Wednesday, April 27, 2011

journal part 4

when papa bought this jeep it was the ugliest bright orange monstrosity i'd ever seen... but it was loud and maybe that's all that mattered... in a matter of months it was so pretty.. cream paint.. heavy duty tow bar and back hitch... it even had these switches where a radio might go that turned on lights and fans.. i am sure they had a bigger purpose but i just enjoyed pretending to be in a space ship.. i was probably much to old to be playing make believe with that thing.. but it was fun none the less.. the seats perpetually smalled of dust and dirt from so much off roading... it smelled amazing.. like the desert
this photo is of my mom, dad and brother bear at the river bottom.. picture perfect day don't you think?
that jeep...we had so much fun on that thing... not just the trips and death defying maneuvers but there were little things i remember.. when the far off clouds looked just a smidgen darker than the ones over head my dad would invite us for a ride... to go look for rain... some nights he'd pile us girl cousins into it and drive to an abandoned burned up house on van buren ave. and tell us ghost stories...
dad had taken a photo of it and framed it.. a photo of just the jeep.. that still makes me giggle... anyway... april 2009 was also the month when he sold it... we were dealing with so much with the progression that the cancer had taken... the selling of the jeep affected me and it became the topic of the 3rd letter in my journal.. the selling of this jeep lead to the most vivid real dream i have ever had of my tata (maternal grandfather).. i will go on any record in saying that it was more than a dream.. losing my tata so many years ago was such a shock to my young mind and affected me in ways that i am only now understanding though the loss of my dad...this was more than a dream.. it was a message, a visitation if you believe in that kind of thing...

april 26, 2009

you sold the jeep to mark (my cousin) yesterday. i was so sad. i remember the day you brought it home. it was the brightest color orange i had ever seen. i remember when i was standing behind it and it back fired on my inner thigh. i was crying and you put a cold soda on my leg. did you know i still have black bits embedded in my thigh from that day?
last night i couldn't quiet my mind. the memories just kept flooding in. the worst part is all this made me realize that one day you will only been in my memories as well. it breaks my heart to know that i will only see you in pictures and will never get to hug your flesh and bone again. when i finally did fall asleep i did not deem of you. i dreamed of tata. it was so real dad. i could smell him. it was so clear and vivid that it left me with so many emotions today.
in the dream emilio (my brother) and i are sleeping in the living room of the old house in tolleson. emilio is on the sofa, which mom would hate, and i am on the recliner chair. tata is sitting on the coffee table and he is watching emilio sleep. he shakes his head as if to indicate that he can't believe how much he has grown (my tata passed when my brother was very young and at the point in this dream he is 15 years old and very very tall). he sees that i see him and he motions me to him, i hug him and i feel the rough cotton of his brown flannel shirt against my cheek. i breathe in the oil on his hair and the cigarette smoke in the fibers of his shirt and i cry, and cry. i tell him i don't want to lose you. i say that i don't ever want to miss you the way that i miss him. he takes my face in his hands and starts to say something and i can't hear him. i tell him i can't hear him and he just shakes his head and looks away but there are tears in his eyes. and then i wake up. when i woke up my pillow and face were wet. i was crying in my sleep.
i tried to fall back to sleep and i succeeded but every dream i had after that was of you.
i know why i dreamed of you and tata. i am angry at you dad. i am angry that you sold the jeep. i understand why you sold it. you weren't using it and it does deserve to be used but right now, at this point, it feels too much like you are tying up loose ends and i am not ready for that.
i practice this conversation in my head sometimes. in this conversation i say that it is okay to give up the fight, it is okay to stop the chemo. i tell you that i would rather you feel good for the time you have left on this earth. i wondered if practicing this conversation meant that i was getting stronger in my understanding of all this. i wondered if maybe i was ready to let you go. but that is not what it means at all. what it means is that i am scared to see you sick. that i don't want to see my big strong dad sick and fragile. but is our need to see you strong causing you to ignore your body? could we push you to go too far with treatments simply by needing you?
i will see you in 6 days dad. i can't wait but i would be lying to say that i wasn't scared. i am more than that dad, i am terrified!

it's funny.. just after my dad passed i had to come back to michigan and back to school.. my last semester in school had started and my last class was a writing class... the instructor would give us an off topic to write about.. like our favorite place to play as a child...i thought i had written about my mom and dad's closet but when i read it over i realized it was about the smell of leather.. boots and belts and morphed into a piece about my dad and the way smell is ingrained in us from birth and that in Heaven i will know him by smell... i bring this class up because i think that is what happened here.. i began to write the letter in regards to him selling the jeep but that lead to my admittance of fear.. and what i was really afraid of... i understood death was a natural part of life.. i never asked "why him"... but i was so afraid of feeling that loss again.. that longing i still have for my tata... and the fear of seeing the man i needed most.. helpless... then ultimately questioning the concept of "fight" in terms of cancer...
anyway.. there are 2 more entries that i plan to share.. one on the 31st and the last on memorial day.. i haven't read them since i wrote them so i am a bit apprehensive to see what other realizations i have yet to unleash..

Monday, April 25, 2011

journal part 3

yesterday my husband and i went to see the latest disney earth day release called african cats... over the past 3 installments it has become a tradition that we see these documentaries opening weekend... the theater was almost empty so i didn't hide my dorky "oooohs" and "aaahhhhs" at some of the cooler moments.. like the high speed camera usage during the cheetah chase scenes or the cute yawns of the lion cubs.... the plan was after the early movie i would put a roast in the crock pot and he would go out hunting.. instead we were attached at the hip for most of the day.. he even stood next to me while i did dishes.... then just before dinner was ready the conversation started.. i don't know who started it...but we talked about dad... he wanted me to recount his last night (as he was unable to be there at the bedside but came a few days later)... who was there? what did you do? how did you feel?..."do you miss him:?" i asked.. "of course" he answered and i understood our clingy-ness after the movie.. that was their thing... dad and my husband.. they would call each other after knowing one had gone hunting.. they would talk on the phone till the batteries ran out of one of their cell phones.. sometimes dad would call and after a quick hello would tell me to give my husband the phone..i would jokingly throw a hissy fit but i loved it... he was missing dad after watching the movie.. i was too... i grew up on religious taping of marty stouffer's wild america and nature on pbs... watching any nature show ultimately makes me think of dad... apparently it had the same effect on my husband as well.. so while it was easter and i have many easter memories of my dad, mostly seeing him at the grill... what brought him to mind this time was what he loved most.. nature... happy earth day indeed!

so this is the journal entry i promised in the last post... it was written on april 23rd.. it was the second entry in the journal that i am now trying to reclaim.. i was avoiding him.. i checked in with my mom or cousin for updates.. but i hadn't spoken to him an a while... dialing the phone sent me into a panic... and i would sob uncontrollability... i spent many hours of the days curled up and my poor husband didn't know what to do for me.. it's a helpless feeling that sends me into panic mode..there was nothing the doctors could do.. nothing he could do.. nothing i could do...

April 23, 2009

i haven't talked to you since the day we got that last bit of bad news. i am just not strong enough yet. i don't want to bring you down with my crying and negativity, but at the same time i just want to hear your voice. even if it is just to talk about the weather, like most of our conversations end up. i hate being so far away from you but i think me being here has forced us to talk in ways we never have before. when i am home we are perfectly content to be in the same room together. although i have always taken comfort in our ability to just be with each other and not rely on idle conversation.
(my husband) and i are at each other's throats lately. we are both dealing with the guilt of being so far. and as much as i hate to say it out loud i have wondered if it was worth it. if he was worth leaving my family, leaving you. i love him so much but i am losing you, not him. but here i am stupidly writing a letter that will never be sent. i can not even find the bravery to pick up the phone and talk to you. i really am trying to find strength. and do you know what helped today, of all things? i talked to (my brother) today. i called to check on him, to say i am here for him, but instead he ended up comforting me. he is becoming such a young man. he is stoic and logical like you. i never want you to worry about him dad. i have loved that kid more than my own life since he was born. i could promise that i will always take care of him, but i think it is more realistic to say we will end up taking care of each-other.
good night dad, i love you... oh and it was warm today.. about 60 degrees

Monday, April 18, 2011

journal part 2

this is my daddy TWO DAYS after his nephrectomy surgery (kidney removal) my husband wasn't able to be there for the surgery but came two days later... my dad insisted we take him out to the desert for a walk (this was the kind of time he enjoyed spending with my husband) ... he wasn't able to walk but sat in his chair, in his pj pants and watched us and the wild animals frolic... it is such a precious memory of my papa's strength and devotion to his kids... he would have truly done anything for us... if strong will and love for family could keep someone alive he would surely still be with us

my husband bought me a journal for one of our anniversaries...i loved it.. i carried it around everywhere just in case the need to write should arise.. i wrote very small to keep from using too many pages.... there is something about a journal that makes you feel important.. the thoughts that are in my head are so important and life changing that i must write them down.. least they do not fulfill their purpose of changing the world.. right? if you write then you know what i am saying.. we write because we secretly hope that after we are long gone someone will find our life altering words hidden away and a new course of history will be attributed to us.... so this journal (leather bound and studded) had it's pages ripped out in april... i burned everything i had written in it prior to the day in april when it became UNSENT letters to my papa.. there are only 7 letters starting in april 2009 and a final one in march 2011 just before i started this blog... (october's letter is written under "journal part 1")..there are not many entries i think because so much wasn't being acknowledged.. my honesty about fear was there but i think i was too scared to write sometimes.. to scared that ink on paper would make it too real... so today starts the april letter series in my attempt to get my journal back.. to once again use it for trite coffee house musings and poorly written poetry... in effort to come full circle in a way.. and as always to honor my daddy...
in april 2009 my dad had been formally diagnosed.. he had already had his kidney and mother tumor removed.. at this point the pathology report came back with bleak news...there would be no cure.. only treatments that were unlikely to work.. up until this point death was not an option.. it was as simple as removing the kidney... we all thought that would be the end of this... our hope was that the nodes visible in his lungs would go away after the main tumor was gone... that obviously did not happen...
for newer readers- understand that i did not live, nor do i currently life, in the same state as my family... much travelling was done..and phone calls.. but i also had the advantage of being able to hide from this every once and while... while i also had the disadvantage of being alone in this...

april 2009

i cut out all of the pages in my journal. i can't help but feel like nothing else really mattered before this. i haven't been able to fall asleep without distractions, otherwise i am bound to cry all night. i just can't believe it, but at the same time my all too logical mind won't let me believe in miracles. you are dying. i say it over and over again. my dad is dying. and when i am not thinking about it i feel guilty for allowing myself to be so easily distracted (by tv or music). and when i begin to feel guilty everything comes our into a fight of some sort. i have lost so much precious time with you, i have lost 6 years of making memories. how was i to know the end would come so quickly? how many birthday's have i missed? your bithday is next month and all i can can think is please God don't let it be your last.

i ended that first entry abruptly.. and i can still so vividly remember what i was thinking.. "just stop ana marie" .. just stop..s top crying.. stop being a baby.. stop being negative.. stop being so weak! i struggled with the way i was feeling.. i struggled to allow myself to feel it... in the end.. i stopped... and i kept stopping.. like i said.. today is the first of the april journal entries.. so expect another on the 23rd, 26th and 31st... i expect this will be quite an emotional month...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

going forward

going forward is NOT getting over it.. is NOT forgetting.. is NOT giving up... is NOT "moving on"... going forward is simply putting one foot in front of another... is the act of getting and staying out of bed (sometimes)... is completing the seemingly menial tasks of the day... all this.. in spite of grief....
i don't know the exact quote... and i saw it on a movie of all places but it goes something like "what is tomorrow, but a yesterday that you thought you couldn't face?" how true is that?
daily, when dealing with grief, we struggle with the idea of tomorrow.. can i do it all over again tomorrow? or simply.. i just can't do this anymore! but we do... and each day is a step, going forward...
in effort of my own "forwardness" i have applied to volunteer with hospice of Michigan... i would love to work in community outreach or with grief support and with my degree in education i think i'd be better apt to work with kids... (my brother had a terrible experience with grief counseling, so much so that he has always refused help.. i'd like to change that for at least one kid) however.. i will do whatever is needed of me... i chose to take this step forward in effort to get out of my own grief and also maybe, possibly... lead someone else .. forward.. so fingers, toes and eyes crossed... Lord let me be put where you want me!
so.. after i sent away my application (and because i can see now!!!! thanks to God and my wonderful new doctors who finally fit me with specialty contacts!) ... i have been able to pick up a book again and my random choice is a memoir of a recent widow as she finds her new place in the world without her husband.. and it got me thinking.. as words on a page normally do to one so obsessed with words...i understand what it is like to lose a dad... although i only KNOW what it is like to be me and lose MY dad... has anyone ever said "oh i know how you feel"? well they don't... not really.. because they don't have your experiences.. so as much as i know my own pain from my loss.. i have no earthly idea what it is like to lose a spouse.. a partner.. someone who you handed your children to.. someone you looked across the table at every day with love and disdain.. someone you trusted to be with you in your old age.. someone you planned with, slept with, fought with.. i don't know what it is like to lose that... that being said i also have no experience losing a child or sibling... is loss so universal that i or anyone can "help" another person with their grief? maybe it is just a matter of assuring them.. they can move forward...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

brother bear

"Every time that I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face gettin' clearer,
the past is gone It went by like dusk to dawn,
Isn't that the way? Everybody's got their dues in life to pay"

grief does this horrible thing to us.. it separates us..intentions are there but we forget sometimes...what our own loss means to someone else.. our loss becomes our own.. MY loss, MY needs.. MY pain.. MY sorrow... and inside of our grief we become frustrated at others for not understanding us, helping us, saving us...all that we can fathom is how we are feeling...
meanwhile there is someone left twisting in the breeze.. someone whose shoulders may look big and strong but are already holding so much...someone we will never help or console if there is that little voice inside that asks "what about me?"
when my dad was coming out of surgery.. i was the first to see him.. he motioned for me to come closer.. and i thought there would be a touching moment between father and daughter but instead he asked "how is your brother?"..half jokingly i said "hey, what about me?"... much later when his hospital bed was delivered i was sent to pick up my brother from school.. my dad asked me to tell him about it.. to ready him to see it... even later my most vivid memories are watching him put on the strongest face when my brother was in the room... something as simple as holding the phone in his shaky arm, all but refusing my brother's help in holding it to his ear...
i think there was a lesson in all that.. i think he understood something we didn't... my dad had already understood my strength...understood what i could handle... and what he saw in my brother.. was not a child.. wasn't just a son.. certainly wasn't the favorite (haha) but in him, he saw the one of us three that would need the most understanding and patience in all of this..
i am reminded of my dad's nightly prayers for God to give his family strength and comfort.. and God does that for us daily.. the fact that we wake up and get out of bed daily is a testament to that... but if we want to.. if we step outside of ourselves we can give those things to each other as well..
and sure my heart aches.. i am missing my protector, my source of strength... but what is the cost of my loss to someone else... because my brother lost his one true ally.. lost the only person in this world who didn't expect anything of him.. he lost his best friend.. and we fail him daily don't we? by allowing the space that my dad left to be unfilled.. by continuing to ask "what about me?"