Sunday, April 28, 2013

Agree to disagree

About a month after Daddy died, I was overcome with blinding feeling of anger. It was frightening. I have never in my life felt such anger. I knew it was a signal that I needed to look outside of myself for help. I found a page that dealt with grief and I posted about it. The administrator of the page said that anger is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it stirs you into action. The action I choose to take was grief counseling. I had tried, a couple of weeks before, to actually find some counseling, and was not successful. After getting this blinding sense of anger, I was able to find counseling the next day. Funny, how things work sometimes.

Fast forward, I thought I had this anger under control. I hadn't felt that much anger in a while. And I have been going to weekly grief group counseling for about 4 months. I am better. I feel better. I am no longer afraid, and I thought I was not as angry until yesterday.

I got into a socio-political argument. I'm not sure socio-political is the right word, but it was an argument over welfare, or more specifically who deserves it and who doesn't. This person, I felt, was blaming poor people for being poor. This person is a blue collar worker, living paycheck to paycheck, so she is not that far from poor herself. Now, it makes me angry to see people blame poor people for being poor, in the first place, but to see someone blaming them while never having been there themselves (even though she is close to it) is an anger trigger for me. It took a neutral third party to call a "time out" for the argument to end. The third party was able to put both of our points of view into perspective in a way that neither of us was able too.

But, I cannot stop thinking about it, playing the conversation over and over, in my head. I am trying to get past it, I'm trying to work it out, I'm trying to figure out how to control my anger. And it is fucking hard. I just keep picking at it, picking out how wrong she was. It is distracting me from being able to 1.  just forget about it, and 2.  figure out what could I have done to help her understand where I was coming from, instead of her coming out of the argument with hurt feelings, (which btw is her problem, not mine, but I wasn't able to show her a different way of looking at the issue.) I feel like I failed, because I really truly believe she was wrong and I was right. I was able to see her point of view, but she wasn't able to see mine. Is this my fault? And I do have to say I am somewhat ashamed that I was arguing with a 22-year-old, and I am in my 50s. On the other hand, does she not have respect for the fact that I am in my 50s, and I may know a little more than she does? See, it is just all a big clusterfuck. And, I cannot let it go. I feel like this anger of mine is over-shadowing my compassion, my common sense, my desire to teach, my desire to share.

I feel like I am forever changed by this anger. I am forever changed by John and Daddy's death. On the one hand, anger is giving me a voice. On the other hand, this voice isn't the best one. I am not using it in a good way. I am not controlling it, it is controlling me. How do I look at anger as a gift? Is anger a gift? Is anger bad? Do I need to forgive people "for my own good"? I don't understand that concept yet.

So, the best answer I can come up with, for now, is - agree to disagree. I will continue this awful, stupid, fucking grief work. I will keep thinking, writing, and talking about it until I get to the point where I am simply grateful I ever got the pleasure of knowing John, and simply grateful that Daddy was my dad, instead of being angry that they are no longer here. Maybe then, I can control this anger. But, maybe I have to learn to control this anger, let this anger go, before I can come to a place of peace and gratefulness.

For now, agree to disagree.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Daddy and Religion

Most of Daddy's life, he was not religious. From what one of my sisters say, the last phase of growth for humans is spiritual growth. Which makes sense. As our lives get toward the end, I think we begin to ask, was it good? Daddy began to look for something, some meaning. He often told a story about a solo camping trip he went on in New Mexico. He really liked hiking and in this particular area, an Indian reservation, you were required to have a guide, a Native American guide. Daddy's guide was a chief. I don't remember the details of the story so much as I remember seeing how much this gentleman touched Daddy's soul. I believe, to this day, this was Daddy's ultimate religion, nature. Nature was/is the traditional spiritual teachers for Native Americans and that is why this guide had lasting effects on Daddy. Unfortunately, Daddy did not recognize this as religious, or that nature could be a religion.

I regret, to this day, that Daddy thought Christianity was the answer. Because he thought Christianity was the answer, he believed the wife he found was the one he was destined to be with. Was Daddy happy with her? I think on the surface he was. But, I think if he would have really looked at it, she was far from the best person for him to share his remaining days with. We witnessed his mind getting smaller, he was more judgmental than ever. We witnessed him getting mentally older. We witnessed his world getting smaller and smaller. Maybe this is the natural order of things, maybe not. When I am nearing the end of my life, I hope that my mind is becoming more free, not the other way around. I hope that my heart is embracing all people, not just the ones with the same religion. And, I will never, ever, ever tell my daughter that she will only see me again when I accept Jesus. I will never, ever, ever tell her that I am going to one heaven, and unless she accepts Jesus, she will not be able to enter the same heaven, that she will somehow be going to a lesser heaven. This is what the religion Daddy found made him think. This is what he said to us.

Daddy died with only his sister by his side. Even though he had a wife and four daughters, and multitudes of grandchildren,  his sister was the only one there. The reason for that is directly related to his wife. This is why I hate her. This is why I am so very angry, I may never get past it.

Anyway, I found this article, and I hope that Daddy has let go of the shore and is floating freely, with joy and happiness in his heart.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Major Coincidence

Daddy died one year ago today. That was the day I gave up any pretense of believing in the Christian God. No, Daddy is not an angel. No, he is not on a "heavenly hike". He is dead, just as we all will be one day. No, I nor anyone will ever seen him again, except in our memories, our pictures, and our children. There is no one "up there" waiting to greet him. He is not "up there" watching over us. He is dead. He lived a full and complete life, and it came to an end. That's it.

In the years leading up to his sickness (cancer), I was getting a ton of negative examples of religious thinking, or as I began to see, religious justification for discrimination and oppression. I also began to see religion as a crutch some people need, just like some people need instructions, just like some people need a recipe in order to cook. Some people need it, and that is fine. Go for it, if that is what you need. However, I don't need it, I don't believe it, and I don't want to hear about it.

Let me preface my next thoughts with - I loved Daddy very much. He was a GREAT dad. I would give almost anything if he were still alive, and I hate that he is not. I am very thankful that he was MY dad, and I couldn't imagine being the person I am today, if he was not my dad.

Not only was I getting negative example of religious thinking in the political arena, I was getting one from Daddy himself, or more specifically from his marriage and his wife. Daddy was not a social person, he was more of a thinker, an observer. He did, however, value close relationships. He did not want to be alone, he didn't want a bunch of people around, but he wanted close, personal relationships. I don't remember when he told me this story, but it happened about 12 or 13 years ago. (Daddy was not religious for most of his life, at least not most of my life, but somewhere along the way, that changed.)  He was living in Colorado, alone, and he didn't want to be alone. He started praying and he said "I felt God hit me upside the head, and said Let me handle it". Well, God handled it alright. Shortly thereafter, Daddy met a very religious woman, and I mean very religious, such as praying while holding hands before every meal, her realtor had to be "Christian", her father was a church musical director, etc, etc, etc... Daddy thought this was the one God meant for him to have, so he married her. Daddy was a smart man, with a Master's Degree in business. He liked to read, and learn. He was on the cutting edge of the computer industry. His wife also had the potential to be smart too, but, she was raised to always give Jesus credit for EVERYTHING. Jesus would ALWAYS provide the answer. No thinking needed, just follow the directions in the bible. Do not question it. And, of course, in the Christian bible, the man/husband had all of the responsibility, or at least all of the thinking and providing responsibility. In the mind of Daddy's wife, Jesus came first, with all of the answers, and Daddy came second to carry out all of the answers.

I, on the other hand, had a mother (Daddy's first wife of over 20 years) that was a fatherless child. Her father died when she was 2 years old, and her mother never re-married, but raised six children. My mother always taught us that "you don't need a man to do stuff for you". One year for Christmas, she gave us all (4 daughters) our own tool kit. Mom and Daddy did not raise us religiously, and we are not raising our kids that way either. I don't need instructions. I don't need a crutch. I learn, I make mistakes, I try to learn from my mistakes.

If there was a God, my husband would not have died 7 weeks before my father died. If there was a God, these too very good men would still be alive, and if God needed angels, he could have taken people of lesser morals instead.

Here is where the coincidence comes in. Today is International Day to Defend Blasphemers and Apostates.
Today is the day Daddy died. Today is the day I became an apostate and a blasphemer.
a·pos·tate  (-pstt, -tt)
One who has abandoned one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.
 blas·phe·my  (blsf-m)n. pl. blas·phe·mies 1.
a. A contemptuous or profane act, utterance, or writing concerning God or a sacred entity.
(And thank you to whoever gave us freedom of speech.) 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

I have been trying to avoid thinking about the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. I have been successful at it for a while now, until I read some comments on the Facebook page Grief Beyond Belief. This page is for those of us that can't accept all the heaven and God speak. They have a "closed" group which means you have to be accepted as a member to see/read/comment and it is private, so it doesn't show up all over Facebook when you interact. This allows us to talk a bit more honestly, without having to censor ourselves, without having to worry that something we say will be hurtful to other family members. And, of course, we have all lost a loved one, so we have that pain in common.

There was a post that started bringing out anger some of us feel about our loved ones treatment by their main "care-giver". This was mostly directed towards our parents "step" fathers/mothers. How can our parents spouse do this to them? HOW can they not spend every breathing moment taking the best care of our Dad? How can you let someone die because you are not able to do it, and not willing to admit that you can't, so we can step in and take over. How can someone's best be so piss poor that they would prefer their husband die instead of make his last year the best one of his life? Why does this person deserve to still be alive and our Dad is not.

How can I be so mad at Stacy for encouraging Daddy to die, when I sat for two days and watched John deteriorate to the point of death? Why? Why didn't I do more? Why didn't I do something? What the fuck was I doing? All I can think is that the possibility of him dying NEVER entered my head. Never. I would like to think that had I known that was the outcome, John would have gone straight to the hospital from the ship. Immediately. If we had known, I would have gotten an ambulance to pick him up at the dock. I DIDN"T KNOW!!!! He was supposed to get better. I didn't know that stomach flu or food poisoning (whichever it was) would result in death.

Why didn't I see it? And because I didn't, John fucking died. Because I did not get him further medical treatment, John died. I could have saved him, and I didn't.

I didn't save him because I didn't know. I didn't know his heart was that bad. I didn't know, and I still don't know what and how it exactly happened. I don't know, and I never will know, what his body was doing. I will never know why his body shut down. I will never know why his heart stopped. I only know that I could have gotten him to someone that would have known, and I didn't.

I SHOULD have called an ambulance.
I COULD have called an ambulance.
I WOULD have called an ambulance.

I SHOULD have done more.
I COULD have done more.
I WOULD have done more.

I SHOULD have known more.
I COULD have known more.
I WOULD have gotten him the help he needed.

I realize none of this will bring him back. But, I cannot deny my part in his death. I have to look at it. I have to accept it. I have to learn from it. I have to forgive myself for being such a piss poor person that I don't deserve the oxygen that I breath.

Friday, December 21, 2012

I can't belive this

I am absolutely stunned with what the NRA said today. More guns?!?! Police in school?!?! I am physically sick to my stomach, literally. I had hope that some kind of common sense would prevail today. I had hope that people would come before money. I had hope that peace would come before fear. I had hope that 20 dead children would bring this country to a place of peace, give us a wake up call. I cannot believe people would even think more guns is a solution, much less say it out loud, in public, on TV. I am sick.

The world did not end today, but mine is so dark. I am clinging to hope that there is a bright future. I can only see one through Jes. She has a bright future, and I will do whatever it takes to make sure I am around to see what happens. That is the only bright spot I can see, the only bright spot I can see anytime in my future, anywhere.

Maybe I do need some medical intervention, i.e. depression medication. John and I will have been married 12 years on the 23rd. He will have been dead for one year on the 20th of January. Daddy will have been dead for one year on March 14. Damn. DAMN!!!!!

I feel like typing on big long string of cuss words. Stop the world, I want to get off this ride.

I have been telling myself, the last couple of days, that I need to start writing again. Private writing. I need to get my thoughts straightened out. Barack Obama said in a interview not too long ago, that he writes because when you try to put your thoughts into complete sentences, you have to face the tough questions. You have to give things more thought. It is easy to just think. When the going gets hard, you just think about something else. But, when I try to write, somehow, it forces me to finish the thought.

I guess that is what I must do then. Write in my private journal. At the very least, start drawing and coloring again.

Stop the world, I want to get off.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Comfortably Numb

I have spent the last month or so being "comfortably numb". That changed today with the news of the school shooting in Connecticut. I apparently still have anger issues, because I went off on Facebook, posting like crazy about it. I haven't been angry in a while, so I guess I am getting better.

I have had the blues the last couple of days. I really miss John. I remember missing him more on Jes' birthday than either his birthday or my own. I am really missing him with Christmas coming up. He was always there sharing in my Christmas ideas, being my sounding board. We talked for a couple of months about what to get Jes and we usually went shopping together to get something really good for her. This year, I can't even think what "big" present she should get. John was always better at that then me.

The summer before Daddy's cancer diagnosis, Jes and I went to visit, and I took one of the best pictures of him. It is one of the last ones any of us have of him when he was healthy and happy. I felt compelled to give everyone in my family a copy of this picture for Christmas this year. I told Betsy that I was doing it because I didn't want anybody to forget. But when that came out of my mouth, I realized how ridiculous that is. So I don't know why I feel the need to give everyone a copy. When I was in Louisiana, I went through a box of old pictures, and it was comforting in a weird sort of way, so I think I am trying to give that comfort to the rest of us. It is also my way of including Daddy in Christmas. Maybe it will bring up the conversation we seem to avoid having. I would love to talk about the good old times. I would love to talk about Daddy and John.

Sometimes bad news seems so overwhelming. It clouds out the good in the world. The good things are usually so fleeting, so small, they come and go almost unnoticed. But the bad news stays and stays. The world seems like a very ugly place full of very ugly people, and the ugly ones block my view of the good ones. And it seems like the good ones die in greater quantities. 27 people, including 18 children, and only one bad guy died. Two really good people in my life died, and the bad ones are still alive and kicking. Un-fucking-fair. And it makes for a very ugly world.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Black Hole

Shortly after the hell known as January-March 2012, my sister was talking to a co-worker that had lost her son, and knew the pain of death, and this lady told Betsy "Stay away from the black hole." We can all picture what the black hole is. I'm quite sure this means different things to different people, but it is pretty much all the same.

Well, I just recently fell into the black hole, and Betsy and Teresa had to come in and get me out. Here is how that happened.

When I was mentally preparing to go home (home to Louisiana, MO), I was not looking forward to it. I actually hated the idea, but I have to check on the house, and I wanted to vote in Missouri. I knew it was going to be sad, and I thought I could handle it. I thought I was strong enough to be able to look sadness in the face and feel it, but stay sane while feeling it.

A few months ago, I quit paying for cable TV, because I am very cheap. John would be the first to tell you that. He used to be partly amused, and partly aggravated about it. So, I knew I would not have television, which was ok because I don't watch it that much anyway. As long as I had internet, I would be ok. Plus I packed a whole box of books, markers, music CDs etc. to keep myself entertained. Pretty soon after I got home, I threw away one of my CDs because it kept skipping. Then the next one did, and the one after that, so instead of throwing away CDs, I threw away the player. I could still listen to music on the computer though. I also realized one day what I missed about television was hearing other people's voice. I missed hearing people talk. Even if I wasn't listening to what they were saying, just having that in the background, was something I missed.

The internet I have there is not unlimited, and ridiculously expensive if you go over your "allotted" gigabits. I must have been beginning to enter the black hole, because I could have come back to Texas before election day, but it seemed too much trouble, so I decided to stay until after the election. So, election night, I had to watch what was happening. I streamed NBC news for eight hours. It occurred to me the day after, that I should check my internet usage, and I had already used up 2/3 of my allotted time, and I still had over two weeks before the amount "reset". So, not only did I not have television, I had to start limiting my only other contact with the outside world.

As I said before, I don't cook in that kitchen, I don't hang out in the living room, so that leaves the bedroom. And guess what is in there - John's whole wardrobe. He is EVERYWHERE in that house. EVERYWHERE!!!! Even if I could take out all of his stuff, he is in the kitchen cabinets we installed ourselves. He is in the new bedroom windows that he put in. He is in the bathroom that we have re-done at least three times, including the tub, toilet, and sink.

Not only is John built into the house, it is where Jes grew up. Jes and I are in the house too. We lived there for over 14 years. I remember a few years ago thinking how sad it was going to be to sell that house. That was home, for a long time. Home for the family of Suzy, Jes, and John. People grieve over losing just their home.

Anyway, I just got sadder and sadder. I couldn't make myself do anything. The grocery store is now 11 miles (one way) away, so that was way to much trouble. I had pizza delivered. I don't have to go anywhere, or do anything for that. So for the last three days I was there, that is what I ate. Two pieces of pizza a day. Healthy, right? No veggies, no protein, no nutrition. For three days (at least) pizza and coffee was my intake. I made an additional mistake of getting whiskey. The one thing I would get out of the house for was cigarettes, and booze is sold at the cigarette store.

I slept a lot too. And dreamed a lot. John or Daddy wasn't dead in my dreams. I had a normal life in dreamland.

I was able to sound ok on the phone when Jes or Betsy, or Pat, or Teresa called. No need for them to worry. I was able to sound upbeat in texts, and on Facebook. It's all good, everything's gonna be all right, Bob Marley said so, and I choose to believe him. Meanwhile, Garth Brooks, the Rolling Stones, Melissa Etheridge, and others were telling me that the world is sad, but love is good. Love that I have now lost.

Anyway, on Friday night, Betsy called. I had been crying frequently for the past two days and nights, and thought that was healthy. Tears are cleansing, right? If I am able to cry, I'm getting better, right? Betsy could hear the sadness in my voice and asked when I was coming home (to Texas home). I remember telling her that I didn't know because it just seemed like to much trouble. She said "Are you not coming home because you want to stay there, or because it is too much trouble to get in the car?" I couldn't say the answer out loud, so she said, "I'm coming to get you". The relief I felt at that moment was exactly what I needed. I was able to say Ok. And she flew in the very next morning. Teresa picked her up from the airport, and they came over and saved me. Just like Bob Marley's Three Little Birds, we got to spend time together, just three sisters, three mothers, three friends. And Betsy drove home with me. My throat actually started getting sore from all the talking we did in the 16 hour drive.

I am home now. Texas home, with Jes, and Betsy, and Zak, and Pat. And the cats, and unlimited internet, and TV, and food, and people to talk to, and things to do, and everything that you don't even realize are important, until you don't have them anymore.

I feel much better.