Category Archives: Think about it

In my thoughts………..

This week it will be five years since my stepmother was killed in a car accident.  This tragedy was immense in my life.  When I received the call from my dad that she had been killed I thought he was joking.  I can still very much remember how the news hit my entire body.  I can vividly remember the quesadilla I had just made that was sitting on the counter.  I couldn’t stop thinking about that quesadilla.  It was like my mind couldn’t process the information so just kept defaulting back to the stupid food.  As the reality of the situation presented itself over the next few days, it felt like I was in some kind of surreal, hazy nightmare.  The first day I woke up at my dads house after the accident I remember thinking, “Oh my god, this isn’t going away.  This is real.”  It was terrifying.  And very true.  My dad and Mo were a pair, and lived their lives very happily together.  They got each other in a way that most people didn’t get them.  They were passionate, adventurous, and strange in a way that made sense to them.  I feel intensely sad when I think about my dad living without her, though I know he is so grateful for the time that they were able to spend together.  That kind of loss of a partner is unimaginable to me.  When I watch my dad with Josephine I can’t help but think of how much fun Mo would have had.  And I can’t help but think of her daughters, and how they will feel and do feel as they have children, get married, experience joys and struggles without the support of their mom.

Mo’s death was the beginning in a slough of death and loss in mine and Taylor’s lives.  Over the past five years so many of our friends and loved ones have died, almost like a cruel joke.  It seems like we would just catch our breath from one loss, only to be hit over the head with another.  We have lost my aunt, three of Taylor’s grandparents,Taylor’s father (when I was newly pregnant with Josephine), and two of my cousins, along with various friends and coworkers. 

The other day I drove past a cemetery that I have been to numerous times, and I thought, “Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been there.”  It felt like a lifetime, actually.  In reality, I was at that cemetery twice this year, most recently in March, when one of my longtime employees lost her battle with cancer.  How that seems like a lifetime ago is beyond me.  I think I feel safe if we go six months without a death. 

Last week I got an email from Mo’s sister telling me that my dad had been in a car accident and that he was at her house.  He was driving to my house to visit on Highway 50, the same highway that Mo died on five years ago.  My dad was a couple of hours late getting to our house, which worried me (particularly since I knew he was taking Highway 50, which I try to avoid at all costs), but I tried to put it out of my mind.  My dad sometimes stops at friends houses pushing his visit back, or decides to take a change of path at the last minute.  When I opened my email I had the familiar feeling of being hit by bricks – the wind knocked out of me, my skin getting tight and hot, my breath slowing down to a snails pace – that I have gotten anytime we get the call that someone died unexpectedly.  My mind screamed.  This was all in the .02 seconds it took me to read further that he was alive, but badly bruised and hurt.  My dad is really lucky to be alive.  His car veered off the road and he was airborne for quite a while as he went down the side of a hill, ping ponging off of trees until his car crashed into a tree about 250 feet down the hill.  He had to crawl up the hill back to the road and flag down a car, bleeding, bruised, with a sprained ankle.  Apparently his front wheel was pushed inside the drivers side of the car.  It could have easily pinned his foot in, causing him to be trapped down a ravine, without a line of sight to the road.  I shudder to think if this would have happened. 

I felt jolted by this accident in a way that I didn’t expect.  Early fall is always a little rough for me with death anniversaries abounding, particularly Mo’s, that started this trend, if that’s what you can call it.  This year, however, the dull feeling seems to be a little worse than usual.  I can’t pretend that bad things don’t happen and that the people around me are going to be safe.  I know that is untrue.  I know I can’t protect my daughter from feeling loss and sadness in the future.  I just want her to not have to feel that yet.  I am not ready for another tragedy.  I very much want and need a break.

My dad’s accident felt like a warning to me.  Don’t get too comfortable, remember that life is fleeting, remember what’s important.  I am guilty of worrying too much about things that don’t really matter in life in the long run.  I stress myself out over the lawn not being mowed, the dishes being clean at the end of the night, work that I need to get done tomorrow, next week, by the end of the year.  Although I know that this sounds counter productive for a trying not to be lazy person like myself, but I need to remember to slow down.  Take a deep breath and enjoy the here and now.  Let things go and forgive.  Live intentionally and claim my happiness.  Make the most of my time and really, truly love the people I am surrounded by.  And so in loving memory…for Mo, Ed, Jeanne, Emmett, Charlie and all the rest.  We miss you so, but try to live to the fullest in your memory. 

Dad and Mo, October, 2006

Family ties

I just returned from visiting my sister in Washington. She had a baby boy back in early June. He was premature, and born at 2 pounds, 10 ounces. A tiny little thing. Because of his smallness and susceptibility to sickness – in addition to my sister adjusting to being a mother and working her ass off to exclusively breastfeed her son (she is my hero!) – it just now became a good time to visit and meet my new Nephew.
Having a child is, as everyone will tell you, life changing. Things shift in ways you can be empathetic to, but never fully understand until the child is yours. People love to bitch and moan about all kinds of things when it comes to parenthood, but what I don’t think is talked about a lot is how uncertain and confusing things can be. There is joy in figuring out how to respond to your unique child, however, before you reach that point, things can get a little (or a lot) dreary. I have been watching my sister go through these uncertainties (from afar) for the last few months. She had such a difficult, different situation than I had. Her son was born via emergency c-section, and lived in the NICU for three weeks before she was able to bring him home (when he was just under four pounds). For so many reasons, she needed to listen to doctors, nurses, and specialists for the health of her tiny, tiny baby. As he grows and catches up (he is a bustling 10 pounds now!), she has had to move to trusting her own instincts. Although I know that she feels thrown for a loop at times, I watch her in awe. She is doing an amazing job (did I mention how hard she worked to breastfeed her child, because DAMN!, I am a huge breastfeeding advocate, and I am not sure I would have kept it up).

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For me, although I had an ideal home birth (unlike my sisters experience) and a healthy, calm child, I was still wracked with uncertainties. Is my child getting enough breast milk?, Is she rested enough?, Am I holding her too much or not enough?, Am I supposed to feel trapped under my child because she wants to eat every 30 minutes?, Shouldn’t I love every single second?, Oh my god, my child is growing so fast, how can time be slipping away from me?! In the thick of things, I remember calling my sister and having her tell me things like, “I think that sounds pretty normal”, which was totally and completely helpful at the time. I hope I have been half as helpful to her.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I know this to be true. My own child is enriched and cared for by so many people other than Taylor and myself who are helping to support her on her journey through life. I have come to rely on not only Taylor, but my mom, my mother in law, my sister, my midwife, my mother friends with similar mothering outlooks, for advice, camaraderie, and support. I also relied heavily on a few close childless friends who may not have had advice, but could at least spend time with me (however unexciting it may have been for them) in the first beautiful but sometimes lonely first year. I feel that in the early months of new motherhood you need that village most of all. It has been darn near unbearable to watch my sister go through the stress, worry, and joy that she has experienced this summer from two states away. My mom was able to come up and be a support a few times this summer, but I know it hasn’t been enough. If I lived closer (even a few hours away) a weekend visit would be no problem. I could come over, clean the house, cook some food, talk to my sister about sleep patterns, poop, baby smiles, and really help her out. I am grateful that I even was able to fly up and visit now, as I know some people who are separated by miles cannot financially afford to do that. I am also grateful that my sister has a supportive, patient husband to lean on, and good, kind friends to come by and hold the baby and socialize for a while. But I am also sad. I understand why people move away from family (my sister, mom and step dad, dad and I all live in different places, varying from 4 to 16 hour driving distances), but now more than ever, I understand why being close is so beneficial. Because, really, who better than your sister to talk you through? Or to talk about baby poo? Oh, and you guys… My nephew is the cutest baby boy to ever exist. Like seriously.

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Guilt Free!

Today I decided to take some well deserved relaxation and play time with Josephine. Without the guilt. On Friday night I was having supper at a friends house, and my friend Cynthia and I started talking about guilt. Both of us had experienced paralyzing guilt for not being more productive. Hers born from a toxic job environment, mine born from some need to succeed at everything and please everyone (so realistic, I know). What the heck?! Cynthia brought up a fantastic point. What good does it do wasting time berating yourself for not being productive enough? Why not just be proud of what you do get done and let go a little if you aren’t always on top of your game. I was re-reading my very first blog post explaining why I started this blog, and I remembered a huge part of it is balance. As it is I take pride in feeling good when I’m super productive, but I feel guilty or LAZY when I’m having fun or not working toward a goal. No, folks, I’m not backsliding into lazy town. Lazy is when you are sitting around doing nothing when there is something to be done. Just for sittings sake. What I’m talking about is taking life in, relishing in the simple moments, and just having fun. If I don’t do that, then what’s the point? Enjoying your life should be just that: enjoyable. And so I took today. A guilt free enjoying the day kind of day. And it was AWESOME! It started with playtime, then we met our friends Rachel and Meyer for brunch, then music class, then more playtime in the music class parking lot. After that Josephine and I returned home to look at the fish. Josephine claimed the empty dishwasher spot for her very own club house, and then we went to Mountain Sage Nursery in Groveland to watch Daddy’s Band (The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit) play. This just might be the best weekend I’ve had. Ever. My house may need cleaning and the weeds are taking over, but who cares? We had a blast!

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