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Month: January 2006

Because I love BlogHer and love to pimp my peeps!

Because I love BlogHer and love to pimp my peeps!

image Because I really don’t have much going on, I thought I would add something new to my list of things to do.  Starting tomorrow the brand spanking new BlogHer site will be launched.  This is one amazing new site, people.  With the addition of this new site, there will be surf guides and blog rolls by topic and a lot more interaction.  (Hats off to the BlogHer trio Lisa, Elisa and Jory and the amazing Laura Scott for getting this done.)

So why am I telling you all of this now?  (I mean besides the fact that I totally heart BlogHer and because I am honored to be one of the members of this year’s BlogHer team!)

I am a contributing editor on the new site!  What does this mean to you?  It means that I get to point you wonderful people to all of the great blogs and blog posts that fall under the Mommy and Family category.  Yes, that means all of my favorites get to be pointed to as well.  See, it is a win-win game.  I get to pimp and promote the blogs I love without shame and you get to point me to the ones that you think should get attention.

So be sure to check out BlogHer’s new site tomorrow.  And have you registered to go to BlogHer ‘06 yet?  You need to register. They sold out last year and I know that this year will be even bigger and better.  (Pictures don’t lie, people.  Even the ones that attempt to mislead or claim to mean something entirely different than they truly do, they don’t lie!) You will have a great time. 

In case you haven’t figured it out, I will be there.  Trust me when I say, there is a lot more that goes on at BlogHer than you heard about or saw the photographic evidence of.  Good things.  Things that are deeper than a casual meeting.  It is a fun time, an educational time…oh hell, it is a time to have a blast with new friends and old ones.  That and you just may learn a thing or two.  But mainly, it is just a kick ass time!

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I still miss you, Mom

I still miss you, Mom

It has been 3 weeks since my mom passed away.  It seems like it just happened.  Every now and then I get a punch in the gut and it hits me that she is gone.  For me, I need to talk a bit about her.  If it is too much, I understand.  I will be posting at Mommybloggers next week where you can find more wit and wisdom.  (Or at least something that resembles that!)

~~~~

Mom was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the late 80’s.  It really pissed her off, too.  Oh how she hated that she was dealt that particular card in life.  She could handle the fact that it was slowly robbing her of her mobility.  She could handle the medication that she was suddenly overwhelmed with.  What really upset her was the fact that the particular form of MS robbed her of so much of her emotions and her personality.  More times than I could count she would tell me that all she wanted was to “be herself” and get back to who she was before this damn disease took over her life.  Helplessly, all I could do was tell her I was sorry and I wished the same thing.  We all wanted to have her back to the amazingly hysterical woman she had always been.  However, even when she was really sick, she always had a bright smile for everyone.  And her humor was there.  Not as it once was, but she still was able to snap off the smart-ass response–even when she could barely speak past her treach tube.  That’s Mom for you.  (Yes, I know…like Mother, like daughter.)

~~~~~

This past July my sister had come to stay with me for a few days to rest and get some relaxation.  It has been a long tiring summer and she needed a small retreat in order to recharge.  (She knows that if she ever needs a break, my home is the one to go to.  I am laid back and let the kids make whatever mess they want to make, am fully stocked with magazines that could just probably cause one to lose an IQ point or two just from reading and my husband is an amazing cook.  My home can be a retreat if you need one.  That and you know you can sleep in and awake to hot coffee.  She needed the break so we were looking forward to a time to recharge.

Which is why my heart skipped a beat when at 7:30am my phone rang.  Anyone who knows me knows that there better be something extremely important if you are taking the chance of waking me up that early.  When caller ID showed that it was my Dad calling, my world stopped for a moment.  He would never call that early unless something was wrong.  He was calling to tell me that he had to take my Mom to the hospital for severe stomach pains.  The doctors were not sure what it was, but he would let us know.  I looked at my sister and she looked at me and something deep in our gut told us this was it.  This was so much worse than anyone knew.  I still don’t know why we both felt that at that early time, but we both felt it.  On paper, there was no reason for us to think that.  Not then.  But we struggled as to what to do.  Do we immediately pack up the kids and head down there?  Do we wait to see what happens?  Do we just ignore the pit in our gut and try to maintain a sense of “nothing is wrong” and let the kids play?  After some time alone and a few margaritas, we knew that we could not ignore the gut feeling we had and began the “Let’s get going” process.  Little did we know the road that was ahead of us.

This was just before BlogHer ‘05.  It was encompassed by so much other turmoil that was thrust upon me at that time as well, I just didn’t know which way was up, let alone feel like I could go to a conference to lead a session, meet new people and try to be social.  It was the amazing friends I met at BlogHer that have gotten me through this time now.  Some I knew just from emails, some from phone calls and some who threatened to come get me if I didn’t get my butt there. (Ladies, you all know who you are.) Through those lifelong friendships I made there, I am have been able to find my way through these last 6 months.

~~~~~

The Friday before Christmas, my Dad, my sister and I met with all of the people working on Mom’s case.

“We need you to know that we have done everything we can do for her.”

“But what does that mean?” I cried.  “What do you mean all that you can do?”

“Well, she has infections that have been resistant to every medication we have tried and that we have available.  Her kidneys are failing despite dialysis.  Her heart is weakened.  She can no longer take any nourishment even from her feeding tube.  Out best case scenario is that she stays as she is.  Best case.”

Best case meant meant bedridden, with a treach-tube, not speaking, not eating, having very little mental capacity.

What do you say when you are told that?  What do you do?  For me?  I cried.  My Dad and my sister asked the right questions.  They said the right things.  Me?  I cried.  I just begged them to not let her suffer.

“Please, please, treat her with dignity and respect and please do not let her suffer.  Don’t let my mommy suffer.” Then I cried. And the doctors and therapists cried.  I didn’t want their comfort though.  Not those who were bringing me this news.  I refused to let the doctors or anyone else comfort me.  I simply allowed my sister to hold my hand.  Which meant more than anything.

Christmas was tough knowing that Mom was at the end.  The children kept the spirit of Christmas alive.  Their excitement was contagious.  They brought joy where we thought there was no room for anything but pain.  Children are amazing that way.  They tend to have such a simplicity to their lives.  We chose to not say anything to anyone else in the family until after Christmas.  The following Tuesday, we met with the representative for hospice to see how it would all work.  Before that meeting was all over, there was not a dry eye in the room.  It was the right thing to do in our minds, but our hearts wanted to keep her with us forever.  I never really understood the complicated emotions and guilt that come with hospice care.  I never knew that the family had so many decisions to make and things to prepare for.  The kindness we were shown was above what I would have ever hoped for.  I only pray I can pay it forward one day.

After that meeting we had the horrific job of going to the cemetery to choice a plot, a casket and all of the things that go with that.  I don’t know if it is a fortunate thing or an unfortunate thing, but we got one of the most scatterbrained people I have come across in years.  Basically, you take 3 grief stricken people and mix them with Suzy Scatterbrain (or Veronica Vodka.  I am not sure) and you are going to hear some pretty smart ass remarks.  At one point when she was showing us a particular area, I asked in (in a completely serious tone) “Excuse me, but can you tell us about her neighbors in this area?  I mean, is it a pretty good neighborhood?”

She just stared at me.  She replied, “Oh, sure.  This area is nice.  Just over there is a police officer.  And here, just beside her is an elderly man who just passed.  And a plus to this partiular plot is that the space to the right will not be used.  She won’t have neighbors to the right.” (I SWEAR she said this.)

I almost snorted my own nose inside out trying not to laugh.  From under her breath my sister replied, “I dunno.  This area seems kind of dead.” Which sent me over the edge into a fit of giggles.  Suzy had no humor and was shocked that we had anything to laugh about.

But you have to laugh.  You just have to laugh or the reality of it all will just be too much for you heart to handle and you will never get through it.

~~~~

I have written before that I worried I might now have said all of the right things or let her know how I feel.  I worried that maybe there was more to say.  When you know that someone you love so much is going to die you want to make sure you have done everything you can so that you are not left feeling guilt or feeling like there were things unsaid.

When we realized that Mom wouldn’t make it much longer and we were looking at a mere days left, both my Dad and my sister took the time to talk to her.  To say what they needed to say.  To share things with her that they needed to share.  Me?  I laid my head on her pillow and cried instead.  I just didn’t know how to do it.

The next day when it was just Mom and me I held her hand and she just started at me.  Waiting.  My eyes filled with tears and I finally asked her, “Are you waiting for me to admit what is going on and to talk to you about it?”

She just smiled her famous smile and gave me that look that pretty much could be summed up with the intelligent term, “DUH!”

So, through many tears and a thousand “I love yous”, I was able to acknowledge that I was about to lose her here on Earth.  That she would soon be free of all of this pain and all of the horrendous things that MS had done to her body.  I was able to tell her she was my hero and that I would always strive to be as wonder a Mom as she has always been.  She smiled.  She nodded.  She whispered she loved me.  I tolded her when she sees Jacob to tell him that his Mommy loves him and still misses him.  We shared moments that are just between us and ones I will cherish forever. 

It was the hardest thing I have ever done.

~~~~

I am not big into loud emotional displays.  Unless of course I am all up in your face in anger.  Then, perhaps.  But those soap-opera dramatic scream-cries?  Not for me.  However, when I saw her before her funeral I was not at all able to be the calm, quiet crier that the rest of my family had become.  My knees buckled and the sound that was emitted from my throat sounded inhuman.  I now know what it means to be knocked off your feet in anguish.  I know she laughed, too.  I know she did because we always laughed at the hysterics on soap operas.  I mean, No One acts like that in real life.  When it happened, you better believe Mom was hooting and hollering in heaven calling me Hope Brady, the drama queen.  It did make me giggle to think about it later.

I am getting to a place where I am better.  I assumed that as time moved on, I would move on as well.  You just have to.  But, it seems like when things calm down and the reality hits you, you are not always able to think rationally.  Now is the time I want to call my Mommy.  Now is the time I want to hear her laugh.  For 6 months I called the hospital to check on her and then my Dad to check on him.  Every night.  For 6 months.  I cannot begin to describe the knot that fills my stomach every night at that time when I don’t call.  Because I know she is gone.  It is grieving all over again.

I have promised Clint that I won’t up and move back to Dad’s house, but I would love to be there.  It was a safe haven there.  A place where I could cry or not cry.  Actively do something or not.  Where I could curl up beside my Dad, wrap up in my Mom’s blanket and for just a brief moment be the little girl who doesn’t have to hurt over losing her Mom.

~~~~

Mom had a very strong belief in heaven and the ability to send those of us left behind signs that they are fine and that you will get through this. I cannot tell you the number of signs she received in her life after the loss of a loved one.  So before she died, I begged her to find a way to send me a sign.  Many signs.  (I can be dense, you know.) She smiled that smile that took over her whole face and winked at me.  Silent agreement.

The day she died, I was running errands.  (Because that is what you do when you are in shock and mourning, right?) As I flipped through the radio stations–annoyed by everything that was playing– my attention was caught by the following:

“And now a special email dedication from Sandy.”

Of course that caused me to stop and listen, to a station I have never listened to before.  The following was playing.  It made me laugh.  It made me cry.  And it made me beg mom to keep those signs coming!

When I get where I’m going

On the far side of the sky

The first thing that I’m gonna do

Is spread my wings and fly

I’m gonna land beside a lion

And run my fingers through his mane

Or I might find out what it’s like

To ride a drop of rain

Chorus:

Yeah when I get where I’m going

There’ll be only happy tears

I will shed the sins and struggles

I have carried all these years

And I’ll leave my heart wide open

I will love and have no fear

Yeah when I get where I’m going

Don’t cry for me down here

I’m gonna walk with my grand daddy

And he’ll match me step for step

And I’ll tell him how I missed him

Every minute since he left

Then I’ll hug his neck

Repeat chorus

So much pain and so much darkness

In this world we stumble through

All these questions I can’t answer

So much work to do

But when I get where I’m going

And I see my maker’s face

I’ll stand forever in the light

Of his amazing grace

Yeah when I get where I’m going

There’ll be only happy tears

Hallelujah

I will love and have no fear

When I get where I’m going

Yeah when I get where I’m going

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Who needs 2 to IM?

Who needs 2 to IM?

Who says it is really necessary to have a minimum of two people when carrying on an IM conversation?  I mean, sure, it is better with more than one, but it is not impossible to go solo.  In fact, here is a great conversation I had with Jenny just a few minutes ago.

(What do you mean you think the stress has made me snap?)

[10:54] javajenn: Jenny jenny….who can i turn to?

Jenny, Jenny, who can I turn to?

You give me something I can blabber on to.

I know you think I’m like the others before

Who saw your name and number on the wall

8-6-7-5-3-0-9, 8-6-7-5-3-0-9

jenny jenny you’re the girl for me….

8-6-7-5-3-0-9, 8-6-7-5-3-0-9

I got it, I got it!

I got your number on the wall!

I got it, I got it!

For a good time, for a good time call….

[10:54] Jenny: I am currently idle.

[10:54] javajenn: thank you….thank you very muhc

[10:54] javajenn: much

[10:54] javajenn: I’ll be here all night

[10:56] javajenn: And now, my Cheap Trick song:

[10:56] javajenn: When I’m down I make a call.

Got the number written on the wall.

First it’s busy then I try again.

Oh, who’s she talking to, could it be him?

[10:59] javajenn: Hmmmm, not working.  I will go with BLondie:

[10:59] javajenn: Call me (call me) on the line

Call me, call me any, anytime

Call me (call me) oh love

When you’re ready we can share the wine

Call me

[11:03] javajenn: So you need country?  Okay, how about David Alan Coe:

[11:03] javajenn:  So I’ll hang around as long as you will let me

And I never minded standin’ in the rain. No,

You don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin’

You never even call me, I wonder why you don’t call me

Why don’t you ever call me by my name.

[11:03] javajenn: You know, I am totally running out of call me songs here, Jenny

[11:13] javajenn:  Well, golly gee, Jenny this has been one hell of a good talk, but I have to go.  People to see, IM’s to create.  You know the drill.  Catch ya later, Jenninator!

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Happy Birthday, Mom

Happy Birthday, Mom

Anyone who ever met my Mom would walk away from that meeting knowing two things:  That she was one of the funniest women you have ever met and that her birthday was on January 24th.  She was all about birthdays.  Let me tell you something about having her for a Mom. It was an amazingly fun home to grow up in when it came to birthdays.  It was all about the birthday. Just a day to celebrate?  Forget it!  Birthdays should last at least a week.  In fact, we always had contests to see who received the most birthday cards each year.  (Trust me when I say there are many, many people who are looking at their calendars knowing that today must be a holiday of some sort, but they just cannot recall what it is.)

This is the first year since I went to college when I didn’t call my Mom and sing happy birthday to her.  (I did sing it to her today.  How could I not? But it isn’t the same without the phone call ritual, but hell if I know her new phone number.) I knew today would be hard, but I had no idea how hard it would be.  Before today came, I imagined in my mind the beautiful and eloquent things I would write about her and for her today.  They all disappeared as soon as I began to think of how much I miss her and still need her.  I called my Dad to make sure he was doing okay.  That resulted in my crying uncontrollably for about 30 minutes to him.  Guess I wasn’t such a good choice when it came to giving moral support today.

I have felt so helpless not knowing what to do to honor her.  My Dad took her flowers to the cemetery.  He and my sister went out to dinner in honor of this “family holiday.” But being here away from there I felt lost.  So I baked a cake.  A cake that I neither wanted or needed.  (But have had no problem thoroughly enjoying!)

If she knew how much I have cried on her birthday, she would be the first one to tell me to knock off that silly nonsense and to laugh about the good times.  And I will.  And for a few minutes today, I did.  But really, I just had no idea it would be this hard.  No idea at all.

But for my Mom I will smile and remember how many people–friends and strangers alike– that knew that January 24th meant something, that it was a day they were supposed to remember but may know know exactly why.  Many, many people who love her do know that it is her birthday and they are toasting to her today. 

Happy Birthday, Mom.  I love you.  I miss you.  And I will eat that last piece of cake.  In honor of you, of course.

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Walking the Talk

Walking the Talk

I think one of the hardest things about loving someone who is sick is the helpless feeling that accompanies it.  The need to be able to do something, anything to make a difference.  But many times you just say “I wish I could do something” and it ends there. 

Which is why I totally adore and admire my very good friend, Mir.  You see, one of her friends–a long time friend she met 9 years ago in the vastness that is the Internet– was diagnosed with breast cancer.  You can read all about Julie and Mir and the angry reaction that occurs when you love someone who has been diagnosed with something that is out of your control.  Speaking as the niece of a breast cancer survivor, I know that anger all too well. And have even MORE admiration for Mir for taking on something as amazing as the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk.  Talk about putting your money feet where your mouth is! 

Mir is an amazing woman.  If you don’t already know that, than you obviously have never read her site.  So why don’t you join me and others in supporting her in raising money to ensure that our daughters and nieces never have to struggle through the anguish that is breast cancer. 

Please support her.  Go to her secure site and help donate to this amazing cause and this amazing woman. I’m am proud to donate to not only support Mir and Julie, but in honor of my Aunt. If you do donate, give Mir a shout out and let her know you are supporting her.  I know it would mean a lot to her. 

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Home in body, but still not here in spirit yet

Home in body, but still not here in spirit yet

I am finally back home.  Back with my kids and the chaos that reigns in my life.  I don’t even know where to begin to thank you all for your support.  It has blown me away to find so many comments and emails.  So many flowers and plants.  So many notes of support and sympathy.  You have no idea how much I needed that.  Thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you.  I will get around to replying to you all, but right now, I am still in such a funk it is hard to do much of anything.

I feel as if I am walking around in a pool of molasses.  No matter what I try to do, it feels as if it is happening in slow motion.  I suppose things were just so hectic at Dad’s house with people coming and going and things to take care of that it was easier to get lost in details.  Here, life has gone on.  There, it was okay to push pause on everything and let it all be insignificant.  Now that I am home, it is all hitting me.  Hard.  I suppose I thought it would somehow be easier because we knew it was coming.  I was so wrong.  The grief sometimes hits me at strangest times.  In the grocery store when I see something that Mom would always have in her pantry.  An innocent comment on tv that means nothing but sends me into waves of tears.  This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to force myself to move through. 

Your support has meant so much to me. Thank you.  Just knowing the times when I feel all alone and sad that I have people who are thinking of me and sending me good wishes means everything to me.  It really does.  How amazing it is to find such love from people I have never met face to face.  It is a blessing in my life. 

You have my gratitude, my love and my deep appreciation.

I am not quite ready to talk about things or to do “the funny”, but I know it will come back soon.  If I could do just one thing to honor the memory of my Mom it would be to laugh.  She had the greatest sense of humor of anyone I have ever known.  So please be patient with me.  The funny will come.  Right now, I am just trying to put one foot in front of the other and get back into my life that I had abandoned for a month.  Stick with me, okay?

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