Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Community

Just when you think life is starting to feel normal again, another curve ball has been thrown at us. My husband and oldest child were in an accident that, potentially, could have killed both of them. Yes, COULD but didn't!!! God spared us, this time, of any unbearable loss and we are, thankfully, in the healing stages of this accident.
It has been three months now since the accident occurred. In some ways, it has happened so fast. However, in other ways, I feel like we have been trapped in this forever. The ongoing doctor appointments, the roller coaster of emotions, the physical damage, the financial stress.....There has been only one shining thing that has emerged and remained true throughout this entire nightmare and that has been the incredible amount of community support we have received.
They always say you learn who your true friends are when things happen, and, I could not have foreseen how many people would reach out to us when we needed it most. Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and most of all, strangers, who have felt compelled to support us has been both overwhelming and humbling to me. It has been hard to feel so vulnerable but the comfort I have been given has held me up in my darkest moments and I will never forget our rally of support for as long as I live.
I may not have really understood what the word community meant, but, I certainly do now. For all of those familiar and unfamiliar arms that have been gently and lovingly placed around my family, please know how warm, comforting, and supportive they have felt.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Go get em, tiger!

Today is Father's Day, and, as much as I have tried to make it about my husband today, there has been  an underlying sadness of not having my own dad today.  It has been almost 19 years since he died...WOW! 19 years! I know people say it all the time, so, yes you will have to hear it again, but, honestly, it is crazy how time flies.
Dad, I miss your voice...I still hear it in my head and imagine what you would say back to me sometimes when I still try to channel you. I don't know if I ever told you how much I loved talking to you. You were so smart, witty and comforting, and encouraging with your words. We always connected through our conversations and I really miss our chats the most. Your "go get em, tiger!" That you always said to me before every test or obstacle I faced really did motivate me the way you wished it would.
I am returning back now but I had to pop in and have a quick chat with you just to let you know that you were remembered today. 19 years and a lifetime of tears until we meet again, Dad!
P.S. I know how much you enjoyed watching the boys toss the baseball around in the yard this weekend! I'm working on making them Atlanta Braves fans for you! xoxoxo

Friday, May 16, 2014

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened!

My heart has continued to be torn in these last couple months. My sister's death began an unbearable chain of loss that has also cost me a friend, two cousins, and an uncle.
My neighbor, Mike, lived directly across the street from me for the past ten years. Glances and quick hellos bloomed into him giving me gardening tips, sharing stories and life lessons, and his obvious enjoyment of watching my children grow. He lived alone and never had his own children but had a grown stepson he was very close to that visited him frequently through out the years. He was smart, quick witted, and lonely. I liked his stories and advice, didn't mind sharing my life and yard with him, and looking across the street to check and see if he was alright became part of my daily routine. He found out he had pancreatic cancer in November and died in February all the while believing that he would survive it even though there was no false hope ever given to him. I miss Mike. I miss sitting outside with him under my camphor tree hearing about growing up in Maine and watching his sad face turn to joy whenever he talked about his stepson or spent time with my children. Now, I look across the street and there is darkness. His plants have wilted, his orchids have been given away and his tattered American Flag blowing around is the only sound I hear when I go by. I hope he knew how much we liked him and how I appreciated him being the unofficial grandpa to so many kids on our street.
My baby cousin, Abbie, only graced this Earth for 3 months. She died from a rare neurological condition called microcephaly in which part of her head was not growing. She had paralysis, and, was, more than likely, deaf and blind. WHY?? Why does this have to happen?? It went undetected during my cousin's pregnancy who had already lost another child to this condition. I question, after the first time this happened, why her doctor didn't do any kind of genetic testing or deter her from having more children. Then, she had a successful pregnancy in between. So, the false hope was planted and the positive ultrasounds added to her thinking this would have another happy ending. Not the case, and, now she has two dead daughters in the graveyard and a lifetime of hurt and healing to try and take on. Through facebook and photos, it has been so sad and unbearable watching her brief life and death unfold. The love and life experience they managed to give her, hopefully, will help comfort them as they try and adapt to life without her.
My cousin, Caroline, had a brain tumor that she fearlessly fought for over 5 years. She married her soul mate young, had four children she adored, she devoted herself to her church and she loved her career in teaching. I'm sure she had her fears and cried her tears, but, her faith in God and the love of her family almost made you believe that she could survive it. However, it was not meant to be. She lived long enough to dance with her son at his wedding but did not make it to hold her first grandchild. It just does not seem fair when someone as good as her had to suffer and leave this Earth too soon, but, she did not waste her time here and will always be remembered with so much respect and affection.
Last, but, certainly not least, was my Uncle Joe, Caroline's father. He was such a kind and gentle soul. He made me laugh and made me feel loved my entire life and his death was a huge loss to our family. However, he made it to 80 years and spent 80 years making this Earth a better place. He, also, couldn't bear to watch his daughter die and received his wish of going before her. I would like to think they are together now and watching over us. I couldn't think of two better guardian angels.
And, so, five deaths, in 6 months. I am hoping this painful reality of  the cycle of  how we are given life and must succumb to death is over and looking for some happy days ahead. In the meantime, the sadness is permanent, the memories are more cherished, and the stories of them all will be told many, many times like I am telling it to you today. They were here, they meant a lot to a lot of people, and the bittersweet reminders of their existence must carry on.
My final thought to you, is to take the time, even it is brief, to notice or remind yourself of something amazing about your life or what is surrounding you at this moment. Also, pull out a photo, have a laugh, or raise a glass and salute just one or many that have made a difference in your life. It feels much better to keep the triumph inside and not the tragedy.
As Dr, Seuss said, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened!" Michele, Mike, Abbie, Caroline, and Joe...you all happened and I am slowly learning to smile more and cry less about it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Michele

Sometimes, certain events happen that leave you with no words to say and the only possible comfort, if any, is found through a necessary break of silence and solitude. For the past couple of months, I have been literally and undeniably lost in reflection and emotion because of such an event. The moment that rendered me speechless happened on Friday, October 11, 2013, around 2:30 pm, when my sister self destructed....
I would love to say I really knew my sister but I didn't. I only knew what she would let me see and for many, many years, there has not been much. So, when I got the news that she had been killed instantly in a car accident, I honestly didn't know how to feel. I have had a couple of months now to process it and I still have overwhelming waves of mixed emotions that I am trying to sort out. I find myself searching for a time when I was close to her but I have to go so far back (as reflected in this photo of us) that it makes me feel even more lost about it.
Michele was an addict. There I said it! Those four powerful words were never allowed to be spoken in our house and even now that she is gone, the subject is still the awkward elephant in the room. Her demons surfaced in many ways, but, alcohol was always her preferred choice and to find out that it factored into her car accident was a very numbing feeling.
She was a second generation alcoholic in our immediate family (The first one was another secret I was forced to hide during my entire childhood as well.) I believe it started as early as age 12 with her. I was 9 at the time and really had no idea then about how long and damaging her journey was going to be. Then, I spent the next 32 years painfully watching her uncontrollable behavior cost her everything....me, her kids, her career, her identity and, finally, her life.
It has taken me a LONG time to even begin to understand her because I just couldn't see things through her eyes. I could never be the person she was. I couldn't rationalize the choices she made. I couldn't understand why she couldn't just quit, if not for herself, then, for her children. Could she not remember what we went through with an alcoholic? Was this genetic? So many questions without clear answers. I had spent my whole life being forced to live with alcoholics that I could not help or change. Then, it happened as I always knew it would someday. I hit my breaking point....I got to that point in my life where I didn't want alcoholism forced upon me or around my own family that I made a bold choice three years ago to end the constant madness and not have her as a part of my life anymore.
I am, surprisingly, at peace with the choices I made as I know she didn't hold it against me. I would not allow or enable the person she had become. There was an accountability with me, in turn, that she did not want in the life she was living. However, I have always held a sadness for what could have been. The sister I never had, so to speak.
She entered rehab for the first time in her life a month before she died and it was a very significant but brief moment of clarity for her. She cried tears she had never cried, faced fears she had never admitted and said things she had never said. It was a slight opening for her family to look in and see what had started her on this path and it was her first enlightenment of how her life could be if she chose to heal herself.
However, without the proper support system, she quickly resorted back to surrounding herself with people that were part of the problem and not the solution and she started drinking again two days after being released.
I am not here to judge her but I honestly, in my heart, don't believe she was ever going to get better. However, it truly sickens me that it cost her life so young and in such a horrible way. The aftermath, as well, that her family, especially her children, must now endure has been painfully unbearable.
Michele, please know that you were always loved despite our separation and I can only pray that you finally have found an everlasting peace that you were just never able to find here.