Brightness

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It has been almost one year since I began this challenging journey of change.  One thing I learned quite quickly was that it helped me immensely to break things down into short-term goals.  By short-term I’m talking days, a week, a month at the most.  Some days I felt so overwhelmed that my goal was simply to get through whatever I had to do that day without thinking ahead to tomorrow.  This method of dealing with a major life change went a long way in reducing stress. Continue Reading »

R U OK?

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To Write Love On Her Arms

Yesterday was National Suicide Awareness Day.  A friend’s post on Facebook last night made me aware of the day, but more importantly it reminded me of the lies that depression can tell a person.

 “Life is not worth living.”

“I am not loved.”

“I am not good enough.” Continue Reading »

Life Raft

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Last night, T told me to get ready.  We were going out for dinner.  He said with a silly smile that  I needed some red meat.  Double entendra.  Em didn’t have plans, so the girls could stay home by themselves.  I agreed that it sounded like a good idea.  It had been a hard day.  I didn’t feel like cooking.  The girls seemed happy at the thought of having us out of the house for a while.  They were both occupied with their own things, and seemed to be looking forward to an evening of quiet….without Mom and Dad hanging around the house.  While I didn’t feel much like going out, the thought of a juicy steak at one of our favorite spots perked me up a little.

I had been a slob all day.  We were heading out for a late dinner by the time I got myself cleaned up and looking presentable.  It was nice, though, because the Saturday night rush had already passed by the time we got there.  We went to a local favorite.  It’s a cozy, intimate place, and has a beautiful evening view of the runway lights at our local (tiny) airport.  To top it all off, the food is always wonderful.  We enjoyed a cocktail and conversation while we waited for our food.  I could already see that this was a good idea as I began to feel myself begin to relax for the first time all day.  My friend T.  There he was across the table, always knowing what is best for me even before I know it myself.

As soon as my tension began to subside, deep, deep fatigue began to set in. The adrenaline had been replaced with exhaustion.  T asked where I wanted to go after dinner, but all I really wanted to do was to go home and go to bed.  He tried to entice me with a drive down by the river to look at Christmas lights.  Maybe we could stop for martinis?  “No, please.  All I want to do is go to bed.”  I can’t ever remember feeling so wilted.  We drove home after dinner, and I immediately got ready for bed.

He was there in bed with me, and I’m not sure where I was.  Yes, I was in bed, but I seemed to be floating.  I rolled over, laid my head on T’s chest, and hung on for dear life.  The headache was back, and I felt like I was swirling and spinning.  I was hot and cold at the same time.  I was sweating and shivering.  Images and emotions flashed at me in my half-sleep.  At some point, I fell asleep.

Around 2:30 a.m., I woke up.  I was tangled in the covers, and my hair felt damp and stringy.  I wanted to get out of bed.  I wanted to wander around the house.  I wanted to stand and look out of a window.  It was December 11.  I picked up my phone to confirm the date.  There it was, taunting me in the darkness, December 11.  I laid there, forcing myself to stay in bed when all I wanted to do was flee.  I’m not sure where I wanted to go, but I didn’t want to be there in the quiet darkness with my thoughts.  If I got up, though, it would be the actions of a crazy woman.  “Normal” people don’t wander around the house in the middle of the night.  I flung my leg across T and grabbed his arm.  Once again, I hung on until sleep came.

This morning when I woke up, it felt like I had won a battle.  I had been victorious.  I hadn’t cried.  I hadn’t wandered around the house thinking and thinking.  I had CHOSEN not to do the things that would feed the fires of grief.  Instead of floundering around in the water, I had held onto my life raft.

Today was another sad December 11th.  My mom has been moved from the hospital to a skilled nursing unit.  It’s depressing, even though the facility is nice.  She lays behind a curtain on her half of the room.  This is what her life has been reduced to, a room,  a bed behind a curtain.  As I watched her laying there, mumbling in and out of sleep, I wished for my dad once again. To see her like this would have made him so sad.  If Dad were alive, he would have been able to keep her at home. He would have been able to care for her in a way that I am not able.  My children, my job, my responsibilities have not allowed me to become the full-time caregiver my dad once had been for her.

I sat with her in the darkened room.  I wondered what her mind was thinking as she slept.  I hoped that the thoughts in her dreams were better than the reality of what her life has become.  I hoped that she was remembering the things that once made her life worth living.  We didn’t talk at all today.  She drifted in and out, and I sat in a chair…watching and thinking.  We had once been a little family, Mom and Dad, and me.  Those days have passed.  So many things have passed.   Too many.

I drove by the old house on my way home from the hospital.  I had to stop and go inside.  For just a moment, I stood there in what was once a living room.  Think of that word!  Living room.  It was once a place where people lived.  It had once been full of life, love, family, and conversation.  I gently touched the place where I had found my dad two years ago.  I touched that spot, but I remembered other times, happier times, and I was thankful that this is where he had taken his last breathe, in the living room, in a place he loved, in the comfort of his own home.

 

 

Who Will Catch Me When I Fall?

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Today is one of those horrible anniversaries of a BAD November day, a day that was most likely the worst day of my life.  I have been thinking a lot about that fact this past week in anticipation of this hated date.  It truly was the worst day of my life, and that makes me feel bad.  It makes me feel guilty.  I have lost loved ones through death, but not on this date.  On this date, my horrible experience was something worse than that of losing someone through death.  That makes me feel bad and guilty, so I have been trying to examine what happened and what went wrong.  Unfortunately, all the fingers point to me.  I have no one to blame but myself for getting to a point in my life where I was truly alone in my pain and grief.

While the experience of losing a child, or my dad, or when Andrew had his terrible accident were all gut-wrenchingly horrible to live through, I didn’t blame myself.  Those things were “just life” or bad luck.  During those terrible times, I felt surrounded by love.  I had a safety net.  I had people there to catch me when I fell and to soften the blow.  On this WORST November day, I was utterly alone.  I was crushed by ugliness, lies, and betrayal, but no one knew.  No one cared.  I had destroyed my safety net.  Those good people who had once been there for me where no longer around.  My dad was gone.  My friends had long since washed their hands of my troubles.  My family was clueless.  I had taught them through my actions to simply “leave me alone,” so they did.

I had made a mess of my life, but I thought I could handle it.  I thought everything would be OK.  That was not the case, though, not on that dark November night.  On that night, the very flimsy ground that was my foundation crumbled out from under me.  No one cared.  I had misplaced my trust.  Those I thought cared, did not.  Those who did care, had no clue.  I was truly alone for the first time in my life.  I wanted to die.  Truly, literally, I wanted to end my own life.  It scares me now to remember that BAD November day.  It scares me that those whom I thought would care, did not.  It scares me that those who did care, had no clue.  It has been a long struggle back from that dark place.  Many times, I have wished for a quick magical cure, but there is no magical cure to the pain life sometimes brings.

Last night, I thought about the times in my life that have been seasons of grief.  I thought about those other, more rational times of grief, and I realized how things have changed in my life in the past several years.  My Dad, my friend and father, he TALKED to me.  He and I talked about anything and everything.  During some of the most horrible times in my life, I could always count on Dad’s daily phone call.  On days when all I wanted was to pull the covers over my head, Dad would call, and I always answered.  We would talk about politics, religion, local news, or current events.  He always had a story.  He always made me smile.   He pulled me through some of the toughest times in my life.  He has been gone now for almost two years.  Without a doubt, those two years have been the worst years of my life, not because my dad has been gone, but because my life was a mess (and only got worse) at the time of his death.  Oh, how different these past two years would have been if my dad had been there as a steady, loving part of my life.

These past two years have been terrible.  I have learned some valuable lessons the hard way.  We are all responsible for our own actions.  I will repeat that one, because it is important.  WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR OWN ACTIONS.  No I didn’t deserve to go through such a hellish experience, but as I said, when I look back at the circumstances, all fingers point at me.  If my trust was misplaced, who placed it wrongly?  Me.  If I went through a terrible experience, and no one was around for me to lean on, whose fault was that?  Mine.  I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN ACTIONS.

Slowly, I am rebuilding the foundation of my life.  Many of the people who were once part of my support system are gone, but I am learning to reach out again to the good people in my life.  More importantly, I am trying my best to be good to others and to be there for those good people in my life.

Remembering ~ Wondering

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Twenty Seven years ago on a Saturday morning in June, I woke up in my twin bed in my parents’ home.  I remember leaning over from my bed and pulling back the white eyelet curtain to look out the window.  There was my dad and his buddy, Denny in the back yard.  They looked nervous and busy.  The big, yellow and white striped tent was already up.  They were setting up tables and chairs.  Oh, Bill was there, too.  These guys knew how to put on a production.  After all, they had done it many times.  This is the same group of lifelong friends that had formed a theater group in our town.  It had begun as a one-time thing, a melodrama in the park for the Fall Festival, but it had grown into twice yearly stage productions.  My dad was part of that.  He loved acting, and he was fantastic, a real showman.  This day, twenty-seven years ago, was another production for them to stage.  It was my wedding day.

What did I feel that morning?  Was I nervous?  I don’t remember being nervous.  What I do remember was walking into the kitchen and pouring a bowl of Lucky Charms.  I took my bowl of cereal into the TV room and sat down.  Scooby Doo was on, and I watched my favorite cartoon dog while I ate my cereal.  I was happy.  I was relaxed.  Denny came walking through the room and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me sitting there in my robe.  “What are you doing?”  He practically shouted it at me.  I remember flinching a little.  What was I supposed to be doing?  Whatever Denny was doing or whereever he was headed, he didn’t even stop to wait for my answer.

There is so much I could write about that day.  T was the first of his siblings to be married, and I was an only child.  Oh, and I was certainly still a child.  When I look back on that day, I see it all as if it were a sepia picture.  I see a golden haze as the summer light streamed in through the stain glass windows.    I remember the wedding guests, so many of them gone now.  And I remember the tears.  There were so many tears.  Dad and I both  cried as we walked up the aisle and he handed me over to my crying soon-to-be-husband.  Tears and smiles, now memories.

The afternoon wedding was sweet in the little church where I had grown up.  It was a simpler time.  There was no lush, elaborate reception with place cards, open bar, and a band.  There was cake and punch, mints, and nuts, and coffee.  Do any of you even remember when MOST wedding receptions were held in the “church parlors?  Weddings were once a time of celebration with family and friends, not the competitive, social events of today’s weddings.  I am so glad that I was lucky enough to be a part of the tail end of such sweet and simple traditions.

After the formal church reception, the real fun began.  The real reception began.  We all headed over to my parents’ home where the big, yellow and white tent sat waiting.  There was a ton of food.  Most of it had been made by family and friends in the preceding days.  We had a champagne fountain.  Oh yeah, those were the days!  Best of all, this group of remarkable and talented friends put on a show.  The patio was a stage.  They had an organ for music and a microphone set up for the performers.  They sang,  put on skits, and comedy routines.  On and on into the summer night, we celebrated.  I can still see the faces of these wonderful people who shaped my life.

T and I went over to my parents’ empty house tonight.  I needed to sit and listen to what the house had to tell me.  T understood what I meant.  I had to think about the bird I had found in the lamp on Sunday, my life, and my history in that house.  I stood for a moment and looked out of the kitchen window.  I could picture that big tent and the lawn filled with people.  Life, laughter, and music – twenty seven years ago.  So much has changed.  So much has happened.  So many of these wonderful people are no longer in this world.  I looked over at T and asked him if he thought it was wrong of me to have so much invested in my memories of this (my parents’) house.  Why is it easier for me to think of giving up OUR house instead of this one?  What is best?  Is it better to allow myself to be wrapped up and sink back into the comfort of these wonderful, old memories?  Or….is it better to let go of the past and move forward into the unknown?

T and I stood for a moment looking out the window together.  I wondered what he was thinking.  On that June day so long ago, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.  He had no idea of the challenges we would be facing together.  I have been thinking about that a lot lately.  T is a rock.  He is the most stable person that I have ever known.  Then there is me.  Stable?  No, not very.  Not calm either or like a rock.  I am the waves that crash against the rock over and over.