Saturday, February 27, 2010

Making sense of a situation

A few weeks ago, during a conference with Grant’s teacher, I learned that Grant had failed a hearing screening at school. Not waiting for the official notification from those that performed the hearing screening, I took him to the pediatrician and discovered he had an ear infection, which was a likely cause for the hearing loss. After two weeks of antibiotics and an ear re-check, the pediatrician decided the infection looked relatively cleared up, but recommended a hearing screening again.

On Tuesday I received a call from pre-registration to get Grant registered for his appointment the next day. This was the first I heard of the appointment, so I had no time to think about the appointment and its location, which was probably for the best. On Wednesday, we headed out to Grant’s audiology screening.

At OSF-St. Francis Medical Center.

As we walked the corridors of the hospital getting to the appropriate elevator, it dawned on me this was the first time I had entered OSF-St. Francis since March 17, 2009. I scanned my memory quickly, thinking SURELY there was a time or reason when I had been there in the last 11 months. Nope. First time since March 17, 2009.

And since THAT wasn’t enough, the audiology group performing the test was on the 6th floor of the Illinois Neurological Institute just one floor away from where Brian had his last surgery and hospital stay in which he left the hospital ALIVE.

And since THAT wasn’t enough, Grant had to use the bathroom just outside the secured entrance to the Children’s Hospital wing where Gavin spent 3 days and nights just one day after Brian’s last hospital stay in which he left ALIVE.

And since THAT wasn’t enough, as we sat in the waiting room listening for Grant’s name to be called, I glanced out the window and peered directly into the building across the street – the one where Brian died. Not just the building, but exactly the ROOM in which Brian breathed his last breath. Birds-eye view.

And because I was completely caught up in the flooding of memories, I was giving a commentary of the events that unfolded on all three of those events to my audience.

Which was my 6-year-old son.

Yeah, really smart.

I even pointed out the room to Grant. He cleverly acknowledged that I had just minutes ago as we were walking the hallways audibly said, “I haven’t been here since Daddy died. He died in his hospital” and that building was across the street, so not part of this hospital.

I explained there is an underground tunnel system leading over to that building and it took us a long time to get there. He said he wanted to go see the tunnel system and walk through it. I said, no he didn’t and it took a long time and was confusing. He asked if Daddy walked over there.

Being a complete and total idiot, I kind of huffed and said, “No, sweetie, daddy was totally unconscious. he couldn’t walk at all.”

Then I looked down into his eyes.

And it was in THAT EXACT MOMENT that I realized what the hell I was doing and who my audience was. Holy Crap! I saw the look on his face as he tried to visualize the events of that day even though he was in St. Louis when it was all happening. I didn’t want him to visualize that in his tender little 6-year-old fatherless life.

So, I tried to smooth it over. “Daddy got to ride on one of those cool beds with wheels. We all had to walk but he got a ride. And sometimes it went pretty fast because there were kind of hills in the halls.”

“Mom, You shoulda hopped on and rode with Dad.”

“Yeah, I wish I would have thought of that. That would have been fun.”

We were called soon after that. He is still showing some signs of hearing loss in both ears. Minor and probably reversible. He also has pressure on his eardrums signaling he is either still recuperating from his ear infection or on the verge of another, which could be the cause. Regardless, it entails an additional trip to the pediatrician for another ear check and an additional hearing screening.

Anyway, on our way out of the hospital, Grant got to choose a snack at the gift shop or Spotted Cow ice cream. He chose the gift shop. He had been lobbying for gum earlier, so I assumed he would want gum and I was even willing to buy Hubba Bubba. Instead, he chose a Snickers. Grant rarely chooses anything chocolate so I was surprised at his choice and as I was paying he looked at me and said, “Mom, that was Dad’s favorite candy bar, wasn’t it?”

“It sure was, Buddy. He said it was the perfect candy bar because it had the caramel and the chocolate and the nougat AND the peanuts. You made a good choice.”

And it was in THAT EXACT MOMENT that I made some sense of the situation. Because I am ALWAYS trying to make sense of situations like these.

You see, as that flood-gate of memories opened and my mind raced with so many events I had lived and survived during the fall and winter of last year, as I glanced out that window peering into the room where I lay on Brian’s chest unknowing he was an hour from death, as I walked those halls audibly recapping the events of those months, I didn’t shed one tear. Not a single tear. I felt weird being at the hospital for a reason other than Brian’s cancer. I didn’t like sitting in the waiting room as I remembered so many times silently holding Brian’s hand knowing we were getting test results and any idle chatter just meant we were both nervous. Silence was best at those moments.  Yet even in the midst all that, I don’t even know that I felt particularly sad. Just strange.

I felt like I should be sad. I felt like I should cry, but there was no sadness for me.

But, since I had foolishly etched all these images into my baby boy’s mind now, I could see the impact on him and my heart swelled with sadness for him. I could see that as the anniversary of Brian’s death approaches and as everyone’s memories are flooded with “this time last year” thoughts, I need to be sensitive and aware of the effect on those that love(d) Brian so dearly. I need to be watchful of my children.

Because as I move on with my life as we are all forced to in some way or another, Brian’s death isn’t such a huge loss to me anymore. Oh my, that sounds so harsh! It IS because I have had to completely readjust my life for his absence, but at the same time it isn’t because the next phase for ME is kind of exciting. (and selfish)

No, I didn’t feel sadness and tears for myself, but as I looked at my little boy eating his Daddy’s favorite candy bar just across the street from the room where his Daddy took his last breath 11 months prior, I remembered the magnitude of HIS loss.

I need to be sensitive that there are two little boys who no longer have a Dad. There are two parents that lost their son. There are two grown men that lost their brother.

That is irreplaceable.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

those boyz of mine...

It is becoming increasingly difficult to write things on this blog at times. I lack inspiration. Brian gave me some pretty amazing material with his constant inspirational attitude and demeanor despite his circumstances. Strange things have been happening in my life, which I refer to as the "widow phenomenon," but I can't really write about them because they are very personal and involve some that read this blog. I have a boyfriend, but I don't wanna write about that yet because, once again?  personal. We'll see where it goes...maybe someday... So, I will write about the boyz and some funny things they have been up to.

Yesterday, Grant was explaining to me how a second grade girl has been bullying him by calling him names and taunting him.
Me: Grant, do you know why she is doing that to you?
Grant: Because she is mean.
Me: No, because she likes you.
Grant: She hates me. She always calls me loser.
Me: No, girls do things like that when they like a boy.
Grant: Are girls' brains stupid or something?
Me: Well, we can do pretty silly things to get the attention of a boy we like.
Grant: How do you know?
Me: I hate that I have to remind you so often, but I AM a girl.
Gavin: Did you bully Daddy?
Me: Well, not exactly, but I wasn't always nice. Neither was he.
Gavin: Did you call him loser and chase him and throw snowballs at him?
Me: No, but I sometimes acted like I didn't care or would ignore him and stuff like that to see if he would like me and come after me. They usually didn't work on your Dad.
Gavin: No mom, you should have done this: You go up to someone. You say, "Your shoes are cool," then you walk away and they will come after you.
Me: Girls are supposed to tell boys their shoes are cool and walk away??
Grant: Yes, Mom. It really works.
Me: I didn't know that secret. Are you sure it isn't boys that are supposed to tell girls their shoes are cool?
Gavin: Mom, it doesn't matter. You just go up to someone and say, "your shoes are cool," and walk away. It will totally work every time.
Me: Did you learn this on ICarly?
Grant: No.
Me: Drake and Josh?
Gavin: Yes. It works.

We spent the next few minutes with my boys complimenting my socks because I wasn't wearing shoes and casually walking away and my chasing after them to get their attention. I got a few kisses out of the charade, so it was worth it. I fear their humiliation some day when they try it for real.

(monster truck rally)

Grant barged back in the house in this morning as the bus was approaching the corner frantically crying.

Me: What's the matter?
Grant: I can't find my backpack?
Me: (glancing him up and down) Did you check your back?

He laughed, thanked me, kissed me again and ran off to the bus stop.

If only all their problems were so easy to solve!


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

a letter to my boyz regarding AIM

Dear Gavin and Grant,

You are capable of catching a 9" circumference baseball in a glove opening less than 8" wide.

You are proficient at banging an 8" circumference tennis ball with a 10" racket in the front driveway.

You are adept at knocking the cover off a 9" circumference baseball with an 8" circumference baseball bat when thrown at you from over 30 feet away.

You can swish a basketball 27 inches in circumference into a hoop only a few inches larger 8 feet in the air.

Heck, you are talented enough to hit an aluminum can less than 8" tall with a 6mm bb from a gun over 20 feet away.



Friday, February 12, 2010


Dear Brian,

I visited the cemetery a couple weeks ago. Been thinking about you and wanted to go to the place we decided to bury you for a couple minutes of quiet (very cold and wet) time.

I hate it there.

I'm sorry.

I hope this feeling won't last much longer.

You see, I can't get past knowing your body is lying 6 feet underground there where I stand. Instead of standing, sitting, walking or kneeling and fondly remembering you, I just can't get past the thought of your BODY entombed below. I feel like I can see you through the soil.
I cannot escape the thought that the same arms that hugged me each evening when you arrived home and held me each night before I wriggled away to my comfort zone for peaceful sleep are in that casket below.

The same fingers and hand that reflexively intertwined with mine are now forever still beneath that frozen tundra.

The same bow legs and feet that shuffled through life those last two years as you lost your ability to move around easily are immobile under that snow.

The same mouth that formed every word and smile, the same tongue that performed many stupid human tricks, the same voice that comforted, consoled, gently critiqued and encouraged everyone around you are now eerily silent just under my feet.

While the grief and the pain of losing you are much easier, the cemetery just makes me think of your body.

I can't get past it when I am there.

I can barely fight the urge to start digging just to see you, which I realize is incredibly warped.

I pray that one day soon, it will become the comforting spot I intended - a spot to remember you peacefully and fondly.

(pictures taken on a warm September day)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Haven't had the time or energy to blog lately for various reasons.

The most dominant reason being this:

Those aren't actually my tonsils. Those are the closest things I could find that matched mine in google images for tonsillitis. I tried to take a picture of my tonsils, but my camera won't focus on them. My tonsils are even larger and whiter and have looked that that since Saturday morning. And nothing is helping them, including the antibiotic I am taking. And every time I even swallow my own saliva it feels like there are razor blades mixed in with it. And my entire body aches. And I am being sustained soley on hot tea and popcicles. And I am taking more Tylenol and Advil than I thought would be allowed by law. And I am negative for Strep, negative for Mono, and negative for influenza. SOOO, It is likely a virus that I have to ride out. While I ride this out, you will not be hearing from me.

Thanking God for friends that are watching my kids, for inlaws that helped me last night and for my mommy who is coming tomorrow. I just want my mom.


Monday, February 1, 2010

As told in pictures - Pinewood Derby

Pack 254 pinewood derby.

As instructed, we arrived an hour before the race time to register. Actually, we were intentionally 15 mnutes late, because this seasoned mom knows too much time before the structured and organized activity begins coupled with nearly fifty 6-11 years old boys yields too much opportunity for wall-climbing. Which is exactly what they did:

Waiting for the race:

Announcing the race:
Some are more enthused to pose for pictures:

Than others:

Race time:

Obligatory Mommy and me pose:
Waiting at the finish line:

Obligatory Mommy and Me pose take 2:
Again waiting at the finish line:
The results:

Some are more pleased: (1st place of 2nd graders)
Than others: (didn't place for 1st graders)

Fear not, Grant, other's share your sentiments:

The real designer and engineer behind the cars, the hero to some and the goat to others (I'll let you use your deductive reasoning to determine which child currently thinks he is a hero and which thinks he is a goat.)
POP-O!! (Daddy's Dad)

It was one of the first events in which the boyz have ever participated that didn't have participation trophies or ribbons - you know, every child gets an award just for showing up or signing up or paying dues. I hate participation awards. I think this was a great lesson. I am just sad that while one of my boyz  learned the glory part, the other learned the heartache part. Especially for something over which they had little control - pinewood derby is a DAD thing. In consoling Grant, I was explained that had Gavin been in 1st grade, his car would not have placed. The first grade cars had some STIFF competition. Grant just knows he walked home with the same car he arrived with while Gavin also left toting a trophy. That's all that matters to him.