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.



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Asa's Birthday Party

Asa boy is six years old! He decided this year, instead in every year past when he had a party at his house, to have his shindig at Spaghetti Factory.


His cake. There wasn't an "army" cake available and really, all he cared about was that it would be chocolate cake, chocolate filling and chocolate frosting.
The birthday boy next to his cake. Please no remarks about the fact that he turned 6 but his shirt says five. Joshua was already on the fence about letting him wear that shirt but he went ahead and did it. Of course when everyone got there they had to comment that he was wearing the wrong number on his shirt.

Asa and one of his best friends, Brody. Brody is the son of my best friend's co-worker. They are only six weeks apart, Asa being older.



This picture was taken early on as when it came time to open presents the table, and all AROUND the table, was covered with gifts!


Valentina, Brody and Asa. He had three other friends there but I didn't get permission from their mom's to post pictures.



Primo y Prima

Valentina was so excited to be wearing a beautiful party dress for Asa's birthday party. She had a lot of fun too.
So that is what we did for Asa's sixth birthday. Oh, I read him his birthday blog post and about halfway through it he climbed off my lap and went to play with some toys. I looked at Beya, she looked at me and then she said "I think it meant more to you and me than it did to Asa!" I don't care, I'm just glad I wrote it so he can read it later.
Asa had a super fun time at his birthday party and is already asking if he can invite so-and-so to his next one. I don't think he quite understands the fact that he only gets one a year, haha.... But that is fine by me, he is growing up so fast so I'm going to soak in every part of his sixth year.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy 6th Birthday Asa Boy!

My dearest Asa Boy,

I am writing this one day early so that I can read you this post when you wake up in the morning. First, I thought you might like to see these pictures because I don't think I've ever shown them to you.


I remember when these were taken like it was yesterday. It was probably November 2004 which means you would have been about two months old. Mum mum, daddy and you lived just around the corner from where I worked. One morning while I was working mum mum surprised me by walking into the office with you! I was so happy!!! You were all bundled up, as you can see, in your super cute, super warm yellow fleece suit. It was so soft and you loved it.
Oh how I loved showing you off! Mum took these pictures of you and me together.

I think this one is pretty funny because I made it look like you were working!

Oh Asa boy, I remember clearly all the details of when you were born. First off, you were due to be born on Saturday, September 25 and you did try to come out on that day since mum mum went into labor that morning around 8 am. Your mom called me, very calm, and said she was in labor. Oh how excited I was! I immediately called Grama and told her to tell everyone, especially Auntie Lori, that you were on your way! Well, there were some other plans since you weren't born until 8:58 am Sunday, September 26, 2004. Mum was in the hospital all night Saturday and she sent me home in the middle of the night to get some sleep. Well, I couldn't sleep so I got up out of bed and went back to the hospital to wait. Beya was there along with daddy. Oh your father was SOOOOOO excited!!! We were all so anxious to see you for the first time! When you were finally born, after 25 hours of trying to come out, I cried and cried because I was so happy. I felt like my heart was going to explode with love. I loved everything about you, your toes, your fingers, your face, your voice, your hair, everything.

You were born Sunday, September 26, 2004 at 8:58 am

You weighed 6 lbs 14 oz

You were 18 3/4 inches tall

You were perfect

I am now reading this to you on Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 8:58 am

You weigh 40 lbs

You are 44 inches tall

You are still perfect

Not one single day goes by that I don't thank God for you. You are a miracle child. You have grown to be a responsible, kind, gentle, compassionate, loving big boy. You are a social butterfly just like your mom. My heart wants to explode with pride every day when I take you to school and all the kids are saying "sit here Asa! Sit next to me Asa! Asa, sit here!" Everyone wants to be your friend because you are so special and they all know that.

I want you to know that your mom was ALWAYS so proud of you and loved you more than anyone else. She was so happy to be your mum mum and talked about you to everyone she ever met. There was never one minute that she wasn't thinking about you but you know that since her whole blog book is all about YOU!

Asa boy, I love you so much and my heart still feels like it's going to explode with love and pride for you. Every day is my favorite day with you and I feel so lucky to be able to watch you grow up.

I love you and don't ever forget.....

NO MATTER WHAT, YOU'LL ALWAYS BE MY FAVORITE BOY!!!!

HAPPY 6TH BIRTHDAY ASA!!!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ugh

August was unbelievably hard. I don't think there was one day that wasn't a difficult struggle to just keep one foot in front of the other and most of the time it felt as if I couldn't put that foot ahead of the other one.

But I did.

We have had new neighbors for a few months now and I must say that they are a bit eerie. It is like they are mirror images of us. K, our neighbor, has a boy who is just a few years older than Asa so they get along great. K's brother, who she was close to dare I say even as close as sissy and I were, died of cancer three years ago at age 41. He too had had cancer 16 years previous to the bout that took his life. Trina had been clean for 16 1/2 years. K is very close to her parents and they are pretty much always at her house. Again, remind you of anyone? Yesterday mom and I stood in K's driveway with her mom and we all just cried together. The whole family understands what we are going through. K and her brother D were adopted at birth which, again, is just one more thing we have in common. They have provided us with the most comfort of anyone. They truly understand it and keep saying "I don't have an answer, I wish I did." Plus they understand that everyone if different, everyone grieves differently, every person had a different relationship with their loved one that died. There are things that make me cry that don't make mom lose it and vice versa.

Yesterday, Tuesday, was hard. It was the day we went to the party store to get Asa's stuff for his birthday party. This was always a fun production as the five of us (mom, sissy, me and the kids) would always go together (which is not unusual as we were a group package and if one person went somewhere the five of us went) and have a great time. I knew this was going to be a hard one though. It is Asa's first birthday without his mum mum. The last outing the five of us had before sissy died was the last week in December when we went to get the stuff for Valentina's birthday. Sissy treated us and bought everything for Valentina's party. It would be the last thing she ever bought her Vali. So all of this combined added up to a very emotional trip to the formerly fun party store. Josh went with us so it was still five of us and it was pretty funny to initiate Joshua to our party store chaos. It wasn't until we were driving home that it hit me what we had just done. I sobbed the whole way home while Valentina was thankfully oblivious to everything and just talked and jabbered wildly in the backseat.

Sunday is Asa's birthday. I'm dreading it. His first birthday without his beloved mum mum. He hasn't been very excited about his birthday, in fact he's hardly talked about it so I'm sure it's weighing on him too. But the worst is coming up, Halloween. I break down every time I think of it so I try not to think about it.

The changing of the seasons is also difficult as it is very real, very tangible evidence that we are, in fact, going forward without sissy. How is that possible? How can we live without her? How can we continue LIVING without her? I know for a fact that a large chunk of me is still in denial because I have long periods of time where I think sissy was really just a figment of my imagination and that she was really never here at all. I know that must sound callous and horrible but it is how I honestly think of things sometimes. My life right now is just so raw and real and EXHAUSTING that I think this is all I've ever had. Then I have moments of memories so clear or dreams and I'm hit all over again with the worst, hardest punch of reality that I'm literally breathless. I wake up some mornings crying. Literally, I will wake up and tears are streaming down my face. The grief finds me even in my sleep and can't even wait for me to wake up.

Next month is also going to be hard. We are not only coming up on Halloween but October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Ugh. I hated it last year and hate it even more this year. Personally I don't need a fucking pink ribbon to remind me that not only is breast cancer here but it has stolen one of the most important people in my life from me. And even worse is when people are so anxious to show us the things they have bought or are wearing or are doing in Trina's name. Seriously, what do you want? For us to say "oh thank you, that was so kind of you, it warms our heart that you think of Trina and want to honor her memory"? Sorry, you're not going to get it. This brings us absolutely no comfort and quite frankly I don't give two shits if you buy ANYTHING pink ribbon related. If that comforts you, fine, do it but don't come to me and expect me to be grateful to you. YOU didn't lose your sister and do you think some pink ribbon item will endear you to me? The only people who I wouldn't mind seeing/hearing about pink ribbon stuff and are exempt from this rule are:

* Everyone at infusion/oncology. Heidi, Robin, LucyAnn, LeAnne, Bev, etc.....

* My best friend Amanda (which goes without saying since she wouldn't be showing me anything anyway)

* Anyone who flew across the country at the drop of a hat to be with me the week sissy was in the hospital.

That's it. Those are the only ones who will escape my wrath should they be feeling brave and start telling me all the wonderful Breast Cancer Awareness things they are doing/buying. Like I said, if you want to, knock yourself out and buy, do whatever the fuck you want to but don't come to me and expect anything in return because NOTHING you do or buy can change our life.

Nothing.

So there you have it. This is what is going on right now. Well, that is the shit that is going on right now.

There are good things too. Asa loves school and has made many friends. He's such a great kid and I'm so proud of some of the mature choices he's made. His first day he told me about his new friend Nicholas. Then every day after school Asa would tell me that Nicholas had made a "red choice" and had to sit in the blue square. Asa has been in school over three weeks and there have been maybe two days that Nicholas DIDN'T make a red choice. Last week Asa told me that he wasn't friends with Nicholas anymore since he made a lot of red choices. I told Asa I was so proud of him for choosing to be with good kids and have nice friends. I also really like his teacher.

Valentina is in pre-school twice a week for 2 1/2 hours at a time. Basically it's a glorified daycare with some Jesus stuff thrown in there but she loves it. She also spends one day a week at Grama's. Between dropping kids off, picking kids up, soccer practice, soccer games, errands, etc.... I feel like I live in my damn car. But I'm thankful to have a car that runs.

K's mom put it perfectly yesterday. She said she has happiness from "here up" and motioned from her head up. Her heart is broken and will never be the same. She will never have the same joy, the same sheer bliss that she had before her son died.

So mom and I are trying to enjoy our happiness from "here up" and we do.

But it will never be the same.

Monday, September 13, 2010

No Title

I just finished reading "The Year Of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion. She writes of her first year as a widow after her husband of 40 years dies suddenly. In the midst of that fog like state that we know all too well, their only daughter spends most of the year in ICU.

I have thought of a poem in passing the past eight months but never sat down to read it or actually find it. Joan did that for me. It fits both of our situations, although I must admit, I cannot imagine what Didion is going through now. Less than 2 years after her husband died, her only child died as well. While I must clarify that mom, Asa and Valentina keep me going, there are times when I feel exactly like this poem.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W.H. Auden

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Mexi Ghetto To Go

First of all, Valentina doesn't like to sleep. Seriously. The.Girl.Doesn't.Like.To.Sleep. I told my second therapist that she goes to bed around 9-9:30 pm and she was horrified. She asked why on earth is Valentina up so late. I just looked at her and said "when I put her to bed at 7 or 8 Valentina is up for the day at 5 am. Seriously. Ready for the day at 5 am. If I put her to bed between 9 and 9:30 she's up at 7, 7:30. Before school started I had a strict routine which was get the kids ready for bed and from 8-9-9:30-ish the kids were bathed, ready for bed and I had their butts plopped in front of the tv so I could fry some of my own brain cells. Asa can sleep late and it's not unusual for him to be waking up at 10 am but that is NOT going to work with school. SO! New bedtime for both kids. 8 pm the kids are in bed. I have Trina's Blog Book on Asa's nightstand and mom reads the book to Asa while I put Valentina to bed. After Valentina has conked out I move on to Asa's bed and we talk about the day, etc..... and then he finally goes to sleep. So from 8pm to 9:30pm I'm putting kids to bed. Well, this morning Valentina decided that she had had enough sleep and 4 am was a perfectly acceptable time to wake up. Of course Asa woke up too. Long story short, they both ended up in bed with Norm and me. But go back to sleep? Oh hell no! Laying in bed with sissy/mama and Uncle Norm/dad was so much more exciting! All I know is that when Norm left for work at 5:30 am I was drifting off and the kids were still awake. When my alarm went off at 6:50 this is how the kiddo's were. Too cute.
Check this out. Papa got this "trailer" for free and he's slowly fixing it up to sell and make some money on it. As you can see, he's adding a bed to it so it could be used a motorcycle trailer, possibly ATV trailer, whatever. But take a closer look at this, shall we? Please do as this is my funny post.


The uber sturdy corners of the frame. Can't beat duct tape!


Excellent and sturdy crossbars.



This corner looks like it would DEFINITELY hold up to hauling anything on the freeway!




Check out that top notch alignment job!!!!
Obviously Papa has a lot more work to do but when I came out today and saw what he was doing and the status of the trailer, well, mom and I laughed so hard! This is the epitome of Mexi Ghetto!!!! Sissy would be proud!
Finally, to end on a great note, I picked up Asa from school today and he had a GREAT day!!!! He finally mastered what he had been having a problem with and now it's no big deal. One of the parents is really cool so I gave her my info and we're going to try to do a play date since she lives about 2 miles from me. Asa's classroom is so full (they expected 20 kids in each of the kindergarten classes. Asa's room has 30 students and the room next to his has 29 students) they are going to hire a new teacher and move some kids around. I talked to Asa's teacher this morning and she said that she isn't going to move Asa, that he's had enough change in his life this year so she will continue to be his teacher. I'm soooooo relieved!!!
Tomorrow Valentina starts pre-school! It will be interesting! I can't wait to hear about her day from her..... and then get the REAL version from the teacher!
So if any of you want a tied together with duct taped sides and no bed trailer, well, let me know!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

At Least I'm Not Going To Hell

I've been trying to come up with something different to write on here the past few days. Something not so DEATH and DOOM and MOURNING and LIFE DROPPING OUT FROM UNDER US.

I haven't found it yet.

If anything, it's getting worse. Asa started school and my heart hurts for the times that he doesn't like school. When I put him to bed tonight he cried and cried and begged me to let him stop going. The thing is, he really does like school, there's just this one part that he doesn't like and unfortunately it's not something he can get around. Josh called tonight to see how Asa's day had been and I just broke down. I told him the truth, that I love Asa so much but no matter what, I always feel like Trina would have been able to say just the right thing to get through to Asa. Trina would be able to make Asa feel safe. Trina should be the one doing this. Trina would be doing a better job at it than me.

Then I feel guilty because Valentina starts pre-school Thursday and I'm not worried about her. The girl has street smarts. But does that mean that I'm showing favoritism toward Asa because all I could do all day was obsess over how his day was going? Wondering if he was ok? Literally running every time the phone rang in case it was the school calling telling me he was in the midst of a meltdown? Feeling as if every second was taking five minutes? Taking my xanex like it was a box of tic tacs? Showing up at the school a full thirty minutes early because I couldn't stand to wait at home any more?

Does that mean I love him more?

I just feel like Asa has had to endure more than any adult should have to and he's only five so now I want to protect him from everything else. I feel like he's had the worst, leave him alone now! Hell, I even prayed for Asa to be ok today! I can count on one hand the number of times I've prayed since 01/09/10. Josh, on the other hand, keeps telling me "he needs to toughen up. The kids are going to eat him alive. He needs to learn to stand up for himself. Peer pressure is going to get to him. He needs to learn this now!" And Asa needs that from his father, but I'm his mother figure and the mother part of me just wants to hold him like a baby bird and never let him learn how to fly. But it's not up to me. Trina wanted him to be independent, confidant and self assured. And I know in the long run it's worth it, but it's just so damn hard to watch Asa go through this. I can only imagine what it's like for him because it's hell on me. We've all had a fucked up year.

So I apologize that I don't have a funny, light hearted post but that's only because I'm waiting for our hearts to become a little lighter and I don't see that happening soon.

However, keep this tidbit in mind. Valentina is going to Catholic pre-school (yes, the irony is not lost on me that my strong anti-organized religion stance still stands but hey, if the Catholics have the best pre-school, that's where my kid is going to). She starts Thursday. Last week mom said something about the Sabbath. Valentina, in all of her dramatics and huge facial expressions, wrinkled up her face, looked completely puzzled, raised her hands and exclaimed "SABBATH? What's Sabbath? I've NEVER heard of THAT before!!!"

Just send me straight to hell now. Oh, that's right, I don't believe in it, PRAISE THE LORD FOR THAT!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Holidaze

I hate holiday's now. They are just plain hard. I cried most of yesterday and it's Labor Day, which is kind of a non-holiday holiday. Mom said she didn't realize how many landmines are coming up with holidays until she read my blog. I said yes, but look what we have made it through:

January = Learning To Start, Valentina's Birthday, Papa's Birthday

The unthinkable happened. I have almost no memory of the entire first month except the first few days. Those are forever burned into my memory. Well, some of the things. Other things I cannot remember and whole chunks of time are missing.

Valentina's Birthday was only 5 days after Trina died. We did Trina's ultra private (only three people) viewing on Valentina's birthday. The funeral was the day after Valentina's birthday. We waited as long as we could for the funeral yet wanted to hurry up and get it over with. It had to be done the day after Valentina's birthday so I will always link her birthday with the day before sissy's funeral. That also helps explain why we chose to "move" her birthday to February 16, her referral date.

I have no idea what, if anything, we did for Papa's birthday.

February = Valentina's Birthday Party
This was horrible. I remember bits and pieces of it. It was just flat out awful emotionally but Valentina and Asa enjoyed it which was the LEAST I could do for them. I remember I had a house full of people but all I wanted was the one person who would never be here again. Hell.

March = Norm's Birthday
Again, I know we did something only because Valentina heard that it was going to be her daddy's birthday and she got so excited but I have NO CLUE what it was. This is another example of lumps of time that go missing.

April = Easter
Awful. Horrible. Rip your heart out difficult. We went out to lunch and I cried the whole way there, during lunch and the whole way home. Plus I cried the whole time Beya and papa were at church with the kids and every second I was hiding eggs. This, unfortunately, is something I do remember.

May = Mother's Day, Memorial Day
Again, I don't remember Mother's Day other than I think I cried the whole time. I don't remember Memorial Day. At some point during these forgetful months Asa started soccer and I had to do things that Trina normally would have done for him. I cried through his first soccer practice. Looking back I guess I did cry a lot even though I don't remember it that way.

June = Father's Day
Okay, this one I remember. Red Robin. But that's about all I remember.

July = Independence Day
I remember this one and it sucked. I'm not sure I cried or not but it was horrible. Again, the kids had fun and trust me, I suck it up and they can never tell on the inside I feel like my heart is being put through a meat grinder because on the outside I try to make it as happy and normal as possible for them. But I DO make sure I have some alone time with Asa and ask him how he's feeling. Sometimes he tells me he misses mum, sometimes he says he's a little sad and a little happy, sometimes he tells me he's fine and I'm glad he is honest with me.

August = Hell Month
I don't think I will remember this month. We barely got through it and I'm already forgetting some of it but other parts of the month I remember and it knocks the wind out of me.

September = Asa Starts School
I didn't think I could do this one but I did. Right now I think it's harder looking back at his first day and now it's hitting me how difficult it was. That and he's only gone to school one day. He starts for good on Tuesday. Thursday Valentina starts pre-school. I know sissy would have had a ball picking out her first day of school outfit and I would have let her, cancer or no cancer, since she had the best fashion sense.

So there you have it, we've already made it through some holidays, sometimes in a daze, that we never though we could make it through. We still have some hard ones coming up. Our days alternate between good days, which are "only" unbelievably difficult and bad days, which are "I can't make it through the next five minutes, what makes me think I could actually make it through the rest of my life without her, I'm drowning and things will never get better." But again, we suck it up for the kids. We don't mope around and we have fun for the kids. Sometimes we actually do have fun WITH the kids. Like I said before, they are our life raft. And I have mom. Oh thank you God for Beya!!!! We lean on each other so much and I hate it when she goes to Goldendale. It throws me into a panicking spiral downward.

Nobody can possibly understand what we are going through until they go through it. Nobody can understand the loss of a child. Nobody can understand the loss of a sister who could literally read my mind. Nobody can understand what a 5 year old boy feels when he watches his mom get sick and then gets told that she isn't going to get better. Nobody can understand until they go through it themselves and lose someone who was part of their daily life, someone who you saw every day, someone who you talked to at least five times a day, someone who you ran errands with every day, someone you was your constant lunch partner, someone who spoiled your child, someone who would help you gang up on your mom, someone who had been part of your family and knew everything there was to know about you and still not only loved you but accepted you.

Nobody can understand until they have to learn to navigate life without that person too.