Thursday, August 30, 2007

Renovations update

Wow, its all hurry up and wait for months, then suddenly its pretty much done! The contractor just has to return to place the transition peices and fix a few of the base boards that were put in a little shabbily. Then the floor project is finished! The pics posted are a few before and afters. Joe and I celebrated with a good bottle of wine, steak on the grill and sitting around staring at the floor all evening, practicing coming back in and "surprising" ourselves with the new look and goofy stuff like that. We are just giddy! The tile in the kitchen is laid, though hard to see in the pics. Its gorgeous. The contrator tried to talk me out of laying it at a 45 degree angle, but I stuck to my guns and am so very glad I did. It breaks up the "boxy" look of the cooking area and draws the eye outward, giving a feeling of more space. Joe and I are so glad we did this!

Monday, August 27, 2007

First day of school

So Nick and Alex are starting school today...Nick 7th grade and Alex 4th. They chose their own clothing, combed their own hair and were extremely excited, bouncing right away out of bed when the alarm went off and making the bed before coming out to breakfast. I made my traditional first day of school sausage and eggs, helped get things labeled and packed, made school lunches...and am now doing the traditional Mom thing of sniffling and feeling like they grew too fast and crying tears of pride and a little bit of grief over how big they are. They are turning into such wonderful little men.

Nick and I went school shopping yesterday. We had a grand time together. The older he gets, the easier it is for us to relate and talk and I am loving it. I cannot tell you how many women were there with their middle school kids having tension and ugly moments and arguments right there in the mall...while Nick and I had our arms around one another and held hands, talked, debated, compromised (see the red shoes on his feet? gack! But he loves them! :laugh:) and in general just enjoyed getting to be alone with one another. I try not to get too smug. I am sure ugly days are coming..he has to separate from me eventually, right? But right now, he is so attentive, so respectful, so cheerful (most of the time) and just a delight to be with. We were dancing in the car together even and I wanted to shout with laughter just for the joy of having those kinds of moments with him. He is a terrific son.

Joe got two new babies yesterday, twins, that weighed 7.5 pounds each. Anyone who knows Joe knows that he is convinced of the sacred nature of pig. We found thick cut bacon on sale for $2 a pound in 7.5 pound slabs. He almost wept...and posed for pictures like any proud papa.

What a nut! I do love him so..we sure do laugh a lot.

They are coming today to do the demolition...tearing out the floors, the vanity and the toilet. Its suddenly coming together..and will be finished by Thursday! I am beyond excited to see how it is going to look. The wood in the house and soooo beautiful. Joe got all the new floorboards painted last night a beautiful glossy white.

I am missing my Joe-Gi so much today. Just an ever present aching pit of sadness. You'd have been in 9th grade Bub. You'd have been so excited and nervous...and I would have been so nervous and scared for you...and so very proud. I miss you every day. Watch over your brothers when I am not there to do it. I love you.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Growing up, going forward, looking back

This has been a humdinger of a week. Nice bravado in my last entry. It was accurate in that I DO have a lot to be thankful for. But I think I try to force myself to be okay, so that when I run into days when I really am not, it feels shameful on top of just painful.

The start of school on Monday has just plain thrown me into crisis emotionally and it is so unanticipated! I mean, Joseph could not attend school for seventh or eigth grade in any real sense of the word, so I didn't expect it to feel so powerfully grief stricken. I remember being so sad last year on the first day of school, because he was in the hospital with an infection, had relapsed, was pressing toward transplant and we knew already he would never walk the halls of the middle school again..that by the time he recovered, it would be time for high school. But here we are, time for high school....and those are halls he never will walk either. Oh how my soul hurts inside, all day, constantly. How tall would he be now? He'd be shaving...he was starting to get facial hair when he died. Would his shoulders have broadened? Would he have that lanky, slender look of teenage boys whose bodies have sprouted before their sense of equilibrium could keep up? Would we be getting along as well as we always have or would we be starting that on and off love/hate relationship that signifies the severing of childhood and coming of independence?

The moon was so bright on Wednesday night. I took the trash out and then just lay down on the driveway and looked up. Some parents say they can feel their dead children when they look at the stars, so I tried. I really, really tried. But all it did was emphasize the nothingness, the nowhere-ness, my own smallness, the helplessness of my own nature. All I could feel was that it was dark out and one of my children was not in his bed and I didn't know where he has gone. It just always surprises me when the intensity of my grief wells up from inside and overtakes me. I work so hard to not do that, to not writhe around in the pain, to not spend much time weeping. It isn't fair to those around me. But sometimes it just comes and I can do nothing to stop it. It makes my throat hurt so badly to try.

I am going to take Nick school shopping tomorrow. He has been so busy that it has been difficult finding time to do it. Today is Alexander's Meet The Teacher, so I am going into work a tad late so that I can shake hands, spend a moment explaining what has happened to us all (as if anyone in the school district were not already aware) and pass on information we have gotten about kids grieving for a sibling at his age. I need to do this with Nick's teachers too but it will be more difficult..he has so many now.

Joe and I had dinner with Ryan and his new girlfriend Jessica last night. First time I have gotten to meet her. I finally bit the bullet and wrote to my older brother Jeff and my sister in law, Stacey. Stacey gave birth not long after Joseph's death to a little boy...their third. His middle name is Joseph. I have been so delighted they gave him Joseph's name..and completely paralyzed when it came to actually going to visit the new baby. I just feel devastated inside. Absolutely happy and joyful for them...three boys is such a blessing, so much fun...and absolutely devastated for me, my own loss underlined, one of my own three boys taken so soon. I am embarassed to have waited so long, embarassed how easily it makes me cry, embarassed how hard it is and ashamed that I have not gone to see that baby before now, ashamed that I still very much fear it. I am sure there are hurt feelings all around...there is no way to make it make sense to anyone. I am paralyzed with fear of this new baby, scared I will hold him and weep in front of my brother, his wife, my nephews and Joe and feel all I have lost.

Monday, August 20, 2007

It has been a good weekend for us. Joe and I got quite a bit of time just the two of us as Nick scampered off on yet another camping trip with the Scouts, this time up into Oklahoma to camp at an air force base there. He came back full of enthusiasm and vigor with stories about touring cargo planes and what the rush of air was like with the engines on and the type of ambulance they have. I have to hold my tongue not to try and start coaching him here and now that I don't want him to join the military. It isn't my decision to make and I would feel wrong to try and influence it, so I just pray that direction. Alex spent the night with his Granny and got to go to dinner at The Purple Cow for burgers and shakes with Granny and Grandpa. Apparently when they got home there was a toad hiding behind the laundry room door and Alex was quite impressed that Granny did not freak out, but merely shoo'd it out into the garage.

Joe took me to dinner at a very lovely seafood restaurant in Addision called Go Fish on Saturday night to celebrate my first semester's back-to-college success. He opened a bottle of Silver Oak before we left and we sat on the couch and marveled at how far we have come, with his repeated words of congratulations and felt just so good to hear. He is a superb support system for me and knows just how to spoil me...which he does regularly. He got a lot of work done on the fence this weekend. On Saturday we went down onto Harry Hines and found a place called Surplus Warehouse that had just the tile we wanted for the kitchen and bathroom, so those purchases are made and waiting to be installed now. We are still in debate about the kitchen counters, what to do with them, whether to do them now or later, etc. We are going to replace the dishwasher no matter what as well. It all adds up and its both fun and frustrating to try and crunch the numbers to get the most bang for our buck and yet still get good quality workmanship and materials. We are so close now to getting it all started.

We have tossed around the idea of going somewhere for the Labor Day weekend. That weekend will mark exactly five years since we met in person and it is our first long weekend together in any true sense of the word. We are late to the game though in making our plans. We are contemplating New Orleans, driving into Arkansas and seeing where we land, going to New Braunfels and going tubing, going to Las Vegas...all that and I bet we just stay home and huddle down like hermits in our house and feel terribly satisfied with ourselves. We are both such homebodies I think we have to guard against just never going out.

Sunday was an emotional day for the Morrison part of the family. Camp Sol is a grief support group for families that have lost a child, whether to illness or accident. They have three events a year...a back to school picnic, a holiday gathering at Christmas time, and a camp retreat down at Camp Jean Marc, which is where the Leukemia Camp is held each year too. We attended the Back to School picnic yesterday. What a nice group of people. The kids just love these events, getting to be with others who have lost a sibling, in and among adults who know what they have been through. I go because the love it. I kind of dread it, yet at the same time find it validating. I guess I am just not a support group kind of person. I get impatient with others who are six, seven, eight years out and still bogged down, still dominating conversations about it...impatient how some almost seem to have become slow, mentally deficient....its not nice of me. I am just so driven. I know most people are not as driven as I am. I don't WANT to be sad forever. The idea of being that far out from Joseph's death and still moping around and not letting life be full of gratitude is f0reign, unappealing and depressing to me...hopeless and helpless feeling...and makes me wonder why anyone would continue on if that is all there is to look foward to. I am so glad to be in school, so glad to have found a way to channel all this sadness, so glad I still have two happy, healthy boys who love me so much, so glad that Joe is with me now. I will continue to attend the groups as long as the boys enjoy and want to do it but I will work hard not to get sucked into that depressive, oppressive sadness. I will represent myself as using my pain as a reason to go forward and maybe that energy will give someone else permission to do so as know it is okay to be happy even when you are sad. To strive for a better future even when the past has been so devastating. I do not like how impatient I am with the grief of others, so I will work on that.

After the picnic, Stewart and I took Nick and Alex to see the Transformers movie, which was something Joseph had looked forward to for over a year, from the minute he heard one was being made. That was so emotional too. We both shed tears the first time they showed Optimus Prime in all his transformed glory, knowing what an exciting film that would have been to Joe-Gi. But Nick and Alex loved it and it made us all feel bonded and close, both to Joseph and each other. It was bittersweet.

I start back at belly dance lessons tonight and school starts again for us all next week. Life is full and sweet and good with much to be thankful for.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I've given myself permission to remove three things each day this week from my cubicle shrine and put them into a drawer. Its funny how little impact it has had so far...I had not really realized how many things I have up to remind me of him. Its incredibly difficult. The pain in my chest is unbelievable at times, as if someone were gripping my heart tight in their fist. I worry people will think I did not love him, or that I am "moving on". I'm not. I never will. But I recognize for whatever reason, its not my time yet, and I still have a family to take care of and a life that apparently still has a purpose to be fulfilled. I don't know when my time is going to come, but I want the moment that I see Joseph again to be one of High Fives and laughter and a feeling of relief and conjoined accomplishment. I don't want the moment that he asks me what I have been doing all this time to reflect a life wasted in useless anger and bitter tears spent wishing him back to a life that was so hard for him, so full of pain, frustration and disappointment. I see so many people now who have had bone marrow transplants about the same time as Joseph...none of them are thriving, literally ALL of them have either passed on or are in and out of the hospital, on dialysis, had to have their gallbladders out, having kidney/liver/skin/stomach/neurologic problems...the list goes on and on and on. Its such new medicine and I think the chance of a cure is a lot of hope but at a very high cost. It is such a sad feeling to realize if he were here, we would most likely still be in the midst of incredible medical problems and his quality of life would probably be very poor...and that all my wishing him back would likely be wishing him into incredible suffering all over again, damaged lungs that would never function fully again, a hole in his neck to help him breathe, needing lung transplants but not eligible because of his cancer, gastric issues that he was starting to develop, weakness and inability to function as a normal 14 year old, etc. By the time he went on the ventilator those things were practically guaranteed. Its a gentle, tugging sadness, that his fate would likely be that even if our prayers had been answered and it quietly makes me realize my selfishness in my wish to have him back. Perhap God was merciful in taking him when He did. It pains me to even contemplate it, let alone accept it. Joseph might even be angry at me if I spent my life wishing for him back, when now he is healed, at peace, happy, hopefully surrounded by puppies as he said he believed he would be if he didn't get to have one here on earth. People frequently ask me if I got the puppy we had planned on getting for him. Its a hugely painful question. Of course not. How could I knowing it was his fondest wish in the world? He died before we could make it happen for him. It would tear my heart out with every darling antic. No. There will be no puppies.

My good friend suggested I put my memorabilia into a scrap book and keep it in my desk drawer and I like that plan. There where I can touch it, but not so in my face that it fatigues me and grieves me to the point of reliving the last three days of his life over and over, making it hard to function and difficult to care. I feel strongly this is the right thing to do. Yet it feels too soon in some ways. I do not know the "appropriate" amount of time to openly mourn. I do know that I have two other boys who are thriving, and every minute I spend wallowing in Joseph's death, I spend neglecting to savor what I have in the two of them still. I will never, ever, ever live without that pain. But I feel strongly I can learn to live within the pain, making it another part of who I am, something that is mine and here every day...rather than living THROUGH the pain each and every day. I don't know if that makes sense. I feel a strong urge to justify myself in this. That I will look inappropriate, that the idea of being okay with the pain will look on the outside like I am okay with the fact that he is gone. Nothing is further from the truth. But getting my grades yesterday filled me with energy and purpose. I am going to be a nurse. I am going to take what we have been through and use it while I still have time here. I am going to chase this dream that I thought was unachievable at my age. And I am going to do it both for Joseph and for me. I know there are a lot of hard anniversaries coming up. The fall and winter , especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, are going to be agonizingly hard and probably will be for the rest of my life. I won't project forward on how I will handle them. I have no idea. ButI feel Joseph's love for me..and that, today, right now, gives me strength.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Grades are in for the term and I am crying my wee little heart out with joy.

Biology - B
Algebra - A

The first sign I have gotten that I CAN do this.

I am just so happy and grateful.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

It is a domestic world for me these days. If I am choosing to hide within my own family and closest circle of friends, I am okay with that. Where else ought my energy to be going in any case? The most powerful lesson Joseph has taught me is how to savor the youth and vigor of my sons (at least better than I used to) and to cherish every moment with those who are dear to my heart. Nothing makes me happier than being at home and working there.

I did go out with a good girlfriend on Friday night. I am ashamed to admit that Joe had to pratically put his foot on my ass and push me out the door to get me to go. Well, that is not entirely accurate. Once the decision was made I second guessed it no longer...he just pretty much made it for me by taking out only one steak for the grill for Friday night and giving me a generous budget for the outing. I do not know why it is I hesitate. I got so much from the evening...we had dinner in a fun little dive Mexican restaurant and talked and talked and talked...and then went to the nearest mall and walked for 45 minutes and talked and talked and talked...and then sat for another 2+ hours in her car with the A/C on and talked and talked and was so wonderful. Wonderful because I was not the only one talking. Wonderful because it just made me feel good for a while. But something in me was almost afraid to go...and when Joseph's illness and death came up, I felt like a deer in headlights...the closing throat, the gathering tears, the inability to maintain the veneer of "okay-ness" ...and particularly with this person, who was with me through the whole of it and really truly there for me, I should not have worried one bit about it. Intellectually I know this. But it frightens me to be so easily and swiftly overwhelmed. I worry I will never find my way back to myself again I suppose. It feels so odd and out of character for me to be this self absorbed.

We purchased the wood today for the floors and will be selecting the tile any moment. We are both so excited to see the change it will bring. I think it is going to be very attractive. We had a couple more estimators come and do their thing....we've had about seven of them now, but very few of them make it to the second phase, which is to provide us with the quote in writing. That step seems to hang them up quite a bit. I'll be glad when we find the right person to do it. Joe has decided we are going to go ahead and do the tile in the guest bathroom along with a new sink/counter and possibly a new potty. That surprised me...that room had always been a bit further down the list. In need of attention, but not as drastically as some other things. But it does make financial sense if we are paying the tile layers by the day rather than by the foot, which is what most of them have been quoting us.

Joe smoked ribs on the grill tonight while I took Alexander shopping for new school clothes and a book bag. He decided he would rather have a satchel than a backpack. I suspect he will regret that decision a few weeks into the school year, but am letting him choose it anyway. He'll be going into fourth grade and Nick will be going into seventh. I made a new spinach salad recipe when I got home and some baked potatoes for the two of them. The salad turned out to be amazing. I pureed two small avocadoes into a half cup of ranch dressing. It made a superb salad dressing..a bit thick...but really good...and we had red onion, real bacon, hardboiled eggs and the true yum factor, fresh grape tomatoes from the garden, halved. I could have eaten nothing but the salad. (which is not to say the ribs weren't terrific...they were. Nobody makes ribs like Joe)That will definitely get made again. Joe loved it. Alex took one look at the green salad dressing and could not get past the squeamish factor. Nick is with his dad tonight, so it is just the three of us, and Joe and Alex played with the hose after dinner in the backyard, mostly Joe squirting Alex of course.

And now things are just quiet and peaceful...Alex in the shower, Joe doing some business, me clacking away here. We have a get together with friends tomorrow afternoon and Alex has a birthday party to attend in the evening. I hope to finish painting the kitchen. How long have I been saying that now? *smiles*

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Joseph baby pictures

He was such a funny baby, such an adventure for me. I had never been particularly "into" babies or all that motherly and frankly had him a lot younger than I ever intended to start having children. Stewart was in the military and gone a lot, so as a youngster it was just Joseph and me a great deal of the time. We were far from my family and I learned by doing...poor kid. But he was just a happy, funny, unusual, agreeable little guy. He kept me in stitches. Of course, we had no idea then how it would all turn out. I would have savored it more had I known. I miss that warm little body snugged up tight in my arms.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I do not know how to remove myself from the world of childhood cancer. I am getting the feeling that I probably ought to, but it feels like I am trying to walk away from Joseph and all we went through. There is a part of him still in every child's struggle that I read about and it makes me feel more secure to remain inside that horrible but familiar bubble. But it is taking its toll on me. I have read about two beautiful little girls this week, Alexia and Noelle, whose stories have been so familiar to me for so long...both have relapsed for the last time, after having undergone two separate transplants in attempt to cure them. They are out of options and their families are devastated. I am devastated. It sucks the energy from me.

I can't really tell what is going on with me, if it is emotional or if I am anemic or something wacked in my body, but I am sleepy all the time for the last week and a half. Yesterday I fell dead asleep at my desk at work three times, twice the day before that, and trying to again today despite getting to bed early in hopes of getting enough rest. The fatigue is just overwhelming me. My desk is surrounded by, saturated in pictures of Joseph from the time he was small up to the time of his death. Poems about childhood cancer. Quotes and sayings. Cards sent to me after his death. Poetry about angels. Words from the songs of resurrection from his funeral. I know its affecting me and it has occurred to me for the first time yesterday that I could actually remove these things, make my desk a place without reminders. And then the guilt that swims in is just overwhelming. Give myself permission not to think about him? Not to think about his illness? His death? What kind of a mother am I? He died! Can I not live within that fact when he went through all he did? It feels like I am trying to say goodbye to him. And that is just more upsetting than I can say. How do people find peace with this? I recognize it is a necessary step to carrying on with life. But it just feels so wrong, like I am abandoning him. Disloyal. Horrifying. How can I possibly contemplate letting him go? And yet I know I must. All this fatigue and tearfulness, still not wearing make up because I weep so frequently through the day, the constant reminders of what was and is no longer, both the good (which I miss) and the bad (which I regret with so much inner aching). I don't know who to talk to about it, who can help me, whether help is even possible. I need to do it. I cannot do it. I cannot just up and let him go like that. Yet I recognize how much I dread coming to work, how hard it is to concentrate and stay focused, and now how hard it is just to stay awake. I don't know that all of my fatigue is emotional but I would bet it plays a part. I type for a living, and there is nothing to do all day but type and think for eight hours. I think far too much. I can't keep on this way either. I don't know what to do. I don't know if Joseph would forgive me. I don't know that I would forgive myself.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Two down, one to go. I think I will end up with a C in Biology and probably an A in algebra. If anything I would have expected those two grades to be opposite. Thank goodness the Biology grade does not count toward my nursing application. I think I will do better taking one class at a time and being able to really focus a lot of time and energy into that one thing. I still have to take my Algebra final by Tuesday at 8 PM. Then I am done done donesky for three weeks.

I got our bedroom all situated this weekend. We are now looking for new master bedroom furniture, some kind of window treatment and we really need to get some pictures and decorations on the walls..and more plants. We are still looking for a reliable, trustworthy but reasonably priced contractor to come do the flooring and kitchen counters. We are both pretty excited and getting anxious to get those in.

Nick and Alex earned a little extra money (and kept themselves cool in the process) washing Joe's Blazer yesterday. They had so much was cute. The kind of thing they really didn't get to do when living in the apartment. I like the feeling that their quality of life has gone up. Alex told me yesterday how much he is looking foward to Christmas in a "real house" and maybe we could get a bigger tree. That made me laugh, as the tree we have is 7 1/2 feet tall as it is! But I am glad he is looking forward to Christmas. I am trying not to dread it too much, but so many memories of Joseph's horrifying decline are wrapped up in that time of year for us. I am praying I find a way to get through it without it ruining that wonderful holiday forever for me.

I am frustrated with my lack of motivation to start getting this weight off that I gained while Joseph was sick. This weekend my knees and hips started to hurt pretty badly and I definitely don't have the stamina that I am used to having. I hate looking this way and more than anything hate feeling this way. Its a quality of life thing as much as a cosmetic thing. So that is the next demon to put back on my list for conquering. Too often I find myself even now eating when I am not hungry or choosing foods that are just full of simple carbs, that make my blood sugar go wacko, making me moody and depressed from the wild swings. The urge to fill the void apparently is strong, though I cannot say that it is a conscious thing, noting a hurt and then choosing to assuage it with food. It is more just a pattern I recognize over and over again. The more stressed and depressed I am, the less disciplined I am about what and how much I eat and the less I exercise. I think I would have dealt with my school stress so much better if I had gone back to walking 2-3 miles a day like I had been before Joseph became ill. Which in turn makes me wonder how much better I would be doing at working through my grief if I were taking better care of my body. It affects everyone around me, Joe and the kids included. I love them too much and want them to love me back to keep this self destructive pattern going. So I got up early today to broil some chicken breasts and stir fry some broccoli. I'll start having the "good stuff" on hand for me to grab from the fridge and set the goal of getting that walk in twice this week. It will be a start

Thursday, August 2, 2007

where i am today

I try to wrap my head around it. I think about Joseph and realize I have not seen him for a while. His face comes to me first (pulsethump), his expression (pulsethump)….his posture (thump)…his sweet, vulnerable demeanor (thump)…. and eyes (thump)…then his baldness (thump thump thump)… then his cancer (thumpthumpthumpthumpthumpthumpthump)…. and finally the fact that he is dead….. (silence…oh God. No. No….no. …..silence without air)

An instantaneous continuum of thought, a process that walks me none too gently through the truth of what is … step by step… because as a whole I remain, even seven months later, completely unable to grip it without the separate parts. Oh, I think I have sometimes. I supposed perhaps in some ways now I want to. It seems unfair to Joseph somehow for me to not accept the reality of his death. I don’t have the power to keep him from heaven or peace by my refusal to live with the knowledge…. but society has made it clear that a mother who cannot let go of her son is unhealthy. And it is true. I am. It still startles me that he is gone. Even today, it can still come upon me as a surprise, hitting my awareness as if I didn’t know it before, pounding a panic through my heart, raising my swallowed cries to lethal tension in my throat. I shall remain sitting here. I shall type and earn money. I shall (thump) be (thump) good (thump) shall (thump) not (thump) embarrass (thump) anyone (thump). CS Lewis pointed out the laziness bereavement brings and I touch it every day. Why should I care whose socks are on the floor or whether the sheets ought to be changed out? It is not really apathy as much as a true inability to comprehend not only HOW I have managed to accomplish the mundane through his illness and passing, but WHY. I keep thinking if I can just figure out WHY it ought to matter, then it will again...I'll get better at the housework, better at watching my diet, better about motivation to exercise...if somehow any of the "why's" that get offered up to me by myself, others, various reading materials, could find their way into my heart and find their proper balance.

id: Sheri, you feel better when you exercise.
Me: But what does that matter now?
id: It makes you happy to be pretty.
Me: But what does that matter now?
id: Sheri, you are more pleasant to be around when you control your blood sugar and have fewer mood swings.
Me: But what does that matter now?
id: Sheri, your home is so lovely. Wouldn't it be great if you found a better place for these books?
Me: But what does that matter now?

It is the most perfect built in excuse I have ever had to stagnate on all my personal endeavors. There is no shortage of people willing to excuse me, to say of course I can't yet...but when does that end? Where exactly is that line? How will I know when the time has come that I no longer should use that excuse and should start to move harder against that brick wall to get it out of the way? It would be too easy (and it frightens me) to utilize it the rest of my life. I have seen it in others. I don't want to be that person (but what does that matter now?).

His absence lays over everything. The highest highs. The lowest lows. Through space and time. One end of the universe through to the other, into the depths of infinity. Nowhere I go now could I find him! Can you believe that?!?? Not in books, nor schools, nor shopping malls…not at the top of a mountain nor in the most beautiful valley nor the dryness of desert…not in front of the TV nor lingering again in the shower too long nor burrowed beneath his covers or rummaging in the pantry…not skimming through the water like a porpoise or tucked against my side. The nowhere-ness of him is something I cannot comprehend. I lived 22 years before he came to be. I lived 13 ½ as his mother. Yet I cannot imagine a world in which he simply is not. As I could not before imagine him into existence (other than the “someday” sort of way that all people fathom having children), I now cannot imagine him out of it. It is a kind of egocentricity I supposed, that I cannot believe that the body God knit through my own failed so horrendously so soon. Only his pictures bear testament that I have not gone crazy and imagined myself to be his mother. Everywhere I am praised that I do not openly mourn (so strong…I could never….I can’t imagine how you….I cannot fathom…) and so I strive to please because it is the easiest thing to do, far easier than explaining that nothing at all has triggered my tears…that yes, I was fine when I left the house this morning but now that I am here I am not…that when you ask how I am and I say good or fine and look good or fine I very well may be lying, lying, lying quite beautifully…that all it takes is the most fleeting passage of awareness of his absence through my brain and all momentum forward ceases, even in the midst of a smile or contentment or high productivity….that I am again back in empty confusion…he’s dead? He’s dead. Oh my God. I am lost.

No longer caring for a child with cancer actually feels abnormal to me, like I am forgetting to do something important that I am supposed to be doing. It confuses me that he is gone…. an algebra problem on steroids... It makes my stomach hurt. Perhaps because stomach pain is easier to explain and to hide than when I admit it is really my heart. Ha ha ha God. Very funny. Good joke. Now give him back. Okay okay okay God. I get it. I feel it. I really, really, really feel it. I will be better at this motherhood thing. You can give him back now. Send him back now. GIVE.HIM.BACK.NOW!! please? Please? Please. Please. Please. Can’t there be do-overs? Or at least one last good heart to heart talk, so I can know he understands what has happened….so that I can??? Wouldn’t that be fair and understandable? God? Hello!? Hello?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rock on

Well its crunch week. Finals are Friday (Biology lab), Saturday (Biology lecture) and sometime before Tuesday (algebra, which can be taken at the testing center). To say I am stressed would be an understatement. I have been up since 3:30 this morning turning it all over in my head. I am looking forward to the three weeks off before fall term starts and then having just the one class to wrap my head around. This all just turned out to be a little too much, too soon. Joe is supportive, sympathetic and yet sternly encouraging, which frankly helps a lot. It keeps me out of freak out mode. The pictures above are from last night of him teaching the boys that real men do dishes. I had made dinner and they cleaned up so that I could get busy studying. Now that's love!

The other pictures are of a scouting endeavor the boys had this weekend...rock climbing. Alex is just a little monkey and wriggled his way up and down those walls, ringing the bell at the top six times. Nick was able to ring it once. He is just built so slight and upper body strength is probably not his strongest feature, but he had a good time working it and it made him sore. Both boys want to go again. Nick had Court of Honor on Monday and recieved six merit badges that he worked on over the summer. He is well on his way toward becoming an Eagle and I am so proud of him. I hope he sticks with it all the way through. Its really shaping his character in such a good way and giving him so much confidence in himself. Sadly I think Joseph's illness just really held Nick back. Now that we are home, things are stable with Stewart and I, Joe and I and that situation has reached its unhappy end (but an end nonetheless) he is really just kind of thriving. He cries the easiest of the two over Joseph's death and talks about it the most freely but also seems to be benefiting the most from life becoming more traditional and predictable again. It is only now that I begin to fathom how hard it had to have been on them, never knowing where they would be sleeping for sure (Dad's? Mom's? Granny's? Grandma's?), never quite knowing what was going on with Joseph, going months at a time without being able to see him, watching him deteriorate, feeling the absence of family meals and both parents present for school productions and the is a bittersweet thing to be able to bring some normalcy back and it is bittersweet to see them benefiting from it. Such a high, high price to pay.

I continue to go up and down in my ability to function and get through life. I am trying to keep the pain at bay this week because of finals, but am not doing too good at that. I get choked up when I realize the semester is almost over and school about to start...everything such a testament that we are moving forward, life is moving on and Joseph is still gone. I miss him so incredibly much. I realized that at some point I am going to want to do family pictures again...and that in the ones of my children, there will be two adorable redheads but no handsome tow head. Two instead of three. Its a fist to the gut every single time the realization comes to me. Every time I think about it, it is as if I didn't know it before and just found out. Joseph would have been starting high school this fall. 9th grade. I can't believe I am old enough that I could have a child in high school. I used to marvel that I would be only 42 when Joseph graduates. So forlorn, these thoughts of milestones we will never get to celebrate.

Wish me luck on my tests...I am going to need it.