Thursday, September 27, 2012

Geckos, drugs, new tunes and soccer balls

1.  Reggae the gecko has been found.  During his nightly search two days after his disappearance, A found him about 3 feet from his cage under the book shelf.  A few minutes of lizard wrangling later, little Mr. Regs was safely back in his habitat and a very happy 12 year old smiled for the next 24 hours.

2.  I'm on day 2 of the meds.  I finally went to my GP Tuesday.  I cried.  She asked the standard questions, tilting her head to one side with sympathy as she listened to the briefest explanation of what's going on with me.  45 minutes later I walked out of the pharmacy with 50mg pills of Z@loft.  I did not anticipate the nausea, but according to Dr. Google this is normal and should subside.  I really can't afford to not eat since the whole "I can't eat because I'm so stressed" is one of the reasons I'm taking them.  I do feel different.  I think it's better.  I know it can take weeks to level off one's brain chemistry, but I definitely feel something shifting.  I still feel defeated in a way taking this road.  I felt much worse in the first year after the accident and was able to get through.  I suppose the sustained stress of the last 3 years has taken its toll.  I have hope that this will help.

3.  The new Mumford and Sons  album came out on Tuesday.  Holy cow.  I think they are writing the soundtrack to my life (or maybe it's the drugs).  Grief, love, hope, despair all wrapped into beautiful melodies and harmonies.  Nothing like new music.  Yay!

4.  We are fully into the soccer season around these parts.  Everyone is having fun and playing well.  The improvement in A is especially heart warming.  As with most things, motivation for A has to come from within.  He doesn't really care that much what other people think.  K and I have worked hard to sit back with him in soccer and just let him develop at his own pace and it seems to have paid off.  He is extremely fast and athletic and it seems to all be coming together for him.  Fun to watch.  We are also really happy with M's team.  While it's a logistical nightmare getting her there, her coach is a friend of mine and nothing can replace a positive, female role model for a young girl athlete.  She's having a blast.  D's confidence is coming back with soccer too (his coach is pretty negative) and he's having fun.  L starting playing this year too and it's quite obvious he has grown up on a soccer field.  He's fierce.  I actually played last night.  It was great.  I ripped a shot from 30 yards out for a great goal and felt like the Peg of old.  It was nice.

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me that we'll be alright

--Ghosts That We Knew, Mumford and Sons

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Kids and Funerals

I love it when posts from another blogger inspire me to write.  Mel over at Stirrup Queens asked a question in her last post about whether or not to allow your kids to attend a funeral.  This of course got me thinking about how we handled the wake and funeral for Jeanne and Mike when it came to our kids and the girls.  First, let me say that I really think it depends on the circumstances.  We had a family friend die a few months before my sister who knew and loved the boys, but I did not bring them to the funeral.  At the time, I didn't think they'd get it and to be honest, I just wanted to go and cry and not have to worry about the boys.  I also think you need to gauge your own kids.  If you think they are the age to behave appropriately then I think it's a good think to allow kids to be there.

Hundreds of people attended the wake for Jeanne and Mike.  We had two visiting sessions for about 5-6 hours total and the line never ended.  Not only did friends of Jeanne and Mike attend, but we all have a lot of friends that were there to support us.  K and I, in particular, had tons of friends there for us.  The big girls were there for the first session for a bit and E stayed for part of the evening session to pray the rosary.  We did not bring 3 year old L to the wake at all, but we did bring A and D (ages 9 and 7 at the time) to be there for their cousins.  At that time, and months to follow, the boys also did not want us out of their sight.  A wasn't eating unless I was there and D was having diarrhea and bathroom accidents.  The funeral director set up a room for the kids (and any weary adults) with food and we brought games, books, crayons, etc. to keep them occupied.  At some point my sister-in-law brought the kids to a mini-golf down the street.

Wakes are weird things.  Everyone was there to show their love and respect, but most of the time I felt like I was there to support them in their shock and grief.  By the end of an hour, my shirt was wet from the sobs of others on my shoulder. I took many breaks during the day to "hide out" with the kids and get a much needed break.

During the afternoon session we did have a viewing for only the family.  We gave all of the kids the option to participate.  E and M wanted to go in, but M only wanted to go if one of boys would go.  A said no very quietly.  My brave, kind D stood up and said he'd go with M.    I walked in with both of them wrapping my arms around their shoulders wishing it wasn't really happening.  They eventually pulled away from me and D held M's hand and approached the coffins.    I remember thinking how small he looked. 

E was kneeling next to her dad.  M looked at her big sister and mimicked her actions in prayer.  D hung back, eventually leaning into his dad with he eyes fixed on the two coffins.  I could tell M was getting fidgety so I approached her and walked D and M back to the break room.  The conversation between the two of them was so honest and funny.

"My mom looked like my mom, but my dad looked weird."

"Yeah, your dad didn't usually wear make-up."

They both went back in the room and joined A, filling him in on the viewing in a direct, innocent way.  He listened, changed the subject and they were back to being silly and laughing.

K and I drove E home from the wake that evening.  I'll never forget K and E laughing and comparing notes about what were the most awkward moments from the day were.  E thought it was seeing her 13 year boy classmates crying and hugging her.  I thought it was hugging my hugely overweight and sweaty boss at the time.  K thought it was calling the same person the wrong name twice.  We actually were laughing as the three of us drove past the accident site.  Strange.  It was such a long, tiring day, we couldn't help from giggling to relieve the tension.

For the funeral, we decided that all the kids would be there.  Even though they wouldn't remember, we didn't want the little girls as adults feel like they missed out on something so momentous.  We decided to bring L for many reasons.  First, we thought he'd behave pretty well and we have my sister-in-law on board to bring him out if he got squirmy.  Also, at that point we were all so stressed and tired that I couldn't think of anyone I trusted to leave him with that wouldn't be at the funeral.  Selfishly, I also wanted my boys with me.  I needed them.  Moreover, I wanted them to be there for their cousins.  Not even knowing what their future would hold in our family, I knew that this bond among the cousins was going to be important if we were going to get through this.  D and M during the wake had already poignantly demonstrated that.

In the long run, I am so glad that we had the boys as much of a part of the process as possible.  This one event has had such a huge impact on all of our lives.  It's become even more important I think since the girls have joined our family.  Funny thing about kids too in their ability to jump from sadness to joy fairly easily.  We all got back to my sister's house after the burial, changed out of our fancy clothes and played some whiffle ball.  On a day in which we felt all was lost, they helped us step outside of our adult grief, if only for a bit.  That kind of respite is priceless.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

There's a gecko loose in the house...

No, really.  A didn't close the top all the way for his panther gecko (Reggae) the night before last when he was feeding him and he escaped.  We've searched everywhere after he discovered Regs was gone after school.  I didn't handle the situation very well.  Rather than show any sympathy and understand how distraught he was, I laid into him about being irresponsible and that this was all his fault.  Yes, it was his mistake, but my major mistake laying into him.

I then stormed downstairs and yelled pretty much about everything.

"D! Finish your homework!  Get ready for soccer!  Hurry up!"

"L!  Stop hanging on me and for heaven's sake stop whining!"

Medication anyone?

I still wavering about getting meds, even with encouragement from people online, friends at home and my therapist.  I ran into a good friend at soccer practice and she took one look at me and begged me to go and urged me to start exercising.  She's gone through a bunch herself (terrible divorce after her husband cheated on her with her only sister-in-law when she was 6 months pregnant with their 3rd). Going on some temporary medication really helped her.

I think at the heart of my hesitation is that some pill may make me feel a bit mellower, but the source of my stress, anger, pain, etc. isn't going to go away.  My sister is still dead.  I miss my old life.  The kids still need me.  The girls are still a mess.  I still feel so alone.  Won't the pill just be a band-aid for what's really wrong?  In the long run, I need to figure out how to accept the life I have and find the energy/motivation to tackle it with love and joy.  I have no idea why, but going on medication only highlights how broken I feel.  I have absolutely no qualms with anyone else medicating for mental health issues.  Maybe it's pride?  Scared about who I'll be on meds?  A combination?

The earliest I'll be able to get to the doctor is next week.  My therapist agreed that going to my primary care may be the only way I'm going to take the next step.  Trying to find someone on my insurance in a timely manner has been a bridge too far.

Anyway, if you are so inclined, please send a few prayers to St. Anthony (patron saint of lost things) that we find Reggae safe and sound.  And, if you've got a any left, send a few my way that I'll find the courage to choose the right path, whatever that might be.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Just Write

So I have a few minutes this morning.  I just ordered fleeces for the big kids online (they hate hate hate big bulky winter jackets, so rather than fight it I ordered extra warm fleeces).  I need to run to Tar-jay in a few, but there is no rush. 

I thought that this is a perfect time to write a post.  Ideas for my blog pop up in my head throughout the day.  However...

I have no idea what to write.  I'm a bit out of practice.  Writing about a certain theme or event that highlighted itself during the day has always been my approach whether it's a personal reflection or something that happened with the kids.  I don't know why writing a list of random thoughts bugs me.  I actually enjoy reading blog posts in that fashion.  Little snippets of what is on their mind or stuff going on in their life.  I love candid pictures.  Maybe I want this space to be different, writing pieces that involve serious thought and time to write.  Do I want to be a writer not just a blogger?  Is there a difference?  Some of my favorite bloggers (Stirrup Queens, Korinthia) write pieces that could stand alone outside of their life's context.  But some of my other favorites (Enjoying the small things, Rach, Lessons from an Infertile Social Worker) do a beautiful job weaving their everyday lives into moments of clarity and insight for me as a reader.  Sometimes I just like a good story.

But back to my current problem.  I have not idea what to write. So here's another list of random things going on.

1.  My dad really came through on the cemetery / memorial issue and now we will possibly get a waiver for a tree AND we're probably going to replace both markers with a larger more personal one customized by our family.  I can't wait to tell E tonight (wow that sounds weird and depressing).

2.  Kindergarten is going very well with L.  He is happy to go every day and has only missed getting a sticker for good behavior once.  He had "refused" to complete an activity that involved lots of little, detailed cutting.  It was hard for him, he got tired, and in tune with his personality he simply refused to finish.  We talked about it after school and we haven't had any other incidents.  He is pretty tired once the day is done. It's a good tired born from playing, learning, and being a big boy.  I'm so proud of him.

3.  Having a kid with learning issues is a bigger challenge than I ever anticipated.  I tend to have to focus so much on M's emotional issues, that her ADHD and LD are sometimes forgotten.  We're having her student assistance plan meeting next week and I hope I'll have time to do some more research between now and them to construct a better plan that helps her more this year.  I'm not thrilled with our school's resource teacher and feel like I have to be a lot more informed to be the best advocate for M.

4.  The girls are supposed to go to a family wedding in Indiana for their cousin on their dad's side of the family.  They are understandably excited and have been talking about it for months.  The Indiana relatives are being completely unhelpful and aren't taking care of the girls at all.  I get that it's a wedding and that is their focus, but for once it would be nice if they tried at all to incorporate the girls in their lives.  CA and KM are going to bring the little girls and we'll have the big girls stay in an adjoining room at a hotel.  What could be an opportunity for letting them share in their other family is turning into more of a crisis management exercise to temper the girls' disappointment in not being part of the event and dealing with their frustration with CA and KM.  It's never easy.

5.  Teenage angst.  Enough said.

6.  K is planning an anniversary trip for us at the end of November to Naples, FL.  I'm hoping it will be a chance for us to recharge individually and together.

7.  I took leave last week to give myself a break from the work drama and get our house squared away.  I was a bit ambitious in my plans.  I did get three rooms done and most importantly got our family office / computer room cleaned out.  It was a dumping ground for crap from my sister's house and boxes of the girls childhood things (books, etc) that needed a storage place in our house.  I also started a wall of family photos in that room and it looks really good.  Yay me!

8.  We have 5 soccer games, 1 baseball game and a team bake sale this weekend.  Somehow we'll get everyone where they need to be and squeeze in mass and feeding the masses.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

9.  No progress on medication.  I can't find a psychiatrist that my therapist knows on my insurance.  I'd rather not have to pay out of pocket.  The momentum of my difficult decision is slipping away.  Sigh.

Well, I did it.  I wrote something. Not sure it's very interesting or thought provoking, but then again, who am I writing this blog for anyway?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

In the Air

It's starting to get a bit chilling around here in the morning and evening.  A few days this week the kids wore sweatshirts to school (only to tear them off at dismissal in the 80 degree temperatures). 

We all feel it. The countdown is starting to the accident anniversary. Strange how our bodies remember and it translates into emotions running a bit higher and a sadness that one has a hard time shaking.

I spent time this morning talking with the memorial park where Jeanne and Mike are buried.  E would like to install a bench or tree at the gravesite to make it a bit more personal.  Nobody, especially E, likes the grave markers.  (they are actually buried on top of each other in one plot with a marker at the head for Mike and at the foot for Jeanne). Since Mike was technically a vet (flew a reconnaissance plane in Desert Shield), the military paid for his marker.  This limited what could be written and boiled down his whole life in terms of his military service.  Jeanne's simply says, "Beloved Wife."  I get why my dad and Mike's dad went with the "free" option, but it definitely doesn't sum up what they meant to the rest of us left behind.  And let's be honest, Jeanne and Mike don't really care, but it's our feelings and what we think they would have wanted that leaves us unsettled.

Turns out we can't have a bench.  It's not the right kind of plot and being a memorial park not a traditional cemetery the idea is that markers are flat on the ground to give it a "park" feel.  Like anyone is there to happily stroll the grounds and have a picnic.  The very kind lady on the phone explained that they limit the type of memorials because the groundskeepers kept knocking over the big headstones or benches and the memorial park had to pay to replace them.  Only people with family plots can "riff" with different memorials.

E is not going to be happy.  She spends the most time there and really wants to have something that reflects the fact that they were her parents.  We can replace the bronze plaque on each of the marble slabs, but it will probably cost a lot of money.  C and I brainstormed at lunch today that maybe we could install a bench with their names at the local regional park they loved so much. I've seen similar benches throughout the park.  I'm hoping this will make E feel better.

We all still keep our grief stove piped within our own pain.  Sometimes I think we haven't made any of these grand gestures for them because we try so hard to be sensitive to the girls' feelings (especially E).  But I lost my sister.  Mom and Dad lost their daughter.  Others lost a friend, cousin, work colleague. I hope one day we all can arrive at a place where our walls built by grief are broken down and we can share this loss together while celebrating their lives.  It's still a tricky thing.