Thursday, September 29, 2011

Baking With a Sweater On

I dislike change.

Changing food labels, different facebook pages, altered Blogger site (I mean really. When did that happen? You don't blog for, like, 6 months and then you're greeted with....well, a new Blogger page. I didn't know what I was doing before. Now all I do know is that I had 119 views from Israel yesterday.  I think I broke my Blogger page because that doesn't seem quite right.)

So. Change. I hate it. I would prefer things stayed the same. Logically I know this is ridiculous but I yam what I yam and change makes my skin crawl.

My life has changed so very much in the past year or so. Job changes, family changes, The Husband having to live away from us for work.  Heck, I even had my abdomen changed, which, don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the life saving surgery but really really hate the way my abdomen feels now. I have learned to live with the way it looks. I hope I will one day learn to live with how it feels inside.

And now, The Monkey started all day kindergarten and my life has changed yet again.  It's been 9 years since I've been 'child free' for any length of time and I am feeling rather lost.  I drop her off at school.  I walk out the classroom door.  I stand on the sidewalk and feel completely at a loss as to what the heck I'm supposed to do with myself.  It's just me.

Work days are easier.  But today there is no work. There are no parents needing a meal cooked, or taken to a doctor's appointment or to sit with in the hospital. No children holding my hand and asking to go to the park or story time or to play Littlest Pet Shop when we get home. No Husband's underwear to wash or to go and meet for coffee on a work break.

I'm left standing on the sidewalk wondering how the hell I'm going to deal with this latest change in my life. Me. Just me.

So today I went home. And I put on my Mom's sweater.

And I baked with her sweater on.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

9 months

My dad died.

There. I said it. I wrote it. Right there in black letters.

My dad died. And I cannot wrap my brain around those 3 words.

9 months to the day that my mom passed away, we said goodbye to Dad. Taken from us after an incredibly short and mind boggling bout with cancer.

In 9 short months, cancer took both my parents and my brain cannot take it in. Grieving is different this time around. Different from grieving The Husband's dad. Different than grieving my mom. It's like my brain has locked the door and won't let me go inside that place. That place where you're sad and angry and missing the person who's gone. My brain won't let me inside there. I wonder if I should knock...ring the doorbell. But, no. I don't think I'm ready to go in to that place anyways, so I'll just sit here down on the corner and wait to get up my courage at some point in the near future.

When my mom died, I wanted to look at pictures of her. See video footage of her. Think of happy memories and was desperate to remember so I wouldn't forget. And now I catch a glimpse of my dad's picture and I have to look away. I have to make myself picture my parents together again and then move on to something else. Anything that is not thinking about the fact that there is only a teaspoon of raspberry jam left in the fridge. A solitary teaspoon of raspberry jam that Dad made with the raspberries Mom picked with my kids in their garden last summer.

I don't want this to be real. How can this be real? No. It's too much.

It's just too much.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Mom's Hobby

Today at work, I was reminded of what I used to do for a living. A child with autism faced with a broken down elevator that he could not ride, strangers' judgemental stares and comments, a tearful mom trying to explain to me why her son was behaving as he was.

A brief prompted conversation with a little boy who made eye contact with me. Brief. But a connection. A few moments of conversation with a mom whose plate was overflowing with worry and who just needed someone to listen to her for a moment or two.

Driving home, I wanted to call my Mom and tell her about it. I wanted her to tell me I'm doing what I need to for my family, that it's okay, I'm where I'm supposed to be in my life. I needed someone to listen to me for a moment or two.

But of course I couldn't. So I went home and ate a chocolate cupcake and now my gut is the one talking to me and it's telling me it's NOT ok, and actually, I am an idiot. 3 months since my surgery and I'm faced with the grim fact that I am an emotional eater who is about an intestinal foot short of being able to continue to be one.

Anywhoo...I do have conversations in my head with my Mom. Is that weird? Perhaps. But I do try and think about what she would say to me. I've been struggling with it lately, though, and even thinking about the sound of her voice gets harder to pull from the depths of my memory. A friend reminded me online tonight that I knew what she would say. But tonight I just couldn't hear her.

I took The Monkey out on an evening walk tonight. I thought it might help clear my head. But so many thoughts kept spinning in my head...the decisions I've made, the paths I've chosen and everything I've been through in the past while. Am I where I should be? Doing what I should be doing? That little guy at work...God, have I made the right choices?

I just want some ANSWERS, dagnabit.

And then tonight I randomly chose a book from the bookshelf to read for The Monkey's bedtime story. 'The Berenstain Bears Mama's New Job'. I opened the book and there was The Eldest's name written on the inside cover, in sweet 5 year old writing. So many years ago I used to read her bedtime stories and now she's 19 and growing her adult wings. So many years I've been at this parenting gig.

I started reading to The Monkey. In the book they discuss the Bear Family's hobbies. I turned to The Monkey and asked her what her favourite hobby was, as well as the rest of the people in our family. Her responses were cute and predictable...her favourite hobby was colouring and doing crafts, The Princess' was reading, The Eldest's was going out with her boyfriend, The Boy's was staying in his room and playing on his computer, and The Husband's was sleeping.

Then I asked her what she thought my favourite hobby was. She looked at me and smiled.

"Loving me."

Yes, my Keeley. Loving you and my family is my best hobby. The bestest hobby in the world.

Thanks Mom. It was so great to hear you tonight.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Yet Another Side Road


There's something about laying on a paper sheet in the doctor's office getting 24 staples removed from your tender abdomen that gets a person to thinking.

I think I've had enough.

Enough pain. Enough whining. Enough dark side roads.

I find myself yet again writing about one more event that I need to purge from my mind. Put aside, let go and move on.

Not that I'm done dealing with this latest side'll be the middle of May before I'm allowed to go back to work, several weeks at least until I can pick anything up and dear god if this house doesn't up and crawl away in disgust at the level of filth that currently resides here, it will truly be yet another miracle for this Mahoney household.

Of course, I can't come here and whine about some exotic illness either. If something's going to go wrong with me it'll be with my bowel. Yes. I'm going to write on a public forum about my intestines.

God my life is so awesome.

And of course if I'm going to go and get a twisted bowel and need emergency surgery, I'll do that when The Husband is away. In another province, two airplanes away. But hey! The Eldest can drive so that saved me the ambulance cost.

Just looking for the positives. It's all I've got.

I found myself laying in the ER at 3 o'clock in the morning, begging God to just make the pain stop and saying the rosary at super sonic speed over and over and over again while breaking The Eldest's hand in a death grip. Two x-rays later and voila: twisted bowel. Which explained the pain worse than childbirth. And all my yelling. Plus the vomit. Oh and there may have been some accusations that the doctor wasn't getting to me soon enough. It's a bit foggy.

God was watching over me and my Mom was organizing a speedy solution to my predicament. There was a free operating room and the surgeon was able to come in right away. By 9 am I was saying good bye to about a foot of my intestines. I woke up to a 7 inch incision down my abdomen, 24 staples holding it closed, 7 days in the hospital, 8 weeks of not lifting anything and many days of lounging around looking at the dog hair accumulate on the carpet.

Laying in a hospital bed unable to move without crying despite the epidural in one's back plus a morphine drip, gives a person a lot of time to think. A lot of time to think about life changing in an instant, being blindsided when you already feel like life has kicked the crap out of you. You have morphine hallucinations about demons and fire and brimstone. You replay talking to your husband on the phone before surgery, telling him you love him, please don't come home, you'll be fine, his work up there is important for our family, but every fibre of your being wants him there with you. You think about telling your Eldest child goodbye and that you love her, everything was going to be fine as they wheel you off to surgery, but the inner you is freaking out and you just want your mommy there to say get ahold of yourself. You're not going to die for crying out loud, it'll all be ok.

Yep. A lot of time to think.

Most fortunately for me, my big sister pinch hit for her and called and talked me off the ledge. Then Nurse Sandy was sent directly from heaven to hold my hand and be just about the best nurse on the planet. Nurse Sandy didn't have to hold my hand and let me ramble on in my morphine fog about my mom and my life and how grief over The Husband's dad was a different life experience then grieving over my mom.

Yes. Nurse Sandy was awesome. I am also hoping I never have the need for the use of strong narcotics in my life again. Even while having those conversations with the nurse there was part of my brain yelling, "What the hell are you blathering about? You are freaking stoned. Shut up. Crap. Is that a demon behind her? Why is this hospital so full of people turning into demons?"

As I relived all those moments in my head, I was able to start sorting everything out and stop being such an idiot. Count my blessings, so to speak. My awesome family rallied once again. Our Eldest, my dad, my siblings...all super duper troopers. My dearest Husband got an early flight home. I get to take 8 unpaid weeks off of work.

Plus I didn't die, I lost 10 pounds and Extra Strength Tylenol does not make me see demons.

Perspective. It's a wonderful thing.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Living Up to Your Name


I know. Math is hard.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

3 months

I was talking with my sister today. Lots of ranting about life and stuff. Then the inevitable pause in the conversation.

"So. How are you doing?"

Just a few simple words. But we each knew what we were asking.

We're really asking how the grieving is going. How are you holding up? Are you still in disbelief, do you still think about calling her on the phone and then realize she gone, do you still cry at odd times...the waves crashing over your soul, making you feel like you're drowning in your tears and you can't catch a breath.

"How are you doing?"

I think I'm doing ok. Most of the time. It's been two weeks since I sobbed on my bed for 15 minutes then picked up the broken pieces of my tear stained heart and shoved them back into my aching chest.

It's been three months. I like to think my Mom is getting settled up there in heaven and is putting her final touches on a new job for The Husband, amongst a bunch of other stuff. Don't get me wrong. I know God has it all organized but if you knew my Mom, you'd know that she's already attended several meetings about the whole issue, come up with a few choice soundbites that succinctly put it all into perspective and then pushed the start date up about 2 months.

It's how she rolls.

Anywhoo, in talking with my sister today it made me realize that I'm doing ok. There's a lot of stuff in my life I'm dealing with but when it comes to Mom...well, I think I'm where I'm suppose to be. Grieving, but slowly moving through this whole process of saying good bye to a beloved person.

Will I ever stop missing her? No. I don't want to ever get to that place. Do I want my heart to heal? Yes, but I want those scars to remain on my heart forever. They mean she was loved, always missed, never forgotten. But I have to wake up every day and carry on. Boy would she be pissed if I didn't do that. If every person that ever loved her didn't do that.

And so we get up every morning and brush our teeth, pluck the new grey hairs out of our eyebrows and make a pot of coffee. We carry on.

Part of the grieving for me has been a desperate need to remember my mom as she was before the cancer entered her brain. Before the chemo. Before she found a lump in her breast. It was so difficult right after she died to remember her as she truly was for most of her life, before the cancer slowly stole her away. And it was so difficult to retrieve any positive pictures in my mind.

I started to dream about my mom shortly after she passed away. Most of them were foggy, bits and pieces that I would try desperately to put back together in my mind when I awoke. They were moments of her as she used to be, not wasting away, but vibrantly alive...but they were like viewing snapshots of faded pictures when I awoke and I couldn't cling to their images, no matter how hard I tried.

But one night about a month after she died, I entered a garden in my dream. There was a patio, and a white trellis. The sun was shining but there was cool shade on the other side of the trellis...trees and flowers, white chairs in a big semi circle on the grass.

I walked out into the garden and saw people sitting in the chairs. I knew there was a person sitting in a chair just on the other side of the trellis and I was drawn to that spot. I walked to it, turned and looked. Mom was sitting in the chair, smiling, radiant, so happy.

"MOM. MOM! What are you doing here??? You're suppose to be dead. You died."

I know. Even in my dreams I ooze poetic verse.

Mom stood up. Smiling. So so smiling.

"The doctors were wrong! The cancer's gone. I'm empty of cancer! They did tests. It's gone."

Smiling smiling smiling.

And I hugged her fiercely. And we hugged and hugged and hugged and I didn't let go. And she didn't let go. I was hugging my Mom in the garden, surrounded by summer trees, sun and the flowers that she so loved. There were other people, all sitting in the chairs, watching us. I didn't see their faces but I knew they were loved ones. In her favourite place to be. The garden. Loved ones. Flowers.

I felt the need to write this down tonight. To remember. Because I'm learning that part of grieving is remembering. Remembering that it's ok to smile at the good thoughts, important to think about the happy times, let go of the "why's" and "it's not fair" and focus on the carrying on.

Do I still cry? Yes. But not as often.

Do I still miss her? Oh, yes, but I'm learning to accept this new normal.

Am I still angry? No. And I can't tell you how grateful I am to have moved past that. I am so grateful that I don't feel like putting my fist through the wall or breaking every plate in my cupboard anymore.

Do I still feel disbelief? This has all of a sudden gone away. It was strange to have gone through the last few months of her life, knowing she was dying, care for her, be there when she passed away, see her in her coffin, and then be driving down the road two months later and be hit with a huge wave of shock with the realization that she was gone. She was really gone. For good. For ever.

(For the record..if you were driving on the #1 Hwy from Chilliwack about a month ago and saw a deranged lady in a white minivan crying like a banshee? Ya. That was me.)

Have I stopped reliving my Mom's last moments over and over in my head? Yes. And I'm ok with that. Because I'm also learning that in order for grieving to happen, to keep moving through this whole process, I have to let them happen. Not fight it. Not perseverate on it. I know I was having issues with those last few hours...why didn't I realize sooner, why didn't I call the siblings that weren't there, what should I have done differently, but also just desperate to NOT forget those last few hours and moments.

Writing them down gave me permission to stop thinking about it over and over. I know I can go back and read it if I feel like I'm forgetting. That's what I felt drawn to do tonight. Write down my dream. I won't forget.

And that is comforting. It's not a hug from Mom, but it's comforting.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


It's been a rough stretch in The Mahoney family.

The loss of The Husband's Dad.

The Husband's job.

My Mom.

Every door that opened seemed to bring fresh tears, new frustrations, more worry and endless sadness.

And every new hurt brought us further and further down a dark and unknown road with no light at the end. And we don't own a GPS. I can't tell you how many times I've sat down and started to write in this little blog of mine. There were so many things I wanted to say. So many things I wanted to write about. But the hurt was too much and I couldn't get it out. My mom kept telling me to get back at it and write, but what I needed to write about I couldn't let her read.

Despair. Pain. Disbelief. Anger. A lot of swear words.

She wouldn't have approved.

And now she's gone. I stood beside my mom and told her to go. I told my mom it was ok to go, we would all be ok. My heart was screaming don't go, please...I haven't told you I love you enough, you have to see my kids grow up, I still need to talk to you everyday on the phone, don't leave us. I don't want you to go, I don't want you to go.

But I told her it was ok to go. She looked at me, nodded her head and left us. 2 1/2 years battling breast cancer like a warrior, staying with us days longer than medically made any sense.

And I couldn't find it in me to write.

Seriously pathetic.

So I'm giving myself a reboot. Rebooting my blog. Calling a mulligan. A do over. New opportunities for The Husband and our family are on the near horizon and it's going to be all sunshine and double rainbows around this joint. Double fricking rainbows.

Or quite possibly some aurora borealis. And I've always wanted to see me some of that.

I'm back, baby. I'm back.