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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sometimes it's ok to cry

Remaining positive in negative situations is a strength of my family.  Even in the midst of the chaos, turmoil and horrible events that have been plaguing us lately we find a way to laugh.  It is normal to have a lengthy conversation with either my brother or sister that is so wracked with stress and sadness and tension and by the end we have found something to laugh about.  An outsider might think we were cold or heartless or ignorant as to the severity of the situation.  We are none of those things.  We just choose to put our faith in God and always look at the bright side of any situation.  And there is always one.  And we are not weak people.  We don't like to break down, so we choose laughter to offset that.  Sometimes we laugh through our tears too.  But we always find something to be joyful about.

My mother has been battling cancer for nearly a year.  After the doctors assured us all this would be a walk in the park we were ill prepared for the cold hard truth that the chemo just isn't working.  She's been through radiation as well and 3 or 4 different strains of chemo.  The cancer just won't go.  If that was all she was dealing with it might be easier.  However she also has COPD and emphysema and numerous other ailments that have popped up in this past year.  Some might have been there for years, we don't know and never will.  However, at 80 years old and in a weakened state from the cancer and COPD they can't do the surgery that they would for someone younger or stronger.  So we wait.  For what?  We don't say it out loud except to each other.  We are spread across the country from each other and have been doing our best to make sure that someone has been down there every few weeks.  This past week has proven to be more than my dad could handle.  He's letting us help now.  My father is the strongest human being I know.  He is my rock and my hero.  For him to ask for help is unheard of.  He's allowed my brother to handle a lot of the phone calls and my Godson (a med student) to talk to the Drs.  He's repeatedly told us we don't need to come.  That's all changing.  And it's heartbreaking.  Especially since we all have things going on that don't afford us the luxury of being full time caregivers 1300 and 2500 miles away.  Today I made a decision to book a flight for my daughter and I to go down for a little over 2 weeks.  I can't leave her home and she is going to have to miss school. So be it.   My priorities have to be adjusted.  Things that used to be important just aren't right now.  I'm extremely blessed that my job is portable, so I can work where ever there is Internet access.   I am not sure if I'm jumping the gun or if I'm staying too long.  I just did what I felt was right.  Then it hit me.  I'm leaving my boys alone for over 2 weeks.  I feel sick to my stomach.  Then when I think about my daddy dealing with all of this alone I feel sick to my stomach.  I'm forced to choose between my children and my parents.  I know I'm not alone.  This is what this time of life brings for those who are lucky enough to still have their parents, I know.  And this is where we find the positives.

We are so grateful and lucky that my parents are nearly 85 and 80 and we have never had to deal with any illness where they are concerned.  How blessed are we?  We have been so lucky.  This fact is not lost on us.  We knew that this day would come.  I broke down the other night and collapsed into a ball on the floor with my oldest son holding me and my middle guy holding my hand.  I let it all out and they finally saw the toll this has all been taking.  I am very much my father's daughter.  I don't allow them to know how hard some things are, I just do them.  I hated letting them see me like that!  I just couldn't be strong anymore.  And they need to know I'm not a robot. All I wanted was to be with my siblings again.  The three of us with our parents with no one else around, like when we were kids.  Childish I know, but my heart was breaking.  It lasted all of 15 minutes and I was back.  I got up, made dinner and then I realized.  The mask.  The one I donned for the entire time my son had cancer was back.  I hated that f*&king mask.  But it's necessary.  At least this time I was letting my true emotions out to those close to me.  And we were laughing and crying together.  I wasn't so alone.  And it hit me this morning.  My dad was doing exactly what I had done when my son had cancer.  I didn't want to inconvenience anyone or make anyone rearrange their lives to be with me.  Yet I silently hoped they would know how badly I needed them.  That was unfair, but at least I realized it and now I will read between the lines when my dad says no.  When I called him this morning to tell him I was coming he didn't even protest.  He just said softly "I can't wait to see you".  

So, we will do what needs to be done as a family.  My niece is going there this weekend, my sister will go when I leave and then my brother and sister in law will go after that.  Somehow we will make it work.  And we will hold each other up through the laughter and the tears.  And there again is the bright spot.  This family that God has blessed me with will be there through it all and that is a gift that not even this can take away.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

January Musings - It's just emotion.....

Well a lot can change in a few days, hell a lot can change in an hour.  I was having a great morning.  I spend most days focusing on the positive and avoiding negative thoughts.  It's the way I've been training my mind now for some time (and I unconsciously lived most of my life like that, but now I'm doing it on purpose and more diligently).  Today, it came unhinged so quickly I just don't know how it happened but I crashed and burned.  Even sitting this evening thanking God for the beautiful sunset and view from the baseball field just didn't fix it.

My mother is sick.  Very sick.  I don't talk about it a lot because that gives the thoughts power.  It has been almost a year since it started.  She had a lump on her neck that was diagnosed as Lymphoma.  The same disease my son had 5 years ago.  Easy to cure, so we were told.  Should be a simple treatment.  Well, that hasn't been the case.  She has COPD on top of it, Emphesyma and now an anuerysm on her aorta.  My brother and sister and I are all far away.  They are 1300 miles away, I'm 2500.  We have all taken turns going down, including my nieces and nephews so that they aren't alone for more than a few weeks.  She has been hospitalized twice in as many months.  She is truly struggling to breathe more often then not.  The chemo doesn't seem to be working, this is the 4th different kind.  Radiation was done, she can't have any more of that.  And then they found the anuerysm on her aorta.  It's like a bad movie.  Only it's not.  It's my family and it's all too real.  My dad is handling it all, but he's getting worn out.  My mom is fighting hard, but she's getting tired.  Praying for a miracle seems to be the only answer.  The COPD is a horrible disease and it's not going away, it doesn't go away it just gets worse.  My mom used to ride her bike 5 miles a day and that kept it from progressing quickly.  But then Cancer reared it's ugly head.  I'm angry.  I'm sad.  I'm overwhelmed.  I'm dissappointed. I'm confused. And I'm grateful.  Let me explain.

I'm angry that this is happening to my family and my parents.  It wasn't supposed to be like this.  I'm not stupid, I know people don't live forever, but they weren't supposed to get sick!  Danny took that bullet for us all.  And my brother, with his triple bypass.  They did it!  They took it for us all.  That was supposed to be enough!

I'm sad.  I'm sad that my mom is suffering.  I'm sad that my dad has to watch and deal with it.  I'm sad that we aren't all in the same place to deal with it.  I'm sad my kids have to deal with this and my nieces and nephews.  I'm sad that I can't just stop everything and move there and be with them to take care of them.  I'm also angry about that, add it to the above.

I'm overwhelmed.  I don't know what to do!  There are no guidebooks.  I'm trying to stay strong and do what needs to be done for my kids.  I was at the baseball field today and then left and took Danny to another field for an opportunity and I felt selfish.  How could I be doing this while my parents need me?  I'm sitting outside in the beautiful fresh air and they are in a hospital, alone!  But what am I supposed to do?  My kids need me.  Leaving them isn't an option, I'm all they have.  I can't focus on anything and I have no motivation to do anything but talk to my brother and sister on the phone.  That comforts me.  I spent the entire day yesterday on the phone with my sister.  Nothing got done, but it was comforting.  I don't know what to think, or do or say.

I'm disappointed.  I'm disappointed that some people I love most (outside of my immediate family) aren't there for me.  People I treasure, haven't even asked how my mom is.  Left me cold.  I don't talk about all of this a lot because it's personal and emotional and I don't want to bring people down.  I did the same thing when Danny was sick.  I had my core group of people that I shared with and that was enough for me.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

50 is just a number----

Today is my 50th birthday.  AHHHHH...  When I turned 20 I flipped out because I wasn't a teenager anymore.  When I turned 30 I spent over an hour crying to my brother because my life wasn't what I wanted and I hadn't accomplished what I wanted by that time.  When I turned 40 I was in a great place.  I had just moved to AZ had my first warm, sunny birthday of my life. I had 3 perfect kids and was having a home built. My 40s were tumultuous to say the least but they also changed me as lessons often do. 50 is here and I am excited!!!  My life is an empty book and I hold the pen.

I woke up this morning to the one thing I was wanting more than anything--day made.  And I hadn't even gotten out of bed or uttered a word to anyone!  Sweet! I heard someone (R) downstairs emptying the dishwasher.  I had all three of my kids hug and kiss me and wish me a happy birthday (my daughter before she even had her eyes open!)--amazing!  She made me a beautiful card telling me how I am her inspiration and how she always appreciates me.  Yea, this 50 thing was gonna work out just fine!  I opened a beautiful bracelet from my siblings and sibling in laws and nieces and nephews.  I truly could have called it a day and been a very happy girl.

Apparently my dog didn't get the memo because she threw up on the floor but hey, even that wasn't gonna bring me down lol.  I was thinking about how lucky I am to be 50 and have such a strong support system in my world.  I am healthy, thank you God, I feel fantastic.  I have had 5 people in the last 3 months tell me I look 36 and I didn't even pay them!  Life is good.  I don't even know where the day went I didn't do anything out of the ordinary but it was terrific!  My son (D) came home from school with a dozen roses for me and my siblings sent me another surprise too.  I was feeling crazy spoiled!

I realized something this year.  Every day of my life is one that should be celebrated.  It's a gift.  My birthday is just a day that everyone else can join in the party.  And that is the difference in me.  I finally GET it.  Appreciate every single moment and cherish those who love you.  Forget those who don't.  So many people in my world are getting divorced and having relationship issues and it makes me realize I am blessed to have had an easy divorce.  My kids supported me one thousand percent and are happy if I'm happy.  Not everyone is so lucky.  I have little to no dealings with my ex so there is little stress or frustration coming from that area.  My life is good.  Blessed beyond measure I am.

Don't roll your eyes, it's true!  Look at your life.  When was the last time you counted YOUR blessings?  They are there.  I guarantee it.  And before you think, well she's got no problems--WRONG!  My mother is extremely sick and living 2500 miles away, my son had cancer at the age of 10, both of my sons had surgeries this year, I'm a single mom raising 3 kids of varying ages (not easy trust me), I'm trying to navigate sending my 2nd son to college after having the oldest decide it wasn't for him, I've been betrayed, taken advantage of in friendships, had horrible relationships-  the list goes on, but I don't focus on that.  I choose to look at my blessings.  And you should too!  I can assure you if you do, your life will transform over night.  Turn a negative into a positive.  Maybe the person you love the most in the world isn't with you right now---be grateful that you have that love and that person loves you back.  Have faith that when the time is right you will be together.  Is money your issue?  Do you have food to eat, a bed to sleep in, a roof over your head?  Be grateful for those things, some don't.  Has someone close to you passed away?  That's a tough one, I'm sure, but focus on the happy times and the blessings you had by having that person in your life.  Trust me, you will never regret changing your thinking.  It works miracles.

As I look forward to the next 50 years of my life (my kids have assured me I will live to be 100) I can't wait to see what it holds in store.  Now that I've learned the tough lessons I have faith that the rest of my life will be as sweet as the chocolate cake I plan to dig into tonight <3

Friday, January 16, 2015

They aren't interchangeable

Last weekend I took my two youngest up to Las Vegas to a baseball showcase at UNLV for my son to check out the campus and for them to check him out.  We have family in Vegas so it was a perfect opportunity on so many levels.   I love when things work out like that.  We drove up the night before so that we could relax and take our time the first day of the showcase and it worked out perfectly.  I asked my cousin if my daughter could spend the day with her and she was thrilled to take her.  I didn't realize how much I miss having that living so far away from my family.  I knew that she would be well taken care of and have the best time and I could focus on my son without worrying.  Such a blessing.

As my 16 year old and I took off to the campus I was feeling such peace and contentment but I knew he was feeling anxious.  I started feeling it too since the last time he visited a campus he was with his dad and it was less than stellar, shall we say.   We found the field and signed him in and went to sit in the stands.  We were chatting about everything as always and he let out a sigh of relief and said "You see mom, this is why YOU have to take me to this stuff.  You don't stress me out or bring me down I'm totally relaxed now.  You have to promise me that you will take me to every showcase and college tour!"   Alrighty then.   Point taken.  I had been working the weekend he went to the last camp and it was a last minute invitation from a coach who had seen him the week before otherwise I would have been there.  But I got the message.

His attitude certainly showed on the field.  After recovering from his surgery over the summer he was finally back with his usual intensity and passion and skill.  I was teary eyed in the stands and so excited to see it!  He was overjoyed in the car and seemed to like the campus a lot and had a good feeling with the coaches.  The weekend passed and I had such joy in my heart, being around family and watching him on the field, it was just perfect.  Sunday was the last day of the camp and it was pouring rain and freezing cold.  Yet, there I sat under an umbrella covered in blankets with gloves and just feeling so content.  Then we went into the coaches meeting.  On the way I stepped in a huge puddle and the blankets that were keeping me dry suddenly soaked my jeans.  Hmmmm....this day was turning.

The coaches talk was overwhelming to say the least.  He described what my boys life would be like as a player at a D1 school.  It sounded grueling and exhausting yet I looked over at him and he was beaming.  I cried. The tears slid silently down my face as I listened intently to what it would take to get him here.  My heart started aching that familiar ache I had felt 4 years ago when my oldest son was a junior in high school.  He was leaving.  I wouldn't see him every day.  And according to these coaches I would be lucky to get a weekly phone call.  I wasn't ready.  We had been through so much together, he and I are connected in a way that no one else can understand.  I also don't know where he will wind up.  My oldest was only 3 hours away.  Depending on which school offers him the best situation for baseball my baby boy could wind up across the country.  I will have to be okay with that.  I will do whatever it takes and everything in my power to help him fulfill his dreams!  Luckily, that makes me too busy to dwell on the rest of it right now.  

I said to him, hmmm maybe if you play here we will move to Vegas.  His eyes lit up.  Well that was squashed when my daughter firmly said she wasn't leaving her friends or being the new kid in school.  Alrighty then.  I know it will all work out the way it is supposed to and God has it in His firm grasp so I'm open to whatever comes.  This morning I woke up and I had that pang in my heart that he was going to be leaving before I knew it.  It reminded me of when my oldest went to Kindergarten and I was bawling.  Everyone couldn't understand, they looked at me like I was nuts.  "Well you still have D at home".  Yes, obviously I did, but hellooooooo  D wasn't R!  They aren't interchangeable!  My kids are 3 individuals who can't be swapped out for the other.  Just like when R went to college and people said "What are you so upset for, you still have 2 at home!"  OMG they aren't place markers to just fill up a chair at the dinner table.  Jeez.  They are individuals who each have a different and equally special place in my heart and in my life.  

So now, as I prepare to have D leave the nest (and if his dreams come true, he won't be back for any long periods of time again) my heart aches and the sobs come and the tears flow just as much as they did with R.  I didn't think that would happen.  I thought I was prepared.  I thought I was adjusted.  After all R is back home and even though our relationship is much different then before it's still close and there.  Nope, no such luck.  Having D leave might actually be harder.  Hell, what am I saying it will definitely be harder.  Because we have a different relationship and he will be in a different situation. The thought of not being in the stands every time he plays and not knowing how he was feeling after a game makes me physically sick to my stomach.  I will miss him every bit as much as I missed R even though I know he will keep in better contact with me then his brother did.  I know he will miss me just as much.  And the fact that I will still have 2 kids at home with me (maybe only 1 by that time who knows) doesn't make me feel any better.   They aren't interchangeable....they are my babies and I will feel every emotion with each one of them like it was the first time....because it will be---for them.