Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Permission to Fail

12/6/2013 around 9am

Today I'm giving myself permission to fail.  I fail all the time but I feel the guilt that goes along with it.  Today I'm going to ignore the guilt.  Jack will not care that I didn't decorate the house for Christmas.  Rylee will be happy when the tree is finally put up.  I'm not going to make excuses as to why I didn't accomplish the things I wanted to accomplish.  I'm going to make sure my family is fed and that will have to be it for the day.  I'm sick of feeling like a failure because I'm not exercising, cleaning, crafting masterpieces, socializing, running a charity, or running a marathon.  I don't sleep normal hours, I haven't for over a year.  

I'll have to finish this thought later, Jack is crying and needs to be changed and fed.

(Never got back to finishing that thought.  Fail.)

12/10/2013 between 6pm and 7pm

Need to clean the kitchen so I have counter space to prepare dinner.  Jack won't settle down, cleaning is on hold.  Twenty minutes later Jack finally goes down.  Quick clean!  Done, for the most part, still can't see the dining room table.  Oh well, quick, make the dinner!  Get the bath ready for the kids.  Tub needs a quick scrub.  Rylee undresses Jack, he screams the whole time.  I pick him up, he's fine.  Bath time, at least until the timer goes off.  Start washing Jack, John is calling.  Got the last copy of Despicable Me 2 with Minion toys in the south metro area, great job honey.  Back to the bath.  Timer is about to go off.  Get Jack out of bath, turn on shower to rinse all his hair.  Shower head twists, floor is wet, my right side is soaking, Jack is screaming now and squirming.  Now my front is soaked from holding him while trying to grab my towel because I forgot his.  Instruct Rylee to wash and condition her hair.  She can handle it, she's done it before.  Trying to dry off Jack while he reaches another octave.  Harley the cat is meowing and pacing in Jack's room.  His crying is freaking her out.  My ears are about to bleed.  Timer is probably going off, I can't actually hear it over Jack.  Set him in his crib.  Get Harley out of Jack's room, shut the door.  

Yup timer is beeping.  Jack is screaming.  Rylee is calling for me.  She can't open the shampoo.  She already used conditioner.  There's a pile up of it and she needs help rinsing.  Apparently I needed to instruct her again, she can't handle it.  Hold on Rylee, just get under the water.  Pull dinner out of the oven.  Make a bottle for Jack.  Harley is reaching under Jack's door meowing and thinking she can help him.  Get Jack out of crib.  Prop Jack up in the chair with bottle.  Rinse Rylee's hair out.  Put bottle back in Jack's mouth.  Get Rylee's plate ready.  Crap, I didn't make a vegetable.  I suck as a mother.  Put the bottle back in Jack's mouth.  Phone is buzzing with multiple texts.  Get my food, cut up my chicken for easy and fast consumption while holding the unappeasable Jack.  Eat while plate is balancing on lap.  Chicken is gone in 72 seconds.  Home Alone is on, fine, dinner and a movie for Rylee it is.  Burp Jack.  John is home.  I haven't showered. Type this whole thing on my iPod with one hand while holding Jack as he falls asleep.  Hand over to John to read so he doesn't think I'm just cranky.  I can't form words with my mouth at this point.  

Thoughts about other things I've failed at start rushing in.  I haven't made a Christmas card.  I really wanted to do that this year and time is flying by.  New Year card perhaps?  The basement is a mess.  I wanted to make Christmas presents with Rylee.  Can't keep up.  My bedroom closet is a mess.  I can organize so well.  Why can't I maintain it?!  Tree still isn't decorated.  What about Christmas cookies?  Rylee is really looking forward to making Christmas cookies.  I really need to clean the kitchen table.  Rylee hasn't done her reading homework for the night.  I guess we'll worry about that in the morning.  Why am I writing when I have so much to do?  I have no energy.  Is is still okay to sleep when Jack is sleeping during the day?  I do have to get up in the middle of the night and really early in the morning, I need sleep right?  I don't get to go out with friends for cocktails and a movie.  I guess I'll eat what I want because that makes me happy.  I am gaining weight, I guess I can't eat what I want.  I need to exercise.  When?  Don't make excuses.  Something always gets in the way.  Now it's sub-zero temps outside, walking is just not going to happen.  Go to a mall and walk.  Then you have pack everything for Jack.  Lift the stroller into the car.  Get the stroller out of the car.  Your back will go out again.  But if you exercise it will help your back.  Oh my God, I think I'll just go lay down now.  Oh how soon we forget about giving ourselves permission to fail.  Or was that permission only for one day?

Oh super, the Victoria's Secret fashion show is on tonight.  I don't want to fall into complete and utter despair, so I won't be watching that.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Honing My Craft

My back has been seriously messed up for over a week.  I can't rest like I need to because I have a baby to take care of.  I have to pick him up to feed him and change his diaper.  Darn kid won't take care of himself.  He's almost four months old, shouldn't he be able to handle life by now?  On top of the bad back, I got sick.  My throat is sore.  The next phase always consists of my voice getting dark and seedy.  If I could sing, I'd give Janis Joplin a run for her money.  My mom was checking up on me today.

The text message went like this...

Mom:  How r u doing today?

Me:  Let's just say I sound like an ex Vaudeville dancer who fell on hard times after and injury and was reduced to performing in a smokey gin joint until she was forced into a retirement community in Boca Raton where she regales her neighbors with stories of the good old days when Morty said she was gonna be a star.

She then proceeded to ask if I had considered being a stand up comedian when the kids are older and fairly self-sufficient.  Flattered, I responded the obvious fact that she and my dad, and possibly my Aunt Rita, are the only ones I can make laugh on a consistent basis.

I also reminded her of my life scarring incident in junior high where I was to perform a scene from the Crucible with three classmates in front of the entire school.  I was to embody Danforth and recite complex line after complex line.  Needless to say, the scene did not end with a triumphant applause while my fellow players and I took a bow.  No, I got a few lines in, scanned the dark auditorium with my eyes, and froze.  My mind was erased like and Etch-a-Sketch.  I exited stage right with most haste, proceeded to plow through the backstage like Jared Allen headed for a quarterback, and lock myself in the bathroom.  It was as bad as you might be imagining.  My mom took off work that day to see me perform.  She came backstage and coaxed me out of the locked bathroom to calm me down.  She had to go back to work, and I had to face my befuddled classmates.  My teacher, Mrs. Crabtree, hugged me and assured me it happens to all great actors, but the important thing was to play on!  I never attempted acting again.  I figured I was best suited for a behind the scenes supporting role.  I learned lighting in high school, helped with a few productions, and left it at that.  I let my friends entertain the audience and reap all the glory.  

I'm a parent now.  I've watched Rylee freeze in front of an audience during a preschool performance.  She was a pumpkin, she was amazing during rehearsals (as the teacher told us) but all those eyes proved to be overwhelming and she ran to my arms crying.  After two more holiday performances she got over her stage fright.  She's a ham now and doesn't seem to mind the attention.  I knew she'd get past the scariness of being in front of people, but it would take practice.  She also started this process a lot earlier than I did.

I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't run off the stage?

Cool thing about parents, the good ones, they can always see you doing so much more in life than you can see yourself doing.  They want you to find a passion and follow it.  They don't want you to just get by, they want you to take over the world.  They never think it's too late to pursue a dream.  They want you to be responsible of course, but they've got your back.  You want your kids to be more than you were.  I want Rylee to be the best at what ever she chooses to do with her life.  If all that she ends up doing is working at a fast food place, then I hope she's happy, and gets employee of the month every month.  Would I prefer she do more?  Of course!  I want her to change lives, make the world a better place, be the best person she can be.  But a person working at a fast food place is just as capable of making the world a better place as a person on the Fortune 500 list. 

Here's an example:  His Mama Raised Him Right

My mom knows I'm capable of a whole lot.  I know I am too.  Right now I'm perfecting the art of being a mom.  I'm honing those skills that enable me to love, encourage, discipline, be patient, and have fun when I'm exhausted.  I learned how to be a mom from the best.  My mom doesn't always see how much she's capable of, but she taught me how to see that in other people, just like she sees that in me.  Rylee will do the same thing, or at least that's what I can hope for.

After my mom reads this, she'll probably tell me I should write a book.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Life is Full of Awesome

My emotions may be getting the better of me as I am nearing the end of my pregnancy.  I am torn between trying to savor the feelings of being pregnant for the last time and wishing it was over with already.  I am content with having two kids.  I am not okay with being pregnant any longer.  It takes a toll on my body that I just never fathomed.  That's not to say it's like that for everyone, so please don't let my pity party prevent you from getting knocked up if that is what you desire.

One week to go and Jack will be here!

I have been without decent sleep for months.  I am so blessed to not have to go sit in a cubicle all day in the midst of this gestational torture.  I asked God over and over again to bless me with another baby, so I try really hard not to complain about my lack of energy and constant aches.  I will admit, I have on occasion called and whined to my mom.  If I couldn't do that, I wouldn't have made it this far.  She's my mom, she's sympathizes when I need it, that's part of her job.  I've cried to my husband too of course.  He's been, as cliche as it sounds, my rock.  He's done so much around the house and not forgotten to tell me how it will all be okay.

In the midst of the most emotional year of my life, I have been blessed so many times, I've lost count.  Between friends coming to visit Minnesota for no other reason than to be with me after my brother passed away and receiving countless gifts for a baby who hasn't been born yet, I have been overwhelmed by it all.  The way friends have expressed how happy they are for my family has had the greatest impact on me by far.  The gifts are wonderful, but the support is what has sent me into tears over and over again.  Yes, I've got the hormones running a marathon through my veins, but these tears have come from a thankful heart.

The latest package received in the mail wasn't for Jack, it was for me.  It was a mesh-mash of stuff that had my name written all over it.  Though the presents were fun, the note that accompanied it did me in.  Sometimes it's hard to wrap your brain around how you so effortlessly became friends with someone in the first place, but you are so thankful you did.

My friend JoAnna, or as I like to call her, JoAwesome, is someone I met through my previous job in insurance.  We met in Boston during the most boring training ever.  When we started to chat I knew instantly she was the kind of woman I could rely on if my bra strap broke in public.  I told her this right away.  If it happened, I don't know how we would fix it, but she would be the one to turn to.  I think her wheezing laugh is what cemented my love for her.  She thought I was funny and I thought the same of her.  The emails exchanged during training had me biting my tongue on more than one occasion so as not to burst into hysterical laughter.  I know I had to excuse myself to the restroom at least once so I would have an accident.  Good times, good times.

We asked for a "Boston" drink, the bartender gave us "The Green Monster."
And as if I didn't already adore her, she took her awesomeness to another level when we had a free night to roam the streets of Boston.  We ate delicious food, had some drinks, and took pictures.  These pictures were not just any pictures though, she took my kind of pictures.  Taking pictures of funny things is at the top of our tourist list.

This is why we are friends.

The day before my 30th birthday we had a meeting so I got to see JoAwesome for an hour or so. 
Just enough to keep me going until the next time.

When the trip had to end, we took a cab ride to the airport.  We crammed in the backseat with more people than I think was actually allowed and proceeded to pray the whole way through our nervous laughter.  See, we got the cab driver that you thought only existed in movies.  The man was dodging and weaving but never seemed to break.  I think we needed to get to the airport in a hurry, but not as much of a hurry as he seemed to think we needed.  It may be my imagination, but I could have sworn people were jumping out of the way on a sidewalk and pigeons parted like the Red Sea as he blared his horn in hopes for a big tip.  I think the tears flowing during our laughter were welling up from regret that we had not called our loved ones before getting in his cab.  We made it through our harrowing experience with nothing but emotional scars.

After a fun trip like that, work was never the same.  We were on a "new friendship" high.  We were a long distance support system via email.  We relived our time in Boston through funny pictures and retelling exaggerated highlights.

Another meeting.  Tiny sombreros were optional, but not for us. 
When you see a tiny sombrero, you wear a tiny sombrero.

We got to see each other for a few moments during meetings, but it was not enough time to make memories like those we achieved in Boston.  Never the less, our friendship has grown.  Life has brought us each some sadness but also immeasurable blessings.

Louis is just one of those kids you fall in love with instantly.

I was so proud of JoAwesome when she quit smoking and reached her year anniversary of doing so.  I wrote her a ridiculous poem and had another friend show up at her office and read it to her.  I squealed and cried as I scrolled through a power point presentation she made to announce she was pregnant.  (I forgot to mention her amazing talent for power point slide shows.  They were, by far, the highlight of my work day when I had the privilege to receive them.)  I was so excited to finally meet JoAwesome's ADORABLE son, Louis, when she came to the KC Zoo while I was in town for my high school reunion.

This kid was born awesome.
Rylee managed to con JoAwesome into buying her a penguin.

The moment I felt friendship in a way I had never experienced was at my brother's memorial service.  JoAwesome had never met my brother, but she came to the service for me.  It was a moment I realized I didn't have to have the right words to say.  Saying thank you was all that I knew how to do.  Sometimes you just have to accept someone loving you even if you have nothing in return.
We are so hot.  No really, it was really hot that day.

And that's where I've been these last months with all the packages I've received.  I am overwhelmed by the excitement people are feeling for me, for my family.  I can and will send thank you notes, but they just don't do justice conveying what I feel.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

We Met on Our Bikes

Happy Birthday Lisa!  This is a day early because something happened today that I had to share.   
Well, it has actually been building up to today.  Rylee's BFF at school, Madeline, has a birthday 
today.  Rylee had me mark this on the calendar about two weeks ago.  Last week she picked out 
a few presents to give her friend.  And yesterday morning she picked out what she would wear on 
Madeline's bday.  Her shirt says something about friends on it.  She wore this same shirt on their 
first play date some months ago.  Out of the few things Rylee picked out for Madeline, the one she 
was most excited to give her was the "Best Friends Forever" necklace from Claire's.  She didn't 
even want to wait until she got to school; she said she wanted to give it to her on the bus.  I could 
actually see Rylee opening her backpack to retrieve the inexpensive treasure as her bus pulled away 
this morning.  I smiled because my heart was so happy to see my daughter starting to enjoy giving.   
I'm not delusional, she's six, and she’s all about receiving gifts.  I just couldn't help but be excited at 
the joy she was experiencing over thinking about someone besides herself or someone in her family.   
She notices things she wants to buy for other people more and more.  Granted, she's not forking over 
the money, and we have to say no often, but it's the thought that counts!  

Before my sixth grade "graduation".  Lisa sat through the absurdity, then we went to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch!
All this to say, I realized the first person, other than a family member, I was excited about giving 
presents to and making cards for was Lisa.  We grew up across the street from each other.  Her older 
brothers babysat my siblings and me.  We swam together, built forts, watched the Monkees, stuck up 
for each other, wrote letters to each other even when we lived just across the street, and also when Lisa 
moved away.  Lisa was happy to let me do her chores, because to me, feeding her farm animals was 
new and exciting.  For Lisa it was avoiding a monotonous task she had to complete daily.  She 
introduced me to pomegranates and kumquats, they grew in her backyard.   I also enjoyed one soda 
a week on Saturdays thanks to her mom, Sue.  Sue also prepared us the most amazing after-swim-meet 
breakfasts.  Sue can cook a mean waffle.  
Lisa was a grade ahead of me and when she moved away, I was devastated.  I didn't know how I would 
make it in Jr. High without her.  I did it, but it wasn't easy.  I visited Lisa every chance I got.   
She moved to a place where it snowed and we took advantage of sledding in the great outdoors.   
Time passed and the letters dissipated.  Then I moved even farther away, to another state and it got 
harder to maintain our friendship.  We were learning how to navigate high school, boys, 
peer pressure, life.  We were figuring out who we were and that takes a lot of time and energy.  When 
I visited California I would see Lisa and marvel at how much she changed.  She got so tall!  But for all 
the changing we were doing, going from girls to young women, Lisa didn't stop being my friend.   
The girl I grew up with was still there, thank goodness.  Now we talk once or twice a year.  We live in 
different states and far from where we grew up.  We both married men named John and we both have 
beautiful girls of our own.  We've experienced significant loss but know God has a plan for us.  We 
know we aren't each others BFFs anymore and that's okay.  We're still friends and love each other.   
It's the sweetest end to an era when it fades but doesn't leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
Lisa, Me, Dave (the eldest bro)  See, Lisa got way taller!
 I still have the half of my “Best Friend Forever” necklace that Lisa gave me. I don't remember when 
she gave it to me.  I don't remember if it was for a birthday or Christmas or when she moved.  It really 
doesn't matter.  It’s one of my prized possessions.  I still have the card she made me when I got the 
chicken pox, also a prized possession.  I cherish the fact she came to my wedding, and regret I couldn't 
make it to hers. No matter what, I had an amazing childhood and one of the biggest parts of that was 
because of Lisa.  I know my daughter may not have this current BFF, Madeline, forever, but her 
memories are starting now.  She's learning what it means to be a friend.  I'm glad I had someone like 
Lisa to help me learn how to be a friend. 


Saturday, May 11, 2013

She Still Teaches

I sat around a lot today.  A lot.  I watched Rylee play at a birthday party.  I watched Rylee play at a park.  I watched Rylee draw while we waited for John to do something at work.  I sat in the car while John took Rylee into a store so she could pick out a Mother's Day gift for me.  I sat around a lot today.  By the end of the day I was spent.  Sitting shouldn't make you tired, well it can whether you're 27 weeks pregnant or not.  If your brain isn't being stimulated, your whole body gets pooped.  I wasn't angry about my day, a little frustrated, but not angry.  Of course I would rather have been doing something a little more fun than waiting on everyone else.  I wait on my husband and kid most days now.  It's part of my life.  I'm not complaining, just acknowledging a fact.  When you are a stay at home mom, without the luxury of extreme wealth, you realize your job is your family.  It's not a chore, it's privilege.  You have to remind yourself of that fact sometimes. 
My mom pregnant with me, Jessica the Magnificent.
There are lots of moms out there who would rather stay at home to be with their kids.  Some are married, but still have to work.  I was there, I did that.  Some moms are on their own and working more than one job.  I cannot conceive how hard that must be for them.  I try to think of them on the days I want to get away from my kid.  I love my daughter, obviously, but if your entire day consisted of the company of only a six-year old, you might find yourself talking to strangers at the grocery store more often than is probably normal. 
Brand new mama, October 1978
I am now in a position where John and I are making life work without me having to actually go to work.  My mom stayed at home with my sister, brother, and I for a long time.  I have no complaints about my childhood.  It seemed pretty fun to me.  Here I am, on some days, exhausted by my one daughter, and I stop and think about my mom.  She had three to look after.  Granted, when there are multiple kids, they do a great job of occupying each other.  But there are moments when kids need something more.  For my siblings and I, it was water.  We were either in the pool or at the beach.  My mom watched three kids at the pool or at the beach a lot.  Sometimes more than three kids, if one of us brought a friend along.  Snacks, sunscreen, toys, sandy butts, tar covered toes, seagulls, towels blowing away, sunburns.  How did she do that without losing her mind?!  
I'm sure I never cried, and was always an angel.
I know I went through a phase where I could not sleep when it was bed time.  I would sneak and try to watch TV through this triangular shaped whole that was on our stairs.  I have no way to explain what that looked like, but I can tell you I was good at not getting caught.  The few times my parents did catch me I couldn't understand why they got so mad at me for being out of bed.  Sheesh, can't a girl watch a little Carson before bed?!  Yea, I get it now.  I get the yelling, "Back to bed now!"  Dad worked a hard day at the Gas Company.  Mom put up with our shenanigans all day, they wanted us to go away.  And then mom went back to work full-time after Caleb was in school.  How the hell did she do that?!  I still can't figure it out.  Now I understand the urgency in which my parents left for a weekend retreat with our church.  I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure they skipped to the car while we were inside crying with a baby sitter.  And I swear the tires peeled out of the drive way as they left the house.

I have been so blessed to have so many amazing women in my life, who at one point or another have been there for me as if they were my own mom.  Those moms know who they are.  Over the years they may have received a mother's day card or two from me.  It's not out of obligation that I send them a card, but out of love and thanks for the love they have given me in their own unique way.

My mom, however, is the mom I admire most.  She's the mom I strive to be.  I remember being in the check-out line at a grocery store and watching my mom strike up a conversation with a stranger.  A seed was planted.  If my mom can laugh with a perfect stranger, so can I.  I have made friends this way.  Rylee sees me talk and laugh with strangers now.  Sometimes she asks if I know them as we are headed to the car.  I tell her no, but it's okay because that's how you meet people.  I tell her that if she's with me it's okay to talk to strangers, because you never know, you might be blessing them, or they might bless you.  My mom taught me friendship. 

October 2005

My mom has faced many struggles in her life.  Many of those she faced while being a mom.  Through all of those "character building" moments, my mom never stopped being there for me.  During many of the difficult things she was going through, I was too young to understand she could have used a break from us kids.  She didn't stop being my mom just because she was sad, upset, angry, hurt, or grieving.  The hardest thing about my brother's recent passing is seeing the hurt it has caused my parents.  I am a mom now.  I don't want to experience the pain my mom has experienced due to losing a child.  The past months my whole family has grieved in different ways.  I am now realizing I have put some of my grieving on hold, and I believe it's because I have had no choice.  I can't tell my daughter to go away because I want to lay in bed and not do anything.  I can't schedule a weekend where I send my daughter off to her aunt's so I can plan on grieving.  It doesn't work that way, I don't operate like that.  My mom has still been there for me when I have need to cry or vent or laugh, even in the midst of her own grief.
My mom taught me grace.

Three Generations

I don't remember the year, but I remember the gift.  There was a Mother's Day when my dad took us kids to pick something out for our mom.  I don't know what store we went to, but it was something like JCPenney's.  There it was, on a round display table with 100 other jewels just like it.  A "Genuine Austrian Crystal" clad heart-shaped pendant.  It sparkled like the Hope Diamond.  I had no idea what the Hope Diamond was back then, but now I know the cheap glass jewelry we saw was better than any real precious stone in the whole world.  "Dad, this is it!  This is what we want to get her!  Please Dad!  Pleeeeaaaasseeee!!!"  I don't remember if he hesitated, I don't remember what it cost, it doesn't matter, Dad paid for it.  It was probably $16.99, which to us was incredibly expensive because we had no concept of money.  And because we thought it was incredibly expensive, it made the present for mom that much more exciting.  Surely she would gasp, she would faint, she'd regain consciousness and cry tears of joy.  She'd hold us in her arms weeping over our generosity and impeccable taste.  Was is too much to think she might never make us do chores again?  One could hope!  But we didn't let ourselves get ahead of ourselves.  After all, this was mom's special day.  We couldn't think about our selfish dreams of not having to actually pick up after ourselves.  Do I remember the moment we gave it to her?  Nope, nothing.  Where is that "Genuine Austrian Crystal" clad heart-shaped pendant you ask?  In her jewelry box, missing several "Genuine Austrian Crystals", but it's still around.  

An Original Masterpiece by Rylee Roemer - May 11, 2013

My best Mother's Day memory as a mom, so far, was when Rylee walked a card over to me from across our living room.  She had just started walking so it was a very big deal.  I cried the happiest tears you can think of.  She's six now and this is the second year she has been excited to get me something.  Last year she set out to find me a necklace that had MOM and a heart on it.  John said she was waiting to find the right necklace.  She found one, and I love it.  I really do wear it.  It's after midnight as I finish writing this, now Mother's Day, so I don't know what she got for me yet, but it doesn't matter, I know I'll love it.  The thing that is making me so happy right now is that she is learning to read and write.  She has an amazing and detailed imagination.  When she is left to her own devices, she draws the cutest things and has the best stories to go with them.  In the midst of all that waiting I did today, Rylee surprised me with a drawing that brought me to tears.  The picture above is her giving me my Mother's Day gift and she drew me with a surprised face.  She didn't have to explain the picture, it's obvious what she was trying to convey.  And the words, "Happy Mother's Day" aren't perfectly spelled, but she's doing exactly what she should be doing, trying.  The "I love my mom", well, no words are necessary to explain how precious that is to me.
My mom taught me how to be a mom.

April 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Denial Ain't Just a River in Egypt

I've had three dreams about my brother since he passed away. 

The first dream some people are trying to take my car.  They are saying if Caleb doesn't show up, they are going to take it away.  Just as they are getting ready to leave, Caleb shows up.  He's smiling.  I say, "Look you guys, he's right there!  See no worries!  I told you he'd be here!"  I woke up.

The next dream I was at a mall, it was empty except for the people I was with.  I don't know who the people were.  At the end of the mall, Caleb came walking around a corner, smiling.  I looked at him stunned.  I knew I should be shocked to see him.  Instantaneously he transformed into someone else.  I knew in my dream I was hallucinating.  I turned to the people I was with and said, "Well, I've had my first hallucination.  I know this is a dream but I actually hallucinated."  I woke up.

The most recent dream, I was in a school auditorium.  I was with my family, like we were waiting for a performance to start.  Caleb showed up smiling and handing each of us a piece of heart shaped chocolate for Valentine's Day.  He had just come from the store where he purchased it.  Then he was sitting next to us and I was looking down the row past my other family at him.  He was just listening to everyone chat as he smiled.  I just stared at him, so happy happy to see him.  I woke up.

I am not thinking about him every second of the day.  I can't, I won't.  I've got stuff to do.  He pops into my thoughts randomly.  I don't always cry when I think about him.  I cried when I saw a friend put a picture of her brother on Facebook as he was celebrating his 30th birthday.  Caleb and this guy hung out when they were kids.  What made me cry was that I would never get to celebrate another one of Caleb's birthdays.  Then I realized, I don't remember the last time I was with Caleb on his birthday.  He didn't want to do anything for his 30th, that bummed out my sister and I, a lot.

I have thought I should write something like my Aunt Rita has been doing.  It's been so wonderful reading her thoughts about Caleb.  Knowing that someone else hasn't stopped thinking about Caleb is comforting.  I have hesitated to write for fear it would be looked at as a way to get attention.  I know the friends and family who know me would say that's ridiculous, but it still crossed my mind.  I haven't wanted to bring anyone else down with my pain and grief.  Everyone is going through rough stuff right now.  But when I've sat down to write, no words have come.  Tonight I feel like my brain is forcing me to write even though my heart doesn't want to, like my brain knows something my heart doesn't.

I had one bad day after I got back from Kansas City, where I couldn't stop crying.  It was strange, I don't recall ever experiencing anything like it.  I just couldn't stop crying.  I wanted to, I wanted to move on, but I literally couldn't stop.  The next day, I was fine.

I have never lost anyone so close to me.  I have never truly experienced the five stages of grief.  Now I can tell you that I have experienced them over and over again.  They come in bursts and each one lasts a different amount of time.  The exception is anger.  I am not angry.  I am not angry at Caleb at all.  And I know it's okay that I'm not angry.  I know he didn't do this to hurt anyone.  I just understand.  I am not saying I know what was in his head at the time he took his life.  I just understand.  He's truly at peace now.  His brain isn't wrestling anymore.  I'm okay with that.  I am disappointed he won't be around for any family gatherings.  I am bummed he won't see Rylee grow up.  I am sad he won't get to meet my new baby.  I am sad because I will never have a picture with both my siblings or my cousins and my siblings at the same time.  I am frustrated for what my parents have had to endure since he left.  I miss him, I love him, but I'm not angry at Caleb.

I have had so many encouraging emails, cards, and conversations come my way.  I always felt like when I said, "So sorry for your loss" to someone when they had lost a loved one, that it was meaningless to them.  Not that they were ungrateful, but how could my pitiful words bring any comfort to them?  I will tell you, now having been on the receiving end of those words, THEY DO MEAN SOMETHING.  THEY DO HELP.  Just reading the comments people have posted on my wall on Facebook was so wonderful.  It really did help!  Thank you!

I just had a conversation with my friend, Shara.  After a little while a thought of mine rose to the service and I realized I was upset about it but hadn't actually said it before.  "God, why would I go through over two years of trying to conceive a baby, for you to bless me with a second pregnancy, and then you take away my brother?"  I felt like I could handle everything but that, I just didn't know it until I was talking to Shara.  I'll sum up what she said to the best of my recollection.  "God knew this was going to happen.  He knew you'd suffer this loss.  He also knew what joy that baby is going to bring when it's born.  Your family needs that joy."  Yea, that covered my heart.  I cried tears of relief.  Okay God, I have faith in your amazing timing.  I have witnessed it and experienced it for as long as I can remember.  I know He has more amazing things to come.

I think a part of what the dreams mean is about the denial stage and how I don't want to leave it.  Yes, I want to move on, I don't want to be sad.  But if you stay in denial, you are telling yourself there's a chance the mess isn't real.  For many days I kept thinking someone was going to call me and tell me it never happened, that Caleb was okay, and this was all a huge mistake.  I know that won't happen, but I think those dreams are my heart's way of saying it didn't happen, ""Look you guys, he's right there!  See no worries!  I told you he'd be here!"

Caleb is not going to show up when I least expect it, well not physically.  He'll keep showing up in my thoughts and dreams.  And then he'll do that less and less.  I won't forget my brother, don't be silly.  I just know that's how life works, I will move on because that's what I'm supposed to do.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I love you Caleb

What am I supposed to do with a wrapped Justin Bieber action figure?  It was one of three figures you were going to be the grateful owner of, and you would display them with pride I'm sure.  When your friends would come over and ask why you, a thirty-year old man, had three Justin Bieber action figures, you'd coolly reply, "Because my sister heard me say I couldn't stand the guy's music.  Now I have three of his actions figures, a notepad with JB's face on it, and a mini Christmas stocking she put my name on using glitter glue.  I know better than to say I dislike something like JB now."  And your friends would have said, "Your sister is funny and cool."  To which you would have replied, "Yes, yes she is."

I am wishing I would have made the present for you, that I had planned out in my mind.  I went so far as to buy some supplies to make it and even print out a picture I was going to use in the project.  It was going to say, "Eca Loves Bub."  Would it have changed the current circumstances?  I will never know.  But I would have had one last opportunity to show you I love you.

My recollection of our last conversation mainly involved me being brutally honest with you.  I told you if you were standing in front of me, I would actually punch you in the face.  You laughed and I told you I was serious.  I would literally punch you in the face for the pain and turmoil you've put your family through this last year.  You said ok.  I said I'm serious again.  You said you get it.  I said I hope you do get it because I really would.  I know there was lots more said in that conversation and I know I can't remember it and I know that will bother me forever.  I do know we both said I love you.  Had I known that would be the last time I spoke with you, well, I'd like to think it would have gone differently.  Let's be realistic, if it had gone any differently, it wouldn't have been real, it wouldn't have been an older sister talking to her younger brother telling him, get your head straight dude.

Now I'm sitting here, eyes swollen and stinging, trying to grasp what has happened to my family.  My family.  My family will never be the same.  I am beyond helpless right now.  Yes, I am sad you are gone and I can't call up my brother to talk about a movie or some cool new music I've discovered.  But I'm more sad for our parents.  I am a parent now, so the pain our parents are feeling is the most horrific thing I don't want to imagine.  Why didn't you call them?  Why didn't you call me?  Why didn't you call Jocelyn?  Why didn't you call somebody?  There are more questions then there will ever be answers.  I know that, I just don't understand that.

You were supposed to meet my new baby.  You were supposed to buy my baby a super cool onesie like you did for Rylee.  This time you were going to meet my baby in a normal place like the hospital or my house.  You met Rylee at a truck stop when you were learning how to be a truck driver.  Actually, that was pretty funny.

I am going to miss your laugh.  When you really laughed at something I said, man, that made my heart happy.  That added life to my soul.

Sorry I bossed you around a lot when we were kids.  Jocelyn and I made you go get us things quite a bit.  You did it so willingly, we just figured it was your job.  Sorry I punched you in the nose and made it bleed when you wouldn't leave the fort I made for myself in the garage. 

Thanks for making cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.  Thanks for always being super cool around my friends.  I love that my friends liked hanging around with you.  Thanks for introducing me to Kerouac, Steinbeck, Melville, and Miles Davis.  Thanks for going to concerts with me.  Thanks for the goofy things you'd do in pictures so I could use up some film.

I'm running out of words right now.  I know I won't be able to go to sleep tonight but my brain doesn't want to think about this day anymore.

I want to think about swimming in the summer so much that our hair had a green tint to it.  How we convinced Mom to take us swimming for the fourth day in a row.  Then we would run upstairs singing the Pointer Sisters' song "I'm So Excited" as we stripped and left our clothes behind like a bread crumb trail on the stairs and got in our bathing suits so fast, it was like we hadn't been swimming in a month.

I want to think about how you hid on the top shelf in the linen closet when we played hide 'n seek.  You climbed like a monkey and contorted to fit in that small space like a carnival attraction.
I want to think about our attempt at a haunted house in the ginormous room the three of us shared.  You would squeeze behind your hide-a-bed drawer so you could push it out as if a ghost propelled it.  We'd make oooh-ahhh noises from our hiding places convinced we were scaring Mom and Dad.  We impressed ourselves.

The day you rode your bike like 37 miles as if it was a walk in the park.  
I want to think about you, the genius, who couldn't figure out how to buckle the seat belt in my '82 VW Rabbit.  Remember we named that car together?
Your epic house of cards/candy house you made.  Now that was thinking outside the box.  I was so bummed I missed the part where you blew it up.

The day Beatrice the orange cat brought home a squealing injured bunny.  You took care of it when Dad wasn't home.  It was the manly thing to do and you stepped up.

In the summer, when Mom was at work, we'd made our morning trips to Albertson's to acquire two-liter bottles of Sunkist (one for each of us), sourdough bread, turkey, and Big League Chew.  We made sandwiches, watched 101 Dalmatians, drank Sunkist until our eyeballs vibrated, and then attempted to fit the entire bag of B.L.C. into our mouths.  We quickly realized we couldn't chew the whole bag and lost all it because we had to spit it out. 

I will never forget you making a sandcastle with Rylee the first time she went to the beach.  She taped this picture up in her room just the other day.  She said, when she looked at it, she missed you.  I said I did too, but we would see you soon since we didn't get to spend Christmas together.   How strange to think the next day I would find out I would miss you forever.

I believe you knew you were loved.  I believe you loved our family.  But my heart is broken, and I know it will never be the same without you, I don't know any other way to say it.