Friday, January 31, 2014

Inanimate Objects...

Having a child die is not a one-time event or a happening. When a child dies it is a total change in life. Everything that was “normal” is no longer that way. An ordinary trip to the grocery store can trigger so many emotions, everything from seeing her favorite foods to hearing conversations between other parents and children. When a child dies the loss is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. I am always wondering who I am not that my Heather is not here anymore. Grieving mothers stop and shut down to a certain extend because we do not know how to function in a “normal” world anymore. When we do reenter life it is never the same as before our child died. That part of my life has been ripped away from my world forever. Having a child die is the hardest, most painful life change event I will ever experience.

I do not see, hear or process things that way “normal” people do anymore. I see, hear and process in terms of Heather not being here in everything I do. This is not something that I have to think about, it just happens naturally. I plan events or trips based on what time of the year it is happening. I already know and plan for certain times of the year to be very emotional and depressing times for me. No I do not plan this time it hits me without me knowing it. I wake up one morning and depression is there and then I wake up after the date has passed and depression just disappeared. This part I have no control over.


a :not endowed with life or spirit 
 ~an inanimate object.

I completely understand the definition of an inanimate object, but being a mom I learned that definition does not apply to everything. How many of us had favorite stuffies as a child that still brings a fondness to our hearts at the mention of it? I learned the hard way that stuffed animals are very real to an 18 month old little girl that cannot seem to keep her favorite Mr. Frizzy bear in the stroller. Suddenly Mr. Frizzy bear was the most important thing in the world and he had to be found or replaced as soon as possible. I know that all of my girls had something that they felt was real every though it was not.  Heather loved Edison Bear to the point of giving him a huge personality. I still to this day cannot hear the song “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem” by Kenny Chesney without seeing Edison, with Heather’s help, swooping his head back and forth to the song.

I know that my Heather diamond is an inanimate object but for some reason I cannot call it an “IT.” I picked up my ring today from Farrar Jewelers and the ring looks beyond amazing. I was very relieved to get my diamond back in my possession. While I trust Rod completely, it is a point of some anxiety to have the diamond out of my control. I think that the 12 sapphires and the 8 diamonds really give a stunning crown look for my diamond. Funny but I realized today that the red diamond makes the 21st diamond for the setting. How ironic. As I posted photos on FaceBook and people began to respond I found myself unable to say “I love IT.” I had to say I love having “HER” back. I feel like my diamond is so incredibly unique and special it cannot be called an “IT.”
Here she is--stunning

I know I am constantly saying I will never “get over it.” I am not sure if people even realize the words they are using and how they actually sound being spoken out loud. To say the words to a grieving mothers makes us feel like there is something wrong with us. We question if we are normal, are we okay and am I really doing that badly? When someone tells me to get over it or asks me am I over it yet they set me up to fail. They make me doubt that I am making progress which adds fear that maybe I am failing.

I began going through Heather’s things again for my once a year “let’s see if I can get rid of anything this year” event. I have kept things that most people would find very odd. I looked at her three wigs that she wore during her chemo. I cannot let go of these wigs. She had a long dark wig that looked like her real hair, a long blond curly one that she bought for her birthday and then a shorter “Carol Brady” sort of cut one. (The short pixie one was cremated with her) I smelled them to see if her scent was still on them, of course after nearly 5 years they smelled like the box they were in. I looked at them, placed them back in the silk bag and back into the box. Something so personal to Heather I cannot get rid of. I am making slow process as I get rid of a few things each time I sort through her things.

One of the first Minnie Mouse's ever drawn
Mostly these thing remind me that she really did live on this planet. I have days where it seems like Heather never existed, she never lived and was never a part of me. She seems so distant and I have not heard her voice in 58 months, 1,767 days, 42,408 hours or 2,544,480 minutes. I look at photos some days and she seems like she is just gone to school, and other times I see photos and it just isn’t her.

Confessions Of a Grieving Mother book is coming along very well. It has been edited to chapter 31 and all photos have been placed with captions up to that chapter. I have a total of 152 photos that will be going into this book. When I began to place photos I realized that during the first year we did not take many photos of anything. The shock and numbness was too overwhelming to think about anything other than getting up, getting dressed and remembering to breathe, doing anything else was just too hard to think about doing.

The back cover wording of the new book

Walking with me and following my blog is not easy. I thank each and every one of you that reads and follows my journey. I never thought that people would really read let alone be interested in following my simple ramblings. I just write my true feelings and try to describe this journey the best way I can.

I miss you a little since you've been gone
A few little memories keep hangin' on
I miss you a little, I guess you could say
A little too much, a little too often
A little more every day...
~John Michael Montgomery~

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Go-To Person...

When Heather was diagnosed with cancer most mothers gave prayers of thanks to God that they were not me. This was something that no mother ever wanted to hear-“YOUR DAUGHTER HAS VERY AGGRESSIVE CANCER.” I was living the nightmare that haunt most people’s dreams. That nightmare had become my reality.

When Nathan, our cancer patient friend from 6 South, came out of remission and Heather was still in remission, I became that mother that thanked God I was not Irene. My child was still clear from cancer. Of course I knew any one of the blood tests could send my fragile world of remission into a tail spin. I never wanted to allow myself to go there even though it was never very far from my thoughts.

Then Heather got sick and died. I know that every mother that knew me and heard about our story was beyond thankful they were NOT me! How horrible and awful that my nightmare had become my reality. Every mother hugged their child a bit closer and really prayed their thanks that they were not me.

We had a friend whose daughter was diagnosed with cancer when Heather died. The mother of this child wanted nothing to do with me. She was afraid that I was bad luck, after all my child had died. It must be bad luck and have something that would transfer to her or her child. I knew that she was scared and her daughter’s cancer was the same type but very different. I wanted to be there for support but was kept at arm’s length.

I have had a couple of different mothers contact me and wanted to know how I knew Heather had cancer. They were worried about something that was not quite right with their child and immediately thought of cancer. Funny but my siblings that want nothing to do with me are still terrified to this day that their child might have cancer and they might be just like me. How horrible would that be? At least I warned them not that they deserved it. I have seen some posts where issues have come up with one of their children and they are very relieved that it was nothing.

I recently was contacted by a friend that has been told his daughter might have leukemia. He contacted me and wanted to now some details. I did not mind in anyway, but it struck me that I was the go to person when the words cancer, leukemia or lymphoma came up. I was the expert in this subject. While I am in no way an expert I do have firsthand knowledge as to just about the worst kind of cancer there is and the ultimate worse outcome ever.

At the beginning of Heather’s treatments I had a mother call me as her daughter had the same kind of cancer. She rambled on and on about all the horrible awful things that would happen and was all about telling me about all the complications that happened to her daughter. This in no was a help to me. I felt she was a nut and wanted off the phone with her ASAP. Her daughter survived, mine didn’t I win! What a game to win in the battle of my daughter had it worse game. I felt this mother was playing a game with me and I never want nor will I ever treat any other parents like she treated me.

Yes, my life did not exactly turn out the way I pictured it. My world is a nightmare, the nightmare of living the remainder of my life without my child. While I never want another parent to experience the same thing, I also am always willing to offer support and my help if anyone needs or wants it. I really hate the fact that I do have firsthand knowledge of cancer. I hate that I know how it feels to watch my child go through the pain and side effects of chemo. I hate the fact that people just do not get it. They do not even try to understand.

I have been told by many people that “I need to put this in my past,” “I need to let go,” and “I need to move forward.” I have news for everyone, HEATHER IS IN MY PAST! If I let go of my past I have to let go and forget her and that is not possible. I am living in the present and future with Jenn and Wendy, but as to where Heather is concerned all I have left is the past. Just like everyone else can remember past holidays and events with mothers and fathers that died years ago, I am not allowed the same respect.

Heading into the 5th anniversary of her death had brought up so many emotions. I have been doing some research as to what the gifts are for the 5th anniversary. Traditional gifts are made of wood while modern gifts are made of sterling silver. I also found out other things associated with the 5th anniversary. I have two special gifts in mind for Jenn, Wendy and I to mark this milestone and I began the making of one today and it will be completed in about 2-3 months. Good thing I began this process early. Now what do about the actual day? Well that day falls on Easter Sunday so I am not sure yet as what to do. Stay tuned as I get my thoughts together and try to mark this milestone anniversary the only way I know how to.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Okay Heather, Quit Pushin'...

"Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. That's what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will... "
~Hope Floats~

Even before Heather died I knew the most important relationship with people was the one where you make memories. Many different people for years and years have said that our family is a very different kind of family. We give, give of ourselves, give our time, give our money and give our love. Most people feel that we are after something with our kindness. I honestly do not know any other way to be than to help out. Those that are my friends will know there isn’t anything I would not do for them.

Since Heather died all I want is to make the most amount of memories that I can. Whether this is a routine trip to Disneyland, taking family with us or going to New York City and Washington, D.C. I am eager to go with friends and family just about anywhere and do anything as long as we have fun and make memories.

I know that December, 2013, was the 5th anniversary of being without Heather, but I was in such shock the first year I do not count that year. I count this December as being the 5th year. So, with all that I decided a couple months ago that I wanted the whole family to be together on Heather’s birthday and to take a trip. It was my plan and idea to go to Walt Disney World and then go on a short Disney cruise to the Bahamas. I knew there was one way to insure that everyone was there and that was to fund the trip so that no one could say they didn’t have the money to go. I made it an open invitation and Lynn, her mom, Linda and Rose are coming with us too.

When Heather’s piano sold last week I began to think about what I wanted to do with that money. I could recarpet the master bedroom with money left over for something else, but I was planning that regardless. I did not know exactly how much the piano sold for. I signed paperwork for a certain price range but I was not given the exact amount. I was waiting for the check to arrive in the mail.

As I was waiting, I had many ideas go through my head as to what I wanted to do with that money. I had a certain figure in my head to be the amount I needed to do something special with the money. I wanted to pay off the three cruise reservations AND buy the new setting for my Heather diamond. I wanted to do both and I thought that it would be the best way to honor Heather, her love of her piano and make some lasting memories. I think Heather, herself, would sell her piano to take the whole family on a Disney cruise. That would be something that she would be tickled to do. The ring setting is perfect because she loved jewelry, especially diamonds and sapphires.

Today, I learned that the piano sold for the EXACT amount I needed to pay off the three cruise reservations AND buy my new ring setting. THE EXACT AMOUNT!! I truly feel that Heather is smiling down on the selling of her piano and the choices I made with what to do with the money. I truly feel everything is meant to be.

(The piano was moved to North Scottsdale to a very well to do family. Their son is a a college student at Berkeley and they wanted a piano for him to play when he came home to visit. He was home recently and was able to play it and fell in love with the sound.)

At the end of the movie Hope Floats:
Bridie is processing photos when her boss asks her what in the world happened to the photos. She looks at them and sees Justin standing with flowers leaning against a truck, as she looks up and sees Justin outside with flowers leaning against a truck. Birdie looks up and says:
“Okay momma, quit pushing.”
Okay Heather, quit pushing.