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.
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.
“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.
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!
As many of you know, last night I participated in a stand-up comedy contest.
I am choosing my words very carefully because even though I don’t particularly care about burning THIS bridge, I don’t know what other paths it may be connected to…
With that in mind, I will not name the club or the contest so I can tell you that I’ve performed there twice and both times it was a bad experience.
Not so much the going up and doing my thang… just the atmosphere and the audience (which I think has a lot to do with the atmosphere).
The first time I was there, all the lights stayed on and it was a weeknight so people were anxious to get home (I think). No one laughed, at anything. It wasn’t just me. A dozen people went up and no one laughed at anyone. It was super awkward but I didn’t take it personally.
So here’s the play by play of last night:
Actually, I’m going to start with Monday night when I got an email stating that there would be extra points awarded to people who brought more than 10 people, more than 15 people and more than 20 people.
Great. So, it’s a popularity contest? Ok, well, all I can control is what I do. Their goal is to fill seats and sell alcohol. My goal is to get up and perform. I haven’t since August and I need the practice. I hope people think I’m funny but it’s not even my main objective at this point.
Last night. I’m supposed to check in with the promoter between 7:00-7:15. I’m (unbelievably) early. I check in and he reminds me I have 6 minutes and to watch for the red light. Got it.
Get inside, order some food, because I’ve been running around all day preparing and my sugar is starting to drop. Minor panic sets in.
No one knows the order of performers. I mean, someone knows but no one is telling. They want everyone to be there on time, so show up- you might be first.
The show starts, the MC did some jokes, complained that no one was laughing, and explained that 13 amateur comedians each had 10 minutes to perform.
Shar looked at me and said, “You’d better talk reeeeaaaallll slow”.
I was the second performer on stage.
It was so bright. So bright.
I felt comfortable enough, going through my spiel… until I saw a guy in the front row actually TRYING NOT to laugh. Part of our score is based on audience response, so he was there for someone else and didn’t want to give anyone else any help. Ironically, this made ME laugh.
The time ended up being 6 minutes, instead of 10. I got cut off on my last joke but overall felt good about the performance.
The rest of the show was hard to sit through. Not in an all bad way. I was tired, I had a headache, I was super glad to be done with this contest and there were some really disrespectful people in the audience.
People having conversations with each other, trying to talk over the comedian. People playing on their phones. Arguing.
The worst was near the end. I don’t remember the guy’s name but he was doing a decent job until someone yelled out “nigger”! He was shocked at first. Then there was some banter between the two. This woman had been talking throughout the entire show and other people were getting pissed. Someone yelled out “Go home lady, nobody likes you!”
“Shut up” someone else said.
I could feel my muscles tighten in time with the tension in the club.
Eventually, security DID arrive and escort her out but not before she grabbed a glass and threw it at the manager’s head! All the while, this 50 something-year-old, football player structured woman is screaming at her scrawny boyfriend “Stand up for me nigger!”
A lot of my friends had left early because she had been such a disruption.
By the time the MC was reading the names of the winners, I was relieved to not be one of them!
“Are you ok?” a friend asked
“Hell yeah, it just means I don’t have to come back!”
On the plus side, seven people told me they thought I was great, I did a good job etc. That felt nice.
I have signed up for another comedy contest that will run in June, I think, but I plan on making comedy a more routine part of my life.
Thanks everyone for the best wishes, encouragement, and affirmations… I appreciate the support. I did what I set out to do, I’m not discouraged and I’m already writing new material.
Afterall, who doesn’t need more laughter?
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…
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!
Not the greatest pic but good enough, dammit. And good enough is kinda what I’ve been going for… so… NAILED IT.
Last night while writing my blog post, I fell asleep. A couple of times… so I cut the post short and in doing so, I forgot to tell you how it all ended!
After the last “pass”, Darlene asked if I wanted to work on it some more. I couldn’t though. I was so drained. I confessed that the second half of the time I didn’t even have a single thought. I needed all of my energy to just follow her hand.
“Ok, well, let’s get you across the bridge at least”.
I guess this is how all sessions end. Going over a bridge and towards a fountain.
So I imagined myself on a cobblestone bridge, holding my therapists’ hand. We walked cautiously forward. About half way across, I let go of his hand and bolted the rest of the way, without even looking back. I was about 6 years old and at the fountain we used to visit when we went to grandma’s house. I started to laugh and splash in the water that changed colors. Almost immediately I saw Natalie. She was her four year old self and transparent, as was our grandma who was seated on the bench, watching us as she always did.
At this point, I did have a lump in my throat and tears teetering on the edge of my eyelids.
I was torn. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I didn’t feel the same heaviness that had been with me all these months and I was afraid. I was afraid if I felt better, that was somehow betraying my sister. It hasn’t even been a full year yet, how can I just be “over it”? Isn’t that dishonoring her?
No one wants to feel bad but somehow I felt I HAD to…
Then I remembered a quote from long ago:
“Suffering is no proof of love”. Nor is it proof of loyalty or dedication or anything other than suffering.
My brain and my body are still at odds with each other, for now.
I expect that will change in time.
The thing that won’t change? My love for her.
This past Thursday, I had my first (real) A.R.T. (accelerated resolution therapy) session.
It was pretty amazing. The first time we met, we talked about what issue(s) I wanted to work on and if A.R.T. was a good option. I was there strictly to work on my grief over Natalie. She had me recount the “scene” that currently plays through my mind when I feel like I’m losing it. I started from the morning of May 19th, when I got the call from my brother up to the viewing and funeral. It’s a four-day scene and she said I needed to chunk it down. Thursday I was ready. I started from sitting in the bank, waiting for a teller so I could open a checking account. I was in a chair, reading a story about the mayor and how whenever someone in Minneapolis was killed by a gang or gun violence, he would go with police to inform the family.
“What a horrible job to have” I remember thinking.
I remember hearing my phone ring and seeing Justin’s phone number.
“He’s going to ask me to work” I thought.
That was not the case. We talked and then I held my stomach all the way to my parent’s house.
After I went through this “scene” in my mind (while following the movement of her hand) we did a body scan.
“What do you notice?” she asked.
“I have a headache. My chest feels heavy, so heavy I feel like it might cave in on me. The rest of me feels numb.”
“Would you like to move that around?”
She told me that some people imagine a magnet, sucking the pain out of them or angels pulling out the energy. I had a vision of Bruce Lee, punching the headache away.
Half way through though, he got tired and I saw my grandma. She held my head in her hands.
“How do you feel?” Darlene asked.
“I still have my headache but the pressure in my chest is gone. I mean, I feel so much lighter…”
The second “pass” ( a term meaning a round of hand movement while I follow it with my eyes -similar to EMDR therapy) was me getting to be the director. I just have to adjust the scene to something more acceptable.
We begin again. The first thing I notice is that I’m standing in the bank in a long, flowy skirt and a Hawaiian shirt. Natalie was married in Hawaii. I’m reading the paper again and the tiny, thumbnail photo of the mayor turned from a black and white copy to full color and climbed out of the paper. He sat in a chair to me and took my hand.
“It’s going to be alright” he assured me.
I was confused.
“You’re going to get some bad news, but it’ll be ok, I promise.”
I pulled away, scared.
The phone rang. It was Justin.
“You know how Nat always wanted to join the circus?”
“Fuck it. I’m not going to lie to you. Natalie met up with CW and they went flying together.”
(CW was a friend of the family who passed away in 2006 due to a fatal car accident. Natalie often had dreams of him where they’d go flying together.)
My breath caught in my throat. I was sad but not overly so. I felt almost a relief… she wasn’t in pain or suffering. She was with loved ones, watching over us left here on Earth.
Justin continued “I think we need to do something. Get together, maybe watch some fireworks, see if she says hi”.
(Fireworks are our mom’s symbol for death)
Next thing I knew, we were on a hilltop, watching colors explode in the sky. Shortly after the show started, the word “hi” appeared, along with a heart and the name Nat.
Another body scan revealed my headache had vanished as well and I felt an odd sensation, like trying to keep a beach ball under the water and it just won’t stay submerged. Intellectually, I knew I was sad. Who wouldn’t be? It’s a terrible thing to go through and yet, I couldn’t get my body to go along with it. I felt light and free. I could breathe without difficulty, without tears…
That was Thursday. Today, Sunday (Easter) it came back a little bit. One of the last of the lasts. The last of the “firsts”. First Easter without her. One more to go: Mother’s Day. That’ll be a bitch.
I’m going to keep going with this A.R.T. and of course, I’ll keep you guys updated.
Happy Easter! Good Night!