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.

The Eulogy

Dear Mom,

Approximately one month ago, I was also drafting a letter to you. However, that letter was to you and Dad as an expression of my gratitude for the gifts that you have given me and the beautiful wedding that was about to happen. That letter flowed to the paper almost seamlessly. This one, however, I am convinced, will not.

As I stand here today, it is hard to believe that I have lived for three days without my best friend. And, even more difficult to believe, is that I last heard you tell me you loved me at 8pm last Friday night.

Throughout my short 29 years, I was amazed by you on a daily basis. Each day, you strived to make a difference. As an instructor at Barton, you taught your students the value of hard work, the importance of responsibility, and the necessity of communicating well. Many of them learned the hard way that it was Mrs. Barrows’ way or no way. Students that doubted you soon learned that grades in your class would be earned and that whining would not be tolerated. Many of my favorite stories were about those that thought they could get something past you… was always amazing to me the incidence of printer breakdowns and computer crashes by your students surrounding finals week…I sure hope that none of those students went into IT. You challenged your students to be the best writer that they could be and rewarded their efforts. You also believed in those who just needed the confidence of another to be a good writer. Your greatest joy was seeing the ‘underdog’ succeed. You treasured those students that were working hard both in and out of your classroom, whether that was raising a family or working two jobs to pay for school.

When it comes to Barton though, I am a little curious about one small detail now. Who is going to teach the athletes? If you aren’t there to take attendance and hold them accountable, I am not sure who will. I doubt that any of the other instructors would pull an athlete off the basketball bus on their way out of town because he didn’t get his paper turned in. For those of you that don’t know that story, he finished the paper and they were able to leave……about 2 hours later.

Barton was not the only place that you strived to make a difference. I firmly believe that the doors of Rush County Memorial Hospital would not be open if it wasn’t for you. Since being selected for the board almost ten years ago, you have made incredible strides. You fought valiantly to keep the doors open and to keep the hospital operating in the black. You also worked to increase the salaries of the help and reward their hard work. To your credit, construction will soon begin on the remodel of the facility. To me, however, your greatest legacy is the CT scanner that was purchased. I remember helping you decide which model you would need and encouraging you about how much that would benefit the community and help to create revenue for the hospital. It was only fitting on Saturday afternoon, that you got a CT in YOUR scanner before being life flighted to KU.

However, the greatest difference that you made was in your life at home. Each day, Dad and I both knew that we were loved unconditionally. As I said at the wedding, your love for Dad was a love for all times. In fact, you were thrilled that I selected “Through the Years” for your dance with Dad because you felt it was the most fitting of your love story. I would have to agree. The hardest thing about your love story to watch however was on Monday. I sat there as Dad held your hand and looked at me and told me that he didn’t know how he was going to do this because he has never done anything without you.

As you know, you were my best friend. It’s only fitting that I am having an incredibly hard time trying to find the words to express what I feel right now. If I were writing a paper, you would tell me to get out the Family Word Finder…. Unfortunately, that’s not going to help. As a mom, you led by example. You taught me to fight for what I believed in, despite opposition, and to argue fairly. You helped to teach me the importance of community involvement and social responsibility. But the greatest gift, other than snuggling, was teaching me how to love. As you know, I love Bryce with my whole heart, and I am able to do that because you modeled how to do that in your own marriage. You loved me when I made poor choices and supported as I worked through them. You never let me down…..I occasionally got frustrated with your persistence, but you were only looking out for my best interests.

Each day is going to be a struggle for while….and I am going to miss a lot about you and even some of your habits.

I will miss:

Talking with you everyday on my way home from work.

Going to see Steve and Paige at Nordy’s with you.

Listening to you tell me that you have nothing to wear and that we need to go shopping so you have something to wear to school.

You putting a cool rag on my head when I have a migraine.

Calling to read me some of those horrid papers and laughing together.

Hearing you tell me that Bryce is a ‘gem’

Knowing that I can only call during time outs and half times of KU basketball games

Driving in the car with Dad and hearing you tell him that he needs to focus rather than gawk at the real estate.

Listening to your speech about how we all make choices.

The Snapple rattle in the back of your Lexus because you could not be without it.

Finally, I would like to share part of an email that I received in the past few days. My mom worked with Coach Bechard while he was at Barton. He is currently the Head Volleyball Coach at KU.

Mary Barrows was special to me because:

She saw potential in everyone, and demanded they demonstrate that potential.

She always CONTRIBUTED more than she CONSUMED, the outcomes of her students were far more important to her than any credit she may receive.

She was committed to her values, she was consistent, and she was fair.

She had a great sense of humor, a sparkle in her eye, which always made you wonder what was coming next.

She taught many of my former players, she taught my son, she made them better people, she made us all better!!

We’ll miss you Mary.. We love you… Rest in Peace

Mom, I can assure that I will keep the promises that I made to you in the final days and months of your life. I promise our children will have lots of books and I will always take care of the Buckaroo.

Well, Mom, I best let you get to work. I heard you were making a list on your index card of all you need to get fixed in heaven.

Thank you mom for making me the woman and writer I am today. I love you.



One week later.

As I write you today, my life is very different than it was one week ago. I have now experienced what it is like to be without my mom for one full week. Most of the time, it continues to leave me speechless. For once, I am unable to qualify my emotions or find the right words. However, I have been blessed with an amazing outpouring of support, love, and prayers. For those of you that continue to not know what to say, don't worry, I don't either.....
I would like to share the Eulogy that I gave for my mom as well as the Homily that Todd gave. My mom loved Todd and for those of you that were unable to be there on Thursday, he and I both knocked it out of the park.....Todd was able to do that because he is very gifted....I was able to do that because I am convinced that Mom did it for me.
And, because I am my mother's's time for the lesson. Please be sure that your family is aware of your wishes at life's end. It is best if you have completed an advanced directive as that leaves no questions or guilt for your family in your final hours. My dad and I were well aware of Mom's wishes and it made our decision so much easier. Yes, this is even relevant to you at 30 years old.....tomorrow is not a guarantee.
Please continue to call and really does help. I might not be able to answer but I love hearing from you.

The Death of My Mom

It is with a heavy heart that I write to you that my mom, suddenly, passed away today at the age of 60. For those that do not know, my mom was recently diagnosed with a carcinoid cancer in her GI tract on June 30. Over the last two weeks, I have had her here in Kansas City with me pursuing further testing and treatment at KU MED. The prognosis for her surgery was promising and was to take place on July 17th. After spending last week in KC here with me, my dad was able to take her home to La Crosse on Friday, July 10th. I spoke with her throughout the day on Friday and at approximately 800pm on Friday night. At 10pm, she went to sleep and never woke up. On Saturday morning, my dad woke up and attempted to rouse my mom. However, she was unable to be roused. Originally, we felt it was from the overwhelming fatigue in combination with her new medications. However, I started an obsessive calling regimen to rouse her. Unfortunately, I was unable to do so. Finally, I requested that our local physician go to our home and check on her. She was then transferred by ambulance to the hospital. Upon further testing, it was discovered that she had had a massive stroke and brain bleed in her sleep. I had her life flighted to KU MED as a last ditch effort. There, she was provided with exceptional care from every staff member that she encountered. My dad and I made the decision last night that she would not want to be sustained on life support. At approximately 830, we discontinued life support measures and transitioned to comfort care. I spent the night snuggled next to my mom in her bed. This am, I made the decision that we would have a cocktail party at noon today. I assembled the ingredients for cosmos and served a bar of 15. I toasted her at approximately noon today. Following that, I made a phone call for my mom to a colleague who had disrespected her and frustrated her for many years. I said all of the things that mom never did say because she had to share an office with her. And, it made me feel really good. At 1:09pm, with my head on her chest and my dad's hand on her heart, my mom went home to the Lord. As soon as she arrived, I am pretty sure that she was greeted with a cosmo and cigarette.
To be honest, I am not sure how I am going to get through this. However, I know that I will. God has blessed me with an amazing family and friends. I know that with your help and guidance and prayer, I will make it.
For those of you that do not know, Bryce and I have been married for one month as of today.
Her funeral services will be on Thursday, July 16th at 2 pm. The services will be held at St Paul's Episcopal Church at 11 E 40th street in Kansas CIty, MO. I will be speaking at the service. My mom is being cremated and will be buried in the church yard. Her name will be placed on a plate that will remain in the bell tower. Each year, on All Saints Day, as the bell tolls, they read the names of all those buried in the church yard. The service will be followed by a reception where all are welcome.
Memorials are to the Rush County Memorial Hospital in La Crosse, KS to continue their mission to serve rural health needs and to the Junior League of Kansas City, MO for their work with literacy in Kansas City.
To further help others continue to read, her eyes were donated this afternoon.
I would ask that you all attend on Thursday if you are able to celebrate the life and legacy of my mom. She was an amazing woman and she was my best friend.
With love and the help of God's grace,