Friday, January 28, 2011

Snowed In

Snowstorms seem to bring out the worst in the girls.  I remember last year the when they were dropped off at our house during the east coast blizzards because my sister and her husband were at their wits end with them.  (the 4 girls were originally supposed to live with my younger sister C and her three kids but that's another story)  I really didn't understand it then and chuckled at how my sister was crazy and that E and M were just kids and no problem.   Boy was I wrong.

We've been stuck at home all week.  The kids have been in school only one day.  For 2 of these days, we've had no power.  I've heard nothing for the past 24 hours but complaining from the girls.  Why don't we have a generator?  Is the milk going to go bad?  I'm bored.  Why doesn't A have a $300 snowboard instead of one from Target?  Complaint, after complaint, after complaint.  That's mostly from E, but this sends M into such weird moods.  She is still so stuck between worlds.  She wants to be part of our family but is fiercely loyal to her sister who is actively against it.  I'm sure that behind closed doors E lectures M about acting like part of our family.  I often wonder what E thinks is going to happen if she keeps pushing us away.  M is only 10 years old.  She needs parents.  She needs a family.  So does E for that matter, but she'll never admit it.  Instead of saying what she's really upset about, she complains about our family, our life, and our house.  She just isn't ready or mature enough to just say she misses her parents.

I normally love snow days.  I love being home with the boys.  The last few days makes me want to get them all back in school pronto.  Unfortunately another snow storm is called for Tuesday.  It's weeks like this that I realize that I've lost more than just my sister and brother-in-law.  In many ways we've lost our family as we knew it.  Sometimes that just sucks.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On Loss

My friend Connie died this morning.  She had a brain tumor.  It took about 1 year from diagnosis to today for her to die, with lots of hope, despair, pain and prayers in between.  She has 5 boys.  Her youngest three around the same age as our guys.  I am so sad, but....

...her boys got to say good bye to their mom.  They still have their dad.  Have I become that cynical and self-absorbed that I'm comparing our loss?  Our loss is so consuming, it's hard to see other people's.

I really wanted to go see her in the past week.  I just couldn't.  I just didn't think I could do it emotionally.  I guess I thought my situation would make me stronger, but it hasn't really panned out that way yet.

K and I can be such a support to Bart, Connie's husband, in the next months.  We are living with grieving children. Our boys are friends.  I just don't know if I'm up for it.  I'm barely holding it together over here.  Or maybe helping someone else will make me feel better.  Who knows.  All I know is that death just sucks and I still don't buy the "they're in a beter place" line.  Connie should be home with her boys.  Jeanne and Mike should home with their girls.

I guess I'm still kinda lost when it comes to loss.

Monday, January 24, 2011

This New Life

So I was arriving at E's swim meet on Saturday and I noticed the car next to me had a bumper sticker with the sports club our boys play for and E's high school.  I figured they were there for the swim meet too and when the mom came out of the car, I introduced myself.  When she asked who I had swimming, I mentioned I was here for E--my niece.  She immediately stopped and said, "Oh, I know you.  Well, I don't know you but I've been praying for you for a year."  She proceeded to tell me about she's good friends with some mutual friends on A's soccer team and her prayer group prays for our family and she thinks of me all the time.


She doesn't know me.  She doesn't know the girls.  I found it so strange that she's praying for us.  I don't know why.  I said, "Um, thanks..."  What I really felt like saying was, "pray for the staving children in Africa, prayer for the victims from Tuscon..."  I was so strange.  We're fine.  This all still sucks big time.  But, we're fine.

What's strange though is that I don't want the attention, but at the same time I don't want anyone to forget.  This huge thing happened.  My life is forever changed....for the good, for the bad.  Someone asks how many kids we have and I feel like I have to explain. I find myself telling random strangers about my story, but was weirded out by the lady in a parking lot.

Our friends treat us so differently.  Everyone is afraid to bother us.  Sometimes I think they just get tired of hearing my venting about how hard life is for us right now.  How much I miss my sister.  How hard it is for the girls.  How hard it is for the boys.  How crazy our life is.  Sometimes I must sound like such a downer.  I'd get tired of it too.  Everyone's life is hard and everyone has challenges.  I worry I'm becoming too consumed with our little crisis that I've lost perspective and empathy for others.

I know in the long run we're all going to be fine.  I know time will make things easier.  For now, though, I feel like I'm stuck.  The accident is still so fresh.  The girls in our lives is still so new (only 6 months). Will it ever feel normal?  Will we ever forget?  I hope so.  I hope not.

This new life is strange.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Cast

I decided when I'd write the blog that I wouldn't use everyone's real names (except for Jeanne and Mike) to keep a little privacy.  I thought of using pseudonyms but with the amount of people in our family that would seriously get out of control.  I'm also not that creative.  We do have repeated first initials but that's a little more manageable.

First, I'm married to K.  We started dating in college but I've know his family since high school.  His sister and I were friends and played on the soccer team together.  I even visited her freshman year in college.  For the most part, he's a good husband and great father.  He's very involved in the kids' sports (coaching soccer and basketball) and is always game to bring D to a sporting event or A to the skate park.  He's got a great sense of humor, is very smart, and consequently has a hard time admitting he's wrong.  He's been awesome at times during the last year, but at other times I get the feeling like he blames me somehow for what's happening with our family. 

Our oldest son is A.  He's ten years old and in fifth grade.  He is a great kid.  Interested in tons of things...skateboarding, herpetology (reptiles and amphibians), drawing, and reading.  He's very athletic and plays soccer and basketball but sports don't seem to be his passion.  He's not the most optimistic of people and I often call him my "glass half empty" kid. He is very truthful which is sometimes a bad thing since he has no filter and often says things that hurt other people's feelings.  He has a great sense of humor and really has adjusted best out of all the kids.  Every few months, he's needed a "mental health" day and stayed home from school, but for the most part he's been normal A.

D is our seond son.  He's eight years old and in third grade.  He is crazy into sports.  Not only is he a great athlete (soccer, basketball and baseball) but he knows more about pro and college sports than most adults.  He loves the stats and scans the sports page everyday.  He is also extremely intelligent.  School comes very easily for him and his teachers often struggle to keep him occupied.  Fortunately, he's also a very well behaved kid at school so it's not a problem so far. At home, however, he's our trouble maker.  He definitely knows how to push my buttons.  He's also our picky eater and uses food as a way to get attention.  We had gotten a handle on things until the accident and once the girls moved in, food has become an issue again.  The kid could live on sun chips and hot chocolate.  He loves little kids and is very very kind to all of his little cousins. 

L is the baby.  He's three years old and our absolute blessing.  Everyone loves L.  Complete strangers come up to me on a daily basis to tell me how cute he is...big brown eyes, big cheeks and a great smile.  He loves cars, animals, sports, legos and anything his brothers are doing.  This past year is not the one I would have liked to have for him.  He's still not potty trained....again it's something he can control.  He talks about death and dying all the time.  He knows why the girls are living with us.  He may not really understand death but he knows their mommy and daddy aren't here.  He also knows that the sisters aren't living together and that confuses him.  On more practical matters, he wants his room back (he had to give it up and share with D for the girls).  Everyday he asks me if E and M are going to be here forever.  Cute and sad all at once.

E is our eldest niece. She's 14 and in the ninth grade. It's hard to really describe E.  She is a great kid.  Great student.  Nationally ranked swimmer.  Funny, sarcastic sense of humor.  E was severely traumatized by the accident.  She lost her parents.  We're her third house.  She's separated from her sisters.  She's had to move out of her house and neighborhood.  Needless to say, she has been very difficult.  Some of it directly, with mean comments and constant criticism of our house, kids, and parenting.  Some of it passive aggressive.  All of it understandable but nonetheless annoying.  She is exhausting.  She is also the focus for the rest of my family, though, and taking care of the "golden child" can be very stressful.

M is 10 years old and in fifth grade with A.  Where to start with M.  From the beginning K,the boys and I felt like M belonged with us.  She just fits.  She's funny, athletic, creative and just an all around sweet kid.  She and the boys get along wonderfully.  But she's also a pretty traumatized kid.  Abandonment issues, grief, issues with E...all wrapped together she is very needy.  She's struggling in school but it's hard to know what issues are pre-accident and what are a result of her loss.  Again, we're her third house and I'm not sure she really believes this is all real.

I also have three remaining sisters.  One older (she's got the little girls) and two younger.  Oh and there are my parents, and in-laws (husband is oldest of 9) and all of our friends.  I think I'll have to tackle the rest in a later post.

Oh yeah, and my real name is Peg.  Margaret Anne to be exact but I've always gone by Peggy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Story, part 1?

My life right now is so complicated.  Logistically and emotionally.  Carting around 5 kids and keeping track of homework, birthday parties, dentist appointments.  It's alot.  But what really adds to the complication are the emotions surrounding everything.  My own grief.  Dealing with two traumatized children.  Dealing with my own children who have their own issues with the addition of two new children.  Dealing with my parents who are helpful but have become overly intrusive into our family life and overly focused on JUST the girls.  Dealing with my sisters and their spouses and how we navigate this new reality.  But I guess the best way to explain it all is to start with the beginning...

It was a normal Saturday night.  K had to work in the office and was coming home soon.  I had just ordered Chinese food for me and the boys.  The phone rang.  It was my dad telling me there was an accident and that Jeanne and Mike were at the hospital with the girls.  He didn't have any other information but that I had to get there as soon as possible.  I called K.  He said he'd be home as soon as possible (turns out he was hours getting home because of the stopped traffic from the accident).  After I just couldn't wait any longer, I ran across the street crying and asked our neighbor to come over and watch the kids.

As I drove to the hospital, I called our close friends Geoff and Kathleen who were also good friends with my sister.  We talked for a bit and they assured me everything was going to be okay and they'd meet me there.  I began to recite the Hail Mary interspersed with lots of "F" bombs as I got closer to the hospital.  I think at some point one of my sisters called to make sure I was coming and that I be careful driving.  I could tell by her voice something was wrong.  After I parked, I ran to the emergency room.  My dad and three sisters approached me and told me they were gone.  I fell to the floor, screaming.  But my sisters quickly told me to stop because E our eldest niece and her sisters were inside and they didn't know about their parents.  The mom in me took over and I went into the pediatric emergency ward.  We divided ourselves up and I ended up sitting with MG and KT (ages 3 and 1 at the time) and pulling out the glass from their hair and calming K who had a broken leg.  The rest is a blur.  E, MG, and KT were in the car with their parents, but M (aged 9 at the time) was with her soccer coach.  I remember her coming in.  I remember telling E and M about their mom and dad.  I vaguely remember driving home.  I remember sobbing in K's arms.

I'm still not totally sure what happened during the accident.  Jeanne and Mike and the girls were coming home from picking up pizza for dinner.  It had rained earlier.  An exchange student from Bangledesh lost control of her car, hitting them from behind, sending them across the median where their car was hit head on by a truck.  They were killed instantly...or so the death certificates say. MG was fine, KT broke her leg and E, who was trapped under her mom's seat for 45 minutes, broke her tibia, heel bone, tore a tendon in her ankle and tore her ACL.  It was horrific.  Our only blessing is that we didn't lose any of the girls.

I think about the accident every day.  Each time I focus on a different aspect.  My ride to the hospital.  What they must have seen or thought as the car went out of control.  What E saw and remembers.  The image of M when we told her that her parents were dead.  My sister C and her husband on the floor of the hospital crying.  Part of me wants me to stop remembering.  But part of me doesn't want it to go away.  This profound thing happened and I don't want to forget.  I don't want to forget them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The First Post

I've been reading blogs for years.  I've read, commented, laughed, cried and loved reading about the lives of some amazing women (sorry I mostly read mommy blogs).  Most of the blogs I read are about women who've faced difficulties in their lives (infertility, loss, relationships) and I've been amazed about how much these women have recieved from their internet community and most importantly how much writing about their experiences has been therapeutic.  I've been thinking about it for awhile, and I finally decided to give it a shot.  15 months ago my life dramatically changed and blogging about it sounded like a good idea.

On October 24, 2009, my sister J and her husband M were killed in a car accident.  They left behind 4 girls.  Since then, my life has been defined by "before the accident" and "after the accident."  My family has been devastated by this.  Our relationships have been challenged, damaged, strengthened all at the same time.  It's all so very complicated that it's hard to write it all down.

So I lost my sister.  That really sucks.  But I'm also now the guardian to two of her daughters ages 14 and 10...a decision that took almost a year and lots of hurt for all parties concerned.  My husband, K, and I have three sons of our own ages 10, 8, and 3.  Our family is blessed by having the girls, but it's also caused so much disruption and chaos to our lives.

Not having written a blog before, I'm really not sure how to go about telling my story.  It's all so complicated.  But I thought in this first post I'd at least explain my blog name.  Rocks....My family immediate family, my in-laws, my friends...we're a fun, wacky group of awesome people.  But during all of this, a lot of hurt has been thrown around and many "rocks" have been thrown in our direction (myself and K).  Through this past year though I've in many ways had to be a rock...holding everyone up, trying not to get too emotional, being strong for the kids.  There have also been many people who are my rocks.  So whichever way you look at it lately, my life has been filled with rocks...the good and the bad.  I hope this blog is a way in which I can talk about all of them.

Rock On!