Sunday, September 30, 2007

Alexander is back from Camp Feliz, a camp for kids who have had a brain tumor. It was his first time to attend. Needless to say, it was a wonderful experience for him and very likely changed his life to some extent. It was his first campout away from home, a fact that made him very proud. He caught his first fish, a big mouth bass. He swam and stayed in a cabin with five other boys and a couple of counselors. He met a girl there, Lauren, who he made a necklace for and who he asked to dance with him at the barn dance they had Saturday night...apparently one of only two boys brave enough to dance with a girl. She is an eigth grader, and of course, had been through a brain tumor ordeal of her own. They say they will be pen pals. This was her fifth trip to Camp Feliz and Alex says he plans to go every year until he is to big to go anymore.

It seems like it ought to be the ending scene of a very dramatic and touching movie...having climaxed with Joseph's death, wrapping up neatly with the sweet symbolism of a prior intense battle coming to such a nice and neat close. Of course, its never really closed. It never really ends. But as I listened to Alex talking about camp and the other children there I was struck by how incredibly lucky we have been in Alexander's case. We were just as afraid for his life and his outcomes. We fear relapse just as acutely for him as we did for Joseph. We are still immersed in the world of childhood cancer..on the periphery now, but still a part of it....and still incredibly touched by, affected by, improved by the nature of the children who fight these battles. On one hand I can feel intensely blessed to have two such personalities as my own family....and on the other, very bitter and angry, wondering what I have done in some past life to have earned such a sentence of suffering and helplessness. It is honestly the most torn feeling I can imagine, the most polar of forces....intense grief over the lost life of one son....intense relief and continued hope over the life of another.

I went with my girlfriends today to Canton. It was never my intent to really find anything to purchase. Just to get time with friends whom I have struggled to find common ground with again. It was a good day. As we drove through some back country roads, we discovered a very old cemetery and stopped to get out and explore. The headstones were crumbling and cracked, in some cases fallen down, and many worn illegible by well over a hundred Texas changes in calendar. Most had both headstone and footstones placed, and it became apparent the vast majority who had been buried in the small clearing had been children, commonly under six years of age....the worn stones decorated with angels or lambs. One read "Budded on earth, blooming in heaven"...another "Momma and pappa weep not for me, I am waiting in heaven for thee"....and the bittersweet, incongrous presence of the parents' own headstones place nearby, some forty years later. One poor family buried five children in six years, ending with what looked to likely be the death of the mother in childbirth.

I felt such softness, looking at these little graves, places where over one hundred years ago surely mothers wept as I have done. Would their spirits reach out in sisterly sympathy to me now? WEre children as valued then, the death of them as shocking? Was it the same painful jolt, or was death in childhood more common and thus more accepted than it is now? I do not know those answers...I just know my heart bled for the young life buried there and the pain I have known myself. In a way it gave me some quietness inside, realizing I am not the one to have suffered. So few people can imagine the loss of a child. But here was evidence of family after family burying their young and mourning their loss, long before I was born, long after the mourners have themselves died. I could only imagine with some satisfaction that mother and child are together again now, families reunited, and hopefully, happy.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

So. Another birthday has come and gone. Another year. So many changes in this past year, some absolutely horrifying and tragic, others the stuff of dreams that I wanted so badly I hardly dared pray for them to happen. 37 years old. Doesn't look so bad on paper. Sure can feel heavy here inside of me. I had a good day that new co-workers decorated my desk and everyone signed a card for me. Given that my birthday kind of came and went without acknowledgement at my last place of employment this touched me a great deal. The Cooper Clinic has really gotten it right in terms of valuing its employees and fostering a sense that the success of it is directly tied to the people they employ. I am so proud to be working there and so excited by all the things they are doing. Its an amazing place to work. I know every job comes with its ups and downs and I am in a honeymoon phase right now, but alread my stress level is so much lower than it was at my previous place.

Joe and I finally finished painting the kitchen today. Alex is off at a camp for kids with brain tumors, which should be educational for him, seeing other kids who did not fare as well as he has from their own tumor experiences. Frankly, other than missing his pituitary gland and needing a handful of pills every morning and night plus a shot of growth hormone each day, he got out of his 13 hour surgery virtually unscathed. We were warned about severe weight gain, mood and personality changes that would make him a virtual stranger, the potential for anger and criminal violence problems...all due to the area of the brain that his tumor was in. None of that has happened. I hope he has a marvelous time. I am trying not to worry about him too much.

Nick had den leader training this morning and a school social last night. He has a lot of friends but has convinced himself somehow that they only seem to like him because he is Joseph's brother. I tried to explain to him that Joseph has been gone almsot nine months now, and though that seems like not long at all to us, most everyone else has moved on. That even if people were nice to him at first because of Joseph, if they are nice to him now it is on his own merits completely. I hope he thinks about that and can understand it.

I am going to Canton for the day with some girlfriends to a huge outdoor flea market that happens once a month there. I am trying to look forward to it. A large part of me just wants to stay home and clean the kitchen. I know I need to get out. When they dont' invite and include me I get upset, but when they do, I try to find reasons not to go. I am a hard gal to please apparently. Joe is sending me off and not really giving me a choice. He had a list of things he wanted done today and we made serious headway and are both tired now. Right now it is hard ti imagine wanting to spend the day shopping tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Have you ever had to think about being happy? Not so much in terms of "gosh, I wish I was" as much as just trying to be okay with the fact that you kind of are? That is sort of where I am in the last few days. I have been sleeping exceptionally well. I really like my new position, my new co-workers....being in new surroundings seems to have given me permission to open up more, be more friendly, set a lighter tone to myself that then lingers after I leave the work place. Being in an environment of success makes me in turn feel successful. I want to embody and represent what the Cooper Clinic stands for...healthy living. If I have to be alive, I want to do it right.

There lingers under the surface of me though at times a sense of detachment..a feeling that I am watching myself from under water and far, far away. As if there is the face plate that is Sheri, interacting with family, friends, my lover....and the real Sheri, who is quiet and contemplative and unsure whether to resume embodiment of her own life once more. Love, fear and anger are so closely related, so tangled up inside that "real" Sheri. It makes me quiet. It makes me rage. It petrifies me. I could not (literally...literally could not) cope with another loss at this time and I can spend so much time thinking about and fearing that that it paralyzes me. I have this happy surface to the world..and it is genuine....very genuine...but frail and tentative. It is like a thin, watery soup to a starving person. Its warm and nourishing but not at all full bodied and doesn't have much staying power yet. It does not take very much to bring me beneath the surface and into withdrawal, depression or fury. Moments of "what the point" are still very much with me. I have to fight against them. The anger needs very little ignition to get going. The depression needs very little fuel to take hold of me. I can feel fine and motivated one minute...and completely without air the next. And all energy leaves and I want nothing more but to crawl back into bed....and then I think no further into the day or week or month. It frightens and bothers me the way I can look at earth and life and truly, truly imagine myself not here. And not fear that. In fact, at times, truly embracing that idea. Oh if I could just be gone without it hurting anyone! Nothingness can have its own appeal.

I found a video from 1995 and 1996 of Joseph and Nick. Alex was not even born yet. That night I dreamed of Joseph as a little guy, 18 months old or so. And in my dream I had given him away to another family, who was raising him. I would visit and assure them he was their son..but I would not call him by the name they chose (which I can't remember now) and I would secretly whisper to him "I am your mother. I am your mother", putting on a helpful happy face so that family would not make me leave him but all the while plotting to get him back. I don't know what it means. I just remember the feeling.

I need to go. I can't find my keys or my wallet. Little things that just derail me and make the day seem so heavy and so long. I am anxious to get to work. They all think I am a good addition to the team there. I worried a lot that my weight would make me a poor fit, but it doesn't seem to matter...though I am easily so far the fattest person I have seen working there. When I am there, I am successful. I know what I need to do every minute of the day. It makes life so much easier. A definite starting and stopping point. If only all of life were that clear cut.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

So far so fabulous

Things are going extremely well at the new job. The Cooper Clinic is a fantastic place to work. Not only are the benefits and little perks extremely enjoyable, most of the people there have been there for a very long time. The person newest to my department next to me has been there eight years. And everyone there seems to be happy to be there. People smile at one another and greet one another, even with waves across the parking lot. The focus is very much on fitness and health. The grounds are beautiful. And my new doctor that I am typing for is not only superb in dictation skills and disposition but he is a kind hearted and good looking man. I liked my coworkers, feel like they like me and I feel very optimistic about this change.

Joseph has come to me on and off through this transition. I have been less depressed and more just missing him...a change in emotional shading that is hard to characterize. It does not feel desperate, just deep and abiding. Stepping away from the world where I was while he was sick has been a very good thing. In the times that I am more happy, I see him with more clarity and feel him closer to me. I think perhaps the desperation of grief makes us blind from our tears. I feel very quiet...not depressed or as if I might be going mad...just soft within myself, waiting to see where the world is headed. I am more aware of what and how much I am eating. My moods have been more stable.

I turn 37 on Wednesday. Joe is taking me back to Lawry's for dinner, where we went last year. I am really looking forward to that. It was a warm, bright spot during a very bleak time. Mom took me shopping yesterday for my birthday and got me some clothes I can wear to work, which I love. Joe and I are toying with taking a cruise between Thanksgiving and Christmas to help me have something to look forward to during that time of dark anniversaries and I think that would probably be a good idea. They have three and four days cruises out of Galveston for pretty reasonable prices.

Nick is off camping this weekend and Alex is here with us. Joe took him out for ice cream last night while I was out shopping with my Mom. We are finishing up some of the odds and ends of projects we have going on before delving into the countertops etc. Joe got the fixtures up in the guest bath and the plumbing issues straightened out. I got new towels for in there yesterday. I will post pictures as soon as I find the right artwork for the walls.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Melancholy; bittersweet

Last day at work today. I never felt much like I belonged there. The majority of people I worked with had already "arrived"...meaning...working a desk job at a doctor's office was as far as they cared to go in life. They were very comfortable and when I announced I was going back to school I seemed to be a bit of an alien to them. Why would I want to do that at my age...and even if I did want to how did I find time to when I have children, a man, a full time job, a home? The same questions asked regarding why anyone would try to quit smoking or watch what they eat or *gasp* exercise on a regular basis or put on a dress or curl your hair every day. Why would anyone want to wear business clothes instead of scrubs? (I HATE scrubs!! bum deal for a nurse eh?) Why would someone my age still enjoy having sex? Why would it be important at all? The scent of stagnation and differentness after a time seemed to permeate every corner of my office life. My differentness stood out...I felt as if I walked around naked. I don't watch Nascar. Could not tell you a single driver's number. I never bonded much because I never took smoke breaks and didn't think every food on the planet tastes better with mayonnaise. I just never did quite fit in. So the sweet goodbyes I got today, complete wtih a phone call from one of my doctors to my voicemail singing a "farewell" song to me touched me a great deal. They are a little panicked and rightly so. Some misguided voice whispering in their ear convinced them to start farming their transcription out to India. I don't anticipate a good outcome from that.

I was tearful going into work, tearful coming home. I got right to work when I got home mopping floors and cleaning the drawers in the fridge. I can understand intellectually what is happening here and though I feel optimistic, this is a huge step away from my life as a cancer mom. It is bittersweet.

Alex wanted to put up Halloween decorations this weekend. Its a bit early, but everything in me says "so what". I really struggled with whether to get out the decorations that Joseph and I used to do up his hospital room last year. I had vowed early after his death to never use them again. But it niggled at me. There was so much grief just contemplating this upcoming had so much power. I decided to get into his memory box and just take a look, see how I felt looking at those things again now that a little time has gone by. As I opened the lid I told myself that if the bag of decorations was close to the top of the box (its huge) then that meant Joseph wants me to use them. And it was...just one layer down, below his plaid blanket that his Aunt Stacey made him one Christmas. I took the little bag out and went into the living room, taking out things one by one and the tears just ran and ran and ran, memory after memory swimming through a yearning sadness and a soft, gentle pride and gratitude. They are such good memories.

The next morning Alex got up and saw the little ghost/ghoul thing we had hanging on his IV pole. He looked through all the skeletons and jack-o-lanterns and black cats and window clings..and picked up this ghoul....twined a finger through the elastic coming out of its head and began to twirl. The ghoul lifted, floating, flying through the air, its robes rippling ghoulishly and Alex smiling a nine year old boy with a scary ghoul. And something in that charming, disarming moment let me know this was exactly what Joe-Gi would want. Just as the boys had a snowball fight at the cemetery on the day we were to bury Joseph into the cold January earth...the whimsical nature of children reminds us both that life goes on...and that it is short. The boys deserve wonderful holidays..and I still deserve wonderful memories of them having those. I would hate to become an old woman, my grief now changed to grieving what was missed because of my grieving...I know too well there is only one chance. One Halloween while Nick is 12 and Alex is first Halloween in the new house and neighborhood..and when they are gone..that's all we get.

We decorated the house this weekend. And it was good.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sometimes now I feel positively invisible. It is funny to watch how people define themselves and those around them. Single girls tend to hand out on weekends with other single girls. People with kids in sports migrate toward other families who have kids in sports. Divorced women bunch together like magnets and like hobbies attract like hobbies. The laws of the universe. Like attracts like. I notice now more and more that people do not know how to define me once they learn I have had a child who has died. If I am not careful it can feel as if I have a vague communicable disease. Logically, intellectually I realize for 99% of the population this is probably not true, but more along the lines of just not knowing how to categorize, what to say, how to relax. I have had the same interesting reaction from my closest group of friends, many of whom are currently unattached. While Joe lived miles and miles away I was automatically called and included, part of the "gang", one of the girls. Nothing feels that different to me now that he is here but my social life has dwindled to a trickle, and I find myself feeling hurt...resentful....lost...the invitations having dried up and yet the stories about activities told freely around me, as if it is understood that I should not feel bad..perhaps some unconscious logic that, after all, I have a man....? I do not understand it. I feel alienated by it. They tell of things they did, phone calls made, stories shared, events planned...and I know nothing...and stand there like an idiot...wondering whether to address it directly...or simply let it go...wondering if I am too sensitive, or just plain unlikeable..and furious at myself for questioning myself this way.

I start my job at Cooper Clinic on Wednesday. I am looking forward to it, though wondering if I am putting too much on this job, too many goals and dreams. It feels like a watershed, a gateway back to myself, a pathway to follow that will let me find resolution to some of my health/diet/exercise issues that predated this job but were exacerbated by the constant exposure to those who just do not care. I am looking forward to being surrounded by health conscious people and to having work out facilities right at my fingertips. It is amazing the number of people who ask me to help them find work there. It is definitely a coveted employer and I feel both gratified by the level to which they courted me and fortunate to have lived my life in such a way that I have earned this place.

I am at belly dance. My instructor is going to video us tonight and show us to ourselves. The depth to which I do not want to see this is stunning. I see in the mirror every day how my actuality does not fit with my mental impressions of myself.

Is anyone ever complete? Ever happy? Ever in a place where they are satisfied with themselves or the world? And would I want to be? I hate feeling unhappy. I fight against it so hard that when I no longer can it comes out in a rush of dissatisfaction that sounds borderline bipolar. And then I build again upon the relief of that emotional vomit.

Time to dance. More later perhaps.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Pass it on. Share it everywhere.

This is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. CNN is going to feature this video and do a portion of their programming next Friday night dedicated to childhood cancer. Please help us. It really honestly COULD be you.


God I wish the world would just slow down. Just slow.down. Let me get my bearings. I know a lot of it is my own fault. Pushing forward so, new home, new living situation, new job, trying to lose weight, trying to resurrect my dying friendships, trying to be a better mother, trying to help the boys get through their grief and school challenges and friend challenges, trying to be an attentive partner, a financially atuned modern woman,a sexy, generous lover, a good housekeeper, a tasteful decorator, a good student, a good friend, a generous daughter, a good employee....I feel like I am holding onto a big bunch of balls and constantly twisting, turning, straining, spinning, letting one drop to save another, picking it up as it bounces back at me, getting everything balanced precariously and then one gust of ill wind and once more I am back to struggling. I feel like nothing is 100%, nothing is good enough and failures are taunting me from every corner. I am tired emotionally. I find myself daydreaming about going to a cabin in the woods by myself for a few days, with nothing to do but walk through the forest and think, open my laptop and type, sip warm coffee, hold a warm mug in chilled hands, wrap up in a blanket underneath a big tree and just let it come to me. Or huddling in some anonymous Starbucks somewhere or even just wandering Barnes and Noble like I used to do when my spirit became restless because the smell of books soothes me. I have so little guilt-free time to myself and I am constantly trying to get some, but that usually means something else I ought to be getting done isn't and I am letting someone down. Days go by where I don't get to think much about Joseph at all now and then it comes back to me with such a powerful punch, both the pain and the guilt and at time resentment that I can't have the luxury of falling apart. But it is still in there, affecting my thoughts and my focus...I can't seem to remember anything for long, including to check the things I have put into place to help me remember stuff. Constantly seeking that peaceful, private moment where I can shut off the world and process all of this..not because I don't love the people around me but because I DO..and at times I feel absolutely panicked...that he isn't here..that I still am...that I am actively moving forward...that everything is so different, my life so fractured and segmented....Before...During....After...and none of it familiar now. I keep looking around and wondering how I got here, as if I tumbled ashore from shipwreck and find that I am probably okay but still so shaken up and not completely without inury. All normal grief stuff. All stuff I have to get through. All impossible to explain to anyone. Distracted. Forgetful. Fatigued. Sad. And alone in that sadness because I just don't have time for it, so to the outside eye it isn't even with me. My head feels so exhaustedly crowded and now that the boys are back in school with all their activities and issues my life does as well. So many expectations on me at a time when my inner resources have never been more strained. I wish I could just step off the path for a while and breathe.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I am composing in my head constantly now, blogging here even when I cannot be here to write..which I find I want to do more and more of and yet seem to have less and less time. Its probably a good thing. This has gotten to feel a bit egotistical, as if the whole world revolves around me. Of course, its a blog. Its supposed to be about me. So I guess I set myself up for yet another catch 22 situation that allows me to flagellate myself for no good reason. I just am always surprised when I find out that anybody reads these blurbs of thought and mundane information. More and more often lately I get a note in my email or a comment from someone referencing these scribblings and it always takes me aback. Thank you for all of you who read and care about me. I don't have the comments area activated, so it feels fairly anonymous from my end.

I am fussy today. Interestingly it seems to have absolutely nothing to do with Joseph. Imagine that! There are OTHER reasons on the planet to not be in a good mood. Silly really that it never occurred to me that other portions of life can still get me down. It makes me laugh at myself...partly a dark musing wondering how many reasons are there are on earth to be a grump (apparently many, at least in Sheri's world), partly poking at myself for becoming so tunnel visioned that everything gets filtered through the experience of Joseph's death prior to my being able to acknowledge it as a valid emotion. I am tearful today, just a bit left of center from the moment I woke up. A little strife between Joe and I is all it takes. A few moments of tension, then the rush of relief when those moments pass, the straining desire to burrow so far into his chest that we fuse and I can simply exist right there, inside his warmth and strength, right next to his heart where I most love to be...the frightening, rare occurrence of brittleness enough to make me see red, then that rubberband rush of "I'm sorry" and "I love you" and "Stay here forever". All that Hallmark stuff that part of me says I am far too old to be experiencing and another part of me is so thrilled to get to have at this point in my life.

Five years long distance made for an interesting courtship, every weekend together a honeymoon, every meal a dining experience, every hand-holding moment full of both an intense need born of the unfulfilled weeks in between visits and the muted dread of more of the same to come, until once again, one month later, all is satisfied and yet starting anew. I laughed at myself a bit this morning. I had trouble talking to him about what was bugging me face to face. The phone felt more familiar and safe. All is well now, but I am just so bad when it comes to working things out. My first impulse is to stifle and sink it into myself until it passes. And Joe reads me so plainly (its actually kind of scary) that it rarely works. He always knows when something is off between us, as if I am an instrument he finely and constantly tunes...even one small vibration of discord causing his head to tilt, his fingers to strum until he finds where the sour note is coming from, no matter how faint I try to make it (My! Doesn't that make me sound high maintenance?!). Of course, the trying to deny and hide my heart can at times become its own individual problem, until the situation has grown far beyond its own skin and into another entity entirely. We avoided that today. My resources are low though and I am now tearful, grateful to have a partner to whom I can talk, grateful to have found a man who is (usually) calm in the face of my seeming hurricane of emotion, who is there with arms and heart open. I want to fly there now, sink into the security and strength of him, to deny the world beyond my own door and hunker down in our little house on our little Texas plot of land where we planted our little white and yellow mums last night in the flower beds out front. I try not to wonder how long these blessings will stay with me. I try to live just in today. And when I do that successfully, I am so damn grateful for all I have that I could weep. Life is so good right now and I am thankful for the reprieve...for the chance to live each day with him, to solve life's little misunderstandings, for the rush of blessing after the storms we weather, far and away stronger and bigger than any muttering of disagreement we come up with. Oh, I know this all sounds so bipolar and young-lovish and newlywed-ish. I am old enough to know in time all this up and down will fade, that every grumble will not feel like an earthquake, that every irritation will not need voice nor solving. This period too shall have its day and, as everything does, turn to another season. But right now, today, I am 36 years old, soon to be 37, and I am in love. I love that.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I spent the weekend pretty much being sick. Nothing that seemed to take complete hold of me the way a definitive flu or stomach virus will do. More just head congestion that came and went, tummy troubles that came and went, low grade fevers that came and went...and a pervading fatigue that would not leave me be. My head was foggy with it. I am amazed I didn't have a car accident or some other minor home tragedy. I never really felt all the way "with it". Joe put me to bed at 8 PM on Saturday night and to my amazement I slept all the way through to 8 AM Sunday morning. I felt better on Sunday but am not feeling completely well again today. I have heard it can take a long time to shake things when you are grieving. I guess that must be true. I can't seem to get all the way sick nor all the way well. Sadly, I went to take my temperature one evening during this...we have a digital thermometer, the kind that keeps the last recorded temp in its memory bank and displays it when you turn the thermometer back on. My breath caught in my throat as 101.1 came into view..and I realized...nobody has been sick since Joseph went back to the hospital. The reading was the last temperature of his I ever took at home. It was the reading that prompted us to take him in last November...the entry that never had an exit. It is just phenomenally amazing what little things can sneak up on you and get you like that. He's been gone eight months today. I ache inside. The weather is changing. Fall is arriving. Granted, its a Texas Fall...highs in the 80s instead of the upper 90s and 100s...more rain, a little less sun. but the cold weather is coming. And like most things that take me back to that awful time, I am dreading it. Will I find peace in the familiarity, the reminders? I was at Garden Ridge this weekend and disgustingly they have all the Christmas stuff up, including Christmas music playing to show off the dancing lights that keep time with the music now. I thought when I saw that again it would devastate me. Instead I just felt the familiar "you have GOT to be kidding me" and a little bit of anticipation for the coming holiday season..which surprised me and then saddened me. I feel wrong to feel happy still. Yet there has been in the past week more of a peacefulness inside me. I do not trust it. I know too well now the ebb and flow of this loss...that as soon as I think I have found my footing, the riptide of grief will seize me and carry me elsewhere, leaving me breathless, disoriented and insecure. I am glad for the warmer thoughts, the increased dreams of my Joe-Gi, the times I can think about him and not feel like I want to lay on the ground and let it swallow me whole. But I don't trust it.

I met little Zachary Joseph last night for the first time. He is four months old now and so dang cute. Its hard to be sad around a baby. Jacob and Matthew are getting so big. (These are my nephews, my brother Jeff's children) Matthew is two and says all his words without the first consonant, so trying to make out what he says is difficult..but he is so intent on pleasing and so cuddly and solemn. My heart is particularly fond of him. Jacob is four and just full of beans and vigor,loving to hit, wrestle, roughhouse and laugh. They fight like puppies and play like them too. I should spend more time with kids. Its hard to see life in negative terms when you spend time inside a child's world.

Friday, September 7, 2007

We've kicked off the school year and already hitting some snags on the way. Nick was never a great student to begin with...he's much more interested in socializing than in staying organized and studying. It doesn't help that he is brilliantly smart and catching on to things so fast. But we have already had a call from the school because of numerous melt downs in class with fits of anger, crying, very low frustraton levels and giving up. So Stewart and I had a meeting with all of his teachers yesterday and the school counselor. Nick was present for the meeting. We put some things back into place for him that worked well toward the end of last year, checks and balances in terms of getting homework written down, the appropriate materials back home, homework stored where he can find it so he can turn it in on time, etc. Unbelievably he will do the work, but then not turn it in and not get credit for it. Its hard to understand, even though I was the same way at his age. In any case, the meeting went well and felt very positive. The teachers are a caring group of people and I don't think there is anyone in that school who is not aware of the wringer we've been through and the loss we have suffered. Even though all the frustration, anger and tears are understandable and normal, there still comes a point when you realize that as normal and understandable as it still has to keep going. I have trouble with this concept myself and honestly have no idea how to convey it to Nick.

He does have one teacher that seemed like a nice enough person, and I am sure they meant well, but really stuck thier foot in thier mouth and chewed with it in there. This person stated "they" say that it takes adults six months (!) to get over a death, so imagine how long it must take a child. I thought I was going to choke. This was right after being asked how long it has been since Joseph died (eight months on the tenth of this month). So I guess that means I ought to be over it in this person's view. I have to wonder if that individual has children of their own. It was all I could do to just mutter something about that probably being a bit of a conservative estimate. We are nowhere near "over" this. I can't fathom we ever will be. Able to function within it, yes. But Joseph's absence will forever be there...a scar across all of our lives. The kind that aches and hurts still in certain situations. This fall is going to be a rough time.

But that was really the only instance of cranial rectal insertion. Nick has one woman who helps him out a lot who also used to be Joseph's math instructor. It felt so wonderful to hear her talk about Joseph, to share a memory or two of having to help HIM with organization and the like. ...real memories, not fluffy, shiny happy memories...memories that are true to who he was, with all his human frailties and challenges....but the smile on her face when she talked about him stayed with me all day, tightened my chest, closed my throat. Nobody ever mentions him now. It is as if he never existed at times. To hear her say something about him so casually meant so much.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

So now we are working on the boy's/guest bathroom. Everything is torn out right now, but the new tile floor is laid and we are going to replaster the walls (to cover up some truly horrendous wall texture) and probably paint and install the new vanity, new toilet, new light fixture purchased at Ikea yesterday. I may go look at the wall fixtures today (towel bars, toilet paper holder, etc). We are loving our new floors and spend an inordinate amount of time staring at them and saying how much we love them to one another. We just writhe around in our domestic bliss.

So this was an exciting week. Strangely, last week I came upon an ad looking for a medical transcriptionist for the new Cooper Clinic opening in McKinney at Craigs Ranch. I really have not been looking for work, but I have always wanted to work for Cooper Clinic..they are a world renowned research center and fitness medicine/weight loss/heart health clinic that people fly here from across the planet to get health assessed, go to classes on cooking and stress control and eating right and then they have this huge, wonderful aerobics facility, certify personal trainers, etc. A very respected, well known place and very hard to get a job there. I have tried before. So based on the temptation of this being the kind of place I would really like to work (and on Joe's firm urging) I sent in my resume (that I typed up in about 15 minutes without a lot of serious thinking, assuming nothing would come of it anyway). They called me the next morning, wanted me to come interview right away. Long story short, they called me at home this weekend to offer me the job. There are a lot of perks to this position, not the least of which is flex time. As long as I am there five days a week and put in 40 hours I can work whatever hours I want to. Joe and I both get memberships to the new fitness/aerobics facility and they offer bonus incentives for living a healthy lifestyle. Plus all the usual benefits I have now and a few that I don't have. Its a push in terms of my salary but the flex time will really come in handy for school and spending time with my kids, attending doctor appts and the like. I have decided to accept the position. I will turn in my notice where I am at now on Tuesday. I don't think they will be happy. Good full time transcriptionists willing to work outside of their home are hard to find.

The last day of August hit me so hard and I spent most of the morning weeping at my desk at work and not getting a whole lot done. Leaving that place will probably be good for me, giving me the excuse to finally clear away the Joseph Shrine my cubicle has become and start over at the new place. I am going to have to figure out how to answer the personal questions about my kids and family that come with a new set of coworkers. August 31 was the day last year we had the meeting with Joseph's team telling us what to expect with the transplant and Sept 1 was the first meeting to find out how radiation oncology works and to get the mold of his face made. I wish I had gotten to keep that mold now. Sept 26, my birthday, will be a year from his first day of full body radiation.

This time of year, through Christmas and the first anniversary of his death, is going to be incredibly emotional and hard on Stewart and I. We were so full of hope then. Scared to death, but hopeful. We just could not fathom a world without our Joseph in it. I really do miss him and I hope he knows how much I love him. He gives me so much inspiration to get through all these huge, life altering changes. Its so hard to move on. To step even a tiny bit away from his illness and death. Even moving to this new, better job can bring me to tears. A brand new building, one Joseph will have never walked in or seen. Brand new people whose only knowledge of what we went through will be what I tell them....and if I do not tell them, they will not know. It is such a hard decision to make. I don't want to carry that around as something by which people will define me....because I think it can blind to anything else. But I also cannot deny it is part of me, has shaped and changed my life, my personality, my goals, my thoughts. And it feels like a betrayal were I to say that I have two sons. I don't. I have three. But every time I say out loud that my oldest son died of cancer this past January, it gets a little more real, takes a little bigger bite out of my heart. There are so many challenges in the coming months. Yesterday I was at Big Lots and they have all their cheapie fun Halloween decorations out. My throat closed up seeing them, remembering taking $25 and purchasing a whole bunch of that stuff so that Joseph and I could decorate his hospital room in crime scene tape, bloody handprints and old fashioned cardboard cut outs of witches and skeletons and black cats to tape to the walls. What a wonderful memory. We had so much fun doing that and Joseph was so thrilled. Poignant. Heartbreaking. I'd give anything to live it again. I miss him. Hollowly, desperately. Lovingly, tenderly. Pridefully, determinedly. I miss him.