A place to put my energy

Since the tornado began, I’ve been grasping for some way to stay firmly on the ground.

Everything has felt so unbelievably out of control and all I’ve had to hold on to is my anxiety, my fear, and my grief.

I’ve had anger and it’s been a great comfort when that comes flying out sideways towards people around me – especially to those who I’ve decided have made me a victim.

Because feeling like a victim has really helped me feel even worse and more out of control.

This process of letting go, detaching, and trusting is too ephemeral, intangible.  It’s all about feelings and mindset, which, when I wallow there, makes me more anxious and freaked out.

And with the accident, we are looking at a long road of letting go, detaching, and trusting. We are stepping into one of the greatest unknowns I’ve ever had to enter.

And today, I have found my anchor…

Office supplies.

There is so much paperwork flying at us right now: medical bills, insurance claims reports, and soon there will also be legal paperwork out the wazoo.

And here’s where my security blanket, my new turquoise binder, sparkle dividers, and pre-hole-punched recycled paper, comes into play in a way that calms me and keeps me focused;

I can do court. I can do organization.

Give me a couple of bright post-its, and some new pens, and maybe even some of those pretty, striped paper clips, and I am all set.

A new three-ring binder is an inspiration to clean my desk. Printing out 100 pages of forms motivates me to finally mop the spill on the kitchen floor that has been there since the breakup.

I got one of those briefcase sized file folders with 13 pockets. It’s purple. Calms me right down.

In my desk this morning, I found a whole drawer full of exactly what I just bought – minus the sparkle dividers. It’s good to have backup, but if I really want to feel better, I need to spend money that should be going towards bills, at Office Depot.

Then, add to all of this, my experience with both the medical world and the legal world.

I’ve had at least 6 surgeries since my kids were born and add on one surgery for each of two of my boys. I’ve been to spine doctors, hand specialists, pain management physicians, countless orthopedic surgeons, and neurologists…plus the OBGYN – just to name a few.

Plus, all of the time and energy I’ve put into my parents and their medical ailments and hospital time puts me in the upper echelon of experienced patients.

And court? I’ve been there 7 times in the last 8 years, just for my divorce, not to mention jury duty.

I’ve worked with multiple attorneys and 2 different judges.

I’ve had some serious wins.

I can organize for court like nobody’s business.

So it appears that the years of agony and questioning, “Why is this shit happening to me?” are going to serve me well.

When I begin to feel completely bombarded by the Universe, I have my shield.

It’s the prettiest shade of blue and has a clear pocket on the front to insert a hopeful and calming photo and an inspirational quote from some random buddhist website .

Today is Graduation (or: Oh Holy Shit)

Yes, my firstborn graduates from high school today. My baby, the person who changed my very existence just by showing up one day.

I’m proud and I am ecstatic and I am nostalgic. So many choices that I have made, that he has made, end up with us right here.

The moment I found out that I was pregnant was filled with excitement and terror. But from the very first look at that little blue line, I knew that he was my baby. I loved him with all of my heart.

Choosing to raise my boys here in this tiny and close-knit community…any questions I have had over the years about whether or not that was best for them, are answered today. Yes, bringing them up here was the best decision that I could ever have made. The things that they might have missed out on (culture, a more varied education, a larger pool of potential friends); none of those things are as important as their sense of belonging.

He is walking today with young men and women whom he has known since he was born. They are some of the closest friends a person will ever have.

T – the girl he fell in love with on the first day of kindergarten because she could “push him high on the tire swing.”

AC – the next girl he feel in love with and dated maybe 15 different times over the years.

D – the boy who fought him in kindergarten because Greg showed up wearing purple socks.

J – so close, they’d be madly in love if they weren’t like brother and sister. When her brother died way back in middle school, Greg insisted on going to the funeral saying “she’s my friend.” That was when I understood that he understood what true friendship means.

N – the boy who is now a father. The boy with whom my son got in shitloads of trouble. The boy whose parents I have spent a lot of time sitting with outside the principal’s office.

And most importantly, A. A has been a part of our lives almost since the day they were born. A’s mom has been my co-parent and best friend since the day we first met.

Our boys were inseparable for countless years; there’s no way to count the adventures, the learning, the excitement, the trouble, the hours that they have spent together.

They drifted, as childhood buddies often do. Different likes and dislikes, different activities and interests, different things that make them tick. And yet, they will forever be connected – forever friends. They hold such a special place in each other’s hearts.

And these children hold such a special place in my heart. I feel a sense of pride and, for lack of a better word, ownership for each of these children. I love so many of them, appreciate immensely who they have become and what decent people they’ve turned out to be.

And I know that there will be parents in the audience today who feel the same way about my child. This community is family and full of love.

And that’s what my children may have missed out on in exchange for culture or AP classes.

And as he says goodbye to an era with his classmates, I am saying goodbye to an era with their families, so as I write this, I am bawling.

How am I going to hold it together in the auditorium if I can’t even get my sorry arse out of bed?

Look at what happens when you try to do something nice for your kids.

He needs gas money. He hasn’t been able to work.

So at lunch, I figure I’ll just run by his car and put some money in there.

And lo and behold…The Crown Royal bag lands on the floor when I open the glove box.

Ef. You. See. Kay.

(translation: FUCKFUCKFUCKITYFUCKFUCK)

Text: “I put gas money in your glove compartment next to the Crown Royal bag. Apparently we need to talk.”

No response.

“Are you saying fuck right now?”

Then I get a call at work, “It’s not mine. It’s X’s – I told him he could put it in my car so he didn’t get in trouble taking weed into the school.”

“Oh, okay. I feel much better now.”

Yeah, seriously.

“But honey, please tell X TO FIND ANOTHER CAR!!!!!!”

Jesusmaryandjoseph.

A better thing to do with the CR Bag

A better thing to do with the CR Bag

My poor (almost adult) baby

He has to have major surgery day after tomorrow: hamstring repair.

He tore it off his pelvic bone.

Crutches, brace, PT, no driving for 2-3 months, 1 year rehab before he can do any type of athletic activity.

Pain.

They told me yesterday that Lortab isn’t going to cut it.

Blood thinners, pain meds, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories.

They also said, “Plan on being in the hospital ALL day.”

That’s when I got off the phone and cried.

Watching the physical pain is bad.

Watching the emotional pain: unbearable.

Everything he has dreamed of for his future in on the line right now – and honestly, one foot over the line. He may never play football or wrestle again.

So much for D-1.

He was contacted by a college football recruiter the other day. First question after name and position: “Any athletic injuries?”

He is trying to hard to remain hopeful and undefeated. He is determined that this will not stop him from fulfilling his ambitions and dreams.

He is also very aware that no matter how determined he is, it might not do him any good. He just may never play again.

He did something stupid and reckless the other night. When I called him out on it, he fell apart, “Mom, my life is ruined.”

You and I know that it’s not, but when you are the star of the football team and the most physical kid in town, it feels that way.

My heart broke for this sweeter-than-sugar young man.

I’m trying to just hold space for all of his pain – to be able to hear him and help him remember that he is loved and will, no matter what he thinks, be okay.

“We will get through this. It’s going to be hard, and, we will do it. Together.”

I’m calling in the forces: friends, teammates, coaches, grandparents, cousins.

He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever met – plays football with multiple broken ribs.

And he is the most sensitive kid I know.

Watching this huge, muscle-bound, tough-guy cry is simply and horribly sad.

So, as I prepare and he prepares, I find myself praying – something I am not prone to doing.

But we are going to need all the help we can get to make this boy continue to smile that glorious, infectious smile of his.

 

 

Selfish Selfish Selfish

One child lost his Social Security benefits (but didn’t lose his disability) and the appeal has been going on for 6 months. We need to plan his future and get him a driver’s license and teach him how to balance a checkbook.

The next one, the off-the-charts brilliant one, is putting in minimal effort, getting mediocre grades and now his teachers are calling me in to discuss behavioral problems in the classroom.  I got word this morning that he threw up in his friend’s bunk bed after too much to drink at the Homecoming party.

The third is apparently not having the football season that he needs to have if he’s going to get recruited and can’t afford college without some scholarship money. He’s got a mom flirting with him and potentially sending him boobie-photos.

Get me the fuck out of here.

I want to think about me. I want to read my book, write my memoir, get a massage, and run away to the desert, ALL. BY. MYSELF.

I want to not think about anyone else.  I want to paint my nails and think about having another cup of coffee and where I will run.

I don’t want to worry about anyone else. I don’t want to be constantly trying to fix, help, or encourage. I don’t want to brainstorm for another.

Sick of teacher meetings, coach meetings, guidance counselor meetings.

Last night I had to make the choice: Write another letter to the Federal Government, rage against my oh so underachieving child, or find out if there is a sexual predator pursuing my handsome child.

Child being the operative word here.

I chose that one – seemed like the most urgent.

Looks like it was nothing.

So relieved that I completely blew off the others. Figured there was so much shit going on that one more day wouldn’t matter.

Especially when I have no interest in dealing with any of it.

Is there anyone out there who wants to take over for a little while?

Sometimes I can’t believe them…

They (boys) needed shampoo so when I went  to the grocery store the other night I bought the biggest bottle I could find. I also picked up some toothpaste for them.

Came home and unpacked. Toothpaste and shampoo were placed, along with some wayward socks, on the end of the kitchen table closest to their bathroom – a range of, maybe, six feet.

Two days later, the toothpaste box is empty but not in the trash, the socks lead a trail to their bedrooms and the pump is open on the shampoo bottle.

Are they actually coming out of the bathroom to get a squirt of shampoo then returning to lather, rinse, and repeat?

TBI

Stands for Traumatic Brain Injury.

Translation: Concussion.

Cause: Helmet to Helmet hit on the football field.

Necessary Action: Go to the Doctor.

Treatment: Time off the Line.

Reaction: “It’s all your fault, Mom.”

Yep. I’m the one who insisted on him playing football, even though he begged to sing in the choir instead.  I am also the one who told him he was a puss and needed to hit a whole lot harder. I refused to listen to his complaints about having a headache for over a week. Oh wait, he didn’t complain because I told him to lie about the headache and deny that he had one. I also stubbornly didn’t agree with him that he knows more than the ER Doc and doesn’t have a concussion. And I am definitely the driving force behind the national movement to save athletes from long-term brain damage by implementing more rigid protocols for allowing those athletes back on the field after a hard knock.

Obviously, All. My. Fault.

After yesterday’s second doctor appointment for the head, the appointment wherein the doctor said, “Yes, it is a concussion. No, you shouldn’t have been playing last week. Yes, you should have told your mother and coach about the headaches. No, you’re not going back in this week. And, yes, TBIs are very serious,” we walked out to the car in a torrential rainstorm, the silence between us thickening with each falling drop.

I unlocked my door and got in the car.  He pressed his face against the window saying “Are you serious?” as I decided if I would let him in or not.

I begrudgingly did.

As we drove home I said, “Now is the time to say, thank you, Mom, for caring so much about my well-being. I am sorry, Mom, that I yelled at you and accused you of ruining everything for me…”

Then, “…repeat after me, ‘I. Was. Wrong.'”

“I can’t say those words, Mom. Not in my lexicon.”

‘Wrong’ isn’t, but ‘lexicon’ is?

I rolled down the window on his side (Love power windows.  Also love the child-lock.) I figured a good dousing would at least make me feel better.

It did.

He laughed.

He still can’t utter the word ‘wrong’, but I think he gets the message.

Child

I have friend’s whose son is very sick. It came from a simple accident, with a simple surgery to repair a broken bone, and then his body went haywire afterwards and landed him in a coma for 3 weeks; fighting for his life for the first week of that.

He’s out of the coma, is awake for little bits of the day, and trying to talk through his trachea tube. He can move his fingers and toes. They are preparing to move to a rehab hospital in a few weeks, for, they hope, only a month.

They have completely given up their lives to be at their son’s bedside – a fact which, I have no doubt, is helping their son in his will to live and recover.

They don’t know, can’t even guess, how little or much damage has been done in the boy’s brain.

He’s 21.

Dad sends out email updates. I find myself reading and rereading these to the point of near-memorization. I get off the phone with Mom or Dad and cry. I say, “Thank you,” when people ask about him or send him love.

It’s almost as if I have taken him as my own.

And that’s the meat of it…knowing a sick and suffering child and family just hits way too close to home. Every thought I have of this child is intertwined with thoughts of my own and what if?

Mom and Dad’s agony and fear are almost unbearable to ponder, and yet, I continually put myself in their shoes. It’s almost as if I think about it enough, if it ever happens (dear god no) in my family, I will be better able to handle it?

I say that with a question mark because we all know it isn’t true.

Nothing can prepare a parent for this.

I think thoughts such as, “Would my child have the same will to live?”

“How could we possibly manage the f-ed up family dynamic in the hospital room?”

“Would I be just as devastated if it was Bobby instead of one of the 2 that I actually birthed?”

Absolutely – without a doubt.

“I don’t have the resources to put my entire life on hold and rent an apartment in another locale and just be at my child’s bedside. What would I do?”

And then my thoughts get so frightening that I stop myself.

I go back to thinking about their child, not mine. I think about the overwhelming love that family shares and the beauty and healing gifts it creates.

I think about their joy in even the tiniest of bits of progress and I feel that elation.

It helps me get out of the doom and gloom spiral.

It makes me want to hold mine ever so close.

It reminds me that I never knew fear until I became a mother.

And I never knew love until that moment also.

joyous

Last night, dinner was completely chaotic.  Greg, Peter, and Bobby came home battered and bruised from football, wearing their new jerseys, which prompted lots of conversation, which led to a lot of talk about tonight’s game, and which was then somehow connected to how much they hate their new Spanish teacher. Bobby needed to purchase some (expensive) items online for his college class, my cute boyfriend (MCB) was preparing to leave at 3:00 am for a fishing trip and we are still living out of boxes.

Usually whomever doesn’t cook, does the dishes, but I did both last night so that the big strong boys could move some furniture, so that I can try to finish unpacking and settling in while MCB is out of town. I also hit Amazon.com hard.

And we could all smell cat pee, but we couldn’t locate it.

At one point, while moving from the stove to the fridge, I completely stalled out in one of those “I have no idea what I was doing” moments and I just stood there observing the chaos of my life, my home, my family…

And I was overjoyed with love and contentment.

I never would have imagined this would be my life.  When I married, I thought it was forever, so I pictured myself at almost-fifty with that man and our two sons, who would be long distance runners and kayakers or artists. I envisioned calm, quiet, and settled for years in the house we built ourselves out in the country.

NOT having just moved into a new rental right in town, that we chose because it was convenient for all of the friends. NOT with 3 teenage boys, including the little scrapper that turned up on my doorstep a year ago. NOT with 3 football players. NOT with a loving, kind, and generous (in heart and soul) man who is considerably younger than I.

Certainly, NOT enjoying noise, confusion, and a million things swirling around all at the same time.

I went to sleep watching MCB pack. We woke up together at 3. As I lay there watching him dress and zip up his duffel, I sighed in total peace and thought, “I am the luckiest gal in the world.”