We were the closest family possible. Our world was turned upside down on 05/03/09 when my best friend, the person I love most next only to our children, my sister Trina was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Her body gave out on her on 01/09/10 but she will ALWAYS be a part of our daily life and will continue to be in my posts. I started my blog to chronicle our daughter's international adoption from Guatemala and have continued to use it as a journal.

What you will find is my family trying to adapt to our new lives that were handed to us.



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pool Of Laughter And Sadness

Today was yet another milestone; we used the pool for the first time this summer. I had a few scenes running through my mind the whole time I was in it. I put off using the pool as long as I could because I knew it was going to be hard. I kept thinking of last year and how Asa had cried and sobbed for sissy to take him swimming. I will never, for the rest of my life, forget how she held him, both of them crying and she promised him that she would be able to take him swimming next summer. I hated hearing those words from her because of course we were not guaranteed anything about "next summer."

Once I finally got into the pool this afternoon a flood of memories came rushing back to me. Sissy wasn't able to use the pool at all last summer due to her pain and anti-nausea patches that were very sensitive to temperature. Summer of 2007 sissy wasn't able to use the pool much due to her broken toe :) I still smile when I think of how much she bitched about that damn broken toe. Mom later teased her that she complained more about her toe than she did with her cancer. But I wasn't able to smile the whole time. I remembered the countless days of her and I swimming, tanning, laughing, drinking and talking in the pool. All of these things were racing through my mind while I watched Valentina float in her boat.

Mom says that we will never be whole again and it's true. We will never again be a complete family. We also remembered how we never "gelled" with Trina's first husband even though they were married for 13 years. It was never "oh good, it's the 5 of us" or "cool, he's coming too." No, it was always "great! He's not going!" or we really felt whole when it was just the 4 of us. Then Norm came along and he became part of the family. Once Joshua arrived we solidified as a unit of six. The kids added an immeasurable amount of joy to our already full family. While we were waiting for Valentina to come home we all felt as if we were in some sort of holding pattern but when she finally came home that was it, we were finally a family of eight. The eight of us. Reservations for eight. Seating for eight. Tickets for eight. Food for eight. Our family was whole.

We are no longer whole. Mom and I were talking this evening how much sissy suffered those last eight months of her life. She fought with everything she had but cancer and chemo is never easy even when you are given a great prognosis. When you're told that you be undergoing chemo for the rest of your short life, just trying to buy as much time as possible, well, it was even harder. Mom and I both desperately miss her and wish she was here, healthy.

I've been watching "Boston Med" and am addicted to it. I remember a show like it that was on a year or two ago and I loved that one too. Anyway, I started watching one episode a couple of weeks ago with mom and we didn't get more than five minutes into it before mom collapsed into a weeping mess. I realized then that this was one show that we would not be watching together! Anyway, I've seen every episode and I think the most I've done is tear up a few times. I even watched the "Deadliest Catch" episodes where Phil had his stroke, etc.... and I cried a bit. But this past week's episode of "Boston Med" did me in. Marvin had just gotten on the heart transplant list and they were waiting but he didn't have much time. Watching that story line was like watching our lives the week of January 2-9, 2010. We went through everything they showed. I sobbed when the doctor stopped the other doctors from trying to get Marvin out of his cardiac arrest and said "let's stop. Let the family have a few moments with him." Seeing Marvin's wife walk to his bedside and talk to a very weak Marvin, not the Marvin she was used to having, hearing her say the exact same words I had to tell my sister, knowing exactly how she felt, seeing their kids stand behind because they couldn't really believe this was happening, having to say goodbye quickly before he faded into a coma and then die, well, it not only made me sob but it took everything I had to not vomit.

And how did tonight end? Asa excitedly went home with Joshua and mom, Norm, Papa and I watched Valentina dance outside. She had us all roaring with pure, honest laughter. Watching her flail her arms wildly, twisting her legs around and stamping the ground, dance all over the front porch area, over the hand and feet imprints of her and Asa dated 08/01/09, seeing her full of joy and life, well, it is for those moments that I live. It is for those two children that I get up in the morning. It is for Beya who I love more than anyone ,save for the kids, that I get through the day. It is for our now shattered, broken, NOT whole family that gets me through the day. There are days that I think "ok, I can do this" and then I have days that are "I can't do this, I'm fucking up, I'm not strong enough, it's too hard, I can't even get through the next five seconds." Friday was one of those latter days.

The other night I putting Asa to bed and he asked me what laughter was. I explained it was when you were happy and laughed. I took the moment to ask him if he had laughter in his day. He said yes yet it appeared as if he were trying to figure out how to say something else. I asked him if he had sadness in his life. He seemed to be relieved that I had somehow read his mind and he said "I have sadness because mom died." When asked if he had more laughter than sadness in his days he thought for a moment and came to conclusion that there was more laughter than sadness. I will strive to be like Asa and try to have more laughter than sadness in my days. I will try to laugh at the kids and all the funny little quirks they do. I will try to bring more laughter than sadness to my family, friends and my most important friends that I have chosen to be my family. I will try to make the laughter happen and accept that sadness will always be a part of my daily life but I don't have to let it run my life. It is just so damn difficult when the person who you spent more time with than anyone else except for your kids is gone. Millions, literally millions, of things died with sissy. Millions of conversations. Millions of disagreements. Millions of shopping trips. Millions of silent looks at each other where we knew what the other was thinking. Millions of inside jokes. Millions of lunches. So much is buried with her and can never be revived, but we are trying for the kids. Two weeks ago we even left town for the first time. We did it. In a few weeks we are going to the beach for a few days with the kids. Millions of things are gone, never to be had again, but I can also CREATE millions of good things for the kids. Millions of good memories. Millions of laughs. Millions of shopping trips. The most I can hope for is that our days contain more laughter than sadness and may the days where there is more sadness be fewer than the days where we have more laughter. That is my hope.

"I will not be licked by tragedy as life is a challenge and we must continue to work for the living as well as mourn for the dead."

- Rose Kennedy


August 2008

Monday, July 19, 2010

Heather And Chad's Wedding

Yesterday was Heather and Chad's beautiful wedding. Heather is Norm's cousin but I've known her since she was about Asa's age so I've watched her grow up. It was a beautifully elegant, relaxed wedding. Asa and Valentina were the ring bearer and flower girl. I'm so damn proud of how my kids were! They were both very nervous and a little scared but they persevered and did such a great job!


Before the wedding. Heather was a gorgeous, relaxed, happy bride.

Valentina loves Chad and kept telling me how handsome he was. This was the first time Valentina saw Chad, just before the pictures started.


Me and my kids. Sissy is right there with us, the middle circle of my necklace. Her disc is flanked by Asa's and Valentina's so she and I will always be surrounded by our kids. The ceremony was down in a little clearing at Norm's parents house and the reception was just above that, where Trina and Josh got married only 23 months ago. It was unbelievably difficult as my mind kept wandering back to August 31, 2008 and how different our lives are now. I kept thinking how proud sissy would have been of Asa. I cried inside for my sister. I cried in private for Asa for he has lost. And most of all I cried because I kept having flashing thoughts of "I can't wait to show sissy these pictures" or "wait til sissy how cute Asa looks". I cried because I miss her so much.
Walking down the aisle. Asa was so protective and concerned about Valentina that he didn't watch where he was going. They were both so nervous but they did it! I showed Asa before the wedding the exact chair that I'd be sitting in while they walked down the aisle and told he could just look at me if he got scared. I barely made it as the wedding started quicker than I expected. I was still "backstage" with the wedding party when I realized that the seating of the mother's had already been done. I had to book it up a hill, across the driveway and down a steep embankment but come hell or highwater, I was going to be in that chair!




Asa took this picture of himself. I love it!

Valentina showing me how Bruce the shark from "Finding Nemo" acts.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Juxtaposition

I had 300+ pictures on my camera, most of which were taken this past weekend at a weekend. This photo was one of them. I think it shows so much more than what you see.

Asa was in the midst of acting silly and looks a bit drunk and I'm smiling because I'm with him but you can also see that my eyes are red. There was one point in the reception that caused me to fly out of there in order to have my meltdown. I found this photo to be the perfect Juxtaposition; I'm happy for Asa yet right under the surface you see someone who is broken.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Fourth? Check

So we made it through the 4th of July. I knew we would, there is no other option, but holidays are still incredibly hard. It was especially hard because there are a few moments that really stick in my head from last year's celebration. Sissy was very sick and feeling kind of shitty but she managed to spend the whole day at our house. We BBQ'd in the back and even took a picture of Norm's and Trina's matching hairdo's. Later on, when it got dark, we moved to the front yard and watched fireworks. I distinctly remember sissy and I laying on the ground on top of a blanket and I just held her, wondering if I would be able to do the same thing in a year. I couldn't. But I will always have that memory and it is a bittersweet one. Like I've said before, we're fortunate because I don't think any of us have any regrets, wish we would have done this or said that. We were always so appreciative of our time together, cancer had taught us that on December 14, 1992. Actually it was long before that since mom instilled a strong devotion to family growing up. We were never allowed to leave the house to go somewhere if we had been fighting in case one of us were in a car accident and killed. I owe my family loyalty to Beya. I love her so much and lean on her so much. We are just clinging to each other like crazy right now. Well, and the kiddo's. Oh the kids, how I love them! I should have some pretty good pictures pretty soon as we are going to a wedding this weekend and then next weekend they are IN a wedding. Norm's cousin (who I consider my own cousin) is getting married and the kids are the ring bearer and flower girl. I'm kind of afraid of what Valentina is going to do as she is such a performer and loves to be the center of attention so Heather, I apologize in advance for anything that my daughter will do! It should make for an interesting wedding video just as Asa made sissy and Joshua's wedding funny. He kept tapping Trina's stomach while they were getting married and at one point he walked behind sissy and whopped her on the butt! Trina was just scared that he was going to lift her dress up! So yes, kids at a wedding are very unpredictable and we've got two weddings in two weekends!

Other than that, things are the same. I feel sad, happy, frustrated, devastated, hopeful, angry, acceptance, denial, numb and everything in between all at once most days. Some days I actually think we can do this, we can make it, we will get through the rest of our lives and other days I feel like I can't make it through the next five seconds. But it is what it is. Like mom says, we're doing the best we can with the situation that we were given. We didn't choose this path, it was shoved in our way. But I do repeat my Rose Kennedy mantra at least once a day, sometimes 20.

I will not be licked by tragedy as life is a challenge and we must continue to work for the living as well as mourn for the dead.