Happy(?) Thanksgiving

It wasn’t a noise that woke me but the absence of sound. I fell asleep listening to Natalie’s YouTube videos, at my desk. My arms wrapped around this imitation Noah, this plastic, and cloth creation that I somehow thought would mimic the son I lost. His butt is sitting on the desk as I leaned my head into his onesie, one I’ll never have to wash or worry about him outgrowing. My cheek touching his, imagining his breath, his heartbeat, his warmth, and wiggliness. Us, together as aunt Natalie sang us lullabies…

But somehow my subconscious was on alert, knowing the music stopped, that she was gone again, that I lost her again. I panicked and opened my eyes, searching the room for her.

I went to her Facebook page and realized that the dress she’s wearing on her cover photo was the one she wanted to be buried in. I felt this flash of fire in my belly. Lava spilled out of my eyes.

We couldn’t even do that for you. The god damn autopsy scars would’ve shown. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I clicked on her photos, trying to distract myself from the realization she wouldn’t be texting me about Thanksgiving plans or reservations or family time or anything. Ever again.

The still pictures, they provoke me, encourage my anger. How will I never see another goofy pose from her? Hear her laugh and snort over funny little things? Be party to another “get rich quick” scheme?

I scrolled through the messages from friends about how they all miss her and love her.

Damn you, Nat.

With all this anger and fury I think about deleting these pictures. Erasing her playlist. Boxing up gifts and remembrances from her.

I know I won’t though. Under all of this heated emotion, anger, helplessness, the real emotion that stays is heartbreak. As horribly overwhelming as it is, it’s what I have left. The pictures and the music, they stir up emotion, sure but I am grateful for them.

Happy Thanksgiving Nat. I am thankful for having you in my life as long as I did. I love you.

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Trees, Rain and Magic

There is a tree outside our house that can be seen from my bedroom window, the kitchen window and the deck. It is big, strong, healthy, beautiful tree and last week it started to don its fall attire. In one small section. Not even an eighth of its foliage had slipped into crimson colors. Dandelion and pumpkin colors huddled together, like the cool kids in a clique in high school.

Late yesterday afternoon, I took my book and went to my bedroom and assumed my default pre-teen pose: lying on my stomach across my bed, my legs bent at the knee and ankles crossed. I lay the book on the bed, propped myself up on a pillow and began to read.

In the background, my subconscious heard a noise. It was a comforting sound but one I didn’t really pay attention to until I realized that it was the rain. It was raining hard. I popped up off of the bed and went to the window. It was dark at 5:00, very dark. I opened the window as far as it could go and leaned on the frame of the window, my head resting on the screen.

Immediately my eyes were drawn to the tree. I couldn’t take my eyes off of the kaleidoscope of colors, seemingly waving to me.

I thought of Natalie. How I wished she could see this, with me. My chest and heart were heavy with sorrow and I started my own downpour.

The rain was thick and cold. It hit the concrete patio with a slap. Slap! Slap! Slapslapslapslapslap!

“I wish you were here Nat” I said to myself.

Then it happened.

The rain that had been pounding the ground, the earth, the concrete stopped falling down and fell sideways.

It rained sideways.

For a few seconds, it was raining in my bedroom. The water droplets made their way through the screen and pelted my lips.

I don’t know if I’m crazy, well, I do. I am. But that’s beside the point.

I felt like I’d gotten a kiss from Heaven.

Immediately, the rain resumed the course of gravity and I watched a few seconds longer before closing the window.

Today. Today she would’ve been 38. I woke up around 7 and went downstairs to snap a picture of the tree. I wanted to post a photo of magic, but when I got downstairs and looked out the window, the magic was gone.

The colors were still there, technically but instead of brilliant, individual colors they all matted together and made an old rust color.

I wondered if the dark gray sky had made them look more vibrant but there was definitely something missing today…

It was you, Nat.

You are gone and the world is less colorful, less magical.

I know you are still with me and us and I do cherish the signs I get from you… I guess I will always just want more.

Sorry For the Word Vomit…

I know it’s been awhile and I know I said I was going to stop apologizing when I missed a Wednesday or Sunday post, and I am… (yes, I do know it’s Thursday) I just don’t want anyone to think I forgot about them or this blog.

We moved three weeks ago. (A BIG, HUGE thanks to my friend John and Tetris!) I think by today, we could have the last of the boxes from the garage come inside and find their place, so that’s exciting.

That’s not entirely the reason I haven’t written though. It’s a big part of it… there is more though.

I did get offered the PCA job and yesterday finished with the paperwork and fingerprinting. I’m hopeful about starting training soon.

Babymaking is… getting a lot less fun. A lot more stress and I wonder if it’s the right thing to do anymore. I want to leave it up to God. I keep telling myself I am leaving it up to God but somehow, I keep managing to wrestle it away from him and stress over it some more.

September is right around the corner, which means many things. School is about to start. My fingers are crossed that Tayla will not struggle as she has in the past. At least, not in the same way. September 29th will be my grandma’s birthday and Noah’s due date. And the 11th, of course, is Natalie’s birthday. My eyes are stinging and my throat is closing up as I write.

I’ve been going through a lot of stuff, with the move. I have three jewelry boxes which I find pretty amusing since I don’t really wear a lot of jewelry but in one of the boxes with the bracelet she gave me for being her maid of honor. I remember shopping for her wedding dress with her… the one time she told me I was right (she should’ve gone with the ivory colored dress, the one that made her look like a princess).

The toast she made at my wedding as my maid of honor. The singing, the dancing, the hot tub. Somehow it reminded me of sneaking out on the golf course to go drinking. When she threw that party, had fliers made up and then had no idea how she got busted…

The times she took me along to some event with her friends, forcing me to have fun… ever the older sister in spirit…

And now, I feel so empty and hollow.

How can that be? I have a husband, a daughter, wonderful family and friends, yet the absence of this one particular person… makes me feel utterly alone.

I keep telling myself that once her birthday is over, it’ll get better… but after September, it will be my birthday and then after Halloween, it’ll be all about Christmas and I don’t know if I can handle that right now. I guess I don’t have to. I’ll try sticking to one day at a time.

But maybe not this day… it’s hard to reassure myself that things in my life will be okay when the world around us is in such utter chaos. I don’t have the energy to get into politics but I think we can all agree, we as a nation, are not where we’d like to be and the world right now is a scary place.

On that lovely note, I think I’ll take a nap and hope things look better when I open my eyes again.

Thanks for letting me ramble!

Peace.

I’m Sorry, I Stink

Seriously. So bad. It started in my car.

Yesterday I took Tayla to school. When I unlocked the car and opened the door, I was about knocked on my ass. The stench of rotten eggs wafted out.

“Where is that coming from?” Tayla asked.

“I don’t know. Dad probably farted, then slammed the door shut and let it bake for us…”

We got in and I rolled the windows down and let it go.

But the stink didn’t leave.

I wondered if something was wrong with the car, or maybe I ran over a skunk and it was caught on something under the car…

So when I was done with my errands for the day, I parked next to the dumpster and started to investigate.

Immediately I found the culprit. Last Wednesday, Don’s mom sent him home with a big bowl of spaghetti. Guess who forgot about it?

I chuck it and figure that’s the end of it.

Nope.

Today, Don took Tayla to school and when he got home he said “Your car smells so bad that when Tay and I opened the doors, we both puked.”

“Seriously? You BOTH puked in my car?”

“No, just outside. It was instantaneous…”

“I threw away the spaghetti…”

Later in the day, we have to go to Mary’s to take care of the cat. I start walking toward my car (cue horror movie music) and my stomach starts to tighten. I reached out a trembling hand and pulled the door open.

“Sweet baby Jesus, wtf died in here?!”

“I told you it was bad” Don said.

“Yeah, but it was bad yesterday…”

“I got it. I found out what it was. It wasn’t the spaghetti. Remember Friday when we went to Hy-Vee and bought that frozen rotisserie chicken? It fell out of the bag and under the seat.”

“FRIDAY?! It’s Wednesday! It’s been in the 80’s!”

“Now you know why it stinks.”

I have NEVER in my LIFE smelled anything as heinous as rotting chicken. It smelled like a slaughterhouse full of diseased cattle. It smelled like Satan’s burnt asshole. It smelled like maggot riddled intestines…

I thought I was going to puke… I had to breathe through my mouth for awhile. Then, I made him stop at every gas station we passed so I could buy more air fresheners. The first place we stopped, I ran in and asked the two cashiers “what is the strongest scent you have?” They both pointed to the “Black Ice”. I told them I’d take two. As I was reaching for my wallet though, I had second thoughts.

“What if this smells worse?”

“Worse?!” Don looked at me incredulously. “It cannot possibly smell worse”.

“I mean, what if it’s scented with black licorice… I hate black licorice…” but the thought of getting back in the car, having passed up the opportunity to even TRY anything different wasn’t going to fly.

I grabbed the two Black Ice air fresheners and headed back out into the heat. I approached the car cautiously as if it were a feral animal, ready to pounce. I grabbed the door handle and notice a man walking into the gas station. He’s a big guy. Like a football player, he was wearing a Viking’s jersey too. He passed me right about the time I was opening the door and as soon as I did, it was like he walked into a glass wall. His head snapped back real fast like he’d been slapped and was turning around to see who did it. Since no one was within slapping distance, he just eyed me suspiciously and shook his head quickly, trying to shake off the vile encounter.

I got back into the mobile death trap trying to make the lemonade out of these very rotten lemons.

“Hey, we could stop the war! Save the soldiers, we can just drive this down the dirt road with the windows down and they’ll drop like flies!’

We cracked a few jokes, tried to ignore the stench that’d had only grown with the air fresheners (in case anyone is wondering, it’s not black licorice, it smells like a dude who took a bath in cologne) and my perfume that Don had sprayed vigorously before I got in… I had to hit him for that. He does it at home too… instead of changing the cat litter, he sprays my perfume… Hello? I’d like to wear that again and not think of cat shit…

My final thing of the day was to meet Ryan and my mom for coffee to celebrate Natalie’s sober date.

I was feeling good about going, I wasn’t too late and then, I was horrified. The car smell had permeated my clothes and purse! OMG. No one said anything but it wasn’t long before the odor reached from my t-shirt to my nostrils and I had to get out of there! Actually, I had to be home before Tayla went to bed because she has to get up early for school… but ugh.

Gross. So, if anyone has to see me within the next couple of days to a week- I’ll probably reek. I’m sorry!

I Know It Was You…

This past Friday, May 19th marked one year since my sister passed away from addiction. I’ve been pretty preoccupied with it, with her… as usual.

I woke up Friday morning about 2:40 am. I cried and went back to sleep. I woke up again when it was time to take Tayla to school. I started to listen to some of the songs she sang and decided “nope, too soon”.

Back home I had to get ready for my writing class, which I didn’t want to go to but Jess texted and told me Nat would want me to go… ironically, it made me want to stay home all the more – (why should she get what she wants after what she did?) I was almost ready to go when I realized I didn’t have my glasses. My brand new pair of glasses. The glasses I’ve had for less than a week.

I tore around the house like a hurricane and enlisted Don to help me. After 30 minutes of searching and coming up empty, I decided I had to go without them.

I went on with my day, every so often reminding myself to breathe, not dry heave. Don made dinner, we watched some tv as a family (once again looking for my glasses, this time getting Tayla to help look too) and I went to bed early.

Saturday morning we had an appointment to look at a townhouse in Burnsville. The search for my glasses continued. I’m not kidding you guys, we turned this place up. side. down. Sweeping under the couch cushions, checking in the freezer, under the towels in the linen closet… places I KNEW they wouldn’t be but I’d already checked everywhere else, we all had.

Nothing.

I went to the open house with a backup pair and lived. Barely.

By the time Don had to leave for work, it was driving me CRAZY. I scoured the bedroom. I was in the corner by the window where I keep pictures of Natalie and in an exasperated tone said to her “I could use a little help, PLEASE!”. The corner was empty, as I expected. I flopped down on the bed, too tired to even cry.

A minute later, Don walked into the bedroom to tell me he was leaving for work.

“Hey, aren’t those your glasses?” he said.

“Where?”

“Right there…” he pointed to the wooden headboard which also serves as a shelf.

“Are you fucking serious?!”

I shot up and sure enough, there were my glasses, in plain sight.

“You have to be kidding me…” I muttered to myself.

“Those weren’t there before” Don told me.

“I know!” I said.

“They weren’t there yesterday, they weren’t there 10 minutes ago.”

“I know” I said.

“Well, I’ve got to go to work” he said before I heard the front door click shut.

A tear rolled down my cheek.

“Thanks, Nat” I whispered.

Deja Vu in the Twilight Zone

Friday morning we got our lease renewal form along with a notice from our rental company that our rent is increasing to nearly $1600.oo.

“Do you want to move?” Don asked me.

“To be honest, I haven’t loved the drive… to everywhere.”

“I don’t want to move” he said.

“Nobody WANTS to move, it’s a pain in the ass. I don’t want to sign a lease that locks us in for another 13 months only to get evicted two months down the road if we can’t afford it…”

“I guess we’re fuckin’ moving.”

So, I guess we’re fuckin’ moving’ guys.

I have to say, that while I’ve been visiting my doctors more frequently to “prepare my body for pregnancy” and with the year anniversary of losing Nat right around the corner… I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed.

Moving in itself is a stressful, taxing experience. The hunt for a new place last year kept me up most nights. I don’t want to be in that rushed panic again, taking whatever we can find just so we have something.

Going through all of our stuff, again. Downsizing, again. Collecting boxes, recruiting people to help move, paying damage deposits, first month’s rent and last months rent.

Finding out if we need to change school districts, scrubbing this place down from top to bottom, admittedly that part shouldn’t be so bad.

Moving the cats! That was quite a production last year!

Not to mention baby fever. I couldn’t help it. I already bought a couple of unisex baby things… a preemie onesie that says “Hi, I’m new here” and a big bird baby bottle.

I scan everything that has a name on it and imagine trying it out on our new little one, adding a middle and last name of course. Wondering if it sounds cute now but will it suit an adult or will the kid hate us for being too “progressive” with the name?

I’d mentally turned the office/den area into a nursery.

Downloaded a pregnancy tracker.

Started working out (slowly).

My A1c dropped another 1.2% in three-four weeks since my last appointment.

Do I have the energy for this?

I’m thinking with all the medication I’ve gotten off in the past several months, lowering my glucose numbers and exercising, I will have more energy. I will have what I need.

Which brings us to the 19th.

I’ll be honest with you guys, the past few months? It’s been getting harder.

A year or so leading up to her death, I occasionally thought about what it would be like to lose Natalie.

I imagined I’d be devasted, of course… but this? I can’t believe that some days, I feel like I can’t go on without her.

There’s a video I have of her, sitting on her bed and playing her ukelele. She’s singing but the video is a side profile. Five and a half minutes I beg the recorded vision to turn her head and look at me. Please, let me see your beautiful face… Such long, pretty hair she had. Such a pure voice and expansive heart, ever growing with each new cause or request.

One of her big regrets in life was missing the baby shower for Tayla. She apologized again and again for not being there.

The night of the intervention, she took copies of Tayla’s 13-year pictures. I think we found them still in her purse.

I’m so angry and hurt and raw and overwhelmed.

I don’t know what to do.

Keep on, keeping on, I guess.

I’d wanted to blog about something coherent… something focused and useful but I guess what I need to let y’all know is that I’m in kind of a weird state of mind right now.

Here’s to waking up tomorrow in a better place!

Me Time

It’s been a rough couple of days. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of losing Noah and today marks 11 months since Natalie passed.

Yesterday morning I woke up with tears in my eyes and reached for “Noah” (the reborn doll) and held him. I rocked him and rubbed his back while tears silently slipped away.

I looked over at Don, still in a dead sleep and I rested Noah on his chest, trying to remember what it looked like when Tayla was that tiny…

I indulged in my grief for a few more minutes and then got ready to start the day.

I had an appointment with the endocrinology department to follow up on my diabetes.

The nurse took me back to a room and asked if I wanted to have my A1c drawn. (The A1c is a blood test that measures what percent of glucose, or sugar has bonded to your blood cells. It changes every 3 months and I was told if I got it down to seven percent before I got pregnant, it would be like I wasn’t diabetic at all.)

“It’s only been three weeks” I told the nurse.

“So do you want to skip it? Shey said to leave it up to you…”

I thought about it for a moment before replying.

“I HAVE been kicking tons of ass these past three weeks, let’s check it!”

Why I volunteered to have myself poked again when I know damn well I have to do it to myself seven more times throughout the day is beyond me.

She pricked my finger and took my meter to download all the information and told me Shey would be with me shortly.

A couple of minutes later, she knocked on the door as she walked into the room.

“Did she tell you?” Shey asked

“Tell me what?”

“Your A1c, it changes and in what takes people three months to do, you have done in three weeks. You have dropped an entire percentage point! You need to find something really nice to do for yourself… this is great work. Some women get pedicures, others get flowers…”

I cut her off.

“I can have flowers or I can have cats” I told her.

Later that night I went to my group, it was good to be around people even though I didn’t feel very social. Sometimes anything is better than being alone with my thoughts.

“One down, one to go” I thought as I readied for bed.

I woke up this morning thinking about her. It was a thought I’m pretty sure I’ve had before, but this morning I felt it.

“God, I am so lucky to have had Nat in my life. Such a phenomenal person… I’m so thankful to have had what time I did with her.”

I actually did a double take, you know, to see who the fuck was thinking these almost foreign words… then, as cheesy as it sounds? I felt my heart smile. I felt at peace. It lasted only a minute as the flood of other memories came frantically on top of one another, all fighting for their 15 minutes but I did wonder how much of it had to do with the A.R.T therapy.

On top of it being the 11 month anniversary, it’s a damn dreary day… so, I decided what I wanted to do for myself and thought it also was something Nat would like too.

I went back to Empire Beauty School and had my hair done. I also listened to The Steve Miller Band, The Joker, and heard Nat sing along like she used to do-

“Cause I’m a picker, I’m a grinner
I’m a lover, and I’m a sinner
I play my music in the sun
I’m a joker, I’m a smoker
I’m a midnight toker
I sure don’t want to hurt no one”

“Well don’t you worry, don’t worry, no don’t worry mama
Cause I’m right here at home”

Sometimes when I think about her too much, I want to just hurry up through life and be done with it so I can be with her again… and as much as I miss her and how much it hurts, another song comes to mind…

See You Again.

Why did I just do that to myself?!?!? If you have kleenex nearby and want a good cry, check out the video above. It has the lyrics posted that that’s what broke me. Momentarily.

So, what did I do with my hair? Oddly enough, I was excited to get it back to my “normal”, natural, boring (no crazy colors) color with a few highlights. Again, they did a fantastic job! Really happy with the results!

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Not the greatest pic but good enough, dammit. And good enough is kinda what I’ve been going for… so… NAILED IT.