Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A time to reflect

Dear Mama,
Three years ago today I had the worse day of my entire life.
Three years ago today I awoke to the news that you were in the emergency room.
Three years ago today I started my day to a dreaded cell phone call that you had tumors on your brain and I was to "be strong".
Three years ago today I told my husband to get me out of that house and I never felt comfortable living there again.
Three years ago today was the first Christmas Eve I didn't get to spend with you. And we didn't even get to talk.
Three years ago I was expecting the arrival of my baby girl at any moment and I didn't even want her to come.
Three years ago today I couldn't eat and I sat in a daze as everyone opened their gifts.
Three years ago today I knew that the next Christmas I wouldn't spend with you either.
Three years ago today I began a two year long downward journey into insanity, depression, and fear unlike any I'd ever experienced in the past.
Three years ago today I no longer had hope and I felt like my life was over.
Three years ago today I wanted to be at the hospital, climb into bed with you and hold you as much as I couldn't stand the thought of hearing your voice or seeing your face ever again.
Three years ago today I kept waiting to wake up from the nightmare.

Today I awoke to the terror of a nightmare involving you (and my asking you to not be so grumpy), a next door explosion and open windows that needed to be closed due to the giant smoke cloud, puppies, strange poetry (about taking a "sit" instead of taking a "stand"), and letters from high school friends.
Today I awoke to thunder, loud rain, and wind chimes. Only not the wind chimes that dad made because, despite what he says, they do dry rot and fall apart over time. Heh.
Today I went back to bed with my two precious angels, listened to their highly creative stories about pink fairies and giant robots and started my day over again.
Today I started my day sandwiched between a special boy and a special girl, giving many thanks to the Lord for giving me the strength to land myself here, amidst emotional stability.
Today I didn't cry, didn't feel hopeless, but I still missed you.
Today I realized that my journey out of depression was difficult but worth it in the long run.
Today I feel focused on the important aspects of the holiday and not so much on what happened three years ago. But I still need to write this.
Today I don't feel alone now that my kids are older and able to talk to me and give me support.
Today I will go to church and start another new tradition with my kids... one that is very important to me.

Today I would imagine that you are celebrating in heaven and that makes me happy, even though I feel really distant from you now that I'm a new person. You wouldn't even know me.

Merry Christmas, Mama.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Dear Mama,
I know it might seem to many that I've abandoned this blog but I have simply not felt like writing. But today, I do. Of course I miss you like crazy and I wish more than anything that the kids and I were driving to Gallatin today to spend your special day with you. We'd pick you up and take you to eat somewhere nice and then maybe we'd go do some shopping. The children would enjoy picking out a gift for you and you would simply enjoy them.

Oh, how you would enjoy them, Mama. Your grandson is going on 5 years old. He has a huge heart. He enjoys hosting gatherings of his friends, planning special days, and he thinks that I am the best thing on earth. He tells me all of the time that he misses you and while I wonder if he even remembers you in the least, I believe that he does miss you down in his heart. Because you are a presence that is forever removed and your being gone has left me forever changed. He is such a sweet boy and a delight to be around. I just know that he would be the light of your world.

And this little girl we have. Mama, she is something else. A real piece of work. She is strong-willed, loud, hilarious, and fascinating. She is my worst enemy and my very best friend all rolled into one. I never imagined that having a little girl would be so much fun. And while I feel she could easily beat the living day lights out of me, she could just as easily get dressed in a princess costume and have a tea party. She's going to be three soon and I feel that I'm just now getting to know her. Now that I'm out of that dark hole of despair.

I can't wait to meet this new baby. That's right. A new baby. Another boy. Our peaceful serene child who is going to sleep really well at night. Because we deserve one of those. I wish that you were here to welcome him into this world. It's been really painful to imagine having another that doesn't know either of his grandparents... even a little bit.

I try my best to keep you alive. Your memory at least. The kids know what you liked and how you were so kind. I keep your senior picture in a frame on my desk. It is a constant reminder of your beauty and your kindness. There is a look of peace in your eyes in that picture... one that I only saw in person when you were on your death bed. That look helps me to not be scared of where I'm going one day. Because you already had one foot there and it must have been glorious.

Things are hard right now. It seems that after you died, things started to go down hill and we are still trying to get our feet planted firmly on the ground again. I know that ultimately our every need will be provided but I'm having to learn to truly do without for the first time in my life. I never realized until recently just how spoiled I truly was. But I never really had to want for anything. Now I want for so much that my head swims. Worst, I want for things for my children. To worry about needing a bed for a child is foreign to me. This type of want has helped me to put things into perspective though. I now realize that a child can sleep on the floor or on the couch... there is no rule saying that they have to be in a bed. More specifically, their own bed!

I feel proud of what we have here. I am proud of our children. I am proud of homeschooling. I'm proud of running a non-profit organization that I created from scratch. And I feel proud of how I relied on God to pull me out of a hell that I cannot even describe with words. Mostly I am proud of my marriage and how my relationship with my husband has improved dramatically and I feel secure in knowing that he is not going anywhere. Took me nearly ten years to get there, but finally I believe it.

Mama, I hope that the angels are throwing you a big gigantic birthday party right now. I hope that you are sitting on that Appalachian front porch, alternating between playing a jug and dancin' a jig. And you have thick, glorious long hair and you are wearing a long patchwork skirt. And maybe I'll be there to celebrate your 100th birthday with you.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dear Mama,
Ever since I got some of your things, I've felt further away from you. I've felt like you weren't with me as much. Or maybe that I didn't need you with me as much. I don't really know. And I don't have the extra money for twenty sessions with a psychologist so I guess it will have to remain a mystery. What I do know is that I've felt like maybe you didn't love me or even like me anymore by the time you died. And who could blame you? I was irritated with you all of the time. I had a terrible attitude and I was annoyed by everything you did. I took all of your actions as a personal affront to me. So, when I was going through your things and your writing went on and on about everyone and everything other than me, or even your grandchildren, I realized that maybe that cord had been cut a long time before you died.

That is when I realized that I've been grieving for you for years. Maybe subconsciously I knew that there was something seriously wrong with you long before the diagnosis. Maybe I knew that even if you didn't end up dead, you would never be there for me ever again in any way other than as a burden. There had been a time when I could depend upon you. When we had been friends. Best friends. But that time had ended. Several years ago. Maybe the end was solidified when you didn't seem interested in helping with my wedding. When you didn't offer to take me shopping for anything. When all that you contributed was making the little bird seed bags and showing up. And I'm almost certain you wouldn't have shown up if I'd given you permission to skip it.

I'm not angry. Or at least I don't think that I'm any angrier than I was before. I'm just sad to know that I didn't have a normal mother/daughter relationship at all as an adult and I'm not sure that I have any idea how to be the mother I should be to my own daughter(s). I'm very confused. I'm very scared.

We have another baby on the way. She/He is due to arrive near H's birthday. I just keep thinking how hard it will be to have a baby that neither of my parents know at all. It's a terrible feeling. Just terrible.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day: Another excuse to be a little crazy

Dear Mama,
Today is Father's Day. It's supposed to be a day during which I dote upon my wonderful sweet husband, who is the father of my children. Instead, it has turned into another example of how my shortcomings become major black spots on the track record of my career as a wife and mother. Today was not supposed to be about me. It was supposed to be about Michael. Yet, somehow, the impending feeling of doom that lies upon any day that requires me to make the decision to call him or not to call him leaves me sleepless, mildly depressed, slightly weepy, and missing you a little bit extra.
Last night the anxiety was already seeping through. I suppose it was my fault because I brought you up. But H was playing with a toy that you got him when he was only an infant. It was that electronic book with Tigger on the front. I told him, "Your grandma got this for you at a yard sale when you were just a baby." He said, "Which grandma?" and I reminded him, "My mama". That's when the questions started.
"Do you miss your mother?" and my favorite,
"The grandpa didn't die, right?"
No, he didn't die, sweetie.
But how do you explain the reality to your child when you don't even understand it yourself? At the age of four, he could not possibly comprehend the truth. That "the grandpa" and I were never very close to begin with. We never seemed to understand each other. We've never been able to get along. I've always been terrified of his being in the room, kinda the way you are scared of that E.T. book on sister's bookshelf... never actually causing any real harm but existing there, implying imminent danger nonetheless. And that, for as long as I've known him, he was teetering on the edge of sanity and when your grandma got sick and died, he lost his flippin' mind OR he's just a total jerk. Either scenario is unpleasant and not something I'd like to rehash with a preschooler.
Mama, the worst part of this whole stupid mess is that I don't have him around to talk with about you. Sadly, though, I have a feeling that he doesn't talk about you, think about you, or even remember you. He's that much like a robot. You used to say that we were so much alike and that was why we couldn't get along. I think you were wrong. I think we are the exact opposite of one another and we lived on such opposite ends of the universe that the only experience we shared was you. What a gigantic stretch that must have been for you... to connect two such drastically different people.
So, I leave you with a thank you. A thank you for trying to fill that void in my life for 28 years. Sure, you failed miserably and I sought out the approval of males in ways that were both dangerous and inappropriate. But you sure did try, didn't you?

With love,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Walking in your shoes and your jackets and maybe a sweater or two

Dear Mama,
I just got back from visiting with you in a dream. I always feel as if I've been so close to you when we meet in dreams. The funny thing is that I don't even think you were actually in the dream. Just your stuff. Your stuff was in the dream. I was Gallatin at your house (only it wasn't exactly your house). Aunt Theresa was there with me. There was a huge RV in the driveway that belonged to me and Michael. I'm pretty sure he was in it. Your bathroom pretty much looked the same. Except one half of the cabinet was missing. When I peeked inside, there was a giant stack of blue tucks pads... I assumed they were from when you were sick. I have a stack of green ones in my bathroom from having a home birth. I opened up the bathroom closet. Your white sneakers sat there, all by themselves. I was in a hurry. I had to go to meet Geoffrey. We were meeting at the Discovery Center (which is actually in Murfreesboro) for a science experiment at noon. I was going to be late. But instead i walked into your bedroom which had suddenly grown. Everything was in the same place only more spread out. The ceilings had even become vaulted. I opened the closet. It was a walk-in. And it had a light. I started taking your clothes out, one by one. Placing them on the bed. The pink sweater that I got you for your last birthday was in there. I grabbed framed pictures off of your dresser and stacked them in my arms. I felt so close to you, just being in your house. I suppose that through dreams is the only way in which I'll ever be able to visit your house again. It breaks my heart. It's more than I can even imagine. It makes me feel so lonely. I'm so thankful for the power of the imagination... for it can allow me to go places that, in real life, I'll never go again.

I love you,

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Mama.

Dear Mama,
I keep thinking of all of these cool things I'd get you if you were here this Mother's Day. I'd take you to eat at Miller's. I'd drag you to have your nails done since you never did experience the pleasure of a pedicure. We'd go for a movie or maybe I'd buy you tickets to a concert. Perhaps we'd even go away over night to some town that has really awesome thrift stores and just shop til we dropped. Today I honored you by forcing myself to go to church, by not laying in the bed feeling sorry for myself, by showing true appreciation for the effort that my children and my husband made to make my day extra special, by bargain hunting for your grandson at the Goodwill Sunday Sale as you always did, like clockwork (Hunter now has three new pairs of pants and two long sleeved button down shirts that were only $6.25 total... I was ecological and economical by shopping used. I even refused a bag). Michael asked me during church if I was okay and I said yes. And, momentarily forgetting why I might be sad, he said, "Awww, what's the matter?" in a cheerful voice. I honored you by not being a bitch and snapping at him. Instead, I simply said, "It's just a hard day." With that, he put his strong arm around me and pulled me a little closer. I love that man. After the Goodwill, I honored you by spending half an hour meticulously picking out this week's library books for your grandchildren and then sharing an anecdote from my childhood with the librarian. I'm sure she didn't care that you used to lay in bed and read library books to me every night (and the funnies you read on Sundays) but she showed great kindness by acting as if she cared. Today I will continue to honor you by thanking God for the many Mother's Days we did spend with one another and for the powerful and positive impact you had upon my life each and every day you lived. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for giving this whole Motherhood thing your all. I sure do appreciate it. And, as always, I miss you like crazy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dear Mama,
The children and I are watching "The Gravy Bunch". I started to tivo some of the shows from my childhood in order to provide the kids with a bit of a peak into who I am. Since I spent so many hours watching television, I felt this was a good place to start. Of course, for the most part they watch preschooler television like "Franklin" or "Calliou" but I must admit to letting them watch lots of old sit coms. Just this morning I overheard Hunter singing, "And it takes different strokes, it takes different strokes. Different strokes to move the world". Perhaps he could be spending his time doing something more constructive but allowing him to watch the tv that I grew up serves more than just a baby-sitter purpose for me. In addition to keeping him preoccupied, it also helps us to have things in common. It is just so much easier for me to curl upand watch "Facts of Life" on demand with them than it is for me to watch "Dora the Explorer". So, he should be well versed in 80's pop culture references by the time he goes to school (if he goes to school) and I'm totally okay with that. At least we'll "get" each other.
At any rate, we are watching "The Gravy Bunch" and I swear I didn't tell him to say that. I called it by its correct name. But when he looked at me and said, "What is "The Gravy Bunch" about?" I couldn't help but say, "What did you say?". And he repeated it. Yep. Gravy. Suddenly I was swept back to lying in your arms at... Ronin's age? while you rocked me in the rocking chair and sang to me with your sweet sweet voice. First you would sing "The Gravy Bunch" and then "Jesus Loves Me" and "You Are My Sunshine" and that is all I remember. That and how great it felt. Our days were so peaceful and soothing. My time with you was so precious. I desperately long to be held in your lap while you sing to me and hold me so tightly. I also can't help but feel a little sad that Hunter is quickly becoming too old to be held and rocked. He is so tall. He is so grown up. And with the occasionally exception, he is so well-mannered, mature, responsible, polite, and likable. We are very similar. It's the girl to whom I cannot relate. Though I love her just as much and sometimes a little more... based upon her big brother's behavior. But regardless, he is the one I feel closest too. Especially now that he's over his daddy obsession and seems to like us both equally.
What I wouldn't give for them to know you. For them to have just a day to peak in on us 16 years ago, shopping and laughing and being the best of friends. It pains me to know that they will never see that, know that, feel that. But I will try my hardest to recreate it for them
. And what's even cooler than anything I can give them is the fact that they have each other. That is a priceless amazing gift. I'm often envious of what they have together.

Your daughter, your sister, your bestest friend,

PS, Look. Hunter loves puzzles like you did.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Picturing it and then lettin' it go.

Dear Mama,
I find myself trying to picture the tiniest little details... like the way that the insides of the closets looked. Or the minutia of your backyard. I wish I knew the names of all of the plants. I wish I'd taken the time to learn everything about you. Yesterday Hunter and I went to the greenhouse at Old Time Pottery and picked out herbs. He asked me the names of all of the plants. He really liked the red geraniums. If not for you, I'd imagine that the word geranium would mean very little to me. But I believe you always got geraniums for the flower beds. After these moments, the ones that send me into a tailspin, grasping at all memories, I always feel the need to connect with people who know you. I have an overwhelming desire to call all of them. So I did. Well, I at least called several of them. Jeff told me that he sat outside on the porch and looked at your tulips yesterday. Only I guess they aren't your tulips anymore. They are someone else's. Because I was told that he sold the house. He sold the house that I grew up in and didn't bother to tell me. He sold the only place that I ever lived until I went away to college and didn't offer to let me come and look inside just one more time. He sold the house that you lived in for over 3o years and didn't call me up and say, "Hey, thought you might like to come and take photos of your children in the same backyard where you used to play when you were their age." He sold the house. And didn't really seem to care how it might affect me. I didn't expect him to keep it. After all, he lives somewhere else and leads the life of someone else now. But common courtesy would require one to at least acknowledge the connection that their child might have to the past. I cannot even imagine treating my own children the same way. These situations, these new found bits of information, always make me cling desperately to people who connect me the most to my past. And so I had a dream last night. And I heard conversations in my head... ones that we used to have about certain people from my past. A certain person who is not a part of my past any more than he is a part of my present. But I've been slapped in the face with the cold hard facts that he is not my future. I'm not even sure what I mean by all of this but I'm swirling around inside of a great storm of loneliness right now. I miss you and I miss having anyone in my life who actually knows me. And while I know that there are certain individuals who will always love me from afar, it's a terrible dead end road I must face to realize that it truly didn't turn out the way that I always figured it would.

My yard is filled with red birds. And I've been reading some really good books lately. Ones that you would have liked. Ones to which you would have related.

Oh and I miss you like crazy, miss you like crazy.
Ever since you went away. Every hour of every day.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter

Dear Mama,
It's almost Easter. The holidays make me miss you even more than usual. For some reason Easter is actually harder than all of the other holidays, except for Christmas maybe. Today I tried my hand at starting my own traditions for the kids while trying to weave in some of the traditions from my childhood. Michael boiled some eggs and while the little kids were asleep (we babysit a little boy twice a week now) Hunter and I had an outdoors tea party and then we colored in coloring books on the quilt for a while. We sat among the buttercups. The people who lived in this house before us probably had a gazebo which would explain why there is a giant circle of buttercups in our front yard. I have considered burying your ashes in the center of the circle, should I ever possess them. The buttercups make me think of you so much. Today we dyed the hard boiled eggs and then made them into "rock stars" thanks to some silly kit I got on clearance at Kmart right after you died. Then I filled all of my plastic eggs (same ones I've had since Hunter was first born) with vegan chocolate chips, spelt ginger cookies, and organic cereal. As I was hiding them for the kiddos, I went to drop one into the center of a buttercup and suddenly, I was overcome by emotions and a flood of memories. I remembered hunting eggs at Mammy's and Pappy's every year. I remembered the buttercups and how they were everywhere. And there would be eggs hidden inside of them. And in the old abandoned tires. And that old red water pump. And in the cracks on the porch. And in the bushes. If it rained, and it did a few years, you would just hide the eggs indoors and it was just as much fun. I remember that Daddy would peel egg after egg and eat so many I wondered how he didn't get sick. And I remember the special prize eggs that would be wrapped in foil and filled with money. Most of all, I remember that every single year ` of my life, I had an Easter basket. Until you were gone. I guess it was time for me to grow up. But man how I wish I could receive some silly Easter basket from you. This year, I'd have asked for money to buy the new B-52's cd that comes out Tuesday, some new Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers, and some new underwear.

I promised myself that I wouldn't cry. So much for that.

I love you, Moozie.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A letter to Dawn's Mom

It seems so weird to say mommy after all God felt the need to take you to make me who I am today. It's been almost 20 years since your death. I think about you everyday. At first it was I forgot your voice and then it was I forgot the way your hands looked then it was the little laugh lines you had where the placement was and if I they look like mine now. I hope you are proud of me mommy. I have tried the best I know how in life and you didn't make it easy but I knew that Grandma and you were watching me and protecting me in those moments of loneness. I am so lucky to have known such a corky, fun and lovable person in such a short time. I thought about you a lot at night and if you could hear me when I spoke to you in my bed. I wanted to make daddy and you very proud of me always. I do miss daddy terrible I know it was hard for you after daddy died I saw that you just couldn't be without him. I am who I am today because of you. The day I graduated high school is the day
I was going to stop being anger at you for leaving and realized that you were shaping me to be who I am today. I felt so alone with my two little ribbons. Everyones family was there to cheer them on and in the stands was my friends whom where as close as a family I had. I know you were differently watching over me in Florida and you really worked over time. I have your sense of humor I think and that corky personality. Mom I bet you were so happy when your granddaughter Zoe came along. I wondered what you said about her and how much she looked like me. When Cole came around I knew you would be proud to have such a handsome boy. I talk about you to them all the time. I show them pictures of you and talk about the crazy dance sessions in our living room SOLID GOLD SATURDAY NIGHT. I want you to know that I know if you would've known what was going to happen to me at Rey and Pauline's you would have never sent me there. I know that broke your heart. I miss you everyday and
try not to think of you on the days I need you the most but its only to get me by on those days. I love you and miss you everyday I am a grateful to have known you.
Dawn Rhodes

Thursday, February 28, 2008

happy death day

So, it's been two years since you began your new life way out yonder. I was really glad that I was sleeping when it was the exact moment of the anniversary (12:50 am) because I just simply wasn't in the mood to feel it.
I constanly wonder what it's like for you "up there". When you got there two years ago, was there a celebration for your arrival? What does it look like? Are you really living in a little white house on a hill with chickens in the yard like I saw in your dream? Did you have a lot of work to do once you got there... because you hadn't done that work here on Earth? Were you immediately greeted by Mammy and Pappy and when Brother Jack got there, did you guys have lunch? Are your teeth finally perfect and is your hair thick and luxurious as opposed to the lackluster mousy brown thin hair you had here? Does your spirit roam the moutains of Appalachia, zooming in and out of trees and sitting in on hootenannies led by old women from the hills who are wearing aprons and blowing into a jug on her front porch? When we see that bunny rabbit in our yard, is it really you? Is there a level system in heaven and if so, did you get to move up one level today? Are you watching your grandchildren grow up and bragging to everyone around you about how cute Hunter is or how smart Ronin is? Is the baby Michelle obsession your idea of a joke? Do you even have time to miss me as much as I miss you?

Happy Death Day Mama. I hope your journey is fabulous.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A calling

Dear Mama,
The past week, I have felt such an intense calling. For a few years now, I've had an increasing interest in women and self-esteem. However, the past few days, I feel like the Universe is making it extremely clear that I need to be working on this aspect of Artsy Mamas even more so than I already am.
Last night, my friend Corinna led an Artsy Mamas workshop which I titled "Be Your Own Valentine", implying that we should love ourselves up in light of the holiday during which we are sending cards and having candle light dinners for others... often times others who don't treat us with the respect we deserve. The workshop she led was primarily about affirmations. I realized during the workshop something that I already knew. I don't give myself permission to affirm me. Instead, I seek it out from others, like so-called friends who've made it clear that they are finished with me and even from my husband who is not so great at dishing out gratuitous compliments at the risk of sounding fake. When I make a dinner that is pretty darn good, I don't accept that it is good unless Michael makes a comment about it. I cannot accept that if I thought it was delicious then there is some validity to that fact. It's as if I don't let my opinions count. Even now. Even now that I am an accomplished "career gal" with a clear-defined path in front of me, I wait for that elusive, "Thanks Honey, dinner was delicious. You sure know how to whip up something spectacular, without even using a recipe." Hmph. Why is that? Why is it that I cannot accept my own feelings and thoughts as valid? Perhaps it comes from the brainwashing that I endured and witnessed on a regular basis growing up in that house. I would dare say that has something to do with it.
I want to make a difference, Mom. I want to help other women out there who are struggling with the things with which you and I struggled and (for me) continue to do so. We all have it in us to go from miserable, lonely, underachievers who feel as if the world is doing them a favor by letting them exist to being the mothers of a beautiful bouncing brain child, ready to take over the world. This is ultimately my calling. I may achieve other goals, like creating quality television, becoming a published writer, or, even enjoying slight fame and recognition. But none of those achievements will be even a little bit as fulfilling as creating ways to truly reach those women who need help loving themselves.
This is my destiny. I can see it so clearly. Every thing is falling into place. I was put here to make a difference and I'm not going to stop until I do.
Thank you for this gift.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Weepy plea

The closer the anniversary gets, the more weepy I become. This past week, everything has made me sad. I broke down while watching "Full House" fan tribute videos on Youtube. I broke down while reading a letter that was written by a woman with whom Michael works (the combination of gross misspellings and grammatical errors with the content-her grandmother is now ill and as a result she needed to change shifts- was overwhelming). I broke down at the realization that time is quickly fading and I have this one and only chance to spend time with my children and to enjoy their sweet hugs and kisses, resulting in my surrendering to the donut's need to sleep cuddled into my back ready to aim and fire her little sucker kisses at any given moment. And just today, my nearly four-year-old son made yet another Valentine's day card for his wonderful perfectly fabulous father. When I opened it and I looked closely I realized that he had written his name-something I've been working on with him for a while. He proudly announced, "I made that sun all by myself." I don't know if it was the fact that he is big enough to write his name or that he had finally drawn something or that he was so sweet about it or WHAT but something tugged at my heart strings and immediately the water works began. It is so hard for me to not be able to share these great feats with you. I want more than anything to be able to help Hunter write you a letter or draw you a picture. I want to let him call you and tell you all about his day like he does with his other grandparents. It's not fair. It's not fair that there is no one in my family for him to call. Michael is all that I have. I'm mad. I'm so pissed.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Full House and Workin' out

Dear Moozie,
I thought about you a lot today. Of course, I think about you every day. But today, I thought about you more than usual. Roni and I have tummy bugs so we spent a nice quiet day at home while Bubba (I know how much you hate that nickname) was with his grandmother. The one who is still living. While Ronin played quietly in her brother's room (shhhh, don't tell him), I did a twenty minute yoga video. Near the end, she began to grow bored and she came into the living room to hang out with me. At some point I said, "Ronin, please move. Mommy is trying to do her yoga." I paused. Wouldn't that make a funny blog?, I thought. A list of the things my kids hear that I never, in a million years, would have heard as a child growing up in your house. I mean, the truth is that I don't think you even knew about yoga. I remember you exercising (other than a walk around the block occasionally) when I was about four. You took that aerobics class with Joy and you worked out endlessly to "Eye of the T iger". Why didn't you continue that hobby? It was so good for you. You dropped a lot of weight and you got into a size 12, I remember you saying! That lady taught me to tie my shoes. That was back when you actually had a few friends. I feel so sad thinking about how you just gave up on such healthy habits: friends and exercise. I wish I'd known how important exercise was before recently. Maybe I wouldn't have so much cellulite on my arse if I'd started working out a long time ago. I think about that free gym membership I never used which came with my college tuition. Geeez, if I could go back to those days, I'd work out two hours a day. I find it ironic that exercise is so precious to me now that I have very little time to do it! I even find myself studying my body, naked, in the mirror. Making sure I don't look like you. I annalyze it... "Well, I eat really well and I never smoked and I exercise and I'm mentally well... in comparison. Of course I don't look like her".

In a lot of ways I wish I could be more like you. For instance, Hunter is having some serious behavior problems. I wish that I could be as patient and loving as you were. I'm really good at ignoring. Some psychologists agree with that technique but it sure feels wrong. I want to be able to make him feel loved. As loved as you made me feel. I hope that those parts of your parenting start to channel through me more often.

Lately, the kids have been watching "Full House"... obsessively. I like that they love a show from my childhood, that we once shared. I can really relate to it so much more now. Those girls lost their mother. Sure, you didn't die until I was 28 but it still hurts like hell. I get really mad when I watch the episodes that deal with their mom's death. Danny, Jesse, and Joey are all so sensitive and kind to the girls. This one episode is about their first Thanksgiving without their mom. The guys go the extra mile to try and make it is really special for them. This is, obviously, the right thing to do. It's really hard to watch though because I am so bitter that no one tried extra hard to help me adjust to life without a mother (or father) the first year after you died. I felt so alone. I had to learn to just baby myself. I missed you so much I couldn't breathe. I had to take Benedryl on Christmas day because I was broken out into hives. Why didn't I have someone in my life who gave a crap? This past year was different because I created so much activity that there was not enough time to feel as mournful. But it still hurt. This one moment when we were decorating the tree was really hard. I saw an ornament that we'd had all of my life. I always pretended that it was you and dad. A girl and boy snowman. The image was more than I could bear. I broke down. My kids are kind. They have love the size of an ocean in their hearts. They always end up comforting me. I hate that it's them but I'm so glad to have them. I suppose this is preparing them for being loving and giving people when they are adults. I hope so. I hope they are as full of love and compassion as you and I. We rock at that.
I love you Moozie,

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

An Appology

Dear Mama,

I’m sorry. I feel like I let you down. I’ve heard some really terrible things about what was happening to you as you died and I’m sorry. I wish that I’d have listened to my gut. You’d think that I would by now. I’m psychic you know? I always have been, apparently. Remember those psychic dreams I used to have about THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB books? Anyway, I thought I was justified in not listening to my gut. I figured that I was probably just crazy. Or that only a horrible person would believe such crazy things about their own father. But I should have stood up for you. I should have said something. I should have been by your side for the whole freaking ordeal. Then I’d know if what they all say is true. Then none of it could be true- because I’d have protected you from him. If I had it to do all over again, I would have had Michael come and get you. You’d have died in our care. But there’s nothing we can do about it now, is there?

I remember when he told me. I had just woken up that morning. Michael came home from work. He curled into the bed with me and very carefully said, “Your mom passed away this morning.” “What time?” I asked. “Around 1:00” he replied. With a lump in my throat, I asked, “Did she go peacefully?” I felt numb. I wanted to go with you. I remember calling friends but I don’t remember much more until the memorial service.

Your funeral was amazing. There were so many people there to honor your life. You would have been so incredibly touched. I was still in shock at that point. I barely cried at all that day. I sat in the funeral director’s office working on the eulogy and missed visiting with many people. Brother Jack and Brother Gill spoke. Then I spoke. I talked about the similarities between your death and Ronin’s birth. How you both made your great journeys at home. Everyone told me that I did a good job. I just hoped that I had made sense because now I can’t make head nor tails of the notes. I don’t remember much except looking into the audience and focusing on Eric’s face. Why I chose my cousin’s husband, I don’t know. But he seemed to be feeling more than anyone else. I appreciated the look in his eyes. It’s so strange, the unexpected sources of comfort you encounter.

I’m sorry that I was so very wrapped up in aesthetics that day. I’m not typically a person to be concerned about appearances but for some reason, your funeral was a different story. I was very concerned about finding the perfect thing to wear. I kept thinking that I was performing and that I was going to see a bunch of people that I’d not seen in years. I may as well look nice. Not to mention, I had to somehow compensate for the fact that I was still fat from having a baby. I’m not sure why your funeral brought out such an unusual quality in me but for some reason I was really preoccupied with it that day. And I’m sorry that I was so embarrassed by your family. Certain members of your family showed up that day and I was humiliated. I didn’t want them there and I didn’t want people from church, my in-laws, or even my own husband to know that I had ever even associated myself with such lowly specimens of human kind. I’m not proud. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that my father made fun of you at the funeral home. He, yet again, told the story of how he so proudly laughed at you when one time you came home and excitedly told him about having found a volunteer job. He was so pompous in his retelling of his reply: “No wife of mine is going to work for free!” Hahaha… what a funny guy! I’m sorry that I didn’t confront him right there. I hope he knows that he’s the one who came across as stupid in his retelling of that story. Not you.

I’m sorry that I was not more compassionate when you lost your mother just a few short months before I lost mine. I wasn’t there for you the way I should have been. Just because we were never close and your relationship with her had always been turbulent does not mean that I shouldn’t have held you close and let you cry. You lost your mommy and the hopes of ever having an ideal mother/daughter relationship. I had no idea. I wish I’d known. I wish I’d taken the time to ask.

I’m sorry for the way I treated you in the end. The years before you died, you acted so strangely. I had no idea what was wrong with you. I couldn’t understand why you kept buying Hunter broken toys. I didn’t get it when you would haul all sorts of things into my house, even after we asked you not to. Most importantly, I’m sorry that I became so hurt and angry when you forgot really important things. I never showed you how upset I was but one time I even told my therapist that I didn’t want to have you in my life anymore. You had forgotten a really huge thing and I felt so invalidated and alone. If you didn’t remember then who would? I began to lose my grip on reality. It was terrifying. Now I get it. You had seven tumors on your brain. It’s amazing that you could remember to tie your shoes or how to put on your pants. But I didn’t know at the time and I’m sorry for the resentment I had towards you.

I’m sorry that your ashes are buried in my father’s backyard. I’m sorry that he chose to not include me, your sisters, your family, your friends in the burial. I’m sorry that no one has ever been invited to see what he did with your ashes. One day, I was in Gallatin after Granny Simpson died and I snuck into the back yard to see where you had been buried. I assume I saw it. I wish I had your ashes. I can’t even bear to think about what is going to happen to them now that he’s selling the house and going to live with HER. If I had the guts, I would call him and ask him for them. But I’m too scared. That’s the one thing I’m too scared of.

I’m not living in fear anymore, though. I’m doing this for both of us. So, if you are up there looking down, then live through me. This is our last chance to change the world together. I hope you enjoy every moment of it.

Love, Mandy