Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Gatorade

It is time to commit to my writing again.  I think my life is all about recommitting on so many levels and mostly everyday.  I refuse to feel guilty for the time I needed to let the ideas tumble around without catching any (except very private ones in a very private journal) on paper.  I did NOT want another snow day and yet, I told myself last night that if it happened, I needed to recommit today.  And so it goes.  As I thought about what message this post should hold, I realized that I did not need to try to so hard.  That the experience I needed to write was at the tip of my brain waiting to be realized on paper and that people would take from it what they needed. 

And so it begins on a random, relaxed Saturday at Wegmans.  Recently, I have been attending a bereavement group and thanks to the connections and advice of these souls who are also experiencing grief, I am better able to sleep through the night in the last two weeks without reliving every minute of my sisters last days of life.  This extra sleep means I am happier and better able to face the day with happy and positive thoughts.  But, per usual (and I am sure my faithful readers miss it) I digress.  Back to Wegmans.  Eric and I had a wonderful Friday night at home with steaks, wine and books and now we were perusing the Wegman's aisles with no cares in the world as Krista was at a friend's house.  I have to admit to you right now that grocery shopping with Eric is one of my favorite things.  It is stress free and fun. 

So, there I am enjoying it all and Eric reminds me we have a 5k on Sunday and I probably want some gatorade.  It happens that we are right at the tip of that aisle and so I head down and turn toward the gatorade and just stare.  Without any warning at all, my face turns red, a bump forms in my throat and all I see in front of me is my sister telling me that purple gatorade is the best drink.  The night before she died as Eric and I were leaving she asked if I could get her a purple gatorade. My brother  Michael stayed with her while we went to the downstairs cafeteria.  However, all we could find was blue.  Michael texted me to "hurry up with the gatorade."  I grabbed the blue and booked it upstairs.  When we arrived Michael said, "Oh, she decided she doesn't want it anymore," and Kristin turned to him with the "Kristin Look" and said, "That is not true."  We all laughed and I admitted that there was no purple and I had brought blue.  She of course let me off the hook and drank down the blue.  As we were leaving she seemed to become more and more awake which was perfect because her husband Joe and daughters showed up.  I remember looking back and seeing my beautiful sister so happy to see her girls, and that gatorade sitting right there by her side on the tray reminding me that she was still very much alive.  

Back at Wegmans, I held back the tears as best I could.  I could not speak for fear my voice would dissolve into salt water.  As soon as we got to the car I let it go and go and go.  Last night I shared this with my bereavement group and one of the women there said that she has heard them called "griefbursts."  It is the perfect name as it came out of the blue and hit me so hard I did not have any defense ready.   But slowly I am learning to take it all as it comes.  There is no right and wrong in missing someone.  You just do.  And you miss them because they were wonderful.  And you hope that a little piece of wonderful has stayed behind to shine with and through you.  And when you can't buy the gatorade because it just feels too hard, you wait until the next day.  And you run the race and you drink the gatorade and you keep moving forward.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Taking a Detour

Two weeks after my sister, Kristin, died I updated with a post that said I wanted to get back to writing.  That was the truth and I did get back to writing.  My other blog about my health journey is back on track for the most part and my classroom blog for my students' parents is also back on track. I have a secret though.  My Morning Coffee is the blog that has my heart.  It is the blog I take pride in the most and the one that feeds my soul. 

The reason I struggle with a new post is because I was on a path of reliving my mother's illness and death and right in the middle of that journey, my sister started her own path of illness and died and I am left here to wonder...."What is my bigger purpose?"  I have no doubt there is one.  There is something I need to do or say to someone somewhere, but I just cannot confirm what that something is.  When I think of mom's illness I immediately go to Kristin's illness and quite honestly I am still living the jagged pain of my sister's death minute to minute.  I am not prepared to write about it because I am hardly prepared to talk about it.  It sits on my shoulder like an uninvited guest and I can only let it in when I am fully alone and often in the dark.  The reason I was able to start writing about mom is because I had finished that part of the grieving process.  The jagged edges had turned softer and there was/is warmth in the memories. 

So, I am left with having a hard time continuing to write about my journey with mom when it brings me right to memories of my journey with Kristin that are only a few months old. 

And yet... I do know my journey can help other people.  I do know being a member of the Lotane 5 (mom, dad, Michael, Kristin, and myself) and having 3 of the original five die makes me a stronger person for others and helps me have a very interesting view of death that also might help others.  But, to my loyal readers, I need to ask you to bear with me.  I cannot continue on quite the same journey with mom's hospital stay as I was before.  I will work to get back there. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Taking Our Time

Since my sister died I have wanted to blog again. The reason it has taken me this long is two fold. One: everything takes so much energy.  I have a lot of thoughts in my head for this blog but capturing them and sitting in one place to type them out...well, it just feels really monumentally exhausting.  Two: there is this part of me that feels like going back to normal is wrong. Because nothing is normal.  Because there can never be normal like there used to be, there can only be the new normal and so far the new normal sucks. But you know what?  In fairness even as I type this I know it is wrong.  Being without my sister sucks more than anything that has ever sucked in my life.  But- the new normal means I am much closer with my brother in law AND I  talk to Olivia and Madison a lot more than ever before.  Those things don't suck.  Those things are a gift.  I also feel like a better teacher.  I don't get so annoyed when in the middle of my lesson a 6 year old announces she is bleeding, because giving that girl a band-aid is more important to her at that moment than her being able to make a text to self connection.  I also am spending more time listening to my daughter.  You know why?  Because in the last 2 months I realized Kristin was a fantastic listener for her daughters and also that she spent so much time doing cool things with them.  The girls miss baking and doing crafts with her.  I worry if I were gone, Krista would only be able to miss my nagging at her.  I also have the gift of realizing how strong my husband's arms are.  It helps me remember to appreciate the gift of him way more often than I have been.

Tomorrow it will be 2 weeks that I have been in the world without my sister.  That Joe has been in the world without his wife and that Madison and Olivia have been in the world without their mom. And I know Kristin, who was my biggest cheerleader, would want me to blog again if that is what I feel I should do.  And it is.  Because I want the world to know what happened in the last 2 months.  The amazing person my sister proved herself to be even though none of us who love her needed any such proof.

For today, I will leave you with this.  Many of you have heard me talk in the last 2 months about how close Kristin and I were even though we were very different humans.  And so for those of you who witnessed first hand the grace with which Kristin took her diagnosis and her prognosis, know this:  If this happens to me.  I will not be anywhere near as full as grace.  I will be throwing stuff at people, screaming at the top of my lungs, and making nurses run in fear. Doctors?  Nope, they won't want to enter because I already know that for some irrational reason I will blame them.  I will blame everyone and I will be angry.  In fact, I am quite angry now even though it wasn't my diagnosis or prognosis.  I just don't get it.  And I think that is where this blog can end for today.  I just don't get it.  Nobody does.  That is the MOST frustrating part of this whole shitty thing.  We just have to hold each other through the shittiness (apparently that isn't a real word) and remember that things will get better once we get used to what the new  normal is....and we have as long as we need for that to happen.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The lesson

I will be taking a short hiatus from this blog for awhile.  And by short I mean I have no idea when I will feel like writing again.  My heart is breaking into a million pieces and that doesn't make for a very good uplifting blog. 

If you take NOTHING else away from these posts I have been writing take this.  Memories count.  Make them every SINGLE DAY.  Don't waste a day.  DON'T WASTE A DAY. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We are not alone

As I have mentioned before I only feel comfortable writing about my journey throughout my mother's death.  Everybody experiences situations in their own way and I cannot tell you how my brother or my sister experienced their journey.  I can, however, tell you how the process of their own journey affected mine. Today, lets focus on my sister, Kristin.

Throughout life your big sister (or at least mine anyway) can be your protector, your therapist, your go between when you are a teenager and having a fight with your mom, your ally and your best friend.  Yes, that is true even when you want to wring each other's necks because you are sisters.  You share something that nobody else can share with you.  I am not really sure how to best describe that sister thing but it is amazing because even in being very different people, you share something special in your heart. 

So, my sister lives in Chicago.  For her this made my mother's process much harder because every time Kristin came out to Massachusetts she was leaving her support system.  She was leaving her kids, husband, job and friends to be with mom.  She came to be with mom, but I believe she also came as a support to me.  Even if she didn't to that intentionally that is what she was.  Every time I think of those days, I picture Kristin in one chair and myself in the other and lots and lots of laughter.  Isn't that amazing?  There we are with our mother dying and sisters can laugh together.  Oh yes, mom was laughing too!!!  I also remember when my sister got there mom's hospital room started to look more like it should.  Kristin brought beaded necklaces that her girls had made and they were hanging off IV poles and such!!! 

The other thing that Kristin brought to the table was her anger.  For those who know Kristin she never backs down from her anger and although at times (like when that anger was directed at me) that is scary, in the hospital that is exactly what we needed.  Kristin got things done and wasn't afraid to tell people she was pissed and she was taking action.  That gave me strength to be more pissed at some of the injustices we faced.  Anger in the face of death is absolutely natural and Kristin has taught me it is okay not to back down from your anger and it okay to let people know you feel that way. 

My sister made things easier for me.  In the end, I think that is what siblings are for.  We make things easier for each other.  We hold together in the face of the storm and we don't let go of each other.  When the storm blows past and you look around you, the people closest- that's your family.  Love them with all your heart and remind them you love them every chance you get.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I am leaving for the ocean (one of mine and mom's fav places)  today and will be back to the blog on Wednesday morning.  Be Well.

Winning Team

My cell rang as I was walking onto mom's hospital floor. I was so tired of seeing "St Vincents" come up on my display.  The nurse informed me that my mom was refusing any more tests.  That if she refuses, they cannot do more to help her.  That I need to come talk to my mom.  "I am almost there," I told her and turned the corner to her desk with a big wave.  She told me the  attendant had come to get mom for a catscan and she had sent him away.  I walked into mom's room loaded for bear. 
"So that's it?  You're giving up?" 
"What are you talking about? I am not giving up." 
She informed me then that they just keep coming to get to her for more tests and she told them she was not taking another test until the doctor came to talk to her about all these tests.  Wow, did I have pride at that moment.  These people didn't want me to talk to my mom because her health was at stake.  They wanted me to calm her down so they could do their job without her being a pain in their butts.  And yet, what she was asking was so reasonable and she had the stuff.  The stuff that says, "I am a fighter and dammit you won't just do whatever you want." 
I walked back to my friend at the nurse's station and told her I spoke with my mom.  "Oh good, I will reschedule the catscan."  "Um, not exactly," I said with pride in my voice.  "We need to talk with a doctor before mom has any more tests.  She wants to know what is going on."  "But we have to go on doctor's orders."  I told the nurse we understood that she has to go on doctor's orders but she would need to tell the doctor that the patient was refusing until a doctor spoke to us that day.  It was the shortest time frame it ever took for the doctor to get to us.  Unfortunately, she was in a quandary because she was giving a bunch of tests not really knowing what was wrong.  Also for the insurance to keep paying for the hospital stay the doctor has to keep ordering tests.  Welcome to frigging America!
The best was seeing mom's smug little smile at the end of the visit when she said, "I will take the catscan now. Thank you for coming to tell me what was going on with my health."  ZING! 
The spunk she showed that day was one of the best times I had in the hospital with her.  The  nurses wanted me to talk some sense into her.  Instead she and I teamed up and staged our demonstration.  It was nice to have a win as a team.  I miss that.