Sixty Six

Today is my Mom’s birthday. She would have been 66 today.

This is her 2nd birthday since she’s been gone and it truly feels unbelievable that it’s been that long.

Last year, I was awake at midnight, the minute it was her birthday. I was in  Eastern Washington with my friends and it was snowing very very softly. I stood on the porch and listened to how quiet it was outside, the kind of quiet you only hear when it’s been snowing and every twig snap sounds loud and you feel like you can actually hear the snowflakes landing. I remember that night and how lonely I felt. I stood there and cried, not wanting to tell my friends it was my Mom’s birthday because I didn’t want to bring anyone down. Everyone had already dealt with four months of my pain, my sadness.

I thought another year of her being gone would be less painful. That this one wouldn’t be so bad. I was wrong. It hurts terribly. It is an incredible pain that nothing can touch, nothing can make it better, really. In fact, it’s worse this year. The longer she’s gone, the more lonely I feel…the less people are apt to understand or recognize how much I’m still hurting, because after all, it’s been a year and a half now. It’s less acceptable to be so sad…it’s less acceptable to have the pain bring you to your knees, to be able to just lie on the floor and moan with the sadness. You’re supposed to gather yourself up, a year and a half later you’re supposed to be able to be grateful for the time you had, remember with smiles, etc.

And I do that sometimes. I am incredibly grateful for the time I had. I know others were cheated out of a parent much earlier on in their life. I can talk about her sometimes with a smile on my face, or laugh about some silly thing. But mostly, mostly…it hurts. Really bad.

The fact that the holidays come immediately after her birthday doesn’t make this time of year any easier. I am lucky to have many family members, on both sides of our family still in my life. I am glad I will get to spend the holidays with them. But oh, there’s such a big void where my Mom should be filling…with her love, her hugs and kisses, her delight at whatever clever present she would have given Jack, her turkey she should be fussing over on Thanksgiving Day. It just isn’t the same without her – the shine and twinkle of this season is dimmed for me. It’s still there – I love my family and Jack and Jason make everything better and I can delight in the holidays for them.

My Mom just made everything shine and twinkle a little extra.

I miss you, Mom – Happy Birthday and I think about you every single day.

Mom and Santa

 

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The Last Normal Day

July 16th, 2013 was the last normal day of my life. I say that selfishly, because it was also the last normal day of my Mom’s life.

Like I said, the day was normal. Until about 7:00pm, when I got a call that my Mom had a TIA. That stands for Transient Ischemic Attack, but loosely referred to as a mini stroke. She’d had one before…typically the symptoms are the same as a stroke, but it only lasts a short while and causes no permanent damage. In fact, by the time I got the call, she was feeling normal and in the ER. I got another couple of calls updating me to her status. She was doing fine, but had to spend the night at the hospital. I decided not to call the hospital to speak w/ her, because I knew she was still in the ER and it was late, and by the time they got her to a regular room, it would be even later and she would need her sleep.

I’d call her in the morning. But I never got that chance.

Early that morning, she had a major stroke. Three days later, she was gone.

That means, in a few days I’m going to hit the anniversary of her death. This last year has been full of firsts, which lead you to remember the lasts. The last normal Thanksgiving, the last normal Mother’s Day, etc. I’ve always enjoyed spending family holidays with my family. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than at my parents house for Thanksgiving or Christmas and in fact, I’ve never missed a Christmas at my parents and I’ve only missed Thanksgiving once.  And that was fairly recently. But the really sad part is that you never know when you’re in the middle of enjoying the last normal Thanksgiving or Christmas. Or the last normal Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Or even the last normal conversation. The last normal hug. The last normal day.

Over the last year, I’ve rehashed in my brain a lot of those last normals. They’ve become etched in my memory and I constantly feel the need to remember them, turning them over in my mind, examining them. I wish I had them all on video so that I could watch them – they appear normal, routine, pedantic maybe. But now in my mind it’s all I have left. And I examine the parts I wish I would have done differently. I think that’s fairly normal for someone to do, but it’s not something you think about until it’s too late.

I’m glad I don’t think I took my Mom for granted. I mean, to a certain degree, we all do. But, I was really close to my Mom, I talked to her constantly, she guided me for 37 years and shaped me into who I am today. I enjoyed spending time with her on purpose. On whatever occasion, whether it was Mother’s Day or just a regular Sunday. I never felt “obligated” to visit with her, it was always a privilege. I was very lucky to have that kind of relationship.

I loved all my normal days with her.

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Three Years

Ok, so this post is a few days late, but I’m exhausted from all the birthday shenanigans that basically lasted an entire week.

We celebrated Jack’s birthday with my side of the family on Father’s Day Sunday, his actual birthday was on Friday, and on Saturday, we had an honest-to-god-for-reals 3 year old Thomas the Train theme (I spent a small fortune on licensed character crap) birthday party. We invited what seemed like a small handful of people because I declared “We’re just doing a real birthday party because Jack knows the difference now and we can’t continue the half-assed birthdays we’ve done the first two years, and I’m NOT GOING to do a bunch of work, etc etc, yeah right!”

Well, if that was a “small with not much work” birthday party, I’m not sure I’m even going to want to ratchet it up even one more notch.

But I had so much fun, you guys. It truly was the first time Jack got a day all entirely to himself for his birthday with all the trimmings, a real birthday cake, ballons, decorations, other children invited, loot bags, and one million trillion presents that were bestowed upon him throughout the day. It’s going to be really really hard not to make him into a brat, for how entirely spoiled he is. But so cute watching him open presents because he loves it so much!

This last year has been the most incredible so far. It’s shocking how he’s really kind of officially a big boy now, even though at every opportunity I snuggle him up and call him My Baby Jack. He begs to differ.

At three, Jack knows his ABCs, all the words to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, kinda sorta the words to Itsy Bitsy Spider, numbers up to about 15 or so and pretty much all the shapes. Recently, Jason was playing blocks with him and Jack held one up and declared that it was “A CYLINDER, DADDY!” And so it was. I’m not sure where he learns some of these things, but I find it to be adorable. Yesterday, his babysitter taught him about Planet “Earf.”

His favorite cartoon currently is UmiZoomi, but he also likes Thomas and Kipper and a few others. He recently inherited Jason’s cast off Kindle Fire and can operate it like a pro. He calls it his “black book.”

I recently discovered the easiest way to get him to hurry up to leave from daycare (which he loves and frequently digs in his heels about leaving) is to pick up one of the other kids/babies. Jack is terribly jealous, and selfishly, it does kind of stroke my ego because he’s definitely a Daddy’s boy and Mommy frequently plays second fiddle to their relationship.

He’s the light of my life and I know that sounds horribly cliche and rainbows and puppy dogs and yucky…and sometimes it just really isn’t that glamorous when my life mostly consists of getting him dressed, dropping off at daycare, picking up at daycare, dinner, bath, cleaning up after him, diapers, wiping up whatever gross stuff is happening at the moment and then going to bed to sleep and start the whole process again the next day. It’s kind of a grind…but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Jack! I hope it was as magical for you as it was for me.

 6-15-14

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I’m Here

I haven’t written since September. I think that maybe, by that point, the first couple months of intense grief had run their course…I had vomited all my feelings up by then and then I just…didn’t want to put it out there anymore. I mean, who wants to continuously hear someone go on and on about their mother dying? I think if I was the reader, it would put me off at some point. Not because I’m heartless, just that, it’s such a drag, right? It’s sad and terrible and nothing someone wants to linger on. And honestly, pretty much every conversation I have with my immediate family members includes time talking about our grief.

There’s not a lot that has happened in the way of healing between then and now. I still think about her constantly. It’s still incredibly weird to me that she’s gone.

We buried her ashes in Florida a couple weeks ago. It was the worst. Worse than the memorial service we had 2 weeks after she died. I’m not going to go into detail, but the pain was incredible. It was so final. I’m here. She’s there.

But it’s weird how life keeps going on around the pain and grief. I work. I am a mother to Jack. I am a wife to Jason. I am a friend. I mostly put on a regular face and don’t want to talk about it. But I’m thinking about it all the time. Whether I have a regular face on or a grief stricken face. I think I wear my regular face more often than I did before, so I guess that’s new.

I have a lot of thoughts that I really want to write down. I have a lot of things that I feel like I want to say. Honestly, it starts feeling after a little while that since so much time has gone by, people may not expect that I’m still hurting as much as I am, that I’m holding a lot of it inside.

It’s been eight months since my Mom died.

I feel like I’m still on day one.

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50/50

I haven’t written for a while. Not that I don’t have tons of thoughts floating around in my head, or feelings that I feel are ready to explode and gush all over the place. I’ve been wondering to myself what’s holding me back…I always feel better once I do write down how I’m feeling.

I think part of it is that half the time I’m consumed with sadness, grief and some anger as well. I feel like I’ve already written and talked about that enough. I feel like a walking bummer of a person a lot of the time. I try to grieve as much as I can in private, even away from my husband…because it’s a lot to put on someone, and it’s enough to deal with as much as people see that I can’t hide. I mean, I’m letting it out, I just mostly want to do that on my own, where I can ugly cry in peace.

The other part of the time, I catch myself being distracted…by work, by my kid, by my husband, by friends, by something…fun. Something that causes me for just a little moment of time to forget, to let it go and let my mind be filled with something else, just for a while. And please, don’t lecture, because I know that’s natural, I know that’s normal and I know it’s not something to feel guilty about. And I don’t feel…guilty…per se. I just feel like I don’t necessarily want to write a post about something flippant. Something fun. Something other than the desperate sadness I feel about how badly I miss my Mom.

Jack is as cute as ever. My mother-in-law just left today after visiting us from California for a week and a half. It was so great to have her here, and also heartbreaking because I miss my own Mom so much. My little sister just got a job finally, my older sister just returned from one of the Dakotas (they’re both the same to me) to visit her husband working out there and had a wonderful train ride both ways, my brother finally got an answer to some medical woes, my Dad seems to be doing a little better every day, Jason and I took our first out of state trip since Jack and spent TWO whole nights away, the longest so far and my friends continue to be the greatest and the funniest people I know.

So, there’s all the good things in a nutshell. Good news is what’s keeping me going, I grab onto it like a lifeline. I want to celebrate the tiny stuff.

I’m trying.

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47 Years

Today is my parents 47 year wedding anniversary.

Dad, my heart goes out to you today. It hurts me terribly to have lost my Mom. And I know it must be incredibly painful to have lost your wife. I cannot even imagine that pain.

Thank you for being one of the rare examples of parents who have stayed together forever. Raised us together. Let us have both our Mom and Dad in the same house. For 47 years.

Cheers to you guys. Happy Anniversary. I love you both.

Wedding

Couch

Dressy

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Dealing With Forever

I thought the day my Mom died was the worst day. Or possibly the day before that was the worst, when we all realized for the first time she wasn’t going to make it. Or possibly the day before that when I watched her struggling in the hospital, her left side paralyzed, barely able to talk and not able to open her eyes. We still had hope, then, and were preparing ourselves for a long, hard recovery for her. Or maybe the worst day was a day and a half after she died, when we had to go to the funeral home to discuss…terrible things. Or maybe two weeks after that when we had the memorial service.

Strangely enough, I feel like I’ve just now entered the worst days. Now that the business end of things is mostly over, the planning for the memorial service is now past. In the quiet of these last few days, I feel like I’m just now realizing. This is forever.

Forever.

I can never touch my Mom again. I can never hold her hand. I can never give her a hug. I can never talk to her again. Ever. Forever. Every single day for the rest of my life will be without her. And it’s a shock to my system over and over, every day.

The only thing I could compare it to would be losing a limb. The initial shock and pain would be terrible. And the immediate concern would be the business of stopping the blood, getting through surgery and medicating for the infection and pain. But you’re busy with that, while you’re laid up in bed, dealing with immediate problems and coming to terms with the loss of your limb, which hypothetically, you can deal with. But the real work, the real pain comes later. When you’ve gotten through those first several days of just surviving. Then you have to learn to function without it, get up, use the rest of your limbs…but always remembering the lost one. Finally ACTUALLY realizing what it means to live without the limb you lost, how difficult your life will be now, how it will change literally everything about how you get through your day. Those are the hard days.

There are barely more than a couple minute reprieves in my day. Sometimes I really do get distracted, my mind focuses on something else for just a brief moment. But then I remember. It’s constant, it aches…and it wells up in me so intensely sometimes that I feel  my heart is going to explode into a million pieces of pain and grief.

 I feel like we got through those first few days and were able to let go of my Mom because we could see her there physically, hurting, and we knew it was going to happen and we wanted her to go peacefully and we had to force ourselves to deal with that situation. But the afterward…to face every day, feels like it’s a giant open wound. The initial cut hurt terribly, but the sprinkle of salt of realizing this is forever all day long feeds into that red, slick and raw space in my heart and it is terrible.

I just want my Mom. I want her back. I want to talk to her and I want to hug her and tell her I love her. I want her so bad. I want my Mom.

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Mom

My Mom died.

It’s the phrase that keeps turning around in my head all day, every day, since last Saturday. My Mom died. It’s surreal. Unbelievable. My Mom died. I still don’t think it’s something I fully accept. I  can never hold her hand again. I can never give her another hug, another kiss. I can never hear her voice in person…telling me she loves me. My Mom died.

Nothing in my life has ever hurt this much. There’s nothing you can do to prepare yourself for the intense grief. It feels sometimes as though all the breath is sucked out of me and I can’t breathe. Sometimes it feels like it’s going to kill me.

Oh god, I miss her.

My Mom holding my hand shortly after I gave birth:

My Mom holding my hand after I gave birth to Jack.

 Holding my Mom’s hand shortly before she left us:

Holding my Mom's hand, shortly before she left us.

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Two

Jack,

What can I say? I’m the mother of a TWO YEAR OLD LITTLE BOY! How did this even happen?

Every day, you continue to amaze me with your determination, frustration over not being able to do something on your own, your sweet “Dankoo!” when I give you a treat for eating all your dinner, the way you can clean a rib down to the bone like the true carnivore you are, the way you say first thing in the morning “Outside? Outside?” in your hopeful, sleepy voice, and all the other million things that would be mundane to anyone else besides your Mommy and Daddy.

You are the best thing that ever happened to me. I still look in the mirror and can’t believe I’m someone’s Mommy. In charge of protecting you, keeping you safe, and eventually letting you be independent and do things on your own and learn to be your very own person. For now, I’ll take all the snuggles you’re willing to dole out and treasure them so that I can remember for when those hugs and kisses become further and further apart.

I get choked up just thinking about how much I love you. It’s overwhelming, it’s so cliche but I feel sometimes that my heart will burst at the thought of you. It’s terrifying, knowing that I’ve created an entire human being to be responsible for and worry about for the rest of my life. But oh, Jack, I’m so glad your Daddy and I decided to have you, you make our lives complete.

Besides…if it weren’t for you, who would your Daddy have around to help him play in puddles?

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Is This Mic On?

Ok, so in my true procrastinator style, I didn’t pay my site host for a few months, so I’m just now getting back into the swing of things.

Hi! Welcome back! Try to keep the applause to a dull roar, would you?

In some ways it seems like in the last three months, nothing has happened. We go to work, daycare, back home, dinner, bath, cartoons and to bed. Rinse. Repeat. No big days, no giant happenings. Nothing of real note.

But then, when I really think about it, every day is something new and a million tiny things happened over the last few months.

Some Bad:

*A few months ago, Jack suddenly (like, OVERNIGHT suddenly) because terrified of the bath and would claw to get out, grabbing himself down below and crying hysterically. We thought bladder infection? Subsequent visit to the pediatrician, attempted catheterization that didn’t work, urine sample and….nothing wrong. Anyway, within a month it straightened itself out and he’s back to normal. Weird.

* Jack’s inevitable mispronunciation of a word that “sounds” like the F word turned out to be stop. I discovered this as I started pointing out stop signs to him while we drive, making a big deal out of the color red, the sign and that we STOP our car at the STOP sign! Anyway, now when we drive and he sees a stop sign he shouts over and over FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK! FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK! It’s awesomely cringe-worthy.

* Jack is also finally developing logic, albeit almost always faulty…but logic nonetheless. I believe this is what caused the bath issue I talked about above (we think maybe he was suddenly scared that we would flush the tub, since his Dad makes a big deal of pee pee in the potty and flushing, yay!) Anyway, this new logic ALSO caused him to completely refuse to snuggle with me and his bottle (I know, I know, shut up) at night, which totally hurt my feelings. I mean, little kids are mostly unsnuggleable, except when they’re sick, first thing in the morning when they’re half asleep, and last thing at night when you are giving them delicious warm milk and letting them watch cartoons. Anyway, he refused. Flat out. Wanted to sit on the couch with his bottle by himself thankyouverymuchmommybutidon’tneedyouanymore. I know deep down it’s about the fact that he finally connected our awesome snuggling to impending night-night time. Whatever, dude, you’re still going to bed when Bubble Guppies go off!

And some good!

For a while, I thought maybe Jack was a little bit behind in knowing words and how verbal he was. I was constantly comparing him to others and worried that he was behind. Not that he had developmental “issues” but just that he didn’t know many words. Anyway, in the last couple of months his vocabulary has, literally, EXPLODED! And not just learning the word FUC…I mean, STOP! I was going to put together a list in preparation for his two year well check, but seriously, I’m not sure I could even put together an accurate list at this point to encompass all the words he says. However, his favorite words currently are water, truck, Did it! (praising himself), outside, lawnmower, thank you and airplane. I’m probably forgetting some, but those are the first that springs to mind.

Jack is really really really into books now. He likes to sit and have me read to him, he likes to turn the pages, he likes to take a book to bed (DNA kicking in!) and takes forever picking out a book to take in the car when we go bye-bye. I was hoping he would be a reader, because Jason and I read so much and I’m a huge fan of books/reading/spelling/grammar/etc. I’m hoping this is something that really sticks.

So those are a few of the things that have been going on the last few months. I’m really hoping to get back on board with posting more frequently, because as much as I sometimes think my life is really mostly boring, really, it’s the day to day small miracles I love the most.

 

 

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