Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hard Times

I've started this post a dozen times or so, over the course of the past few days.  I keep hitting the delete button and starting over.  Kind of like wishing I could change things, I guess.  Kind of like wishing I could stop time, or pass over the next month.

December is coming, whether I like it or not, and I'm fighting an uphill battle with my emotions.  For the past six years I've had a love/hate relationship with December. I've been crying for weeks, it seems.  Not continuously, in fact, no so that most people would even notice.  I just tear up, impatiently wipe my eyes, and march on, doing what needs to be done.

Yesterday, I was crying before I got my coat off in my classroom.  It started with my neighbor teacher asking me how my Thanksgiving was, and I replied cheerfully, "Great!  Well, mostly great.  Well, actually, sometimes it was kinda hard."  And I looked at Bob, and just teared up.  I could, because Bob knew what I meant.  

Thanksgiving was great. Jessica came home and we had a lovely two days with her.  Thanksgiving morning, I got deep satisfaction and a few chuckles listening in as Jess bantered with her sister Kailyn via skype.  With Kailyn in France, we made the most of modern technology, Jess and I puttering in the kitchen, with Kailyn virtually on the counter. It was a good weekend, too.  My nephew was home from Texas, and it was so good to see him, even though telling him good bye I got teary and he said in his deep voice, "Now Aunt Sandi, don't you cry." Wrapped in his bear hug, I swiped at my tears, then held his face in my hands and told him I loved him. He reminds me so much of my son.

December kills me, little moments at a time, gobbles up my laughter, freezes my smiles, strangles my gaiety. I can be perfectly "normal" one minute and sobbing the next, with little warning. I can't overplan enough, and even doing that, I'm still caught unaware. This is not to say I don't love the spirit of Christmas, the lights, the smells, the beauty of December.  Like I said, I have a love/hate relationship with December.

Most nights I wake in the dark, and my thoughts are on events that are out of my control, and chained to the past.  Sleep eludes me. I chase it around the room, but just when I get close enough to touch it, I remember.

Tonight at my regular counseling session,  I told Terry that I have a sub next week for a "mental health" day, and just knowing that helps me get through this week. And, she already knew I have a sub the following week for one day, so I can get through that week. We talked about grief, and how I am often frustrated that I can't seem to let go of what will never be. That what I miss most is not so much what I had, but what I will never have.  

I don't want to let go of my memories.  I want to remember.  My memories are what make me smile, and rejoice in what was.  Memories are warm apple pie, birthday candles, peanut butter and honey kisses.  Memories sustain me.  Terry tells me that I honor my son with my memories, and writing about the impact his life had on me, and others also honors him.

This Sunday is my son's birthday.  He would have been 36.  The last time I saw him alive was at his 30th birthday, a surprise party his wife and I planned.  I made him a quilt, with 30 squares, and I remember teasing him about the fact that the 30 squares represented his age.  Never in a million years did I expect my words to be prophetic, and that he would be gone in 12 days.  I also had a journal I had been keeping for him, but I didn't give it to him that day, because I wanted to write about the party, and planned to give it to him for Christmas.  

I still have the journal.  I still write in it sometimes.  I don't know who, other than myself, will read it.  Maybe someday one of his sisters will.  And, I will read it on Sunday, and write.  His whole life is in that journal, from his birth to his death, and all the milestones in-between.

I've also been working on a "birthday post" but, I'm not sure if I'll finish it.  Just in case I don't, I'll link last years post here. (I hope this works. Deb showed me how after we got back from our antiquing trip, but I may not have followed the directions correctly.  If it doesn't, I meant it to link to Dec 4, 2010.)

One of the reasons I hesitated to write tonight, is that I don't want people who read this to think I am seeking sympathy.  I'm not.  I write because it helps me think, and yeah, I cry, but, it's ok.  I miss my son every day, but like the old saying, "That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger".  I am a stronger, wiser, deeper person than I was before my son died.  I have lost much of my urge to control my world.  I know that I can't.  (That doesn't stop me from trying on occasion, but I do know now that I can't.)

Every blessed, stinking day is a gift. Even in December. Especially in December. I write to keep my perspective. And, to remember.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Some days are so picture perfect that you just wallow in the sweetness of it.  Today was one of those days.
Behind our heads is a sign saying, "We Buy".
They knew we were coming!
Two or three times a year, Deb and I plan a day with a mission to find treasures, and bask in the warmth of each other's love.  Both early risers, we meet, and travel the highways and byways of Oregon and Washington, with a semi-serious plan, and no time clock or agenda.  We talk non-stop, cheerfully interrupting each other, laugh often, and usually cry at some point. 

This morning we were heading out Highway 14 toward bustling Bingen to an antique shop we knew, and before we'd been on the road for 30 minutes, we were deep into discussing the newest common thread binding us further together, the anniversary of our children's deaths.  I think I was the first one to weep today, but the tears were short lived.

Our history is as rich and eclectic and sensory as the objects we seek and often find when we're together.  We met officially when Deb was my oldest daughter's fifth grade teacher, and discovered our many heart connections on our first antique adventure at the end of that school year.  Over the next few years, we taught in the same building, she had my youngest daughter in class, and eventually became next door teaching pals.  I miss those days of knowing Deb was next door, and remember her comforting arms around me the day my son died.  She is a heart and soul type friend, and a pleasure to travel with.

The Gorge was magnificent today.  It was crisp, clear and cold, with snow in the nearby hills, and autumn colors to die for.  Our first stop, Antiques & Oddities, was just a warm up.  Deb found a couple of good deals, and I just browsed.  The snow was so close!

We both bought one of these 
for our classrooms.

One of several journals we found . . . 
and bought
As the day was young, we decided to travel east and cross over at The Dalles, which ended up being devine!  I found several lovely things at the Red Wagon, we both spent too much in a fantastic book shop, (the oldest in Oregon!) and ate the best meal I can remember at a darling French Cafe. 

Eventually, we wound our way back to Camas (our original destination when we planned this day!) and savored the last hour in one of our favorite shops. We both bought cute jingle bell earrings to wear next month!
We are not antiques, we are vintage!

It was a perfectly perfect day. Deb and I seem to move at the same pace, delight in the same pleasures.  I feel appreciated, loved and honored in her presence.  More than all the treasures we have found, I treasure her friendship the most. She has been my co-worker, counselor, cheerleader, confidant and comforter. I love going treasure hunting with my treasured friend, Deb!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reality Check

Sometimes, I find myself living in denial.  I'm sure that many can relate.  I can talk myself into the most outlandish beliefs; in fact, I'm really good at it.  Oh, I might have a lucid moment, say, while reading someone else's blog post, and I think, "Yeah, I can relate to that!  I should . . . "

Yet, it doesn't go much further than thinking on the topic at hand, into actual movement toward the change in behavior.  Eating less, exercising more, following through on improvement plans, being more organized,  keeping up with laundry . . . these are regular situations where I know I need to do something, but am easily swayed into taking the path of least resistance, as in, ignore it and maybe it will go away.  Right, like that's going to happen!

So, most everyone reading my blog has been living vicariously through my partial knee replacement recovery since late June.  But, I was determined to recover, and did everything I was supposed to do (not without a substantial amount of whining, I know) and I found myself gleefully recovered!  I was walking, and sort of hiking, and working, and doing just fine, or so I thought.

The past month, I've been distressed to discover that while my new joint is doing relatively well, I have an entirely new area of discomfort, as in the outside of the same knee, which used to work quite well.  It isn't anymore.  And I'm alternately angry about it, and frustrated, and, quite honestly, scared.  I do not want to go through another knee surgery, yet I've been faced with the thoughts that maybe I should have just had total knee replacement instead of partial.

In my full crazed denial, I fully believed that if I just kept forcing myself to move, walking, hiking, biking, I'd force my new aching part of my knee to improve.  And, I was half right.  All that movement is a good thing.  The problem was pointed out to me by my 22 year old daughter's best friend last Saturday night, who is studying to become a physical therapist, and whose mom is one.  I said, "Elisa, come over here and feel this knee. It didn't used to do this."  I was referring to the crinkling and crackling that I can feel on the inside and also when I place my hand on the outside part of my knee.

She massaged it for a few minutes, said it was a combination of scar tissue and something else I don't recall.  She asked, "How often are you icing?"

I had to sheepishly reply, "Never. I probably haven't iced for a month."

So I proceded to receive a lecture about how I should be icing as long as there is even a little discomfort, and that icing is also preventative, not just for managing pain.

I hate icing.  It's cold. I have to sit in one place.  I forget to do it. In all honesty, it really didn't seem to help much. But, not doing it isn't helping my recovery either. Rats!

This past week I've been a little better about icing, most of the time. I'm also back to riding the stationary bike for a minimum of 10 minutes before work. So far, I have seen or felt little improvement.  I'm still aching all night (both knees now) and more than a little disgruntled about what seems to have been a wasted summer in recovery. And, as I've definitely had worse pain since the ill-fated recent marathon hike, I'm truly regretting not icing after that!

I'm tired of being consumed by aching and fatigue.  But, this brings me back to the beginning of this post. I know that part of the reason I'm tired is that I'm hauling around extra weight, some of which I accumulated during the "summer of sitting around".  

Every single day this week I have begun with the intention of eating well and exercising. Oh, and icing! 

Every single night as I've lain in bed, I've silently lambasted myself for weakness in the presence of food.

I've read about others success in finding happiness with particular dietary changes, and I want that, I really do.  But, I'm petrified to begin another plan, and lose weight, as my MO is to simply gain the weight back after a year or so, and be worse off than I was before. I know this about myself.  I know I have an addictive nature, and I am scared. 

I've been on several plans in the past: Weight Watchers (I've been a "lifetime member" for 23 years, but only been at goal weight about 2 years of that time), Overeater's Anonymous (basically low carb, no sugar, nothing white) lost a considerable amount of weight, and most recently paid a horrendous amount of money for HMR (eat their food with your own fruits and veggies) and a million other spur of the moment attempts.  I've been highly successful losing the weight,  staying on some plans for well over a year, sometimes two years, but the minute I ate one bite of a forbidden morsel, I began the steady assent to weight gain. Each time I'm at a "new high" where I have to fight my way back, always believing I would "get back on track" but didn't.

I'm scared to try again.  The thought of being without my favorite foods makes me angry and resentful.  I am frustrated that I have become this fat person, as I wasn't a fat child or young adult.  

This morning, I am 21 pounds away from my all time high, and scared I'm not only going to reach it, but surpass it.  Three years ago, I lost 54 pounds and felt fantastic, then got sloppy and have gained back 33.

It's no wonder I'm scared!

It's been really hard to admit all this; in fact portions of this post have been percolating for months.  I'm appealing to my blogging friends, for any "experience, strength and hope"  or advice or even lectures! 

HELP ~ I'm trapped in my body and can't get out!