Dear Gramma

Dear Grams,

So much has happened since you left us. Everything is different, everything has changed. I’m single again. Not something you ever thought would happen, but well…here I am. Living on my own. I feel you in my little house, guiding me as I decorate like you so loved to do. You’d like it. It’s cute and quaint.

I tried to hold my marriage together. I really did. And I know that you would never believe that he could do me wrong, but he did. And my heart shattered. It was already so broken from losing you and then the blow of being left by the man I loved, it destroyed me. I missed you arms to cry in and your always sage (and sometimes potty mouthed) words of wisdom.

And little Raegen was born. She came a little early, but not early enough for you to meet here. One month to short for you to see her and hold her, and count her little toes and kiss her head as I watched you do with both my babies. She came into this world tiny but full of spirit and I knew you were there. As I was in the room with my baby helping her bring her daughter into the room, I knew you were there. That everything was going to be alright. And it was. She was tiny, but she was perfect. I think she has your eyes. Wide and bright.

My heart hurts from grief. From the grief filled festival my life has become. Some days I can barely hold on. It’s hard. So hard. But I’m trying. If you taught me anything it was to be strong, pick yourself up and move on. Weakness was not in your vocabulary.

I miss you, grams. Please keep guiding me and protecting me and babies and grandbaby.

I’ll take good care of her. I promise.

Until we meet again,

Erin Lee

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Empty

God, I have never felt so empty. So alone. So lonely. In the almost week since my marriage imploded I have spent a majority of my time alone in my room. I haven’t even turned the TV on. I just sit here and realize just how screwed up my life has become. I don’t know where to even start to start over. I’m weak. I’m sad.

What makes me mad is that the soon to be ex isn’t the least bit moved by anything. Not my son crying and begging him to fix it. My son is 18. He is very emotional. He battles some pretty severe depression and has been on medication since he was 12 for it. This has sent him into a tailspin that I hope he can pull out of. I am trying to help, but I feel myself sinking deeper into this pit. The darkness is surrounding me, eating my soul, devouring the light.

But the ex? Not a tear, not a care. He is still carrying on with his mistress (supposedly he ‘ended’ it when I found out, but I have found out otherwise. Cell phone records and downloads don’t lie, my friend). So he thinks I’m stupid, which since he has a doctorate degree, and I don’t, he probably thinks I am.

He says that our marriage has been over for years. Which I can’t actually argue with. I haven’t been attracted to him in a long time. No so much because of him, but because after my hysterectomy I don’t feel any kind of physical attraction to anyone. I’m sort of dead down there, I guess.

So he has probably had a long string of whatever it is that he is doing. I am going to be tested for ever disease known to man this week.

What I need is to get out of this house. Away from him, away from the memories. I hate to walk away from a house that I raised my kids in and is my home, but staying here and sharing the house isn’t an option anymore. I just makes me want to throw up.

What I really want is to just run away. Disappear. Take my kids and run. (If they’d go). Start over fresh somewhere new. My skills are marketable, I can work anywhere. Can I make enough to support my family? Probably not. He says he’ll pay alimony. Will he? Until he moves in his next conquest and her family and tries to play knight in shining armor. (Trust me, it’s tarnished armor).

I’m trying to put one foot in front of the other. I wish I had friends I could count on to hold me up. But I have none. I have family. But friends? No, not really. Not that kind that will let me cry and scream, the kind that would take me out and get me drunk and make sure I got home OK.¬† I am completely isolated.

Tomorrow I see the lawyer. I hope this won’t cost me a lot and I hope it can be done quickly. I also hope I can just find somewhere to live. So far, I’ve been out of luck in that department. And living here is like a prison. Stuck in a house with someone whom you despise and not being able to go anywhere. It’s like a living nightmare.

I’m just so lonely. And so sad. And so alone.

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Strike Two

It’s almost 1am. I’m awake. Sitting in bed. Alone. Sitting here wondering how my life went so wrong. Almost 41 years old and ending a second marriage. A marriage that I find out now, has been a complete and utter lie from almost the beginning. That the man I thought loved me and would always love me, doesn’t. And probably never did.

I had built my life around supporting his dreams and encouraging him. Now that he has reached that goal, he no longer needs me. I get thrown away like yesterday’s news and someone new comes along. Someone younger. Skinnier. Prettier. To stroke his oh-so-fragile ego while I pick up the wreckage he just callously leaves behind.

My first granddaughter was born 8 days ago. This should be a joyous time in my life. But it’s all I can do to function. I am so angry and hurt. I never thought that at my age I’d have to start all over again.

I have to find housing. For me and my kids and my grand baby. Housing I can afford. I make less than a quarter of what he makes. I own nothing. Everything is in his name. I never dreamed that he would keep the house and we’d have to move. I always thought if the day ever came when it ended (and why would it? We were happy), that he would let me keep the home I have raised my children in. But he wants it. Of course, we are free to live here as long as we want (he says). Until he meets the next ego stroker and decides to move her in. Then where are we supposed to go?

No, we won’t stay here. It would be too easy to fall back into the routine of things, even if we are living on separate floors for the most part.

The hate and anger I feel are palpable. I hate the fact that he fell in love with someone else. I hate the fact that he cheated.

Over the years I suppose I have had the opportunity to cheat, but I never considered it. Not once. I was married. My vows were sacred. Mine were. His were optional.

My son asked me today if the past 17 years meant anything to his ‘father’. I said I honestly didn’t know. Honestly? I don’t think so. I think he didn’t have anything better to be doing, so he just hung out in our lives waiting for whatever he considers ‘better’ to come along.

I know I’ll come out of this on the other side, stronger, smarter. Maybe happier. But right now the other side seems so very far away. The light at the end of the tunnel seems so distant.

My grief ebbs and flows like the tide. I go from being so pissed off I could scream, to weepy the next. But my weepiness isn’t because I’m sad, really. It’s hurt. I’m sad that I wasted so many years on a lost cause. But I’m more hurt with the way the whole thing happened. Me finding an email account filled with such filthy emails that I almost threw up. This was the man I shared a bed with.

I want to run away. I want to just get the kids and go. My kids are adults, 18 and 20 (with a newborn). They are free to choose to do whatever they want. He has no obligation to them anymore. I want to just pack up and move to another state and forget this whole farce. And never, ever, have to see him again. And I might. It’s still an option for me to just go. My skills can get me a job anywhere. I can support myself and the kids are old enough to work.

But for now I am stuck. Here. In this house. With him. And it’s killing me.

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$200

So, I found on my husband has been having an affair. I found an email account that had some really graphic conversations on it. And in them, he professed his love for her. I knew it was over. He refuses to leave our house, because it is in his name. So I must try to relocate with my 18-year-old son, my 20-year-old daughter and her 6 day old newborn. Nice of him, isn’t it?

I can’t say I’m 100% shocked. He has been more distant and colder than usual. I knew something was up. I just didn’t know the extent. He says he ended it once I confronted him. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

17 years I have put into what I thought was a soul mate relationship. After one failed marriage, I dated my soon to be ex for years before we got married. YEARS. When I thought for sure he was the one, we got married. He adopted my kids from my first marriage when they were just little ones. And he wants to throw it all away.

He’s no spring chicken. He’s over 50. And apparently wants to have kids with the new woman. Never mind that he has 4 grandchildren. Never mind that this woman was his patient. (He is a nurse practitioner).

It all feels so dirty. Like I have been living one big lie.

I am most upset with how this has affected my son. He is beyond upset. Inconsolable. I have no words for him. I can’t make it all better. I can just tell him we’ll get through it and we’ll be fine. But the words are hollow, I don’t know where we are going or what we are doing. I’m trying to manage things the best I can, all while trying to help my daughter take care of a newborn,

I am stunned at how inconsiderate the person I married turned out to be.

Today I sold my weddings rings, my anniversary band and two pieces of Tiffany jewelry. For $200. That is what the past 17 years of my life is worth. $200. How do I come back from this?

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Betty Jane

My grandmother died. It wasn’t unexpected. We all knew it was coming. After a major stroke in October, she was never herself again. Her health would wax and wane. We’d all prepare for the worst and then she’d make a comeback of sorts and we all breathed a sigh of relief. She was our grand matriarch. The glue that help this big family together, despite the miles-and sometimes, fights, between us. Yet no matter how prepared, our hearts have all been ripped out and shattered.

There are the placating ‘she’s in a better place’ condolences. Which I suppose is true, but as far as I am concerned here with ME is the better place. Not gone. Gone forever.

My gram was a one of a kind lady. She was tough, stubborn and had the biggest heart. There was always room for one more at her table. Literally. As we’d all bring home straggling friends from time to time, and they always found a place to stay and a place at the table with her.

She loved her family. Fiercely. Generously. She loved having them close. Before she had her stroke, when I was visiting with her, I was joking about the fact that my kids (18 and 20) were never leaving home. She just smiled and said ‘I always liked having my family close. It always made me happy’. And it did. She was never happier then when her house was bursting with energy. Kids, grand-kids, great grand-kids, all around and underfoot. In and out the door a hundred times a day. There was always coffee on and she was always ready to sit and chat if you needed her.

She was a bargain shopper. She loved going to the Salvation Army (or the ‘Boutique’ as she called it) and filling her cart with anything she thought she could find useful. Or eventually useful. She had a collection of curtains that would astound some people. And damn if I didn’t go to her on more than one occasion and she would pull out the perfect curtain I needed.

She loved animals. All animals. Big, small, wild, domestic. Once when I was little, my grandfather brought home a baby hawk (yes a bird) who had been orphaned after it’s mother was killed. She raised it. His name was Hunter and he would sit on the top of the floor lap behind my grandfather’s chair. When he got big enough, we set him free. A random box of baby raccoons once showed up at our house. The were taken care of until we could find someone more skilled to help. Baby rabbits were often found, half a live after a cat attack. We’d try to nurse them back to health and if we couldn’t, they received a proper burial in the back yard.

She loved beautiful things and saw the beauty in everything. Flowers, trees….anything. She had room in her heart to find the beauty and hold onto it.

She never judged you. No matter you mistakes or missteps. One of her favorite sayings was ‘You burned your ass, now you have to sit on the blister’…meaning you got yourself into this, now you deal with it. But with her help, of course.

She brought me home from the hospital after I had my daughter. At 20, I was a terrified young mother. When we got to her house, the first thing she did was lay my daughter out on her dining room table and strip her to her diaper. Then she counted each little toe and kissed them. She ‘oohed’ and ‘ah’ed’ over her tiny little body. It was clear she was in love.

When I went back to college when my daughter was just a few months old, it was my grandmother who watched her. I’d take her there in the morning and my gram would be awake in bed waiting. She’d cuddle my little one in next to her and talk to her. I knew with a doubt, my baby could not be in any better hands.

When my son came along, she fell in love again. With his bald head and chubby legs. She would sit and just hold him and look into his eyes. They would share a magical and special bond for the rest of her life.

She wasn’t your typical grandmother in most regards. She didn’t bake. Ever. She rather hated cooking (it was a good thing my grandfather liked to cook!). She wore high top sneakers (she stole my black high tops when I was in high school and I couldn’t even be mad, because she looked so darn cute in them!).

She worked the night shift before she retired and every night when she got up for work, the house would smell like Estee Lauder Youth Dew. That was her scent. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss that smell. To be held tight by those arms and breathe deep that scent.

She won’t be here to see the birth of her first great-great granddaughter. My first granddaughter. That March day will be full of excitement and love, and tinged with sadness that she won’t get those sweet toe kisses.

I loved her. I love her. I miss her. Every second of every day. My green-eyed sparing partner who loved to argue with me for fun. Who loved me from the moment I came into this world and the moment she left it. And I never doubted it.

Betty Jane had a life well lived. Well loved. And when I look into my granddaughter’s eyes when she’s born, I know that I will see that special twinkle and I’ll know that my grams was taking good care of her before her arrival.

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The End

The end of another year. Where did it go? Weeks slid into months and it’s over. 2014 was a year full of accomplishments for my family. My husband earned his doctorate in May and I earned my EMT certification this month. We finally got the house sided, a deck put on. In July I found out my daughter was making me a grandmother. Unexpected and surprising, we are eagerly anticipating the arrival of our newest Princess. ¬†Life is what you make of it. The unexpected can turn joyous if you open your heart to it.

For me, this year was a lot about me. Shallow as it sounds, it was. I turned 40 this year. It’s a big number for any woman. I joined the ambulance crew and met new people, made new friends. I finally felt like I was coming into my own. Like for the first time in a long time, I was free to do what and be who I wanted. And it was hard! The studying and hours of class time put into becoming an EMT was at first a trial, but soon became something I truly enjoyed. My husband was home taking care of the family, so I had no worries about home as I trudged to class three days a week, often logging a 16-hour day between work and school. But I did it! the thrill of passing that state exam was like nothing I can explain.

The year was not without its sadness. We lost sweet Taylor in May. Such a tragedy. The loss of a young, promising life. Everyone who loved her grieves everyday, missing her spirit.

My dear, beloved grams suffered a major stroke in October. That night was one of the worst in my life. To see the woman who had helped raise me, so spunky and tough, lying in a hospital as her life seemed to ebb out of her. She held on, and continues to. But so much of her was lost. My heart breaks every time I see her and a little more has slipped away. All I can do is pray and hope she is at peace.

I expect 2015 will lead to bigger and brighter. Maybe I will find work as an EMT and quit my job. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll finally finish the novel I’ve been writing for years. Maybe I won’t. But I do know this, I am ready for whatever comes my way.

If I’ve learned anything this year, I’ve learned one thing. I’ve got this.

Happy New Year everyone.

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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.

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