Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day for me

Over the last few years I have had people ask me about Memorial Day. Some are hesitant, not wanting to offend and others ask knowing it is a big question for me. 

So what is Memorial Day to me? It is hard. It is one of the hardest days of the year for me. There are a few days scattered throughout the 12 months that bring sadness and melancholy. Memorial Day I feel is more “in my face” than those days though because it is a national holiday. It is everywhere; social media, in the stores, on the radio, etc. I can’t “run” from it. The other hard days I feel like I can hide away but not Memorial Day. I sometimes also feel that people have a certain expectation of me. That I need to be more flamboyant or outward about my pain or hurt on Memorial Day. Others I feel would rather I keep it to a minimum. Either way I chafe at this. Each year is different. I’m in a different place in my life and the circumstances are always varying. 

I personally do not feel that I need to share all my feelings on Facebook or my blog. If I want to, great. If I don’t share it doesn’t mean I have stopped feeling. It means I want some private time. I want to stay out of the public eye. One thing I learned when Josh passed was that everyone grieves and heals differently. There is not a right or wrong way to grieve. It is EXTREMELY personal. You cannot judge how one deals with loss. Or trauma. And you cannot judge how they heal. They themselves do not know what to expect. I feel that this carries through for the rest of one’s life. I am still healing. Michael is still healing. It will take our lives to figure this all out. And then we may not get it figured out. I tell people that the hole (pain) in my heart from losing Josh has a scab over it. The scab has helped to ease the stabbing pain over the years but it can be picked at. And it can be ripped completely off. The loss is still there. The pain is still there but the scab helps to dull it. This can apply to any pain or trauma in one’s life I feel. 

Now back to Memorial Day. It is a day to honor the fallen. We have Veteran’s Day and Armed Forces Day to acknowledge, honor and say thank you to those who have served and those who are serving. Memorial Day is for those who gave all. 

There are some who feel that you should not “celebrate” Memorial Day. That you should not say, “Happy Memorial Day.” Here is my take. From a widow’s standpoint. I am relieved when people recognize Memorial Day for what it truly is. It isn’t necessarily a happy day for me but I know that when people say that to me they may not know what else to say. They are recognizing the day and I take it for what it is meant. I don’t get offended. It is hard for those who haven’t experienced it to truly know so don’t be hard on them. As for having bbq’s and hanging out at the beach, do it. Go out with your family and friends and spend time with them. Cherish that time. Take silly selfies and eat too many hot dogs. I plead with you though to remember the true meaning of the holiday. Observe the national moment of remembrance at 3pm local time. Take a moment to teach your kids about the truly honorable and ultimate sacrifices that have been made for them and their country. Men and women voluntarily gave up their lives for a cause bigger than any of us. They BELIEVED in that cause. I asked Josh one time why he fought. Why he did it. His answer? So that his daughter and America’s children could have the same opportunities and freedoms that he had. That is why they fight. It is selfless. It is love. 

Before Josh deployed we had conversations about what could happen. Injuries, loss of friends, PTSD, and loss of his own life. At the time it was horrifying to me. Now I am glad that we waded through it because it has given me the strength that I have needed. He told me to laugh. Not to cry. He told me he wanted people to party. I have known service members. And I think that they would feel the same way. They are fighting for our right. For our right to life. For our right to honor them. So if you go out on Memorial Day and have fun don’t feel guilty. Don’t let others get you down for having a good time. I believe that those who gave their lives would not be offended. Those who are left behind though would ask that you not forget their sacrifice. That is all I ask. PLEASE take time on Memorial Day and remember them. Honor them. Respect their ultimate sacrifice. They did it for you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Angels are all around us

   I have seen many photos were the loved ones who have passed on were "present" in the photograph. I have wanted to do something like this with Kadence and Joshua. I finally had my chance while editing photos from back in February. I haven't shown it on social media yet. Some things are too special and I want to make sure that people understand. Lots of emotions for many people. Here it is. I am proud of this one.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A time for reflection and love...

   Let me start off by saying, "Happy New Year!" I hope you all had a wonderful 2012 and will have an even better 2013!

   As many of you know January brings highs and lows for us. This is the time of year that Michael and I are a tad melancholy and try to think of ways to cheer each other up. It is also a time for reflection and a time to remember. January 3rd is a couple of days away and is a day that I dread. I normally just want to curl up and pray that the day will go by fast. I cannot believe that it will be 3 years soon and I can still remember it all so clearly. News that no person wants to hear. No news that a wife and mother wants to hear about her husband and the father of her young daughter. I can still feel the shock of it and the instant denial. I can remember the waves of grief and utter loss that pounded against me. I had never felt so lost and adrift. How was I to be a good enough parent to Kadence? How was I supposed to do it all alone? I knew I could but that wasn't my life plan. What about all of our plans? Our dreams? Our life? How could all of that be taken away in such a brief moment? What was I going to tell our daughter? How do you convey to someone how brave and strong and honorable their father was? I still slept with my phone under my pillow for a month afterward. I listened to voice mails. I reread chats we had had. I was haunted by nightmares and sleepless nights. I could see him and I just wanted to be with him. His smile never left me. I felt him and I know Kadence did too.

   He left us with a legacy to carry on. A legacy to keep pushing forward and never give up. He used to always tell me to not worry so much and to take life as it comes. He would tell me that there were always going to be ups and downs. It was how you decided to act that defined you and those moments. This literally got me through at times. We had been building  a stronger foundation and were headed in a very positive direction. I am very thankful for that. I am grateful for the talks we had and that I knew of where he wanted to go with our family, our kids, with our life.

   As some of my friends have said Kadence has an old soul. She understands and comprehends above her age. She knows what happened. At times she could use more tact but she knows. She knows she has a daddy in heaven who is watching over her and loves her so very much. A daddy that was willing to give his all for her and the other children of America. I am thankful that we have an open discussion policy in our house; that she can feel comfortable asking any questions she may have. She is truly a Lengstorf in looks and in personality. I know that she needed to come to this Earth and that we needed her.

   Normally I would wear my pj's all day and hide in corners to wipe my leaking eyes but this year I am making myself get ready and we are going out. Or at least doing something fun. I think it is time that we celebrate the life that he had and the memories and love he left behind. It is time to honor and salute the sacrifice given by all those that gave their lives that day. The fact that the Oregon Ducks will playing in the Fiesta Bowl also helps give him the ultimate toast. I sure hope they can pull off a win!

   January 3rd is a sad and heartbreaking day for many. A day that many wish would have never happened but for our little family it is also a day to thank our Heavenly Father that even though he took one husband and father He spared the life of one man so that he could give us love and hope again. A man that has been forever changed himself but has never given up. One that was willing to take a risk and a chance on a broken woman. The timing did not seem perfect; in fact it was awkward, hard, disturbing and wreaked havoc but in the end two souls had to decide that what was to be needed to be. That leap of faith was one of the hardest things to do. I am grateful for those, who themselves had doubts, who helped us and gave us encouragement.

   Life doesn't come easy. And when you are learning to be blind and learning to be married to one who is blind it is not easy. In fact there are really hard moments. We have had to trust in each other and Michael has had to put an enormous amount of trust in me to be there for him and I am humbled that he does this every single day. He lives his life to honor of his fallen brothers and to reach his greatest potential. He has a family that he hadn't counted on and I am very thankful that he deals with all of our craziness. I know he wishes he could see his children instead of having to trace their faces with his fingers. I know that he wishes he could see the woman he married instead of having to cup her face and imagine what is there. I wish I could adequately describe our life to him. I wish that I could do more and be more but I do what I can. We live with a reminder of January 3rd every single day.

   I am so humbled to have been the wife of SGT Joshua A. Lengstorf and so grateful for the time that we had together. Brief though it was there was a lot there. I will always carry a part of him in my heart and we will always have his daughter to remind us of his spirit. I am thankful for the faith that I believe in and for the Plan of Salvation. I know that everything will work out on the other side and that we can be together again. I know that Kadence will know her dad.

   To be given another chance to have love in my life was more than I could have asked for. I certainly wasn't looking for it. I am humbled to stand by SSgt Michael J. Malarsie as he continues his mission here on earth. He has been such a rock, inspiration and example to me. I know that whatever happens we will make it through. I know that our life experiences have taught us great lessons and have made us stronger. I am grateful that he has taken in a daughter and loves her as his own. I am thankful for the children that we have together and that he has the courage to be a dad in his situation. I am relieved that he is so willing to allow Josh to be in our home. That he has never tried or desired to take away from what was there. He is one of the strongest people I know and I know he will continue to do great things and honor his brothers.

   I hope as you begin your new year that you will keep your loved ones close and let them know of your love for them. Life can be changed in a blink of an eye and we never know what will happen. Hold tight to your faith and give of yourself. This is what we all leave behind. What we do now will define our legacy and our memory. I hope that we can come together to bring peace to the lives that we have and that we can love our neighbors. Before we judge one another let us give hope and kindness. Let this year be one of joyous occasion and heartfelt sincerity. May you all be blessed and receive the goodness that God has.

   Much love,


Monday, December 3, 2012

Another day to remember

   For those who have lost loved ones there are certain days that are harder. For me today is one of them. He would have been 27 years old today and every year I still struggle on his birthday. I have to allow the tears to come and then I need to celebrate the times we had together. I know there are those that expect me to make a big deal of these days but I really feel now that it is a private thing and that I just need the time to grieve to myself. Michael is such a strength for me and knows that I need this time. He is there with a comforting arm and a hug but he knows that I have to work through this. I am very thankful for those that have stood by my side and supported me. I know that Josh will always be with us and that he is watching us from above.

   Three years ago today his family, my mom, Kadence, a few friends and I watched the Oregon Civil War game and thought of Josh on his birthday as he served our country in Afghanistan. That was the last time I was able to wish him a Happy Birthday. A lot has happened, a lot has changed but I am so glad that I have that memory to remember him by. Today most people will go to work, drop kids off at school and run to the grocery store but for a select few of us today is a day that causes hurt and reflection. I know he wants us to continue on and put our best foot forward. And like I said before, there will be tears but then I must laugh because that is what he asked. And what better day is there to follow his request?

   Joshua will always be in our hearts and his memory will forever live on. I am so thankful for his service, his sacrifice, his love. He gave me the greatest gift that is our daughter and I am very thankful for the 23 months that we had as husband and wife. I have been blessed from that time and have learned many lessons. To end I just want to say, Happy Birthday Josh!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dear Joshua,

I know you must roll your eyes still because I talk to you everyday. I know I still cry when you told me to laugh. I hope you understand. There will always be that place that aches, that hurts. I have apprehensive about January coming. This month started out with your birthday and then Christmas. It just wasn't the same. I couldn't help but remember last year when the postal workers knew my name and knew where the packages were going. I remember spending Christmas Eve with your mom's family and having such a great time. And the picture we took for you. I remember opening the presents for you that we decided not to send out to you. I remember the best gift I got was to hear your voice. That was one of the last times I ever heard your voice. I still wish that I could hear it one more time. Just to know that you are all right. I know the ornament on the tree with your picture doesn't begin to take your place but I hope you know that you were a part of our holiday this year. I remember how we couldn't wait for the new year to come so that we could be in the "home stretch." A couple of days ago I finally looked through the pictures that were taken at the beginning of the year. The day you flew home, the day we laid you to rest at home. It was like viewing a dream. Part of it for me is still numb. Today I went through a bunch of memorial items and just stared at your picture. Memories flooded my mind. I smiled and yes I teared up. I really wish we had ice here in New Mexico so we could go ice fishing in your honor. I feel so blessed to be able to talk about you, to be able to honor you in my new home. You have a place of honor here, along with your fellow fallen brothers. I know that you are in a better place and that you are looking over all of us. God bless you babe.

love forever, jess

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A moment of remembering...

This holiday season is a hard one. A year ago I was sending tons of packages to Afghanistan and I know Michael's family were sending them to him. As January 3rd draws closer and closer I try to remember the wonderful memories I had with Joshua and to honor him and his sacrifice. I still recall the moment when he paused in packing his gear up before his deployment. He got up and looked me in the eyes and said, "Jess, if anything happens to me, I want you to laugh, not cry. And I want a party." I tried not to let him see how this simple sentence affected me. It hit me to the core. I have always been a worrier and he would always tell me to just let it go. Life comes and goes and we just have to go with it. I never understood this concept. Everything to me is so important the minute it is happening but I am beginning to realize that Josh was right. Some things just are not worth the worry or trouble. I have laughed and I have cried. And he got his party. I have laughed through my tears and I have cried through my laughter.
This year hasn't been easy. I know a lot of things have changed and it may seem that I have moved on. In some respects yes I have. But there is that silent ache, that hurt that remains inside. There is that place that cries every day still. Whether the tears fall on my cheeks or on my heart I still cry every day. I have found that it is better for me to accept my grief instead of locking it away. I am healing better I feel if I talk about Joshua, if I continue to recognize his presence in my life than to pretend nothing happened. He made me a better person and for that I will always be grateful. He taught me to open up; to look at life differently. Even though he is not with us here he still continues to teach me.

So this Christmas and with the fast approaching New Year I am going to honor Josh by thinking of those wonderful moments we had. By looking for those little things (and big things) in life that mean so much. I have learned that life can be short and I don't want to miss anything. Kadence is now at an age where she loves to open gifts. I am looking forward to Christmas morning when she will tear that wrapping paper off and exclaim over her gifts. And I know for us there, Michael, Joshua and I it will bring a smile to our faces. And a joy to our hearts. Kadence is the shining light in my life. She reminds me that life is still very important, that there is more to come and I will make sure that she has the opportunity to blossom and to grow. To have experiences. Josh wanted this for her and it is something that Michael and I will make happen.

I have had a wide range of emotions this year, I have been to the lowest depths and I have been so very happy. But this all keeps me in check. I lost one of the most important people in my life. I had to say good-bye much to early. We will be telling Kadence stories of her father and telling her what a true hero he was. She will always grow up with another father. A man that has been so wonderful to us. A man that wants to continue to honor the sacrifice of Joshua and to keep his memory alive in our home. A man that understands that honor and respect. One that was willing to look past a widow's status and to see a someone worth loving. To embrace a small child who lost her father and to love her unconditionally. There are many families around our great nation who are in this same situation. I never thought it would happen to me. I am so blessed that God didn't forget us. That He didn't just take away. That He remembered Kadence and I and wanted to show us His love. I know that Joshua had a greater calling on the other side, it is hard to understand but I know that God needed His best. And I know that God brought Michael to us or us to him. I may be a Malarsie now but I will always be a Lengstorf too.

I know this was long but I needed to write it. I think about Josh every single day and I watch as Michael adjusts to every day life of being completely blind. So please this Christmas take special care to tell those you love that you do love them. Cherish them. There are over 500 families this year who lost a military member to war that will not be spending this holiday season with their loved one. Please keep them in your prayers.

They are asking on December 24, 2010 at 2100 (no matter where you are) if you could go outside and light a candle for our military and for those who gave that ultimate sacrifice.

I hope that you all have a lovely holiday season and that you create wonderful memories.

love, jess

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I have had a lot of fun writing on this blog but since I am going to be a Malarsie soon I have created a new blog for the next chapter of my life. Occasionally I may still write on here but if you want updates I will now be writing on
I hope you have enjoyed what I written on the Lengstorf Laire. I know it holds a special place in my heart.

love, jess