Posts Tagged With: loss

still holding

Today, the 14th of November, marks the first anniversary of the death of my best friend’s mother.

A year ago I wrote this, and I’m offering it up again today.

This afternoon (or yesterday afternoon, technically — life and schedules only allow so much leeway) I held her close and she said, “Thank you for thinking of me.” I squeezed a little harder, whispering, “I’ve still got you.” To which she replied, “I know.”

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Categories: family, friendship, loss, love, NaBloPoMo, NaNoPoblano | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

poetry on a monday

I think I’m calling this one drowning.

windows open,
autumn breeze;
all the air
but i can’t breathe.
something’s wrong,
i feel it here.
for far too long
i’ve been living in fear —
things that happen,
things that don’t.
what if payment’s due
like some bad loan?
stop. take a breath.
need to slow it down.
4 count in and 4 count out;
’cause if i can’t control it
i may just drown.

Categories: NaBloPoMo, NaNoPoblano, poetry, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I will hold you up

My BFF and I came to each other rather late in our childhood — we were 45 — but I think we have made up for the years apart and then some. We met because her second child and my one and only were in the same Kindergarten class. We have evolved far beyond school-parent friends and have melded into family. It all happened very quickly. And I am thankful for her every day.

In September, on my BFF’s birthday, her grandmother died. Annie was 99 years young and was the very definition of a Babba. She loved her children, her grandchildren, her grandchildren’s children, and her great-great-grandchildren with an unbelievably open heart. Hell, she loved BoyGenius as if he was her very own great-grandchild right from the day she met him. She had lived through some things, she had come out, and she kept on living. And loving. I loved her, and I miss her.

At the beginning of this week, on Sunday night, while in hospital fighting pneumonia, my BFF’s mother had a massive stroke. She died Monday morning at the age of 79. This second unbelievably strong woman from this family passed away so unexpectedly that we are all still reeling. Shirley was a seemingly tireless worker who took care of everyone and everything. She was the glue that held her family community together. This loss, so close on the heels of Babba’s passing and coming so without warning is like being hit by a tetherball in full swing — the force and ensuing vibration have rocked us to our cores. I loved her, and I will miss her (it hasn’t really sunk in yet).

I know that my friend will find it exponentially more difficult to come through this than I will. I know that her head and heart are filled with regret and “if only”s. I know that her heart is broken and her spirit is only hanging on by the thinnest of threads. I know that words are cold comfort and even actions may go unnoticed right now. I’m doing what I can, including driving across country this evening so I can be there with her, for whatever she needs.

As I enveloped her in my arms on Monday afternoon I promised her one thing: “I will hold you up as long as you need.” The palpable release of even a little bit of tension was all the thanks I needed. I love her and I don’t want to have to miss her.

Categories: family, friendship, loss, love | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

musings (on death, in this case)

The first line of this crept into my head as I was peanut-buttering my toast this morning. No idea why, but I thought I had better sit down and find some paper pretty quickly (kind of like that split second when you know you’re about to throw up), so I did just that. And ended up with this:

 

I have held the hand of Death
as it invades and seeks to usurp
the breath of Life in a loved one’s body.
While Death is not pretty and Death is not proud,
wanting and waiting to snuff out the Life within,
it does seem to care for the shell and the skin without.
Rarely have I felt a hand so soft or smooth
as one struggling to hold on to another day or two.
Skin stretched taut over cheekbone and brow
may seem a grotesque mask to some,
but if so then surely one made from the finest silk
with nary a furrow or crease.
It is almost as if Death, knowing its own reputation
doth proceed, has searched for some small way
to repay the great sacrifices made,
and understanding that family and friends may be holding fast,
offers the only softness it knows,
one of gentle touch.

 

As I said, I don’t know where this came from, I only know it had to come out.

Categories: loss, love, words | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

twenty years

Let me preface this by wishing all of you a very merry Christmas (if you celebrate). My most fervent wish for everyone I know (IRL and IVR {in virtual reality}) is that we all stay happy and healthy, and help each other through whatever struggles we may encounter. Love, love, love all around!

Now. Twenty years.

Twenty years ago today we checked my brother BlueEyes out of the hospital and took him home to celebrate Christmas Eve. Yes, we knew it was already Christmas Day. He didn’t. I can’t even tell you how we all got to his apartment, but we did. We helped him through the lobby of his building, into the elevator and into his apartment. I set up the little Christmas tree I had somehow brought from my house, we got him into his silk pyjamas and he held court from his comfy wing chair. While we were waiting for the oxygen delivery the hospital had arranged he made us find and distribute the gifts that he had for each of us, slowly and painstakingly explaining why he had chosen each one.

Once the oxygen arrived we put him to bed and got him hooked up. I think my parents and my brother SkinnyGuy left. I think I stayed with BlueEyes and his boyfriend. I think.

I know that we had 4 more days. I don’t really know what happened during those days. I think I went to work. Maybe. It doesn’t really matter.

What matters is what I do remember. This day. Twenty years ago. Christmas has never been the same.

Categories: family, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

“it hurts”

“It hurts!” BoyGenius is holding his head, crying, sitting in front of the toilet, and between sobs he’s wailing “it hurts.” In his wretched, pitiful little voice I hear myself at the same age and I feel as helpless as my mother must have felt back then.

BoyGenius went up to bed at 9pm and awakes around 12:30am, the night leading up to Mothers’ Day, with a migraine. I can’t actually do anything to help him. Oh, I try. I give him a gravol and an ibuprofen even though I know it’s too late for them to help. I give him a cold washcloth and do most of the holding of it as it rests on his forehead. I tie his hair back into a loose ponytail so it doesn’t get covered in the vomit that will inevitably come. I murmur “I know, baby, I know,” as if hearing that between his own “it hurts” will be of some comfort.

And it’s true. I know. I have migraines. They started when I was about 7 or 8. BoyGenius’ started when he was 6 or 7. He got them from me. I got them from my dad. Dad got them from his mother. I don’t know which of her parents my grandmother got them from. My brothers were mostly spared, SkinnyGuy not really having any and BlueEyes suffering only once or twice. My cousins from my dad’s side got off scott-free, but their kids managed to keep the generational hand-me-down going.

But I digress. I manage to convince my little bundle of misery that we should move to the bed; it’ll be much more comfortable than the bathroom floor and I’ll have a bucket handy for the vomit that will inevitably come. I try to get him to lay still but he keeps twisting back and forth holding his head tight and sobbing. “It hurts. Oh. Owwwww. It hurts.” At one point he’s knocking on his head with his knuckles and I’m almost ready to take him to the ER. Then the inevitable happens. It comes in waves, with head pounding the whole time, 5 minute breaks in between, head still pounding for the most part. About half an hour into it the ibuprofen comes up, still a perfect little caplet form. I try to give him the benefit of my 40 years of experience with this beast and get some ginger ale into him. He doesn’t yet understand that the throwing up doesn’t stop just because your stomach’s empty. Doesn’t yet know that ginger ale coming up and out tastes infinitely better than bile. He also doesn’t know that those little breaks in the throwing up are a particularly cruel joke. You just about manage to doze off. There seems to be a lull in the pounding, even. Maybe it’s over. You open your eyes or move a toe or just blink. BLAM! Jackhammer starts and you better sit up quick ’cause here it comes again.

At about 1:15am he bolts up and heads to the bathroom. I take off after him and see that he’s sitting on the toilet. I put the bucket beside him and rewet the facecloth so it’s nice and cold. I notice he’s falling asleep, trying to rest his head against the seat lid behind him. He drifts off for a few seconds but that heavy-head-jerk (you know the one) wakes him back up. He takes the washcloth and wedges it between the base of his skull and toilet seat lid as a kind of pillow and catches a few winks. I ask every once in awhile if he’s ready to go back to bed but he keeps saying no. I talk him into believing he’s done on the toilet and direct him back to the bedroom. The bucket is still handy but I know that if he’s been able to get off the bed and into the bathroom and back to bed without having to throw up then that part’s over.

His little body is exhausted. He says his head still hurts but I can tell that even that is subsiding. He’s no longer rocking back and forth in agony. He’s able to close his eyes peacefully, no longer squeezing them shut against the pain. For this I am thankful. I breathe a little easier. I have been through this all before, from both sides, and I know that I will be here again. I know that I will feel just as helpless the next time a migraine makes itself at home in my house; less so if it’s my turn.

As I sit beside BoyGenius in the wee early hours of Mothers’ Day, watching over him, waiting to hear deep, even breaths replace the ragged, raspy ones from earlier I can’t help but think of Sheila and Kate, two moms whose blogs I read/follow, who have known much greater anguish than what I have gone through tonight. I don’t know them personally, face to face, but I know their stories. I send love and strength out through the universe to both of them.

It’s Mothers’ Day. BoyGenius gets up at about 7:30am. He tells me he’s fine, heads downstairs and lets me sleep. Life is good. I am thankful. Again. And again.

Categories: family, parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Donna Day … wanna help?

Last year around this time a few of my bloggity friends gathered from far and wide for an event that was being held in Chicago. I Want a Dumpster Baby, From the Bungalow, Pinwheels and Poppies, The Monster in Your Closet, Mary Tyler Mom … they were all there. Trade show, bloggers convention? Nope. A St. Baldrick’s event. “What’s that?” you ask. “Some religious gathering?” Nope. A shave. A fundraiser. An event. This particular one was being held in Chicago, put together by Donna’s Good Things in memory of and to

Donna's Good Things event is being held at the Candlelite in Chicago

Donna’s Good Things event is being held at the Candlelite in Chicago

honour Donna Quirke Hornik, to raise much needed money to fund research in the hopes that one day children won’t have to fight cancer. I couldn’t attend but I was there in spirit and I did donate some cash. Donna was an amazing little girl and you can read her story here. It’s not my story to tell so I won’t do that, but it is my story to share and it is up to all of us to do the same. If you know of anyone who has fought cancer then you know how horrible it is … if you know of any child who has had to fight cancer then you know how much worse that is. If you haven’t got a clue (and even if you do), then please read Donna’s story,  her family’s story, her mother’s story. It ain’t pretty … but it’s beautiful.

So, Mary Tyler Mom (Donna’s mother) asked some people to blog today, Donna Day, about this year’s event. You can find out more about it and make a donation here (in case you didn’t see that last link). I wasn’t actually specifically asked, but you know, I didn’t need to be. Research into pediatric cancer is a big deal. It needs to be funded. We need to do this; we can make a difference. Sure, it takes scientists and money and stuff .. but we’ve got those things. Donate.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you don’t actually have to attend an event in order to make a donation. You don’t even have to be in the same state, province or country. You can donate to Donna’s event just by clicking through. Also thanks to this here internet, you can check to see if there might be any events in your area, if you would be more comfortable donating to or attending something like that. And by doing just that, checking for local events, I came across this little gem: a group of Tau Kappa Epsilon students from UOIT is holding an event on March 8th, 2013 at the Campus Ice Centre in Oshawa, Ontario. These young men are standing together to try to keep cancer from bullying more and more children. How can you help? Donate! You can click through and pick a certain participant to support or you can donate to the event. These guys are hoping to raise $1500 to help fund childhood cancer research. That’s not too much. I’m sure we can push them over the top. St. Baldrick’s partners with Childhood Cancer Canada Foundation so if you’re a Canuck and want your funds to go towards a Canadian organization, not to worry, they will.

Honestly, I’m not too concerned as to which St. Baldrick’s event you donate to, I just want to get you to donate. St. Baldrick’s is a good organization and like I said above, research into pediatric cancer is a big deal.

Please help.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

yep, death sucks

My cousin died last night. She had been fighting cancer for 7 years.

We weren’t close, either in proximity or in familial feelings. Matter of fact, I probably hadn’t seen her in over 40 years. It doesn’t matter. She’s still my cousin. She was family. She suffered. She has a son. He suffered; still is suffering, as are her mother, her sister, her niece. Cancer sucks.

You know, sometimes when we lose someone suddenly, tragically, accidentally, we say “at least if they were ill we would have had a chance to say goodbye.” Saying goodbye ain’t always all it’s cracked up to be. My cousin was in the hospital for the last week, had been in and out of the hospital a number of times over the last 6 months at least, had been suffering through chemo for endless periods before that. I don’t think her prognosis had been anywhere near ‘good’ for at least the last 2 years. That’s way too much time to say goodbye.

My dad died suddenly, and that sucked. Sudden isn’t great. My brother died with time for us to say goodbye, but I don’t think I ever really did. He knew I would miss him, he knew I loved him, he knew I didn’t want to say goodbye. So he tugged on my sleeve to make sure I stayed that night he drew his last breath. That sucked, too.

Losing someone you love hurts. Whether it’s sudden or tragic or you’re forewarned doesn’t change that. The fact that my cousin is finally at peace and without pain is a good thing, but the fact that she died … well, it sucks.

Hug the people you love.

Categories: family, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

hopes and fears?

** Please note that I have many conversations with myself and do much writing in my head. Sometimes this leads to fractured thought and prose. This may be one of those times. **

 

After the last mass shooting that made the international news I thought to myself, “I’m not going to write about this, everyone else will be doing it and I don’t know that I have anything different to say.” And I didn’t. Write about it.

Yesterday afternoon, shortly before 3pm, when I heard about Newtown, CT, I thought to myself, “I can’t write about this.” This thought only occurred after my immediate reaction, which was a mish-mash of horror, nausea and resignation. Oh, and I was stunned for a bit. Then, while struggling to win the battle over the gnawing, spinning pain in by stomach I scrolled through a number of news stories and tried to keep myself from reading all of the comments people were posting (I’ll come back to this in a bit). Within minutes I realised it was time to go get BoyGenius from school.

A small knot of parents and grandparents were waiting by the doors, as we always do. There were a few comments, a small recounting of events for those who hadn’t yet heard and a collective shaking of heads. There were those who stated, as so many on facebook had, that all they wanted to do was hug their kids, go home, and hug their kids some more. I stayed away from all of that because that’s not the feeling I got. BoyGenius came bounding out the doors, we shared our signature greeting (him jumping into my arms and holding on for dear life while I spin him around until we’re both so dizzy we can barely stand), he told me there’s no school on Tuesday — 1 day teacher strike [a whole ‘nother story] and then asked if he could go to the park. I said “sure” and zipped up his hoody for him before he ran off into the woods. I didn’t pull him any more tightly to me than I usually do, I didn’t hug him longer and I didn’t tell him I needed him to stay closer to me. I told him I love him and sent him off to the park, alone, to play with his friends. That’s what I felt like doing. (Well, that and throwing up … and the throwing up part is still present, almost 24 hours later.)

I don’t want to be afraid to send my son to school every morning. I don’t want to be afraid to take him to the mall to do some shopping. I don’t want to stop going to public gatherings in fear that some gun-wielding, grievance-carrying asshole will pick that day, that gathering to attend. So I’m not, and I won’t. HardWorker thinks of these things every day. I don’t. HardWorker has way more anxiety issues anyway, and things like this just feed her fears. Then again, so do television shows about bacteria on chicken or germs in hotel rooms. I won’t live in fear. I won’t have BoyGenius live in fear. Some of HardWorker’s fears have already rubbed off on him and I fight every day to keep him from absorbing any more. I don’t want my friends with small children, my friends with grown children, my friends with soon-to-be-arriving children to be crippled by fear of the world around us. I, like others I admire, choose to live in hope. I hope that the world will someday be a better place, that everyday it is indeed becoming a better place. I hope that we will stop hurting each other. I hope that we will cure disease. I hope that we will conquer famine. I hope for a lot of things. I choose hope over fear.

There is much talk when something like this happens; in comments on news stories, on facebook, on talk shows. There is much talk about gun control, as always happens at times like these. There is much talk about holding your children tightly. There is much talk about health care and mental illness. There is much talk about the US constitution and its amendments. There is much talk about how horrible that this should happen just before Christmas. People are saddened, devastated, shocked, stunned and horrified. Some are callous and self-serving. There is much talk.

Well I’m here to tell you that talk is cheap. Talk about gun control leads NOWHERE. You know why? Because the bigger picture in that discussion is one about power and lobbying and that picture is painted in very broad strokes with brushes made of thousand dollar bills; the details are the really important considerations and those details always get painted over. Talk about holding your children tightly is all well and good, but PLEASE don’t leave it until a tragedy happens to think about doing so. Talk about health care and mental illness needs to happen but again, those talks always become about politics and power and those money-brushes whitewash everything so not enough gets accomplished. Christmas — the season of love and light, goodwill towards men; does it really matter that this happened at this time of year? Would this horribly unnecessary tragedy be any easier to bear in May? Should we not be sad or shocked or horrified? No, I’m not saying that … what I’m saying is that more importantly that any of those things, we should be angry. Angry enough to take the necessary steps to ensure that this stops happening.

Gun control? Hell yes. You want the right to bear arms? Go right ahead. But be put on notice that every time something like this happens, every time there’s an armed robbery at the corner store, every time some gang shooting occurs, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. Societal ills? Hell yes. Sure, everyone should be held accountable for their own actions but it’s pretty hard to swallow that what you or I or the politicians do has absolutely no bearing on the person standing next to us. WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER.  Loving your kids? Of course. Love them, respect them, listen to them, teach them. KNOW THEM.

Whenever there is a mass shooting, particularly when school-aged children are involved, those who knew the perpetrator(s) have the same things to say. Either “he/she was a loner; he/she was bullied a lot; he/she always seemed to have problems or issues,” or “we never noticed anything wrong.” Both of these perspectives need to be examined. It’s like people are either saying “we always knew there was something wrong” (and nobody cared) or “we never cared enough to get to know” if things were really as good as they seemed. WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER. We need to accept that. Talking to someone might change their life. Smiling at someone may flip a switch in their head. A touch on a shoulder might let someone know that you actually see them standing next to you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that bad things won’t still happen just because you smile at someone. I’m not naive enough to think that the whole world can be healed with a hug. But neither am I callous or cynical enough to think that human kindness, human touch, human-ness won’t make a difference, either.

hopeToday, though. Today. It’s not about guns. It’s not about mental illness. It’s not about money or power. It’s not about your kids or my son. It’s about the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Parents that lost their children. Children that lost their parents. Students that lost their friends and teachers. Teachers that lost their students. It’s about a small town that will be forever changed. It’s about people whose lives have been turned upside down. Lives that may never be righted again. Let us hope collectively that they can all find peace.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light, the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. May hope always wield the mightier sword.

 

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tonight

Tonight I miss my brother.

Today was a day like many others. Finally got (mostly) rid of a two day headache that had managed to turn itself into a migraine in the middle of last evening. Got up at a reasonable hour, showered and dressed, got BoyGenius up, fed and dressed. We ran to school, made it just in time as the bell went.

I came back home, threw some laundry in, watched a movie and nursed my still aching head. Soon enough it was time to pick the Boy up for lunch. I drove over, offering to take him out but he wanted to just come home. So we did. Then back to school.

In the afternoon I did a bit more laundry, cleaned up most of the back garden and some of the stuff out of the lawn that had escaped the garden. After that I watched this week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy and had a tea. In the blink of an eye it was time to pick BoyGenius up again.

It being Friday, we just had time for … wait for it … some laundry (!) and a snack, BoyGenius had some computer time and I watched this week’s Glee. Quick dinner and then back to the school gym for the Friday Night Fun Club. Left the Boy there and went to my bff’s for a quick visit with her and a couple of other friends. Some wine, some snacks, a few games of mancala and some fun chat. Two hours and it’s time to pick the kids up again.

Walked home in the rain with BoyGenius; HardWorker was home waiting for us. Changed into pyjamas, called my mom and traded stories of what the last two days were like for both of us.

By the end of that conversation I was crying. No warning. No real reason; don’t know what sparked it. All I know is that it was an overwhelming feeling of missing my brother. I miss my brother.

Tonight I miss my brother.

Categories: family | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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