Monday, January 23, 2012

Back and Ready...

I know that it has been awhile since my last post. I have been spending the last few months trying to figure out what to write about and where my blog should go...

Do I keep writing about how much I miss Bryan?  Because that is a daily struggle...

Do I keep pouring out my emotions? Because I am still hurting and angry...

Do I start focusing on writing about Owen and our daily lives together? Because that is what I know.

I have decided that this blog has and will always be about my life with Bryan. I just can't figure out a way to transition it into something that becomes about raising my son...

So, I have started a new blog.

Although it is a work in progress, I hope that it will become just as profound and helpful as my last blog.

- It is my way of moving forward but always remembering.

- It is my way to teaching Owen about the man that his father was all while raising him to be his own special person.

- It is my way to getting through my daily life struggles and challenges.

- It is my way of being a single parent and trying to remain sane.

I hope that you will join me and continue to follow me on this new path/journey... I cannot guarantee that it will always be a positive one... but it will be filled with passion, energy and honesty.

-Ashley Prairie

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

All grown up... or so he thinks

This past month has brought about many "big boy" changes in Owey's little life... in my life too... I guess.

The tiny baby that I once held with one arm... is now 30 pounds and very smart and independent.

After many internal battles and tears, I decided that it was time for me to let my little baby grow up and become a small man.

So, on May 27th we took down the crib...
the crib that Bryan and I picked out together...
the crib that Bryan spent over an hour putting together...
Owen moved into his big boy bed.

We put up pirate stickers... organized his books and toys... and set up his big boy bed.
The same bed that his father slept on when he was a child...
The same bed that Bryan and I cuddled on when we first started dating...
The same bed that Owen's cousin Brendan used when he was in town visiting.

After Owen brushed his teeth (on his new amazing stool from papa Lloyd) he climbed into bed... gave me a kiss... and said "night momma".

Surprisingly, he slept through the night and ever since then has not attempted to climb out. Forcing me to realize yet again that my little man is no longer a baby... that he is growing up.

Not only has Owen made the transition to a big boy bed... but he has formed a new independence outside as well.

He no longer needs me to hold his hand when he is playing in his pool...
he doesn't need me to wipe the water from his eyes when he splashes his face with water...
he doesn't need me to carry his toys and help him play.

Owen has formed his own personality and has really become a little man these past few months. From swimming in his pool to searching for bugs... Owen has embraced this summer whole heatedly and proven to me that he is going to be one amazing adult some day.

He has the same loving carefree nature that his father once had...

A love for life and nature that is so strong... and yet so rare.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pushing Forward... Slowly

Grief has a funny way of creeping back up on you when you least expect it... there is no way to move through the grieving process and come out on the other end...

Grief is a circle with no way out.
Grief is a maze with no end.
Grief is a roller coaster with many ups and downs...
Grief SUCKS... it is not fair!

Just when I feel like my life is somewhat "normal" again and that Owen and I are doing well, as our mother/son team... Mother's day creeps up and reminds me just how shitty being without Bryan is.

This year there were no Mother's day cards or surprises for me... there were no "you are such a great wife and amazing mother" notes left on a tray with breakfast in bed... there were no hand made cards with Owen's little hand prints or signatures... there was no sleeping in... there was no... Bryan.

Bryan always knew the perfect things to say and just how to say them. He always made me feel so appreciated and special. This year it was hard feeling, not only like I had lost my biggest supporter and cheerleader, but also feeling like while all of the other mothers spent the day with their husbands and children, I spent the day wishing that I could just have a hand made card from Owen telling me that he loved me... I spent the day wishing I could have a normal family... I spent the day wishing I could have my husband back.

Mother's day has since come and gone and I have spent the last month working hard at being the kind of mom I know that my son would be proud of. Although he is not old enough to make me cute little cards yet... I know that he loves and appreciates me.

I see it when he says "mommy" with his cute wrinkled smile and bright eyes.
I hear it when he says "I love you" and gives me a snuggle (hug).
I feel it when he kisses me and says "big one momma".

Grief is a pain in the ass. It sucks and it is not fair.


With Owen... life seems to feel a little easier and the pain seems to hurt a little less...

ONE DAY AT A TIME... we will get through it ... ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

As the world turns....

My little baby turned two on March 19th... just a couple of weeks ago. We celebrated Owen's big day with our family and friends at our home in Maple Grove... the first party that I have ever thrown on my own. Owen had an absolute blast and loved his underwater themed party. When he was not pointing up at the ceiling yelling "fishes" he was chasing bubbles and balloons around our house.

Although my house was packed wall to wall with people and all of the kids were running up and down the stairs... we managed to make it work and Owen had a wonderful birthday. I tried hard to think of all of the ways that I could incorporate Bryan into Owen's big day... because he should be here... celebrating his son's special day along side all those who love him... all those who love us. So, I put together a 35 minute dvd of pictures and music documenting Owen's past two years.

While bouncing from room to room entertaining our guests... it was nice to see Bryan's face on the tv screen... holding Owen... smiling... here! I always battle with finding different ways to include Bryan in our everyday lives... from writing this blog... to keeping a journal for Owen about Bryan's favorite things... I am constantly trying to think of ways to keep Bryan around... to keep his memory alive... to keep him "real".

Tomorrow, Papa Buzz is checking into the hospital and undergoing surgery at 1pm to remove his prostate/cancer. It is going to be a very hard day for all of us... especially Buzz and Lori. I don't think that Owen understands that he will not be able to wrestle or swim with Papa for awhile... it should be interesting to see how he reacts to the whole recovery process. Every morning when Owen wakes up he asks me if he can go play with Papa Buzz... It is going to be hard to keep him from tackling Papa... but I know his beautiful spark and amazing sense of humor will help Buzz immensely. I know that it helps me on my darkest days.

Although Owen won't be able to go to the hospital and wait with us to hear the news about Papa's surgery (there is no way he could sit still for three hours) ... I am planning on going... to hold Lori's hand and to add some comic relief with some of my many Owen stories. Buzz has so many people that love him and that are going to be with him on his journey... Owen and I especially.

He has always been our rock, now it is time that we become his. We love you Papa Buzz!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Turning Two... and remembering Bryan

Two years ago this coming Saturday (March 19th) at 11:04 am my beautiful son Owen was born. After four and a half very painful hours of labor my healthy baby boy was born with ten fingers and ten toes... 7 pounds 5 ounces and 19.5 inches long... he was perfect.

On March 18th Bryan and I went in for an ultrasound to check on my amniotic fluid levels. I had been on bed rest for two weeks because my fluid levels were low... the Doctor said that Owen was taking up all the room in my belly and I just could not physically grow any bigger... in other words, I was the size of a house.

After they performed a stress test and found that Owen's breathing patterns were not regular, they decided to check me into the hospital at 9pm to be induced. At 6:30 am my water broke. After four hours of 2 and a half minute contractions with only 30 seconds in between... Owen was born... and Bryan and I instantly fell in love with our new son.

While the whole day is sort of a blur there is one memory of our stay in the hospital that comes to mind. After all of our family left and it was just Bryan and me left in the room with Owen... we both realized that this was now our family... our perfect family of three. Bryan crawled into bed with me, put his arms around my back and we both just stared into our beautiful sons eyes. At roughly 11:30 pm, Owen opened his eyes for the first time... and for nearly a half hour he just stared at us. It was as if he knew that we were his mommy and daddy. It was by far the most memorable experience in my life. After nine months of pregnancy and a very painful labor, my son was here... he was looking right at me... telling me that loved me.

I am not sure how I am going to tell Owen about his father's death yet... mostly because I don't think I have truly accepted it myself. I do know though that I am going to let him know everyday that his father loved him more than anything else in this world. From the moment I found out that I was pregnant to to second that Owen was born... Bryan dedicated his life and love to his one and only son.

He woke up multiple times during the night just to check on him because he missed holding his tiny hand and kissing his cute little nose.
He rushed home from work just to hold him and tell him that he loved him.
He was an amazing father and an amazing husband.

I have been avoiding videos of Bryan since the day that he died... primarily because I am scared to hear his voice. Hearing his voice makes him real.. and less of a memory. But, this week... on Owens second birthday, I decided that I wanted Owen to hear his fathers voice and see the video's from his first few months of life. Although it is painfully hard for me... and I have had a few meltdowns... okay, more than a few meltdowns... I think that this is the best gift that I can give my son... the gift of his fathers voice.

I have to warn those who have not heard Bryan in awhile... the second video is pretty rough.

Owen is a lot like his father in many ways. Besides the obvious similarity in their appearance (they could be twins) Owen has a very similar personality...
He is hilarious and super animated.
He brightens a room the minute he walks in.
He is crazy athletic and can literally repeat everything that he sees.
His smile melts hearts and touches souls.
He is stubborn... a sign of good character.
He has a loving and nurturing nature.

Owens two year old picture:

Bryan at two years old:
Although we cannot bring Bryan back and we are all still struggling to move forward... we are all coming together this Saturday to try to celebrate Owens life. It is hard to be happy and party without Bryan here but seeing Owen and knowing that Bryan lives on in him is comforting. Owen is an amazing child and we are all so very lucky to have him in our lives. If Bryan were here he would be so proud of Owen and the person that he is becoming. I know that he will be with us in spirit... singing happy birthday and holding Owens hands as he blows out his candles.

We love you Owen. Happy Second Birthday!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Little House for the Prairie's

* This is the letter that I sent in for the Regis and Kelly dream home giveaway...

I fell in love with my late husband Bryan back in the first grade. His beautiful blue eyes and fun personality was irresistible, even to a six-year old little girl. After many years of having a crush and drawing hearts next to his name in my yearbooks, I finally got the courage to ask him out to sno-daze, our sophomore year of high school’s dance. It was on that day that Bryan and I became good friends and started on our path through life together.

After three years of wishing and hoping that Bryan would ask me out, Bryan and I went on our first date, the summer before our senior year began, to a movie and dinner. On September 23rd, 2002 Bryan asked me out and we officially became a couple. After praying that we could be together for almost 10 years I finally could call him my boyfriend. I was dating BRYAN PRAIRIE, my life-long crush.

On September 22nd, 2007 Bryan and I got married at Holy Nativity Lutheran Church. It was the best day of my life. Bryan and I were so happy and excited to start our family. And on July 27th, 2008, after 4 positive pee sticks, we found out that we were having a baby.

On March 19th, 2009 our son Owen was born at 11:04am. He was healthy and beautiful. When Owen was born Bryan took him from the doctor and handed him right to me. He kissed my forehead, kissed Owen, and said "I love my little family". From the moment Bryan held Owen he was deeply in love with him. Bryan was born to be a father. He was so natural at it and seemed to know exactly what to do.

After Bryan graduated from Augustana college at the end of May with his nursing and biology degree, we decided to move home to be closer to our family. Since Bryan could not find a job in the nursing field yet he decided to work for his friends window washing company to try to get enough money to pay our bills.

On September 3rd at roughly 3pm our lives were forever changed. We received a call that Bryan had fallen off Methodist hospital while trying to save his friend/co-workers life. After we arrived at the hospital they informed us that Bryan had passed away. It was at that moment that my life stopped.

I was sitting in a room trying to process the fact that the love of my life and best friend was dead all while looking across the room into my 5 month old sons eyes. He would never get to know his father. The father that loved him more than life it self and was looking so forward to watching him grow. I went from the perfect life, with the perfect man and the perfect son... to an unemployed 24-year old widow and single mother, all within a couple of hours. My life was turned upside down and I had no idea how to make it any better.

How do you know who you are when you don't have the other person that completes you anymore. I have always been Ashley/Bryan (also known as bryley) and now I have to try to find Ashley somewhere.

This past year and a half has been a challenge. Learning how to become a single parent and how to move forward has not been easy. Owen and I have tried to take one day at a time and find our new rhythm. Although I am currently a stay at home mother, I have been trying to enter back into the work force and find a job in marketing. Shortly after Bryan passed away I started a blog ( that has since caught the attention of many readers. I hope that I can turn it into a book someday and help other young widows, just like myself.

Receiving the dream house would be a fresh start for Owen and me. I want so badly to give my son all of the things that Bryan and I intended on giving him while he was still alive. Due to my income and status it is nearly impossible for me to afford a house. I can barely afford rent. I would love to be able to try to create some stability in our lives. Have a place where Owen can grow up and play ball in the back yard. Winning this home would not only be life changing... but it would be life starting as well. Starting out on this new adventure with my now almost two-year-old son in a new home would be a dream come true. Something Bryan wanted so badly for us to have... a place to call home.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Life is fragile...

Life is fragile...
Life is unpredictable...
and just when you think you have it all figured out,
Life smacks you upside the head and reminds you that you are not in control...
that Life is not up to you...
that Life is unfair.

This past month I have been doing a good job of pushing forward and working towards trying to figure out my future... figure out what I want to do with this gift of life that I have been given.

At the beginning of February, Owen and I took a trip to South Dakota. I wanted to meet with my college journalism professor Janet... to catch up... to tell her about Bryan... and to get her advice. Janet was always in my corner. She made writing/learning fun. When I decided that I wanted to write a book, I knew that I had to get in touch with her and do some massive brainstorming. During our one hour together, Janet helped me out more than she will ever know. She got me focused... she got me on track... and she made me confident in myself... confident in my ideas.

Our trip to Sioux Falls was amazing and Owen and I had a blast. Just spending a few days cooped up in a hotel room... playing with play dough, coloring in coloring books and jumping on the bed was just what we needed. Owen got to see where he was born, experience Augustana College (where Bryan and I graduated from), drive by his first home and chase butterflies at the butterfly gardens with Bryan's old college roommate/friend Kyle.

After our trip to South Dakota, I decided that we are going to make a ritual out of traveling to Sioux Falls each year... the place where Owen's father smashed the triple jump school records and graduated with a RN and Biology degree. The place where his mother met her best friend Tiffany and discovered her passion for writing. The place where his parents started their lives together and brought him into this world.

Just when we were least expecting it... this past week we received the sad news that "Papa Buzz", Bryan's father, has stage one prostate cancer. When they told me the news I have to say that I was shocked. After we lost Bryan, I did not think that we would have to wade through any more sadness or least for awhile. That old saying "When it rains, it pours" has been very true for the Prairie family these past two years.

Bill is the strength in our family... he is the glue that holds us together... he is our rock. Whenever I need something or have a question... Bill (and my dad) is my go to person. Seeing him vulnerable and scared is difficult and heartbreaking to watch. I feel so helpless... I feel so numb.

Since Bryan passed away, Bill has stepped in as Owen's go to "dad". Owen loves his "Papa Buzz" and asks for him every morning when he wakes up. Without "Papa Buzz"...

who would bring Owen to his swimming lessons...
who would teach Owen how to hunt...
who would teach Owen how to fish...
who would tell Owen all of the stories about his father that only a father would know...
who would teach Owen how to drive...
but most of all...
who would teach Owen how to be the same stand up amazing man that his Papa was....

No one can do those things but him... but Buzz.

On April 1st, Bill will be going in for surgery. While the prognosis is good and everything sounds very positive... the fact that he has to go through all of this is still heartbreaking and scary. Owen and I will be there every step of the way cheering him on and sending silly dances and smiles his way.

Although life is unfair and difficult...

Life is also amazing.
Life is filled with love...
Life is filled with beauty...
Most of all... Life is worth it!

We love our Papa Buzz and are his biggest cheerleaders! We cannot wait to spend 50 more years watching the beauty in life right by his side... on the boat and in the woods.