Some thoughts on tragedy and grief

Tragedy strikes us all. As an individual or as a family…even as a nation.

1997

There was a drought in the Texas Hill Country, the lake was low, and winter was ending. Every day people would walk past our pier and look out across the cove and pray for water to fill it up.
Pray for rain, our respite from the drought, our savior from the brutal heat of the summer to come.
Water to irrigate gardens and fill wells, water to quench the thirst of our neighborhoods that depended on the health of the lake.
Eventually the water came. It rained for days, storms to usher in the bloom of spring. There is nothing like the Texas Hill Country in the spring. Should you ever get the opportunity you should visit in mid-April. It is just gorgeous.
The lake was regaining its vigor and the drought was ending.
Eventually the clouds parted. The water appealed to two fishermen that I loved more than anything.
They trolled out in a fishing boat on a bright, sunny afternoon, off to catch a few fish for dinner or maybe to add to the freezer. They kept our fridges stocked with fresh fish, and were just going to play.
Before the end of my day at school a storm blew through and made everything glisten as the sun came back out. I stayed for choir practice and went home a little later than usual with a friend.
I knew something was wrong when there was a police car outside our house when we got home, but no one knew anything. They just knew the storm had blown through and the men hadn’t returned home.
Surely they were just on the wrong side of the lake waiting it out on a beach.
One hour past, then four, then it was morning, and then it was 10 am.
We heard nothing except the boats going back and forth on the lake and the occasional shutter of helicopters overhead.
They never came home.

2009
My sister had finally agreed to go to a rock in roll bar with me that I sort of adored to see a band that I had loved since I was a kid. We had friends who were going to meet us and plans for dinner and drinks.
A night of fun.
As the hour drew nearer to our fun evening people cancelled.
I hate when people cancel last minute, but they did, so it was just going to be my sister and me.
We were determined to have a good time. We went to the restaurant upstairs and ordered some food. We watch people tottering in 5 inch stilettos. We laughed at how we were the only two out of I don’t even remember how many that made it to the show.
I don’t even remember who was playing.
We had never had a sisters night out, so we hung out and talked for a while.
Our drinks arrived and so did our food. We talked about our kids and jobs and life.
Then the phones started ringing.
Her husband had been trying to get ahold of her, but she didn’t answer, so he called my phone and I picked up right away.
“Where are you?”
“Scout. Why?”
“Dennis was in an accident. You need to go to Austin.”
“Okay, we will be there as fast as we can.”
We left our food uneaten and rushed from the building. We didn’t know what we were going to see when we got to the hospital, but we knew we had to go.
My sister’s neighbor kept the kids while we were gone.
We drove. A drive that normally took 4 to 5 hours took 3.
Again we waited for a man we loved; only this time his body was with us. It was his soul that was missing.
The life force that made him our father even though we were grown when our parents met.
We waited the night and a day. We waited until the tests were run that said he was coming back to us. We prayed for his soul to find its way home. We held hands and rested our heads on the cold tile of a hospital waiting room floor.
My mother waited in his room. Talked to him. Tried to coax him back. Tried to feel the warmth of his hand in hers for as long as she could.
He never found his way back.

2013
The last two days have brought great grief to the cities of Boston and West. Gut wrenching losses for families who had been having nice normal days. They were out for a run. Home watching TV. Sitting watching the world. They were participating in life.
Some of them were accomplishing dreams. Others were at work.
I was at work Tuesday. I followed the story all afternoon and late into the night. Pausing only while at home and holding my kids just a little tighter. I let them fall asleep in the living room snuggled up that night. There was nothing I wanted more than to hold them and make them safe.
Last night after I put the boys in bed I logged into Facebook and immediately I saw photos of a fire at a plant in Waco. Then I turned on the news and it had exploded.
Not just exploded but ripped a town apart. It will take years for them to come back from that.

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I only have a few words of wisdom when it comes to loss of those you love and rebuilding the life that you know. I don’t know if anyone who has lost in these tragedies will read it, but maybe the people who are reading need to hear it as well.
It takes time to cry. It takes time to feel the loss. It takes time to really understand that they’re gone and never coming back. It takes years, sometimes decades, to move on.
I don’t think we move on really.
I know that in my life the losses just became dull aches that resonate with how I try to appreciate each breath I take.
The losses have taught me to see the effects of my life on others. How one decision can cause a ripple effect that goes on and on and on.
It is easy to get mad and take your grief out on the world, but don’t. I got mad when I was so young and my grandfather got taken from me. I got so mad that I eventually rebelled to the point where nothing mattered but how I felt. I took my grief out on everyone, but no one ever understood that or forced me to deal with it. Don’t do that.
Don’t bottle it up and bury it thinking that everything is okay. You’re here, you’re safe, you’re moving along. You will crumble from the inside and become immobile.
Grieve. Heal. Cry. Get angry, but don’t get mad.
Most importantly love. Love is the most healing of emotions. It creates strength were there may have been none and warmth that lasts through the cold.
I pray that love surround you and that God bless your life with many years of happiness that far overshadow this dark time.

What will you leave behind?

Apologies for my absence…but life has been in the way and a half hour lunch to eat and write. Eek!

What will you leave behind is a take on my church’s sermon from yesterday. Their question was “What is your legacy?”

I think we all know the “monkey see, monkey do” education our children receive as they age. I think it’s safe to say they see everything. They want to mimic our behaviors and sometimes when they do, we cringe.

I know I do.

I sort of growl when frustrated. I say “Shit!” or “Damn it” when I drop something or stumble. Since having kids I try to be better about it…but it is hard. It’s a bad habit.

My kids do these things. How do I know? Because their teachers have told me. When Elijah was three years old he dropped a toy at daycare and I received a note home. Oops!

It’s not just our language skills we pass on, it’s our stability or instability. It’s a love of Foo Fighters and The Black Keys. It’s alcoholism and drug abuse. It’s emotional imbalance and accepting other people’s hardships as our own, or not accepting our own problems. For some children it is watching someone else always fix the parents problems so never seeing the parent fixing their own problems.

The pastor began with an example from the movie “The Godfather” (happens to be one of my favorites). He explained how Don Corleone was only ever able to pass on his life of crime and violence to his children. Despite what he desired for them that was all any of them ever received. If you have seen the movie you know the seen when he comes home from the hospital to find out that Michael is the one who sought revenge and went into hiding. Don Corleone was heartbroken and they played that into the movie. His legacy was also his heartbreak.

I think…no…I know that this is one reason for my separation and divorce. I see the generational hardship of alcoholism and drug abuse in my husband and his family. He learned it from his parents, who learned it from theirs, and so on and so forth. I remember this story from him about his first trip to his fathers alone when he was fifteen. His dad handed him pot and told him to have fun but not too much. His stepfather drank daily and would supply it to the teenagers in the neighborhood and said as long as they’re doing it at home.

Hmm…I always thought an adolescence like that would have been awesome. I can do whatever I want as long as I am at home.

Now as an adult I think that defined rules of behavior and consequences to our actions is so much better. At least it gives you a base line of behavior that is acceptable to most in the world. You can be part of civilized society for the most part. It’s much harder to learn after your 20’s. Heck my ex husband is going to be 47 this year and he is still learning to correct the behaviors learned in childhood.

I guess this is what I am saying.

Look at your life. Look at your relationships. Look at how you treat everyone from your partner in life to your children to your parents to the homeless man begging for change on the corner. How you treat each of these people is how your children will treat these people. Your work ethic will become your children’s work ethic. My son watched my husband skate by for so long that even at 6 years old I am having a hard time reeducating him that he needs to clean up his own messes.

BUT IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THIS STUFF!

Your kids will learn how to play. How to have fun! How to appreciate a raindrop and smile through a storm. They will gain your sense of adventure or your nervous nature. If you are a stress max person so will they.

Think about yourself. Think of the person you want to be and make yourself into the person you want them to become…it’s all up to you.

Home is not a Location

Yesterday I asked…What is home to you? Is it a person, a place, a thing?

I have always thought like Pumba…”Home is where your rump rests!” I was 15 when The Lion King came out and since we moved so much as children I found truth in it. Home really is wherever you make it.

Or so I thought at 15.

Now at 31, I am reconsidering. I think, like a commenter yesterday, that home is the feeling of comfort that you have in your soul. A wholeness not brought on by location or surroundings, but grown to fruition within ourselves…or at least I’m starting to think anyway.

I’m not there yet. I learning. I’m growing, but I’m not there yet.

I have been researching my own past to try to determine when life changed so dramatically for me that it creates tension where there should be none. Since it is February 21st is doesn’t take long for me to understand when that break happened.

When I became a shell and less of myself.

By this I mean that I have spent the last 15 years trying to fill a void that can’t be filled by anyone but myself or God. I believe I have a strong faith in the Lord, but it is today and this day for the last 15 years that makes me know I am weak of faith.

Maybe it’s just this day in particular that makes my faith weak.

February 21, 1997 is the day we confirmed and found my grandfather’s body in Lake Buchanan. He and our pastor had been fishing and got caught in a storm on February 19th. They suffered hypothermia and drowned.

I cried for days, weeks, years even.

At first I had the rest of high school, my activities and my job to fill the time. To fill the void.

I thought little but of the schedule and what had to be completed for the next goal to be reached. For the next accomplishment to be met. As good a show as I could put on I found no happiness in any of this. I finished high school in 1999, without a plan. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Go to school. Don’t go. Get a certificate in a profession. Just go to work. I had no freaking idea.

June following graduation I watched my 2 year-old niece. Just me and her for the whole month. I stayed busy, we went places, we did stuff. July I went on a trip to Europe. The first week planning, two weeks there and the last week of the month I had a decision to make.

Go to the recruiter and become a military private or go to school until I figured out what I wanted.

I chose school. Then I got bored. Some people just aren’t built to sit and learn in a class room. I’m one of those…but may still go back. I’m deciding that now.

When people ask if I would repeat high school again…go back in time…knowing what I know now I respond immediately with a yes. I would go back because I would have knowledge of the accident that was to come and I would spend more time with my grandfather. I would listen to his words and take notes on how to do things. I would want to be near to him. I miss him. Even now as I write this out the tears flow…and yes I’m at Starbucks. Receiving stares from people who know nothing of what I write.

Each of us have an adult that we are close to in our youngest days. For me it was him. I know he wasn’t perfect, but I worshiped him.

I lived with my grandparents from age 12 until I was through high school. The first years we were there I could be found, when I wasn’t at school, helping my grandfather. We had a garden, we built a shop, we made a bigger garden, we fixed up the house, plumed a sprinkler system, and I learned more than I can ever remember. I was his shadow.

The gravity and immediacy of this loss have haunted me. My dreams. My fears. My life.

I feel myself getting close to people and then immediately recoil knowing that some how I will lose them and I don’t want to feel that kind of pain. The pain that rips your soul from you…even if just for a while.

I can honestly count the number of people I have allowed to get close to me since high school on one hand. The people I still depend on for emotional support don’t need me to dig into those feelings. They have always been here and they don’t need me to mention it.

I am trying to open up to people. Trying to not push as much as I want to, I know sometimes I am an utter failure in this, but I’m trying.

I have tried to fill the void of his loss with rebellion. Yes…I rebelled, but I’m not much of a rebel.

I have tried to fill the void with a marriage. Terrible idea.

In my need to be whole I try to patch up the broken. I try to fix the other people I see in need. I can recognize the pain in their eyes because I feel it in me. I recognized that pain in my ex husband’s eyes and made thousands of failed attempts to help him. Ending with the realization that you can’t fix what doesn’t know is broken.

Behaviors learned from parents are the hardest to break. For me it’s chocolate, coffee, and delicious food, for my husband it was vodka,  prescription drugs, and ignorance. If there is a problem take something…it will disappear.

Only it doesn’t.

The problem is there for the partner – the true partner – in a marriage. They are forced to handle the situation and eventually because they are broken themselves they just learn to tolerate the experience. The life that would drive a normal person from the relationship becomes their link to wholeness.

I was happy because I was making him happy. Innocence and inexperience are tragic flaws in the hands of an addict.

Relationships with everyone I was close to became secondary to the relationship I had with him. He became my home because together we were one.

It is a tolerable existence when it is just two people living life together. You know there will be ups. You know there will be downs. You learn what will fill the downs to make them come back up. You live life as they teach in AA, “one day at a time” but nothing is ever normal to the world on the outside looking in, even if it seems normal to you.

Then the two create a third person. A child, helpless and innocent. A person that needs protection. A person that needs your constant attention.

Eventually you recognize all that is broken in your life. I had the realization that I was still broken.

Broken of spirit.

Broken in soul.

Broken to the point of not remembering who I had been. I tried to leave…but the hole would tear back open.

The hole that had been left by the death of my grandfather had been filled by this man, although I didn’t understand this fact. So, I would go back. I allowed myself to go back because he made me feel whole. He made me feel like I was home. I found comfort in the pain because it gave me a reason to be where I was…I was home.

It’s funny how so few letters it takes to change hole to whole to home.

Where is home for me?

I now understand that it is not in location. It is not in the people that surround me.

I have to find it with in me. I thought I had found it within me, but days like today…or maybe just today…I recognize my void is still here. Still waiting for me to fill it. Still waiting for me to understand what I have missed all these years.

If you seem to be in a holding pattern, as I explained yesterday, what do you think you are missing?

I think if we figure out the source we can find the resolution that will create wholeness.

Where are you? Your roots?

Thinking about a book

As I am preparing to change my stars I chose to take this morning and revisit some of my past. I drove out of my apartment complex aiming for the nearest Starbucks, instead I turned right and followed the street to the bay. Turning up Boulevard I saw it, this place that I called home for so many years. From the outside it looks the same…from the inside there are only minor changes. They no longer use old beer boxes to hold the condiments, they have added a side bar. There are all kinds of little changes…but the biggest change are the people. Most of them haven’t changed which is perhaps why I love it so much. (And I say it is the biggest change because turn over is so high in most restaurants and offices these days.)

Just for the record my mother thinks I am crazy for loving this place, but I do.

Driving down 646 I thought of a book I should write…not saying it would sell, but for the right audience it would be a hilarious endeavor.

“The Tales of an Aging Partier”

I can’t say that I was a partier, although I have done my fair share in this life, but I could write my stories and the stories of some of my favorite people. I would be a shocking read for some and the Southern Baptist Convention would surely protest. Because the first line would be…

“I’m a Baptist. A closet drinking, Bible thumping, Southern Baptist, who happened to fall in love with a place called Noah’s Ark.”

Then I would go on to tell you tales of the cook from Southern Louisianna who I could only half understand when he got good and drunk. His girlfriend we called Goldie, who isn’t so Goldie since his over dose. The other cook who exuded danger, only to find out that he was a convicted felon. Convicted for manslaughter, but it should have been self defense…if I am to believe the tale. He was amazing and troubled and kind. Unbelievably kind, until he drank Jack Daniels…then he wasn’t very nice and I was never there for that. I only witnessed the aftermath.

Then there were the B’s. We each had a name Baby, Queen, Baby Girl, Princess, Mama, etc…all different kinds of B names. B standing for ehem…a female dog…Not that I have been opposed to cussing on this blog, but I don’t agree with the term for these women.

These just happen to be very strong, independant women who have been hurt. They chose husbands badly, are defending what they have…sometimes by the skin of their teeth. It is an unforgiving existence. Always on your feet, always smiling, always seeming to be carefree…all the while wondering am I going to make enough to cover rent this month? Are the kids fed? Will the new babysitter walk out and leave my kids like the last one? Will my crazy ex show up and start something?! (None of this was ever expereinced by me while I was here…but I was a witness in the lives of many.)

Sitting here I remember the parties, the alcohol, the poker runs, and I think of the smiles mine and everyone elses. When you think of a bar you think of fun. I think mostly about the misery. This is not a life that 99% of the people reading this post have ever experienced. I hope you never do.

To imagine briefly what it is like listen to songs like “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer,” “Highway to hell,” and “I love this bar.”  See you didn’t know you would get a play list today. 🙂 Oh a film you could watch is Patrick Swayze’s “Road House.” Okay, so not quite as violent, but just as lively.

It’s a biker bar, for lack of other terms…for some it was featured in films, and for others…it is hell.

Still I love it here. I love the dysfunction, although I don’t ever want to be part of it again. I love the smoke, the atmosphere, the wild banter between barmaid and patron. In my day we kept riding crops behind the bar.

Now that you have read all of that…imagine being an extremely innocent 20 year old girl just moved in from a land where there were no bars and working here. I had worked for elegant bed and breakfasts to that point, quiet time between guests consisted of cleaning up and making the inn’s shiny so that other people could fullfill their dreams. I witnessed fantasy weddings, elegant buffets, learned practical tricks for preparing breakfast for a 100 guests with just a staff of three. I learned how to fold the impossible fitted sheet!

What I should have done when my mother said take this job at $9 an hour and stay in our hometown, I should have taken her offer. She was the head of HR for her company…I could have learned to budget. At the time I didn’t think it was enough to live on…oh what I learned…

We move down to what I have (over the years) refered to as the armpit of America and then found this job, working in this bar. “Coyote Ugly” had just been released and I admit I had this romantic perception of what it would be like. For the record, that movie only released the romantic parts.

Wow – my experience here opened my eyes to the fringe.

I learned too much about life here. I learned that people can be cruel and heartless, but that those same people will fight to the death if someone outside the circle tries to injure their circle. I learned a bit about bikers, a bit about rebels, a bit about gangs, and way too much to tell you on a blog post. I was an outsider from a world they hadn’t known and I got my education from the School of Noah’s.

Coming here I feel like I am at my Alma Mater. We talk about the old days. We lament the friends who have passed through over doses and accidents. We have seen many tragedies through drug use and even more because our friends ride Harley’s and refuse to wear helmets.

I would love to go to junior highs and high schools and teach the kids tell them….you see this path? I know this path looks like fun. I know this path looks exciting and charming and like something you would like to do…but don’t. Even if you don’t go on to be a doctor or a lawyer or wildly successful you owe it to yourself to be more.

I learned that…eventually. I quit here about three years later. Scarred and scared and hindered by a husband…not aware of the potential that existed. Still trying to work through all the experiences.

I think a book that tells the stories good or bad would be something many would read. I couldn’t add pictures. I would probably have to give someone here a cut of my percentage, but it would entertain.

Meg’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very-Bad Day

“Eh…” gritched Michael at 5:30 am. “wah..wah…WAH”

I roll out of bed and walk to the crib. I check on him…cover him back up and proceed to stumble to the kitchen, eyes shut.

Remove sippy cup lid…wash lid…drop lid…”damn!” I think. Open eyes.

Open dishwasher, remove clean sippy, pour fresh milk into fresh sippy. See chocolate icing from last week – think of chocolate icing…mmmmmmm…..but so not on my new diet.

Close fridge and remove chocolate icing from brain. Close eyes, stumble back to room. Cover Mikey up again…give milk.

Mikey screams…he doesn’t want to drink it, just hold it.

Lay back down in own bed…place pillow under left leg as I had received a cortisone shot in the hip yesterday morning.

Check time on phone. 5:34 am

I can sleep for a little while longer! I will get up! I know I can do it!

Roll over, shut eyes…Bu-bye Megan.

Roll back over in what I think is five minutes…and it’s 7 am. Shit! I’m late!

Jump out of bed, turn on shower, Mikey screams. I run into other room Wake up Elijah, get Michael out of crib. Run to bathroom for shower.

Rush shower. Michael pulling curtain every three seconds…he wants in. No! No I say!

Dash through closet put on something to wear…knock on the door. It’s the sitter!

Throw clothes at Elijah, yell at Elijah. Run a comb then put mousse in my hair. Race out the door.

Forget lunch. Forget to sign Elijah’s folder. Forget to bring laptop.

Trip over trash exiting the house…take trash to dumpster.

As I am exiting the apartment complex a man is riding a bike…he drives out in front of me, scaring me, and me slamming on the brakes so I don’t hit him, scares him. He almost falls off his bike. I sit a minute, we nod at each other as he pedals off and I pull out onto the road.

[Here is where I should have known to just go home.]

Facing the highway…black kitty cat darts infront of me, from out of no where and into the woods. Proceed to highway access road.

Shaking my head and repeating to myself…You can do it! You can do it!

Oh and remember…it’s foggy today. No visibility so there is no sunshine to brighten my day in the most literal way!

Drive the .5 miles to the nearest McDonald’s for a McMuffin and a coffee. As I am turning in I see that the secondary lane is empty and there are two cars waiting in the main lane. I proceed toward the secondary lane…slam on brakes…again.

Woman in second car noticed what I was doing. Honking and accelerating, playing bumper cars with our vehicles, she scoots up as quickly as possible to second lane. Nearly hitting me in the process. I let her through. If she is in that big of a hurry she must be having a glucose issue so I forgive. Start a status update text on how messed up the morning has gone.

Glucose intolerance lady must have had a super extra large order because it took ten minutes to go through that line. That’s too long…especially when I didn’t leave the house on time.

I NEEDED COFFEE and I NEEDED FOOD!

Really I should invest in a microwave and heat up an egg bowl.

[No dice. Then it would taste microwaved and I would rather be late. 😛 ]

Eventually get status updated. Get food and get back on the road.

Traffic. Fuck. I am Fucked. With a capital F! I will never be on time as long as I live in the boonies. Okay so it’s not in the boonies, but it’s just further out than say…midtown. So everything is further away.

Fog, Cars, Stupid people…I bow to the time God’s and go the back way to work. It’s a little longer, but there are fewer people trying to run me off the highway.

I end up behind a tractor trailer going 45 in a 60…I know it’s foggy, but PLEASE I’M LATE!

12 miles later, I turn, no longer behind him I accelerate. Faster, faster, oops too fast. Check for police…Whew! No police

Flip through radio stations…Adele! I love Adele. Turn it up! Sing out loud! Watch people in cars next to me looking at me crazy. What can I say?! I love Adele and I can sing like her! You would sing out too!

Arrive in the land of Pears…and turn down by my old house…think about Troy. Deep breathe…proceed to work.

Arrive at work 23 minutes behind schedule! Ugh! What a morning!?

But no it’s not over…as I arrive my eyes start to burn. I still don’t know why. They pour liquid like a bartender serving shots! I look like I have had a few shots and haven’t in weeks!

Through my blurry eyes and constant burn I read through emails and reply to friends online. I help students and talk to my coworkers. I read through my new feed from Media Bistro and watch some insightful videos.

Around 9:30 am as I was browsing available jobs on MB, I found one in Austin. A little company hiring for entry-level management positions…read through. Hey – I can do that!

Start the application…part 1, done. Part 2, done! Part 3, done! Part 4, Not done…I typed, I thought, I gave very good, personnal replies. I hit save!

And everything was gone…to that point it had taken me TWO HOURS to fill in every box with the information that would best send the message of who and what I am and NOTHING!

It disappeared!

I closed the window, told the boss I would be going to lunch a few minutes early and I left.

Don’t the Fates understand! That is supposed to be my next job! Don’t they understand the day that I have had and just needed that information to SAVE! No they don’t. They don’t understand. They aren’t in control.

So, I whisper to God. I eat my lunch while typing this post. I reopen the tab and I type out the answers again. This time clicking the little save button as I go.

Oh the trials of the “School of Hard Knocks.” I am the current mascot.

Many blessings for you and yours today as the day will inevitably end delightfully. I am certain!

Thank you little sister for supplying me with the image of the day!

Christmas Letter 2011

Generally at the end of the year mom’s across the planet send their annual wrap up letter telling you all about their fabulous lives and they are meant to make you feel jealous. If you even THINK about sending one to me. Let me save you a stamp DON’T…I warn you I will send a seething letter in response indicating that you suck.

This is not one of those letters, but at the same time it is.

Dear Friends and Family,

As we end 2011, I wanted to send out a little wrap up of my year…it’s been a journey. It’s been a roller coaster…it’s been a test.

Can you hear? beep – beeeeep – beeeeep – this is a test of the emergency alert system?! REPEAT – This is ONLY A TEST!

Should your life actually fall apart your pants will end up backwards and your children will look at you with disdain.

Alas guys, my boys love me. They look at me with kindness and run to me whenever I walk through the door. There are times when I take too long to cook dinner or spend too much time on the phone, but they love me just the same. They vocalize the fact that dinner needed to be an hour ago, but they eat when it is presented to them.

My pants haven’t ended up backwards…yet…there is still 11 days left until the New Year though, so perhaps there is time.

December 2010 – I lost my job December 16th. That was fun. Thank you husband for proving what an imbecile you were so that I had to stay home and eventually end a fun job. Honestly that was a fun time. (not!)

January 2011 – I was in New York dreaming about life in the warmth of Texas. I was able to spend a lot of time with my friends at Helping Hands, Caring Heart. Also I spent some time getting unemployment, because of the events that occurred in December. I had to attend special classes about “how to get a job” and dedicate hours and hours to finding a job. Oh – State of New York, the problem with this is THAT THERE WERE NO JOBS! I felt much like a monkey chasing a tail. OH – OH – and I also attempted to get financial assistance from the state. NYS made us take a class for that as well, turns out that if you get financial assistance you have to work for the state. I think every state needs to implement a program like that.

February 2011 – Taxes filed by Feb. 6. Wait for direct deposit to bank because I did not want to lose a huge percentage just because I felt greedy. Husband has flu that last for days and decides the only way to conquer flu is to drink vodka…he spends month in a drunken coma…meanwhile…the baby is teething and crying and generally fussy. Older son gets what the doc decides is flu and never gets well. Around the 17th of that month take him to the emergency room for a swollen hand to go with the flu like symptoms turns out he has had MRSA for about 2 weeks and could die. We are in the hospital for 10 days. During that time he has a sedated MRI, then surgery, I start this blog, and husband generally acts like a lecherous scumbag. I seeth thinking about his behavior during this time period. My youngest spends the 10 days with friends and family as I take care of my oldest who is terrified of everything that is happening to him. February 27 are discharged from the hospital having set up all follow up appointments in TX and depart for warmer regions that night.

March 2011 – We arrive in TX. I drop of husband at his grandmothers and depart for my hometown. I had arranged a house and (nearly) a job during the last month and was ready to settle into life in the hill country again. House turns out to be a dump that the landlord did not repair. He has my $1500, but I don’t have heat and there is a hole in the roof above the door. Job gives me the run around for 3.5 weeks as we process paperwork and I take an in depth physical/drug test. Pass with flying colors, but they still need time to work on the paperwork. Future boss takes a vacation during this time. I drive around the state a lot and visit lots of family. Family in Houston convinces me to stay in Houston. Alas…

April 2011 – Not much happened…stayed at home and applied for jobs and lived off $150 a week from unemployment…should not listen to newspapers when they tell you where the jobs are.

May 2011 – Apply for two jobs at a university, hope for one, interview for the other. May 18th start the other job at the university. (Sigh) I know it doesn’t pay enough but I will persevere! I continue to apply to other jobs and hope something comes to fruition. By months end…nada…

June 2011 – Finally get first pay check $300…sign back of check and hand it over to the babysitter. I learn a lot of cool stuff about my job and working for the university system. I like everyone at my new job and can’t wait for the fall semester to start. In private I cry because Miggy turns one in July and I can’t do the things that I wanted to do for his birthday. That’s okay…it’s just his first birthday. No biggy…but to me it was. Oh and this is the month that since I was working I had to move, so whether I could afford it or not…I had until July 1st to be out. Great…that didn’t happen.

July 2011 – Miggy is 1! We have three kids over for cupcakes and I do battle to try and do something for his birthday, but in the end we did nothing…I start slipping into a mild depression. Problems of July – Evil babysitter, Don’t get to celebrate birthday, and I was pissing off uncle because I couldn’t get the money together to move fast enough. Sorry – I’m poor…but we have all covered that. July 17th – finally move. Okay really my stuff moved into my new apartment, but my lights weren’t coming on until the 19th, so I stayed at my sister in law’s house for a few days.

August 2011 – As rent is due the first of each month…I sign yet another check over to someone else. I am broke…I think I blog about being broke. It is this month that I lose the first of my old friends. Tammy was found dead in her home. I still don’t know if it was ruled a homicide, overdose or combination of the two. In lighter news, I am sleeping on my bed in my living room because at this point I have no furniture to go in the apartment that I can’t really afford. Although I have a really old 32 inch box tv in the corner does work there is no coax to bring the cable from the wall. So, I post on FB that I need coax. My buddy John who has taken care of me repeatedly over the years with things like fixing cars, houses, and short segments of coax, he called and gave me the coax! We watch a lot of movies on FX to fill our evenings. Thank you John, you were a blessing. I catch up with an old friend from high school, and I think I blog about that too.

September 2011 – Register for school, get all my ducks in a row to continue with life. This is one of the reasons I accepted a job that was beneath me – right? So that I could finish school? Yes! Sadly, I lost two more friends this month. First, Big John, he is the one who gifted me the coax in August. He ended up dying of heart failure complications due to kidney disease. Then Pop or Ol’ Man Rudy. He went naturally as he was nearly 98 years old. He was the fiestiest person I have ever known and I have only known him for 11 years. I can’t imagine what he would have been like 60 years ago. Inevitably September ended with a bang. Just as a “non-relationship” relationship was ending…actually the same day…a ghost of a soul mate emails out of the blue. Soul mate? Yes, there are few people in the world as compatible as Troy and I. We email for the next few days and then he disappears as quickly as he came back.

October 2011 – This month is a bit of a blur. I was in the midst of a massive depression. Wondered why men treat me badly and couldn’t see past my own struggles…I was such a moron. Honestly. They are guys they are basically programmed to break hearts. October 17th…I get an email from a former co-worker. Troy was dead. As details emerged I found out from his ex that he had actually been hit by a vehicle on October 11th. I blogged about this too. Everything else that was important in October disappears into the fog that was the rest of October. That was like a death-blow to my heart (pun not intended).

November 2011 – Trying to talk myself back to reality. Troy’s memorial was on the 12th, as he was cremated, we waited until his family could come from Wisconsin. I couldn’t attend. It was too heartbreaking so I found a reason to be out of town. I blogged about many different and varied things…I put the school books away because well…after all of the mess that was October I never opened them. Who can read about marriage and family after all of that?! I couldn’t. I went to my mom’s a lot during this month, just about every weekend. During this month my ex husband’s grandmother fell. She refused to go to the hospital to get checked out until she woke up with a distended belly. She knew she was ill. By month’s end she knew she had cancer and she had stopped eating.

December 2011 – The end of a tumultuous year…on the 3rd Nanny passed. On the 6th we buried her along side her husband. I stress over the inability to buy Christmas for my children. I pray and seek God’s comfort in knowing that somehow we will find a miracle. Sunday we received our own Christmas miracle from my church. They gave me a gift so that I would be able to buy my kids something for Christmas. I went ever practical and bought things like pants, underwear, and socks, but that is what they need. Today…or soon…I will have to get a new car. Mine died, or is dying. After the loss of the year, it is the least in my mind, but the greatest when it comes to providing for my children. I applied for and interviewed for a position with the county back home…I hear about it Thursday and I pray for good news. Please say a little prayer for me.

On the whole this year has sucked. The last few months have been bad. Decidedly not the worst in my life, but they are in the top three.  I know that God is in these trials. I know that life is just a series of events, but sometimes it can be too much. 2011 will forever leave a sour note on my psyche, but I hold to this that depression is a choice and so is happiness. I choose to not let this get me down. I choose to rise above and conquer the tumult about me. I don’t know how exactly I will make everything work, but I will make it work.

Sincerely,

Meg, a little bruised, but healing.

Phenominal Female Friday – Pearl

In a little town in south Texas, there is a little white house with brown shudders and trim. Within the little house there was always a warm cup of coffee and a place to sit. Peeking out through the front window, always mindful of the world sat Nanny. She would read, watch TV, sew, or chat on the phone, but always from her little recliner by the front window.

She has been a constant in the lives of many for the last 88 years. Several dozen spent in that house, looking out that window, the color of the recliner and the ages of the people being the only things that changed. Nanny loved people. She loved visitors. She loved to meet the new and visit with the old. Any morning of the year you would find her at home, waiting on visitors.

There is something about a pattern to life that is appealing to me. The same routine day in and day out. I found it fascinating to witness the monotony.

Nanny was up at 6:30 every morning. Coffee was on by 7. Biscuits and sausage on weekends was ready by 7:30. The friends and family that she loved so much would start popping in about that time too. The aunts came every day. Some of the uncles did too. Her grandkids all stopped in at least once a week and those that didn’t heard all about it the next. She sat in her chair, occasionally getting up to fill up her cup, and she talked to everyone that came by. She would have something for lunch ready about 11 am and it was always something hearty. Always enough to feed an army.

My son will tell you about the Honey Buns. She always had boxes of Honey Buns. She would dole them out to every grandchild and great-grandchild and great-great-grandchild. Watching their eyes light up when they tasted the yummy sweetness was ever satisfying to her. Then he would tell you about her toy cabinet and the giant legos. He has spent many a morning creating and playing and listening to the grown ups.

Wow could we talk. We talked about every thing. We talked about every one. We got filled in on who was getting married, who was getting divorced, who was having a baby or breaking up. I don’t consider it gossip if it’s all true and about family. I shared my hopes. I listened with rapt attention. I have a fondness for the older generation. There is so much to learn from them. So much history they played witness to, and I can’t help but want to hear anything they want to tell me. I loved listening to Nanny’s stories. I loved the story she wrote about her life.

She was a small town Texas girl, born a stones throw from where I grew up. She was married young and had her first child at 16. She went on to have 6 children total, 3 boys and 3 girls. She never drove a day in her life. She was a survivor. She was loving. She could teach us all a lesson in forgiveness and a few lessons on life. She was generous. She loved.

Above all Nanny loved. That was her gift. That is what made her so amazing. She loved unconditionally. She loved whether you deserved it or not. She loved through good times and bad. She loved through life and through death. It didn’t matter what was going on within her own body she still loved you and made that known in simple words and in wanting to stay involved.

There is something so simple in her love that is must surely be the lesson we are meant to learn from her. Keep your heart open, your front door unlocked, your smiles warm, your words caring and maybe, just maybe you will be a force in a life yet to be lived.

Even in death Nanny will live because she loved so many.

What do I need right now?

What do I need now? A hug. A big bear hug that says “everything is going to be alright.” You can’t get those hugs from just anyone. It must be someone close enough to not let go too quickly; especially if in fact I do crumble and start to cry. They better know to not let me go.

I wrote not-so-long-ago about coming out of a depression that I had been in…but this week I feel like I am back there. I think if I were allowed to I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed today. Honestly. Would. Not. Have. Gotten. Out. Of. Bed. Today.

Lucky for me I don’t have that option. I have to get up. I have to go to work. I have to make sure the boys eat. I have to make sure I send notes with them to school and their folder is signed. There is so much that HAS to be done that I don’t have the option of becoming one with the bed. No matter how appealing that might be at the moment.

Anyway…this evening I am thankful.

Thankful for my friends. Thankful for my children. Thankful for the possibilities for the future. I don’t know how it’s all going to turn out yet, but I do know the journey…well…the journey is the best part.

Some day I will be here again...

Life and Loss…

Okay – so I was never able to go finish my last post…the day is now kind of a blur. But I had intended to…this week has been a blur.

We could call this post a lesson in coping.

Really.

Life has had a sinking feeling this week. Try as I might to not let it, it does. You see…the part of last Friday that was some how deleted from my post was the part where we said our good byes to Nanny.

Last week I randomly posted about my husband’s grandmother discovering she had cancer.

Well…over the course of that week she made a life ending decision. She didn’t want to suffer, and she didn’t want to be a burden on her family. She began refusing food and water. Although she had always said she would do this if she ever found out she had but a short while to live. I for one never thought she would actually have the force of will to follow through. Nanny was stubborn when she made her mind up about something, so it really doesn’t surprise me.

After work Friday, after my morning spent making decorations for my office, I was walking out to the car when my ex husband called and gave me the news that she was refusing sustenance. ‘Huh?’ Shock filled my belly and the realization that Friday I would have to say goodbye hit me.

How do you say goodbye? This is the thought that went through my  head on the way to pick up my youngest from the babysitter.

I am 31 years old, you would think that I have some experience telling people goodbye, but I don’t. The loss in my life has been the sudden, tragic kind. We have never gotten to say our goodbyes to find closure in a few whispered words. We have to work it out over time. We have to come to terms with our grief after the fact. We haven’t had the opportunity to receive closure in the relationships unless we found it with in ourselves. That is a process. That in some cases (as with my grandfather’s accident) takes years.

I was thinking this would be different. I was thinking that I would get to say good bye.

As last week had gone on I had considered the fact that we were going to lose Nanny, but the doctors had said three months. I guess I clung to the idea of three months. When my sister in law called and told me that it could be as soon as with in two weeks, that was still not enough time.

Is there a length of time long enough to satisfy love when you will never be able to speak to them in person again?     No.

As it happens in life I never got to have that final conversation. I went to Nanny’s house and sat with the family for a while Friday afternoon, she never woke up. We would hear her breath, we would listen for movement, but nothing happened. She never stirred.

I had made a commitment to my great-uncle to pick him up from his group home Friday evening. If I had not been there to pick up my uncle he would have thought I hated him and didn’t care about his feelings and would have questioned me about it every time that I see him from now until forever. He is mentally handicapped and some things he just doesn’t understand. He is an 8 year old in a 75 year old’s body and though he has the longest memory of anyone I have ever met, he doesn’t process things properly. He wouldn’t have understood having to wait because my ex husband’s grandmother was dying. I am not sure he understands the extension of life outside of our own family. It wasn’t until 2002 that he had ever lived outside the home of one of his own family members. Even then his group home is owned by very old friends of our family. He is well protected and cared for, bumps in his plan don’t work well.

Anyway, I didn’t get to say good bye. I was there, but I hold the opinion that she was already gone. I looked in on her in her bed and what I saw was not the person that I knew. What I saw was the pallid veil of death that was slowly taking her body as her soul must surely have already been in heaven. There was breath left in her body, but there was no emotion on her face. She lay a shadow of her self in the bed she had shared with her husband for so many years in a house that had seen so many holidays and childhoods.

Turns out that my goodbye was said a month ago as I was leaving her house after our Saturday morning coffee and honey buns. “Good bye Nanny, love you, see you again soon.” I did…she just didn’t get to see me.

There is much to learn from her life. My sporadic series Phenomenal Female Friday’s will be about what I learned from her life.

Everything is Relative

Yesterday’s post reminds me that sometimes we write terrible things just to write things and then we publish them! (Press them, blog them, however you want to put it.) Anyway, we write stuff because we think we are supposed to write stuff and when you try to post five days a week it isn’t always good.

Good content should be the goal. Not just content.

Was the post all bad? I guess not…but it’s idealistic and remedial.

I could have done a better job.

How many of us in this bloggy world do that? We write something. We press it. We leave it for a day and come back and think it’s utter crap.

I have been having a bit of writers block on the creative side. I have tried different things in recent months to dig my way out of it, but nothings working.

On that note…

I would like everyone to be reminded that bad is a relative term. What is bad to one isn’t bad to someone else.

My niece is having a rough time with the boys. She hasn’t realized yet that most of them are stupid at age 15, and that by just being a girl she is automatically older than them. They are stuck in junior high, while they are almost juniors in high school.

She thinks life is terrible right now. Well…for her maybe it is. I know that we all experience things differently, and aside from a few crushes in high school I could care less what the guys thought. (I know I was the exception to the general consensus.) In other words, I don’t understand where she is coming from.

To me cancer is terrible. My Nanny is dying. I say my nanny, but really she is my ex husband’s grandmother. She is simply Nanny to everyone. Diagnosed with metastic cancer just last week, but it is everywhere. It is not a great Greek tragedy, she has lived an incredible long life. She is nearly 90.

Anyway, I don’t know how I got here from there…

Terrible in life, love, and writing…it’s all relative.

Photo from this blog: http://www.thenotebookdoodles.com/2010_01_01_archive.html