Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is it just me...

or do you so something unusual in this picture too?

At our wedding, Ken and I gave single-use cameras to all of the kids who were there. There were a lot of kids in attendance, mostly Kate and Peter's friends whose parents are our friends, and we were hoping to see what our wedding day was like from their points of view.

They took many, many pictures (over 500) and did a nice job of capturing things we never would have seen otherwise.

Like this.

Just sayin.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Catharsis anyone?

I wanted to quickly update you all and let you know I've been feeling a little better. I'm not sure exactly what changed, but wearing my Mr. Yuk stickers, carrying my princess wand and forcing myself to get up and moving has helped.

I've also started "managing" my overwhelmingly negative feelings in a way taught to me by my good friend, Kearsty, a few years ago. Back in the day (circa 2007) we were having a conversation in which we were sharing our woes and feeling sorry for ourselves and each other (I have no idea what exactly we were lamenting, though it was most likely related to men) when she shared with me something her mother had taught her.

Kearsty said that when she was having a rough time and began wallowing in self-pity her mom would tell her to take 5 minutes to feel sad, be angry, cry, scream, kick, punch, stomp her feet - to do whatever she needed to do to get it out. She encouraged me, "For 5 minutes, just feel everything you need to feel and feel sorry for yourself if you must. But when those 5 minutes are over, it's time to get on with it. Get up, get moving, get out of that space."

Honestly... it works. Please know that I'm not trying to minimize the intensity of grief, because it's huge and certainly not something you can get over in 5 minutes. But, for me at least, wallowing just isn't helpful. The feelings begin to snowball and eventually get so big that I can't find my way out of them. Feeling them in 5 minute increments is manageable.

If you've read this blog for a while you know that music is very powerful in eliciting my emotions. A couple weeks ago I discovered a song that captures much of what I've been feeling, and makes me cry - no, sob - every time I hear it. So what I've been doing lately is letting myself have that time: I listen to the song, cry and swear and kick and scream, and then I let it pass. I pull myself together and move forward. For a little while, until I need to do it again. Some days I only need to listen to it once, other days I listen to it 10 times.

It's helped. For now I can get through each day. I know many of you who read my blog are grieving too, and this time of year is especially hard. So here's the song. I can't promise you'll have the same experience with it, but give it a try. Listen to it, feel all of your feelings and then do your best to pull yourself together and move forward. Even if it's only for a little while.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mr. Yuk

I'm not very good at being a mess. There's this part of me that has decided to not hold it together anymore, the me who wants to shut down and no longer be a functional member of society, but to everyone else I still seem pretty normal. I just can't let myself be a mess. I don't have time, dammit! But I still want to...

This morning I woke up with my to do list in mind. I got as far as making breakfast when I decided that I don't want to do anything on my list - I just want to sit in my pajamas and play Bejeweled Blitz for the next six weeks. (I love that game because while I'm playing my mind is completely focused on the stupid little jewels. I can't think about or feel anything else. It's a HUGE waste of time, but the best escape I've found that doesn't involve any mind-altering substances.) At the moment, I would welcome another Snowpocalypse (did I say that out loud?!) so I'd have a good excuse for doing nothing for a very long time.

The way I feel this morning reminded me of an experience I had about a week before my kids died. I was in a bad mood, feeling sorry for myself (apparently this is a long-standing pattern in my life) because a guy I was dating was being a jerk (or maybe he just wasn't that into me - which, in my mind, makes him a jerk). I felt like I was gonna end up being single and unloved for the rest of my life so I decided to stay in bed and mope. This kills me now because my kids were alive then - they were there with me and I was being selfish. I was taking them for granted and now I would give ANYTHING to have that time with them back and to be focused on them and not on some dude.

Anyway, it was a Sunday...I got up and made breakfast for my kids and told them they could watch as much tv as they wanted because I was going back to bed. Every few minutes, one of them would come into my room and ask for something and I felt like saying, "can't you see I'm trying to be depressed in here?!" I don't think I did, but I really can't remember.

After about 45 minutes of my attempt to block out everything and disappear into my bed, Peter came in and said, "Look, Mama...I'm Mr. Yuk!" and he made this face:

He really did look like Mr. Yuk:

And that was it. The end of my moping and wanting to be a hot mess. I cracked up hysterically and got out of bed, thanks to my little man.

In the most difficult way possible - by losing my kids - I learned a lot from that experience. I know now that nothing is guaranteed. I would honestly do anything to go back and change so much about how I spent the time I had with my kids. I spent so much of that time focused on stupid, non-meaningful things because I took them for granted and just assumed they'd always be here. And they're not. And there's nothing I can do about it.

I can only change how I act from now on. I realize that sitting in my pajamas and playing Bejeweled Blitz for the rest of my life would be a dishonoring of my kids. In order to make their lives mean something I need to take what I've learned from them and use it to be a better person, no matter how much it hurts - because the pain is truly indescribable.

Even though I may not want to, I know I am capable of helping other people and so I must. I also need to be as present as possible and spend all the time I can with the people I love and who love me because, as I mentioned, there are no guarantees. And if possible, I don't want to have anymore regrets.

In a related story, at Kate and Peter's wake and funeral everyone - and I mean EVERYONE (even the priests, nuns and choir) - wore Mr. Yuk stickers in honor of Peter. We also handed out little princess magic wands for people to carry in honor of Kate. So I think for the foreseeable future, at least until I'm out of my current funk, I'm going to wear a Mr. Yuk sticker and carry around my magic wand to remind me that the present is all we have. We need to make the most of it.