Daily Quote * Wednesday

“Things don’t happen. Things are made to happen.” -John F Kennedy

I read this quote two days ago when it came in an email along with the lunch menu and after school activities in the Metcalf Jr High newsletter. I’d not heard it before and it’s really got me thinking…

About the ludicrousness of coincidence or accidents- accidents are by far are more like carelessness.

What about circumstances? Have you heard about the egg and the potato? It’s not a joke. You put each one in boiling hot water and what happens? The potato softens and the egg gets hard before it cracks. Same circumstances, different outcomes and reactions.

Life is what you make it, damn it.

It’d be nice to avoid responsibility and blame everyone else for every shitty thing but it won’t make ME any happier. It won’t improve things. If I control it (take responsibility for it) I can change it…

bad-decisions

Ha! I’m not calling anyone stupid… everyone has lapses in judgement from time to time. The most important thing is to learn from it and move on.

What do you think about today’s quote? Let me know in the comments below!

The Proof

“You were dead…”

“Death can’t stop true love, all it can do is delay it for awhile”

“I shall never doubt again”

“There will never be a need”

These are some of my favorite lines from the movie “The Princess Bride” and they seem tailor made for this situation.

Over the weekend, I blogged about trying to decipher a message from Natalie that came via Shar’s YouTube account.

Short story long, we were directed to the song “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith. I considered it a dead end (no pun intended). That song was about a guy that sleeps around, isn’t it? I brushed the thought aside until it was time to post my update.

Shortly after I published the blog entry, my mom called. She had it all figured out, she said. I was at work so I didn’t get around to calling her until later that night.

“It’s actually a very pointed message. It’s a message for you, Mel.”

“ok…” I said cautiously

“I watched the video for Stay With Me and there is a lamp that is featured prominently.”

“Really?” I interjected.

“Yes. The video starts out with the guy (I assume she means Sam Smith) walking down the street, near a building that reminds me of LaSalle Plaza (which is where Natalie had been found). He’s passing a lot of homeless people.”

I think I started to feels the tears already by this point… Nat was very big on helping the homeless. I think it was several years in a row she bought out Target of all their hand warmers, you know the ones that go in your glove or boot, or in my case of extreme drowsiness- my bra- not recommended. Ouch. When the warm packs were gone, she’d hand out blankets, then whatever sweaters she might have in the trunk of her car… when that ran out, she gave out cigarettes. Hey, fire is fire and warm is warm, right?

“Then they flash back to him alone in a room, with a lamp. The lamp is prominently featured in this video.”

I had to remind myself to breathe. Seriously, what are the odds? *FYI, if you didn’t read the previous post, this probably sounds very strange… actually, it sounds strange anyway.

“He’s sitting in this room with this lamp and also a window. There is SO MUCH LIGHT Melanie. All over. Everywhere. She’s talking to you. Stay with me in the light.”

“Then it goes to a church and people are mourning, but in the light. He lost someone he loved and he’s trying to stay in the light.”

This sounds too crazy to be true and yet, I was believing it.

“Ok, so after that video, another one came on right after it. It’s called “Lay Me Down“. It starts with him at a candlelight vigil, standing and singing in front of a casket. The church, the isles are full. Packed. It goes through part of his story and comes full circle and now he’s the only one and he’s in the front row. You were in the front row, by yourself. She saw you that day in the church. She’s telling you she’s with you.”

Precede to full blown hysterics.

We talk about how she wants us to be happy and to remember the good times & tell her I DO think about the good times but then it spirals into sadness, knowing there won’t be anymore good time with her.

We talk a little while longer before she reminds me to watch both videos. “It’s in two parts… LIKE YOUR BLOG WAS IN TWO PARTS!”

I give myself some time to regain composure  before watching. I guess I’d cried myself out by that time because I didn’t feel much of anything.

Next day, yesterday, I was sitting at the table thinking “the lamp wasn’t that much apart of the video…” Was I expecting it to have a microphone and it’s own solo? I rolled my eyes in spite of myself and prayed. “Natalie, is this it? Is this the message you’ve been trying to get across? Is mom right? Please find a way to let me know?”

Maybe 10 minutes later, I’m going through my old notebooks. It’s a bigger undertaking than I’d anticipated and I’m moving much slower than I’d like but it’s in this notebook that I found, without context, I’d written the lyrics to Stay With Me. TWO YEARS AGO. I started to laugh & cry.

As miraculous as that seemed, I still thought it’s merely coincidence (even though I don’t believe in those… only when it applies to me and my bassackward logic).

I was meeting a friend for coffee at noon. I got in the car and any guesses as to what song came on?

Stay with Me? No, but that’d be epic, right? Nope, instead it was the song “Tonight, Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins. It doesn’t sound all that impressive until I tell you that I came in toward the end of the song, so all I heard was Billy Corgan screaming:

Believe!
Believe in me!
Believe!

Believe in me as I believe in you!

This is literally MINUTES after finding the lyrics to Stay With Me.

If you haven’t seen the video, it’s super cool. Check it out here: Tonight, Tonight

I’m not an expert in these things but I’ve heard if something is a sign from the other side, there will be three confirmations. I was at two.

All throughout my conversation and coffee I strained my ears to listen for anything I might be able to claim as my third confirmation or “evidence”. I’d about given up hope when as we were leaving, this song played over the Perkins sound system:

Like a Star by Corinne Bailey Rae. That was significant because it’s the song I associate with sounding like Natalie. In fact, I’d posted it about 3 hours earlier to her best friends timeline to see if she agreed…

Thanks, Nat. You went above and beyond. I love you so much and I will try to miss you less because I know you haven’t really left.

nat-jess-ride-on

 

6 Month Anniversary, part 2: Afterwards at Shar’s

I’d planned out the day. I knew Saturday was going to be tough. We had the service in the late morning and then I’d have some down time which I desperately need but couldn’t allow myself to have. Not Saturday. My plans to clean and write and read and journal… a mustard burp in the wind. (Where did THAT expression come from? I don’t think I’ve ever said that before in my life…) I couldn’t muster the strength or energy for anything but lying in bed and staring at the pictures of Natalie, uncle Jeff, grandma and grandpa- all next to the Noah doll. Hm, masochist much?

Thankfully I’d already made plans on Friday with Shar. We were going to watch the season finale of American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare and the premier of the “Killing Season”. Now you might wonder why I’d watch so much violence and gore… it takes a lot to take my mind off of Natalie and the horror of this reality. And, to be completely honest, I like to be scared. Reasonably, scared. Not like “hey, we just watched an hour and a half of a documentary on LISK (Long Island Serial Killer) are outside smoking and SOMEBODY, I’m not going to name name’s… friend’s brother… comes charging up the back step and scares the shit out of us!” God… Seriously, after that? I was afraid to go from her front door to my car. Then I had to drive IN THE DARK to get back home and get from the car to my apartment without  being hacked to death and thrown into the bushes for some golfer to find several months later… What? Of course the TV isn’t fueling my imagination… Pfffp.

Now during the show, there were a few crazy things that went on. The first being when we looked up the initials. A few days ago, Shar got on her computer and went to YouTube and Natalie’s account popped up. Now, they met a few times but I don’t think she ever showed up to Shar’s house. Even if she did, she certainly didn’t use her computer. How she was able to get there, I have no idea. There are 62 videos. Shar clicks on the first one. It came up with static and said “Sorry, this video is no longer available due to copyright infringement” with the initials UMG. They didn’t mean anything to me right off the bat. I asked my mom, she didn’t recognize them as anything significant but we all agreed Nat was/is trying to get a message across. I was talking to mom about it in the car, hung up and when I looked up, there was a car with the license plate UMG. Made a mental note to google it but forgot. Until Saturday night. Tons of stuff pops up when you google UMG. One of the first few though, take you to a website “Universal Music Group”. I’ve never heard of this company before. I don’t know if Natalie was in contact with them or wanted to be… Shar monkeyed around a bit on the site and clicked on something (related to Natalie, I don’t remember what) and was taken to the music video of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”.

After that, we go back to watching the show. A girl named Amber(?) was being interviewed and she said “I just want to know who killed my sister”. Then the tv froze. Shar had paused it and told me to took at the lamp in the corner of the room. I turned my head and saw this lampshade hula-hooping! Around and around it spun. I wasn’t doing that before. It wasn’t near a vent or heat register. It was perfectly still, like a lampshade should be. We just sat and watched it until it slowed and stopped. “It stared right when that girl said she wanted to know who killed her sister. Did you try to find out who sold Natalie the heroin?”

“Yeah, with NO help from her!”

Then I started shouting at the ceiling “You have to help me! All of the mediums we’ve been to tell us you refuse to let them know who is responsible! Meet me halfway.”

I go back to my carrots and Twizzlers, don’t judge me.

Finally, I get a text from Jess. She was checking in and wanted to know how I was doing. We talked a little bit but I wasn’t fully attentive as I was watching this A&E show. She tells me she keeps reliving it and having to call my dad and tell him.

This was something I didn’t know.

She told me about it and I didn’t think my heart could break into any more pieces but I guess- never underestimate the power of circumstance. It broke again. And again. And again.

We finish the show. I go home. I chat with Tayla for a bit and I am so exhausted, I am confident as soon as I lay down, I will fall asleep. No down time between the ears. Perfect. Until about 11:30 pm, then it all ganged up on me. The funeral home. The service. THE DAY IT HAPPENED. I’d so hoped I was over the screaming part of my grief… Nope. I woke up screaming and sobbing. I cried myself back to sleep only to repeat the process two more times.

Sunday sucked. Just walked around like a zombie, periodically bursting into tears with no apparent trigger. I just feel so fucking hollow. I never planned on losing Nat. That’s not the natural order of things. She and Justin… we’d all be together for a long time. That’s what’s supposed to happen, right? I know, “the cause of most people’s unhappiness is the picture of how it’s suppose to be” but this isn’t like I wanted to win an award or I wanted that person to do xyz…

Today, today doesn’t feel much better. And maybe it won’t until after Christmas. Or after New Year’s. Maybe it won’t ever happen. I don’t mean to be such a downer… I want to have hope and faith… She just loved the holidays SO MUCH… to not have her buoyancy, her charisma… it’s just tough.

6 Month Anniversary, part 1: Washburn-McReavy

Yesterday was the “Service of Remembrance”, I believe it was called, at the same Washburn-McReavy where Natalie’s viewing/wake was held. I’d been dreading it, as I’m sure we all were, but the fact that it was on the 19th, the six month mark exactly, made it a must attend event. I’d expected it would be hard. I wasn’t looking forward to walking back into Washburn-McReavy and I drug my feet on the way in.

The first thing that surprised me was how full the parking lot was. I guess I’d imagined it was going to be a small, intimate gathering. We almost didn’t have room to park (maybe I was hoping for that? Oh, nowhere to park? I guess we’d better just go home…). But, we found a spot. The cold wind forced me to hug myself tight on the way in.

Right inside the doorway was a fountain. Behind that was a set of double doors. Behind those white doors, was the viewing room where everyone else saw her for the first time. I’d driven to Minneapolis with my friend Shar earlier to possibly help with Natalie’s makeup. They didn’t need my help they told me but I could go in and see her if I wanted…

*If you want to hear more about that part of the experience, check the blog posts right after the 19th, I don’t think I can do it again now and still finish this post.*

Suffice it to say, once I realize which room was directly in front of us, I got sick to my stomach. Fortunately, in front of those doors was a long table filled with Christmas ornaments with the names of loved ones lost. We collected our ornament and were led to the chapel. There was a singer/piano player in the hallway. She sang/played “Amazing Grace” and I mentally cussed her out because I could feel the tears start to burn.

Since the parking lot was full, it should’ve come as no surprise that the chapel was also almost at capacity. For a few seconds, it reminded me of high school or riding the bus. All the cool kids were in the back… The further away from the teacher/event speaker, the better. So, imagine my elation when I sat myself in the very front row… I probably could’ve fit in the second row with my family but I felt strongly about sitting as close as I could (read: I am not a cool kid, ha!). I went for the spot on the far end of the pew, the corner. That way I could prop myself up with the bench and the wall.

I faced forward, looking at this…

 

wb-chapel

The only difference was there was a single candle in the center of the open space and a pastor in the chair near the podium. I think there was also a water fountain somewhere… I heard running water, I guess it was probably from the fountain in the front, now that I think about it. Man, the acoustics in that place… my full bladder was going crazy!

I digress.

The sermon?, the speech? I don’t know what it was called… was very moving. I took notes, honestly! He had a soothing voice and the words of God. I almost missed going to church. He talked about his brother-in-law who was a grief counselor and the three main things to focus on after losing someone.

Number 1. Ask yourself “What have I really lost?”

Number 2. Ask yourself “What do I have left?”

Number 3. Ask yourself “What are the possibilities?”

We closed with a prayer and rose to leave. The woman next to me, who’d been reaching for the tissues about as often as I was had a big button pinned to her purse and it took me by surprise. “Does your button say ‘I love Gaga’?” Her face lit up with a smile and she said “Yes, my son calls my mother that!” I tried to find words, I guess “Gaga” isn’t all that original, but still, I was surprised to see it anywhere outside of Tayla and Mary’s relationship.

“Who did you lose?” She asked, her face returning to a somber expression.

“My sister” I said.

“Me too! She was young, wasn’t she?”

She reached for me and we hugged each other so tight, I imagined she thought I was her sister and she was mine.

“Yes, 36”

“Well my sister was 59…”

“Still too young” I said.

She nodded.

“Can I ask what happened?”

Before y’all start… I know that I *can* ask and I should’ve said *may* but grammar be damned! (in this situation)

“Cancer”

For the first time, since I can remember, I struggled with telling someone how Natalie passed. I don’t know what was wrong with me, why I couldn’t find the words but it was several seconds before I was able to spit out the word addiction.

“She must have been in a lot of pain…”

I nodded, so grateful to not have this woman recoil away from me in horror and question my right to be there and be grieving. I don’t even know where those thoughts came from!

“It’s nothing to be ashamed of” she continued.

I kept nodding.

Finally, I was able to speak. “She was going on 10 months of sobriety. That heroin… it’s a kind of monster I don’t think too many people understand. I don’t understand it but I know that recovery from it,  it’s not like any other drug I’ve ever heard about…” I had been staring at the carpet for most of my comment. Finally, I looked up and asked her

“How long has it been?”

“May 20th”

“Wow. Natalie was May 19th. Six month ago, today.”

She gave me another hug and said “We’ll get through it”.

I hoped to myself that she was right.

As she was about to walk away, she said “Oh, by the way, thanks for bawling and making a scene, it made me feel like I could cry too…”

I think I smiled and said something like anytime.

“Bawling and making a scene”?!?!?! Ha. Lady, you have NO IDEA how much restraint I was using. I thought I was doing a fairly decent job, actually but… maybe not quite as good as I thought? All I know is I was making sure to focus on my breath and not dry heave in front of the entire chapel.

 

 

Good Mourning

Grief is complex and often times confusing. Today is the six month anniversary of my sister Natalie’s death from addiction. Six months. Six? As in 6, 6? Like 1,2,3,4,5,6? My how the time flies when your stuck in an endless loop of sadness… In a therapy group meeting, I mentioned that today would be a difficult day for me, given the occasion. Around the room I heard gasps and whispers, I saw eyes widen and heads shake. Someone made a statement akin to what I just expressed and… I, I was offended.

“What do you mean, 6 months already?”

Just what I said, how can you not know what I mean? How can you question the validity of my statement? Haven’t you felt her absence every second of every day? I feel like I have.

But what’s the point?

Here’s what I’ve learned in therapy:

Emotions. E-Motion. Emotions are guides to helping us understand what we need. The things we need to do. It puts the “motion” in emotion.

Fear is about keeping us safe. You’re afraid to walk down a dark alley in a bad part of town? Good! Don’t do it, you might get hurt.

Anger gives us the energy to make a change, to set limits and boundaries around situations or people that might be unhealthy.

Grief/Sadness? It allows us to be comforted. To bring us into relationship, at a point in time when we really need it.

I need it. I’m in a place where I’ve never before felt such intense levels of all three of those emotions, for this long of a time period.

I feel so lonely, even though I know I have lot’s of people to lean on for support… I just don’t have the energy to even reach out.

Nat’s death, especially with the holidays around the corner, is getting worse. It’s getting harder with the six month mark because I think, for me, the permanency is setting in. The holiday music is killing me. She loved Christmas and every time I got to see her, it felt like Christmas to me. I heard Mariah Carey sing “All I Want for Christmas” the other day. I’ve disliked that song since 2009, when grandma died…and not so much as dislike the song, just teary, every time I hear it, I cry myself into a little puddle.

Today we are going to a candlelight service at the Washburn – McReavy. It’s not just for our family but all of the families they’ve served this year… it just happens to fall on the exact 6 month marker. I kinda feel like I have to go.

“Why do you have to go? Can’t you just light a candle at home?”

I could, but I guess I kinda feel like how many more functions will there be where Natalie is apart of the event… I have to go. I have to celebrate her with others. I have to remind myself that death is a part of life and it’s not permanent… the separation, I mean.

I recently read a quote by Chuck Palahniuk that made me hold my breath in pause, in awe for a moment before resuming my breathing… Here it is:

chuck-palahniuk-quote

Interesting food for thought morsel, isn’t it?

What are your thoughts on grief or emotions in general? I’d love to hear about it or fell free to share a story in memory of a loved one in the comments section below!

Not Again

Jesus Christ. I can follow the logic but I don’t understand. HOW does this keep happening? I am crying and shaking with anger after reading a story about a mother having to bury her THIRD son, all lost to heroin.

I feel so defeated. I can stand on my soapbox and preach all I want but what good does it do? Everyone already agrees… even the addicts. Yes, this has to stop. Loved ones can advocate and try to help all they want and addicts can want sobriety worse than anything and yet… here we are.

There were two things mentioned between the news story and the GoFundMe page that caught my attention.

The first being, when someone is arrested for a drug related offense, why are we letting them out of jail to wait for a court date? Can’t we hold them until a bed opens up somewhere? If this person was suicidal, there’s no way a judge would let him go out on his own… This catch and release method isn’t working.

Second, someone suggested suing the drug company. Like I said, I’m angry and devastated… I’m sure there are probably answers to both of these ideas… I don’t know which company would be sued, anyone making opiates? Is there any other way to ease pain? Some other solution?

I’m broke. So, so broke and I’d be more than HAPPY to pay extra taxes, drive on a bumpy road, eat crappier food- DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to fix this! Find a cure or an alternative…

I can’t believe I ever feared riding in an airplane, getting murdered or anything other than this epidemic.

Here is the link to the GoFundMe page: Jesse McCauley Memorial Fund.

Family Loses Third Son To The Heroin Epidemic

This has got to be some next level HELL…This is UNACCEPTABLE.

Holy Addiction

Losing one child to an overdose is devastating, imagine losing your third.  Jeanmarie McCauley is having to bury her third son, Jesse.  In the go fund me summary they wrote:

I can’t believe that I am having to do this again.  Jeanmarie McCauleyis having to bury her third child, Jesse.  He was a big-hearted kid who was so lost after both of his brothers died. He went to Florida to try and get his life back.  Sadly, he did not make it.  I can’t imagine the pain she and the rest of the family are in.  She has to come up with the burial expenses as well as the added expense of bringing him back from Florida.   She wants to have the three brothers together in their final resting place.  We would be so grateful for any help. No mother should have to go through this.  She and her…

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