Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Frankie

I’m learning a lot about cross-country this year. I’m also learning a lot about where the schools are all over Western New York. It’s crazy. Fifty minutes to drive to the school, and the race is about 11 minutes. At first, Frankie told me I didn’t need to come to the meets because it wasn’t a big deal. But one week I was running late and I got a call on my phone. Hmmm… I think in spite of what he says it’s important I be there. You know teenage boys. They want to keep their distance, so this sports thing is making me feel warm inside.

I can’t even possibly explain what it is like to ride home in a car with him for 50 minutes. But I’m going to try anyway. A video would be much better, but if they know you are recording them, the gig is up. Anyone with a teenager knows that the seat next to the stereo buttons is the most important seat in the car. Usually, if I hear a song and forget myself and start to sing or dance, that is Frankie’s signal to change the station. I know, he’s a punk.

Last night was different though. It didn’t matter what I did or not. He was on a roll. Fifty minutes of flipping through stations. Rap is not one of my favorite genres. That is, unless Frankie is the one doing it. When he knows all the words it always amazes me. But when he doesn’t? He makes crap up on the fly and it absolutely kills me. It makes me laugh, then it scares me. What the heck goes on in that kid’s head?

Whatever station is next is just that. Classical. Frankie makes up a quick rap to classical about how the Pilgrims (I assume inspired by his upcoming favorite holiday of Thanksgiving) had developed the first flutes (inspired by the flute song on the radio) the sound of which would lure turkeys to the feast (inspired by the lone live turkey that was sitting by the side of the expressway).

Jazz? No problem. He starts dancing like a very, very chill dude. He mimics a guy who is probably mellowed up by smoking weed, and talks about being “jazzed as shit” by the way the melody has carried him.

Suddenly, he breaks from music entirely and sees a car in the other lane crossing over into ours. He yells at the top of his lungs, “Hey mister! You are smothering me. Smothering me I’m telling you. Man, I need my space!”

Spanish station? He starts chattering rapidly the speed that Spanish usually sounds like. He doesn’t know much of anything in Spanish except counting but he can make stuff up like no one can. He is especially good at the Canadian stations. He is the star French student at school so he throws out random words that sound like he’s fluent.

When I finally get home and walk in the house, I tell Dad I am exhausted and there is something wrong with my son. Without skipping a beat, Frankie puts on his most serious face and says, “Mom, that really hurts my feelings. Besides, that never happened.”

Many times his humor is inappropriate for his age, but he gets away with it because I crack up laughing. He’s funny as hell and creative too. He just tells me that I need to get out more because I’m amused too easily. He has definitely come a long way from his newborn picture that is the logo for Baby Coop Publishing. Did you know that was his actual picture? That cute, perfect newborn face.

Anyhow, I was going to blog about all my new genetic knowledge. Then I was going to blog about “Oc-fuckin-tober” as tomorrow is the six-year anniversary of Tim’s death, which I celebrated by having my first full-blown panic attack in several years. But instead, I decided to write about my nutty kid. He was a bright spot for me. I’m sure words don’t come close to making you laugh the way a video would, but I thought I would try.


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Teenage Angst

When I got married to Tim, I became a step-mom at the same time. I started out with a 13, 16 and 19-year-old child. I always said it was like baptism by fire. Parenting teens is hard enough, but starting out with them first, I was more than lost. Parenting is like everything else in life that I counsel people about. I help the best I can based on knowledge I’ve gained, but the ability for me to truly help grows exponentially when I have some real-life experience under my belt. I could help a married couple, but much better after marriage. I could help a divorced couple, but better after experiencing one. Same goes with parenting, step-parenting, losing a parent, losing a spouse, etc….

Now I get to parent a teenager (Frankie is 12) that I actually carried in my womb, have sacrificially given my time, energy, money and heart to for his entire life, and love beyond anything I thought possible. Knowing that teens become big jerks 90% of the time to their parents doesn’t make it any easier to endure it. I have clients going through it too and I sympathize with them as well. I can read all the theory I want about why it is developmentally necessary for them to push away from us, but I still hate it.

So there is “normal.” And then you have the added dimensions about the loss we have suffered. It’s an additional dynamic to add to the mix. From my perspective, he is all I have left. From my perspective, I am terribly lonely every night in our home. He and Colin are buds and they laugh their heads off, play sports and games together, and talk a mile a minute. Oh yeah, they also “bond” over being disgusted that they have such a terrible mother.

Now Colin (Colin is 31) will say that it is my head. He thinks I just feel bad about myself and so I imagine they are treating me that way. But I know better. There have been a million people who have observed our home. There has been more than one or two helping professionals that totally agree. There is more than just the “normal” pulling away here. They have anger and an axe to grind. And it’s directed at me. Full force.

It sucks. Most of the time it breaks my heart, but sometimes I find myself getting really angry. Yesterday was like that. A relatively minor incident occurred where my dad and I went to watch Frankie play basketball at his school. He completely ignored us. He didn’t want us there. It embarrassed him. I tried very hard to do all the verbal talking in my head about how this is what teens too. But I was enraged anyway. I sat there on the bleachers with a couple of tears trickling down my face that I couldn’t control. I wanted to shake him.

Frankie is incredibly smart and gifted. And he is an old soul. He gets life in ways that some adults never will. I guess I expect more from him. At his young age, he unfortunately already knows about grief and loss. He has lost four cats, a grandmother he was very close to, and most importantly, his father. So I know he gets that parents and people who love you should NOT be taken for granted. He knows things his peers don’t. But instead of drawing closer, he treats me like he would be much happier if I was gone too. (That is not based solely on this basketball incident, so don’t think I’ve completely lost my marbles.)

Then the shock sets in for me. I couldn’t wait to have Frankie. I wanted a kid so badly that it was agony waiting for him. Then I had a miscarriage, got pregnant with Frankie and had the world’s worst pregnancy the entire nine months. I adored him. We had a close, healthy, unique relationship for eight years of his life. Like any mother, I would take a bullet for my child, lose a limb without even thinking twice. But now I find myself having horrible thoughts. Things like I don’t even like him anymore. Things like maybe I really should disappear for a while and teach him a lesson. And then I’m shocked. I can’t believe it is me that is having those feelings. What the hell has happened to me? To us?

Death. That’s what fucking happened. Four and a half years later and I still don’t know how to fix our family. Shit.