Déjà Vu All Over Again

While I’ve been reminded of those early days of losing my mom these past few days, what I’m really reminded of is losing two grandparents and two great aunts in about three years. 30 years later my cousins and I all say that we spent a year in that damn funeral home.

I fear this is what my nephews will remember most about this part of their lives. In less than eight months, their grandparents have been cut in half. They are/were really close with all four of the grandparents. Some day they will realize how lucky they were to have those relationships. But for now it’s just painful. They can’t even process.

For me, I feel like my family is dropping like flies. Although they do say they come in threes, so maybe we’re done for a while.

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Oh, Man…not this again

My SIL’s Dad died a few hours ago. My heart aches for her. For her Mom. For her siblings. For my dear nephews, who have now lost two grandparents in eight months. N1 and N2 were the first grandchildren on both sides and everyone lives fairly close to one another so they are very close to their grandparents. They’re still processing the loss of my Mom and now they lose their grandfather. Jeez.

And me? I will mourn for this man who was a part of my extended family. Who I saw all the time and who I spent every holiday with for the past 20 years. But mostly, selfishly, I’m just thinking about how difficult the next several days are going to be. All day wakes and funeral and remembering every moment of going through the same thing for mom not so long ago. The title of this post is the single dominating thought that I have had for the last two hours. Oh man, not this again.

I will be fine and able to hide my pain from my SIL, N1 and N2 in order to help them however I can. But my secret thoughts include oh man, not this again. How can I do days of this again? Then I’ll remember, this is not about me or my loss. Still, in many ways, fresh. It’s about SIL and her family.

Rest easy, H. Find J, she’ll show you the ropes. I will do anything I can to help your daughter the way she helped me.

Remembering Why I do What I do Where I do it…

My work life has been difficult since my mom died. The first several months were hard just because of, well, grief. My career just didn’t seem to mean anything anymore. It was hard to get motivated for anything – especially work. Just as I was starting to get my bearings again, my mentor/boss/friend unexpectedly retired. Because of the industry I work in, she was gone very quickly. That’s been hard for various reasons but mostly because she’s not there anymore. We worked very closely together and she was always the person I would go to for advice on anything. Since then there have been other things that have happened to make me feel as though I wasn’t very valued at my job.

But do you ever have a day where a few things happen that make you rethink everything you’ve been thinking for the last several months? Today was one of those days.

First, my work “godfather” came back from an unexpected sick leave. We had a really good conversation that made me remember that at least this person values me. He’s definitely a good person to have in my corner. Not to toot my own horn, but just the fact that he is says a lot about my competence and probably about the way I’m viewed generally. I also have to remember not to take things that happen so darn personally.

The second thing that happened was that I had a meeting with a recently hired executive – and I was blown away by her. She is extremely smart and gave me such high hopes about the direction my company is headed in. After you’ve had several months of doubt, it’s always great to be reminded of why you work for the company you work for. In a half hour meeting, she reminded me why I think my company is so great to work for.

And lastly, I had a really great conversation with another executive who was in from out of town. It will be a little difficult (because we don’t work in the same office), but I’m adopting her as my new mentor. I respect her so much and value her opinions. She’s also really easy to talk to, which I think is key to building a good rapport.

Now, off to bed! Whole new outlook starts tomorrow.

Success

I swear…I am not a teenager. But the effort I need to put into my relationship with my father requires almost superhuman strength.

I know it seems ridiculous. I’m 43 years old – this should be old hat by now. But my mom was like a buffer between us. She softened both of our edges. My worst traits are ones that I share with my Dad. I can be very sarcastic; I think my way is the “right” way; I need to have the last word; I have very strong opinions; I take things too personally. Put two people like that together and boom! Much strife.

But I deem this weekend a success! Went out last night to visit him and we watched the Olympics together. I remembered that I think he’s funny a lot of the time. We had a really nice night together, chatting in front of the TV, laughing, watching my favorite thing to watch.

Still can’t sleep there though…but that’s not about Dad. Ghosts of Mom and a lifetime of family memories keep me up. Mom and I bought all the furniture together for “my” room. But I did stay over. We had breakfast together and watched some morning Olympics together.

Then we went to visit my nephews together. And the teenager – who has basically been a miserable teen for at least 6 months – and I had a really fantastic, wide ranging conversation. About movies, gun control, the death penalty, insanity…I forgot how thought provokingly smart he is. And with that I can get through another 6 months of his horribleness. I think I can make it through the next 7 years of his teens if I get one or two conversations like that a year.

So, success with my Dad. Success with my nephew. Great weekend, although I could use a little more sleep.

Ok Cupid

I recently got on this Internet dating site. Because even though I live in a city of 8 million people, it is hard to meet men to date. (Especially if you’ve become a hermit. Or something.)

Since joining up, I have received a few messages from guys – only one of which I responded to. (Which he didn’t respond to. Weird.) So I would say that I’ve been window shopping.

But just now (yes, I know it’s 6am – I absolutely cannot sleep at my Dad’s), I sent my first outgoing message. By that I mean I sent the first message to him. I’m fairly shy – and terribly afraid of rejection – so this is a big deal for me. I figure what’s the worst that could happen? No response? Or a response that says I’m not interested? Eh, I could live with that. My goal will be to send at least one message a week.

Wish me luck!

My love for the Olympics. And my Dad

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Last night was the opening ceremonies for the Olympics. I am not going to write about how disappointed I was in the absolute weirdness of it or how I used to like Meredith Viera until I was subjected to her inane commentary or even how upset I was that NBC chose to air a really bad interview with Michael Phelps rather than a tribute to terror victims. Nope, no more of that.

I would rather speak of my love of all things Olympics. Every two years, for just over two weeks, we get the most amazing display of sportsmanship. Teamwork. Individual accomplishments. Pride in your country.

Beautiful stories of people who have no chance of winning but come to compete any way; people who have worked their entire lives for one moment. Most of whom will never be known by the world at large. Most of whom will never medal. Most of whom won’t be showcased on NBC. But some who win against all odds. Some of whom have their stories told even though they are not medal contenders.

Oh and the sports. Sports that I would not watch for any amount of money outside of the Olympics. Sports that become strangely compelling just because it is the Olympics. I love them all. (Well, almost all. There is one sport in these Summer Olympics that I cannot stand. But it must have some followers so I’m not going to mention it!) I even get weirdly bummed when they eliminate a sport – baseball and softball, I’m talking about you.

So here’s to the next 15 days. I would like to use these Olympics that I love so much to find a way to connect with my Dad. My Dad, who has become a person I do not recognize. Yes I could do better. But this is a man who is playing tit for tat with an 8 year old. I just deleted an entire thing that I wrote about my Dad’s latest “wrong”. But I’m trying to adopt a zen attitude towards all of it. And since I’m headed out to visit him right now, I’m letting it go.

For tonight we watch the Olympics together. And I will pretend that I do not know who won the Men’s 400 IM. I will watch and get caught up in the stories and remember how much my Mom loved the Olympics too. And I will do this all with my Dad. And I will not say a cross word to him. Some day, I will not need to fortify myself with mantras to not be mean.

Faster. Higher. Stronger.

Cancer Sucks

People are crazy. They sometimes do not understand how decisions they make – even with the best of intentions – affect everyone in their lives.

My SIL recently found out that her Dad has cancer. Her parents knew this for the past 18 months. 18 months! And she only found out bec her Dad was now in the ICU with pneumonia. Days after finding out, her Dad was put on a vent. A few days after that he was put on dialysis. 10 days later – a feeding tube. He’s not going to get better. He was only conscious for those first few days. And just barely so. Not very aware or responsive.

Here’s the thing. Yes she still had those 18 months – but if she had known he had cancer, it would have been a very different 18 months. Every day she had with him would have felt like a gift.

I am still mad, sad, heartbroken that my mom is gone. But we had two years with her where we knew that every single day was a gift. Every day she lived – and was fairly “healthy” – past that initial six month prognosis was bonus time.

This is the thing about death and dying…not everyone gets the time to say goodbye in a real meaningful way to those they love. If you are given a terminal diagnosis – the ONE good thing about it is that the people you love do have that opportunity. Don’t rob them of it.

Oh yeah. And cancer can go fuck itself.