Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In Honor of My Birthday

Today is my 30th birthday.  And, it is birthday #1 without my best friend.  On some level, I found it poetic to wake up with a migraine and that it has rained all day.  To me, the rain is from my Mom.  She is very sad to not be here for my 30th birthday and knows that this has NOT been the birthday season of birthdays past.

Each year, I buy myself a little something for my birthday...or maybe a few little somethings.  But, this year, is different.  I did something much bigger and something that will bring a long lasting impact to both my life and the life of my community.

As of last Friday, the Proud Mary Foundation was established.  Yes, I started a Non Profit in honor of my Mom.  She and I both love helping others and making a difference in the lives of those whose circumstances are much worse than our own.  So, I felt it was only fitting to give back in honor of my 30th year.  The mission is to support causes that both she and I believe in.  As you can imagine, there will be donations made to organizations that support literacy, education, the Episcopal Church, and the good works of the University of Kansas Hospital.  Each year, a percentage of my salary will be dedicated to the Foundation and others will be able to donate as well.  

I know that she is proud of me and the woman I am becoming.  And, I know she thinks what I have done is fitting.  I will continue to help others in honor of her memory and in support of organizations she loved.  She will continue to make a difference with my help.

And, I will just tell you....I am going to have a lot of fun handing out those checks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lucky 13

I never have been one of those people to be wrapped up in the meaning of numbers and whether or not they were really 'lucky'.  However, my thoughts on what they signify to me have changed a bit over the past 8 months.  On Saturday, I woke up and I felt rotten.  I felt rotten emotionally.  I felt rotten physically.  I wanted to crawl in a hole.  However, because I had committed to work that afternoon, there were no holes available for me.  I did my best at pulling myself together and got out of the house on my way to 'make something happen'.  And, as I was driving towards my office, I had that 'aha' moment.  It's the 13th.  No wonder I feel like shit.  My Mom had been gone for exactly 8 months.  And, while I was doing best to avoid stressing over that day, my subconscious felt the need to remind me that it runs my show these days.  And, to be honest, I find it all fascinating.  I had tried really hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other and to keep trudging...because that is what life feels like right now.  I was trying act like it was just another day...which it was...March 13th has absolutely no significance.  But, it doesn't really work that way I guess.

When I met with my therapist last week, I told her how much I was struggling the last few weeks and that I had chalked it up to my impending birthday and the change of season.  But, as I explained to her, I didn't understand why the season change was such a big deal.  Why would that make me an emotional disaster?  How could the prospect of sunshine, green grass, and daylight till 8 pm make me upset?  She explained it very simply.  I am not ready for the happiness of the spring season.  I am not emotionally able to think about the care free life that is spring and summer and think of it without some pain associated with it.  And then, it all made sense.  The dreary weather matched my mood much better.  And, who wants to be 'Debbie Downer' when the sun is shining?!!?!?

The other phenomenon that I have noticed in the last week is how hard March Madness is for me this year.  Yes, you all now think I am completely batshit crazy.  Why would March Madness be difficult for someone that loves basketball and for someone whose teams are doing so well????  And, through a little thinking, I discovered that I am mourning two things.  I miss the days of filling out brackets with my living grandmother who also loved basketball.  She now has dementia and no longer fills out brackets.  And, we did that together every March.  She kept it on the counter right next to her kitchen TV and we filled in the winners of each game...and would then discuss our thoughts about the upcoming match ups.  That doesn't happen anymore and I miss it.  And, while my Mom didn't ever really fill out brackets, she always knew what was going on.  And, she LOVED the Cinderella stories of the Big Dance.  She loved it when the underdog knocked off the big long as that big team wasn't KU.  And, she loved the special interest stories that CBS would air about the kids who came from nothing but had a great Mom behind them supporting them every step of the way.  She loved hearing those stories and calling to make sure that I had seen it too.  And, I can assure you, she was yelling at the TV cheering on those kids' teams much like she did the Jayhawks.  She was always pulling for the underdog.

I am going to miss calling her tonight during half time of the KU slaughter of Lehigh.  She would probably comment about how Bill Self's new glasses really do make him look younger and that he sure does wear better ties than Roy used to.  And, she would probably be commenting about how well Sherron is leading his team and maybe a little about what poor decisions that Marcus and Markieff made during the first half.  And, then she would ask me if I think they can do it?  Do I really think they can win the National Championship?  I would assure her that they could.

But, as I watch the game tonight.  I know one thing.  She has the best seat in the house this year.  In my mind, she is hanging out over Danny and Bill's shoulders and is giving them a little bit of the Mary Barrows basketball theory.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Change of Season

Almost two weeks ago, I received a call from a friend from church checking in to see how I was doing and warning me of an impending monster she wasn't sure I knew about yet.....the change of seasons.  She told me just to know that sometimes for whatever reason, the change of seasons could be hard on your emotions when you are grieving.  She wasn't kidding.  And, I am glad I had the warning although I still don't get why it all happens that way.  I have been a mess.  Sleep is a roll of the dice again each night and I tend to swing pretty close to the ceiling again.  I will be happy for the days when my feet and my emotions are planted much more closely to the ground.  Although we will see when that comes because with this change of season comes a new decade for me and my first birthday without my Mom.  It could be ugly.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Another milestone..

So. those that know anything about grief know that there is an exceptionally long list of 'firsts' that you must get through.  And, many say it gets easier after the 'first' of whatever it is....I will go ahead and call bullshit on those people.  But, I am still checking off the firsts on my list.  So, last week was the first funeral since the last one I was at....Mom's.

I don't necessarily like funerals.  I am not really sure who does.  They tend to be sad and sorrowful.  You often see people at their worst or in a state near that.  Yuck.  I hate it.  However, I know from experience how important it is go for another to show your support.  So, I went.  My boss' father had passed away so, since she has already turned into a great friend, I felt compelled to go.

It was a 2.5 hour drive to get there but I needed every last second of that time to get myself off the ceiling and through the front door of the church.  I was nervous.  I did not want to lose it in a room full of people who don't know me.  I wanted to keep it together and do it with as much dignity as I could muster.  So, I put on my big girl panties, a little sparkle, and faced the demon.  And, I won.

It wasn't easy.  I knew what the family members and friends of the lost were feeling.  I knew exactly how raw that emotion was.  I also knew that they had no idea what was really coming.  I had been in that exact emotional spot not so long ago.  They were in the blissful state of grief.  For those of you that have been there, you know what I mean.  You think that life is really horrible and feel numb.  Little do you know, that feeling is as good as things are going to get for a while.

While the church service in and of itself was daunting....enter the graveside service.  That was when I absolutely lost it at my Mom's service.  My husband had to physically hold me up because I was absolutely unable to stand under my own power.  So, at first thought, I planned on skipping the graveside portion.  Then, I decided that I might as well suck it up and do a big girl.  And, every nasty demon of grief came home to roost in my brain in the quiet, frigid corner of the Catholic cemetery in Clay Center, KS.  This time, however, I was able to stay on my feet.  And, cry quietly behind my signature, oversized black sunglasses.  I returned to my car in silence.  I was exhausted.

I did stick around for the proverbial 'funeral lunch.'  That helped to lighten the emotional load before I made the trek back to the city....and I was very thankful.  In fact, I am pretty sure I have never been so excited about finger sandwiches, assorted salads, and one little corner of german chocolate cake.