Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Yet, Another Birthday...

I realize that my blog is on a public forum and anyone who searches can find it. The posts that I write are my feelings and since this is MY blog I can write whatever I feel about writing. If you don’t like what you read then please don’t come back and read more.

There are many things that happen in our lives that shape the way we are and mold our character. I have had a very hurtful past and I am sorry, but just like the death of Heather, I am not going to “get over” this part of my life either. It is part of me and always will be.

Along the lines of checking the mail and getting something that takes your breath away, so can social media. Mother’s Day and my birthday are very difficult days for me personally. The troubles began in my childhood and were just amplified by the death of Heather. Vindictive people know this and try to hurt me more especially on those days.

As my birthday rolls around again I cannot help but think about my birth mother. I know I have blogged many times about her, but for me, the day my girls were born was the most monumental days of my existence. It was the day that the baby that had been kicking around inside me was given life. I grew this baby for 9 months and we are attached.

I wrote a Mother’s Day blog that my half-sisters did not like very much. Imagine my shock when I learned that after all these years they still read my blog from time to time. Of course they claim they want nothing to do with me. My question is then why do they read my blog? Why do they keep tabs on me?

My half-sister, LeEllen, decided that Mothers Day would be the best time to send me a private message thru Facebook about my blog post. Several messages were exchanged between LeEllen and Wendy, and they were not nice messages. I sent back a response to LeEllen, who claims that I refuse to respond to her message. Well, Facebook showed me that she read my message and then blocked me. Really classy. Then she enlisted her twin sister, Karla, to send me a message and then block me before I could respond. If you are going to begin a fight, then at least have the guts, or balls, to stand and fight. It is very tacky to send a message and then block and not allow a response. But then I never expected much from them in the first place.

My half-sister, LeEllen, brought up a statement that I threw away my mother and family several years ago. It took me forever to realize what in the world she was talking about. SO, here is the story from my side; LeEllen asked me to be the “greeter” for her wedding and I said, yes, I would love to do that. As the date came closer things in my house, with my girls, began to fall apart. Jenn was struggling with jr. high and Heather was being physically threatened in her 5th grade class. When I called to back out it was because I was taking Jenn and Heather out of school to begin homeschooling them. I felt that I could not leave MY family at that time.

I had the plane tickets and when I spoke to my mother I offered her and her husband the tickets to come out and see me. I NEVER, EVER said, come out and see me INSTEAD of attending your daughter’s wedding. I meant after the wedding and before it got hot here in Phoenix, would you come visit since she had never been to visit me before. Somehow, either my mother misunderstood or my half-sisters misunderstood what they were told, but this NEVER was said. So to my half sisters they feel as if I tested my mother for her love and she picked them over me. This was never the case!

Regardless of what happened then, when Heather got cancer, was in ICU and then died, my mother was no where to be found. I made the mistake of calling her when Heather first went into the hospital to make sure that my half sisters were aware of the cancer. I did not want them, as hateful as they are, to experience what I had. Trust me, anything happens with cancer or a major illness that could be genetic I will not bother to call and let them know. But I can say with certainty that anytime their children get sick or have swollen lymph nodes they think about Heather and me. They will never get what happened to Heather or me out of their minds.

As another birthday rolls around I cannot help but think about my birth mother. I still have questions and wonder why she is unable to love her first-born child. I did not just stub my toe, my daughter, and her granddaughter, had cancer and died and the trivial things she tried to do would have been better left undone. I do know now that my birth mother while very ill did talk about me. (Thank you LeEllen for giving me that bit of news. It answered what I wanted to know) It is odd to me that my half sisters want nothing to do with me but still read my blog and I still get under their skin. This truly shows that they are interested in my life and what I do. Thank you for caring.

So on September 1st, I know that Jane will be thinking about me. Regardless of how my birth mother feels about me, or the hurts I have, for nearly 51 years, my birth mother has thought and lamented her choices on that day. She will think about the baby girl that she had and never saw. My beloved Heather is gone and I would give my life to hold her again for a moment. My half-sisters sing Jane’s praises and say she is the best mother and grandmother ever. I beg to differ, as the best mother cannot throw one baby away, keep five others and be the best. I AM here and she had the opportunity to have a relationship, but some things that happen or don’t happen can be forgiven but not forgotten. There was a time I was a nice person, but I had to say enough was enough.

This hurt is real and it happened despite what my half-sisters would like to think and say. During most of what happened they were not there and did not witness what happened. There are three sides to these stories, my side, my birth mother’s side and the truth. Since my birth mother has nothing, absolutely nothing to say about theses events, it is my side only then. My near perfect photographic memory can give you vivid details of what happened, when and where and what was said.

My half sisters do not get to decide what hurt me and what didn’t. They also do not get to tell me to “get over it” or that I lied.  Regardless of this blog, what happened is written in my books for everyone to read. Like I have stated before it doesn’t matter what happened BEFORE, the day Heather died everything and I mean everything changed for me.

One of the hardest things that I do is grieve the death of a person who is still living. So why do I still write about my birth mother, because it still hurts.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Checking The Mail...

An ordinary day can be changed into an extraordinary day with the blink of an eye. it can be a voice, a sound, a song, a smell, a place, a person, an event that gets me, and the list goes on and on and on. I can be happy, or at least happy by the new normal standards, but then a normal day can be transformed into an emotional series of events. Something as simple as checking the mail can become a sudden gut kick, sucking all the air out of my lungs and forcing me to reach deep inside to remain standing.

Bill was away on a normal business trip to San Jose, and this like most of his other trips was nothing eventful. Most of the time I stay home to house sit, keep cat company and do my thing around the house. It is no big deal and I am getting used to the twice a month event. I try to stay busy and not get into trouble, but trouble sometimes seems to find me. Checking the mail is one of those routine things of day to day living around our house; but not more than a twice a week thing, as we don't get much in the way of mail. Most all the mail addressed to Heather has stopped. I guess after 7 years I had quit expecting to see anything addressed to her in the mail. Imagine my shock last week when I received a letter addressed to "The Estate of Heather N Coombe."

I slowly pulled this letter from the box wondering who in the world would be sending something, but also that they knew she was deceased. As the letter came into the light I could see it was from Ironwood Cancer Clinic. My mind raced, as my stomach felt sick and my heart began to hurt. I opened the letter to read a very cold, impersonal letter about doing some accounting cleaning and here was a refund that we were owed. I thought for a brief moment could be be a couple thousand dollars? We had after all paid close to $20,000 just to the oncologist. My eyes searched the check and found out it was ninety dollars and some change. WHAT? NINETY DOLLARS? I had to check and double check to make sure the amount I was reading was correct. My heart hurt and I felt like I had been slapped in the face. I had no words and still have no words to describe those moments. It was dark outside and I sat down on the curb under the streetlight to really review again what I was reading. Yup, it was $90. But for me my mind went racing to all the memories of treatments, bills and doctors. These memories came flooding over me in a tidal wave and I felt like I would drown. I still had no words and was in shock. Bill tells me I have the most fun while he is away.

I decided to cash the check and take the money to Disneyland to buy something with it. It seemed like the only thing I knew to do. I looked at the check and began to wonder if the thing could even be cashed or deposited. I figured I knew the answer and I wasn't going to like it much. A very nice bank manager told me I could not do anything with this check and suggested I call the center to see if they would reissue a check in my name. Of course at this point I really just wanted to write a giant F**K YOU on the check and send it back. I did not want the hassle of trying to explain to the bookkeeping department why I needed a different check.

I called Ironwood Cancer Clinic and my heart raced. How many calls had I made here and heard the answering systems replies to my number pushing. I got a hold of an answering machine and left a message, but decided that I did not want to wait for someone to call me back. I called again and went to the operator. I explained my situation briefly and asked her to please let me speak to a person. The next voice I heard was Julie. I calmly explained to her the situation and why I needed a new check. She told me that would be no problem as they recently changed accounting software and had sent out 100's of checks. I began to explain to her what this unexpected mail had done to me. I began to cry as I told her I had to sit down on the curb, under the street light to catch my breathe. I told her it was a huge shock and their letter needed to be more personable and extend some heartfelt sympathy and not just "we cleaned our books, here's your refund." I made Julie cry too. I am sorry but if I have to cry so do most of the people around me.

I arrived home from my Disneyland trip to find my check in thee mail. There was nothing in the envelope but the check. I think it would have been a very nice jest urge to have had a small note in with the check, but that would be too much to ask. Regardless the check arrived and I don't have to call them yet again to press for this whopping $90

It is always a joy as to what each day will bring. It never ceases to amaze me how things can still come around that shock me and I am sure this will never go away. I imagine 20 years from now there will be something that comes up that will rock me to the core. The only thing to do is to go thru the event and the emotions that it brings.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Death of a Child is NOT a Gift...

Cancer is NOT a gift, it can bring more meaning to life and it can inspire people including the survivor. Cancer is dealing with a life threatening illness. Peers; outside the close, immediate family, have no clue. The cancer survivor and family can feel alienated by friends and family. Life moves on for the rest of the world but yet here you are stuck, not moving forward, battling a life altering illness. Fullfillment and purpose are not the flip side of dealing with cancer. I never imagined my daughter would have cancer, or that I would have to stand by and watch her become the strongest woman I have ever known. I am proud of my Heather and love her very much.

The day Heather died, the world was busy; everyone was going about their normal routines and my world stopped moving. Time stopped while everything and everyone around me began moving at lightening speeds. I was stuck moving, not moving and trying to simply breath. It was not a day to day trying to survive it was a moment by moment ordeal.

The moment Heather died, all of my plans changed and her plans would remain unfinished forever. The calendar with days and events meant nothing and became irrelevant to me as I began the life altering event of grieving for the rest of my life.

The days after Heather died all the material things that she had, suddenly meant nothing to her; they were all left behind for me to figure out what to do with them. They were placed in my hands to care for or to give to others. Most of these items became priceless; all the childhood drawings and material things she touched, would be boxed up and placed away. Still, after 7 years, I will open a box, go thru it, touch all her things, and then simply put them back and place the box away till the next time.

The weeks after Heather died the words of my critics began to sting deeply. Most did not understand how this was not something I had moved on from. They wanted the old me to return and did not understand that I have been altered forever and would never be the same again. Their words was harsh and brutal, and simply did not apply to this situation. This is a death like no other. If you have a parent die, you could get a new one; a step parent. Not the same, but the title can be replaced. Also if you have a spouse die, you can find another one. (Please I am not saying that people, especially spouses, are replaceable) I know many people who, after the death of a spouse, have found a second chance at love. They once again can introduce a husband or a wife. For the death of a child there is no replacement. Yes, other children can be had, BUT the child that died will never be replaced.

In the months after Heather died I began to evolve into the new creation I had become. As the fog began to slowly move away, I now viewed my world in shades of gray and murky brown. My carefully crafted imagine no longer mattered to me as I began to speak my mind freely and not allow others to push me around. My sterling reputation I once struggled with was of little concern to me as I began a new life for myself. I had been reborn, but not by my choice.

In the years after Heather died I still fell the deep, great void that has been left in my life. I feel cheated and I was not ready for her to leave my world. A part of me died that day and I can never have that part back.  I have realized that time is priceless and I will do my best not to waste a second of time. I will not squander any moments dealing with people who have no compassion for me and my daughter; while they will never understand, my true friends will allow me to share Heather with them. They will realize the precious gift they get in hearing about my daughter.

I have come to realize that many things are beyond my control and they are not my concern. It is better for me to cut out the parts and people that have no heart to walk along side me. These people rob me of the joy that I have left. I won't waste so much daylight on people who bring darkness.

My daughter, Heather Nicole lived 7802 days, having a child die is NOT a gift, it can bring more meaning to life and it can inspire people including the grieving mother. This type of death is beyond most human understanding. Peers, outside the close immediate family, have no clue. The grieving mother can feel alienated by friends and family. Life moves on for the rest of the world but yet here I am stuck, not moving forward, battling to find a new normal. Fulfillment and purpose are not the flip side of learning to live with the death of a child.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Happy 20th Disney Anniversary...

I can not remember a time when Heather did not love Minnie Mouse, it is just something that has always been. Bill went on a business conference that was held at the Disneyland hotel in 1989. He stayed at the actual original Disneyland Hotel but did not go into the park without his family being there. He did manage to do some shopping at a gift store and brought back Minnie Mouse for Jenn and a Mickey Mouse for Heather. It would not take long for us to realize this was a huge mistake as Heather wanted the Minnie not the Mickey. Eventually, big sister Jenn, gave in and allowed Heather to have both the Minnie and the Mickey. Heather's next Minnie Mouse, her first one, would come from The Disney Store in Denver in June, 1991. This would begin a very huge collection of Minnie Mouse's that spanned decades.
Heather with her Mickey
This was before she took sisters Minnie
We had the original cassette tape of Minnie Mouse Songs and we wore that out listening to it many times a day. Of course given enough time I am sure I could hum if not sing some of the songs still. One of the songs was entitled "The Girls on Mickey Street Know." We had some good friends that had two sons that were older and one of them liked to tease Heather by singing "The BOYS on Mickey Street Know." She would get so angry and yell/sing it at the top of her lungs.

Heather's two birthday's while living in Minnesota included the anniversary sparkle red, lit-up Minnie Mouse and the giggle Minnie that of course giggled when you pressed her stomach. I had told Heather that the red lit-up Minnie was too expensive for her birthday. Imagine the screams of sheer delight and joy in her eyes as she realized she got the red sparkle lit-up Minnie Mouse. Of course Minnie and Mickey were favorite picks for many birthdays including some after she was an older teenager. I could ask her what kind of cake she wanted and I knew the answer before she ever uttered a word. When we moved to Minnesota Heather got the Minnie Mouse room she wanted. One of my favorite birthday photos of Heather is for her 3rd birthday. She has a minnie outfit on, sitting on her Minnie Mouse comforter with all her Minnie's piled on her. 
Pile on the Minnie Mouses
One of many
In 1996, we decided to take our first ever family vacation that did not include driving to a family members house. Of course, we went to Disneyland to see the Farewell Season of the MainStreet Electrical Light Parade. We drove and arrived at our very poor quality hotel about dinnertime on August 7th, 1996. We had dinner at the restaurant on the property called the Spaghetti Station. It was dark by the time we got finished and walked back to the room. We had stopped at the van to get the first load of luggage and take upstairs to our room. Just as we got into the room, suddenly there were loud pops that sounded like gunfire. Please understand that the area that this motel was in was a very bad part of town. Bill came running into the room and told all of us to get down it was gunfire. Heather and Wendy were crying as we all huddled on the other side of the bed. It wasn't long before we realized it was the fireworks show from Disneyland going off and not the gunfire we had thought. Of course we never ever will let Bill live this one down.
The girls with the Disneyland Band
Iconic teacup photo
Goofy's Kitchen for lunch
Heather wiping away tears of joy to meet Minnie
The famous Mickey face
It would be over 7 years before we would get back to Disneyland and oh the changes that happened in those 7 years. We had heard that the least busy time was to go at christmas, like the actual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Boy, we were about to realize how wrong this was. We flew in and it was raining and it rained the entire time. However, we discovered many wonderful new things including a park called California Adventure, all the warmest and driest places to eat, the park, along with most everything else closes early on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is the busiest day of the year; rain or not. I would not trade or change this trip for anything. As we were cold and wet by the time we got to the rental car in the parking lot, we were also hungry. We dove around and nothing was open. I was heading to make a u-turn in this abandoned and burned hotel parking lot when we saw a restaurant in the parking lot that appeared to be open. Imagine our shock and surprise as this turned out to be the Spaghetti Station that we had eaten at so many years before. They had just closed but they said they had a fire in the fireplace and plenty of food. It was the best time ever for a Christmas Eve.
Heather with Minnie at her house Christmas 2003
The Spaghetti Station December 2003
So in 2006 we began going out to Disneyland for Spring Break in March, sad to say that this only lasted 2006 and 2007. Imagine our surprise as the trip in 2006 found us in rain again. We figured this must be the only time that we could go to Disneyland was with rain. It did make for a very nice time as the parks emptied out and those that could stand the rain and cold could have the best time ever. This was the time that Bill took a photo of no one on Main Street but a duck. We also learned that the shops stayed open an hour after closing. Most of the time, Bill and jean would go back, Wendy was with Rose and Heather would link her arm in mine and beg to go shopping. Heather bought a Minnie Mouse every time she went and one of these times she bought the giant Mickey AND Minnie. I asked her where they were going to go and she proudly told me in her bed. They now sit on my couch in the living room.
50th anniversary Minnie
Just a stunning photo of Heather in Fantasyland
I never imagined that our trip in October 2007, would be the last trip before cancer came into our world. Heather had cancer, we just did not know it. She had broken her toe and was in a wheelchair. It was kind of nice because we got to bypass most of the lines. Of course things are very different now. That hardest part was shopping while pushing the wheelchair. The stores would be crammed packed and the wheelchair was a beast. As we left that time of course Heather bought a Mickey and a Minnie. one of the most iconic photos was a cell photo that Jenn took as we were about to leave was with Heather and her new Mickey. Who would have known how drastically our lives would change in just 5 short months.
One of my favorite photos
During Heather's chemo I realized that we would be finished in time for us to plan a trip to Disneyland for her 21st birthday. I went thru the travel agent and splurged for the Disneyland Hotel and also to fly instead of driving. Between Wendy being pregnant and Heather recovering and still doing monthly chemo it just seemed like the way to go. We would be in the park for Heather's actual 21st birthday. Long story short, we got our own cast member to show us around Disneyland and California Adventure, we got a ride on the Lily Belle and got train station seating for the parade and fireworks. It was a magical trip that will stay with us all forever. Good memories were made during this trip.
Princess Heather with Minnie
21st birthday photo with Minnie and Mickey
 I had no way of knowing that our trip in December, 2008 would be Heather's last trip to her favorite place in the whole world. I never dreamed that I never took enough photos of the girls verses that parades and things to see. While those are nice and great, I would much rather have the photos of Heather. One of the things that Heather made us do, one Spring Break, was to take photos of her with all the princesses. This took hours but looking back now I am so thankful I have them. 
Wendy, Jenn and Heather selfie
I wonder how different today and this week might have been if Heather had been here. Would we have booked a trip to Disneyland for this special 20th anniversary? How many more Minnie Mouses could possibly have fit into this house? How many trips to Disneyland would Heather have made by now. She wanted to be a princess character at Disneyland, she also wanted to live in the castle and she wanted to have the big Disneyland Wedding. For some reason I think all this would have happened. My love of Disney is very personal and keeps my Heather close. I make new memories with my GRANDgirls and hope with the rest of my family for many more years to come. It truly is the most magical place, but for me, it all began with a girl mouse and a little girl who truly loved this mouse with all heart. 
August, 1996-December, 2008

"That's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up"
~Walt Disney