Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Ten and Six

As summer comes to a close (sob) I am soaking in my two kiddos before they start school.  This calm before the school storm is both my best and worst time of year. I don't like thinking about the first day of school. It still brings up the anxiety that I had when I was a kid. New teachers, new rules, responsibility, and routine. Every new school year felt like a threat to my personal freedom. My kids do not feel the same way I did, so I put on a good face for them. When their normal nerves pop up for them, it kind of sends me on high alert. It pains me to see them afraid, uncomfortable, or daunted by school. They handle such issues with much more grace than I ever did. I also love this time of year because we get to play just a bit longer. We take a few beach days, go to the movies, swim and leave the house when we want in the morning.

With more time spent together each day, I get to see every little change as they happen. Both kids are learning and changing so much and in such different ways too. Both my kids are very social so it is fun to watch them get excited about hanging out with their friends. It is also fun to watch the difference between what they both like to do. My son has a friend over and they go outside ride bikes or skateboard. They play with toys in his room and then they ask for snacks. My daughter either wants to write a story with her friends, or make a new iMovie, they like to walk around the area on their own, asserting a fairly new sense of independence.

At six my boy is definitely not quite as cuddly as he used to be. It seems I have to ask for a hug or kisses, when they used to come without prompting. When he does come in for a snuggle now I hold on as long as I can. He called out to me in the middle of the night recently, and by the third time, I asked him what was going on, and he replied"I just missded you." My exhaustion just melted away, as I was smitten by him all over again. My friend calls him Dennis The Menace. Originally because he looked like him, but now also because he pretty much is him. He is sneaky all the time, and when he gets caught he says"I didn't know." He does this  so well, its hard to argue with him, but argue we do.
He walks around referring to my husband as "bro-sky"and calls me "mamasita." He likes rap, at least the kid versions I let him hear. Recently a song came on and he told us we needed to change the song because he heard the f word and that it is inappropriate. Glad he has standards. He also shared his BIG NEWS announcement with us recently that he has his first wiggly tooth. He felt so relieved to no longer be the last friend he knew to have a wiggly tooth. Just like his sister, an adult tooth has poked up behind before the baby one is out. He now reads books to me, and although it requires a lot of patience, I treasure this time each day. He is a new first grader with two days under his belt, and I am so proud of him.

My daughter is ten, and is mostly lovely to be around. She can be sassy sometimes, and it is not something I was prepared for, but I am determined to figure out a response immediately. If she draws a line in the sand with an titanium pole when it's something she wants, or doesn't want, she is pretty weighed down and hard to move. Other than that and some normal sibling bickering, she is like a 35 year old in a ten year old body. She doesn't miss a beat on any conversation around her. She is sensitive and thoughtful. She is so bright and her insightfulness blows me away.

She is also into skateboarding right now. She plays the piano and I love hearing her practice, especially since she is playing some new songs now. She continues to love books, and our favorite thing to do before bed is lie reading our own books side by side. We have a mother daughter book club, and she loves planning the menus and activities with me. She just started her last year of elementary as a fifth grader and Oh the places she will go.

So soon enough we will be back in the swing of it all. We had to have a sugar and screen time detox before the first day. Both kiddos have a sweet tooth like me so we had to indulge in a few more ice cream cones before school started. We took in a few more adventures, a bit of sunshine and as many snuggles as they would let me squeeze in.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Uncharted Territory

Last week, the dreaded day we had hoped would never come, finally did. My mother in law, while surrounded by her husband and children, took her last breath. It doesn't seem to matter how much preparation we had that this loss was coming, the amount of hurt seems larger than we imagined.  Its a surreal time.  Although we are all relieved she is no longer in pain, things just don't feel quite right without her. My heart breaks for my husband and his sisters. They were all so close with their mom.  I know all of them spoke to her every day and now, each time they go to the phone to call, they get stung all over again. My heart breaks for my father-in-law, who can't seem to find peace in a world without his wife in it. So, we all begin this walk, this tread ahead into the unknown.

While heavy hearts pull them down, they are busy making plans. Funeral arrangements, newspaper announcements, hiring help for their ailing father. I watch them being so busy, while they are still so fragile. I helped one of my sister-in-laws go through a dresser of clothes. I always wondered how you could ever go through a loved ones clothes, and then you just do. It feels so invasive to go through someone's things. Even when they aren't here anymore. I couldn't enter her bedroom without crying. Her body isn't there but her spirit was impossible to miss. It seems you can only cry so much, and then you just busy yourself, until you cry again.

Like with any traumatic experience, mornings are so challenging. I watch as my husband is either awakened too early by his racing heart and mind, or sleeps deeply only to remember his sadness when he comes to. He is strong, logical, and understands that everything had to happen this way, but still, this is brutal. The pain of watching a spouse lose a loved one is proving to be incredibly difficult. Knowing when to be there to hold him up and when to let him fall apart, is tricky dance.  This was my husband's mother and it is uncharted territory for him to be on this planet without her. She was his rock and without that foundation he is treading water.

When I was pregnant, a friend shared a quote with me about becoming a parent. "To be a parent is to wear your heart on the outside of your body." It made sense to me the moment I had my daughter. It makes sense to me when I think of the type of mother my mother-in-law was to her children. They came first. She always had an ear to give them, advice to lend and was always their biggest advocate. They knew they came first for her and if their spirits were down, she would move mountains to lift them back up. In mourning someone you love, I feel that quote makes sense again. Only this time the heart is a bit broken and every memory is a bit of salt on the wound.

I am not sure what I believe about heaven, paradise or an afterlife. I do believe that when we close our eyes for the last time, we are peace. I believe that our loved ones want us to miss them, but want more that we live happily. Mostly, I believe that our loved ones live on in us. When a child loses a parent, since every cell of us is made from them, we continue to carry them on. I'm afraid that I will sink far down when I lose a parent, but I am hoping a glimpse in the mirror will remind me that they created who I am. I gently remind my husband of that now. I will remain here, available and ready for whatever emotion he feels. She created a great son. I am so grateful to her for that. I love him and I love her. I will do my best to emulate the kind of mother she was to her kids and raise mine in her honor.

Monday, August 20, 2018

My Hero

On Saturday my husband asked me last minute if I could get a sitter to go out. A friend was having a birthday gathering and so I started reaching out to sitters. I was a bit on the fence about going since I've been tired with end-of-school-year activities and I wasn't in the mood to get dressed up. I did want to be out with my husband though and after four attempts, we got a sitter.

We went out around eight or so and met our friends for some appetizers and chatting. After two hours I gently reminded my husband we should probably get home. We left around 10:45 and started driving home. We talked about needing to get cash, and I mentioned I needed some chocolate. That was the last thing I remember before my husband yelling from behind the wheel "Are you okay?" It took me a second to realize what was happening. The air bags were out and the car was spinning. He kept looking at me and saying "we are okay, we are okay." I kept thinking are we?

The car finally stopped spinning and came to a stop. It felt like the end of a really bad ride at an amusement park. The smoke from the airbags filled the car, and my husband told to me to get out. I wasn't able to move as quickly as he was. I didn't feel okay. I tried to push open the door but it was stuck. My hand was bleeding and my left leg hurt. He came around to my side and helped pry the door open. When I got to the curb I turned around and saw what we just survived.

We were driving through a green light when a pick up truck sped through a red in front of us. We hit the middle of his car, and he was first to be taken away by an ambulance. He did not fare as well as we did, and I don't think he looked conscious when they pulled him from his car. Our car was headed east on Pico Blvd, and we ended up facing north on another street. There were two cars also involved behind us that got hit. We do not know exactly what happened but there were several witness who came over when we got out of the car. An EMT driver asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. He checked my blood pressure and vitals, but I wasn't sure I was in need of a hospital. I turned down two offers for the ambulance, and sat down on the street. It was them that I realized I was in a lot of pain. We decided to call a Lyft and because it's LA and we weren't thinking straight we accidentally ordered a car pool car. A car pulled up to the scene of our accident, with a passenger in the back seat. Horrified, the girl in the back offered to get out and get another car. We thanked her and ordered a new ride. At the point, the pain was getting worse and I wished I could just be home in my bed, near my children.

It was pretty clear that it was going to be a very long night. I thought of our children safely asleep at home. The back of the car still with their car seats reminded me how thankful I was that they weren't with us. This was shocking and terrifying for me to process but for them it would be a nightmare. I asked my husband to call our friends that lived a few doors away and have them relieve our babysitter. We got to the hospital around midnight and finally got seen by a doctor closer to 3 am. An ER on a Saturday night is pretty awful. Lots of kids there who seem to not make very good partying decisions, a few bloody injuries and a lot of sad looking people. My eyes read some subtitles from the television and I caught a bit of the plots from episodes of Scandal and Castle. I stopped looking when it got to infomercials for face cream. I tried to close my eyes but I was still shaking from the shock and pain of the accident. The florescent lights above weren't conducive to the calming, comforting, mood I craved in that moment.

Eventually I was X-rayed and treated for pain. I had a fractured rib on my left side. My husband and I both have some minor cuts and bruises but otherwise we are as he said — "okay." I am definitely in pain and uncomfortable, but also aware of how lucky we are.  In 2002 I went through my first car accident and it was bad. It was before I met my husband and I flipped the car I was driving. I was afraid to drive for a month after. I also broke ribs, that time on the right side. Both accidents were awful and terrifying but this one was not as scary. I wasn't alone this time. I had my best friend, my biggest love, and my most important person right next to me telling me we were okay. We got through that night together. He never left my side, and is everything I could have ever wished for in a husband. We laughed, I cried, we replayed it all in our heads and processed it together. We talked about our children and how we would carefully tell them this news.

We got home at 5 am and thanked our friend for coming over. I carefully went upstairs and kissed both of our babies. This was the moment I looked forward to from the beginning of the night. I feel so unbelievably grateful that we were "okay." I was so happy to be home, with my children and husband..my hero.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Sum

Addition always came easier for me than subtraction. My son, who just finished Kindergarten, shares with me the struggle of understanding the concept of taking things away. As a grown up, I still wrestle with losing things, or worse people. I can wrap my head around someone giving birth and a new person joining the world, but I struggle to understand death. I know I am not alone in grappling with loss. It just seems that loss leaves you feeling most alone.

As loved ones around me struggle to make peace with illness and impending death, there is a reality that making peace is no easy feat. You can see the evidence, you can hear a doctor say "there is nothing left we can do," you can feel the person you know so well coming and going moment to moment. But nothing can prepare you for the final moment. The hard cold news that someone is never coming back.  I can clearly recall the punch to the gut I felt each time someone I loved took their last breath. My world subtracted a piece and I couldn't accept that piece was gone.

My husband and I are feeling the calm before the storm before someone we love very much passes on. We are all aware that the inevitable end is near, and yet the pain we feel now will soon only hurt more.  Time may heal, but the shock of that moment stings for a long time. Memories may echo forever, but the stillness and emptiness of that missing piece hits so hard.  Our muscle memory to pick up the phone gets so bruised when you remember that person will never be home again. It feels like the darkest storm when suffering and mourning, yet the skies could very well be clear. The heart is so heavy and yet people in the street keep smiling around you. Life seems to go on as if nothing changed, when everything looks different to you. The earth only has so many resources, and human life is meant to come and go. Math has never been my strongest subject though and I still just can't wrap my head around this equation.