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Eight and Odd

Posted by casey on March 17, 2015 in Grieving My Way, Writing Nook
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Today marks eight years since we started to navigate continuing our daily lives without Mom by our side.

Eight years.

I thought about letting it pass, as I haven’t been dwelling on it too much but then I never do really and as it always does it crept up on me, silent and staring and waiting for some sort of recognition.  Truthfully, that is how I feel about it, this day.

“Recognize Me” “Remember Me”

That in itself is a strange struggle each year.  Yes, it is a small struggle, but it is still there because despite knowing that it is in fact, just a day, those memories are always there. Each year I find it so strange as the concept of St. Patrick’s Day “celebrating” begins to spread or be planned for whether it is just in the community or at the boys’ schools or festive meals planned at home. Knowing me, you know that I tend to go all out for holidays, just like Mom did.

Even for St. Patrick’s Day she made it “a thing”.  I am sure you have heard me talk about the leprechaun that used to visit our house every year as kids.  We would try our best to set a trap for him, but that little guy always escaped leaving teeny footprints and mischief behind.  We were sure not to escape the house in anything but green and if she could add an “Irish” element here or there that day she did.

For me though, I struggle each year to “celebrate”.  I am SO thankful that it is a holiday that can easily go unacknowledged, but that feels strange too.  Yes, I put the boys in green and yes, this year I am making them a fun little lunch, but I just can’t fully embrace what could be the silliness of the day.  Fortunately it isn’t particularly weird to not say “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” to people I run across today like it would be for Christmas, Easter, even Halloween but weird is how today seems to feel each year. Not particularly eloquent, elaborate or emotional, but honest.

Today is Weird.

If we had it our way today we would be celebrating, but celebrating Dana’s birthday with her, with Mom.  Instead we waver between the idea of celebrating and acknowledging with our kids yet another opportunity for some fun and the memories that seem to still be vivid in what is often not a steel trap for me, especially at almost 32 weeks pregnant with number three.

Yes, it has yet again been a year where I needed her.  With miscarriages and moves and memories made I needed her.  But won’t that always be the case? Shouldn’t that always be the case.  The day a child truly forgets that they had a mother, that they want or need a mother, the person who carried them and let their bodies grow them is the day it really gets weird.  And so I remain thankful.  Thankful for my mother in law who thinks of me as a daughter and works to treat me as so, thankful for friends who don’t tip-toe around but remember the loss and its effect just as much and thankful for their mothers’ who I think work to carry her doings on by still working to do things for me in thought, notes, showers and such.

This day will come each year, and she won’t be any more gone but the day will be remembered for what it was.  We will think on it perhaps, internally or to each other but it will be there and I think now, in looking at it for the day that it is, it will simply always feel a little odd.

“May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sunshine warm upon your face, the rain fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again may God hold you softly in the hollow of his hand.” Irish Blessing

 
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In the Mom Moments

Posted by casey on March 17, 2014 in Grieving My Way, Writing Nook

It is the day for reflecting, for remembering and for reliving.  Even if I don’t want to, I do.  Even if I push it aside it is there. As I talked about last year, it is the sting of the day that is ever present. Seven full years since we lost Mom. I say seven full years not to put impact on the length of time that has passed necessarily but on how full those years have been for all of us, even without her.

I’ve spoken before about how it isn’t that we feel the loss more today, but that for me, once January hits I start checking in with myself more automatically.  Beginning because a new year and it inevitably ends with the challenge of reflecting on mom as March sneaks closer.  This year as my mind grasped for words for the stage I may be in I think I most certainly had it handed to me.

Seven years later, it is about the “mom moments”.

Not the moments she has missed in our very full lives, though as I talked about last year in saying, “In the simplest of actions, the smallest of moments I feel the sting. The boys learning a childhood song. Mothers becoming grandmothers. The similarity in a picture,” those everyday accolades do have a missing element whether I am consciously aware of it or not.  This year and I predict for the years to come it is simply  about the moments when a daughter just needs and wants her mother.

As I have observed friends this past year, mothers of friends, professional athletes in a moment of success, celebrations in a moment of joy so many first turn to their mother.  To celebrate with them, to thank them for sacrifices, to share in the love and to find comfort in the pain.  It isn’t that they don’t think of fathers or want to do the same thing, it is that innately, we turn to the person who carried us and cradled us and regardless of our age, size or situation is sitting with arms and heart open ready to do the same again.

The mom moments.  The moment you instinctively reach to call your mom.  To hug your mom.  To sympathize with your mom and if you’re lucky to share the experience, empathize with your mom.

In being fully honest with myself on where I am this year and in general allow me to share a little for this all to make a bit more sense.  In February just as I was full in the process of reflecting  – (realizing I have forgotten things about her (sound of her), being reminded by a stranger’s perfume the smell of her, seeing a woman her age with the exact peachy complexion and double-taking, ) we suffered an early miscarriage.  As I sat in the depths of really letting myself feel what I wasn’t prepared for after carrying both Caden and Everett successfully, after realizing what was not to be, after feeling the excitement of a new life we had wanted for us and accepting the hiatus from this process that was put upon us, it became very evident where I was in this seven year process. It was about the mom moments.

Seven years later, knowing full and well that she is not here with me, being surrounded by my husband, my sister-in-law and a few close friends supporting me and loving me as I tried to be very open and honest about what I was experiencing so that I could move forward,  I simply  wanted to talk to my mother.   At twenty nine years old I wanted her to hug me, I wanted her to cover me with a blanket tell me “It would all be okay,” and start a craft in the other room with the boys.  It isn’t because I wasn’t getting that love and support, but think about it, don’t we just believe our mothers when they comfort us?  How many times do you see a toddler be soothed only by his mother’s words, the tone of her voice, the look in her eyes even though someone else had just done the exact same thing?

In the mom moment of it, I just wanted my mother. In the mom moment of it, I was further upset that I still reached for her knowing that option is not a possibility.  In the mom moment of it, I felt I had to grieve her loss a little again, while already grieving and processing the what could have been.  It is the double sting.

Among all of the joys you so obviously wish you could share, it is also the selfish days.  For the weeks the whole family is riddled with the stomach bug, for the days you just want some company, and for the times you want that mother’s intuition to steer you one more time I wish she was here.  To swoop on in, a million more times.

A few months ago, in a rare stop me in my tracks moment, after saying our bedtime prayers, Caden, who was talking about me being his Mommy and Colter his Daddy asked me for the first time where my mother was.  How does one explain her love to someone who will not meet her?  How does one explain where she is without frightening a small child about the possibility of me not being there?  How does one tell their firstborn the simplest of answers which is, ‘not here’ while emphasizing the belief of ‘somewhere better’?  Even that, was a bit of a mom moment.

There are times when I want that “need” to go away.  When I want the instinct to wish for her to fade as sadly as some of she has.  But that would be a whole other tragedy.  Isn’t there something so beautiful about the love for a mother ?  The love for that role in your life and the instinct to need it.  The magic of having the role model who filled our childhood memories with what a mother should be and what her children needed.  As a mother myself, I hope that my childrens’ need for their mother never fades, no matter the circumstance, no matter the need, no matter the joy, no matter the sadness and no matter the age.

I look at my life with a very grateful heart and know that we are loved.  We are supported. We are prayed for.  We are given to.  We are cared for.  We are thought of.  We are fortunate.

We are a family.

We are loved.

As is she.
Not was, but IS.

No matter the time passed, no matter the moments missed because there will always be mom moments and that is what is perfectly okay.

(Also fitting Mama Kat’s prompts this week as a challenge.)

 
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Sting

Posted by casey on March 17, 2013 in Grieving My Way, Writing Nook

Thinking, reflecting, checking in.  All things I do every year, more than on just this day but it doesn’t seem right to let the day pass without saying something as I have each year.  Saying something for me, for you and for her.  Six years later and it is all about the sting.

In the simplest of actions, the smallest of moments I feel the sting.
The boys learning a childhood song.
Mothers becoming grandmothers.
The similarity in a picture.
A long recovery.

The truth is today does not hurt more than another day.  As I have mentioned in years past it is not that I miss her more today, or think of her more today.  In truth, today, I think about us more.  Those that she left behind to live without her.  It is not the loss that makes me sad today or feel more today, it is the memory of the day.  The memory of the day which I haven’t spoken much of because it is vivid and raw and it was the beginning of that sting. It is the initial sting.

The sting, a Shock, a jolt, Jolting.  All describe the day, the momen,t the call that floods back on this day.  That is what I think of on this day. The call.  Can you imagine, my father, who just lost his wife of more than 35 years having to gather himself to call his newly engaged daughter and newly married son to tell them that their mother was gone?  Those were the words. “Hi Dad!” “Missy? Missy.  She’s gone.  Your mother is gone.”  What stings me now when I think of that is that in that moment I knew exactly what he meant.  Was it the tone?  The words?  The intuition?  I had just been there.  I had just left her.  She was fine, and yet, I knew what he meant and it more than stung.

I called my husband, then my fiancé, who was golfing with his father.  I got the words out calmly once I think, but he could not hear.  The second time I wailed them, and he could not understand.  A jolt. A shock.  The sting.

Colter’s dog getting out the front door and chasing him in my sundress for Christine’s shower that I would not be attending with some rollers in my hair and some falling out.  My husband and father in law walking in.  My mother in law coming in after and being told. My father in law held me and I told him as I cried, “But I need her.”  I can still hear myself say the words, how I sounded, how I must have looked, how others in the room looked, and the memory of the sound of myself puts a knot in my throat anytime I recall those words, which is rather often.  The next words were what sticks with that I still think, “But I don’t want everyone to look at me and know like I am different.”  In that moment I knew I had changed and the way I would interact or relate to others had changed.  It was immediate.

Immediate because even on the plane to Florida hours later the woman next to me continually tried to make pleasant banter about her trip and why I was going.  Poor Colter kept trying to run interference among his own grief because I knew not how to interact politely yet without dumping the shock on them.  Working to not let others feel the sting.   Trying to be polite.

In the simplest of actions, the smallest of moments I feel the sting.

A festive project sent home from Caden’s school.  An e-mail reminder to send Dana something for her birthday today.  An abundant supply of shamrock shirts, pictures of kids all associated with green and luck.  Of all things, luck.  It all stings.  A chatty stranger at the grocery. However, in being polite you respond back, “Yes, St. Patty’s Day, no, no parade this year.” When my Dad and Jill were visiting my grandmother at her retirement center, they happened to go while they were having a St. Patrick’s day celebration.  It made me inhale. I wear green, I take pictures of the boys, I rise above, but it stings because it is there.  It is there in the room and it is wearing…bright green.

It makes me think of all of those who have lost someone not on a holiday.  On that Tuesday when you made small talk with the stranger telling them what a wonderful day it was with the sunny weather change.  Maybe just maybe, they were being polite too while thinking of their love lost.  Maybe, just maybe they were feeling the sting.

It is the call.  It is the plane ride.  It is the phone calls I couldn’t make. It is the phone calls I made.  It is the sleepless nights.  It is letting others grieve through you.  It is the nightmares. It is being told how much we look alike, how much we are alike.  It is the reminder.  It is the days past.  It is the memories made without her.  It is the moving forward. Maybe it is for awhile or just for a moment but regardless, It is all that sting.

In the simplest of actions, the smallest of moments I feel the sting.

Recently, after a wave of grief hit me one evening over something so minute I cannot even recall the sting frustrated me.  I so wanted to not cry.  I so wanted to not be upset.  I so wanted to not let missing her get to me.   I so wanted to just be…just be…I don’t know the word.  Whole?  Innocent?  Polished? Graceful? A daughter.  I wanted to be a daughter to a mother.  I wanted to be a mother with a mother.  It was my husband who gave me relief.  It was him who gave me permission to let myself feel the sting whenever it may hit.  It was my husband who made it clear that some things just don’t and won’t go away, shouldn’t go away and it isn’t weak but probably healthier in the end.  It was him that reminded me that some losses are too great, some people are meant to be remembered and missed in every moment. It was him who reminded me that not all tears are in fact bad. It is him who still carries my mother’s memorial card in her wallet six years later and I am reminded that we all feel the sting.

It is what it is.  That is why we all could go forward.  It is what it is.

We all love her, we all miss her, we all wonder what if, we all see the possibility and the could have beens, but it is what it is.

It stings when it stings.
It reminds us.
Even six years later.

 
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An Open Letter

Posted by casey on September 7, 2012 in Grieving My Way, Life as I Know It, Writing Nook

Dear Mom,

For starters, it seemed strange to not write Dear “Mama” since that is what the boys call me and I hear it a thousand times a day. Mama.  You would have hated that they called me that.  Okay, probably not because it would have been endearing to see your daughter be a ‘Mama’ but to us you were always simply, Mom.

I am three sentences in and have already digressed, but, well, if I could talk to you we would have so much to catch up on. I guess, the truth is, if I could talk to you we would have nothing to catch up on because you would already know. Ay yi yi, I need to start over….

Dear Mom,

Happy Birthday! Today you would have been 64 years old. Sorry, I just outed you.  Consider the woman “never discuss your age” code officially broken. I hope you don’t think it is odd, but I think that you should still be celebrated.  After all, to us, September 7th will always be your day.   Caden and I made pancakes, eggs, and bacon (his special request) for breakfast this morning knowing that you would have loved a nice pancake birthday breakfast.  I have thought about which Brighton piece of jewelry Dana would have bought for you and which Chico’s outfit you would have picked out to treat yourself. So typical, Brighton and Chico’s.  Then again, this is your sixth birthday not here with us so maybe your preferences would have changed.  Nah.  I bet not.  I am going to go ahead and say that my gift/card would have been late.  That is the kind of year it has been – always a bit behind.

I sung to you in my head today. Sad I know.  But, you always sang us awake and asleep and as many other times as you could fit in so it only seemed fair and right.  I only wish I repaid you with the same things you did for us while you were here.  I wish we had teased you less and hugged you more.  I could definitely give you a hug for your birthday but if it is alright with you, I will give them to Caden and Everett today instead – extra ones even.

You would adore them Mom. Just adore them, and Cathryn and Cameron.  You have some amazing grandchildren that are full of life, potential, silliness, innocence, trust, yearning for more knowledge and soaking up every bit of love.

Bill’s birthday was this past Monday, the 3rd.  Caden sat at the table coloring, cutting and gluing a special card for his Pa Pa.  Focused and with intention he made that card and then carefully held it the entire car ride to the house to deliver it.  I couldn’t help but picture him doing the same thing for you too, their Grandma.  You would be amazed by them, and I can confidently say that I know you would soak up every bit of love they had to give too. Every, single, bit.

I don’t want you to worry though Mom.  They are very lucky.  Carolyn is a perfect Nonna to them. She dotes on them, and snuggles them so much that Caden doesn’t even want to go home when he is there.  They very much so have a grandmother in their life who as hard as it might be to say to you has done a marvelous job filling the role of two grandmas.  I think she works to give them the love of both of you.  So don’t worry, they are fine and getting plenty of grandmotherly attention and goodness.

I wonder what you would do to celebrate this year?  Fear not. Colter and I bought your favorite cake for you again this year. Frozen Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake.  I am pretty sure the only reason it tastes remotely good is because you loved it.  So, tonight we will eat it on the couch, while watching some trash TV and pretend that we are enjoying it with you too.  A consolation prize that will have to do.

Happy Birthday Mom, We Love You

 
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Goosebumps

Posted by casey on May 2, 2012 in Everett, Grieving My Way

Sometimes the smallest things can make the hairs on your arms stand up, and goosebumps to creep across your body as a memory triggers your body’s response to a stimuli.  Sometimes your body knows before your brain does.

As I got Everett out of his crib during the night last night, for the hundredth third time, I pulled him to me and sat down trying to register the difference that was waking my foggy, sleepy brain.

Goosebumps.

He smelled like mom’s perfume.
I put him to bed smelling like baby lotion from his nightly bath.

Goosebumps.

 
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5

Posted by casey on March 17, 2012 in Grieving My Way
Before I begin I need to say that our family is blessed with many who love us and take care of us.  I also want to specifically point out that my mother in law Carolyn is amazing to me and all I could ask for in a grandparent to my kids.  They adore her and so do I.  I wanted to be sure and make that known so that my reflections do not take away from those facts or make them seem unappreciated.

Today is the day.
5 Years Without Mom
5 Whole Years

For starters, why is it that these “big anniversaries”, you know, 5 years, 10 years etc.  are a bigger deal?  It feels a bit like a bigger deal but another year doesn’t make her more gone, just gone longer right?  Just a thought.

You see, I have been reflecting on this for awhile now and well, for awhile I have just been blank about it.  For the first year in five years I didn’t know if I had anything to say.  It wasn’t that when I was reflecting I thought I didn’t miss her or need her or think of her I just couldn’t put my finger on what was different or what hadn’t already been said or what 5 years meant.

The blankness bothered me.

The blankness that bothered me made me realize that it wasn’t actually being blank that was the botherer.

5 Years Was Bothering Me and it Turns Out I Wasn’t Blank At All

I mean five years is a good chunk of time and SO much has changed in five years.  For starters and probably at the front of my mind is that she would be the grandmother to four beautiful kiddos.  I have talked about it before but it is strange to miss her in a role you never knew her in. She didn’t get to become a grandmother yet I know what kind of grandma she would have been.  It makes me sad for my boys.  In fact, recently my wonderful mother in law who is the best grandmother to Caden and Everett even said that at occasions like Caden’s birthday she couldn’t help but think of my mom and how much she herself had looked forward to sharing being a grandmother with her.  It was such a sad but sweet statement made by a loving mother and grandmother that fit my thoughts quite well.

In years past I have written about acceptance and loss, gaining peace, forgetting things like her laugh (which seems so wrong to forget something of your mother’s), time passing, learning to feel sad for us instead of sorry for us and the fact that she would have been proud.  This year I found myself saying “she would have been there/here” a lot as we had various transitions and occasions.

- When Caden fractured his shin and everything was fine but just long and tiresome I knew she would have been there.  She would have wanted to go to the appointments with me and come carry him around to snuggle him and give me a break.

- A month later when Caden split his noggin’ open she for sure would have been at the hospital and then there with me the next few days just because I was an emotional mess about it happening.

 –  I was really sick at the beginning of my pregnancy with Everett.  When I could barely get off the couch yet was trying to also take care of a toddler I thought “She would have been here.”

- As her sister Dana struggled with her battle with cancer she would have been there.  She would have cared for her, held her hand, brought her love and strength and support and helped ease her fears.  Today, Dana’s birthday it brings me great sadness that my mom wasn’t there to comfort her and be the big sister she always was for her.  Yes, it would have been heartbreaking for my mom but she would have wanted to be there for her.

- In general my pregnancy was tougher with A LOT of back pain and needing to try and take it easier.  I assume that we would have still talked daily if not several times a day and upon hearing me say my back was hurting or I was struggling she would have come over pronto or picked Caden up so I could rest.  She would have been there.

- The weeks after Everett was born when colic was at its peak, Colter was sick, no one was sleeping and Caden was confused…she would have been here.

- As Everett was hospitalized with RSV and we completely wore out Colter’s parents feeling bad to ask anything else of them yet not being able to ask friends in fear of spreading it to their kids and the next weeks were full of every member of this family being ill – kids puking, multiple trips to doctors each week, snot everywhere, no food, no sleep nastiness she would have been here. She would have come to help without being asked even if we told her not to because she just would have.

-I thought about it last year on Caden’s first birthday and couldn’t help but think of it again. Hearing about all of my preparations for Caden’s second birthday would have tortured her that she was in Florida instead of here to see the decor and help prepare but she would be here on their birthdays.  She loved birthdays.

Did you know that I was there in Florida two days before she died?  I flew back after having been there to help with the surgery recovieries and I talked to her the night of the 16th (for the 10th time that day) and said I would call her in the morning after my friend’s bridal shower so she could rest.  That morning I picked up my phone and started to call her only to hang up because I had told her I would let her rest so I should wait until after the shower.  I didn’t make it to that shower and a couple of hours later I got a call instead.

It is the thought you can’t help but hear.  The gap you can’t help but notice.  The quote that makes me cringe and I will never forget hearing myself say, or sob in the minutes after I learned she was gone into my father in law and then husband’s arms “But I need her.”  I did and five years later sometimes I still do.

Its just…well, its your mom.

The thing about moms is they just know…they just get it.  You don’t have to ask because they hear it in your voice that they are needed.  If you do ask you better believe they are there as soon as they can with all hands on deck.  This year it has been a year of selfish reflections for me.  She would have taken us to get pedicures, she would have watched the kids, she would have given us a break, she would have been with me when Dana slipped into a coma and I went to hold her hand and say goodbye, she would have wanted to take me shopping for new baby things for Everett, she would have wanted to take Caden shopping for big brother treats, she would have taken me post-baby shopping, she would have sat on the couch with me when we all were sick, she would have loved seeing the baby albums I made, she would have beamed with pride at Christmas and their birthdays, she would have listened as I needed a friend, she would have understood she would have been here.

5 years of missed weddings. 5 years of missed Christmases. 5 years of missed birthdays.  5 years of missing new grandbabies.  5 years of missed daily chatter.  5 years of missed support.

5 Years
It turns out that 5 years is a long time.

(We are also missing Dana on her birthday today)

 
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These Are the Days

Posted by casey on November 18, 2011 in Family, Grieving My Way, Home

These are the days that I miss her.

We are doing just fine as a family of four and settling in to our new routine.  However, just as I thought of mom more during this pregnancy I have missed her more during this birth and homecoming.  Colter and I chose with Caden to not have people come and stay with us as we like to settle in alone and see what we need to do etc.   That doesn’t mean that I didn’t think of what she would have helped with every single day though.  I often hear of friends who have their mothers stay for the first week(s) to well, just be there.  So naturally in these first couple weeks home with another new baby that she won’t know with oodles of things to do, I have missed her.

This time, it was even easier to see where she would have fit in around the house as Caden was adjusting, and I was/am recovering/healing and Everett is becoming aclimated to non-womb living.  As I watched Colter wrestle and rough house with Caden I could see her doing laundry even though we would ask her not to, picking up some new comfy PJs for me just because she would want me to feel taken care of too and snuggling her grandbabies whenever she got the chance.

Selfishly, I also know that in her head she would have a shopping trip planned out in the coming months to replenish my wardrobe that hasn’t been renewed since I was pregnant with Caden really. You know, just a few things to spruce up the closet that actually do fit instead of the constant piecing together of in between sizes.  Just one of those things many moms & daughters do together is all.

My mom had an amazing ability to be extremely useful without overstepping.  She accomplished massive tasks without getting in the way, interfering with schedules or well…making herself known.  She would have been so helpful and so supportive as we brought the newest member of our family home. 

As my hormones hit an all time peak in the days after Everett’ s birthday I have missed her.  What is interesting is that you can miss someone in a role you never knew them in.  My mom never got to meet her grandchildren yet I know exactly the kind of grandmother she would have been.  At least I think I do.

She would have loved to see Caden snuggling his baby brother and giving him sweet pats.

 

She would have loved to kiss these precious cheeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am so blessed with a precious, healthy family.  I am very fortunate to have very loving and involved in laws to be there for me and grandparents to my kiddos.  I am so thankful for an extremely hands-on supportive husband and daddy to my boys.
We are doing wonderfully, but I do miss her and that in all truthfulness, I am kind of tired of.

 
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What Women Do

Posted by casey on September 18, 2011 in Family, Grieving My Way, Writing Nook

I figured that it was about time to “check in” on something other than Caden, Baby Kaz II and the multitude of recipes that are filling my freezer.  It is “old news” in this life of mine now, and most of you know but 4 1/2 years ago my mother suddenly passed away.  By suddenly, I mean that I was there in Florida one day taking a mini break from college to help my Dad recover from knee surgery while she was recovering from back surgery.  I was there to bring her home and help get her settled and flew back to Texas a week later with an uneasy feeling that she could really use my help a few days longer.  A hug, a kiss, an I Love You, a thank you, a see you soon and then a phone call the next day that she was gone.  Suddenly.

“They say” that you block out certain things or that your brain purposely forgets painful moments so as not to continue to traumatize itself.  I think that is pretty generous of it.  However, there are quite a few things that are burned into my memory of those days but I swear I was watching myself and not in my body.

– Walking up the stairs in Colter’s parents house when my Dad called.  Know what I said? “What? Oh. It’s okay Dad.  Where are you?  Okay, it’s okay.  I’ll be there soon.”

– I was half in a sundress, with my hair in curlers preparing for my best friend’s wedding shower.  At some point I got the curlers half out.  At some point I got into mismatched sweats to fly back to Florida.  At some point I called that best friend to tell her that I wasn’t going to make it to the shower without telling her why but that I would call and tell her that evening.

— The flight back to Florida that afternoon.  The nicest lady was sitting next to Colter and I.   The nicest lady who wanted to know why we were going to Florida (“My parents…parent lives there.”) and a million other questions related to the trip.  I didn’t have the heart to make her feel bad or awkward so I just danced around it.  I’m sure she was confused when I burst into tears as we were landing because I didn’t want to get off the plane. 

– The fact that it was Dana’s birthday.

It really goes like that through the next couple weeks.  Moments.  Not one continuous memory but distinct memories of middle of the night walks around the neighborhood, endlessly sorting through pictures, lettings others grieve by sitting through all of their stories and memories etc.Moments we talk about and moments that seem too sad to. I’m telling you this not to try and put you in my shoes or in those days, but because when I really lost it though is a very distinct memory.  It was when Dana arrived.  In fact, I ignored her.  I knew that if I acknowledged her it would all be real for both of us so I would just keep my face in my picture bin and pretend she hadn’t just arrived.  When she came over to me ten or so minutes later, we lost it…and then she started neurotically cleaning for the next three days just like Mom would have.

There is a point to all of this.

I told you a few months ago when we lost Dana, not so suddenly that the words just weren’t there for the loss.  There still aren’t.  Knowing that you are going to lose someone and working to accept that as you are watching them become less of themselves is a completely different experience.  It is almost confusing and it is definitely cruel. 

Due to Dan’a relationship with my mother, we always had more of a sisterly relationship ourselves.  So, we picked at each other like sisters and we talked late into the night like sisters.  We could gossip about celebrities or our lives and the support was always there too.  When we lost Mom she stepped into a pseudo mother yet sister role (without stepping on anyone) for us.  She gracefully stepped up even more for my wedding, career woes and the birth of my son.  She worked to keep holiday traditions alive and give us a safe place to talk about mom and family and anything we needed.  For all intensive purposes she made herself Mom for us.  She made herself even more available to us.

What I lost is the friendship of a woman, the companionship of a woman and the way that women can just let it all out and then move on.  What it makes me feel most is lonely.

I have told Colter on several occasions over the past four and a half years but quite often in the past few months that I need to girl talk.  He has since learned that this means that he really just needs to listen (which he always does regardless if it is girl talk or not) and not try to fix it.  He needs to sympathize…or empathize and try to muster up a similar story – without fixing it.  He needs to validate my feelings even if he is then going to tell me I am the crazy one, but always the validation first.  He has to understand that something small feels really big to me in the moment and something that isn’t really important in life still has to be talked about so it can be off my chest and acknowledged in the end that I know it isn’t really important…it just was bothering my mind…hurting my feelings…heavy on my heart.  The real challenge?  He can’t hold a grudge.  He has to listen to the situation, respond and then shake off the conversation.

Why?
That’s what women do.
(Why does anyone put up with us?)

He willingly goes through this process with me because he too loves me unconditionally and he also knows that I am having a lonely moment.  A moment where I just miss them.  A moment that makes him miss them more too and in the spirit of trying to not be sad for ourselves (not sorry…sad…different thing) he will let me girl talk.  Then he will apologize for not being a girl. He is a good man I tell you.

There still aren’t many words for the loss that I, my brother and family are feeling and continue to process.
I know that I don’t tend to sit and mull over it or drown myself in it because the point would be missed.
We Carry On.
What I do know is that we feel it.
For me, in this moment, I feel it in loneliness and girl talk.

 
2

Dreamy Town

Posted by casey on August 21, 2011 in Grieving My Way, Life as I Know It

Vivid dreams accompany my pregnancies like the excessive need to pee making a solid night’s sleep a much appreciated thing of the past.  Interestingly enough, the dreams aren’t usually too far out there with scientific fiction like plot lines but rather “normal” things. (Unless you think being in West Baltimore’s drug run streets as a thug because you watched “The Wire” before bedtime as abnormal.)  The realistic nature of my dreams makes it that much more confusing when they do wake me from a light slumber or I wake myself because of that aforementioned need to pee as to what is actually going on.  For example, last night’s environment was a snowy one.  It went from 110 degrees to a full snow since I was so hot I could barely breathe leaving me even more in the mood for the holidays and the cold.  It was quite disappointing to learn that it wasn’t actually snowing while I “slept”.

Often in the morning I feel a little foggy and it isn’t until I’m making Caden scrambled eggs that I realize it is because in fact my brain has been trying to divide out real life from dream life and clear the fog for me to function for the day.  Poor Colter has gotten used to kissing me goodbye for work to me calling out things like,”But CT wanted me to be his partner and wouldn’t stop hounding me about it.” (Thank you “The Challenge: Rivals”)   I also tend to want to discuss what is going on in dream world in the middle of the night when I am awake thinking he should surely want to hear this too.

Besides knowing that I need to not watch TV prior to sleeping so that I don’t fry my brain and give it a reason to take that to dreamy town I work hard to clear my head before sleeping.  Usually I lay there thinking about Baby Kaz II making himself comfy and reflecting.  So one would think that nothing too crazy would happen.  However, there has been one other common theme in my dreams in the past months – my mother.

Several times it has just been life, in the present but with her.  Getting ready for the holidays perhaps, being in town for a visit –  nothing too strange other than the fact that she is here and very much alive in those dreams.   I will say though that they do seem to focus on me and her and not so much others such as Caden.  It isn’t as if I am getting a glimpse of what she would have been like with him and how they would have played and loved each other but more of a continuation of us I suppose.  I chalk that up to my brain’s recall ability of our relationship and it being easy to imagine and dream up a current conversation between the two of us.  (Not that it isn’t easy to imagine the wonderful grandmother she would have been but my brain doesn’t have any “data” on that so to speak to make it a recurring thing.)

The other night however was different.  That night she had been in a car accident and was in the hospital and it was as if in the dream she wasn’t going to make it from the car accident.  So there I was in my dreams trying to digest losing my mother only to wake up feeling worried/upset to remind myself (while peeing mind you) that I had already lost her.  My pregnant dreams allow me to go back to sleep and hop right back into the same dream so all night I was going back and forth between these two very similar yet completely different worlds.  The problem with this besides a restless night’s sleep is that it causes the following day to be continually interrupted with “dream thoughts” of her.  Almost like wondering about the condition of character’s in a book you are reading as if they are truly a part of your daily life.  There I am, pregnant and chasing Caden wondering if my mother who is dead, is going to be okay from her car accident.  Surely I am losing my mind.

In truth, she has been on my mind and heart a lot during this pregnancy which I am sure is in part due to additionally losing Dana but also because it is a very different time. With Caden it was a great time of healing and acceptance for me as I prepared for motherhood remembering the mother she was.  As this pregnancy has been physically harder and more tiring I have struggled more with the thoughts of how she would have loved to help.  A call to vent about Caden wearing me out would have resulted in her being at the door to offer a break.  Wanting to get out of the house would have been all of us going to lunch and then shop.  Having a meltdown about nothing being accomplished in the new nursey would have meant a weekend full of lovingly decorating and piecing things together.  All little things, all things involving time but all those things that used to just be a normal part of life – time together, support for each other, bonding.

It seems that it is carrying over to my dreams.  The days where things all around you remind you of that person, or where you just wish they could have seen your son do that one thing, just once.  I am so blessed to have a WONDERFUL mother in law who has more than taken on the motherly role in my life and is a very loving and strong support for me and my family.  She offers assistance whenever it is needed, jumps at any chance to spend time with Caden (and he can’t get enough of her) and is so generous in thinking of things that would help me just like she would have.  I am truly lucky to have her and I remind myself of that often so that the few times when the feelings of jealousy for those who still have their mothers seem to begin to creep up I can beat them back down because of my blessings.

If only the dreams would keep you in that space too.

 
4

When the Words Come

Posted by casey on June 20, 2011 in Family, Grieving My Way

As many of you know or have heard, my mother’s youngest sister Dana passed away this past Friday.  I also know that many of you expected (so to speak) for me to jump right on and write away the train of thoughts that react to such an event as I often do.  However, it has been very quiet around here. Just, quiet.

I have thought to myself and checked in with myself…How are you doing?  How are you feeling?  What can you process?  What are you doing to stay at ease for Baby Kaz II?  What are you expecting to face?  For the most part those answers have been pretty quiet as well.  Simple, short, matter of fact, accepted answers. 

I realized that maybe  I just need to wait. 
With waiting, the words will come.

I did come across a couple of thoughts though.  During this time I came across an issue I remember disliking after my mother’s death.  Past tense.  How is it that someone who is an active part of you and your children’s life, someone you speak too and see often has to be referred to in past tense – just like that.  It bothers me not because they are “gone” but because it makes me feel as if it takes away from their importance.  “Dana always says…” and “Dana used to say…” have very different tones to me.  It doesn’t feel correct to say she “had” something because well, all of those somethings are still there.  She “loved” us….eh, I think she loves us.  With death we often speak of what they have left behind and how their memory is alive with us and we obviously do not forget them.  Yet, we are supposed to go from present tense to past tense when speaking of them without a blink of the eye.  It bothered me four years ago, and yes, I have realized that it still bothers me now.

Something else I am very aware of is that I have been accepting this loss from the day I heard “cancer” and “there is nothing really they can do” come from Dana’s mouth on her porch 11 months ago.  I am a very positive person, and I believe in the power of positive thinking and prayer, however I also am a realist.  The reality of the situation was that our family would be faced with another unimaginable loss and that yet again we would be stripped of a woman who loves us, supports us and glues our family.  In just over four years we have lost my mom’s mother (Fall 2006), my mother at 58 years old (March 2007), her middle sister (July 2008)  at 55 years old and now the youngest sister at 52 years old.  Yes, it is sad.

Sure, death is a part of life. I don’t think it should be a regular part of someone’s life and family.  Something that seems to be a constant and something that adds to the things we are all currently working through.  For now though that is just what we all are doing…working through it, pulling through it and for me, I am processing the quiet.

In the quiet, the words will come.

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