on that. The drugs made him do it!
I could pull out some Jamie Foxx and blame it on the alcohol, that would explain it all!!
But in my heart, deep down, I already knew what the answer was. And it was confirmed when that paperwork arrived.
Taylor had just got home from school and I went out to get the mail, I came back in and sat down to read it and could feel the sharp sting in my chest.
You know that Eminem lyric "and right now there's a steel knife in my windpipe"
That pretty much describes how it felt physically as I read through these 2 sheets of paper.
2 sheets of paper that seemed to rip my heart into 2 pieces.
They were detailed about the end and put a huge spotlight on our serious mental illness is.
The brain is such a powerful thing, I have often said to my Mom when we are having conversations and we are trying to understand something we can't get, it's not logical, it is mental illness.
Some choices that are made are not under any type of substances, they are just made from a brain that is very sick.
The report had almost a map like drawing of my beloved's body. 
Each tattoo was documented and it was like a trip down memory lane. Ronnie had gotten all his tattoos before I met him, the only one get got with me was our wedding bands. 
I remember when we went on our first family vacation how nervous he was of what my family would think of his tattoos.
Of course no one cared and it was just a part of him. But it took me back to the many times I would see them when he was getting dressed for work or getting out of the shower. When he slept on his side how one would peek over. I thought they were beautiful just like the body they were on. 
This map was my sweet Pickles, it was a body that had arms that held me so many nights, strong legs that did so much around our house from fixing things to hanging decorations for me. The hand that still had his wedding band on at the very end and the hands that held mine and the girls.
I put the papers down and the tears came rolling out.
I didn't want Taylor to see me so I hid in the bathroom and called Ronnie's BFF Dale, who is now one of my BFF's. He listened and felt it with me as he always does.
Dale and I have gone through so much, he was a friend to Ronnie like no other. I can't tell you how many nights he would drive around looking for him, how he let him stay at his home, how he supported me. And I know he hurts too. But he still comes over and makes me laugh, we talk politics, he picks up whenever I call and he helps me around the house when I need it. He is one of the best!
 After that I talked to Mom and Dad, like they always do, they just let me get it all out and then take a deep breath.
And that is when I knew what to do next, let it out, take a deep breath and keep going.
8 months of the grief I am learning a few things :-)
Some of my favorite words Kayla ended her book with:

"Today, on day 619, I can honestly say I've stopped dreading my days-I've started living them. I've stopped seeing my days as one long road leading me to Andrew, and instead, I've chosen to embrace, to wake up, to grab hold of this one life and live it. During the first year there were reminders  of Andrew everywhere, strings tided to him, and with every move I became tangled up in them. But now as I look around my house, the tangled web of grief has slowly withered away and I find myself sitting in this new life I have made. Every choice, every step, ever brave yes that first year has led me here.
The black and white world of grief has slowly faded away, and I am starting to see color again. And because I have tasted death, the colors are even more vibrant and beautiful than before. I have had some ugly, horrific moments. But I have also had wonderful, beautiful, breathtaking moments. Loss has opened my eyes to see everything differently.
I don't want to miss a thing. Life even after a loss is worth living, worth fighting for and worth rebuilding over and over again. 
Keep going.
Keep catching the magical moments. We are in this together.
You are not alone."

The early morning of August 2, 2009 Ronnie and I took a flight down to Jamaica at the Sandals Resort for a few days, when I say it was my favorite trip ever, I truly mean it!!!
I remember that morning when we were packing up from our hotel room to head down to the airport I was standing on the hotel bathroom taking down my wedding hair. There were some many bobby pins!! And Ronnie stood right in there with me and helped me take them out.
The week of our honeymoon was filled with sunshine, clear water, a butler and some of the most yummy food!!!
 We slept in late, enjoyed meals by the water and danced to Bob Marley while the sunset. It was like heaven!

Sweet kisses after breakfast, Ronnie loved the breakfast bar! He would always get some salmon and fresh fruit, he loved the mangos!

We would spend the afternoon reading books on the beach. See that girls on the right walking, she was ALL about topless sunbathing!!
Ronnie said he didn't notice, he just had eyes for me....YEAH RIGHT!!!!

This was the night that had a chocolate bar on the patio with a live band!
You know I was all about that!! Eating some delicious sweets then dancing the night away, we loved to dance together! Slow or fast, we loved to bust a move!

Although Ron's mind was pretty complex, he was also pretty simple too.
 He didn't need much in regards to material things to make him happy.
 Just put him on a beach with a cigar, anything about the Bulldogs and me, he was in his happy place.
I picture different things about heaven, what its like sometimes.
Maybe there is a warm beach like this where he can jam out to some Phish or Bob Marley.
 I know he has a peace now like he never had before and I know I have more peace in my home. There is no more raging wildfire. 
Isaiah tells us that our name speaks to the hope that God gives to those in the ashes.
God gives beauty where destruction and hopelessness once resided.
"Beauty from the ashes."
Maybe there is beauty from the ashes of this wildfire.
If fear has gone wild in your life, know you are not alone either.
 I get it and I am here if you ever need to let it out XOXO