Speaking of Care

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The House

People often ask me how I ended up in Evanston- with an undertone that suggests it's a bad thing.  While that might be the subject for another post, I have noticed that Evanston has a boomerang effect  on people- they come, they leave, they come back.  Our family first moved here when I was in first grade.  I spent the first six years of my life in Lincoln Park, but I guess my parents didn't want to raise their children in the city.  We found a nice house here across from my new elementary school, and when my father retired a year later he hosted the best Grilled Cheese and Hot Chocolate go-home-for-lunch breaks (with apple slices).  My friends loved to come over and play with our neurotic dog and run back to school just in time for Spelling Class or what not, full on homemade goodness and my father's charm.  I went to the local middle school for fifth and sixth grade, but then my mother got transferred to the NW suburbs and my sister decided she needed a horse and, well, we ended up moving to Barrington.  Fast forward through the fighting and the tears and the harsh words and the plates being thrown, and my parents divorced three years later.  My sister graduated high school in three years so she could Get Out of Dodge, and my mother took the dog and me back to Evanston for sophomore through senior year.  She rented a house for a year before purchasing a lovely three-story colonial in northwest Evanston.  And she truly made it hers.  I remember coming home from school one afternoon to find her standing on a chair in the dining room and painting the walls red.  The next week the living room was marigold, and the kitchen was spearmint.  After 16 years of oyster white walls it took some getting used to on my part, but I took to it very quickly. 

And it was her house.  I went through a severe depression in high school and was in and out of
psychiatric hospitals for years, so I never really lived in the house for more than a few months at a time.  When she asked me to leave for good I lived on my own for a while, then went to college for two years, went overseas for half a year, finished up school at DePaul in the city, and lived in Lincoln Park for the obligatory few years before you realize you are too old to live in Lincoln Park.  Whenever I was at the house, though, the neighbors were wonderful to her.  She was diagnosed with Parkinson's while I was abroad, and her friends and neighbors were so helpful during that time.  Years later, when she couldn't put her coat on by herself, she would stand outside and wait for somebody to walk by and help her.  She never waited more than a minute or two. 

I moved back to Evanston eight or so years ago- I've lost track.  Dad came back after several years in Texas, where two of his sons were living, but he was getting worse and worse at hiding his Alzheimer's and it was clear he needed help.  I found an apartment four blocks from his, and it was great until it wasn't.  What started as me occasionally checking in on him quickly led to me going over there several times a day to make meals and manage his affairs, then moving him to nursing homes, then managing hospice and Medicaid for two and a half years.  Meanwhile, Mom had formed more ties in her neighborhood- the kids across the street mowed the lawn and shoveled the snow; the family next door invited her to New Year's Eve parties; the block had Flamingo Friday parties where neighbors would come with wine and food and enjoy summer evenings together. 

Mom is 70 now, and has been living with Parkinson's for 13 years.  While it's well managed, there have been plenty of falls, blackouts, fatigue spells, forgotten conversations, and other symptoms on top of the tremors.  A few years ago her health was compromised enough so we thought she would be on an irreversible downward spiral, but new medications and regular acupuncture and yoga have helped turned things around and she's doing quite well- even driving sometimes, much to my chagrin.  But the house was becoming too difficult to maintain.  Even with two boarders (she rents out my old room and my sister's old room), there was too much to do.  I was strongly encouraging her to looking into long-term care, but she decided instead to sell the house and buy a condo in downtown Evanston.  And the house sold in a day.  And the movers arrived this morning.  And last night the house looked like a disaster zone.  And after work today I'll join them wherever they are and help unpack or order dinner or let her take a nap.  I already have a bottle of wine in the car, and tonight I'll toast to her sparkling water (she doesn't drink) to this next chapter.  So long Hartzell Street, you've done good. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks

 A few weeks ago I was in Macy's with my mother.  We were standing on the escalator going down when she started to sway and get faint.  I held her up and we got to the bottom and found a chair and after resting for a few minutes she started to feel better.   An employee came up to us with a warm smile and asked if she could help.  She led us to the salon area where there was a plush couch and got Mom some water and said we could wait there as long as we wanted.  She looked so familiar to me but I couldn't quite place her.  When she returned a few minutes later I asked her where I knew her from.  "Dominick's," she smiled.  Of course- she had worked at the deli counter for as long as I can remember and was always so nice.  She said she had been at Macy's for a few years and it was a little less stressful.  Then she asked how my father was doing.  "He passed last year," I said.  She looked shocked-even well in to his Alzheimer's Henry looked vital and healthy, in spite of the plaque buildup in his brain that was causing him to flush pudding cups down the toilet and swear at sprinklers and forget my name.  We would go in so I could get him his favorite Krakus ham.  "He was incredibly charming and I loved watching the two of you together," she mused.  "I'm sorry for your loss."  I flashed her a smile and thanked her and turned around to see if Mom was ready to go before I had the chance to get teary.

"The Holidays" are coming and I know this because I'm starting to want to crawl under the covers and hide for the next month.  Right now the two things I'm most thankful for are that I will be at work tomorrow, and that I have some pretty fantastic friends to provide support.  And really, a nursing home isn't a horrible place to spend Thanksgiving- if you work there.  The families and residents and other staff are happy that you're there, and you get to sing "Albuquerque Turkey" and play with Marley the dog who is coming in to visit, and watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade because Matt Lauer and inflatable pilgrims make people happy, and connect with residents who don't remember that it's supposed to be a happy holiday, and share what you're thankful for with the ones who do.  "A whole buncha good kids," said my 91 y/o former ENT surgeon, when I asked him last week.  He had ten total, but we didn't have the heart to tell him that one passed away last year so in his mind there are still ten and that's okay. 

Nursing homes are different if you're the resident, or a family member visiting the resident.  I'm fortunate to work in one where the staff truly cares and the residents have a good quality of life, but the place my father was in for the last two and a half years of his life was a shithole and going there any day was difficult, but the holidays exacerbated that.  Stupid decorations that made me cringe, Lawrence Welk holiday specials on the TV, staff who made it clear they didn't want to be there.  Dad was on a pureed food diet so I would make him pumpkin pie filling and tried to feed it to him.  Pumpkin pie was always on of his favorites- a close second to anything chocolate.  Years back, when he was living in his apartment, I would make a pie, stick it in the oven, we'd walk the four blocks to Starbucks for hot chocolate, and by the time we got back the pie would be ready.  It never ceased to amaze him.  At the nursing home, he wouldn't eat the pie that was sent up on the tray for the holiday lunch, but he did take a few bites of mine before giving me the face that made it clear he was done. 

After work tomorrow I'll go to dinner with a friend's family, who have taken me in the past two years.  It's a very lively but safe atmosphere, and her husband makes the most incredible cornbread stuffing.  Her mother and my father were at the same not-shitty nursing home for four months, before my father got kicked out for bad behavior.  She lost her mother a few months after I lost Dad and her family has been a rock for me.  We'll share food and wine and more food and more wine and discuss which Beatle we would want to sleep with and laugh about olives and I'll probably wear some cute boots, but if I came in slippers and sweatpants they wouldn't care. 

Then I'll come home and go to bed and Thanksgiving will be over and I'll wake up the next morning and go to work and hope that I can put it out of my mind for a while because while I'm so very thankful for so many things, and make a point to remind myself of them on a regular basis, I would give anything to be able to share pie with my father.  I hope there's pumpkin pie- and wine- wherever he's looking down from. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Little Things

7:15p and I finally smile tonight, about three blocks from home, because I remember that waiting in the fridge is (a bottle of wine) and a Tupperware of dinner that one of my volunteers at work made for me yesterday.  She has come faithfully every week for her whole college career to play piano, sing, and connect with my residents on Memory Support and her loving, accepting demeanor brings a great peace to all of us.  As she was leaving last night, she handed me a bag filled with Spanish rice and peas other goodies that she had made for a dinner party with her college friends.  "But I wanted to share some with you," she said, her face glowing. 

Earlier in the day I found myself standing in the doorway of a friend who was recently diagnosed with bronchitis, most likely because her immune system is compromised because of the chemo for her breast cancer.  Fortunately, her multiple sclerosis has been fairly  manageable during all this treatment.  I had promised to bring her a tea and a hug on my lunch break (she lives a block away from where I work) but when I headed out to her apartment I was on the phone with a dear friend, 29 years old, who had lost her father a few short hours ago to ALS.  So I forgot to get the tea.  And I stood in front of her and just felt horribly guilty.  How could I forget the tea!?!  I was so mad at
myself.  But I had to get back to work.  So I blew some kisses and promised to text later, went back to work and got my residents ready for our weekly Saturday sing-along, which is one of our favorite programs for the whole week.  Basically I pretend that I can sing, and try to mask my voice with bells and tambourines and big smiles and a pianist tries to drown me out and we all have a grand time.  And halfway through Singing In the Rain one of my residents starts having a seizure and it's almost too much and we call the nurse and the show must go on so I start talking about the next song, Home On the Range, which I always introduce as my favorite place- where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day. 

Later, around, 5p, I am catching up on paperwork and charting and I call my friend again because hey, when your Dad has died the night before you cannot take too many phone calls, right?  And she says, "you know, I'm taking Monday off from work and all I can think is Great, I'll be able to visit Dad."  Because visiting Dad in the nursing home is what she is used to doing in all her spare time.  This I know all too well.  And one of my residents is sitting next to me in my office, and she's saying, "Oh I like you.  Oh, you're okay.  Oh, I don't know what to do.  Oh, I like you."  And those are the exact things I want to say to my friend but instead I fumble all my words and something comes out like, "cry because it's good because you might not be able to cry because you are amazing because it  hurts so much now because at least you can feel and what do you need- wait no, you can't tell me that now, I'm supposed to know what you need, I'm so sorry, I love you so much..." and my resident nods and sighs and throws her cup of Ensure on the floor and gets up and goes out to watch I Love Lucy on the big screen TV in the living room. 

6p and I leave work and go to my health club and try to drown it all out in the pool- I literally get lost in the water and lose track of time but after my swim I am more balanced and focused than I have been all day. 

My friend's father died a week short of her birthday- just like my father did.  She is being flooded by love and support, just like I was.  Her father will not see her get married, like mine won't.  Her father will always be the biggest part of her heart, just like mine will.  She will never regret the years she took out of her life to give him love and light, just like I won't.  They're up there tonight, toasting and laughing and smiling down on us.  All of us.  Everyone. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Next Chapter

I woke up to the phone ringing this morning, and before seeing who the caller was I opted to retreat back under the covers for a few more moments of comfort.  A few minutes later I checked my messages and heard the worried recording from Geraldine, my father's old caregiver.  Although it's been years since she took care of him in his apartment, we still have a strong connection and speak on the phone about once a month.  She came to visit Dad several times when he was dying and has always held a special place in my heart.  She has a curious sixth sense and always seems to know when something is going wrong- call it intuition or compassion or connection, she is always looking out for me. 

When I finally checked my phone I saw her name on the caller ID and was immediately jolted out of bed.  In my early morning fog I was still in that place where dreams meet reality but my mother's image immediately came to mind.  While going for a walk around the block in her North Evanston neighborhood yesterday, she fell forward and hit her face on the sidewalk.  Several good Samaritan neighbors ran out and convinced her to go with them to the hospital (she sprained her wrist, was

Bonnie (center) at her Parkinson's Dance Group
bleeding profusely from the lip, and had cracked several teeth), but after three hours in the waiting room of the ER she decided that she would heal at home.  We were able to make an appointment with the dentist this morning, and fortunately most of the lip damage was in the soft tissue and will heal in it's own time.  The cracked teeth will be repaired next week. 
I stopped off at the grocery store to pick up bananas, soup, cheese, ice cream, soft foods.  My friends at the coffee shop made her special double-tall skim latte, for gratis.  Back at her house I put away the groceries and listened to Mom try to work things out in her head.  I think she was in as much (or more) shock and frustration as I was.  Every other time Mom has fallen, she's brushed it away with, "oh, the sidewalk was uneven," or "I was wearing the wrong shoes."  Today, she sat at the kitchen table and admitted that she had no idea what happened.  I tried to get some clarity- Did you feel dizzy?  Weak?  Were you shuffling you feet?  These are all symptoms of Parkinson's that Mom has dealt with in the 13 years she's had the disease.  But no, she insisted, she was feeling great, which left us both at a loss with how to move forward. 

I needed a breather and went into the basement, where some of Dad's old furniture had been in storage since I moved him out of his apartment 6 years ago.   A dining room table, an exquisite dresser, several pieces of art, some bookcases.  In a few weeks I'll be moving from the studio apartment I've called home the past nine years into a 2-bedroom apartment a few blocks away.  I'm excited to be able to have people over and feel at home in my own space.  I am honored to be able to put Dad's old pieces to use and continue their legacy- he and Mom had many of them before I was born.  But still, there is nothing I would want more than for him to see me through this next chapter.  He always wanted the absolute best for me, and stayed beside me when times weren't so great.  I know he would be so proud of me right now and would want to help out however he could.  There is nothing I wouldn't do to be able to share a glass on wine on my new back porch...we've talked in every other setting and to finally have him see me as an adult would be the ultimate compliment and validation. 

I still have two weeks until I move and am trying to get the last-minute stuff together.  I'm trying not to sweat the small stuff.  I'm trying to remember to have fun.  I'm tired.  I'm looking forward to the next chapter.  I want nothing more than to be able to share this with my Dad.  I want nothing more than for my mom to be safe.  I don't have control over either of these.  I can appreciate the little things, like how Mom's neighbors stayed with her late last night and how I went to my local wine spot tonight and a friend immediately said, "you look like you need a hug."  So we'll do this.  We'll move forward.  We'll take the next chapter.  But I'm a slow reader and I need to pace this stuff out. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

100 Days

It's been 14 weeks...or three months...or 100 days since my father died in the early morning hours of June 19th, 2012.  I don't know how the time has passed but somehow it must  have, because September is almost over and the leaves are starting to change and the cards of condolence stopped coming a long time ago and I find myself pretending to function on a somewhat very normal level.  And yet the loss is part of my every moment, my every thought.  Our closeness, and now the absence of that, has been more painful than I could ever had prepared for. 

In the last 100 days I have:

Cried.  In yoga.  At the bar.  At home.  On the phone.  In therapy.  In grief counseling.  In the swimming pool.  In bed.  By myself.  With friends.  In the car.  In Starbucks.  At work.  At Ravinia.  In the grocery store.  Pretty much anywhere has been fair game. 

Spent a lot of money on chair massages.  Spent a lot of money at the bar.  Raised over $1,300 for the Alzheimer's Association. 

Gone out of my way to seek out hugs and touch. 

Had panic attacks.  On the El.  In a restaurant.  At work.  In yoga.  On the streets of Downtown Evanston.  In the car.  Taken a lot of Xanax.  Taken a lot of Tylenol PM.  Taken a lot of anti-depressants. 

Been told by a psychiatrist that I'm doing just fine.  Been told by an internist that my strange symptoms (why did my arm go numb for three hours?) are all not unusual, my labs are normal so I shouldn't worry. 

Listened to a lot of Billie Holiday.  Listened to a lot of Wilco.  Listened to a lot of Beethoven.  Listened to a lot of Leonard Cohen.  Listened to a lot of Regina Spektor.  Listened to a lot of Pearl Jam.

Listened to people tell me everything they think will help: "You should drink a lot of water."  "It must be such a relief."  "You really need to get back into dating."  "He's in a better place now."  "I had a dog for a week then had to get rid of her, so I understand what you're going through."  "So you're okay now, right?" 

Been so thankful for the people who may not know what to say, but were willing to listen to me.  Been so thankful for the incredible support of my friends and the community. 

Seriously considered quitting my job.  Realized that was a seriously dumb idea. 

Slept more than I thought was possible.  Stayed awake more than I thought was possible. 

Hurt more than I thought was possible. 

I have not:

Picked up Dad's stuff from the nursing home.  They packed everything up and put it in storage, with the understanding that I can come get it whenever I'm ready.  I'm not ready. 

Picked up his ashes from the Cremation Society.  A dear friend of mine painted the wine bottle "urn" I'm planning on using...but I haven't gone to get it filled yet. 

Closed his Mastercard account.  I'm so used to having the card in my wallet.  I haven't used it, the account balance is zero, the bank accounts are all closed...but that silver card looks so comfortable in my wallet.  I realize that I could close the account and keep the card.  This is an obsolete idea. 

Gone to the beach.  All summer.  I love the beach.  I couldn't go. 

Had a memorial service- it seemed way too overwhelming.  I am slowly working towards one, after attending a dear friend's mother's service last week. 

Gone more than 20 minutes without thinking about him.  The car, work, the apartment at night, are the worst.  You think I'm talking to you?  You think you see me laughing?  Chances are, I'm thinking about him.  Or the lack of him.  Or my loneliness. 

And I am not alone.  I know this.  I have the best friends, co-workers, community a gal could ask for.  But something has been missing for the past 100 days, and it's irreplaceable. 

I am not thinking about the next 100 days.  I am not thinking about tomorrow.  I am thinking about getting through tonight.  It's not "One day at a time."  It's smaller than that- the next  half hour, this moment.  I want to cherish this moment.  I want to be happy.  I want to smile, really smile again. 

I want to love again.  I want to be loved again. 


Friday, September 7, 2012


"Today is Friday...Fish Day Friday, is everybody happy, then I must say!"  So says one of my residents, but she also says the same thing for Thursday... and Wednesday.  This morning, when asked how she was feeling, her answer was "terrible".  Are you in pain?  "No."  Are you sad?  "No.  I'm just terrible."  And I could sort of sympathize with her, even though my job at that point was to encourage, support, and uplift her.  For my resident, all it took was a tambourine, a visit from a therapy dog, and a theatrical rendition (by me) of "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue".  Terrible quickly turned into Terrific. 

I'm not "in pain."  I'm not "sad," otherwise, how could I function "so well"?  I mean, I get up.  Okay, so today I finally woke up to the third alarm, 20 minutes later than I had planned.  I was only 4 minutes late for work, which is better than the usual 6-7 minutes.  Because I don't care.  Which isn't true.  But it is.  I hate mornings.  So much.  I just want to sleep forever, and things like "work" and "life" seems to get in the way of that, grr. 

And really, it was a decent day...I mean, yeah.  We had a music therapy program this morning, one of my favorite activities.  My residents get caught up in the music (as do I), and there is so much love and connection and emotion and engagement and feeling in the room it's overwhelming.  I talked with the music therapist, a good friend of mine, for quite a while after the session and we made plans to see a jazz show in the upcoming weeks.  During my lunch break, I did a phone interview with someone for an upcoming article I'm writing, and got inspired again by the ideas and principles of fair trade and sustainability.  In the afternoon I leafed through Ladies Home Journal with a resident who Oohed and Ahhed at every picture of birdhouses and Chris O'Donnell and okay, so did I.  But we shared that, and it was good.  And we laughed.  And I played "table balloon ball."  And I played Beethoven, on the piano.  And I read some poetry.  And I laughed.  And I danced.  And I helped.  And I want to think I made a difference.

And I wanted to cry.  I left work, went for a swim...the water was like home.  The water was the most comforting part of the day.  In the water I am safe....from the world.  And I can cry in the water, and it's okay. 

And I joked with some friends.  And I laughed.  And I joked.  And I wanted to cry. 

I went to an art gallery opening, for "green" artwork in Evanston because in my former life I cared about things like that.  And the art was fun...and I had two glasses of some white wine out of a recycled, compostable cup.  And I left because  couldn't stand to be there anymore...around people...laughing...caring about stuff...how could they? 

I stopped at Jewel to order a cake for a resident's 98th birthday tomorrow.  While I was there, I waved to my banker who was across the aisle in the line for the deli.  And I flirted a little with the guy in front of me in the self-checkout line...and he flirted back...and I have had a good horrible miserable day I want to cry scream yell curl up retreat hide forever. 

It's not okay.  Nothing is okay.  Nothing is normal.  People are walking down the street.  Don't they know that the world is different now?  Don't they know that nothing matters?  What is up with them? 

Tonight at Jewel I bought myself some flowers...to replace the ones that people sent after Dad died (80 days ago), to bring some life into my apartment.  Later this evening, the whole vase fell on the floor...but didn't break.  The glass didn't shatter.  The flowers are in tact. 

Life goes on.  But it doesn't.  But it has to. 

Friday, August 17, 2012


I remember sitting in a friend's kitchen in the week before Dad died.  It was 7:30p, she was making soup, we were drinking wine and eating something I had brought over (hummus and chips?  I can't remember now).  Her boyfriend was busy unpacking boxes of books and CDs and "albums" and other artifacts- they had been together more than eight years but just moved into a new apartment with more bedrooms and shoe closets and office space than one could imagine and a neat view of the park across the street.  The cat was still hiding under the bed in one of the offices.  Life was good, promising, exciting.  I felt that with them. 

I was sitting on a stool in the kitchen; that much I remember.  I had nothing and everything to say, and so did my friend.  Neither of us had been this close to death before.  To her credit, she readily admitted that she didn't know what to say, and I loved her for that.  I opened my mouth and didn't know what would come out.  Turns out, it was the most random, technical, boring stuff.  I had nothing to say about the hours I had spent by Dad's bedside that day; how I brought my yoga mat to practice while he slept; how the Hospice nurse came three different times to check on him.  I couldn't talk about how his breathing started and stopped; his eyes were closed but fluttered occasionally; how his body softened when I lay next to him.  Instead, my mind had gone numb and I could only think about the concrete stuff. 

"Now I know some of the answers that will be with me forever," I said.  "Dad died in Jun 2012.  Dad died when he was 87.  Dad died when I was 32 (it was 13 days before my birthday).  Dad died in June."  On that Thursday evening (Dad died five days later on Tuesday, June 19), I had some of the answers.  I never wanted to know these things.  But now they are with me forever.  It's been 59 days since June 19th, 2012.  Dad was 87.  I am now 33.  Somehow, time has passed.  I don't know how.  But still...I am not the same person I was (before).  Not in the slightest.  I have been through every emotion, sometimes in one day, one hour, one minute.  I have had panic attacks, cried in the grocery store, melted down at work, hyperventilated in a bar, had horrible nightmares, had peaceful dreams, had the best hugs from friends and co-workers, read the most touching cards, sent the most raw e-mails, struggled through grief therapy, read all the books, let go of more than I could have imagined. 
Dad with a doggie friend at
Three Crowns, December 2008

Today a dear friend lost her mother.  We first met four years ago at Dad's first assisted living facility and stayed in touch long after Dad got kicked out (for bad behavior- that's my Henry!).  Over the years we've shared drinks, e-mails, pictures, texts, hugs, tears.  I saw her yesterday and we both knew it was close.  Hours, the Hospice team said.  She was my last thought before I went to bed last night and my second thought after I woke up this morning (Dad is always my first). 

When I got her text this afternoon my heart dropped.  I was at  work but as soon as I had a break I retreated to my office for a few minutes and gave her a call.  Her voice, my voice, our words...it was all like a strange memory, I wanted to do everything,  I wanted to make it better, I had just been there 8 weeks ago.  There was nothing I could do.  We both knew that.  But we were on the phone together.  We talked.  She talked.  I listened.  She was heading out to take her sister back to the airport.  Was she okay to drive, I asked?  Her son would drive, she said- it was good practice.  We exchanged our love, promised to make plans to get together.  I gave her titles of two books that have helped me in the past two months.  She promised to look them up.  We hung up the phone. 

I finished my afternoon at work, went swimming.  Thought that today was August 17, 2012.  My friend would always remember it. 

Every day is a gift.  I want to do something every day to remember.  Today is Day 59, but is also the day that I went to a random art gallery opening by myself and wore a huge orange t-shirt at work celebrating our employee recognition initiatives.  Today is Friday.  As one of my residents and I yelled in the elevator, "Today is Friday!  Friday, fish day!  Is everybody happy?  Then I must say..."

But everybody is not happy, and I wish love and peace tonight to "everybody." 

Friday, August 10, 2012


It's 9:34p on Friday night and I'm looking around the apartment.  I really should clean, or at least "straighten up," but instead all I want to do is Pigeon and Pyramid Pose and feel some actual sensation that I can handle, process, understand, compartmentalize. 

I look on the corner stool and there are the flowers that Maryhaven, Dad's nursing home for the last two years of his life, sent after he died.  It's been 52 days since that morning in late June and the flowers are wilted.  Still, I can't bear to throw them away. 
My eyes fall to the floor under the standing lamp, where the book "Living After a Loved One Has Died" landed after I threw it there in frustration one night. 

Over on the desk stand 25+ sympathy cards from friends and coworkers...I have taken great care in opening them on the most difficult nights and there are still two more that I haven't opened yet...but I am saving them because I am scared for the day when the cards stop coming. 

On the bedside table sits "Healing After Loss- Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief," a book my dear friend gave me for my birthday 13 days after Dad died.  She thought it was a somewhat strange birthday gift but the daily readings and validations have proved invaluable for me over the past 7 weeks. 

Poking out of the recycling is the program from a reception I went to at Midwest Hospice last night.  I would have not  been able to make it through the past two and a half years without their incredible care and support...and Dad certainly had a vastly improved quality of life because of them. 

On top of the stack of papers "to be filed" is a large envelope from The Cremation Society of Illinois.  I am reminded that I still haven't picked up his ashes from the office in Park Ridge.  I will soon.  Seriously.  I just haven't...had time...or I don't want to.  But I can't stand to have them stay there either...

I open the fridge and there is the hummus I bought at the Trader Joe's across the street from Maryhaven for dinner while I sat with Dad during his last night.  It's half empty and probably moldy but I can't bear to throw it away. 

I get a text message from a coworker.  I remember how she came out to sit with us twice during the five days Dad was dying...she had never met him before but knew him through my stories.  She was there, present, giving, willing to Be with us at the most difficult time. 

I am tired.  My boss is on vacation this week and I snuck away for a yoga class during my lunch break today, which was cathartic but also made me Feel.  Now, nine hours later, I am emotionally drained.  I miss him now.  Earlier today a friend texted that she is having dinner with her father, who lives out of state and is back in town for the weekend.  I am happy for her, but a teensy bit jealous.  Yesterday I helped a friend and his family move his grandmother into a local independent living facility- being with the family made me happy, but a teensy bit jealous. 

I haven't canceled plans since Tuesday, and I even went on a date this week.  I've gone out every night since Tuesday.  I have distractions.  But still.  I miss my father so much, all the time.  The reminders are everywhere, and even if they weren't around they would still be top of mind.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Random musings:

43 days.  How has the time passed since Dad died?  I don't remember any of it.

I should really go to the beach. 

10 hours of sleep isn't nearly enough. 

The phone is ringing. I don't answer it. My Super Mario Brothers ringtone makes me smile.

Maybe I'll stay in bed.  All day.  Yoga would make me feel so much better.  Get up and go to yoga!!

No really.  Get up. 

Like, now. 

Riding my bike makes me happy. 

Again, with the tears in yoga.  Woman next to me:  "We did a lot of heart openers, it's understandable."  Me:  "My father died a few weeks ago."  Woman:  Blank stare. 

The pool is my sanctuary.  Underwater I am free...safe.  I don't want to get out. 

Lane: "I have the same bike.  No, seriously."  Of course he has the same bike. 

I should really go to the Botanic Gardens. 

Me: "It's strange because I don't feel alone...or lonely.  I feel loved...and supported.  But the loss...this one, specific loss...it hurts so much.  It's taking over everything."

The Olympics are still on

I should really get back to online dating. 

Someone should invent kalamata olive ice cream.  The best of both worlds. 

Woman in yoga: "Take care of yourself.".  Text message from friend: "Take care!" 

Alyssa:  "So I got a text this morning from my friend who lives in Disney World..."

Not sure if I've smiled yet today. 

I should really eat something. 

Tylenol PM doesn't count on the FSA card?  It's doctor prescribed...

Just realized it's August 1st.  Hahahaha.  I don't remember anything about summer. 

Rebecca:  "Let (the tears) come."

Brandon Priestly is doing commercials for Old Navy?  Yikes. 

It's only 7p?  Yikes. 


Muddy Waters Pandora. 

I wish I started my laundry before 9p.


Revisiting Bodeans' "Lullaby," heard earlier today: "Goodnight, my sweet little one.  Go to sleep now, your day is done.  Dream about how good it's been...and tomorrow, let's do it again....if I die before you wake, you were worth the chance to take." 

Yes.  Take the chance.  No matter how much it hurts.