Sunday, August 31, 2014

In one week

Exactly one week from yesterday it will be the 2 year mark.  Two entire years of living without my beloved Vienne.  Two entire years of grieving.  Two years of learning a new self.  Two years of raising an only child all over again.  Two years of confusion, highs & lows, many changes, growths and set backs.

But there have been joys too.  Life is not void of joys and mini triumphs.  I do not like this life of mine, but I am finally trying to somewhat thrive in it.  I still battle with bitterness and that is something I want to address this next year…but I have also found ways to start caring for myself.  Baby steps.

Before I face the yuck of next week and the reliving of that horrific day, I thought I would jot down some updates from the past few months:

-Mark started a new career back in March.  He is finally back in real estate….though now he landed an incredible position as a broker with a commercial real estate firm in Portland.  The first year, establishing yourself and building clientele, is always a challenge but he is appreciating it and growing quickly.  I am very proud of him.  And, so relieved to watch him do something that he enjoys.

-Ivy is amazing.  She is an angel, of course.  Dare I say (even without bias), she is just as incredible and enchanting as her sister.  I don't understand how it works and I don't know what I exactly believe about all that…but somehow in someway, she without a doubt carries her Sister's extraordinary spirit in her.  It is bitter-sweet. I would have it NO other way, of course.  But, I certainly see Vienne in Ivy every single day….from the way that Ivy dances….runs…makes her silly squeaky playful noises…throws her head back in laughter…is gentle and patient and kind…is sensitive and loving…has never been rude or unkind or aggressive with anyone ever…has NEVER been intentionally disobedient.  Her face looks different from Vienne's, but her little baby body is exactly exactly the same….long torso, short little legs, bowed in knobby knees, pudgy tiny little feet, itty bitty little bum….everything.  Her body is exactly the same.  This little girl keeps me alive.  Oh my, I could devour her with my love.  She brings me to tears just thinking about how much I love her….how proud I am of her.  I could rave and rave and rave about her.
   ~She says "Thank you" to everyone for everything.  That sounds simple and silly….until you experience it from this little 2 year old and then you see how remarkable it is.  "Thank you for making a nummy dinner, Grammy." …"Thank you for letting me play in your bedroom, Aunt Katy" …."Thank you" to the chiropractor for adjusting me, her mama …"Thank you" for opening the door for her … "Thank you for opening the paints, mama" …."Thank you for closing my seatbelt" ….etc.  I'm not even exaggerating.
   ~One of our favorite things she does is say "I meed a hug" (need).  She says this whenever things do not go her way.  Instead of throwing a fit or yelling or hitting or crying hard…she sadly requests a hug with big alligator tears, brimming at the edges of her sweet eyes.  Like when she wants to get down from the table and hasn't finished her dinner…we'll say "you can get down when you finish these 3 bites".  She wells up and says "I meed a hug".  We lean over and hug her and then she finishes her bites. And that goes with everything.  If I gently correct her in public, in front of someone, she will get extremely embarrassed and lean into me, hiding her face, and whisper "I meed a hug".  OH my gosh, doesn't it just tug at your heartstrings??  And it's not in the least bit manipulative (most times) - but it is truly sincerely from a saddened little heart.  We would never refuse those hugs.

(Ivy is on the left and Vienne is on the right - I put these side by side because of the clear similarities in their downward cast faces.)

(some of you already saw this on Facebook - but this was a precious moment I had to share again.  Ivy was watching videos of Sissy and came to this video of V reading a book…so Ivy immediately recognized the book and ran to her room to get it and read along.  The first time she could be read to by her big Sister.  It was an emotional moment for me.)

(just a picture of her being our joy….a constant joy)

(she has developed her own sense of style.  Purple is her favorite color and has to be worn almost everyday in some way)

(Just a glimpse at her sweet mellow nature.  When all is quiet in the house and Ivy is no where to be seen for the moment…she is NEVER making trouble…but is almost always surrounded by a pile of books, reading to herself….or cooking in her kitchen.)

(Ivy still loves her bed and does not like to leave it immediately upon waking.  She doesn't even cry when she wakes.  She quietly sits up and moves to the end of the bed and pulls her blankie up.  Thankfully, I know when she wakes and have a video monitor to make sure.  She will often request a snack in there and she is so clean and tidy that I can trust her with a snack in her bed!  When she was finished with this snack, she put her fork and spoon in the bowl and lined them up next to her cup at the edge of her bed in this orderly fashion.  I rarely worry about messes with her…for she will make a bigger deal out of them than I ever would!)

-As for me, I've been up to a few things…but then again, life is still pretty basic and simple and boring. I did start seeing a new therapist that I think I had mentioned a few months back.  I saw him 4 times….and quit.  OH man, I just don't think counseling is the thing for me right yet.  Besides not connecting with this guy, I just don't like the confines of a counseling scenario.  I hate that you are limited to 45 minutes to discuss what's one your mind.  I always feel a pressure to utilize my time as efficiently as I can, because I am also paying for this!  And, it's not cheap!  You spend that short 45 minutes pouring your heart out and then the time is up and you have to shovel and pack those emotions all back in and walk out the door and carry on with life.  I hate it.

-So, this fall I am finally going to join a Grief Share group instead.  I finally feel the need to be with others who can relate.  I need a setting that is not restricted.  And, I need to feel that I am NOT being fixed…but just being understood and loved.  It took me all this time to get to this place of feeling comfortable to join a group of other bereaved people…I, selfishly, have not wanted to burden myself with other people's sadness, for in my eyes my loss is the worst, of course.  That is normal.  But, now I feel ready - I see how appropriate it will be for me.

-Back in June (I think), I took some more tests for my health.  I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Disease (which means that my immune system has been attacking my thyroid), Adrenal Fatigue, IBS-C, and a strange condition called Chilblains on my feet (related to autoimmune diseases….look it up if you're curious).  Oh, and an allergy to the sun.  Yeah, not kidding.  Welts and hives on my chest after a few minutes in the sun (all related to the autoimmune disorder, which is Hashimoto's).  I was also officially diagnosed with PTSD by that therapist, before I left him.  So, this summer, I have been taking natural medications for all of those conditions (because I don't go mainstream with medicine if I don't have to) and…..finally have been feeling better!  Some energy has returned and my digestion has been getting much better…and the weird chilblains have mostly disappeared.

-Because of my pent up anger and anxiety, the therapist had suggested that I find a constructive way to release that negative energy.  I thought hard about this because I hate exercise and I am not athletic.  But, I knew I needed a healthy outlet.  So, you will be very surprised about what I have gotten myself into this summer.  I found a Groupon for a kickboxing class and decided to give it a shot.  Groupons are so great for trying new things out in an affordable way.  So, I showed up to this class to find out that it is not a typical "24 Hour Fitness-punch the air to music- Tai Bo kickboxing routine-class".  No.  This was an official martial arts studio and this was what is called Muay Thai Kickboxing and it's legit.  I stood there, with shaking knees, in a small small class of varied levels of skill, thinking "what the hell have I gotten myself into???"  Two months later now….you would not believe that I have officially signed up as a student of martial arts and have been addictively attending class a few times a week.  And, on top of that…..I am actually pretty good at it!  I keep getting incredible feedback from my instructor that he is so surprised by how quickly I've been picking things up.  It is hard and it is challenging and I eat tons of humble pie every time I am there…but surprisingly love it.  I even conquered a huge fear one time when I showed up to class and discovered that I was the only woman in the class of all experienced men - only 5 men.  I had to pair up with one of them and I even had to spar (meaning:  throw impromptu strikes/kicks and block the ones thrown at me)!!  And, I made it through.  It was crazy.  I wrap my wrists and I wear boxing gloves and I take it out on the heavy bags and thai pads…and I am feeling pretty bad ass!  ;)  It has been my big triumph this summer.  I am proud of myself.  I have found something unique and my own - something for myself that is empowering.  I have found a small community there, as well.  I am very glad that I took that huge step out of my comfort zone to discover this incredible opportunity for myself.  Obviously, it is my HUGE "distraction".

-As for my grieving heart - I've found a mostly consistent way to maintain myself at an "even keeled" level of emotion with the help of natural supplements and those distractions.  I get by in this life by finding constant distractions.  I've reached a point of recognizing that there is absolutely nothing I can do to change the "fate" of things - my daughter died.  It is horrific and I have to live with that truth.  And, there is nothing in this world that can change it or fix me or make that truth better.  I have to live with this.  I don't accept it but I have resigned to it.  I have spent most of the past 2 years fighting that..and the fight has done nothing for me but wear me down and make me sick.

I don't know what to think about as I approach next week.  We don't have plans.  We have decided to not do anything "special".  We do not want to be around people.  We want the day to just reflect and be sad.  We intentionally do not want to be distracted if that's how we feel.  So, we are not even doing a family dinner like we did last year.  We are letting Ivy stay over night with my parents (for the first time!  ah!) and Mark and I will just spend the day as we like it, together.  I had a hard time making the decision to let Ivy go on the day.  There was a small conviction that we should spend the day together as a family.  But, then I realized that that is what we do every saturday.  And, Ivy is our distraction.  She brings us constant joy.  I don't want to be distracted by joy on that day.  I want room for the sadness since I so intentionally avoid it all other days of the year.

September 6th is on a Saturday this year and I have progressively noticed how popular this date is for many events.  It's foolish, but I must admit that I have been frustrated by that…knowing that so many people will be having fun and celebrating something on this day that we will grieve.  There is a brewfest/tasting tour….the Warrior Dash….birthday parties…neighborhood parties etc.  I hope that most people who are close to us will, at least, take a moment to reflect and maybe even share with me a reflection.  I will need to know that she is not forgotten.

(Please never forget this Beauty of mine.  OH isn't she breathtaking????)

(age 3 1/2)

My Heart - she is a piece of my heart.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Heaviness all around

I don't come here very often anymore…actually, I pretty much avoid this blog lately.  Avoidance is my current key to survival.  Much can be read into that…but I prefer not to at this point.

Anyway, I still feel though…of course.  And this past week was one of heavier proportions.  So, I felt compelled to write it out, so that maybe some of the heaviness could be unloaded.

I have felt emotionally affected and burdened by all of the horror that seems to progressively multiply around us.  Doesn't it feel thicker and heavier and more abundant these days?  Like the horrible tragic things that happen in this world are hitting closer and closer to home?  Well, for me it's already hit "home"…so maybe I'm more aware of tragedy and doom.  I don't know.  Anyway, I just couldn't stop the tears this week….and for me, you know that is unusual.  I cried at least once every day this week….when I will usually go weeks or months without tears.  (I'm so weird).  

~The murder of the toddler and slashing of her teen sister by their mother, in the Cannon Beach hotel…..the town where my marriage was born….where Vienne was born and spent half her life….the hotel where we held our wedding reception.
~The missing mom in Newberg whose body was finally discovered and revealed evidence of suicide.  This one hit very close to me.  It really felt like a blow to my stomach.  I battle with icky thoughts of not wanting to live this life…..every.  single.  day.  And, then to actually watch a story of a local mom who followed through with those horrible haunting thoughts, most likely because her life was too hard….was very real to me.  (please know, I do not conjure up thoughts of my own suicide….I don't think about ending my life….I just think about how I don't want to live this life.  There is a difference.  I wouldn't be the one to take my life.  I couldn't.  But sometimes I surely wish it would end.)
~The missing little girl in Washington whose body was found this week.
~The genocide in Iraq….the beheading of the children….the fleeing of the Christians and their consequential starvation and deaths in the surrounding hills.  Horror.  Unimaginable horror….horror beyond what I have even known.  
~A friend's father whose fight with cancer is not looking good.
~Another friend's newborn baby Girl suffering from seizures and spending time in the hospital undergoing tests…when she should be home nursing and sleeping and acclimating to life outside of her mommy's tummy.

Enough already.  And this was all just in the past few weeks (that I found out about).

Then yesterday.  Yesterday, I knew I was emotional so sometimes when I'm in that place, I decide to just delve further into it, rather than try to run from it (since I spend most of my time in avoidance).  So, I decided it might be a good day to take Ivy to one of Vienne's favorite places (click this link to read further on that)….a place we have yet to return to since the summer that Vienne was last with us.  The Smith Berry Barn in Scholls.  We have so many memories of just going there to hang out in the grass and feed the goats…..pick berries…purchase local honey.  It is one place I have avoided….kept sacred, maybe.  So, I took Ivy there yesterday morning.  We picked blackberries and raspberries.  She's such a good little companion….patiently standing in the aisle, next to me, as I would hand her a few berries at a time.  She would inspect them for any red spots (on the blackberries).  As we were chatting and filling our bucket we heard a LOUD "BOOM-CRASH"….almost sounded like a gun went off.  Everyone in the field gasped and froze.  We were next to a side road.  A car accident had occurred….it looked like a head-on collision.  A man burst out of one vehicle and ran around and shouted at everyone in the field to call 911.  My eyes welled with tears as I reached for my phone with trembling fingers….and….I froze. I couldn't do it.  The last time I dialed 911 was for my Vienne.  It was a serious post traumatic stress moment.  Thankfully another man in the field had a phone and made the call.  Then suddenly a dog erupted from one of the vehicles and bolted down the road….straight to the busy traffic street up ahead.  We all, in the field, started screaming….screaming at the dog and then at the people to try and alert their attention.  That's when I lost it.  I stood there screaming and just seeing in my mind's eye, this dog running straight at an oncoming car and getting killed.  I just started crying.  It was too much.  All just too too much.

Thankfully, the dog veered from traffic…though it ran far down the road and I am not sure if he was found.  A fire truck and paramedics arrived.  Even though we spent the rest of the time distracting ourselves with the goats and chickens, our time there was overshadowed by this sad event….with the flashing lights of the trucks and loud blaring of the sirens.  What a way to return to a special memorable spot…..on this week of heaviness.  Of all things.  Of all times.

It's just been too heavy for me.  And, I needed to unload this.

Here are some photos of Ivy at the special farm that we love ~