Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tear Bottles....

I’ve been told that there are those
Who will learn how to fly
And I’ve been told that there are those
Who will never die…
And I’ve been told that there are stars
That will never lose their shine
And that there is a Morning Star
Who knows my mind…
~Mansion Builder~

The Christian singing group 2nd Chapter of Acts recorded this song in 1978 on an album by the same name. When I was in high school I sang solos and in the Central Baptist Church choir. I sang this song several times during the years and never really thought about the words. Recently these words have hit home to me more than ever. I absolutely love the Mansion Builder album. This harmony is the closest, best among siblings I have ever heard. Matthew Ward is the brother in the group. He has many single albums as well.

For me as a grieving mother I am comforted by the idea that God saves and knows every tear that I have cried. In the first few months alone I am sure I cried an ocean full of tears. I am not sure if when I get to heaven I expect to see all my tears or if God will show me shelves full of tear bottles that He used to save my tears in. I believe that God saves each one of my tears as treasures.

And I’ve been told that there’s a
Crystal lake in the sky
And every tear from my eyes
Is saved when I cry…
And I’ve been told there’ll come a time
When the sun will cease to shine
And that there is a Morning Star
Who knows my mind…

 In ancient Roman and Egyptian times it is said that people used small glass vessels or bottles to collect the tears. These tears were used as a way to show mourning and respect for the loss. These bottles were sometimes placed in the tombs as a symbol of respect. There are legends to indicate that some women may have been paid to cry into the bottles as they walked in the mourning procession. It was rumored that the ones crying the loudest and producing the most tears would receive the highest compensation for their tears. The deceased person was to be said to be more important or valued by the number of tear bottles in the tomb.
Replica of the ancient Roman tear bottles
 Tear bottles have been part of our world’s history since before Christ was born. It is hard to say when the tear bottles first began. A Biblical reference in Psalms, when David prays to God, was written over 1000 years before Christ was born. Psalms 58:8 (KJV) “Thou tellest my wanderings, put thou my tears in Thy bottle; are they not in Thy book?”  David’s words remind us that God keeps a record of human pain and suffering, and always remembers our sorrows.

Tear bottles reappeared during the Victorian period of the 19th century. The tears were collected into tear bottles that were ornately decorated with silver, gold and pewter on the outside. The more special the loved one the more ornate the bottle would be decorated. Once filled the bottles had special stopper that allowed the tears to evaporate out of the bottle. It was thought that once the tears were evaporated, the mourning period would be over. The bottle would remain as a token of eternal devotion.
Replica of the Victorian tear bottles
 Tear bottles were rumored used during the Civil War by women who cried into the bottles. They saved their tears till their soldier husbands returned home from war. Their collection of tears would show their husbands just how much they were missed and adored while they were gone.

Tear bottles are commonly called a lachrymatory or a tear catcher. It measures about two to four inches in height. Most are made out of glass or ceramic and the body of the bottle is shaped in the form of a teardrop. The bottle usually has a tall narrow neck and a small decorative cap. The cap connects to a stopper and is often made out of rubber, to preserve the tears or a cork, which allows for evaporation.

Tear bottles are making a comeback again. The true antique bottles are found in the country of origin and usually run 100’s if not 1000’s of dollars. Reproductions are often sold are the original item. There are several places around the country that make hand blown glass tear bottles today. They take great pride in hand crafting these precious bottles. There are very simple ones and very ornate ones available today.
Modern tear bottles
 Tear bottles today are given to symbolize shared feelings of joy, love, sorrow and remembrance for others. Such occasions include weddings and the birth of a baby. They are long lasting gifts the as anyone who has been married or had a child knows…there are tears of joy and sorrow that accompany these relationships. It is also a very meaningful gift to give in times of sadness, such as an illness or a death. It also acknowledges that you realize that tears are a part of the sadness and that it is ok to cry. Something that is needed much more in today’s society.
My tear bottle
I recently found out about tear bottles. I have decided that I will be giving these as tokens of love to my loved ones that are grieving. I think it is very symbolic and honoring to the one who died and to the one that remains here. I purchased mine and over the next few months will be purchasing 3 more for the time being. As special as tear bottles are…my hope and prayer is that I do not have to give many of these away…

Tears do not have to be sad, they can be at moments of great joy. The most moving tears I have seen was Aunt Missy crying tears of great joy the moment Pea was born. Bill captured the moment with a photo. Looking back now it is an amazing photo. The amount of overwhelming joy and love that Heather had for Pea spilled out at the moment she took her first breathe. 
Aunt Missy~Tears of Joy~February 2009
 The most moving tear that I believe I will ever see is a tear that Heather had one night in ICU. Heather was on the vent and we had come back to tuck our turnip in for the night. She was heavily sedated but the paralytic drug had not yet been given. As I leaned down to whisper in her ear goodnight, Heather turned her face to me to snuggle into my face. I told her I loved her and how proud I was of her. When I raised my face to see her again she had a tear fall out of her eye. I have no idea what that tear meant. But I think it was a tear of great love. These would be the last tears I ever saw from her.

“There is a sacredness in tears. 
They are not a mark of weakness, but of power. 
They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. 
They are the messengers of overwhelming grief,
of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.”
~Washington Irving~

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Dastardly/Cowardly-characterized by underhandedness or treachery.
Backstabbing-betrayal (as by a verbal attack against one not present) especially by a false friend.
Outrage-an act of extreme viciousness, a deplorable insult
To offend grossly the standards of decency or morality

When a family member goes through an illness such as cancer, the staff at the hospital and doctor’s office become like a family. In some cases you spend more time with the nurses and doctors that you do your own family members. This was the case with Heather. I especially became close with the nurses and aides on 6 South. Heather and I spent about 5-7 days every 21 days for 6 months with the staff. The nurses especially became like family to me. They shared my ups and downs and gave me encouragement. They cared for me as well as Heather. During our first week there the nurses all made sure I got an extra tray at meal times. This is not the normal. Usually just the patient gets the meal and other need to purchase their food. They saw a need and made sure that I had trays for all 3 meals. It was during our 2nd stay that Heather completely gave up on the food from the hospital and we brought food in for the rest of the time.

The aides made sure I had the sleeper chair. It is a chair that actually pulls out into a bed and not just a reclining chair. When Heather went to the stroke floor the aides on 6 South allowed me to take the sleeping chair to the 7th floor with me and then bring it back. They also brought me blankets, sheets and towels. They did not need to do this. But they saw me as family and not just the mother of a patient.

When Heather came back and was in ICU most of the nurses and staff there became like family again. ICU is a very different place from the regular floor. But the nurses treated Heather like a real person. ICU is a very lonely place and I spent so many days and nights talking with the different nurses we had. When things got bad the nurses not working with Heather came to support me. Here again it is a little family of sorts. They all became interested in knowing the person of Heather and not just the patient Heather.

During the time that Heather was in ICU many of the staff from 6 South came to see Heather and to check on me. I spent time going up to 6 South and giving updates. Most everyone there would see me coming and stop to come see what I had to say. When a code blue in ICU was paged someone from 6 South either called or came down to make sure it was not Heather. The night that Heather died there was 3 staff members, including the charge nurse, a floor nurse and the receptionist waiting outside Heather’s room when she died. Stacey was in the room with our family. After Heather died many of the staff trickled down to pay respects and say goodbye. Jasmine, an aide, said a beautiful prayer at her bedside. Ranie, an aide, told me “There was only ever one princess on 6 South.” Gayle who was to be at work in a few short hours threw on clothes and came to be with us. News traveled fast that Princess Heather had died. When Bill and I went back to the hospital the next day the ICU cleaned her room and left it vacant for the day. They did this in honor of Heather and what she had come to mean to the ICU. Everyone from radiology to the ER knew that she had died. I had never felt such an outpouring of love from the hospital.

I wrote an entry on the CaringBridge on April 12, 2009, describing that Heather’s needs required the best nursing care in ICU. I had been calling our team of doctors and nurses my A-team for weeks. I stated that due to the amount of medications and needs that Heather had the nurse for her were chosen 1st each shift. We were given the best nurse on shift. A great night nurse asked not to be given Heather again because she could not handle, personally, the age of Heather. It hit her too close to home. But she always checked and asked about Heather whenshe came on shift. Heather’s care was very difficult and she had so much that was to be done to take care of her. A less experience nurse might not be able to cope with all the things that needed to be attended to for Heather. She was on the vent and had a chest tube. Those 2 machines would keep a nurse busy for her entire shift. She also had the following:
3 antibiotics
3 sedating/pain medications-changed every 6 hrs
1 paralytic
Lasik drip
Insulin and the blood tests that go with that-every 4 hrs
Magnesium/phosphorus/potassium drip
Albumin drip
ABG’s done every 12 hrs
Artificial tears for her eyes-every 4hrs
Blood pressure
Temperature-cooling blanket if it spikes
Watching the blister on her heel
Putting her ortho boots off and on every 4 hrs

It was a very critical time for Heather as we had survived our first “don’t leave because Heather will not survive” night. Her ABG’s were bad and she could not be moved or touched due to her oxygen dropping too low. Looking back now April 12 was just 8 days before Heather died.  Imagine my surprise on April 13, 2009 when I woke up and checked my email and received an unsigned, anonymous email. Still over 2 years later I am upset by this email and the cowardly, chicken, backstabbing, non human person who is a nurse that sent it to me just 7 days before my daughter, a patient in ICU in critical condition, died.

"ICU works as a team.  If someone goes bad in the unit, everybody helps. Your "A nurses" work with the rest of the team. She doesn't do it alone.  It's how it is in the whole hospital actually - may it be the ICU, cancer floor or ortho. Nurses work together.  It's the same for doctors too.  We know you just want the best for your child but all parents/families also do.  So, if you always have the A team on board with you, does that mean the other patients have the mediocre team? "

This email was sent form a bogus email account as well. This really crossed the line in my opinion. What kind of a person sends this email to a parent of a child dying in ICU???? I hope and pray I never get this person as my nurse. I did not deserve this email. This person is a coward beyond the word and has no business being a nurse. It outraged me even more when I found out that another nurse had been blackballed for getting to close to Heather. Amazing that a few days before I received my email, another unsigned email was sent to management concerning Heather and the nursing staff. I cannot believe that Baywood took this so lightly. There was no real investigation into who sent this email and I have never received an apology.

With the new MD Anderson Cancer Center opening soon, several of the 6 South staff are making that their new place of employment in the next few months. I am stating clearly here so anyone and everyone will understand that the staff being taken over to MD Anderson is the best staff ever. MD Anderson is also very foolish for not taking a few people who applied and were blackballed. I am here to state as a caregiver of a patient the nurses, aides and staff on 6 South and the ones going to MD Anderson are the most hardworking, caring and best staff in the world.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


 or nighttime is the period of time when the sun is below the horizon. The opposite of night is day. At any given time, one side of the planet Earth is bathed in light from the Sun (the daytime) and the other side of the Earth is in the shadow caused by the Earth blocking the light of the sun. This shadow is what we call the darkness of night.

The disappearance of sunlight, the primary energy source for life on Earth, has dramatic impacts on the morphology, physiology and behavior of almost every organism. Some animals sleep during the night, while other nocturnal animals including moths and crickets are active during this time.

Night is often associated with danger and evil, because of the psychological connection of night's all-encompassing darkness to the fear of the unknown and darkness's obstruction of a major sensory system (the sense of sight).

In the green room
There was a telephone 
And a red balloon
and a picture of--
The cow jumping over the moon
And there were 3 little bears sitting on chairs
And 2 little kittens
And a pair of mittens
And a little toyhouse
And a young mouse
And a comb and a brush
And a bowl full of mush
And a quiet old lady
who was whispering  "hush  "...

During the day my mind has lots of things to keep my thoughts from going to places I do not want it to go to. But...NIGHT time is totally different. When I first came home from ICU I had to sleep with 3 night lights on. I am happy to say that I am down to 2 night lights now. I have to have a fan running at all times; during the day and NIGHT. The silence is deafening to me.Then when Heather died I hated the NIGHT (still do for the most part). I know that nothing is there at NIGHT that isn't there during the day. There was something about the NIGHT...the dark...the quiet...that haunts my mind. I would stay up till 2 and 3 in the morning because I could not bare to close my eyes. I slept with movie soundtrack music for about a year after Heather died. Now I can listen to books again. I have to have the sound of something to go to sleep with or my mind will wonder into places I do not want to go. I used to sleep in a totally dark room with no noise. I am not sure I will ever be able to sleep in darkness and silence again.

I still take Ambien sleeping medication. I may take it for the rest of my life. Talk to any doctor and they will tell you that sleep is the best medicine you can give yourself. I will not apologize for my use of sleeping aids. I require them like someone would require blood pressure medication or glasses to see. I am not addicted as I still take half a pill like I have for the past 3 years. In taking the Ambien I am able to sleep fairly good and I rarely dream which is a good thing. I have been able to have a couple good dreams about Heather but mostly if I dream, they are horrible nightmares about all that happened to her. The good thing is that the "visits" I get from Heather break thru no matter what. I have had one amazing visit with Heather and then one that was just a hug. But these are very different than dreams. Bill has had a "visit" as well. he tells me they are very different from dreams.
A happy moment~waiting for Harry Potter
A friend of mine recently lost her dad. She said as hard as it was to let go, she needed it to be over. She said she could not have done hospitals, nursing homes, hospice and ICU for days, weeks or months. I agree with her. I have 33 days of hospital and ICU that creep into my mind, especially at NIGHT. NIGHT time for Heather during treatments and ICU were always the worst time for her. All her bad thoughts and nightmares happened at NIGHT. As I sat there and watched her fail more each day the memories were etched into my photographic memory forever. Everything that happened the last 33 days are the demons that haunt my NIGHTS and my quiet moments. Everyone says, "Dwell on the good memories"...that is easy to say, but hard to tell my mind and heart to do.

One of the books series that I listen to all the time at NIGHT is Harry Potter. I love listening to Jim Dale perform these books. When Jenn reads the books she cries when Dumbledore dies. But when she listened to the 7th book with me she said hearing the part where Dobby dies is more emotional. I have listened to book 7 about 5 times. The part in book 7 when Harry gets the resurrection stone and the spirits of his loved ones come to help him has always been a moving part for me. However...seeing this played out on the big screen is totally different. Watch the part where Harry goes to die as if your child has died and you are the parent. I began crying when Harry asked Sirius if it hurts to die. All I can think of is did it hurt? Heather was heavily sedated but still....there are questions. Then when Harry asks if his loved ones if they will go with him and stay with him till it is over, and his mother says ALWAYS. I picture myself laying next to Heather and talking to her as she died. I did stay with her always and helped her go as  it was my job to do. I did this without tears or tremble in my voice. This part of the movie hits way way too close to home.
 Violet has begun to ask about her Aunt Missy. We tell her that Aunt Missy is with Jesus or that she is sleeping. She knows who she is in photos, calls her by name and then asks where she is. This morning Pea told her momma that she needed to go wake up Aunt Missy and play with her. I know that Heather would love being with Pea now. She has such personality and pea would have been her Aunt Missy's shadow. It is terribly sad that Pea's birthday years will be connected with the number of years that her Aunt Missy has been gone. I think it only fair to end with the rest of one of Pea's favorite books. Pea is actually beginning to "read" this book. She has it memorized....

...Goodnight room
Goodnight moon
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon
Goodnight light and the red balloon
Goodnight bears
Goodnight chairs
Goodnight kittens
And goodnight mittens
Goodnight clocks 
And goodnight socks
Goodnight little house
And goodnight mouse
Goodnight comb
And goodnight brush
Goodnight nobody
Goodnight mush
And goodnight to the old lady
whispering "hush  "
Goodnight stars
Goodnight air
Goodnight noises everywhere...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beauty and The Beast...

And for once it might be grand
To have someone understand
I want so much more than 
They've got planned...
~Beauty and The Beast~

From the first moment Heather saw Beauty and The Beast she was hooked. It became her favorite movie. She had clothes and birthday parties all with a Belle theme. The gifts she received for different holidays and birthdays were also Belle or something relating to the movie. It was no surprise when I purchased the Thomas Kinkade Beauty and the Beast painting. Especially since it came out on the 18 month anniversary of her death.

In my recent Disney art looking I stumbled across something amazing. Paige O'Hara that does the voice of Belle in the movie actually paints Belle. Her paintings are quite stunning for she has captured the beauty of Belle. Of course she would, she is Belle. I decided to purchase one of her Artist Proof painting of Belle's Daydream. It is one of Heather's favorite scenes from the movie. I had asked that Paige personalize the back for me. Due to a mix up my painting was shipped before she had the chance to sign the back. Paige emailed me and said I could return it to her and she would be more than pleased to personalize the back for me. SO I did return the painting last week.
 Today, Monday, I received the Belle's Daydream painting back. It figures it would be on a Monday. Paige O'Hara wrote what I asked her to write but then added With Love at the top. I have not had any dealings with movie stars or famous people. However, I feel that Miss O'Hara is a really nice lady. She was very sweet to consider my request and then return the painting to me. She lives in Vegas and is currently doing a Musical there. I may send her an email if I get back over there to ask if I could meet her in person. 
Heather always loved to get her picture with Belle. Heather was thrilled when she found The Beast. She was bouncing in line like a little girl waiting to see him. Not everybody gets both Beauty and The Beast photos at Disneyland.
I want adventure in the great wide somewhere
I want it more than I can tell.....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Broken Promises........

(After they have set all the clocks in the clock shop to strike noon at the same time) 
Molly: Now we wait.
Mr. Magoruim: No! We breathe! 
We pulse! 
We regenerate! 
Our hearts beat! 
Our minds create! 
Our souls injest! 
37 seconds, if well used, is a lifetime.
~Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium~

We saw this movie in the fall of 2007. Heather loved Natalie Portman. The character Natalie plays is Molly, a struggling pianist. Heather loved the way she played the invisible air piano with her hands when she was walking or riding the bus. The soundtrack for this movie is incredible. It is just a good fun movie. Yes, it has magic, but life is so ugly, can't we for 2 hours believe in fantasy.

We knew Heather had cancer before the actual doctor's appointment with Dr. Fastenberg. I had planned so many things to keep Heather's spirits up. One of the things that Heather wanted to do the most was to go back and visit Colorado Springs. She wanted to see all the places where we lived and shopped. Mostly she wanted to visit people. She wanted to see her Sally and George, Connie, Shawnee, DJ, The Mattson's, The Walter's and many more of the people who still live in Colorado Springs. I had promised that at least once we would go back during one of her down times from chemo. Once we left Dr. Fastenberg's office I knew that these trips would not be possible. One promise I did not keep for Heather.

During our hospital stays, late at night, Heather had her bad moments. The moments when she thought she would die. Or the time when she thought she would not go to heaven because she had not had time to pray during all the testing. I would sit on her bed, looking at her and try to convince her that she was going to live and be okay. Deep down inside I did not know this to be true. But I put my best face on and tried not to burst into tears when I talked to her. Looking at the tears and fear in her eyes took all the strength I had not to grab her tightly and sob uncontrollably. Being strong at terrible moments is what I am good at. I never once cried when I spoke to Heather. I never ever let her see the fear in my face during any of her cancer battle or final struggle. I have been told I am the strongest woman on the planet...I just simply did what a mother who loves her child more than herself would do.

During one such breakdown moment, I told Heather that when she got out of the hospital and felt up to it, I would make plans to go and do "TRISCADECAPHOBIA". This is the part in the movie, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium where Molly does all the things in the world she can think of with Mr. Magorium because he is going to die. So, at the count of 3 they are going to jump on mattresses in the mattress store. Mr. Magorium asks why the number 3...why not jump at "TRISCADECAPHOBIA?" So with that they both yell "TRISCADECAPHOBIA" and begin jumping on the mattresses. I promised Heather that when she felt good enough, I would go to the mattress store, explain the situation and ask if we could "TRISCADECAPHOBIA." Due to everything that happened during the months of chemo and Heather not feeling good, we never did "TRISCADECAPHOBIA." Just so you know "TRISCADECAPHOBIA" is actually the fear of the number 13. One promise I did not keep for Heather.

After Heather was finished with treatments we learned in our community about a teenager name Saulo. Saulo needed a life saving bone marrow transplant and they could not find a donor. He had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia the same as Heather had. She began following his CaringBridge page and so did I. In November, Saulo became immune compromised, he had pneumonia was in ICU and was on a vent. Saulo died right after Thanksgiving. One night when Heather was in ICU, on the bi-pap machine, she was having a bad night and asked me through her tears if she was going to die like Saulo. I held back the tears in my throat as I nearly yelled at her, "NO!! I promise! You are NOT going to end up like Saulo. You are doing just fine and you are going to be ok!" a night or two later, Heather was placed on the vent and then she died. One promise I did not keep for Heather.

These may sound crazy or nuts that I feel this way. These are all things that are out of my control. But yet as a grieving mother, I do feel this way. I feel that even thought I did my very best, I still let Heather down. I think that all grieving parents feel this way. For some strange reason this week has just been a terrible week. I have missed Heather more this week than I have in months. I am not sleeping even though I am taking sleeping pills. The memories and dreams are beyond what the medication can do. She is every waking moment and I am not sure why right now. I spoke with another grieving mother today-her daughter was killed 4 years ago-and she said she feels like it is not better today than it was then. She told me she still has times when uncontrollable tears some. 

I feel a great sense of pride, accomplishment and moving forward with going to school this fall. It seems so small to most all of the kids that will be coming in the fall who don't really want to be there. I feel like I am the first woman to ever go to college. I want to yell it from the roof tops and tell everyone what I am doing. My dream became every better when I found out the MD Anderson is beginning their Health and Wellness program soon. Not that I can apply, but I really see myself working there in a few years. I know that Heather would be proud and thrilled for me. I could see her already planning my graduation party. She will be with me every step of the way. She really is the drive behind what I am doing. I will be proud to work with the cancer patients that are fighting so hard and in honor of Heather.

Thank you for listening and supporting me. So many people have disappeared and I don't blame them. Well, actually I do blame them....I found out who my friends are for sure. I know looking and sharing the pain is not easy. I appreciate each one of you who takes the time to read. It means you think about me and you think about Heather. For that I am thankful....

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Brick.....

So this is just the sad version of me..
I like the idea that somewhere out there
I am having a good time..
~Rabbit Hole~

Heather & Dady at Scholarship Camp~July 4, 2003
With each holiday it is another reminder of the one that is not here. The big holidays are the expected ones that hurt and hurt big. But the smaller ones can be just as painful. The memories of food, fun, fireworks and splashing by the pool all come flooding back. The simple task of fixing potato salad can become a huge pain in my heart. I remember the holidays when we did nothing special but now seem like the best days ever. Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day are not big days around our house. Usually we grill something, I make potato salad, ranch beans, corn on the cob and a chocolate cake. How can a simple, ordinary meal become so tangled in memories. 
Homemade German Chocolate Cake~no box mix here
Homemade hot rolls~no box mix here
 Heather and everyone in my family love my homemade potato salad. It is nothing special, except it contains no onions. It is very simple, yet time consuming to make. This is one of two dishes I make with real whole shelled eggs. As I stood in the kitchen and cut warm potatoes my mind and heart were flooded with thoughts of Heather.  Her flipping into the kitchen for a soda or watching TV...waiting with anticipation for dinner. When everything is ready and we begin to eat it is ever so clear the spot where Heather sat will forever be empty.
Chocolate cake with sprinkles
Homemade potato salad~no box mix here
Food makes memories. So much of our lives revolve around food. Every special gathering from holidays to graduations to weddings to showers to football games to funerals all have food of some kind. We are a people that live to eat. Food becomes traditions and these traditions become memories. To this day over 2 years later I have not made a meatloaf. This was the last home cooked meal I made before Heather died. She skipped class as she was not feeling good. She was thrilled to stay home and eat my meatloaf fresh from the oven with all the fixings. Little did I know at the time that 3 short days later she would be in the hospital never to come home again. I do feel blessed that I was able to make Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners for Heather. She loved my holiday meals.
Thanksgiving ~2006
Heather getting Christmas dinner 2008
 It was not my plan to grill or make potato salad or a chocolate cake today. It just sort of happened at the last minute. It was a quiet dinner as Wendy and Pea were gone to a party. I did buy sparklers about 3 weeks ago to set off tonight. Wendy and Pea did come home for about half an hour to change clothes. We all went into the backyard and laughed and giggled as we lit sparklers. Just like we did after the ball when we came home and lit the leftover sparklers in the backyard. Laughing and giggling and life was good. So, Heather is my brick that I carry in my pocket.....and that's okay....I like her there...
I see you up there Aunt Missy~Happy 4th of July!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cinnamon Buns....

I have the right to talk about my grief.  
Talking about my grief will help me heal. 
I need others who will allow me to talk as much as I want, 
as often as I want, about my grief.
If at times I don't feel like talking, 
I have the right to remain silent.

I love the movie Rabbit Hole. If I had my way I would give a copy of this movie to everyone I know. I feel this is an honest look at what a grieving parent goes through. The basis of the movie is that Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) Corbett are a happily married couple whose perfect world is forever changed when their young son, Danny, is killed by a car. Becca, an executive-turned-stay-at-home mother, tries to redefine her existence in a surreal landscape of well-meaning family and friends. Painful, poignant, and often funny, Becca's experiences lead her to find solace in a mysterious relationship with a troubled young comic-book artist, Jason - the teenage driver of the car that killed their son, Danny.

There are things in life that change us and, once we experience them, there's no going back. If we were to travel through time and meet the individuals we once were, it would be like encountering other people. Having a child may be the most transformative experience a person can live through. Losing that child is a close second. Parents invest so much into the care, nurturing, and upbringing of their offspring that, if the child dies, the resulting chasm seems bottomless. Life cannot be what it once was. Death is not a time machine that allows us to return to the carefree days of pre-parenthood. It's a wound that cuts deeply and leaves a scar. It shakes the foundations of even the sturdiest marriages. People react differently to tragedy and, in the midst of grief, a mutual sense of intolerance can create a gap that can be intimidating to span. Many marriages collapse after the death of a child. Watching Becca and Howie, it's not hard to understand why this is the case. 

The movie is not about Danny's death. With the one exception, the narrative is flashback-free, remaining in the present and advancing linearly. This is about the difficulty of recovery even months after the fact. Many people ascribe a time table to grief but its impact can be so subtle and pernicious that it continues to eat at the soul long after its most obvious effects have faded. Rabbit Hole is about how the enormity of the loss of a child short-circuits everything, reducing life's colors to grays and the experience of living to a chore.

A scene in the first part of the movie is a conversation about why Becca's best friend Debbie hasn't called her. I find that people in my world avoid me like I have the plague. It is too difficult for them to think about the thought of losing a child, their child. So it is easier for them to avoid talking to me. People can talk to Jenn, Wendy and Bill, but to talk to the mother of the child is much more scary. I remember when Diane lost Beka that people at events would come ask me if they could talk to Diane today. Grieving mothers are not contagious, we do not burst into tears at the drop of a hat, we do not drool and slur our words and we certainly won't mention the dreaded name of our child until we feel that you are comfortable with it. Being a grieving mother has given me another sense. I can sense who I can and cannot mention the H-BOMB with now. I have 3 really close friends that I can cry with at the drop of a hat and can talk about Heather as long and as much as I want to. I find a comfort with them that is beyond anything I can put into words.

My dear friend Diane is visiting her family for a couple weeks. We have talked on the phone just about every week. It is not the fact that we saw each other that much when she was here. It was just the fact that if she needed me or I needed her we would be right there. It was so incredibly good to sit and talk with her. There is just simply a bond that we share that I cannot share with anyone who has not lost a child. She "gets it" and I "get it" now. While I was visiting with Diane, I saw her granddaughter. Diane asked if she remembered me and told her I was Heather's mom,etc...and Emma suddenly ran to her special box to get something. She brought out the pink/black Are U Pink bracelet. It brought tears to my eyes. This precious child had never met or seen Heather and yet she kept her bracelet as a treasure.

We are at another holiday. The 4th of July in 2008 was spent at Banner Baywood. I remember it because when Bill came to the hospital he has a red, white and blue stars balloon. It was 3 balloons connected into one big one. I tried as hard as I could to make the boring hospital room as cheery and homey as I could. Doctors and nurses always commented about how wonderful it was to walk into her room and see everything. All the photos, letters, cards and drawings. I know the hospital had a barbeque in honor of the 4th. As bad as that 4th of July was I would give anything to be back in the hospital with Heather instead of where we are today....missing my girl today and always...

This photo was taken on July 3, 2008. This is one of my favorite photos of cancer....This was right before one of Heather's spinal chemos. She looks very relaxed as she knows that Jan and Dr. Chris will be there to make sure it is done right.