Wallowing.

Wallowing.

Hey guys!  Just wanted to let you know I’m still here with plans to keep writing.  I’m just feeling kinda stuck right now.  I need to give myself the opportunity to heal from losing Haley, so that everything can start to eeb and flow again.  Including my thoughts.  

I have enjoyed finding our “friends” around the yard.  Looks like they all survived the storm just fine!

Today was the day.

Today was the day.

Today was the celebration of life service for Haley.  It was a beautiful day and the service was held at a golf course, so it was all the more magic to absorb.  I have to admit, my words are still kind of stuck.  I would however, like to share the 2 images below.  I was recently asked to explain Haley and I simply said, “Haley is light.”  Notice the random pink prisom in the corner on the first picture?? That photo was taken on my walk this morning before her service.  Then, as we were leaving her service late this afternoon, I stopped to take another picture.  The sky was again a similar shade of pink.  Even in death, she is light. ūüíē


Be the red one.

Be the red one.

My¬†girlfriend called me out of the blue this morning and asked if I had time to meet for a last minute pedicure.¬† Without even thinking about it, I said yes.¬† I immediately got out of bed and jumped in the shower to shave.¬†¬†You¬†can’t¬†show up with hairy legs to the nail salon, right?¬† I don’t know why that’s such¬†a sin, but I’m sure anyone who has had a pedicure agrees.¬† If not, more power to you!¬† I personally think we should get the winter season off from shaving anyway.¬† Kind of¬†like No Shave November.¬† Am I right??

Anyhow, I got ready, eye shadow and everything.¬† Eyebrows matched and the cold dry air was awesome for straightening my hair.¬† I felt great!¬† Usually, I’d already¬†started freaking out, thinking I should probably call and cancel.¬† It was the weirdest thing.¬† I’ve always been¬†very social, but all of sudden the thought of lunch with a friend was way too much to handle.¬† Even a text message or a voicemail was too overwhelming to have to deal with.¬† It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see or hear from anyone.¬† I was horribly lonely.¬† I just felt like I had let everyone down.¬† The shame and guilt that I had created in my head was ruling and ruining my life.¬† I spent 5 months avoiding all emotion.¬† I literally turned them¬†off.¬† Of course, the meds I had been prescribed were also helping with that.¬† I was more a zombie than a being during that time.

This morning however, I was excited to be getting out of the house and into the world.¬† At noon, the side¬†roads were still covered in ice, but I knew the freeway would be mostly clear and it was.¬† The sky was¬†bright blue.¬† Most buildings and parking lots were still covered in undisturbed snow.¬†¬†I arrived to the salon a few minutes early, which is a miracle in itself.¬† Seriously, I was supposed to meet some friends for coffee the other day and not only was I late, I was at the wrong location.¬† I seem to do it to myself all the time.¬† I apologize in advance if it happens to you next.¬† ūüėČ

I walked into the salon and the owner greeted me at the door and confirmed our appointment.¬† He then instructed me to “pick a color”.¬†¬†When I looked at the wall, I was in awe of the all the different colors of nail polish in front of me.¬† The sun was shining through the window and warming me from behind.¬† I quickly noticed how an out of place bottle of bright, red nail polish and been placed right in the middle of the blues and greens.¬† All the other polish was in order by the¬†color and shade.¬† Rows of yellows, pinks, and oranges above.¬†¬†Reds, wines, and darks below.¬† I love red.¬† Bright, bold, confident,¬†Valentine¬†Red.¬† It makes me smile.¬† It makes me feel alive.¬† It is love.¬† It is life.¬† I say a quick prayer and thank God for another sign that I moving my life in the right direction.¬† He knew I would now notice and appreciate the contrast of the colors, where before, I would have looked right passed them and missed the magic.

My friend showed up and as she rushed in and into my arms, it was like we had never missed a day.  As we traded stories, we realized our lives are more alike that we thought.  We are both givers and let me tell you, we are really good at giving!  We talked about making more time for those who make time for us.  At the end of our date, we promised to keep better in touch and make more effort to get together.  I really think we will.  We have similar hearts and similar goals for life.  Plus, we are both super fun girls when we get a chance to let our hair down!  Cheers, my beautiful friend!  Thank you for reminding me that sometimes we give so much to other people, we forget to save some of the salvation for ourselves.

Ok, ok. I concede… this is ‘real’ snow, Portland.

Ok, ok. I concede… this is ‘real’ snow, Portland.

I’ve lived in Oregon now for exactly 19 years and 10 days… and never have I experienced this kind of snow!  I can promise you there will be no spinning in circles or snow angels for me. I’m happy to just enjoy from inside today. It’s amazing.  Every time I look outside, it’s different.  The lighting has changed, what’s visible has changed, whether it’s snowing or not.  I have taken quite a few pictures to be able to compare them later.  I figure I’ll go through and take my time editing them.  Looks like I could be stuck on this couch for awhile!

Here’s a few of my favorites so far:


And then this is my brothers house in WA!!

Even beautiful things die.

Even beautiful things die.

Below are some of the journal entries that I sent to my psychiatrist¬†about a month ago.¬† I know I promised that this blog¬†would be¬†about 2017, not 2016, but I really felt like I needed to share them with you all and her mom said it would be ok. ¬†That maybe talking about it would help us all heal. ¬†My hope is that by reading these emails, Haley’s story will make more sense to you, once I can find the strength to finally finish it.

Written Thursday, December 15, 2016

She will die tonight. Her¬†angel mother¬†and her¬†heartbroken¬†fianc√© are with her in her hospital room in San Francisco.¬† There are tubes and tape and machines beeping everywhere.¬† Everything in the room is sterile white, even her skin.¬† I picture her laying there, with her beautiful, flowing strawberry blonde hair, angel kissed cheeks, and emerald green toes. ¬†She looks more like a mermaid in this moment than ever before. ¬†She is at peace. ¬†Her big¬†brothers are in the air,¬†rushing to get there before her life is over.¬† Always there by her side, even in death.¬† I’m sure that her father is in Heaven watching over them all, thanking God that he went first.¬† Knowing that he could not have survived in this world without her.¬† How do I look my boys in the eyes and give them news that will change their lives forever? They were their aunties world.¬† Dylan took the bus home to her almost every day.¬†¬†She and Mel are only¬†6 years apart in age, so they are more brother and sister, than auntie and nephew.¬† I guess in that way, we are both losing our sister tonight.¬† My little, his big.¬† I’ve never dealt with something like this.¬† Well, something so close to home.¬† This feels like too big a test for where I’m at.¬† In this moment, I do not want to be mindful.¬† In this moment I want to curl up in a ball and check back out of life.

Tonight my little sister, Haley, will die.  How do you die at 25?
***

Written Sunday, December, 18, 2016

She is gone. ¬†No more wondering. ¬†No more waiting.¬†¬†She is gone. ¬†My guard is back up. ¬†I don’t think I can feel this one. ¬†Again, I do not want to be mindful of this moment. ¬†This one could break me.

I try to drink it away… I get sick and cry. ¬†I try to sleep it away… I wake up in the middle of the night sweating and gasping for breath. “IT” is death.¬† In these moments, I feel lost and broken. The¬†devil that¬†is anxiety¬†is back and taking over.¬†My heart starts to race… my legs and feet start to cramp… the tears start to fall and I start to spin. This hurts too much. ¬†I panic.
This time I reach for the pill bottle to medicate the emotions away and¬†as advertised, within minutes, I feel nothing. ¬†Nothing. ¬†The hurt is gone. ¬†The tears are gone. ¬†The panic is gone. ¬†Everything is gone, including her.¬†¬†She is still gone and I should feel sad, but instead I feel nothing. ¬†I start to feel guilty and confused and exhausted. ¬†I should feel sad. ¬†“IT” is sad. ¬†I AM SAD. ¬†I will wait for the medication to wear off and try to¬†process¬†the excruciating emotions¬†again.¬†¬†I know from my work, that mindfulness is not always about happiness.¬† Mindfulness is about feeling it all in that moment…¬† the good and the bad.¬† My little sister died.¬† My sissy Haley died and that¬†is worth¬†feeling¬†heartbroken and hurting for.

 

 

 

The Original 26

The Original 26

Yes, we’ve all seen the meme posted on Facebook:  “Cousins are awesome.  Well, mine are.  I can’t speak for yours.”  I know I for one have posted, re-posted, and posted it again, because I really mean it!  I’ve also had to post, repost, and post again, because any time a new cousin joins social media, I feel like they also need to feel the love.  It also doesn’t help, that I have 26 first cousins.  Yes, you read that right: 26.  My maternal grandmother is still alive and mostly healthy and has not only grandchildren, but great-grandchildren AND great-great grandchildren.  In total, I think there are 56 of us.  Believe me, I know, it’s a lot to take in.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, “That is crazy!  I have ___ (that I haven’t seen in years) and that’s counting both sides!”  Well, if you think that’s crazy, consider this: we were all (minus 3 in CO) raised within an hour of each other.  That means most of the time we all spent the holidays, birthdays, etc together. All at one house.  Is your head spinning yet?? Haha! You also may have noticed that I never mention a ‘grandpa’, but that’s because I didn’t have one.  Both of my grandma’s were strong, kind, loving and SINGLE mothers.  They have both played major roles in my life and deserve their own stories, which I promise, I will eventually write. Today however, I’ve decided to dedicate this entry to “The Original 26”.

While some might think growing up with 26 cousins would be overwhelming, I wouldn’t want it any other way. The ages of us all span from apx 45-15 years old, so most of us have some cousins that we are closer to than others.  In 1981, there were actually 5 of us born within 4 months of each other.  When we graduated high school, we had a picture taken of all of us that matches the same one our parents took of us 18 years earlier.  I come from a small town south of Albuquerque, where people only seem to know you as “so and so’s” daughter, niece, etc.  Very seldom do they remember your given name.  Growing up,  I was always known as “J’s baby cousin”.  He’s only 5 days older than me, but he always acted like it was 5 years.  Not that I minded though… he always watched out for me and had the cutest cowboy friends.  

If you ask any of the cousins, they will tell you I was a total tomboy growing up.  I chased the girls with dead crawdads from the ditch, I rode (more like held on for dear life) stinky sheep in the corrals, made forts with the bales of dry alfalfa.  Funny, even as I type the word alfalfa, I take a deep breath and hold it in for a few seconds.  To me, it is still one of the most comforting smells around.  It’s hard to explain, but to me it smells simply like earth… a mixture of dirt, water, oxygen and sunshine.  It’s as organic as it gets and we had the privledge of building forts, mazes,  classrooms, jails, and  bakeries with it all summer long.

As we’ve gotten older, it’s true that most of us are not as close as we once were.  Most of us have kids, most all of us have or have had a spouse or partner.  We have school, careers and in laws to consider.  We will text once in awhile, Snapchat if we’re lucky and like each others posts on FB, if your still into that.  

BUT…

You get us all together, it’s like we’re still little kids getting to see our best cousins! Everyone tells stories and the laughter is contagious.  We talk about the time “Sunshine” got home and chased cows until 1am after drinking margaritas with me since 1pm.  I couldn’t help, because I was at my other aunties, sound asleep…. in a Lightning McQueen car bed.  Not my proudest moment, but it makes for a good cousin story.  Or the time we were “attacked by a huge pack of dogs”, only to realize (after about half of a mile “running for our lives”) that the only dog that actually got through the rusty chainlink fence was a single mutt chihuahua.  We remince about the 3 cousins we’ve lost much too young and wonder where they would be today.  I remind Amanda about her always perfectly white Keds… when she was mad, she would cross her arms, tap her right toe and give you the death stare until you gave in.  It used to drive me insane, but now it’s one of my very favorite memories.  She has 2 baby girls now…. I cannot wait to buy them their 1st pairs!! ūüíē 

Then finally, without fail, someone will bring up my 2nd grade school picture.  Somehow that one still takes the cake.  Hey, I was only 8 years old!! Who allowed me to get that ugly perm anyway?! I’m actually laughing out loud as I think about it.  Cousins, our time together is always too short, but in those rare moments when we are all together, it’s impossible not to feel blessed, loved, supported and remembered.  Always remember… cousins are not just cousins.  We are built in best friends for life.

****

“Alek (7), if you let me have that, I’ll be your best friend…  Dilly (7), I’m already your cousin, so that means you’ll always be my best friend.”