Tag Archives: grief

March 8th

I write about this every year on March 8th. I don’t need to repeat the story every year, but today marks FOUR years since I spoke to my mom.  Not the day that she died, but the day she stopped breathing and was put on life-support for a week. I had spoken to her that morning. We talked several times a day and I still find myself reaching for the phone to call her now.

My memories of her now are mostly happy ones.I miss her, but I am not still grieving for her. I still see signs that remind me of her and when looking back on my earlier posts about her I found the one from this day last year when I found a butterfly pin in my classroom.  That little broken pin brought me so much joy on what is always a sad day for me.

After she died, a former class parent, and now friend, shared a book with me that someone had given to him after the loss of his partner. Healing After Loss – Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief.  The first year, I tried to read it every day. Now, I take it out once in awhile and read the meditation for the day. Today’s meditation was this,

8 loss.png

I am sure for those dealing with recent loss, this is tough to read, but as the years have gone by, it rings more and more true.

Remembering – Sharing Again

sometimes there are no words

Today, I am sharing a post that I wrote last October.  I am sharing it for someone close to me.  Someone who is going through the same thing.  I know that she and her husband are grieving right now and there is very little anyone can say.

I just hope that they know how much we love and support them and that we are there for them however they need us to be.


National Sibling Day

brothers and sister

National Sibling Day?!!?!? Who knew??  Not me!  I had no idea there even was such a day, but after seeing numerous posts about it on Facebook this afternoon, I looked it up and found out that it is not really something new!  It began in 1998 with the hope of becoming synonymous with Mothers and Fathers Day.  Now, it is celebrated every year on April 10th.

I have three siblings,  Two brothers and a sister.  I come second in birth order.  There is a ten year span between our ages.  We are all pretty close and we all live less than ten miles from one another.  We find ourselves doing things together all of the time.  Family dinner is a regular thing for us.  We all meet up with my dad and my 98 year old grandma at least once a week for dinner.  We support one another and go out of our way to do things for each other.  I am sure this is no different than most siblings – we are just fortunate to all live so close.  Our own children are getting the chance to grow up with their cousins.

I am not saying our relationship is always perfect!  Far from it.  We still argue like we were kids but we all know, that in the end, we are there for each other no matter what.

Sadly, this day falls on the anniversary of the day my sister-in-law died.  We consider our in-laws our siblings.  They just merged right into our family.  Today is a really hard day for everyone, but especially for Tim.  I am sure that he knows that he has the support of his siblings though.  That is what we do.

stick figure people

Another Anniversary

loss of a loved one

Tonight, my dad and I are going to see South Pacific at The Papermill Playhouse, a local theater. He and my mom have been benefactors there for many years.  They were always given tickets to the dress rehearsals of the shows as a thank you for supporting the theater.  My mom loved going, although it was more and more difficult for her to get there as her health deteriorated.  Tonight marks the one year anniversary of the first show I went with my dad.  My mom had just passed away three weeks prior, and he asked me to join him in her place.  We got there and the women remembered him and greeted him warmly and asked about my mom, not realizing that she had died.  Of course, they were sympathetic and offered their condolences to us.

I thought that night would bring us happy memories but as we drove there, my dad told me that my sister-in-law Francine had been rushed to the emergency room that morning, with acute morning sickness symptoms. We spoke to Tim before the show and asked if he needed us and he told us to go on to the show and that there had been no change.  We promised to call when it was over, which we did.  In that short time span, her health had taken a drastic turn for the worst.  She had an adverse reaction to the fertility treatments she had been receiving which caused her brain to swell and caused bleeding in every part of her brain.  This caused irreversible damage.  She was placed on life support and given no chance of survival .  She was only 31.

Once again, our lives were turned upside down.  Thursday marks her one year anniversary.  In some ways, the year seems to have flown by and other times it seems like ages ago.  My brother has had good and bad times throughout the year.  I am sure the next few days are going to be very hard for him and for his mother-in-law but I hope as time passes, the pain lessens some for them.  The world he and Francine had planned completely changed and he is slowly adjusting to his new normal.  I wrote about it 6 months ago, another night of a show at The Papermill.  I have a feeling that no matter how wonderful the shows, I am always going to associate that place with some sadness.  Remembering my mom, as I sit there in her place, and remembering the terrible phone call from Tim as we left the theater.

Regardless, life does go on and we have to remember all of the wonderful memories and let them out number those sad ones.  That is what gets us through our grief.  Never forgetting, just remembering.

A year since we spoke…

see you later

March 8, 2013 started off as a typical Friday.  Friday has always been my favorite day of the week.  I went to work as usual.  School begins at 8:45 and anyone who knows me, knows not to bother calling me during school hours because they know I won’t answer my phone.  That is why, when my phone began vibrating on my desk at 9:00, I was surprised.  I saw the number on the phone and it was coming from my parents house.  Strange.  My parents knew better than anyone that I won’t pick up so I couldn’t figure out why one of them would be calling.  My students were all engaged in their morning work and I decided to let it go to voice mail.  Worry got the best of me though, so I grabbed it and whispered a quick,

“Hello, I can’t talk now, why are you calling me at work?”

It was my mom.  She said in her normal sing song voice,

“Hell-o.  I made a reservation for six o’clock at The Reservoir.”

“Okay mom,” I said, “just like every Friday.”

“See you later,” she said.

Every Friday since I was young, we have Friday night dinner together.  Usually at The Reservoir, a local Italian restaurant in town.  Every Friday, it is at six o’clock.  So why the phone call?  I never got to ask her because she stopped breathing on her way to dinner.

I did not think about the phone call for a few days after that.  We went on with our lives as best as we could for that week she was kept alive on life support, but she never woke up.  Now, I am convinced that somehow…although it seems hokey or cliched, there was a reason for that morning phone call.

I talked to my mom every single day.  Usually more than once.  Obviously she could not have known what was going to happen that night.  I am convinced thought, that somehow, it was her way of saying goodbye.   I wish I had been nicer when she called instead of so abrupt.  If only I could have know it would be our last conversation.  I wonder what we would have talked about…

Back in October, I realized that on my phone  had voice mail messages saved from my mom.  None of them were of any “importance.”  They all began the same way, “Hell-o…”

I found a way to save them to my computer so that I will have them forever.  Although I have only listened to them a few times, I have occasionally found Drew listening to them and smiling.  With technology, something mom never took the time to figure out, I have been able to find a way to preserve her voice.

We all miss her and think of her everyday.  I am grateful that I answered the phone that morning.   We never know when “later” may come, so I will take her words and just say, “See you later mom.”

Another 6 Months

time limit grief

Six months ago tonight, I went with my dad to The Papermill Playhouse to see a show.  He and my mom would go to every dress rehearsal for the shows that the playhouse put on.  That night, was the first night of him going without my mom.  He asked me to join him and it began as a good night.  We learned earlier that day that my sister-in-law Francine had gone into the hospital with what we thought at the time was severe morning sickness. Earlier in the day, it did not seem too serious.  Unfortunately, we learned later in the evening, that it was much, much more than just morning sickness.

As soon as the show ended, my dad and I went up to the hospital and met the rest of our family there.  By this time, we had been told that there was no hope for a recovery.  No chance of saving Francine or their unborn babies.  After a day on life-support, Tim made the most difficult decision of his life and the machines were turned off, sending Tim and our family into a tumultuous time.  We hadn’t even had time to grieve for my mom and then this happened. At 35, Tim is too young to be a widow.

Over the last six months, Tim has had good and bad days.  He has a remarkable group of friends who keep him busy and active.  Our family tries to do what we can to help and to give him the support that he needs.  His healing will happen gradually.  It will come at its own time.  Grief is not something that can be rushed.  There is not a “timetable” for how long it should take.  With Tim, I see good and bad days.  I can tell by his Facebook postings what kind of day he is having.  He has been wonderful to Francine’s mom, visiting her several times a month and taking her to the cemetery.  I know he finds comfort when he visits Francine.  She and my mom are buried side by side and when he is there, I think that he feels a sense of peace. when he is there.

There is a mass for Francine tomorrow.  I won’t be able to go because of work, but I hope that Tim knows that everyone will be thinking of him tomorrow. Francine left her imprint here on Earth and she will never be forgotten.

Living Life to its Fullest

live life to fullest

After my mom died, a friend of mine sent me a book called “Healing After Loss” by Martha Whitmore Hickman.  It is filled with daily meditations for working through grief.  This friend tragically lost his partner and told me that this book has really helped him through some tough times.  I don’t read it every day, but I pick it up now and then when I need to reflect and think about mom or Francine.

Someone gave the book to my dad as well.  He reads it everyday.  Today he called me and asked me if I had read it, (which I hadn’t).  He told me that he thought it would be perfect for my blog.  I went to my bedroom, where I keep the book by my bedside, and read today’s passage.  I am quoting it here, word for word.  These are not my words, and I want to be sure that credit is given where it is due, so thank you to Martha Whitmore Hickman for this:

Who is ready? We have our plans, things we’re looking forward to – life going on at its sometimes unpleasant but nonetheless predictable pace.

Then something happens -like an accident, or a death,  or an illness – that changes everything, forces us to reappraise our priorities and, often, reset our lives.

People who have come close to disaster and been able to wheel free have shown a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures of life, for the gift of each day, and a resolve not to put off pleasures or acts of kindness because, “another day” may not come.

We who have lost loved ones have also learned the value of simple gifts, of not putting off kind words or actions, because we never know when events will change our world, the expected developments of our lives, and the intended recipients of our kind words and actions may be gone.

How true this rings out to me!  I have stressed the kindness factor for a long time now, but really, doing something everyday, and not putting things off is so important.  I keep thinking of things I should have done with my mom.  Places we should have gone, things we should have seen.  We just kept waiting for her to feel better, or be in better health.  It did not happen and now, there are regrets.  Even the last phone call I had with her was one that made me frustrated – never realizing that would be the last time we spoke.  She never called me during the school day, knowing that I could not talk, so when I saw that it was her number on the phone, I assumed that it must have been something very important.  I answered it – it was just her telling me what time family dinner would be that night.  Something that NEVER changed.  For over twenty years, it has been the same time, same place.  Frustrated, I said, “I know mom, – same as always but I am teaching right now” and hung up.   A few days later I thought about it and realized that for some reason she made that call, even knowing that she couldn’t call me at that time, but somehow , (and I know that this sounds ridiculous), but maybe somehow she knew it was going to be the last time we would hear each others’ voices.  I talked to her every day and for some reason the day before we did not talk, so I felt like it was her way of saying good bye.  Silly maybe, but  those words about “family dinner” were the last ones I had with her.

Francine and I had also had a disagreement before she died.  We did not ever resolve it and I still feel badly about it.  Guilty too.

I think that this is why these words are really poignant and really strike a chord.  Live your life to the fullest.  Do what you can to spread kindness and goodness.  Enjoy the simple pleasures in life and reassess what is important and what really can be put aside.  We really never know when it will change but when it does, at least we can know that we lived our lives to the fullest.

Two Months Today

ann lamott

I don’t know how it is even possible that it is two months today since my mom died. How can that be?  In some ways it feels like it has been forever, and other times, it feels like yesterday.  Although now, the days have turned into weeks, and the weeks have turned to months.  I went from seeing her nearly everyday, and talking to her several times a day, to not hearing her voice at all.  I ask her to visit me in my dreams every night, but she hasn’t come yet.

I still reach for the phone on a daily basis to call her.  Not a day has passed that I have not thought of her or missed her.  It just seems odd trying to get back to normal, when my normal included her in everything.

For some reason today, I just felt extra sad, and I am not sure if it is because of it being two months now, the gloomy weather this morning, or actually what it was – but I am grateful for my good friend at school, who just let me cry for a few minutes where no one else could see me, until I could take some deep breaths, pull myself back together and get back to my day.

I haven’t shed tears for mom in a few days.  At first, there were tears everyday.  Sometimes while writing my blog, other times in the car, often in the shower, but this was the first time in front of someone else in awhile.   I even got through Mother’s Day with very few tears, which totally surprised me. I think that since I was dreading it so much, that I had prepared myself for the worst and wound up actually having a nice day, albeit missing her.  Today, just came out of the blue…no warning.  I assume those days will happen now and then.  Happy and sad events, and those that might seem trivial to anyone else might just break me.

These last two months have been so crazy for our family. Maybe I just have not allowed myself the opportunity to break down.  Now that things have been finally slowing down, maybe my body just gave in.

So perhaps as I carry my mom in my heart, my missing her may never really end, but my mourning will lessen.  She will sneak up on me when I least expect it, and it might bring me to tears again, but I know that I have enough friends and support to give me those few minutes to catch my breath, and that chance to let it out.

Our First Mother’s Day Without Mom

miss you

I have been dreading this day for nearly two months now.  No phone call to my mom this morning to wish her a happy mothers’ day.  No morning mass with her and dad followed by Mother’s day brunch to celebrate with her.  No corny Hallmark card to “Tell mom how much she really means,” this year.  Commercials and store displays are constant reminders of all my family has lost in the last few months.

 We invited Dave’s mom to join us today.  She’s not coming, so we called her and wished her a happy day.  I know that she does not read my blog, so I will save my mother-in-law stories for other days.  She was not the greatest mother to Dave, (and he will be the first to admit that), and she has not been around much for our children, so since I am not going to bring negativity to today’s blog, when I want it filled with love, these stories will have to wait.

Mother’s Day this year is filled with conflicting emotions.  The pride and joy I feel for my own boys and the sorrow I am feeling for my mom. Them, celebrating me, with  biscuits, hugs and kisses for breakfast, and me trying to smile through it all when I am just thinking about mom as I sift through photos and post them to Facebook for the memories – as if anyone could forget her.

Today, the weather is nothing short of “glorious”.  We will celebrate at my Aunt and Uncle Bucky’s home.  They opened their pool, and all of us will go there; cousins and siblings and all of the kids.  We will keep it simple a barbecue and celebrate with our own children. There is no way that my mom would want us making today a sad day.  I know that she and Francine are watching over us today and celebrating their own special Mother’s Day, together with the babies that died along with Francine.  They are in Heaven having their own celebration just as we are.  I find comfort knowing that my mom gets to celebrate Mother’s Day with her own mom today!  They have been apart for over 45 years and this year, they can finally have a celebration together.   Dale’s mom Gladys, will be with them too, watching over us and smiling and just being joyful knowing that what they created, continues to flourish and love and thrive as we spend time together.

Dave and the boys gave me a “joint gift” for my birthday and Mother’s Day, an ipad mini, which I wanted so much!  So there were no presents to unwrap, and I wasn’t expecting any but I did wake up to the best present of all.  Drew got a new phone yesterday.  Almost ready for Middle School, we felt it was time.  My phone buzzed early this morning with my first text of the day.  It was from him and all it said was “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!” but it made me smile to know that I was the first thing he thought of this morning.  I guess I am doing my job – thanks Mom!  I miss you.

Nonsense, or another coincidence?

dr seuss nonsense

Today, I HAVE to continue my blog on coincidences.  In February, I wrote one of my blogs about finding pennies, https://aprojectforkindness.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/find-a-penny-pick-it-up/

In that blog, I had written that I had been told, that because it reads, “In God we trust,”  that when we find one, we should count our blessings from God, and that we should trust that God has placed it in our way for a reason, therefore thanking him for our blessings at that moment! I have been finding lots of pennies since my mom died, (but I always find them – I think I am just noticing them more).  Several people have told me that finding pennies are signs from our loved ones.  All superstitions, I know, but today my strange coincidences continued.

Many of you know that I have been suffering from headaches for about five months now.  After several doctors, an MRI, different medications and visits to a chiropractor, I finally saw a neurologist today.  To get to her office, I had to pass the cemetery  where my mom and Francine are buried.  As I drove by, I decided that I would stop there on my way home to “visit” with them, so I said out loud as I passed by, “See you later mom”.  I got to the doctor’s office and sat down in a chair to wait to be called on.  The receptionist called my name and I went up to do the usual paperwork for a first time patient.  I went back to my seat, and lying there right in the middle of the chair, was a penny.  I smiled, thought of mom, gave it a little rub and put it into my pocket.

I went in to the doctors office, and as she entered the room, I knew that I had met her somewhere before – I just could not place where.  I even said to her, “I think I know you from somewhere”, but neither of us could place where, and I don’t think she recognized me…yet.  My check up was going on routinely and we began talking about family history.  I had already told her about my mom and Francine passing away, (not the details), but just because I wanted her to know that these were not stress headaches due to them dying.  They started months before that.  I mentioned my mother’s heart history and suddenly she asked me what my  mom’s name was.  I told her and she asked if she had been a patient at St. Barnabas a few years ago on “2300”, (that was a floor on the hospital she had been on that time).  I said yes, and we realized that must of been why I recognized her.  We continued going over family history when all of a sudden, it hit me!!  This doctor was the woman who was dealing with Francine’s brain injury just a few weeks ago.  She and I had been talking several times during that day about the severity of her brain injury.  We both realized now that we did indeed “know” each other.  She realized who I was and she asked about our family and how we were all doing.  She was concerned for my brother, and expressed her sympathy.  I told her about our close knit family and how we were all there for each other and she said she could tell that from the way we all were at the hospital.

I did not leave  with any new answers for my headaches, but I will have another MRI, this time of my cervical spine, and a new medication to try.  I am hopeful, and I feeling quite positive after this visit.  Was it the penny?  Did it just give me that feeling that I needed to walk out of there with a positive attitude?  I don’t know, but I do know that the penny wasn’t from my  mom this time, but from Francine.  As I walked out of the office building, I actually burst into tears.  So many emotions were filling me.

Oh!!!  And did I did not even mention, that as I walked into the building, there was a lot of construction going on.  A new cement sidewalk had just been laid and in the base of it someone had carved into it, “DREW”.  The name of my son, who has had numerous visits to different neurologists over the last year due to his concussions – another coincidence?!?!?!  Perhaps, but for me I am taking it as another positive sign, knowing that we are going to get to the bottom of this and have an answer and some relief soon!

drew sidewalk1