Parenting is hard

It’s St. Patrick’s day. In 1984, my oldest child was born. I remember checking into the hospital and the nurse saying I would be having a  St. Patrick’s day baby and in honor of that, they would be tattooing a shamrock on the baby’s butt. Whether my serious expression was primarily fear of this whole birthing process or I was so tired I looked as if I were taking her seriously, she quickly assured me she was only joking.

B was probably 6 before she realized that the St. Patrick’s day parade we took her to each year was not actually held in honor of her birthday.

It’s 21 years this month since she left us, and I miss her still.

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3/17/2017 – B, Jan-1985; about 10 months.

And her final school picture, taken not long before she passed away.

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B – Jan-1996; not quite 12 yet.

March is a challenge every year. Not a day in the last 21 years passes that I do not think about her, and I would not have it any other way. Mostly I smile. Occasionally, I tear up and feel the weight of loss. Mostly, though, I really do smile. So much life and memories packed into 12 years and 5 days. In my heart I cherish all she was to those who knew her and turn away any and all thoughts of what might have been. Our time together was limited. I am glad to be someone who was present with my children, so my regrets about that time are so tiny and insignificant relatively to the balance of my life.

But parenting young adults is still hard.

C called early this morning after a major fight with her husband. Unfortunately this is not the heartbreak drama of teenage angst, but the seriousness of a grown-up married people. Trying to be fair and balanced – out the window. My kid is crying, having a panic attack over the telephone. Forget fair and balanced. A said cruel things and there is blood in my eyes.

Okay, not quite that bad.

Being her mother’s daughter, I cringe at some of C’s decisions and mannerisms that come directly from me. I know that when this kind of dust-up happens, it’s not just because A came home and decided to be a prick that day. Having been in Florida only a few months, there are a billion details that one takes for granted growing and becoming an adult in your own hometown. Finding doctors and dentists and making new friends – it is a process. And when shit hits, the gap between what you had before you moved crossed the country becomes the grand canyon.

I talked her down off the ledge, called and checked in on her more than I have in 20 years, since that first summer that she and her brother stayed home alone while M and I were both working. By the end of the day, she’d calmed down and made significant progress finding healthcare providers and making appropriate appointments … in a few weeks. But she found stop-gap help with a local clinic – a referral from an assistant manager at their apartment complex. And with a little guidance from me, began the outline of The Plan for what she would do if this type of thing should come up again.

As for me, it was a busy day at work with a lot of gratuitous meetings that did little other than frustrate me with stranger’s ability to demonstrate their cluelessness. I am a master at compartmentalizing, though, and chugged along and got through it. By the end of the day, though, I was unrepentantly swigging sugary soda.

Parenting is hard sometimes, something no one really stresses before you take on that role, and I am honest enough, selfish enough, to say I do not really love the responsibility and the job itself. But I love the kids involved, all of them, and my hopes for them hinge on their overall happiness. Even when things are not going so well and they do stupid shit that frustrates and/or irritates me, I have to believe they will learn from the experiences.

Another St. Patrick’s day, another of B’s birthdays in the history books.

I miss her.

 

 

Sleepwalking on the darker side

The past week has been rough on me with sleep. It is an unusual occurrence, because I rarely have issues falling asleep or staying asleep. Disruptions happen, though, and some are even depressingly predictable. Like when the trees in my neighborhood start blooming and I am popping allergy medications every 4 to 6 hours. Sudafed, while effective on my congestion and sneezing, will keep me up all night if taken too late in the day. March remains an emotionally challenging 31 days, with my oldest child’s birthday and death day occurring in the same week. Even after 21 years (this year), it’s still sad and it’s still hard.

But the allergy meds that get me through the day make for a very rough night of sleeping. This year is the first I am truly cognizant of the differences and impact regular exercise makes, and I begrudge every second of crankiness that even minor sleep deprivation brings me. If that were not bad enough, the combination of allergy-medication induced lighter sleep and March, for whatever reason it opens up the can of worms of night terrors. That makes life so much darker and seemingly more dismal.

For the most part, I am relishing the go-go-go busy and overload of work this month has brought. I love my family and my friends old and new who make me smile and laugh throughout my days. Darkness happens, and I remind myself that the reality of darkness is only as long and as permanent as I allow it to be and how to leave it in its place. Having been in such awful, terrifying places in my life, I have an almost fanatical appreciation for the joy and great aspects of my day-to-day life. Still, when the horrors of my childhood visits me in sleep, it’s upsetting all on its own, without the additional disruption of the losing sleep over things I cannot change, thoughts and feelings I wish I could ignore if I cannot forget.

Which tends to make me even crankier that I am losing sleep over shit I want to not contemplate any further.

In such a dark mood, dark place I ventured into the gym and for practice this morning. All went well, but I find myself supremely annoyed by the remodel and how my routines have been upturned. Regular folks I used to see pursuing their own Lists nearby most mornings I barely pass in the hallways now, to the point that one such regular remarked today that she never sees me anymore. How true. We both spend a fair amount of time on the stairs, seeking out spaces and equipment that used to be fully contained on one floor or the other.

At least I am not of the grumpy old person camp who snaps at members who may be in the way.

Tonight I got to spend some time with my tribe sister, doing a light routine and yakking and catching up with life and times. We had so much to talk about that my funk-spike did not even occur to me to bring up for discussion. I am happy about that.

The sun is supposed to shine this weekend and temperatures being a warm 70-something degrees. I can’t wait! While others will be outside enjoying it, I am simply looking forward to having no meetings, lighter workload, and just time to pursue my own projects. G – my youngest child – turns 30 on Sunday. Funny but it does not make me feel old so much as marvel that our lives have advanced to this point, that he is healthy, happy, newly married and moving on with a fulfilling and happy life.

It is just a weird dichotomy month for me. Every year in advance I resolve to be less bothered and burdened by the grief that lingers, and every year I am learning how to be kinder to myself when it creeps in and taints my days.

I will say the habits acquired in the last couple of years – regular exercise, healthier eating, blogging and writing routinely, the discipline of managing my own small business and working at a full-time job – have done wonders to keep me out of the emotional cesspool of my own making. While it feels like I am sleepwalking on the darker sides of my life, I am on firm footing with a clear path and a retainer wall that will not let me slide off the edge and down the slippery slope.

There is an edge to the life I have led and the events that have befallen me. I cannot imagine a day where I state with any form of sincerity that I am grateful to be a sexual abuse survivor and the mother of a deceased child, but the day when I am grateful for the beauty and sense the infuses my life is here and its now. My oldest child – I think of her every single day and it makes me smile. My childhood – no getting around that I would be a very different person as an adult. And while I am very, very far removed from perfect, I am better than many and completely good enough.

Sometimes I let myself believe I have all I need, but on the heels of that thought comes acknowledgement that needs change every day. Wanting something badly enough tends to elevate it to need status, or the item becomes less realistically available or emotionally desirable and need for it fades to the whimsy of a want. Understanding the difference and the subtleties of the feelings has been a lifelong task, one that probably ends when the mind regresses or life ceases.

My life is full with lots and lots of good fortune and amazing souls who include me as part of their personal realm. During this month when the sads strike, it seems there is always someone or something that sprawls directly in my path and makes me recognize how truly rich my whole life.

Allow me to be thankful. And grateful. And neurotically repetitive. I have not been as present in this space, but my deep and abiding affection for it, and all of you, remains. I shall endeavor to ponder here more frequently.

Letter to an absent friend

Dear Jamie,

It’s been a year since you died, a year of learning to not think in terms of things I want to tell you, a years of remembering over and over that our long friendship has run its natural course. The reality is harsh and makes me feel so sad, yet in my sadness there is much to celebrate. To mourn you, to grieve for your absence reminds me the depth of our connection and my enduring affection for you. It makes me realize again that those I love the most are also those I miss the most. Sadly, there are far too many others that custom and practice indicates I should miss, I should mourn, I should grieve, yet I barely think of them anymore and when I do, it is more in passing that another birthday has passed or a random thought from my childhood or beyond.

But you, I miss you. For purely selfish reasons, I wish you were still here. For another of our holidays lunches, or the emails we would exchange a few times each month. C and then G both married this year, and I thought about you and how you would have enjoyed seeing their pictures and hearing the stories of their individual ceremonies and beyond. Friend J has been seriously ill, and I know he thinks of you often and misses the correspondence as well. I continue with my exercise, have become even more committed and determined that I was the last time I saw you. I remember last year, you saying you much you would like to meet my “young buck” trainer, and my promise to set up a meeting next you were in town. I realize now you likely knew there would be no future lunches, no future visits to town, and how much I did not to want to imagine a world without you in it.

A year has passed. A year of learning to continue without your guidance, wisdom, wit.

Part of me really wishes for one more opportunity to say goodbye, a few minutes in your company to be assure myself that you know how much you meant and continue to mean to me after death. But it is a selfish whim, a fleeting last goodbye to someone so dear to me. Because you knew, have always known, because I am not one to try and conceal my enduring affection from those I love.

I wear Ruth’s pearls frequently, to work mostly, since I am back to a job that requires me to dress like a grown-up. I always remember her telling me that pearls are for every occasion. They are among my precious possessions.

A client gave me a lovely scotch gift set of The MacAllen, your favorite. It made me so sad on Friday, had me in tears at work. Thinking about it though the weekend, I realize you are still with me, always, and the memories will never fade away.

Perhaps that is a the enduring source of my grief, that I fear forgetting those I love. Because I still think that without you and others like you in my life, I would be less than so much dust blowing in the wind.

And so it goes this Sunday, as I quietly celebrate your life. M and I are finally getting our front landscaping started, M’s bestie finally having time to come by and get started. My patience in this endeavor has amazed me, and you would be so proud of me, for that and all the other things I have accomplished this year. In my work and my jobs, in my role as a parent, as a friend and member of my own little tribe, in the life I lead as a regular person. You would beam at my burgeoning confidence in the gym and as it has lent itself to other aspects of my life. Things you used to tell me all the time about my good qualities and the things you liked about me, how hard I would struggle to believe in your sincerity, you’d be happy that I not longer have to struggle so mightily and happily accept it now. Even in death I feel your kind and caring touch.

The year has been a lot of something, a lot of really significant wins that would thill you. I have shed a few tears in my loss today, but for the most part, I have smiled and laughed and remembered all the things we shared through the years. There is so much great stuff there, far too much to be overshadowed by your departure. Because while I will not see you again, I will feel your presence forever.

It’s enough, Jamie. We were the best of friends; we are family. Death will not change that for me.

M and I are about to go out and do some shopping – the landscape center to see about baubles and such for the front lawn. Maybe get some ideas for the fountain I still desire, or a cool garden cow statue, still my favorite animal.

I love you dearly, miss you still. But I am okay, better than okay, and I will continue to grow and to thrive. Because I have and had you as a great mentor, teacher, friend. It’s more than enough. I have enough memories of all you gave me for the balance of my days.

Rest in peace, dear friend. Our world is a smaller place without you in it, yet it continues to expand and to develop as the moments pass. It is just as you predicted and would have wanted. And I am so glad.

Love,
Janelle

 

A case of the sads

Something happened at the office today that is a rare, rare occurrence: I cried. Not just a little eye leakage, the big, wracking, ugly sobs of grief and loss. The sads of December arrived early this year.

Sunday marks a year since my dear friend James died. While I have missed him this past year, the last few months I feel the empty chair at my mental and emotional table with other stresses from other things.

I am not especially sentimental, and while I feel the loss, it is not just the first anniversary that set me off on my remarkably embarrassing emotional breakdown. A very happy and grateful client came in today bearing gifts – a couple of bottles of James’ favorite single malt scotch and cigars for the gents, scotch and chocolates for me. Always through our long friendship, this is what James would give me every year. Every “girl” needs at least a couple of vices to be interesting, he would always say to me with a wink. When his wife was alive she would give him an eye roll and playful tap on the arm, to stop embarrassing me with his flirty, dirty-old-man schtick. They are both gone now, and I miss them both.

The whole emotional breakdown thing is supremely embarrassing for me. I work in an office with mostly men, and I am typically the calmest person in the whole firm. No matter what the crisis, I tend to maintain my composure. Not today, apparently.

I tried to fix my face, but crying takes a toll. One of the partners came in to see if I was okay, and the water works started again, only more neat and confined this time. I told him it was kind of a rough morning in the gym, that I was struggling with upper body exercises, and after my great triumph yesterday it was kind of a let down to not feel supremely confident about something else. It’s absolutely true, but not worth crying over, not anymore. He knows it. I know it. But the sads of December manifest in mysterious ways.

To this big ball of weeping, my daughter’s birthday is tomorrow, and for the first time she lives almost 3000 miles from me. She and A went to DisneyWorld yesterday for an early celebration, and had it not suddenly hit me again with the bottles of single malt staring at me from across the room, I would have been fine today. I am not an overly involved parent, I miss them being just a few exits down the freeway, and we will go visit next year.

If I’m going to burst into tears, I am going to throw everything I have at it and get it over with, so ot all got wound up in the crying bubble today. Things are better now, though. Staff have been tip-toeing in and out of my office to reassure themselves that all is well. It reminds me that my role here is not just to ensure things run smoothly; I have become part of the fabric of this firm and my atypical behavior is unnerving.

While I really want to go immerse myself in the kitchen’s abundance of sugary goodness, I am restraining myself. Parents of one of our associates were in the office yesterday and brought these fabulous date pinwheel cookies, and I must restrain myself from seeking out more.

Instead I am contemplating a 2017 yoga challenge with my daughter-in-law. To the depths of my soul I know I have no business seriously considering it, yet here I am, looking at my schedule and thinking about it.

Yep, lost my mind. Maybe my common sense will return and I will not decide to add another commitment to my schedule. Then again, maybe time is really precious and memories we make now will be part of all that sustain us later. Maybe I am thinking through my heart rather than the head that compartmentalizes and schedules.

Long into the future, will I remember the work I was doing or the books I was reading or the dawdling that consumed chunks of my days? Unlikely. But K is persuasive that success or failure, trying this challenge together will be memorable, if only for attempting to fit one more thing into our schedules.

How timely that she texted about it today, reminding me of the importance of time and making memories with those we care for and about.

Grief and boundaries

Fridays are becoming free-for-alls for me here on the blog. Of course, it sort of fits with my no-theme theme and methodology of blogging. Today is inspired by both by current events in my life and things I have crossed paths with while wandering around and reading random stuff.

My friend J has been quite ill for the last month. Seems like he is rallying and turning the corner toward his eventual full recovery. I say that because he is back to making morbid jokes that alternately make me laugh, want to cry from the visions it creates, or want to slug him for scaring me by getting so very sick.

Mostly I choose laughter, and I recognize it is tinged with relief that my friend is still here and able to make me laugh.

Over the course of this week and the one prior has been a lot of thought about loss, grief, mourning, sadness. I know what all that feels like, having been through it with those I love and unfortunately more than once. It’s almost a selfish thing, to mourn. This is not to be confused with the current connotation that being selfish is a terrible personality trait. Personally, I am starting to truly believe that too much of anything, including selflessness, becomes something twisted and negative.

When B died at age 12, her youth was a component of the sadness surrounding her passing. She was too young to even know what a bucket list is, much less have one to complete. When my friend Jamie died last year, he was older, in faltering health, and had lived a long and productive life. His bucket list had been retired or mostly retired by the time he died.

I use these examples from my own life because they are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I am still sad when I think about them. But it’s a selfish sort of sadness. Jamie was such a guiding force in my life that helped me unpack and sort through my stuff and grow up in work so I could be more effective managing marriage, motherhood, work, life. I miss our conversations, just sitting around talking about everything and nothing in particular. He was a source of joy and laughter and happiness for me, and from that perspective, how could I not be a little sad to have lost it? How could I not miss it?

With my daughter, it is different yet the same. When her siblings married this year, I was saddened by the shadow of her I saw in these happy events. Just like every holiday, every family gathering no matter how trivial in the last 20 years I have at least a few seconds pass through my mind that someone is missing from our table, that there is an empty chair. Anymore it’s a brief span of time that now makes me smile wistfully with my sad. If only. She was loved so much in her short life and still missed 20 years after leaving this life.

My sadness has nothing to do with unfinished business or wishing to change something about these relationships. It’s just the selfish desire of a mother and a friend left behind. I’m glad I still think of them, glad I have good memories to enjoy, and just a tinge of wistful that we are not creating new memories or they are not an active presence in whatever is going on in my life in the moment.

These are examples of what I consider grief and it does not play for me as it is portrayed in mainstream media. I cried buckets of tears and felt my heart break with both these losses. At the same time, I am a practical soul who understands my own heart and (mostly) mind. I knew the sadness would pass and made no apologies for being happy. There was never a time when my life so dark and so dreary all the joy and color was completely sucked out of it. In my experience there seems to be an unspoken expectation that we all grieve and mourn in the same way, or at least we should express our sorrows in a similar way, as if there is a standard to which we may be measured in how feeling or unfeeling we are in our periods of sadness. That I tend to be on the less expressive side of that equation tends to wig people out. My mother was an excellent example. A few weeks after B died, she told me I never loved my daughter, that she raised her, that she loved her more. I had to walk away from that. There are no winners in contests of who hurts more when suffering a tragic loss.

And I suppose this extreme disconnect between my parents and me explains why I rarely think about them, feel as if a stranger had died and left me with a house full of crap that had to be dealt with. Understand this is not me wishing them to be dead or gone from my life; for the most part, I had as little contact as possible with my parents during my adult life. I am glad my kids had opportunity to know their grandparents, and for them, there are fond memories of my dad (he died when they were in grade school) and a more mixed bag of memories for my mom (she died 3 years ago). Depression, learned helplessness, active dependence are not traits I shared with my mom, and I instilled in both my kids a sense of independence and desire to take care of themselves that she never completely understood. It made her final years, particularly the last 6 months, hard on all of us.

I do not mourn their loss or grieve their absence from my life. They would have had to have played a more active role in my life to warrant such feelings of affection and loss, and both were emotionally absent while being present in my growing up years or even my adult years. Sadly, there is nothing unique about our dysfunctional relationship. Alcoholism and depression at work. Intellectually understanding what who they were as people and what ailments they suffered from does nothing to soften my indifference toward them as an adult. Perhaps I am selfish and entitled for feeling as if I deserved a little better parenting than what I received.

Thinking about my folks brings me to the boundaries part of today’s think-fest.

Growing up in an alcoholic home, I developed all the ticks and twists of your average codependent. I have great capacity to be a major-league control freak and exhibit extraordinary controlling behavior. In addition to that, I was victimized sexually by a really twisted man. Mental and emotional assistance for my issues did not arrive until adulthood, and even then, it was a push-pull, 1 step forward, 2 steps back process. So believe me, I know a bit about boundaries – establishing them and enforcing them.

My unwillingness to talk about my past nearly cost me my present marriage. While I had been seeing a therapist off and on for most of our relationship, I generally refused to talk about our sessions and discussions. Dealing with my crap impacted our marriage, although M brought his own suitcase full of insecurity and stuff as well. Dealing with our own crap separately while trying to be married was a traditional recipe for unhappiness. By the time we got to the boiling point, I was so angry and so unhappy I was ready to file for divorce. We separated. We went into individual and couples therapy to work on our own stuff and our couples stuff and came out so much better on the other side.

Boundaries were a big part of that work.

M is like a dog with a bone when he wants information about something he senses is important somehow. I am very disinclined to volunteer information under threat or in the midst of being interrogated. A boundary we pounded out in therapy is that if I am not willing or able to talk about something, he backs off. No badgering. No bullying. No emotional blackmail. For me, if he asks me something I cannot or will not talk about, I have to state that I am unwilling or unable to talk about it at that time. If necessary, we will go back to therapy to pound it out. It has been years since we even approached that point. But in the early days, it was good to have a get out of jail free card when things got hard. If I was resistant to sharing something or if he was badgering me, we could each drag the other my ass back to therapy to figure out a way out of this.

It made me stop threatening him with divorce every time he pushed too far. Once I got calmed down enough to trust him to not push that way, he got assurances that I was not a flight risk and it greatly reduced his anxiety and desperation. We needed help working at establishing and enforcing healthy boundaries, and we are now involved in a happy marriage.

But my reason for thinking about boundaries today is conversations with friends and recent roamings around blogville.

I don’t know how people do these things, when there has been betrayal and egregious breaches of trust. For me, I am a compartmentalizer. I tend to put emotions of various stripes into boxes until I can cope with them. When it comes to thoughts, I do my best to sort them out, stay rational, triage and stay focused on what seems like highest priorities.

Still, I feel as if I have lived a mostly charmed life. As a parent, my kids were normal, easy-to-raise kids. They are both adults now, and we have close relationships. It’s something I value and protect. Work and career track has not been supremely exciting and fast-tracked stellar, but it has been a steady climb and allowed me to provide for my kids as a single parent even before M came into our lives. I am a good and responsible friend, also relationships I value. Unfortunately not all friends reciprocate affection and trust in the same ways. It’s a balance that does not always work.

Boundaries with friends have been an ongoing challenge with me. In the last year, long friendships have become strained, challenged, ended. Or they have grown closer, deeper, more connected. The common denominator, the catalyst for change, has been a friendship dynamic adjustment where I am no longer completely satisfied with “because it’s always been this way.” As I have grown and changed and faced and overcome challenges, enjoyed successes in other aspects of my life, the trickle down has been to some of the longest relationships of my life.

My friend J, the younger brother I never had (and quite possibly never, ever wanted) has always been a close friend, but in the last 18 months, 2 years he’s grown exponentially more important to me and my nearest and dearest. At first it was partly his alarm at my paying money to work with a gym trainer – he became guard dog protective and suspicious about everything trainer J was trying to teach me at first – and now it’s another activity and understanding we have in common. I have learned so much and am continuing to learn with trainer J, from friend J, and on my own in the gym on my own practice.

Other old friends cheer for me, share my successes, commiserate with me on my shortfalls. It’s been more than a year. I no longer get terribly upset and frustrated about my lack of mainstream and traditionally measured progress. I can do my List of the day today and again tomorrow. I can do a pilates class on Sunday. I am trying (and mostly succeeding) in doing more yoga, just to try and get some flex into my body. And I am working on an interim fuck moderation methodology with my eating.

These are good things.

Unfortunately, as I and others on similar journeys have experienced, not everyone in our lives is as supportive and kind about our quest to change our habits and our lives. As I have grown stronger in my ability to kindly and firmly set and enforce acceptable behavior towards me, conflicts have arisen. Mostly they are handled in positive ways. Some, not so much. Disappointing.

But while I have some sadness and some grief associated with those losses, sometimes even friendships run their course and have an expiration date. At the same time, I am the better, stronger version of myself. I can let them go without rancor or even real distress. I can let them go with my thanks for many years and happy memories, but I can also feel that putting my needs and my desires and enforcing my own boundaries to protect myself and my objectives in life is not just important but critical to thriving. Once upon a time I would have judged myself harshly, felt selfish and self-centered for taking care of me. That time is long past.

Maybe greater maturity is knowing when to hold em, when to fold em, when to walk away, when to run. Or maybe I am just in the better, healthier place.

And that, dear friends, is a Very Good Thing for me.

 

Glue

My friend G’s father passed away late last night after fighting the good fight with cancer for more than 10 years. No matter how expected the death, it is still a bit of a shock when it finally happens. Friend G’s “pops” he has known and loved his whole live – G said his  heart stopped beating and his chest fell that final time 12:17 a.m. and 46 seconds on the clock. He was watching his pops’ face and not the clock, but when the monitors began their signal lost buzz he looked up and the clock and recorded the time.

G is an only child, which makes thing both easier and harder for him. His mother is elderly and was extraordinarily dependent upon her husband. Her health has also been faltering the last few years, and G and I have spoken at length about what his dad’s passing will mean beyond the grief of loss. Mom and dad have been in an assisted living facility for the last year, until his dad had to be moved to a hospice facility. I feel great sadness for G and his family at this time.

This latest friend saying goodbye to a parent has me thinking about families and family dynamics. It seems to me in every family there is some “glue” that keeps it together, that keeps the clan members gathering and communicating and in touch with one another. If not it seems you become like my family of origin, where we are around each other, sort of, and typically only out of a sense of obligation. There was no glue there, even before my sister and I arrived on the scene.

In my kids’ dad’s family, it’s his parents. They are wonderful people, and even though I have been divorced for their son for decades, I still think very highly of them and admire the very caring, loving, inclusive ways they have ensured my kids stayed part of the family fold. C speaks with trepidation about what will happen when they are gone, about whether or not she will still see her aunt and uncles and cousins. I am reassuring; her aunt has been slowly assuming the glue mantle for several years now as her parents age and wish to simplify family gatherings.

For M and I, our family is so tiny with just the kids and us it seems like we are all in this together. Should something happen to me before M, I believe the kids will look after him as best they are capable and as much as he will allow it. I believe he will grow more crotchety as the years pass and becomes less capable of doing things for himself. Time will tell.

 

But hopefully we have  a lot of years to left before worries about becoming frailer and less capable overcome us. Hopefully the time and effort we are putting forth toward better health now will pay dividends later. Hopefully it is not too late.

I had a meeting with our insurance broker today, and health insurance premiums are going up 20%. Ugh. However, for that 20% you get a slightly lower deductible and a lower maximum out-of-pocket. For most of the staff the increase is not terrible; the highest increase in their portion of the premium is $26 per month. For me, the lone person going from Kaiser back to Anthem, I go from $0 out of pocket to $326 per month. I am not delighted but I am not terribly upset, either. I will feel much better back with doctors I trust even if I am not using them all that much these days.

Friend G’s news today just reminds me M and I are getting older, and we need doctors we can depend upon and trust. Kaiser would be a good choice for M – he who only goes to the doctor when something seems wrong or off – but since I am the primary health care consumer and have the chronic condition, I need access to the specialists who make things make sense for me. My peace of mind is worth the monthly premium.

Because I am part of the glue that keeps my tribe together. I need to stick around and see watch the rest of the story.

And with that, I am off to bed to read for awhile and get some sleep. Training Thursday at 7 tomorrow, and we’re back to a different mode of exercise. I am very excited about it.

 

 

This day in history

Today marks 20 years since my oldest officially left us, declared legally brain dead after brain bleed. It was amongst the most anguishing 24 hours of my entire life thus far, and unforgettable because it is so much part of who she was to me and to us. I remember the day she was born, I remember the day she died. It’s just how it is, and I have no regrets or sorrow about the way my mind processes this particular chapter. I am grateful to remember her and our history realistically; it keeps her human and the daughter I love.

In the present day, life continues. Gym this morning. Text meltdown from M over potentially lost keys, only I had found them at home where he left them in the gate lock. RD appointment this afternoon. Work, work, more work.

Between all that, random thoughts sneak in. There are texts and emails from old friends, checking up and checking in, sharing little remembrances, funny stories and memories. People are so kind. Family, I decided long ago, has less to do with the blood in your veins than the depth of emotion and attachment we feel toward one another. I am truly blessed to have a large and diverse family tree with strong and solid roots.

I am super proud of my son and daughter; I wanted them to grow up to be independent, kind, compassionate people, and they have exceeded my hopes for them on all fronts. The death of a 12 year old child and older sibling could be something that rips families apart, but for us it bound us closer together. Where I had been a good mother when I have 3 living children, I improved and got better when I lost my oldest. I became more patient and present in the time we were together. I redoubled my commitment to prioritizing the work and family balance. I let them continue to be kids and fail when necessary and appropriate. In spite of my fear and instinctive, irrational desire to try and protect them from any failure or harm, I let them fail and let them fall down when it was appropriate. I bit my tongue when they made choices I questioned or disagreed with,and I held back any hint of parental condemnation or judgment when they made mistakes and had to experience negative consequences.

While I like to believe I would have learned this had B not passed away when she did, I know the dramatic changes that overwhelmed me right after her death. I was so scared and fearful that something would swoop down and steal my surviving daughter and son. Looking back, talking with my kids over the course of the last year, I realize that stepping back and just letting them be and grown up like normal kids was the best thing I could have done for them at that time. They are both wonderful young adults. I genuinely like them a people as well as love them fiercely because they are my children.

So today we are all a little sad. And the day, while a sad one, is part of what makes us a unique and close family.

The spirit that was my beautiful girl lives forever in our memories and the memories of others that knew her. Once upon a time it seemed inadequate, but as they years have passed it became enough. If necessity is the mother of invention, is it also the parent of acceptance. I cannot bring her back, and I had to accept that. But I can remember her honestly, with her human weakness and flaws, and in my dreams I still hear her voice and see that amazing smile.

Rest in peace, my sweet Sugarbear. I miss you terribly and wish you were here with us, alive and thriving with us.