Category Archives: grief

Focus 52: "Celebrate You"

In order to celebrate me, the current prompt of the Focus 52 project, I am going to donate my blog space to celebrating someone else.  Destiny is the 11 year old daughter of my friend Melia.  Destiny recently lost her life last week in a tragic car accident that also put her 15 year old brother Riley in a coma.  He still remains in a comatose state today.  Melia was in ICU with bodily injuries that included a broken clavicle, some bleeding on the brain and various lacerations and bruises.  While she is recuperating in one hospital, her son is across town in another, fighting for his life.  Her eldest daughter, Hailey, who was not in the car at the time of the accident, is left alone to run between the two hospitals where her brother and mother are currently staying.  A devastating position for an 18 year old child who is grieving the loss of her baby sister to be in. 

So what does this have to do with celebrating ME?

In a word, charity.  Sweet charity.  My one huge passion in life.  If there is ever an attribute that I would want celebrated about myself, it would be the fact that I am enormously passionate when it comes to giving to others in need.  I will donate time, money, material needs until I have nothing more to give.  It is the one area in my life where I feel I truly shine as a human being.  Giving to others in need makes me feel good.  It lifts me to a plane of existence more gratifying than even the most earth shattering orgasm.  Every time I can do something, anything, to help another person in a time of crisis, I feel elevated.  Closer to achieving a sense of nirvana. I am at peace even in the midst of chaos.  It gives me something to devote my ever abounding energy to and provides me with a better sense of self.  And, while it is said that charity should be a selfless gesture, any fool would know that simply cannot be.  There is a certain selfish aspect to it.  There is a certain rush or “high” if you will when it comes to knowing you have done something to potentially change the outcome of someones life.  I enjoy giving.  I enjoy doing for others.  I don’t require thanks. I don’t require gratitude.  I don’t even require acknowledgment.  All I need is to be able to achieve that remarkably warm feeling of knowing that I was able to play a small role in making someones life just a little bit better, if only for a short while.

With all that said, I am inviting you to please visit my “Cause” page to help Melia and her family try to recoup from the tragedy of this past week.  While nothing on earth, any amount of money or gesture, can return Destiny to us, the family is in dire need of financial salvation.  The family is going to need financial help desperately to help pay for the enormous hospital bills, for Destiny’s final arrangements, Riley’s long term care, the entire families living expenses and of course, they will need money for legal fees to go after the repeat offender criminal that stole Destiny’s life.

The family does not have a lot as they just moved across the country in hopes of starting a better life. They need the help of friends, friends of friends, relatives, etc., to get them through this difficult time.

While there are grass root efforts being made in her home state of Arizona, Melia has many friends who know and love her in other parts of the world as well. We are reaching out to the blogging/social media community in an attempt to help rebuild this woman’s life.

Please help in any way you can. Even the smallest of donations are appreciated.

To date, we the members of the Cause have been able to raise nearly $2500.  However, the cost of Destiny’s final arrangements far exceed that.  The need is still great.  Melia will need to be able to stay close to the hospital where her son is now in ICU.  This will cost money.  The family is without health insurance.  Daily bills for the ICU stay run in excess of $20,000 per DAY.  They will both require hospital type beds when they are finally released.  There will be legal fees to pay.  They will need special medical equipment for Riley, such a a wheelchair for him to use while he slowly regains function of his extremities.  The costs are overwhelming and endless.  Even if you are unable to donate yourself, just passing the word around to others and encouraging them to donate will help Melia and her young family to recuperate from this tragedy.

To celebrate me, I am celebrating the life of Destiny.  I am celebrating the fact that my dear friend Melia has lived to see another day.  I am celebrating the fact that Riley has not given up and that his battered body has youth on its side and he is putting up a strong fight for his life.  In fact, I could not think of a better way to celebrate MY life than to introduce you to them.  To be able to remind all of you how precious life truly is.  How to let you all have this serve as a reminder that life can change on a dime.  If this story makes you a little bit more wary on the road, stops you from running a red light (like the person who hit Melia did), makes you hug your children a little bit tighter tonight…then to me, those are small but enormously significant victories.  Little celebrations of life…and in turn, small celebrations of my life as well.

Tonight, I was speaking to a friend and mentioned that it deeply saddened me every time I had to write the words “Destiny’s funeral” during updates to friends.  She said to me, “It is not a funeral.  It is a celebration of life.”  And, she is right.  Melia has chosen to have people dress in every color of the rainbow, Destiny’s favorite thing, in honor of her daughter.  No drab, somber black garb…but brilliant hues.  Greens, yellows, oranges, blues, purples…all as vibrant and alive as Destiny was.

“What an amazing thing for a mother to do,” I thought to myself.

She opted not to dress Destiny in a formal dress and fancy shoes, but rather, a pair of jeans.  A Justin Bieber shirt.  Her favorite DC brand rainbow shoes.  She chose to let Destiny leave this earth the same way that she came into it…with her own sense of style.  A ferociously independent little girl who had the gift of gab, a smile that could start a fire with its brilliance and the eyes of a mischievous angel.

Indeed, this will truly be a celebration of life.  And I can think of no better way to celebrate me…than to celebrate her all too short, but incredibly purposeful life.

Goodnight, sweet Destiny.  Rest well…and remember that every time I see a rainbow in the sky, I will know it is you, asking God to please redecorate the world.

You are loved.

Overcome…

This week has been incredibly overwhelming for me.  Personally, professionally and emotionally.  I am drained.  I am tired.  I am exasperated.  And more than anything…

I am overcome.

After many years, a friendship was ended…mutually, after nearly 40 years.  We didn’t decide to just release one another but rather, it ended in an incredibly ugly fashion with sarcasm, bitter words, name calling and scathing accusations.  She wasn’t listening to me.  I wasn’t listening to her.  We both struggled to be heard, but the louder the words became,  the more they fell on deaf ears.  This person was gone to me for a very long time.  From the time I was 14 years old actually.  We reunited back in 2002.  For six years, it was wonderful.  We shared each others homes, hearts and secrets.  She entered my life during a very volatile time with my husband (yes, once upon a time, things were not all hearts and flowers between the Princess and the Hotband.)  She got me through a lot of rough years.  I will always be appreciative of that.  Then, Facebook comes along.  Old friends enter the picture.  Worse yet, new friends enter the picture and slowly the chasm grows.  We start realizing how different we are.  Subtle changes at first give way to more blatant, outward changes.  Statements that would once be taken in jest were no longer amusing.  The differences become more noticeable, not only to us, but to our mutual friends.  Bickering begins.  Nit-picky small things at first slowly give way to all out lunges at each others throats.  Diplomacy is suddenly lost on both of us.  She is asking me to change who I am.  I am telling her accept me as I am.  She calls me a liar.  I call her varying degrees of the word “bitch”.  She tells me she is blocking me from her feed.  I eventually block her from my “friends list”.  Sarcastic nasty notes are exchanged and suddenly, it is 1980.  We are two teenage girls, snarling at one another in the school yard, throwing down our books as the crowd forms a circle around us.  Sides are chosen.  Friendships are irretrievably broken. Alliances are formed.

Only this time, there is no teacher to step in, to intervene.  We are left to our own devices, both of us too afraid to have this discussion by phone…so we are relegated to nasty Facebook messages saying things that we more than likely wouldn’t dare to say to each other if we were face to face.

It was exhausting.  And now, it is over.

I have opted not to discuss this with our mutual friends.  She, however, has been talking about this non-stop.  The chitter chatter of the spies still running back and forth between us, like little electrical synapses firing off, one after the other.  I just want to be free of it already.  I wanted this year to start differently rather than more of the same.

And while there is a part of me that is always going to mourn the loss of that friendship, I am trying to remember that there was a reason she walked into my life when she did after a 25 year separation.  I am grateful for the little girl I grew up with as much as I am grateful for the woman who held me in her arms as I sobbed over the pain my husband had caused me.  I would have loved to have shared another 40 years with her…but we grew up differently, our lives shaped by different events.  I am not who she remembers, nor who she wants me to be.  She is not who I remembered, nor who I wanted her to be.

But, for a short moment in time, we were everything to each other.  She held my hand in kindergarten sometimes.  She was always the braver and bolder one.  She had a silly laugh that carried over into her adult years, a giggle that would make you look into the eyes of this 40 year old woman and see the 6 year old within.  We couldn’t stop talking to one another and were placed on opposite sides of a classroom more times than I can count.  We crushed on the same boys.  She always won their hearts and I suppose I always envied that about her.  It always came so naturally for her.  I had to work so much harder to impress people.  Thus begun my extremely extroverted personality.  The outrageous things I would say and do.  She would always shake her curly head and laugh at me.  And I would smile, knowing my best friend approved of who I was, accepted me and loved me…even when I wasn’t in performance mode.  To everyone else, I was that crazy girl…but to her, I was just “CP”.  Or, as she put it, even in our 40’s, she would refer to me as…”my CP”.

And I was hers.  Unconditionally…and probably would have been for life had we not allowed the little things to pyramid to grandiose proportions and spin violently out of control.

In my heart, in my mind and in my soul…I will always remember the moment when we were 14 years old and hugging goodbye as my parents moved me out of the city and into the suburbs.  I never saw her again after that.  I will always remember her big brown eyes, her long curly hair and her lips, quivering from trying to hold back the tears of seeing a best friend disappear from her life.  That vision will help me handle what has happened between us, remove the ugliness that transpired on both our behalves and allow me to move forward into the new year without regrets or pain.

She will always be my very first best friend.  No amount of ugly will ever change that.

I’m willing to keep her there, in my heart, exactly that way.

Day 4 – Forgiving Someone Else…

Forgiving someone. Not as hard as forgiving yourself, but a challenge nevertheless. There are a few people I could put under this category. A perfect example would be my own father, who selfishly left my family behind only to succumb to a cocaine induced death back in 1986. I think I have made peace with that. He was a man-child, who never really wanted the ties of marriage to bind him let alone the children that came along with that commitment. I have let that one into my mind back and forth over many years and believe I have long since come to terms with the fact that the man lived the best way he knew how, fast and on the edge, and eventually died the same way. I have a lot of his traits only I feel I am stronger than he was and his death was an example to me of the road I could have taken had I not been more careful.

But, with this being Domestic Violence Awareness month, I carefully thought over the aspect of forgiveness. Some might be horrified by my choice, but for me, this just feels right. The person I am trying to forgive is Tony. If you are a long time reader of this blog, then you will know that Tony is the man I was with for 2 and a half years, who beat me within an inch of my life. It started with a slap in 1989 and ended with my being in the hospital in November of 1991, bleeding in my skull from a brain hemorrhage.

My story about Tony is told here:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

For all these years, I couldn’t bring myself to feel anything but hatred for this man. Now, nearly 20 years later, all I can do is feel pity. Pity for him. Pity for the fact that he had such a hard and traumatic childhood that he felt the need to take it out on the flesh and bones of a woman he supposedly loved. When people would ask me “is there anyone in this world that you absolutely hate,” my answer would be Tony. Not even a pause. Not even a thought. It was something I had programmed my mouth to say.

Now I realize that hate is such a wasted emotion. I don’t hate him any longer. When I think of him, it is with sadness. Nothing more. I used to have deep-seated regret stemming from my time with him. Now, I feel he has done me some what of a service. He has made me a much stronger woman, knowing I am capable of living through a situation that others might have died in. He let me know that I am the type of mother who would protect her children at all costs, no matter how horrible the situation might be. He made me an activist, working diligently for rights of women everywhere. He made me rise above, showed me how powerful I actually am and what I am capable of when cornered.

To me, forgiving him is the ultimate. It is like forgiving the person who stole your child from you. He stole a huge portion of my life. Not just the two years that he beat and battered me, but many years to follow. All the years of self-loathing. All the years of physical pain from my various injuries. All the mental and emotional pain that had to be treated by doctors dumping various and sundry drugs down my throat to right my wronged brain.

But now, all that is gone for me. And I think, if I ever encountered him now, I would do so without fear. I would be able to look him in his eyes and where once upon a time I might have asked “why”, I find that that doesn’t really matter any more. I would be able to tell him that I forgive him. He was a child of abuse and neglect. He related to me the only way he knew how, with fists rather than words. It was his only way of having power in his life, the power that was stripped from him as a little boy. I understand that now. I can empathize with him…

and I believe with empathy comes forgiveness. And Tony, I forgive you. My nightmares about you are long gone and I wake up every morning with a huge smile on my face, knowing what an amazing life I have since created for myself. I hope somewhere in the world, you are living the same way and are released of the demons that caused you to brutalize the things you loved best in all the world.

I wish you peace. I hope you have found it.

Soul searching…

I have so many things to blog about right now. So many wonderful, amazing things. My life right now is truly blessed. I can write about my husband, always a source of joy and happiness. I can write about the incredible Mother’s Day I just had. There was my fabulous trip to California where I met some absolutely awesome people who will be in my heart forever. I had the time of my life. I can write about my sons recent school suspension. Sure, not a great thing, but valuable lessons were learned by all. I could write about the new career I am embarking on with my husbands blessing. I am scared, nervous, excited and in awe over this decision I have made.

A million things to write about yet only one thing comes to mind right now.

Forgiveness.

In the past couple of months, I have done some pretty nasty things. Things I am a little ashamed of. I said things that never should have been said. I entrenched myself into lives and hurt people with the quick flashes of an untamed tongue. I allowed a mob mentality to pull me in, suck me under and throw me about in an ocean of ugly.

Dear Readers, be there 6 or 60 of you…when have you ever known that to be me?

I am not a judgmental person. I never have been. I don’t see colors on skin. I embrace everyone’s sexuality and preferences. As long as you are not harming me or mine…just be you. Do your thing. Live your life. Make your good choices. Make your poor choices. Always find your way back to being you after diverting away from that. Second chances. Third chances. Tenth chances. I have always lived my life as the epitome of love, tolerance and acceptance.

I am ashamed of my actions as of late. They are a false and poor representation of who I am, who I have always been. I allowed myself to get pulled into chaos and mob mentality, something I have never experienced before. I don’t like it. There isn’t enough body wash to cleanse it away.

I am not a religious girl, despite embracing my Jewessness. I am a spiritual person. I am a strong believer in karmic retribution both good and bad. You get back what you put out into the universe. It comes back to you in some form or another. Lately, what I have been putting out has not been positive and I am not proud of that. So many beautiful and wonderful things have taken place in my life as of late. This one thing looms heavily in my heart and mind.

I took a step to rectify it today. Not only because it was the right thing to do, but because I needed it for me. I needed to make it right in my mind. I need to put out the right vibes in my world. And, most of all, I need to say I am sorry when I am wrong. I allowed my compassion to be run off and replaced with malignancy and maliciousness. That’s not me. It’s never been me. I hate that girl.

I was wrong. And, I am sorry.

While forgiveness may not be in the stars, I have done what I can to be able to exhale and say, “It will be okay. The people you hurt may not forgive you, CP, but God will.” And right now, that has to be enough for me.

I am flawed. I will falter. I am a work in progress.

The colors are still evolving. The paint on my walls are still wet. But, with every passing day, every passing hour…something beautiful will arise from what I am creating. A better day. A better life.

A better me.

Just when you think it’s safe to smile…

something happens that just knocks the wind out of your sails.

Four hours ago, I was the happiest woman alive. My husband is home from California. My son is here. My daughter stopped by to visit with my two beautiful grandchildren. We laughed, had dinner together as a family; something we haven’t been able to do much of since my daughter moved to her own home a few months ago.

I remember the absolute angst that I felt the day she moved out of my home with her husband and her daughter. Sure, they were only moving one town away, but never in 22 years have my daughter and I not lived under the same roof. When she left, the house dynamic changed. It lost a lot of life. My daughter is my shining star and that beautiful little girl she brought into my life only made my daughter that much more of an indelible force in my world. Now we are both mothers, together. Just another bond that keeps us close. Yes, I have an amazing son. He’s bright, funny and a really good kid. I love him like mad. But, ask most mothers and usually they can all agree on one thing:

The bond you have with your daughter is like no other.

So, imagine my surprise, when after dinner my daughter informs me that her husband is getting a promotion. A big promotion. One that means they are going to have to relocate.

To New York. New York. 1200 miles away.

It might as well be another planet.

I drew in a breath as though I had been kicked in the gut. Things in my body that I never knew existed started to ache. Pain. Pain that I have not felt before in my life literally surged through me. My baby girl is leaving me in Florida while she and her family move to New York. Her family. MY family. My grandbabies. My precious, beautiful grandbabies are no longer a fifteen minute drive away. There will be no more cuddling on demand. No more kisses goodnight. No more picking up my granddaughter from daycare, watching with absolute joy as she runs towards me with her arms outstretched, reaching for me.

And my grandson. Dear God, my grandson. Not even two weeks old yet. He will never know me from anything other than a photograph. I will be a stranger to him when I go to visit. I’ll miss Liam’s first words. His first steps. His first everything.

I won’t be there for Sadie’s first day of pre-school. Dance recitals.

My head is absolutely reeling right now. I feel numb, dead inside. I am walking around like a zombie. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that my children are going to be in New York while I am in Florida. I can’t fathom it.

And there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. Nothing.

I thought that in my 42 years on this planet, that I have experienced heartbreak. I was wrong. Nothing has felt like this. Not even the loss of my son 14 years ago felt like this. Does that sound melodramatic? Perhaps to some, it might. But right now, I feel like I am losing my daughter. Losing her. Losing Sadie. Losing Liam. They won’t be here for holidays. For birthdays. She will not just “drop by” after work anymore. Our entire mother/daughter experience will rely on phone calls and emails. They will probably come rapid fire at first…and then, with time, they will probably whittle down to weekly. She will be busy with her babies and her husband making their new life in New York. She won’t have time for dear old mom anymore.

My grandchildren won’t know me. I’ll be a photograph hanging from a refrigerator magnet, just like my mother is on mine.

My first knee jerk reaction was to tell her how selfish this was. How can you take my babies away from me? How can you just leave like that after living in my home with your husband for three years? I felt betrayed. I felt used. And then, I felt the anger turn to pain. Then, pain into sorrow.

I want the best for my daughter and her husband. I want them to have opportunities that my husband and I have not had. What parent doesn’t want better for their children? I apologized to her for my initial reaction. I told her it came from a place of fear, not anger. The fear that I was being left behind. They don’t need me anymore. They are branching out on their own, leaving the proverbial nest. I should feel some joy knowing that I have prepared her well for this…but all I can feel is sadness.

Watching my granddaughter playing in my living room tonight was painful. I won’t have this anymore. Liam was curled up in his baby bouncer. Sadie came over to him and patted his head gently. She gave him a kiss. She said “Hi Baby” and then threw her arms around me for a big hug.

And I just broke down in hysterics. Literally heaving sobs.

My babies are leaving me and I don’t know what to do. I simply don’t know what to do. How can I just stand here and watch them leave?

My daughter. My first born. My heart and soul.

I don’t even have the words to tie this post up into a neat little package. My world completely flipped upside down in the course of an hour.

How do you say goodbye to the very thing that makes you want to live?