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