Archive for April, 2010

September 17, 2003

// April 13th, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

I can’t believe how much I’ve been eating lately. Seems I am always eating and when I’m not eating I am thinking about food. In the last seven weeks I’ve gained more than ten pounds.

Tonight I was sitting on the sofa watching “Conspiracy Theory” and Cheerios started dancing through my mind. I had only finished dinner two hours ago. I knew I wasn’t hungry, but the pull toward the kitchen was so strong. Mmmm. Cheerios, soy milk, and one of those perfectly ripe bananas from the fruit bowl sliced over the top. But as my bare toes made contact with the carpet, it hit me ~ I am not hungry. I am empty. It is the gaping hole left in my heart by Steve’s absence that I am trying to fill. I eased myself back into a sitting position and gave this some thought. This emptiness can’t be filled. Not with food. Not with anything I can work up in the here and now. This hole in my heart can only be filled, I am told, by time, with patience, and with God’s love.

I didn’t have the snack tonight and I pray that God will hold this thought in my mind and help redirect me whenever the kitchen calls.

September 13, 2003

// April 9th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // Uncategorized

Janiece, Robyn, and I went to a friend’s back to school party tonight. It’s so great to see my girls get out with their friends and put their sadness aside for a few hours. I had to smile as I watched them stomping up the stairs with a gaggle of girls, laughing and without a care in the world.

I saw so many friendly faces that I haven’t seen since last June. As I chatted amiably with a group one of the moms smiled warmly and asked me, “How’s your family?” It was an honest question from a very sweet woman and deserved an honest response. I paused a moment pondering the best way to answer… We are shattered but mending, numb yet resilient, supporting each other as we grope in the dark …all came to mind but, “Smaller” was the simple, true answer I gave her. I honestly thought she had heard about Steve. News usually travels fast in a group like ours. But the utterly perplexed look on her face told me that she didn’t understand.
Tracy was standing by my side and I turned to make eye contact with her as an anchor to hold me in place as I briefly explained what I meant. It’s amazing how fast the three little words “my son died” can change a person’s countenance. As soon as my words registered her expression fell into “the face”.

I know that people are saddened to hear of another’s loss and I don’t begrudge them their honest feelings. But “the face” changes the whole tone of an encounter. Sometimes I just want to be separate from the constant grief. I want to enjoy a moment, move on in the conversation. But when people hear my news, so often they get stuck on it and can’t seem to move forward. Like moving forward will shatter me. But it doesn’t. Being stuck shatters me. Looking into “the face” holds me in place. I find that I have to be the strong one. The one to push ahead and past the news.

I mean, I don’t want to be faced with a stone mask, either, but… Oh bother! I don’t know what I want. I just know I don’t want “the face”!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hello from 2010!
Rereading this reminds me of how I felt each time someone would see me and automatically their expression would change from “Happy to see you” to “Oh my gosh, you poor thing”. It seemed like from now on I would be equated with this grief. But time has passed and I am again greeted with friendly smiles.
Not long after this party I met up with a friend who had suffered a recent loss. I was shocked at myself as I felt my facial muscles start to mold themselves into “the face”. I realized what I was doing and softened my expression and asked her “How are you doing? I know this is a tough time.” I don’t know if that was the right thing to do. I’m only going on how I felt once upon a time.

My friend, Morgan lost her husband suddenly last year. He was only 44 years old. As we were talking a few months later, she said, “People tell me ~ ‘Call me if you need anything’. Does that mean only call them if I need something? What if I just want to have a friendly conversation?”
When we are in the thick of the early days of grieving, we don’t even know what we need, let alone have the gumption to call someone. It’s so much easier when someone will say, for instance, “I’m bringing dinner on Tuesday” or “Can the kids come over to hang out with us for a few hours?” or “Do you mind if I call just to chat?” Concrete offers are like life savers tossed to someone who feels like they are drowning in roiling waters.

And grief isn’t over in a few weeks or months. It can take more than a year for a person to begin to get into their “new normal” life. Keep calling. Keep inviting. Don’t give up on them.

OK. Thanks for putting up with my ramblings today!

September 13, 2003

// April 8th, 2010 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

Janiece, Robyn, and I went to a friend’s back to school party tonight. It’s so great to see my girls get out with their friends and put their sadness aside for a few hours. I had to smile as I watched them stomping up the stairs with a gaggle of girls, laughing and without a care in the world.

I saw so many friendly faces that I haven’t seen since last June. As I chatted amiably with a group one of the moms smiled warmly and asked me, “How’s your family?” It was an honest question from a very sweet woman and deserved an honest response. I paused a moment pondering the best way to answer… We are shattered but mending, numb yet resilient, supporting each other as we grope in the dark …all came to mind but, “Smaller” was the simple, true answer I gave her. I honestly thought she had heard about Steve. News usually travels fast in a group like ours. But the utterly perplexed look on her face told me that she didn’t understand.
Tracy was standing by my side and I turned to make eye contact with her as an anchor to hold me in place as I briefly explained what I meant. It’s amazing how fast the three little words “my son died” can change a person’s countenance. As soon as my words registered her expression fell into “the face”.

I know that people are saddened to hear of another’s loss and I don’t begrudge them their honest feelings. But “the face” changes the whole tone of an encounter. Sometimes I just want to be separate from the constant grief. I want to enjoy a moment, move on in the conversation. But when people hear my news, so often they get stuck on it and can’t seem to move forward. Like moving forward will shatter me. But it doesn’t. Being stuck shatters me. Looking into “the face” holds me in place. I find that I have to be the strong one. The one to push ahead and past the news.

I mean, I don’t want to be faced with a stone mask, either, but… Oh bother! I don’t know what I want. I just know I don’t want “the face”!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hello from 2010!
Rereading this reminds me of how I felt each time someone would see me and automatically their expression would change from “Happy to see you” to “Oh my gosh, you poor thing”. It seemed like from now on I would be equated with this grief. But time has passed and I am again greeted with friendly smiles.
Not long after this I met up with a friend who had suffered a recent loss. I was shocked at myself as I felt my facial muscles start to mold themselves into “the face”. I realized what I was doing and softened my expression. I don’t know if that is the right thing to do. I’m only going on how I felt

September 9, 2003 11:16 PM

// April 6th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

Today would have been Steve and Annette’s fourth wedding anniversary. I didn’t even think about it as I started my day and headed out to run errands. For hours I was blissfully unaware of the date and its significance. One of my errands involved meeting Marisa at work so that she could place a fax for me. I was so chipper as we sat at her desk and chatted. The paper I was faxing needed to be signed and dated. I looked up at her and said, “What is today’s date, anyway?” Marisa let out a heavy sign and said, “Nine, nine.” For a moment I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that I had forgotten.

When Nett realized that 9-9-99 was coming up she thought that would be a great anniversary date. We made plans and piled into the Justice of the Peace Office that day for a simple wedding ceremony. It was a Thursday so not everyone in the family could be there but we seemed to fill up the small room anyway. Janiece, Robyn, and I were there. Nett’s mom came down from Murietta bringing champagne and a tiny jump suit that looked like a tuxedo for one month old Christopher. There weren’t very many wedding tears; we were having too much fun! I was laughing at Steve as he stood there in his best shirt and tie with a pair of jeans. He was so nonchalant, so Steve…going with the flow. The time was right and he wanted Nett to have her memorable wedding date. The day couldn’t have been more perfect…the beautiful autumn weather, the smiles and laughter, the joy that we shared.

I called Nett tonight to tell her I was thinking of her today. Although she was well aware of the date all day today she was so busy at work that she didn’t have time to let it get her down. By the time she and Chris got home they were ready to fall into bed. My call preempted that but she seemed happy to spend some long distance time with me.
As we talked she told me of a dream she had recently. She and Grandma Noni (my mom) were standing at one end of a busy street and they saw Steve was at the other end, facing them. They all started walking toward each other through heavy traffic. Steve wasn’t at all worried about the cars on the road. Grandma Noni went a little ahead of Nett and as she met up with Steve she walked right through him and Nett didn’t see her again. She told me that in the dream she talked to Steve for what seemed like an hour. During their conversation she kept telling him how pearly white his teeth were. He was always so concerned about his teeth and truly enjoyed brushing them! Steve seemed very happy to be where he was.

Now Nett is worried about my mom. Mom’s health seems to be declining. I just don’t want my her to suffer or have a long hospitalization. And I don’t want her to be afraid.

September 8, 2003

// April 2nd, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

I know it’s early but I’ve been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving lately, as I am prone to do as autumn approaches. We’re having it here at the Haasienda this year, even though it’s Paula and Bob’s turn. Given the circumstances, my sister and her husband don’t mind giving up hosting.

I usually spend months looking forward Thanksgiving; thinking of the menu, the jobs that need to be done before, during, and after the meal, who’s bringing what. There are activities to plan to keep the little ones (and not so little ones) from getting bored while the women prepare the meal. Mom, Paula, Janet, and I used to spend hours on the phone making plans in the month and a half that led up to Thanksgiving. I really don’t know why. It’s a day driven by tradition. The plans have been pretty much set for decades. Year after year there is very little variation in the menu, and we each have our specialties that we bring. I guess the planning is as much a part of the tradition as the cooking and the day itself.

As I sit making plans, I keep thinking of people to invite, besides the thirty of us in our immediate family. First I thought about inviting Mom’s brother Carl and his whole family and from ther there list kept growing. After writing down nearly forty additional names on my sheet of paper I realized… I’m trying to fill the house up with people so the gap caused by Steve’s absence won’t be so obvious. But I know that no matter how many people fill the house, the hole will still be here, especially on Thanksgiving, my favorite day of the year. So we’ll just keep it to the usual family and a few friends.

I spent a few hours watching family videos last night looking for Steve. I wanted to see him healthy. Whenever I randomly think of him the first picture that pops into my head is that of him just after he died ~ close cropped hair, ancient face and emaciated body, lying still under a blue sheet. I want to be able to have a healthy-looking Steve pop into my mind’s eye so I’m searching him out. There are very few videos of him because he was so camera shy. Whenever he noticed the camera was on him he would literally tiptoe out of the shot. But last night I found the quintessential Steve. It was shot the day Nicholas was born. Steve, Jae, Robyn, and I were in the maternity waiting room with Lori’s parents. We were waiting for Lori’s sister Linda to bring news from the delivery room where she was with Lori during her C-section. We didn’t know yet that there were serious problems for Lori and Steve’s new son. As we were sitting enjoying each other’s company Nicholas was being rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where a team of doctors and nurses were fighting to stabilize him enough to Life Flight him to Children’s Hospital. For awhile we were all blissfully unaware of the struggle taking place and we were having a happy conversation as we waited for word from Linda. I was playing around with the video camera and got a close up of Steve. He turned to fully face me and gave me his Steve smile, that slow, sweet grin that spoke volumes from his heart. It was perfect. I was able to go to bed with that picture of him in my head and this morning when I woke and thought of him, that was the Steve I saw ~ blond hair, a clear complexion, and sparkling blue-green eyes.

Just for fun I looked at more videos this morning and found a few more good shots of him just being his usual Steve self as he interacted with the family. Sweet memories flooded my heart.

There are so many reasons to want Christ to return soon, but right now one of the biggest for me is so we can see and hold Steve again. I miss him so much. I am so thankful, though, that I have the videos to help me rebuild a mental image of him in robust health.