Eight Days

It’s been eight days. Just a little over a week. Since we lost her. Since we lost Taylor. A sweet, funny 19-year-old girl so full of life and promise. She was nearing the end of LPN school. Her future was bright. But that light was extinguished. A life long illness that had seemed so benign, an afterthought really, reared its ugly head and she was gone. Slipped through the fingers of her family and friends. Leaving behind confusion, devastation.

I have known Tay (as we all called her) since she was in cheer leading with my daughter in the 7th grade. They became fast and close friends. They cheered together, played volleyball together, cried over boys together, fought over boys together. She was one of us. She was part of our family. She would come into the house, rummage through the fridge before finding us in the living room and flopping on the couch with a ‘Heeeey guys!’ and big smile as she munched on whatever food she found.

I am having a hard time wrapping my head around her death. I hadn’t seen much of her since she and my daughter graduated in 2012. I would see her around and always got a cheerful wave. She was my friend on Facebook so I could keep up with her blooming life. To acknowledge she is gone, is like letting your heart shatter. I can’t seem to manage to accept it. I have so many pictures of her and my daughter on Facebook and on my walls. All of them with her bright smile, that devilish twinkle in her eye.

While she was one of my daughter’s best friends, I had my own special bond with her. She became my second daughter. She was at our house all the time. It was always ‘the girls’. Taking ‘the girls’ somewhere, or ‘the girls want pizza’. She shared with me details of her life she hadn’t even shared with her own mother yet. Because she needed someone who loved her unconditionally to let her know that she was going to be all right. I remember one night in particular, she and my daughter had been at a friend’s house in a hot tub. It was cold out. The girls came home and Taylor came over and knelt beside the couch and put her head on my chest. Her hair was frozen. I asked her what was wrong, and she just shook her head. She just wanted comfort. Comfort over some boy problem. Comfort I was happy to provide.

I could not bring myself to go to the calling hours. My daughter went with a group of friends, for which I am grateful. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t see her parents and see their pain and feel it. I was having a hard enough time helping my daughter manage her own grief, how could I manage my own?

Her dad dropped off flowers at our house from the calling hours. Beautiful arrangements. With all colors of purple. Purple was her color.

Summer will be hard. It was when she would post pictures from concerts and bonfires and I would know that even though I wasn’t a part of her everyday life. She was OK. She was living life. No, she was more than just living life, she was getting ready to take the world by storm.

And now. She’s gone. The girl who went to the Yankees game with us and yelled out the outfielders. The girl who camped with us in a cabin with broken hot water. The girl who called me Mom.

In my kitchen I have a doorway, where over the years, I have measured my kids heights. Somewhere along the line, friends would also get their height measured. Taylor’s is there. Marked twice. Just a month ago I was considering painting over those marks. Now, they will stay just as they are forever. A permanent reminder of a girl, with the cowboy boots, who left us all behind.

I won’t propose to understand the greater plan in all this. My mind knows she is no longer in pain, no longer sick. My heart, my heart is just angry. And I don’t even know who to be angry at. God? Doctors? The world? Myself for not keeping in touch?

Fly high, sweet girl. I hope you are at peace.

Just know that I will always miss you.

Dear Dad….

I turn 40 this month. And for a large majority of my life, I believed my biological father was dead. The details were hazy, the story somewhat off. It wasn’t a story my mother wanted to share with me. She was raising me as a single mom with a strong assist from her family, and I could tell that my queries into my paternity weren’t really something she was eager to share. So I just accepted that I was fatherless. I let go of the idea of someday finding the man who gave me half my genes. I would never know where I got my oddly shaped nose, or why I am tall while the family I grew up in were all lacking in height.

But the questions always lingered, there in the back of my mind. What if he were alive? Could I find him? Would he want me to? Would he want to know he had grandkids? I had medical questions as situations in my life came up and I wondered if they were genetic.

A few Sunday’s ago, on a lark, I went to psychic party. You know the kind, a psychic is hired to do readings for everyone who comes to the party at a reduced rate. So I went, paid my $30 and sat for my reading.

I got some vague information about my spirit animal and my personality traits. She asked if I had questions. I asked about my father. She sat there a minute and looked at me intently and then said, ‘I don’t think he’s on the other side. I think he’s alive’. A little spark jumped to life inside me. Could that be true?

I pondered this that evening. I decided that I’d fire up the Google and do some investigating. I hadn’t done it before, because, well I thought he was gone.

BAM! There he was. Alive. Living within 50 miles. And I possibly have some younger siblings.

And I am terrified. I don’t know what to do. I have so many questions. None about why he wasn’t a part of my life, but just about his life. His family, his ancestry. I want nothing. Just information. I don’t even necessarily want a relationship. Just a conversation. But I don’t know what to do. Do I send a letter, explaining that I just want a conversation?

And what if I do meet him and he’s a total D-bag and I spend the rest of my life kicking myself for being curious?

I don’t anyone to get hurt. I don’t want to drudge up anyone’s past that they’d rather forget. But sometimes, there are questions that need answers. And sometimes, only one person can answer them.

I’m Concerned

Today, while flipping channels, I happened to land on Nancy Grace. Always up for some entertainment I thought I’d see what she had to say. Would she talk about the chemical spill in West Virginia that is leaving 300,000 people without water? Or the latest school shooting that took place in New Mexico? What did she start off with? Polygamy. Yup, she was outraged that a federal judge had determined that polygamy wasn’t illegal. I was dumbfounded. She was going on and on about how polygamist all marry really young woman and abuse them. Well, actually, that is not accurate of ALL polygamist. She wasn’t questioning the legality of the marriages and if the wives collect any kind of benefits for the children they have. And she was outraged. Now myself, I don’t care about polygamy (with consenting adults). If a guy wants a few wives and can find women who are willing to buy into it, then more power to them. Put the lead story? REALLY?

At that point, I just flipped the channel. I am puzzled at mainstream media. When the news broke about the chemical spill in West Virginia, it wasn’t even front page news. The Huffington Post had the story about A-Rod on it’s front page. (does anyone care about this guy anymore?) I mean, 300,000 AMERICANS are without water because of a chemical spill. And no one raises an eyebrow?

Another school shooting today. This one in New Mexico. Two children were injured. I barely heard about it. Is it because we are becoming so desensitized to this kind of thing that it’s no longer a big deal? How can it not be news? Is it because no one died? EVERY TIME IT HAPPENS IT’S A BIG DEAL.

I’m concerned because there is more coverage of the Golden Globes then there was of real, actual issues. I have a police scanner on my cell phone and gives me broadcast alerts when something is going on anywhere in the country that’s a big deal. I get stuff on there all the time that I would never know about (plane crashes, gang violence–what the hell is going on in Chicago??, etc).

Maybe we are all just numb. Numb because social media is constantly throwing data at us and we just have gotten to a point where we can’t process everything?

I still care, I still want to know the important things going on in the world. Not what a Kardashi-whatever did at a basketball game. Entertainment news has it’s place, but it shouldn’t be on the front page. We need to be an informed society. If we aren’t, we are weak and easily manipulated.

Maybe that’s exactly how they want us to be.

What About the Children?

I live in a small community, about 3000 people, maybe less. Our school is small. My daughters graduating class had about 60 kids in it. My son has about 70 in his. So when I say small, I mean small. This year the school decided they were cutting all the arts programs. Not just studio art and ceramics (both popular classes), but also the Newspaper, the drama club, and most of the music program. But the sports teams (all of the girls teams won sectional titles last year), continue to get full funding. Paying to send them to scrimmages as far as 50+ miles away.

My son is not athletic. He is artistic. He writes. He was the youngest kid on the newspaper when he started on it in the 8th grade. Last year he was co-editor, had his own column and he loved it and thrived in it. His favorite teacher was his art teacher, who also ran the yearbook and newspaper. She lost her job in the funding cuts. This teacher was so amazing when dealing with my son. She helped him come out of his shell, encouraged him, edited the stories he wrote and was a mentor. She was many things to many students, but because it didn’t involve sports, well, then that isn’t important.

What really blows my mind is the capital budget project that they are working on. Re-roofing the buildings and putting in new windows BECAUSE THEY SCREWED IT UP THE FIRST TIME. Yeah, that’s right. The roof was put on 10 years ago and they didn’t get the right warranty and now they have to replace it. Because they cheaped out when putting in windows in a new addition, they have to replace them all because they randomly fall down when they are opened. It’s a freaking disaster.

So what about these kids who are artistic? The ones who aren’t into sports? Well, my son is going into a culinary program at a BOCES next year because he can’t take the classes he wanted here. These kids are going to be left in the wind, because they aren’t athletic.

I would like to be able to say that the saving grace in all this is that it is a good school. But in actuality, it really isn’t. When I graduated from it 20 years ago, it was the best in the county. People MOVED here because of the school. Now? Well, let’s just say if my son didn’t have only two years left, we’d look to move. Not just BECAUSE of the school, but because of the deterioration of the town itself. (that’s a story for another day).

It just makes me sad that one group of students can get all the attention and funding while another goes without. It doesn’t seem fair. It’s not like winning sectional titles brings more money into the school. It doesn’t. If anything, I think it cost the school because of the busing of students to far off places to play in sectional games.

My daughter was a cheerleader all through school. I understand that some kids are really into sports. She was, she loved it. And that’s fine. Have a great sports program, but not at the expense of those other students are are differently talented. It’s unfair.

Random Thoughts

So I have decided that this blog would be best served if I just weekly, spit out all my random thoughts. Empties my head. Entertains you. Hopefully. Once in a while I’ll try to throw in something meaningful.

** when you go to the chiropractor and he throws up his hands and says ‘I’m out!’, you know your back is messed up.

** Even though my oldest is 18 years old, I still have moments where I am like ‘holy crap! I’m someones mom!’

**Sometime when I am at home, I think “wow, this place really needs to be cleaned’….then I realize that it’s MY house and I am the person who needs to clean it.

**There is only a certain degree of stress a person can take before something snaps. Your sanity, your body….something has to give.

**I can’t remember a time I wasn’t married to my husband. That makes me feel warm and fuzzy and scared to death at the same time.

**I sing in my car. Really, really loud. And I imagine what it’d be like to be on stage singing.

**If an elderly woman is in a nursing home with dementia, should it be legal for her husband to vote for her because he knows ‘who she would want to vote for’??

**Trying to lose weight by drinking detox tea leaves you with nothing but a lighter wallet and a really nasty taste in your mouth.

So…that’s it for this week. I’ll try to write my random tidbits down so they make more sense next week. Maybe.

She’s Not Here Right Now

I did it. I took my daughter to college, settled her into her dorm and left her there. By herself. Her roommate won’t be there for a couple of days. I cried. I cried hard as I clutched my first born to me, making her promise me that she would be safe and not open her door to anyone, and that she would call me anytime day or night if she needed me to make the hour and fifteen minute drive to get to her. And I meant it. I would drive to her in a blinding snow storm if she needed me. I cried when I left, and most of the way home. I cried when I was getting ready for bed. I cried again today while texting her. Feeling deep pangs of sorrow that she was all alone. So just a little while ago, we video chatted. And it helped. Seeing her, knowing she was OK, she wasn’t sad or depressed. She was just chilling in her room, eating junk food, watching TV and playing on the computer. Finding herself. Figuring out who she is, and being OK with being alone because she is OK with herself. That in itself is a skill that most much older people never achieve. The ability to be alone and be happy. I mean physically alone, not emotionally. Her first night away from home and all alone. I would have been terrified. Not her. She took it on in stride.

It’s hard. It’s hard knowing she isn’t right here right now. She will be on the weekend. And many weekends after. But she’s not here right now. And my heart hurts.

It hurts because she’s growing up, it hurts that I can’t be right there with her. But I know it’s a process of me learning to let go, a little at a time. Letting her grow.

While this past summer was one of the worst in our relationship, since then, we have become closer then ever. Making this separation hurt all the more.

But I am proud. So proud. She turned around a life on a fast skid, out of control and made it into something positive.

I will cry tonight when I go to bed. I am crying right now. A mixture of missing her, worry and being proud. Walking past her empty bedroom is the worst. I want to crawl on it and just feel her. And she hasn’t even been gone a full two days.

It’s going to be a really long semester.

Things Obsessed

My husband, bless his heart, is a man who can become OCD. He is a man who always has to be doing something. He is currently working on his doctorate degree in nursing. He is a Nurse Practitioner. He also has a degree in funeral directing…because, well…he wanted one. He likes to be in school. He likes to be constantly doing homework or researching or doing something. The running joke in our house is that everytime we take a vacation (or he has time off of work) he enrolls in something. Last time he was off for a bit, he enrolled in the doctoral program. It’s a bit daunting, working full time as he does, taking on this course load. This semester he has to student teach and he was supposed to teach an actual class (at the request of one of his professors who thought he would be an excellent teacher-his goal when done with school). However, that paid job didn’t come through, which I think is a blessing. His time will be already stretched to the max with what he has, and add to that our daughter going off to college this semester (and what I plan on being bi-weekly weekend visits to her) and our son at home, well…time is going to be precious and hard fought for.

So this vacation, there was nothing to enroll in. However…there is always something to obsess over. He often finds himself stuck in Wikipedia loops where he goes from one page to another, stuck in a rabbit hole of information that started on as one thing and winds up as something totally separate. It takes up a good afternoon. And he absorbs much information to be used at a later date.

The newest obsession? His family tree. He has a copy of his family tree going back several generations to when his great-great something-something came over from England. It’s a great story, one that he wants to me to write up in a possible book. Which I will. When I am good and ready (not when told to do so…because honestly, TELLING me to so something is like pushing the ‘off’ button…ain’t ever gonna happen that way…just so ya know). ANYWAYS….he has become obsessed with finding out the stories of these people…his ancestors….the who, the what, the why….it really got bad when he told me we should go the Sheffield, England to explore his family tree some more. (after he sent an email to the Sheffield historian office asking for information).

It’s almost like he can’t let his mind just go…just zone out, not think of anything. Something I can do with wild abandon. I can sit in my chair, zones out and quiet and suddenly ask him weird questions like if a satellite fell from space and landed in the ocean would it make a wave big enough to sink a ship? Because my mind can wander and think up stories and do writerish things. Him? Not sure his mind can just wander off. It’s need purpose and direction and focus. I guess I should be grateful that one of us can do that. Because it will never be me.

I wish I could find his ‘off’ button, but I don’t think he’d like it. Just to be free flowing. Un-obsessed. And really, when I think about it, I’m not sure I’d like him un-obsessed. It’s who he is. The thinker. The doer. The man I married.

So Happy Anniversary, My Mr. OCD. It’s been a fun ride so far. Let’s see where we go from here.