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?????