Archive for May, 2010

January 22, 2004

// May 29th, 2010 // No Comments » // Uncategorized

For the first two weeks of January I was feeling pretty good, positive. Then in the middle of the month at Rob’s softball try outs I began a downward slide. Being back on the fields again stabbed me with an unexpected pain. Even though he was already having trouble walking, Steve made the effort to go to some of Robyn’s games with us last season to cheer her on. In my mind’s eye I can still see him sitting on the bleachers in the warm April sun wearing his stocking cap to protect the bandaged skinless area on his head. He was such a trooper.
Tomorrow is the six month anniversary of his death. We have six more months of “first times” without him to get through.

Lately I have a constant scream in my belly. The same monster I felt last July. The same two people syndrome…the regular me carrying the screaming me inside everywhere I go.
Then on the other hand it feels so normal that he’s not here, but I don’t want it to feel normal! Sometimes I think I want the pain of losing him to go on forever so I don’t lose touch with that last connection I have to him. So I can keep him by my side. But then I look over my shoulder and remember, he’s already gone…really gone.

Also, these last few weeks I haven’t been eating right or exercising and it has really taken a toll on my sense of well being. So I decided to have a binge of ice cream and some chocolate for a few days. Big mistake. Can you say upset stomach? I think I’d like to puke now. Anyway, I’ll get back on track soon. I know I’ll feel better if I behave better. Instead of sitting and wallowing in my grief I need to cry and move on. I just have to keep moving, like that little engine that could, climbing up the steep mountain. It was hard work to keep trying but eventually he made it, didn’t he?

My mom’s sister Lucile died last week. She was always and will forever be known as Speed because as a child she always took her time getting things done. I’m so grateful to Uncle Carl and Aunt Sharon for offering to take Mom up to Arroyo Grande for the memorial service with .

We’ve lost three relatives in six months, one from each generation. First my son, then a cousin’s husband, and now my aunt. Our family seems to be disappearing as we helplessly watch.

January 1, 2004

// May 26th, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

By the time December has reached its mid-point, I usually think about how quickly time passes. “Where has the year gone?”, I’ll often wonder aloud.

This year Robyn’s birthday kind of sneaked up on me. Oh, I knew it was coming, along with New Year’s Eve. On December 20 I realized we had some party planning to do, but I didn’t have that confounded feeling I usually have as a year grinds to an end.
When my mom called this morning to wish us a happy new year, the topic of course got around to the past year and I mentioned my lack of feeling that the last year flew by. “I know where every day of last year went!” I told her. “I have felt every single day of it.”

This afternoon Jae and I were talking about the new year and she said “You know what Mom, I feel relieved a new year is here. Two-thousand-three was horrible! I couldn’t wait for it to be over!”
Yes! That’s it! I feel relieved! Forgive me, Steve, please.
A new year, a new beginning. Keep moving forward.

On the other hand, as I look back on last year I feel as though I’m leaving Steve behind there. Very odd, yet somehow, in a very small and strange way, liberating. I can keep on keeping on.

My heart is still heavy but moments are creeping into my days that I do feel happy again… though not the same kind of happy I used to feel.

December 5 20003

// May 21st, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

It’s been such a quiet day today. Jae got her driver’s license 10 days ago and since has been driving herself to work, errands, and once to one of her classes at Foothills. But today is the first chance I’ve had to feel the benefits of her newfound freedom.
Last week we were busy with Thanksgiving, followed by a busy weekend. This week I have taken Jae to her Monday and Thursday college classes (don’t want her parking in the distant lots and walking by herself). Tuesday I spent the day with Amy first taking her to a doctor appt for a sprained right ankle. We got out of the doctor’s near lunch time so we called Dave and he met us at SubMarina. After lunch Amy and I ran some errands, finishing just in time to pick Kirstie and Kyle up from school.
Wednesday found me with Robyn at an oral surgeon’s office at the Kaiser facility in San Diego.

Today was the first chance I’ve had to take a breath! Here it is December, four months into the school year and I am just starting to get serious about Robyn’s schooling. This morning I was able to get her lessons planned for the next four weeks and staring Monday we can get on track. I’m so grateful for Jim’s patience with me so far this year. As our overseeing teacher he is usually hounding me about Robyn’s monthly study logs every time I see him, teasing me even when I’m not late.
This year I just haven’t had the energy or presence of mind to get her lesson plans in order or to grab her and sit her down at the table to get the work done every day. She has had a lot of alternative schooling thanks to the workshops offered by the school and from watching the History and Discovery Channels.

It looks like it’s going to be a tough school year.

December 4, 2003

// May 18th, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

I woke up a few days ago feeling really good. I had that light sense of well being floating through me. Then suddenly a veil dropped over my good spirits. It’s like a veil of tears has taken up residence just under my skin.
I have discovered that I am now two people in one body. They’re both me, Debbie Haas, but two versions of me. One is the normal, functional me that carries on business-as-usual. The other me occupies my core, waiting a turn to openly do her job, always carrying the burden of grief, the full load of sadness.
Blessedly, her turn to show herself usually comes when we’re alone at home or out driving. Sometimes she reveals herself while we’re out in public so we walk together.
I used to feel self-conscious when I would have tears streaming down my cheeks while I was away from home, around other people, but I don’t anymore. I just let the tears flow as I get the job-at-hand done, ignoring the few askance looks from strangers.
If I stayed in every time I thought I might cry I would never leave the safe confines of my home.

I always feel this other me. It’s beginning to feel normal. I guess it is my new normal.

November 28, 2003

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

We went out to our desert place today to visit Steve. After the two hour drive it felt good to get out of the car and stretch my legs. First a quick pit stop and then we finished the drive to the spot where we sprinkled Steve’s ashes three months ago. We hiked up the sandy slope and stood there calmly gazing out over the desert valley. Amy was the first to look down and notice something remarkable. There’s no gentle way to put this. Bone chips. He’s still there! Amy picked up one of the pieces and held it in her cupped hand, just marveling at the situation. Nick walked over to join her at the precipice and we all followed, Nett holding Christopher tightly by the hand. When Nick saw what Amy was holding and realized what it was, he said, “Quiet, everyone!” and bent his ear near her hand. “Can you hear that? He’s laughing!” For a moment I could hear Steve’s distinctive chuckle in my mind and I could see him with that sly grin of his as he watches over us. I felt so at peace out there.

We had a fun talking about old times, the sound of our laughter drifting far out into the desert. We all know we each miss him. We didn’t need to talk about that. I didn’t feel the need to cry then or even after.

Nick sat on a rock near his brother’s ashes and lit a cigarette for Steve, wedging it into a crevice of the rock. As it burned down we lingered there and talked, Nick occasionally teasing Steve for the long “granny ash” (an old joke of theirs). Once the cigarette was safely crushed out we started the long drive back home.

Thanksgiving 2003 is now officially over for the Haas Family and we’re alright.

November 27, 2003

// May 11th, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

Our first Thanksgiving without Steve has come and nearly gone. Only a few hours remain. It was a beautiful day. The weather was perfect ~ sunny and warm, the slight breeze traipsing through the house and carrying the turkey’s aroma out into both yards.
Mom, Dad, my sister, brothers and their families made the trip through thick holiday traffic to be here. Dave drove across town to get his Aunt Ada, and we were joined by our good friends Georgie, Burton and their daughter Jessica. Georgie’s one stipulation for joining us was, “We’d love to come, but only if the guys do the dishes.” “Ok! Sounds good to me!” I thought she was joking ~she wasn’t.
Lighthearted conversation and laughter floated in our midst as we worked together to put this biggest meal of the year on the table. Dinner neared and as I stirred the gravy Davey came up behind me, wrapping me in a bear hug. My nephew is so much taller than I am now and he leaned in to whisper “I miss him.” “I know, sweetie. I do too.” I had been alright all day, until that moment. A tear threatened to escape my right eye but I threatened it back. “You have no place here, buddy.” I silently told it.
Once the busyness of preparing the meal was over and the food was on the tables I felt the sudden need to insulate myself from the festivity. The tears were no longer intimidated by my reserve. I sneaked into the back bathroom to try to collect myself. Instead, as I stood there I began to sob. I didn’t want to join everyone for dinner until I could stop crying so I sat on the side of the tub, breathing deeply as I tried to calm myself. I could hear my family’s chatter and the clatter of dishes being passed around tables. I heard someone ask, “Where’s Debbie?” breaking down the last wall of my commitment not to cry.
Don’t they know how hard this day is for me? How I have always loved Thanksgiving and that now there is a gaping hole in the celebration.
I had only been hidden away for a few minutes when Jae and Nett came to find me. The back bathroom is much too small to support three women as they console each other so we adjourned to Jae’s room. We sprawled out on Jae’s big bed where we cried together and talked. We shared some happy Steve memories, a mutual favorite being of Steve and Nick eating their Thanksgiving desserts with one foot out the front door as Jeremy patiently waited for everyone to get on the road to the desert. Even as a grown man Steve was so cute when he was excited about something, like leaving for his second favorite place in the world. He would playfully scrunch up his shoulders and bounce up and down like a toddler. It was body language that shouted, “Let’s Go!”
After a little laughter we all felt ready to join our family and friends for dinner. I was able to fully enjoy the rest of the day with a thankful heart.

November 18, 2003

// May 7th, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

Late last autumn (2002) Steve and I started prepping the kitchen for a minor remodel by removing the backsplash behind the shorter of the two counter tops. By then he was already tired all the time but there was nothing he wouldn’t set his hand to. The boredom of being on disability and being unable to hold down a regular job nearly killed him before the diabetes did!

That same week he even went out to weed whack the slope in front of the house. It took him a couple of hours and he felt better when he came in than when he went out. He had that gosh-I-feel-good-about-a-job-well-done kind of exhaustion. I could see a look of satisfaction settle onto his face as he leaned back into the sofa cushion, arm thrown back over his head. Before coming into the house he took off his fox-tail infested shoes and socks and set them on the pin ball machine that sits just outside the den sliding glass door on the patio. They have been there ever since. There’s so much junk on the pin ball machine that you can’t actually see the shoes when you’re out on there, but sometimes as I sit in the den with the curtain open I spy them there and a bitter-sweet wave washes over me.

When Steve and I started in the kitchen, our goal was to remove the entire back splash from both counters, sand the walls, and paint. We had a really good time working together; prying, bashing and ripping that 1950s material from the wall. His joking and light heartedness shown through and almost masked the fatigue and pain he always tried to hide.
Before the job could be completed, though, his fatigue got the best of him and he ended up in the hospital to treat an infected ruptured calcium deposit on his scalp. The ulcer was right at the lower edge of the baseball cap he always wore. That must be what made it so bad. The wound never had a chance to air out and was always being irritated by the cap edge, not to mention the germs on that edge. He spent a week hooked to an IV of powerful antibiotic, to no avail. The infection had to be removed surgically, taking with it one third of his scalp.
His vigor never returned after that and I lost the heart for finishing the job in the kitchen. Heck, I barely even took the time to do the dishes.

Well, this weekend (a year after starting the job) Dave finished prepping the kitchen and he got it painted all one color! Oh, the power of a paint sprayer! Amy and I are going to paint the base cabinets a darker color this week. It’ll be awhile before we put the upper cabinet doors back on but it’s all coming together! We even found the drawer pulls we wanted at IKEA at about a third of the cost they are at Home Depot.

It feels so good to be moving forward on a project. I do wish Steve could see it 🙂

From 2010 ~~
It has been nearly eight years since we started on the kitchen and though we have made great progress ~ paint, drawer pulls, new countertops, sink and faucet, and a new window over the sink, we still haven’t finished! The back splash area is still empty (I can’t find anything I really like!) and there are still no doors on the upper cabinets. I often think of my buddy Keri, who moved to Tennessee in 2003, when I see my doorless cabinets. She used to get crazy when I would leave the doors hanging ajar…..this would make her down right apoplectic!

And Steve’s fox-tail shoes and socks? I left them there on the pin ball machine until we did some work on the patio in 2008 and had to clear it off. Our Handy-Man friend Tony picked them up from the pin ball machine and started to drop them into the trash can. I panicked and yelled “Nooooooo!” startling the daylights out of Tony. I told him why they were there and he found a new place for them. Now they rest on top of a 1960s built-in BBQ on the patio. I rarely see them, but I know they’re there. Why? I have no idea. It’s just an old pair of shoes and socks, but I’m not quite ready to toss them out yet.



November 15, 2003

// May 4th, 2010 // No Comments » // From the forthcoming book "Losing Steve: One Mother's Journey Through Grief"

For the last eight weeks I’ve been having one panic attack after another, each lasting for days at a time. I’ve been taking Prozac for a few years now to help combat some of the problems I’ve had with perimenopause (mainly panic attacks, like my mom did at the same time of life) but it doesn’t seem to be doing its job any more. Besides I’m tired of feeling FLAT all of the time. I talked to my doctor about it last Monday. In discussing my options, together we decided to switch to a different anti-depressant, Effexor, which has better results for controling anxietyand shouldn’t leave me fgeeling so emotionless. He suggested I also try to fit in more exercise every day. It has been proven to be a good natural remedy for anxiety and is generally a great anti-depressant in its own right.
During my visit Dr Pantarotto called me an “active, young person”. That was good to hear, but for a moment I wondered if he had the right chart in front of him! I am not very active and I certainly don’t feel young these days. But I walked out of his office feeling a bit more hopeful for my physical future.

This morning when I woke up, I could feel a tremendous difference from the way I have felt for the last eight weeks or so. I had no dark, heavy cloud surrounding me. It had been suggested to me last week that my battle with anxiety was probably because of Steve’s upcoming birthday. I didn’t think it could be true, but after waking up this morning without the feeling of apprehension pressing in on me I had to accept it. I know now that these recent panic attacks have been caused by the anxiety of facing Steve’s birthday without him here with us.
But yesterday we celebrated his life. As a family, together. And today I feel as though a large part of a great burden has been lifted from me. I even feel happy today. Optimistic.

Still missing him though. That’ll never change.

From 2010 ~
Remember ~ I am NOT a health care professional in any capacity. The things I mention here regarding medications and exercise are about MY experience and not for anyone to use as a guide 🙂