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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Screw The Store: This Time I Mean It

We cannot continue eating take out all the time.  Forget the budget, there's our health to consider.  Jacob needs to be on more than a nodding acquaintance with vegetables; we all do.  I want to be the mom that puts gourmet meals on the table every night.  I do.  I used to be that girl, and I really liked her.  She put a little of her heart on every plate.  She got her kids excited about good food.  She was healthy.

That being said, grocery shopping is an issue.  Cooking can be, too.  What to do?

Enter Blue Apron.  A friend of mine on fb has a busy job that keeps her traveling all the time.  When she gets home, she wants to cook a delicious healthy meal, but dreads schlepping out to the store for the ingredients.  She decided to try one of the meal kit delivery services, and has been very satisfied with it.  I decided to give it a whirl.

It's all the food needed to make three dinners:  super fresh produce, high quality meat, fish, and seafood, herbs, spices, the whole kit and caboodle.  The only things you need to have on hand are salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Everything is premeasured to the recipe it comes with.  There's no waste.  You just chop it all up and swirl it around in a pan.  Voila!

Three dinners.  This leaves me to pick up stuff for two dinners and coldcuts on my own, and I'm good for the week.  Milk.  Juice.  In and out.

So far there have been lamb burgers (so good Jacob ate Tim's before I could stop him), a scrumptious pasta dish, and chicken Milanese with a summer salad that stole the show.  I actually witnessed Jacob eating something of the green leafy variety.  On purpose.

We may be on to something here.

Really, BCPD? Really?

My thought today:

What is it called when someone takes something without paying for it?  Stealing.

The driver stole Cory's life.  She stole my child, and no one even said she was wrong for it.

No consequences.  No blame.  Nothing.  Just walked away.

The injustice is hard to stomach.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Rescue Kitties

This isn't just the story of how I deal with losing my daughter.  It's also the story of how Jacob and Tim deal with losing Cory, and how we all relate to each other while grieving.  It's a bit unfair that each person in the family has this enormous pain to shoulder related to their own personal relationship with the person who died, but then must also cope with the additional stress and judgement that we all put on each other when someone doesn't grieve the same way we do.  It's interesting how sometimes you have no idea how someone else's behavior could possibly be connected to their loss (twenty-odd pairs of rubber boots?), and yet, at times, it's the other way around- you know what they're doing is working through their grief, but they are oblivious.

Let me give you an example:

A couple of weeks ago, a stray momma cat and her three kittens showed up in the neighborhood.  They were obviously feral; we couldn't get within three feet of them.  Jake, naturally, begged to take them in, which Tim and I immediately vetoed.  We are a one elderly dog/three cat household.  There are days that we can barely even dress ourselves due to our grief.  We have more than enough living beings to care for.

About a week after we'd spotted the momma and her babies, Tim came home from work very down.
"Something awful happened today."  I immediately thought he'd gotten fired, and began to picture us packing our belongings to a sad parade of cardboard boxes.  Obviously, we would lose our house.  I had us halfway moved into a sad little apartment that smelled like curry when he broke me out of my reverie.  "I found the tan, black, and white kitten on the lot today.  A car got it."

"Was it dead?"  I asked.

He nodded, his face long.

"That's awful!  Did you bury it?"  I asked.

"Of course I buried it!  What kind of man do you think I am?  You think I'd just throw it in the garbage can?"

"Well, no... I can't believe someone would hit it and just leave it out there in the sun."  I said, and then nearly choked on my words, realizing what I'd said.

Tim's face paled, and he looked ill.  "Why can't people just WATCH where the hell they're going?"   His voice was bitter and angry, and in that moment I could easily picture him putting the driver's head into a drill press as he'd casually mentioned he'd like to do before rolling over to go to sleep one night.

"I set some food and water out for the others on top of the swing set fort in the backyard.  I know we can't take them in, but I've just gotta keep them out of the road.  They just can't be in the road."  he said.

So for the next week or so, the "rescue kitties" as we began to call them were the focus of our household.  Spottings were excitedly shared between the three of us, and we all began to imagine that we'd slowly form friendships with them.  They'd let us pet them.  We'd get them fixed, and build some sort of outdoor shelter for them before the snow flew.

I watched as Tim grieved for the calico kitten whose sex was never confirmed.  He kept mentioning the kitten and how awful it was to find it that way.  One night in the shower, I asked him if the kitten's neck had been broken or what, figuring that talking about what he'd seen might help him process it the same way I've had to describe what I saw at the scene a thousand different times and may continue to do off and on until the day I die.  Tim's not a talker.  He just put his head down.  "I don't know.  It was just not something you'd ever want to see.  I can't stop seeing it.  That little kitten was so cute.  It didn't deserve that."

And a day after that, he said this, "You know, except for its mom and siblings, I bet the most love that kitten ever got from someone was when I buried it."

I said nothing, just imagining Tim's reaction had he seen Cory laid out on the side of the road.  I've so often wished someone I knew had been there with me so I didn't have to bear those horrific images alone.  To see Tim so visibly upset at the death of a kitten he barely knew, I knew why he hadn't been that person.  It would have broken him.

As the days went on, and he fed and watered the rescue kitties, I realized this probably had more to do with Cory than I had suspected.  I've never seen any hint that Tim might feel guilty that he was not able to protect Cory from the accident.  I've read over and over about the dads who took the guilt on immediately and irrationally, thinking they had failed in their masculine role as protector of the family unit, but I've seen nothing to indicate Tim felt this way.  And why would he?  I set not a shred of blame on him.  He was at work providing for her when the accident happened.  I was the one who let her walk out the door.  But now I saw it clearly.  He did feel that way, at least a little.  And if he could not save Cory, he would save these cats.

We haven't seen the rescue kitties for several days now.  Tim is devastated, coming home from work each night to search for them with a flashlight in the dark.  He worries for them.  He misses them.  And he's slowly realizing that horrible truth:  despite your best intentions, some things are out of your control.

"The will to save a life is not the power to stop a death."



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Clarity

It comes once and awhile- clear thinking.  Here's a page from my journal some months ago to prove it:

All I do is keep buying things; it keeps my attention on something else.  I am scared to live without her.  Angry.  Lost.  But mostly afraid.  Then I remember a line I read in one of her journals:  "I've held myself in all day."

She no longer suffers.
In any way.

She is just full of peace and joy, love and contentment.  How can I begrudge my baby girl that type of existence?  Why would I?  Am I really so selfish?  I hope not.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

They Grow Up So Fast

It went like this:

First she was a red-faced, wrinkly little newborn, and I was scared to be responsible for her- for anything so precious-but, as each day passed I developed a fierce pride to be her parent and experienced a deep, bottomless love that rivaled anything I'd ever felt before.  I blinked, and she was eight.  I blinked again, and she was nineteen, and the most beautiful and kind-hearted young woman I'd ever known.  I went to chop an onion, and she was dead.

Treasure your babies.  Every moment.

Today I Fell

Tim found some old pictures of the kids, Gizmo, and Oliver while rummaging through his toolbox, and brought them in the house to show me.   Jacob's pics were babyhood to toddler,all wise eyes and sweater vests, and Cory was nine or ten, pre-braces and demure.  We had pictures of her and her cat, Church, taken on Pet Day, and the others were of Cory holding her first American Girl Doll, Josefina.  I never look at pictures of Cory as a child.  They are just too painful to see.

  As I looked these over, I couldn't help but realize that Cory had been buried with Josefina, and her cat, Church, was buried right beside her after her death.  They're all at the cemetery together right now; yep, that's how that story ended.  Really?  What kind of screwed up plan is that?  Anger...no, fury descended on me, a second skin.  The outrage...the total indignation...the disdain at whomever or Whomever allowed this to happen...it just envelopes my entire being.  It's exhausting.

Scrolling through more recent pics on my facebook page yesterday, I stopped cold at the Easter picture of her and Jake, swallowing past the lump in my throat to see her in the dress she'd been buried in.  Oh.  I touched the screen, and the blackness just rushed in.  The anger was gone, and under it, of course, was the old familiar hurt.  Any mild reprieve from this awful mess that I've felt in the last few days was gone in that instant.  You just...lose your place.




“I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal.”


― Vita Sackville-West



Friday, July 24, 2015

Chances

I heard a song yesterday that chased away some of the burning jealousy.  I first heard this song on an episode of that ABC Family show, The Fosters.  Sometimes I think about how much Cory would've enjoyed that show, and other times I can't remember if she was around for Season 1 or not, and have to confer with Jake.  It's the same thing with movies.  Jake and I are always asking each other if we saw a movie just the two of us or with Cory.  Time after your child dies becomes two categories only:  before your child's death and after.  And if you're like me, kicking and screaming the whole way toward accepting your child's death, your mind plays some tricks on you.  Anything that I've even moderately enjoyed since July 2012 carries the strong feeling that Cory must've been there, too-- after all, how could I ever enjoy anything ever again without her by my side?

So this song was played for the first dance at the daughter's quinceanera.  I remember watching this young hispanic girl be spinned around the floor like a freaking princess, her face full of pride at who and what she was.  She knew she was loved; she had a steady two parent home; she did not appear to suffer from a major mental illness.  Wasn't that celebration enough?  Were the dress and the food and the merriment even needed?  Oh, I was so bitterly, bitterly jealous thinking of the hell my Cory went through and how much other people take for granted.

Tim thinks it is unkind and highly unhealthy for me to harbor such thoughts.  He is always shaming me for hating on the happy people, and I just cock my hip, angry and puzzled:  why isn't he angry and jealous, too?  Wouldn't any parent be?  I don't beat myself up for my anger or jealousy.  I think it's all part of the process, and it'll pass when it's meant to, if it ever does.

So check out the lyrics to this song, "Shooting Star" by Kari Kemmel and then we'll talk some more:

I'm feeling higher than the sunrise,
Feeling lovelier than midnight,
And I wouldn't change a thing
I'm standing taller now than ever,
Everything from here looks better,
No I wouldn't change a thing

You can try to bring me down,
To shake my soul and take my crown
I'll shine brighter,
I'll shine brighter, brighter, oh

I've learned I'm a shooting star
And no one can change who we are,
And no one can take that away
I know that I'm good enough
And I know that I'm beautiful,
And no one can take that away from me

I'm feeling prettier than velvet,
Soaring higher than the heavens,
And I wouldn't change a thing
Look up to the sky you'll see me,
Almost feels like I am dreaming,
Oh, I wouldn't change a thing

There's no shadow hanging over me,
I'm gonna live what I believe.
There's no taking away
What I'm feeling at this moment.
For the first time I know I'm free,
I'm feeling beautiful and I can dream
No one's stopping me

 
See?  She knows she's good enough.  She knows she's beautiful.  There's no shadow (or voices) hanging over her.

I thought about this for a long time.   Does the fanciest quinceanera guarantee the fifteen year old will live a long and healthy life?  Does a graduation open house secure career satisfaction or healthy self-esteem?  Does a beautiful, story-book wedding assure the marriage will last or that the bride will be loved and treated appropriately by her groom?

Cory did not have the chance to have an open house or a wedding, and I've mourned those stolen chances like you wouldn't believe.  It occurred to me while listening to this song that they were only that- chances.  Cory, without the milestone celebrations- or the milestones- has certainty.  She knows she is good enough.  She knows she is beautiful.  She knows she's not "crazy".  She suffers no more.
 
 Really, how could the best of parties even compare?

(Now please remind me of this the next time I'm in bed for four days after attending a wedding.)