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

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

Tuesday, August 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!