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, December 25, 2012

Three Years

Three years ago today I took the last pictures of sissy and me together. She was laying on the couch, so sick and hurting so badly from the cancer. She knew it was her last Christmas and as much as I tried to keep that thought at bay I knew it was too. I kept taking picture after picture of us together, trying to get one where our eyes weren't so sad. I finally gave up after about five or six.

It has been about 2 years and 11 months since I looked at those last photos.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Dinner Menu

You know how our family doesn't really plan things? Or if we do plan things we undo our plans just as quickly as we planned them. Thanksgiving was always a prime example of how we "plan". We could never decide what we were going to do for Thanksgiving until usually a day or two beforehand. There was one year where we had everything for dinner but planned on going out to eat. That morning we decided to make dinner but we were missing a few key ingredients, you know because we weren't sure we were going to make dinner. Norm managed to find rolls, cranberry sauce and at least one other thing at Rite Aid.

Since sissy died we've been able to plan Thanksgiving but not Christmas.

Thursday night found mom and me at the grocery store to get the stuff for Christmas dinner.

With no menu.

"Mom, we need to know what we're having to buy what we need" I said to her in the middle of the produce aisle. There were people rushing around us, lists all made, menus all planned.

"What should we make?" Beya asked.

"I don't know. What should we make?" I echo'd.

"I don't know."

Do you see a running theme here?

Right there, clogging up the produce aisle, Beya and I made our Christmas dinner menu.

2012 Christmas Dinner Menu

Beef roast
Roasted carrots
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Jen's moms green bean casserole

There we have it. Big, big thank you to Jen's mom for making such an amazing green bean casserole recipe that we kind of planned our meal around it. We will be thinking of all of you while we stuff our faces with it and how amazing Aviana is and bossing around her elves! The things that little girl can inspire is beyond all imagination! And props to her mom who does and lives through what no mother should. The Hodder family is truly incredible!!!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Season

The holidays are hard. There are no two ways around it, they are hard. Every time we do anything even remotely holiday related I'm reminded of how it was when sissy was here. And that she is no longer here. 

That said, my situation can't come close to the families of the Sandy Hook horror.

I am so grateful that I have the remaining members of my family. That they are ok. That we all have our health. I cannot begin to imagine what the moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, nieces, nephews, cousins and other family members are having to endure not just now, what was supposed to be the happiest holiday for their children, but for the rest of their lives. And not just the ones who were killed but those children who saw what happened and escaped or heard what was happening.

That is completely unimaginable to me.

So while I have a hard time with holidays I am also thankful for the multitude of things I DO have.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Me - Ugh, this commercial is driving me crazy!

Mom (without missing a beat) - I thought you already were.

I love my mom :)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Feliz Navidad Fotografias

I recently did my MexiGhetto Christmas photo shoot with the kids. I took 84 pictures and these are some of the highlights. I actually like most of the outtakes because they showcase Asa and Valentina's personalities. 

I think this one is great.

Unintentional jazz hands.

Asa has ALWAYS had a tendency to choke Valentina in photos. He doesn't do it tight, he just loves her so much that he tends to grab her around her neck to pull her close to him.

"Say WHAT?"

Turn about is fair play!

I LOVE this one, I just wish I could see more of Asa's face. You can just see the love they have for each other. They are so close.

Ok, starting to get silly here.

I'm losing them!

Yep, they're gone :)

The last one I got and it's one of my favorites even though the carpet is stained and you can see my sweats in the corner. I'll photoshop it later but they were giggling so hard they couldn't breathe.

Oh how these children melt my heart.....even though it took a lot of yelling to get the 6 out of 84 "normal" pictures of them! Yes, there were lots of threats and bribes. Funny, I just remember having fun with them.

Eyes Wide Shut

I ordered new glasses yesterday. It has been a little more than four years since I got my last pair. Sissy always used to go with me to pick out my frames. The last time I got a pair of glasses we decided on the ones I have after we agreed they weren't too "Sarah Palin-ish".

Yesterday I picked them out with Beya.

This afternoon I was looking at my old ones and finding a glass case to put them in when I thought "Ha! Sissy is going to love that my new glasses are Michael Kors to match my new Michael Kors purse! Wait. Why didn't I already tell her this? I did this yesterday. Wait, why wasn't she with me? Why didn't she help me pick out my glasses?"

And yet yesterday all I could keep thinking of is that it should have been the three of us looking for frames for me. Mom is amazing, I don't want to take ANYTHING away from her. There are just some things I used to do with sissy and sissy alone.

It's just plain wrong that she isn't here to do these things with me.

It's wrong that it's been almost 35 months since she could do anything with me.

It's wrong that next month will be 3 years.


There are times when all I want to do is forget. Forget that she was ever here. Forget that I had a sister. Forget that there was another half of me. Forget that most of my identity was ripped away.

There are times when I think "I need to go to sissy's house" or "I wonder when her and Asa are going to come over" or "let me call sissy to tell her Chez Norm is open for Sunday breakfast" or "holy shit, I can't wait to tell sissy!"

There are times when I think I should be at the hospital with her. That I should be sitting with her and giving mom a rest. That I should be talking to her doctor. That I should be asking more questions.

Instead I squeeze my eyes shut to keep the tears from coming.

Instead I keep my eyes open to see that I have two wonderful children, my parents are still alive and a husband who loves me.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Talk Shit

I was in the grocery store a week or two ago and had an urgent recipe question. I immediately called one of my best friends who would have the answer. She didn't answer the phone so assuming everyone else is like me and never checks their voicemail I didn't bother to leave a message.

About a half hour later I was in the car waiting for mom to finish when I saw that I had miss her return phone call.  For some unknown reason I actually listened to the voicemail she left. In her trademark quiet, calm, easygoing, unassuming voice she left the following message:

"Hi. It's me. Just calling you back. Wondering if you wanted to talk. I want to talk to you. Is that what you wanted? Did you want to talk to me?


I literally laughed out loud when I heard the last part. I was all alone in my car laughing so hard.

Thank you, Jen, for never ceasing to say something so off the wall that I have no other choice than to laugh! We both have so much loss in our lives and extreme emotional pain that manifests itself into physical problems (me physical pain, you, determined to bake any and every pie ever thought of and even some that haven't....and maybe shouldn't, haha) that when we laugh together it means that much more.

I love you stripy Jen!

Thursday, November 29, 2012


First off, Beya turned 60 on Sunday!!!! Happy birthday mom. I still have the birthday post to write. 

But right now I want to talk about Thanksgiving. 

It was nice. And that is saying a lot!

The first year after sissy died mom's birthday was ON Thanksgiving and we couldn't deal with anyone. We sent everyone out to see their families and the two of us stayed home. I made pizza and we watched "Bruno", "Borat" and "The Hangover". We couldn't do Thanksgiving. 

Last year we made dinner for the 7 of us. I don't remember any of this (or the dinner itself) but mom says I refused to call it Thanksgiving, it was just a family dinner that happened to be turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing and cranberry sauce. Very low key. 

This year we had Thanksgiving. 

Norm's grandma recently moved up here from Albuquerque so we had her and one of her sons over. I called it Thanksgiving. We watched the parade. We set the table. I put out the bowl of olives that my grandma always used to do and that sissy and I always did. We had Thanksgiving dinner with people. 

We had Thanksgiving. 

It was nice. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I cannot stress enough how I DO NOT walk around the house, crying or moping, ESPECIALLY when the kids are around. I let all of my dark and twisty thoughts out here, on you guys, and I can imagine it gets pretty old and boring. I DO have so much to be thankful for and I am, every day. And at the same time I'm angry. I told my psychiatrist today that I'm in awe of the fact that I still have my lamps, my tv, my mirrors, still intact when all I want to do is scream and break everything in sight. I want to shout, to yell, to scream......but not cry. I hate to cry. And yet while I'm fighting the urge to run through the house like a bull through a china shop I'm also tired. I'm so tired of dealing, I'm so tired of grieving, I'm so tired of feeling. I feel so defeated and deflated. It's really quite exhausting to have all of these conflicting thoughts and feelings at the same time. According to my psychiatrist and therapist it's a combination of the grief, bipolar, everyday stress and my depression. I ebb and flow. Right now I'm a wave crashing into a rocky cliff with the force of a hurricane. And yet nobody around me can tell. Even mom has no idea until she reads my blog. I take that back, she knows I'm bad and can tell I'm angry but she doesn't know the extent until I verbalize it which I try not to do. I prefer to write my feelings, I'm much better at that than actually talking about it.

ANYWAY, I'm so thankful for my parents, for my children, for my husband who provides so well for ALL of us. I'm grateful for our house, for electricity, for our health, for my car, for my home decor. I'm grateful for the kids' perfect bedrooms, for my new light in the dining room and my new ceiling fan in the family room. I'm grateful for FINALLY getting the family room redone, for sissy's teapot that sits on my stove, for having all four burners working on my stove. I'm grateful that I can keep my pain somewhat under control, that I'm not paralyzed, that the kids have such amazing teachers and that the school is so close.

Thursday I will be VERY grateful for my Mike's Magic Sunset cocktail!!!!!! It is sooooo yummy!!! Mom and I will be "pulling a Trina", drinking and saying cheers in her honor.

Just in case you want to do the same, here is the recipe:

Fill glass with ice
1 shot Pinnacle Whipped
2 shots pineapple juice
splash of grenadine
top with whip cream

Drink it really fast and then have another one, after all I'll be thankful that I bought enough stuff to make many, many Mike's Magic Sunset!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"If eyes are the window to the soul,
then grief is the door.
As long as it's closed it's the barrier
between knowing and not knowing.
Walk away from it and it stays closed forever
but open it and walk through it,
and pain becomes truth."

- "Dexter"

"It was a waste of a trip, she's not here" I tell him. "She's not here. You can hiss all you like. You won't find Prim." At her name, he perks up. Begins to meow hopefully. "Get out!" He dodges the pillow I throw at him. "Go away! There's nothing left for you here!" I start to shake, furious with him. "She's not coming back! She's never ever coming back here again!" I grab another pillow and get to my feet to improve my aim. Out of nowhere, the tears begin to pour down my cheeks. "She's dead." I clutch my middle to dull the pain. Sink down on my heels, rocking the pillow, crying. "She's dead, you stupid cat. She's dead." A new sound, part crying, part singing, comes out of my body, giving voice to my despair. Wave after wave of sobs racks my body, until eventually I fall unconscious. But he must understand.

He must know that the unthinkable has happened and to survive will require previously unthinkable acts.

- Katniss Everdeen
  "Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins

Tuesday, November 06, 2012







Thursday, November 01, 2012

Thank You Mom And Papa

I've been reminded lately just how awesome my parents are. Not that I ever forget but these are just a few reasons/memories to let you know how lucky I am to have my parents be MY parents.

I was thinking of River Phoenix yesterday as he died on Halloween in 1993. I was a big fan of his and I grew up about 6 hours from where he had lived when he was younger. I begged my parents to take me to Madras, Oregon, just to see the town. Well, I didn't have to beg as they were more than willing to take the trip, just to let me see the town. That was all. We didn't do anything, we just drove through Madras. All of that time and gas money taken up just so I could see where one of my hero's lived.

That wasn't all. Back when "Twin Peaks" was on I was already a David Lynch fanatic. Yes, they drove me to Snoqualmie, Washington so I could see where it had been filmed. We missed the filming crew by a few weeks but I didn't care. Again, a very long day and a very long drive just so I could see what the real "Great Northern Hotel" was (The Salish Lodge) and eat cherry pie at the "Double R Diner" (really the Mar-T Cafe) and have a "damn fine cup of coffee." I had an entire scrapbook devoted to "Twin Peaks" and again my parents indulged me in this dream of mine.

I always questioned religion especially what I was raised, Seventh-Day Adventist. Although mom really believed in it (she has since come to her senses and left, haha) she never suppressed my questions, she encouraged me to talk to the Pastor, to write him letters asking why he was doing this, preaching about that when it made absolutely no sense to me. Whenever he would start bashing other churches, something I felt was wrong, mom let me stand up tall and walk out of his sermons. She didn't care that my beliefs conflicted with hers, she gave me the freedom to follow MY path and determine what was right for ME.

These are just a few of the examples of the countless things my parents took the time (and spend money we didn't have) to make MY dreams come true. I am so grateful to have them not just a part of my life but to have them BE my life. I'm so grateful to have them live with me. I'm so grateful for all that they do for me every day. I'm so grateful for what they do with my kids every day. I'm so grateful to have them every day. I'm so grateful that they are MY parents.

Thank you mom and papa.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Victor Villasenor

First a few words to explain. Mom's favorite author of all times is Victor Villasenor. His books have touched her very soul. After sissy died mom was unable to read and she is an avid reader. She went months without picking up a book. The first book she read (which she had already read multiple times) was Victor Villasenor's "Rain Of Gold". In short, he is to mom how many people perceive Oprah. Through his many books he has become her hero, idol and spiritual guider. 

It was the thrill of a lifetime to be able to take this picture of the two of them together. 

Not only was mom able to meet him, she felt like the luckiest girl in the world to be able to have him sign three of her books. AND he gave her a hug. Imagine her pure thrill when he asked her to go have a beer with him after the signing.

Laughing and drinking with Victor Villasenor.

There was a group that he invited (and all jumped at the chance) for this once in a lifetime opportunity. As you can see they are all hanging on to his every word.

It made my heart truly happy to see mom truly happy. I know "healing" is a soundbite people like to throw around and it's not true but it really was a life changing moment for Beya.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bragging Rights

I had both kids' parent/teacher conferences this afternoon. I had told the kids to let me know if they had been in ANY trouble before I went to talk to their teachers. When I came back (the teachers communicated so well between them that they were able to schedule Asa and Valentina's meetings back to back) I had a stern look on my face. I instructed both of the kids to sit on the loveseat as I needed to talk to them. Asa had a small, hopeful grin but Valentina was very nervous. Valentina even started to chew her nails, a habit we've tried very hard to break her of.

"Asa, Valentina, I talked to both of your teachers" I started in. "They had quite a bit to tell me." I couldn't keep up the charade any longer as I gleefully clapped my hands and hugged them both. "You are BOTH excellent students and your teachers think you are both WONDERFUL!!!" Valentina squealed and Asa smiled.

Asa's teacher actually said he was a model student and she wished all of her kids were like him. He had struggled with writing last year but this year he has really excelled and is already on his second writing journal.

Valentina sometimes gets behind in her work because she is so detailed in her drawing. Her teachers were also very pleased with her social skills and kindness. That was something I had worried about because her attention span is that of a gnat and she runs hot and cold in the friends department. She can be very sweet and a great friend or she can be very aloof and a loner.

I'm very proud of both kids and am very fortunate to have them both in my life.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Asa's Birthday(s)

Asa's birthday morning, Wednesday, September 26, Asa woke up to find the dining room table littered with presents and his giant pinata. 

My (almost) 8 year old boy was so happy! It was about 7:30 am and he wasn't born until 8:56 am.

Opening his presents. I didn't want to get him something Nerf (his requested party theme) or Star Wars (which he has tons of) or Legos (too many to count). So instead I got him some Lego organizers.

Later that day we went to lunch at Red Robin, Asa's pick. We went with Beya (Papa was working), Grama, Grampa, Joshua (as you can see) and Grandma Dee. Grandma Dee is Norm's grandma who just moved up here from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She adores Asa and was so happy to be here for Asa's birthday.

Oh yeah, Dad got Asa an AWESOME present!!!

A Squishable.

As stated before, Asa requested a Nerf theme. How the hell was I going to do that? I did some research and found quite a few Nerf birthday party ideas. I stole this idea from Pinterest. I also had to follow the cardinal cake rule of not putting anything that isn't edible on a cake. What to make the bullets out of? How the hell do I make edible bullets? I didn't want to make marzipan because I wanted it to be something that people could actually eat and let's face it, who wants a big 'ol stick of marzipan? I finally figured out that I would use Pirolene cookies but how to make them orange? What to do, what to do. I could roll them in fondant. Or even better, dip them in white chocolate that I colored orange! Bingo! And then use a marshmallow as a tip! While I was at the party store I discovered ORANGE melting candies! Even better! But then how do I dip them in the melted candy? I can't exactly roll it around, that would make it come off. My crafty brain figured out to pour the melted orange candy into a pastry bag and then dip the cookies in THAT! I was so thrilled with myself I had to text out pictures and explanations to a few good friends. In fact I may or may not have said aloud "I am so good I scare myself!" (ok, I so totally said that even though I was all by myself). 

No party is complete without cupcakes. Yes, the cake came out of a box and the frosting came out of a can. My infamous use of pre-packaged food has earned me the nickname "Caneo". I cannot argue with the truth  :)

Finally, the day of Asa's party. He was so excited! We had over about half of his soccer team since those are the boys he hangs out with more than anyone. They say they are brothers. I'm very fortunate in that all of the kids have been together for a few years and I actually get along with the parents. 

 Asa was so happy to have his "brothers" over.

Oh yeah, there was a Nerf gun war!

You can kind of see in the background the targets I made out of poster board.

I think Valentina was just as excited for Asa's party. She had been saying all week "Only 5 more days until my brothers party!", "only 4 more days until my brothers party!" etc.....

It's official after you blow out EIGHT candles. 

Happy birthday my dear Asa boy!

Sunday, October 07, 2012

I Wonder.........

Trina would be 43. 

I wonder how she would have worn her hair. 

I wonder how many times she would have colored it. 

I wonder how many times she would have cut it. 

I wonder what fashion trends she would be using. 

I wonder what TV shows she would be watching. I wonder what movies she would have seen. 

I wonder how she would have been as a mother to two. 

I wonder if her baby would have been a boy or a girl. 

I wonder what kind of cell phone she would have now. 

I wonder if she would have finished school. 

I wonder what kind of job she would have now. 

I wonder how Asa would be different if his mom were still alive. 

I wonder how many adventures we would have taken. 

I wonder what new recipes she would have made. 

I wonder what shoes she would have bought. 

I wonder what she would have been made fun of me for. 

I wonder what we would be locking eyes over and thinking at the exact same time. 

I wonder how different all of our lives would be if she hadn't died only five months after her 40th birthday. 

Fuck you cancer.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Blowing The Lid Off

Mom is working this week so I had to go to therapy by myself yesterday.

You know how Dr. B has a way of calmly letting bombs off in sessions about things I had no idea I had? When he so casually spoke of my disassociative disorder? Or the way he spoke of mom's obsessive compulsive personality? Well, a couple of things "blew up" yesterday too.

First off I was in the middle of a major anxiety attack and felt like it could go the way of a panic attack at any minute. He tried to talk me through it and asked me why I keep my thoughts of sissy away, at arms length, all the time. I started to tear up so of course I buckled down, not realizing until later that my hands had turned into clenched fists, physically fighting away the urge to cry. I couldn't keep the tears from spilling over so I just stopped talking, waited for the compulsion of my body wanting to curl up into a fetal position in a way that it physically tries to protect my heart, wiped away my tears and promptly changed the subject.

Dr. B and I talked some more and he gently steered the conversation back to sissy.

"I'm trying to dance around the subject" I admitted to him.

He laughed and said "I know you are, I'm trying to bring you back to it!"

We continued to talk about my avoidance, blah blah blah and he blathered on "........and that's contributing to your PTSD..........."

Wait. WHAT? Whoa, back that truck up.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

As in I have PTSD?

It never, EVER entered my mind that I could have PTSD and Dr. B says it as if we had had a conversation about it.

Then, while I'm reeling from this diagnosis he REALLY let loose on me.

"Your anxiety keeps building up and it's finding physical ways to release itself. It's like a fart, it has to find an escape."

Reallly? A FART???? He couldn't have used a better metaphor for my anxiety? He's a world renowned psychotherapist. He's written more than five books. We've used volcano, a door being held shut, a tea kettle, a million other descriptions for how my anxiety builds up and he uses a FART???? I suddenly felt like a certain 8 year old boy (Asa) trying to stifle a giggle. Combine that with the visual running through my mind of Dr. B walking through his house farting and I lost all concentration with the session after that.

But much like the fart he so flippantly spoke of my anxiety did let go a little bit after I walked out of his office.

I guess he's not just full of hot air.......coming out of his ass.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Happy Birthday Asa

My dearest, sweetest Asa boy,

This morning at 8:58 am you turned 8 years old. Eight! You're in second grade! On one hand I can't believe how big and old you are and on the other hand you seem like you've always been this age. You are so fun and make me laugh. You play tricks on me and that was a GREAT one with the gum today!

You are so independent and now it's so easy to tell you "go take a shower and brush your teeth." I can also hear you yell at me "KLEENEX!!!!" when you sneeze so you don't have to get it yourself. I love watching you grow up. You are such a smart boy and I love watching you learn and become better at writing. I know you don't like to do it but you keep plugging away and doing your homework, even if it does take a ton of bribing and threats from me!

You are my favorite son and that will NEVER change!

You are so kind and I'm so proud of the fact that you have such good sportsmanship in soccer. You are nice to everyone and stand up for yourself. You also stand up for what you think is right and I am SO PROUD of that!

I hope that one day when you have kids you will know exactly how much I love you and how my heart explodes with love for you.

I love you so much!!!!!!

Happy Birthday my son.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Erased And Written And Lost

I have three blog posts half written but each time I get halfway finished with them I have second thoughts about publishing them and I just hit the "save as draft" button.

So here's what has been going on in a nutshell;

Asa's soccer team hasn't lost a game yet. He's also scored in two of the three games.

Valentina lost her first tooth and the tooth fairy not only brought her $5 but luckily Valentina informed us before she went to sleep that apparently the tooth fairy brings a necklace too. That was news to mom and me!

Tomorrow is Asa's birthday. His third birthday without his mom.


I've been telling Asa for the past few weeks that his birthday present is his party. "It's expensive to throw a birthday party. Do you know how much your party is going to cost? It's going to be about $300. You might get something small but that's it, think of your party as your present." Yeah. Mom and I went to Target yesterday and I ended up spending $100 on five presents for him. The thing is he's such a great boy that he hasn't even asked me for any birthday gifts. Of course after I picked up the kids yesterday I had to give him one of his presents. It was a new toothbrush but he loved it. Yes, I know, I call it pulling a Jen.

So that is it. There is much, much more but, well, that's it for now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Political/Religious Rant

I guess I'm bored and am trying to stir up some controversy or a hornets nest because I know what I'm about to post is a hot fire button but it's one I feel strongly about.

I hate it when Papa watches Fox News. He's a news junkie and watches all news because he is the most well informed person when it comes to news and politics. If you want to know about anything in the news just ask him, he'll tell you. So on one hand it's great that he can be so well rounded and informed but on the other hand when he starts bringing in the Fox rhetoric into the house we don't agree on a lot of things.

Today his argument was that prayer should be allowed in public schools.

Oh no he di-int!

If there's one thing I feel strongly about it's that prayer does NOT belong in public schools! I don't want my kids having to pray in school. I'm not opposed to prayer per se but I send my kids to public school to learn about all walks of life. I wanted Valentina to learn about God so for two years I sent her to Catholic school. She talks about it a lot still, about how Jesus was born, died, etc.... I think it's great. What I don't think is great is if she learned about this in public school. I asked papa if he thought it would be ok if the Quran was taught in public schools. No, he didn't like that idea. I explained that it's the same thing. I'm not opposed to the Quran either but I don't want it read in public schools. I don't want the Torah read in public schools. I don't think the Bible should be taught in schools either. I also brought up a scenario that hit him at his heartstrings.

"What if Asa was being raised Jewish yet the schools were all about the Bible and Jesus? Asa would be left out. Is that ok?" No, papa had to admit that he didn't like that thought.

"Do you think Valentina would learn about other peoples beliefs in Catholic school? No, she wouldn't. That's why she isn't going to Catholic school. When I wanted her to learn about it I paid the tuition for her to have a parochial education. She learned the basics and now I want her to learn about EVERYTHING. I don't ever want either child to think there is only one 'right' way."

Another thing I love about our public school is that it is so diverse. There are kids from every socio economic class and ethnicity. I can tell you from experience that was NOT the case when she was in private school. There were two Hispanic kids and one Korean who was the adopted daughter of the teacher. That was it. And everyone had the same economic class, NOT the case in the school the kids are in now. Now I cannot say enough good things about Valentina's teacher. She knew we were involved with Judaism and she was always very accepting of that and was always very respectful of that fact. I loved her teacher. Unfortunately I can't say the same thing about the parents. 90% of them were the stereotypical conservative upper class white parents who pushed and pushed me to join the Catholic "mom's group." In fact I even nicknamed one of them "mom's group" because the only thing she ever talked to me about was that I needed to go to "mom's group."

To those who do send their kids to private school, great. I went to private school growing up. I never went to public school. But I feel that if I want my kids to be accepting of ALL people the best chance they have is to attend public school. If you want to pray with your child, great, I'm all for that. Hell, if your kid prays before lunch in public school that's fine too. But to have the teacher leading the kids in prayer or for the Bible to be used in school, well, I don't agree with that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Miss......

I miss you calling me out on my shit.

I miss you telling me "you hurt my feelings when you....."

I miss you answering your phone.

I miss you coming over, leaving and then finding half drank soda cans around the house.

I miss you arguing with me that you always drink all your soda.

I miss you laying on the love seat taking a nap with your bald head.

I miss you laughing at Asa.

I miss you laughing at Valentina.

I miss meeting your eyes and knowing exactly what you're thinking.

I miss us looking at each other and mom saying "oh, I know you guys are making fun of me. What did I do now?"

I miss giggling with you.

I miss us telling stories about growing up and having two totally views and versions of it.

I miss getting manic with you.

I miss our evening phone calls.

I miss our lunches.

I miss us watching tv over the phone together.

I miss talking to you about tv shows.

I miss you telling me about shows that you watch that I didn't.

I miss you posting on your blog.

I miss seeing your posts on Facebook.

I miss you telling me about a book you read.

I miss watching movies with you.

I miss us always vowing to see every movie nominated for Best Picture Oscar before the Oscars but never following through.

I miss us picking only the movies we had seen to win Oscars.

I miss us talking about the perils about bipolar.

I miss answering the phone and you being on the other end.

I miss the phone ringing and knowing why you were calling before I even answered.

I miss our psychiatrist appointments together.

I miss complaining about you to mom.

I miss the three of us complaining about each other.

I miss telling you secrets and then having you blurt them out, forgetting they were a secret.

I miss absolutely every thing about you.

I miss you.

Evil Laughter

Sometimes I just want a good, hearty laugh at someone else's expense. Oh, who the hell am I kidding, I always like a laugh at someone else's expense! Good thing I stumbled across this little gem online. Mom and I sat and watched it three times, laughing so hard tears started. Ah yes, oh so funny!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Oh Snap! Burn!

So I recently called Jen out on her wearing of her wearing her striped shirt ALL.THE.TIME. She even wrote a blog post about it.

This morning I'm cruising through OldNavy.com and what should I come across????

I think they stole the picture from her blog, after all, who better to model it than someone who has almost worn it out?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Psych Ward Please

I saw my psychiatrist Dr. H yesterday. Our session went something like this:

Me - Well I'm not in the middle of a panic attack today, so that's good. Last time I was having a panic attack when I saw you. I feel like I'm a broken record. I know my meds are working and that there's nothing that can be done and I'm doing ok and nothing can be changed but I'm feeling overwhelmed. I'm just so tired. I feel like I don't have any fight left in me. Trina's birthday was a week ago last Saturday and I'm crashing. I saw Dr. B and told him that I've been running on adrenaline for a few weeks and he said it's been more like a few years. I just feel defeated. But I have the sensory overload. I get overwhelmed very easily. If someone asks me one thing I feel like it's three. I feel like I'm juggling five balls at all times and they always fall down, I can't catch them. But I get frustrated for not catching them and then I get tired of trying to. I just feel like I can't do it. But I also feel like I might be having that small breakthrough. I know she's gone but I still can't deal with it. I can't look at any of the pictures of her and I together. My safe is full of stuff of the two of us together. I have boxes of cards and pictures and things of hers under my bed that I can't look at but I know I need to. My mom is good at not pushing me to do it but I know I need to but I can't. I'm tired of trying and pushing it away but I know I can't handle it all at once so I try to let things in slowly but then I think I need to hurry up and get it over with but I know it doesn't work like that. I don't like people. I can't stand my neighbors but I have to deal with them. Asa's soccer schedule is ramping up again and we'll be having things 3 times a week plus I need to get Valentina in dance again and I haven't done it yet and school is starting and I don't like the parents. I really don't like anyone but I can fake it but they piss me off inside. I'm just tired.

Dr. H (stifling a smile) - I know I sound like a broken record but you really are doing ok. You have grief first and foremost and the anxiety is compounding that and along with the bi-polar but you really are handling things well.

Me - Am I bipolar? I mean really? I read a sign somewhere "I'm bi-polar. I hate it. I love it." And that's how I feel. I just don't know what to do.

Dr. H - What you've just described to me is textbook bi-polar. You're telling me two conflicting sides of yourself. You feel like you can't do everything and then you get frustrated that you can't and feel like you're a failure and then you try harder to do it and it's a cycle that you put yourself through. You can't do everything.

Me - But I need to! And I have to do everything perfectly! And I know I can't but I need to.

Regurgitate the above for another 20 minutes and that was my conversation. His final say? He told me to not think about everything I need to do or am not doing or what I think I'm not doing good enough and to just take every day as it comes and just do what I need to do that second. "I'm telling you to take six months off. Every time you think you need to do this or deal with that, tell yourself Dr. H told you not to."

I was suddenly reminded of "What About Bob".

Dr. Leo Marvin - Bob, I'm writing you a prescription to take a vacation from your problems.

Bob Wiley - A vacation. From my problems. Yeah. A vacation from my problems. A. Vacation. From. My. Problems.

Beya and I have often quoted "What About Bob" and laughed about it but now I've officially become Bob Wiley.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Crap Door

I love scary movies. I watched "Silent House" on sissy's birthday because I wanted to see something that was mindless yet required my full attention. Boy that fit the bill! A lot of times in scary movies/shows there's the trap door that swallows people whole.

I have a crap door.

Dr. B has described my grief denial as me pushing against a door to a room that is filled with grief. I can't keep the door shut forever and sooner or later the door will open. He has advised me to slowly let the door open so it doesn't blow open causing me to have a full on nervous breakdown. He said just as someone will experience physical problems from pushing on a door I'm having physical problems from keeping my crap door shut.

I've slowly started to let things trickle in.

Very slowly.

I still have years of acceptance ahead of me. I've been in denial for 2 1/2 years, it won't happen overnight or even over a month. I told Dr. B last week that I'm crashing. I feel like I've been running on adrenaline for the past three weeks. He laughed at me and said "you've been running on adrenaline for the past few YEARS." I had to agree with him. Yes, I'm crashing but along with crashing I don't have as much energy to keep my crap door shut which causes grief to creep in.

But the thing with grief creeping in is I have started to see what a physical toll this denial has had on me. All of my doctors (Dr. B, my psychiatrist Dr. H, my PCP Dr. S and most of all Dr. Beya) have told me what this is doing to my body but I didn't realize how far I was pushing it. I can't explain or describe it. I know, me, of all people, am at a loss for words. A loss of DESCRIPTIVE words.

I guess that should show exactly how far I've been pushing myself.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bourne To Be Wild

Mom and I have been doing our best to do our homework assigned to us by Dr. B.


Don't look


Yesterday we took the kids out to Grama's for the day. We had big plans for when we got home. We would order Thai food takeout, watch "NY Med" and pick up the house. On our way home I turned to mom and suggested something irresponsible.

"Lets go to a movie!"

"Should we?" mom gasped.

We quickly discussed it and I explained all the reasons we should go. I had a groupon that expires the end of the month, we didn't have the kids, we didn't have anything we HAD to do, and most of all, it would be FUN!

We then talked ourselves out of it. The house needed to be picked up. My phone was almost dead, nobody would be able to get a hold of me if an emergency came up, nobody would know where we were, it's wasn't very responsible.

Really? Those were our arguments against going to a fucking movie?

I pulled over and got the movie schedule on my phone. "The Bourne Legacy" was starting in less than 40 minutes. We were about 20 minutes away. We didn't have time to go home and get my groupon. I tried to pull it up on my phone but it wasn't working, my battery was flashing red, warning me that it would soon give out. If we were going to go, we needed to go NOW! No more time for hemming and hawing.

Off we went.....to the theater!

The theater is inside the mall and I still needed to somehow get my groupon. We pulled into the parking lot at 11:15. Fifteen minutes until the movie started. We raced into the mall and luckily there's a library inside the mall. I frantically went from computer to computer, trying to find the one that I could access the internet with.

"Here's one!" Mom whispered to me across the room.

I ran over there and tried to log in.

Ack! I needed to enter my library card number and PIN.

I rummaged through my wallet, found it and started entering the series of numbers. By now, in my mind, I was in my very own Bourne movie. Enter in the code and print out the proof of treason before getting caught!  I then had to run over to the printer computer and enter in the same numbers, search for document and print. I needed my card again! Run over to the first computer and grab my card. Run back to the printer computer, enter in the numbers. Now search again for my document. Print. Grab the paper. Run back to the computer that I was logged in to, log out of all my accounts, erase any sign that I had been there. Log out of my internet session. Mom and I raced back to the theater and got our tickets.

"Just for your information they will stop taking orders in four minutes."

The theater we go to has a restaurant and they will take your order and serve you the food in the theater.....if you get there early enough. We speed walked down the hallway and made it to our seats just in time to have the server take our order.

"Let's get a cocktail!" mom devilishly suggested.

"Okay" I giggled back in reply.

We ran on a tightrope yesterday, no safety net. We were doing things without thinking. Well, we were thinking but not talking ourselves out of it. We were leaping like we used to do with sissy.

As we were walking out of the theater after the movie mom and I giggled to each other "I can't believe we just did that!"

Who would have thought going to see a movie would be such a huge step for someone.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sissy's Birthday Call

Today sissy would have turned 43 years old.

It has been a horrid, sad, depressing day. There was absolutely nothing good about it. It reminded me of the first Christmas without her when mom and I were just staring at the clock, waiting for the day to end. Josh had picked up Asa early today so he wasn't here to demand all of our attention. That boy is just like his mom in that respect! He insists on having everyone's attention 24/7.

At 4:10 pm this afternoon mom and I were watching "NY Med" from earlier this week and the caller ID popped up on the TV:

"Trina (555) 555-5555"

Mom and I just looked at each other, like deer frozen in headlights. For a split second I thought "she's calling to find out why we haven't gone out sooner for her birthday". Then the split second after that I remembered that it was Asa.

Josh, thankfully, has maintained her cell number and phone for Asa to use when he gets older. This is about the third time he has called me off her phone and each time it it rips my heart out in a way I never thought possible.

I talked to Asa for a few minutes and then he hung up.

I have never wanted so badly for sissy to be on the other end of that phone call.

But I am forever grateful that nobody else has her phone number.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Monday Mourning

---Clarification---  I started this post about last Monday's therapy session but it took me a week to finish writing it so when I'm talking about Monday's session I'm talking about last Monday, not yesterday.

Mom and I usually have therapy on Mondays. Dr. B has been wonderful at not just helping us navigate these murky grieving waters but also with helping us be the best people we can be. Mom is learning to let all the bullshit fall by the wayside and I'm learning that I can't avoid.

Monday Dr. B was asking us what we missed about sissy. Mom explained how her heart is a weave of fabric with a huge part of it slashed away leaving only tatters. Sometimes her wound feels like it might be starting to scab but then it rips away again just as bad as the day sissy died/diagnosed/point of no return. Dr. B asked us what we lost when sissy died. He looked at me to start. I was instantly flooded with memories of being a sister, knowing damn well that part of me is gone. I can never be a sister again, I can never do things with my sister, I can never have a sister. I felt my eyes start to well up and my throat began to constrict. I managed to blink away my tears and answered simply "a huge part."

I turned to mom and croaked "your turn." I didn't want to get into my feelings, my loss, my wounds.

Mom again explained the fabric. I chimed in that on the outside we appear to be a normal family, we laugh, we have fun with the kids, people would never guess that inside we are hollow. We are like a log that looks whole and normal on the outside but instead we're missing our insides. Mom agreed with that analogy.

Dr. B took another strategy. I could tell he was trying to get something out of us that we weren't giving him. He asked what we did with her, what the log was like before she died and it became hollow. He asked what she was like. I explained that Trina was a flitter. She would flit from one thing to another, jump without looking yet always landing on something. She was like a frog, hop from one thing to another. She could be midair, decide to do a double layout half twist (can you tell I've been watching the Olympics?), go in another direction and still have something solid to land on. She was never stagnant, always moving, always doing something, always making sure she was having fun. If something wasn't fun she would leave and flit on to something else. Mom again agreed with my analogy.

Dr. B pressed on and tried to coax something out of us that I had no idea what it was. Mom went off on the fabric weave again.

Finally Dr. B stopped us.

"Can I tell you how I see it?" he asked. Mom and I readily welcomed another point of view. "I only met Trina once," he started "but I feel like I knew her. We had many long sessions about her. With what you talked to me about her for 10 years and now with your mom I feel like I have the whole picture of her." Again, mom and I trusted what he was about to say. "I see that you and your mom are both very responsible. You always put work and other people first. You want to make sure all the 'stuff' is done before you can have fun. Trina made sure to have fun first and if there wasn't time for work, well, it would get done later. She pulled that side of you two out of you. You held on to her and hopped with her. You two feel like you can't hop without her."

Talk about a lightbulb moment! Mom and I just stared at each other like "BINGO!"

"You DO have that part of yourselves inside you, you just let Trina pull it out of you. You feel like that part of you is missing because she is gone but it isn't. You have it within yourself, you just need to let it out."

"She was very irresponsible" I said. "She would come over and literally grocery shop in my cupboards because she either didn't have money or didn't want to go to the store" I exclaimed.

"I know!" Dr. B said. "We discussed this several years ago. And that was the trade off. You were more than willing to make sure your cupboards were stocked with not just things for you but what Trina would want too because you knew she would be raiding them at some point. And in return she would make you jump. You were responsible for her and she would make you have fun and be irresponsible."

Again, it was like a thunderbolt through mom and me.

"She loved to drink her beer" mom added. "Things were always more fun when she had a beer and she got Cameo and I to drink too. It didn't matter if it wasn't even noon, there was always something she was celebrating, especially Friday, so it was time to have a beer."

"So what's stopping you from having a beer?" Dr. B asked.

"It doesn't taste good" mom replied.

"But my sangria does!" I reminded mom.

"Oh, your sangria! Yes, that is good!" mom agreed.

"Good! Then your homework this week is to have some sangria and do something irresponsible!" Dr. B laughed and in all seriousness he instructed us to do just that. The thought of doing something irresponsible just because was so foreign to mom and me. We were more than willing to go along when it was Trina who was jumping because we didn't want to be "fun wreckers". Yes, that was a term mom had coined about 20 years ago. Trina was always on a mission to have fun and it was our job to go along with her and not be a fun wrecker. And mom and I always take our jobs seriously!

Mom and I got out to the car and just sat there for a few minutes.

"Huh." I finally said. "So we have to drink and do something irresponsible this week."

"What should we do?" mom asked.

I kid you not, mom and I sat there for a few more minutes wondering what we could do to be irresponsible. What could we jump to? We couldn't come up with anything so we headed home. On our way home mom said "well, should we go to lunch?" I thought of it. Just spur of the moment going out to lunch. No thinking, just doing. Don't think, don't think, don't think, just jump.

"We can't" I said. "Valentina has dance this afternoon and then Asa has soccer tonight. We don't have time." Mom agreed. We both started talking that it was also a lot easier for Trina to jump because she knew she had both of us to catch her. She could not hold on to money. If she had a dollar she HAD to spend it. She would say "I have $5, let's go to lunch!" Off to lunch we would go and before you knew it she was ordering three beers, appetizers and entree. At the end, when the check would come, she would hand me her $5 to cover her $30 lunch bill. "I'll get you next time" she always promised. Sometimes she did, sometimes she didn't but the fact remained, she jumped and I always caught her. Another thing she did that would annoy the hell out of me was she would order soup with her lunch and I would always get  fries. As soon as our food would come, her long fingers would find their way over to my fries and she would start plucking them, one by one, off of my plate.

"Why don't you just get fries?" I would ask her.

"I like soup. Besides, you can't eat them all anyway" was her excuse.

"Well I wouldn't know because I'm never given a chance!" I'd snipe at her.

Now that she is no longer here Asa has easily slid into her place since he always gobbles up his fries and then starts in on mine. He is his mothers child!

The bottom line is, Trina flitted and jumped and hopped and mom and I were able to be loosen up through her. We didn't want to be "fun wreckers". Sissy pushed us off the cliff and we always had fun even though she stole my fries. Now that she is gone mom and I need to be the ones to leap as she used to, even if that means scheduling time to leap to start. Dr. B said that is the best way to not just keep sissy's memory alive but to actually keep her with us. It made such total sense. Dr. B said Beya and I weren't ready to do this six months ago, he had to wait until we were able to understand and possibly do this which means there is so much more that we can learn and so much more that we aren't ready to hear but again, like Dr. B says, we'll never "get over" this grief. There is no "coming through it". This is it. This is our life now. It will be years before I can fully understand the loss and actually come to grips with it. It will never be ok.

All we can do is learn to live with this.....and schedule a time to be irresponsible.

---- For Kathy P.----
Here are the ingredients for my sangria.

Put the following into a pitcher:

Bottle of white wine

Sliced up orange

A mango chunked/sliced up

Bag of frozen peaches. In an emergency I've taken a can of peaches, put them in a ziplock bag, thrown it in the freezer and used that instead. It works :)

About a 1/4 cup sugar (I never measure, just throw it in there)

A dumping of peach schnapps (if I had to measure, probably a 1/2-1 cup, I like it sweet)

Stir it up and let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Just before guzzling, I mean serving, top it off with a liter of ginger ale.

This is a recipe I found online so I didn't make it completely up on my own. You could throw in some strawberries too, I love strawberries!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dark And Twisty

"Dark and twisty Meredith. I'm not dark and twisty. And if I am dark and twisty it's because I live my life under a banner of avoidance. I avoid, I'm avoider."

- Meredith Grey, "Grey's Anatomy" season 3, episode 1.

Hmmm...... sound like anyone?

I actually have a great post to write about therapy yesterday. Mom and I learned sooooo much but it's going to take a lot of emotional energy to write about it so maybe tonight.

See? I avoid.

I swear I didn't mean to avoid writing about therapy, it's just what I do.

Monday, July 30, 2012


We are approaching August and that is one of the hardest months. I say that about May (Mother's Day/diagnosis), January (she died), December (duh), October (my birthday, Halloween), February (Valentina's birthday), April (usually Easter), July (Independence Day), June (Father's Day, so hard to see my papa not have his oldest daughter), March (St. Paddy's Day.....whole other post needed for that), September (Asa's birthday) and November (mom's birthday, Thanksgiving).

But August is really, really hard.

August 18 is sissy's birthday.

August 18, 2009 we were supposed to be celebrating her 40th birthday in Vegas.

August 18, 2009 she was supposed to be six months pregnant in Vegas.

August 18, 2009 I threw her an impromptu birthday party that she came to right after her chemo treatment.

August 18, 2009 we were not in Vegas.

August 18, 2009 she wasn't pregnant.

August 18, 2012 she should be turning 43.

We don't talk much about the baby she was carrying when she was diagnosed and I know most people don't understand but I do grieve for her baby. She struggled with wanting to continue the pregnancy and hold off on treatment or having to terminate and proceed with treatment right away. I was the first one to push her to start treatment ASAP. All that was on my mind was that HER life needed to be saved. It was a choice she did not take lightly but she decided she needed to do everything she could to live for Asa, her child that she already had and loved more than anything else, even her baby that she was so desperate to have.

I can't look at baby clothes in the store.

I can't look at baby toys in the store.

We all lost a baby.

I am so incredibly grateful for the two miracles I have, I couldn't have made it this far and this long without them, I know that as sure as I hear the clicking on the keyboard right now. But we didn't just lose sissy, which in and of itself is literally overwhelming, but I lost a niece or nephew. Asa lost a sibling. Valentina lost a cousin. Mom lost a grandchild.

Yes, August is hard.

And it's rapidly approaching us.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Just Because

It's been a while, too long, since I have posted pictures of the kids so I'm righting this horrible wrong. 

Asa learned to ride his bike in one day a few weeks ago. I was so proud of him!!!! He only fell down once! I couldn't be more proud of him! I'm sensing a new bike in his future, I just hope I can hold out until his birthday to get it for him. I can't wait to be the one to get him his first new bike :)

Impromptu photo shoot this afternoon.

Asa re-enacting what he did at soccer camp when his team won.

Asa boy is no longer a little boy, he's growing up to be a big boy. Hard to believe he'll be 8 in September and yet it seems like he's always been this age.

They both had to do a funny photo.

THERE'S my Asa boy!

I can't believe it, I actually got Valentina to look at the camera!!! Jen, you can relate to what a difficult feat this is!

Oh how I love these kiddos, even when they frustrate me so!

My ABC's


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bummer Turned Blissful

Mom and Papa took the kids to the cabin overnight and Norm was working in Seattle today so I had the day to myself. All to myself! What to do?????

I knew exactly what to do.

It was something I've always wanted to do.

After watching "A Perfect Murder" this weekend I was aching to do it.

What was it?

I was going to open both french doors and step outside like they do in the movies. We have three sets of french doors and we always have one of them closed and locked and just use the other one as a regular door. I had in my head that my dream home would have a set of french doors opening to the outdoors so that I could stroll through them. When I saw pictures of our house online I knew it was our house, it had three sets of french doors!!! We have a pair in the dining room opening out to the deck where the hot tub is, a pair in the family room leading out to the deck and an indoor set separating the dining room and family room.

Which to do first?!?! Well, the indoor set has the kids toys stacked on one side so that wasn't going to work. You see I needed to stand in the middle of the doors, open them grandly and walk through. Besides, it's much more dramatic if you walk outside.

I went to the family room since it was all sparkling clean and gasped. We've had this house for more than six years and I hadn't noticed it? I've had this fantasy for years, long before we bought the house and I didn't see it? How could I have not known this? Maybe I had already tried and blocked the horrible discovery from my mind.

What had crushed my heart?

Only one door had a doorknob. 

How the hell can you grandly open a set a french doors when only one door has a fucking knob?

I raced to the dining room and sure as shit, the same problem.

In the wise words of Liz Lemon.......


In the not-so-wise-words of me......

Fuck this shit, I'm doin' it!

So I did. I undid the 63 locks we have on the set of doors, turned the (one) knob and GRANDLY walked through both doors and out onto the deck.

Cross that one off my bucket list!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm Sorry

Jen, my-country-conversion-consultant, I'm sorry. I had to put the word verification back on, I was getting waaaaaaay too much spam.

I'm sorry.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Corner Of Crazy Court And Breakdown Blvd

My therapists and psychiatrists offices are literally around the corner from each other. I call it the crazy corner. With my extreme anxiety that I've been having lately and with it increasing I was anxious to get in and see my psychiatrist. I only see him every few months and I knew I needed to see him but appointments are booked months in advance. I needed to see him STAT. When I ask to be put on the cancellation list I can usually get in within a week, most of the time in a day or two. This time I had to wait more than two weeks and I was starting to panic.

On the other hand I see Dr. B every week and it's the same thing over and over and over (and over) again. "You need to deal with Trina's death", "you're spending more energy pushing it away than if you just dealt with it", "if you were to accept it and understand that yes, she's gone and it's permanent you'll be able to maybe lower your anxiety level", blah blah blah. He also knows me well enough that I do things in my own time. Mom, as close as we are, still doesn't realize that I'm not going to do it in HER time. Not gonna happen. However, Dr. B said with my anxiety becoming almost overwhelming he thinks I'm close to having a breakthrough. Whatever. After therapy yesterday I walked the half block to Dr. H's office. I checked in and sat down to wait. Seeing something in the waiting room that seemed so minor turned out to be that tiny push that I needed to send me head first into the ravine. I had a full fledged, think-I'm-gonna-pass-out, panic attack. I was sitting in a chair and the room was spinning so much I felt like I was going to fly out of the chair, like I was sitting in a Tilt-A-Whirl. I got so dizzy I thought for sure if I stood up I'd pass out. I immediately took an extra xanex but still couldn't catch my breath. My throat felt constricted, I couldn't hear, my legs were like jelly. My biggest concern was that I would pass out, they wouldn't know what was wrong with me and I wanted them to know it was just a regular panic attack. At the same time the irony did not escape me that I was having a panic attack in my psychiatrists waiting room. Hey, I still have my dark and twisty sense of humor. Dr. H pulled me into his room and started asking me some questions and I didn't hear any of them. I explained what I was going through and he just let me work through it. His take on my mental health? My anxiety is holding hands with my grief, or my pushing away from my grief as the case may be, and they are intertwined. I'm pushing against that damn door that has GRIEF behind it and while I'm pushing it my anxiety is rising because I'm fleeing. However not only can I NOT outrun the grief but I can't outrun the anxiety either. He did increase my xanex to see if that will help me through my attacks and I have to go back and see him 4 weeks.

So what happened in the waiting room to make my crazy come out?

I realized in Dr. H's waiting room that my sister is dead.

She's not coming back.

There will be no more laughing in the waiting room, whispering to each other "at least we're not THAT crazy, like that woman over there hugging her knees and rocking back and forth".

It took a while for this to sink in.

It's been just over 30 months.

I woke up this morning and I had had yet another dream of sissy. I was seeing scenes of our lives together flashing up on a giant screen at a U2 concert and I was crying, realizing I lived more in the 33 years I was with my sister than I will ever live in the remainder of my life. I did more laughing in our 33 years together than I could ever dream of in the next 50 years. I LIVED my life with her. Right now I'm just alive.

I told mom about my dream this morning and I even shed some tears while recounting it. The thought of having to face the fact that my sister is gone is still just unfathomable. It can't possibly be real.

It just can't. 

I also talked to Dr. B about my disassociative disorder. I told him how I was the one who made all the appointments for the funeral, I talked to the funeral director, I talked to the morgue, I called on the life insurance, I called all the companies where she had outstanding bills through and got them taken care of. In a span of the approximately eight months I took care of this stuff I had to say the words "my sister is deceased now. Where do I need to send the death certificate?" at least 100 times. At least. And each time I said it to someone new they would always say "oh, I'm so sorry!" and I would continue with a "thanks, so who do I talk to about this?" I probably sounded like the most cold hearted sister ever. Dr. B explained that I just go away. He said while I was saying those words my mind was somewhere else, somewhere I will never know. My mind is still somewhere else, somewhere I will probably never remember. He told me I learned to disassociate when I was young and me being me, whenever I do something I do it up good!

********* DISCLAIMER ********
All of this reference to developing disassociative disorder when I was young I'm sure makes some people think something tragic or traumatic happened to me. 

It just happens that I have a low threshold for emotional pain and combined with my severe depression that started when I was about six (yes, six years old) I learned to disassociate. It's quite common with people who live with severe depression for a long time to develop this. Depression/mental illness/bipolar runs in my family and while Trina got hit big time with the bipolar part I got the depression part. 


Anyway, Dr. B went on to say that I can use my DD (I'm getting tired of writing disassociative disorder, especially since spell check doesn't recognize it) to get me through things (like making the funeral arrangements) and it can help but that it can also turn into an addiction. I asked him if I was at that point and he said no, not yet, but that it is getting close. However, he has faith in me that I will have that breakthrough that he and mom want me so desperately to have. 

I had a tiny bit of it yesterday in the waiting room. 

And I don't like it. 

I don't like it one bit.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

Never Heard The Grinch Like This

I think she's seen it a few too many times.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fast Forward?

My therapist, Dr. B, has come up with some interesting ideas of how to solve some of my life problems. As of late he has suggested some of these things to mom since she is now seeing him too. Sometimes they are so simple and so clear I wonder why I hadn't thought of them. Some of them are so complex that only a therapist would think of them. And some are so idiotic that I tell him to his face it's something I would never do.

One of the latter suggestions was to have me "schedule my grief." Because I am spending all of my emotional energy pushing my grief to the side he thought it might be helpful for me to set aside a time slot to look through my sissy book, read a book I had given to her that was all about sisters and I had written notes in it to her, look at pictures, whatever, anything to bring my grief to the forefront and then do it for an hour. He thought since I like to be control that this would be a way of my controlling how I let my grief out and yet having a "stopping" time so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed.

"That ain't gonna happen" I told him bluntly.

Then a funny thing happened.

I decided to take his absurd advice.

Mom and papa took the kids to the cabin Friday afternoon and didn't come back until Saturday afternoon. Norm was in meetings all day Saturday. I had seen enough scenes of a movie that I knew it would resonate with me and bring my grief to the forefront.

Saturday I watched "The Descendants" all by myself.

The hospital scenes.

The scenes showing the mom unresponsive in the bed.

The scenes of the family seeing friends and family in the hospital.

The scene of the dad having to tell his children that their mom is going to die.

The scenes of the doctor telling the family that there is nothing else to do.

The scene of the doctor saying she's going to die.

I had lived through those scenes.

I had experienced those scenes.

I felt the grief start to swell up from the bottoms of my feet and take over my body.

My eyes welled up and an avalanche of tears built up.

And then I shut down, turned my eyes away from the TV and blocked it out.

I told Dr. B in today's session that I had taken his suggestion and told him what I did.......and what I didn't. Then I asked him something that I had been wondering for the past few weeks.

"Is it possible that I'm done? That I'm done with my grief? That I have just dealt with it and am fine? I am concentrating all of my time and energy right now to the kids, to my family. Is it possible that I've just closed that chapter and I'm ok?"

Dr. B sat back in his chair, lowered his head, locked eyes with me, jutted out his chin and slowly shook his head back and forth.



He went on to explain that I'm not even close to being better because if I was better I'd be able to look at the pictures of sissy and me, I'd be able to welcome the memories, I'd be able to feel. Instead I'm doing the opposite.

"You might be close to having a breakthrough, to actually starting to grieve, to begin the grieving process but you are in no way even close to being 'done' and you never will be 'done'."


Inside I knew that but I thought it was worth a shot.

My anxiety has been through the roof which Dr. B said could be a sign that I'm getting close to starting to grieve. Or it could just be that my anxiety is really bad because of what has been going on with Beya and Papa, with them picking cherries, with mom's knees shot, with bruises all over her legs and having to go to the ER from the pain. I hate to see my parents work so hard. I'm glad they are done but unfortunately mom's knees will probably never be the same.

However, we have something that we are so excited about.......THE OLYMPICS START IN 17 DAYS!!!!! You know us, we tend to get a bit obsessive about anything we can possibly get obsessed about. The Olympics have always have been a big thing with our family. I better clear out my DVR because once the Olympics start it will be full!