Thursday, January 8, 2015

MamaKat's Losin' It - Writing Prompt: 3. If the way you spent your New Year’s Eve is any indication of how the rest of the year will go, how would you say your future is looking right about now?

Wow. That is... A mouthful of a topic...

We don't usually have a party on NYE. We usually sit at home, have a meal (maybe In-N-Out), have a couple of drinks, casually watch the countdown and the performers on Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve, cheer, and go to bed... all in between snoozing (yes... I feel like I'm "old" sometimes...)

This year was different.

Quickie recap of 2014... We ended 2013 with the premature death of our beloved family dog, the day before NYE. 2014 was a bad, bad year. We went through a lot. Between allegations of "me" making my work environment "hostile" to death after death after death... I have never been to so many funerals or memorials in my life, all of the years put together. And we are fairly young. We are in our 40's. I won't dwell on this today.

This year IS different. We decided to have a "2014 was a Shitty Year Party And Let's Kick it to the Curb!" (There were many more expletives put in there when we "named" it, but that's the gist of it.

And so we did. We had some family and friends over. I made food. I did some frozen appetizers (which my husband wanted... he wanted the easy stuff. Go figure.). I handmade some other appetizers. And we drank, but not too much (nobody was wasted...). And we visited. And we sang. And we boogied our butts off.
Placing a Rose on the Donor Float at the Rose Parade -
What a WONDERFUL Experience
It was 1980's Old School in da house! (My husband's brother is a DJ, so the walls were vibrating...) We weren't forgetting all those we love that are now gone. We were living FOR them. We danced and laughed and waited for 2015 to arrive in our own time zone.

All of my husband's siblings were here. and... it was "nice". There was NO drama which is a frickin' miracle or fighting. It was just a good group of people together. Hoping. Wishing. Praying. For a better year.
OMG! It snowed in our little city (This was NYE morning)... It NEVER snows (and sticks...)
So, all in all... my NYE was pretty darn good. My future? This will be a GREAT year! I am determined. We are determined. This is really truly going to be a great frickin' year!
No filter. Just HOPE.
*Undernote because it's not really on the side, is it? : I'm really just trying to get back into the swing of things. Write more. Craft more. Do more, like I used to. And this... is one more step to it.

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

MamaKat's Losin' It - Writing Prompt: 2) 7 best ways to spend WinterBreak

I can think of so many things to do during Winter Break! But here are the 7 BEST!

7) Grab everyone and go for a car ride. Hot chocolate in a thermos, gloves and blankets bundling up each of us, windows rolled down, singing Christmas Carols, and viewing all of the glorious lights. This is truly a magical time. And with all of the twinkling lights and positivity around, everyone can put aside the horrors of the world for just a bit and enjoy all the season has to offer.
6) Pay it forward. It's always nice to have someone random do something for you. It makes you remember there IS good in the world. Be that person. Random acts of kindness performed for others will make YOU feel good, too! Coming out of the grocery store, you see someone struggling to load the car? Stop, offer to help... but be sincere when you do it. Did you just get a $5 rebate/gift card at Target on a special deal? After checking out, hand it to the person behind you. And wish them a Merry Christmas (or a Happy New Year!). Kindness gives us a special warm spot.

5) Watch holiday movies. Loving that hot chocolate (and popcorn this time, too!). Cuddle up on the couch with your kiddos (furbabies, too!) and enjoy the holiday romance movies that are all over the tv. Don't have tv? Watch them on the computer... Hallmark or Lifetime offer many of their movies online, as well. Holiday movies are always a feel-good thing for us. I record them on the DVR and watch them throughout the break.

4) Decorate! Enough said... What you didn't get a chance to do before the break... just add a little sparkle here and there... It makes it all the more magical.

3) Bake. Bake. Bake. Not just for your holiday guests or holidays potlucks. Of course, the traditional cookies, cakes, pies, candy, breads and such... but bake a little bit extra for someone you know is over-loaded. They're sure to appreciate the treat. And bake for yourself. Make and freeze just a little extra (label it, of course!) for that day when you need a touch of Christmas, and a cookie warmed up will bring it all back to you.

2) Play catch up. The year is almost at an end... There is always so much to do. And if you're a tv junkie like me, you need the breather (when they only play re-runs). So, utilize that time to catch up on other things. Clean up that closet; go through and donate items. Catch up on your email. Read the latest (and the past things) on your favorite blogs... There are so many things to do! Catch up on them.

1) Spend quality time with your family and friends, cherishing every moment. I'm pretty sure this one is self explanatory. But... in case it isn't... PUT DOWN THAT PHONE! Only take it out for group photos. Forget the selfies unless you are making them groupies. Don't text or check your email. Don't update your status on Facebook or post to Twitter or Instagram. Just enjoy the company surrounding you. Brush up on your social skills and partake in the conversation around you. Play a family-type game (Cards Against Humanity is a hilarious game to play in a group setting... but not advisable for under age 17...). Laugh so hard you cry. Remember those you love. Try a new food together and discuss it. Don't just unwrap those gifts and set them aside. Relish the thought that went into it. Most of all... Make the most out of the time you have.



There are many other wonderful ways to spend the Winter Break... but these are the things that mean the most to me. It makes my Winter Breaks so much more lively and full of sparkle. I hope you can take one or more of them, even beyond Christmas, and make the most of it. Time is something we can't get back; we must spend it wisely.
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Want to read more from other writers? Stop by MamaKat's Losin' It!. Please feel free to leave a comment, as well. Tell me what YOU do during the break!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pardon my tears (Part Seven... [the last for now]) - It's a NEW YEAR!!!!

I needed to take a little break; I'm sure you all understand. (If you don't, please refer to my most recent posts. I'm sure you will understand, after that.)

2014 was the worst year ever. First, our son. Days later, my mother-in-law...

Every month after... at least one or two people close to me. I'm only 44. My friends and people close to me that this is happening/happened to are not old! Everything (almost) is completely unexpected.

I am tired of it all. I am tired of mourning. Of fresh tears. Of opened wounds. I get that "it" will always be there but will get easier. It's just hard. The holidays especially. I cannot write how much I cried. How many tears were shed. But we made the best out of it. We did all that we could.

Me? I stayed super busy. No... I didn't get Christmas cards out. I hardly made any for 2014. I didn't do as much shopping as usual, either. Or decorating. Lots and lots of boxes stayed put in the garage for the season and didn't even get cracked open.

We even forgot to put out the stockings. Eek! Thank goodness for Elfie. He relayed messages to Santa, telling him how "out of it" we were. And that's ok.  It's ok for us to be "off" for a bit. We did put Jr's picture with the kids for the Santa photo...

I won't be posting pictures of our precious photos. Those are mine to cherish and to share with people close to me. I'm trying to stay healthy... and to deal. And so...

We threw a New Year's Eve party.

We NEVER do that. But we had such a crappy year... (it needs to be said... and last year's year end started with our beloved dog dying, and went downhill from there, ending with lots of losses). We know death is a part of life. But OMG! Give us a break. We are accepting and trying to move on. We want to live and cherish the memories, not dwell on the "what if's" and the "why's". They won't be answered.

And so we "partied". We had family and friends come over. And we had fun. We said goodbye to 2014 and kicked that awful year to the curb.

We are now here in 2015. It is a new year. A fresh start. And that is all of that. Welcome to the new year. May it be better than the previous. May we all be healthy and wise for it.

Attempting to write more often, improving myself, learning more, and being more positive are on my list for the year. I'm not saying they are "resolutions", but just something I'd like to do for myself. And if I do it for myself, it will improve everything about and around me. I need positive air surrounding me. I am going to do it.

So watch for it... Today is the second of January (I needed a recupe day, ya know?)... and I plan on being much more present this year. How about you?

And just so you know... Besides taking down most of Christmas today, I actually overhauled a full room! Fresh start! The laundry room is super fresh, now! Watch out world... HERE. I. COME!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pardon my tears (Part Six)

I go to wake him. I believe this is a nightmare's continuance.

I wish I would wake up. I keep shaking my head. Is this a really bad dream?

He can't believe this is happening, But either. Has happened.

I begin making the phone calls... To his brother. No answer. To his brother's wife. She hands the phone to him, as I ask... Deep. Anguish. NOOOOOOO!!! "My mom?" "NOOOOOOO!!!!"

I then call another brother... This kills me deeply. I speak to him and tell him.

Quickly, we all get ready. I arrange to drop our 9-year-old at my mom's while we handle things at his mom's house. My other daughter and sister are going to continue on to the fundraiser... And again, we have to tell our youngest something crippling.

Remarkably, she handles it well. And I remember another ditty she said to us when we told her about her brother... She said to my husband, "You know what Mommy told me about Xanny, when Xanny died? She said it Xanny dying would prepare me for something much bigger. She was right."

Last December (less than a year ago!), our beloved family dog got really sick. We had been at our own house; it was raining outside; I had kept our pet in during a Girl Scout party. Several people brought younger children, in spite of the "rules" (Girl Scout and registered parent/adult). No worries, right? Wrong. I caught two very small children feeding my sweetheart chocolate (from the chocolate fountain... DARK chocolate from the chocolate fountain. Several. Times.) She (our dog) got really sick. Chocolate (especially DARK chocolate) is toxic to dogs. Since I didn't know exactly how much she had consumed, the vet said we'd just try to see if it passed. I hadn't taken her in right away, so the damage was already lurking... there was nothing we could do. And a little bit over a week later, she left us, howling her last breath at 3am.

I was devastated. We were all devastated. I still tear up, thinking about it...

But never in my mind, when I had to talk to our youngest did I believe I was preparing my child for the tragic death of her BROTHER! and then her GRANDMOTHER!

Bringing us back to the events here... As I leave the house, I get a text from a cousin of my husband... "Why is XXXX posting 'RIP mama' on Facebook?" [Ugh with the Facebook thing again... Granted, I just "posted" services for our son, utilizing the mass powers of Facebook and Instagram. Posting the final services for him and asking those who were tagged to pass it on to others that I may have forgotten or are not on my friends list, reaching out to as many people as possible, giving whoever would like to attend the opportunity to say their final good-byes... pay their respects... cry... have closure... whatever you'd like to call it. I consider myself a pretty fair and equal opportunity person...]

A response via text for this situation is not appropriate, in my mind. And so I make another phone call. During the conversation, it occurs to me most people ask how they can help. Holy Family! That's it. I've already been doing the whole phone call thing... I don't have that much in me now. "Please pass it along to your brothers and sisters, as well..." I ask when asked if she can help. Done.

Wonderful. Helpful family members are just that. Wonderful. I called other cousins and asked if they could do the same. We are almost to my mom's now... dropping off the youngest. My phone calls will probably continue the full ride, between conversations with my husband and bouts of tears. And they do.

We arrive at his mom's house (after dropping off the youngest). There are tons of people there. His mom is still there, lying there. Waiting for her ride away from home. After a couple of hours, the mortuary FINALLY comes. It is insane. People rush the house before she is even down the driveway.

My heart breaks. I cannot believe people are like this. I hustle people out. We will handle this later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pardon my tears (Part Five)

July 31 - He is gone. He is still on breathing machines. But... he is no longer with us. We've already said our good-byes and know there is nothing more than to bring deep sorrow on more. We all need to strengthen ourselves, as we know it's not the end. It never will be.

On Saturday, the harvest is over. It is done. The machines are no longer supporting him and he is released to the coroner. (So cold...)

There is a whole boatload full of emotional and verbal drama that happens when someone dies. Between the cremation versus burial and other final decisions, it really sucks. I sure couldn't imagine it all. But it happened to us/me. There is so much more when it is a blended family, it's impossible to fathom. And even without a blended family, when parents are divorced, if the other parent takes over... One gets left out. In the dark.

Sometimes, people cry for attention. They seem to make a death about them, and not the person who died. Of course... more drama ensues, and we all try to handle it. Emotions are raging. They are not pretty. And with all of our tear-stained faces, neither are we.

Skipping some of it... It seems like I am being biased or underspoken, I'm sure. Don't worry. I'm not. I just need (for me) to understand and know that some people may be reading this that are participants. No... they will never see themselves as monstrous or verbally abusive, or hateful, so I'll just go with this. I just don't want to stir up more drama NOW. So... we'll jump to a bit later, as I also don't want to re-stir up the anger and frustration within me again...

There have been fundraisers to support the final services... and I am preparing baked goods for a food fundraiser on Saturday, August 9th...

A little bit before 9am, my cell rings. It is the mom. I think, "I am rushing the best I can. Dang it. It doesn't even start until 2pm!!!" Only... She tells me I need to wake my husband; his mother has died.

Unbelievable. Only 9 days after his son. And now his mom? No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We haven't even had time to heal. And my heart breaks more.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pardon my tears (Part Four)

The girls aren't long either. We all quietly cry as we go back to the car... There just are no words.

There are questions. Questions that will never be answered. And for that... I have regrets. Now, we just wait.

We still have my youngest with us and my two nephews...

We are at the circus... It's supposed to be a happy time. A happy place. Before noon, texts start exploding on our phones. It is done. He has been pronounced. For the sake of the little kids with us... we clap. We try to smile. I can't wait to get outside again, so I can wear sunglasses... The tools that allow me to cry and not be seen.

[Why is it when someone dies, people run to Facebook? Let the families have privacy... Since July 26th, I am rarely on any type of social media. I don't want people to ask me questions. I am tired of repeating the same thing. Telling the same thing. It hurts. It's one thing to see/have the people directly involved (i.e. the parents or siblings) say something, but for everyone (including those who didn't/don't know the whole story) to just start bombing the social media world with private things... wow. Everyone grieves in a different way. I get it. But... for those that just post. to get attention. Or to  be the first to spread say something. Just. Wow. I don't get it.]

Now that he's really gone, it rips through me. It's hard to contain my grief. But I keep trying.

We decide it's best for everyone in our little group to not do anything else after the circus and just return to Mom's.

It's a really sad time. Only sad... just doesn't begin to describe the intensity of the feelings I have. I am at a loss. Not only at a loss for words. A loss of mind. A loss of heart. A loss of space. A loss of time. A loss of everything I feel like I've ever known. I don't know how I should feel. What's "acceptable".

It was pushed upon him that "I" was not his mother. For years. No. I did not give birth to him. This is true. I loved him just the same. I love each of my children unconditionally. Equally.

So... to hell with it. It is ok for me to feel this huge emotional void within me. It swells with anger sometimes. It swells with pain. It beats with a rhythmic emptiness that pumps itself up to devour me. I cry in anguish. I cry alone.

And I know it couldn't be worse. But I am wrong.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pardon my tears (Part Three)

My husband hasn't seen the doctor yet. But... he did ask a nurse why there were no longer restraints on our son. The nurse said simply, "He is comatose."

Wow. Thanks for letting us know (at the other hospital). Thanks for basically LYING to us. Thanks for... being chickenshit.

It's still July 30. I'm still waiting. We are back at my mom's now. I've already talked to some health professionals in my family who have prepared me for the worst.

The worst being... Drano is what it is. It's a corrosive acid. It destroys. Going down... it dissolved a lot... If you look at a bottle of Drano, it will tell you, "DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. CONTACT POISON CONTROL IF CONSUMED." Words to live by. Vomiting it up, probably destroyed what was left.

My husband comes. I have no words. It is the worst feeling ever.

When my dad had cancer and was terminal (1990's), we knew. We were as prepared as we could be. And it hurt. a lot.

When my husband's dad had cancer and was terminal (2004-2005), we knew. We were as prepared as we could be. And it hurt. a lot.

When this happens to our CHILD. My children's oldest BROTHER. A kid I've known since he was 9. A child I've loved since I've known him. A child who used to tell me "secrets" about his life (and I'd relay those to protect him). OUR CHILD, who is a part of our family. Part of our heart. Part of our lives.

My husband tells me it's decided. There is no brain activity. He has been comatose and will not come out of it. The machines will be turned off. And we will let him drift off... to... forever...

He did put that donor dot on his driver's license. (Thank you, Jr...) He will be a donor and will help someone else to live on.

My heart breaks. I am in immense pain. I have already told the adult children. We need to tell our 9-year-old.

She knows he is hurt and is fighting. She knows he drank something he shouldn't have. What do I tell a 9-year-old? There is no one to help us. The nurses at Kaiser have no answers. I race to the internet to help... I have so many questions of my own. "Did you MEAN to do this?" "WHY????" "Were you in pain?" "Were we not parents enough?" I realize I am turning it back to me... instead of what to tell her... our 9-year-old. I find information on not using words like "sleeping". Just be straight-forward and matter of fact in the gentlest way possible.

We tell her... it nearly kills us. And she shocks us by telling us she will help take care of us. She is hurt. But she knows her brother wouldn't want her to dwell. Her only request is to see him to say goodbye.

I am so lucky and thankful my brother and his wife have come (after their visit to our son) to tell their children, so I am not burdened with this, as well. Small favors are REALLY huge.

The next morning, there is no circus at Kaiser. Maybe because everyone already knows. Or maybe because we are here at 5:30 in the morning.

I speak to one of the nurses. I explain that his little sister would like to come and say goodbye. they refuse and tell me the rules are 12 and older ONLY. No exceptions. My baby doesn't get to say goodbye... My heart breaks for her.

The older girls, my sister and I have come without her. We go to say our goodbyes.  It is worse than last night. I can only stay a couple of minutes, as I begin to crack. I look at that face.

How horrible that everything within the past 16-1/2 years runs through me. I remember him hugging me. Asking me to stay. Wanting to know when he can see us again. I remember him fighting with me. Telling me he hated me. I remember him telling me he loved me. He told me thank you for his baby sister. He said thank you for everything I'd done. I remember the last two times we'd seen him.

Father's Day. Family Reunion. No. He did not seem happy. He seemed controlled by another. A puppet on a string. He was trying to please someone who couldn't be pleased. He was with us, but not with us. And that was the last we saw of him. A week after the Family Reunion, that fateful shot was taken. It wasn't alcohol. It was Drano.

I listen to the machines as they wheeze, breathe, and whine... He still looks the same. I reach out to hold his hand. It's so warm. How can this be happening?

The nurse walks up to my sister and I (Kaiser only allows two in at a time... hmmm...) and asks if we know the situation. We say, "Yes." She says, "Good. I just wanted to make sure." Nothing else was offered.

I listen again. I reach out to stroke his cheek. The stubble has grown in... I can take no more. I lower my head and kiss him on the cheek. I tell him, "I love you, Jr" and give him a hug. With tears pouring down my face, I walk out... and hear the steady humming, the rise and fall of the breathing machine, and the blips of the heart monitor... It is painful.