Tag Archives: death

Does Google Make You Real?

I grew up in a time just prior to the Internet explosion.
If you needed to gather information, you relied upon the library, encyclopedias, and microfiche.  I was taught the Dewey Decimal System and how to use a card catalog.

Now we just Google our questions. It’s remarkable what you can find on the Internet. The most obscure information is at your fingertips. We can even Google ourselves.

There is nothing that you can’t find if you search for it.

Or so I thought.

The other night, in a moment of sadness, I Googled my father.

I typed his name in and hit enter.
Nothing.

I put his name in quotations and hit enter.
Nothing.

There was no mention of his murder.
There was no record of those he left behind.
There was no mention of  his parents’ tears, their baby boy taken from them.
There was no mention of his siblings, devastated by their loss.
There was no mention of his widow, left to raise her two-year old daughter alone.
There was mo mention of me, a fatherless child.

I spent a day when I was a young adult, reading everything I could dig up about him at the local library and newspaper.

He was real and he did exist. The articles told in great detail the story of his murder and the heartbreak of the family left behind in its wake.

I know the story.

Why does it bother me that I can’t Google him? Why do I want so badly to read it all again, whenever I need to remind myself?

Why would it make him seem more real if I could see his name returned by an Internet search?

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How Do I Do This Again?

I have sat down to write no fewer than what feels like a thousand times and I can’t formulate my thoughts into a whole.  My writing has become stream-of-consciousness at best.  I sit down to write, I struggle through a few sentences, and then I walk away.

So, in an attempt to get back in the swing of things, I’m going to just go with my stream-of-consciousness writing and I’m hoping that you’ll all bear with me.

I feel like I’m betraying my mother-in-law’s memory by blogging so soon after her death.  How can I write about everyday things when I have the gravity of her death on my mind?

I want to be able to write about the joys of summer, ice cream sandwiches, kiddie pools, and bike rides, but my mind is consumed with the fragility of life, fear of more heartache, and ways to hold my family even tighter.

I was lying in bed last night, thinking about how much fun it would be to go camping.  My mind wandered to when the kids are a little older and I had visions of them wanting to sleep in their own tent.  My heart started to race and I nearly had a panic attack lying there.  I realized that I truly doubt that I will ever be able to let them have that kind of freedom.

When we were at the dentist today for Katie’s check-up, the dental hygienist led her out of the room without me to choose a reward for being so well-behaved.  Anxiety gripped me immediately.

I’ve always struggled with anxiety, with fears of the worst possible thing happening and I’ve spent my share of hours talking to a professional about it.  But now, I am feeling that familiar panicky undercurrent, nipping at my feet and it scares me.

My mother-in-law had struggled with health problems for quite some time and I think in some strange way, we took for granted that she’d always get through her challenges.  She was so upbeat and determined.  The latest hospital stay and her subsequent death truly caught me off-guard.

Now I’m feeling afraid of my own shadow.

I want to be carefree, I want my to make my children laugh, and I want to loosen my hold on them just a bit.

I want to blog again about happy and trivial things.

I’m going to keep writing and hope that little by little, I’m able to breathe a little easier and laugh a little quicker.

Thanks for hearing me out.

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A Repeat Performance and Separation Anxiety

We have always gloated about loved the fact that Katie is a champion sleeper.  If there was an Olympic event for sleeping, she would take the gold.  She goes to bed at 7:30pm and doesn’t wake until 7am.  She also still naps from 1pm-3:30/4:00pm.  We are blessed.  {Please don’t hate us–Matthew is another story entirely.}

She used to lunge for her crib at bedtime and has always put herself to sleep.  For the first couple of years of her life, we lured her into her bed by making it the only place where she could have her pacifier.  When we took her pacifier away at 21 months, we replaced it with a little pillow, her first blanket, and some stuffed kitties, all of which we allow her to have only while in bed.  Things have been smooth sailing until about a month ago.

Now there is major drama every time we put her down to sleep.  She’s doing this new thing where, when I leave the room and I am closing the door, she says, “Goodnight, Mommy.  I love you.”  I then tell her goodnight and that I love her too.  I close the door and she repeats the process.  At first I indulged her, thinking that she would tire of this routine once she knew I was on the other side of the door.  But it has completely gotten out of hand.  One night I did it nine times.  NINE!  We now tell her that we’ll say it once and then we’re going downstairs to “pick up” (code for relaxing.)

When we don’t follow the script the second, third, and fourth times, she flips out, and goes from choked up to bawling in 3.2 seconds.  While she typically only cries for five to ten minutes and then falls asleep,  nothing makes me feel worse as a parent than having her cry herself to sleep.  We’ve always tried to ensure that her bed is a safe, secure, and happy place.

She’s also showing some distress if she thinks that one of us may be leaving to run an errand or something.  She  quickly escalates from nervous to panicky.

We’ve had an emotional, chaotic past couple of weeks, with uncharacteristic breaks in our routine, but these insecurities were present prior to that.

{We have chosen not to speak with her about Craig’s mother’s death, as we don’t believe that she is emotionally mature enough to process that yet.  Since she is incredibly attentive and observant, we have been careful to shield her from our discussions.}

I distinctly remember when I was a child, I was fearful to be the last one awake.  I would call to my mother repeatedly to ensure that she hadn’t fallen asleep.  I’m still this way.  When Craig shows signs of being tired, I stop whatever I’m doing and hurry to bed.  I’ve not really analyzed why I am this way, I’ve just accepted it.

But this thing with Katie is sudden and intense.

Has anyone else gone through this?  We never saw any anxiety in her when she was younger and we thought that we might be out of the woods now that she’s three.

Help? Reassurance? Tips?

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Gratitude for Miles

Tonight I am thankful that when my husband’s mother died last evening, she was in his arms, as he so desperately hoped and prayed that she’d be.

I am grateful to two amazing women, Lori and Adrienne, who offered us information and comfort at a time when we felt lost and scared. Through numerous phone calls and emails, they each offered their extensive knowledge and kindness.

I am grateful to my dear friends, Andrea, Kris, and Loni, who checked in on us regularly and repeatedly offered shoulders to cry on and kind words when we truly needed them and Chris, Corey, Ana, and Briana, who took such amazing care of our children so that we could be by Craig’s mother’s side.

I will be ever thankful to the hospice nurses who cared for Craig’s mother in her last days; Jan and Arlene helped to ease our worries and provided us a comforting presence through their tender care and compassion. There is a special place in Heaven for these two beautiful women.

I am grateful for the nurses who carried out the hospice care–Cora, Jemma, Maggie, and Nathan. These nurses ensured that she remained pain-free and peaceful. They also put up with our constant questions. We were able to get a few hours of sleep each night and slip out for quick meals because we knew that they were keeping an eye on her. Despite the stressful environment that these nurses work in, with demands and cries coming from every direction, each of these kind souls paused time to kiss her on the forehead, whisper in her ear, pray for her, or tenderly wash her hair. Compassion is a truly beautiful thing to witness.

I truly appreciate each and every one of the phone calls, emails, texts, notes, and direct messages we received, as each message felt like a huge hug.

Craig’s brother, Sean, and his wife, Janelle, were always just a phone call away and their daily emails, calls, and words of appreciation kept us going through the darkest moments.  We are blessed to call them family–we treasure them and value them beyond words.

And lastly, I am thankful to have had a mother-in-law who raised such a beautiful son–a son who wouldn’t leave her side, who brushed her hair and read to her, who reminded her, until she took her last breath, that he loved her dearly.

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Sixteen Random Thoughts From the Past Six Days

1.  There are many kind people in this world.

2.  Katie has astonishingly bad morning breath.

3.  Sharing a hotel bed with a three-year-old child is equal parts bad idea and effective means of torture.

4.  You can, in fact, get sick of eating out.

5.  Katie has consumed a steady supply of high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil over the past six days.

6.  I don’t handle death well.

7.  You probably can’t run out of tears. I’ve tested this out this week.

8.  Three cups of coffee each morning is my new minimum.

9.  Babies don’t always smell good.

10.  Craig and I need a will.

11.  Never travel without nail clippers when you have children.

12.  Always overpack.

13.  I am eternally grateful that my grandmother insisted that she teach me how to wash my panties in the sink.

14.  I’m not young anymore.

15.  Pack way more diapers than you think you could possibly use.

16.  Hotels are the perfect place for Play Doh.

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So Much to Say

In the hours that I’ve spent at Craig’s mother’s bedside, I have found it difficult to be silent.

She alternates between moments of alertness, making eye contact and nodding in response to questions, and moments of unconsciousness. She is in there still…and she is trapped. You can see that she has much that she’d like to say, but she cannot speak.

So I talk to her and for her. I talk about her grandchildren, her sons, her friends. I retell stories that she has shared with me–stories of her youth.

I continually ask her if she wants me to talk and she always nods yes.

But, I can’t help but wonder if she’d appreciate it if I was just silent for a bit, or maybe if I would just slow down and let the memories wash over her, like warm sunshine on her face.

I find myself going on and on, afraid of the silences, afraid to waste one precious minute of the time that we have left, afraid that she will go and I will have some little thing that I want to share with her.

I tell her that I am eternally grateful for her son. I tell her that he is strong and true. Patient and handsome. Loyal and tender. (She knows all these things, but I tell her all the same.)

I tell her that Katie grows more confident every day and that she loves gymnastics.

I tell her that Matthew has turned into an impossibly happy baby and that he adores his sister.

I tell her how her granddaughter Keelin has an eclectic spirit that illuminates any room.

I tell her how her grandson Zai is turning into such a fine young man, intelligent and kind, silly and serious.

I don’t tell her that I am scared that I wont know how to help her son when she passes.

But, I do tell her that he is safe with me, that I will figure it out, and that I’ll never let go of his hand.

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So That You May Know Her…

Dear Katie and Matthew,

Your grandmother is lying in a hospital bed tonight and she is dying. Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow, but very soon.

Daddy is with her, holding her hand and telling her just how much we all love her.

Neither of you will remember her and that breaks my heart.

There is so much about her that I want you both to know.

She was dynamic. She could quote Shakespeare, discuss philosophy, and sing and play the guitar. Daddy tells a childhood story of camping with her–he remembers her sweet voice singing over the crackling of the campfire. I wish I could have heard that.  I wish you could have heard that.

She was eclectic. I will never forget the outfit she wore to your Uncle Todd’s graduation. She was dressed from head to toe in the most vibrant shade of turquoise, complete with floppy hat and arms adorned with bangle bracelets that just sparkled in the sunlight. She was lit from within in that wild outfit and it suited her beautifully.

She was intelligent. She was a well-respected trauma nurse who pursued her education while raising three young boys. She saw so much in her days as a nurse that made her even more compassionate and empathetic.

She was kind. She was quick to tell you why you were special to her. She was so generous with her words and never missed an opportunity to tell you exactly what made you unique. Sometimes, she would make me blush with her compliments, but I always appreciated and welcomed them.

She was whimsical. She loved astrology and loved to tell you what your sign meant and how it impacted you. Daddy and I would roll our eyes, but that didn’t stop her–she believed it and it was endearing.

She was the most optimistic person I’ve ever known. Her glass, even in the most difficult of times, was always half full. When life dealt her a terrible hand, she found inner strength that astonished us.

She will live on in your daddy, who is the man that he is because of her. She taught him to be a gentleman, to be kind and courteous. It was from her that he learned how to treat women and how to respect others.

I want you each to know that she loved you. She was so happy to have grandchildren and you made her just light up. She exuded happiness when she spoke of all of the fun that you would have with her as you grew and I’m so sorry that you won’t have that opportunity. She would have caused all sorts of fun trouble with you.  She truly looked forward to being, in her words, “your partner in crime.”

I am so truly sorry that you didn’t have the opportunity to know her.

I promise to share all of my stories with you. I will do all that I can to keep her alive in my memory so that I can share her with you both.

She has had such a rough time of it. Now it is time for us to wish her peace.

With all of my love,
Mommy

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