Archive for April, 2010

November 14, 2003

// April 30th, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

As I opened my eyes this morning the first thing to go through my mind was…today would have been Steve’s 32nd birthday. I just puttered around during the morning getting ready for the family coming to dinner. Around ten, Jane called. A few minutes into our conversation she said, “Are you feeling ok? You sound sick.”
“Just blue. Today is Steve’s birthday.”
“How did I know to call you today? I just had a feeling that I had to right away.”
Her call was the perfect distraction and by the time we hung up I was feeling so much better. Each time I count my blessings Jane is near the top of the list!
Tonight we made Steve’s most requested menu for his birthday dinner. Year after year I would ask him what he wanted for his special day, even though I knew the answer before he declared it. “Enchiladas!” was his reply for at least fifteen of his birthday dinners! Marisa and Amy came early to help make dinner. The three of us set up an assembly line to make the main dish. It made the afternoon easier on two levels. I didn’t have to do all of the work myself and we had each other to help keep our minds occupied. It’s always fun to get together with my girls! Left alone I know I would have been very mopey and blue.

Nick dug out some old videos of one of their desert trips and brought them with him tonight. After dinner we put away leftovers and let the dishes hang out in the sink while we hung out in the living room and watched. Everyday reality seems to be suspended for them out in the desert. No job to rush off to. Meals out of cans. Defying the laws of physics ~ as they thread a Jeep through a narrow canyon or launch a quad off a sand dune hoping to fly.
A few times we laughed so hard we cried. In the desert Steve was truly in his element and was with the people that made his life complete. The desert was his favorite place in the world, second only to the Haasienda.
Nick knew just what we needed tonight. This way we were able to keep Steve in the picture, watching him doing what he loved with people he loved. It was a perfect end to an evening that could have been full of tears and sorrow but instead was full of love and laughter. A fitting way to remember Steve on his birthday!

October 4, 2003

// April 27th, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

A few days ago (or was it just yesterday? ~ time doesn’t seem the same anymore) I remembered something that has since been haunting me.

In his last six months Steve cried several times. I think he would get overwhelmed by fears of the unknown. Though he never said so, I think he intuitively knew he was dying, but the doctors led him to hope that he would soon overcome this “brief period of illness”. “Watch your diet, quit smoking, and exercise and you’ll get through this”. They told him this for six months. He didn’t quit smoking but he did watch his diet and he exercised as much as he could, considering his rapidly diminishing energy levels. He even joined a gym.
Every week or two he would go in to see one of his doctors and they would say the same thing.
“You just need to watch your diet and get some exercise.”
“I am watching my diet and I’m getting as much exercise as I can, but I keep feeling worse.”
“Well, you must not be watching your diet as closely as you could. Do better. Keep at it and you’ll see results soon.”
It was a no win situation. Because of his smoking they considered him a “non-compliant” patient, no matter how hard he tried to stick to all of the other rules.

Sometimes as his intuition would take over he would become utterly hopeless. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. I couldn’t understand any of this at the time.

What’s been haunting me is this ~ I remember one beautiful morning last spring he was sitting on the edge of the sofa across from me in the living room. I don’t remember what we were talking about but there came a lull in our conversation. He looked toward the floor and he slumped from his shoulders, head hanging low. He began to weep. I just sat there looking at him. I had the urge to run to him, embrace him. But I didn’t. I just sat there looking at the top of his head. I was in the room with him but he was so completely alone. I didn’t go to him to comfort him. I didn’t ask what the matter was. I remember feeling at a loss. I didn’t understand the depth of his angst. This was well before we knew he didn’t have much time left.

This memory seems to be eating me alive, filling me with the same feeling I had before Steve died…that monster gnawing at my insides again.

Oh, dear God, how I want to hold him again, tell him how much I love him, to stroke his cheek, gently fluff his hair with my fingers, and tell him “Mommy’s here. Everything will be alright.”
It has been ten weeks since I kissed his cold forehead and the waves continue to crash on me, on all of us.

From 2010 ~
It was hard writing this. I still feel deep remorse for my inaction that day, though it no longer threatens to consume me. I have had to forgive myself for this and other regrets. If I hadn’t, I couldn’t have gotten to this place of peace.
And I take great comfort in knowing that I will one day be able to grab Steve in a joyfull bear hug and never be sad again! WOW!

October 1, 2003

// April 23rd, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

Jane, my long time and closest friend, called to tell me that Jeff is coming home from Iraq. She was hesitant to share the news with me because of what happened to Steve.

We were both worried about our sons during the same time. Hers was in a foreign war; mine was in a personal war. My son lost his battle, but hers is coming home safe. She was afraid that her news would magnify my loss, but I am delighted! There’s no way my heart can feel anything but utter joy and relief to hear this wonderful news!

I admit ~ I was more worried for Jeff after Steve died. So often in the last twenty-five years events in our lives seem to have run parallel. It seems to go deeper than just because we are close friends with so much contact. Of course we share the same types of interests but sometimes we have similar problems at the same time ~ we are both sensitive to perfumes and other scents, both suffer from migraines, neither of us can eat dairy products without paying a price in our health (oh how I miss ice cream!). We have had two babies together (Nick and Jeff, then eight years later Janiece and Laura). Our kids would sometimes get sick at the same time, even if they hadn’t been together to catch the bug at the same place. I guess this is common for friends that have been together for so long. But after Steve died, I was so afraid that again we would be going through another trial together. I didn’t want Jane to feel this pain, to lose her son. Oh, how I have prayed for Jeff’s safety. I’ve kept my concerns to myself, though. Why worry her more than she already has been? Maybe the same idea has taken root in her, but I’ve been afraid to ask.

And now Jeff will be returning to his mom. My loss has no bearing on my feelings about Jeff’s homecoming. I cannot be jealous that my friend will soon be able to to throw her arms around her son again. To know for certain that he is safe. And I can’t even wish that the tables were turned. It just isn’t in me.
It is what it is ~ a time for great joy and celebration!

Godspeed, Jeff, and welcome home!

September 26, 2003 9:20 AM

// April 20th, 2010 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

This morning I took Robyn to her weekly Future Scientists and Engineers of America class at the home school office. Often when I drop her off for her various classes I either hang out with the other moms as we help in the class, or just catch up with each other, or I use the time alone to run errands. But today instead of staying or running all over town for the two hours Robyn would be in class I wanted to use this newfound energy I’ve had this week continuing to attend to some of the housework I’ve been letting go for so long.
On my way home, alone in my quiet car and waiting for a light to change, I was suddenly filled with an overwhelming rush of happiness. As I sat there, hands on the wheel and the cross traffic on San Marcos Blvd rushing past my windshield, the feeling kept growing inside me, filling every nook and cranny of my earthly being. I knew for the first time in months that I was happy. This wonderful feeling kept welling up from deep inside me, bubbling past my lips as a deep chuckle. I haven’t felt anything like this for so long. I’ve had moments of superficial happiness these past four to six months, but not like this swell of well-being that was rising up in me and infusing me with a warm glow.
But there was a delicate difference about this. I couldn’t name the feeling at first but then it came to me. This was bittersweet, and knowing that made me burst into tears. Here I was intensely happy, yet crying, but not crying because I was happy. These were no tears of joy. I was honestly happy and deeply sad at the same time, and each had its place.

It made me wonder ~ will all of my happiness be tinged with sorrow because Steve isn’t here to share in it?

September 23, 2003 10PM

// April 16th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

Yesterday I felt as though it was time to move on. It was almost a physical feeling, like the initial numbness of my grief is beginning to wear off. I felt a good, though temporary, sense of the burden of these past months lifting. I loaded up the CD player with some Jesse Cook and old Fleetwood Mac albums and started to putter around the house, tending to some long overdue tasks as I hummed along with the music. I got more done in one day than I have in a long time.
This morning after my bible study I was still feeling energized and ready to attack the new day. I turned on yesterday’s music and got to work again in the living room, singing along to Mystery to Me. As I was clearing off the end table to dust it I came to the stack of condolence cards that have been sitting by my chair since Steve died. I wondered where I could store them and decided to put them into one of his bedside table drawers. I picked up the stack of cards and started reading, weeping just a little. I am especially touched when I reread the ones people personally wrote in reminding me of a special memory they have of Steve.
Then I came to the card we made to pass out at his memorial. On the front is a close up picture of Steve leaning out the passenger window of a truck during one of many trips to Ocotillo Wells. Above the picture we printed “Don’t cry because it’s over…” and underneath “Smile because it happened!” I smiled a little as I ran my finger over the image of his face, then flipped it over to see two more pictures. One is of him in his ridding jersey out at the desert, scrunching up his face because of the sand in his beard. The other is one Nett took during a day trip just the two of them took to Los Coyotes. He is standing in front of their Jeep holding its tie rod that had bent into a wide “V” shape as they were four wheeling over some boulders. On his face is a stubborn expression, like he fully intends to bend it back into a straight line. Jeremy captioned this picture “I can fix it!!!” And Steve did fix it, just well enough to hobble all the way home.
Seeing these pictures of Steve in his prime, doing what he loved the most, made me cry harder than I have cried in weeks. This recovery business is quite a see-saw.

Once again I can hardly believe he’s gone, although it is getting easier to remember him healthy.
I miss him every day, every hour. Sometimes people tell me sympathetically, “Oh, he’ll always be with you in your heart”, but I’m not sure they understand. It’s almost a curse, torture. Those memories are there constantly, always hovering about my head carrying with them the heavy sense of absence, always reminding me there’s someone missing. Those memories are impossible to avoid. It seems that everywhere I look around our home, or around this town he grew up in, I bump into him with a sharp pain.

At the same time though, I am beginning to feel a sense peace carrying him in my heart.

~From 2010~
At the time this was originally written I did feel as though those memories were, in a way, torture. Every time I saw a picture of him (and I never removed any from the walls or photo albums) it was like a blow to the chest. I left them hanging but avoided looking at them. It just hurt too much!

It took awhile, but now I remember my son without crying. I smile when I look up and see his picture hanging with the rest of the family pictures. I can laugh when I remember his antics. I enjoy a good trip down memory lane.
I was told it would get better, and it did!

Peace be with you!
Debbie

I Can Fix It!

// April 16th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Uncategorized

 
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Let’s Ride!

// April 16th, 2010 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

 
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Current ~ Oops!

// April 16th, 2010 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Earlier today I learned a very good lesson ~ DON’T HIT PUBLISH UNLESS I’M READY TO PUBLISH! I was experimenting with posting pictures from my desktop onto the blog. Thinking I could just delete the post, I published it before I was finished so I could see how it was going to look. Yep, I was able to delete it from my blog but not until it went out to the Readers and RSS feeds.
Oh well. Tomorrow when I post it will look like a rerun, but it won’t be. And hopefully, I will be able to put some pictures up, too. We’ll see…..I’m still learning!
Thanks for your patience!

// April 15th, 2010 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Yesterday I felt as though it was time to move on. It was almost a physical feeling, like the initial numbness of my grief is beginning to wear off. I felt good, like some of the burden of these past months had been lifted. I put on a Jesse Cook album and was started to putter around the house tending to some long overdue tasks as I hummed along with the music.
This morning after my bible study, I got to work again in the living room. As I was clearing off the end table to dust it I came to the stack of condolence cards that have been sitting by my chair since Steve died.
I thought about where I could store them and decided to put them into in one of his bedside table drawers. I picked up the stack of cards and started going through them, weeping a little. I am especially touched when I reread the ones people personally wrote in; reminding me of a special memory they have of Steve. Then I saw the card we made to pass out at his memorial. On the front is a close up picture of Steve leaning out the passenger side of one of the trucks during one of the many trips to Ocotillo Wells. Above the picture we printed “Don’t cry because it’s over…” and underneath “Smile because it happened!”

 
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On the back are two more pictures, one of him in his red, white, and black ridding jersey, scrunching up his face because of the sand in his beard. The other one Nett took of him standing in front of his Jeep holding the tie rod he bent into a wide “V” shape when they were four wheeling over some boulders out at Glamis. On his face is a “He-Man” expression, like he fully intends to bend it back into a straight line. Jeremy captioned this picture “I can fix it!!!” Steve did fix it, just well enough to make the trip home from the desert.