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10 years

A sad day recently came upon me.

I was faced with the ultimate reality that I am aging. My 10 year reunion will be taking place at the end of this summer and I just finished writing my bio for that said event. I know a lot of people will say, ‘28 that’s nothing!’. But for me, knowing that I graduated high school 10 years ago is a big deal!

I remember vividly the Full House episode when Uncle Jesse was going to his high school reunion…and went into a tale spin of questioning everything in his life, but ultimately coming back to the fact that he is in a good place living in his brother-in-laws attic with his wife and soon to be twins. Well, I’m pulling an Uncle Jesse.

No, I don’t live in a crazy house of family shenanigans. But I have been doing a lot of looking back on what has happened in the past 10 years and wondering where it is I’m going.

I see the first 18 years as lots of growth and change, as childhood to young adulthood should look. But, honestly minimal transitions besides age. I didn’t live within a family environment where change happened regularly. I had 1 move when I was 7 years old and grew up in a fairly stable home where things went as generally expected.

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I would not use the same language with the past 10 years. There have been moves, job changes, loss, relationships, heart breaks, mistakes, and successes. I think many would agree the time of 18-28 looks like that for most. We’ve begun this process of growing up…and it hurts!

And I guess the biggest thing I can take from the last 10 years for me, is to be present where I’m at. Trusting that the place that I’m in is where I’m supposed to be.

Its so easy to get sidetracked. I’m not one that spends much time focusing on the past- but I do focus to much on the future. I analyze the goals and dreams I have and begin working towards them. Sometimes forgetting about the present since I’m so focused on what I want to accomplish.  Working on just getting through whatever I’m presently in—-so I can be where I want to eventually be.

And the paradox that I many times hate, is I cant get to the good stuff, I cant get to the moments of pure joy…unless I’m leaving the misery and sorrow. I can’t feel true wholeness and healing, until I’ve been broken.

So, the last 10 years I have felt both pain and great joy. And recently, I have been reflecting on what life has or could have looked like. But, my statement to share is that I’m attempting to live in the present of acknowledging that 10 years since high school have gone by. And I’m going to live feeling confident that I’m in the place that I’ve been called to. Knowing that I’m an imperfect mess in need of grace and ready to engage where I’m at, right now, at this moment. Yikes, here we go.

My Bio that began this Uncle Jesse Soul Search

10 years. So nuts. Well I have been living in downtown Chicago for the last 5 years…and will probably be out here for awhile. As you can imagine the men are flocking around me, and I’m just batting them away (Read: I’m single). I do have many kids that are a part of my life….none of them with my DNA. Prendergast Pediatrics started in January where I am contracting through a few different places…attempting to put my Occupational Therapy degree into good use through play therapy. Other than finding ways to enable my workaholic symptoms, like writing or working on my families non-profit, I spend my time attempting to bring pure Michigan goodness into the streets of Chicago often. Usually this means I’m drinking an Oberon or having Country Smoke House jerky sent to me on a regular basis… 

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Heaven-vision

I’m a scaredy cat.

I get scared very easily. I have watched enough pseudo scary movies to know that when the music stops something is going to happen, and I better be on guard. So, when that door suddenly opens, I jump. It doesn’t matter if it is a gleeful small child that just opened the door or a creepy mass murderer. I’m going to jump and probably scream a bit.

What gets me the most is any sort of movie that involves the ‘dark side’. A haunting. A spirit. A small ghost. Get out of here. You will not see my signing up to watch any movie that involves these topics. I’ve seen about three in my life and those three have had me jump off the train faster then humanly possible.

When I was 13 one of my mentors at church had recently lost her father. She described the loss as painful to this group of young women she was mentoring, but I remember a hopeful look in her eyes as she described how she feels like he is still with her and watching down on her often.

Now me, as an inappropriate, insensitive teenager did not read the emotional undercurrent of my older friends conversation and instead just said ‘SICK, like a ghost!’. Well done, young Kia, well done.

I look back on that conversation and cringe knowing the stupid statements people have said to me and the irritation I have felt because of them and then knowing very well that I have been that irritating person to others, and not just as a silly thirteen year old.

But it got me thinking about the concept now of my dad looking down on me from heaven. Maybe its because of my history of avoidance of anything ‘ghost’ related, but I’ve never thought much about heaven being a place where a lot of looking happens. When you make it up there, there’s just this giant window and now instead of my dad watching the ‘world series of poker’ he’s watching  ‘Days of Kia’s Life’.  Ehh, poor guy. Change the station Dad!

I’m all in for my dad staying active and knowing what’s happening with me. I do talk to him often and I know in the past three years he’s  turned on that show and yelled at the ‘HeavenTV’ ‘Use your head Michaja!’. But, for the most part, I have to believe that my ADD father is up to much bigger and better things on his heavenly adventure.

However, over this past weekend, something kind of cool happened.

The GPMFoundation, particularly my talented brother Greg Prendergast, II, put on our very first Golf Scramble. There was music, there was laughter, and there were a lot of SWEET and accurate long puts.

During this day I chose not to golf. I instead drank a lot a beers, took a lot of photos, and visited each foursome around the course somewhere. It was the best job I could have landed.

Its hard to describe, And I will say these moments were fleeting. But as I would bring my cart back to the pro shop and visit with whoever was at tee 1, I would have this thought and this odd understanding that I didn’t have to rush, because my dad was just inside the pro shop, grabbing me my next beverage. And then later at the BBQ, I would connect with an old friend and look over and for just a moment I could see my dad, talking with one of the boys, tipping his head back and laughing louder than anyone there.

So, I don’t know what my conclusion is. Do I want my Dad to know things about my current life?  Of course. Do I think he does? Yeah, I do. Do I feel his presence around me? Sometimes.

I’m not sure if its because he’s watching heaven-vision. Or if there’s some angelic twitter feed that he follows that keeps him updated on his loved one’s status’s. All I know is, for those fleeting moments on Saturday, I wasn’t sad. And it didn’t hurt. For just that moment, that small piece of time, everything was normal. And it felt good.

Heres a small glimpse into this great day

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Why does a date hold so much power? How can just two numbers strewn together bring me to a place of such pain and sorrow?

I’m a science girl. When I was in 4th grade I sat on Santa’s lap and told him I wanted a fetal pig to dissect for Christmas. Thank God Santa takes good notes and that’s exactly what the favorite Christmas present of 93’ was.

My dad and I looked at every dimension of that pig. I knew inside and out where each body part was located and what muscles it connected to. I would wake up early in the morning during the week so Dad and I could look at the pig a little bit before he went to work. Flash forward ten years and it wasn’t surprising that the major I declared was science, with a minor in psychology. Clearly I needed to understand how my weird brain worked that I was dissecting animals at a young age.

I’ve always had such strong desires to know the science behind the ‘why’.  It’s fascinating for me to think about why people act the way they do in certain situations.

So, now what is the science behind this ‘one date’ garbage? Why would one date, one day that happened to mark something significant three years ago, bring me to a place I haven’t been to in months?

Why does this date make all the feelings I never let myself feel, come front and center? Why do I preemptively call off work on the 26th knowing that I will not be able to focus and think well? Why do I question the timing of events on this one day in time? Why is that day an OK day for me to be sad?

I have given myself the liberty on the 26th of March to ask why my dad will not be with me in my next set of years on this earth. And the funny thing is, asking these questions and giving myself this liberty doesn’t make me more sad. It almost gives me a strange peace. I can ask these questions to God and I almost feel as if God is looking down on me, giving me this special look saying ‘Michaja, you silly girl. You still just don’t understand. But it will be OK. I’m here.’

So, I don’t know the answer to my initial questions. I don’t know why today feels so heavy on my heart. I know I am doing the only thing I know to do and that’s to acknowledge that I miss my Dad. The way I’m doing that today is worlds apart then how my Mom and brother are saying the same thing. But we do it everyday…today just feels different.

I am learning there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Yes I may give myself a different liberty on March 26th, but I could just as easily take a day off for emotions on Aug 12th and go into this same place of feelings.  Grief is such an undefined thing. It’s an individual experience to each person that is thrown into it. March 26st will come and go and I will still grieve my dad’s passing in my own way.

All I know is after three years I’m clinging onto HOPE more than I have in my entire life. And I’m thankful for that.

Before college, I lived in two houses. One that was a small ranch across the bend from my Grandma in a suburb of Detroit. And then there was my childhood home.  Almost all memories from my childhood are nestled inside the walls of that said residence in Imlay City, Michigan.

Not much has changed since we moved into that house. New appliances or pieces of furniture will pop up here and there, but you could recognize pictures of that house from 15 years ago.

The reason behind the minimal changes lies around my Dad and the way he processes most things. My mom enjoys updating her home as much as the typical middle class wife does. She has never been a woman who needs the very best of things, but she likes to update when needed and make her home look nice and comfortable.

In the beginning of 2008 my Mom began talking with my Dad about the need for new curtains in our living room. She hadn’t changed her curtains since I was in High School and now I was a college graduate. It was time for a simple change.  New Curtains.

My dad’s response” Well if we get new curtains-we need a new rug- which means we need a new couch- so maybe we should just look for a new house. “

So began the house hunt of the Prendergasts. My Mom and Dad put in 10 offers on different homes over the next year. Clearly Jesus had other plans in mind and let each offer not pan out in some random way but that is just one small example of how my dad processed things.

He didn’t just think through small actions. He saw a big picture, made an action plan, and acted quickly and efficiently. He was extremely driven and got things done… and done well.

I have inherited some of this way of thinking from my dad. I have a bit of a driven streak in me and when I do things, I do it with intensity. It’s hard to imagine not acting in that way.

After my dad died I had a uncomfortable awakening of how much change my dad affected in others. I sadly did not realize the man that I was privileged enough to call my father impacted many lives while he was here on this earth.

My brother and I wanted to do something in his name to remember him and create a way of honoring his legacy. An idea was brought up by Greg and his buddies of putting together a small poker tournament for some friends and family around the one year anniversary.  My Dad loved poker and people being together so it seemed like the perfect tribute. I LOVED the idea and was ready to take their creative vision and get this plan in motion.

After a bit of Google research I learned that gambling is illegal in some contexts.

The red tape that you have to go through in Michigan to set up a charity poker tournament is unreal. We quickly realized that just throwing together a small tournament would be quite the feat.

So other options were on the horizon, such as using different organizations licensure to put on our tournament, until my father’s train of thinking jumped into my brain.

If we are remembering my dad by playing poker, why don’t we should just start our own non-profit? We could set up a scholarship system for his past students and affect change in local family’s lives.

And that was the beginning of The Greg Prendergast Memorial Foundation.

And I’m going to brag… the GPMfoundation is doing big things.

Its an interesting complex to be proud and excited about a non-profit that was created because of March 26th, 2009.

How can I want something to succeed so much, when it means my dad will never be at these events? He will never be a part of the planning process. He will never shake a hand that enters through those doors. This was created because he’s not here.

A great dream was birthed out of pain.

The foundation has literally become a collision of grief and hope for me. I spent 5 hours creating the new website, extremely proud of my product… and then sat back and welled up into a place of sadness and tears. I just missed my dad.

I can see this not just in grief but in other scenarios all over our world. We are constantly living in this tension between despair and hope.

I’ve watched greed happen, yet I’ve also seen great generosity.

I’ve identified injustices, but recognized hope in action.

I’ve felt pain through loss, and I’ve witnessed transformation of souls.

But, I guess this is the tension I want to strive for in my life. I never want my dad to not have a big place in my heart. I want to feel the ache of him not here. Not denying the suffering or grief that has been formed by losing a great man, but I won’t stop living fully and celebrating the beauty that comes through pain.

 

 

Sneak Attack Feelings

Every Sunday I will attempt to share an excerpt from my work in progress which will hopefully be a book someday…”You Can Hope”. 

September 2009

I have been on a totally awesome emotional roller coaster this week. And by super awesome, I mean the complete opposite. Word Play. One minute I am WEEPING watching the NIKE courage ad on TV and the next I am dry-eyed at a funeral .

Feelings are sneaky. They remind me a lot of my childhood dog Jamie. Basset hounds are my signature breed. I cannot wait for the day that I have my first dog as an adult and it will be a beautiful, sweet, sappy Basset Hound.

My 1st childhood basset was sort of an anomaly. She was not a sleepy, sweet, goofy, droopy basset hound. She was CRAZY.

Surprise, Surprise I have always had a bleeding heart. Both of the dogs that I picked out as a child were runts and the dogs no one else wanted. My family was the 4th owner of crazy basset Jamie. She had many fears in her little brain of hers. Typical fears like thunderstorms, vacuum cleaners, being alone…and then the atypical fears like screen windows or doors and cars driving down the street.

As the 4th owners we were given many tips on how to love Jamie well…including don’t ever leave her alone and whenever any weather change is approaching drug her with doggy xanax.

Little Jamie was always in the moment. When she felt something, she felt it and made sure everyone around her knew. She was demanding, insisting that whoever was in her world at that moment would cater to the current need she had. Ignoring her would not help because she would just make her needs louder, and louder, and louder—-insert hound dog howl.

Now, why do sneak attack feelings remind me of Jamie?  Because currently feelings are running my life. I never have a clue of the feelings that consume my being. I can’t even go to the fricken grocery store without some sort of trigger that will remind me of what is different in my life.

I’ve always been a cheap cry. Even as a child, I saw brokenness in the world and I would quickly be in tears. I will cry with my friends when they are hurting. But, me, crying about my pain.  My hurt. Sharing MY vulnerabilities…that just doesn’t happen.

Until your sneak attacked with emotions.

Its not all bad emotions that are sneak attacking me. I’m in a new place (thank God) where joy is overruling sadness. But its sneaky because joy and sadness have this trait lately of happening simultaneously.  I can’t not smile when I think of my dad. He brings me such joy just  remembering him and recalling some of my favorite memories. But then those same feelings are full of pain and sadness because he’s gone. I won’t make more memories- but the memories I have are so sweet. It’s the chocolate syrup and milk complex. Both in the same glass, getting shook up, so even my joyful moments have a tinge of sadness.

Here’s my point. Jamie felt what she needed to feel. If she was sad, she found someone to look at with her sad eyes. If she was nervous she paced til someone gave her xanax. If she was lonely, she jumped out screen doors and would get outside—-even if it meant going on the roof of our 3 story home. Her family knew what she was feeling. She didn’t hide it.

I could take a cue from Jamie. I could share my story with others. I could reach out for support when I need it. I can cry in front of my friends.

I can make what I’m feeling louder, instead of being ashamed of what I’m feeling inside of me. I can tell someone I can’t be social today and be ok with that. And it will still be me. Just figuring out who this me is after a great loss.

I’ll be being honest with where I am at right now. In this month, at this hour.

But, If I start jumping through screen doors someone call the doctor.

2012…piss

Recently I was asked the basic question of “In a relationship, how much personal space do you need?” And my roommate, Ashley, quickly answered for me “5-10 minutes per week”.

This brought up lots of laughter and more jokes directed towards me because, the honest reality is….its funny…cause its true.

Now, of course I am going to steer clear of describing to any male suitors my LACK of a need for personal space because I don’t need them running miles from me… but I do know that I have a strong need and love for spending time with others.

When I look back on my life’s timeline….I don’t just see moments and experiences, but I see the people around me.

When I think about my early childhood, what stands out is living a ½ block from my Grandma.

Grade school brings up faces of the friends I explored small town America on my bike with.

A quick thought of middle school brings Sam and Tara into my mind listening to Jars of Clay….

This trend continues as I think of moments in my life and what stands out aren’t the things I’ve done or the places I’ve been…but the people who surrounded me. The friends that I shared countless hours of joy with and the friends that stood next to me when all I had were tears.

March 26th, 2009 marks a day in my life that created a whole new trajectory that I never thought I would ever be on. I never expected to live my life at 25 years old without a father on this earth.

I think back on the last 2 ½ years and I don’t think about all the shitty-ness that eroded into who I was. But I think about the people who helped me stand when I couldn’t anymore. The people who provided me with normalcy, joy, and strength when I didn’t have any.

I specifically think of one person who helped create a new normal with me. A person who never left my side and put up with me when I couldn’t even put up with myself. A person who redefined what was important to her, so that she could support her friend. And finally, a person who became a constant beauty to a family who was searching for God to redeem this tragedy.

I could not imagine going through the last 2 ½ years without my roommate and best friend standing by me throughout.

Jan 6th, 2012 marks a day in my friend’s life that I wish she never had to experience.

We now have 2 dates in our friendship that describes a loss that will never be replaced.

And now we are at a crossroads where I am the one attempting to be the friend that can stand when the other one can’t.

I look at the last two weeks, and I get angry at the pain in our lives. I absolutely hate that my friend that I love so dearly is going through so much pain that no one should have to bear.  I do not believe that God causes tragedy, but I have to declare that God is not thwarted by it.

I have tangibly seen something beautiful come out of pain and I am trying to believe that even the very thing that scars me so deep can be turned around, not of my own doing, and strengthen someone else.  

So many times I let my circumstance cloud what I saw and could only see myself and my pain. But thank God, I was divinely living with a girl who could help me find hope when I started losing it. I now pray I can be the friend that she needs.

I resolve to fail

Happy 2012!

I love new starts and I’m a big fan of new beginning so I’m pretty excited about this new year.

2011 feels a little like a blur to me. I learned a lot. There were many triumphs and many tears.

I coined the year awhile back ‘the year of desire’ and found out much more than I expected in what my desires look like and how I am searching to have them fulfilled.

And now it’s a new year. I sat down this morning to pen what I am hoping for in 2012, where my desires now are and what I hope to accomplish. And I found out I do have one big overall resolution.

My resolution for 2012 is this: I want to fail more.

As I was reflecting on 2011, I was pleased with many things. My career is heading into a new exciting direction. My family’s foundation is growing and continues to leaves us speechless. I’ve encountered friendship in big ways. I’ve gained a sister. It’s been a beautiful year.

Big things have happened and are percolating right now.

But I also reflected on things I didn’t want to think about. I saw the ugliness of my heart. The areas where I fell that I didn’t want to admit. I was faced with the crushing reality that God still loves even me and my ugliness. And even with this ugliness, beauty was still created this year. Transformation began. Not by my own efforts, but by his empowering presence and love.

This realization was a roast in a ½.

So, what are the hopes for 2012.

I want to see the world with wise eyes.

Step beyond surface problems.

I want to follow through in what I know is right.

I want to do what I’m called to do with all my heart.

I want to affect change in people.

I want to feel brokenness and grow though it.

I want my family to be renewed.

I want to translate love to every person I meet.

And I am going to FAIL miserably at this. In my own strength this is not possible. And there are SO many times when I forget that reality and step out my own. I’m going to screw up these goals left and right.

But I’m not going to surrender to the doubts that I at least can’t try.

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