Wednesday, October 31, 2012

...About Halloween

Today is Halloween. My two favorite things about Halloween are: 1) you can dress up like whatever you want and pretend you're somebody/something else and 2) October 31st marks the end of the worst month of the year.

For about as long as I can remember I've always hated October. And I shouldn't hate it because my birthday is in October, and everyone loves their birthday right? But my biological dad's birthday is also in October, two days after mine. He was an absent parent all of my life, but I always thought because our birthdays were so close together that he would remember mine, and call me. But he never did, and I was always disappointed. My mom knew that this bummed me out every year, and she always tried to make me feel extra special. My dad had a lot of problems, and in October of 2000 he committed suicide right before our birthdays. At first I was glad and I thought, "good, now I don't have to care about you anymore you stupid asshole!" But Mom knew better, and she was there, once again, when I cried about feeling abandoned. This year was the third year in a row that Mom forgot to call and wish me a happy birthday. Three years ago she called a couple of days later and said, "I'm so sorry I missed your birthday!" I said, "It's okay, I had CPA review all evening anyway." But what I really did was sit at Brit's Pub, by myself, and cry because my mom didn't remember my birthday. The bartender felt so sorry for me that he gave my a free piece of cake and made everyone in the bar sing happy birthday to me. Last year she didn't remember it was my birthday until we all went out for my birthday a few weeks later, but I think she only "remembered" because my dad (step-dad) told her. This year she didn't remember at all, but this year she doesn't remember much at all. She doesn't remember where she lives, or what she's doing most of the time. She remembers my dad but doesn't remember that they are married. She remembers me and Audrey, but I'm afraid she will soon forget us. I makes me sad to think all of her memories of me are gone, and to see her as a shell of her former self. I don't want to remember her this way, so I need to constantly remind myself of who she was and who I believe, deep down, she still is. Because she isn't here to comfort me anymore when I need a shoulder to cry on, I will find comfort and strength in the good memories and know that I will be okay because she was a really great mom.

Mom was always the one who took me trick-or-treating. Jay stayed home and handed out the candy, and Mom always accompanied me through the neighborhood. When I was in Kindergarten, she had a broken foot, but because I insisted that she come with me, she pulled out her crutches and away we went. Now THAT is dedication! In 1991 we went out in the infamous Halloween blizzard; she kept saying, "I think we should head back" as we trudged through knee-high snow, but we kept going and I had collected so much candy that year that I still had some left over the next Halloween! After trick-or-treating we'd go home and sort through my candy. She would inspect it to make sure some creeper didn't try to sneak a poisonous piece of candy into my bag, and then we would watch It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown on TV.

Now I have The Great Pumpkin on DVD and my own daughter to take out trick-or-treating. And I'll continue trick-or-treating with Audrey until she's too old, and I can guarantee you that I'll be thinking of my mom and remembering all of the good times we shared!

Friday, September 28, 2012

...Life isn't fair!

Sooooo, it's been over a year since I started this blog (and made my last post), but I've been busy. In the past year I've: changed jobs, become a licensed CPA, consumed a lot of wine (thanks Wall Street Journal), become a crazy "dance mom", survived another tax season, helped my child through a grueling year of kindergarten, traveled to strange and exotic lands like Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Puerto Rico, AND for the past six months or so, I've spent most of my time completely trying to forget that my mom is suffering from a terrible disease. Trying to ignore reality is surprisingly exhausting and a complete waste of time; it's like trying to outrun a rabid dog. Even if you're as fast as Jesse Owens, eventually, you're still going to get bit in the ass!

When I was a kid, I probably used the phrase "That's not fair!" more than anyone I know. And my parents would always fire back with, "Well, life isn't fair!" Lately, I've caught myself saying it more and more frequently. I've been kind of throwing myself one huge pity party for about the past year or so, and I started saying to myself, "It's not fair my mom has this disease. It's not fair I don't get to have a mom anymore. It's not fair Audrey doesn't have Grandparents. It's not fair that I have to do all of the laundry and clean my house. It's not fair that I have to go to work when it's sunny and 75 degrees. It's not fair that I have to get out of bed and take a shower." But that's the crazy reality you create for yourself when you've decided to stop living your life and succumb to the stress and devastation of this disease. I've never been the most optimistic individual, and I've been going through the motions of everyday life without actually living it. Get up. Shower. Go to work. Call mom. Come home. Call mom. Drink wine. Go to bed. Repeat.

Because I live an hour away from my parents, I'm unable to provide very much support for my dad and other family members who are currently caring for my mom, and I feel guilty. Sure I call my mom regularly, but the conversations are usually very short (if she even answers the phone) because she is unable to follow the rhythm of a conversation and her ability to communicate her own thoughts is diminishing. It's hard to watch this happen to someone you love, and sometimes I just have to walk away. Sometimes I have to ignore the phone calls because if I don't talk to her, I can remember her the way she used to be. Running away from uncomfortable situations makes them go away right? WRONG! But that is the approach I've been taking. Just don't deal with it. "I'm sorry, I'm too busy to come and visit." I've tried to stay strong, but lately I've felt a deep sense of loss and profound sadness. The grief is devastating, and unlike normal grieving, this grief process goes on for years and even decades. The loss is sometimes slow and steady, or fast and furious, but one thing remains the same, each day is unpredictable.

I'll try to be more diligent about posting more frequently. I think it will really help me cope. Sometimes I just need a little kick in the butt; thank you to all of my supporters out there!