Sunday, January 31, 2010

cleaning out my closet...

I'm honestly feeling quite motivated to organize my house, get rid of clutter and get ready to move forward with my life but it's so unbelievably hard to do. My house is beyond cluttered (I may soon be a candidate for that show "hoarders") so today I decided I'd start with something small - the hall closet.

I keep mostly towels and sheets stored in that closet with a couple of shelves dedicated to things like first-aid supplies and toiletries. I thought it would be the easiest place to begin, the place with the least emotional attachment. Notsomuch. Who would've thought the hall closet would bring me to tears.

First I found the giant Spongebob band-aids I bought for Peter when he fell and scraped his knee at a playground. I can't quite possibly get rid of those...and I guess I don't really have to. Then I found the unopened bottle of kids' shampoo I must have bought right before they died. Guess I don't need that anymore.

Next I found a partially used bottle of Zofran, an antimedic that was prescribed for Peter exactly one year ago today. He had a very bad gastrointestinal illness last year. I had to take him to the ER at Children's Hospital twice and he missed a full week of school. It's not a good memory, but at least it's a memory. Even if he was really sick, he was still here.

This picture Kate made for Peter when he was sick is still hanging on my wall where she taped it:

She sure loves him!

Then I found the Vicks VapoRub that I used to put on Kate's feet before bed when she had a bad cold and cough (yes I said FEET and really, it works for the cough! ). Again, a memory of having a sick kid, but also a memory of putting her in bed at night, hugging her, telling her I loved her, and knowing she was safe and sound in her bed.

So now instead of cleaning and organizing I'm crying and writing. At this rate my house will be organized sometime in 2016...maybe. I know I need to take my time and I know I need to cry, but it sucks...and hurts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

a little something from my kids...

I’m home from my adventures at sea. It’s nice to be home and though I had some sort of flu-like illness for the first few days of my cruise, I was still able to enjoy a nice relaxing vacation.

Given that I’ve been away from home and, for the most part, away from my blog for the past twelve days I have experienced a whole range of emotions since my last post. I would like to report that I did spend some time releasing my anger using a tennis racquet and pillows - ok, it was more like an exorcism than a release. It was quite cathartic and I felt much better after doing so. I thank you all for your suggested anger-releasing techniques and plan to give some of them a try for what I’m sure will be many upcoming episodes of anger.

There were so many things I considered writing about while on vacation, but due to my sheer lack of motivation from being sick and the ridiculous price of on-board wi-fi I haven’t written anything yet. I have much to sort through in my brain before writing anything coherent, however there is one occurrence I’d like to quickly share.

As you may know if you’ve read my blog in the past I still talk to my kids quite frequently and occasionally “hear” from them. While sitting in the sun one particularly sad day last week I was talking to my kids saying, “You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard from you and I miss you so much. It would be so helpful if you could give me a little something, some kind of sign to let me know you’re still there and that you’re ok.”

Immediately after “saying” that (I didn’t really say it out loud, but was talking to them in my head) I was playing with my phone, as I so often do. I was sending text messages from the middle of the ocean (also not cheap) when I noticed I had about 30 unfinished messages in my “drafts” folder. Those of you who text will understand that when I’m in the middle of composing a text message and my phone rings the partial message automatically gets saved to my drafts folder. I typically forget that the folder exists and retype the message when I hang up the call. I had a bunch of messages that looked like this:

To: Jen
Message: what time di

To: Janis
Message: do u

To: Ken
Message: call m

I went through reading and deleting each message until I got to one that looked like this:

To: (no recipients)
Message: The kids are all right

I have absolutely no clue where this message came from. I know for sure that I didn’t write it for a few different reasons:

1. There was no recipient.

2. I got this particular phone after my kids died so I don’t know who I would’ve been texting about

3. If I had written a message such as this I would have used the word “alright” instead of the words “all right” which leads me to believe it may have been written by a certain little girl who loved to text (see picture below), but wouldn’t understand the grammatical difference.

I don’t know how it’s possible, I only know that after reading it I felt an overwhelming sense of peace knowing my kids are still around and able to communicate with me. I know it sounds crazy, and after reading this you may think I need medication, but I don’t know how else to explain it. Maybe where they are, they were able to find a cell phone provider with inter-dimensional service. Whatever the explanation, I’m just thankful. Thank you, Kate and Peter.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

a quick update...

I'm currently out of the country...more specifically, on a cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean (I can't believe I have wifi!). Unfortunately for me and everyone else on the ship they had a significant outbreak of norovirus during the last sailing. So I'm not feeling so well, but I will try to update my blog when I can.

More importantly, I urge you all to check out That's Church, if you haven't already. Virginia Montanez, the writer of the blog, has been following and trying to help one of the many difficult situations in Haiti:

Two amazing women from Pittsburgh run an orphanage in Haiti that was destroyed by the earthquake. They, along with many back in the U. S., are doing what they can to get the children from the orphanage out of danger and back to the U.S. or somewhere safe. If there is anything you can do to help, please do. The situation is extremely serious.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


In my recent attempts to slow down a little and find balance in my life I have definitely become aware of many strong emotions and, let me just say, I'm not enjoying it. It's been hard to write for the past few days because I have so much going on in my brain and my heart and my soul that it's hard to sort it out into anything explainable or understandable.

I have noticed two prominent emotions, however, so I'll try to describe those. Maybe that way I can begin to understand them. It is weird how sometimes when I write things down they make more sense than they do when they're floating around in my head. Anyway...

The first emotion is defeat, if you can call that an emotion. The more I understand the reality of my kids' deaths, the more I feel completely defeated and helpless. It's nearly impossible for me to comprehend or accept that my kids have died and that there's nothing I can do about it.

This feeling of helplessness has been very apparent in my dreams over the past few nights. Twice I dreamt that my kids were alive, but living in other cities with other people. In both dreams I visited my kids (which was wonderful, don't get me wrong) but found out that there was nothing I could do to get them back. It didn't matter what I tried, I was helpless, frustrated and defeated. Which leads me to the next emotion I've noticed...

I'm pretty effin' angry. I'm not talkin ticked-off or annoyed or miffed. I'm talkin heavy breathing, fist-clenching, vein-popping out of my forehead, I want to smash a car with a sledgehammer angry!

I'm angry that they're gone and I can't hug them or take them to school or play games with them or tell them to clean up their rooms and stop fighting. I'm angry that Kate didn't get to grow up to be an artist or a gymnast or a doctor or a singer. I'm angry that Peter didn't even make it to his fifth birthday party or get to go to kindergarten or grow up to change the world, which I always thought he would.

I'm angry that I don't get to be a parent anymore. I'm angry that my identity as a mom has been stripped from me. I'm angry that they were just taken away one day and that I didn't have a choice and that there's nothing I can do about it. I'm angry that I didn't get to say goodbye! And I'm angry that I don't even have anyone to be angry with!!!

I know I need to do something with this anger because it's become so overwhelming it's immobilizing. And to think that a week ago I didn't even realize I was angry.

I remember hearing once that depression is anger turned inward. From what I've experienced recently I completely agree. For the past few days I've felt so angry that all I want to do is sleep, which I realize is a symptom of depression. Unfortunately, I can't even do that very well.

The other night, before I realized the extent of my anger, I was laying in bed, unable to sleep. After an hour or so of staring at the ceiling I realized my jaw was clenched and every muscle in my body was tensed. I swear I felt my kids whisper to me, "You have to deal with your anger, Mama. It's blocking you." I'm not sure what exactly it's blocking, but I'm pretty sure they're right.

So I do need to find a way to express all this rage. My therapist suggested punching pillows or hitting them with a tennis racquet. That would probably help, but I feel pretty stupid doing it. Not that it really matters.

The honest-to-God truth is that I'm afraid to let it out. I know from past experiences that when I start yelling or punching pillows the anger that comes out brings with it ALL of the sadness. I'm afraid that the amount of sadness within me is more than I can handle. Seriously. I don't know if can do it. Everyone tells me I'm strong, but I don't know if I'm that strong.

But what choice do I have really? I can hold it all in and feel miserable and not want to do anything or I can try to let it out. I guess I just need to face it. Maybe not this minute, but sometime soon. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

trying to find balance...

So after spending most of yesterday in my pajamas, procrastinating and feeling sorry for myself I'm trying to be a bit more productive today. It's only 10:45 and I'm already awake...that's something!

But seriously, one of the things I hope to do in this new year (besides finding ten things to be thankful for each day) is to spend more time doing less. From April 7th through December 31st of 2009 I stayed so busy that I didn't have a lot of time to think or feel. I did this on purpose, of course, because for me it's easier than the alternative. But my body and soul are tired. I need to slow down.

That brings me to my quest for balance. I need to be careful because if I slow down too much inertia will take over and every day will be like yesterday. I need to pace myself so I can get a few things done and stay busy enough to distract myself from my pain to some degree, but I also need to give myself time to grieve so I can start to heal. I don't think it's gonna be easy.

A huge benefit of slowing down will be that I'll have time to read, meditate and hopefully notice more of the things going on around me. I honestly believe there is so much going on in our universe that we typically don't notice because we're busy, distracted or just not tuned in. For example...why is it that so-called "mediums" can regularly communicate with people who have died but the average person can't? Is it because they have super-powers? Or have they just found a way to tune in to something most of us have not.

And kids - they can see, hear and feel so much that we adults can't! I don't think it's because they're making it up; I think it's because their minds are open and uncluttered and they haven't learned NOT to pay attention to those kinds of things. Here's one story that comes to mind:

A classmate of Peter's saw Kate at Peter's school on April 8th (2 days after Kate and Peter died). This little girl had not yet been told that Kate and Peter were in a car accident and though she knew Peter wasn't there that day, she did say that Kate was there, sitting next to one of her best friends. There was a special Easter program that day and Kate was part of the audience. She was very specific and I believe her. Why would she make something like that up?

The obvious reason I'd like to slow down and tune in is because I want to be able to communicate more regularly and openly with my kids. They've done a pretty good job of getting through to me in my busy and highly distracted state, but who knows what it might be like if I can settle down, open my heart and my mind and focus.

So back to balance. I've always tried to find it and most of the time it's eluded me. But I guess, in reality, the journey is probably more important than the destination. Just for today I'm going to do my try to be productive yet take some time to slow down. And I'll also try not to be so hard on myself...thank you for all of your encouraging comments.

Monday, January 4, 2010

a new year, a new start, blah blah blah...

Ok, the title of this post doesn't sound too promising. It's just that I'm completely overwhelmed with things I need to do, want to do and should be doing - and when I get overwhelmed I end up doing nothing. It's now after 2:00pm and I'm still in my pjs drinking coffee and figuring out what I should tackle first.

Then I think about the fact that my kids won't be a part of 2010, at least not in the usual way, and I want to go back to bed. Ugh.

Still, every time I wake up in the morning, even after all these months I have to remind myself that my kids are dead. And not just once. If I wake up at 5:00am to pee this is what goes through my mind in my half-awake stupor:

me: "wait, what? my kids are dead?!"
me again: "yeah...remember? accident, April 6th"
me (you get the point): "wait, they're kids...they're not supposed to die!"
"I know, but they did"
"but they used to be here, right?"
"yeah, but they're not anymore"
"but they're my kids! you mean they're not coming back?!"
"wait, there's nothing I can do to change that?!"
" nope"
"fuck....I can't deal with that. I'm going back to bed"

Then I go back to sleep and repeat that mental conversation every time I wake up. Every time I hit snooze on my alarm. Every time my cat sits next to my head and meows because she's hungry. It's exhausting. But it is what it is. And I don't know that there's anything I can do about it.

So now I'm at least out of bed, sitting up and typing. I had high hopes for today. I was going to start getting organized, go to the gym, go grocery shopping, return things that need to be returned, catch up on the 300 emails I need to respond to etc, etc. Yeah, probably not gonna happen. Maybe I'll take a shower. That's a start.