The end of an emotional weekend

What a weekend I had.  My daughter had a friend over for a sleepover, and while I will not divulge details about this girl, I will share that her mom, a dear friend of mine, passed away a couple years ago.  It was… absolutely heart breaking then, and shook me to my core.  I still think about her every single day. And it’s been a long time since we’ve spent time with that family. So this weekend has certainly left me feeling emotional…  And protective over children, in general.

Last night, she asked if we could take a moment and do a group snuggle – because she didn’t get that much at home these days.  My heart broke as I snuggled both girls for a while.  I stayed up way too late, snuggling and chatting with them.  Caught up on how her life had been since we’d last seen each other.  And it shook me all over again.  I tucked them in and stayed up tossing and turning over it all.  This morning, I took them out for breakfast.  Waffles with cotton candy on top – because .. that’s why.  Just because.

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Because maybe, a little extra sweetness, be it a snuggle, a kind word, a funny story, or even cotton candy on top of a rainbow waffle … with sprinkles…. will somehow put a smile on a kid’s face.  And if that happens… maybe she’ll be able to survive this horrendous childhood that she has had.  Yea – I know it’s a stretch.  But damn it… what else can I possibly do?! She now has a standing invite to come over regularly, as well as halloween and any other time she needs a snuggle… but even I know … It’s not enough.

It’s interesting how small your own problems can become in moments like these.  I’ve cried a lot this weekend… cried for her, cried for mother, cried for the unfairness of it all, cried out of gratefulness for my own children… ugh.  I’m done crying, and tomorrow, my still partially sick butt has to get up and go to work and get my head in the game.

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It’s funny, this isn’t how I’d imagined my weekend turning out – but I wouldn’t trade it.  Maybe I needed a reminder … that my problems and stress are small in comparison to what they could be.  That I have it so much better than some, and have given my children a world that is healthy and positive and full of laughter and snuggles and love.  I have to remind myself that I cannot hug everyone.  I can’t heal everyone.  That I have to be content with helping those that I can… and not get hung up on those whom I couldn’t.

Goodnight Neverland.  I wish you all the best.

Much love,

Jen

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Processing… Please hold.

I got into a conversation with someone this morning, they were telling me of a conversation they had with my daughter.  Apparently there were things she didn’t want to talk to me about, simply because she worries that when I am stressed, I may not be able to handle it.  It surprised me to hear.  There is something strange and unsettling to hear that your child thinks you’re weak.  Or at the very least, sees a weakness that perhaps you don’t.  I don’t quite know how to fully process that.  But I know that I will.

It led to me thinking through all that I’ve been through.  My brain immediately went back to Ben.  The night we knew something was wrong and raced him, in the dead of the night, to the hospital. That drive will forever be etched into my brain.  The songs that played quietly on the radio, The ex’s steady calm.  Funny, the man would occasionally drive me crazy with his immaturities and lack of self control, but when everything fell apart… when the hour was dire… and we stood on the edge of a very scary storm… he was someone else.  Someone I respected.  I don’t think I ever told him that.  I don’t think I ever told him how, even now, after all this time… I trust him more than I trust myself.  That deep in my heart, he was my very best friend.  I wish I could help him understand how much I loved him.  I don’t think he ever really knew.  And telling him now would be taken weirdly.  I guess I can’t take back the words I never said.  We both had to take on and face the scariest thing we could have possibly imagined.  A situation where we had no control, we were completely helpless – our heart’s were in the doctor’s hands.  Doctors we trusted, because of an ideal in our heads – that somehow – doctor’s were infallible.  Oh how I regret feeling that way. I’ve never felt so ill-prepared when we learned of their mistakes.  And we were both hurt in the most unimaginable ways by it all. Scarred from the pain in many ways.

I thought back to the many days and nights where I would work and work and work… not because I’m a strange person who doesn’t want to have a life or free time… but because I knew it would put food on the table or give me the ability to get the kids gifts for christmas.  Those were the years when the ex and I would eat ramen or spaghetti o’s so the kids could have balanced meals. These were times when we had so much debt over our heads that we would have to ignore a ringing phone. There was always a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that the world would crash down around us because we couldn’t pay a bill.

I thought back to days when depression and stress rang so loudly inside my head that I couldn’t even see myself within the cloud I was in.  When I would lay in bed and hide from the world, because it seemed smarter than going out and being hurt by it. When a person loses sight of who they are, and it takes them as long as I have to re-find yourself… there tends to be some disconnects.   I’ve changed in big ways since I last saw myself.  So it’s sometimes hard to trust my own intuition. Thankfully, In many ways, those changes were good.  I love myself now, and I know I didn’t before. I’m more laid back about so many things.  Life is going to happen… you can stress about it, or you can try and find a way to enjoy it.  And now, more than ever before, I’m aware of how strong I really am.  I’m sure most people have no idea the amount of fortitude and strength they actually possess.

It’s interesting, the stages you go through in life.  For every stage of stress or hell, there seems to be an opposing, equally joyous time to remember.  I suppose my knowing that is what keeps me going, keeps me strong.  Because, you see… I can’t give up.  I won’t give up.  It won’t happen on my watch!  I want to see what happens at the end of the story – and we’re not there yet.  Not even half way.

I suppose it’s also why I’m upset to hear that my child thinks I cannot handle hearing whatever detail she’s working through.  Please child… I’ve walked through hell – I think I can handle a little teenage highschool drama.

Have a great day Neverland!

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Fall is here

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I know – not a very imaginative title.  I may or may not change it.  Tonight, I need you Neverland.  I love it here.  It’s a place that I feel safe to let anything out.  Vulnerabilities and all.  I like to posture and say that by sharing my vulnerabilities, it gives me strength.  It’s a bunch of BS tho.  I’m still not very strong.  Today especially.

Today, I feel lost.  Lost in a sea of my own making to some extent, as my life is my own, and the choices I’ve made over my life were mine.  Part of me thinks, well.. Jen, it IS fall.  You always get this way leading up to Ben’s birthday.  But I don’t think this is just a bit of grief.  Not having a job right now is frustrating.  I’m antsy and starting to worry over my financial responsibilities.  It’s a strange feeling – first time in 12 years I’ve been unemployed.  I won’t lie – I’m a little scared.

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Fall is really here.  It’s getting colder, more brisk in the mornings.  The leaves are changing.  It’s one of my favorite times of the year.  And yet – it’s also a time of year that typically has me feeling anxious, and even a little down.  This is the time of year, that I want to hibernate.  Who knows, maybe I was a bear in another life? 🙂  This is the time of year that I’m often hit with a lot of memories from my past.  I dreamed of Ben the other night.  Grayson asked about him the other day – as we have his picture up on one of the bookshelves in the living room.  I don’t cry very much anymore, but there is still a deep ache.  The kind of ache in the chest that if you dwelled for too long, the tears would well up behind the eyes, the flood threatening to flow down the cheek.  Some wounds are too deep to really heal.

I’ve had some pretty major shakeups with friends and family in the last couple of weeks.  That combined with the kids starting school, healing from my injuries and the lack of work… I can’t lie to myself anymore, I’m on the edge of depression.  And I know I’ll pull out of it – I always do – but the past couple of weeks have been hard.  I’m really proud of me tho.  I’m doing it all.  I’m managing to figure all of this out, slowly but surely.  I have to remind myself that courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid… it means you’re afraid but still take a step forward.

I have to remind myself that it’s ok to take some time for myself right now.  To be quiet and hibernate a little in my home.  It’s ok to feel a little lost and scared and lonely.  I’m lucky really.  I know how good I have it and I know that I’m one tough cookie who’ll find a way to  continue to have it good for a long time yet to come.  I’ve never been a fan of limbo – and that’s all this is.  A strange state where the path that lies ahead of me is a bit hazy and unclear.  It’s ok.  Although – I won’t lie – it would be nice if someone would join me with a flashlight and a map.  🙂

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Dear Ben…

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Dear Ben…

I miss you.  I think about you… Every. Single. Day.  I don’t think that will ever change.  Some days, it’s just a quiet note in the back of my mind, and other days, it’s heavy and thick, a cloud (not necessarily a bad one) that hovers at the forefront of my thoughts.

6 years ago, you died in my arms, and it would be honest of me to admit that a part of me died that day too.  I’m ok now.  I don’t often come to tears about all that happened anymore.  And that’s not what this post is about… it’s about something else.

You see, I made a promise to you.  I promised that I would get happy and healthy and on track.  And in many, many ways, I have done just that.  But sometimes, I feel like it’s not enough.  That I just don’t measure up to my own expectations… or anyone else’s.  I know, logically, that that is not the truth.  That any outsider looking into my life would call “Bollocks!” on me.  I have a good life, a nice house, a car, great kids, great friends.  I’m losing weight steadily.  Doing all the things I promised to do.

Where I’m lacking … is really just in one place.  My love life.  And for the most part, I do a pretty good job of not focusing on it and instead staying involved in a bazillion other things.  Hobbies are good!  Heck, there are definitely times when I enjoy being single, with no strings attached to anyone. But every so often… I can’t help but think…

“What’s wrong with me?”  “Why do I struggle to find the right person for me?”

I get feedback all the time from a variety of people that I’m a cool chick.  Good with conversation, kind, sweet, smart, funny, pretty… so what’s the deal?  I’m trying to tell myself that perhaps it’s just not the right time.  That things happen when they are supposed to.  Who knows… maybe I’ve had my happiness?  I guess I could be ok with that, but it certainly feels off to me.

I know that you’re with me.  As odd as it may sound, sometimes, I swear I feel your presence with me.  It’s these moments that I wish I could talk to you.  You show up in my dreams sometimes… not as a little boy – but a grown man.   In my dreams, I know you’re dead, but we still have these amazing conversations.  Somehow, I know you would have been an amazing man to be around.  I see it in Grayson sometimes too.  I know he’s going to be a good man.  Someone who is both ambitious and patient and loving.  I’m lucky in the kids department.  My daughter is growing up to be a woman that I’d want to be friends with, someone I’d admire.  Yea, she has areas she’s going to struggle with, and lessons she needs to learn that will also help change and guide her down her path, but I see it.  A glimmer of who she will become.

I regret that I won’t get to see that in you.  Some people say that it’s the brightest lights that get called to return home.  Maybe that’s why you weren’t long for this world… but I certainly long for you.

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I don’t pray to god anymore.  I haven’t in 6 years.  Oddly – I pray to you.  My Ben.  And right now – I’m putting this little prayer into writing.  I’d like some help finding peace with the idea that perhaps I’m not meant to find another relationship.  Perhaps my path leads me somewhere entirely different.  And more than anything, I’d like to come to place where I’m content with that.

I miss you.  I will always miss you.  And if I haven’t said it yet today – I love you.  Mommy always will.

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RIP Grandpa

My grandfather passed away last night.  He’s not the one who helped raise me, it was the grandfather on my dad’s side.  I spent a lot of summers at his house, helping out in my grandmother’s nursery (this is where my love of plants and gardening comes from).  I have many fond memories of my grandfather.  He’s been battling cancer and his death was one we’ve all been preparing for.  Last night, my dad called to give me the news.  He’d passed.  After I hung up, I sat there and thought about things… and the tears just started flowing.  I loved my grandfather.  He will be missed.

However…I’m feeling a bit of guilt.

He and I didn’t always get along.  He was a very blunt, very honest man.  If he thought you needed to lose weight, he’d call you fat.  Didn’t matter if there were other people around, or if the timing of his comments weren’t appropriate… he’d speak his mind when and where he wanted to.  There were many moments in those awkward growing up years where Grandpa hurt my feelings.  But all of that aside, grandpa was always there for me when I needed him.

The last couple of times that I saw him, he didn’t really remember me much.  He had an oxygen tank that he had to carry with him.  I think the reason I’m so upset about this is that the last time he and I talked… when he wasn’t sick… the last time we were together privately…the last thing I said was “Fuck You.”

I can feel it – your eyebrows just went up.  I know – it’s not like me to be so disrespectful.  it was maybe 5 years ago… After Ben died.  Grandpa was angry with me for putting the family through everything.  I had just started working at Microsoft and had called him to invite him out to dinner – my treat – and to share the news of my new job and just generally catch up.  He told me no.  He said that I wasn’t his granddaughter anymore.  He said that I was too fat, too ugly, and not worth it.  That I’d let the family down, that I’d let Ben down.  That the grief that I’d caused everyone for my own selfishness was more than he could take.  That I deserved to go to hell for bringing Ben into the world.  I was furious.  And shocked.  I managed to get a “Fuck you.” out before he hung up on me.

The contrast that life throws at us at times is interesting.  If I compare that last encounter to the fond memories I have of him and my summers as a child… they are DRAMATICALLY different.  Polar opposites.  And I don’t regret what I said that day.  He had no right to say even HALF of the things he said.  What I do regret however, is not circling back when I had the time.  Not trying to push past his anger and his grief to the grandpa that I loved.  Not getting the chance to really show him that he had every reason to be proud of who I am and who I have become.

I’ll never get to hear his version of the first time he saw me as a baby.  I’ll never again get to taste his cooking, or watch him sketch, or talk about cars or trucks or gardens.  I think I’d convinced myself that there was still plenty of time to come back and repair what had been broken.  I’m sad today.  There is a lesson here, it’s staring me in the face.  I’ve learned it.  Love your loved ones.  Always.  Make sure to hug them and tell them you care when they’re here.. because tomorrow, they might not be.

Hope you all are well Neverland.  Much love to you.

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