Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Perspective

Well, you only need the light when it's burning low,
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow,
Only know you love her when you let her go.
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go...
And you let her go.
 
Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you'll make a dream last
But dreams come slow, and they go so fast
You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you'll understand why
Everything you touch surely dies
-Let Her Go, Passenger
 
I've been thinking a lot lately about how Jeanne and Mike's death has affected me.  There are the practical things like two more children and more responsibility within our family.  This all comes with added stress and fatigue. I find myself surrounded by cliches of loss/tragedy.  "God has a plan for everything." "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." "In the long run, this will be so good for the boys." "Love conquers all." It goes on and on and on.  I recognize them for what they really are...things other people say to try to make someone in crisis feel better. Sayings that people click "like" on facebook. I find them hollow and meaningless. 
 
I think those of us that have experienced loss and trauma do have a different perspective on life.  Knowing what I know about the frailty of life and the sometimes tenuous nature of family bonds, I think I do appreciate moments of joy in our family more.  I don't think I sweat the small things as much (sorry there's one of those cliches). I think I have more empathy for others and recognize that we all have crap going on in our lives and there is no such things as the grief Olympics.  I have a new definition of what "normal" is and try not to be as judgemental of other people's choices.  My priorities have shifted. These are things that I hope I was already on the road to discovering in my growth as a person, but I think the accident sped that process up considerably. 
 
As with most things, though, there is the flip side.
 
I notice the way the sunlight during the fall is crisper and the cooler air smells different.  My mind goes straight to crushed cars, the pediatric emergency room, sitting in their front yard crying, clinging to K, the coffins, the empty feelings.  Fall used to represent new starts, the gateway to the holidays, family, and soccer games. Not anymore.
 
Holidays are highlights of who is missing.  Navigating the tricky path of figuring out our new family normal without losing our traditions.  It's hard.
 
I always think something bad is going to happen.  I worry more.  I don't live under the false perception that bad things happen to other people.  I don't expect good things to happen and when they do, I find myself waiting for the other shoe to fall.
 
My faith.  I now question everything.  God?  Are you there?  Why can't I depend on you  to help me through this?  Why?  Why?  Why? How is this good for anyone?
 
I am a different person due to the accident.  Some good.   Some hard to handle.  I long for those days of simply appreciating good things like a seven year old's smile, or two cousins cracking each other up over dinner, without the tinge of sadness.  I'm starting to accept that that day may never come.
 
I miss our old life.
 
I miss the old Peg.
 
I miss my sister.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Pause

I've had to take a pause in this space for a number of reasons.  Some kinda heavy.  Some simply logistics.  There is some stuff going on that I can't write about here, but not writing about it when it is coloring my daily life seems disingenuous. Frankly, I'm not sure when or if I'll find my way back. 

****************

We brought E to college last week.  My little sisters came with me because K had to stay home and man the back to school open house for the little guys and an afternoon soccer game for D.  It went really well.  She is happy and busy and has texted me non-stop which warms my heart knowing she misses us and still needs me.

L cried the night before she left and the morning she left.  M seems a bit lost.  D declared yesterday on the way home from school that everything seems different.

It does.

****************

Last week M made the varsity girls soccer team and A got cut from JV.  Tough few days.  He was pretty upset not really about not making it, but because he knew he was good enough and the worst boy (by far) on his club team made it who went to the school camp the last few years.  We thought he actually would make it after watching the tryouts, but who knows what the coach sees. 

M had her first game last night.  Went in during the first half.  Didn't play very well, gave up a goal, burst into tears and subbed herself out.  Yikes.  She got herself together to go back in the second half and did a little better.  Anxiety disorder sucks.  Having too much change in your life as a 14 year old girl sucks.

It's going to be a long season.

****************

Freshman orientation was yesterday.  They got their laptops, learned about classes and got their lockers.  They are in the same homeroom and their lockers are next to each other.  Other than that, they have no classes together as A is in all honors classes, but it will be good for both I think to have moments to check in with each other.

I'm excited for them and nervous all at once.

*****************

At 5pm today all four of the kids have somewhere to be.  Tomorrow the exact same thing is happening, but add in therapy for M and the stress of the first full day of classes for the A and M.

I still have  no idea how all of this is going to happen.

*****************

I crave my bed all day.  I lay in bed all night restless and unable to settle my mind.

I'm hopeful that we'll all settle into our new normal easily.  I'm hoping that this will happen sooner rather than later as the fall weather creeps in and our collective anxiety rises as we inch closer to the accident anniversary.

It will be five years.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Changes

Lots of change is afoot in these parts.

In 2.5 weeks we bring E to college.  Something I think we are all excited about.  A new start for everyone.  Just a few days off of swimming (with her early morning practice) has brought out a well rested, nicer E. Not having to be quiet at 8:30 at night so she can get to sleep gives us all a glimpse of a more relaxed household when she's off to school.

A and M also start high school in 3 weeks. Soccer tryouts start the week before.  A doesn't really want to play because he's nervous about his academic workload and not having enough time for his herpetology and skateboarding.  We want him to at least try.  We have finally figured out how they are getting to school, but still not sure how I'm going to be able to manage the addition of the high school soccer schedule and the other kids sports.  Like most things I keep repeating my mantra of "it always works out."

D and M are away at team soccer camp this week.  It's been weird only having 3 kids in the house.  It's been nice for the 3 at home to get a little more time with me.  Dinners especially have been more relaxed.  I think they are having a good time at camp, but D has called a lot and last night called at 10:55pm wanting us to come see him today.  Since it's over an hour away AND we're picking them up tomorrow at noon, we're not going, but it's hard to hear him homesick.  He's never EVER slept away from home without us (even friend sleepovers).  I think he's tired, which isn't helping things, and is having fun but misses his family.  M being with him helps I think (including all the attention from her 14 year old girls team).  As nice as this week has been, I miss them and want all my guys home.

We got M's results from her ADHD retesting.  It was really good.  They were able to pinpoint her challenges a little more and actually confirm something she's always complained about.  We also have two distinct diagnosis of ADHD and General Anxiety Disorder.  We last tested her right after 5th grade and it was hard to distinguish between the two given the closeness to her trauma.  We have a much clearer understanding of her challenges. I'm hoping we can help her more and I'm confident that the services she'll be getting at school will help her all around.

I wrote K a letter.

I know that sounds so silly, but sometimes it's easier to write things down than talk about them in person.

I think he heard me.  It's broken the ice enough to allow us to have a few tough conversations in the last two days.

One thing I've learned in the last 5 years is that love is both simple and complicated.  Taking in the girls out of love was simple.  Getting E to love us as her family is a still evolving paradigm.  I love K with all of my heart.  Marriage is often tough, though, and romantic love is sometimes the farthest thing from the reality of raising a family (a complicated one at that).

Lots of changes.  Some good.  Some challenging (not going to label them as bad yet).  There still is a lot of love though.  That's not changing.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Outside Looking In

We've been at the beach.

Kids had a blast. 

A had a once in a lifetime herping week filming multiple species he has never seen in the wild.

L finally learned how to ride a bike and loved time with his cousins.

D loved learning to paddleboard and ate crabs for the first time.

M got her hair braided and had the house record for number of peaches eaten.

E surfed and stayed up late playing poker with the uncles which was rare for our 8:30pm bedtime swimmer.

I did not have a particularly good week.

I have perfected the art of smiling, acting present for the kids, engaging in small talk with my in-laws,  yet having my heart and mind a million miles away.

The distance between my actions and heart caused by a widening rift between me and K. 

The rift causing so much pain because he is my best friend and love of my life.

I have proof now that you can love someone beyond measure, yet be so frustrated and hurt by that same person that one look at them brings nothing but anger.  Then one minute later dismiss the hurt and be so worried about them because you know they are not acting like the person you know them to be.

Looking at our life from the outside you see 5 healthy, flourishing kids.

Lately, living on the inside makes me feel like I'm on the outside looking in...having a hard time being totally there and dealing with the complexity of our life and the painful reality of a marriage in crisis.  And sometimes that's okay in order to keep those 5 children happy and thriving (which they are).

I just don't know where that leaves me.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

ABC's

Not sure why I haven't been able to write lately.  It's not really a lack of time as it's more of a lack of motivation.  I've been keeping up with reading all the blogs I love.  I simply haven't had the "umph" to sit down at the keyboard and knock out a post.  Lots of "drafts" in my head. Not sure why and not sure it really matters.

In an effort to get back on the horse, here's an update for each member of our assorted cast in alphabetical order.

A.
A is really have a great few weeks.  He did amazing at his recent skate competition and far exceeded his own expectations.  Most importantly, he dedicated his skates to our young neighbor with cancer who is currently sitting in a bed at the hospital the event was raising money for.  We texted her pictures during the weekend including a cute one with her initials written on his arm.  He actually came in second in the fundraising aspect of the event and won tons of cool prizes including a new longboard.  On the herpetology front, he has caught and filmed two species that he has been looking for at least 4 years.  One was at a secret location shown to us by his local mentor that included us pulling about 100 ticks off of each other (yuck). Totally worth it though to see his face after he found the snake he has been searching for for such a long time. He's actually been in such a good mood, it's been a bit annoying.

D.
D has also been having a good start to the summer.  This week he's running a sports camp out of our house from 9:30 to 12 teaching soccer and baseball.  Campers include his brother and 3 cousins, but also 2 kids from down the street.  He's only charging $50 for the week and having such a great time.  He wants to earn money to buy a new itouch and came up with a great plan.  He wrote curriculum, collected all the gear, and taking it very seriously.  I've been impressed with how professionally he's handling himself.  We've been getting requests from other parents who've heard how much fun the kids are having so he might even do a second week at some point. With D, it's very important to keep him busy and with a focus, and the camp has been just what the doctor ordered.

E.
Ah, E...We've had moments of normalcy, but for the most part she has been so difficult. We almost feel like she's regressed to our first year together.  I'm assuming it's her way of dealing with leaving us in the fall and a result of her anxiousness about everything. It's still really annoying. I'm trying so hard to balance being patient and at the same time not allowing her to make life miserable for everyone else. She has always needed to be the center of all attention and recently taken it to a whole new level. Inappropriate comments during family events, complaining about food again, and rude comments to her sister and cousins.  I knew this summer with her was going to be trying.  Going through it with that knowledge isnt' helping too much.  On the good news, she's really busy finally with lessons and coaching so she's not around as much to cause too much havoc.

K.
I'm trying.  Really, really trying to focus a little more on him and our marriage.  Last week I tried to make extra efforts to be kind to him and he did seem to be more engaged with our family life. He's at least making more efforts with the kids and for that I'm happy.  I still yearn for a day that I feel more like we are a team and one time he put me first.  I still worry about his overall mental and physical health.  He has not been himself since he got sick.  I don't know what to do to help him other than love him the best I can and hope we weather this storm.

L.
This kid is hilarious. He makes all of us smile and laugh throughout the day.  I love every age, but 7 has really been a blast with this one. I've made a concerted effort to get more one-on-one time with him.  We've had some great nights at the pool, game time after dinner just the two of us, and cosy time on the couch.  His big prize to start the summer was a box of 120 crayons.  His favorite thing to do is reading all the different colors...his current favorite is piggy pink.  We are easing into doing his summer reading and I decided that playing 1 v 1 on words with friends must count for some academic work. Right?

M.
We've had our ups and downs with M lately.  She's had a much better attitude about swimming and as a result she's been doing great.  In a little bit of harmless rebellion, she dyed her gorgeous red hair hot pink/purple at the ends last week.  I think it looks dorky (A hates it), but giving her this little bit of control seems to help her behavior overall. We did have a few days of weirdness and a fake illness that included me bringing her to the doctor to call her bluff.  Very tiring our M can be. We also just finished up her re-testing for learning disabilities and ADHD last week and get her results next Friday. I'm curious to see how things have changed if at all in the 3 years since we last tested.  She and her sister have been fighting non-stop.  I'm thinking E going off to college in the fall is going to calm things down for her a bit.

P.
Then there's me.  I've been a bit off and maybe that's why my writing has slowed.  Chicken and egg kinda thing I think.  Even with school out, I simply have so much to do in the day that it's impossible to get everything done.  The result is often a feeling of being so overwhelmed that I am paralyzed not knowing what to prioritize.  I get further behind and the cycle keeps going. My patience at the end of the day is non-existent. I'm working to stay in the positive as much as possible...key word being "work."  I hope one day I'll turn the corner and truly accept this is my life and tackle it with the same enthusiasm the old Peg used to without having to make such a cognizant effort.

Other randoms...World Cup has continued to be so fun.  Lots of gatherings at our house to watch all the games not just the US (poop we lost against Belgium). We got a ping pong table. It's awesome and the boys especially have had a great time playing.  K and I both had a table growing up and have enjoyed playing with them.  Our house has also become the hang-out place this summer.  Today we have two of M's friends, one of A's friends and my nephew R.  Actually A's friend has been here pretty much non-stop since Saturday (he moved home from England on Friday).  I like this. 

I'll try to write more regularly.  Getting this out today makes me feel good.  I've got lots of things to be grateful for and this blog is one of them.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Believe

Where have I been? 

Here, slugging along with lots going, but also watching lots and lots of World Cup soccer.  It's been fun.  The kids have played impromptu games in our backyard, taking on the names of their favorite teams and players.  I actually got to play in a tourney last weekend which was a blast.

We root for the United States and England in this house.  My father-in-law and brother-in-law were both in Brazil which made things even more exciting.  We've had lots of family over for each of the US games making it loads of fun.  The boys have been sporting their US jerseys every chance they get.

The US team just lost to Germany, but given the Portugal v Ghana result, we made it through.  If you don't know, the US was put in the "group of death" and weren't given much of a chance to make it to the final 16.  I have consistently been positive about our chances and spouting off to the kids that, "I Believe!!" the phrase coined by US goalie Tim Howard.

Lots of posts in draft.  Too negative and whiny given our mood today with the US result to post.

I believe and will be rooting for our boys come Tuesday.

Go USA!!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Graduates

We've had a lot going on over here in the land of graduations.  Sorry for the long writing break, but in addition to all the festivities we had unbelievable sports drama with D and the stress of these big changes in our family has made me (and everyone else) a bit of a basket case.

E's graduation was spectacular.  She graduated valedictorian and gave hands down the best speech I've heard (I'm a little biased, but seriously, she compared their high school experience to Chipotle...so funny, clever and touching).  She was so happy and our party afterwards was fun.

E with all the cousins.

E with the aunts.

E with her sisters.
 
 
Last night was 8th grade graduation for A and M.  They had a fun and emotional week leading up to the actual graduation mass.  A has been at his school for 9 years.  He has such great friends and it was tough on me thinking of my little boy all grown up.  We are so happy with the experience he has had at our school, and the way M has been embraced has been such a blessing. A won academic awards for honor roll and English. M won an academic award for Religion and the last individual award of the night for living her Catholic values.  The awards were actually big surprises for all of us. She was floating on air getting not one but two awards.  A was his usual chill self and happy to be starting summer vacation.  He's got lots of plans for herping and skating.
 
 
The graduates

Me and K with the graduates.

Me and my boy.

Big bro with little bro.

Me and my guys.
 
This morning I only dropped off D and L at school.  It was quiet.  It was strange.  I think sometimes in our family we brace ourselves expecting badness to come with change. Frankly, that has been our experience the past four years. In this case, I can only hope for positives.  I really can't wait to see what's in store for our three graduates as they start their new adventures.  I'll be there to support and cheer them on all the way.