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Benjamin Franklin on being dismayed that the bald eagle was selected as the national bird:

For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison to the Bald Eagle a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”
Sometime last winter I noticed them. The four Tom Turkeys waddling across the snow.

I had bird feeders out and they would stop and peck at the snow beneath the feeders.

Michael had just become bedridden and I stationed the hospital bed by the French Doors in the family room so he could see them. I also hung bird feeders by the windows and doors so he could see them.

I know they were around the year before.

For some reason I was working at home a lot in the winter of 2007-2008 and we took a lot of pictures of the birds including cardinals in the snow and a funny one that was published on lolcats.


Every day Michael and I would make lunch and then spend some time every afternoon taking some pictures of the birds and the cats watching the birds.

We called it Cat TV.

My kids started to call me the crazy bird lady but Michael thought it was really funny. He didn’t particularly appreciate “bird seed” being added to the weekly grocery list but he “got” it.

We saw a few wild turkeys and Michael loved when they would take off down the hill with their wings spread. He loved to watch them take off down the hill.

One day one jumped on the railing of the deck and Goobies eyes grew wide as if that was the biggest damn bird he’d ever seen. Lils headed under the couch. Michael and I laughed and Michael said to Goobies, “oh big bad cat you are…that turkey scared you!”

We have five acres on a river. And there are about 2 acres on the house site (lawn) and 3 wooded acres in the back down to the river. I bought the house because of the river, for Michael to fish in. Being a city person I tried to amuse myself with some things in the country and feeding the animals became one of those things.

Last year I went even crazier with the bird feeders so that Michael could see them from every room whether he was bedridden or in the wheelchair. And I scattered seed going from the back to the front of the house so that the turkeys and deer and other animals would pass right by the windows and French doors for Michael to see.


I knew he enjoyed seeing the animals and I spent some time repositioning the feeders, the bed, pulling up the blinds….doing what I could so he could see the outside world brimming with life and activity.
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I try to go through the stuff in the garage and basement just a bit at a time. It’s always hard. I always cry. Every single time. Because Michael packed everything and his packing was sometimes just so funny.

But other times I’m just very surprised what I come upon.

As I said he was a pack rat. And as I said to the kids, if I had gone instead of him, he would have just put all my stuff in a box and carried it around with him the rest of his life, probably never looking at it. They all nodded. That is exactly what he would have done.

This past weekend I opened a box that had Michael’s original birth certificate, his baptism, communion and confirmation certificates. ALL of his report cards and his first social security card. When I say he kept everything, he kept everything.

I sat at the table reading through his report cards. They scream ADHD which was not diagnosed at the time. Inattentive, conduct, would rather play than work. From 1st to 11th grade he had “inattentive” on every single marking period of every single report card.

He stayed back in the 4th grade due to “inattentiveness.”

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I didn’t think I would have as hard a time with my birthday/anniversary as I am having. But I am.

I scanned some photos in from a frame we had hanging in the bedroom since we were first married. These photos are all in the same frame with some others but I can’t fit the entire frame on the scanner. They didn’t come out that well through the glass, but I just wanted to post it.

The first one is the view of Central Park from our suite, the second is our invitation and the third is the requisite first kiss at the wedding dinner.

I’m not even quite sure why I’m posting these.

I think just to commemorate one of the happiest days of my life and the beginning of the happiest years of my life.

If I knew on my wedding day what I know now and how it was all going to turn out….

….I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.


I love you hunny. Thank you for the most wonderful years of my life.

I MISS YOU SO MUCH.


I met Michael in June and two weeks later we were engaged. It was crazy fast and all of our friends were stupefied. Both of us said “never again” to both a serious relationship and/or marriage. And there we were.

I’ve often described meeting Michael as if you were walking down the street and a complete stranger fell in step with you and you both went the same way down the same streets and it was as if you were walking that way your entire lives. As if nothing out of the ordinary just happened. As if you were now walking with your best friend and you trusted this person completely and without words, you just knew. you knew.

Yeah, it was like that.

We looked for a house that summer (where I lived because I wasn’t moving my kids) and we bought one and moved in September. We were supposed to get married in the spring and we had talked about venues and guests and all that.
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http://www.brainlife.org

I know I haven’t posted in a while….I haven’t had many tear-free days but I did step up in my support group and volunteer for some things. I like to sit back for a while and observe and then if I’m going to stick around (if it’s healthy), I will step up…which I did.

It was a nice weekend and Nick came down and helped with some stuff around the house. We were looking for some things in the basement yesterday and ran across these coffee cans that were full of pennies. I thought my goodness, how many times did Michael move these pennies (these were OLD coffee cans)?

We’ve lived in 4 different houses in 4 different parts of the country and I will bet anything these pennies saw every single one. As I’ve said, I have never gone through his stuff so I had no idea what was down there. We took the pennies to CoinStar and there was $80.00 in pennies. EIGHTY DOLLARS. IN PENNIES.. That’s a lot of pennies.

We went out to dinner with the money…I’m sure Michael would have not approved of us cashing in his pennies, but he would have approved of dinner (steaks).

I also posted on a machinist site to get a sense of what to do with his tools and some of the guys were saying that they were re-thinking their garages and basements because if they passed, their poor wives would be left with this giant mess. But they were really nice and gave me some good pointers as to how to tell what to keep, what to sell and what to throw out.

Some days it seems like I need to go through it and become familiar with it so I know what to do with it. Other days I can’t bear to touch any of it. Sometimes I go downstairs and see that we’re de-constructing the space that was his and I get so sad and can’t bear to do it.
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Some mornings I wake up crying as if I was crying in my sleep. I hate those days. And some nights I cry myself to sleep. I hate those nights.

And some days I feel pretty good and then all of a sudden I can’t get through a sentence or see some random thing on television without crying.

I was watching Craig Ferguson the other night and Reba McIntyre was on singing “Consider me gone” a song I’d never heard before and I was sitting there listening (I’m not a big fan of country music but I like Reba a lot whenever I do see her), and I was enjoying the performance (she’s really good) and then the chorus goes:

If I’m not the one thing you can’t stand to lose
If I’m not that arrow to the heart of you
If you don’t get drunk on my kiss
If you think you can do better than this then I guess we’re done

And I just burst into tears because I was that one for Michael.

And so there I am crying when I started out watching a show I thoroughly enjoy that makes me laugh out loud (I LOVE Craig Ferguson). Part of me thought, “Oh my goodness…could I have a day, just one day, where something doesn’t upend me like this?”

****

Many years ago I used to spend a lot of time trying hard to not do things like drinking or smoking. I would journal “Did not smoke today.” “Did not drink today.”

Well it’s been 22 years since I’ve had a drink and 11 years since I had a cigarette. So for most of the past 10 years or so I didn’t have to count my days against what I didn’t do. It’s been a long, long time since I was obsessed with not doing something. Because I’ve been pretty happy and in control and not battling a lot of demons or temptations.

But today I noticed a thing I didn’t do.

I didn’t cry today.

I have these days sometimes where I’m just sick of it. I know it’s part of the process but some days I feel like “Okay this is ENOUGH right now.”

I thought that after the first few weeks after Michael died I wouldn’t just be sitting somewhere and well up with tears. And I STILL do that. In public. Randomly. Without being able to hold it back.

And then today I just noticed that I wasn’t feeling close to tears at all, as I am many days. I know it’s just a reprieve but I’ll take it when I can get it.

****

Tonight I’m going to listen to Stephen and Ondrea Levine’s Grief as I fall asleep.

I never seem to get past the meditation which is right in the beginning, but I think that my brain is somehow hearing it while I sleep.

So for today I didn’t cry.

I’m going to listen to the audio and see what happens.

Please join up if you’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I hope to get a team together for next year’s event!

http://www.braintumorcommunity.org/site/PageServer?pagename=BTW_TX_Homepage

Please feel free to send me your event information for brain cancer or brain tumors. I will post it!

I’ve talked on GPYP for almost 3 years now about the gift of desperation that just drives you to chase recovery.

When I was feeling desperate 22 years ago I chased it and chased it and chased it. Because I was desperate to get well, to get better, to get over it, to get on with my life. Great things happened from that great desperation.

And tonight I was feeling the same….desperate.

Alone again tonight.

Just really missing Michael.

Couple of hysterical crying jags today. Very deep sobbing…feelings of “Oh my G-d, I am never getting over this.” Which is a feeling that comes and goes.

Other times, when I’m feeling stronger, I think yes, I will come out stronger, better, happier.

And some days, like today, I think I am going to feel like this forever. And I know it’s a cycle.

But when you’re there, it’s just so hard to imagine the better times you know will be there.

Grief is somewhat predictable but when you’re in one part you almost can’t imagine that there is any other part.

So after sitting there for what seemed hours, and not feeling able to get my act together enough to get off the couch let alone get out of the house, I decide to find a 12-step meeting. Pick one. Any one. The first one I can find in any program that’s within a half hour driving time and about to start in the next hour. Something that ends in Anonymous. I don’t care if it’s Pistachio Nut Eaters Anonymous, I’m going. Somewhere. Anywhere.

So I find one that’s starting within the hour.

It’s a bit of a hike, but I can’t sit here alone tonight.

But it’s pouring rain and I figure with the World Series and Halloween and Saturday night probably not a big turnout at the meeting. I like big meetings when I’m going for the first time. Not many notice you when you get there, which is fine by me because I just wanted to dip in and dip out.

So I drive over there and I pull in and there are like 5 cars in the parking lot. I sit and look for a minute and think I’m going home, this is not a big group at all. I am not going to be able to just fade into the woodwork. Do I stay or do I go?
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