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Keep me in your heart for awhile

July 2, 2012

I want to write about Michael because he’s all I think about. Yet, it’s too painful. Six months have passed, and it feels like yesterday. I want to be at the point where I can picture him smiling and think of only good times. But I have a hard time thinking about anything positive. I picture him sick, and I want to help him.

As I struggle to understand it all, I keep looking for other people’s words about grief, loss, sadness, love… I keep thinking that someone who has been through this will sum it up for me nicely and give me some sense of peace. There is no peace though. There is no resolution. He is gone.

I will be fine, but I will always be different. It’s like starting a new life, but without the hope or excitement. Tons of great memories, but so many future ones that have been ripped from me.

I have accepted that I will never get over losing Michael; I’m fine with that. There is the feeling of betraying him by “moving on,” living life as though it’s OK that’s he gone. I think about him daily, and the moments that I get lost in home life, work, everything else, I want to send my thoughts back to him. It feels wrong to be happy, but some days I really am. Of course he would want me, and everyone he loved, to be happy, but we all would be happier if he were here.

I want him to see his son growing up. I want to talk to him about anything and everything. I like to think he is somewhere keeping tabs on all us, but I have no idea.

Perhaps he is still “here” with us. Before his death, Warren Zevon wrote about dying, and I like the way he talks to the people he is leaving behind:

“Keep Me In Your Heart for Awhile” by Warren Zevon

Shadows are falling and I’m running out of breath

Keep me in your heart for awhile

If I leave you it doesn’t mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for awhile

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for while

There’s a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for while

Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-li-li-lo
Keep me in your heart for while

Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la-li-li-lo
Keep me in your heart for while

Sometimes when you’re doing simple things around the house
Maybe you’ll think of me and smile

You know I’m tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for while

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

Engine driver’s headed north to Pleasant Stream
Keep me in your heart for while

These wheels keep turning but they’re running out of steam
Keep me in your heart for while

Keep me in your heart for while

A piece of my heart is gone. What’s left of it though will hold onto Michael forever.

My brother

January 24, 2012

I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve wanted to write, but only had sadness to share. Since my oldest brother was diagnosed with a grade IV (the most aggressive) glioblastoma in December 2010, our family’s focus was on getting him well and helping him beat something unbeatable. He left us on December 27, a little over a year since his diagnosis and first surgery. I am still trying to process what this all means, and I don’t know that I will ever understand why or how. I have many wonderful things in my life to be thrilled about, so I am doing my best to focus on them and making life happy for my happy children. My brother was very private, which is a big part of why I haven’t written about him. I didn’t want to betray him by sharing his illness. Perhaps I will still feel that way going forward. Meanwhile I wanted to share what I wrote and said about him at his funeral. It just scratches the surface of what he meant to me and to everyone who loved him. We all learned how much he was loved when he got sick, and I know we will all continue to love him. Here it is:

For the past 34 years I have had two big brothers. A big brother is someone who looks out for you. Michael was the quintessential big brother. He was a leader in the family and a protector of us all. I remember one time when my parents left Jamie and me home with Michael. He grabbed a baseball bat and huddled us into our parents’ bedroom. “I think someone is in the house.” There was no intruder, but Michael had our back. Some would say that job of protector might end when the little siblings are grown up, but not for Michael. He cared deeply about the people close to him and he was loyal to us all. 

Even when he was sick, he asked me if I was OK and told me not to worry about him. He was always thinking about others, what we needed, our happiness. He was a natural caretaker who wanted us to be happy and safe. He never gave up on anyone in his life, even his pets who he did everything to keep alive and comfort. He started our family’s love for orange male cats. The dogs also adored him, and he was always the first person to offer to take care of them.

Michael wasn’t perfect, but he was his own person. He had to be 100% in to do anything right in his life, and when it didn’t feel right he strived for something better. He could be stubborn and difficult, but he ultimately always wanted to do the right thing.

Michael was really funny, even as a kid. He dressed up as Santa Claus when we were kids, with his paper and cotton ball beard, and liked to be silly and perform. Jamie, he and I shared the same sense of humor, laughed at the same movies, like Trading Places, Let It Ride, Kingpin, and more. It was his idea to send the fake robot rat into the bathroom to scare Mimi at the beach house, and he would do impersonations of Mom to be silly.

He adored the women in his life. Mom was always in his thoughts in everything he did. Ann was always the first person he wanted to care for and who he planned a life with. Even before they got married officially it was like they were always a couple. I know fatherhood scared him because he wanted to do a good job, but I believe he would have been an amazing father to Teddy, who is a miniature version of Michael in looks and personality.

He was also talented. Those of you who have seen his countless depictions of his cousin Brendan photoshopped into famous photos can understand his creativity. This creative ability helped him succeed in his marketing career. He could also play music by ear, and even performed guitar with his band (at one point they were called Distant Mirror, but they talked about changing it to Gaylord and the One-Stop Shoppers for that performance) at the Battle of the Bands in high school. He only wanted to play songs if they were musically complicated; it couldn’t be a pop tune that was easy to play. I always think of him when I hear Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Yes.

I am so sad that he is not here now and that he won’t be here physically. I feel very unlucky, but I also am very blessed to have known him at all.  I want to thank him for helping me grow up. He cared about everything I did in life and made me feel like everything I did mattered. To have your brother make you constantly feel important is incredible. I want him to be here to grow old with him, but I’m thankful that I had so many years with him.

Michael was so much more than a person who got a bad diagnosis. He was a fighter and he would fight for his family always. We all believed in him until the very end, and I want to continue to fight for him in spirit. I want to keep him alive in our memories, so that his son will know him the way we knew him, and also that we can honor him for the life that he led and the love that he gave us.

 

 

 

Did Mommy turn on the TV?

August 18, 2011

A few days ago I noticed there was a new Marina on The Fresh Beat Band, the singing/dancing Nick Jr. show that reminds me of a show called Kids Incorporated that I watched growing up. Even though The Fresh Beats give me a headache in their loud colored outfits and overacting, I had to know if Marina (with her great voice and exaggerated hip-hop moves) was really gone. I found myself on nickjr.com and learned that Shayna Rose, the actress who played her, had moved on. My children didn’t ask me if there was a new redhead and they may not notice, but I did.

What is it about children’s programming that is equal parts annoying and entertaining? Why am I suddenly interested in shows I would never watch if I didn’t have miniature hands grabbing at the remote? While I feel my brain shriveling, I find my lips singing the words to the songs. I know most of the Dora episodes and actually look forward to a longer holiday special just for something new. I could watch Curious George every day, and can’t say I mind The Cat in the Hat (thanks to Martin Short voicing the cat). Luckily we recently discovered Phineas and Ferb, which reminds me of The Simpsons in its ability to appeal to the young and old simultaneously. I have found myself watching some of these shows even when the children aren’t around and think, “Did I turn this on?”

As a mom I feel that I’m supposed to think that TV will ruin my children, that they will never pay attention in school or want to play outside. Yet, there is a lot of good stuff available for them, like SuperWhy and Blue’s Clues, which my children will talk to, shouting out answers to questions and puzzles. OK, maybe it’s not good for them, but it’s not a bad way to pass a short period of time, even each day. Watching children’s programming that asks my children to participate is not like reading a book, but it’s better than staring mouths gaping open to flashing images and colors.

My children watch TV in the morning after waking up really early and a little before bed. Sometimes, if I’m being a bad mom, I turn it on during the day so I can grab a shower or get a little break. It’s not a babysitter, far from it. I find that when the TV is off though, they find ways to entertain themselves easily and get along better. There is no shouting “I want My Little Pony!” or “Let’s watch Spiderman!” or screaming when 18-month-old C graciously makes the call by turning on ESPN like he always does. They grab books, toys, crayons and paper, and create their own fun.

We have tons of toys and my twins are starting to play make believe together, setting up a store that “sells” T-Rex and princess costumes, or arranging Hello Kitty and Strawberry Shortcake in an elaborate tea party, which is great until they start filling the teacups with water from the dispenser.

My children don’t need TV, even if I watch with them in an “active” manner, asking them about the characters, the plot, the cause and effect of their actions, and so on. The problem is that I love TV, always have. So how can I be a good role model if I just want to curl in bed for 22 minutes of a favorite sitcom? My shows are not even close to educational, unless my brain gets something out of trying to figure out who is the most annoying and phony contestant on the train wreck known as Bachelor Pad. I look forward to the kids’ bedtime, so I can head to bed and watch TV, even bad TV.

We don’t need TV, but considering my husband and I met while working at a TV station where he is a cameraman, I know it will always be on at some point in our house. I don’t plan to give them TVs in their own rooms though or let them watch without limits.

I may turn the TV on more than I should, and my children may know too many TV theme songs. But it’s really easy to press that off button and let imaginations make their own Fresh Beat music. I know all the songs after all.

 

Mommy can’t get sick

August 8, 2011

There are rules in our house. No hitting. No pinching. No kicking. No throwing full plates/bowls of food across the room. Recently we implemented the Don’t climb on the kitchen counter and peruse wine glasses rule for our youngest. Nothing too uptight, just the basic keep little people from getting hurt stuff.

But when the rules came about, there is one that I failed to approve; Mommy can’t get sick.

I usually avoid the constant influx of colds that travel from the school/restaurant/playground/friends’ playhouses to our house. I have allergies and head colds on occasion, but nothing like this stomach virus that knocked me out in a big way. Of course that doesn’t mean I could take a day off.

I’m writhing in belly pain on the floor while B comes up to me and asks me what’s wrong. I tell her “my belly hurts.” “My belly hurts too,” she offers in dramatic empathy as she lays down next to me. W comes over quickly to jump on, yes, my belly of all places. Then C walks by and lets go of a large car on my face as if to say, “I feel your pain, Mom.”

Luckily I was only sick for a handful of days, and my husband helped out more than usual. If only sick days for moms came with chicken soup and TV game shows like when I was a kid. Well, actually they can, but now they include climbing children demanding Phineas & Ferb instead of my comforting Wheel of Fortune. 

At least when I whine about being sick, I can’t complain about being bored.

Too young for the 4th?

July 6, 2011

Since our 3-year-old twins have been pushing back their 8 p.m. bedtime this summer (grrr), we thought they could handle staying up late for fireworks. What is one more half-hour especially since we get a decent view from our backyard?

The fireworks were to start at 9 p.m., or so we thought. Around 8:45 after baby C was fast asleep upstairs, my husband took B and W outside to catch lightning bugs. By 9 p.m., no fireworks, and the antsiness began as distant fireworks displays thundered around us.

“What’s that noise?” “I want to go to bed.” “Where are the fireworks?” “What’s that, Mommy?” “It’s too loud.” “What’s that noise?”

While my husband explained to them the splendor of fireworks and what they had in store, the children were more interested in the lightning bugs they weren’t catching. By 9:25 we decided the trail of neighbors walking to the dead end up the street meant we were actually ahead of schedule. Because I can never have too many photos, I grabbed a few nighttime shots in their new pajamas that they wish they could wear every single night of the week.

Shortly after 9:30 the show was in full effect, frighteningly loud at times for my daughter, who covered her ears but was happy to see some pink shining in the sky. My son was pleased that his favorite color, blue, was on fire above, and loved watching atop his father’s shoulders.

Sadly though, the children weren’t exactly blown away like I expected. I thought they would scream in delight or even fear. Instead, B kept saying that she wanted to go to bed, and W kept looking around unimpressed, more interested in what the older children were doing than how the sky lit up.

Turning 3 doesn’t mean they are ready for all that we want to show them yet. Just because they are “old enough” doesn’t mean they are interested. Perhaps 4 is the magic age for enjoying the Fourth of July. I guess we’ll find out next year.

Recent articles

July 4, 2011

I’ve started doing some freelance work for PBSparents.org. Here are two articles I just wrote:

http://www.pbs.org/parents/special/article-summer-fun-safe-fourth-july.html

http://www.pbs.org/parents/special/article-summer-seven-tips-for-camping-kids.html

Writer must write

June 27, 2011
Chase sunglasses

I have so much to say, and yet no time to say it. I want to write about everything that is going on, how my twins think turning 3 entitles them to be completely independent one moment then completely whiny and needy the next. I want to write about how my 17-month-old is a climber, which means he falls, bumping his head more often than any mother wants to see (or hear). I started this blog to inspire me to write more, and yet I am thinking about writing instead of actually writing. When I write, I start the piece in my head first, figure out where the pieces will go, then type them out. Those words are in my head dancing around, longing to be heard.

So this mini post is my promise to write, to myself and whomever out there is reading.

Keep watching for a new post. It’s coming soon!

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