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, 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!

Sunday, July 01, 2012


I do not take aging for granted. My sister didn't make it to 41. I am acutely aware of what a gift it is to grow older as so many wonderful, amazing people didn't get that chance.

That said, I never feel older than I do on Sunday evenings. Why, you ask? Because that is when "60 Minutes" is on. I can remember being a kid and begging my parents to let me watch "Punky Brewster". No go. The reason? They wanted to watch "60 Minutes". Now when I see it pop up on my cable guide I get excited to see what stories they are going to tell. I get a chunk of my news information from that tick, tick, tick show. Most of the time I even record it to make sure if I'm busy I won't miss it.

Yes, I never feel old until Sunday evenings.