Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Sheets from Hell

I unfolded them one corner at a time. Stretching them out to what seemed like a mile, then setting them on my bed in a some what regretful motion. I hated putting on sheets; more accurately, I dreaded putting on sheets. Let’s just say it wasn’t a task I ever learned how to do with confidence.

I pulled my hardest to get them to fit over my mattress. All my might going into making this bed. The sheets, of course, going against their will. I hated them and I could sense that if they had a soul, they would hate me, too. They were stupid and pink; excuse me, rose, and as I sat there on my hard bed in a pile of sheets, I pondered why I had even bought those stupid rose-colored sheets in the first place.

I was so frustrated. Feeling so sorry for myself because I happened to purchase the sheets from hell. I imagined my roommate in college, her bed always so perfectly pressed. I swear she ironed her sheets right onto her bed. Why couldn’t I just get my damn sheets to look as perfect. I sat in silence with my sheets as if the maid that didn’t exist would waltz through the door and dramatically come to my rescue. Effortlessly wrapping the fitted sheet so tightly, yet perfectly, around my mattress. Laying the other sheet delicately on my bed, tucked in between my mattress and the box spring so snug. As I stared blankly at my naked bed, I knew that was not going to happen.

Out of no where, tears were streaming down my cheeks. Not the soft, ‘I’m frustrated’ tears, but thick, wet, god-awful sopping tears. I was bawling on my bed in a crumpled ball of sheets from hell. Every reason of pathetic-ness was filling my body. “What am I doing with my life?” “I’ve come so far and then I end up here?” I don’t even know where I want to go.” My dad is dead.” Yea, that one struck my bones, and pierced my heart like those ‘oh shit’ moments when you just remembered something but it was too late. Thoughts were flooding my mind from every direction, but my dad is dead and I can’t even put on these sheets from hell.

It was a breakdown moment. I had no clue where it came from but the sheets some how connected me to a feeling of despair. A feeling of just feeling sorry for myself. Is that okay? Am I aloud to just feel stupid and sorry for myself? Weep in my own sorrows in a ball of stupid sheets? Sobbing for an unknown reason, wiping my tears with empty pillow cases? I wasn’t even sure what the tears meant. I didn’t know if it was a longing cry for my father, or purely just a moment of my soul finally feeling it’s break. Finally feeling something; an emotion bigger than sadness. It was a feeling that filled some emptiness, but more importantly awoke the numbness.

Memories and images of random moments started to run in my mind like credits of a movie. So fast I could barely make out the names. They weren’t anything specific, not even necessarily of my dad, but just small moments of my life. Running with my dog, dancing with friends, dipping my toes into the lake, tossing my cap in the air at graduation, and speeding down the mountain on my snowboard. None of these things made sense at the time. I felt so confused but as the tears started to dry on my cheek, I realized all of those things had one common concept. I AM HERE. I am alive. I am in this moment. I am here, I am alive and I am with these sheets from hell.

They were wrinkled and stiff. The furthest from comfort, but I swept my feet against them at the bottom of my bed. The uncomfortable felt bearable. I closed my eyes and ran my fingertips on top of them, snickering at the rose tint. I took a deep breath and thought again, I am alive, I am here.

I rolled over, holding my pillow close against my chest, sighing in relief. Not a relief to be in my bed, but a relief from my soul. I swear it felt like a tiny hole somewhere in my heart was slowly trickling, then flooding with peace. Yes, you guessed it, my peace of derek. As I lay there, in my bed, remembering that I am alive, I am here, on my sheets from hell. I closed my eyes, feeling at peace, and I put faith in something or someone ‘up there’ that I would get a visit from my dad in my dreams that night.

I woke up smiling and at peace. Making my bed with less of an argument with my sheets this time. Today is a new day.



Thanks Brittany Barcellos for this amazing photo! Smile, YOU ARE ALIVE!

A mother without her son

Derek was my precious first-born. He arrived August 15, 1954 at Lewis Memorial Hospital in Yosemite National Park. He was born at 4 p.m. on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. He had dark blue eyes and gobs of black hair and I recall laughingly asking the nurse if he was really Derek George De Backer?  Every mother thinks her baby is the cutest, smartest and most wonderful among all babies. But he truly was. He grew to be a remarkable, intelligent and caring man. He was interested in learning and loved to read. Even as a young boy, he read the newspaper from cover to cover and could discuss what he read or ask questions about things he didn’t understand. He was a happy baby, boy, teen and young man.

He went through all the stages – learned to swim when he was five, loved to wear his cowboy outfit with holster, rode his first tricycle with great gusto and then had a shiny new bike at about eight-years-old. We attended St. Columbus Episcopal Church on Las Posas Road in what was then the sleepy town of Camarillo. When the church’s director in charge of the youth group lost his battle to cancer, I was asked to take the volunteer position – with three children and a full-time job. It was a fun opportunity to plan special events for the more than 75  boys and girls in the group. Derek was eventually elected president and his sister Debi was secretary. One Sunday afternoon, we had 75 kids for a party in what was then called our “Rumpus Room.” Derek was always active in Little League and I tried to attend all his games in spite of a full working schedule. In high school, he was also active and popular, elected as Junior Class President. I have pictures of him and other members of the Class of ’72 in our garage (then on West Loop – we moved there in 1968) during a “Paper Drive” to earn monies for the Junior Class. Derek also played Center on the high school football team.

Derek was growing up in a time of turmoil (much as it is today, sadly), with our country torn by violence and the conflict in Vietnam. Derek was sensitive to the chaos and we often discussed the news and its consequences. He was appalled, as we all were, when our President, John F. Kennedy, was killed, then later, his brother Bobby. One day he came to me as I got home from work and his beautiful blue eyes were filled with sadness as he asked me “Why?” And there were no answers. But that night, I sat down at my typewriter (no computers in those days) and began to write. In those days, I was a career journalist, Lifestyle Editor of my local newspaper, The Press-Courier, and I wrote a weekly column in addition to “covering” various social and political events in Ventura County. That week’s column, titled “A Mother Looks at Violence,” ran in the Sunday edition of my Lifestyle section. Early Sunday morning as we got ready for church, Father Jerry Graves, priest of St. Columbus. called and asked my permission to read my “A Mother Looks at Violence” in  place of his planned sermon. I don’t think Derek got all of his answers as to “Why?” but his question to me confirmed that many others were asking “Why?” Another time, Derek and I sat together with tears in our eyes as we watched on TV as another President, Richard Nixon, resigned his office.

There are many priceless memories of my Derek. He was a good man, a wonderful father and a loving son. His friends were legion and came from all walks of life. He was loved by many and he adored his first-born Jason and his darling daughter Aimee who brought him great joy. He would be most proud of them if he had lived to see Jason graduate last year with his AA degree from Tahoe Community College, and his Aimee receive her degree from Chico almost two years ago. He also is dearly missed by his sister Debi and his “little bro” Daryl. Daryl finds it especially hard  to realize that he and his “bro” will never be able to watch their favorite Laker games and other sports.

Adding my thoughts to Peace of Derek has given me an opportunity to experience again the joys of being a mother to a truly remarkable man. I don’t think I did anything to contribute to this wonderful life (which ended too soon) except give him life. Aimee’s Peace of Life dedicated to her father, gave me a rare look into my own feelings and allowed me to remember some of the precious times we shared together.

I miss Derek more than I can ever express. We talked every day “Hey, how’s it going?” “Did you read about ….” He was my darling son but he was also my best friend. Now, his beautiful sister Debi and “bro” Daryl and I talk almost every day. I think his younger brother Daryl recalls his brother’s devotion as Daryl tells me he loves me during most every phone call from beautiful Lake Tahoe. I believe that Derek looks down at us with his love and is the strength that will guide his handsome Jason and beautiful Aimee. Derek’s ashes were scattered in his beloved ocean. When I look at the ocean (which is only steps from our front door), I think of my dear first-born and know he is in a better place. In our guest room are many pictures of my beloved family. On one wall is a plaque which is surrounded by pictures of Derek in all phases of his short life. The words on the plaque are dedicated to Derek with love:

“We little knew that morning that God was going to call your name. In life we loved you dearly; in death, we do the same.
It broke our hearts to lose you, you did not go alone; for part of us went with you, the day God called you home.
You left us peaceful memories, your love is still our guide; and though we cannot see you, you are always at our side.
Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same; but as God calls us one by one, the CHAIN will link again.”
Until we meet again, my darling son.

Miranda by Logan Lefler

Miranda by Logan Lefler

Here is an awesome photo taken by the talented Logan Lefler. I love her pureness & innocence! Captures such a true feeling of being alive! Love it!

My Peace of Derek


My dad, Derek George DeBacker was the sweetest, most caring man. Never missed a game, or even a practice for that matter. His children’s biggest cheerleader. His goofiness was contagious and his jokes often got him into a little trouble. Playing hooky with me all the time to take me skiing on a blue-bird powder day. Prank calling my friends with me. Waking me up at 2am to get eggs benedict with him at a 24-hour diner. Dancing the night away with me in the living room while my brother played the drums on pots and pans. The childhood he provided us with was so rich with laughter and play. I felt so loved and I loved him so much.

The day I lost him. The day itself is less of a feeling than those SEVEN years that have passed so quickly. Too quickly. It’s an emptiness I have started to realize will always exist, but a void I am slowly beginning to feel so comfortable with. As a 14 year old with an attitude bigger than Paris Hilton’s, I was the furthest from capable. But we shouldn’t be capable of handling death. Let me tell you, I don’t think that should be a quality you want to possess. What we should be capable of is learning acceptance. Acceptance that the emptiness will exist, but regardless, to be able to lay your head down at night and be at PEACE with that emptiness. To me, that is part of what ‘Peace of Derek’ means. Possessing that Peace of Derek no matter what. Knowing that the emptiness he has left me can never be replaced, but accepting that.

I want to say losing my father at 14 is the hardest thing I will ever have to go through, but I think losing my father at 14 has PREPARED me for the hardest thing I will some day have to go through. It has given me the courage to knock down fear and push aside anger. It has put me in deep pain, and that pain has shown me how horrible it is to have a broken heart without my dad, but that has led me to see the importance of love and family. Happiness has a different meaning to me since I can remember being at my lowest when I was mourning for my father. At 22, being able to reflect on such experiences with my heart ready to learn, be loved, and even hurt, I feel so blessed. I feel ready to take on the world.

It’s so difficult to not have him laughing with me. Guiding me with his knowledge and love. I struggle every day wishing I could call him and tell him about my day, even if nothing happened. I struggle knowing my kids won’t get to meet such an amazing man to be able to call “Grandpa Derek.” I struggle knowing my arm will not be linked to his walking me down the isle on my wedding day. It’s all such a struggle, but what keeps me going is finding the PEACE within those struggles. Finding my Peace of Derek. Finding those moments in my memories and deep inside my heart. Being able to simply smile at a memory that crosses my mind, even just for 10 seconds. Finding my Peace of Derek in the most simplest of things. That is what those struggles are about. That is how I overcome them: I find my Peace of Derek.

I hope you find your Peace of Derek because it is there. I am still searching to put my Peaces of Derek together, but it is a journey and most of all, it is life.  Good luck and never give up. One day, it will all PEACE together!

We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there, too.

-Kristin Martz

We lose ourselv…


Stability has definitely been lacking. Uncertainty has created some amounts of fear. But the future I have dreamt of has never seemed more tangible. It’s easy to let the smoke take its course of distraction, but every time I close my eyes, my mind wanders to a place of passion. Passion is a feeling I wish I was more familiar with, but an emotion I am ready to embrace.

I am embarking on my journey of finding and following my passion. Passion is that place deep in your heart that at times feels so empty. Many confuse that void with a person, but I think I am starting to learn that passion is more about yourself than any other person could ever amount to. It’s about lighting that fire. It’s feeling that burn within your soul. Motivation. Determination. Drive. But that smoke, that smoke will try to distract you from your passion. Don’t let it.

I invite you to follow me on my journey of passion. My journey of finding myself and my journey of finding my Peace of Derek.

Peace of Derek

Peace of Derek

Taking the wonderful, joyful, & innocence of my father wherever I go. My peace of Derek. This begins my journey.