Sunday, December 1, 2013

And just like that, another year gone by since my last post.  God I am always amazed at how quickly time goes by.

I am trying to put myself back in time to my last post, but amazingly enough, I can't.  I'm not the same Mo I was then.  For so long I felt like I was under water, constantly swimming through muddy murky water and terrified that I would never reach the top to breathe clean air.  Thankfully time, and love, heals so much and I came up for air.

Life is so different but it's also the same.  I do the same job, I just go to a different office.  I live the same life, I just do so with fewer people in it.  Each year it seems I lose someone else.  Not necessarily due to death but due to their own choosing.  I sleep soundly every night knowing that I give everything I can to those that I love.  The personal demons those people carry within themselves cause them to fall away.  I would never intentionally hurt someone I love, but I cannot stop those who manifest issues out of thin air.  The strange thing is that even though those whom I love who distance themselves are still among the living I still grieve as though I lost them to death.  It hurts.  Deeply.  But like with any death we experience time has a way of making that pain hurt less and less.

I am not a dramatic person, even if it feels like I write that way.  My life is by most accounts very boring.  I go to my job, I come home to my amazing husband, and I try to make the most out of every day. No matter what I am blissfully happy.

Thomas and I still continue the work on our house.  We adopted another puppy earlier this year and I can honestly say that the little shit has brought me more joy and laughter than I could've ever imagined.  Thomas and I even joke how the puppy's personality so resembles my mothers that it was like she was reincarnated. He's loud, he's got gigantic teeth, he hoardes toys (whether they belong to him or not), he's incredibly sweet, and he is the most loving dog I've ever had.  He came to us at just the right time.

While there are times that I still want to pick up the phone and call my mother, while I miss her terribly, I am still beyond grateful for the life I have now.  No matter what we've all been through.  I am happy, and loved.

Friday, November 9, 2012

No Title

Oh how time just seems to fly by.  Days, weeks, and months pass in what seems like the blink of an eye.

The anniversary of my moms death came and went.  I allowed myself to remember her and to hurt for that one day.  Still though, her death has left me with some emotional cuts that can't quite seem to heal.  Certain songs I cannot listen to, one in particular, because she once told me that it reminded her so much of me.  However, I can't grieve forever.  My life is full, and life is for the living.

Thomas and I continue to renovate our home and we're so very proud of the work we've put into it.  For the first time we will be hosting his family for Christmas dinner this year.  My heart strings tug when I think that I won't be spending Christmas with what little family I have left, but they understand.  I never wanted my visits to them to come from my own self-imposed feelings of obligation, but because I want to be there with them. I can tell you though that, just as I suspected, my family just isn't the same since mom died.  There is an obvious sadness there.  A hole that can never be filled.  Even my relationship with my sister isn't the same.  I had always hoped that eventually as we both grew older our difference in age wouldn't seem so large.  Maybe when I'm in my 40's and she is in her 30's things will be better, but as of right now we couldn't be any more different.  This difference has created a rift between us and I'm not sure if that rift can ever be bridged.

If there is one thing I took away from the entire clusterfuck that was my mothers untimely death it is this: I can handle anything that life throws at me.  I am good with crisis.  I thrive on it actually.  When Thomas and I both lost ours jobs I did not panic.  Panic over losing a job?  Pffft.  Please.  That was nothing compared to what I've dealt with in the past.  When a project we are working on seems like it's never going to ever turn out like we wanted, do I throw a hissy fit and wash my hands of it?  Nope.  Take a few steps back, give it a day to think it through, and then find a solution.  I seem to have found a calmness within myself that I didn't think I was capable of.  I can be abrasive, I can be quick tempered, but it's almost as if nothing else can top the trauma of ultimately signing my mother's life away.  Mom dying made me a better person, I am almost certain of it.  While I still have difficulty in accurately expressing the myriad of feelings that came from her death, I know that I have grown as an individual.  My mother was never the maternal type, nor did she ever have the patience to educate her children on major life lessons.  My grandmother did that for her.  Cooking, cleaning, driving, paying bills, being an adult - that education came from my grandmother.  But I will always and forever give my mother credit for two things:  She taught me how sell products and manage a business.  And with her death she taught me that I am so much stronger than I had ever really given myself credit for.  I will always be grateful to her for that.

So as I said, life goes on.  Whether we want it to or not.  You can either lay down and cry about it yet accomplish nothing, or you can put your big girl panties on and enjoy the time we have on this planet.  I choose to embrace the lessons from the past, and live my life to the fullest.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Part Three

We all staggered into the hospital one small group at a time.  I had sent my sister a text, telling her that she needed to come to the hospital.  She had gone home to grab a quick nap and awoke to me telling her to come back to her own personal hell.  I stood in the hallway outside of mom's room and waited for her.  I wanted to be the one to tell her that it was time to take mom off of life support.  I had to be the one to break the news to her.

"I'm so sorry, honey.  She's gone.  Her mind is gone.  We have to take the next step."

She fell apart in my arms and I tried to give her as much comfort as I could.  She kept saying, "I'm only 21.  This isn't supposed to happen to us.  We're too young.  She's too young."  All I could do was stoke her hair and tell her that I knew it too.  It was too soon.  Her death was avoidable, it was unnatural, it didn't have to happen like this.

If only we could have saved her.  If only she had let us.

- - - - - - - -

I've told this same sequence of events to many people over the course of the last nine months.  Humans are always curious about the death of someone so young and so full of life.  She didn't have a cancer, she didn't die in an automobile accident.  Her death was sudden and shocking, and completely preventable.

In the few months leading up to her death she had relapsed.  Her alcoholism was the worst I had ever seen.  She was an addict, an addict who was determined to end whatever pain was swimming in her soul.  Her demons too great, her mind too weak.

She went to a boyfriend's house the week before.  While he was in deep denial over the true nature of her alcoholism she took advantage of it.  His home became a safe place for her to drink while he was gone during the days.  That Saturday he had left her to visit family.  When he returned later that afternoon he found her at the bottom his stairs, unconscious, laying in a pool of blood.

Between his accounts and the doctors reports we came to the conclusion that a high amount of alcohol in the blood had caused a seizure in her brain.  It may have been more than one seizure over the course of the day, but the final blow came when she was walking up the hardwood stairs.  The seizure caused her to fall backwards, her neck landing on the edge of a step, causing instant brain damage.  Because the brain takes so long to fail it will shut down the other body parts first, trying to preserve as much activity as possible.  By the time her head hit the stairs she was unconscious and didn't feel any pain. She never felt anything ever again.

When her boyfriend came home to her lying there on the foyer floor he called 911 and she was transported to the hospital.  The brain surgery that was performed was an attempt to release pressure to the brain, but the damage had been done.  Slowly, over the course of 12 hours her brain lost more and more activity.  When the brain is no longer active the body will never recover.  That person is lost forever.

- - - - - - - - -

I had been communicating with Thomas throughout the day.  Updating him on the status, trying to keep my calls to him short as I knew that the longer I remained on the phone with him the less I would be able to keep myself together.  I had decisions that needed to be made and I could not be a blubbering mess.

The ICU nurses would change shifts and introduce themselves to us.  They bathed her, changed her, talked to her.  They cared for her as if she weren't just a body in the bed.  As if she was able to respond and communicate back to them.  I will forever and ever be grateful to them for their compassion and their care to not just us, but to my mother.  They amazed me every second I was in that room.

At some point a woman came to see me.  She was there to speak to us about organ donation.  There was no argument from me.  While my mother may have ultimately caused her own demise and did everything in her power to destroy the body God gave her, these people were going to be able to cleanse her organs and give them to someone who was grateful to live each and every day.  Someone who prayed for these organs so that they may enjoy their life in the best health possible.  I was honored to sign the paperwork.

- - - - - - - - -

Saying goodbye isn't like they portray it in the movies.  While we each took our turns with her in her room to have our final moments, no one tells you about the nurses coming in and leaving, or the noises, or the smells. Smells that one doesn't forget easily.

Because we had opted to donate her organs we could not be there when life support was removed.  When we walked out of that room we had to do so with the knowledge that she would be there until her organs were ready.  I was the last one to say goodbye to her.

There was no point in speaking to her out loud.  She couldn't hear me.  I'm  realist, I know when someone is a person and I know when someone is a body.  The woman who was my mother was long gone.  This was her vessel, her poor tired and battered vessel.  I sat in the chair next to her bed and lowered my head.  I said a prayer for her soul and I asked God to please watch over her.  To care for her where ever she had gone.  To forgive her for her sins, and to forgive me of mine.  To watch over my grandmother and my sister as I knew their pain was so much greater than mine.  I had prepared my heart weeks before, knowing that her alcoholism was at it's worst, knowing that she was not long for this world.  But please bless us with Your strength.  Please help us.

I looked at her one last time and I walked out of the room.  One of the nurses smiled at me as I passed her. I smiled a genuine smile back at her.  I was free of this now.  Free of worry, free of embarrassment.  And she was free from whatever pain she was feeling.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Part Two

As soon as I touched down in Kansas City I turned my phone on.  The entire way I was praying for a miracle, that I would land and everything would magically be okay.  Instead it was texts from my sister, begging me to hurry HURRY, get here now.  I sent out a flurry of messages to Thomas and my sister and friends, letting them know I made it.

I stepped outside to grab the rental car shuttle and I was immediately shocked at the temperature difference.  I left Dallas in the early morning darkness, but it wasn't cold.  I landed in the midwest in the beginning of fall in shorts, t-shirt, and flip-flops.  I immediately gave myself a pat on the back for grabbing a light jacket before I left the apartment.  Funny enough, I really didn't think I would need it.  I was using it for bag filler seeing as how I had barely packed anything.  I pretty much lived in that jacket over the next several days.

I was getting texts from my sister asking me how far away I still was, asking me when I thought I would be there.  I couldn't bring myself to tell her that life support doesn't quit on it's own, there would be plenty of time.  I made my way to the hospital and my sister told me that my grandmother would meet me outside and take me to mom.  I parked the car and psyched myself up just to step out and walk toward that place.  As I started towards the entrance I saw my grandmother's van parked in front.  She was in it and I could hear her voice talking to someone.  I walked up to the car and when she saw me I thought for a minute that she had seen a ghost.  She wasn't startled, but it was like she didn't believe me when I told her I was getting on a plane.  That just 8 hours before this moment I was talking to her on a phone 500 miles away and now I was standing in front of her.  She was on the phone with her husband and she sucked her breath in and said, "Honey I have to go.  She's here.  My support system is here."  She snapped her old-school flip phone shut and embraced me like she hadn't seen me in years.  She cried and cried and I hugged her back, willing every bit of whatever strength I had left to her so that we could get through this together.

We chatted on the way inside.  Up the few floors, around a few corners, and suddenly we're inside the ICU.  Beeps and breathing machine noises all around me.  Other families huddled in their loved ones rooms, trying to make sense of whatever it was they were going through.  Your curiosity suddenly gets the best of you and I tried to not look into each room, somehow attempting to respect what little bit of privacy the person in that bed has left.  And then I was standing in her room, seeing my mother for the first time.  My sister walked over to me and I lost it.  I put my arms around her and sobbed.  A low, gutteral sobbing that comes from the depths of the soul.  The sob that you have no control over.

I looked at my mom and was surprised at how good she looked.  I was expecting so much worse. Her head was bandaged in white gauze, thin tubes in her mouth, her chest moved up and down along with the rhythm of the breathing machine.  I touched her hands, just to feel them and they were cold to the touch.  I pulled my hand back slowly as the realization hit that she really was gone. People who are alive don't feel like that.  The body was still working, the mind, the soul, whatever she had in her that made her who she was was gone.  Now it was just a matter of time before they would tell us that there was no longer any point in waiting for a change.  That point in time would come quickly.

- - - - - - - - - -

Throughout the course of the morning more people came to the hospital.  My ex-stepfather, my godmother and her husband.  We all made our way around that hospital room and then would shuffle outside when we needed a break from just sitting there.  I would have several moments with my grandmother in which we would discuss what our next steps should be.  Wait for the doctor to tell us all hope is lost.  Make phone calls.  Will there be a funeral?  No, no funeral.  Cremation, private burial next to grandpa, she wouldn't want that.  Hell WE don't want that.  I can't face those people.  I can't continue to tell the same story and hear the same sympathies over and over again.  I can't do it.  Neither can you, Gramma.  No, no funeral.

It was sometime in the late morning when one of my uncle's texted me to tell me that he had contacted my other uncle.  My uncle that I hadn't seen in ten years.  My uncle that had stopped speaking to all of us after my mother had filled his head with lies during one of her drunken binges.  I was shocked when he stepped into the room.  He looked down at his big sister lying in that bed and I saw the tears stream down his face.  He looked at my grandmother sitting beside me and said, "Mom".  "Well hi, Son!" she said.  He hugged her and they cried and I cried and the ICU nurse who had been punching codes into a monitor looked over at the scene and I saw her cry.  It was one of the most precious moments I had ever witnessed in my life.  Mother and child holding each other in grief mixed with happiness over their reunion.  Even during this most horrific moments in our lives there was this beauty of seeing these two together again.  All the past forgotten, never to be mentioned again.

I told them to go outside, have a talk.  It would be okay, I would stay with mom.  So there we were, just mom and I.  I sat in the chair near her bed and listened to the quiet.  If you had ever known my mother you would know within 30 seconds of meeting her that she never shut up.  Like, ever.  Even in her sleep there was some noise coming out of her mouth.  But here she was, silent and peaceful.  I took those moments to remember everything I could about the way she looked.  From her thin lips, to how freckled her chest was after so many years of sunbathing.  I noticed she wasn't wearing her jewelry, the jewelry she always wore and never took off.  I made a mental note to ask someone about that later.  I looked at her fingers and remembered how thin and long they were.  I winced at the traces of blood that were visible on her hands.  I looked at her legs and then to her feet.  Dear God in Heaven, her feet.  She would be the absolute first to tell you that she had the most ugly feet God had ever given to a human being, and she would be right.  They weren't pretty, especially today.  They were dirty, but I didn't know at the time where it had come from.  Her toes were painted though.  Even though the paint was chipped and worn and you could tell that she hadn't painted them in a couple of weeks, the red polish was still there.  My mother's signature color was red and her toes were always painted the same color.  A deep and rich fire engine red.  If you knew my mother you would know that the color suited her personality quite well.

As I sat there all I could think in my head was how badly she needed a pedicure.

- - - - - - - - - - -

It was around 5 that night that we were told that more tests needed to be run.  Brain functioning level types of tests.  It was probably for the best that we all go home and rest.  The family of sleep deprived zombies standing around a bed could do nothing for the cause.  Go home.  So we did.

We went to the house my grandmother had shared with my mother.  We sat and we waited.  Waited for anything.  Never wanting that phone call though.  The one that says there's nothing else we can do for her.  We got the phone call at 8:30PM.

"She's taken a turn for the worse.  The brain is no longer functioning.  We think it would be best to come back so we can discuss your options.  I'm so sorry."

My grandmother and I headed back to the hospital, holding hands, and knowing that this was going to be what we all had been dreading.  We were going back to say our goodbyes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different

Some people buy homes that are move-in ready, not a thing needs to be done to it.  From it's perfectly painted walls to it's shiny granite countertops all that is left to do is fill up the rooms with your furniture and maybe over pay for some ugly curtains.  When Thomas and I set out to buy our house we knew we had something a little different in mind.

Our wish list was pretty simple:

Within our budget
A large yard
A place that we can make our own

We viewed house after house, we even put in a few offers that were beaten out by other bidders willing to shell out more than we were.  Within 10 minutes of walking into The House we submitted an offer.  Within a few hours it was accepted.  It was ours a month later.  

We were expecting a few months of renovations and some inconveniences, but that was before all hell broke loose and our lives were turned upside down for a few months.  However, even while dealing with my mother's death we still made progress in the house.  When the weather turned colder outside we slowed down, and then me losing my job in December put off plans we had for the beginning of the year.  Thankfully we bounced back and continued with updating the house.  

While we were hoping to have already completed the updates by this point I am still happy with what we have accomplished.  

I give you The Before:

Before, living room with paneling

This was the first thing you would see as soon as you walked through the front door.  Paneling.  I loathe paneling.

Before, entry/living room

Dark paneling, outdated sunken living room.

Before, back door/kitchen entry

Awkward step up to the sliding door that cut off a good amount of the living room space.  Yard was dry and dead.

And now, The After:

After April 2012 After April 2012 After April 2012

Paneling removed.
The entire room required finishing the sheetrock behind the paneling.
Texture and painting of the living, dining, entry, and hallways.
The sunken living room was a problem, so we had the entire floor raised to meet with the kitchen and entry floor.
New hardwood floors and trim installed.

The only project we did not complete on our own was the floor raising and the sheetrock work. Seven months and a lot of work later, this is our progress.  While I still have some small things I need to add I am beyond proud of our work and our success.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Part One

The Saturday of Labor Day weekend was planned as a "day off" for Thomas and I.  With Thomas' aunt coming into town and knowing that it was going to be ungodly hot that weekend it was decided that we would enjoy that day at his parents house.  Swim in their pool all afternoon and relax before spending the next several days moving into the new house.  There was still so much work to do there, but we needed this day so badly.  The two weekends prior had been spent cleaning and painting and dealing with contractors/handy men who only seemed to be handy at taking our money in exchange for shitty workmanship.  The home buying process was exhausting enough and we had such a long road ahead of us in terms of making the home exactly what we wanted.  But that Saturday off was well deserved.  Our moving plans were set into motion and we were excited to finally get to this new chapter in our lives.

That Saturday morning we took a few boxes of belongings over to the house in anticipation for the moving to begin the next day.  We scooped up the dogs, stopped for provisions (read: beer. lots of it.) and spent the afternoon lounging poolside.  It was just like any other Saturday spent at his parents house.  Pool, beer, music, food.

It was around 6 when I heard my cell ringing.  Funny thing about that, I rarely leave my phone outside when we're at his parents house.  Usually I take it inside and that's where it stays until we leave.  I had just cracked a fresh beer and finished a slice a pizza when "Gramma" popped up on my cell phone.  I can count on one hand the amount of times that woman has called me since I've owned a phone.  I always call her.  She only calls me when it's bad.  Bad enough that she can't handle it herself.

The conversation itself wasn't filled with panic, but concern, confusion.

"The police just called me.  About your mother."
"Was she arrested?  Was it a DUI?"
"No no.  She fell.  She hit her head.  They took her by ambulance to the hospital. Your sister is picking me up and we're heading over there."
"Oh.  Is she okay?"
"They couldn't tell me anything else.  Only that I should go to the hospital as soon as possible."
"Okay.  Well get there and call me and let me know what's going on.  It doesn't seem that bad though.  I mean, if it was bad they would've told you I'm sure."
"I don't know.  I have a feeling this is pretty bad."
"Don't worry, Gramma.  It's not like she's going to die.  She's too stupid to die."
"Don't say that.  We don't know anything yet.  I'll call you when I get there.  I love you."
"I love you too."

I walked back to the table where everyone was sitting and told Thomas that mom was at some hospital because she hit her head.  I didn't know anything but Gramma was on her way and would update me.

It started to get dark out and the phone rang again.

She fell down some stairs.  She was alone.
Serious injury.
"They are still in surgery.  I'm waiting for a doctor."

An hour passes and my sister is texting me.  Telling me they're still waiting to talk to someone.

The phone rings.

Brain damage.  Severe but unsure of the extent.  She's in a coma.  A nurse is giving pieces of information.  No doctor yet.

My sister texts me, "I wish you were here.  I don't know what to do."
I look at Thomas and tell him I need to go.  To Missouri.  Now.

I call my grandmother.

"Do I need to come there?  If you tell me you need me there I'm on my way."
"I don't know yet.  Let me wait to talk to the doctor before you decide to leave.  Maybe it's not as bad as we think."

I begin saying out loud that I need to go but I can't go.  Thomas has to work, we have to move, the dogs, we only have one car right now.  Why is this happening?

Thomas' parents convince me that I need to stay put.  Wait just a little while longer.  Wait for another phone call.  I already knew it though.  I knew I would need to go.

The phone rings again.

"She's out of surgery.  She's on life support.  The doctor wasn't optimistic."
"Do I need to come there?  Say it and I'm there."
"I don't think that would be a bad idea."
"I will call you as soon as I have a flight.  I love you and I'll be there soon.  I promise."
"I love you too, honey."

I tell Thomas that she's on life support.  I have to go.  I have to get another car and get on the road.  Or get on a plane.  Anything that would set me in motion to get there, get to all of them, as soon as humanly possible.

I walk into the house to get my wallet, my credit card.  All the car rental places are closed, I have to fly.  I turn and see Thomas standing behind me.  He put his arms around me and I lost it.  After holding it together for those past few hours, after not crying in front of my in-laws, I let my husband hold me because I could no longer hold myself.  I was terrified.

I booked the first flight out the next morning.

I hugged my in-laws goodbye and told them I would keep them posted.  Each of them crying as I hugged them.  Each of them telling me they loved me.  Each of them praying for an outcome different than the one I had already prepared my mind for.

Life support isn't for the living.

I packed as soon as I got home and for the first time in my entire adult life I packed just one bag, small enough for carry on.  Few clothes, essentials, make up, no hair dryer.  Just enough to get me through a few days knowing that I had to be back by Thursday at the latest.  We still had to move into the new house and Thomas couldn't do it alone.  I had four days.

I didn't sleep that night.  With my phone by my side I was constantly on edge, waiting for a call or a text.  At 5 in the morning my sister sent me a text telling me that Mom had a 106 fever.  She looked so bad.  Please hurry.  I can't do this by myself.

Thomas and I were headed to the airport an hour later.  I asked him to drop me at curb side check in.  I needed to get through security and I was running late.  I didn't want to say goodbye to him and then watch him walk away.  We stood by the car and as he hugged me I could feel his tears on my neck.  With every single thing about this situation out of his control he had to let his wife go.  Let her go to deal with something terrible and sad and there was absolutely nothing he could do.  I couldn't watch him drive away so I walked inside and standing in the security line I did my absolute best to not break down.

As I boarded the plane I sent him a text telling him that I loved him.  I would call him when I got there.

I checked Facebook and for the very first time since having a Facebook account I asked my friends for their prayers.  Prayers for my family.  All the while praying to God to give me the strength to get through this.  To heal my mother.  To bring peace to all of our lives.  I was grateful no one was in the seat next to me during the flight.  As we reached just above the clouds I silently cried.  I would be there soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Let It Go

I have a bad habit of keeping things when I have no use for them.  I keep coupons past their expiration dates.  Empty shoe boxes.  Birthday cards, anniversary cards, Christmas cards, love notes, just because notes, small pieces of paper containing handwriting.  Like I'm hanging on to them in case the words that were written decide to fade off of the paper, which means they no longer exist.  That the words of love that feel forgotten will just float away.  I think that's why I love Facebook so much.  It documents everything.  Every photo, every funny or heartfelt comment.  And at any time you can go back to that time in your head and there it is, right in front of you.  Well, you and whomever you are friends with.

Now my addiction to shoe boxes?*  That's something I just can't explain.  It's like one day I will finally figure out the true reason for keeping them and I can be all smug and tell Thomas, "See?!  I TOLD you they would come in handy one day!"

Then there is the part of me that just forgets when it's time to get rid of something.  Duplicate photos stashed in tucked away computer folders.  They don't take up "space" in a physical sense, so what's the harm?  It's not that I'm attached to digital photos, it's just that I forget they're there.  Floating around in my hard drive just waiting to be looked at, uploaded, or discarded.  Emails in saved folders that have no redeeming quality other than at one point in time they were needed.  Paper documentation from my first drivers permit to my last drivers license with the fat face smiling back at the camera.  My first home purchase, my second home purchase.  And of course both records of their eventual sale. But just like the shoe boxes I hang on to them, as if one day I will have a use for them.

My cell phone is no different than my computer.  Folders and files sit in the memory banks waiting to be queued up and looked at. Call logs date back to the day I purchased the phone over a year ago.  Text messages from months and months ago are there too.  These are the things that I forget about.  My life is filled with enough to remember to do, so forgetting to delete something that means nothing is not at the top of my To-Do List.  It's not until I start to go through them all am I reminded of why I couldn't delete them in the first place.  Like Facebook, my phone stores a photo or a memory of words within it that at a moment's notice I can go and remember that time and that day.  Even when those times hurt.

I took this photo somewhere in the skies over the midwest on the morning of September 4th.  It was early and I was exhausted.  I hadn't even gotten to her yet and I was already mentally wasted.  I was terrified but all I knew was that my family needed me more than they had ever needed me in my life.  I was sad that I had just wiped the tears from my husband's cheeks as we said goodbye at curbside check-in.  I knew I was going to remember those moments for the rest of my life, but this photo speaks volumes of emotions to me.  To some it's a photo of clouds, to me it was just the beginning.

I took this photo on the night of September 7th.  By boarding time I was going on about 8 hours of sleep over the past four days.  I had a couple of beers in the bar before getting on and immediately took the First Class flight attendant up on her offer of a stiff drink before take off.  I remembered that I had procured some heavy duty sleep aids before I left and as the pilot announced before take off that we were expected to experience turbulence over Oklahoma City I decided that for the first time in my entire life I was going to sleep on a plane.  I didn't want to be awake for any of it.  As we taxied toward the runway I swallowed the pill.  As we were headed for take off I pulled the blanket over me, closed the window shade, and closed my eyes.  To this day I don't remember taking off, and I don't remember any turbulence.  That was the best hour of sleep I have ever gotten.  The pilot's voice over the speakers woke me up.  I heard Dallas.  I heard flight attendants prepare for landing.  I opened the window shade and saw the lights of Dallas below me.  I snapped this photo with tears in my eyes.  Knowing that I was 500 miles away from the pain I had just experienced.  I was within minutes of seeing my husband for the first time in days.  I was home.  My real home.

These photos are among many that sit in my phone.  Along with the text messages between her and I in the weeks and days before her death.  Along with the text messages from those who reached out to me after she was gone.  And just like those greeting cards I keep, I can't seem to part with any of them.  As if I am daring my phone to blip and erase it all for me just so I don't have to go back through it all and do the deed myself.

I feel like I'm starting to get to a good place in my own grief process.  I don't think about it every day like I used to.  My anger is slowly dwindling.  My sadness is more about the loss of what could have been instead of what really was.  I'm beginning to let go of things in my life that no longer bring me the joy it once did.  Why hang on to something if it hurts?  Why keep something for the sake of keeping it?  Let it go, throw it away, donate it, delete it and then empty the recycle bin.  Life will and does go on.  I am finally beginning to realize that holding on tight to the past and never wanting to let it go can hold you back, can keep you from moving on and letting yourself heal.  I don't want to dwell in that any longer.

I'll start with the expired coupons, then to the cards.   My memories and emotions are more difficult to let go of, and I know I will have to put the true memory of those three days into words before I can finally push past them, but for now I let them sit.  Happy that with each day they become older and with age comes wisdom. It's so much easier to write about it now, I can only imagine that when my heart and mind know they are ready the words will flow and then I can tuck it away right here in this little corner of the internet.  Out of my head, but permanently written just in case I ever want to come back to it.

The shoe boxes though?  We'll see about that...

* I swearz on everything holy I am not a hoarder.  I'm a hider.  There's a differencel.  And I just so happen to really like shoe boxes.