The Gift of Powerlessness

“I just wish I KNEW there was nothing more I could’ve done” my mom said to me this morning.

“Mom. There WAS NOTHING more ANYONE could’ve done. As a mother, I know you would’ve done anything for her. We all would have. That’s the one thing that haunts me. I can’t help but think, if it were all to happen again, I don’t think I’d do anything different. We did what we could. If I had known how much she was struggling, or even struggling at all, I would’ve done whatever it took to help her. I know though, she would’ve outsmarted me. Even if we kidnapped her, babysat her, watched her like a hawk… we couldn’t keep it up forever. Natalie was an adult…”

“Thank you for saying that. I needed to hear that.”

“Well, good. It’s the truth.”

We talked a little while longer and I told her about how Monday was so hard for me. Facebook was out to get me, with its postings of new mothers, days old baby boy, another little boy who didn’t make it. I couldn’t get away from it.

Out of the frying pan into the fire, I turned my attention away from the computer and once again, tried to clear my desk from the mounds of paperwork.

A picture fell off the cork board. A snapshot of Natalie and Niles, in Florida. Under a stack of papers was an envelope from Target, more pictures of Natalie. I collected them up and put them in a box.

“God dammit Natalie. How could you do this? How could you leave, now I have to put you in a box in my closet because it hurts too much to look at you.”

Tears had been slipping, intermittently until I heard her voice. So strong and clear, I had to look up to see if she was actually sitting next to me.

“I’m sorry Melly” she said.

I dropped the box and crumpled to the ground sobbing.

The hurt is so near to unbearable, I don’t know what to do.

Part of me says to be grateful.

And, part of me IS grateful. I know that she is around me.

The other part though… is so angry and confused. So hurt. And SO VERY SICK of hearing “she’s in a better place”. I know people mean well, I guess I’m just selfish… I’m not worried about where she is. I KNOW where she is. I’m not crying for her. I’m crying because I have to fucking figure out how to live without her. How to be without her. Who I AM without her. I am in a worse place. Yes, she’s out of pain. She’s in heaven. Paradise. I’m stuck in Hell on Earth.

And if I had it all to do again? I don’t know that I’d change anything. We didn’t have things left unsaid or unfelt. She (I believe) knows how it all works out now. She knows my and our family, our wishes, intentions, hopes and we have to wait patiently for the day when it all makes sense to us.

We didn’t have the power to control her or her addiction anymore than she could control her cravings for the heroin.

And there’s an odd sense of relief with that knowledge. A slight satisfaction, knowing, we really did everything we could.

That is one small gift to come of this horrific event and if that’s all?

I’ll take it.

It’s Not Even Thursday

“How are you?” It still sounds like such an asinine question, yet I can’t help myself from asking it. I try to check in with my family on Thursdays. THE day. The past couple of Thursdays I’ve noticed an almost traumatic  response to the realization of the day. “Oh shit. It’s Thursday” I’ll think, like I haven’t been dreading it since the previous Friday.

I remember the phone call with my brother.

“Is she dead?” I demanded. I was almost yelling at him.

“Yeah” he responded in a voice that barely cracked above a whisper.

My voice, now almost suddenly and completely gone, replies “I’ll be there is soon as I can”.

“ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod. What the fuck is Justin talking about? There must be some mistake. He’s confused. ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod.”

My parents, wailing. My brother, stone faced. Friends, attending to our parents. Me, brain numb, palms against the wall. Pushing. Holding myself up.

Where IS SHE?

I see her in the dining room chair, where I saw her last. In her apartment, on the bed, laid back and lifeless. In the casket, looking 50 years old at the mere age of 36. In her beautiful urn. A mound of ashes. On top of a player piano. She won’t ever play it again.

The pictures come over and over again. The best way to describe it? Those of you who have seen American Horror Story, Coven… remember when Misty Day went to Hell as part of the Seven Wonders challenge? She had to prove herself and her powers by going to Hell and coming back? Only, she didn’t make it back. She lived the worst day of her life over and over, like a sick Ground Hog Day movie, without Bill Murray. If you haven’t seen it, or don’t remember it, I’ll include a YouTube video at the end of this article for those interested. It was a very eye opening experience to witness. And now, I feel I can relate.

I’ve been trying to figure out how I can possibly feel as shitty as I do and yet have pinpoint moments where I feel a thousand times worse than that.

Today I think I got it. Someone had asked me if the shock was wearing off. I didn’t know how to answer because I can’t really be in shock or denial with as much pain as I’m experiencing, can I? Then again, I feel pin pricks of time, like I’m being emotionally ripped to shreds…amplified by infinity.

I think what’s happening is that I feel so devastated, destroyed and dismayed (and a lot more too) that I kinda forget WHY I’m so miserable. I just wallow in the sadness and the sorrow and let it wash over me. Engulf me. That when something specific DOES trigger me, I’m reminded of what I’ve lost. Why I’m so numb and depressed. And it starts again and plays on repeat, causing another shock wave of emotion.

It’s been hell these past couple of days and in less than an hour, It’ll be my favorite day of the week.

AHS Coven

New Arrival!

Meet Noah.

He arrived today from Waverly, MN.

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to bring him home but the cosmos were in alignment and everything worked out… I didn’t even have to sell my soul, so bonus.

I ordered him on Monday or Tuesday and I tracked that package like I was a storm chaser on the heels of a hurricane. I even sat outside on the curb for a while, hoping I’d meet the UPS driver before he brought the package into the office. After a couple of hours, I figured I should be more productive. So I worked on cleaning out our den.

I grabbed a stack of papers and in the shuffle, out fell the card Natalie had written to go along with the flowers she sent after Noah passed.

My eyes glazed over and my brain went numb.

I remembered it was a Saturday. The bouquet was sitting on our doorstep, waiting for us when we got home. I thought it was a mistake. I barely glanced at the flowers, looking only for the attached card. I wanted to make sure they got to the right person…

“Words cannot express the hurt I feel for the loss of Noah. Hope these will bring some beauty into your world at such a time of sadness. I love you with all my heart. Natalie.”

I was beside myself all over again.

Why? God, Why BOTH of them? Why so close together? WHY?

And in the end, it doesn’t matter why. There’s no changing it. There will be no answers until I am with them. And I have to find a way to be ok with that… not ok they’re gone but accept it, otherwise I won’t be able to go on.

I cried until I couldn’t breathe and then I got into the shower. I let the hot water pelt my neck and back. I imagined God crying with me. Bathing me in his tears.

When I got out of the shower, Don had a box from UPS in his hands.

He cut through all the tape and the hard to remove packing.

Under butter yellow tissue paper and wrapped in a green receiving blanket was Noah.

IMG_3017_zps1gkdhd4c

He took my breath away. I was almost afraid to pick him up… but I did. I gently lifted him from the cardboard box and unwrapped the blanket. I held him to my chest, still clutching my towel in one hand, baby in the other. I started to sway as my eyes got hot again, filling with tears.

Along with Noah, a change of clothes, a hat and a birth certificate with the name Noah was included.

I had to leave. I had an appointment at 3:00 and it was close to that already.

“What do you think of him” Don asked me in the car.

“Think? I’m trying not to think about it. When I do, I feel weird. Self conscious. Silly. Unstable. But when I held him and rocked him, I FELT peaceful. I felt right…”

“I just don’t want you to um, I don’t know how to say it… I’m afraid I’ll come home one day and you’ll say ‘guess what Noah did today'”.

I laughed. “No, I don’t think you have to worry about that. And, if you catch me trying to nurse him? Take him away from me, please.”

He chuckled, very uncomfortably.

So, we’ll see how it goes. He’s a beautiful baby DOLL and it fills my heart up to even look at him. I hope he becomes a resource as tomorrow is Thursday. Again. God how I HATE Thursdays. It will be 8 weeks tomorrow. Getting harder to pretend she’s on a vacation…

How about you? How do you or have you coped with grief and losses? Does anything REALLY help? Let me know in the comments below!

You’re Invited To My Pity Party!

I am at a loss tonight. Things are not looking better after a good night of sleep. Who’s sleeping? The longer Natalie is gone, the harder it gets. It’s difficult to even take a deep breath because grief is lying in wait. Keep the shallow breathing. Don’t make eye contact with people when they ask you how you are. Don’t listen to her music…

I do allow myself to cry, even in front of people sometimes. I can’t help it. I wish I could… Mostly though, I reserve the out-and-out guttural grief releases for my car. I see a therapist on a weekly basis and also attend a (life) skills group that teaches us how to deal with emotions and cope in healthier ways than before. I am very grateful for the people and the skills I’ve gained from that group yet I found myself holding back this week. A few tears fell but when I heard David (one of our group facilitators) ask what emotions I was experiencing… I was concentrating only on holding my breath. Holding my pain. Holding the tears in. DON’T DO IT a voice inside me warned.

But why? What’s the worst that could happen? I’m afraid I’ll open my mouth to scream and won’t stop until my voice is gone, for starters. I worried about other people in the building hearing me. I’m worried that I’ll make others uncomfortable. I’m worried about people comforting me and I’ll feel uncomfortable. That people will think I’ve really lost my shit…

But really? Within a months time, I lost my unborn son and my sister. What is that SUPPOSED to sound like? How long SHOULD that last? I guess I don’t think people won’t understand… I know there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to grief… (remember when “experts” told people just coming out of a romantic relationship that they could grieve one month per every year they spent with their significant other? I thought it was stupid in sixth grade and still do.) Aside from everyone being an individual, I know myself to be highly sensitive and I know I will never not be grieving.

I’m in a DBT program. Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, which teaches both/and vs either/or. For someone who used to have extremely black and white thinking, this has been a God send.

I am still devastated about losing my baby AND I am excited, happy and hopeful that someone I consider a friend, is pregnant. I congratulated her and I meant it. And, I anticipate it’s going to be difficult to spend time around her. I will survive. I will flex and build the muscle that has gotten me through the tough times before.

So, tonight, amidst my sadness, please enjoy some music that brings me joy. The clip below is of Melanie Martinez’s song “Pity Party”.

Enjoy!

https://www.bing.com/search?q=pity+party&go=Submit&qs=n&form=QBLH&pq=pity+party&sc=10-10&sp=-1&sk=&ghc=1&cvid=F58EE1FAAD57455AB0E7E06D3D5E8689

Christmas In Hell

Today was the end of another chapter. We finished cleaning out the townhouse we’d spent the past five years in. Checked the mailbox one last time. Turned in the keys and left the garage door opener behind.

It wasn’t too emotional but it wasn’t completely emotionless, either.

I think I wrote not too long ago about how moving from Burnsville would be difficult because it was the last home we had or will have that Natalie visited. That we will have memories of. That she will have, in jest, said “What happened? Did ya fire the maid?”

I was lucky enough to have people help me and that Don did the majority of the work in the townhouse. It was just too painful for me to be there.

I did go today though. This morning to help get the last load of stuff out and the wind chime caught my eye. It was hung in an odd spot. Somewhere between the living room and the staircase, in other words, nowhere near wind. I’d never really paid much attention to it before. I asked Don to grab it and what I’d always assumed was a generic garden scene painted on the base of the chime, was anything but. The tag hung low and I grabbed it as it swung toward me. This piece of art was called “Noah’s Ark”. It had a circle of pairs of animals, walking together toward the biblical boat and there was a quote that said “God keeps his promises”.

I didn’t know what to make of it. I felt sad and angry but also, as taken care of. Special because I am getting signs almost everyday that my sister and my son are with God, they are taken care of and so am I.

Tonight, while putting things away, organizing and getting settled, I’d asked Don to look at the TV/VHS player to see if he could figure out how to get sound. He jiggled a few wires and like magic, the past came to life on the big screen.

A video from when I was about five and Natalie was three, animated. We’d gotten a playhouse from Santa. I watched us, reliving that Christmas and felt overcome with feelings of love and loss. The video play for about a half an hour and if I’m remembering right, dad was trying out his video camera and checking out all the special effects. The result was, at times, Natalie would walk through the living room and be transparent. It was a little eerie but I couldn’t get enough. My heart broke again when, near the end of the tape, you can hear dad’s voice “Say goodbye Natalie, wave bye-bye. See you next Christmas” and those tiny fingers closing and opening in a fist with her grin that was all teeth faded to black.

 

Ironic, Isn’t It?

In the end, I didn’t spend a lot of time with Natalie because I was afraid I’d end up going down the rabbit hole, too. How is it that now that she’s gone, I’m ready to jump in with both feet?

“How often are you feeling this way?” Jill asked.

I blew out the air of the breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding and rolled my eyes.

“I don’t know. It changes. Like on a second by second basis.”

There are lots of windows in Jill’s office. Unfortunately, the view is mostly of the parking lot.

“How are you? Taking your meds? Are you getting in all your doses? Do you have all your medication? Nothing is in transition or lost in the move?”

I assured my favorite med provider that they were a priority and they’d been tracked and accounted for within the first couple of days.

She took my blood pressure and my weight.

“Your weight is trending down. Is it something your working on?” She asked.

I shook my head. “Not really. I mean, I guess I have been needing to remind myself to eat… Thanks Nat.”

We talked about sleep, when it’s happening, (which isn’t nearly often enough) if I’m using my CPap machine, (I have to find & unpack it first).

“What medications are you taking for pain?” She asked.

The question caught me off guard. I couldn’t remember right away.

“Um, Cymbalta. Sometimes Robaxin, but not often- I don’t like it. Um, there’s one-”

“So you’re not taking any opiates?”

“No!”

I was surprised. Offended? No, I don’t really know for sure what that feeling was… like I’d been caught doing something wrong. Guilt.

Why did I feel guilty? I wasn’t taking any opiates. I was honest with her. Maybe I felt bad for wanting pain meds. Not even pain meds but to be pain free. I take a variety of medications for various ailments and conditions and have somewhat acclimated to “my level” of pain. This emotional pain though… this fresh, deep, all consuming grief though… I can’t deal with. I don’t want to face it or feel it or tolerate it.

“Have you heard of Naltrexone?”

I shook my head.

“It’s mainly used for opiate addicts who are thought to relapse (I can’t imagine any heroin addict not prone to relapse) but over the years has proven to be effective with alcohol abuse, gambling and even nail biting. I would only use it for a short time. A few weeks or so. I think it might help with getting over this immediate time frame.”

Jill went on to explain that people are especially vulnerable in the first 6-8 weeks of grieving.  That’s when it’s most intense.

Now, nearly 12 hours later, I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to do. It didn’t even occur to me to ask.

I take 17 (now 18) medications. When I filed for disability in 2014, I was on 11. THAT was too many. I’m not sure how 6 more snuck in without me noticing.

I’m not even sure what I’m talking about anymore.

Natalie is here but she’s not here. I’m here but I don’t feel here.

I don’t want to scare anyone. I’m not going anywhere or do anything drastic. Please don’t worry.

I’m over tired and thinking about my appointment today, I thought it was kind of funny. In a sad sort of way. How I was afraid of my life going to hell in a handbasket if I’d spent a ton of time with my sister and now… I feel like I’m in hell, without my handbasket – or my sister.

Natalie
My Heroin(e)

Signs

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”

Ok, now that I’ve gotten THAT outta my system (thank you Google and the Five Man Electrical Band), I can get on with this post!

Like I have a point today. Run, run, run and hit the red light. Hurry up to get nowhere fast. Get on with this post, even though I have no idea what to talk about…

Today was another shitty day. Glazed over eyes and blank stares punctuated by outbursts of anger and torrential downpours of tears. I don’t know how long its been, four days maybe? That I’m starting to absorb the full effect of her absence. Of the consequences I’m suffering because of her actions. Of the sense of my invisible sister.

Moving more stuff and cleaning out the townhouse was another loss, not for the place itself but because it was the last place we lived that Natalie came to visit us. I don’t want to let that go. But I have to.

Someone asked me if I’d considered the possibility that someone may have murdered her. Came over, hung out, gave her that last fatal dose and slipped out the door as she slipped out of our lives.

Initially, my heart started to race. Yes! That had to be it… She didn’t do this to herself, she didn’t do this to us. It was someone else and they need to be found and prosecuted. They need to know the horrible side effects her death has caused… but after a few minutes, my heart sank. I knew it’d be a wild goose chase. I know it. I feel it in my body and my being… The invincible, the immortal Natalie was in fact human. Not super human. She made a mistake, misjudged her tolerance and is gone. To believe anything else would be a certain suicide. I would cease to live my own life while I hunted down monsters that didn’t exist. At least not in this case.

As horrible as I feel, as much as I miss her and love her and am angry about what has happened…I need to feel this. I need to move through the pain. I know it will never go away completely and I don’t want it to. But for my own sanity, I have to grieve the loss of my sister because when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter why she’s dead- she just is and nothing can change that.

On the other end of that, I know she’s near, also. Like I mentioned earlier, these last few days have been excruciating. Physically painful to be awake and alive without her… but life goes on and I have to go with it. We were at Big Lots and I saw a nail polish bottle, it was a light purple color and the the bottle said Kylie. At first I thought it say Kyle, like I named my car, so I grabbed it. I played a game I’ve played a thousand times over since May 19th. I hold something and ask Natalie to show me she’s around. “God I miss you Nat… PLEASE, let me know you’re here?” I turned the nail polish bottle to read the color: Miss Chief. I burst into tears right there. Aside from being a renowned trouble maker, one of Natalie’s music groups she played with was called Mischief.

Our next stop was a thrift store where I came across a Magic 8 ball. I couldn’t resist. “Natalie, are you still here?” I whispered to the plastic ball. I shook it and waited for the bubbles to dissipate. When it was clear, the message read “the 411 is yes”.

My inner child started to tantrum. But wwwhhheeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrreeee? I want to SEE you! I want to hug you and kiss you and smack you!

Sigh. I know. And I’m grateful for the signs she does send me. Maybe if it’s not to much to ask, I can see her in my dreams? I exhausted and going to bed and crossing my fingers!