One thing I have found is that if I am not able to maintain some kind of regular routine in my life, I quickly lose perspective in all areas. I question myself and lose confidence. I question others and wonder about their motives, or I perceive imagined slights. (What did he/she mean by that???) I become overwhelmed by anything even slightly resembling clutter. The pile of mail on the kitchen table makes me feel like I’m very close to being eligible for my debut on “Hoarders.” Worst of all, I see a look of wariness in the eyes of my staff. (Oh, no! She’s on the warpath!) Thankfully, while my family notices my craziness, they don’t seem bothered by it. They usually just roll their eyes and ignore me. Continue Reading »
I spent some time tonight looking at old pictures. They weren’t really so old, just three years ago. July 3, 2009. My dad looked so happy, and yet he would only be with us for a few short months longer. I’m glad we didn’t know. I’m glad it was sudden. That July 3, 2009, his last July 3, he was happy and surrounded by his family. Continue Reading »
Imagine what it would be like to be plucked from your life for a year, two years, maybe even longer. Then quite suddenly, you were back! Well, you were back to the same place, but of course, things had changed during your absence. That’s how my life feels now, but I’m sure no one around me notices a thing. They hadn’t even noticed that I had been gone.
Before I go any further with these thoughts, let me say that my intent is not to criticize my family or friends. I have been blessed with a supportive family and truly wonderful friends. Unfortunately, some of the burden of these past few years has been mine alone to carry. It was my dad who died. It was my mother who was sick. I was the one the hospital, nurses, and doctors called when there was an emergency. I was the one who made the phone calls to check in on my mom. T made many trips to visit my mom. The girls went along many times, too. When the boys were home, they made their obligatory visits. They helped haul and carry things during her three moves these past couple of years. The one constant in my mom’s life was ME. If T was there, so was I. If the girls were there, or the boys paid a visit, I was there, too. I was there, there, there. And now I am not.
It has been two weeks now. Two weekends in a row I have gotten up on a Saturday AND a Sunday morning with the entire day in front of me. It has been a strange experience. Oh, I have plenty to do, plenty I should do, plenty I can do, just nothing that I HAVE to do. The obligation is over, and it’s sad in a way. I feel sad to feel so lightened.
I feel like a stranger in my own life. I look around, and so much has changed. My parents are gone. Just gone. Poof! It suddenly feels sudden! Two hellish years, and it feels so sudden! What in the hell happened?
The past two weeks have been so strange. I miss the boys. Did you know they are gone? Of course, they’re gone, but suddenly the house feels very empty without their messes, their loud voices, and their laughter. They are both so happy and so involved in their own lives. What is/has been going on here at home has been secondary at best to them. That is as it should be, and I’m proud that they are happy and haven’t felt that I am their responsibility. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
Em is almost out of high school. We will be celebrating her 18th birthday in a matter of days. She is “in love” for the first time. Yes, they use those words right in front of us! Her boyfriend is sweet, protective of her, and has the most beautiful smile. The funny thing is, he bears an almost eerie resemblance to T at that same age.
Lola is a big girl now. She’s selling Girl Scout cookies, volunteering at an animal shelter, and has perfect grades. They have all grown and changed so much. When did that happen? I have been so busy dealing, just dealing, with all of my responsibilities that I haven’t really seen a darn thing that has been going on around me.
What about T? What has happened during the past few years with T? Like always, T is there, has been there, will be there if I need him. He is the foundation. He has made sure that the necessary things have gotten done. He has cooked many (most?) of the meals. He does the laundry. He drives Lola to Girl Scout meetings. He helps with the homework, gives advice, and listens. Of course, he doesn’t even know that he’s doing these things or that it is anything unique. He just does them. He doesn’t think things to death. He just picks up the slack when it has been necessary.
I am trying to remember who I was before these past two hellish years, and where I fit in now. The problem is, two years ago, I was a different person. I had different dreams and vastly different ideas of where I thought my life was headed. My view of my family and my marriage were different, too. Remembering, or trying to once again become, who I was two years ago is irrelevant. I don’t even want to be that woman again. Anyway, it would not even be possible.
I had an extra-long weekend. Lola stayed home sick from school today, and I took the day off to be home with her. As we took an afternoon snooze, I laid there thinking about this strange, disoriented feeling I have had since my mother’s death. I thought about how it feels like I have been plucked from some strange place and plopped down right back where I was two years ago.
As I laid there, I thought about Doris Day in the movie “Move Over, Darling.” She had been rescued from a deserted island and returned home expecting to find her family as she had left them. There aren’t any further similarities, thankfully, but that’s how I feel right now. I feel like I have been on a deserted island and have returned back home expecting to find things unchanged, but that isn’t possible. Life goes on and on. Even if it seems at times that we, as individuals, have been stuck on a hamster wheel, those around us keep moving on and on. I’m just going to have to work hard to catch up with everyone else.
Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood. ~ Khalil Gibran
For all sad words of tongue and pen, the are saddest are these, “It might have been.”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier
Most people in my daily life don’t even know that I once had a daughter named Grace. It was a long time ago, and there isn’t really any reason to disclose information that will only serve to make someone uncomfortable. Often, the “face” we present to the world is far different from the person who resides in our hearts.
Thanksgiving is November 24. It’s a day of family celebration. I will celebrate along with those around me. I’ll be thrilled to have all of my kids home and under one roof for several days. What most people won’t know or won’t remember is that November 24th is also Grace’s birthday. It would have been her “golden birthday, 24 on the 24th. I can’t help but think of how things might have been. What an awesome day to have been able to celebrate her birthday. Instead, I will remember alone, and I won’t say a word to anyone. After all, who wants to remember something sad, something that happened so very long ago?
Lately, I have been spending too much time thinking about “what might have been.” I am standing in the present, but too much of the time; my head is turned around looking back at the past. I miss my dad, and it isn’t the same to celebrate Thanksgiving without him. I miss my grandparents during the holiday season, too. And Grace. Thanksgiving will mark the beginning of a time each year when too much of my time is spent remembering and thinking about “what might have been.”
Several years ago, a friend who had lost a child asked me to join her in forming a support group for those who had recently lost babies. It was at a time in my life when I was very happy. I had returned to work. I was moving on and moving forward. I felt sad for this woman. I really did. Her experience had been horrible, but a couple of years had passed since then, and she seemed to still be LIVING for her grief. She wore her baby’s name and birthstone on a necklace around her neck. She set a place at the dinner table for her missing child. While I understood her pain, it made me sad to think of the pain she was causing her children that were THERE. This woman had defined who she was by her grief, and it scared the hell out of me to see that. I had to tell her that I could not help her out with the support group, but I also felt the need to gently explain to her that I while losing a child still hurt; it no longer defined who I was. I offered to help anyone who needed someone to talk to one on one, including her, but I just couldn’t go backwards. I knew that weekly grief meetings would not be something that would help me in healing and continuing to move forward.
What has happened since then? SOMETHING has happened, because I am no longer that strong, positive woman who would not allow her life to be defined by grief. I know from experience that sadness breeds sadness. One sad thought leads to the next sad thought. It becomes a vicious cycle. When it rains, it pours. I believe that! Negativity will only lead to more negativity.
I suppose that by recognizing that I have slipped back to a place that doesn’t feel very good is the first step in pulling myself back up out of the hole. I’m not sure if happiness is necessarily a choice, but I do know that wallowing in self-pity and looking back at “what might have been” is not congruent with moving on and moving forward. Negative thoughts, negative feelings, and negative people all need to be pushed out of my life. While these next few days and weeks will be full of sad reminders, they will also be full of moments full of happiness and joy. Those are the moments that I need to pull in close, and those are the moments that will help me to become someone who I can be proud of once again.
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.