Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Thoughts on the New Year and my Goals for 2010

There have been days and nights in the last 5.5 months that I was convinced that I would not make it to the New Year.  I would not survive the emotional devastation nor figure out any coping mechanisms to deal with the giant void that is ever present.  However, as I sit here tonight, the date is December 30, 2009.  I have survived.  I am different.  I am stronger.  I am a better person.  And, some days, I am still a display of the vast emotional spectrum that is now me.

This year, I have seen the best and worst of my friends....o,r so called friends, in some cases.  However, I would say that I have been more overwhelmed by the amazing demonstrations of friendship that I have witnessed.  And, it couldn't help but make me a better friend in return.  I have appreciated every random text message to ask about 'my level of shitty for the day' and the cards in my mailbox to let me know that I was in your prayers.  And, I can only hope that I have showed all of my close friends and family how much I love them in return.

This has been an interesting year for prayer as well.  I have always considered myself a spiritual and prayerful person.  However, for the last few months, I feel as though I have been in a constant conversation with God.  At times, I have begged for peace and comfort.  At others, I have given him praise for surrounding me with such a loving community of friends and family.  I have tried everyday to show others that God truly is love through my actions.  Although, I must admit, the ever present sarcasm still exists.....and that sometimes I am not as successful at my efforts as I would like to be.  Lucky for me, I believe in a forgiving God.

As I sit here and reflect on 2009, I can't help but feel appreciative as well.  I appreciate that my Mom found me the perfect Church for me....all thanks to a Maundy Thursday pedicure.  I appreciate that many who love me have been exceptionally patient with my journey through grief.  I appreciate that one of my best friends is lucky enough to be the mother to one of the most wonderful little boys I have ever met...and she lets me snuggle him when I need it.  I appreciate that my two crazy dogs have done nothing but love me and keep me company when I have felt like the only person on the planet.  I appreciate that I am married to an amazing man who has done nothing but stand strong next to me and hold me up when necessary.

I am also hopeful....hopeful that 2010 will not have near the drama that 2009 has had.  Don't get me wrong, there were some great points to our wedding and marriage.  However, on the whole, I am hoping that 2010 has fewer days of tears involved.

I have never really been big for New Year's Resolutions....However, I do have a set of goals for 2010.

1.  Find inspiration in every day.  My goal is to look to my surroundings and be inspired.  Inspired to do better, try harder, make the world a better place, or learn something new.

2.  Learn something new everyday.  I love learning so I am going to keep on keeping on as they say when it comes to my constant education.

3.  Learn how to make a good loaf of crusty bread.  I love good French bread but have yet to figure out how to do it well myself.  2010 is the year.

4.  Lift weights 3x/week.  Enough said.

5.  Try better to understand that some people are simply doing the best they can with what they have.  It seems as times that I feel that many people aren't really trying that hard....however, they really are probably doing the best they can with what they have.

6.  Get a monthly manicure in a shade of red....of honor of my Mom.

7.  Grow my new business and give my new career the best that I have to give.

8.  Tell the people I love that I love them every time that I talk to them.

9.  Become more involved at St. Paul's.  I love the work that we do in and around the community there and I need to be more present in those activities.

10.  Complete a HALF MARATHON.  Yep, my goal is to do "A Half Mary for Proud Mary" in 2010.  For those that don't know, I am not a runner....never have been.  However, I have recently started running and I am going to do one in 2010.  I am going to fund raise for the unit that my Mom was on at KUMED.  They provide wonderful care there and I am going to do what I can to support them.

My wish for all of you is that you have a great 2010.  You make the best out of the circumstances you are given and you make sure that those you love know it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I never imagined.....

that it would hurt this badly.  I never knew before the last 5.5 months that you could have so much emotional pain that your heart hurt.  I had that feeling the day my Mom died and I have that same feeling today.  I thought that if I just stayed home and acted like it wasn't Christmas that maybe it wouldn't be so bad.  I have never been so desperately wrong in  my entire life.  With all of the beautiful words I know and am capable of weaving into a paragraph, I can't even begin to describe these feelings.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

God Works in Mysterious Ways

As I have witnessed before, God works in mysterious ways it seems.  Throughout my work as a nurse, I heard countless stories of how God was at work in other's lives with many supporting details.  I also saw it in my community involvement....and over the last few days I have witnessed my own examples.

Last weekend, I was at home with my Dad and the rest of my family.  Dad was having people over to celebrate Christmas and I had volunteered to help him prepare the food and cocktails.  On Saturday am, as I was busy in the kitchen, Dad ran out to run a few errands.  He came home in tears.  And, I soon found out why.  In the mail that day, he and I had received a package.  Inside the package was a letter and a paperback book.  The letter was from a student on my Mom's at BCCC from the mid-80s.  She had recently heard of my Mom's untimely passing and was writing to let us know what an impact my Mom had on her writing and her life.  A story that I have heard from many students over the years....However, she went on to say that she had been inspired to stick with her writing and had since written a book.  Her book is for women and is about being the woman that God wants us to be.  The book was my copy to keep.  However, the most ironic/mysterious part of the story is that her book was released on July 14, 2009, one day after my Mom passed away.  I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.  How proud my Mom would have been......I know she knows that book was released...however, I wish she would have been here to receive that package.

The other story might leave you almost as speechless as it did me.  I went to lunch today with my new boss to celebrate joining her company and do some talking about plans for next year.  Shortly after we sat down to lunch, she gave me my Christmas present.  I was surprised since I don't even officially work there yet but curious to open this beautiful box.  Before I opened the box, she told me that she had a story to tell me about my present but that I needed to see it first to understand.  At this point, I was puzzled.  I opened the box to find a pair of angel wings....and I knew exactly where they came from.  They were handmade by my Mom's god-daughter....and I had purchased some as well for Christmas presents.  However, Amy's business is still quite small and isn't in ANY stores in the Midwest.  Her business is really conducted online and at a few trunk shows.  However, my boss had randomly (or maybe not) gone to her trunk show when Amy was in town over Thanksgiving weekend.  Karen had seen the wings and decided they would be a perfect gift for me.  She went on to tell Amy about her new employee that was having a hard year and had lost her Mom and was now switching careers.  Amy thought that the story sounded very familiar and asked Karen about her employee's name.....obviously, Karen said, 'Ann Walter.'  Amy went on to tell her about our longstanding family connection.  As far as I am concerned, my Mom and God had a whole lot to do with that.  Karen had no real intention of going shopping that day, however, she found her way to the perfect gift to me....made by a family friend who currently lives in Minnesota.  As far as I am concerned, those wings have already been blessed from above.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Things I am really missing....

1.  Calling to tell my Mom about exceptionally horrific fashion don'ts
2.  Calling her alot during the day because she would be done with finals by now
3.  Calling her on my way home.....from anything
4.  Having her tell me to make sure that now it has gotten cold to make sure that I always have at least a 1/2 tank of gas
5.  Her quizzing me about what she is getting for Christmas
6.  Knowing that there won't be any little boxes from Mr. Elliott under the tree
7.  Calling her after tonight's league meeting to tell her that we raised over 560K for the community
8.  Having the opportunity to tell her about how adorable and loving Todd's dog is
9.  Telling her that I don't feel good and hearing that it will be ok
10.  Telling her what a good girl Claire has been lately
11.  Hearing her stories about all the kids that tried to convince her to pass them when they obviously EARNED a failing grade
12.  Talking to her about the sermon at church while on our way home
13.  Hearing her tell me she loved me
14.  Feeling like a normal human being

Monday, December 14, 2009

Merry Christmas, Mom.

Today was the day that I decorated at the church for Mom.  To say that it was anti-climactic would be an understatement.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

5 months later.

My Mom has been gone five months as of 109 this afternoon. 5 months....otherwise known as a lifetime. I have lived through some of the toughest and longest days of my life. At times, I have thought I wasn't going to make it. At times, I haven't wanted to make it. But, considering Mom would be pissed at me if I quit anything, I haven't. To say that priorities have shifted is an understatement.

This past week was a challenge. Dad went for another trip to the Cath Lab and ended up with another stent. It all went well and he is certainly feeling better. I am sure that most of that is from the emotional relief of knowing what the issue is and that it was fixed. And, as I said in my last post, my aunt's cancer has returned. And, on Friday, they figured out that she has a PE and DVT.....again. She has had them before, which is how they found the cancer the first time. But, luckily, she already had a filter in which will prevent a stroke. She's back on blood thinner injections and has won herself a lifetime supply of Coumadin. It's not a fun drug to be on....but if it keeps you here, then you do it.

I started back to the gym hard core this week. I had been doing a really good job at going before I had surgery and then had to take 2 mandatory weeks off after my operation. So, after the stress of this week, I got myself back there. And, because it is me, it's not like I bothered to ease back into it. Go hard or go home seems to be my theory. I am more committed to the gym these days than I ever have been. Yes, I do want to lose a little more weight. However, the more important aspect of me going to the gym is for health and fitness. I come from an ever lengthening line of rotten illnesses in my gene pool. So, I am going to do what I can to get my weight down, TRY to keep my blood pressure down, and get myself back in really good shape. My gene pool is conspiring against me so I must do what I can to try and modify it's conspiracy. And, I also have a pretty big goal in mind for next year....but I will talk about that soon.

Tomorrow is going to be a big day too. I am headed to where my Mom is buried to decorate for Christmas. That's a really odd thought. I NEVER imagined that I would be decorating my Mom's grave for Christmas at 29 years old. I am making something pretty simple....classy....with a little sparkle of course. I figure I will have a latte with her and decorate. I would much rather than she and I were sharing those lattes together but I guess that wasn't God's plan.

Despite the fact that I am not a fan of God's master plan right now, I am doing my best to do His work. I tell people I love them. I honor my Mom's memory every day in some way. I do the things that are important to me and ignore the one's that aren't. I snuggle my Dogs and kiss my wonderful husband. I send cards and emails to those that I love so they know how much I love them. And, I do what I can to take care of my Dad.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I am NOT (insert 4 letter word here) SUPERWOMAN

For almost five months, I have struggled everyday with my own rotten version of reality. I have gotten out of bed when I didn't want to, showered when I didn't feel like it, smiled many a fake smile, and driven many a mile through a curtain of tears. I have painstakingly put one foot in front of the other. Most of the time, I haven't wanted to. I have wanted to sit for hours on a small patch of grass strategically placed in front of a park bench under a tree at 40th and Main. And, each week I have sat there. Sometimes by myself, sometimes with Bryce, and more recently with the parish dog who is really good at kissing away my tears and laying down beside me.

I knew that today was going to be a rough day. It was a rough day in history...a day that will live in infamy. And, today was my own personal version of a day that will live in infamy. My Dad has been down here for days. He was here to visit and here for his stress test. When you have had as many heart attacks as he has had, you get frequent stress tests. Today was his day for his. I knew in my heart that he probably hadn't been doing well. I have been around cardiology for long enough to know that you can't live through what my Dad has been through in the past few months and make it thru unscathed. I was correct. He chose this morning to tell me that he has 'been having some chest pain.' I knew exactly what that meant. Damn it. My stupid 6th sense and expensive schooling was right. So, I did what I always do....put on my cape and assembled all the necessary troops. Dad was scheduled for a stress test, but based on his very accurate symptoms, having another heart cath would be the best option. I knew that. I have known that. However, when I saw the knowing eyes of my favorite cardiologist and he asked me how I was doing, the tears came without a second thought. I was worried. I didn't like that my Dad wasn't feeling well. I didn't like that he lives so damn far away from a good medical center. And, I hate it that he is home alone with no one to keep an eye on him. Granted, Mom occasionally went over the top. But, I understand why. She loved him more than anything and couldn't imagine letting something happen to him on her watch. So, her watch is now my watch. And, I am doing the best I can from 283 miles away. So, Dad is set up for his heart cath on Wednesday. I have hand picked the MD, the scrub tech, and the nurse as I always do. And, luckily for all of them, I am not out of Xanax. I know that he will be ok. God and his right hand Guardian Angel will watch over him. And, I have Bryce and one of the best friends a girl could ask for to watch over me.

I would like to say that that is the end. But, I am not that lucky it seems. As we were leaving the hospital, my Aunt called to check in. However, based on the tone in her voice, this wasn't the 'checking in' phone call that I was getting. Something was wrong. So, after filling her in the status of my Dad, I found out her update. Her cancer is back. Last week, she had some routine follow up labs drawn. And, upon review, her oncologist felt that things were a little off. So, he ordered a PET scan. She got the results today. Her liver is hot. Otherwise known as, she probably has tumors in her liver. So, it looks like chemo, surgery, and more chemo for her. That is how she spent most of the last 18 months...doing chemo or surgery. Now, unfortunately, it is time to do it again. And, when it's time for surgery, my plan is to head to Atlanta. I hate the idea of her going through this again without her niece, the hospital navigator and advocate, there with her. Her husband has been a champ through the first round of cancer. However, there is alot to be said for having someone else there....especially when she knows how hospitals work.

At this point, my trials feel almost comical. I just want to say, "Really God, you have to be frickin kidding me?! I have had enough of this shit to last a lifetime." However, it doesn't work like that. He is in charge and I am not. And, obviously, right now, He thinks that I am Superwoman. I am not Superwoman. And, to be real honest, I am not real sure how much more of this that I can take.

I want to crawl in a hole. I want to drink myself into a martini slumber and wake up with it all gone. I want my dad to be well. I want my aunt to be well. I want my husband's life to go back to normal. I want to feel like a human again. I want to sleep without nightmares. I want to not worry about why people are calling me when my phone rings. I want to live some semblance of a normal life. But, obviously, right now, that isn't in the cards. So, I will put on my big girl panties and my cape and do what I can to be there for the ones that need me. And, I am sending a memo to my Mom that I could use a little whatever way she feel is necessary.

The other thing that was funny/ironic about today was the song that was playing when Dad and I went to lunch. It was a good old 80s love ballad....and the lyrics went something like this..."I need you now....More than words can say, I need you now." And, I thought to myself, how damn true is that.....Mom, I need you right now. And, that was even before my day got worse....

Tomorrow will be better......right?????

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The surgery...and the Thanksgiving that wasn't..

For those of you that follow on a regular basis, you know that I went under the knife last Monday, Nov 23. Not a big deal, just getting my gallbladder removed. However, it was a much bigger deal to me than that. The weekend before was rotten. I was a rotten person to be around. My temper was short and there was little that was effective at consoling me. I was pissed I had to have surgery, I was pissed my Mom wasn't here, and I was pissed because I knew my Dad would have a hard time. So, on Monday am, my troops and I converged at the hospital. On the way there, we stopped by the church so that I could see Mom. I went by myself and sobbed for a good 5 minutes on my knees. Attention God: I love you but this is NOT fair.

We arrived at the hospital and got the ball rolling. I went back to pre op by myself to get all ready. And, as I imagined, they were busy. However, the nurse that was about to be mine was dumb enough to fight with another nurse over who had to work me up right in front of my bay. That really started it off on the right foot....come to find out, I managed to land the most disorganized nurse ever. Granted, I was no wonder patient and I openly admitted that to her. However, I was none too pleased when she couldn't get it together...All I needed was to sign my consents so I could get my IV so I could get some damn DRUGS. However, an angel arrived shortly from my anesthesia team. She had been sent by my friend who was doing my anesthesia to check on me and get me rolling. And, get me rolling she did. With her calm voice and nature, she got my IV, got me calmed down a little bit, and got me some drugs. And, by the time I rolled in to the OR, I was making jokes. She was amazing. She held my hand and she did her best to make me feel better. She knew the circumstances and the monsters in my head that I was dealing with. And, based on how she treated me, I would venture a guess that either she has lost her Mom or she is exceptionally close to her like I was because she got it. And, my hand picked anesthesiologist provided amazing care as well. He was kind enough to not harass me as much as he normally does and to call my husband from the OR. I am not sure what I would have done without them. My surgeon also did fine work. My scars are going to be small and my ability to eat has been restored.

My dad was a champ. I know it was incredibly hard to be there for me without my Mom there for him. That was how they did things...they were there for each other. And, after my surgery was complete, he went to tell her that everything went ok. She already knew, but I know she appreciated my Dad's visit.

I was lucky enough to spend my days of recovery surrounded by friends. One of my friends was with me every single day until Thanksgiving. She kept me company, held my hand, rubbed my back, and tried to do all of those things my Mom would have. And, my friend Wilma was an amazing supervisor. I needed a little supervision....and her excellent nursing knowledge and care. As always, she came through with flying colors.

My Thanksgiving.....well, it wasn't. There was nothing about that day that made it seem like Thanksgiving. My Dad stayed in La Crosse so that he could be with my grandma and because he had a funeral service to attend on Saturday. My aunt spent the week at their place in Florida. And, Bryce and I spent it here. We went to church on Thurs am and stayed after to help serve dinner at the meal provided for our pantry patrons. Church was hard. I wasn't feeling thankful and I couldn't focus. However, one of the other members of the parish reached out to me. She came over during 'the peace' and told me that she understood that I was struggling and wanted me to keep going. Her husband died suddenly a few years ago and he is buried in the yard there as well. She understands what I am going through. And, she told me that I could slug anyone to gave me the platitude about 'just getting through the firsts' of everything....the first bday, the first holidays...all the milestones. She told me what I suspected, it doesn't get easier, you just do it....however you can.

I enjoyed visiting with her while we served downstairs as well. She's kind of an interesting gal. But, she gets it. She understands and she is now part of my army. I have a feeling I will need her and everyone else who has enlisted in the coming weeks.

My best description of Thanksgiving is a little odd. But, I felt like I was watching from above. I felt like I was observing someone else's life and I wasn't participating. I was an outsider. I would assume that Christmas will be much the same way.

I know I have a lot to be thankful for...however, when you are missing someone so much it hurts, that's hard to put in perspective.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Right Smack Dab in the Face

Today has officially been one of those days that slapped me in the face before I ever even managed to get out of bed. I know that because I remember just feeling snarly for absolutely no reason this am before I got up. It didn't take me long to figure out what the problem was. I miss my Mom ALOT today.

Yesterday was a day for the short list of good days. I got alot done around the house, ran some errands, felt productive, and emotionally felt good. I felt like I was going to win and that maybe this whole surgery and holiday thing would be manageable....then I met today. Today means that I don't really care of face either. I will take a few good rounds of sedation. I don't want to Christmas shop, I don't feel like it. I don't want to think about Thanksgiving next week. And, I sure as hell don't want to think about walking through the doors of 3901 Rainbow next Monday without my Mom by my side.

For those of you that aren't in healthcare, those of us that are, are NOT good patients. We know too damn much and have too many in, you can't start my IV there...and I will select my own anesthesiologist (which I have done). We are control freaks and being in a hospital and not being in control of what is going on is like a bad alcoholic without a drink. We are beside ourselves. But to pull from an AA mantra...I should just 'let go and let God." I'll try that, but I have a feeling it will be after quite a few tears. Luckily, I have a troops from my army joining me at the hospital....luckily, they are smart enough to know what will likely happen. I also hate what I know will happen there as well. Staff are going to think that I am just being a big baby because I am having surgery. Things like...."Good God, she's a nurse, doesn't she know this is no big deal?" will surely be said under someone's breath. However, I am not going to worry about those people. Screw them. This nurse has had a hell of a year so even a minor surgery feels monumental.

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I have tried to keep reminding myself that I have alot to be thankful for. I was able to quit a job that I hated. I am married to someone who obviously loves me unconditionally. I have two wonderful dogs...even though I occasionally want to beat them. I have some amazing friends. Thanks to accupuncture, right now, my migraines are under control. My dad will be moving to KC soon. However, in the midst of all of those things, at times, I don't feel thankful at all. I feel resentful. Why do I have to be the one that has to do this? Why do I have to wake up every morning and tell myself that today is going to be a better day and that my Mom is in a better place. I am glad she is there...but I am not glad that I can't talk to her.

Today, I attempted to run errands. One of them was a stop at Hallmark for some birthday cards and some sympathy ones too. They are the first sympathy cards that I have attempted to buy since my Mom died and it didn't go very well. I couldn't even stand in front of that section without crying. I was unable to even open one. I know what they all say and none of it brings a bit of comfort to the person getting it. The comfort comes from knowing that someone else is remembering your loved one and that you are in their prayers. So, I didn't buy any sympathy cards. I couldn't do it. I will send a note instead. As for the birthday cards, I would have thought that would have been easier. Wrong again. It wasn't. I needed one for a good girlfriend of mine and my aunt. So, I went to the "For Her" section. I probably won't ever go back to it. It was DOMINATED by cards for Mom's and daughter's. All I could do was think that I would never buy a For Mom card again and that I would never be getting a For Daughter card from my Mom again. It was an entire 5 foot physical reminder of my pain. And, I wanted to rip it down.

I have finally figured out why I was unable to really Christmas shop in Chicago. I went there with hopes that the change of scenery would make Christmas shopping easier. However, throughout the weekend, I just couldn't get myself worked up to it. I know why. I basically called my Mom for a pre or post purchase stamp of approval on my gifts. Not that I can't make a decision, I can. I just liked hearing that someone else thought my idea was cool/fun/they would love it. And, she loved hearing about the people out shopping, what was on sale, and what I found for me. So, I am figuring out a different solution for Christmas this year.

I hate grief. It is one mean bastard. It lets you go along thinking that you might make it and then manages to knock you right back down again when you least expect it. It makes you doubt yourself. It makes you doubt your ability to function normally.

So, that's where I am today...wondering how I am going to put my right foot in front of my left. And, if I will be able to sleep tonight without all those rotten dreams that keep plaguing me.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Getting my shit together....while fighting the silent war

On Friday, I went to the doctor in an attempt to figure what the hell is going on with my body. For the last month, I have been sick. Not just one issue....multiple issues. And, I am sick of feeling like crap all of the time. Life was hard enough when my body wasn't's even harder now. So, rather than continuing to self medicate and diagnose, I went to the doctor. And, while I was sitting in the lab getting my blood drawn, I had an interesting conversation with the phlebotomist. She noticed that I was in scrubs so, of course, she asked where I worked. I told her, and that I would only be doing that for four more days. She asked what I would be doing after that.... Without even thinking, I responded, 'getting my shit together." As you can imagine, she had no idea how to take that or what to say....insert awkward silence here. Of course, then I have to analyze my gut response. That is exactly what I am going to do. In many ways, my life has been in some form of turmoil or disarray for the past year. I was planning a wedding, working on moving out of my home, dealing with my Mom's cancer diagnosis, her death, moving, selling my home, and now facing a whole host of illnesses. Needless to say, if you live through all of that, at some point, you wake up and wonder what the hell is going on. That is where I am.

I can't wait to be done working. I am sick of my trained monkey position and the ridiculous bullshit that goes on where I work. I am ready to get my life figured out. I am ready to get organized again and figure out how I am going to spend my valuable time. I need stability and some semblance of normal. I know I still won't have that for a long time, however, I would like to create some circumstances that maybe, just maybe, resemble a stable and normal life. I am ready to dedicate my life to doing things that are important to me and trying to take care of me...and the ones I love too. This control freak is ready to get a handle on things again.....all while continuing to fight my own, often silent, war.

I have to come to the realization that my grief has become a silent war. Over the last week, I have often felt trapped in my mind again. I am missing my Mom horribly again. Most of it has to do with the fact that I have been sick. I have never had a long term sick stretch without the comfort of my Mom...Let me just tell you, this sucks. I am surrounded by concerned, loving people yet none of them are able to bring me the level of comfort that my Mom did. By this stage of the game, she would have been to KC to see for herself what was going on. She would have taken care of me and made me feel better.

I am also missing her because these damn holidays are coming whether I want them to or not. To be honest, I don't want to see them. In fact, if sedation through January were an option, I would take that. However, it's not about to happen like that. By the grace of God, I will make it through. I only know that because I have lived through the last 112 days. But, I also don't want to see the next 45. I don't want to Christmas shop without her. I don't want to have Thanksgiving without her. And, I don't want to witness the first weekend in December. This will be the first year that she and my Dad will not do their Christmas shopping in KC that weekend.

In my silent war, I won a victory this weekend. We were at the KU/KSU game in Manhattan. At one point, yesterday am, I wasn't really sure we were going to make it. My body was so mad at me, I wasn't sure how I was going to make it to the game. However, I made it...we were going to try and do something fun and act like life was normal. Once we were there, we spent the day with part of my Dad's family. We talked and tailgated and I pretended that life was good. Especially when someone I hadn't seen since my Mom's death commented on her black pearl that I wear. We had been together for hours and she had yet to say anything to me about the events of the last 4 months...I guess it's just easier to ignore it...or forget about it. However, when she commented on my necklace, I pointed out that of course, it had been my Mom's. Insert her awkwardness here...followed by many comments that highlighted that. In my head, I wanted to bawl. I wanted to sit down and bawl right in the middle of the East parking lot. Yes, damn it, this is all I have left of her. I have this beautiful necklace and I don't have her. I don't have my best friend and I would give ANYTHING to have her back. And, I don't have her to tell me that everything is going to be ok.

Her absence struck me like that many times yesterday. I had so many things to tell her about.

One of the few moments of comfort in my head was granted by my cousin's amazing girlfriend. She has been through this war too.....not with the death of her Mom, but with her share of loss. And, she did her best to make me feel loved and comforted yesterday. She understood what was going on my head that no one could see. She gave me hugs because she knew I was hurting and a great new book to read to help me get through. With her help, I had a victory yesterday. I made it through another awkward social experience.

This week will be my last week as a practicing nurse for a while....and I am ok with that. I do not have the physical or more importantly, the emotional stamina to take care of others. My goal is to just make it through...make it through without a major meltdown.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Farewell, Florence....

This is a blog entry that I have been wanting to write for some time....but, unfortunately, I wasn't able to until all the appropriate ducks were in a row....

I quit my job last week. Actually, I didn't just quit my job, I left my career. Yep, no more Florence Nightingale for me. For some of you, this might come as a shock and for others of you, you really aren't that surprised. While nursing has always been part of my identity, it has not been a good fit for me for a while. While I love taking care of others, there are so many circumstances that get in the way of being a good nurse. Politics, insurance, a dysfunctional system, irrational patients, and a few cantankerous physicians just to name a few. It had gotten to a point where I no longer felt like I was making a difference and I felt as though I was functioning at the same level as a trained monkey. While I have significantly more education than a monkey, one could of easily done my current job. And, each week, something new came up at my company. Someone else got fired, they changed the rules again, or the vixen from HR opened her mouth. For those of you that aren't aware, I am not a fan of our HR department. During the short illness and subsequent death of my Mom, they were less than helpful or supportive. In fact, they went so far as to ask me in an email if someone else could just take care of my Mom so I didn't have to miss work. Excuse me?! And, then, while I was off following her death, they were less than flexible about my return to work, my hours, and my pay.....they didn't pay me for most of the time that I was off. Their rationale was that I couldn't use my accumulated sick time to take care of a family member b/c I was less than a month shy of my anniversary. Had it been 20 something days later, I would have been able to use it. It amazes me that they wonder why people continue to resign from the company. They do not support their staff therefore I don't see how they can expect any loyalty. Luckily for me, I am getting out.

I have had lots of emotions around quitting my job. I was a little nervous about it a couple of days before. However, I soon got over that. I knew that it was the right choice for me. I am not happy and life is too damn short to not be happy. Part of me wondered if it was the right choice b/c I know that my Mom was not happy with her work environment either....yet, she kept on going. However, the difference was, she loved teaching. Right now, I don't love being a nurse. I do not like the disrespect that I am shown b/c "you are JUST a nurse." I will be happy to not be hearing that on a regular basis. And, it has been almost impossible to take care of others since my Mom's death. I am fine with taking care of my family and friends but it is so hard to take care of others.....especially when they don't have any regard for the help I am trying to give.

I know that it would have been an interesting conversation with my Mom about quitting nursing. She was so proud that I am a nurse. But, I know that she would understand why I felt I had to do it. She would probably tell me that if she had had the chance to teach somewhere else, she would have long since left BCCC. And, she would have been proud of me that I had the courage to do it. I will just tell you, you don't quit your career without some courage. And, it would have taken courage to tell her....believe me. I know there would have been some interesting comments. However, she would have come around. She would have come around b/c she knows that the things that make me happy are not the things I have ever gotten paid for. It is doing things for Junior League, volunteering in the community, being involved at St. Paul's, and taking care of the things that are important to me. She would be proud of me for doing those things b/c that is how I want to continue making a difference.

Alright...for some reason...just don't feel like writing anymore. However, my absence won't be so long....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The art of marriage's been awhile since I have written. To be honest, my mom's birthday and the cleaning of her closet wore me out....And, while I have had alot to write about, some of it isn't for right now....

Over the last week, I have contemplated the meaning of a good marriage. We have been married for four months, so I am sure that makes me an expert on good marriages. Although I could easily contend that we have been through more in our four short months than most people in the first four years. I, unfortunately, know a couple of people who have experienced or are about to experience a divorce. Of the people I know that are going through or have been through that life changing event, none have been attributed to abuse or adultery. However, the common theme is that they were married to the wrong person. The men that they married are not bad people. But, they weren't the right people for them. They got along well, but they didn't understand each other, or what was necessary to work together. And, while marriage and relationships involve sacrifice, it's also about self preservation. One of the many promises my parents made Bryce make was that he would love me for who I was. That meant, putting up with my sarcasm, my shopping, my crazy little dog, my impatience, my phone habit, and everything else that goes along with me. He promised them that he would never try to change me. And, he hasn't.

I have seen my own marriage at its finest over the last week. For those of you that don't know, I have the damn swine flu....and pneumonia. I am not sure where I picked this crap up, but I can assure it is one of the more horrible illnesses that I have had. I have felt like shit since Wednesday night. So, because I felt so bad, I didn't go to work on Thursday or Friday. And, because Bryce was really concerned about me, he stayed home too. He stayed home to take care of me despite the fact that I was refusing to go to the doctor because I could treat whatever I myself of course. I do have a master's degree in nursing and a Dad who is a pharmacist....No need to go the MD. He had brought me food, drinks, various meds, and whatever else I needed at the time. He has taken care of the dogs and kept me company. And, last night, when my friend Wilma finally convinced me that I needed to be seen based on my chest discomfort and shortness of breath....he drove my very scary self, to Urgent Care at KU. In under half an hour, I was diagnosed with Flu A/H1N1 and pneumonia. And, then he drove me around getting my meds and food...from Panera. Bryce despises Panera. Yet, it sounded good to me, so he went in. And, then, when we made it home, I didn't eat it, because it didn't taste very good to me.

Today, after a trip to Costco, he left my favorite drink from Sonic on the bedside table for me for when I woke up. I have no idea how long my nap was but I am guessing it was close to 3 hours. This was after he went to Starbucks for my latte this am....once again, BW doesn't do Starbucks either.

Marriages are about give and take. And, Bryce has done more giving than most. He has taken care of me from day 1. He and I are a good fit. We do what it takes to take care of each other. We are willing to make sacrifices. We are willing to do what it takes to make this work....forever. Like I said, I am no expert on marriages. But, I am pretty damn proud of the one I have.

Someday, Bryce will need me to take care of him. And, I will do it without complaint because I love him beyond belief and I couldn't imagine my life without him by my side.

As for my pig will eventually go away. And, I can't wait for that. I am over having to use an inhaler every couple of hours to breath, the exhaustion, and the quarantine. But, per my doctor, can't go anywhere until I have been fever free for greater than as of now, I still can't go in public. Yuck.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Closet cleaning...and a little about priorities

Last weekend, Bryce and I made a trip to La Crosse so that I could begin the closet cleaning proceess. For those of you that knew my mom, you know this was not an easy task. I got my clothes horse ways from both of my parents so the idea of going through her closet was a very daunting task. How was I ever going to make through all the drawers and multiple closets?? So, I started with the easy stuff...t shirts....casual stuff....countless black or white long sleeved tshirts... That seemed be the private joke between my mom and I. Each season, we had to get new black and white t shirts because our others probably looked worn...Well, nothing of my mom's had really ever looked I found quite a collection of those. Don't worry, I chose to replenish my own stock. Luckily for me, my aunt was in town last weekend as well so she was able to provide some much needed moral support. And, I was lucky enough to have one of my best friend's come over to do the same. They helped me through it. I actually did pretty well until I found a sweater/jacket that she had worn quite a bit before I got married. Because it was her, it wasn't dirty after being worn. So, it was hanging in the closet, and it smelled like her. Not sure really how to describe that smell, but it smelled like her. Right now, I am not sure if it is going to get washed or not. And, because she and I wore the same size most of the time, I have ALOT of new clothes. She had lots of things that I loved and most were ablet o fit me. So, I brought them home. My closet will now be full of some great Armani pieces and some other classics. Getting dressed is even harder now than it was before.
Going through her clothes has certainly had a much longer lasting effect that I had planned on. I have a very severe case of no motivation this week. I can't seem to make myself do anything...or if it does get done, it isn't in a timely manner. I have done a lot of sitting. And, I know why. Going through her closet means that she isn't coming back. I brought home her clothes because she doesn't need them. I have all of those beautiful things because she is gone. And, much like any of the other things of hers that I have now....I wish I didn't have them. I would give them all away to have my mom back. And, I want her back for good. I don't understand those people that wish for just one more day with their loved one. That wouldn't help. One more day will not fix my loneliness for my best friend.
Speaking of good friends...I observed a very valuable lesson again this week. You have to make your friendships with your good friends a priority. Good friends, that are with you through your worst, do not come along everyday. Therefore, when you are lucky enough to have a friend like that, you damn well better be thankful and do what you can to nurture that. It takes work and it's often about making choices. Choose what is important to you and take care of it. Don't let it go by the wayside for the latest passing trend.

I decided that since Mom died I had to Christmas shop somewhere other than places I did it with my Mom....usually she was on the phone with me while I did mine, if we weren't together. So, not long after she died, I decided it was Chicago with my friend and we started talking about plans. My friend and I both needed the break after a pretty rotten summer for both of us. So, shopping and a girl's weekend sounded like a great idea. Unfortunately, my travel partner made other plans....rather than choosing her friend's much needed girl's weekend (for both), she chose a weekend away with a new love interest... No, I am not jealous about her choosing someone else over me. I could care less about that. However, I don't like choosing to spend a weekend with a new love interest over a friend you had long term plans with....a friend who has been there when you needed her because your days have been pretty darn dark too. However, one of my other amazing friends knows me well enough to know how difficult the next couple of months will be. So, when I was without a travel buddy she said that she would make the arrangements necessary so that she could go. She's giving up time with her son, the extra money from her part time job that helps her pay for grad school, and the class she teaches on Friday because she knew that I needed her. And, I love her for that. She is amazing.
Life is about taking care of each other. Telling your friends that you love them and showing them how much. Taking care of your spouse when they need it, and even when they don't. It's about thanking others for busting their hump to make your day better. And, it's also about taking care of yourself. Doing what you can to make your own day better...For some of us, that means sitting there and staring and holding onto your crazy little dog who is so darned in tuned to your emotions.
Bottom line...take care of each other because it's your responsibility.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Your birthday..without you.

Damn it. That is how I felt most of the day today. Why in God's name do I have to be here, celebrating her birthday without her?! I got very little sleep last night and was prepared to face the day with everything I had. I was bound and determined that I would not sob the entire day. I booked myself full of errands and activities that would celebrate her. I started at the HyVee floral department picking up flowers for her. She was never really into pink roses, but I thought they were beautiful and red was entirely too cliche. My next stop was Starbucks....she would go there if she could on her day. After my trip for a latte, it was time to go to KU. I went to the hospital today to honor her birthday. The bad coffee we were served while Mom was there brought us alot of comfort. So, in honor of her birthday, I took much better coffee up to the Neuro ICU....wrapped up of course. It will help someone else. Unfortunately, the wonderful manager that I was supposed to visit wasn't there, one of her little ones was sick and she was at home. Once again, damn it. I really needed to see her. To make up for it, I made trips around the hospital to see others that I love there.

While this all sounds fairly benign, I am leaving out a large elephant. As I was parking in the KU garage, my Dad called with news. Mr. Elliott passed away this am. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. For those of you who have no idea who he is, Mr. Elliott was almost family. My Dad worked in Mr. Elliott's jewelry store while he was in school at K-State. Mr. Elliott was still in business at the age of 89, He is responsible for the beautiful diamond that Bryce gave me and almost every single piece of jewelry that my Mom received. He had an incredible eye and was a classy man. In some ways, he was like a grandfather to me. He was certainly a wonderful example for my dad. And, as a student at KSU, I used to go visit him on a regular basis. maybe I wanted to see all the jewels, but I also wanted to see him. I loved sitting in his office and hearing his latest stories. The most heartbreaking part of his death today is that his granddaughter (who he raised) gets married on Saturday. Shannon and I are close to the same age and unfortunately, now we are in the same boat. The reassuring part of this unfortunate story is that I know that Mom was waiting for him when he arrived this am. In my mind, I see her standing behind St. Peter saying, "Hey should really see the diamonds here..." And, he would say.." Oh Mary, you doll, they will look wonderful on you." On some level, I think it is pretty fitting that they are in heaven together. This was the first birthday in over 40 years that something from Mr. Elliott was not a consideration for my Mom from my Dad. So, I would like to think that Mr. Elliott took care of that today shortly after his arrival.

The rest of today was an interesting mix of emotions....and lots of tears. I went to church with a friend of Mom's today at noon. I always feel better when I am there. I am close to God and close to Mom. And, Stan actually offers healing prayers on Thursdays. Needless to say, I practically ran to the altar for that one. As I kneeled before him, I sobbed. Part of it was wishing that I didn't feel so broken and the other part of it was glad that I was there asking God for help. He will help me. But, in my classic form, I forgot my kleenex even though I knew there would be tears. Mom would have gotten me for that one. Thankfully, Ellen was there with me to help on that front...She's a Mom so she always has kleenex.

To be honest, I am emotionally spent. At this point, I don't even feel like writing anymore tonight. So, I'm calling it a night. The summary is: today sucked on a variety of levels. I miss my Mom.

God Given Talents...

Today was a day where I was able to witness the God given talents of many. My day was filled with various errands but on some level, today was a day of amazement. I had a really great session with my therapist. She is so capable and gifted when it comes to relating to, and encouraging me. Today, we talked alot about my career. She knows that I am struggling to find fulfillment in my current job and my life as a nurse. The average person would think that a career as a nurse would be incredibly satisfying. Unfortunately, right now, it isn't. I don't have those warm, fuzzy feelings about nursing that I am supposed to have. Everything seems to be able to get in the way of being a 'good' nurse. Politics, lack of resources, and non compliant patients to name a few. we talked about how I am going to fix that. At this point, I am not sure what the answer is, but I at least have a plan to figure it out. When I start figuring it out...I will let you know.

One of my friends really impressed me this afternoon. She is unfortunately out of work right now. Lucky for her, she was released out of a rotten, unfulfilling job. And, because she is a smart woman, she has her finances in order and saved like crazy for the worst. Yeah for her. However, while that is admirable, that is not what impressed me the most. My friend is one of those people who is really in touch with who she is. She knows what is important in life and what isn't. She knows how to be a good friend and how to listen or respond when you need her to. She recognizes her weaknesses and busts her butt to fix them. And, she's about to take a huge risk. She has previously worked with a life coach and has now decided that she needs to get certified as well. She's going to be damn good at it. She knows what it takes to be happy...and not in the sense of "I drive a Honda Odyssey and lives in my beige house in the burbs." She understands that money can't fix all your problems and that good relationships are worth fighting for. She's going to get out of corporate America and make a difference. And, I would have to say that she has pretty darn good chance of being successful. She will be independently employed and will be able to avoid lots of the ever present bulls---. She is the kind of person I would recommend anyone else to for fixing their life. I am proud of her.

Today was also my first accupuncture treatment in a while. And, I am so glad that I was able to go today. I had started going last spring in a last ditch effort to help my migraines and some of my endometriosis issues. After a few treatments, I really felt like it was starting to make a difference. And, based on all of the issues that I have been having, it was time to go back. Bob, my accupuncturist, amazes me. I told him very little about the last few months and he was able to name off a litany of symptoms that I have been having by looking at my tongue and feeling my in the heck does he do that!?!?! So, I got needled for an hour and then given my herbs to do a little more work on this 'hot' system of mine. My liver and heart are really hot and we need to cool them down. Ok Bob...if you say so, and it makes me feel better, sign me up.

Tonight, however, was the true display of God given talents. A friend of mine was unable to use her Dave Matthews Band tickets for tonight. So, I decided to take two off her hands. DMB is one of the few bands that Bryce and I agree on. For the most part, we have opposite taste in in, he likes yelling and screaming with rotten lyrics, and I don't. However, we both love DMB. Those guys are amazing. Everyone of the seven men in the band is incredibly talented. I could listen to his drummer (solo) for hours. He is are the other members of the band. Those men are so gifted and so blessed to be doing what they love. You can see it in their face when they play. They LOVE what they are doing and they are lucky enough to get paid to do it. As an added bonus, we were also able to see a true American legend perform with him. The Willie Nelson. Ok, so most of you could probably care less about Willie, or think he's crazy. Willie walks to the beat of his own drummer. And, he plays one hell of a guitar. It was so fun to see him tonight as well as see him do Gravedigger with Dave. It was so nice to spend an evening not worrying about the next house project, running errands, and thinking about something else other than putting one foot in front of the other. Tonight I was moving some sort of a dance motion. Although my moves were not nearly as special as the old stoner that was sitting in front of us....that old boy had just gotten off of the Reefer Express.

Alright, it's after 1. Tomorrow (today, now) is Mom's birthday and I will be very busy celebrating in her honor all day tomorrow. I have alot of love to spread and probably quite a few tears. I have a feeling that she's having a big party tomorrow too. It would probably involve a few cocktails, a few smokes, a good steak ( well done---NOOOO pink), a great pair of shoes, and a little Neil Diamond.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Getting things done...

This last week seems to have been the week for getting things done....Most of it happened over the weekend, but I will let the whole week take credit. On Saturday, we sold my Passat. It wasn't really too painful because we sold it to CarMax. However, it was getting there that seemed to be our problem. Once we arrived, she was sold in under 45 minutes. On Saturday, I managed two social functions by myself. It was ok. Thank goodness for cocktails at both, otherwise I am pretty sure my nerves would have gotten the best of me. My favorite part was walking into Banana two hours before and telling the clerk that I needed something to wear for a bridal shower in 2 hours and she was in charge of picking it out. Had my Mom still been here, she and I would have done it weeks ago. However, things are me waiting till the last minute to buy something. And, on the theme of getting things done, I got a good offer on the house on Sunday night. We can now translate that to, There is a contract pending on the City House. I think Mom did it....just listen the scenario and you might agree too. I had run up to Nordstrom's to pick up something for my aunt. Since I was already there, I decided to look around. Nope, not nearly as much fun without my Mom. And, as usual, I made a quick peruse of the shoes. However, Steve wasn't working so I couldn't dare give the commission to someone else. But, I had decided that I really wanted some brown boots. I've never had brown ones and decided they were necessary. So, I thought that maybe I should just try some on and then could come back to buy them from Steve. Well....this very sweet girl got them for me and I loved the boots. So, I decided to buy them anyway....she looked like she might be in college, or just out, so she might need the money too. As I left to walk out of the store, I noticed I had a voicemail. It was the realtor for the man who had looked at my house 3x and had previously low balled me. He had agreed to my terms. He wanted the house....and the message was left while I was in the shoe section at Nordstrom. While you might not see the connection, I do. I needed to sell my house and I found out that I did while I was shopping for shoes in Nordstrom....something my Mom and I always did together. In some ways, I think she paid for those boots.

As happy as I am to sell the house, somethings about the circumstances frustrate me. As is tradition in our family, we like to rationalize our shopping....for example, the Cinco de Mayo present my Dad bought me a few years ago when we were in Halls...Last I checked, we are not Mesican. (yes, I did intentionally spell it that way). Selling my house would have been another classic great excuse for shopping. With my Mom, I would most certainly have bought myself a "congratulations to me for selling my house' present. She would have helped me pick it out. And, because my finances suddenly look very bright and shiny, I would have wanted to buy her a little something too to celebrate....something to show her how much I appreciated her and buy her prezzie b/c I could....without stressing about money.

This weekend, we are headed to La Crosse. We are going out to see my Dad, and my aunt, because she is visiting. And, I am going to start going through Mom's clothes. For those of you that knew her, you can only imagine what a daunting task that will be. I will probably end up keeping quite a few things for me....But, those things that I don't keep, I have a special purpose for. A friend of my Mom's in Kansas City has offered to help me sell her good stuff that I don't want to keep. I originally wanted to have a party and do it myself. Then, I woke up. Um yeah, not going to happen...I would surely go postal on someone who wanted a 'deal'. After the sale is over, we are going to contribute the money raised to her memorial at the hospital at home. There, I know it will go to benefit many. Who knows, maybe she will end up with her own wing?!

This week is going ok so far. My anxiety level is pretty high and has been since last week. It's not really helping my sleep patterns, but thanks to some good chemistry, I slept for 12 hours on Friday night. That felt so good. The only probably with that is that for quite a few nights after that, it doesn't happen again. Oh well...I have quite a few things planned this week to keep me busy and try to keep my mind occupied. I have loaded up her birthday with quite a few activities....yes, most of them involve cocktails.

Well, I am out of the mood of writing all of a sudden. So, no need to fill this with crap. But, believe me, there will be lots more later this week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Knowing the right thing to say...

Most people don't have any idea what to say to me....and that's a-ok with me. I don't have any idea how to accurately describe this to most of them either. However, this am, I was greeted with the perfect thing to say. A friend of mine who tends to be one of the most comical people I know...she's one of the best at making me laugh out loud, sent me a note. It simply said, " I don't even know what to say." However, she attached a video for a song. It was a song I hadn't ever heard, but the damn thing is perfect. I have the songs that remind me of my Mom, the songs that were hers. But, I didn't have a song yet that was mine. Now, I do.

The song is called....Address in the Stars by Caitlin and Will.

Monday, September 21, 2009

So I thought I liked weekends....

Each week, I look forward to the weekend.. I am free of work and all of its accompanying crap and I am free to do as I please. Granted, the last few months have been spent doing 'house projects' but no one is checking on that means freedom. However, this past weekend, I was a prisoner...of my own mind. Friday started as a normal Friday...this is annoying....only a couple hours left....thank God it's the weekend. However, this past Friday was more annoying than most. At my office, there is plenty of political and other annoying BS to go around right now related to the recent sale of my office practice. And, for some reason, I felt that Friday was particularly annoying. I would love to elaborate, but it's probably in my best interest not to. Despite my attempts to calm myself down, it just seemed to keep escalating. And, unfortunately, those emotions made me miss my Mom even more. She always had a knack for being able to calm me down. And, not being able to call her was the worst....All of sudden, everything I did became incredibly overwhelming...probably b/c nothing was going the way it was supposed to anyway. And, I became inconsolable. Finally, I was able to get out of there in a trail of tears and swam through it the whole way home. Driving home at 6 o'clock on a Friday night balling in your car alone is about the loneliest you can be. You don't exactly want to call your friends when you are inconsolable when chances are they are getting ready to roll out to a fun night out. And, when your poor hubby is knocked out by allergies, you can't cry on his shoulder either. So, you begin to come to the conclusion that you are not able to do this. This is not going to be possible. I cannot live without my mom. No previous coping mechanism made things better. It was one of many days where I questioned how on God's green earth I am going to be able to do this. To make it even more painful for me was when I heard my Dad smoking while he talked to me on the phone. Excuse me?! For someone that has had 5 heart attacks, that is a death wish. He thinks it's a coping mechanism. He had promised me when he was down here last week that he wouldn't be smoking anymore. Yes, I realize it is an addiction, but for him, it is also a choice between life and death. Hopefully, he will make the right choice. However, it is certainly out of my control...but don't worry, he knows how I feel about it.

The unfortunate part about Friday was that it continued into Saturday too. The little sleep I was able to get probably didn't really help the situation, but Saturday was ugly. It was yet another day that I wanted to pull the eject handle on. A day spent filled with tears over stories I couldn't tell my Mom or comfort that she was not able to provide. That day, I thought alot about the day before she had her stroke. On that Thursday, she was inconsolable, as anxious as I had ever seen her. Nothing was able to calm her down or to make her feel better. And, I finally know why. Yes, she felt horrible, she was having pain. However, on a subconscious level, she knew what was about to happen and she was struggling with what would happen after leaving Dad and I. She knew that I would suffer. She knew that I would try to be strong, but that all I wanted was my Mom to still be here to take care of me when I needed 29 years old. She knew that no matter how wonderful my friends, no one would ever be able to provide the level of comfort that she was able to provide. However, she must have had alot of faith.. Faith that with God's help, I would be able to make it.

In an attempt to make Saturday better, I stopped by to see one of my good friends. She works part time and stays home with her 3 wonderful boys. Her oldest was the ring bearer in our wedding. Since I was stopping to see her, I decided that the boys need balloons since I had to get some anyway for the City House open house. Those boys acted like I had given them a million dollars when I walked in with balloons. Despite the fact that I was looking exceptionally lovely...bad hair, puffy eyes, obviously sleep deprived...those kids thought I was wonderful. While I was glad to see her and get to chat, I was probably more affected by her children. At one point, her middle child (3) was very upset. And, much like myself as a child, he went to get his blanket for comfort...and, wanted to be near his mom. On a very basic level, I probably understood that need better than anyone. I needed the same thing. I needed to sit next to my own mom with my 29 year old blanket she made for me ( I still have it) and to feel better. And, when her oldest child was a punk to his youngest brother, his mom made him apologize to him. As I watched the whole interaction, I watched as Thomas told his brother that he was sorry...and he gave him a make him feel better. And, right there, I wondered how I was ever going to be that good of a Mom since I didn't have my own. I am not going to have her here to help me with all of the tricks that you need to know about kids....especially smart ones....or to be able to call and tell her how sweet my oldest was when he hugged his brother to say he was sorry.

Sunday was comparable...but different. Sunday, I was able to go see my Mom. I went to church as usual that morning and practically ran to the church yard to see her following church. And, as I sat there on the ground next to her, I sobbed. I sobbed because it was so incredibly unfair that I had to come see her here. Why couldn't I be meeting her at the Chanel counter or the shoes in Nordstrom? Why wasn't I able to call her on the phone to tell her about the sermon?? Although, I told her about that sermon during wasn't Todd and it wasn't very good.....I am pretty sure that the priest that delivered Sunday's sermon missed her public speaking class at seminary. She was all screwed up on her emphasis and phrasing....Mom would not have been happy.

I have also been missing one of her annoying habits lately too. I have been having a horrible time with my allergies for the past couple of weeks. And, had she still been alive, the first time I would have called with an ounce of congestion, she would have given me the speech about blowing my nose. "where's your kleenex?" "aren't you going to blow your nose" Mom, I just did....."Well, there is obviously still something in there." Oh well...Bryce and I are trying to manage our snotty noses.

As many of you know, my house (the City house) is on the market. And, we got an offer this weekend. So, right now, I am trying to negotiate the contract. I thought that when I got an offer on my house that I would be elated. Nope....just like everything else these days, not quite how I thought it would be. I was glad...but also very sad. It means I am really getting rid of that house. I am sure I will get over though very soon when I don't have that automatic withdrawal coming out....Since I thought of that however, I immediately went back to my usual thinking...what should I buy myself with the extra money to celebrate?! This is where it gets scary......Not sure I really need to buy anything. I have acquired so many wonderful things from my Mom that I am not sure I really need anything else.

Speaking of wonderful things from her collection... I have a new favorite piece of jewelry. I have been wearing her opera length pearls alot. Love them. And, they go with everything.

I am hopeful that things might get better this week...but I am not holding my breath. Her birthday is next week and I think that is part of my anxiety. I have her birthday presents picked out already, they will just be going to different people this year.

Alright...that is the update for today. I must get back to snuggling with Claire and Bryce on the couch with MNF. It's so romantic with our piles of kleenexes.....such a nice touch.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My first go at blogging

As you can see, many of these posts are written as letters. In the beginning, I decided that email was the best way to communicate with friends and loved ones. However, after much persuasion from good friends, I was convinced to blog. Thanks to my Mom, I am a good writer. And, maybe my writing will help someone else who is going through the same thing. That is my hope....I hope that I am able to provide some level of perspective on the whole grief process. I will assure you, it is ugly most of the time. I have not gotten to part which is easier. I continue to ask God how I am going to do this. But, each day, He gives me the strength to get out of bed...and somedays that has to be enough to satisfy me. There are also quite a few comical times as well. Hopefully, you will see the humor in my sarcasm. And, you will be wowed by my amazing support system....the leader of that pack being my husband, Bryce.

So, I am sure there is a learning curve to this whole process. Hopefully, I will catch the hang of all this soon.

Catharsis, comfort,and a few carats

Today is the 2 month anniversary of my mom's death. On some level, it seems like she has been gone forever, and on another level, the emotions of that day continue to be incredibly raw. Today is also the 3 month anniversary of our marriage. In many ways, I feel that our marriage is much more mature than some people after 5 years. On some level, I am angry that we lost that honeymoon period; however, I am thankful that I have the marriage that I do. I would not be able to get through most days if it were not for Bryce. He is my rock and my comfort.

Since my last update, I have come to some new realizations. Catharsis is necessary on a daily basis. In the last couple of weeks, I have felt the need to purge certain things from my life. I feel the need to purge all things that are no longer necessary, cause me heartache, or relationships that are no longer loving/supportive. Unfortunately, some of these relationships, I am not able to Hopefully soon, I will be able to do that as well. Last weekend, I went through another purging of the Olathe house. I went through the clothes I have moved here (not many) and got rid of everything that i haven't worn since I moved in. If I haven't worn it in two months and it's for summer.....see ya later. If the shoes hurt or look cheap or Mom didn't like them, they are gone. If the outfit looks cheap, makes me look fat, or Mom didn't like it, it's outta here. It is not worth filling my life with unneccesary clutter. It could be really interesting when we start to unload the storage unit someday...I have a feeling that I will be taking truck loads to the Goodwill and JLKC Thrift Shop. If we haven't really needed it since it's been there, do we really need it?!?! And, in the vein of catharsis.....the City House went on the market last weekend. As much as I love that home, I am ready to be rid of that constant reminder of another life. And, as of this weekend, I have decided that I am done with the Volkswagen. It will be sold this week. Don't get all worried....I won't be walking everywhere or using the buses now ;) I have decided to keep Mom's car. Getting rid of things makes me feel better.....There is a feeling of victory for me in carrying a bag full of crap to the garage to go out with the weekly trash.

I also strive to find comfort in every day. Comfort these days comes in many forms. Hugs from Bryce, snuggles from Claire, and a great cup of coffee top the list. I had given up coffee, except for a weekly treat, in the interest of cost a few years ago. However, now, I feel that it comforts me when I stop to get some in the am. To me, there is nothing better than my decaf latte from Starbucks in the am. Even if I am running late for work, I stop. I need something to make me feel better and if that has a snowball's chance at making my day manageable, I am going to do it. I also take comfort in the light of a new day. Waking up in the am means that I lived through the day before. Somedays, that provides alot of comfort to me. I also take comfort in the good weather. I know that Mom is sending that my way. Although,I would have to admit that until about a week ago, I didn't even notice the weather. I noticed if the sun was shining or if it was raining, I did not notice whether it was hot or cold...For some reason, none of that registered with me. It is beginning to register.

Speaking of weather, I am beginning to get very nervous about the upcoming fall and winter. For years, I have struggled with the time change and the shorter days. In my normal life, I would become depressed when I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark. I can't imagine how that will be this fall and winter. However, because I do know that, I have started on an action plan with my therapist. I am investing in a sun lamp. Who knows if the damn thing will help, but based on the darkness I have already seen, I am praying that it will help me get through. Or maybe I will just move to Mexico.....sounds good right?!

I still struggle with what to say. How are you doing continues to be a loaded question. I doubt people really want to hear, "well, today is less shitty so far than yesterday." So, I am the master of saying that "I am ok" and that "Each day is different." For those of you that have done this, you know that OK is not a bad place to be. There are varying levels of ok, but ok in general is tolerable. One of my good friends from college called me today and asked me what to say about how she is doing at her mom's family reunion....her mom passed away just over a year ago. We had to laugh about how we really felt and what we really wanted to say....I shared some of my more diplomatic answers. And, it made me pause to realize that, this really never does go away.

Joy. I have found that I struggle with everyone else's celebration. It is very difficult for me to imagine celebrating and being joyful about something. It's not that I am not happy for whatever the event is or whomever else is's just hard. I am jealous. I am mad. I am frustrated. I am all of those things because many of my friend's celebrations are things that I will never share with my mom. I will never share the joy of telling her of a job promotion, pregnancy, baby's firsts, or a wonderful gift. I know that deep down I am happy about all of these things for everyone else, but I am heartbroken that I will never be able to share that specific joy with my mom.

The giant elephant in the room. When someone close to you dies, that damn elephant is in almost every room. He is in every room and nobody really wants to talk about him. He sits there and sucks the air out of the room and makes it almost suffocating. Friday night, my dad, Bryce, and I went to dinner. It was our first dinner in KC without my mom. Her chair was at the table, her comments about that restaurant were in my head, and her drink order was ready....but she wasn't there. Dad and I couldn't stand to look at her place and poor Bryce felt the incredible awkwardness. I know it will get easier. But, until there, our dinner groups need to be larger. I also experienced something new. I am now the first one to order. Dumb, I know, but now I am the first one to order dinner. That's not my assignment. Mom is supposed to be first.

I have always known how important it is to tell someone that you love them....and mean it. And, I do that everyday. But, I have also come the conclusion that it is worth telling someone everyday that you appreciate them. We often don't say thank you enough or let others know how much we appreciate them. Well, guess what, that life is over too. It's time to let people know how much I appreciate them. It might be in an email, love in the mail, a gift, a phone call, a text, or a letter. But, it is time to do that and make it a way of life. Everyone of us is entitled to love and appreciation and I am going to do what I can to share mine.

Carats. Over my parents 40 years and one month of marriage, my dad showered my mom with many beautiful jewels. I strive each day to wear something of hers. I wear one, if not both, of the wedding bands that she wore each day. And, I strive to find the perfect other addition to go along with those. Yes, I do wear scrubs everyday to work and the jewelry is way too nice for those....But, that jewelry is part of her legacy and a sign of my father's love for her.....and I am very proud to model it.

Speaking of my dad, he is doing ok. He had a good check at the cardiologist this last week and that made me feel better....for about a minute. He is skinny and looks as sad as I do at times, but he is functioning. But, hopefully, I will help him with the shrinking waistline. I sent him home with 15 individually prepared, home cooked meals for his freezer. They will be good for dinner after a long day at Walgreen's.

I know that I have been very long winded tonight...but I really needed to write. It, too, makes me feel better. If only I could figure out a way to get paid for that?!

Where's the eject handle??

These days I am feeling like a fighter pilot....stuck in the heat of battle, going down in flames at times, and wondering where my damn eject handle is. There have been quite a few situations in the past week that have made me want to eject right on out of whatever I was doing. Unfortunately, those of us that are not fighter pilots, do not come equipped with that God send.
My husband continues to assure me that I am doing remarkably well considering the amazingly close relationship that I had with my mom. However, most of the time, I don't really feel that way at all. Granted, it doesn't help things that I am beyond impatient. And, on some level, I am really scared about what better feels like. Until the 13th of July, I had never imagined my life without my mom. I knew that she would always be there for me and soon enough, she would be living in KC. I was excited about having her here for shopping, her meat loaf, and for helping me figure out how to raise babies someday that would not turn into punks. In her words, "no three year old child is going to tell me what to do....." As much as I didn't want to hear that, I was waiting for the day that I called mom to tell her what our child was doing to hear that line as her reponse. Yesterday, I went to Nordy's with a friend for lunch. Afterwards, our plan was to do a little retail therapy because I thought maybe that would help. Unfortunately, her son decided to have a meltdown....poor kid must be getting some teeth! So, after she had to leave, I decided to stay at the mall for a bit. And, now, I understand what it feels like for Bryce to go to the mall. I wanted the heck out of there. It was no longer as enjoyable as it once was. I probably only lasted another 30 minutes. It was bad enough that I didn't even spend more than a second glancing at the shoes in Nordy's. I didn't have my mom to help me pick things out and make up new outfits with what I already have in my head....or her to help me rationalize what I felt I needed.
One of the most frustrating things continues to be the fact that my brain does not work. It takes me forever to get anything done or to even remember what I need to be doing. I ran errands on Saturday am and it took me forever to get them done. Of course, I was aware that my brain wasn't working which made me incredibly anxious. Not sure I have ever met anyone who gets upset b/c they can't find something at the grocery store. Once again....where was my eject handle.
Socially, I am officially a different person. We went to the engagement party for my brother in law and his fiancee. I was nervous about going because there would be many there that I did not know. So, before going, I talked to my therapist about it and she gave me a few strategies to help me get through. However, it only took me about 10 minutes after arriving to have a melt down. I felt it was coming so I was able to make it outside. I can't pinpoint any one factor that tipped it off but I can identify quite a few that contributed. I was at a celebration.....and I didn't like it. I thought that a joyous occasion might help me take my mind off things. It had the opposite effect. After leaving, I was emotionally exhausted. And, I made the executive decision that we were not going to the church brunch on Sunday. I just couldn't imagine having to be social with strangers. As I have said in previous weeks, I am no actress and I do not have a 'fake face.'
Yesterday did bring some joy in the mail. One of my mom's good friends from school sent me a prayer shawl that she had made for me. It's beautiful and soft and good for snuggling. I have a feeling that it is going to get lots of good use. It's amazing the comfort that something as simple as a blanket provides.
My dad is doing well. Most of the time, I think he is doing better than I am. But, that's ok. I know that he has his days too, but he is less likely to talk about it. As much as I love my dad and as well as he knows me, I still don't think he understands how I am really doing. I think that there were so many things that my mom and I shared that my dad never knew about or could even begin to understand that bond. He is coming down next week and I am ready for that. He is going to look at a few houses and maybe help us with a few projects. Not sure how long he will stay, but I am glad he will be here.
I make myself find something that I am thankful for everyday. I am not sure if this helps. I am trying to keep it in perspective but when I am on my 20th thing that I miss about my mom that day...I am not sure if that evens it out.
I have also found that silence and solitude are deafening. I was never one to like the quiet before. Now, that is even worse. I hate driving by myself in the car. I need noise all the time and at times, I am really picky about what noise I want. The voice of radio djs annoys me as does most of the music on the stations I listen to coming to work.
Alright, I best try and focus of what ever it is that I am supposed to be working on.

44 Days Later...

My usual weekly update seems to be a few days late this week. However, better late than never. Better late than never seems to be a common theme these days. Few things seem to happen in the same time frame that they used to.
The last week has brought many interesting feelings, most of which I knew to expect. However, some of it I still find shocking. My therapist had warned me that the 6 week mark could be dicey. I have found that she wasn't kidding when she warned me of that. The emotion that has been most overwhelming is the incredible loneliness that I feel. Previously, I thought that loneliness resulted when you were alone, by yourself. However, I have unfortunately discovered that you can feel incredibly lonely in a room full of people or surrounded by the ones you love. My mom was the one that I could always count on to make me feel better and to give me support when I needed it and how I needed it. While I am now leaning on others for some of that, it doesn't feel right. It's just not the same. I am lonely to tell her all of the things that she is missing out on. I am lonely for her to help me to figure out what to do on the job front. I am lonely for her to help me with these damn migraines. Knowing that she would check on me always brought me comfort. Bryce does an excellent job of trying to help me manage, and it comforts me, but I need the comfort of my mom too. I am lonely for those stupid five minute phone calls to report my latest, pointless find at Target. The other day, I was on the verge of serious tears on Costco of all places. Sandra Brown and James Patterson both have new books out and she would have bought them there....and then given them to me to read after she was finished with them. I couldn't bring myself to be the one to read them first.
For someone that has always been incredibly comfortable in my own skin, I suddenly feel really awkward. I went to lunch with a friend last Friday at Dean and Deluca. There, I ran into one of my former patients who was out lunching with her mom. First of all, I was incredibly envious that she got to be out having lunch and shopping with her mom. However, the part that was really awkward was the fact that she didn't know about my mom. So, when she asked me how I was, I just said, "OK." and left it at that. Do I tell her what has happened in our chance meeting? Or, do I let her continue on without knowing why I don't seem quite right? What do I do??? That is about to happen this weekend too and I am really getting nervous about it. We have a couple of parties to go to this weekend and most of the people there do not know me well and have no idea what has happened. I am not worth a damn at putting on the party face right now. I guess we will just have to see how it goes...
As I have said before, I find the fact that life goes on for everyone else is really annoying. In fact, Facebook has become incredibly annoying to me over the past few days. I find people's minor complaints really annoying. I'm really sorry if you didn't get your hoo. I'm not trying to be snotty or acting like I am the all knowing.. However, you have to keep everything in perpective in the grand scheme of things and some people complain about really whiny stuff.
On that life goes on phase vein. I am also struggling with the fact that people assume that because it has been longer than five minutes since my mom died that I have miraculously recovered. No, I haven't. I am still barely functional a good percentage of the time. It's really hard to understand that my grief struggle is not the first thing on most people's minds anymore. I know that people are still praying for me and thinking of me. However, I really do feel incredibly lonely. That being said, I do greatly appreciate the cards in the mail, the phone calls, and the texts. They really are a bright spot to my day.
Alright, I need to get back to work. I realize that the tone of message might be a little different than my others. I am still trying to find the joy in everyday.

Life goes on...August 17,2009

I just wanted to give you an update and let you know how life is going. As you all know, because you live in what I call the real world, life continues to go on. And, even in my very screwed up reality, there have even been a few days when I feel as though my own life will go on as well. I continue to have more bad days than good, however, I have discovered the concept of OK days. Those days are neither horrible nor exceptional.
Last week, in a word, was hell. I struggled each day with a vareity of monsters and moods. We went to BCCC for the memorial on Wednesday and had a nice time. It was really rough to even just be in some of the same halls that my mom used to walk, let alone spend time with people that she shared her days with. The service they had was very touching though. Many of her colleagues were able to speak about their fond and funny memories of my mom. It was good to hear those stories from their perspective. And, as much as I knew about my mom, and her life there, there were a few things I didn't know. I didn't know that she was in charge of hugs for her department. I heard countless stories of when she arrived at just the right time with a hug. That doesn't surprise me in the slightest. She always gave me good ones so I am sure that they provided comfort for others as well. It was nice to hear those types of stories, however, in some ways it made it worse. It made me realize right then and there how much I miss those hugs and the silly little flapping thing she did with her hands when she wanted/needed one. Luckily, I married someone that also gives amazing hugs. Good thing that I will have him forever...
I went to church and to see my mom alot last week. It really helps me to be there. I like the closeness to her that I feel there and the ability to go talk to my favorite Priest afterwards. He has been such a wonderful resource. Unfortunately, Todd has been through this and understands the diffculties each day brings. We were both laughing on Thursday about what signified a better day...for him it was washing his hair, for me, it is putting on real clothes and make up. Since you all know me well, youknow that used to be a daily occurrence, now, not so much. In that same church vein, it was an interesting week there last week. I was asked by one of the members of the altar guild to join their group. I felt really honored to be asked and at the same time, incredibly sad, because I wasn't able to call and tell my mom about it. I know that she would have been so proud of that.
My moods tend to be a fun ride these days too. I tend to go from 0 to Nuclear war in under a minute. My sense of reality is different than most right now. I get irritated at people that get irritated about minor details...things, that in my opinion, do not matter in the grand scheme of things. Despite the irritation, I do try to keep my mouth shut...I realize that most people don't have a clue. Luckily, my husband is very understanding is doing his best to help me navigate. I know that I am not mad at my mom or at God....he's the winner here. However, I think I am still very mad at the situation.
Work still sucks....enough said about that.
I continue to be thankful for the love and support I have seen from my old friends and some that I consider new. For those of you that send me love in the mail, texts, or emails.. I so appreciate those. It has been rough this week as the mail has died down. My mailbox had been full of all kind's of love for the past 5 months from the wedding and then from the loss of my mom. So, now, I just get to look at the bills and the regular crap.
During my trip to La Crosse last week, I was able to take all of the checks that I have received for her memorial to RCMH. Those checks, combined with others, will go towards the purchase of their new defibrillator. Yet another thing that my mom was pushing them to get...It was really hard to be at the hospital. I was able to see her CT scanner and the new construction that is going on. It was hard to imagine that she wouldn't be there to see the whole project through.

August 3, 2009

Just thought I would write you all a note to let you know how things are going. For whatever reason, writing seems to be on the only that I feel like communicating these days. So, for those of you that I have not called, this is why. Everyday tasks continue to be daunting most of the time and that includes picking up the phone to call most of you. As much as I know I would love to chat, I am still struggling with what to say. For those of you that continue to call me, write me, and send me love in the mail. I will be forever grateful to you. Those messages continue to be the bright spots in my days.
I have discovered that grief is a very interesting process. There are days when I feel as though I have made progress only to take those same steps backwards the next day. This is also yet another instance where my impatience is rearing its very ugly head. I am not patient with myself at times and feel as though I should be able to accomplish more. Yet, my therapist continues to reassure me that baby steps are in order.....
I continue to be amazed as how my Mom and God attempted to prepare me for this process. Both have orchestrated new friendships in my life over the last year of individuals who would be able to help me deal with the loss of my mom. I, unfortunately, have a few friends that have also endured a great loss and are helping to support me. The reassuring part to me is that they stand strong today. I know that I will again, however, I also know that I will never be the same.
The parts that are the most frustrating for me right now is every time I reach for the phone to call my mom or think of somethimg funny that I need to tell her. I do still tell her about everything, unfortunately, we are no longer able to trade the sarcastic remarks we would have. As most of you know, we are continuing to work on our houses. This weekend, Bryce and Eric continued to work on finishing the flooring in the kitchen. So, it was time for them to move the frig to the garage. However, when they moved the fridge to the garage, they placed it directly behind the jet that you could not open the door of the fridge without moving the jet ski....I didn't realize this until Sat evening and pointed out to Bryce what great logistics he had designed...My next thought was to call Mom so that we could laugh at Bryce together. Unfortunately, I can't call her to make fun of Bryce. I missed her even more on Friday when I had my first migraine since her death. Despite the fact that I have been having migraines for 22 years, I have called my mom for every single one of them. I would call her to tell her that I had one and she would reassure me that if she were in KC with me that she would come over and put a cool rag on my forehead and make sure that I had my bucket if I needed it. This time, I had to take care of myself...Despite the fact that I know how, it was harder to do without her reassurance or her calls throughout the day to check on me.
Next week will be interesting as well. We are headed to BCCC for a memorial service that they are having on campus for her. it will be bittersweet to be on campus.
I suppose that I should get back to work....yuck. My focus is pretty marginal at best today.
Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, phone calls, texts, and love in the mail. I really do appreciate all that you have done. Please do call me....because I do love hearing from you.