Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Journey Part 2

The last post was the logistics and mechanics of what occurred, the facts so to speak.  However, this second post contains no facts and serves to let those of you who have walked through this last year with me an inside look and an explanation of where I was.  It also serves as part of the healing process for me, and hopefully for someone else.

The fact that it is three days before the anniversary of my mom's passing doesn't make it time for me to share this, or take the next step in the healing process. I think I am just ready to deal with it, or maybe life is giving me time to deal with it. I'm not sure.

You see I returned to Hawaii the day before my birthday, and returned to work the day after that.  I did not want to return to work, I wanted to crawl in my bed and stay there.  I was done being strong for everyone and I was in my home where I could grieve in peace.  However, I had this amazing TEAM in Hawaii who while I was at home for my mothers funeral made the move that we had been planning for, for 12 months from one Child Development Center to another. They were able to complete the move and I owed it to them to be there.  Once I got there they really didn't know what to do with me, nor do I remember what I did that day or for the next week or two.  At one point my boss, who I love, but didn't know how to deal with what she needed from me versus what I needed told me that she had let me have my time and she needed me to get it together.  I don't fault her because she just didn't know what to do or say to help me, and she wasn't able to say that, so instead she told me to get it together. Anyone who has worked in that environment knows exactly how stressful and demanding it is.  There were days I didn't think I was going to make it.  Between the grief and stress, I felt like each breath was a struggle.  But still because of who I am, I kept on trucking.  Making sure that everything was taken care of.  I struggled to listen to people who were lying about why they couldn't come to work, as I sat there a hot mess. There were days I would wonder if anybody really saw me and what was going on?  Did they not see that everyday was a struggle?

I shut down and did not let anyone but my husband and a select few in.  I did not have the energy to give others what they wanted from me.  I did not want to have to encourage them in my grief, I did not want to encourage them that I would be all right.  I just wanted to be left in peace, in the precious little time I had to myself.  I offended some, not because I was mean or rude, but because I wouldn't let them in. So on top of the grief, I now had to deal with hurting those who were only trying to help me. But again I did not have it in me to give out to them.  I don't blame them for their hurt, but I wish they could have seen that I needed them to support me in grieving and not make it about what they wanted to give me.

I refused to spend the Thanksgiving holiday at home, sitting at a table, eating turkey.  I wanted no traditions, no warm fuzzies, none of the trimmings.  Instead we went camping and fried a turkey in the woods.  Thank God for Mike and Carolyn who let me cry when I needed to and laugh when I needed to.  I began December by buying all the things I would need to make our regular Christmas cookies.  I really wanted to because that was Mom's thing.  But I couldn't do it, I tried mom, but I couldn't do it. We spent Christmas Day with Mike and Carolyn and again I am thankful for their unconditional acceptance of my grief and how I chose to grieve.

Christmas came and went and the new year began.  At this point I thought to myself now I will be able to deal with all these feelings and work through my grief. I thought the first holiday season was over, we had a couple of months before Joshua graduates, things are going to slow down and I will be able to  deal with things.  However, a week into the new year brought orders to Guam.  I now had a house to get ready to rent, over seas physicals to complete, children to get ready for transition, cars and household goods to ship, getting my TEAM ready for me to leave, looking for a new job, and saying good bye to those I love.  So I spent the next five and a half months getting ready to move.

I will not lie, I spent everyday the week of Mother's Day crying, at work, at home, in the car, everywhere I went.  Coming back to my job...there was an incident that caused me to have to make some tough decisions at work.  I made a decision that caused a women who I thought was one of the ones I could count on, someone who would not have chosen the week of my first mothers day without my mom to retaliate to something I was required to do.  This combined with the fact that it was my first mothers day without my mom, and the stress of moving and having a child graduate from high school and leaving a child in Hawaii made that week the hardest of my life. I spent Mother's Day weekend painting the upstairs doors and door frames of our home, crying the entire time.  Again, thanks to my wonderful husband and Mike and Carolyn I made it through the weekend.  They let me grieve, didn't try to fix me, they just loved me, the way I needed to be loved.

Next came saying good bye to all those that I love in Hawaii and leaving Brittany there.  We flew to Rhode Island and spent two weeks in school, said good bye to all those we loved there, and got on a flight to Guam.  I had six days to get used to living somewhere else before I started work and my husband left.  Since then he has come and gone again, I finished my masters, and today completed a transition from being a contractor to a government employee again.  I think I am ready to deal with my grief.

I remember on Mother's Day asking how do you even have Mother's Day when you don't have a mom? A couple of weeks ago I was talking about the first time I saw the Thriller video.  It was my mom who arranged for our Girl Scout troop to see the video together for the first time. It was my mom who went on countless Girl Scout camping trips with us, who ran how many years of cookie sales, who was at every sporting event we ever had.  I can't believe that she really is gone.  I can't believe that the one who gave birth to me is no longer here.

Everyone's grieving process is different and there is no formula.  I think for me the biggest struggle was that people were used to me being strong, being able to deal with large amounts of stress, and making it through.  What they didn't know was that the humor and strength I needed to make it through was deficient, that I had nothing to give out.  I am no where close to being done grieving and suspect that I have some more ugly cries in my future over the loss of my mother, but writing this is a huge step for me.

The Journey Part 1

I have known that the day to write this blog was coming for almost a year now.  It's not the physical time that has passed that makes it the time to write this blog but more of a milestone on the map of the emotional journey that grief has taken me on.

Having spent the last twenty four years as a military spouse stationed over five thousand miles away from home, I knew that inevitably there would come a telephone call that would change my life as I knew it.  The cycle of life and tragedies are part of every one's life and there is no escaping them, try as we might.  As a military dependent I was sensitive to those around me who received life altering news from home, and being human would wonder how when it came that news would affect me.  Now I know all the wondering in the world cannot prepare you when it comes.

One year ago today I was told that they did not expect my mother to make it through the next three or four days and that I needed to get my family on an airplane and get from Honolulu, Hawaii to Buffalo, NY as soon as possible.  Having the amazing husband that I have and SUBPAC Pearl Harbor being as wonderful as they are allowed my family to be in the air within four hours.  No small feat since the end of the fiscal year money had already been shift to the new fiscal year accounts.

I remember getting on the airplane, with all of us scattered all over the plane and Brittany waiting in Honolulu for the next flight out.  As the plane began to taxi and I had a chance to fully absorb all that was happening since that phone call came, I cannot tell a lie, I completely lost it.  God had so graciously made sure that an Army Casualty Officer was sitting next to me, and was able to calm me down until Rick could work with the attendants to get my seat moved next to him.  Once I hit the seat next to him I can honestly say that I don't remember the rest of the flight.

I remember touching down in Buffalo, NY and driving straight to the hospital.  I know it was cold, but I don't remember.  All I remember is walking in there and seeing my mother lying in the hospital bed.  Prior to me getting out of Honolulu the doctor had shared with me that my mother had signed multiple documents to ensure that there would be no life support systems or life saving measures used.  However, at the families request in her unconscious state the Hospice workers agreed with the family to assist her with receiving oxygen until we could all get there.  Once we got Britt from the airport that evening my Dad, brother Ron my sisters Nicole and Amy, Britt, and Rick and I went to spend the night at the hospital.

This was Friday and at this point we had already been to the hospital twice, this being the third time.  Every time we went we had to work through the shock of seeing her there, not speaking, not awake.  Once we worked through that we would settle into a quiet, sad sort of groove with the natural jokes we have as a family.  Then when it was time to leave we it was time to say goodbye to mom because we didn't know if we would ever have the chance again.  This was emotionally draining and took all the energy I had,  At this point there are days I am so tired, I swear I haven't recovered from it. It was at this time that Rick kept us focused.  We had made an agreement that no one would be with mom by themselves, while the others left.  We agreed that we would go in the morning, afternoon, and evening as a group.  We would rest and eat in between.  I am so thankful for my husband during those times when we considered staying all day or night.  He reminded us of what we agreed to and was there to ensure that the doctors and nurses understood our concerns and supported all of us. I have to say I have an amazing family.  My sister in law Jenn made sure we ate and had clean clothes, my brother in law Ben had kid duty, and my brother in law Tony made sure we had breakfast and coffee every morning.  Despite the circumstances it was my family at its absolute best.

The morning my mom passed we went to go see her and did what we had been doing. Spent time with her and said good bye. The rest of the family was watching the Bills play because that's what mom would have wanted and Rick and I ran to the store.  We were standing in the cold medicine aisle when Rick's phone rang. He took my basket out of my hands, put it on the floor, and led me out of the store and I knew. I knew that my mom was gone.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New Blog:-)

So much has happened in the last several years...months...I can't keep track of how long it has been.  I have so much to write about, work through, write about...But I need to be able to Blog about other areas of my life while I figure this mystery out.  So I started a new blog...Sub Wife Sub Life   Check it out