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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Shopping

When the current holidays have little cheer to offer, I go back to visit the ones that did.  Today, I found myself thinking about the time Cory and I hit the mall during the holiday season.  Basically, I took her around to show me all the things she was hoping to get, and I kept a careful mental list.  One of the items she was crazy for that year was a grey velvet choker from Twilight at Hot Topic.  She was wild about that book series and the subsequent movies.  I noticed there was only one left on the rack, and practically pulled her out of the store, reassuring her that Santa had many ways of procuring out of stock items.

We walked down to Applebee's, and soon snuggled into a booth.  Once we'd placed our orders, I excused myself to go to the restroom.  Once out of immediate eyesight, I ran like hell out of the restaurant, and back to Hot Topic.  I scooped that necklace up, paid for it, and shoved it into my big purse.  Then looking very strange indeed, I'm sure, I ran back to the restaurant and headed for the restroom.  I returned to the table via return route from the bathroom to Cory's question, "What took you so long?"

I blamed it on my IBS, and changed the conversation.
Cory never suspected a thing.

She was delighted to pull the Twilight necklace out of her stocking on Christmas morning.  It rests now upstairs on her dresser, carefully laid out, as if for display.

I really miss making her happy.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Medicate Me

Cory, my beloved, my dear sweet chicken (yes, at my house poultry are highly favored and being called a chicken or a turkey is to be held in the highest of regards), used to do something that drove me absolutely nuts.  She couldn't help doing it, no more than I could help being irritated by it.  What was it?  Sometimes she would start crying, and she literally couldn't stop.

I think it irritated me most because there was nothing I could do to help her.  When these jags first began, I didn't know a lot about her mental illness, and only knew that past a certain age, most people are able to self-soothe.

Well, Cory, my love, I get it.  For the last couple days, I have only been able to stop crying or lesson the feeling that I must cry by taking meds...really, really often.  It was in doing so that I discovered another dilemma my girl faced:  if you don't take the meds, you feel like shit, if you do take them, you fall asleep.  So, basically, suffering on one hand and missing out on life around you on the other.  Wow...some choices, huh?

A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to die.  I just wanted to not hurt anymore.  The only way I could see to not hurt anymore was to not be here.  I scared myself enough to go get some help and within a few days, I was feeling better.

Now the holidays are looming, and I am feeling just wretched again.  Last night, I laid with my head on my pillow and my body tense as images ricocheted back and forth, one for another:  Cory laying in the casket, Cory's arm twisted unnaturally on the road-back and forth, back and forth...casket, road, casket, road.  It was a wrestling match to get my brain on something else, and I couldn't get a leg up to save my life.  Finally, I got up and took another Ativan in hopes it would knock me out, which it mercifully did.

So yeah, I'm taking the meds.  They don't take the horror away; they only dilute it.  And as a bonus, I get to look half-stoned (or "slow on the uptake" as a good friend told me today) at my workplace.

But Cory had it so much worse.  I wish she were here so I could hug her and tell her how strong she was.  I am finding out more and more about her everyday.

These holidays will come and go, regardless of my wishes, pointed out same said friend.  Yes, this I know.  But I also know I have no desire to participate.  Joyful?  Hardly.  Togetherness?  How?
 I thought and thought of a way I could include Cory in the season without sitting in a roomful of family members without her, sick with jealousy.

Cory collected nutcrackers.  Every Christmas, Santa left one under the tree for her.  I will take one out and put it in front of her monument.

For now, that's all I've got.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More Smile Than Face Returns

Today, I heard from a loved one who for a minute was able to remind me that before I had Cory, I was a whole person...a whole person who smiled, and laughed, and regularly shaved her legs.  I used to be a whole person who made people laugh, was a terrible flirt, had outstanding taste in music, and considered herself at least moderately attractive.
 This person who comforts me, without even really trying,  gently but firmly blocked every one of my protests that I cannot get past my guilt that Cory's death was my fault.
Somehow this exchange ended with me wondering if one day I might be a whole person again.  In someone's eyes, if not my own.
And I was smiling a real just-for-me smile, not the sort that are manufactured to please other people.

We call it "more smile than face".

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

At Last He Speaks Part II

This morning, I remembered I have a son, and ran to dig a hat out of the bench in the dining room so he wouldn't freeze to death on his walk home.  Hurrying while only half-dressed, I held up the bench top with one hand while studiously looking away, so as not to have to see Cory's bright pink purse that keeps watch on its cushion.  With my other hand, I blindly hunted for a knit hat, and pulled one out just as Tim came in the back door from starting my car.

I looked down to see one of Cory's hats in my hand.  Tim saw it, and said, "Her sc-at?"

Yes, it was a pretty brown, cream, and fuchsia scarf and hat sewn into one cozy piece. Her...scat. Cory wearing it?  Almost too cute for words, all big green eyes and creamy white skin.

To Tim, I nodded.  "Yeah."  I squeaked out, sniffed it once, and shoved it rudely away from my body, trading it out for one of Jake's striped hats.

This is just one example of the little deaths we die as we move about our day.

I know, I know.  The cynic out there says, "Why don't you get rid of her things?"

I can't.

So I finished dressing, slapped on some I-am-okay-don't-worry-about-me makeup (which usually consists of strong eyeliner and a bright lipstick...which sounds suspiciously like a hooker, if I really stop to think about it), and dragged myself to work where I had a baseline miserable day.

I busied myself with some repetitive tasks and tried not to see her face.

As I worked today, I remembered Tim coming in after working late last night, and waking me up.  He was crying.  A lot.

Tim cried after the accident.  I don't remember it much, just him stumbling around the house with toilet paper hanging out of both his nostrils.  I don't remember talking to him.  I don't remember him talking to me.

 I picked flowers.  He buried her cat.  I threw up in the funeral home's bathroom.  He chose her casket.  I walked around in shock, not knowing where I was or what was happening.  He cut the check for her plot.  He ordered the food for the ghastly luncheon.  I chose the music for her service.  Tim fed Jacob, fed the dog, fed the cats, and took the garbage out.  I fell down.  A lot.  For a really, really long time.

Well, last night, Tim sobbed so hard it shook the bed.  And, finally, finally...he spoke.  What did he say about my girl?  What did he say about her?

"I miss her so much!she was such a good girl, such a good, good girl...she was so thoughtful...she made everything fun...nothing's fun are we supposed to do this?  how do people even do this?'s not the same!  it's never gonna be the same!  we can't be happy!  we'll never be happy!  I don't want her to be dead!!"

I bawled right along beside him, answering, "I don't know!"  and "I know we won't!"  to his questions.  That's truth right there.

Eff this life.  And the holidays, too.  Eff the holidays.  And grocery shopping.  Screw the store.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Conversations With Jacob

Where am I right now?  That's an easy one.  I'm in a very crowded Starbucks coffee shop, crammed into a side table, kitty corner from a delightful old man, sitting with his wife, who just said this to me with a grin, "Someone must really love you!"  before holding out his gnarled left hand, and pointed to the ring finger with his right.

I smiled back at him.  "Do-overs cost extra!"

He and his wife giggled politely.

Where am I really?
That's a harder question to answer.  I'm out of the well, that much I know.  I wore makeup three out of five workdays this week.  I showered daily.  I'm not to the point of cooking dinner every night or anything; let's not be ridiculous.

There is snow flying, and as much as I want to pull out the pics of Jake and Cory on sleds, I haven't.  I have been told by nearly everyone to stop living in the past.  This sounds like such a healthy and reasonable piece of advice.   Unless, of course, the person receiving it happens to be a mother who has lost her child.  How am I supposed to try, on purpose, to live in a world in which she doesn't exist?  Forget disloyalty, and all just doesn't even sound like a place I'd want to be.

Cory being forgotten is my biggest fear.  I don't mean to, but I drill family members for memories of her regularly.  I go up to complete strangers and show them her picture.  I can't help myself.

And Jacob, being ten when Cory much will he really remember about her and their life together?

Jacob and I rode to the post office the other day and back.  On the way, we got into a conversation about how Veterans are treated, and from there about the accusations being made to certain psychiatric hospitals in the news of late.  We talked about how horrible it is for people in authority to take advantage of people whose illnesses have put them in a very vulnerable place.

This, of course, led to conversations about when Cory was hospitalized, and how she was treated where she stayed.  And from there, the couple of times that Tim was hospitalized, which was something Jacob wasn't even aware of.

I asked Jacob if he remembered when Cory was sick.  He said yes, and ticked off a list of memories:  when she thought the cats were spies, when she thought there were cameras hidden all over the house, the clown in the basement.

I shook my head to all.  He was right.  There was all of that, and more.

Curious, I asked him how he remembered Cory being when she was sick- scared, sad, mean?

He answered back in the same order, "I remember her scared and sad, sometimes mean.  Remember that one time at grandma and grandpa's when she pushed me down the stairs?"

"Yes.  You remember that?  I wasn't sure if you did; you were so little."

"I remember."  he repeats, and then says nothing, eyes to his lap.

"You know Cory didn't mean to hurt you or ever hurt your feelings."

"I know."

I asked them if it was scary to him when Cory was sick.

He said this, "yeah, like when she saw people at the top of the stairs that weren't there or talked about the clown, I knew it wasn't real, but it was still creepy to hear her talk about it, because she was really really scared.  It made me scared."

Yes, that I had known.  Heck, it made me scared, and I'd been an adult.

We didn't say anything for a minute or two, just rode along, both us lost in our memories of that particular nightmare.

Before I could ask him if he remembered when Cory thought she could fly, he broke in with this,
"I was sad for her, Mom.  But now that I'm older, and I understand it better, I'm even more sad for her."

I grabbed his hand and held it till the next stoplight.

After we'd returned home and wrapped our evening, I asked him one last question.  It was this:
"Jake, do you remember Cory before she got sick?"

He responded reluctantly, "Not really.  I remember stuff like going to Florida a little bit.  But mainly I remember when she started getting sick and after.  You know, it was kind of a big deal."

I went to bed with this on my heart, hating that mental illness could overshadow a little boy's memories of his big sister.  But at some point, in the dark, my chin came up because Cory was never her illness, and bits of her fought to get through those voices and delusions every moment of every day.  She was strong that way.

Just like the accident for me, certain memories have been assigned a certain weight and significance in Jake's mind.  Sooner or later, all the moments that weren't filled with trauma will float to the top.  It might just take a little while.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


By the time you realize you are estranged from someone, you've been that way for quite some time.


And just because it's interesting, sometimes, to hear about other people's dreams.  And, I'm keeping a dream journal, now, so I remember more of my own, here's last night:

A Three Part Act Called Panic, Terror, and Horror

Jacob, after being reprimanded for trying to ride his bicycle on the roof of the house (don't ask), got upset, and climbed a tree.  He got scared and couldn't get down.  As my mom showed up out of nowhere (as she so often does in my dreams), looked on, I reached up my arms to catch him as he let go.  He hit his head on the ground, and upon hearing the snap, I immediately knew he'd broken his neck.  C-4?!!  C-5?!! 
I looked down at his eyes closed.  He was unresponsive.

Tim and i were driving somewhere- out of town, I would assume, since I was napping in the passenger seat.  I sat up, a little sweaty and disoriented to see Tim sleeping and snoring, with both hands tucked behind his head, the wheel free.  We began to veer off the road.

And last but not least, this little gem:
Cory's body was exhumed and transferred to another cemetery without my permission.  I showed up there demanding to see her plot.  The guy in charge finally caught on to what I was saying through my screaming and tears, and responded easily, "Oh!  The folks from Bedford?  Yeah, we got 'em.  They were doing some major changes to their layout there and had to displace a lot of plots.  People are not happy."

I just looked at him.  "WHERE IS SHE?"

"Now, calm down, ma'am...she's not been reinterred yet.  We can't plant till Spring.  She'll be just fine in the deep freeze."

I lunged forward and began beating this man on the chest with my fists.