Grief and Loss, healing, Hope, Love, Uncategorized

I Will Love You Forever

Nine years. Nine long years since she crossed over. When she died, I did too. I was lost without her in this cruel, lonely world. My days went black, and darkness surrounded me. I wallowed in my misery.

For seven years. And then, I started to live again. After seven years of pain and suffering, I allowed it to escape my grip. I let go. With letting go, I was able to feel her love as it surround me. It was always there, but I was too tightly wound up in the depression to allow it to sink in to me.

When her love began to replace my dread and worry, I started taking steps toward my healing. I shed a layer of pain, and began to live again. To love again. I knew she would want me to live, and would have been upset with me for letting so many days pass by me. We only have one chance at this life, and I was reborn into a new life.

As I stepped out of each layer of hurt and sorrow, I began to feel lighter, and the dark spaces began to illuminate. My gram was my cheerleader, even in death. When life felt overwhelming, I felt her push me forward. If I held onto fear, she held my hand as I tackled the new challenge. When I cried, she was there to wipe them off my cheeks. When I had something to celebrate, she was there to witness my joy.

As a child, it was her that made me want to do my best. It was her that I wanted to impress. It is still her that makes me strive for new goals. She built me up in a sea of people who tore me down. And, now, as always, she is by my side, making sure I have what I need.

It took me a long time –seven years to be exact, to understand that she gave me the tools I needed to survive. While she was alive, and still. She taught me everything I needed to know, guided me toward greatness, and loved me without exception. Before she left this Earth, she made sure I was going to be okay. Being okay did not mean never struggling again, but it meant that I would be able to overcome any challenge thrown at me. It meant never giving up. It meant finding love within myself, and trusting enough to find it in others.

I am okay. I will always have what I need because I have her love.

Thank you Gram. I will love you forever.

Grief and Loss, Love, Uncategorized

Good Friday?

480848_10152877591360711_1300103464_nToday marks the ninth Good Friday since my Gram’s passing. My daughter asked me, “How can it be Good Friday when Grammy died?” How can it be good that we lost her? How is there any good left in this day?

She took her last breath on the day that Jesus was said to take his. I did not realize the significance of this until the funeral director told me it was an honor for her to have died on Good Friday. I have never been religious, but she had been a Sunday School teacher. Religion had been important to her, so the meaning behind it all helps ease some of the sting.

Every year, I struggle with today. I cannot help but think back to the phone ringing in the early morning hours to pass the dreaded news. Your grandmother passed away. My eyes fill with tears as I remember. My heart aches for her. And then, I smile.

For seven solid years, grief stole life from me. Seven years that I will not get back to live. Seven years that are tinged with blackness. Seven years of being disconnected from the world, and from myself.

It has now been two years since the pain finally lifted. Two years since this day can come and I can feel at peace. I love my gram, and I will always miss her. I have moments of feeling sad and angry at the thought of life without her, but then I remember a funny story or her smile, and I am left feeling grateful.

As I think back to the life I lived, I often wonder what it was that kept me alive. What was it that kept me going? What helped me see through the darkness?  What pushed me to be my best?

Every time, it circles back to her, and the lessons she taught me. Learning to be grateful is the best gift she ever gave me. It does not solve everything, but it helps keep hope alive. Her unconditional love kept the flame lit inside of me until I was able to learn to love myself. th

Because of her, I understand how important one person can be to someone. I know that it only takes one person to make a difference. I know that a simple smile can brighten up someone’s bad day. I know that there is good in people. I know I can do anything I set my mind to.

Because of her, I know that love is real.

 

In her memory, I challenge you to be that one person to someone. Listen without judgment. Love without expectation. Take your light and help keep someone else’s lit. Kindness is free to give, but priceless to receive.

 

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Kindness and love will keep her memory alive–it is what worked for me.

Grief and Loss, Tom Petty, Uncategorized

Four Months on This Groundhog Day

22195256_10159447341855711_7932537416085145978_nToday took me by surprise. For the past nine years I count down the days until February 2. Not because I am awaiting an adorable rodent’s prediction of the length of winter…because living in New England, we all know the weather does what it wants and in February we are almost guaranteed twelve more weeks of dreadful, dreary winter.

The evening of February 2, 2009 my world began to crumble as I received the call that my uncle had passed away, and I was the one to share the news with his mother, my gram.

I didn’t know what to say or how to phrase it, so I sat in front of my eighty-nine-year old grandmother, blinded by tears and blurted out the information. Her son lived over seven hundred miles from her for the past four decades. He visited every few years, and they talked on the phone almost as sporadically. He was her oldest (and favorite) child, and she loved him with all she had. I knew the news was going to kill her, but had no idea how quickly.

Soon after his death she began talking about hers. I shushed her as much as possible. “Gram, stop it…you are not going to die.”

“Jessie…I’m eighty-nine…I’m ready…”

I covered my ears and started to build the wall higher around my heart in preparation for what was coming. She tried to preplan her funeral, but I was not ready to help her. She wanted me to take notes to write her obituary, but I wouldn’t listen.

Denial is a beautiful thing, but only lasts so long. Regret however, can last a lifetime. Two months later my gram died of a heart attack. A broken heart. My world went black as she slipped away. Nothing made sense any more. I didn’t know who I was. Parts of me died that day too.

Without diverting too far from the point, February 2 always takes me back to that phone call, and the days that followed. Every year there are reminders of the day on the news, on social media, the radio…everywhere. My family members have a habit of dying on “holidays” -Flag Day, Groundhog Day, Thanksgiving, and Good Friday- so reminders of death-iversaries are everywhere.

As I connected the dots this morning, I could feel myself going down the familiar, well-worn path of grieving, I turned on Tom Petty to help ease the pain. And, like that, it worked. His words filled all of the empty spaces in my heart. As his voice hit my ears…tears began to well.

Today marks the fourth month since Tom’s passing.

While I am sad, I am also grateful.

I am sad that his life was cut short. I am sad that the world will think he’s “just another rock and roll star with a drug problem.” I am sad that he gave his fans his all, and because he worked so hard, and tirelessly, he was in an extreme amount of pain. I am sad that we will never be able to have new words written by his talented soul. I am sad that his family, band members, and friends lost him so young. I am sad that we all lost him so soon. I am sad that a simple mistake cost him his life. I am sad (and maybe a little angry) that opioids stole another life.

But I am grateful.

I am grateful of the gifts he left the world. I am grateful that his music heals so much for me. I am grateful that just the sound of his voice sooths my soul. I am grateful that he left behind so much talent. I am grateful that future generations will have his music. I am grateful that I was able to breathe in the same air as him at nine different concerts. I am even more grateful that I was able to catch his pick this last tour (two days before my birthday). I am grateful that Tom Petty saved my life, and gave me a sense that I belonged in this world.

His words are powerful, and reach people where they are at. In the darkness he brings light. In the light, he increases your joy. Pure. Gentle. Subtle.

Tom Petty’s music is the soundtrack to my life. I am not alone on that one. I have met countless others who feel the same way. From twelve to ninety, his music touched his fans. The lyrics snuck in through our ears and tangled around our hearts. No other music has ever done that to me, and I am doubtful it ever will.

My love for a man I never met keeps me going. It gives me hope and strength on the toughest days. It connects me with others, who love him too. We are in this together. As a fan, you are never alone. A family of strangers, who love a man and his music who has touched so many of us.

Thank you Tom for giving us all you had, and a little more. Thank you to his family and friends who shared pieces of this incredible, gentle, kind man with us.

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Grief and Loss, healing, Tom Petty, Uncategorized

2017: The Year My Dreams Came Alive

5954D43C-D01F-4EE8-95F3-A9634268D394A couple of weeks before 2017 came to an end, I started to reflect on the last few months. They happened so fast, and were filled with so much joy, and heartbreak. As I thought back to what had happened, I could feel the energy swirl through my body. For the first time that I can remember, I felt clear of negativity. It was such an unknown feeling, I almost did not recognize it. I just knew that I felt lighter—and free.

Freedom is something that I have been chasing my whole life. Freedom from the abusers I encountered throughout my life, freedom from my own negative self-talk. Freedom from the darkness. Sure, the light had always been there, but the weight of it always lurked near by. Depression is like that. Waiting to pounce when life seems to be going too well.

The months from 2017 replayed in my head as I allowed this new feeling to linger. January tested me in a job that went against everything I believed in, and it was Tom Petty that helped me see what I needed to do in February. “Can’t sell your soul for piece of mind.” Tom was right, he is always right. I walked into my job without a plan and quit. The money was good, but it demanded I went against my own ethical code and left me angry. I did not want to waste another day being unhappy.

Quitting a job with no backup plan was not something I had ever done before. There was no time to have a plan in place, I just had to jump and pray that I landed. A week of feeling sorry for myself and letting anger fester inside of me, I picked up my manuscript that I had received from my editor, Alice Peck, in September 2016. I dusted it off and began to go through it. There was a lot of work to do, and the thought of it was overwhelming, but I brushed away the fear and developed a plan.

February, March and April were spent reading, writing and rewriting some of the most painful parts of my story. Depression came crawling back as I sat alone in the living room remembering things I had spent a lifetime trying to forget. Each section of my story I became the age I was writing. I dropped myself back in time and relived each painful memory. Tears fell from my eyes as I typed. It was exhausting, but I was not going to let the pain keep me from my dreams of being a published author.

It had also been almost a year since I had the attunement for Reiki II, and I felt that I was ready for the Master training. I reached out to SaliCrow and asked if she was able to offer the training. She had a Reiki II class coming up at the end of the month, so it was perfect timing. I spent some time studying and making sure I was ready.

April came with the anniversaries of my gram’s and my mom’s death. Year eight for Gram and the first anniversary for Mom. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 40th Anniversary tour began on April 20th—the year anniversary of my mom’s death. I sat in my car listening to Tom Petty Radio talk about the beginning of the tour, and read comments from friends on Tom Petty Nation talk about the meet ups and the shows they were going to. Most of the friends that I had made in Tom Petty Nation were going to the show in Nashville, TN. I remembered how badly I had wanted to go the year before for the Mudcrutch tour so I could meet them.

A thought popped into my head, as though it was a message from my mom. You have to go. There was no way that could happen. The show in Nashville was five days away. I’d need a plane ticket, a hotel, transportation once I arrived, a ticket to the show, a place for the kids…these thoughts tried to talk me out of going. There was no way it would work, but the voice telling me I had to go was louder than the others.

When I got home I told George about it. A familiar phrase came from his lips, “You have to go.”

But how? How could I pull it off? It was now just four days before the show. I went onto an airline site—tickets were available. I stated looking for a place to stay…but I didn’t even have a ticket to the show. I searched for a ticket…the only ones available required me to buy two. Maybe this wasn’t going to work out after all. Discouraged, I went back on Tom Petty Nation and asked if anyone had one ticket they were looking to sell, and let the others know I was thinking about going. More people told me what George had said, “You have to go!”

Messages began coming in. An offer of a place to stay and a single floor ticket gave me hope. Maybe this could happen. I went back to the airline site…tickets still available. I let George know it really could happen. When I couldn’t get him to talk me out of it, I purchased the plane ticket and made plans to buy the concert ticket at the meet up and confirmed that I would have a place to stay.

With three days to spare, there really was no time to be nervous. When I drove myself to the airport I was only hours away from meeting a bunch of people I had been friends with for years online who love Tom as much as I have. Only my second time flying I was a little afraid of what might happen, but I had to do this. It might have been the reminder that life is short, or something else leading me there, but everything lined up just right to make it happen.

When I arrived at the arena I learned the floor ticket I had bought from another TPN member was seventh row…center. The show was magical, and like always, it felt like Tom was the only one in the room. With less than twenty-four hours in Nashville, there was not too much time to explore, but I was able to meet a bunch of amazing people who understood my love for Tom and my connection to the music.

After the show I went back to work on my manuscript and prepare for my Reiki Master training. On April 30th, I became a Reiki Master. Still unsure of myself, I felt something pushing me along. I was moving forward, and maybe not on my own. I felt that I was on the right path.

After completing the Reiki Master training I had more time to think between writing. While I was thinking, something told me to look for front row seats for one of the upcoming Philadelphia shows George and I were going to. I found a pair right away, but the price almost stopped me. I logged out of the site and went back to writing. It was a crazy idea. The mouse clicked on the ticket site again and I added them to my cart. I watched the time tick away before they were thrown back to be sold. I closed the screen again and went back to writing.

What if this is my only chance to ever meet Tom? What if I never get the chance to see him front row again? I’d spend the rest of my life regretting not doing it. I went back to the ticket site and added the tickets to my cart again and made the purchase. They were going to be a surprise birthday gift for George, but when he got home I could not keep the smile off my face. I needed to tell him the exciting news, but I wanted to surprise him. When I couldn’t stop smiling, I spilled the beans. “Guess what I did today.”

“What did you do?”

“It’s an early birthday gift to you and me…we are going to see Tom front row!”

He was as excited as I was, but the only problem was it was a two month wait. How could I wait that long? The excitement filled my every thought, but left just enough room to continue on with my rewrite. Tom’s music filled the quietness of the room as I wrote. His voice kept me grounded as I relived abuse and betrayal.

By June my rewrite was complete and it was sent off to a new editor. Now that the manuscript was out of my hands I had plenty of time to think about the upcoming shows. As I waited for the tickets to arrive I became increasingly anxious…what if they were not real? What if someone just took my money and I won’t even get the front row tickets? I held back the excitement enough to not be severely disappointed if it did not turn out as I hoped. No tickets in hand until two hours before the show. The excitement did not return until we were sitting in our seat. This was real. Tom Petty was going to be feet from me. An impossibility was becoming reality.

As Tom and the band walked on stage I felt warmth radiate throughout my body. A smile so big that my cheeks hurt. I couldn’t jump and shout…I was too much in awe of who was in front of me, and who was beside me. Tom made eye contact with me a few times, maybe my smile got his attention. I knew he could feel my gratitude. I sang along with him and continued to smile. At song number seven he walked over to where we were standing and finished playing “Free Fallin’” right in front of us. At the end of the song, he looked right at me and tossed his pick to me. George was taking pictures and did not see this happen. I started to cry. Tom saw me, and he knew. He knew that he mattered to me, and that was as good as meeting him.

It was like a dream. I couldn’t even talk about it right away. It was unreal. Stuff like this didn’t happen to me. As we looked through the pictures when we arrived home we saw it. George had captured the pick being tossed to me. A spilt second caught on camera to cherish the moment forever. There was no denying what had happened now. My heart was full.

The month of July was filled with three more concerts. The first night in Boston a TPN member told me Ron Blair was in the hall talking with people. I quickly walked out…and there he was. I went up to him and shook his hand and walked away. What just happened? I found George and told him…he followed me back out to where Ron had been and another TPN member, Brien was there standing next to Ron. George convinced me to ask Ron to take a picture with me and he and Brien took some pictures for me.

The next night we had not planned on going, but after the night before I looked for tickets and found front row tickets marked way down. We were both exhausted, but George told me we had to go. Less than twenty-four hours later and we were back in Boston. Dana Petty came out to dance while Peter Wolf played, but it didn’t look like she was able to see. When she came closer I offered for her to stand in front of me so she could enjoy the show. She smiled and thanked me but continued dancing where she was. Then one of her favorite songs came on and she came over next to me and danced. It was so great to see her enjoying the show, and be able to be a real fan without a bunch of people bothering her. At the end of the night she came up to me, thanked me, gave me two picks and hugged me. What was happening?

The next show was back in Philadelphia, this time third row. I was a little sad this was going to be our last show of the tour, but so grateful for what had already happened. I was also a little nervous that this might be my last time seeing Tom live in concert. After all, they had said this was their last big tour. I left that night with a little sadness in my heart. Something deep inside me told me we were driving away from the last show. I tried to brush it off. What a great time we had, and I wanted to keep that euphoria alive.

In August I was offered a job after spending a few weeks looking for a good fit. At the interview everything just felt right. The people were nice, it was a job I had done before and I knew how to do, and best of all, the stress level was nonexistent. Things continued to fall into place.

September came and I had my manuscript back from my editor and it was ready for me to go through one last time. My cover had been designed and everything was almost ready for my book to be published in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. On September 8th, The Monster That Ate My Mommy went live. I panicked as I realized what happened, and had no time to prepare for my story to be live in the world, but felt there was a reason.

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s book, The First Signs of April  had been published on September 5th, and because of the closeness of their publication we were able to have a couple of co-author events. M-E helped push me on the path to healing, and beginning this journey with her was serendipitous. The first event was planned for October 20th, to honor Tom Petty’s Birthday, as well as the anniversary of my protection order.

I spent the next few weeks preparing for the event. I picked three pieces to read, one about child abuse, one about domestic violence, and the last, a happy one, about my first time seeing Tom Petty in concert. The chapter about Tom was the saving grace; the only piece that held any happiness. Until October 2nd. That awful day that the world learned of his death. The pain of this loss was devastating. How could losing someone I didn’t even know hurt so bad? That’s where I was wrong. I knew him, I had known him for years. He was a dependable friend. My only source of constant joy for the past twenty-two years. His words had gotten me through so many tough situations. Healed so many broken hearts. Gave me joy, and hope, and happiness.

I tried to practice the chapter, and as soon as I saw his name on the page I could not see past the tears. I was ready to give up, to quit this dream, but I knew I couldn’t. His songs gave me the strength I needed and pushed me forward, just as they always had. Tom was gone, but he left such a beautiful legacy behind, and I wanted to do the same.

Just a week after my book went live, I started the End of Life Doula program at UVM. I completed the online course in November and received my certification. All the pieces I had been missing were coming together. The picture to the puzzle was beginning to become clear. I need to use my skills to help others, to heal others.

The rest of the year found my book seventy-one reviews on Amazon, most all 5-star, and the others 4-star. Readers were saying incredible things about my book; about me. I was getting messages from people who read my story and thanked me for sharing so honestly, and helping them see things differently. That life of darkness I thought I had lived was now a bright light, helping others see the way.

As I went through the year’s accomplishments with George, I told him how grateful I was for all that had happened. I told him how, for the first time ever, I felt at peace, as though I am right where I should be. Calm. Peaceful. Right. All unknown feelings, but the freeness of them felt so in sync. He told me, “The year is not over yet.”

Hours into December 24th George asked me to marry him. Knowing I get to spend the rest of my life with someone who treats me with love and respect, and who builds me up and encourages me to follow my dreams is what I have been searching for my whole life. Until I met him I did not believe such people existed. I thought all the movies lied to us and set us up for disappointment. George showed me love is real, and love is true, and best of all, love is returned. For the first time ever, life is as it should be. The freedom from negativity is overwhelmingly present.

As I think about all that happened in 2017, all that I accomplished, all that I lost, all that I gained there is no room for sadness. No room for sorrow. The sun is shining, even on the darkest of days. There is hope in each day. Maybe there always has been, but my blinders are lifted and I can see. I can feel. Only goodness to come.

Tom was right (he always is), “Something Good Coming.”

Spring 2016 855In Memory Tom Petty and my second father that were lost in 2017. May you Rest In Peace, play a little music, cause a little trouble and feel all the love we send your way. Thank you both for your part in rescuing me.

Grief and Loss

Grief is Cruel

Spring 2016 820.JPGJune 14th was the 24th anniversary of my father’s death. I have not had a father for twice as long as I had one. Every year the anniversary gets easier, but this year it caught me off guard. Grief swallowed me as I remembered that my mom was gone now too. That I am an orphan. A thirty-four year old orphan, but the realization is still hard to grasp. Both of the people responsible for bringing me into this world are gone. My world became so small when I realized this. I am not alone; my brother became an orphan the day my mom died too. As are many others, much younger than we were, but still there is something sobering about being alone in the world.

Yes, I have others in my life. I am not alone in the sense of the meaning of the word, but my creators are gone. I missed my mom more than I had before on June 14th. I felt like a small child lost in a shopping mall, searching for safety. My heart hurt as I thought about all that was stolen from me. For the majority of my life I have been without a father, and now, for the rest of my life I am without both parents.

Realizing how young my dad was; 37 and how young my mom was; 62, I worry about my longevity. Will I die young too? Are my days numbered? So much loss and uncertainties consume my mind now. Grief is unescapable. I tried hard to not think about my loss. I tried to be happy that she has her freedom now. I tried to put my mind other places when the thoughts sneak in, but there is no hiding. Either I deal with it now or I let it consume me for the rest of my life. When I lost my gram my grief consumed me; it killed who I used to be for many years. Seven years to be exact. Ten days after the seventh anniversary I lost my mom. Grief is cruel.

Grief does not care that you already gave it all that you had. Grief does not care that you have a life to live. Grief does not care that you have kids to take care of. Grief does not care that you have a job to do. Grief just does not care. It is as ugly as you allow it to be. Grief does not have a time line. It does not have an expiration date, and it comes knocking even when you don’t feel like visiting.

I have spent most of my life grieving. Twenty-four out of thirty-four years I have had the shadow of grief follow my every move. Happy memories that I could not share with the people I love. Special events that I had an empty space in my heart and empty chairs in the audience. Silent tears escape from my soul as I watch others have the people they love while I am alone. In those moments I forget that others hurt too; that others have lost too. In those moments I think of my pain, of the agony that has taken toll on my life. And in those moments I think about how unfair life is. I get angry and sad and depression sets in. In those moments I give grief full control over my life. In those moments I forget that I have power too.

It is those moments that I have let win over the last few days. I’m getting to be an expert at this grieving thing, and yet it can still swallow me. I am not letting it win this time. I am fighting back like walking against the current. It is hard, but I am aware. I know what it is like this time. I know that I must give in to these moments to grieve fully and completely. I know that grieving is healthy. I also know that grieving is hard. I know I will get through this.

Time.

It just takes time.

Grief and Loss, Uncategorized

Happy Birthday. Happy Travels.

img_7123Today was my gram’s birthday, had she been alive she would have turned 97 today. When she turned 85 I threw her a big surprise birthday party. A lot of the people who were important to her came to celebrate the day with her. The ones that could not make it, and some of the ones that could wrote down their favorite memory of her and I put them together for her in a book. The look on her face and the joy that book brought her was worth all the work that went into it.

As we drove to the hospital the week before her death I joked with her about planning her 90th birthday party. She laughed and told me she did not want a party; I told her it was something worth celebrating and I would throw her one any way. A few days later she died. She won, kind of. We planned her burial for what would have been her 90th birthday and we celebrated anyway.

Every year since her death we celebrate her on her special day. June 5th will always be special to me and I hope to my kids. Some years we have cake, some years we buy her balloons or flowers, and some years we just go for ice cream in her honor. This year was a little different. This year we celebrated my mom’s life on my gram’s birthday. We said our goodbyes to my gram’s only daughter on her birthday this year.

Since my mom died I have felt very connected to my female ancestors. There have been things that I have noticed that make me believe that we are all very similar even generations apart. Many of the women in my family had a very special relationship with their grandmother, while the bond with their mother suffered. We all had the maternal support we needed; it just came from the generation before. I felt that celebrating my mom’s life on the birthday of the woman who gave her life was completing their circle.

The remaining few in my family are here, working on our own circles; but today we could reunite them, as well as the other mothers and grandmothers from our family circle that have already passed on. We are all connected, in an interwoven weave that makes us whole. Each piece, no matter how insignificant it may seem is critical for the survival of another. My mom may not have been able to give me all that I needed, but she made sure my gram could. The mothers and grandmothers in my family are strong women. We are a force to be reckoned with. We have our weaknesses, but oh do we have our strengths. We are family. We are survivors. Life was a struggle for all of us, but we managed. We managed and we succeeded.

My mom’s celebration of life took place this morning at Lake Willoughby. It was a place her mom took her as a child, and where she took us as kids. It was a place of joy. A place of peace. A place of wonder. A small circle of her friends and family gathered by the water we swam and splashed in. It was a place where I felt loved, and a place she had as well. Water had been an important part of her life, and she made it an important part of ours. Her mother passed on her love of water to her, and I to my children.

The flow of the water, the splash of the waves, and the strength in the current make water mystifying. Water is ever changing, never to have the same ripple twice. It is calm and serene while having massive power. A shallow river has enough force in its current to move large trees downstream. Looking at the calm water you would never know the power below. But don’t test it. Don’t push it. Water will win as it peacefully passes by. The women in my family are like water. We quietly watch the world around us and push back when we need to. You need water to survive as you need love. You will wilt away into nothingness without water, as you will without love.

Today’s forecast called for 90% chance of rain, heavy at times. While we gathered around the lake it merely sprinkled, off and on. There were lulls of no rain at all. The sun even peeked out of the clouds for a little while. We sprinkled some of her ashes into the water as the others sang “You Are My Sunshine.” We were her sunshine, as she was ours. Today she gave us the gift of sunshine, if only for a few moments. As we drove away the heavy rain came. I know she had something to do with that. She did not want us to be sad, she wants us to live. She wants us to be thankful for the time we had with her and to live the rest of our lives as we wait for our final descent.  She was a prisoner in her life for as long as I knew her, and many years before that. Where she is now she is free. She has joy and she has love. I know she is not gone from our lives; she is just on a different path until we meet up again.

Happy Birthday Gram.

Happy Travels Mom.

Until we meet again. Much love.

Grief and Loss, Uncategorized

Seven Years, Ten Days

Spring 2016 855.JPGMy mom died. Seven years and ten days after her mom, my gram died. This was the first year since my gram’s death that I did not fall into a deep depression. This was the first year that I was on top of my grief. And then one week after the anniversary of losing my gram my mom went into the hospital. As I was watched the doctor franticly look at her notes and then my mom, the look on her face said more than anything she could speak.

I sat against the wall in the hospital room I thought about the day. It was April 17th. We were having my gram’s service April 17th seven years before. It was 2:00pm when I connected those dots. I could not keep my tears in. I knew what was happening. I had to leave the room, because I did not want my mom to see me cry. I rushed down to the waiting room and let the tears out. I sent my brother a text to let him know what was happening. The time stamp was 2:07pm. My gram’s service was held April 17th at 2:00pm.

Why was the universe testing me? Why did this have to happen now? Why did I have to start the grieving process over? There were too many thoughts going through my head. I was not ready to lose her, not yet. I wanted to talk to her to tell her the things that I had been working on. I wanted to tell her that I hurt, but I understand now why things happened the way that they did.

On April 18th we were called in to her room to say goodbye as she was having a heart attack. She was still awake and able to speak. I told her “I forgive you Mom, I love you.” She responded in a few words and was asleep, never to speak any more words. We were called in to say goodbye to her a few more times that day, each time I told her that I loved her, once kissing her forehead.

My anticipatory grief was setting in. Days before we thought she just had the stomach bug. I had not gone to see her the last couple times because she did not want to get the kids sick. And now we were saying goodbye over and over again. Each time we said goodbye she would become stable and we were told she was improving. Part of me hoped that she would pull through and part of me knew she wouldn’t. I wanted to keep hope and faith alive but I also wanted to be prepared for what was coming next. It was like walking on a tight rope, not wanting to look down, but knowing you have to.

After two long days of waiting and hoping for the best we had to make a choice. Do we keep letting her fight, or do we let her go? We let them try everything, and she was surprising us each time. They gave her a 1% chance of surviving the first surgery, and she did. They gave her a 10% chance of surviving the night, and she did. We hoped she could fight it; that she could beat it. Medications were at their max and she was failing. She was in pain. If we let her keep fighting we would have lost her. We decided to stop all life saving measures and transition to comfort care.

Within minutes she was gone. We said our goodbyes to her as she departed her Earthly body. The four days that this took place were excruciating. A waiting game; hoping that we would get good news, but knowing we wouldn’t. I didn’t want her to suffer, but I wanted her to live. That is a hard choice to make. I felt selfish letting her linger just for us. We initially wanted it for her. We knew that if she had a choice she would want to live too. So we did everything that was offered to us. We did everything and it still was not enough. Regardless of our choice she was going to die. It was just a matter of moments. In the big picture her peace was worth more than those moments.

I don’t have regrets, only that she was most likely in a lot of pain. We did not know that until after she had been suffering. We did what we could do and we were there with her when she needed us. She went peacefully and quickly once the medications were stopped. We followed her wishes the best we could with little to no information as to what she wanted. She never wanted to die so she never talked about her wishes.

Seven years after losing my gram and drudging through the thick, painful, at times paralyzing grief I was given a reprieve to try to live without the pain and then I was given another major loss. Another loss that could have sent me down the ugly, black spiral I had just climbed up. This loss has been different. My grief has been different.

My mom and I were not close. I spent my whole life longing for her love. She gave me the love I had looked for as she clung to her life. In her final moments she gave me what she never could before. I am not sure if my pain is subdued this time because of the distance that separated us; or if because she left me at peace with our past. I am sad as I think about what never was. And I find myself thinking of things I want to tell her and forgetting that she really is gone. I don’t know the difference. I just know that it is easier. So far. I also know that grief is ever changing. I know that it is different. I know that it is tricky and I know I cannot out run it.

As my mom was still alive, fighting for her life I looked down and saw my gram’s ring on my hand, on her arm. I was brought peace knowing that she was there helping me and also there for her daughter.

My mom was 62 years old when she died; my gram was 62 years older than me. My gram was 34 when she had my mom; I was 34 when my mom died. As I sat and thought there were a lot of connections like this. It made me see that we were all connected, but more importantly that the big picture is already mapped out. Things are preplanned and we are just along for the ride. Good or bad; if it is meant to be it is going to be. Life is always going to be; until it is not. It is what you do in between the being and not being that matters most. It is time for me to be the most that I can be in my time I have left.