We used to nickname her pumpkin when she was younger

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Is it Strength, Denial or Hypocrisy?

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.
Eleanor Roosevelt
I have received many messages in my inbox since I started writing this blog.  So many of you have written me to say how you admire my strength.  I have had people say I inspire them. I have had others tell me I inspired them to find their spiritual path. Some have said I give them comfort with the grieving of their lost ones.
Those messages seem to always come at a time when I need to read them the most.  I write these blog entries when I am feeling strong.  I write when I think what I have to say will help others but let me tell you all is rare that I do not cry at least a little everyday for my beautiful daughter.  In fact I decided I needed to write this particular blog right now....right at this particular moment of complete despair.

I previously wanted to avoid doing this because I don't want to give the impression this blog is for me to get attention or to get pity from people. I don't want this to become an "emo" blog. However when I read the emails I get from you I feel somewhat like a hypocrite. I don't deny I have my strong moments but I don't want you to think that I'm so strong that I don't have weak moments.

In fact, prior to this I was a strong independent type.  Now I lean heavily on Katie. Before I was fairly fearless, now I am afraid of dusk...not the dark but dusk.  The dark I sleep through.  Dusk, that in between time, scares me.  I become anxious and sad at dusk. Before my head was always in the future.  Now the future scares me.  I want to move on but am afraid to without Alysia. Thunderstorms make me uneasy. Sirens make me anxious.

The past couple of weeks with the shortening days have really affected me.  The last few nights I feel as though I have slipped backwards.  If you only knew how I lie in the bed crying so hard that I stop breathing.  How I cry so hard my heart physically aches.  If you only knew how during those moments I just don't want to go on. Does that sound like a strong person?  When I have these moments of hopelessness I wonder what the hell it was I was feeling before when I wasn't feeling so bad.  Was it strength?  Or was it just plain denial?  Am I able to fool myself enough to think I can get through life now that Alysia has passed away?  Am I that delusional?  When I lay in bed crying to the point of coming close to passing out, I don't see the light.  I don't see the hope. I don't see the love.  It is complete darkness. Sometimes I cry so hard my vision goes dark and I think to myself "is this what it's like to die? If so bring it on."

I'm sure this is not a blog entry many of you want to read but it is the reality of my grief.  I have moments when I want to die just so the pain can go away and I can go see my daughter again.  That's all I want in those moments.  I just want her back.

One night I had to go get groceries and it was dusk out and Katie wasn't feeling well.  I wanted to help Katie for a change because she's been doing so much for me. When I have those moments of darkness, she is there holding my hand, talking to me, loving me.  When I open my eyes, I see her blue eyes and feel her hand and hear her voice and she slowly pulls me out of the darkness over and over, night after night. Anyway so I wanted to do something for her.  I walked outside the apartment door and saw the dusk sky and I was very afraid.  I had a choice....I could go back in the apartment and tell Katie I couldn't do it or I could face my fear and go on.  Just make it to the parking garage, I would say to myself.  Once in the parking garage, afraid of being jumped or something ridiculous like that I would think, just make it into the car.  Once in the car and out in the dark, driving through the neighborhood I would say "just make it to the grocery store."  I drove and hyperventilated and cried and asked God and Alysia for strength.  I made it to the grocery store still hyperventilating.  Once I was in there a few moments I was ok.  The trip home wasn't as bad.

As dark as my moments are, I face them head on.  I will not mask them with antidepressants or anti anxiety pills. I know I am the type of person that needs to hit this grief fully conscious, fully vulnerable.  I will not drink myself into oblivion.  I will not allow it to stop me from doing what I have to do to survive in this world. Really what choice do I have?  My heart still beats so I guess I have to keep going.  Anyone of you would do the same. We find the strength somewhere.

True courage and strength isn't in the survival of losing my only child.  True courage and strength is living life to its fullest in joy and love even if I lost my only child...that is where I am struggling.  That is where I have my ups and downs.  One moment I am optimistic for the future, the next I don't want to go on without Alysia in my life. The last few days, being sick, shortening days and other reasons really brought me to a low I haven't felt since the first week she passed away. Despite this set back, I will face these moments.  Each time I do, I hope to get stronger so that I'm not just surviving, rather,so that I am fully living.

Thank you everyone for your notes of encouragement.  They pull me through more than you realize.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A New Normal: A term I resented for a while

I have written a blog post this past week that hasn't made it yet to the blog.  It sits in my draft half written too hard to continue with.  Too hard to put up but I know it will go up eventually. I felt like I couldn't move forward with the blog because of that one 1/2 written post haunting me in my drafts.

On my day off today, it is raining and I felt the need to write about what I am feeling. It is the 12 week mark since Alysia passed away. I flipped through my journal and I saw these couple of sentences written 4 days after her funeral "Me again. I feel as though I am being stretched in ways that no human heart can endure. I hate this term "New Normal" that everyone is using...."

During the funeral week, Tom sr had us all over for supper.  There was Tomi, Josh, me, Katie, my mother and Tom Sr. and I looked around and thought to myself what a family of misfits...there was Tomi my ex, talking with my same sex partner Katie, there was my very French outspoken mother from Washington talking to Tom sr the shy very maritime-like ex-father in law.  Not long ago I was in that same yard with Tomi, Alysia, Carol and Tom sr.  living the "normal" life of a heterosexual married woman.  It is funny how what appears on the outside to be "normal" may not always be the case.

Just to get this out of the way because I know many wonder but my marriage to Tomi did not end because I am a "lesbian" as many would easily assume.  I don't identify as lesbian.  All I know is that Tomi and I decided to split up in December 2009 and he moved out in March 2010.  In December 2009 I began talking to Katie online strictly as we talked more and more over the next couple of months I found myself falling in love with her soul.  I never thought I would fall for a woman but there was something about Katie that pushed aside her gender and my heart fell for her.  There was no stopping it, it was meant to be.  I suppose the term I most identify with is "pansexual" where it is not the gender I see but the person's soul.  If Katie's soul would have been in a man's body, I would have fallen in love regardless. However at the same time I don't think Katie's soul could have been in a man's body, it just wouldn't fit.  So no, I wasn't a lesbian in denial in a 20 year marriage that would have made my marriage a lie.  My marriage and my family, was my identity.  I was a married woman with a beautiful daughter. my family gatherings consist of my ex-father-in -law who recently lost his wife and who accepts me and Katie.  I love Tom sr. very much and I was afraid to lose him when I told him about Katie and I.  There is Tomi my ex who was a very important part of my life for over 20 years who I still care for very much, here is my partner Katie who I love like crazy trying to fit into this family of ex's, there is Josh who just recently came into our little family but quickly became a part of it and there is my mother who has had so many struggles and who was also trying to wrap her head around this new family dynamic.

Almost 3 months later I still feel in between the old normal and the new normal.  My whole identity was stripped from me in the past two years.  I am no longer a hetero married woman with a daughter working as an Assistant manager at a retail store.  I am now a grieving mother, which at times makes me think that I am no longer a mother, in a same sex relationship working as a library technician in a university library.  How could one person's life be completely turned upside down yet still completely encompass parts of the old life in such a painful way.

The death of Alysia is forcing me to embrace a new normal that is very emotionally painful, very mind bending, very physically exhausting. At times I just want to run away, it takes far too much effort to make this all work.  Not just for me but for all others involved...every one of us has to wrap their heads around this new normal. A new normal of ex's, same sex partners, death, aging, financial strains and intense loss.  But I know that I, for one, also see moments in these family gatherings of love, hope, support, laughter, a deep understanding, an invisible connection.  At one of these gatherings at Tom sr's house I walked out of the bathroom and saw Carol sitting in her rocking chair.  It startled me at first but then I knew she approved of these new gatherings.  Not only did Carol approve but that invisible connection in my mind took the form of the love from Carol and Alysia viewing these gatherings from where ever they were. For Carol and Alysia, I would do whatever it takes to make the new normal work.

This was taken just shortly after the funeral. Alysia's grave next to her nanny's.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


We had beautiful weather the day of the funeral. The day after the funeral it rained. The image in my head of the rain falling hard on the soft dirt of her grave, played over and over again. I'd stand in front of the big windows of the apartment and watch the rain fall. The loneliness of that image in my mind caused me to momentarily stop breathing. No one would be standing by her grave in that dreary wet weather to talk to her and I was so sad. I wasn't there to shelter her from the rain and wind and my motherly instinct was not understanding why I wasn't taking action. I knew she wasn't her body anymore. Knowings from the mind are completely different than knowings from the heart and soul. My heart and my mother-body wasn't knowing yet she wasn't her body anymore.

Most people who attended the funeral had dissipated back to their lives. It was quiet in my space while strangers walked in front of the apartment windows not knowing I was standing there grieving the loss of my only child. They were texting, running from the rain, doing drug deals whatever...their lives were still going, the earth was still turning, the numbers on the clock kept changing. Yet the time in my world had stood still, I was feeling in dead center of the universe as everything moved around me but I stood still.Why were these strangers still living and my daughter wasn't?  It didn't seem fair when I'd see the drug dealers walk by.  How is it they get to stay here but I don't have my daughter anymore? It made me mad but I didn't have the emotional strength to show it. I felt such defeat, I couldn't fight the world anymore.  I was done with it.

Watching the rain, was that God crying, I wondered? No, that was mother nature nourishing her child, the earth. I couldn't physically do that anymore. There will be no more suppers at our place with Alysia.It was unfair.

The weather affects me at the best of times.  It rains and is dreary a lot here.  I guess I was lucky in some weird way that she passed away at the best time of year as we have had good weather for the most part since and that has helped in my healing process. It allowed me to go to the park every day on my lunch hours and be with nature and take a breath.  I worry for the upcoming dreary months that can last right up until the end of June. I hope it won't be as bad as I think it will be for me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Those big brown eyes; are they yours or are they mine?
The image of you floating over mine in the mirror.
The words on the screen are not adequate to explain
why it is I am awake.
It is absurd for me to even try.

I stare at the walls of the night time room
I feel you in the reflection of the darkness.
As though I can reach out and touch you but
it is absurd to even try.

I close my eyes and I follow my heart
to a space of light where you are.
It is like trying to find you in the vastness of the universe.
It is absurd for me to even try.

Yet your presence is somewhere shimmering off of the air
right next to my skin, in my hair.
I feel you whisper but there are no words.
The tension builds inside of me from lack of understanding,
it is absurd for me to even try.

That vast void that once seemed to be my eternal destiny
is being filled by your unknowable reflection,
the reflection of you that I can not hold.
The void was the size of the universe and that is where you now dwell.
Do you think you can fill it?
It is absurd for you to even try.

But I don't want you to go
I don't want you to not try.
I will look at your eyes in the mirror;
live life so you can look through mine.
It would be absurd for me not to try.

I will reach out in the darkness
feel your hand on mine
even though my body denies it
my heart would be broken if I believed that...
it was absurd for me to try.

I will listen to your whispers
despite my not hearing what you are saying,
I will watch the dancing lights
and hope it is you
it would be absurd for me not to try.

How absurd of me to think I can
reconcile such opposing absurdities.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The funeral

Wasn't I just here just over a year ago...same funeral home, mostly the same people, same minister, same pew? Yes I was. I was just here for "nanny" Alysia's grandmother back in April 2010. I sat here with Tomi and Tom Sr and Alysia and Josh. I had just been with Carol it seems in her bedroom holding Tom senior's hand while she breathed her last breath after fighting cancer for so many years. Nanny and Alysia were close of course. It was a very sad day.

Carol in her last days couldn't speak so Tom Sr. had these pre-made pieces of paper that said "Yes" "No" "I love you" When Alysia walked in the bedroom just a day before nanny passed away. Carol handed her the "I love you" piece of paper to Alysia. It was heart wrenching.

Here I am again but this time it is Alysia up there in that closed coffin, only 15 months later. Inside that coffin is the slip of paper that nanny had given her "I love you" I put that in there for Alysia to find her nanny on the other side. So much loss and so many changes in the past two is it that I am still breathing sitting here in this pew? How is it a human heart inside this human body can endure so much pain and transformation in such a short period of time? I still don't know.

At times when I bike to work my heart is beating so hard, as it is already taxed from stress and sadness, it feels it will just stop from sheer fatigue. At times it is filled with so much love for this world and life that it gathers strength from somewhere. I don't understand how it all works.

The funeral was "nice" as far as funerals for your only child goes. The reverend was inspiring and did capture Alysia well even though he had never met her. Josh broke all of our hearts when he read from the book "How much I love you" I think the title was.

Alysia loved crows, so much so that I quilted a crow scene on a quilt I was working on when she was in junior high. She loved them so much that eventually she got a tattoo of black birds on her has links to Radiohead apparently but she never did tell me the complete story behind her tattoo. That was very private to her. All I know is that it had several black birds. Also, one of the reasons why her dad picked "Black Bird" from the Beatles to have song by his friend at the funeral. I had also ordered a raven necklace off of ebay several weeks before she passed away for her birthday in November. I never did get that necklace due to weird circumstances...but in hindsight I feel it was someone guiding me ahead of time to pay attention to ravens. I ended up canceling the order because it just wouldn't get to me in the mail. I don't think the point of the necklace was for me to have it but for me to pay attention to ravens.

Alysia's friend played his cello and I knew then that there was going to be a special connection between him and I and that was to come within days of the funeral and is still there today.

On the way to the burial Tom spotted a black bird high in the sky following the funeral procession of cars from the highway all the way to the grave site. This was no short distance. This was not a fluke, it was very intentional. Once the reverend began the burial rites (?) not far were ravens, including the one that followed us, in a tree squawking. Then one started acting really funny. Flying up and pirouetting downwards in a nose dive and just being plain silly for several minutes. We all knew this was Alysia somehow influencing the behavior of this bird. Even the reverend knew this. Once the reverend was done speaking and we all placed our flowers on her coffin we looked up and saw that raven soaring in circles above us, just riding on the currents of air, ever so calmly, so peacefully. Then it flew away and we all said goodbye to Alysia. They symbolically lowered her coffin 6 inches or so next to her nanny's grave. Her little body lays next to her nanny's body in the ground. Her spirit has found her nanny's spirit in the other realm.

I believe a person's energy lingers in this plane for a while after their death, they can use earthly creatures, earthly phenomenons to communicate to us. I felt her presence in this manner for about a month I think but then things changed. Her energy changed, her process of death was in a new stage. I will write about why I believe this in upcoming blogs.

Some people would argue this is a grieving brain holding onto anything that might indicate their loss isn't real. I've studied so much spirituality, experienced so many things during my life that I can not believe these skeptics. Yes the brain can do these things but there is a difference between psychological disturbances and spiritual occurrences. I had dark moments when I questioned my sanity as I said before but I always come back logically to the fact that we don't know everything there is to be known about life on this planet. Science has not reached the end of knowledge and a lot of branches of science are now questioning the multiple dimensions, the existence of a soul...things spiritual people knew for thousands and thousands of years...