Monday, December 31, 2012

What a difference a year makes...

Last year I posted a blog bidding goodbye to 2011.  I suppose it only fitting that I post one to say farewell to 2012.

As I spoke of hope last year, that it would be my word for 2012, I was at one of my most hopeless times in my life.  A lot of 2012 was spent without any real hope.  A good portion of this year was spent floundering, trying to find my place in this world and find my direction.  I've struggled with clinical depression for a lot of years and went through most of them on my own - no medication, no nothing.  

I failed at many things this year, I failed people in many ways.  I failed many of the people who mean the most to me, the ones I hold most dear.

But I did do something I have always been terrible at - I asked for help.  

With that help, with that direction, I was able to salvage parts of me that I thought were gone forever.  I was able to work to repair things I believed unable to be salvaged.  

A year has taught me so many things about myself and about other people.  It's taught me who I am and who I want to be, who I can be.  

Last year I listed the people who I learned from in 2011.  This year I will list only two, not to say I only learned from two people because that would be incorrect.  I learn from everyone, every day of my life.  But these two people deserve the mention.  

Michael - who teaches me every day about patience and hard work and the simple joys of being 4 and 5.  He teaches me that I need to take the time out to be silly, to wrestle with a little kid.  He shows me who I want to be in being his mom.  

Aaron - who's taught me a million things but mainly about love and being loved in return.  

I've often spent my time fluctuating between thinking I'm completely imperfect and thinking I'm a superhero who can accomplish anything without asking for help.  I'm figuring out now that I really exist somewhere in between and that it's okay.  

I'm okay with letting 2012 go without looking back.  I'm grateful for the positives....and for some of the negatives, because without them, I wouldn't have learned a damn thing.  

As we usher this year out the door, I'm ready and willing to enter into 2013 with a clearer head, an  unbreakable heart, and hope.     


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Goodbye

The words below weren't written by me, but by a friend...a friend who tragically lost his wife a year ago and wrote this, wanting for her to be remembered.


“good bye… I love you… always and forever.”

For the ten days I sat in that hospital room… the machine attached to her never stopped beeping… it somehow gave me an odd reassurance that she was still alive. This beeping became part of my being… every change, every different sound registered immediately in my head as normal or not. I could put my head down on the side of the bed and close my eyes while holding her hand knowing exactly what was happening just by the sound of the beeps.   The beeps were comforting but at the same time disheartening… sustaining her life but siphoning mine away… Every beep… a dagger to my heart… every time…

She was confined tightly to her hospital bed… her body was motionless… Countless tubes adorned her mouth… blood was stained on the beautiful porcelain skin on her cheek… her long thick red hair… once so flowing and enthralling was reduced to a tangled nest… unwashed for days… stained in blood, sweat… and my own tears. She would have never liked this… laying there… looking like this. She cared about her hair… her skin… how she was perceived. She had the gentlest soul but never wanted to appear helpless. But there she was… helpless… clinging to a fragment of life. Helpless was a feeling I knew well… for the ten days… I could do nothing to help… I could only watch her… and hope… for a miracle. But no matter how she looked… she was always the most beautiful woman in the world to me… and that no matter what was said to me, I never gave up hoping for a miracle…

I became obsessed with watching the numbers on the monitor. They would fluctuate but never in a good way…. never in a way that would promote the slightest bit of hope. My tear stained eyes would stare endlessly at the bags of sedation hug at the hospital bed’s side. As they would dissipate… they too would beep… louder and louder and louder… till a nurse would come in and hit a button…. It seemed like an eternity for them to come in… More beeps… more daggers… more tears.

I spoke to her often… searching… hoping… for some sign of acknowledgement. I tried to talk to her like there was nothing wrong…. like this was some sort of temporary set back that we would laugh about in a few weeks. I’m sure the shaking in my voice betrayed me but I kept the fa├žade up and kept talking to her. I told her how much I loved her. How much I needed her. How much she changed me. I sang to her songs about love… about loss… and about how much she meant to me. I shared stories and the support others had shared with me… every email… every text message… every facebook post people sent to me were read to her. I just wanted her to hear how loved she was. She spent her entire existence not realizing how much she meant to be people. In all honesty aside form me, her family and a few friends… she thought the world didn’t understand her… didn’t want her… didn’t love her. I was thinking maybe it would wake her up… to realize how much she would be missed by so many besides me. I know that she heard them… I would see tears form in the corner of her eyes when I read them. I know they touched her heart. I can never thank everyone enough for that.

Over time, my hope started to fade. I found myself in the hospital bathroom, staring in the mirror often. The few days of no sleep aged me… the bags under my bloodshot eyes were black and prevalent. I was desperate… I had no other choice and no other option… but to abandon my principles and get down on my knees and pray… not for me… but for her… and all those that loved her. I made the promises all desperate men make… the bargains… the pledges… for her… but to no avail… there was still nothing… no sign of recovery… no sign of hope… no sign of life… If there truly was a god… I was forsaken long before that moment…

As I watched her in that bed, my mind could not suppress the thought of how much she hated this. She never wanted to burden anyone… she felt a five minute out of the way stop on the way home from work to pick up a pizza was too much of a burden for anyone… I could only imagine how she felt about this. If she could see the worried and sad looks on all our friends and family… if she would know how much my heart was being completely torn out of my chest… she would have felt guilty. She always felt guilty… but she never was… that’s what made her truly special.

A honk would permeate the air often… a loud, abrupt honk that would send chills down your spine… it signified a cough… she coughed… a lot…. as the tubes bothered her throat and made her do so. Her forehead would wrinkle in obvious discomfort when she did this… The nurses would lie and say she isn’t in pain… but really what are they supposed to say… that she is in terrible discomfort and pain? The nurses’ lies are justifiable as the truth can do no good… but… despite their lies… I know what I see… she hates this… everything about this. She just wants to be let go. She just wants ME to let her go.

The doctors would stream in and out of the room daily… disgusting vultures more concerned about how her organs would be used and who would next occupy her bed rather than trying to do anything to comfort me or save her. They had the blackest souls I ever met… they were so eager to push me to give up… to just cut off the one person who ever made this life worth living. She was more than my love, more than my wife… she was the reason the sun shined in my world… the reason the birds chirped in the morning… the reason my lips could make a smile…  the reason my voice was capable of laughing… the reason my blood was warm… and the reason I breathed. Black souls like theirs would never understand… their darkness could never be able to accept a soul of pure light like hers… they would never know what it was like to love to someone like that… so I almost can’t blame them for being so heartless. I felt sorry for them more than anything… although I would have loved to throw them out a window out every time I was pushed to make a final decision and give up hope.

Not that the ten days didn’t contain any hope … there was a fleeting moment once. The nurse moved her and her eyes opened wide. I jumped up and my tears of joy were coupled with a cautious smile as I looked into those beautiful big brown eyes and said “hi baby… hi baby… hi baby”. I remember feeling so happy… maybe… she would respond… maybe… my miracle occurred… maybe… not… there was nothing… no response… no life behind the eyes… no soul left in her… they were only opened eyes… with nothing but emptiness. She shut them only a few seconds after she opened them… and I would never see those beautiful brown eyes again. It was a moment I will never forget… the moment that made me realize she wasn’t coming back… the moment all hope was extinguished from me.

Eventually the lack of sleep and the exhaustion of endlessly crying caught up to me… my body was broken… my mind destroyed… my heart was missing… I had nothing left inside me. I was at wit’s end dreading what I had to do so I became nasty… would yell at anyone who tried to console me… would push away anyone who offered any words of hope. I could no longer tolerate anyone… I just needed to be alone with her… so I could figure out just why life would be worth living without her. Something to this day, a year later, I still can’t figure out.

A few more days passed and the doctors and nurses were getting more and more aggressive… There is only so long they would let this continue… only so long they would house a lost cause. I was brought inside a private room where the options were coldly laid out before me… put tubes directly into her throat hooked up to a breathing machine… and find a permanent care facility for her where she would spend the rest of her days comatose in this condition till her heart gives out and she dies. The most I could hope for was that she would open her eyes from time to time… but they would be the same lifeless eyes that have haunted me everyday since that fleeting moment of hope… Or… to let her go… to sign away her life… to remove the life support… to give up on her and our life together… and let her die. They all say you will never regret making a decision that is obviously the right choice… but they are wrong… the right choice can be regretted every single moment of every day. I don’t care what people tell you about how it was what she would have wanted… the guilt of signing off on your wife’s death… giving up on her… and on your dreams together… is a heavy burden that I still can’t figure out how to carry.

My decision was made and there was no turning back… I stood at the edge of her hospital bed, already regretting my choice. The nurses left the room and pulled the curtains and shut the doors. I would have one final moment alone with her to tell her every last thing on my mind. I told her I loved her... that I’ll miss her… I promised her I would never love anyone as much as I loved her and I would find a way to make her proud of what she made me. I asked her to keep watch over me… I would need an angel to watch out for me as living without her would no doubt let darkness creep back into my soul and lead to careless decisions and irrational acts. I asked for her forgiveness for all the mistakes I made with her… for all the stupid things I did and thoughtless things that I said that caused pointless arguments that seem so trivial now. My final words to her were simple, “when they pull the life support… just go… do not fight it… just pass peacefully and quickly. Your job is done here.” Through all the tubes and wires… I found my way to her head and I kissed her one last time… the last time my lips would ever touch hers… and said “good bye… I love you… always and forever.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Empty House

This morning when I stopped for coffee on my way to work, I happened to see the the man who lived next door to us when I was growing up.  In the course of our conversation, it came up that he is trying to buy my old house, as it's been abandoned. 
 
Abandoned. 
 
Walked away from. 
 
I drive by the house every now and again and over the last year or so have wondered if anyone was actually living there anymore.  It was always kind of overgrown and difficult to spot through the leaves but it's gotten progressively "woodsier" around the house and driveway, which is why I asked if it was inhabited anymore. 
 
I know it's not the first house to be abandoned - especially in this day and age.  And I'm not about to go on a tear about foreclosures and the state of the economy or anything of the sort. 
 
It's sort of sad, isn't it, when you think about the place you called home as a child now sitting lonely and forgotten?  Nevermind that the people who moved in after you probably changed a bunch of things, the outer shell was still that house, the yard had still been part of home. 
 
I was four years old in that house.  I disappeared in the grass when my parents first looked at it because the grass was so tall. 
 
My brother and sister were infants in that house.  Heather learned to walk in that house.  Michael scooted around the living room there. 
 
We had awful rugs - punk ass orange and mustard yellow in the bedrooms.  There were mustard appliances. 
 
I blew the door off the microwave there by trying to bake chocolate chip cookies in a metal pan.  I got my finger stuck in an electric mixter's beaters. 
 
We went sledding down the driveway, sometimes crashing into bushes.  I managed to knock myself out on Uncle Ned's muffler when my sled went under his car. 
 
Dad found a nest of mice in the first shed we had.  I had my rabbit in his hutch outside.  I played in the runoff stream on the side of our property and tried to find treasure.  I played in the orchards and picked raspberries.  We had the only mulberry tree left on Mulberry Lane until the town cut it down.  Dad tried to put together our swingset and one of the poles fell on his leg and cut it wide open.  I burned my kneecaps on the exhaust pipes of his motorcycle there. 
 
I had bunk beds there and sleepovers and roasted marshmallows in mayonnaise jars and plastered my walls and ceiling with posters and pages ripped from magazines.  I made my first attempts at writing a book in that house.  We had Night of the Living Bands that Suck in that house and listened to Billy Ray Cyrus on my mom's stereo.  I played Barbies and Nintendo and put Pledge on the floor to see the dog slip, which was funny until my mom slipped instead.  Well, it wasn't funny to her.

That house provided the venue for my valuable lesson about the physics of flinging ice cream cake into a spinning ceiling fan.  It introduced me to the absolute terror of a "crawlspace" where I was convinced if I went three inches into it, I would end up with a nest of spiders in my hair. 

My sister got suspended in that house for flipping off the bus driver.  I wished I'd flipped her off in my day.
 
The rotary phone in the kitchen had a cord on it that would stretch all the way to my bedroom at the opposite end of the house, where I would talk to my boyfriend all night long.  Do you know how hard it is to silently dial a rotary phone?  Next to impossible, but I mastered it. 

There are a million more things I remember about that house and some of them feel as though they happened yesterday.
 
I wonder if there is still writing on the inside of the cabinet doors in the hallway by the bathroom.  I wonder if any of the impressions of the Place family are still there. 
 
I don't know if I should hope if it gets torn down or not.  While there are a lot of bad memories in that house, there are a lot of good ones, too. 
 
That house may have lost all of its traces of us....but we will never lose our memories of it.