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.



Tuesday, August 31, 2010

All Is (Almost) Right With The World

Josh and Asa got back today from their California vacation and it feels sooooo good to have our boys back! Every day Valentina would tell me "I miss my Asa Boy. I wish Asa was here." She knew that they would be back this afternoon and she was asking me literally every five minutes "is it time to go get Asa at the airport?" The first few times it was cute, after the 286th time I wanted to stick skewers through my ears. Asa was so sweet and picked out a big, pink whale for Valentina from Sea World. Needless to say she loves it and already told everyone she's going to sleep with it tonight. I think we just might have found a replacement for Blue Bear.

Yes, my blog is public again. Yes, there are some people that will now read it that make me nervous but I've already had contact with someone who lost her sister and it has been nice to converse with her via email. It is because of this very reason that I re-opened it.

Both kids start school next week. In a way I'm dreading it since I don't do well when they are gone more than a day. This will be every day, except for Valentina who will only go to school 2 days a week but Grama will have her one day a week so really she'll be gone for three days but the days she's in school she's only there for 2 1/2 hours.

Like I said, we're just figuring this out as we plod along. I have no idea which way is up. It's like we were sailing along in a beautiful, luxurious yacht and when cancer hit us (again) we got hit with a huge wave. We were just getting things back together and learning how to sail with a few pieces missing making the sailing harder when another wave hit 12/16/09. That was the day we found out that the chemo wasn't working and not only did her tumor marker numbers not decrease but had actually doubled. On 01/09/10 we were hit with a rogue wave and our ship is gone. We're all clinging to deflated life boats and have no idea where we are going or how to get there. Someone dear to me told me that she thinks of us as treading water and that it must be exhausting to do it all the time. Yes, we are and sometimes we go under. I think I spent most of August under water, fighting with the life raft. It seems that every fucking month is another wave, trying to beat us down even further.

September = Labor Day

Oh how I remember how we BBQ'd every day one Labor Day weekend. Trina always insisted on making baked beans and that was all.summer.long. By Labor Day I was ready to chuck those damn beans into the pool! I think I told sissy that too. Now it's another holiday/wave, trying to push us down.

September = Asa's Birthday

How? How do I do Asa's 6th birthday? His first birthday without his mom. He is excited about it and that is how I'm doing it but it is still a ginormous wave looming in closer and closer.

October = PGN OUT

10/09/07 we got OUT of PGN (on my grandpa's bday) and I'll never forget that day, not just because we got OUT of PGN (yes, I still have to use all caps for OUT of PGN) but because in the afternoon sissy, Asa and I went to Kohls and bought out almost the whole toddler girl section of the store.

October = My birthday

Ugh. If it were up to me I'd forget my birthday and ignore it. I know we did something for Norm's birthday back on March 3rd but I have no idea what it was. I have no recollection of it. All I can think of is that I won't have a "Happy Birthday Sister" card. However I have my pair of grey Converse shoes that I wear all the time. They were my last birthday present to me from sissy. That and a cross keychain. She had given me one about 4 years ago and it broke so I told her that I needed a new one. I was very superstitious about it and wouldn't even touch it until sissy had bought it. I pointed it out to her and told her I needed it. This year I will not have anything from sissy for my birthday. It's not the gift that I am missing, it is what the gift represents, life from sissy.

October = Halloween

This one is almost too painful to talk about. Sissy was so sick last Halloween and yet we laughed so hard and had so much fun. She was DETERMINED to be there for Asa. She was the only person who was trick or treating with their child while using a walker. We did that the night before Halloween and the night of Halloween was so special. It was perfect save for the fact that sissy was in so much pain and she had cancer. Halloween is going to be a BIG wave.

November = Josh's Birthday

Enough said.

November = Mom's Birthday/Valentina's Homecoming Day

Again, enough said. Big wave.

November = Thanksgiving

Rogue wave. I don't know in what shape we will be in after this one hits us. We've talked about leaving town for the holidays this year. I can't imagine staying home and doing the same thing we did last year when sissy was here.

December = 12/16

The day that was the beginning of the end. It just happens to be mom and papa's anniversary too. How shitty is that? The day sissy was told that the second type of chemo wasn't working and not only was it even keeping the cancer at bay but that the sonuvabitch was working harder than ever and invading her further and faster.

December = Christmas/Hanukkah/Holiday Season

God help us all.

December = New Years Eve

The last time she had chemo and the very last time she was at my house. She was too sick and weak to even chew the dinner I had made for her.

January. The End.

The waves keep hitting us. But the kids? The kids are literally our life rafts. Thank you God for them. And I mean that. Thank you God!

Monday, August 30, 2010

By A Thread

I feel as if I've been hanging on to sanity by a very, very thin, frayed thread. Each day gets worse. August has been harder than I ever feared. There have been so many milestones that we've had to go through and tomorrow would have been sissy's wedding anniversary. Only two years ago she got married. Two years. On her wedding day I never would have thought that she'd be dead in only 17 months. One year ago right now we were doing her wedding rehearsal. I made her wedding playlist. It is just so unbelievable.

Every.Day.Is.Worse.

Mom and I went shopping today in an effort to partake in some retail therapy. It didn't help and on the drive over I broke down. I just felt so incredibly raw, physically and emotionally. I truly felt as if I would bleed or my skin would break if someone touched me. I felt stripped. I felt as if my veins were exposed and that my whole body had been burned. I think my brain does a pretty good job of protecting my heart by keeping me in shock but every once in a while the shock wears off just like a snake shedding it's skin and for a brief moment I'm suddenly very, very vulnerable. Then my brain takes over and the denial/shock takes over again and I'm somewhat insulated. There are times when I just miss my sister so fucking much. I just can't believe that this is our life. We all have to live without her. Is this real? This can't be real! Mom made some remark about someone who had been at the house in the week after sissy died and I had no idea that they had been there. She mentioned how we had taken the kids to story time at Barnes and Noble and I have no memory of that. I wonder if in six months I'll look back at this moment in time and have no recollection of it. I went through and read a few of my posts in the weeks after she died and I was reading it as if I had never written it. I have no memory of it. Again, another example of how my brain is taking over. I wonder if I were to have a brain MRI if there would actually be a chunk missing.

So I'm struggling. Mom says I'm retreating. My therapist tells me I need to lean on people. This is my third therapist, by the way. Yes, I have three therapists. And a shit load of mental health meds. I cannot imagine how I would be if I didn't have all this "help". I say that in quotes because really, there is nothing that helps, I think my therapists and meds just keep me from circling the drain and/or out of a padded cell.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Break

This month is proving to be even harder than I thought. Sissy's birthday is Wednesday. I miss her so much. So much shit has happened in the past 15 months. I miss our blissful lives that we had before cancer came to us..... AGAIN. We were so thankful for everything we had. We had rough times but we also knew we could handle whatever happened because we'd all be together and we were all healthy. I try so hard not to look back because it doesn't do any good but cause even more pain. I just miss my sissy so damn much. I miss everything about her, even her bipolar episodes. I miss having a sibling. I miss Asa having his mum mum. I miss Valentina having her TT. Whenever Valentina does something so diva-ish I cry because I think about what a kick sissy would have gotten out of it and how she would have said "oh Vali! You're so cute!" She loved her niece so much and it fucking sucks that Valentina won't have her growing up. Every child deserves an aunt who dotes on them and takes their side vs. their mom. I would usually side with Asa when it came to him and sissy having a disagreement. There are times that I catch Asa staring off into space and when I ask him what he's thinking about he brushes it off with "nothing" but if I tell him it's ok to tell me he says "I'm thinking that mom died." It's happening more and more often. I hate that mom and I don't have sissy together. Whenever I had to vent about mom I'd always talk to sissy. Within two days time she would tell mom about it and then mom would talk to me so NOTHING was ever kept from any of us! Mom would confide to me about something sissy had done to hurt her feelings and again, within two days I would spill the beans to sissy and then the two of them would talk about it and things would be fine. I would complain about sissy to mom and usually within 24 hours (mom hated for sissy and me to be even mildly upset with each other) sissy and I would be talking things out and again, everything was fine. We called it our "party line arguments." Nothing was ever kept each other. Mom and I said last week that we miss having sissy as our "go between." Now when mom and I don't see eye to eye on something we have to ~gasp~ just tell each other right away. We miss our middle man. I miss the extra conversation that sissy would have brought to ours. When mom and I run errands without the kids and it gets quiet I wonder what sissy would have been talking about because it was NEVER quiet with sissy! I remember giving her a hard time and asking her if she was ever able to just not talk. She would always say "what? I like to talk!" I miss her talking so much now. I always enjoyed it. We always said our family should have a reality show. We were always having adventures and something would always go wildly wrong. We would laugh so hard at each other and just figured everyone else would find us as funny as we found each other. Most people don't realize that someone so profound in your life dies, it's not just the big things that you miss, it's the millions of little things, after all, our personalities are made up of countless little nuances and personality traits. It's all those little things, the way sissy would cock her head to the side when she was trying to make up her mind or the way she would always huff when she wouldn't find something in her suitcase sized purse, or the way she always insisted on being home by 4 pm so she could cook dinner for Joshua and Asa, even when she was sick on chemo. I miss the way she would answer the phone saying "YELL-oh" when I would call her. I miss the way she would call me and I would answer the phone just talking to her, no greeting, just telling her what I was doing at that very moment or what I was thinking about at that second and she would just go with it. I miss her using me as her TV Guide. She would call me to see what was on tv that night or to ask me when whatever show was on that week. I always told her there was a handy dandy thing called a TV Menu but she always had the same answer, "but why would I use that when I have you?" I miss her calling me to tell me something funny Asa had done. I miss her calling me to ask "what is my Vali up to? Tell me something funny she did." She asked that more frequently towards the end when she wasn't able to be over as much or didn't see Valentina much. I miss when mom would bring up something from our childhood and sissy and I would have two completely memories of it and we would just look at each, laugh and say "are we talking about the same situation?" I miss seeing her truck pulling into my driveway out of the blue, her walking around to the passenger side to get Asa unbuckled from his car seat and just walking up the front yard saying "I thought we'd come over for a bit." I miss our SPC (Summer Party Central). I miss mom, sissy and I making each other laugh so hard we couldn't breathe.

So I'm taking a break from blogging to try to figure out how to go forward. To figure out how to deal with the fact that even though my sister's birthday is coming up, she will never be older than 40. To figure out how to go on without my soul.

I'm taking a break to miss my sister.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Coos Bay Vacay

It's been a while since I posted pictures of the kids so hold on to your hats. I'm trying to make a good post for today since all I can think of is "seven months ago the unthinkable happened."

Norm had to go to the beach for work this past weekend so of course we tagged along. He rode down with his work husband and I went with Beya, Papa and the kiddo's.




We weren't even out of town when I took this picture.


About an hour from our destination.


The kids saw these glasses and two bottles of water next to them so they took it upon themselves to become very dignified in their drinking patterns for the next two days.





We went out to dinner the first night and Valentina wanted the nachos. This is the KID SIZED nachos!

Asa always looks so angelic when he sleeps.


Valentina fell asleep at the foot end so mom made her a bed out of the two chairs. She loved it when she woke up.

hmmm....... someone seems to have taken a self portrait when I wasn't looking.



Friday mom and I took the kids to the beach. We had to drive about 25 miles south from our hotel to get beach access. We stopped for lunch and asked where we could get to the beach and lo and behold we were only a half mile from it! Valentina was in heaven with her soup. She loves soup. She will sometimes beg for soup for breakfast.

Asa doing some disco moves.


Our view of the bay. Side note: if you are at the beach at lunchtime and there is a restaurant that has a long line and a restaurant that is mostly empty, chances are that the mostly empty place is empty for a reason. We figured that out after we ate. Guess we should have waited in line.


Asa making a sand angel.


Beya buried Asa in the sand.
Mom and I were pretty proud of ourselves. This was our first trip to the beach without sissy and it was hard. But we went out and did it for the kids and we had fun. The weather was almost perfect, slightly windy, kind of sunny but not cold. It was probably 65 degrees, not too bad for the Oregon coast!


Asa loved seeing my sand writing.


You can't tell but the rocks were a pearlized teal color. It was the weirdest and coolest thing. Valentina loved pouring sand over the rocks. That's all she did, put sand on the rocks. Oh, and she's pants less because we were standing at the edge of the beach, letting the waves wash over our feet and she fell down when a bigger wave than we were expecting came up. Her pants got wet and she HATES to get wet! She preferred to not wear pants and get a little cold than wear wet pants.

Here she is searching for her treasures.........


......... and here they are.



I love how Asa isn't making a goofy face in this picture (he's 5 and learned from the older boys in camp that you always make faces when someone takes pictures) and he was just melted into me. Valentina wouldn't take a picture with me.

Oh sure, but Valentina will take a picture with Beya!

Beya took this one of Asa and me. Trina has one on her blog of her and Asa in this same pose.


Saturday we went to breakfast at the hotel before we packed up and left. Papa is observing the tugboat coming up.


My beautiful mom who I love very much.

Dear sweet Asa in his Mexico soccer uniform.


My hilarious, life loving little girl. She reminds me so much of sissy with her gusto for living.


These next few pictures might be boring to you but I thought it was so cool. This huge boat came into the bay and the two tug boats turned it around so it could back into the mill..... but it didn't back into the mill, it just turned around and left. All the waiters in the restaurant said it was the biggest ship they had seen and that it was one that they had never seen. Funny, I guess even big ships get lost!








The boardwalk at the hotel.

Yesterday, Sunday, was a hard day. Much, much harder than I thought it would be. Every year we go to the Mexican Fiesta and it's something that Valentina LOVES and looks forward to. She's always asking when the "Fwesta" will be. All I could think of was of the Fiesta last year. Sissy was sick from chemo and couldn't go. Josh's dad and his wife were in town from West Virginia and we hadn't seen Asa much for the week but he wanted to go to the Fiesta so we stole him. It was lovely having both kids and it was a bit of a cancercation. The kids were laughing and making jokes the whole way home and it was just a wonderful day even though sissy was sick. Asa bounded through the door when we dropped him off and I told sissy everything we had done.
This year there was no bounding through the door. Asa had gone with Joshua to a family reunion. I couldn't tell sissy everything we had done. It was so very, very different. It was painful, both emotionally and physically. Literally physically painful. The drive to and from the beach had done a real number on me and I could hardly move. I was heavily medicated but I went. I went for Valentina. I went because I want BOTH kids to have happy memories. I went because both kids deserve one on one time. I went because I wanted to watch Valentina enjoy her "Fwesta."


Valentina picked out her outfit.


She loved this pen Beya bought for her. She kept swiping it across her face, giggling and exclaiming how soft it was.


I'm in soooooo much trouble. My child is already dancing on tables at three years old.


So that is what we have been up to for the past few days. Sissy's birthday is in nine days. I asked Asa if he wanted to do something for it and after he thought about it for a few seconds he said no. I'm dreading it. Trina always loved her birthday. If someone asked her what her favorite holiday was she'd always say her birthday. Well, that and Brewfest. August screams TRINA!!!! She loved her birthday month and never shied away from pulling the birthday month card. I tried telling once or twice that her birthday month ended on the 18th but she never went for it. Things changed a bit after Asa was born and it wasn't as important to her but I knew she still liked it. August is a very difficult month. It will be the first time I won't get my sister a birthday card. I'll never buy another "Happy Birthday Sister" card. I'll never receive one again either. Things are hard. There is NEVER one second of one minute of one hour of one day that she's not on my mind. At least five times a day something will come up and I'll think "I need to ask sissy about that" or "I can't wait to tell sissy this", which is odd since again, I'm always thinking that she's gone..... forever..... yet I still have these flashes of wanting to tell or ask her something.
It's just plain hard.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Epiphany

I just posted this on my FB page and it's something I truly believe:

I think we, as people, don't give ourselves enough credit. We are ALL stronger than we think we are. We have to endure and deal with things we never thought possible. I think each and every one of us can think of a time in our lives (past or present) that we thought prior to that situation that we couldn't get through that...... and we DID. However, I do believe God does give us more than we can handle, plenty of people have taken their lives because they couldn't handle it and that doesn't make them weak. So I say we all give ourselves a pat on the back and take CREDIT for what we are doing/done that we never thought possible. Sure, God can give us strength but unless we are capable of USING that strength, it's worthless. It's like someone trying to lose weight. They can have a private gym, a food coach, etc... but unless we do it OURSELVES it's worthless.