Tag Archive | death

Valentine Tears

Today is Valentine’s Day!  A day of love, hugs, kisses and gifts and for some, a day of tears.  Not because the person you are dating didn’t buy you a gift.  Not because your spouse forgot to tell you Happy Valentine’s Day.  Not because your children didn’t show appreciation for what you do for them.  In my case, today is a day of tears because a very special Valentine will not arrive from my Mom.

It’s been 5 1/2 years since my mom died of cancer.  My grief for her is not as debilitating as it used to be.  I can go a month or so without missing her to the point of tears.  But on special occasions like Valentine’s Day, I miss her so much.  My mom always had some special Valentine’s gift for my siblings and I.  It could be something simple like a coloring book or just a box of chocolates, but no matter what, she always had a gift for us.  Even when I moved away, she would send me a care package at Valentine’s with a bag of my favorite candy bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

When I would call and thank her for remembering, she would tell me that she had to make sure her kids had a special Valentine’s gift from her.  (Yes, she would send care packages to all of her kids.)  Which explains my Valentine’s Day tears.  Memories of her love and care flood me with grief over the fact that she is not on this earth anymore.  Yes, I am an adult and a mother of four, I can go and buy as many Reese’s and I want for myself.  But that’s not the point, the point is that my mom took every opportunity to show me how much I meant to her and I miss the fact that I can’t hear her voice or read a special note that she’s written to me in a card.

I miss my mom today more than others, because it reminds me of how great of a mom she was.  I try my best to be that kind of mom for my kids, but I don’t know if I do it as well as she did.  Yes, I have bought some Valentine chocolates for my kiddos to receive tonight.  Yes, I purchased and helped them make out Valentine cards for their classmates.  And yes, I will most likely pop in during their Valentine’s Day party at school today.  But for some reason, that doesn’t seem like as much as my mom had done for me.  I’m afraid my grief for my mom makes my efforts a little less special for my kids.  But maybe that’s just the Devil trying to pull me down when he knows that I am weak.

So now that I have shared with you the love I have for my mom and the pain and tears that come with Valentine’s Day, I will wipe away the tears and do my best to make this day as special as I can for my kiddos.  So that one day, they too can have fond memories of me on Valentine’s Day.  To all those who find it hard to put aside their grief during this Valentine’s Day, I give you my own words of advice.  Spend a few minutes thinking of the one you lost and remember the great things they did for you.  Then get up and make this day a special day for someone special in your life.  Spread the love that you would have shown to your deceased loved one with someone that needs it most today.  Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

 

Happy One Year Laid-Off-A-Versary to Me!! (Life After Layoff – Chapter 26)

It just occurred to me that it has been one year since I was laid off from my job.  Where has the year gone?  So many things I have done that I had not planned to do.  So many things that I hoped to do that I haven’t started to do.

I will admit it, the longer I stay away from working in the corporate world, the harder it is to return.  Yes, I have had a year of leisure and I have enjoyed it.  I know this can’t last forever, because my unemployment benefits will be running out by the end of the year.  However, I think I really needed this time off.

As I look back on the person I had been and knowing the stress and worries I was carrying around, I am very thankful that I was laid off.  Because I would have never left my job on my own.  I would have worked there until I died.  Sad to say, but I think that my death probably would have come quicker if I had stayed there.  Because the stress I was under to conform to the corporate’s rules was killing me.

I know this might come as a surprise to you, but I am a people pleaser.  I tend to try my best to make others around me happy.  I strive to do my best so that those around me will tell me, “Good job!”  However, as I get older, I find myself not caring as much about that.  I find myself thinking about what makes me happy and focusing on that a little bit more.

Yet, when I was working in the corporate world, I was constantly struggling to be the best mom and the best employee I could be.  So it’s no surprise I was stressed all the time.  It’s impossible to be a good mom and be there for your kids in their time of need and not feel guilty that you had to leave your boss hanging.  Not to mention, trying to make up for the time you missed at work when there isn’t enough waking hours in the day.

I was honestly burning my candle at both ends and I was on the verge of completely burning up.  I was doing my best to at least be present at my job for 40 hours a week so I would get a full paycheck.  But I was also staying up late at night, trying to get things caught up at home for the next days school/work day.  I was not getting enough sleep, so my body was dragging more and more.  It was not good and I thank God that I was laid off, otherwise I would have never been able to break the cycle.

I will honestly tell you that I have not completely fixed all of my problems.  I still struggle to keep ahead of the game when it comes to laundry and housework.  I still have a problem sleeping for 8 hours straight.  Which is why you will often find that I have posted a new addition to my blog overnight.  Because I have learned that if I can’t sleep, it’s because I have something on my mind that I need to get out.  So I will wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning and sit in the darkness of my living room, typing out the thoughts in my head.  Then an hour later, after I have released my thoughts into the blog world, I will crawl back to bed and sleep like a baby.

I know I need to get my sleeping pattern straighten out, but that hasn’t happened yet.  However, I do have a lot less stress in my life, because I am currently my own boss.  I don’t have to try to please the corporate world anymore.  Having that pressure removed has been like Heaven.

I know that this little hiatus will come to an end soon.  I know that I will have to get a full-time job once my unemployment benefits run out.  But, I also know that I needed this break from the rat race.  I needed to stop running on that hamster wheel, trying to reaching for the cheese that was dangling in front of my face.  Because, no matter how hard I tried, I was never going to get that cheese.

I guess you could say that the moral to this story is that sometimes bad things happen for a good reason.  Nobody wants to be laid off from their job, yet it might be the best thing that happens to them.  It might be the break that you need to stop and really look at the person you have become.  Who knows, getting laid off might actually save your life…I think it saved mine.

Letting Go

free

 

I’ve always thought this quote was about a lost boyfriend or girlfriend.  But now I’m beginning to think of it in a different way.  I guess you could say that if you love someone who is dying, release them from this earth by telling them that you will be okay if they need to go.  That’s what I just did minutes ago with my Dad.  As you know, my Dad has been fighting pneumonia along with some other complications.

The doctor told my brother last night that my dad was not doing well and that if he wanted to see him alive, my brother better make the trip to see him as soon as possible.  I guess up to this point I have romanticized his illness, because I had the luxury of being many miles away from him.  So I could decided how good or bad my dad looked in my mind, even if in reality his appearance and condition was much, much worse.

When I found out that my brother was taking a trip down go see Dad, I decided that I needed to take this last opportunity to talk to him honestly.  Not just tell him I love him and that we are praying for him.  I needed to tell him that I loved him and that if it was his time to go, it was okay to let go.

I am not saying that I have the right, authority or power to tell my Dad to die.  But as his child, I wanted him to know that I would be okay if God called him home.  I know as a parent, that until I breathe my last breath, I will feel a responsibility to be there for my kids.  No matter what age they are, they will be my kids to protect and love.  So I wanted my Dad to know that if he is struggle to stay alive for our benefit, it was okay to let go.

I had a similar conversation with my Mom before she died.  I told her that she had taught me everything I knew, but she never taught me how to say goodbye to my mom.  She and I cried together and she told me that God would help us both when that time came.  And she was right, God did help me though it.

Since I am still fighting off some sort of flu bug, a physical trip to see my Dad is not possible.  So today, I called my step-mom and asked if she could let me know the next time my Dad was awake, because I needed to tell him something.  She said his eyes were open, but she didn’t know if he was alert or not.  So she said she would hold the phone to his ear so he could hear me.

I will not lie, I couldn’t get out the words, “Hey Dad.” without having my voice break and tears started flowing from my eyes.  But I continued on, with a tear soaked face and strained voice to tell him everything that I needed him to know.  I told him that if he was ready to leave this world, that it’s okay to let go.

I told him that I loved him and would miss him, but I didn’t want him to be like this where he couldn’t talk or walk.  I told him that if Mom was waiting on the other side for him, to go to her.  I also told him to tell Mom I loved her as much as I loved him.  (When else am I going to have a chance to get a message hand delivered to my Mom in Heaven?)

I also said something that I needed to say for myself.  I told him I was sorry for anything I may have said or did that made him mad through the years.  Because there have been times, especially after my mom died, that my dad and I didn’t see eye to eye and I was very vocal with my opinion.  I wanted to apologize to him, before it was too late, so he knew that I regretted those times.  I knew the pain I had felt and I wanted to let him know that I didn’t mean to hurt him.

When you have a loved one in this situation you walk a narrow line on what to say.  There are times you want to pour them with love and prayers and encouragement to fight.  But when it looks like there isn’t much more fight left, you need to give them the permission to go.  To release them of their duties and be free.  However, this is a very hard and selfless thing to do.  Because you are giving the person your blessing to die.  But who are we to make them hang on in pain and confusion, just so we have their body present on this earth?

So I told my Dad that if he was holding on for us, it was okay to let go and be with God.  But if he was not ready to leave yet, then I wanted him to fight to get out of that bed and live again.

Naomi got back on the phone and told me that she thought he heard me.  She said that he was blinking his eyes a lot while I was talking and now his eyes were closed.  So she thought he did hear and understand what I said.  That gives me a peace in my heart to know that I said what I needed to tell him.  That way if he goes today, tomorrow or years from now, he knows all that I feel for him…he knows that I love him enough to let him go.

Please Stop the Ride, I’d Like to Get Off!

My life is a roller coaster ride and right now I want more than anything to have the ride stop, so I can get off.  I am a mother of four and a wife of a diabetic.  This I can handle…most of the time.  I am going to be 45 years old in a few months, so you could say I am definitely a seasoned adult.  A pretty tough and strong adult that has stood her own ground.

BUT, I am also the baby girl of my parents.  My mom has been sent to Heaven to be there to greet me when I arrive.  My dad is still on this earth, but we don’t know for how long.  So currently, this little girl would like the ride of life to stop, so I can get off.  I want to go to my bed, pull my covers over my head and sleep until everything is over.  Because my Daddy is in the hospital and I’m not so sure he’s going to make it out alive.

Bare with me, as I create a timeline of the past few weeks.  I am honestly doing this for my benefit, not yours.  Because time really has went by too fast and I can’t keep up.

  • Saturday, Feb. 21st – I spoke to my Dad on the phone.  His surgery that was scheduled for Monday, Feb. 23rd was postponed to Wednesday, Feb. 25th.  As we spoke that day, I commented that it was a good deal he had to wait, because he did not sound well.  He had a bad cough and was taking an antibiotic for some sort of infection.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 25th – Dad has surgery on some disc in his neck and the surgery went fine.  He had had trouble with his legs and the doctor said there was a pinch nerve in his neck that was causing the problem.
  • Thursday, Feb. 26th – I spoke to my Dad on the phone, but the conversation was short.  I had come down with the flu, but had not been diagnosed yet.  I was coughing so bad, that I was losing my voice.  My Dad’s surgeon had to operate through the front of his neck to get to the spot he needed.  So my Dad’s esophagus was swollen and that made his speech was very heard to understand.
  • Friday, Feb. 27th – I believe my Dad was released from the hospital to go home and heal.  I have to go with that theory, because I was so sick that I don’t remember.
  • Saturday, Feb. 28th – My Dad had trouble breathing, so my step-mom, Naomi, brought him to an Urgent Care during the day where he was given a breathing treatment.
  • Sunday, Mar. 1st at 12:44am – Naomi calls to tell us that Dad had still been struggling to breathe, so she brought him to the Emergency Room.  He was admitted into the hospital and placed on a breathing tube.  Naomi said he was critical, but stable.  The doctors had told her that Dad was breathing with his chest muscles until they got tired, then he started struggling to breathe.  They are thinking he has pneumonia.
  • Monday, Mar. 2nd – The results from the throat culture had not come back yet, but they were treating him with three different antibiotics to knock out the infection.  He had been sedated when they put him on a respirator, but he had woke once.  They tried to lower the respirator and he was breathing without the machine, but they had to sedate him again, because he was getting to irritated.
  • Tuesday, Mar. 3rd – Dad was doing well.  They were treating him for pneumonia and they were sucking out some thick brown mucus from his lungs.  They had the respirator at 20 breaths a minute.  But when they cut it back to 9 breaths a minute, Dad was overriding the machine.  They are hoping to have him off of the respirator by tomorrow.
  • Wednesday, Mar. 4th – They had removed the respirator off of my Dad and they said he had the nasty type of pneumonia.  Things were looking up.  Although he was still in the ICU, they were hoping to get him to a regular room soon.
  • Friday, Mar. 6th – Dad was still in ICU, but still off of the respirator.  The speech pathologist check to see if he could swallow properly and he could not.  That was probably because in the short span of four days, my dad had two respirators down his throat and had his esophagus irritated during the operation.  Not to mention the infections he had fought before and after the surgery.  So at this moment, he was getting fed through an IV.
  •  Saturday, Mar. 7th – I got a call from the daughter of my Dad’s close friend, George.  She wanted me to know that her dad had passed away to cancer that morning.  When I heard the news, I called Naomi and advised her NOT to tell Dad about it yet.  She was already thinking the same thing.  Although dad was getting better, he was still very weak.  He still had a swollen throat, so he couldn’t speak well.  The news about his friend’s death would cause him to cry and build up more mucus, which he didn’t need now.  Plus, he would want to speak to George’s wife and his voice was not good enough yet to have a clear phone conversation.  On the up side, they had placed my dad in a normal room.  But he had a sitter assigned to his room, because he kept trying to get out of bed and was too weak to stand.
  • Sunday, Mar. 8th – My dad was placed back in ICU.  He was having too much trouble breathing.  They had said he had some carbon dioxide built up in his lungs.  So they were putting him on a breathing machine that would help him.  They didn’t want to put him on a ventilator again, if they didn’t have to.  So they had him on some type of CPAP by-pass machine.

It was at this time that I had to throw the ugly question out there. (That’s what my sister called it, “the ugly question”)  LOL  I sent a Facebook message to my siblings:

“I’m throwing this out there, because I don’t know the answer.  At what point do we need to talk about going to see Dad?”

I asked the question that none of us wanted to ask.  At what point do you say, that’s it…I’m going to the hospital?  Because it’s not like he is in the hospital a few blocks away.  We are all in different states.  In fact, my oldest brother and I are the closest to Dad and it will be a 12 hour drive for both of us.  So we had a conference call and decided to wait to see what my brother learned from the doctors on Monday.

Of course, my brother was not able to speak to a doctor on the phone today, but he spoke to Dad’s nurse.  The nurse said he didn’t think my brother needed to get on the next plane immediately, but that Dad was critical.  So my ever-wise brother found out that this nurse started his shift at 7:00am and would be getting off work at 7:00pm.  My brother made arrangements to call this nurse tonight, before he gets off of duty to see how Dad has been in the past 12 hours.  Hopefully, the nurse will be able to tell him if he’s seen any improvement or sudden decline of my Dad’s health.  Then we will make our plans for the next step.

Now do you see why I want this ride to stop?  I do not want to be on this roller coaster ride of unknowns.  I want to be a little kid again, with my mom and dad by my side and not have to worry about illness, death or responsibility.  Yes, I am shutting down.  Because just like a computer, a human’s brain can get overloaded and burn out.  So if anyone has a way to turn back time or can stop the roller coaster ride that I am currently on, I’d appreciate it.  I just need to get a chance to get my feet firmly planted to the ground for a minute and take a few deep breaths.  Because I’m not so sure I’m ready for what is coming up around the next turn.

I know I don’t need to ask, but I will.  Please pray for my Dad and Step-mom.  For me and my siblings and for all of our kids.  And for my Dad’s brother, during this difficult time.  We are all trying to keep it together and we will, but only by the grace of God.

P.S.  Thank you for letting me walk through the past few weeks with you.  It made me see that my Dad has fought and that we do have things to be thankful for.

Work Families

If you work for a company with a lot of employees, you most likely have a work family.  If the company is small, all the employees are part of your work family.  If the company is large, your department is probably your work family.  If you have moved from one department to another throughout your working career, you probably have two work families (or step work family, if you will).  I think you get my drift.

Work families, just like your blood relatives, come in every shape, size and color.  You have some that you are extremely close to and others that you would rather not invite to your home.  Just like your crazy Uncle, cousin, Aunt, etc…you also could have a crazy work family member.  It just occurred to me that I might be the crazy work family member.  If so, I’m doing a great job.  LOL

Anyway, the point is that if you work outside of the home, you have another family that is part of your life.  Actually, you probably know more about your work family’s life, than you do your cousin’s.  And scary as it may seem, you spend more waking hours with your work family, than you do with your immediate family.  This means that your work family probably has more influence on your life, than your blood relatives do.

With that said, let me tell you about my work family.  My work family is sort of like the United Nations.  There is a variety of religious beliefs, generations, cultures, geographic upbringing, etc.  But there is one thing that we all have in common.  We all are there for each other…and we all would love to win the lottery and quit our jobs.  LOL

One of my work family members (I’ll call her Mary) passed away today.  She would probably be the equivalent of an Aunt to me, if you were going by age.  I didn’t work with her side by side, but being on the same office floor, day after day, makes it impossible not to get to know each other.  At least it is for me, since I’m a people person.  🙂

My “Aunt Mary” was someone who always had a grin on her face.  And when she laughed, she really laughed.  She was raised in a different generation than I was and I would surprise her when I knew some of the “old time” sayings and songs.  I loved to joke with her and she would give it right back.  Her job required a lot of printing and I would tell her that if she didn’t stop, she was going to get attacked by squirrels for stealing their home.  One of my nicknames for her was “Tree Killer”.  LOL

It is sad to say, but I don’t remember if I told her goodbye and good luck the day before her surgery.  I knew she was having surgery and would be out for a while, but I didn’t think she would have complications from it and die.  Makes a person stop and think about what we take for granted.

But through the sadness and shock, I rejoice in knowing that after struggling in the hospital for about a week and a half, she is no longer in any pain.  She is now walking among the angels in Heaven and has had the honor to see God.  How can I not rejoice for her?  She is in a much better place than I am.  She has won the lottery, so to speak.  🙂

There was one other thing that made me both sad and happy at the same time.  Through this ordeal, with the help of Facebook, I befriended her two daughters.  I knew “Aunt Mary” had two daughters and a grandson, but I had only met them once in the office.  “Aunt Mary” spoke often of all of them and was proud of them.  But it wasn’t until now that I had been in touch with either of the girls.  What I found, when I became friends with “Aunt Mary’s” daughters on Facebook, was that she had two very spiritual girls.

They both are younger than I am, but they have the kind of spiritual wisdom that my mother had.  When they posted prayer requests on their walls for their mom, they always included praise to God.  When it was becoming clear that their mother was not going to recover and was ready to leave this earth, they gave her permission, so to speak, to go home to Heaven.  They told her that they loved her and would miss her, but that they would be okay.  When their mom’s spirit left her body, they posted that she was dancing in Heaven alongside the angels.

They have been very strong through this whole ordeal.  They will greatly miss their mother, like all children do when their mother dies.  However, I pray that they can keep that faith in God that their mother taught them.  I pray that they will find comfort in times of sorrow, knowing that they have their mother watching over them from Heaven above.  I pray that they continue to reach out to their friends, as they have done this past week, and ask for help when it seems too hard to go on.  I pray that they will keep “Aunt Mary’s” legacy alive.

So what is the moral of this story?  I suppose you could say that the moral is to stop and look around you.  The people you work with are your work family.  You spend five days a week with them.  When times are rough, they are normally right there with your blood relatives, wanting to help you in any way.

So it is your choice to be the well-loved cousin, the crazy Uncle, the nagging Aunt or the critical Grandma.  You get to choose how much your work family knows about you and your immediate family.  Yes, just like with every family, there will be fights, laughter, bickering, joking, crying and celebrations.  That’s what life is all about.

I’m not sure what role you will choose to take, but for me, I think I’ll continue to be the well-loved, loony, cousin/sister that I feel I have always been.  I will accept my role into this work family and I will be there for my family members, during good AND bad times.  Cause life is too short and you never know if the last time you tell your co-workers goodbye, it might not be the last time.

You will be missed “Aunt Mary” and I am very glad to have known you.

Rest In Peace

What’s the Point?

I am typing this with a tear streaked face, blood-shot eyes and a headache from crying.  That is because Frank & I just came from a funeral for my friend’s dad.  Amanda’s dad had cancer throughout his body and was in tremendous pain at the end of his life.  Amanda’s daughter is my daughter, Marie’s, BFF and Amanda is Ann’s Godmother.  I did not know Amanda’s dad that well, I have probably seen him eight times in the six years I’ve known Amanda.  However, he was the kind of guy that made you feel like you had known him all your life.  Amanda’s dad had suffered from various types of pain throughout his life.  From back injuries, COPD, a broken heart and then cancer.  In his 68 years on this earth, he helped raise three kids, buried his teenage son, buried his wife of 39 years and spent 10 years with his second wife.  Yet, through it all…through all the pain and sorrow, he always had a smile on his face and every one he met walked away smiling too.

I am sure that many people at the funeral saw me crying and thought I had known him all my life and that we were very close.  Actually, in the last two days I have learned more about Amanda’s dad then I can believe.  Unfortunately, after hearing all the beautiful stories about him, I really wish I had known him better.  He touched so many lives and had the best attitude in the world.  It is easy to see why my friend is such a wonderful person…because she had a wonderful dad.  I was in tears, because I know the pain of losing a mom and my friend had already lost her mom and now her dad was gone too.  But she does have two beautiful kids, a big sister, a step-mom and many other family members that love her.  Plus she has a lot of friends, like me, that love her to death.  She is hurting really bad right now, but with all the love and prayers her family and friends are giving her, she is going to make it through this.

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I Miss My Mom

Tomorrow will be two years since I lost my mom to cancer.  I really, really, really, really miss her today.  I miss her every day, but I really miss her on days like today.  My mom was my best friend.  There was nothing I would keep from her.  We could talk on the phone for an hour about anything and everything and still be able to talk the next day for another hour.  I loved her with all my heart.  She was my anchor that kept me grounded when I was about to blow away.  She always had the right thing to say when I was allowing the Devil to bring me down.  She never quoted scripture to me.  She would say things like, “Like the bible says, you need to shake the dust from your sandals and move forward with God’s strength.”

If you recall from the “About” article, that I wrote on my first day of blogging, I started this blog in hopes that it helped fill that void I had once she died.  I don’t know if this blog really took that void away, but I know it helped me get things out of my head and that felt good.  I really think the void in my heart has been slowly healing each new day, with God’s help.  After my Mom died, I would cry every morning on the way to work.  I would pray for God to help me through the day.  I would wonder what the point was and why we were even on this earth.  My mom died, so nothing seemed to matter.  I was never at a point of wanting to commit suicide, but the idea of getting killed in a car wreck or something did not scare me.  I would think to myself, “At least I could see my mom again.”  I had a hard time finding a lot of pleasure in life.

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