Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Living With Gratitude

We had a few kindhearted souls bring coats into my workplace to donate to the homeless LGBTQ youth in downtown Salt Lake City. We filled the car with goods.

Last night, Daniel and I headed to the Utah Pride Center to make the donations. We loved driving up the rainbow painted bridge to the center. Daniel helped carry in one of the bags. It was pretty uneventful. On the way up, we talked about all the things we're grateful for. Daniel donated his leap frog so that they would have something to play with.

After leaving the Pride Center, we went to the Salt Lake City Library. Daniel got a kick out of the fountains, the elevators, and the stair case.

We went down the kids section on the 1st floor, and Daniel found a friend named Maggie. She insisted they play. And he loved it! They ran around all the nooks and crannies they have designed for kids, playing hide and seek, and pretending they were in a castle. She kept trying to make him the scary dragon, but he wanted to be the cool prince.

After we left the inside of the library, we went searching for my brother Jack's name on the Celebration of Life wall. And we found it!

Daniel thought it was splendid that they had built beautiful statues just for Jack. I thought it was pretty splendid as well.

Happy Thanksgiving Jack! We miss you so much! We are so grateful for the joy and love you gave us. We hope we can live grateful for all that we can share with one another here on earth.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On Pondering Goals

Every Tuesday, we get together with a couple of families at Daniel's school, under the watchful tutelage of the school psychologists, and learn ways we can be better. We eat dinner as a family and use conversation cards and we abide by strict rituals to make everything go smoothly. After that--the kids enjoy socializing together, while the parents learn from the psychologists better ways to make the family work. It's a joy. Yesterday, we made a family timeline where we discussed important events in our family's history and they asked us to set goals for the future of our timeline and discuss ways we could reach our goals and ways that would keep us from reaching our goals.

When the good doctor asked me what my goal was, I couldn't think of a thing to say. My mind was completely blank. I finally said, "To go on an airplane as a family!" And so we discussed what we would need to do to go on an airplane trip.

But still... NOTHING?

This morning, I thought about it some more... my goal is for Daniel to flush the toilet and wash his hands. My goal is to fold the last load of laundry that has been sitting in the dryer before I have to start the laundry over again. My goal is to keep ONE of the house plants from dying. My goal is vacuum more often, since Atticus is currently shedding like a beast.

(side note: Antonio likes to pretend that Atticus's job is to keep the dogs off the bed and that she fails at it every day. He bellows, "You had ONE job Atticus! Now I know it wasn't you, because you would NEVER get up on the bed! But please, keep the other dogs off of the bed!" Daniel gets very confused. Yesterday, he ran into our room, grabbed a handful of blond fur and took it into us and emphatically proclaimed, "It is Atticus!! See! This is HER FUR! She is the dog on the bed!!" Antonio replies, "Never! She would never!" And the little boy waves his evidence in the air! "It is ATTICUS!" Meanwhile, I sneak my meat to Atticus  while we watch the drama unfold.)

My goal is to get through the day. My goal is to shower. My goal is to feed everyone else and drink enough water. My goal is to try and not be overwhelmed by the expectations of the holidays. My goal is to keep the budget and not forget about the check I wrote to one doctor that might cause everything else to bounce... oh wait.. too late.

But goals make life rich. Goals make the mundane worth it. And so I need to ponder and pursue goals. I need to make room for my own personal advancement. I need to remember that I have to invest my time and thoughts into dreaming again.

Easier said than done. I shall ponder.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Child's Heart is Like a Tardis

Last Tuesday, I said a prayer over breakfast with Daniel. I prayed that little Virginia would pass away peacefully. Immediately, Daniel's eyes filled with tears and he yelled at me, "Don't ever say that prayer again!" Then he laid his little chubby cheeks on the kitchen table and wept, "I only got to meet her once!" It ripped me up. I felt awful.

But I could not continue to pray for the poor soul to live on in a body that only existed to feel pain. I tried to explain to him that she flew 30 feet from the car, that her brain died, and her heart stopped. The emergency rescuers revived her heart, but her mind never revived.

Virginia passed away on Friday evening. Her Megan was the last one to put her to bed before the accident. She was with her every day in the hospital. She was her angel every day of her life. And now Virginia is Megan's angel.

After posting on Facebook about my hesitation to tell the boys about their cousin's passing, we received so much encouragement and wisdom. My friend Robin told me about sending off a balloon with a message. She also told me about giving them a notebook where they can write their feelings. I ran off to the grocery store on my lunch break and picked up a bouquet of balloons and a couple of notebooks and stickers for the boys.

We gathered the boys and told them what had happened. Daniel burst into tears. He immediately yelled at me and said that it was all my fault.

I wasn't sad. I wasn't upset. I was happy! Here this child was trying to wrap his mind around the sorrow and the anger of death--and I could be a source for his most difficult feelings. Death is too ambiguous for a child to get angry with, but he could get angry at me, yell at me, and feel better! I could do that for him! He raged and cried and his dad held him and tried to tell him that it wasn't my fault, but I just wanted him to be able to feel the sorrow.

His brother Jaxon sweetly told him that he could still talk to Virginia in his prayers and then he and Daniel skipped off to play Legos. The two played so well together. Jaxon was such a support to his little brother. I was so proud of him.

The boys were most excited for their notebooks! Daniel wrote at the top "Daniel's Diary" and the two ran around looking for hiding places so that no one would read their thoughts. They decorated them with Star Wars stickers and thoughtfully wrote.

The next day, we went out to let out the balloons. Antonio wept as he wrote his thoughts to his little niece. His mother told me about how Virginia loved him so. She would only accept food from him. She would light up whenever he was around. His heart broke into tears throughout the weekend. And all weekend, he posted pictures he had taken of her.

I tried to make sense of things and find comfort in the thought that she isn't in pain anymore. I tried to imagine her happy again. But my anger began to flair imagining the life she could have led. Imagining the good she might have done and the love that she offered to the people I love during her short time on earth. The death of a child is the death of a world. There is a world of possibility that was snuffed before it even began. And that makes me angry.

Her death was preventable. While the accident report isn't back, it is presumed that because the girls flew so far from the vehicle, they were not properly restrained. Little people must be properly restrained. We assume that they were not properly restrained because of the nature of the accident and because this was not the first time that they have been in a situation where they were not properly restrained. And as a result, the absolute worst thing happened. It wasn't a warning. This was the worst case scenario played out.

Choices matter. Our choices have consequences, world shattering consequences. 

 In her passing, she has touched so many lives. She reminds parents to cling to their children. We brighten at the smile she gave us during her short life. We are reminded that heaven is so close. We are reminded to love and to cherish. We are wiser. We live better.

Sunday afternoon, my step-dad Brent gave my husband a blessing of comfort and strength. He was reminded that he is a good man. The words mirrored the look of love that Virginia would give to her Uncle Tony whenever he was near.

The tears continued to flow, but amid the sorrow, he also felt a growing a sense of gratitude that he was able to love such a bright angel who saw the goodness of his heart.

While driving with Daniel yesterday, he continued expressing his heartache and his anger. He will yell at me and proclaim his feelings with all the robust a 6 year old can muster, then he will fall into my arms and seek my comfort. And I am so happy to be there for him.

I believe a child's heart is like a tardis. It looks small on the outside, but inside it holds worlds of affection and love.

While Virginia is not here physically, I believe that she will continue to comfort and bless her family. She will be the friend whispering comfort to Daniel when he is lonely. She will be the laughter that Victoria feels next to her. She will be the hug that Vincent and Michael feel as they fall to sleep. She will be the inspiration that guides Megan's next painting. She will be the lift in her Uncle Tony's step. She will be the light in her Grandma DeAnne's eye. All of her family will find a smile in the thought of her.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Depressing Depression

I have suffered from depression for years. This time last year, I was falling in love. And I felt this very real motivation to see a psychiatrist and try to stop handling my ups and downs on my own. Because it wasn't just about me anymore. Love is a nice feeling, but love leads to life, and I was very afraid that my depression would hurt more than just me.

So I went to a very kind doctor and she started me on a path that would enable me to feel better.

It's been a year. The meds have been so helpful.

I feel the depression coming back, despite the drugs.

I went to bed at 9:30pm last night and slept until 5am. I got up and chatted with Antonio as he prepared to leave for work. I fell back asleep at 6am. I completely missed the alarm clock and woke up to Daniel trying to take my phone at 7:30am to play minecraft. School starts at 8am. It was NOT  a good morning.

I haven't showered since Friday. I have no desire to shower. I had 45 minutes to shower this morning and I could not make myself do it. I had cold cereal and made sure that the dog had food and water. I can take care of everyone else. I just can't find the energy to take care of myself.

I took vitamins, extra iron, B12, antidepressants, and adhd meds. I drank a large glass of water.

Last night, I curled up in Antonio's arms, buried my head in his neck and listened to him fall asleep while tears streamed down my face. I couldn't get close enough. I kept burrowing in closer. I did not feel alone. I did not feel lonely. But still, I couldn't get close enough. Finally, I rolled away and put on my CPAP mask to get some real sleep.

So why am I so depressed right now?

We just had a lovely 1 day vacation to Moab where we soaked in beautiful weather and scenery.

I just had 3 days off of work.

I have a beautiful family. My mom and dad took Daniel to Tremonton on Friday and Saturday so he could enjoy more of a vacation, even though Antonio ended up having to work and I needed to work Saturday afternoon.

We have a beautiful home. The cars work. We have food. We have everything we need.

Here are my thoughts on why.

The tragedy that Antonio's family--that OUR family is facing in North Carolina is so huge I can't wrap my mind around it. There is so little that we can do and we feel utterly powerless. Feeling powerless over affliction is one of the most stressful feelings in the world.

Antonio's job is horrible. His back is injured, but he can't even take a couple of days off for a family vacation we planned months ago. And we can't quit because we need the health insurance.

I am constantly bleeding. Again. Not only does it mean that I probably won't get pregnant any time soon, (probably a good idea, albeit, really sad) it is incredibly annoying and I feel like I'm experiencing PMS all the time.

Daniel is working on a lot of things. He does well on some days and at some times, but there's always something we're working on. And we want so much for him to be happy. He has to make right decisions though. He has to choose. We can't choose it for him. That feeling of powerlessness is the most aggravating, vulnerable feeling. That is the feeling of parenting and sometimes it is so hard.

I went to the temple Saturday morning and just wept. I thought about all the things I want fixed. I wrapped my mind around the prayers I needed to offer. The most difficult part of this time is trying to figure out the right things to pray for. Do you pray for the child in the coma with permanent brain damage to live or to die peacefully? Do you pray that the child who is healing physically, but not psychologically, will have more time to heal in the hospital, or will be able to rejoin the havoc at home? Do you pray that your husband will keep the job with benefits, even though it's physical labor and his back is torn up? Or do you pray that he will miraculously find another job that will allow him to go to school full-time, have benefits, and will finish before Daniel gets out of school like this one does? Do you pray to have a baby when you don't have the time, energy, or money to have a baby? Or do you pray for gratitude that God isn't giving you more than you can handle at this time and hope that you can still have babies in a year or so?

The hours in the temple, the crying, all of it served to clear my mind a bit.

We pray for a peaceful passing. We pray for Tori's strength. We pray for Megan's strength. We pray for a new job with benefits, Sundays off, and a flexible schedule that is about getting it done. Because one thing I know about my husband, he works very hard and he gets it done. We pray for trust that God knows best when it comes to bringing children into the world. We are grateful for Daniel and Jaxon. We are grateful for family members who serve, friends who love at just the right moments, scriptures, prayer, temples. We are grateful for patient dogs, children who read, working vacuum cleaners, showers when you want them, cold cereal, milk, gogurts, working cars, cool autumn air, a beautiful home. We are grateful for tears, for feelings. We are grateful to know that the tears often come when the body and mind can finally digest the pain and the stress and attempt to make sense of it. The tears allow the stress and the pain of things I cannot control to fall down my face and lessen the heaviness of my heart. The tears release the knot in my soul and remind that I just need to be. I don't need to be perfect. I don't need to be strong. I don't need to do. I just need to be. I need to trust. Time will unravel and bring things together as is needed.

And it will be all right. Tomorrow.

Today it can be poopy. I can be unshowered and teary today. I can sit back and let things be what they are today.