Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wish You Were Here

wish_you_were_hereFour days after my mother lost her battle with a brain tumor, I got a box in the mail from her.  You read that correctly.  No need to reread that sentence.  I had known the box would be coming but would never have guessed I would get it after she died.  Frankly I wasn't really thinking about it at this point in the process either.  The last time I visited Mom she had a list of things to do before she would allow herself to take her last breath.  One of the most important tasks to her was to purchase three necklaces, each with a silver cross.  One for me, my sister and my step-sister.

I opened the box and noticed Mom and Neal had sent my step-sister's necklace with mine.  A completely sensible thing to do since we live mere minutes from one another.  I felt like I should wait to open the box with Laura but could not contain my emotion and opened it by myself in my kitchen.  I was overcome by the simple beauty of the cross and what it represented to my mom and found myself crying as I drove West to Laura's house.  I apologized to Laura for my lack of patience as I held my hand over my necklace as she opened her box.

As I mentioned before, I was aware the box would be coming.  What I was not prepared for was the note that accompanied the box.  There were two notes actually.  One note to "the girls" from my mom and another to the doctors and nurses that cared for her.  I was able to contain myself at my place and waited to read them with Laura.  We sat together, now in her kitchen, and read the message she sent to us and the message of gratitude to the caregivers that gave us two more years with her.

For my country music fan friends, this story might remind you of a song by Mark Wills called Wish You Were Here:

Wish you were here, wish you could see this place
Wish you were near, I wish I could touch your face
The weather's nice, it's paradise
It's summertime all year and there's some folks we know
They say, "Hello, I miss you so, wish you were here"

My mom may not be here any longer in the physical form, but I know she is still here.  The cross I wear around my neck reminds me of her but even without it she is with me.  Everywhere.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Something Happened on the Way to the Courthouse (Part 3)

wake-up-call2Before you read on, be sure you are caught up on Part I and Part 2 of the series.


So here we are. The last four years have presented many changes and challenges for me and my family. Two boys with two homes. A career change. A dieing mother. It’s enough to drive any sane person blind with madness. On the contrary though, my vision seems to be clearer today than ever before. I finally feel like Dad’s prediction may be coming true.


I can recall talking with Dad about this process throughout the years. Now that I am a parent, I recognize his efforts to help me avoid some pitfalls or obstacles he may have experienced. Like most of us, he too had to learn from his mistakes, and his experiences make him the person he is today. He warned me I would find out who my true friends are at some point in my life. He also told me I can’t fix stupid. Not that my friends are stupid, mind you. This is just his way of saying I can not change people and more importantly, I can't control them. I can only control myself and how I react to people and situations.


The last few years have taught me a few things I wasn’t really ready to admit until recently:

  • I refuse to let others make me feel inferior. In fact, I took charge of the way I feel about things and myself. What others think of us does not determine our worth.

  • I am ok that others may not like what I do or say. This will not, however, stop me from saying it. Silence breeds contempt and I will not be silent anymore. This is not to say I will speak my mind or do things at the expense of others. I am simply owning my opinions and taking responsibility for my actions.

  • I am ok with the fact that I am not perfect. This may come as a shock to some of you, but you are not perfect either. May I suggest you not judge others based on your opinion of yourself? Remember others have opinions of you too. Admitting our imperfections actually makes people like us a little more. Who wants to be friends with the perfect people that just make others feel inadequate anyway?

  • I am more like my mother than I ever cared to admit. As I watch her die though, I learn all too late that I should be so lucky.

  • I have been shown by two friends what it means to be a true Christian. They have both offered unconditional love and support without judgment. The sad thing though, is these two friends have also magnified the fact that my other “Christian” friends may need to brush up on the scripture they spout off regularly at me to condemn me. I think they must know a different God than I do.

  • Perception is not reality. This theory works a couple of ways. What others perceive does not mean it is true. It also means that I will never know what others deal with in their lives or be able to understand what they are going through. Remember that when you find yourself about to judge others.

  • I learned to like myself again. It is easy to pick out the people that don’t like themselves for one reason or another. You can do it too; who are the people in your life that are full of judgment or fall off the planet when you are in need?


Going through this process and coming to these conclusions was not an easy task. Some of these ideas are those with which I still have a hard time admitting. There was a point in my “awakening” I wondered how much one person could actually handle at one time before breaking. I truly believe, however, we are never given more than we can handle. The alternative would have been to have these things trickle in one at a time. Imagine a slow leak that you don’t even know is present. You look up one day and see a wet spot on your ceiling. The next day the roof caves in. I think I will go with the all at once method. At least I can try to avoid loosing my top if possible.


One more thing. If you happen to see my Dad, do me a favor. Don’t tell him I said he was right. I want him to hear it from me. One day I hope that my boys will say I was right about something. I hope at some point in their lives they will realize I knew what I was talking about. My boys teach me something everyday; teaching them something is the least I can do for them.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Something Happened on the Way to the Courthouse (Part 2)

3361396829_4d576cedeeNeed to catch up on Part 1?

When you find yourself under pressure or stress, how do you relax? I don’t know about you, but it seems that I decide to throw some fuel on the fire and make a move.  That’s right, another move.  This makes about 11 times in 11 years.  Give or take a house, a city, or a year.


Moving into a new house during an ice storm is even less fun than it sounds.  Toss in some discontent, two boys under three and changing careers and you have a recipe.  A recipe for what I did not know.  You know those nights you come home from work and need to make dinner but find a limited amount of ingredients available?  You decide to make due with what you have and just hope something edible comes out of the oven.  It’s a crap shoot. It could turn out well and you are asked for more.  It could turn out very badly and you end up ordering pizza.  As you might imagine, I was ready to call for some delivery at this point.


Asking for a separation was literally the hardest thing I have ever done.  I don’t care what you think of me or my decision, but frankly staying would have been easier. This was not a decision I took lightly.  Although I had thought about it for a couple of years, I talked myself out of it by using the old adage of “suck it up”, “its not that bad”, “other people have it so much worse than you do”.  I thought about how this decision would affect everyone; from my boys to my in-laws.  I thought about my friends and how they would have to choose sides and I worried about disappointing my parents.  Like most individuals that find themselves getting divorced, I never thought I would do it. As we stand at the alter in front of God and everyone, none of us could fathom we would one day rather be alone than with this person we adore so much.


I admit I should have spoken up sooner.  I take that back.  I admit I should have spoken louder.  I take full responsibility for the surprise on people’s faces when word spread of the dissolution of “the perfect marriage.”  If I had only pushed a little harder to be heard.  If I had stood up for myself more when I felt strongly enough about something.  If I had shared what was going on with friends or family maybe things would have been different.  If I had stopped worrying about the perception we had created.  If I had stopped worrying about what other’s think.  Should of, could of, would of. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we would all have a Merry Christmas too…

To Be Continued