Thursday, October 26, 2017

8 years + 2 days

Two days ago was the 8 year anniversary of the accident.

8 years.  A lifetime but seems like just yesterday.

Normally I post something the day of the anniversary.  Put up pictures from our "balloon day."  A day L likes to call our own special holiday that is "loads of fun and sad all at the same time."

The day before I was my usual mess.  The strange feeling that it's all going to happen again.  I kept myself busy and took two 15 minute naps to reset my brain in order to make it through the day.  I comforted M and texted with E reminding both of them that they are so loved, agree that all of this just sucks, and that it still hurts so much.

The morning at the park was lovely. Our family definitely knows how to show up. This year involved negotiating some logistics, but we figured it all as a group. The kids are always happy to be together.

The rest of the day I tried to do things to relax and sit with my feelings.  I visited the cemetery and had a good one-sided talk with Jeanne and Mike. I had a strange incident with the lawn mower at the cemetery who stopped me while walking to my car.  He asked me if I was visiting their grave.  This was somebody who didn't know them in real life, but said he thought about them often and wondered about the girls because he remembered how sad the funeral was.  After a brief comment about the girls, I fled to my car having been mentally propelled to the graveside and my dad and K having to pull me away from the coffins because I could not fathom leaving Jeanne behind.  Leaving her there in the ground.  At that point it all became so real.

The rest of our day was a bit of blur. We had lots going on with soccer games and a cross country meet. I had to be present for the kids. I had to be mom/aunt. Lunches needed to be made. Hugs dispensed and love given.  I noticed that less people reached out to me directly.  There were some comments on Facebook as usual when I posted my pictures from the morning. My in-laws didn't call or text acknowledging the day.  That kinda hurt.

The next day and even into today I feel hung over.  I'm really not sure how I got through yesterday. I actually left the office early. Overwhelmed with sadness and all my responsibilities and the continued profound impact on our family. I still have a tinges of  jealousy of my two younger sisters, who have sometimes from my warped perspective had simpler path of grief. My feelings are so wrapped up in having to parent the girls through their loss and the loss of our family as we knew it. I hold myself in check from indulging fully in my grief to be there for the kids (or maybe it's just a defense mechanism). I think part of me is still a bit mad of Jeanne and Mike for leaving.  Hints of resentment at my sisters. Then of course all of these feelings are followed with shame and guilt for even going to that space.

So here I am 8 years and 2 days out.  My life is still divided by the before and after this day. I can still recall every detail from October 24, 2009 and the days that followed.  I miss my sister.  My girls miss their parents. I'm sad and am going to sit with that for a little longer. Our love for Jeanne and Mike deserves nothing less.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Free Falling

The last weeks have been shocking.  Earthquakes. Hurricanes. Vegas.

For some reason the thing that has hit me the hardest is the passing of Tom Petty.

His music is the soundtrack of my youth.

We listen to him so much that my kids love him too.

The first mix tape K made me had "Here Comes My Girl" on it.  Love that song.

His distinctive voice, cutting lyrics, and consistently old school rock and roll sound never failed me.  His songs evoke love, loss, humor, longing and human connection.  A true poet with a touch of bad boy.

I loved the Travelling Wilburys. George. Jeff. Roy. Bob. Tom.  I keep listening to "End of the Line" and getting tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat.

Maybe the other events are so unbelievable in the scope of loss that the sudden death of Tom Petty feels more personal.

Maybe when you find an artist that you connect with it can sometimes spark an unexpected level of intimacy.  Lyrics that reflect your thoughts and feelings so well that you think you know each other in real life.

Maybe his loss makes me feel old. 

Maybe his death triggered my own loss.  It is that time of the year.  Doesn't take much to find the tears.

Refugee.  Last Dance with Mary Jane. Wallflowers. Running Down a Dream.  Songs that will be in my playlist forever.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Less Than

Yesterday afternoon we got home from work and school to a clean and organized house.  The cleaning ladies had come earlier in the day while we were all out.  It's always nice to come home every other week to clean floors and bathrooms and for the most part we can ignore the random movement of articles of clothing, papers or books into strange locations.  I noticed yesterday, though, that one of M's blankets was in the washing machine and it had obviously been washed with a bunch of other towels.  This led to the discovery that the towels in my bathroom and the boys were in the dryer. Part of me was happy to see that a long overdue task had been handled.  The other part of me were filled with feelings of embarrassment and shame that all of the towels must have been really dirty for the cleaning ladies to start not one but two loads of laundry (something they have never done before).

It was another reminder of how I regularly feel "less than."

I can never give each of the kids my 100% attention or energy.

I always feel behind and not good enough at work.

Our family could probably eat more healthy food.

Our marriage often falls low on the priority list.

The house is often cluttered and disorganized.

I worry that I'm not doing enough to honor's Jeanne's memory.

Critical comments from family about the girls make me feel like we messed up somewhere along the way.

I don't do enough for myself.

I don't always have time to be the best sister, daughter and friend I can be.

On any most days, however, I am usually so busy (driving, cooking, cajoling, working, etc.) that I can't imagine being able to give more in any item in the laundry list above.  Lower my expectations?  Problem with that is that it's not just my expectations being measured against but those of my kids, husband, family, work colleagues, and irrationally my dead sister.   Part of the equation feels out of my control.

All I know is that I'm tired. All. The. Time.  And mostly I really tired of feeling "less than."  It's a lonely place to be.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Stream of Whatever

I haven't written for almost a year.  No excuses other than our busy life and the feeling one gets when you haven't been to the dentist and you really need to go for a cleaning, but it's been so long you are embarrassed to make the call (not that I need to go to dentist or anything).

Here are a few tidbits of catching up in no particular order or degree of importance.

Travel. We've had some great family trips recently.  A lovely beach trip down to Hilton Head, including a quick trip to Charleston which we all loved.  It was a much needed week of rest, fun, great food and togetherness.  A week at home and then we were off to another adventure to Idaho and the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.  It was an amazing trip and we are all still talking about it.  Lots of hiking, wildlife, a river trip down the Snake River and too many Ansell Adams moments to count.

Seniors!  A and M are now seniors in high school...I still catch my breath thinking about it.  They are both so grown up and still little kids all at the same time.  We are in the midst of college applications and all that they entail.  Having two at the same time is challenging to say the least.  Our goal is to be finished by the end of October and then the waiting begins.  E is also in her senior year in college, although technically she's in graduate school this year since she finished her double major undergrad last year so decided to start grad school.  She'll stay a fifth year to finish and lately has been talking about actually starting law school at the same time...that kid can never relax.

E and M. Their relationship continues to baffle.  E just puts so much pressure on M.  Lots of lovely information came out of a therapy session with me and M recently about how E complains to M that she doesn't have a family and it's not fair that M does.  Huh?  Weird comments that nobody liked their dad?  E pushes and pushes us away, while M has only clung tighter.  All we can do is sit back and love them.  I feel bad for both girls and hope one day E will work through her grief and trauma.  It's hard on all of us.

Marriage.  I think in general marriage can be tough.  I don't think our issues are that unique.  I do think that our life circumstances have made it more stressful.  We still make each other laugh which is something.  We also have created a home life where on most days at least 4 out of the 5 kids are happy, secure and know how much they are loved (secretly I think the 1 out of 5 knows that too but is afraid to admit it).

45. I really don't think I can despise a public figure any more.  I will not normalize his "presidency" for our children.  He is disgusting, ignorant, an embarrassment and completely unfit for office.  The day he and his ilk are out of DC we will have one serious dance party in the kitchen.  Navigating our social circles, work, etc. in this climate has been interesting.  Finding closet racists in my life has become an uncomfortable pastime.

Teenagers. Three teenagers live in this house. Goodness.  D is giving us a run for our money with the teenage attitude. I can be his best friend and enemy in a span of minutes. In his opinion, I'm sure I embarrass him in public on a daily basis.

Eevee.  We adopted a kitten last fall.  Her name is Eevee (yes after the Pok√©mon) and she is an absolute blessing in all of our lives.  Her methods of waking me up early in the morning for breakfast aren't all that much fun, but her coziness is priceless.  All of the kids are obsessed and have a unique loving relationship with our four pawed fuzzball.

Grief. The ever present current still flows beneath the surface of all of our lives.  M really gets her loss as she matures and she's working hard in therapy to understand it.  As the afternoons start to get the chill of fall I get that tug into the shadows which I try to ignore in order to get through my day. It just sucks.  I miss my sister.  I hurt for our girls who miss their parents. We just can't ever fully escape the grasp our loss has on our family.  Part of the issue is that people outside our nuclear family feel the need to bring it up constantly when interacting with us whether it's my parents, siblings, teachers, or random parents on the sideline at a sporting event.  Even the simplest interactions when I'm introduced as M's aunt makes for awkward explanations. 

Me.  Aging sucks.  My athlete's body is starting to whine about the abuse I've put it through over the years.  Aching knee. Arthritic fingers.  I have lots of visions in my head of starting up running again and looking forward to playing more soccer.  I just don't have the energy between work and the family.  I have a hard time making time for myself other than mindless tv and reading late at night.

Brain dump over.  I want to write more.  I think I need to write more. Nothing grandiose or earth shattering.  Maybe simply getting back to chronicling my journey as a means to process and remind myself that we are all alright and find those little pockets of hope and gratitude.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Balloon Day 2016

The whole family (minus E who is at school)

M and her little sisters.

My boys.

Cousins and siblings.

My sweet L.

H and my funny A.

Hugs for MG from the aunts.

Cousins on the rocks.

Best buddies.

Slides are fun.

The 16 year olds.

Me and K.

All the little cousins love A.

Writing our messages to heaven.

3 year old S and C.

The kiddos.

J and M.

L and M.

7 years of loss.  7 years of love.  We miss you Jeanne and Mike today and everyday.