Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief

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Yes, I accept it.  I’m fickle. Emotional.  Changeable.  Whatever you want to call it.

This is Dave’s third year in hockey.  His brother takes him 90% of the time to practices so I have plenty of help.  I go to all the games.  One kid.  I’ve always been grateful that he never asked to try out for a travel team or a spring league.  It’s expensive, time-consuming, and a very long season as it is.

Til this year.  His coach asked if he wanted to try out for the “select team”.  Didn’t realize that meant travel team.  ANOTHER $350.  He was asked.  How can I say no?  My step-son tells me if he makes it, he is just too burned out to take him five times a week to the rink so I will have to step up.  How can I say no?

My dad stresses me out.  He calls and asks “Is this going to cost more money?”  I say yes, but don’t tell him how much.  He asks if we are going to have to drive a lot further and more often.  I say yes and cringe.  “How are you possibly going to do that?”  I tell dad that we just need to see if he even gets selected.  Then I will see who else gets picked.  There are two families I know that would help manage transportation if their kids get picked too.  I am irritated at my dad.  My son lost his dad.  How can I say no?  But deep down, I know he’s right.  It will stretch us in every way imaginable.

Inside, I am praying he doesn’t get in.  That way I don’t have to make the decision.  Too much money, time, stress.  But how can I say no?  He tries out Sunday and we are supposed to find out Wednesday.  He gets ready for school and tells me I need to let him know the second I find anything out.  I prepare him that even if he gets in, we have a big decision to make.  He says he understands, but how could I really tell him no?

I have to work most of the evening.  I come home, greeted by my step-son.  He informs me that Dave didn’t get picked.  He said he was taking it very well and had a friend over to play so that was helping.  Wow, prayer answered.  I don’t have to say no and feel like the bad guy.  I don’t have to say yes and stress us all out in every way.  Phew, right?

No, I cry instead.  I’m so sad for him.  Then I’m mad.  Those asses.  Obviously they don’t know a great skater when they see one.  Dave handles it much better than I do.

Fickle, I admit it.

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Almost every single morning I lay in bed and think… today is it.  Today is the day I will turn the corner. Today is a fresh start and a chance to do things well.  You just have to get up and claim it.  And I really believe its true, this idea of positive energy and creating your own life.

I don’t remember when it started to be difficult to get out of bed in the morning.  I honestly can’t remember life before Tim was diagnosed.  I don’t think I ever sprang out of bed like Tigger, eager to tackle the day.  But I also don’t remember laying in bed wishing I didn’t have to get up.  Wishing I wasn’t a grown-up with responsibilities.  Wishing I could just pull the covers up over my head for another day or two.  For sure I know I wasn’t laying in bed, desperate to not be the single mother and widow that I am.

I guess some days it’s self pity.  But most days it isn’t really that.  It’s not that I feel sorry for myself or think “Why me?”  It’s just that I wish circumstances weren’t what they are.  I don’t want the responsibility of every decision on my shoulders.  Will there ever be day when someone will happily take on my life with me?  Will I be able to happily take on their’s in return?

 A day to focus on thankfulness.  I believe in it with all my heart.  I know I have a life full of love and blessings and amazing people.  I have a healthy, full of piss and vinegar son.  I know my attitude is mine to choose.  I know it.  I believe it.  I’m determined.

And yet, I’ve been upright less than an hour and I am full of tears.  And emptiness.  And sadness.  Shit, not again.

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It’s another blog day and again my head feels empty of any creative ideas.  Just like last week.

So maybe I’ll write about writing.

Part of the inspiration for writing “Bitter and Sweet, A Family’s Journey with Cancer”, is because people said it was helpful for them to understand what it is like to go through such ordeals.  There are so many things that happen that you just don’t think about, but it makes sense when you hear them.  One example is when I realized that I kept running out of clean clothes and couldn’t figure out why.  Then it finally hit me that there was one less adult contributing to the pile every day.  So waiting til there was a full load like I’ve done for the last 12 years doesn’t work anymore.

Writing a book is something that I had no idea about.  I just buy a book when I want one.  I imagined that the hard part is writing the book, but had no concept about anything else that is required to get the book on the shelf.

Now, if you wanna sell, you gotta blog.  And blog regularly.  So sometimes you have to be creative on demand.  But even that isn’t the hardest part for me.  It’s all the publishing and marketing stuff.  Its like a big, big set of dominoes.  All the parts are lined up, but you can’t do anything until the first step falls and then everything else floods in.

First, there was incorporating.  I had to establish an LLC.  Didn’t even know what one was.  Then I had to open a business account.  Also new.  Then I had to sign up with two different publishing companies.  I haven’t even started on the second one.  The first one?  Well, lets just say every single step of the way I get overwhelmed and have these child-like tantrums where I say “Forget it, its just too hard.”  Filling out step one of the application on line required two phone calls to the bank, and two phone calls to the accountant, and a few SOS messages to the publishing lawyer.  That was step one.  From what I can tell, there are about four thousand more steps.

After it is all said and done, it isn’t so bad.  But the initial panic kills me.   I’m not sure if its just who I am, or it is still part of “grief brain syndrome.”  I believe whole heartedly in growth of every kind and I can’t imagine ever not learning anymore.  And yet, I have those child-like tantrums regularly where I say I just don’t want to learn any more new information.  Disk is full.  No more storage space available. 

Truth is, in spite of being a Type A personality times 10 for most of my life, I would have quit and given up long ago.  The only reason I haven’t is Brigette.  She works with me full time on this endeavor.  And she is paid on commission so that means… she works full time for free.  She has the patience of a saint.  She just sits quietly while I freak out several times a day and have the tantrums.  Then she does research and unravels it all and we tackle the list one item at a time.  Then she babbles on about how amazing this book is and how ridiculously successful its gonna be.

I hope she’s right.  More and more, I hope she’s right.  Not so much for my sake anymore, but for hers.  Writing a book is a gamble, a great big one.  You give your heart and soul and time and energy, and you have no idea if it will even sell.  So for Brigette’s sake, I hope it does.  I hope to make her a millionaire, because she deserves it.


Empty Head

Its blog day.  My mind is blank.  No particular cute inspirations.  Maybe I’ll just talk about my day.

5:45 AM  wake up, even though I don’t need to for another two hours.  Decide to get up, go thru my piles of things I didn’t do yesterday and get organized for the day.

7:30  AM back to bed cause I have a bad head cold, even though its now time for me to get up

8:15 AM  up to make sure my son gets on the bus ok;  start those annoying phone calls;  can’t get through to the bank to set up online banking;  try for the 12th time to get thru for my son’s health insurance; on hold, on hold; now late for work; told to get a paper that doesn’t exist or he’ll lose his insurance; I remind the poor girl on the other end that my husband has died and I’m now a single mom who has to work for a living; I’m trying to be cooperative but I’ve sent the paperwork in three times now and now you want me to get another paper that doesn’t even exist yet; while I am talking I realize that BOTH my home and office calculators no longer work

9:50 AM start my counseling session that was SUPPOSED to start at 9:30

10:45 AM  start my meeting to work on the book that was SUPPOSED to start at 10:30; snap at Brigette, the most loyal and patient assistant, friend, business partner in the whole world, just because I don’t like the information we are dealing with;  I just want to write a book;  I have no idea what I am reading with regard to contracts, wholesale vs. whatever, cream vs. white paper, dozens of charts that are like Greek to me

1:00 PM  lunch with an old friend;  yea!  I try not to look like the harried, stressed widow that I am

2:15 PM stop by the cemetery;  kneel at the stone and wonder “Will I ever not wish that I could turn back time?  Will I ever say to myself that life is good, maybe even great?  Will I ever stop saying I don’t like life the way it is now and I want Tim back?”

2:25 PM drive by my old church and see my former minister walking in the parking lot; pang of sadness;  miss him and the whole place terribly as does my son;  Why couldn’t we fix things between us?

3:00 PM walk the dog and piss off a walker because I’m not holding the leash and my dog startles her.  Would that stand up in court?  Well your honor, the sign says dogs must be leashed.  It didn’t say I had to hold on to the leash!

4:00 PM greet my son off the bus and wonder how I am going to muster the motivation to look at his planner and go over his homework.  I am ready for bed instead.  I am drinking a “whisky slinger”=  whiskey and hot water.  Supposedly an old trick for curing head colds.  Tastes terrible but I suspect it will knock me out.  Can’t hurt to try I guess.

I didn’t mention a few dozen other things like stopping to get my phone fixed.  I still have two loads of laundry, dinner, and a pile of paperwork ahead of me tonite.

But no pity party.  Everyone I know is busy like this.  Everyone I know works full time, balances the kids, and has to try and eat and exercise too.  Life is not exceptionally hard for me.  Its just life.  No one is picking on me.  Yes, there is that fleeting moment of “Yea, but I am also grieving.”  Its true, I am.  And not everyone I know is going through that.  But I also am not without electricity or food.  I am not covered in water or homeless.  Its all in your perspective I guess 🙂

P.S.  Thanks Brigette- for the cough drops, inhaler, vicks, whiskey and the chocolate.  How lucky am I?


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I chose the picture of the hummingbird for a specific reason.  When we had the benefit for Tim in September of 2010, I decided to make him a DVD for a surprise.  I interviewed groups of people in his life, who told favorite stories or facts about Tim.

Tim was extremely dedicated to his work.  He felt confident and productive and useful there.  And his work loved him.  When I snuck over to his job to interview them, his boss talked about how they refer to him at work as “The Little Hummingbird”.  I thought it was a perfect description of him and the hummingbird has now become the symbol of him for our family.  We have a beautiful one at the cemetery my sister gave him.

There is plenty of information out there about hummingbirds- legends, myths, interesting facts.  I don’t get that fancy in my mind.  His boss’s description of Tim is more than sufficient.  Tim was only 5 ft 5 inches, but he had the energy of someone twice his size.  When I watch hummingbirds, they are just such an amazing thing to look at.  Their wings flutter at an amazing pace but they seem to stand still at the same time.   Tim literally ran around whenever he did anything.  He had almost a frenetic pace about him.  Busy, busy and fast, fast.  Extremely hard worker.

Tomorrow would have been our hummingbird’s 51st birthday.  Not sure what we will do to commemorate the day, but we will think of something.  It’s an odd date now, as he no longer is on this earth in flesh and blood.  We are more in tune to October 14, the day of his re-birth into another world.  A better world.  One without cancer and limitations.

But we will still recognize you tomorrow, our beloved Hummingbird.   Because we are so very, very grateful you were born on this earth and we had the opportunity to be in your life with you.  And you allowed us the sacred opportunity to be with you as you left this life.  Always love and miss you, partner!