The Beginning of the End?

I was getting ready to finish the blog post I started last night and it just hit me. Out of nowhere, like a ninja, grief attacked.

I was going to write about politics, so maybe it’s not so bad I was derailed… but a photo of Natalie stopped me.

Since the expo ended on the 15th, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop…

 

It had been getting close. I had a few close call with crying fits but hadn’t really been able to let it out and I don’t know why.

I do know what pushed me over the edge though…

We The Kings have a song called Sad Song and it tore my heart in more than half…

*This video is NSF, unless you don’t mind ending up a puddle on the office floor*

Maybe I should’ve had the warning above the link… sorry.

It’s just that everything hurts all over again. Again and again.

I thought that once the expo was over, I could go back to meditating. It’s a new thing for me, at least it was. I’d felt calmer, more centered and most importantly, closer to Natalie. But, the expo ended and… I. feel. like. shit.

Physically I don’t feel good. Part of that is my Grave’s disease (couldn’t they have come up with a name not so… dismal?) is kicking in again. That means I’m dealing with exhaustion, an intolerance to heat and irritability (no shit). On top of that, depression is settling into my bones. The past several days it’s been almost impossible to get out of bed. I’ve made it to work, the one shift I’ve had so far this week. I’ve gone to my therapy group and not much else. I didn’t do my volunteering that I usually do on Wednesdays. I haven’t answered the phone or email. I just feel so heavy.

I kinda feel the equivalent of drunk. Like, sloppy drunk. Praying to God from inside the toilet bowl, trying to hold your hair back without moving any other body part for fear of vomiting… Once you do start puking, you just lay down on the cool tile floor and wait for the next wave of nausea to peak.

I lay in bed, my head propped up against the wooden headboard and wait for the next tsunami of tears to sweep me away. After the hysteria subsides, I fall into a light sleep with my eyes swollen shut and my throat dry and scratchy until the next little trigger starts the cycle again.

Like an alcoholic, I have to take this one day at a time. Remind myself that through is the only way out, when I beg God to tell me how long this is going to last. How much more do I have to endure? How many more hours and days will I walk around with a piece of myself missing…

While looking for an image to go along with this post, I came across this poem… it’s slightly modified to fit this particular situation.

I’ll Meet You In the Light

I know that you can’t see me, but trust me I’m right here.
Although I’m up in heaven, my love for you stays near.

So often I see you crying, many times you call my name.
I want so much to touch your face and ease some of your pain.

I wish that I could make you see that Heaven indeed is real.
If you could see me run and play, how much better you would feel.

But our loving God has promised me that when the time is right,
You’ll step out of the darkness and meet me in the light.

Written by Maureen Bauer

 

Borrowed Time

I should be writing, I mean real writing. I mean, writing or working on a piece to be critiqued and/or sent out to various publications. What happened? I needed a break and … the internet.

So, I’m clicking around, trying desperately to avoid anything related to politics and I see Pixar has made a new short. Oh good! A cartoon! I’ll just watch this six minute video, be recharged and get on with working.

It’s called Borrowed Time and it’s the most depressing work of animation I have ever seen… I think. Please don’t start recommending other terribly sad productions for me to compare it too, I couldn’t take it.

This is not a kids movie.

It’s a movie about family and loss and life, going on, even if you haven’t moved on.

It was appropriate for me to watch today. Driving around for work today, I almost had to pull over several times. Yesterday was the 19th, five months since Natalie passed. The expo is over and I’ve lost some focus. Prime time for memories and grief to jump in and take the reign, right?

Anyway, I’m trying hard to balance the grief process. Grieve and then contain. There’s just so much…

I click play, I’ll put the link in the title, and watch wide eyed.

Borrowed Time

What. the. actual. fuck.

Why would Pixar do such a thing? They wanted to show people that animation can be used as medium to tell any story, not just kids stories.

Um, I would’ve taken your word for it!

Aside from the shock of how depressing it was, I found it to be visually stunning. They’ve always done such a fantastic job or animating facial expressions, movements (like dust clouds, pebbles falling etc) background and getting right into the heart.

I’m not in a place to speculate what the message of the short was, only to appreciate the shortcut I took toward my emotions that have been bottled up and granted release through the film.

What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Well SOMEBODY Must’ve Said It…

Just be yourself. I’m sure someone told me that. Then again, I can be pretty out there, so maybe I made it up? I don’t know. The point is, I’ve been sitting here for the last three hours trying to think of what to blog about that’s not super depressing. But I can’t. It’s September 29th. Noah’s due date. Even though I know he would’ve been here already (he was going the same route Tayla did, swimming in sugar, getting all huge and “moose like” and would come early via C-section. I can’t even talk myself into thinking things are better off this way, for the time being. Grieving is a full time job, hellish hours, almost NO PAY… I’m not sure how equipped I would be to handle and infant, a teenager, a death AND post-partum hormones. It doesn’t matter. My heart has a boo-boo and I want my mommy and my baby.

It’s also grandma’s birthday. Happy birthday “guccum”. I’m sorry I probably won’t get around to my usual releasing balloons and making a card ritual but maybe I’ll take Tayla to Dairy Queen and the fountain. I’ll try hard not to cry as she runs around the water, splashing and smiling because it’ll remind me of Natalie and I chasing each other around and around that Shelter fountain. The colored lights changing the hues of the water. Finally resting, able to eat that Blizzard and cuddle up with grandma just enjoying that sweet Columbia MO air… it always smelled better there. Probably all the flowers.

And it’s Thursday. Another fucking Thursday.

I’ve been trying to give myself pep talks, not wanting to ruin or waste a day (even a Thursday) having a pity party but I haven’t found anything that works yet.

I actually keep going back to that advice from a football player… (I know, right? In my defense, he was on America’s Got Talent- as a magician) and one thing he said that really makes so much sense to me is: “Don’t listen to yourself; talk to yourself”. When I listen to myself… oh man. I can go down the rabbit hole, FAST. But talking to myself? That sounds like a good idea… but maybe I’ll start tomorrow.

Signs?

Sunday’s post was admittedly very depressing. I thought about ending with a joke or in some other way, discount or invalidate my feelings- to make other people more comfortable. I write to honor my experiences, myself. It’s for that reason, I ended it the way I did.

Understandably, my mom was worried. “I want to discuss your post” she texted shortly after it was published.

I told her I was tired and asked if we could talk tomorrow.

“Of course” she said.

First thing Monday morning she called and asked if I was feeling any better. I was, I guess, maybe a little bit.

We talked about Noah and about maybe he is just waiting for me to get healthy… I liked that idea. I thought again of how relieved I was that I lost Noah before Natalie. I didn’t need to blame her for anything more than what I already was.

I guess I need to back up a bit. The other day mom and I were talking about symbols and the which ones in particular we were going to use for the expo. “Rainbows” she said. She kept getting rainbows. Seeing them show up in her paintings, finding “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” song etc. Ok, I thought. Is there anything more to the rainbow? Are we just using it because it symbolizes something beautiful after a storm? While on the phone with her, I googled rainbow symbolism.

It stands for unity. Bridging Heaven and Earth. This felt better… Right.

I thought of it Monday morning on my way to work. I got a text of Natalie singing “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey.

“Don’t stop believing what? In Natalie? In life after death? What?” (Yes, I do routinely talk to myself, especially when I’m in the car.)

Just then, I caught the license plate on the car next to me. 444 NA(w?). 444 Is a sign for angels. I was hoping that the last letter would’ve been a T, I know it was not. Still initials? the triple 4? Signs, right? They had to be.

So you saw a license plate and that to you is a sign? Not everything is a sign! (This is the cynical part of myself, taking the wheel, momentarily.) I’m reading too much into this, I thought. Just then, a Rainbow Taxi cab pulled up next to me.

“Hi Nat… Thanks” I said.

The next morning, on our way out to the car to take Tayla to school, there stood two deer. They paused from chewing their grass to give us a minute or two of eye connection. Once in the car, I googled what a deer as a spirit animal represented.

I don’t remember now the exact meaning but the point of it was that Don asked what I was doing. I told him and he let out a huge sigh. “Why does it have to be a sign or mean anything?” He said.

“Do you know how common it is to see deer out here? Where in the middle of some pretty heavily wooded areas…”

“Yeah?” I asked

“How many deer have you seen here? Since we moved in?”

He was silent.

Was it a sign? Was it a message? Am I making things out that are not necessarily there? Is it possible that it IS a sign or message? Why is THAT so hard to believe? Yes, you can probably make a lot of sense of otherwise seemingly nonsense but today, I am of the opinion of Roald  Dahl who said “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”.

If you’re looking for answers, you will find them. Who knows, maybe this post is a sign for you!

Longing For Nothing

The past couple of days I’ve been feeling down. More so than usual. I wondered what had happened. Is this just another part of the grieving process? Feeling like you’re coming out of it before getting the door slammed in your face, a picture of what you lost taped to the back? I fell. Hard and into the basement of grief.

Natalie’s birthday pushed me to the edge of what little plateau I’d managed to climb upon. The four month anniversary tomorrow. And the 29th. Noah’s due date. The womb is not empty but full of sorrow. Longing. Aching.

I am holding on, making it through, as if there was another choice. There is, but there isn’t really. Not for me.

I have been keeping busy but the nights are the hardest. I don’t sleep well and there’s no one to talk to. Even if there was, I know I wouldn’t feel like saying anything… just wishing someone could take it away. I know the only way out is through and I am trying to honor the process and the pain. I know it will go away. Not completely but it won’t feel so heavy, leaving me longing for nothing.

Am I a Masochist?

I’m really starting to wonder…

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Me

Masochist:

noun
1. Psychiatry. a person who has masochism, the condition in which sexual or other gratification depends on one’s suffering physical pain or humiliation.
2. a person who is gratified by pain, degradation, etc., that is self-imposed or imposed by others.
3. a person who finds pleasure in self-denial, submissiveness, etc.

I’m asking myself this because of a series of events that happened today.

Sometime during the morning, around 8 o’clock, I made a playlist. I copied the lineup of the Overdose Awareness Vigil and put it into my phone.

Here’s the playlist prior to the vigil starting:

Katy Perry – Unconditionally
Susan Boyle – Wild Horses
Lukas Graham – 7 Years
Ruth B. – Lost Boy
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Adele – Remedy
Katy Perry – Rise
Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men – One Sweet Day
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Wiz Kalifa – See You Again
Janet Jackson – Together Again
Dani & Lizzy – Dancing in the Sky
Everything But the Girl – We Walk the Same Line
Daughtry – Home
Puff Daddy & Faith Evans – I’ll Be Missing You
Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone
Idina Menzel – Let It Go
Demi Lovato – Stone Cold
Tenth Avenue North – Worn
Prince & The Revolution – Purple Rain

I’m pretty sure it was Boyz II Men that got the tears going and Wiz Kalifa that kept them flowing. Puff Daddy proved instrumental (pun not really intended, but whateves…) in the transition from crying to sobbing to screaming. I grounded myself to the car until I could pull myself together.

At least I could take a small amount of solace around this thought:

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In case there is anyone out there who STILL DOESN’T KNOW, I HATE the Beatles.

I hate the news too.

That evening, I started talking to people about the Jacob Wetterling case and how awful it is that Danny James Heinrich will not face murder charges. I know the family signed off on it. I probably would’ve too, if it meant getting answers I’d waited 27 years for. I think… and I think about what I would’ve done in Patty’s position. Why? I’m grateful to not have to be in that situation, why do I keep trying to imagine what it’d be like on that side of Hell?

And I over schedule myself. A lot. Tomorrow morning I’m expected at a Recovery Breakfast at 7:30. Like a.m. As in the morning. Couldn’t we have a brunch instead? It’s not even so much the hour but having to fight traffic to top of the earliness. I need to get going on that invention idea for a horn that honks at the people behind you and also has an extendable middle finger to salute any deserving drivers…

Implement Evil Idea and watch the look on my face.

I also told someone I’d drop off needles for the exchange program. In Brooklyn Park. It’s a bit of a hike.

I have therapy on Thursdays too.

Fridays are my writing group.

Mondays are open mic night at Acme, after I work.

Tuesdays I usually work and then have group.

Wednesdays are my volunteer day

And then it’s back to Thursday.

I don’t HAVE to be this busy. Like I said, I think I may be a masochist…

therapy

Another Loss

The picture of her is blurry, I know. Fuzzy or out of focus, I know. I’m using it anyway, maybe as a way to let go -just a little bit. Dull the pain, just a touch.

Like most of the state, I heard yesterday about Jacob Wetterling. Don had called and when I answered he said “Did you hear about Jacob Wetterling?”

“No. What?”

“They found him.”

I was holding my breath and waiting for more but nothing came…

“Dead or alive?” I asked.

“Oh, dead.”

“Shit!”

“That’s not why I’m calling though…” and I didn’t hear or don’t remember what he said after that because nothing else mattered. Not in that moment. In those few moments, I remembered Jacob. His aunt taught my home economics class in middle school. I was about the same age as Jacob when he was taken. I, along with everyone else, waited for news of safe return of the boy with the bright smile and yellow t-shirt.

A statement released by The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center said in part: “We are in deep grief. We didn’t want Jacob’s story to end this way. … Our hearts are heavy, but we are being held up by all of the people who have been a part of making Jacob’s Hope a light that will never be extinguished. It shines on in a different way. We are, and we will continue to be, Jacob’s Hope.”

Really? Deep grief? Still? It’s been 27 years… It sounds harsh, I know… I think I was trying to be optimistic? As backwards as that sounds. I guess I was hoping that after a certain number of years, it wouldn’t hurt so much… I’m sure finding the remains brought up all sorts of horror I don’t want to imagine…

We went to Natalie’s friend’s house yesterday to clean her stuff out of his garage. I figured it would be emotionally draining and it was. I only broke down twice though. Once when cleaning out her nightstand and I found a couple of pictures of Tayla as a baby and the other time, when cleaning out her desk and I found one of the books I had a story published in and a hand written letter I’d sent her in November of 2010.

For six hours we sorted, moved, piled and hauled. We finished up (for the day) at 6:00 pm and I was a zombie. I drove home in silence and once upstairs, I flopped onto the bed. I balled up a couple of her shirts and held them to my chest and buried my face in them and tried to remember her scent.

Don made dinner. I wasn’t hungry but ate a little bit. I don’t remember what triggered it… whatever we’d been talking about, he said something, something “once in a blue moon”. The song she sang for the high school talent show, Blue Moon of Kentucky. I heard her voice in my head and felt her absence in my heart.

I cried. And cried. And cried until I couldn’t breathe. I went to bed. Of course, I couldn’t sleep. I turned to Facebook. News of Jacob Wetterling was everywhere.

In many of the comments I read in reaction to the news of finding Jacob Wetterling, almost everyone said something to the effect of “at least now they have closure”. I guess it sounds like a good thing but after 27 years, to find out this is how it ends? I think I’d rather hang on to hope, no matter how slight.

Today, I worked. I was still tired and achy from yesterday but it wasn’t busy, I didn’t have to do much. Afterward, I’d made plans to meet up with Shar. On my way there, I heard that song “Lost Boy” by Ruth B. I listened to the whole thing without even tearing up! I was proud of myself… for about two seconds.

The song after that, was “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Haley Reinhart. The significance of this song comes from a session of healing I took with my mom, lead by Laurie Wondra. She told us that the frequency of Reinhart’s voice was optimal for connecting with angels or spirits on the other side… man, I really hope I’m remembering this right… Anyway, I cried in the car. The crying turned into screaming. I screamed and screamed. NATALIE! No! Nooo! This is NOT the best time to be flying down 35E at 70 mph when you can’t see shit… but, I didn’t have much of a choice.

Thankfully I calmed down by the time I got to Shar’s. My throat hurts, my emotions are stirred up and I’m left remembering Justin’s phone call to tell me Nat was dead. Why couldn’t she have been in a coma? I wondered over and over again. Because I wanted that hope…

I guess hope is my new drug of choice.

But now I have to have hope for other people. Help them to have hope for themselves.

Puddles

Tonight I am finding myself at a loss for words. Exhausted, I have a million things to write about but justice would be done to none. Instead of doing less than my best, here is a free write from my Friday class.

Disclaimer! As we say in our family, towards the end, it “takes a turn”.

Things That Make Me Melt:

*When Tayla crawls into my lap and throws her arms around my neck.

*When she says “mom, do you want to see what I wrote?”.

*Most everyone on America’s Got Talent… watching  the culmination of a persons dedicated and hard work summed up in a smile or a tear, receiving what I’m sure feels like the ultimate validation.

*Comedians who laugh at their own jokes.

*When one of my cats stretch themselves across my bare feet, not so subtly demanding a belly rub.

*Doggies. Especially Niles. Probably seven pounds of miniature dachshund, minus an eye. Minus my sister. My heart breaks when I think of him alone with Natalie’s body. Tenderly washing her exposed skin in desperate kisses.

I remember sitting in that conference room. The apartment building on LaSalle Ave when the medical examiner told us she’d most likely passed around 2 or 3 am that morning. Hours. Just hours we missed her by. Eight hours earlier I could have called and expected she’d answer.

I don’t know how time works for animals. I know part of him understands, like part of me understands but I can’t help but tear up whenever I see him, still searching for her, like me.

Fooled You

Grief is a horrible tormentor. It mimics dementia, insanity, depression and at times, serenity.

Friday was the 19th. Three months since my sister’s passing. I’d had several days without crying. Without too many painful memories. Without too much emotion… This is where the serenity came from. It was the three month marker and the final writing group for two very talented writers. The prompt was “goodbye”. I cried silently as the gel ink flowed across the paper, as the tears slipped from my eyes, dripped from my face. It was quiet. And quick.

I wrote about Natalie, of course. And about losing these  two dear writing women to the promise of bigger, better and brighter futures. I wrote about seeing my brother less and less as he grows into the role of business man, promoting his livelihood, planning his life. I even wrote about my therapist, as he took a couple of days off to travel out of state (WI) to watch a football game with his wife.

I felt abandoned. Silly, I know. Irrational, I could feel it. I couldn’t help it. And, it was over quickly. I felt relieved… and like I was getting a handle on things.

These were a normal part of life. It was ok to be sad… and I know you “get to go there, you just don’t get to stay there”. I felt my “visit” was an appropriate amount of time and that I was really getting the hang of grieving.

Jessica called me after an out of the ordinary Friday shift at work. I’d just gotten home and was looking forward to staring blankly at the walls. I saw her name come up with a photo of her and Natalie. I reflexively pushed the phone away from me. After a few seconds of debate, I answered.

She came and picked us up, Tayla and I. We got to walk in the rain and play with her adorable puppy. We had good food and better conversation.

She also had the memory cards from Nats phone that the investigator FINALLY returned. (Three months they had it and did jack shit.) I spent the rest of the night pouring over 1,000 plus photos she’d taken, committing them to my memory before falling asleep.

I made it. I’d gotten through The Day, survived it with very little hysteria.

Saturday I worked on some comedy and managed to get to the pharmacy to set up “convince packaging” on my meds. Shar came over and we had great time, just sitting on the deck, talking.

Today was fairly productive. Unril late afternoon. I don’t know what triggered it, talking about the new found photos with Don I guess… but I cried. In the car, as I hugged the steering wheel close to my chest. My body shook with grief but even this lasted only a few minutes before I was able to calm down and go into the store for a quick for the necessities.

At home, Don made dinner. I turned on some music and smiled when I heard Natalie’s voice fill the kitchen.

“I’ll be there, I’ll be EVERYWHERE…”

The tears started, as they usually do and it got a little harder to swallow. Memories of her last text to me, “whatever you need my darling, just call, I’ll be there. I love you” filled the empty space inside me until I shook with uncontrollable sobs. I chucked the phone and grabbed a handful of tissues before running into my bedroom and crumpling to the floor on the side of the bed.

I grabbed “Noah” and cried into his tiny chest.

“How could she do this?” I wailed

“I don’t have the answer” Don replied

After what felt like hours, the cries subsided into a whimper.

Until I thought of Noah.

I clutched the replica tight to my body and rode another wave before pushing the lifeless, dead weight from my arms to the floor.

“He” lie there, face up and because I’d held him so close to me, my tears were in his eyes.

Then the screaming started.

The moving pictures in my mind danced in a collage.

Gone. They are both gone. GONE.

I briefly thought of suicide. Not so much the act of it but the longing to be out of pain. To be with my sister and baby. And grandparents and friends…

It was more of a fantasy than an actual thought. I couldn’t inflict this kind of pain on the people I loved. Neither Natalie or Noah did that intentionally…

The phone went off.

“Reminding you to send me the info on your comedy dates and times”.

I’ve been debating on if I’m actually ready for this. I have material written out but haven’t been able to concentrate on memorizing it or becoming familiar with it as to pull off a smooth routine.

At this point, I’m not ready. I don’t want to do it. It’s not funny, nothing is funny.

I took the day off of work tomorrow (now today) to give myself enough(?) time to prepare but I don’t know if it’ll do any good…

I’m caught between healing/growing and just wanting to pull the covers over my head, waiting for life to be done.

I don’t mean to end on such a heavy note but this is my life right now. It won’t always feel like this (I’m told) and I look forward to those days as I go through these days, looking for the gifts they too must hold.

 

 

 

Because Of Patton Oswalt

Ok, I’ll admit it. I thought I was doing a pretty good job expressing what my grief feels like to me. I felt like I knew it intimately enough to write about it from the inside out. I felt like a competent tour guide on a very macabre ride… and maybe I have been. But this morning I read a post from Patton Oswalt that skewered me. He expressed his grief in such a way, I felt new pain. Or the old pain felt new. It wasn’t a bad thing, in fact I am grateful to get an outside perspective… even when the conclusion is the same. It’s like taking a different route to a familiar destination. And anything different at this point, is good.

What struck me about Oswalt’s posting was how beautifully he displayed his agony despite some somewhat crass visuals.

“Thanks, grief.” He starts.

“Thanks for making depression look like the buzzing little bully it always was. Depression is the tallest kid in the 4th grade, dinging rubber bands off the back of your head and feeling safe on the playground, knowing that no teacher is coming to help you.

But grief? Grief is Jason Statham holding that 4th grade bully’s head in a toilet and then fucking the teacher you’ve got a crush on in front of the class. Grief makes depression cower behind you and apologize for being such a dick.”

I love words. All words. Even the ugly, offensive ones… (actually, I tend to favor those). Seeing emotions with such a jarring example, it kinda reminded me that I am still alive. For a few minutes, in someone else’s grief, I was grateful to be feeling such exquisite pain.

I know I’m depressed. I know I am grieving. I forget sometimes that I am still alive. I get so beaten down by all the sorrow, even to have that heightened sense of … anything at all felt like a blessing.

And, maybe that’s only a part of it.

Patton Oswalt lost his world when he lost his wife.

I lost a big part of my life when I lost Natalie.

Sometimes when I get so caught up in my misery, it’s hard to remember I am not alone. I don’t have to struggle alone. People around me want to help and feel good about being able to help.

“But 102 days at the mercy of grief and loss feels like 102 years and you have shit to show for it. You will not be physically healthier. You will not feel “wiser.” You will not have “closure.” You will not have “perspective” or “resilience” or “a new sense of self.” You WILL have solid knowledge of fear, exhaustion and a new appreciation for the randomness and horror of the universe. And you’ll also realize that 102 days is nothing but a warm-up for things to come.

And…

You will have been shown new levels of humanity and grace and intelligence by your family and friends. They will show up for you, physically and emotionally, in ways which make you take careful note, and say to yourself, “Make sure to try to do that for someone else someday.” Complete strangers will send you genuinely touching messages on Facebook and Twitter, or will somehow figure out your address to send you letters which you’ll keep and re-read ’cause you can’t believe how helpful they are. And, if you’re a parent? You’ll wish you were your kid’s age, because the way they embrace despair and joy are at a purer level that you’re going to have to reconnect with, to reach backwards through years of calcified cynicism and ironic detachment.”

This is one of the things I will re-read, ’cause I can’t believe how helpful it is. To remind me that I am not crazy, not alone.

Thank you so much, Patton Oswalt, for showing and sharing your grief. I am so very grateful.

To read Oswalt’s complete posting, click here:

Thanks, grief