Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sharing Our Kids, and Some Belated Thank Yous

So, I am strolling through my FB feed when I come upon a meme posted by a fellow mother that lost her child to Type 1. Basically it says that all of the people that come to the funeral will not be there for you after you lose your child. This hit me weird.

Well, weird isn’t the word. Wrong isn’t the write word, either.

Unfair is more like it.
Your child isn’t just YOUR child. They are part of the world. Whether you want to believe it or not, your tiny little piece of your own world is part of the great big world, too. Especially when they get older and start school. Or, if your community is aware that your child has medical issues that they are fighting. You family, friends and community members are emotionally invested in your child. The parents of your children’s friends know your child. I found this out after losing Sarah. I had several parents that had stories that their children had brought home about her. They were all good stories that revolved around her concern for others and how they were impressed that she was so comfortable in her own skin.
These people that loved your child, they are experiencing loss, too. In our case, my best friends had children that had grown close to her. Hell, they considered her one of their children. They experience loss, too. So, when they see our faces, they don’t just see the person that lost their child. They see their own grief.
It is unfair for us to expect them to think we are the only ones that grieve. And, you know what else? Their grief goes on for years, too. Especially those of us who were really close to us.
So, sometimes, we have to suck it up and realize that we are being selfish and share. And, for those people that do move on. It isn’t fair of us to expect them to stay behind with us and hold on to our grief. Life moves on and so should we.
On another note, I do not think that I ever said thank you to the people that were there the morning we lost Sarah. They saw me at my very lowest. They were the ones that came running. I know that I will miss people because the morning is foggy and horrible.
My family… so much love.
Cathy… She was literally at my side when they broke the news and the first to console me. I always loved you. But, being there meant more than you will ever now.

Shara… I cannot imagine having to call me. It was not your fault and that should not have been your cross to bear.

Barbara and Ron… The fact that you took the time to come all the way out and wanted to help, yeah… I have nothing. Thank you.

Joy… You stepped and made things happened. You invited complete strangers into your house to take care of me. So much love for you.

Val… No words. Just love.

And, finally Jessica and Jasen… You have seen me at quite literally seen me at my lowest. Including my crashing and screaming. Thank you, my friends. We love you more than you will ever know.

Don’t worry, I tell Mr. J thank you all the time.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Words Are Weapons...

Words hurt. They stick with you. Even though you may know that what is being said is not true or said out of anger, spite or jealousy, they are agonizing. Even words that are said out of sympathy can be hurtful at times. Especially when you feel the person needs sympathy, and they do not. And, we are often so busy worrying about what we want to say that we do not listen, even when we are asking for help. This is my introductory paragraph. I have made my 3 points. So here we go with the body. Maybe I should just do this in outline form. I would. But, I fear I might age myself. Do they even teach outlining, anymore?

This is hard for me to write. Partly because I am afraid that it will come out as bad mouthing my ex. I am not. We have both changed a lot since our divorce. But, I am sharing because I want other people to learn from our mistakes. The prompt for this was when a friend shared that she was told she was a bitch and needed to shut the hell up. I immediately flashed back to years ago standing in the kitchen getting scolded for an improperly cleaned kitchen.

I did not communicate very well in my marriage. I am to blame for the problems, too. But, this is about things that we say that hurt. Especially when they are said over and over again. The phrase that I heard over and over again was, “If you don’t like it pack your stuff and get out.” It was always said in anger. It was only said when we fought. But, it still hurt. I never responded much to the statement. I couldn’t. Those words hurt far too much. I think there may have been once that I actually said, “No. You leave.” If I had started expressing my wants and desires in the relationship from the very beginning, it never would have got to that point. But, I didn’t. The words hurt. And, they stick.

Your value as a person is determined mostly by what you contribute to the world. When I heard my spouse leave, I heard, “We would be better off without you here.” And, he was surprised to hear I had suicidal thoughts and was shocked when I left. My value as a wife and mother mattered more than anything. And, I took the words to mean that I had no value. I felt that it meant I was in the way. (Hearing “Get out of the way.” Or “You’re in the way.” when I was where he needed to get at something has lead me to feel like I am always underfoot or a nuisance. I am slowly moving away from feeling that way. But, there are days that I can’t escape it.)

So, if I ever say I don’t understand why anyone would want to be around me, I am working on it. But, it’s going to take time.

We don’t think about the things we say when we are mad. That doesn’t mean they aren’t what we are thinking.

Next point, sometimes we should just keep our mouths shut. As human beings, we always assume that people want to hear what we think. OK, I am a blogger, so I think and hope that people want to hear what I think. But, I am not going to walk up to someone and start spilling my guts. (To be honest, I tend to get ran over in conversation anyways and make mental notes of what to talk to Mr. J about when we get alone.)

And, you know, sometimes it is OK. But, when it comes to subjects like healthcare, having children, relationships… tread lightly. It is perfectly fine to tell the person that you are there to listen and to talk. But, do not assume they need to hear what you think. There is a blog going around stating that people would not have to give you reasons why they are not having children. Had I been a responsible blogger, I would have stashed the site and shared it here.

The blog is based around the idea that how many children we want and why is our business and that people shouldn’t be expected to spit babies out like a pez dispenser. But, it goes both ways. We shouldn’t judge people or comment on families with lots of children, too. The comments about “Why haven’t you had any children yet? I bet you just can’t wait to have children!” and others of the nature are often meant to show concern or interest. But, generally, it is a sensitive issue.

In other words, remember that we do not know what is best for other people. It is arrogant of us to think otherwise.

My last gripe stems from my job. But, it flows into the rest of my life, too. Sometimes, we need to shut up and listen.

I am the receptionist in an office where people pay debts. A majority of the time, the callers are so wound up with trying to remember what they think they need to say that they get themselves all worked up about it and end up rambling loudly and making a fuss. Then, I still have to make them start all over because I do not know who they are and I have to find them in the computer. When we are so busy regurgitating what we have on our mind that the person we are speaking to can’t keep up, we are fight a losing battle so to speak. A majority of the calls take several minutes of them fussing over something as simple as stating, “I will be able to take care of this on such and such date, if that is sufficient.” All because they decided the person on the other end of the phone is going to be rude and overly demanding.

So, stop. And listen to each other. This is the one thing Jerry and I really have a problem with. Mostly because we are both ADD and our minds wander of the train of thought A LOT. But, we both know we do it and are patient with each other.

So, to wrap things up... 1.) Be kind and choose words that will continue to lift people up. The ones that tear them down will do more damage than you can ever imagine. 2.) Be mindful of what is actually any of your business. 3.) Listen and be patient. Enough said.

And, one last thing. If you are reading this and think that people who get hurt by people’s words need to get thick skinned or get over it, there is a good chance you are part of the problem.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Every time that you lose it sing it for the world...

Be careful what songs you play at your child’s funeral.

From that moment on, you will be tortured by the memory attached to the song. However, if they were favorites of you and your child, you will get the worst emotional whiplash you can imagine.

My daughter got her taste in music from me. We listen to a little bit of everything. But, we tend to gravitate to the more dark and “alternative” music. I listened to Sarah’s music with her partly because I enjoyed it. But, I mostly did it because my mother did the same thing. She wasn’t giving us permission to run the radio or “giving into us.” She was being involved and wanted to know what we were listening to. Plus, Bon Jovi was huge. And, she loved Bon Jovi.  So, when Sarah was gone, I was at an odd place in my musical choices.

Do I keep listening to these bands because I want to? Or, would I be listening to hold onto Sarah. Either was an acceptable reason. But, I wanted to figure it out. There are particular songs that we sang together a lot. 

“Weightless” by All Time Lowe. 

“NaNaNaNA” by My Chemical Romance. 

“Wagon Wheel” by The Old Crow Medicine Show. 

“Highway to Hell” by ACDC. 

Those songs I smile and cry my way through.

But, when a song comes out by of the bands that she loved, I am torn. Do I like the song because it's a good song, or because Sarah would have liked it. My taste in music will be forever touched my the taste of a fourteen year old girl. Granted, she had good taste in music. So, I am not complaining. But, it makes listening to music both sad and happy. 

But, the ones from the funeral are the hardest to hear. 

We called the list of songs we played at the funeral "Sarah's Setlist." And, here it is.

"Good Riddance" - Green Day
"Hands" - The Almost
"Hallelujah" - Paramore 
"Lullabies" - All Time Low
"Wagon Wheel" - Old Crow Medicine Show
"Love Story" - Taylor Swift
"What a Wonderful World" - Joey Ramone
"Airplanes" - B.O.B. with Hayley Williams
"Breathe" - Ryan Adams
"Beautiful" - Christina Aguilera

And, these are the two songs we played during the service.

But, most importantly, more than anything else you might take away from this... The ONE thing I hope you take away... Listen with your child when they listen to their music. If I had not, I would not have known her so well. I would have missed out on the opportunity to find out how much she and I were alike. How much I saw myself in her. How much she saw herself in me. And, I have the memory of hearing her sing in my head. I can still hear her voice. It is probably the most precious thing I have.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Letter to My Husband

Dear Jerry,

I know you have a big day coming up this week. It is a day that you have been anticipating with both dread and relief. On February 6th you will have spent more days on this Earth than your father. You have carried more on your shoulders than any one person should have to. You have carried your own burdens of grief as well as helping the rest of us to carry ours.

I know that you were not aware of that when you took the kids and I into your lives that more grieving would follow. There was no way that we could know we would lose Sarah. And, I feel so selfish letting you help me carry my hurt when I know that you love her, too. You were a friend to her in a way that no one else was. And, you have filled those shoes with Ty, too. You are an example of warmth and affection to he has learned from. The patience you show him melts my heart and gives me peace of mind.

I remember a time when you didn’t know that you would live to see the day that you made it longer than your father. The faith that the rest of the world has in you is so much stronger than you will ever know. You are an example of kindness and compassion. Intelligence and humor. Art and strength.

More than anything else, I am amazed with your never ending patience with me. You love me despite, and sometimes because of, my faults. I am not an easy person to live with. I have panic attacks when it comes to paying bills. I am horrid at cleaning house. I can barely make on complete thought. But, you find me charming and know when I am about to break. And, you know that sometimes I don’t need words, just to be held.
 And, in a week when we have friends that are having babies, you listen to my "if we were blessed with children" speeches with patience and understanding. You know that I do not expect to actually have more children. But, you are compassionate about the fact that I want them. You don't flinch when I say, "If we had kids...". This world would be such a grand place if they were blessed to have children you raised from birth. 

You are so loved. And, not just by me. Your family, Ty, your friends, even the animals. Thank you for the blessing that you are. I get teary eyed thinking about the influence you have had on us. And, I am so proud of the charismatic, charming, confident man you have become. I loved you before. But, it grows with every step we take together.

With all of my heart,