Monday, February 28, 2011


I remember when A and M were about 2, I was babysitting E and M for Jeanne.  She had some meeting at work so A, M, D and I had to pick up E at kindergarten.  I remember carrying D in one of those baby carriers and  while walking across the parking lot trying to get A and M to either hold my free hand or grab onto the carrier.  Another mom came up to me and said, "Wow, you've got your hands full, twins and a baby!"  I quickly corrected her and thought about how cute they were together, cousins, as close as siblings.  They're only 12 weeks apart and have always had a very special connection.

A few weeks after the accident, A told me that he knew that God knew the accident was going to happen.  I said, "Probably, buddy, (not really wanted to get into God's omniscience), but why do you say that?"  "Because," he said, "that's why God gave you all boys, he knew that your girls were coming."  My little philosopher.  At the time we weren't planning on taking the girls, but I remember getting tears in my eyes and saying, "Maybe, pal, maybe."

This summer, while still living at home with her sisters, M decided she was done living at home and wanted to be at our house.  We had decided that the girls would finish out the summer at their house to finish the swim season and give them and us time to get ready for the move.  M would have none of it.  She slept every night on the floor, inches from A, refusing to sleep in her new room.  Every morning, K drove her back to her neighborhood so she could go to swim practice and see her little sisters.  Every night, she curled up next to A, her security blanket, her only comfort.

M is really struggling.  Her grades are awful.  She moans and whines, makes up fake injuries, unable to articulate what's wrong.  She yells at her sister, rolls her eyes at me.  She's obviously depressed.  We're trying to get a handle on it, but it's really upsetting and hard.  I try as much as possible to shield the boys from it, but they know something is not right with M.  They are reminded every day of her parents death.

For the most part, A keeps a pretty even head.  Every once in a while, he needs a break, to just cry and get it all out.  Tonight was that night.  He sat at the table and cried and cried.  He didn't know why he was upset.  He just said he was tired and just couldn't think.  His brain wouldn't work and he couldn't finish his homework. 

A and M are so connected.  I think he's really starting to feel the strain.  It's hard for him to see her so sad and weird.  He tries to help her rally, but at times he just doesn't know what to do to help.  That's a lot of pressure for a little boy.

My poor little boy.  My poor little girl. I wish I could take all of this away from them.  I wish I could go back to those happy days, holding hands and calling for E coming out of her classroom.  Giggling.  Happy.  Safe.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


During Christmas time, it really bothered me when we received Christmas cards that blended our last name and the girls'.  I'm not sure why.  No that's not true, I know why.  We are still a family, the five of us.  The girls are part of our family now, but somewhere in all of this, I feel like everyone has lost sight of the fact that we're still our family--the five of us.  A family of three wonderful boys.  I feel like since the accident, and especially since the girls moved in, our family, and particularly the boys never get a break from the trauma.  The girls, and their myriad of problems, are a constant reminder of what happened.  It's a constant level of stresss, sometimes a subtle hum, other times a pounding drum.  It's always there.

I wish I could find for us a bit of space.  Time away from the girls.  Time away from the trauma.  Time for just us.  Time for us to remember what our family was...or is...But is this counterproductive?  Would it make it harder when the girls came back?  The few hours at a time we've had some time away from one or both  of the girls has been blissful.  Just typing that makes me feel so guilty, but it's true. 

I think I could just use some space.  We all could use some space.  A safe space away from the girls, away from the accident, away from the stress.  A happy space for us to relax, to be ourselves, to just be.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A February Frog

Today is D's 9th birthday!  I'm  happy but also a little sad to see him all grown up.  He is such a big kid now.  The kids get out early from school today, so after pickup we're heading over to the pet store to get him his number one present request...a tree frog!  We already have 3 geckos, a chubby frog (D's current pet), 2 dwarf frogs and a cat. What the heck, what's another frog.  He is going to be so suprised and excited.  He deserves it.  As much of a pain in the rear he can be, he's handling this very difficult situation pretty well.  Last night he called E on the phone since she's on her swim meet for states with her high school team.  It was too cute and suprising given the usual tension between those two.

I just want today to be a great day for him.  Happy, relaxed and filled with froggy birthday fun.

Happy birthday my smart, sweet, funny little boy.  Mommy loves you very much.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Grief tends to just sneak up on me.  Most of the time I just have time to worry about the kids, our craziness, work, etc.  I try not to think about Jeanne and Mike, the accident, the permanence of our loss.

C and I were just IM'ing about Jeanne.  We've both been having dreams about her.  I miss her so much.  M needs her mommy right now.  It's just not fair.  For any of us.  I tend to just focus on the girls' loss and how much has changed for them, but it's changed for all of us.  I lost my sister and brother-in-law too.

I'm sitting here at work, holding back the tears.  Taking deep breaths trying to control my emotions.  Sometimes I can just talk about it in calm, matter-of-fact ways.  But today, I feel this wave of sadness flowing over me.  I just want to stop being so sad.  The stages of grief mantra just doesn't fly with me.  I vary from day to day with anger, sadness, disbelief that the accident really happened.

I woke up this morning completely confused and not wanting to wake up and accept that they are dead and that M and E live with us now.

Grief sneaks up on me sometimes.  It's always there, a current of sadness flowing through me, but sometimes the intensity is just too much.  I need a good cry.  The office isn't exactly conducive to that, so writing it all out has helped.

It all just still sucks.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Complicated

So today I went over to the therapy center where the girls are getting their treatment to meet with M's therapist.  While sitting in the lobby, I ran into Dr. L who was the therapist who helped my sisters and I figure out what we were going to do with the girls.  Sessions with him were difficult, painful, and exhausting.  It was clear early on that we had a lot of underlying issues amongst ourselves that dominated those sessions.  I get an awful pit in my stomach just thinking about those meetings.  Dr. L, the executive director of the center, helped us on his own time for free and was patient, kind, but also pretty direct with us.  He was amazing. 

I've seen him occasionally from a distance while waiting for M but hadn't talked to him before today.  We sat for about 15 minutes and M's therapist joined us as well.  I was struck again about how complicated and difficult our situation is.  He was interested in hearing how the girls are but was very focussed on the boys.  I told him about L's constant talk about dying and D's anger.  He thinks maybe L could use some play therapy this summer and maybe the boys have had some "associative trauma" living with the girls.  It kinda makes sense.  He mentioned getting the boys some help and maybe working with all the kids together.  I'll accept any help we can get, but at the same time all this "therapy" talk is exhausting.  I tried to explain to them that I really try to not to focus on the emotional issues with everyone and just treat them like normal kids.

One thing Dr. L said has stuck with me all day.  He said there is a special corner in heaven for me because we took this on.  I don't know why but it's so hard to hear. Maybe it's because there are still days I wish we could push rewind and not stand up for the girls.  It's not a Hallmark movie.  I don't always feel so compassionate and certainly don't feel like a "special person" for doing this.  It is still nice to hear a positive comment like that.  I still need cheerleaders encouraging me and that hasn't happened too much lately.  Dr. L really knows how hard this has been.  He knows about how complicated my family issues have been.  He also said he thought all along that K and I, and me in particular, were the right choice for E and M.  That we had the practical, level-headed nature to tackle it.  That made me feel good.  Maybe we can do this.  Maybe we will be okay and all the kids will be well-adjusted and okay.  Maybe.

It's just all so complicated, but a simple "you're doing a good job" goes along way.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A little more about me...

So I have five kids now and my sister died.  In the spirit of trying not to let this define me, I thought I'd talk a little about me.  Here are five random things about me:

1.  I'm a soccer player.  I've played since I was 8 and played for a top Division 1 college team.  After graduation, I played on a semi-pro team and my club team won Nationals 3 times.  I try to play about twice a week these days.  Not to brag, but I'm still pretty good.  It's the one thing that I do that I totally feel like myself these days.  I'm good at it.  It brings me great joy and is a great stress release.  I also play with a group of awesome women which definitely adds to the fun.

2.  I'm an avid reader.  My genre of preference tends to be mysteries but I also love foodie books, memoirs (and blogs of course), and lately, I'm embarrassed to admit, juvenille fiction.  Just like playing soccer, reading is a great escape for me and a huge stress release.  One of my favorite things in the world is the stack of books next to my bed.

3.  I work part time as an analyst (two days in the office, three days from home).  After having A, I started this work approach and have done it ever since.  For the most part, it works pretty well for both work and home.  I've worked in many areas including international security, humanitarian assistance, antiterrorism and currently homeland security ( I started a new job in Sept.--another stressful story).  I'm good at what I do, but don't always feel like I'm giving 100% at either work or home.  It's a hard balance.  I'm not sure I'll ever really figure it out.

4.  I'm very close to my younger sisters.  Especially my sister C.  We actually work together (see item number 3).  The last year has been extremely stressful on our relationship.  Guilt, stress, resentment and grief have really made things hard.  Our relationships are still strained but I feel more and more signs of normalcy.

5.  I love food and cooking, but am extremely thin.  I've struggled to keep weight on this last year.  Stress tends to make me eat less, not more.  I'm actually pretty sensitive about it, and get really annoyed by people's comments about how they wish they had my problem or how awful I look.  I know it's something I need to work on.  Getting more regular exercise I know would help on all fronts, but finding the time is nearly impossible.

So I just noticed that I still talked about my new stress, etc.  while trying to talk about myself in other contexts.  I know this new reality is something that has clearly changed me and my life.  I just wish the impact wasn't so profound and that parts of me still remained the same, untouched, unaffected.

I miss my old life.  I miss the old Peg.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Party themes...

Yesterday in the car L and I starting talking about his upcoming birthday party.  We've been talking a lot about parties given M and D's February birthdays.  L has been talking about his "bug" themed party for months.  He is so excited.  As we drove by some construction workers, he exclaimed that next time he's going to have a construction guy party and then maybe a dinosaur party.  I told him these were all good ideas.  Then he said very solemnly, "but I don't want to have a dying party. That would be very sad.  Dying is very sad."  My heart dropped.  He's 3 years old.  He shouldn't know about these things yet.  He then wanted to talk about Aunt J and Uncle Mk and whether or not their house is dead too.  He talked about heaven and how he doesn't want to go there yet.  It was so sad, but a discussion we obviously needed to have.  It just sucks that he has to think about these things.  I have no idea if this is normal.  Should I talk to a therapist about it?  Or maybe we just continue to have these discussions and maybe he'll understand as best as he can and be okay.

It is all so very complicated.  Just when I think we're doing okay and have a handle on things, I think about the enormity of what we're trying to do and it's overwhelming.  The panic starts kicking in and all I want to do is hide under the covers and escape.  I can't do that.  5 little people depend on me.

Who knew talking about birthday parties could be so hard.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Potty training...

This afternoon, 5 minutes before we had to pick up E...

Me: L, did you poop?

L:  Yes, I poop-ded.

Me:  But you're not wearing a diaper.  You're in underwear!

L:  I know, I poop-ded in the underwear! (with a huge, matter-of-fact smile on his face)

I briefly thought I might call this blog "Grief and Potty Training: When Sh#$%t Happens."  I may be reconsidering this decision...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Birthday Girl

Tomorrow is M's birthday.  She will be 11 years old.  I still vividly remember the day she was born.  I was there as Jeanne struggled during labor and was so scared as they told her she had to have an emergency c-section. But I also remember how happy she was to see her little girl.  M is a very special kid.

Tonight as I put her to bed and told her how much I love her, she told me she didn't care about her presents.  She was just happy to have a family.  It brought tears to my eyes, but they were tears of happiness.  For the first time in days, I was truly happy she was part of our family.  I need to remember these moments when things get hard.

Happy birthday M.  I'm happy to have our family too.