Friday, December 28, 2012

Getting Through

I struggled to get into the Christmas spirit this year.  I tried.  And then I tried some more, it just never came.  I felt like I was just going through the motions without ever feeling the love and joy that comes with this time of year.  I normally love Christmas.

Decorations were put up.  Pageants were attended. Annual traditions were carried out. Presents were bought and wrapped.  The Christmas card actually got out before Christmas day (with a few stragglers still needed to be sent). 

I even wanted to write an upbeat Christmas post here, but it somehow seemed too false for a space that I can be totally honest with my feelings and thoughts.  I was painfully jealous of all the happy posts I read in my regular blogs.  Fa la freaking la repeatedly passed through my mind (often with another F word inserted).

For the most part, the kids did have a great time and we're still only half way through Christmas vacation.  The boys, especially A, were so appreciative of all their gifts and really sweet.  The girls were, well, the girls.  They are definitely their parents' children and never seem quite pleased with what they got and like to point out what the didn't get (Jeanne used to do that every year).  We tend to give them a break because of their circumstances, but it's still obnoxious and not behavior we want modeled for the boys, especially L.

The fact of the matter is Jeanne and Mike aren't here and that's what is really missing.  Holidays highlight all of the ways our family is still broken.  Seeing the little girls with CA is especially awful.  I don't think I'm ever going to be okay with it. 

We all cling to the traditions we have always had as a family...Christmas Eve mass at my parents' church with dinner back at our house (used to be a Jeanne's)...opening presents at my folks' Christmas morning with the same jokes by the brother-in-laws with coffee cake and sausage breakfast bake.  The problem is, that doing the same things only emphasize who's not there and how the pieces of our greater family are scrambled.

So I've spent the last week just getting through. Dealing with the girls has required an enormous amount of patience. At the same time, I've tried hard to be present for the boys and fake some Christmas joy and fun.

Common wisdom says that time heals all things.  Three years out, I don't think we're ever going to "get over" losing Jeanne and Mike and the impact it's had on our family and relationships.  I think the best we can do is keep moving forward and learn to live in our new reality with as much love and joy we can muster.  It's harder to do this on some days and unfortunately that still tends to be holidays.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No Words

I have struggled to think about how I might write about the events in Connecticut.  My thoughts are jumbled in my mind and heart.

I was struck by people's comments about the shock of this happening in such an idyllic, suburban location.  Personally, I'd still be in shock if this happened in Chicago, Dallas or Kigali.

My eyes filled with tears last night at our school's Christmas pageant.  I hid them behind the lens of our camera as I filmed my 5 year old angel singing his little heart out, with his cousins as two adorable sheep a few rows over. I feel guilty crying about it when I know that my five are safe.

I kept it from the kids as much as possible.  I talked to each of the big kids individually about it and didn't say anything to L.  I let them lead the discussions.  They mostly asked the question I can't answer.  Why?

We don't have guns in our house.  We don't play with fake guns.  We don't have any first person violent video games in our house and never will.

Friday made me realize, however, that none of that matters.  Bad things can still happen.  Sigh.

My heart is heavy for all of the families effected...those grieving, those who survived and the valiant first responders who had to face the bloodshed and act with dispassion and compassion at the same time.

I guess I do have some words. Unfortunately, none of them seem adequate to describe the horror that occurred in that school.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December Dump

Yes, this title would make all of the boys (including the 43 year old) giggle, but I couldn't think of anything else.  Anyway...

A very busy last 2 weeks has kept my fingers away from the keyboard (at least for blogging).  I wanted to take a few minutes today to jot some things down before I forget.  Not inspired blogging, but in the interest of keeping the story going...

1.  Last weekend K and I went down to Naples, FL for a brief respite.  It was wonderful.  Weather was perfect, accommodations were stellar and we did absolutely nothing but sleeping, reading, eating and walking the beach.  K did golf on Sunday morning, but that was the most energy we expended.  Back on the homestead, unfortunately, things did not go as well.  My mother-in-law stayed with the kids and although we had a light weekend in terms of activities, a lot of craziness ensued.  Some of the problems included D getting left home from dinner on Saturday night and L getting picked up from a birthday party late (for a party that an adult should have stayed with him anyway).  D called us sobbing multiple times during the weekend and the texts from E were pretty much non-stop.  One can leave the stress behind geographically, but unfortunately cell phones make it hard to leave it behind completely.

2. The car saga with E continues.  Last night, she parked illegally at therapy and got the car towed. Moreover, her best friend inadvertently outed her in a lie when she told her mom she saw E with the silly swim boy in a location she was not supposed to be.  When confronted both girls denied it and now we're completely unsure what to think.  I knew from the beginning she was lying about something, but I just couldn't put my finger on it and she wouldn't admit to any wrongdoing. On the good side, she knows that she's lying and is the type of person that will suffer under her own guilt.  She is already on limited driving because of the accident (school and practice only). Ahhh, teenagers. Such fun. 

3. I am woefully behind on Christmas shopping and preparation.  I did get the outside lights and decorations up this week on an unseasonably warm day.  K can't go up ladders so it was up to me to get things done.  I'm trying to get in the holiday spirit, but fatigue is hampering the fa la la a bit.

4.  K is doing fine.  His numbers have been off the last two checks and although the doctor isn't concerned it still freaks me out.  The biggest impact I've noticed though is his overall energy level.  He is really wiped out at the end of the day.  I'm not sure if it's the medicine or the damage to his lungs.  It continues to be disconcerting and a worry in the back of my mind.

5.  My relationship with my parents has been very strained lately.  In their mourning of Jeanne, they have focused solely on E and M. Not only are boundaries blurred in terms of parenting and respect, but my dad can't see me or K without bringing up something related to the guardianship accounts, the trust, the house, the new tombstone, etc.  It gets really old. As a family, we are so much more that just the girls and their grief.  The boys continue to get ignored.  If the girls didn't live with us, it really wouldn't bother me that much, but the disparity is glaring directly in front of the boys and they notice. It's also not what's best for the girls in our efforts to treat them as normal children in our family. My parents bring dinner over on Wednesdays (our busiest day) which is great, but the anxiety and stress they add to our house just isn't worth it. 

E's got a big swim meet this weekend which means lots of sitting around to watch 60 seconds of swimming.  I've got some posts swirling around my head and I'm hoping to get some of them actually down on paper (or screen).  Maybe the chlorine fumes will help.

Happy Friday!