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Monday, October 17, 2016

Cooking With Pinot Noir

Funny how nostalgia hits late at night over something as silly as a meal you haven't prepared in years.  All at once you find yourself sad for reasons you don't fully understand.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Guilty By Survival

So when you travel for work, you have a lot of time in the car to think.  What I figured out today  is why I hate my birthday so much since Cory died.  Obviously, you're a bit less apt to break out the balloons and streamers when your kid is dead and in the ground; that party spirit just isn't there anymore, at least it isn't for me.  But I think it's more than that.

I turned 43 a few days ago.  I didn't want a special dinner or a cake.  I just wanted to sneak it past with as little fanfare as possible.  Why?  Survivor guilt, of course.  What right do I have to live to be 43 when Cory died at 19.  Nineteen.  I was nineteen when I had her for Pete's sake.  How do I deserve to keep going when she didn't get to?

If Cory had been the one to live, she might've met a man who would love her and care for her, create some stability, be her anchor- show her that some men can be trusted and depended on.  She may have made much better choices for herself than I have and ended up with a healthy, kind, patient man who would be content to sit on a porch swing, holding her hand and watching the corn grow.   She may have had a career that challenged her and made her feel like she was contributing something to the world.  She may have had children and actually kept them alive.  She should've had twenty four more years to do all of that or none of it, but something, anything, just to be here breathing, loving and being loved- she deserved that.

And she would've had that if...
I had went to the stupid store myself.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know:   I "couldn't possibly have foreseen what would happen and made the best possible decision at the time with the information available".  That's what I'm supposed to think and say.  But it doesn't really wash- not in my heart. One different decision on my part could've given her an education, a career, a marriage, a family.  One split second decision could've given her those twenty four years.
 "Hey, Cory, keep an eye on your brother, I'm running to the store for chili powder."

These thoughts run through my mind a lot.  My birthday just makes the fact that I put my life before my child's public knowledge.  Cause here I am another year.  And here she isn't.  Hey look everyone, I killed my kid and lived to tell about it.

I can't believe I fucked it all up in the end.  But I did.  Man, did I ever.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Call Me Maybe

This grief is a sneaky thing.  And, I've found, it often plays dirty, kicking you when you are low.  If I'm stressed or physically not feeling well, chances are, a grief attack will happen, just like it did tonight.

I've been fighting one of those awful early fall head colds all work week, downing sinus tabs, lugging a box of the good kleenex with me on my commute, and forcing myself to go in when I'd much rather be in bed in a ball under the covers with a hot cup of tea on the nightstand.  Today I was able to sleep in and then just lounge around, nursing my symptoms.  I made it through the day okay, distracting myself with Jake, Netflix, and the cuddling company of my dog, Winston.  I decided despite all the rest I'd gotten through the day, turning in early was a good idea, because Monday morning will be here all too soon.

Just as I laid my head down on the pillow, Grief barged right into my settling-down-for-the-night thoughts.  Hey, do you remember how Cory used to call you all the time when you were at work?

Yeah, I sure do.  She'd call to let me know she was home from school.  Then later on when she was being home-based, she'd usually call a couple of times on any given day.  She'd call to let me know Jake was home safe.  She'd call sometimes to ask a question or just say she loved me.  Sometimes she called because she was scared, or she wouldn't come right out and say she was scared, but I could tell she must be because she was obviously anxious and needed to know exactly when I'd be home.

I got so caught up recalling all these different variations that I could hear her voice in my mind, and that's when the tears started rolling down my cheeks.  About that time Depression with all its self-loathing and guilt piped up with this:  Remember that one time you had to tell her to make sure not to call too much when you were at work because you might get in trouble.  Now she'll never call you again.  You will never hear her voice ever again.

Panic sets in.  I will never hear her voice again.  And did I hurt her feelings when I told her to call me only if it was really important?  Did I make her feel unwanted?  Did she die thinking I didn't love her as much as she needed to be loved?  What kind of mother was I?

Grief attack.  Nick down.

Monday, September 26, 2016

More Growing Pains

So Jake is now five foot five, which is one inch taller than Cory was.  It boggles the mind.  I guess it would have been a little funny anyways if she were still here to see him standing taller than her, the same way I feel to be eye to eye with him.  How in the world did that happen? 

 But with her gone, it feels less funny and more sad.  It feels like a time warp, in which your oldest child who'd grown to her fullest height stopped existing before she could see her brother catch up to her or possibly even pass her up.  In a moment, your youngest child becomes your oldest living child, which never feels right, and feels more and more wrong the older he gets and the closer he gets to the age she was when she died.  How can this be?  What strange, horrible new world is this?

And you don't get to be amazed together to see the little baby Jacob who'd really belonged to you both since day one change into a young man right before your eyes. It's not the same when you can't share it with that little mother hen who loved him so dearly...when you can't say, oh my God, Cory, do you remember when he... and.... and...?

And while she was as tall as she'd ever be, you don't get to see her face subtly aging, her stance become a bit more confident, her mannerisms remaining  wholeheartedly Cory-Girl yet beginning to resemble those of a twenty-something young woman instead of a teen.

It will never feel right to live in a world without her.  Nothing that brings joy, even watching my second child grow, remains untainted by the gnawing pain of her absence.  

I still hate my Cory-less world.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Little Rant, A Little Rave

And the thoughts come fast, fast, fast...same as ever, they never change- "How did this happen?  What did I do wrong?"

While Jake is taking a post-dinner nap, having told me all about his fifth day of high school, I am free to root through pics of Cory and cry silently without making him worry for me.  I stopped to see her twice today- once on the way to work and once on the way home, and I still...STILL...can't reconcile my beautiful girl with that place in the ground.  That second time, on the way home, I had to kneel in front of her and just beg her forgiveness.  I'm so sorry, Cory!  I'm so sorry!!  I should've gone to the store.  I depended on you too much.  It was my responsibility.

See?  Lots of other people still have their girls.  I screwed it all up.

It isn't fair!  And while I can forgive the people who did her wrong while she was alive, I find I'm still not a big enough person to forgive the one who took her life...although that apology has never been offered and probably never will be.  Sometimes you don't get that apology that you think you rightfully deserve.  And you have to move on, anyway.

What is "I'm sorry" after all?  It means nothing.  It changes nothing, really.  Sometimes people say it to get their way.  Sometimes people say it to appease other people.  Sometimes it's a blatant lie.  What I know from my experience in an abusive relationship is that "I'm sorry" is useless and meaningless.  The only time someone is ever really sorry for their actions is when they make the effort not to repeat them...over and over again...and this, of course, would come after owning the shit they did in the first place.

Forgiving someone who hasn't apologized is supposed to bring you peace and lighten your burden.  In many cases, I agree.  I have forgiven Bob for so much for both me and my girl.  But to forgive the driver?  That's somewhere I'm not yet.  To forgive myself?  Somedays I can get there.

Just not today.  Today I feel like a piece of crap who can't even get in front of the person I need to see to tell her if I had it all to do over again, I'd never make the same mistake twice.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

You mad?

Yeah, I'm still mad.  But it takes over less often.

I used to be so angry all the time that I felt sick.  Now I do okay most of the time, except when triggered.

I took Jake to freshman orientation at the high school a few days ago, and that was really difficult.  I expected to feel sad and see her around corners- what I didn't expect was to get so angry I could barely see to drive home.  I started thinking about how she started there in ninth grade, just an average girl, braces and skinny, tiny and beautiful, and how the mental illness descended on her, wreaking so much havoc.  I looked around at all those bright, shiny faces just starting out on their high school careers and felt enraged that Cory didn't get to have her time.  She wanted to be at school with her friends.  She wanted to be learning.  She deserved the best years of her life.  She didn't ask for voices or hallucinations, crippling depression, anxiety, or delusions.  Why did such a sweet girl get such a raw deal?  Why my girl?

And the kicker, of course, being that she finally stabilized and was doing remarkably well, only to be hit by a lady who wasn't watching where she was going on her drive home from work.

I went home that night from Central, tears burning, and sort of folded in on myself, having went to a viewing that day that was not only at the same funeral home but also in the same room Cory's casket had once stood.  I loved being strong enough to be there for my friend the way she was there for me, but it was not easy to do.  That being said, I'm so glad I did it.  We help each other as best we can.  That's what we are here for.

The anger that night at Cory's missed youth, stolen by mental illness, burned hot and quick.  The next day, it had dissipated, and I was as okay as I ever am these days.

I can smile at babies now.  I don't hate parents who have live children, although I do sometimes envy them to a covetous degree.  I watch mothers and daughters together now with a desperate ache, but no real hatred.

Then the other day, I had to do CPR and First Aide training at my work place.  You wanna talk triggers?  Oh buddy.  The lingo alone, "non-responsive, no heart beat, not breathing, bleeding that will not stop" completely undid me.   Then there were the videos that outline all the steps to helping save someone's life.  They are so clean cut and so logical...nothing like what I saw on the side of the road.  Not even close.

The whole time all I could think about was being on the scene...what she looked like, my confusion at why nothing was done to help her.  Images of her body popped up as certain words were said "depressed skull"..."bluish tinge"...others.   I kept seeing them cutting her shirt open over and over and over again.  I could feel that same mad fluttering of hope and rush of relief as I realized that meant they were getting the paddles.  She would be ok.  But of course, they didn't get the paddles and she would never be ok again.  It was obvious to everyone but me that she was dead.

So I cried silently.  I stayed through the training.  And afterwards, I found a  friend that I could vent to for a few minutes.  All I really needed was get the poison out to another mother who would understand what crap it was that my girl never even got a shot.  Just what kinda crap was that?  Logically, I can understand now.  I get it.  Nothing could be done.  But in my heart, where my girl lives and breathes forever, there will never be understanding. Never.

 I will always question why nothing was done.  I will always question why she couldn't be spared while others are... if you buy into the whole higher power thing.   Some days I will seethe with the injustice of it all, but at least not every day.  Not anymore.

Progess, not perfection.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Yes Woman

One of the hardest parts of raising a remaining child after the death of a child is being able to tell them no.  About anything.  I'm not kidding.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I promise you it's true.

In the beginning, it's the shock.  You don't even notice if your child just had 3 pops in a row, nothing for dinner, and candy before bed.  If you do notice, you're not sure where the pop and candy even came from, aren't sure what the steps are to making a meal, and frankly, who the hell cares?

It goes on this way for some time.  Many, many meals come from a drive-thru window.  Bedtimes are a ridiculous thought since no one is sleeping normally and the entire household has been thrown into unimaginable, dark chaos.

Your child seeks you as his shelter and you provide it, as best you can, most of the time only dully aware that he is even next to you at all.  You are still seeing your girl on the road.  You are still on the road running to her.  You will be there for at least eighteen months.

After the shock, it's a long dark tunnel that spans years.  All any of us could do was survive.  One foot in front of the other, or better, one knee in front of the other as we crawled.  Who cared if your child cleaned his room, ate his veggies, and washed behind his ears?  Once one of your children has waltzed out the door with a smile and never returned, all the small stuff just ceases to matter.

All that good parenting you did before you came upon your child splayed on the road?  It fades away.  Instead you ruminate over the time you disappointed her by saying "No, you can't buy two purses today.  You have to pick one.", You wince thinking of the times you were grouchy with her because you were tired or she was difficult.  You find yourself second-guessing the times you wouldn't let her date the wrong boy whose red flags were a mile long.  Shouldn't I have let her have any small happiness her heart desired, even if she may have gotten terribly hurt in the process?

See, cause if all those "good decisions" came to a bloody, broken end, what's the point, anyways?  That's what you will think for a long time because you are hurt and angry and broken yourself.  You will also be stingy with your love for a little while just because you can't bear to think of loving this next child just as much as you loved the first only to have him snatched away from you at a second's notice, and put into a box, too.

Finally, after way too long, you give your love freely because your other child is worth it and being a coward is no way to live.

But you still don't want him to be denied any small pleasure that you can by any stretch of the imagination afford, because what if you were to say no and he died at school the next day?  What if he got hit by a car walking home from the bus stop? You'd have to carry that with you for the rest of your days, and with the don't-breathe-on-me-at-the-movies and keep-your-hair-out-of-your-soup thoughts already in there, there's just not much room left.  You also tend to do almost everything for him because it feels good to take care of him when you can no longer do anything for his sister.

But then, suddenly one day, it occurs to you.  What if he doesn't  die?  What if he lives and has been given anything he wanted and was never told no only as an insurance policy against your parental regret?  What if he grows used to having everything done for him and not contributing to the household or world around him?  What kind of man would he be?

This is why I am beginning to say no sometimes and let my teenage son be disappointed.  This is why I am beginning to make him wait for things that he really wants.

I catch myself sometimes wavering and wanting to sayyes to whatever he asks for because it is true, he could die tomorrow- look what happened to Cory.

But then I remember that being a good mom isn't about preparing them to get everything they want right away in case they die.  It's about raising a child into a young adult who can handle being told no, who can wait for things they really want, who starts to look at the decisions they are making, and the consequences of their actions.   Those are life skills, not death skills.  I can only go forward thinking Jake will live.  He may not, but in the meantime, I'm filling his toolbox with the things he needs to know if he does.