When Life Keeps Going and You Don’t Want To

I haven’t blogged much lately. I really want to work on that. To be honest, I haven’t really felt much like writing.

I’m finding that a lot of things are more difficult these days. Sometimes, the only reason I get out of bed in the morning is because someone has to get up to feed the kids. My motivation for everything is lacking and I don’t enjoy things as much as I used to. I didn’t even want to get a Christmas tree this year, but I made myself do it for the kids.

I suppose that’s the nature of depression, though.

When I was a kid, Christmas was always a time that I looked forward to. It was one of my favorite holidays, in large part because it was one of the times of year when my whole family would get together and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. As years pass, things change: people stop getting along, children get older, visits with family members become less frequent. I don’t know how it is for other families, but mine has become a lot more disconnected in recent years than it ever seemed to be growing up.

My grandma was always the common thread between all of us. She was the one who put together the holiday dinners and who wanted to bring us all together. Christmas was her favorite holiday and it was always a grand affair, full of gifts and food throughout my childhood. I spent many Christmases helping her put up and decorate the tree and wrap gifts. My grandpa would decorate the front yard with all sorts of lights and put up my grandma’s nativity scene on the covered bridge that sits on the side of their property. We used to drive around the city and look at other Christmas displays. As I look back on my time as a child, it was time together that I don’t think I appreciated enough.

Last year was the first year of my life that I didn’t spend at my grandparents’ house on Christmas or Christmas Eve and it will forever be something I regret because this year, I won’t get that chance.

In mid-October, my grandma was admitted into the hospital for a fast, irregular heartbeat and a lump in her throat. It turned out to be esophageal cancer, but the doctors suspected that she had it in other parts of her body as well, including her stomach, lungs, and heart. She had a biopsy and two surgeries in the two weeks that she was admitted, but unfortunately, her body wasn’t strong enough to keep going. Just fifteen days after her admittance to the hospital, approximately thirty-six hours after returning home, she passed away.

My grandma was a smoker all her life, and for many years, the possibility of her being diagnosed with cancer was something I had braced myself for. She was in the hospital for a week before the diagnosis came in officially, and until the results, we all knew it was cancer. But I will tell you this: no matter how prepared you think you are to hear news like that, you’re actually not. You never will be. Even when you know, the moment the words hit your ears, your world collapses.

It’s been a month and a half and I struggle daily. When I was growing up, she was the person that I spent the most time with, and someone who I remained close to in adulthood. I regret not seeing her more often this last year. I regret not seeing her last Christmas. I regret a lot of things these days, even though I know I can’t go back and change any of it.

I wish I had been given more time to process everything before she died because I think maybe her death would have been a little easier, but sometimes, that’s just how life works. I’m glad she didn’t have to suffer long.

I’m thankful for the time I got to spend with her, and for the moments that she was able to spend with my children. I’m thankful that before she passed, I was able to sit with her for a few minutes in the hospital and tell her how much she meant to me, and how grateful I was to have her in my life. I’m thankful that in her final hours, I was present, doing what I could to make her more comfortable and to ease her transition. I rubbed her back. I held her hand. I told her I loved her. Watching her take her last breath was difficult and painful, but it was comforting to be there too.

She’s gone, but the world keeps turning and life keeps moving forward and to me, it feels wrong. I still don’t know how to exist in a world where she doesn’t. I have no choice but to wake up each day and keep going, no matter how difficult that seems to be. Sometimes I think if it weren’t for my kids, I wouldn’t be able to keep going some days. Losing her was like losing a second mom. It was a real punch in the gut that I was never ready for.

When she was in the hospital, I told her I was glad that she was able to be here for my kids, and she said, “They’re going to forget me.” I made her a promise that I wouldn’t let them, that they would know who she was, and I intend to keep that promise as they grow older.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to count getting out of bed as an accomplishment. The pain doesn’t seem to be lessening, but maybe it will at least become easier to process.

Halloween 2014 Recap

Who said it was okay for it to be November already? Wasn’t it summer like a week ago?

And why are Halloween costumes so expensive? Does it really cost that much to put together a couple of cheap pieces of fabric and some plastic pieces? Come on. For Halloween last year, I sewed R a monkey outfit, but I was feeling super lazy – and cheap – this year, so I put her into an animal print sweatshirt, painted on some whiskers and a nose, and told everyone she was a cat. I suppose cat ears would have been a nice added touch, but we didn’t go shopping for things for her costume until the day before the holiday and I didn’t exactly have much to choose from.

Do you think it’s acceptable for me to eat nearly every piece of candy that my daughter got on Halloween since she’s too young to enjoy much of it herself? I’m just trying to prevent her from getting diabetes, you know. Taking one for the team and all that. Also, some words of wisdom to remember for next year (and every year after that): never, ever wear flip-flops trick-or-treating. The one year that you decide, “I can’t find my socks or shoes, so I guess I’ll wear my flip-flops this one time,” will be the year that snow falls from the sky and the wind burns the skin on your cheeks. Trust me. Learn from my mistakes.

Hopefully, next year will be a little bit warmer and we’ll get R a proper costume.

What’s A Social Life?

When I had a baby, I thought it would be a short time before we could start leaving her with a sitter or a grandparents so that we could go out and have fun once in a while. I figured, my life would change, but it wouldn’t have to change that much, right? We could still keep our friends and make plans once in a while; we’d be parents, but we’d still be us, you know?

In the end, my perfect vision for what life would be like post-pregnancy was way off base. Not only did we sort of lose contact with most of our friends, but I found myself not even wanting to go out. I didn’t want to leave my daughter. It was hard enough when I was forced to go back to work because we needed the money, so, as you can imagine, the idea of leaving her with someone to go have “fun” was kind of a terrifying concept for me.

Over the course of R’s seventeen months of life, I haven’t had a single night out. I’ve kind of forgotten what it’s like to have real-life friends to hang out with, but we finally had a chance to hang out with a couple of them yesterday evening at an event in a neighboring city. (It was actually today since I haven’t gone to bed yet, but since it’s after midnight now, I guess it makes more sense to say it was yesterday. It took me about five minutes to decide which term to go with.)

It was so, so, so nice to get out of the apartment for a while and spend time with new people. I had actually forgotten what a social life actually was. R had a pretty great time, too, in spite of the fact that she skipped her afternoon nap.

We’ve all been having a pretty good week with the holiday, actually. My fiance’s schedule gave him Monday through Thursday off, so we’ve all been able to spend a considerable amount of time together. It’s been a nice change from the ordinary, since he spends so many hours at work normally. We went swimming on both Tuesday and Wednesday, which was a lot of fun. It was R’s first time in a pool and she loved it!

My fiance goes back to work Saturday, sadly; until then, we’re going to cram as much family time in as we can. If we can manage to get ourselves up in the morning, we’ll be heading out to see the Independence Day parade, and in the evening, we’re planning on taking R to see a fireworks show. (Not her first show ever, though. We actually took her to see fireworks last weekend as well.) He doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to try to convince him to finish up season four of “The Walking Dead” with me once R is down for the night. I’ve been dying to finish the last two episodes for days!

…get it? “Dying”?

Okay, so the joke wasn’t that funny anyway. I guess that means it’s bedtime.

Happy July 4th, everyone!