Saturday, January 30, 2010

Single parenting while sick...

I will start out telling you that I am much better. Still not 100%, but getting closer. For the last 2 weeks, I was sick on and off, where off means Tylenol and Advil performed their intended function, with a cold which gave birth to a cough which gave birth to a sore throat which gave birth to an achy body which gave birth to clogged ears and an inability to breathe like a human being is meant to breathe. And the good news of all that is that at least SOME PART of me is able to give birth. I tried to ride it out, thinking it was just a cold, but after 11 days and being asked by everyone in my life to repeat what I was saying no less than 3 times because they could not hear me while I felt like I was screaming, I went to the dr. and got some Zpac. Within 24 hours, I began to feel better. It has been 48 hours now and I am feeling EVEN better.

It was really difficult these last two weeks not feeling well, but still being the only parent to care for the boyz. They are getting older and don't require as much help. They dress themselves. They put away their own laundry after being told only 15 times to do so. They can start and finish their own showers after being told only 11 times to do so. They can make their own breakfast and put their own dishes in the sink - sometimes even the dishwasher. BUT, they cannot do their own homework. They cannot make their own dinner. They cannot make it to the bus on time without someone assisting them with lunches, backpack packing, and time monitoring. They would leave the house dressed for 50 degrees when it is in the single digits. They cannot practice their spelling words without someone assisting them. They would not read unless someone encouraged them to do so and listened to them do it. They cannot take themselves to and from their extracurricular activities.

So, as you can see, regardless how I feel, there are still things that require adult interaction in the home. Being the only adult in this home, the process of elimination is quite simple.

I rarely get sick. Or if I do, it is usually something minor like seasonal allergies or a pesky cold that doesn't really affect much of my everyday life except my dignity with the constant nose blowing. This was the first time I have been sick for more than a day or two since Brian died.

I cannot tell you how much I missed Brian these past two weeks. The mere thought each day as 3:00 would draw closer knowing the boyz were coming home filled me with dread. I hate that I felt that way, but I did. Knowing that the responsibilities were still there with no one to share in them was such a daunting thought. There was no one to help with dinner and no one to help with homework or to arrange many of the boyz' rides and schedules for their activities or to help with the laundry that was piling up or to tuck them in at night - knowing all those things were still left for me had me in tears a couple of times this week. I hate those moments because I really am a strong person. Physical weakness begets emotional weakness sometimes, too.

Also, I missed knowing someone was available to take care of ME. I know how selfish that sounds. I missed knowing that Brian would walk in that door, do his best to take the reigns and still have enough in his tank to just BE with me if I wanted it. I missed knowing that he would come home, see me in all my chapped, congested, hacking horror, still LOVE me and make sure I KNEW IT. WOW, how I missed that comfort - that PRESUMED love.

So, it hasn't been a great couple of weeks.

  • Gavin did the worst on this spelling test than he has ever done.
  • I think Grant spent more time in his room in time-out these past 2 weeks than in the past year. I don't have enough hindsight clarity to determine if that was because I was not feeling well and lacked patience or if it was because he knew I wasn't feeling well and tried my patience.
  • Both boyz lost screen and snack privileges just about every day this week due to attitudes and fighting. (See above comment regarding hindsight clarity again.)
  • We were late to every single appointment and activity they were part of this week. Or frantically rushing to be on time. (Actually, that isn't a stretch from a normal day.)

I feel like I failed the boyz a bit. I also know we will survive. If I have learned nothing else the last 13 years, it is that I am a survivor. It is just strange how difficult it feels to survive when one is fighting health issues and just doesn't feel like it.

It is in that realization that I cannnot comprehend how Brian maintained his attitude and good-nature all those years - how he believed in his survival as his body failed him over and over, how he always reserved some of himself for others around him - for me, the boyz, his family, his friends, his work. Truly, as I fought to control my own emotions this last week, I was ONCE AGAIN amazed at the character of that man.

Maybe that is the greatest lesson in all this.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

further proof that I look good in pink...

I'm telling you, I SOOOO could have done girls! I look GOOD with all this pink on me:

me and my newest god-daughter:

me and a cousin's baby girl:

me and MaHannah:

Me and all the BAER girls:

Me and McKenna:

But I think I will just be content with dressing in pink and adorning myself with these little jewels:

They make me look good even with no makeup and bedhead on Christmas morning.

Friday, January 22, 2010

explaining heaven to kids and other kid grief issues

The most difficult challenge associated with Brian's death is undoubtedly handling the boyz' fears, frustrations and curiosity.

The frustrations come and go. When I notice that Grant seems to be "in a mood" and slightly destructive, it may take me a few days, but eventually, I come to my senses and realize maybe he is missing Daddy a bit more than I had assumed. We talk about Brian some to see if this is the underlying cause. Honestly, it never surfaces that it is or isn't the cause with Grant. He simply doesn't talk about it too much. He also doesn't like to see my cry anymore, which I rarely do anyway. He walks away to his room and hides under his covers. I have to sweet talk him out of his retreat explaining that it is okay for Mommy to cry some because I loved Daddy so much and some things just remind me of him.

This happened when we watched UP a couple weeks ago. Thank you so much to my friends for recommending I NOT see that movie over the summer when it was released. Still, it felt quite refreshing to have a full-throttle sob as I watched Carl, (spoiler alert) the main grumpy crotchety character, release those cumbersome house-toting balloons knowing that was his PAST and realize that acknowledging the present was WAY more honoring to his late wife. I identify with sad widows overcoming their grief opening a path to a new FREE self all too well, even in cartoon form.

But, I digress.

Grant, for the first time, had issues with my tears rather than smothering me with kisses and offering me tissues. The thing is, Grant doesn't miss Brian too much. He was relieved to see, what he perceived to be, Brian's suffering gone. If you ask Grant if he misses Daddy, he will tell you no. I think he does and I think he misses having a Daddy PERIOD, but his frustrations are hard to identify because of his lack of verbal communication.

Gavin, on the other hand, is a whole other challenge. Gavin is VERBAL. Always has been. He will debate a topic to no end convincing me that some day he will be a lawyer or a politician. Since Brian died, Gavin will occasionally bring up the subject of Daddy coming alive again. The conversations usually go something like this one did last week:

Gavin: Mom, what if Dad could move?
Me: What do you mean move?
Gavin: What if Jesus made Daddy's body move again?
Me: Why would Jesus want Daddy's body to move again? We buried Daddy, remember?
Gavin: No, what if Jesus made Daddy's body move and made him alive again?
Me: Jesus wouldn't do that, Sweetie.
Gavin: No, he could. Jesus can do anything.
Me: Yes, He can, but Jesus is glad Daddy is in heaven with Him.
Gavin: Yeah, but Jesus could let Dad come back and be with us.
Me: Daddy wouldn't want to leave heaven, Bud.
Gavin: Daddy wouldn't WANT to come back and be with us? I think he would.
Me: Gavin, once you are in heaven, there isn't anymore sadness or things that make you feel bad. Daddy can't miss us in heaven because feelings like that don't exist there. You don't miss anything in heaven. It is perfect. We can't understand it. I don't understand it. But that is why we all want to get there some day.
Gavin: I think Dad wants to come back to play with us.
Me: I can see why you would think that. If heaven wasn't perfect, he would. The best thing we can do is to keep trusting Jesus to take care of us now and to get to heaven some day ourselves.

It breaks my heart into 10,000 pieces to know Gavin holds tight to the idea that Daddy could come back to life. Do you have any idea how hard it is to explain the concept of heaven to a little boy that just wants his Daddy? How do you explain to a little, literal-interpreting mind the concept of something that NO earthly mind can comprehend, trying to make heaven sound so great when I don't get it myself? Try explaining my little boyz that heaven is so great their daddy wouldn't want to come back and they, too, want to get there someday, but just NOT RIGHT NOW. It is impossible.

Or, at the very least, it is challenging.

I do my best.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

what's wrong with me?

I am beginning to think something must be wrong with me. When I look back and think about my loss of my beloved Brian, I am not overwhelmed with sorrow. In fact, when I reminisce as I did this past weekend with relatives about what happened this week last year - which was when Brian began showing increasing signs of confusion and loss of balance and we made the transition from fighting to live to preparing to die - I didn't even cry. When I shared with my family and friends some details regarding the boyz' struggles and issues, I didn't even tear up. My loved ones did. I didn't.

I can't help but wonder what is wrong with me. How could I be so cold? I can't help but wonder if THEY wonder what is wrong with me. "How could she be so unfeeling? It hasn't even been a year."

Or could it be that I live with this emptiness every day? Could it be that I am farther in my grief process because the loss of Brian was such a sharp contrast to my everyday living, therefore forcing me to accept faster in order to carry forward effectively? Could it be that when others see me they are instantly reminded of Brian causing them to face some emotions they don't feel on an everyday basis because Brian's absence didn't affect their everyday living? Or could it be that I am suppressing my own grief?

What bothers me the most is that given the awesome marriage I had to Brian, given the amazing mutually satisfying relationship we shared, my loss is immense. Shouldn't the proportion of that loss drive my despair? Or could it be because of our healthy, loving, respectful connection, I feel equipped to move on easier? Could it be that the love Brian and I shared for each other and for our God outfitted me with the ability to peacefully and happily reflect upon my life with Brian as a blessing that will guide my future rather than mourn what will never be? Could it be that I absorbed a portion Brian's infectious positive attitude choosing happiness and contentment right now rather than more sadness and guilt?

I don't know the answer.

What I do know is that some days I feel badly for not being more emotional over my loss.

Some days I don't.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dad's birthday card letter

What my Dad got for his birthday this year...

Dear Dad,

Happy Birthday, you old fart!

Wondering why you get a letter this year instead of a card? Or, knowing you, you probably didn’t even notice!

I was looking through the birthday cards for dads in the card deparment the other day. It was the first time since Brian’s death that I had been in the “Dad” section. I could not stop thinking about how my boyz will never buy a birthday card for their dad. Each one of those sentimental cards stating “Dad, you’ve always been there for me” or each card that mentioned the practicality of a Dad who fixed things or each card that humorously pointed out Dad’s aptitude at handling the remote control and taking a nap – each and every one made me realize how much my boyz are missing in their lives. I tried to hold it together and look away, only to see the section “to my Husband, on his Birthday.” I had to leave the card department and I cried for the next few minutes.

So, YOU GET A BIRTHDAY LETTER THIS YEAR and every year until I have the emotional stability to handle that section of the card department again.

I think it is in having a great dad like you that I realize how much my boyz are missing. In reading those cards and nodding yes to so many of the statements, I felt such admiration for my own dad, thus such despair for their loss.

Dad, I love you dearly. You drive me nuts sometimes, but I value you. I love you. I respect you. I appreciate you.

I pray my verbalizing that on your birthday will give you great comfort and pride every day of the year.



Friday, January 8, 2010

MaHannie, get your...

This is my boyz on Christmas morning:

This is my boyz two days later when it finally stopped snowing:

So, the fact that these pictures also occupy my memory card should really not be surprising:

(That's MaHannah)