Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Another dream

I dreamed about Joseph again last night...probably not surprising given that I thought about him all day yesterday. In my dream I was trying to get to the airport. My struggles to go wherever it was I had to go were complicated by a world that seemed to be an odd and jumbled combination of a cruise ship, a shopping mall, an airport and a hospital. I kept getting lost. I finally turned down one corridor and something in me thought it was familiar. A nurse smiled at me and pointed me toward a room at the end of the hall. I hurried into the room and Joseph was there beneath a red blanket, sleeping. I touched his head and in my mind said to myself that he would never wake again. I had a sensation in me that I needed to hurry and find the airport. I kissed him and I turned to go. Again I found myself in this crowded, bizarre place trying to figure out where the airport was at. After what felt like a very long time, I again found myself at Joseph's door. This time others were there, family members, and I tried to explain to them that Joseph was not going to wake up. But then he turned over, opened his eyes and he did. I was stunned, then overjoyed. I hugged him as he started weakly getting out of bed and he said he wanted something to eat. I brought him outside and the nurses all smiled like this happened all the time, and suddenly it hit me that I had been staying away from the hospital for too long, that he had been there all along and that the nurses were taking care of him. I marveld at that because Joseph absolutely hated the nurses and was just awful to them the vast majority of the time. I remembered thinking that maybe it was a good thing, that he had been forced to learn to accept having to communicate with them...And now here he was, awake, tall, walking down the corridor with me in search of food, smiling, not robust but certainly not dead. And I chastized myself for having ever thought such a thing and what kind of mother was I, that I could imagine my son dead and then abandon him to a hospital room while I dashed off to do other things? I could not stop hugging him.

Yesterday was a good day. Joseph is buried at DFW National Cemetery and I went out there to "see" Joseph and decorate his grave for his birthday. As it was Memorial Day, the cemetery was all decked out itself, with every roadway lined by large American flags and many to most of the graves sporting flags and flowers in red, white and blue. I have never seen that many people there. I brought Joseph flowers, a Happy Birthday balloon, a Spongebob Squarepants balloon, a couple of patriotic pics to stick in the ground around his headstone. As I kneeled in the Texas heat, decorating my son's grave rather than his birthday cake, military planes flew over in formation. A Harley Davidson club circled the graveyard waving at people with flags trailing in the wind on the back of thier bikes. People were taking pictures everywhere. There were old men in uniforms. It was really something to behold. I sat at Joseph's grave for a long time and watched the wind play with his balloons. Stewart had brought Nick and Alex out there the day before and they had put sunflowers, a large pinwheel and a teddy bear on Joseph's grave as well. With the wind blowing as it was, Joseph's headstone was having quite a party. It is a bizarre feeling, to sit there as if straddling some strange emotional line, one foot planted in complete devastation and bereavement, the other planted in a place of inner peace. But that is how it was. When I started to get sunburned I leaned in and kissed his headstone, my lips smooth on the warm granite. It smelled of earth and air, just like Joseph did and I lingered there a while. When I got up, people approached me. Perhaps kissing his headstone that way seemed odd? They wanted to know if I was okay. A toothless veteran assured me Joseph is in a better place as he took my hand in his own gnarled and calloused one. A warm, comforting Hispanic woman took me in her arms and held me as I started to cry and she told me her son made it back. I chokingly tried to explain that my son was in a different kind of war, that he died of cancer. She just held me as I started to cry from the compassionate outreach of these strangers. I do not know why they were there that day nor what about me made them react and reach out. They were not together. Two separate groups of people. It was a blessing, one I was ready for.

The dream last night has left me with lingering thoughts of him. I didn't get the memorial garden planted yesterday. It was very hot and after the cemetery my limbs felt like 80 pound weights. I had a quiet day with Joe, "cocooning" as he called it. I am glad I dreamed of Joseph last night. I got to see his smile.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, my Joe-Gi (May 26, 1993)

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

- ee cummings

Happy 15th birthday Joseph. I miss you desperately and wish you were here. I carry your heart in my heart. Forever and always.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Streaking at the Gym

Now there is a headline to get your attention! Please note, there will be NO pictures in this particular blog entry. Its a good thing. Trust me.

So I mentioned before that I am getting fed up with my eating habits and couch potato ways. Joe has been very encouraging and made the suggestion this week that I put it on my personal calendar and commit to going to the gym three times a week. This was a sensible suggestion and I readily agreed. After all, I work at the international mecca of cardiovascular fitness and health. One of my benefits is a membership to one of the fanciest and finest gyms in the nation. I am, in essence, refusing some of my own compensation by not utilizing it. And since I have a new PDA and love to have things to plug into it, I was eager to schedule my work out times and push all those pretty buttons. Of course, pushing the buttons I think ought to count on some level as one work out...but I digress.

So today was the big day, the first day of my new schedule. I get up at 5:30 every morning anyway, so rather than getting up and sitting and surfing the Internet for a half hour as I usually do, I just got dressed and headed out the door. There was a surprising number of people at the gym. Evidently insanity runs hand in hand with good health. Or maybe just insomnia.

The locker room was blessedly deserted as I put my things up. It gave me the courage to step onto the medical scale positioned conveniently by the full length mirror (in case there is any doubt in your mind what your weight looks like apparently. Allows you to view the horror both from an aesthetic and numeric standpoint at once). If there was any doubt that I needed to be there, it disappeared as I slid the weight indicator to the right...and further right...and further right. I have been avoiding the scale until today. Not a pretty sight.

But, there I was all dressed to work out, so I shook off that number pretty good. I really only get horribly depressed by the scale when one of two things is going on:

A. If Joe is looking over my shoulder at the number. Logically, I know he loves me and wants me. He told me I was sexy when I weighed 70 pounds more than I do right now. But in my mind, it doesn't matter. I want to be beautiful for him.

B. If I know in my heart I have not really been trying very hard to improve things.

Neither applied in that moment, so off I went.

I am not adverse to exercise like some are. I actually really enjoy it. I have phenomenal lung capacity and very strong legs. Working out feels good to me. I don't mind what it takes to be in shape. Its the process of getting into shape that I hate. The mental conversation in my mind that wonders how badly things are flopping around and whether people are sneering at me and thinking I am disgusting, whether small children are pointing and asking questions. I hate the feeling of having known my form to easily accomplish certain things, levels of strength, stretching, endurance, and feeling how far I have slid since my martial arts days. Worrying I am too old to get my groove back. Worrying my thighs rubbing together are going to start a small fire. Things like that.

But the actual feeling as my muscles come alive is addictive and powerful. I don't mind getting sweaty. I love to feel myself improve. I can easily turn my embarassment into anger, both at any who would think poorly on me as I struggle to correct the problems with my body and with myself for letting things get the way they have. But also with the situations life has thrown my way that overwhelmed my desire to keep going. I have come to the conclusion that I am storing an incredible amount of anger and grief deep in my muscles. I feel it as my heart rate goes up, as my thighs and butt start to burn and tense. It will sound strange when I say that it feels good, to feel this fury roar out of my physicality, to have not only a way to express it in physical movement, but a way to recognize it. I tried hard to commit that euphoric feeling of rage to memory, to put it in my list of resources for when I feel like my grief is running me over. It felt good and I have not cried at all today.

One of the greatest pleasures in working out here is the locker room facilities. They are just gorgeous. Cherry hardwood floor to ceiling. Fluffy ivory towels, as many as you like to use. All the amenities you could ask for in terms of personal hygeine products and beauty aids. Plus the sauna. The whirlpool. The steam room. The ultra clean facilities. The beautiful tile work and fancy lighting. Its really very luxurious. It feels good there to finish a work out and shower up. Only today I actually got into the shower and realized as I was soaping up my hair and toying with the idea of buying some very expensive hair products as a means of motivation for working out (stuff I would only use when showering at the gym) that I had gotten into the shower without grabbing myself a towel.

Insert here a flash of horror. I am wet. I am nude. I am in the healthy body capital of the free world taking a shower behind a curtain. And the towel that I need is OUT THERE.

So I begin to fret. This is a ladies locker room. As such, plenty of women walk around in various states of undress, frequently for the purpose of showing off what their time there at the gym has done for their bodies. Particularly the young girls who do not realize that time has not yet had a chance to march itself across their youthful beauty and that it will get harder in future years to maintain things. I am happy for them, but envy them their smug assumptions. I had them too in my day. And they look at one another. They look at YOU. I make it a habit to NEVER. EVER. EVER. be naked in the gym locker room. I am using the word never here. Never. naked. in. gym.

But it was a quiet morning in the Cooper ladies locker room and I got cautiously hopeful. Project Stealth Towel was born. I finished showering and stood there dripping as I listened carefully. Spa music was playing softly, a nice touch. Anyone in the locker room would be half asleep for sure. I could hear no motion to warn me of any other people about, but I was keenly aware that slender women can move without a sound...no thighs to rub together. I tiptoe rapidly toward the grooming area, where the towels are kept, jiggly bits dripping water was I go. I listen again. Nothing. My heart is pounding. I am keenly aware that some of these privileged people with their healthy lifestyles have probably never seen a fat chick naked. I tell myself they are more afraid of me than I am of them and if I leave them alone they will leave me alone...and steal across the tiled floor, heart pounding, to seize two towels from the vanity nearest the showers. I then get a burst of energy, impressive given I have just done 40 minutes on an ellipitcal for the first time in four or five months, and hit Mach III racing back to my shower where my clothing awaits to conceal me once more, parts of me clapping against others as if to applaud my success. I hastily yank the mint green curtain closed and get the giggles. I just walked through one portion of my place of employment naked. Well. Snuck. Not walked. But nobody saw me, and I can promise you, I will not ever. ever. ever. forget a towel again.

Getting dressed in the shower room sucks. I felt like my kids, who frequently try to roll their underwear and pajamas onto still-wet bodies because they cannot be bothered to dry off, then walk around looking plastered and uncomfortable and slightly disheveled. I am going to have to find myself a towel wrap or bathing suit cover up something to wear until I get out of the damp areas and dry off all the way. Because I don't do naked in the ladies gym locker room. Ever. And I don't like putting my clothes on still half damp.

But I did it. I worked out, got ready for work at the gym, and I feel pretty darn good about that, for today.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Such Light

I was hunting through my old in-box yesterday for memories of Joseph and found these from my sister-in-law. My brother Jeff, and his wife, Stacey had a swimming party in early Fall that last year. This was right before we took our last family trip to San Antonio, just before Joseph was to go in to have the stem cell transplant done. The boy with him is Jeff and Stacey's oldest son, Jacob. Joseph just loved kids. It was a bit of a bummer of a party for Joseph, as Jeff and Stacey have a gorgeous swimming pool in the backyard, and Joseph liked nothing better than swimming, but with his central line and immune suppression he wasn't allowed. It also was about 105 degrees outside and he could not be out in that heat. So he stayed inside and played his Gameboy and was very peaceful about it while all the rest of the family was outside swimming. Sometimes I wished he would rage at all he had to miss, but if he did, he kept it to himself. As we were either cleaning up the food or preparing it (I don't remember which), I looked over and Joseph had gathered little Jacob up onto the couch with him and was showing him how to play his game. Stacey took these pictures. They show such a happy, wonderful, growing young man. He told me on the way home, when I praised him for playing with Jacob, that Jeff and Stacey get the benefit of his babysitting skillz for free since they are family. He was such a funny boy. He had been taking babysitting classes through the parks and recreation department and had taken CPR and been certified through Scouts. It was one of his dreams, to be a babysitter.

His birthday is this coming Monday, Memorial Day. He would have turned 15. I wish I could say I am doing well, but I spent the day at work yesterday weeping on and off. I am doing it again this morning so it wasn't just a passing thing apparently. I loathe crying in front of others. There is no graceful surrender to it for me. Joe always seems to know what to do with me. He is very accepting of my sorrow, though it is chaotic to live with and hard to understand at times. We put up the kick boards in the kitchen together when I got home, which is a bigger job than it sounds like when they are not exactly the right size. Then he took me out for dinner at On The Border, got me a margarita and a taco salad and ate with me while we talked. I am always more peaceful with Joe. He makes me feel protected, cared for and safe. We both are gaining weight and I think I may be ready to do something about it. Its not making me feel better, even though stuffing food into my hollow spirit is an urge that can be overwhelming. But I am feeling worse physically and have come to realize that perhaps I just need to accept that I am going to hurt sometimes, sometimes a lot. Maybe then these tears will come easier and maybe then I will reach a point when they genuinely can be put away most of the time. I honestly feel worse right now than I did this time last year. That smile...look at that boy. How can he be gone from me? He was just becoming who he was going to be. I only got these short glimpses of it and then he was gone. I am greedy. I want more. I would not want him back here suffering the way he did for anything in the world. It was horrifying and terrible on a level that feels impossible to fathom even after having gone through it with him. But I wish for those good days back, like the one above. I wish I were shopping for 15-year-old birthday gifts and agonizing over whether he should be allowed to take driver's education in the coming year and encouraging him to start a bank account with his babysitting takings instead of spending it all. And at Nick's next birthday he will be older than Joseph lived to see. That just stops me in my tracks. How can that be?

I am going to have the boys help me plant Joseph's memorial garden on his birthday and I will go to the cemetery and put flowers on his grave. And I will remember him. I will honor him by not trying to stuff this pain aside with food or sleep and I will cry when I need to cry. For me, that is huge.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

I am about 18 months old. I was a petite child and had very little hair to speak of until I was 2. My mother says I talked early and often, and, true to the girlie girl that I am, my favorite phrase was "That's so pretty!". I used to love to hear Mom tell stories about me as a little girl. I should ask her to start telling me again.

This is senior prom circa 1988. I like this picture because it looks like I have boobs and because I have been told I look like Sheena Easton. But I don't in fact have boobs and I spent a good amount of time worrying that Stewart (the fella in the picture who many moons later became my husband and the father of my children and then my ex husband and good friend) would somehow "dent" the front of my dress and I would be inverted. I was mortified when my mother insisted I borrow the strapless bra she wore to HER senior prom rather than buy me my own. The "ew" factor lingers with me to this day.

Ah yes, my ever-so-smokin' blue suede skirt. I worked at Dillard's Collin Creek Mall for three and a half years, the only teen to not get axed when they decided to ax all teenaged employees. I think it was because I managed to learn the importance of not being tardy, and because I was a natural at retail sales. I worked the men's department, then juniors, and in my final years with them was in lingerie, which I apparently loved enough to nearly pose in it for pictures. I am sure I picked up the most risque pair of panties I could find at the time. My how times are changin'...those look rather insulating by today's standards.

The four pictures above make my heart ache the worst. I took a self defense course in college and fell in love with martial arts. I was good at it..I had good, solid legs, impressive balance and was so very dedicated. I had always been a girlie girl and I really got off on the feeling of doing something no girl I knew had done. My family was not exactly supportive. I remember I spent $40 per month on my karate lessons and sank a good $150 into that tournament gi (with the red pants), which was embroidered beautifully on the back with my school symbol, style and my last name. I don't know what happened to it. The second picture is so bittersweet and sad to me. I had just gotten injured in a tournament...I blew out my ACL completely and my family would not allow me to have it fixed. I was still on their insurance and it didn't occur to me that I didn't need their permission. I am 18 in this picture. I was so proud of those huge trophies. I found something in myself when I was sparring, and of 22 women I still took 3rd place even though I had to bow out after my leg would no longer hold me up. I didn't realize yet that my martial arts career died that day. I have not been able to do it since. I still have not fixed that knee. Time got away from me, I gained weight, I lost sight of this passion and now I feel too heavy to withstand the surgery and rehab. If I lose the weight, its one of the first things I will take care of.

The following two pictures were at our school awards banquet. Both the fellas in the picture wanted to date me, and I did date them both. One was trouble, the other a nerd. I am sure the nerdy guy is now quite rich. I already know that Trouble dropped out of school and disappeared from respectable society, at least in my world. The girl, Jessie, and I were friends and rivals. We kicked each other's ass on a regular basis.

And finally, a picture from my wedding day to Stewart with my mother. Big hair. Big dress. Big day. Big mistake. Sort of. I have a hard time actually calling Stewart a mistake. It was, but not in a bitter, mean, unhappy sense. More like watching a puppy fall off a curb. I just didn't look where I was going.

I have been looking at these pictures a lot lately. My life has been so fractioned by major events that sometimes I have trouble remembering the girl in the pictures above are the same as the girl in the mirror. Sometimes I feel if I could just figure out how to bring my perception of my life back into alignment, as being all part of the same story rather than fractured into phases, I would get some of the things together that I want so badly to recover about myself.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


It is raining. I hope it goes on and on, for a long time, while I sit here in semi-darkness and listen to it and to my big bruised heart.

I am reading a book. A funny, witty, wonderful book called "Good Grief" by Lolly Winston. A novel, actually. Found on the dollar rack at Half Price Books. I adore the dollar rack at Half Price Books. I can think of only a few things that give me more pleasure than buying books for a buck. Good books in good shape, that I can then sell back to Half Price Books for more than what I paid for them (a dollar) after I finish reading them. My giddy little criminally minded secret. Half Price Books pays me a profit to read. Now don't you go doing it too or they are going to wise up and ruin it for me.

The book is about a woman whose husband died from Hodgkins quite young. I am both gratified and burning with anger at how she is grieving. So. like. me. It is as if the author has been inside my head, particularly with the way she writes about the insane urge to eat and the crazy need to sleep. I feel like I need to write to her, like she is a long missing sibling or soul mate. Surely she has had a great loss herself. There is just no way she could know this otherwise. But I feel angry too. The heroine in the story gets to grieve the way I want to but can't. The whole not showering, driving the car through the garage door, forgetting to go to work, unable to get dressed, run sobbing from stores advertising the holidays kind of grieving that would feel so damn good..and that I just won't and can't give in to. I love her descriptions of her grief support group and how she counted all their legs to determine how many people were there, and the strange feeling of being overwhelmed and out of body listening to the tearful words from others. So very like me. I wish I had that kind of luxury. I guess that is why they call it "fiction". I don't know if anyone does.

That all being said, I am doing okay. I took a walk on Saturday. I just get pissed sometimes (not often enough I think) at my own desire to sit and just be within my loss. I get frustrated at myself for this constant drive to hurry up and finish everything I have to get done so that I can do nothing without any sense of needing to do something. as if I am in a place now where I am constantly taking inventory and keeping watch over what is left of my battered psyche. So, fed up, I put on my shoes and broke out my Zune and decided to just walk. I had no plan to keep any particular pace, nor any intention of walking any particular distance. The important thing seemed to just be to move. So I did, and I went a different way than I have gone before. And slowly, shyly, the world seemed to come to life for me. It was the day before Mother's Day and I had been weeping on and off for three days it seemed. But on this walk I found a pathway that curves through a boggy area of utter charm, a creek and ponds that hide the suburban landscape and allowed me to step along a magical land. And suddenly Joseph was just everywhere, talking to me, showing me his presence. It started with a group of white wildflowers dancing on the breeze, then the heady drunking tendrils of wild honeysuckle on the air. The earthy scent of things growing and dying, the elegant frame of a crane across the pond, so still its reflection echoed back to me in the glass surface of the pond. The turtles that in that moment came up for air. The bench someone put facing the water, where I could sit and enjoy these things. The mother duck with 12 ducklings that waddled across my path, their small bodies dancing in the tall grass looking for bugs, the mother staring at me more in pleading than in warning, all her brood together and her own exhausted self relieved to have them occupied and safe for a moment. The gathering of boy scouts beginning to arrive to fish at the pond, thier laughter and upturned faces reflecting a joy I don't know that I have felt for a very long time. The puppies just behind the fence on the way home that wanted me to race with them. The multitude of colorful birds that showed themselves to me. The bunny rabbits along the path that would not hop out of the way even as I approached them, so tame and fearless that I wonder still if I could have pet one. He was everywhere, and Jimmy Buffett's song "One Particular Harbor came on in the shuffle of my Zune music and I felt my spirit lift and lift until I was laughing with the wonderful feeling of having been given the best Mother's Day gift he could have sent me - all these things that brought his spirit to me. And oddly I felt, in those moments, blessed beyond measure, peaceful, happy.

So things are both better and worse. I am feeling him more. I am feeling his absence more than ever before. I am struggling to make myself actually work when I am at work. I can't seem to stop eating even when my body is crying out because it is too full. And in the mirror, I see how a women covered over in the physical manifestation of her emotional pain. So I am stepping carefully. I am trying to be more gentle and nurturing to myself. Joe and I had a long talk this weekend, and he told me so tenderly how he is worried about the way I have been seeing and talking to myself. It helped.

So this is how it is right now.

And on a lighter note...

Alex was so funny tonight. He had baseball practice and one of the requirements for the league is that he wear a protective cup. Which he thinks is just so strange. Tonight, as I drove im to practice, he looked at me, grinned and rapped his knuckles against his groin as if he wanted a door to open, then stated "I got pro. tec..shun* and rapping his knuckles hard against the cup in his paints to punctuate each syllable.

Ah yes. I do so love little boys.

I love you Joe-Gi. God, I miss you so badly.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

So Mother's Day is almost here. Its one of those holidays that I don't anticipate being hard since Joseph died. I don't know why. Christmas and his birthday are obvious ones. Halloween. Things that are kid oriented. But I'm his mother and he is gone. Seems like a no brainer that it would suck. But the degree to which it has sucked has, once again, taken me by surprise. It continues to surprise me how much my grief can surprise me still.

I celebrated Mother's Day last night with Stewart and the boys, as I usually spend Mother's Day with my own Mom. I went to hang out at Stewart's apartment. We ate chinese food, exposed the boys to the bliss that is Indiana Jones and then played Guitar Hero and Wii bowling together. The kids were terrific. They made me homemade decorations for my office at work and got me a Dallas Stars jersey with Zubov's number on it. By the end of the evening poor Alex was laughing so hard at things that he was bursting into tears, which always makes me feel a little sorry for him. He was exhausted. So the kiddos went to bed and Stewart and I hung out for a little while. The kids had decided they were ready to clear some of Joseph's things out and Stewart had a big rubbermaid container filled with most of Joseph's "friends", meaning all the freaking stuffed animals he had collected over the years. That was hard to see. Then Stewart brought out to show me a SpongeBob folder of Joseph's he had discoverd somewhere in their room that he'd not found before. God damn, seeing it and its contents was so freaking wonderful and yet just shattered my heart all over again.

It had his handwriting in it. The goofy kid had made a birth certificate for his sea monkeys. Yep, you read that right. He named his Sea Monkeys and they had a dated birth certificate. 05/26/2005. One week before he was diagnosed with cancer. Three years ago on his birthday. Bob, Larry, Curly, Moe, Megatron and Destroya. Megatron the Sea Monkey. Destroya the Sea Monkey. It just cracked me up. There was some of his art work in there too, not the best stuff he ever did. He loved to draw stick figure cartoons. Its funny how even the awful stuff that proves I let him watch things on TV that I should not have gets into my heart and makes me nostalgic and sorrowful at the proof of his maleness and that he was growing up. You know. Things like decapitations and captions from a stick figure holding a gun declaring "Suck It!" to another stick figure. Things that are moving to a mother's heart. Yeah. It sucks to need to have a good talking to with your preteen and to find you can't. I would give anything. Any. Thing.

His handwriting was in there. All these things. Proof. Proof he was here. Sometimes I can wonder if I imagined him. But that last night was just the essence of him, and it poured over me like a syrup of grief and loss. He was 13 and so handsome and just on the brink of becoming the man he was to be. I wept so hard all the way home, the kind of weeping where I make sounds that frighten myself, the kind I seldom indulge in because it is so draining and so sad, so hard to get back up from. It knocked me flat, cleansed my soul, left me breathless with the hole that was his existance here. He was so funny, so different, so unique and so comfortable with his uniqueness.

I am getting better at letting things trigger a sense of him still being near, still being with me. It comforts and quiets me, and lets me move forward with so much less agitation and depression. I am grateful for it.

Statistics is over and I am so glad. It got very hard at the end there. My final went okay. I didn't ace it but I think I did well enough to maintain my B average. As my friend Allison told me on the way to that test...at least I know I never have to take that class again! I was just sick with tension over the exam. Now I have a four week respite until Anatomy and Physiology I start. I think I will enjoy that class more. It will be more blatantly pertinent to nursing, and I am hopeful my background as a medical transcriptionist will help me somewhat with comprehension.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Does it ever end? I have a friend from Minnesota whose child had cancer long ago. He is a teenager now. They found out today he has cancer again, either the same kind or a secondary kind, a tumor in his belly. I am so livid I cannot see straight. She was such a friend to me for so long. I just cannot believe this is happening to her. She truly believed he could not get his cancer back again. Yet here they are, lives turned upside down on a chapter they thought was closed. Its enough to strike terror into the heart of any parent who has ever had a child with cancer who thought their child is safe now. Like so many people I know. Like my own Alex, who is five years after his own brain tumor as of this July, who is having his yearly MRI this June to check for regrowth.

I keep trying to study for my final tomorrow. I feel like there's a barrier, a lining around my brain that nothing can penetrate. I will be glad tomorrow when it is over and I have a month off not to worry about things.

We finished painting the kitchen tonight. The contractor comes on Friday morning to put in our new countertops. I really cannot wait to see how its all going to look. We have such a lovely home.

Monday, May 5, 2008

I sometimes wonder..what is it like to be beautiful in the traditional sense? To never feel fat or ugly? To have thighs that are sleek and smooth and perfect? Even at my most fit when I was training in martial arts and competing I was never that kind of thin and never that kind of pretty. What's it like to have platinum blond hair and perfect breasts? What is it like to have men be nice to you simply because you are beautiful? To never have someone explain why their significant other ignores you in terms of "Well, he is truly just extremely shallow", assuming you will understand that shallow people would never find you attractive? What's it like to be beautiful to the beautiful people? And why would I wonder about it and question it, with all the hard lessons my life has held? Can it really still be important to me after all that has gone on? I guess it can because it still bothers me. It bothers me that I don't live up to my physical potential, that at one time my physical health was so very important to me and that I struggle to find the energy or mental capacity to keep all of that together right now. It bothers me that people would look at my overweight self and know right then and there that I am someone they do not care to know. It feels very unfair. And at the same time these are the same people that, frankly, at my most confident periods in my life, I would have no problem at all ignoring completely. Its interesting that at the times I most need to be able to say honestly "who gives a crap?" are the times I cannot do so. I hate being judged for my weight and my looks. I hate feeling bad from wanting the good opinion of people that I don't personally think well of, whose rejecton still stings even if I don't even like them. I hate that I let so much of that kind of crap into my soul to eat at me. When I feel good about the efforts I am making in my life, I am untouchable in the self esteem department. So I guess my angst should be telling me something. I am not happy with myself, so its easier to give credence to the opinions of others. Perhaps that is the big flag I am looking for that I am letting myself down needlessly. Something for me to think about anyway. But do you have any idea how it feels to contemplate starting to exercise again and to eat right, to make moves to not only improve my life, but to extend it when my son lies 6 feet down into a cold and dark grave? When nothing I did to save him was enough, yet here I am still trying to save myself? It feels wrong. It feel selfish and pointless, because at times I don't really care to extend my life..and when I catch myself thinking about doing so, there's this little battle going on in my head, each side of me chastizing the other, one for trying to live, the other for refusing to let me.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Yesterday was one of the busiest days I have had in a long time! We went to Alexander's baseball game in the morning and it was oddly cold out for May in Texas. Joe gave me his jacket (romantic careteaker of a man that he is!) and I still shivered through the whole thing. I am learning something about myself as I watch my kids play sports, and its not a pretty thing. I am competitive and impatient. I get frustrated when they do stupid stuff in the game and I have to laugh at myself and talk to myself...."they are 10 Sheri, not MLB. Look at them...LOOK at them..THEY are having fun. And if you get all hyper it steals the fun out of it and makes you into a psychoparent of one the worst kinds, so sit down and be quiet and watch how thrilled your son is to be on a team with the guys!" Like I said...its not a pretty side of my personaltiy and I have no idea what triggers it. There is no question that I myself am not even remotely athletic, so its rather humerous that I would be so driven when watching my child play sports. What's up with that??

So we watched cute little boys play in their cute little baseball uniforms, dropped Alex off at a birthday party and then did some shopping, just Joe, Nick and I. We went to a new Asian market on Legacy in Plano and wandered around. Nick's head was on a swivel and I swear to God the boy didn't not stop talking for two hours straight. He has gone from being a kid who will only eat french fries and grapes to wanting to really explore all the flavors of the world. He wanted to buy curry, dried fish, 20 different kinds of ramen, 40 different kinds of tea....it was fun to enjoy him on that level but I literally could watch Joe starting to wilt as the constant barrage of dramatic thrills bombarded us. I hope its something Nick will outgrow....this dramatic OMG! about anything and everything. By the time we finished up the whole shopping trip I was ready to hand him any kind of video game he wanted just to get a little bit of quiet. I have figured out Nick just cannot stand the house to be quiet.And I personally NEED a lot of quiet time. It makes things rocky at times and I fear he feels rejected by me when I finally just can't listen to him anymore. Anyhoo, I let him get a big bowl of ramen to make for his lunch (which he loved even though we could not read the directions because they were in another language). Then we went on to Lowes and bought a new kitchen sink, new fixtures and a new garbage disposal. So we are all ready in that sense for the counter installation. The people putting the new counters in are pretty funny. They give out an instruction sheet on everything we need to do to be ready for this and at the bottom of it they state that getting new kitchen counters is fun.....but the process of getting them installed is not. I consider myself forewarned.

Then we came home and sent Nick off to occupy himself. Joe went outside, planted wildflowers around the driveway and then began the huge project of recutting the soffit vents under the roof overhangs, which are woefully too small and totally blocked by insullation. I got the cleaning bug in me and cleaned the entire house but for the kids bedrooms. Floors and bathrooms and all. We put a turkey in the oven that we'd had since the Thanksgiving timeframe and I invited Stewart over to have dinner with us. He brought Alex home from his party and I had my own girlie version of suburban Big Love as we all sat down for a meal together. Stewart and I played games with the boys for a while, we had apple pie and then Joe and I collapsed into bed. It was a full day, a good one.

Today I need to shop for mother's day (we are going here www.cooperspa.com for the day next week! Woohoo! that's Mom's gift to me) and hope to meet up with my girlfriends for lunch at Big Fish.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I feel like I have so far left to go before I amount to anything. It can be an exhausting train of thought when I think about how long it could take for me to become a nurse, to lose the weight I want to lose, to learn to live again without being afraid of my shadow. I am thinking about one of those three issues 100% of the time. I wish I could let it all go, meaning not stop doing the things I want to do, but stop worrying and turning it all over and feeling my stomach and mind in knots. I wish it could be okay even without me examining every nuance, every possible outcome, without me trying to manage and stay on top of everything. I am emotionally tired.

It was a pretty nice day today. Nick got his report card yesterday and has pulled his grades up to all As and Bs. He satisfied his first merit requirement on his journey to being an Eagle Scout. He signed up for softball with our church youth group and has volunteered to help with the younger kids at Vacation Bible School this summer. He is happy and pleasant to be around. We watched part of the Stars playoff game together last night and shared a pillow. He would touch my hand now and then and smile at me. He tries though too hard to take care of me.

Alex has his first baseball game on Saturday. He is very excited. His progress report came home today and he is now making straight As. He hung out in his underwear at the kitchen table tonight eating a popsicle and didn't think a thing of it when Joe walked through the room. Nick hugged Joe after dinner to thank him for cooking. Its taken a year, but I think they are finally starting to believe life has settled down, that this house is ours, that Joe is going to stay. I need to take my cues from them. I still feel like it could all go away at any moment. When will I learn that its okay to relax? Maybe never? Between the brain tumor and the leukemia I just feel like I am forever now looking over my shoulder and all around, searching and scrutinizing for the slightest hint that something is going to go awry.

Tonight was the last night of school. I didn't even realize it would be, and it made me oddly sad and melancholy. I only made an 81 on my last exam. There goes my A average for good. I can't get an A now no matter what. I am disappointed. But if you had asked me if I could even pass that class six months ago I would have said probably not. Getting a B is not the end of the world. The instructor handed out the review for our final, which is on Thursday, and said there is no class on Tuesday. I felt like I had been punched, which surprised me. I am attached to the teacher and very emotional about this class. It was the end of a degree plan I have been working on in bits and peices for 20 years, and the first requirement toward the next degree I want to get. Just a big soulful punch there.