Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holy decade, Batman!

As the "aughts" or the "zeroes" or whatever you want to call them come to a close, it seems to me that everyone's looking back over the past ten years with a lot of negativity. I actually saw an ABC Nightly News segment last week titled, "making a resolution to forget the past ten years". Wow. That's sad.

It has been a difficult decade, no doubt. 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina, the crash of the economy, etc... But we can't really forget. And even if we could, how would that benefit anyone? Hasn't anything good come out of the past decade?

In looking back over the past ten years of my life there are a lot of things I wish I could forget, or change...but I can't do that either. It has been quite a roller coaster to say the least, and to really get into the details I will have to write a book. I think I'm going to call it, "OMG! WTF?!" Well, maybe not...but that title is fitting.

Here are some of the major events:

2000: I got married and began a whole new life, sort of. Well, I got married.

2001: A month after 9/11, which changed everyone's world forever, I found out I was pregnant with Kate.

2002: Kate was born and changed my world forever - in the most wonderfully amazing way.

2003: I quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom (an extremely difficult transition, but one I'm glad I made) and found out a few days later I was pregnant with Peter.

2004: Peter was born, adding more love and wonderment to my life. 2 months later my family moved from Buffalo to Pittsburgh (another enormously challenging transition...especially because we knew NO ONE here).

2005: I figured out my husband, Steve, was gay. (this is where the OMG!, WTF?! part begins) He was not ready to admit it. I had a ten-month-old and a two-year-old and no job. I realized a divorce was on the horizon and I freaked out!

2006: Steve admitted he was gay so we separated. This, in and of itself, wasn't so bad. We managed to support each other and remain friends.
Re-entering the dating scene at that point in my life, however, was crazy. OMG!

2007: Steve moved back to Buffalo and I learned what it's really like to be a single parent. Fortunately, I had the best kids ever so they made it as easy for me as possible.

2008: This year was the only one of the decade that was relatively stable and somewhat uneventful. My kids and I really started to figure out how to be a family of three, spent lots of time with good friends and truly enjoyed our lives together.

2009: My kids died. Again, OMG!!! WTF?!!!! Things were just getting good. We made it through the divorce, Steve and I were able to stay friends, my kids and I were doing well and that happened?! Seriously?!!!

So, yes, in some ways it might seem like the decade to forget. But I can't. And neither can anyone least not without some major drugs or a lobotomy. And if we could forget the bad, then we would lose all the good too! Even with all the shit that's gone down over the past ten years we're still here (at least those of us reading this are) so we might as well make the best of it.

When I figure out exactly how to make things better, I'll let you know. I'm committed to it. Seriously. For now, let me suggest that we all take a look at the past ten years and focus on the good, not the bad. And if we must think about the bad, let's figure out what lessons we can learn and how we've become stronger because of everything.

My New Year's resolution is to, EVERY DAY, come up with 10 things I'm thankful for. I know it's still 2009, but I'm going to start now. This may not be easy, but I'm giving it my best shot.

Here are 10 things I'm thankful for from the past decade:

1. My marriage to Steve. This may sound crazy because it turns out he's gay and now we're divorced, but I know I wouldn't be who I am today without him, and I certainly would've never known my kids.

2. Kate (there's so much about her to be thankful for, I can't possible write it all here...I'll put it in the book)

3. Peter (ditto)

4. My amazing friends and family.

5. Growing and changing spiritually. Being able to have faith that the universe is unfolding as it should, even when it doesn't seem that way.

6. Moving to Pittsburgh, which I am convinced is the best place in the world to live!

7. The hundreds of people who have supported me and helped me...especially over the past 9 months.

8. My health and the fact that I've actually gotten healthier in the past 10 years.

9. My therapist. I don't know that I'd still be here without her.

10. Hope, for more things to be thankful for in the coming years. And hope that someday I will be with my kids again!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

memories of Christmases past...

Well, it's Christmas Eve and so far I'm ok, I guess. I'm deep in denial, distraction and addictive facebook games. And, Kate and Peter were in a dream I had last night. I'm not exactly sure what we were doing, but when I woke up it felt like I had gotten to spend time with both of them.

Honestly, though, today seems surreal. I'm back to that "maybe my kids were never really here" or "they can't really be gone, they must be somewhere else" kinda thinking. I guess my brain's gotta do whatever it's gotta do to get through the moment. I'm just going with it.

Over the past few weeks I've spent a lot of time looking at pictures of past Christmases. My kids loved Christmas, as most kids do, and I'm glad I have so many photos of their smiling faces. Here are some of my favorites...

2002 - Kate's first Christmas. She was six months old. She sat up on her own and crawled for the first time on Christmas Day.

2003 - Kate was 18 months old. Peter was happily growing in my belly :)

2004 - Peter's first Christmas

Kate was very proud of her first gingerbread house.

2005 - Christmas in Danville (my hometown).

Kate loved the chocolate fountain!

2006 - Christmas in Buffalo with Babci and Dziadziu (grandma and grandpa in Polish)

Once again, Peter passes out in the middle of playing.

Back at the Monroeville mall...

2007 - A quiet Christmas at home in Pittsburgh.


Kate's drawing of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa...

Thank you, everyone, for all of your thoughts, prayers, comments, emails, cards, phone calls, etc. Again, it's difficult to explain how much everyone's support helps. I cannot find the words to express the extent of my gratitude.

Merry Christmas. God bless us, everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

the most wonderful time of the year?

I'm not so sure about that. And I'm not just saying that because my kids died and it's my first Christmas without them.

I feel somewhat removed from the whole Christmas extravaganza this year - partly by choice and partly just because. I'm not totally ignoring the holidays, but I have been able to step back a bit this year which has been interesting.

Obviously, as I've said in past posts, this time of year is extra hard because it makes me miss my kids even more...if that's possible. There will be no Christmas plays this year (last year Peter was one of the three kings and the year before that Kate was Mary), no decorating cookies with them and no getting to be Santa. It's hard to even put my feelings into words because I don't really want to feel those feelings; so I'm not going to try right now.

The interesting part of stepping back this holiday season is that I'm, more or less, watching others experience it. And it seems to me that we're all a little crazy.

I've always thought buying outrageous numbers of gifts for everyone I know was a bit absurd, but most of the time I did it anyway. When I was pregnant with Kate, Steve (Kate and Peter's dad) and I instituted a rule that our kids should only get three presents each Christmas because that's how many gifts Jesus got. (a friend of ours was doing that and it seemed like a good idea) We immediately started finding ways around that rule because three didn't seem like enough: stockings don't count, Santa will bring three gifts but mommy and daddy can each buy one, grandparents aren't included, etc. Every year our kids received more gifts than they could many that I started putting some of them away after Christmas and gave them back to them gradually, throughout the year. I noticed last week that there are still a couple hidden from last year.

I know, without a doubt, that my kids would've been happy with much less. In fact, I think the volume of gifts they received actually took away from their fun on Christmas day. I remember when Peter was two, one of the first gifts he opened was the Go Diego Go Talking Rescue Center which he had asked for by it's full name for weeks. He was so happy and would've been content to play with nothing else for the rest of the day, but after playing with it for a few minutes he reluctantly put it down because he had to open more gifts.

Why do we do this? And why do we feel like we need to buy stuff for everyone we know just because it's the holidays? Don't we all have enough stuff already?

I'm not trying to be a grinch. I've always loved Christmas and giving and making people happy. I just think maybe we're missing the mark a little. Are bazillions of gifts making anyone happy? And how stressed-out and in-debt is everyone becoming because of all this giving?

Stress levels are palpable everywhere I go. I seriously thought there was going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight over a parking space at Whole Foods today. Otherwise rational people are going crazy! And all in the name of holiday cheer?

I encourage everyone to give yourself a gift this year and relax a little. I know that may not be possible - there are parties to go to, presents to wrap and cookies to bake - but if you can, take a moment to breathe. Get your kids or your spouse or your parents a gift that will bring them joy, but don't feel like you need to get them everything they've ever wanted.

I think the best gift you can give anyone is yourself...your time, your love, and your undivided attention. I'm sure you've all heard that before, but seriously, take it to heart. I wish I had spent less time running around like a crazy person to make Christmas "perfect" (which never happened) and more time just being with my kids. I didn't even spend last Christmas with them. It was their turn to spend it with Steve and even though I was welcome at his house I didn't spend it with them because I wanted my space from him. Now I could kick myself, though that wouldn't do any good.

Two Decembers ago I took my kids to see "Go Diego Go Live" at Heinz Hall. It was their Christmas present from me. We got dressed up, went out for a "fancy" dinner at Six Penn Kitchen, then went to see the show. They were beyond excited to go and had a wonderful time, as did I. Even my boyfriend, Ken, who wasn't sure how much fun he could have watching a cartoon character onstage, enjoyed himself and our evening together. I'm so glad I have that memory and that, at least for that night, I took some time out of my crazy life to slow down and really be present with my kids.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The best gift ever!

I went back home to visit my parents this past week and while I was there my mom mentioned that she had some pictures of my kids saved on her hard drive. I decided to copy them to my computer and take a look...

She had TONS of pictures I had never seen before!!! It was like winning the lottery!! No, it was far better than that!!! Quite honestly, it was the greatest gift anyone could have given me. Thanks, Mom!!!

So, of course, I have to share a few:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas, now and forever...

Yesterday I was thinking about getting through this Christmas without my kids...and how I've over planned and over scheduled so that I know for sure I won't have too much time to think...and I know I'll constantly be surrounded by friends. It occurred to me that maybe I will be able to make it through this year after all, when this thought popped into my head:

It's not just this Christmas...I have to get through every Christmas, every year, til the end of my time here on Earth without them.

That fucking sucks Santa's ass...and Rudolph's too!!! FUCK!!!

It may seem obvious to everyone else, but I was so focused on getting through this year that I temporarily forgot about the rest of time. I know all the stuff about "one day at a time" and "being in the moment" but really?!

I think one of the hardest things about this death/grief stuff is the permanence of all of it. Like, really, they're not coming back. I know they're here in spirit, but I prefer them with their bodies too.

I know I don't need to think about forever right now, but sometimes I do.

So there. I said it, it's out there and hopefully getting it out will make it feel a little more bearable. Thank you all for listening.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

mobile uploads, the third...

Here are a few more of the pictures stored on my old phone...the phone that was only supposed to be able to hold 35 pics, but never ran out of memory. For that I am thankful.

Peter and Kate at Starbucks. They're drinking hot chocolate, though they would have preferred coffee. Kate used to drink coffee out of my cup when I wasn't looking and Peter was all over the free coffee samples. Btw, Starbucks was one of Peter's first words.

I love her smile...

Peter at the Mr. Rogers play area at the Monroeville Mall...

Apparently Kate was a hippie in a previous life... (I love the heels. She wore nothing but heels at home)

Peter, age 2, taking care of a baby....

December, 2006...