Follow this blog

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring - New Beginnings

When I lived back east the first day of spring was an eagerly anticipated day.  Usually, it was met with disappointment because winter wouldn't let go of it's ugly grasp.  Living in the West and right now visiting the south, the first day of spring means something different.  It means new beginnings.  It means letting go of the old and what no longer works in my life.   Now to figure out how to do that.

My dad asked me yesterday if I'm looking forward to getting back home.  I said no.  I'm not going to lie and say these last 2 months have been easy, being so spread between home and Florida.  It usually means leaving behind someone that I love.  In February it was my boys and then having to get home quickly and leave my parents--my mother for the last time.  And now, I'm here and my son is home already and I just never feel whole anymore.  Something is always missing.  It's been torture on my soul and I'm anxious and scared all the time.

I was sitting on the steps outside last night talking to my younger son and my heart was just aching.  I have been sad for so long I just don't think I can take it for another minute.  It's not just what's been going on this last year with my mom, it's been for a long time.  Being in the wrong marriage and relationships in my life left me feeling this way for most of my life. My kids used to fill that void and  the sadness didn't overwhelm me like it does now.  Fear?  That was non existent in my life.  Now?  sadness and fear engulf me daily.  Despite prayer, and meditation and talking it out with my trusted friends.  Why?  Why can't I shake this feeling.  I've felt like something was missing for most of my life.  A few years back that feeling went away and I was tricked into thinking it would last.  That I would feel whole and complete from then on.  I thought the changes I had made and the life I was dreaming of was coming to me.  Unfortunately, that was short lived and recovering from having it then losing it is worse than never having it at all.  

I realized upon grieving for my mother that I have been in a state of grief for a few years now.  I had never felt grief before so I didn't recognize the emotion.  It sucks.  Now I know that's what I have been feeling.  I'm grieving the loss of the most perfect thing I'd ever had.  My dad said the other night that he keeps thinking it's a dream and my mom will be back and when he realizes that's not happening it overwhelms him.  That's exactly it.  That's what it feels like over and over again.  Like ripping a bandage off a horrible wound.  How do we move on from it? How do you come to terms with the fact that what made you the happiest and completed you is not coming back?  Time.  I'm sick of time.  How many times can your heart be broken before you stand up and move on?  I think it's like the owl asking the question about how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop---the world may never know.

My older son came out to me last night while I was hanging up the phone with my middle son and saw I was broken.  He and I took a long walk around my dad's complex.  He asked me what was wrong and I couldn't just couldn't tell him.  I changed the subject and we instead discussed our family and how it is a tribute to my parents and the day I had spent with my dad and how hard it is going to be to leave him next week.  We finally got back to the condo and my dad was at the door waiting.  Ah, what memories that brought back-what I would give to go back to that time!  When I had my whole life ahead of me---damn would I do things differently.  But then that's what spring is all about, isn't it?  New beginnings? 

Well, I guess it's time to figure out what those new beginnings are and go out and start them.  If only I knew how to change who I am.  It's hard to think about my new beginnings when my daddy is handling the worst "new beginning" he will ever have to face, and the thing I want most in my life is lost.  I feel like a rag doll being pulled in 5 different directions and all I want to do is go hide from it all.  I want to scream what about MY happiness?   But I'm made from tougher stuff than that.  At least I used to be.  I don't recognize myself anymore.  Gone are my nasty barbs and my quick retorts to people when I'm angry.  I don't even get angry anymore I just get hurt and sad.  I don't know what to do with sad --anger was much easier to deal with.  I miss the smart mouthed bitch I used to be, she wouldn't be losing sleep over shit she couldn't change, she'd just move on without looking back.  What happened to her?!  She's not coming back, I know that much. So I'm stuck with this new wimpy version who cries over spilled milk and pines for something she can't have.  Yuck.  She needs to grow a backbone and realize that she deserves the happily ever after and springtime is just as good as any to go get it.

Happy Spring xo

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What's your legacy?

We laid my mother to rest last Friday.  My entire family made the trip to Florida to be there for this private event.  My sister, my brother, their spouses and children and me and my 3 children.  15 of us in total paid tribute to the woman who was the head of this family.  It was heart wrenching and devastating and something only we survived.  People were angry, hurt and confused as to why we decided to block out the rest of the world during this time of grief.  To us it was simple, a no brainer.  We are her legacy.  We are a unit.  It started with the 5 of us.  My parents, sister, brother and me.  During time we added spouses to our closed circle.  Then our children.  And now, my Godson's fiance and my nieces boyfriend were present as well.  We are not stand offish people, we welcome the new into our family with open arms without the stigma of "in law".  However, we didn't want outsiders with us during our time of grief.  Because then it becomes about them, and not us.  People's well meaning offers of sympathy need to be met with the appropriate appreciation.  We just wanted to grieve.  We are thankful for the outpouring of people who reached out to all of us, we are!  But this, this was private and not one of us were sorry.

My parents moved away to Florida 30 years ago.  For 30 years we have not all lived in the same state.  10 years ago I moved across the country as well.  So these time for us all to be together are precious.  The last time we were all together was in November of 2010.  Of course we have seen each other since, but all of us together in one place is reserved for an occasion.  This was such an occasion, to celebrate my mother's life and mourn her death.  This was the first time all of us were in Florida together.  It was amazing.  Truly amazing.  As I looked around at these people, my family, I was filled with love...and admiration....and gratitude.  It would have been very easy for us to just drift apart from each other.  To become polite strangers.  The opposite has happened.  I am closer to my brother and sister now than ever before.  The usual arguments and distance and rifts you hear happen when a parent dies just didn't occur for us.  We agreed on everything, we are so different yet cut from the same cloth at the core.  Greed does not exist in my family.  We all truly want what's best for the other.  There are of course spats and disagreements, jeez we are not saints, but at the core there is a love, a loyalty and a bond that time nor distance can destroy.  For this I am so grateful!

We have never mourned before like this.  We didn't know the protocol.  My mom was very ill and her death didn't come as a surprise.  We were all prepared (well, as prepared as you can ever be).  I was at their home when everyone arrived.  We all had a different reaction to coming into the home they shared without my mother being in it.  We all grieved our own way.  But true to form of my family, we also laughed.  And enjoyed being together as the gift that it is.  During the memorial service, my nephew gave a speech.  Not a eulogy, but a tribute to our family.  It's about the legacy of our family.  He praised my siblings and me and challenged HIS siblings and cousins to live up the legacy that was started by their grandparents.  There was not a dry eye in the room.  My sister (with the help of my niece) made a video montage showing the best of my mom's life.  It was amazing.  We laughed and cried together all reliving the moments that brought us to this point in time.  Obviously the pictures of my mom during her illness were left out and forgotten--that's not how we want to remember her.  Although, the strength and dignity she showed during this last year is a tribute to the woman she was.  I sat in the first pew with my dad and my siblings and I turned around a few times to check on my kids.  I saw my niece comforting my daughter, my son comforting his cousin, it was just to telling as to what our family is.  There is no competition between them, there is love between those 7 grandchildren.  Although they don't see each other as often as they'd like they adore each other and have a closeness that nothing can change.  Seeing them together and being together with my siblings was the greatest possible offering to my mother's legacy.  She created this family, with my dad.  Their love made this and we will continue to make them proud!

It made me wonder what my legacy will be.  Will my children continue the way my siblings and I have?  I pray every day they will.  The time is coming where I am sure we will not all be living in the same place and they will begin to bring in significant others to our circle.  I pray they choose wisely and remain close to their siblings, while still respecting their significant other.  I hope they see the love my parents had for each other and strive to duplicate that in their own way.  I know that is my dream and hopefully my legacy.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

They don't make them like that anymore

The past month of my life has been the worst ever.  Worse than the days when my ex husband lost his job and we were living on a prayer, worse than when my 10 year old had cancer (yes, worse than that), worse than my divorce (which was actually a piece of cake- I only mention it because most people say it's one of the top 5 most stressful things in life).  I have hesitated writing during this time because my family is very private and I know it freaks them out that I share my feelings the way I do.  So be it.  I won't go into details.  However, in the past month I flew to Florida to take care of my terminally ill mom with my daughter and left my sons back home.  I had to cut my trip short because of an emergency with my oldest son and 10 days after I left my mom passed away.  God always has a plan and as it turns out it was best I left and went home because my daughter should not have been there while my mom declined so rapidly.  Also, my brother flew down and he was definitely the best person to be with my dad during those last days, even though it was extremely hard on him.  Then my sister went down and again, at the perfect time to help my dad with all the legal paperwork, handling everything fairly and efficiently.  And now I am here again to help my dad discover his new normal without the love of his life.  The rest of my family will be here in a few days for my moms private memorial service.  Just the 15 of us, together, to put my mom to rest.  I don't even believe that's real as I type it.  I will remain for another 8 days after everyone leaves.

I thought coming into the house without her being here would hit me like a ton of bricks.  It didn't.  It's so strange.  Cooking in her kitchen, which I've done dozens of times brought me to my knees, however.  I felt her with me every step.  I couldn't ask her where anything was, I had to think like she did, Thankfully no one came in the kitchen and saw the tears flowing down my face.  I missed her.  I went into her closet yesterday when no one was around and I smelled her clothes hoping for a last whiff of her scent.  I broke down crying when I realized it wasn't there.  She had been sick so long the house was stripped of that beautiful scent that was my mom.  No one knows what I mean, it's not a lotion, or soap or perfume.  It was HER.  My younger son and my daughter know what I mean. He's arriving tomorrow and I wonder how it will feel to him.  My daughter was in the bathroom talking to her Ya ya the other day, tears flowing down her face.  She said she saw her and could feel her arms around her.  It was sad and comforting at the same time.

Yesterday my dad found a feather by his bed.  I know my mom waited until I was with him to send it.  She knew I'd know what it was.  He was so full of disbelief and wonder.  But it did the trick, he heard my mom last night and I believe the healing can begin for him.  We went to the mall yesterday and my dad, my daughter and I all felt my mom with us. I went walking this morning with tears running down my face but she was with me and gave me some great advice.  I deserve a man like my dad.  I deserve to be treasured and loved and adored the way she was.  Point taken mom.  I will start to value myself more and not give my love to someone who doesn't want it.  Watching my dad grieve my mom and hearing stories about how my ex father in law has been grieving his wife this past year just breaks my heart.  It hurts me on so many levels.  Things in that generation were different.  Spouses were partners in life.  There was no competition to see who did more or who was busier.  They each had their roles and they relied on each other knowing that the other partner would be there no matter what.  I want that.  I don't think they "sweated the small stuff" or blamed each other for things the way people do nowadays.  They took responsibility for their part in the relationship.   I want that.  My father and my exes dad are lost without their mates.  You can see the sadness in their eyes and hear the love in their voices when they speak of them.  My dad's neighbor (who I have fallen in love with and adopted her as part of our family) still gets choked up when she talks about her husband who passed away 5 years ago.  She misses him terribly.  She has learned to move on, which I pray my dad does, but she says she still hurts.  She talks about him with such love and devotion.  I want that.  Things were just different 60 years ago.  My ex husband and I have been working much better as a team with the kids during this past month.  It's sad that the love is gone but at least the bitterness and anger are gone too.   So many people I know are still married and wish they werent'.  I don't think these people are mourning their spouses because it's been 60 years of marriage, I think it was just the way their partnerships were created.  There was respect of each other.  Women were treated like treasures and men were respected and taken care of by them.  It worked.   Spouses back then put each other first, not their children and I think that (along with women's lib in the 70s) drastically changed the status of relationships forever and not in a good way.  I know once my son was born my marriage took a back seat,  granted it's because I wasn't happily married in the first place, but still I know I am not alone in that.  Your spouse is the one you will grow old with (if you're lucky) and once your children leave and have their own lives the one you pledge I do to should still be someone you want to spend time with.  My daughter and I were discussing this.  She is taking it all in like a sponge.  She said to me, mommy maybe it's better to not have love like that so your heart isn't so broken when it's taken away.  Maybe she's right, but I pray that someday she finds that love and it takes her breath away.  And I pray she finds someone who treats her like a queen and a treasure and she treats him like a king and I pray I get to see it.