Thursday, September 29, 2011

Before You Come To Any Conclusions, Try Walking In My Shoes

The title of this post was taken from the song Walking In My Shoes by Depeche Mode.

Shoes, I want to rant about them for a bit. They infuriate me. Actually, it's not just shoes in general, it's the shoes that my kids wear. I know that kids grow, and I can't expect one pair of shoes to last them forever. However, I remember as a kid getting one new pair of shoes before school started, and that pair of shoes lasted me until spring. I didn't have a ton of shoes, I had one pair of tennis shoes and a pair of shoes for church. My kids are kind of the same way. They don't own a whole lot of shoes. I tend to by Sketchers for myself, and I've bought all different brands of shoes for the kids. We've tried Nike, New Balance, Fila, Sketchers, and even just Walmart brand shoes. Most of the time within a month their shoes tend to look like this 

Seriously look at this! His shoe was talking to him! I bought Mason these not even a month ago, and I had to buy him new ones yesterday morning before I could go to school. That's not all though. The shoes he had before this were sketchers and they lasted two months. The ones before that were Nike and they lasted about two months. I've tried name brand, and off brand and nothing holds up against my kids. The thing is it's not just Mason. It happens with Sebastian and Tyler as well. I'm tired of buying shoes that just don't last. Where did the quality go? Or maybe it really is just my kids. Whichever way it is, I know that by Halloween he will need a new pair of shoes. 
     What makes it even worse is that the little things like this are once again all me. At ten the night before I remembered that while I was at the store that day I had forgotten to get his shoes. I couldn't ask someone to run out and get them for me. I had to plan to leave the house twenty minutes earlier, with two kids in tow, so that I could stop by the store for new shoes. I couldn't let his shoes talk to him all day long, and get him in trouble :) Then I'm really hard on myself. If I'd have bought the stupid shoes while I was already there, it wouldn't have changed my morning, but I'm going to put the blame on the shoes. If they had lasted more than a month I wouldn't be buying new ones anyway! This is a totally useless rant, but my rant.  Something more positive in the future I promise. I have a great afternoon planned for Sebastian and Tyler so I'll post details later.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In The Arms Of An Angel, Fly Away From Here

The title of this post was taken from the song Angel by Sarah McLachlan.
     Hug. A simple three letter word, a CVC word at that. It's a basic word that everyone understands. It can stand alone and still have such a powerful message. Hug? Hug! You can use it in a sentence and make it a statement or a question. Can I have a hug? Give me a hug. We hug our children, wrapping our arms tightly around their small little bodies, and they hug us back. Their little arms stretching around us. We hug people in times of celebration and times of trial. We hug to show support, or when there just aren't any words. Sometimes words aren't even needed. We can simply open our arms, and that's a universal sign for hug me. We even hug through text (((((Mel))))). 
     I like to hug those close to me. I hug my kids all the time. I hug my mom, dad, sister and brothers every time I see them. What I miss more than anything in the whole world is having Mike here to engulf me in his arms. I know it's never going to happen again, and it leaves me feeling so very alone. I've had a lot of people tell me that I should start dating. Nope, I can't even imagine that at this moment. I mean can you imagine me trying to date right now. I can picture it. "Ummm...can we stop by the cemetery after dinner so I can visit my husbands grave?" or "Hey, I'm ready for our date, but can we make a quick stop by the funeral home so that I can submit my final decisions for my husbands headstone." I'm such a mess. I guess my whole point in all of this is that I miss being hugged. This statement does not give everyone I know permission to hug me, that would be a little weird. 
     My last rant for this post and then I'm done. Facebook, is annoying me. If I change my relationship status to widowed then it will erase my relationship with Mike, but we would still be friends. If I memorialize his page then it clears all of his status updates, personal information and anything else. It would allow people to still post on his wall, but there would be no access, via password, to his account. I have already backed up all of his FB stuff so I have all the posts and pictures he ever made, but I'm still not sure that is the route I want to go. There is no rush to change my FB relationship status either, it's just one more thing that sooner or later I'm going to have to deal with, and I've always been one to jump into a problem feet first. This usually means I sink right to the bottom and need help getting myself out of a mess, but nonetheless. Stupid FB.

Friday, September 23, 2011

You Saw The Beauty In Everything, Everything And Me

The title of this post was taken from the song Sweet Misery by Michelle Branch. 
Conversation between Mason and I this morning. I had just got done blow drying my hair.

Mason, do you like my hair (it was totally messy)
Yea, but...
But what? 
Well, it's in your eyes.
So, it looks okay?
Well, it's hiding your pretty brown eyes.
Why do you say that?
That's what daddy used to tell you.

     I left for work in tears, but pulled it together and had a good morning. My head felt like it was in a fog, but it was going okay, until Tyler's music teacher brought her to my classroom. During chorus they were singing a song about peace, and Tyler just started crying. She sat on my lap in my room and just cried her heart out. She said that song reminded her of her dad. This of course made me cry, because I hate seeing her in so much pain. She finally got herself together and I walked her back to class. I of course was not okay. I continued to cry. Bless my coworkers. They hugged me, came to check on me, and sat and talked with me. It's nice to know that I have people there I can count on, not only for me, but for my kids. 
     I'm anticipating a peaceful evening at home. I'm fixing dinner, and the house if fairly clean. Maybe once the kids go to bed I can have some time for me. That's something I miss a lot, me time. I don't get it often, and when I do need a sitter it's for things like meetings, or doctor appointments or something like that. I don't get much time for myself. I feel guilty if I'm away from my kids for to long. I am going to a conference for work, and will leave Monday morning and come back Tuesday afternoon. While I will be with friends, I know I'll miss my kids, it's a catch 22. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

It's Coming Down To Nothing More Than Apathy

     The title of this post was taken from the song Over My Head by The Fray.

     At 5:05 am Friday morning Fall will officially be here. I love fall. My house has been a little chilly in the mornings, anything below 70 is chilly to me. So the last few days when my alarm goes off at 4:30 or 5:00 it has been 68 degrees in my house. That's just cool enough for me to hit the snooze button a few times, and curl up under my favorite red blanket. I find myself making excuses not to get up. I snuggle in deeper, curling my toes around the edge of the blanket so that every part of me is covered. It's as if I think this is going to ward off the inevitable. I know that I'll have to get up. I know that I'll have things to do. I know that the kids will need up in a few. I won't have much time left, but my blankets will feel oh so good. It's a little sad that I'm already anticipating this for in the morning. While I'm still not sleeping very well, I love to snuggle up in my blanket on a cold morning. 
    On another note I feel like my plate is so full I just can't keep up with everything. Something is going to have to give, and I hope that when it does I'll know I've made the right decisions for my family. I don't know what I want to do with my life anymore. I used to have a path, a plan, I knew where I was going and what I wanted. Now I feel like I have no answers. Maybe I'll find my answers tomorrow. Until then I'm going to enjoy the peace and quiet, while snuggled under my red blanket, and praying for sleep to come.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Through Despair And Hope Through Faith And Love

The title of this post was taken from the song Circle of Life from The Lion King Movie.

I took the kids to see The Lion King in 3D this weekend. It's one of my all time favorite movies, and this has always been my favorite part of the movie. I will admit I cried. This time I think it hit me in a more spiritual way, and it left me wondering about my own faith in who I am. I don't blame God for taking Mike away from us. I do occasionally yell and scream, and maybe for short periods of time I ask why he had to take him from us, but for the most part that isn't a question I ask. Why blame God, I mean he's God. I do however blame myself sometimes with all the what if questions. I'm human so I guess I believe that it could be my fault even though logically I know it's not. Anyway, I love this part of the movie.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Can't Move The Mountains For You

   The title of this post was taken from the song Timshel by Mumford and Sons. Seriously if you've never heard them you should check them out. Their all I've listened to for the past week or so.

    We had a special education family night for our district on Monday. I won't go into all of the details, but it's a project that our I'm Determined team believes so strongly in. I was made the chairperson of Family Night, and I took it on gladly because it was so important to me. That was last fall. After Mike passed, the team picked up my slack and really carried me through the rest of the planning, and made it all happen. As we wrapped it up on Monday night, I walked out of the building with two wonderful friends and coworkers, I heart you Lee Ann and Susan. We parted ways to go to our vehicles. As I walked away I turned to watch them. They were going home to their husbands. They had someone to share their night with. I slowly walked on, the tears came and I surrendered to them. I ran the rest of the way to my car, threw open the door and sobbed. Heaving waves of grief overcame me. I know that I have my family, friends and co-workers, but it's just not the same. It's not the same as being able to share with Mike. It's not the same as hearing him say he's proud of me or that he knew I'd do well. It's not the same as having him wrap his arms around me and tell me that I'm amazing. I forced myself to dry my tears before I reached home. I didn't need to upset my mom or the kids. 
      As I sit and write this I'm once again overwhelmed. I feel like in the span of a few days I've taken twelve steps backwards. I feel like I'm right back where I was in the days right after he passed. How do I ever move forward with my life? I just want someone to tell me it will be okay. I'm so tired of doing this alone. I'm so tired of watching the clock hit midnight only to realize that I'm still alone. There is no fairy god mother coming to grant my wishes. Happiness is not a tear drop away. No one is coming to turn my pumpkin into a chariot, and me into a princess. No happy ending. No happily ever after. Instead I am left to pick up the pieces of this broken life. The problem is that someone stole some of the pieces so the puzzle of my life will never look the same. I know this doesn't mean my new life can't be beautiful. It's just that right now the pieces are so jagged and sharp, I'm hurting myself as I pick them up. People keep telling me that I'm young, and I'll make it. I just feel old. It's completely irrational, but I often think that because my love wasn't enough to keep Mike here with me, I'll never deserve to be loved again.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Can See Widows And Orphans Through My Tears

    The title of this post was taken from the song The Cave by Mumford and Sons.

     September 11, 2001 began as a normal day for me. I spent that morning at home with Sebastian, and I was pregnant with Tyler. Mike was working 7-3 and I worked 3-11. We didn't have cable TV or satellite so I had no idea of the tragic events that had taken place that morning, until my brother called me around 12:30pm. I thought he was joking, but I turned on the radio and listened in horror. I remember our little family praying for those who had lost loved ones, and for our country as a whole. Fast forward ten years. I listened to interviews from some of the widows and widowers from that day, and they all spoke of how their lives were viciously changed, and how the life they were living now was not one they had planned for. Where will my own life be ten years from now?
     I'm posting today, and probably won't post again until next weekend. I have a crazy busy week coming up and I'm struggling to find balance in my life right now. However, I did have a few thoughts that I wanted to share. I found several magnets at Barnes and Noble a month or two ago, and I've had them hanging on my fridge ever since. The first one is a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke.

"I beg you... to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer."   

What an amazing quote! I want answers to my questions now, especially the why questions. I often don't think about the fact that I may not be ready for them, or maybe I have an answer, but I'm so focused on a "big" moment that I miss the subtle answers I'm given. The next quote is by D.M. Dellinger
"You are unrepeatable.
There is a magic about you that is all your own..."
This sounds like the kind of things I told Mike all the time. He was always so hard on himself, and didn't believe in himself the way I did. Of course he would then get mad at me, because I'm just as hard on myself. I miss having him here to tell me these kinds of things, even if I didn't believe them myself. I've always been shy and unsure of who I am. It's just how I feel. 
     A dear friend and coworker let me borrow several books on grief. I've only read one of them so far, but I've read it ten times. It's actually a workbook from a conference he attended entitled "What Color is Dead? How to Talk with kids about Death." The author is Darcie D. Sims. Here are some of the big things I picked up. 
"Children are not rubber balls! They do understand loss on their own levels of developmental processing and are capable of intense emotions, even if they do not express such emotions. Children do not hurt any less simply because the surface area for experiencing pain is slightly less than that of an adult."
"Funerals are the bridge between good-bye and hello. Good-bye to what used to be and hello to what is now."

"Understand that children and young people will continue to deal with the losses/changes they experience as they grow and mature. They will NOT GET OVER IT, but they can learn to GROW THROUGH the grief and discover that LOVE NEVER GOES AWAY."
"We DO NOT LOSE people. They DIE, BUT THE LOVE WE SHARED WITH THEM CAN NEVER BE DESTROYED. They are a THREAD IN OUR FABRIC, an ongoing influence in our life. We choose how that influence will be addressed, but we will continue to have a relationship with everyone who has made any kind of impact on our life. It is neither "pathological" nor inappropriate for any one to think, speak or relate to someone who has died or left us in any manner." 
I love this book! Thanks Jim, I'll read the other one soon and get them back to you! Last but not least, the 14th marks the fifth month since Mike passed away. I try really hard not to focus on the day, or to make it a big deal. I want to focus on his life and not his death. It's harder than it seems, and while I don't emphasize it to the kids, it's always on my mind. We do talk about Mike often. Tyler asks all the time if we can just sit and talk about him, and we do. So, while I've posted this on FB I hadn't posted it here. This is a copy of what I said at Mike's funeral.
"I feel the need to share some thoughts and funny moments to help me remember this day as not one of just mourning, but a time to remember all the good.

Mike's favorite job was not working at Westvaco, although he loved the people he worked with. His favorite job was being a dad. He loved his children more than anything else in the whole world. He was the kind of dad who loved being there for every part of their lives. He often changed more diapers than I did...however that might have been because he didn't have a sense of smell.  He loved watching his children in everything they did and especially in their different sports. He would practice soccer with Sebastian and cheer him on at games. For Tyler's gymnastics he might have been the only dad to know what a kip or a back hip circle was. He sewed costumes, did most of the Christmas shopping, and made sure all their video game needs were taken care of. Then he would enjoy the video games just as much as they did. He shared his love of music with them and it's evident by the Metallica sticker that Sebastian wanted on his laptop. Mason can often be found bobbing his head to the songs Mike played most often.

He was a fan of everything Star Wars and now even Sebastian knows more about it than I do. Mike was an artist that enjoyed sharing his gift when he knew it would make someone smile. He wouldn't take many requests from other people, but he would always take the time to create whatever I asked of him.

Mike and I have been together for almost 15 years. To say that Mike and I had our quirks would be an understatement. Mike always hung up his car keys, and I always lost mine. One day as I frantically searched the house for my keys Mike stood back and laughed until finally I realized they were hanging from the ceiling. I often told Mike I could dodge the raindrops and he understood my fear of mayonnaise. Likewise, I knew all of his favorite bands and supported his need to collect everything Star Wars, or Nine Inch nails related. He lived through his music and I often knew how he felt based on the music that he chose to play, and he knew the same about me.

He loved me for me and I'm not sure anyone else could do that. No one else would have taken me to a They Might Be Giants concert because it was my favorite band. No one else would have known every word to every song, and later admit that they had a good time.

I watched Mike grow from a handsome young man with hair longer than mine, into an incredible husband and dad with a receding hair line. That's okay because he often pointed out any gray hair I had.

Mike had a great love for his mom, dad, sister, brother and extended family. He often commented that he hated how busy life was, because he didn't get to see them enough. However, I hope it comforts you to know that you all were often the topic of conversation in our home. He loved you even if he didn't get to tell you enough.

I keep telling people I'm just not sure how we are going to function and move on without him. How do we pick up the pieces? However, there have been times when I can almost hear Mike whispering in my ear a favorite quote, as if he's trying to comfort me. As we grieve the loss of this amazing man, and wonder how we are going to make it, he would simply quote Yoda and say "Do or do not...there is no try."

Friday, September 9, 2011

They See Me Mowin' My Front Lawn

     The title of this post was taken from the song White and Nerdy by Weird Al Yankovic.

 Fair warning, this is a hodgepodge of words that seem to make some kind of sense, but may not flow effectively.
      I'm a horrible neighbor. I'll admit it. See, I came home from work today tired. I get that it was a short week due to Labor Day, but I worked hard this week. Anyway, I came home and fixed dinner for the kids. I cleaned house, and worked on laundry. Finally around 7:30 I sat down on the couch, thinking about our schedule for tomorrow. Sebastian has a soccer game in the morning and he has to be there at 11. I usually mow the lawn on Saturday mornings. Here is where the bad neighbor part comes in. I usually start mowing around 7am. Mandaly says that's way to early to be mowing, but whatever I just want to get it done. This has been my Saturday morning routine since about May. There have been some exceptions, but usually I try to mow on Saturday. This also means that I usually don't get to sleep in, of course it really doesn't matter because I don't sleep much anyway. I'd just like the option to sleep in. So, as I'm sitting on the couch and thinking about the lawn I decided that maybe I should just mow it tonight instead of waiting to do it in the morning. It sounded like a good idea. Who cared that it was getting dark, and by the time I finished the back yard I could hardly see. I smiled at the neighbor who gave me weird looks for mowing so late, at least it was getting done right? Night mowing, who would have thought it would be fun, and it will be a surprise in the morning when I find out what my yard really looks like. My mower did start to make funny sounds as I was finishing up, and so I guess I'll have my dad look at it.

Melanie, when was the last time the mower was serviced.
Ummmm....four years past never. I don't know how to service it.
Well you really need to service it before you put it away for winter, and then check it out before you use it next year.
Hey dad? Can I pay you to service it?
How about I teach you how to do it?
Okay fine.

I'm guessing this is how the conversation will go. He does his best to make me even more independent than I already am, and I love him for it. He fixed my weed eater last week. Of course I have no idea how to use the weed eater so I had no idea it wasn't working. I just don't get the concept of weed eating. Call me stupid if you want, but the whole string thing, and the tapping to release more string, I don't like it. Furthermore I'm accident prone, and I can see me now trying to use the weed eater and my shins getting in the way. Then I'd have to call nurse Mandaly, and I'm sure blood would be involved, and we're all to busy for this kind of drama. Do you like how I totally rationalized the fact I don't want to learn to use the weed eater? Good times. However, dad has promised to teach me, and so I shall learn...maybe next week.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Maybe I'm In The Gap Between The Two Trapezes

     The title of this post was taken from the song Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall by Coldplay.

     Memories so faint they float in the folds of my sub-conscience, they surface when something ignites their return. Those moments often come unannounced, the memories wash over me bringing a flood of emotions. Moments that I didn't even realize existed, memories that I wasn't even aware of, give me pause. 
     Often times these moments are triggered by my sense of smell. A faint scent is enough to take me places I could never physically go again. I can't time travel. The smell of peach candles takes me back to when I was a teenager, sitting in my room on my rug, making shapes with the wax. Certain perfumes remind me of when I dated Mike. The faint smell of the smoke from a Camel cigarette on a warm summers night, reminds me of our many conversations sitting on the front porch. Yesterday I walked into Game Stop. Mike usually took the kids there to pick out games. The smell of the store stopped me in my tracks. Images of Mike and I walking through that store during the holidays hit me. I could see us walking hand in hand as we tried to decide what to buy the kids. I didn't even know that memory existed, and yet there it was. The memory was so real, so consuming, that I could almost feel him next to me. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

When Tough Little Boys Grow Up To Be Dads, They Turn Into Big Babies Again

    The title of this post was taken from the song Tough Little Boys by Gary Allan.

      I've always liked my father in law, Johnny. However, life gets busy and we didn't always see him as much as we should have. Months often passed before we would head up the creek to visit. He lives about 20 minutes out in the country and it's commonly just called the creek. Anyway, right after Mike passed away Johnny stopped by the house several weeks in a row, and I took the kids to see him. When summer came along we took all those trips, and we didn't see him for about two months. About a month ago while I was at the cemetery Johnny pulled in. We talked for a bit, and I promised to bring the kids up.
     Johnny is a country boy, and I mean absolutely no disrespect with that comment. He lives in the country, raises chickens and rabbits, and has a lot of cats and dogs. He is tan from hours upon hours of working outside. I chuckle when I'm up there because, everyone knows everyone else, and anyone who drives past his house beeps their horn and waves. There is an apple tree in the yard, and tons of apples on the ground. The kids love taking a stick, putting an apple on the end, and then throwing it as far as they can. They could do that for hours, and Johnny just laughs as they do. Sebastian helps mow the lawn, and loves being on the riding lawn mower. Tyler plays with the rabbits, and Johnny has promised to build her a nice cage so that she can have her own rabbit at home. I'm grateful for this relationship with him. I'm sad that it took Mike's death for he and I to get closer, but I'm grateful all the same.
     He harped on me for two weeks to get new tires, it was his way of worrying about us. He keeps my fridge stocked with eggs and sausage. He offered a hogs heart, YUCK, Mike would have taken it, me...not so much :). He always asks when we are coming up again, and if we are even five minutes late he calls the house to see where we are. I look at him and can picture what Mike would have looked like as an older man. They had a lot of the same mannerisms. I've learned a lot about who he is, and I love the relationship my kids have with him. 
     Let's be honest though, I'm incredibly grateful for all of our family members on both sides, especially the male role models. The kids get to see Uncle Scott and Aunt Marie in the morning, and you would have thought tonight was Christmas Eve. They couldn't sleep. They hang the moon on what their Uncle Mikie says, and they secretly think he's the master of the grilling out. Uncle Michael is patient and kind, and is always up for playing with them. Uncle Matthew is the cool traveling uncle who brings them cool stuff from far away magical places, like Texas. Seriously Matthew, those Jelly Beans were gross! To both grandpas, we love you. Thank you to all the people who are filling roles that I can not. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

With The Cataclysm Raining Down, Insides Crying Save Me Now

     The title of this post was taken from the song Iridescent by Linkin Park.

     Locks, they serve a lot of different purposes. They are meant to keep things out, or to keep something in. They can make you feel safe from the outside world, or they can keep you locked inside your own personal hell. Locking my door as I walk out in the morning is an automatic response. A flick of the wrist and the lock is set. I shut the door and without a key, getting back in is difficult.  Last week I came home from work to realize that something wasn't quite right.  The key didn't slide smoothly into the lock. I twisted, turned, pushed, pulled, and yelled at the key, but it was jammed. Panic set in. I mean my life is busy, I didn't have time for this. One last try and all of the sudden the key went in and I was able to get in the house. I don't know what happened to the lock, but it continued to be stubborn. I once again called my dad for help. I need my locks replaced, and while we were at it I asked if we could change the one on the front door. Mike and I never had a key for that one. Twelve years we've lived in this house, and we never had a key to the front door. My dad went to Lowe's that night and picked up what I needed. Today he came over and changed the locks on the back door. After he left I found myself standing in front of the door just staring at the locks, tears rolling down my cheeks. I looked over at Mike's keys still hanging on the hook where he left them. His key would no longer fit the back door. He wouldn't have the right key on his ring.  I know he's not coming back. I know he doesn't need his keys. I know that it shouldn't matter, but it does. It's just one more thing that has changed in my life, one more thing that he won't be apart of. It's one more decision I've had to make without him. It's one more small change that makes the house just a little more different than it was before. Him being gone is a big enough change.
     On the flip side of this depressing post, there have been some changes that make me smile and keep his memory alive, like our new trashcan. You might be wondering why my new trashcan reminds me of him, let me explain. See I bought one of those trashcans with a sensor in it, so you just move your hand in front of it and it opens. The kids love running into the kitchen, throwing their hands out in front of them, and pretending they are Jedi Masters using The Force to make the trashcan open. They crack up every single time, and it always leads to a discussion about how much their father loved Star Wars. Mike would have loved this trashcan, and he would have pretended to use The Force on it as well.