Monday, October 8, 2007


Tonight I played with James. We played catchand he has quite an arm on him. We then spent a few minutes on the trampoline. I basically laying on my back, staring up into the trees -like I used to with Leonard -while he jumped over me, back and forth. It's a bit unnerving, trusting a little boy not to crash into your ribcage. He managed. I jumped once or twice but RA keeps me from spending too much time on high impact exercise. And then there was the time that the impact made me pee... much to the delight and laughter of my husband (who had followed me into the house thinking that something was dreadfully wrong only to find me in the bathroom) who had no idea what it was like to have 2 children and then attempt to sneeze, cough, or, apparently, jump on a trampoline. James enjoyed himself while I swallowed the pain and grief of spending actual time in the backyard that I associate so much with my husband.

I am having so much difficulty trying to get the children to help out. I have begged, and pleaded and cried to get my daughter to clean the litter box, put a cereal bowl in the dishwasher etc. Things that would not have bothered me so much with him here to back me up are ripping me apart. Never would she have thought of leaving the litter box in the manner I found it today. And telling me that she is taking care of it. And the fights. Always the fighting and wrestling between them. I am trying to give them leeway to grieve but I cannot help but feel I am being taken advantage of. That grieving has become synonymous with sitting on the couch and watching television. I am finding out that they do so well together when they are out alone together, or over at my father's, or their aunts. I start thinking that I only make this situation worse for them. And yet, I am frightened of my illness finally catching up with me and leaving them alone. They wouldn't be totally alone, but my beloved little family that I cherished so very much would be nothing but a wisp of a memory of what could have been.

For three years Leonard and I had been planning, and buying life insurance, writing wills...all in the event that this might someday catch up to me. The last time in the hospital was enough to scare a sense of preparing into us. And now, I make/revise those plans alone. Who would replace us for James.? The other night I sat and wrote letters to my children. Revised letters to replace the ones that Leonard had helped me write to them when I first got sick, first realized that I was not immortal. Only I added one in for my father, my mother and my mother in-law... and it hurt. It hurt to realize that I cannot reassure my son that I will be around for a good long time, for decades. When all I can promise him is that, no matter what happens, is that I will live forever in his heart. That we were blessed to have 9 years (the total of his life) of almost perfection..that I will always take the best care of myself that I can. That I will do everything in my power to be with him in the physical sense as long as I can. It hurt to write to my daughter about regrets...about not having them, or any more of them. It just hurts. It hurts in so many ways that is amazing to think about. I am telling myself to just not think about it, but it pops up in all of my daily activities, in my silences, in my interactions with others. And I hate myself for not being able to be me. To be normal. To move on.

I hope the ones who try it enjoy the spinach dip. It is an ultimate comfort food. At least in my opinion. And I can con myself into thinking that it's actually good for me...if I concentrate on the vegetables and disregard the fact that I am also devouring mayo and tons of cheese.

...and it was good to see my son smile this evening. It almost made up for the evening blowout because everything was not just so in his room before bed. And that we are not taking off for Disney World next week. What was I thinking when I told him we'd do that someday soon?


The girl left behind said...

After my sweetie died, his business and personal finances and such, and me empty-handed of so much as a single memento, I, too, started thinking about planning for the inevitable. I got one of those books that guides you through, and it took me awhile to gather the strength to start working on it. Who wants to think about it? And yet who knows better than the recently bereaved how necessary it is? I wish you strength as you learn to navigate these challenges sola. Hugs.

The girl left behind said...

oops, that should've said, "his business and personal finances in disarray"

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon your site, and have cried ever since. Your pain is palpable, yet your spirit is strong. The only thing you and I have in common is that we lost someone very young, and we both have sons named James....(that name ROCKS! :)

I found in times of my darkest grief, writing helped me through. I know you never set out to be an inspiration, but you are.


Shari said...

You're out in the backyard, moving around, pulling through. You are getting out of bed, doing everyday things...that will help. No one wants to think about the "what if this happens" thing and put off making plans. Only those who experience a loss such as yours or who have a life-threatening illness do. My hubby doesn't want life insurance. He smokes and doesn't want to pay higher premiums.

I yell at the kids to do things around the house, but you're right, it helps when you have someone there to back you up. I feel they take advantage of me, too, because I don't always hear or see what they do.

Angie said...

I would guess that your kids are not trying to take advantage of you, and that the anger that they are showing isn't really anger towards you but is probably grief presenting itself the only way they know how.
They probably have no idea how to react or express themselves, and to see their mother in such pain hurts them, and probably scares them too, as they are undoubtedly used to their parents being the strong ones. It is going to be a long process for you guys to go through.
Maybe a support group that you can all go to together would help. Big hugs to you and the kids.

Tessie said...

I think those letters are a great idea. Hard to write, but so worth it.

Misguided Mommy said...

right...the sneeze pee ugggg

Laurie said...

Laura, I am sure what I say will be no consolation, but the fact that your kids reflect their good up-bringing when they are with family and others shows they are capable of carrying on. Their home with you is a safe place to let go and try to process their new feelings of life as it is now. I am sure it is easy to take it personal when you have been handling the heavy decisions of the future. You are being so responsible as their mother to be taking care of this.
They can vent on eachother, but who do you have to do this for yourself when you need to vent? I think Angies idea of a support group could be a really good thing. You are dealing with so much and my heart aches for you. Hopefully when these things are taken care of and in place, your mind can let you see that you are going forward into a new normal, you are getting through this time, and you are being carried by the Lord with His love and compassion. I pray this for you
sweet friend.

Laurie in Ca.

M said...

Maybe the kids "not doing" is just that part of them that wants him to come back to back you up. It's not done consciously and it does get your attention. They are as lost and in need of direction as you are. They are hurting for themselves and for you. They miss what you had, what you miss, they miss the family that will never be the same.

It hurts to know it won't be the same again. You never stop hurting, you just learn to live with the pain and without ...

Please know that the simple fact that you do roll out of bed and take steps to move and do and be are all tremendous accomplishments. Be kind to yourself. Just take time to breath and take all the time you need.

You are and the kids are in my prayers and craddled in my heart.

much love

Haylee said...

Hi Laura:

From other things you have said since Leonard's passing, isn't it possible that your daughter is simply being self-centered and inconsiderate and has found a legitimate reason to do so? While both these traits are common in a 17 year old, if the current circumstances aren't enough reason for her to pitch in and help you out, what exactly is?

Quite frankly, I would be more concerned that she CAN do this (and seemily get away with it)rather than the fact she is doing it. I hope that makes sense. For what's its worth, I've raised 4 teenagers - 2 of them girls. One very much like your daughter.

I know you feel great love & compassion for your daughter but, the fact remains, you cannot make it all better. What you can do is insist she behave in a way so that her future memories will bring her comfort -- something to be proud of - not feel remorse or guilt over.

I know you want to avoid confrontations, but im my opinion, you are doing you and her a disservice by allowing her shirk her responsibilities and, most of all, her word. Her word is her honor. I look back at the time after Daddy's death when I did everything in my power to help Mom out -- like you often say, "no regrets". I know you'd want the same for your daughter.

Perhaps have a heart-to-heart with your daughter - explain to her that the issue is much more than the chores itself. Laura, help her to have as few regrets as possible. If this means a little tough love, then sobeit. She seems to have set the parameters but she cannot be allowed to call all the shots. Let her know that she can count on you unfailingly -- including your expectations that she do whats she's told when she's told. Have as few gray areas as is possible.

I am mindful that she has experienced a huge loss in her life, one I, too, have felt, but she must be held accountable for her actions - especially those that impact so directly on you -- life won't allow her to use her father's passing as a crutch forever - it simply won't.

I am so sorry if I sound mean-spirited in this post. Please know it was not my intention. What I want you to know is, while each of you will work through your grief in different ways and at different speeds,there must be a connection to each other throughout.

The fact that your family is physically smaller than it once was makes it all the more crucial that everyone joins forces as you adjust to the 'new normal".

I wish you a day of peace and hormony.

Many hugs!

rachd said...

Yay! You got out and played with James! Awesome! And, I think you may be on to something with that trip to Disney--even if it is some time down the road.

As for normal, well, what is "normal" any more. I sit and contemplate and realize that "normal" is no longer "normal". Does that even make sense??

You are doing it, you are getting out of bed every day, taking care of your children and moving forward. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time.


Shelly said...

Hugs, hugs, hugs, from me, too. You are being so strong. I think it's great that went outside and played with James. That really shows him how important he is to you. Great job!

M said...

The confrontations result in the experiencing of emotions that are different from the pain and the loss and the emptiness. The confrontations give a reason for the pain. I lost my mother at 21 and had younger siblings that acted out, I'm sure at that I acted out, even at that age. Death of a parent brings about so many emotions that are so uncontrollable, so hard to understand. A seventeen year old is caught in the warp between adult and child as it is - one part of her wants to be an adult, one part wants to be daddy's little girl and the smile on mom's face. She can't seem to be either or any of the above.

Understand and love her, but don't "not expect" her to be responsible and to continue to live and do what is considered her part of the family routine. The emotional confrontations are part of the emotions that need to boil to the surface, they have to come out, if they don't they will eat you all alive.


love & hugs & prayers


Gina said...

I cannot give you any good advice on how to help you with the kids. I wish I could. Maybe some family counseling? Where you could all get together in a neutral setting and talk? Some people don't like that, though, and I can understand.

Sweetie, you are doing the best you can and it was wonderful that you got out with James. I know that RA can be very painful, you are a trooper.


Marsha said...

My 16 year old daughter can be such a pain. I love her dearly and I miss how close we used to be. But, if I ask her to do the smallest thing, she blows up and we have this huge confrontation. She says mean things and I really hate those confrontations. I hate that I have to remind her to do her chores and then I get my head bit off for doing it. I really don't know of anyone who has been harder for me to talk to than she is right now. Except maybe my mom when I was a teen.

I can only imagine how much worse it must be when you add all the stress and heartache of what has happened on top of it all. Of course at some point you are going to have to lay down the law and it will be a difficult adjustment period, but I don't think it is going to cause any permanent damage if you wait until you are feeling strong enough for the confrontation. If you wait a week or a month, it isn't going to permanently damage her or your relationship.

When you are ready, be prepared with what you are going to say. Tell her you love her, lay down the law, tell her the consequences, and then you know she will test you so be prepared to shell out the consequences. And then you can come and tell us all about it. Or eat a pint of Ben and Jerry's. LOL. Well that is my unasked for advice or what works for me.