Wednesday, March 26, 2014


It's been almost four and a half years since our loss.

The increasing distance from that date as measured in time has softened the acuteness of my pain.

The physical distance of my grief sits firmly in my back pocket.  Constant reminders that my sister is dead.  She is not here and never will be again.

Passing the cemetery every. single. day.

Pictures around our house.

Looking into the faces of the girls.

Looking at the reflection in the mirror as I come out of the shower or brush my teeth.  Seeing her eyes through my own.

Driving past their old neighborhood.

Driving past the accident site.

A song on my ipod.

The stupid commercials being played constantly for a new show called Resurrection in which loved ones come back to life, knowing that it can never really happen, but wishing that it could all the same.

My seven year old talking about dying.  His own and those that he loves.

Any of these triggers can bring me right back to the early days of grief.  The lump comes to my throat.  Tears pool in my eyes. An emptiness that can't be filled.

I wish that I felt their real presence all around us.  Signs that they are still here, watching over us, and giving us feelings of love and comfort.  Instead, it is their absence that remains a constant in my life.

I want my sister.

Unfortunately, that is a distance that can never be bridged.

Monday, March 24, 2014


M and I spent the weekend down at a soccer tournament.  It was a bit of a scramble to get down there due to the fact that I was up all night the night before with a throwing up L (14 rounds of vomit and 1 poop in the pants). We also were bringing another girl down with us to stay in our room since her parents were busy and they had reciprocated two weeks before.

Saturday morning started with an 8am game.  It was cold, but M player very well and the team won against a good team.  They haven't had the best success lately, so it was nice for the girls to get a win and, more importantly in my opinion, play some good soccer.

I could tell from the moment she walked off the field something was wrong. I told her she had a great game and she rolled her eyes and mumbled she was awful and let her whole team down. Her teammate that was staying with us chimed in some more positive comments and she shut down.  By the time we got into the hotel room she was in full meltdown mode.

I got her friend out of the room with another family for lunch.  M cried and cried that she wanted to go home and be with her family. When I said, fine, we'll leave, she screamed she didn't want to leave.  She couldn't make any decisions about eating.  Showering didn't help.  Anything I said was met with more tears and arguments.  She simply could not control herself.  I gave the team manager a heads up that we may be heading home.  I gave M a deadline for getting herself under control or we were heading out.  She managed to gather herself for the pre-game team meeting in the lobby, but I had to go down with her and sit nearby.  She got about 15 minutes in the warm up and then fell apart again, crying and refusing to play.  I went over to the bench where she was sitting and got the same "I don't want to go" but "I can't play" arguments.  I told her that playing was the least of my worries and all I wanted was for her to feel better.

After the game (which they won), she got back to the hotel room and started up with the crying again.  She calmed down enough to go to dinner, but was completely washed out and non-verbal.  To be honest, I probably shouldn't have brought her out, but I needed out of that hotel room and was starving. 

We got back to the room after dinner and, again, I sent her friend to another room where a group was doing homework.  Desperately, I got on the phone and called home, hoping talking to them would break the cycle.  She got on the phone with A and within 10 minutes she was back to normal.  She chatted with K and explained she didn't feel like playing and then cracked jokes with L.  Her security blanket worked even across the phone.  At one point, I walked out in the hallway and cried on a another mom's shoulder out of relief and exhaustion.

If we had been at home, I'm sure the fit would not have lasted as long.  I have my tricks and other team members (the boys and K) to get her out of her downward spirals.  E is often the trigger for her episodes at home so unfortunately she's not included in the solution set.  One phone call home and she was back to normal M.  A little tired, but normal.  By the next morning she was fine, played great in both games and was back to her usual goofy self.

The constant question during and after the episode from everyone was why? Was there a trigger? It seemed to be centered around the pressure of the game and her internalizing the coach telling them to not let each other down and to work hard.  We increased ADHD meds a bit this week after two years on the same dose. Was it the medicine?  That was the opinion of sister C, even though I explained it was a tiny increase and she had been fine all week on it (BTW...she was perfectly fine yesterday and today on the medicine so I've pretty much ruled it out as a cause).




I tried to explain.  Nobody outside of our immediate family really gets what it's like to live with someone with mental illness.  Living with a child with anxiety disorder is really hard.  Throw in the ADHD and the trauma and grief, and it's a fun cocktail of stress and worry. There is often no logic to her reactions and emotions.  If she doesn't understand why she's acting the way she is, how am I supposed to? 

Is she sad?  Is she having her period?  Maybe if she talks to the other girls she'll snap out of it? Or my favorite, "All teenage girls act like this, my daughter can be so dramatic too!"  How do you explain to someone that this isn't normal teenage girl drama? 

It was exhausting trying to explain to everyone who, in their well meaning advances, wanted to understand what was going on. It was also very isolating. I avoided other people as much as possible on Sunday at the games. Another reminder of the "otherness" that I often feel when in social situations. We look like a "normal" family on the outside (whatever that means).  Inside, though, we are still struggling to adjust to our new reality.  I've said it before and I'm sure I'll said it's all so complicated.  At this point, I don't even really care about the why, I'm simply glad she found her way back to normal.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

One of those days

Today is one of those days where I don't feel enough.  I know, I've heard this before.  I know I need to give my self a pat on the back for all that I do accomplish, etc, etc, etc.  Be grateful for the many blessings in our life, etc, etc, etc.

The kicker is that "knowing" that I should be grateful and cut myself some slack is actually stressing me out because my true honest feelings are (in no particular order):







Tired of being all of the above.

Every day when I start my paid work, I make a to-do list which includes work items and life items.  Today I actually put "change attitude around" with a smiley face.  Not sure if I'm going to check that one off.

I feel completely capable of tackling any one of the current issues de jour in our house.  All together, however, has me keeping the fine balance between panic and wanting to crawl under the covers and stay there for a few hours days.

Here are a few things (again in no particular order) currently on my plate:
--E had a total breakdown last Friday. She cried for an hour straight and nothing I said could calm her down. The straw on the camel's back was a bad swim and it's led to her dropping out of junior nationals (her last time she'd qualify due to age) and taking a 2 week break out of the pool starting next week.  She is burned out, an emotional wreck and very needy.  It's been a rough few days.  Her swim coach has been really annoying about it and very condescending.  Her self worth is so tied up in her swimming and add on to that some emotional times approaching and it's no wonder she's buckling under the pressure.

--L's 7th birthday was last Saturday (yay!) and due to a soccer tournament cancellation he got to spend the day at home with cousin fun and the movies.  His kid party (pokemon!) and family party (taco bar!) are all this coming up Saturday.  Not sure how I'm going to pull it off (I also have to register A and M for high school at 10am, D has a 10am soccer scrimmage and afternoon baseball practice, A has an indoor soccer game late afternoon and K has a baseball draft starting at 8pm after the party so no help cleaning up).

--M is really struggling in school again.  No motivation.  Argumentative.  Low self esteem.  She is also very needy and the more E has struggled the more M amps up her neediness.

--We're back to the normal soccer and baseball crazy routine.   It's mid-day as I'm writing this and I still don't know how everyone is getting to practice tonight and getting fed.  I'm thinking of putting out a food trough.

--Work is work.  My client is annoying.  The work is tedious, yet requires my concentration and attention to detail.  I'm kinda sucking at that (evidence in that I'm writing this while sitting in my cubicle instead of working).

--Everyone in my family is getting weird about E's 18th birthday in May and her high school graduation.  It is going to be pretty emotional.  I'm trying to explain to the collective that how we are going to celebrate isn't a group decision and that's not going over too well. I secretly want to ignore it all and simply be able to celebrate A's graduation from 8th grade.  As usual, the focus is on the girls.  When I mention it stinks for Aidan always sharing everything with M and losing his role as the oldest, I constantly get the "he'll be better off in the long run."  Well you know what?  He is already a very nice boy and would have turned out fine regardless.  I am sick and tired of people saying the boys are better off with the girls in their immediate family.  What about saying how lucky the girls are to have the boys?  Nobody ever says that, because that would some how be diminishing the girls' loss.   It's seriously getting old.

--I am totally done with cancer.  My brother-in-law's friend died this morning at age 31.  Another friend's dad is within hours of dying (just did last rites).  My friend's daughter is fighting the this evil monster and it's scary and sad to see her and her family struggle. 

--I miss Jeanne.  I really, really miss her. I drive by the cemetary at least 2 times a day.  She is always in my thoughts.  I constantly have the feeling that something is off and know exactly what "that" is.  Knowing I can't change it sucks. 

Add on to this depressing list all of the cleaning, laundry, driving, feeding, day-to-day crap required to run our household and the bucket runneth over.

I feel guilty for complaining.  The guilt adds to the stress.  The cycle repeats and repeats and repeats.  The only thing keeping me from totally losing it is the knowledge that this is nothing new and I always seem to get through.  Not sure what the ultimate cost is, but at least knowing I've handled all of this before helps.