sleep cycle 10.28.13

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Publicly forswear caffeine.
Quickly realize you are dying of tiredness and imbibe the “soft option” — tea, that leaf-flavored water gravy we dumped into the ocean back in the day to make a point.
Select English Breakfast as your tea because you just read “Life After Life” and man they drink a lot of tea in it.
Add two packets of Splenda.
Read the tea packet and pour in a splash or skoosh of milk, as suggested.
Try to drink it immediately and burn your tongue.
Ponder how “biscuit” became “cookie” on its voyage over the Atlantic.
Become an old lady and buy a tin of Danish butter cookies solely for dipping in your tea.
Insist everyone call them biscuits.
Consider learning how to make petit fours.
Create your own tea time twice a day at work because you are so tired your eyes feel like they’re actually bulging from your head.
Dunk a biscuit for too long and yelp in surprise and dismay when it breaks off and sinks to the bottom of the cuppa.
Do it again, because you brought just two biscuits and you need to screw this up twice.
Make another cuppa in yet another State Farm Insurance mug (how many of these does the newspaper own?) but lament having no more biscuits.
Cheerio, it’s a new day. Try again, old sport. Fussily steep the tea bag for just so long and bring milk in a small separate cooler for adding a skoosh and dip the biscuit for the perfect amount of time and rejoice. Brilliant.
Consider robbing a bank.
Text husband about idea to rob bank.
Sip tea.
Pip pip.

My parents celebrated 40 years of marriage on Aug. 1, 2009.

Though I thought they should go on a romantic date – just the two of them – they insisted they would be delighted if I went with them to dinner.

The day before, as a small gift, I gave Mom a manicure and pedicure. I made it as elaborate as I possibly could so it would be as much like a salon experience as possible. I massaged her hands, feet, arms and legs, exfoliated her skin, pushed back her cuticles and even put a special foot and leg mask on her after soaking her feet for a while (I did the same for her hands with another mask). Finally, I buffed and polished her nails. I had purchased a pink polish specially for the occasion that I knew she would like.

Mom was terribly ticklish on her feet and did a lot of yelping when I exfoliated them. She would howl when I pushed back her cuticles.

This gave me the giggles, of course, which made her amusingly indignant. It took us probably twice as long to get through this process than it would have because we were having so much fun.

She said her hands and feet felt so soft and looked so nice.

That wasn’t the first time I polished her nails for her, and it probably wasn’t the last. But I remember it so well that I think of it every time I polish my own nails or get a manicure or pedicure at a salon.

She was not really awake for her 42nd anniversary and she did not live to see her 60th birthday. I so wish we’d had more time, that there could have been more manicures and pedicures for special occasions, that I could have kept giggling uncontrollably with her for many more years.

*****

The sadness of losing someone so precious is always with me, but I have mostly gotten used to it. However, there are times when something slips through, something taps into the deep place where agony lives.

I try not to think about her last day, in particular, because it opens up something truly terrible and painful that I cannot control.

But it happened last night, that her last expression popped into my consciousness. And I want you to know that while you may never witness someone die, you will lose someone precious. So love like crazy and express it openly, because you will never regret loving. You will never regret loving someone deeply and being patient with them and forgiving them and being humbly thankful that you have them.

Matt (my husband) is on a fishing trip today with his dad.
He provides so much support for me, emotionally and psychologically, that I get very depressed when he is away.
I hate to admit it, because I don’t want him to feel guilty for going and doing fun things or important things like weekends of class in Memphis.
I tried really hard to keep myself from falling into a depressed state – I watched a couple episodes of Conan, I watched approximately 1.2 billion videos on Vine, I played Robot Unicorn Attack 2…and then the iPad died.
The coffee I made is really weak. (I’m out of practice. Matt usually makes it.) The Pandora station I picked is not helping. (Is it the “Yesterday” by the Beatles station or something?)
My gaze wanders to the pencil drawing of my mom by Lindsey. And the tears come. Next to the drawing are my mom’s ashes.
Sometimes I wish I could have raised her, to give her something back for what she did for me, being who she was – so funny and kind and warm and talented. She had a very hard childhood. Her mother suffered from bipolar disorder. She told me she never remembered her mom telling her she loved her or even hugging her.
So I wish I could have raised that beautiful little girl who would become the most amazing woman and my hero taken too soon from my life. Maybe some day I will raise my own little Della. And if my daughter is anything like her, well, that will be the kind of pride that could comfort me in my grave.
God in heaven hears me crying. I miss you, Mama.

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mom

Sad things make me think of my mom. Instantly. All sad things.
I think because it is my greatest sadness and the one closest to my heart. Therefore, I reflect on it to relate to whatever else is making me sad.
Song lyrics or poetry about broken hearts are included. That heartache and loss that I never would have associated with a non-romantic relationship now make me think of her. Oftentimes, the words or message are applicable to how I’m feeling.

Here are some examples that speak to me of that warmth that fills my chest, that comforting place I burrow into — memories of her.

The song “Possibility” by Lykke Li
“So tell me when you hear my heart stop
You’re the only one that knows
Tell me when you hear my silence
There’s a possibility I wouldn’t know

Know that when you leave
Know that when you leave
By blood and by me you walk like a thief
By blood and by me, and I fall when you leave.”

I can’t help but reflect on the moment I knew my mom’s heart had stopped. The ventilator had been turned off. I thought it would happen more quickly. But she took ragged breath after ragged breath for what seemed an interminable time. My head was resting against her for a long time before I realized that she had finally stopped breathing. And when I looked up, the heart monitor showed that it was true. She was gone. Her heart finally stopped.

As cheesy as it sounds, I listened to “Let Her Cry” by Hootie & the Blowfish sometimes on my long drives back to Bolivar after visiting Mom in the hospital, and I was the “her” who was crying.
“And just
Let her cry
If the tears fall down like rain
Let her sing
If it eases all her pain
Let her go
Let her walk right out on me
And if the sun comes up tomorrow
Let her be
Let her be.”

“Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe
“For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
   Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea—
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.”

“Casimir Pulaski Day” by Sufjan Stevens
“All the glory that the Lord has made
And the complications when I see His face
In the morning in the window

All the glory when He took our place
But He took my shoulders and He shook my face
And He takes and He takes and He takes.”

And most eloquently, “Exequy on His Wife,” by Henry King, Bishop of Chichester. This is a small part of a poem that is moving from beginning to end.
“Sleep on, my Love, in thy cold bed
Never to be disquieted!
My last good-night! Thou wilt not wake
Till I thy fate shall overtake:
Till age, or grief, or sickness must
Marry my body to that dust
It so much loves; and fill the room
My heart keeps empty in thy tomb.
Stay for me there: I will not fail
To meet thee in that hollow vale.
And think not much of my delay:
I am already on the way,
And follow thee with all the speed
Desire can make, or sorrows breed.
Each minute is a short degree
And every hour a step towards thee

Dear—forgive
The crime—I am content to live
Divided, with but half a heart,
Till we shall meet and never part.”
*****
“So, then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” — 2 Corinthians 4:12

head lice remedies

Since starting this blog, several concerned friends and family members have commented or contacted me. See, they thought I was doing OK, for the most part.
I understand their confusion. Let me explain myself.
Like many, many other people experiencing grief, I appear to be doing OK. That’s because I am doing OK, generally. I’m not great or fantastic or any other really positive words that I seem to only use sarcastically. I’m just OK.
I’m getting by. I still laugh and joke and come off as “normal,” but there’s a lot more going on under the surface.
I’m finally ready to write about some of those feelings, hence the blog. Some of my dear friends and family were worried, maybe a little alarmed, but let me stress that I am OK. The battle is already won, after all. I will be OK and everything will be OK.
What you read here may be hard to take. I understand if it is too depressing and you don’t want to read it. I am OK if you don’t want to have to think about these things, or at least not as often as I do.
I can’t escape my mind, however, and letting it out helps me. I would be lost if not for my loved ones who listen to my troubles even when they would rather be thinking of happy things. So I want to say thank you to a few people.
Matty Hilton, you are easily my favorite person ever. You can tell just from the look in my eyes how I’m feeling. I am so, so blessed to have you.
Dad, Cynda, Gerry, Nathan, Michelle, you all have been so supportive and loving, even though you grieve just as deeply as I do. What a wonderful family we have.
Lauren, I love you with all my heart for who you are and how tireless you are in your support of me.
Patty, you’ve been through everything I’m going through and more. You have a way of making me feel completely understood, and we both know you should be the writer.
Christy, I know you would do anything for me, and I’m so astounded by your goodness and kindness.
My church family, Jessica, Jess, Danielle, Lindsey, I know I’m going to forget someone, this is a sentence just to see if you’re still reading, Barbara, Amanda, so many good friends who encourage me on Facebook, in text, on the phone, any way they can – thank you.
Thank you, all of you, for allowing me to grieve.

The window is open. The air smells incredible. The cat is pressed as close to the screen as physically possible.
And I wish it would rain.

Summertime does not mean new life and vitality, to me. It means stale waiting rooms and chilly hospital rooms. It means eating at places like IHOP and Golden Corral but feeling like vomiting (that’s not a comment on the food).
Summertime means death.

The last time I saw my mom outside of the hospital was at Relay for Life.
She looked terrible. The heat was melting her. She carried her oxygen tank around the track, buying little things for Lane and Emma, my nephew and niece, and paying for them to play games.
She ate some blackberry cobbler at our tent, the Bolivar Herald-Free Press tent, and then my sister-in-law, Cynda, pulled the car up to the back gate so Mom wouldn’t have to walk all the way to the parking lot.
She got in the car and I kissed her cheek and told my sweet mama to take it easy.

On Sunday, Father’s Day, two days later, she was in the hospital.
Emma, 7 years old, had awakened her dad in the middle of the night to tell him Gee couldn’t breathe and couldn’t even get out of bed. Gerry and Dad carried her to the car. Dad rushed her to the hospital in Bolivar and she was transferred by ambulance to the hospital in Springfield.
When I saw her later that day, she was in the neurotrauma ICU. Dad came later and opened his Father’s Day gift, a tie.
Mom already had a favorite nurse, a man from Africa who did not force a catheter on her. She was very grateful for that. When I entered, he knew immediately that I was her baby girl who had lived in China. She had already told him that.
She was transferred from intensive or critical care rooms to regular rooms and back again so many times that I lost count.
I remember when she went into critical care, though, and when she was put on a respirator for the first time.
A nurse called me at work to let me know she would be going on the respirator. She had been worried about it, the nurse said.
Though I was supposed to cover the county fair that night, I drove to Springfield to be with her. My dad and Gerry were already there.
A pulmonologist who had been with the hospital in Joplin at the time of the tornado was by then working at the hospital in Springfield. He had told Dad some very disturbing news with very little concern for how the news affected my family.
He spoke to Dad again while I was there and said he believed Mom had pulmonary fibrosis and that he did not know if she would ever be able to go off the respirator. He wasn’t sure that she was even strong enough to survive for much longer.
This was the first time anyone told us that whatever Mom was dealing with was possibly terminal. And he told us so abruptly, interrupting when Dad would ask questions and arguing with us about the validity of a lung biopsy Mom had had a couple years earlier.
I went to my Mom’s bedside. She was asleep, but she was straining against the tube going down her throat and pumping oxygen into her lungs. Blood bubbled up at the corners of her mouth. Her eyes were closed, but she was trying to sit up while gagging on the tubing.
How it hurt to see that. My mom was suffering. Tears streamed down my cheeks. My dad took me in his arms and told me I had to be strong.
In the hallway outside her room, I sobbed in his arms.
Our family gathered in Springfield, preparing for the worst. We didn’t know what to expect. The cold middle Eastern doctor had told us that if Mom survived and could come off the respirator, another lung biopsy could be performed – this time taking a sample from the outside of the lung, which he said was the only way to determine if she had pulmonary fibrosis.
Just a couple days later, I couldn’t believe it – she was ready to come off the respirator. Dad and I stood by her, holding her hands while they lifted her medication that suppressed her instinct to breathe. Slowly, she awoke. She looked in my eyes.
“You’re doing great, Mama,” I said.
We coached her back into consciousness. The nurses asked us to step outside while they removed the tube.
Dad and I, overjoyed, hugged. I burst into happy tears.
“You’re my strong girl,” he said.
We sat with Mom, who was still foggy-headed and hallucinating. I tried to go to work that day but I was so exhausted from the weekend. I went home to sleep for a bit and returned to the hospital in the evening.
By that time, my Mom was hallucinating a lot.
When I entered the room, I could see she and Dad had just been discussing something very serious. I walked up to her side and asked if everything was OK. She took my hand in a death grip and said she had something to tell me. With surprising force, she pulled me down so that my ear was just above her mouth.
She whispered, “Please believe me. I’m not making this up. There is a little man under my bed and he is trying to kill me.”
I leaned back, ready to laugh, but I could see from the look on her face that she was serious.
The drugs she had been on can cause hallucinations. She battled with the little man for the next day or so. Eventually, she believed me when I told her he was not grabbing her legs – it was the air casts on her legs that inflated every now and then to keep up the circulation in her lower body.
I can very clearly see her dozing off and the hissing sound of the air casts, accompanied by the inflating, of course, startling her awake.
“There it was again!” she said. “Did you see him?”
I tried to keep a straight face.
In just a few more days, we would be able to laugh about it together.
Unfortunately, that was not the last time Mom would be on a respirator.

Summertime used to be so beautiful.
On the weekends, me, Mom and Dad would take the pontoon boat out for a leisurely ride on Pomme de Terre Lake. Oftentimes, Lane and Emma would be with us. On occasion, my siblings might be there, too.
We’d turn up the radio and soak in the sun, usually me on the tanning deck with Emma squeezed in beside me and Lane jumping over us, dripping water everywhere.
Mom always brought plenty of snacks to keep us energized while we swam, floated, jumped off and climbed back in. She never got in, though.
Well, except one time. She put on a life vest and Dad lowered her into the lake. The pressure was too much on her lungs, though, so she came right back out.
I had been so excited to see her do something like that. How long had it been since she had gone swimming?

I’ll never again look over during a breezy pontoon ride and see her there, visibly pleased to be outdoors and surrounded by her family.
So I’m not too attached to summertime.

“Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Genesis 5:24

The battle for my soul has already been won.
But I still feel trapped, invisible, inferior.
I think I need therapy or more Jesus.

I’m choosing Jesus. I’m choosing to work out my salvation with fear and trembling by writing about it. New blog.

I might as well start from the end, an end that became a new beginning I did not want.
My mom died on Aug. 9, 2011. I loved her more than anyone else ever loved their mom, at least it feels that way.
No. You know what? No qualifiers. I won’t lie. I believe I loved my mom more than anyone else loved their mom. I loved her so much that God took her to punish me.
Even though I know God doesn’t work that way.
But maybe he took her to teach me something. Or maybe she died because we all die and it was her time. Maybe he can use that to teach me something. Whatever it is, I’d rather not learn it, thank you very much. I’d rather just have her back.
In my darkest moments, and they come all too often, I utter those words: “I want my mom. I want her back.”
I have told God that if he just gives her back, I won’t even question it. If he assembles her again from the ashes, I will not wonder why or how. I will just embrace her and weep and praise God and live again.
I haven’t really been living. I don’t think that’s a well-kept secret. Everyone knows. Lauren is a thousand miles away and she knows. Jess is across town and she knows. I haven’t even had to tell them.
I have to take a moment to let my heart just hurt. I can’t function until I acknowledge it, anyway. I can put off the sobs that escape after I’ve barely made it out of church or I can write while tears squeeze from my eyes, but it always catches up with me.
I need…I need my mom. No, I mean I need need my mom. But I can’t have her back. Not yet.

I guess there’s no use trying to hide this, either: I’m lost. (My soul’s not lost — the battle for it is already won. I don’t know if I’m telling this to the world or myself.)
But I have no idea what I’m doing. If I’m going through the motions, you’ll have to forgive me. Maybe my medicine is not adjusted correctly or I’m not accepting that I have to keep living and not just marking time until I die. Regardless the reason, I am totally lost. I lean completely on Matt, my husband, and occasionally remember God, too.
My job is a mess. Part of it is a culmination of events and the other part is me. How much of my job is who I am? I hope none of it, because I’m not proud of it. I’m not proud of myself and I can’t summon even a scrap of concern.
So many things are pointing to a fresh start. But what and where? Do I leave and start new in my same field? I’ve tried that, to no avail. Should I just take whatever I can get that doesn’t make me want to scream and thrash and throw a childish fit? It may come to that. Money isn’t everything, Matt reminds me. Enjoying my job is so much more important. My peace of mind is so much more important.

I don’t know which direction I’m going, but I do know where I want to be. I want to feel light pulsing through me and escaping from my eyes and fingertips and laughter. I don’t mind hurting for Mom and mourning her the rest of my life, but I need the pure joy that comes from being happy to be alive, too.
I want to work it out. I have other battles to fight now that the battle for my soul is won.

So. If I’m called to write, I guess I’ll do it here.
So. Here goes nothing.

*****

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54 NIV)