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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Every beginning is another beginning's end.....

It's been a rough week yet an amazing week.  This post will most likely be filled with a lot of contradictions.  I'm just warning you.  My feelings have been contradicting themselves all week.  I've been crying from joy and from sorrow.  I've been on top of the world one minute and feeling like my heart is being ripped from my chest the next.  My life is just in that kinda place right now.  So many changes.  All good things.  But every new beginning means there's an ending to something somewhere.

Yesterday my youngest son played his last baseball game as a High School student.  He is one of two seniors on the team.  The other player isn't playing college ball, so technically that might have been his last game.  He was crying on the bus.  That broke my heart! My son realizes that could have been him had he not worked so hard to realize his dream.  It was still the end of an era for him.  I don't think he knew what to feel, honestly.  Plus, Senior Prom is today so he doesn't have time to dwell on it.  Neither did I .  I was sitting listening to music last night and Pandora was pulling out my heart.  The songs were all reminding me of the fact that my baby boy was leaving me.  I was sitting and the tears were streaming down my face, silently.  I just couldn't make myself stop.  He came home from his game and I held onto him so tightly.  It's starting to hit me.  Mostly because it's hitting him so hard he's making me stop and face it.

This morning I was folding laundry and his baseball jersey, slider shorts, socks and pants came out of the dryer.  I lost my mind.  I just began to have this overwhelming feeling of sadness as I folded his pants.  I realized....this is most likely the last time I will do that.  Next year someone else will be doing that for him.  I was reminded of the nights I was up until 1 am waiting for the washing machine to stop so that I could throw his "lucky pants" in the dryer to leave the house at 5 am for a game after getting home at 11 pm from a double header.  I was reminded of driving to the field and watching the sunrise and spending the day going from blankets and jackets to tank tops and shorts and then back to the blankets and jackets as the games ranged from early morning to evening.  I knew I would miss those days, but it never occurred to me that I'd be washing his uniform for the last time.  Wow.

I am a positive person.  I focus on the good in every situation.  I don't allow myself to dwell on the negative.  My life is changing drastically in the next 3-4 months.  I've been excited about the changes, thinking about all the good things to come and the new experiences that are coming.  I haven't allowed myself to think about the endings that need to come before the new beginnings.  Saying goodbye to the handful of good friends I've made here--realizing my coffee and lunch and movie and late night dinner dates will be ending.  I got a haircut yesterday and realized that I'm going to have to say goodbye to her and her amazing talent....wow I need to find someone I trust with my hair.  I texted my mechanic to ask him to check my boys cars before we move---he responded with a sad face and said "you can't move!"....wow I need to find someone I trust as much as him with our cars.  I had lunch with my friend Jen this week....no more 6 hour lunches where we laugh until we cry and solve the world's problems while eating salads.  No more of her taking one look at me and knowing EXACTLY what the hell I'm thinking. I'm having coffee with my friend Val this week....no more of her positive energy and our discussions about everything under the sun. The sadness overtook me.  I'm going to miss all of this.

Then last night I had a phone conversation with my friend Laura who lives about 30 minutes from where I'm moving....positive stuff.  Lunch dates will still happen, they will be different but still awesome.  Then my oldest son came and hung out in my room with me while I was winding down and trying to go to sleep.  We discussed all the good things that we have coming.  How many exciting new beginnings are on their way.  It reminded me that not too long ago I was sobbing about him leaving me.....yet here we are, closer than ever.  It's a different relationship, he's an adult now at 22, but in some ways (a lot of ways) it's better than the mom/child relationship.  We discuss things on a whole other level and we laugh at the same twisted jokes.

So, as I mourn the last _______ fill in the blank that I'm experiencing now, I look forward to the first _______ fill in the blank that's coming.  It's all part of the plan, all part of progress....and it's all a day in the life.....

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The girl who stole my son's heart...

Since my boys were little people have teased me about what it would be like for me when they grew up and fell in love and eventually got married.  Everyone said they felt sorry for the girls my sons chose, like I would be a monster in law.  You know, those mothers they make movies about--the ones who hold onto their sons so tightly and cause problems with them and the women in their lives.  I knew I would never do that, but I kept my mouth shut.  Let them think what they want, I thought, I knew better.  I was wholly accepted by the mothers of the boys I dated in high school.  They always made me feel like part of the family, told me how happy they were that I was dating their son.  I wanted to be THAT mother.  The one who was happy that their son had a girl that really cared about them and was loyal and liked being around the family.  I was determined not to be controlling and jealous and all those ugly traits.  I usually accomplish what I set out to do in life.

Today, I spent some time with my youngest son's girlfriend.  I took her to do some prom preparation and we sat and talked for a really long time.  We've been spending more time together lately and I have truly realized how blessed my son is.   Everyone knows how much I adore my son, so I'm not saying he's not a good catch.  But this young woman is truly incredible.  I was an 18 year old girl once and I can assure you I was not nearly as selfless or grounded as she is.  

I have prayed over the years for the future spouses of my children.  I asked for them to love my children unconditionally.  I asked for them to love the rest of my family and for them all to get along.  I have seen first hand how spouses can come between siblings and make for huge family rifts.  I swore that would not happen in my family.  I have told my children this.  They know I wouldn't stand for any of that, so they should choose wisely.  

I know that my son and his girlfriend are young, but so many people reunite in their later years with their high school loves.  I think it's because most teenagers don't have the maturity to give a relationship what it needs to succeed, but when time and growth occurs their hearts find their way back to each other.  Wouldn't it be amazing if my son and his girlfriend didn't have to wait?  If they could get it right the first time?  It would save so much heartache.  My nephew and his wife have been together since they were 13 and just got married last year.  They are blissfully happy.  It's not impossible.

During our talk today we discussed life paths and how God always makes sure you are where you are supposed to be.  I love that she thinks like that---it's my only way of thinking.  With that being said, if they are meant to be together they will be, I know that.  But as I sat and chatted with her, this precious girl who stole my son's heart, I couldn't help but believe she was an answer to this mother's prayer.  To see how she understands my son, loves him completely and totally----how excited she is about their future.  She is willing to go to the ends of the earth with him, for him.  And not in a teenage crush stars in the eyes kinda way.  It's more than that.  She weathered a really difficult time in my family last year and she stayed right by his side and helped him through it. His devotion to me and to his siblings?  She gets it.  She embraces it.  She understands it.  She knows that I am really important to him, she understands that we have a bond that is stronger than most.  She is ok with it.  She even says how happy she is that I'm his mom.  Most girls could not deal with it.  I don't think I could!  I make it a point to let her know that I am fair and I definitely help him understand her point of view and show him when he's not being fair to her.  He listens.  My opinion is still extremely important to him right now. My son is a very complex young man.  He is not easy to understand (even though he is an amazing communicator) or deal with.  He's intense....all the time....(gulp...I may or may not have been that way at some point ;) )makes it REALLY hard some days to put up with.  Lord knows I struggle at times with him, and I'm his mom-I love him unconditionally.  But his girlfriend?  She makes it her mission to be there for him and understand him.  Most teenage girls are all about them...not this one.  She knows what's important, she sees the big picture, the finish line.  She follows her heart.  She's definitely the answer to this mother's prayers.  

Last year I wrote a letter in my blog to my son's future wife.  I can't predict the future, and only God knows for sure but I can't imagine anyone better for my son.  xoxoxo

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Like only a mother can do.....

I spent a good portion of today cleaning my parents condo and cooking for my dad when I'm gone.  It struck me how my daughter and I were so careful to put things back the way they were, the way my mom would have wanted them.  It's been nearly two years since my mom herself placed things where they are.  My dad has a cleaning lady come now most of the time.  When my sister or my niece or I visit we usually clean so that he doesn't have to call the cleaning person.  It's obvious to me that they also try to put things back where my mom had them.  The linen closet doesn't have her touch any more....it's been replaced with the way we all fold things....none of us being able to duplicate her way of doing it.  Her touch.  I remember my sister saying last year how she was kinda annoyed that the cleaning lady redid the guest towels (which no one uses) because my mom had made a little flower out of the wash cloth and now that was gone.  I totally agree with her.  Seems silly to most I'm sure but those were the little touches my mom's house had that no one else's ever did.  They were important to her.  And they were obviously important to us.  I told my daughter how proud YaYa would be in the way she cleaned the bedroom.  As I vacuumed the purple carpet I remembered when she was bedridden and asked me to vacuum that same carpet.  I was almost irritated because I couldn't believe that she was so weak and she was worried and bothered by the fuzz on that carpet.  It was something that always bothered me as a child, that I felt my mom put more emphasis on vacuuming then she did on spending time with us.  Today, I took comfort in it.  Watching the sweeper make the tell tale lines in the carpet.  I felt close to her.  It made me wonder what my kids would try to keep alive when my physical presence is gone.  I know for damn sure it won't be how I cleaned.  Although I like my house clean it is totally not a priority in my life.  I do it because I have to and my kids know that.

My daughter, who is 12 and completely capable of making her own breakfast, asked me to make her waffles this morning.  She takes such delight every morning when I make them.  As if a gourmet meal is placed before her.  She exclaims, nearly daily, "no one makes waffles like you do mommy.  You always put the perfect amount of butter on them and they are always just right crispy."  I get it.  I'd give anything to have my mom make me a sandwich.  No one ever makes them like she did.  I know there will be those memories that my kids will miss.  But what will they try to keep alive?  I have no idea.

It makes me want to try harder.  It makes me want to have things that only I can do in a way that only I can do them.  Don't get me wrong, I know there are things that my kids will always remember me doing.  I'm a good mom, this I know.  It's probably the only thing in my life that I know I'm good at and I feel comfortable saying that I'm good at.  But what makes me stand out in their minds?  What will make them say, "Remember how mommy did that?"  Or don't touch that, mommy put it there.  Or maybe they won't do that.  Maybe their memories will be enough.  Who knows.

My youngest son wrote his senior paper this past week.  He said that mottos were never important in his life.  The only one that he cared about growing up was one I instilled in him.....Family first.  That was instilled in me by my dad.  I know that there will be things that the 3 of them will carry on because of me, just like I carry on things from my mom.  I just hope and pray that they will always know how very much I loved them and that everything I did, I did for them.


Friday, April 22, 2016

Let the change begin with choice

Why do relationships die?  Why do people lose the shiny newness that makes the beginning of a relationship so damn spectacular?  I've been asking myself that my whole life.  The beginning of a relationship (any relationship, not just romantic, but the later is more so) is always so much fun.  The feeling of butterflies in your stomach, the anticipation of seeing or talking to a specific person.  The smile that is plastered on your face all the time and it can only be explained by referring to that special someone.  So many people resign themselves to the fact that it's just the newness of a relationship that gives you that rush.  That once two people get to know each other and get comfortable with each other that is just destined to fade away.  Why?  Why do people just accept that?  What if it just doesn't have to be that way?  I've spent my entire existence being told that I'm a dreamer.  A romantic.  An idiot.  All because I was looking for that spark every day and not just at the beginning of a relationship.  I was told I watched too many movies, soap operas, read too many books.  And I believed it, because obviously the newness always wore off in all of my relationships (friendships too) so clearly....OBVIOUSLY....'they' must be right....Right?   WRONG!  Let me explain.


When I started pondering this issue I began to think that everyone who isn't feeling this spark or joy or happiness is in the wrong relationship.  They settled.  They chose the wrong person.  But then I started thinking-that's impossible.  Then I began to look at other relationships in life.  Friendships, family bonds, co workers.....and I started learning about the ego and the spiritual side and how people make choices in life.  I realized that the ego destroys most relationships, pride and past mistakes come into play and bam---spark extinguished.  "Well, I'm not doing that for them because last week they blah blah blah blah blah." "Oh no WAY am I letting them know how much they mean to me-they will use it against me! (BTW if that's true, then maybe you ARE in the wrong relationship, just sayin') BAM Relationship happiness doomed.  How can it be fixed?  How can we stop this wrong?  If you're in the wrong relationship, you can't.  There are people that are meant to come and go in your life and that's just life.  They teach you lessons, you teach them, and their portion of your life is over.  But, if you are in a long haul, forever and ever, infinity and beyond kind of relationship it's really very simple.  You have to choose each other first.  Always.  Every day.  Every minute.  It has to be a conscious choice---I choose you!  How do you do that?  It's simple really.  You put their happiness and the happiness of the relationship over any petty scenario that is in your head.  Now, I'm not saying to allow yourself to be a doormat (I've done that too!) but I'm asking you to ask yourself what's really important in your life.  Is control, or being right really worth losing that happiness that started the relationship in the first place?  I'm pretty sure if you're being honest the answer is no.

What sparked my thoughts on this was a conversation with my sons yesterday.  My younger son and I have spoken and texted all day every day since I've been away the last 10 days.  My older son and I have only spoken briefly and texted a handful of times. I don't compare them, they are 2 completely different people.  I spoke to my oldest last night and he was a bit stressed that I would be "pissed" at him because he hadn't called me or responded to a few texts I sent him with updates on his poppa.  I reassured him and said that if I had been upset with him I would have picked up the phone or texted him and said we need to talk about this.  I wouldn't just sulk and then blast him when I got home.  Communication works two ways and I know how he is and I accept it.  He was so relieved it was audible.  I don't expect him to behave in a way that is foreign to him and I don't expect him to shoulder the responsibility of this relationship.  That's what got me thinking.....this is what is wrong in relationships.  Expectations and not taking responsibility for what you want out of them.  In the past we have had a nasty exchange or two where one or both of us have said things we regretted and that caused a huge rift in our relationship.  The difference now?  We both choose to allow each other the freedom to be who we are.  We communicate when things start taking a bad turn and we right the wrong before it gets to that place it went to in the past. Every night, when we are in the same place, we make sure we hug, say goodnight and I love you, even if those are the only words we've spoken to each other all day. We have repaired our once sparkly relationship after a period of doom.  Why can't we do that with every relationship?  You have to choose!  You have to allow your love for the other person and the relationship to dominate your motives.

Sibling relationships and friendships are also not immune to the dulling of the relationship sparkle, the ebb and flow of life. It does seem that those relationships have an easier time of getting the initial sparkle back then romantic ones.  I'm not sure why.  Do we hold them to a lower standard than our life partners?  Maybe.  Or do we expect them to have the bright, shiny newness for longer because we don't spend as much time together?  Who knows.  But it's sad to me.  It's sad to see a once happy couple lose the spark in their eyes.  To hear and witness them resign themselves to this bleak future of just existing.  It doesn't have to be that way.  I am determined not to allow it to happen in mine.  I will say I'm very blessed to have found a partner who communicates better than anyone I've ever met.  He never makes me feel less than or judged.  To have a person like that in your life in any capacity is a blessing, but to have him as my other half?  Beyond my wildest dreams.  I will never take that for granted.  I thank God every night for the gift of his love in my life and I'm pretty sure he does the same. It's imperative in life to be grateful for your partners presence.  And not "yea, well I'm glad he is a good father but he leaves a mess in the kitchen every day!" or "She is a great cook but she spends too much money!"  No!  No buts.  No if only. Remember every but you add is something that someone, somewhere would love to have. Appreciate your partner for their good qualities.  Focus on those.  The reasons you fell in love with them.  Make a list if you have to.  Hang it on your mirror and look at it every day.  Add to it.  I can almost guarantee it will grow.  As you look for the good and you appreciate it something magical will happen.  Your partner will feel appreciated and loved.  And when we feel appreciated and loved, don't we want to do more of the things that are being loved and appreciated?  YES!  Don't we all want to be a priority in someone's life?  Don't we all want to be understood?  Well....it has to start with someone!  And we can't expect change to come overnight.  We all love the saying "be the change you want to see in the world"  or "I'm starting with the (wo)man in the mirror"  but why do we avoid doing that with the love of our lives?  Fear? Ego?  Pride?  Control?  Bullshit.  I can tell you that nothing...nothing feels better than that shiny new beginning of a relationship feeling every day!  And there is no way I'm letting that fade.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Mother's Touch

I've been in Florida this past week taking care of my dad.  This is the first time I've been here since my mom passed that I've allowed myself to truly feel her absence.  Or maybe it's feeling her presence.  Not sure.  Tears came when I stepped in the front door last week.  My heart began to ache and I heard her voice in my head, so excited that we were here---like in the past.  I recovered and focused on what needed to be done.  Between doctors and scoping the area that we will be moving to this summer the past week went by quickly.  Today, however, took it's toll.

My dad wasn't feeling well enough to go to the Oncologist today so I decided to go alone to hopefully get the answers we needed.  I spent the drive there on the phone with the love of my life, that always makes me happy no matter what is going on around me. When I stepped foot inside the office the tears began to creep up.  Wow.  I was flooded with memories of my son's battle and now my mom's came as well.  I saw her sitting in the wheel chair the last time I took her for chemo.  I saw her face in every patient there.  I sat in the waiting area and my heart just broke for every person there.  I knew their pain.  I felt their struggle.  It was too raw for me.  Will it ever fade?  No.  I don't think so.

I spoke to the oncologist.  I've become quite adept at dealing with the percentages and risks and time frames and writing as quickly as the doctor speaks.  All business and no emotion.  Got it.  Done.  Paid the copay and out I went.  Another phone call to my rock, my guy, the love of my life.  Keeps me grounded, keeps me sane, brings me joy.  Then I hung up.  I heard my mother's voice.  She called me Tina Bellina -  wow, I haven't heard that in too long.  The tears began to flow.  I truly could not stop them.  I had to pull over, they were that bad.  I allowed them to cleanse my pain.  I allowed them to take it all away.  I don't always allow myself that, there's no time usually.  I turned the air conditioning off in the car because I had a chill through my body.  I just sobbed for a good 15 minutes.  I miss my mom so much.  I apologized to her for the seemingly cold exterior I've had the last year.  It's my armor.  It's my protection.  She assured me that it didn't show when I was taking care of last year, I was grateful for that. I found it easier to remember the negative things about my mom at that time rather than allow myself to remember all the good things. The excitement she'd get when she was eating something delicious.  Her exclamation of "oh I LOVE it!" when talking about something that gave her joy.  Her voice telling me how gorgeous my daughter is when seeing her picture from school.  Since January, when I realized that my mom was taking care of me from heaven in a way that I will be eternally grateful for, I've allowed myself to hear her.  I've allowed myself to miss her and to remember all the good things.  I've allowed myself to grieve.  I feel my mother with me all the time.  I hear her talking to me whenever I allow myself to.  My heart breaks for those who don't hear or feel their departed loved ones.  I couldn't imagine not having that.

Grief is so challenging.  It comes in ways I never imagined.  I'm grieving the days when my parents were both healthy and I didn't have to think about any of the things my siblings and I have been faced with in the last two years.  I am grieving the time when I didn't have to think about my own mortality and the fact that we are all growing older and we won't always be healthy and carefree. But, I don't allow myself to set up camp there.  No.  There is too much to look forward to.  Life is too good, even with all of this negative stuff trying to take over.  So, after the tears subsided and I went about the to do list that I needed to accomplish, I began to count my blessings.  I allowed myself to feel the joy that has been bubbling up inside of me since I came alive again last December.  And when the guilt threatened to rob my joy I sent it packing.  Guilt for feeling happy when there is so much to be sad about.  Guilt for having this amazing future ahead of me while all of those patients were sitting in an oncologists office.  Nope.  I won't have it.  Because God has blessed me and I will always be grateful for all of His gifts.  And even though trials still come my way I know that my mother will be by my side to help us all through them.  A mother's touch can heal the world and my mother's touch has always been magical....and it's all a day in the life.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Right back where we started from.....

It's been a little over a year since my mom passed away.  It's been a really difficult year to say the least.  My dad has suffered tremendously emotionally and it's difficult to watch. He's a shell of who he was.  Then he began having medical issues.  Last July my daughter and I flew there to take care of him during his eye surgery, my sister met us there and we finished cleaning out my mom's things.  As soon as my sister left and my dad was alone he began getting sick.  We didn't realize the extent of the illness until December.  My brother and sister in law and niece were with him in October then he came to me in November.  He was totally not himself.  We chalked it up to broken heart syndrome, but then in December we had a huge scare. My dad was admitted to the hospital with septic shock and apparently suffered a heart attack.  Luckily it was in NY and we were all together.  He went home to Florida finally in February and began having different medical issues.  He was admitted to the Hospital in Florida again in March and we found out he had/has colon cancer.  The c word AGAIN.  I almost can't breathe while typing this because it just keeps flooding back.  My brother went down, my niece went down, my sister went down and now I'm getting there on Tuesday.  He has to have eye surgery again and a slew of doctor's appointments to follow up with.  My sister did a bunch this week and there are still a lot next week. It's like deja vu.....the thought of stepping into the oncologist's office next week literally leaves me in a state of panic.  I feel physically sick and scared and just panicked. When I went through cancer with my son I was too busy being in the proactive, protecting, sheltering mode.  With my mom I felt experienced, I knew what to ask, I understood the situation.  My dad has already said he will refuse treatment.  How do I deal with that?  I can't blame him after watching my mom suffer the way she did.  We are all very grateful that my parents were so healthy for most of their lives.  My daddy will be 86 in June, God bless him.  At this point in time the best we can do for him is love him and care for him and respect his wishes and enjoy every moment we can with him.  The funny thing is my kids and I will be moving to Florida this summer, something my parents always wanted.  Better late than never, I suppose.   

It just all feels too familiar.  Too real.  Too soon!  We have not even been able to catch our breath and here we are again.  I know tomorrow isn't guaranteed, I get it.  I do practice what I preach, but c'mon. There is so much change going on sometimes it's hard to keep up.  It's times like this that I have no patience for people's belly aching...(that's what my mom used to call it when people whined and complained).  I get it, life can be tough, shit happens, but for the love of God there are people with REAL stuff going on.  Even with everything I've described I know there are people suffering way more than what's going on in my world.  That's why I always count the blessings and they always far outweigh the sorrows.  I'm blessed in SO many ways.  And when I start to get that overwhelming feeling of sadness or loss I remind myself of that.  

I had a conversation with my youngest son last week about being happy in the moment.  I think I'm getting through to him.  I wasted so many moments thinking about the next, if I can help anyone change that way of thinking I want to.  Every day for the last almost 5 months I have had a heart full of happiness and joy and love.  Even with all the awful things I just described to you I am happy every day.  Sometimes, I almost feel guilty being THIS happy with all the crap that's going on around me. But then I realize I've waited 51 years to be this happy and I am not going to waste a single second of it.  I'm going to live every moment of this crazy life to the fullest and find the blessings and joy in every day.   The man responsible for this joy in my life told me one day during all of this that "it's just a bad day, not a bad life".....so true.    The difference between this year and last year is him.  Having someone by your side who loves you unconditionally and supports you not matter what is the greatest gift I've ever received.  And with him by my side I will face this next chapter in life and continue to find the blessings in every moment.  Because when all is said and done.....it's just a day in the life.......