Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Playground: Chapter 1 - Some Background Information

As most of you already know, I am working to build a playground in memory of Kate and Peter. Things are moving along and there is so much I want to share with you, but the project isn't yet at a point where I have all the details. For now I want to give you some background information and tell you what has happened up to this point.

The idea of building a playground to memorialize Kate and Peter first made it's way into my brain the night of the accident. I was laying in bed - not sure why I was even trying to sleep - thinking, crying, freaking out, and thinking some more.

After talking with the police and confirming the fact that my kids were dead, I talked with my dad on the phone. I remember saying, in addition to many other things, "What do I do now?! I'm a stay at home mom and my kids are gone! I have no purpose anymore!"

My dad, very adamantly said, "You have to go on!! You have to do something to memorialize those kids and let everyone know how wonderful they were."

I've not had much experience with death or memorials so in my head, my idea of memorializing someone was erecting some sort of stone structure with names carved in it. In my distraught state of mind I thought to myself, "That's effin fabulous...I'll build some big wall and put their names on it. That will serve absolutely no purpose."

Late that night while laying in bed my mind was going through all the things I'd done wrong as a mom - cause that's what we moms do. One of the most prominent things that came to mind was the fact that they'd really wanted a tree house and I had, more or less, squashed that idea.

My kids loved playing outside and imagining they were superheroes or characters from movies or books, or just people they made up. Their most favorite people to "be" were Carmen and Juni Cortez from the "Spy Kids" movies. They also loved to "be" Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House book series.

We sometimes read the Magic Tree House books together before bed and one day, sometime in the summer of 2008, they asked if I would build them a tree house. Now those of you who have kids know that what they ask for and want can change on a daily or hourly basis, but this idea of a tree house was something they asked for persistently.

Whenever they asked about it I thought to myself, "I'm a girl. I know nothing about building stuff and, really, that's a guy's job." Now don't get me wrong, I realize there are many women out there who could surely build a kick ass tree house, but I am not one of them. So I decided that someday, when I meet someone, get married again and move into the house we will live in forever, I would have that someone build them a tree house - or at least hire someone to do it. I told Kate and Peter as much, though not in so many words.

So back to the night of the accident: I'm laying there feeling bad about not having the chance to build them a tree house and also wondering how the hell I'm going to build a memorial that will do them justice. And it hit me. What if I could build a tree house as their memorial? What if the tree house could be a playground that lots of kids could use? And what if all those kids and their parents, by playing at this tree house, could get a small glimpse of how awesome Kate and Peter are?

So that is what I'm trying to do. And it's gonna happen, I have no doubt. And it's gonna be the most amazing tree house playground anyone has ever seen. Seriously.

I've had A LOT of help with this project so far. There are so many people who have helped it's overwhelming, in a wonderful kind of way. Our biggest effort up to this point has been trying to raise the funds necessary to build something like this. Hundreds of people have sent checks, participated in fund raisers, bought bumper stickers, sold bracelets...the list goes on. We have raised a good amount of money so far, but we still have a long way to go.

As of now the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has taken on this tree house playground as one of their projects. This is good because the Parks Conservancy is a wonderful organization who manages the park land in Pittsburgh and knows how to build stuff, unlike my girly self. We are working together now to come up with a design and a budget. Once this happens I will know how much money we actually need.

We are also working to make it possible to donate to Kate and Peter's Tree House online. As soon as this happens I will let you know. For now I want to sincerely thank everyone who has helped so far!!! I have no words to describe how much everyone's kindness means to me or how overwhelmed I have been by hundreds of people who have sent donations.

I am unbelievably excited about this and looking forward to sharing more details the instant I have them!

Oh, and we may have to design something conducive to spinning because, apparently, kids like to do that:

Friday, February 19, 2010

feeling a little better...

Honestly, right now, I feel better than I have in two weeks. Thanks, in large part, to the fact that I saw the SUN today and I didn't have to shovel snow! It's amazing how quickly things shift. This grief thing is much like some kind of crazy roller coaster or, as Dudders commented, like a pinball machine. I love this analogy, I hope she doesn't mind if I repost it:

"There aren't concrete stages of grieving, the whole thing is more of a pinball game. You're sad, you're mad, you're happy, you're angry, you're bouncing all around and have no idea which way is up."

Well said. That's exactly what it feels like.

Another reason for my shift in mood is that the meeting about the playground went well - I'm very, very excited about it. I'm working on a post specifically about it so stay tuned. And, as always, thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers and encouraging words! They help me more than you can imagine. I wish I could hug you all!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

it's getting worse...

I've often heard the phrase "hitting bottom" in reference to people dealing with addiction or destructive lifestyles or even depression. I would imagine that grief must have a low-point as well, though I have to admit that I'm not up on my reading about this subject. Frankly, as I told someone recently, I would like to take all of the books about the stages of grief and what I should be feeling and set them on fire. But that's another post.

I keep thinking to myself, "this is pretty bad...I can't imagine it's gonna get worse". Then it does.

Here's something new: I find myself laying in bed at night reliving the night of the accident and throwing myself into panic attacks. It's like my mind is still trying to grasp what has happened and won't give up until it has reviewed every moment of that day and explored all other possibilities for why it hasn't seen Kate or Peter in almost a year. And when it comes to the conclusion that they're dead, it panics. (it's a little weird how I sometimes describe my mind as a separate entity - don't worry I don't think I've developed multiple personalities)

I don't know if I would feel better if someone else was around - I certainly have spent a lot more time alone lately, thanks to our 482 feet of snow - or if I would just feel awkward.

So now I have a hard time falling asleep at night (though thankfully, once I fall asleep I sleep pretty well) and I wake up every morning and say to myself, "I just can't do this anymore. I'm done." But no matter how adamantly I say it or how serious I am, I can't be done. I have no choice. I have to keep going.

I think the approaching anniversary is part of the reason I'm having such a hard time, but who knows? I could make up reasons forever - I just want to know when it's gonna stop getting worse and get better, if ever. Maybe? Please?!

Because I have to give myself a little something to hold onto, here are a couple of good things:

1. The other night while I was trying to go to sleep and unbearably missing my kids, I pleaded with them to visit me in my dreams. I did, in fact, dream about them that night. It was a strange dream, but I woke up feeling like I got to spend some time with them which is priceless.

2. Tomorrow I have a meeting regarding the playground I'm trying to build in their memory. Hopefully I will have more information to share with you soon. This is a good thing, and a reason to get out of bed tomorrow.

If you don't hear much from me in the upcoming days it's because I'm literally putting all the energy I have into getting out of bed, taking an occasional shower and getting dressed. Oh, and shoveling snow.

It has to get better eventually.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Balance Times Day...

as Peter used to say. :)

I wish you all a Valentine's Day full of love! Thank you for all the love you've shown me!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

this depression business really isn't working for me...

The "Snowpocalypse" has certainly been challenging for me, as it has for most of the residents of the mid-atlantic states. I feel bad complaining because so far I've been able to dig myself out, haven't run out of milk or bread and haven't lost my power at all (knock on wood!). The part that's been hard for me has been the isolation.

As you can tell from my past few posts I've been feeling pretty down lately. (And again, I cannot thank you all enough for your kind thoughts and encouraging words - they really do help!!!) In addition to the sadness I've been feeling about my kids, I've now spent the better part of the past week home alone. I've never liked being alone. In fact, I used to be afraid of being alone. I don't fear it anymore, but I still don't like it.

When I'm alone I spend way too much time in my head. I start thinking about things and feeling sorry for myself and begin a downward spiral into depression. I know when I've crossed the line of sadness into depression because I don't want to do anything. At all. Except maybe eat and sleep. Then I eat and feel fat. Then I try to sleep and I can't. I'm sure anyone who's ever been depressed can identify with what I'm saying.

I've dealt with depression a few times over the years and have even been medicated for it. I'm not trying to minimize the seriousness of it at all. However, this time it's different. I can't stand being depressed...which I guess is a good thing.

In the past I had often considered offing myself. I would lay in bed and feel sad and sorry for myself, then create elaborate schemes for how I would do it and who would find me...etc. Now, suicide is off the table because, as I've said in past posts, I won't take the chance. I fear that if I were to end my own life I might not join my kids where they are. It's just not worth the risk. So, for anyone who might be worried about me - you don't have to worry. It's not even an option.

Thus, because I know I'm stuck here, feeling sad and sorry for myself doesn't help anything. It's really pointless. I have to be here whether I want to be or not, so I might as well make the best of it. Does this make any sense or does it sound like I've totally lost my mind (a distinct possibility)?

So last night while I was moping and whining and feeling fat I decided to just cut it out already. I might as well do something constructive and try to have fun while I'm here. So I made a somewhat complicated cauliflower and chickpea curry. It was both fun and constructive.

And today, while I'm snowed in AGAIN, I'm going to do my best to not take for granted what I do have.... a home, heat, food, my dog and wi-fi. I'll try to find a way to be constructive and have some degree of fun. Maybe I'll try to break all the records on my wii.

I thank you all for hanging with me when things get dark and sad and scary. Sometimes I think no one will want to read this if it's always so negative. But when I'm down, you all amaze me with your support. I promise that better things are to come. :)

Like maybe the sun...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

maybe this is as bad as it gets...

I feel like I've finally hit the wall. I've run out of bright sides to look on, positive things to think and ways to make sense of this. Though I could still come up with ten things to be thankful for, none of it really matters. I've reached the point where nothing makes sense without them.

While I was taking a shower this morning I noticed that Peter's bath toys, which were still perched on the side of the tub, were starting to get moldy. They haven't been used in almost a year so why wouldn't they be moldy? I could've cleaned them and put them back, but what's the point? He's not coming back. He's not going to use them anymore. Keeping them doesn't make me feel any closer to him. So I threw them out.

I still can't stomach the idea that my kids are dead. I say it out loud sometimes and I just don't believe it. And lately I've gotten really good at believing that they're not dead and gone, but alive in another dimension. But today I just don't care. That doesn't cut it. I want them to be here with me.

I know that at some point I'll feel better. It's a good thing grief comes in waves because if it felt this bad all the time no one would survive it. So I will survive and surely live many more days without them. Fabulous.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

on a slightly better note...

I went back to cleaning and found a necklace I've been trying to find for a long time.

A couple of years ago I bought a set of simple heart necklaces from Claire's boutique. One had a solid heart and the other had an outline of a heart (pictured above)...and the hearts fit together. I bought these to help Kate with some separation anxiety she was experiencing at school. We each wore one of them for awhile until she felt better about going to school. Then she moved onto other, more fashionable jewelry and we put our necklaces in our respective jewelry boxes.

A couple of weeks before the accident Kate started wearing hers again and asked me to wear mine. She was wearing it when she died.

I wore my necklace every day for a couple of months, but would always take it off before getting in the shower. One day in June I misplaced it and hadn't seen it since. Until tonight. :)

still surreal...

I am a woman on a mission with this cleaning and organizing business. Seriously. I don't care how difficult it is, I feel compelled to make my house more livable. But I do need to tell you, it is bordering on torturous.

Right now I'm trying desperately to clean my room. I have a desk that is piled so high with papers most people don't even know there's a desk there. (am I writing out loud? can't believe I'm admitting to all this) Anyway, I was just going through each item one by one, deciding whether to throw it out, recycle it, file it or find another place to put it. I've found bills, Kate's homework assignments, magazines, drawings Kate and Peter created, old junk mail, etc.

The last three things I found were, in order:

a picture of the two of them taken in 2006 when they were 4 and 2 years old:

a small art project of Peter's from school last year:

and the post-it note where I wrote down Steve's license plate number, car description and the number of the State Police last April 6th when I was trying to find them:

I'm not exactly sure why I'm writing and telling everyone about this experience except that it seems so surreal I almost feel like I need to document it to prove it really happened, and that this is really happening and that this is really my life. Seriously. WTF?

I guess I'm also writing this because I said way back in the beginning of this blog that I was going to tell it like it is and not censor myself. And this is how it is. And I will get through it and have a better day sometime, but for now this is it.

How do I go back to cleaning after that? How do I do anything after that? I'm not exactly sure...but, again, what choice do I have. I have to do something.