March Madness

This month sucks. We’re only five days in and I’m pretty much over it. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that, yet again, we were pounded by some snow this morning. I love winter weather.

No, I’m just over it because I’m depressed. And I’m depressed because the date of my grandmother’s death is quickly approaching: it’ll be one year on March 27th.

One year since I’ve last seen her… held her hand… looked into those wet, blue eyes. One year since I’ve last studied the lines in her face… the smile on her lips…  the curls pinned atop her head… the sweater she knitted herself twenty years prior draped over her shoulder (she was always so cold at the end).

Son of a bitch, I cannot do this. I can’t. The tears are forming and the heart is breaking again. I miss her so much. Oma, I miss you. So much. So, so much.

***

I remember March 2009. I was kind of down in the dumps. The baby I should’ve had would’ve been born had I not lost it the summer prior. A friend was having her own baby. I wasn’t. I was moving. I was empty inside, trying to focus and think about anything and everything other than babies. But they came from the woodwork, I swear. Left and right and dropping down from the sky, it seemed. Everywhere I looked there was a baby or a mama about to pop one out. Life felt so unfair.

Every March that rolls around, I still think of how old my would-be baby would’ve been. (This year, she would’ve been five.) I’m so blessed to have a happy and healthy four-year-old so it’s not so hard anymore; I don’t get too sad when March rolls around because I do know that I’m one of the lucky ones—the ones who can have a baby after a loss (or even at all).

But this March is different.

***

It’s been an interesting year since she’s passed. At first, I was really so much better than I imagined I would be. I think it was because of all the mourning I did (but tried not to do) the months leading up to her passing.

Then Mother’s Day came less than two months after her passing. My first one without her to mail a card to, to buy flowers for. It sucked, but certainly not as much as her birthday did weeks later.

Other than that, I’ve been okay. I’ll see something or hear something or feel something or smell something that reminds me of her, but, up till recently, I’ve been able to swallow the tears and, instead, smile.

Smile because of how blessed I’ve been to have more than forty years with such an amazing woman. Smile because of how blessed I am to have such wonderful memories.

But these past several months have been very different. I’ve been so down, melancholy.

 

I just really miss my Oma so much.

Lost

She spent her whole life pretending.

A smile always on her face.

Even if she felt ripped to shreds on the inside. Even if she felt complete and utter emptiness on the inside. Still, a smile was present.

She always asked how you were doing… how your family was doing. She listened, really listened. And the next time you ran into her, she’d be sure to ask about you and yours again. Rarely would she speak of herself and hers.

Everyone found her to be so beautiful. Tall. Slender yet curvy. Long hair. Gorgeous eyes reminiscent of days dreaming while looking out to the sea.

She was funny, she was attentive, she was oh so giving.

Don’t you know those are the people who are aching on the inside?

Don’t you know that under that smile and those listening ears is a little girl who feels lost and alone– no matter who is by her side on the outside?

Don’t you know that she needs help? Like real fucking help?

Well, you need to know.

Look around. Really open your eyes and soul and look.

Just because she may seem happy and put together, doesn’t mean that’s the case. Just because she’s newly married and newly a momma to a beautiful baby, doesn’t mean she feels complete.

Because she doesn’t.

If it appears like she’s got everything and the rainbow too, she absolutely doesn’t.

She needs your help but she won’t ask for it because she’s the giver, the listener, the one who’s got it all together. The one who’s trying so hard to hang on but feeling like she’s falling deeper and deeper into darkness.

Hang on. Please hang on.

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workshop-button-1

Lucy

Daddy named her Lucy the day he gave her to me. We were at a carnival and he won her for me by shooting water onto a tiny target to make a small horse win a race against other shooters—mainly me and my brothers Andrew and Mark. From all the toys he could’ve picked, he chose the little rag doll with the orange dress, and as soon as the attendant gave her to him he smiled and handed her down to me.

“What’s her name?” I asked while hugging her.

“How about Lucy?” Daddy answered, whistling and singing an old Beatles song.

“I love her so much, Daddy!”

Lucy’s arms and legs fit perfectly in my hand so that I could drag her around with me wherever I went. She had this long gold curly hair and she wore an orange and green dress. I tried changing her clothes more than once but it never worked; the dress was just a part of Lucy. Sometimes I’d put other clothes on top of the dress but after a while, I just let Lucy be who she was.

I was seven when Daddy gave her to me. I remember a lot about that time. We all went camping and stayed in a pop-up camper with no running water or electricity. But we had so much fun. Lucy was at one of the carnivals near the campground we stayed at. That was also the vacation when I learned how to swim because my older brother Andrew pushed me into the pool. I wasn’t so happy about that and it took me a day before I’d go back near the water but then when I did, I wasn’t so afraid of going underwater anymore, and I started swimming through the water with my whole body submerged. It was pretty awesome the way the whole world just kind of turned into a blur as soon as I was under the water. I loved pushing the water away in front of me and kicking my legs at the same time to glide along. I imagined myself up in the sky, finding my way through a big white fluffy cloud.

That was the best summer vacation ever.

Mommy made french toast over a campfire for breakfast one morning, then fried some fish we caught one day for dinner one night. We went on hikes through the forest and slapped our skin to rid itself of bug bites. We ran and hopped on the hot sand dunes to get into cool water to go for a swim in the lake. We ate ice cream and ice cones like it was our job.

I don’t remember a lot from my youth but some things can’t be forgotten. And every time I see Lucy on the shelf next to some of my favorite books in the world, I always think of that summer and smile.

Life was really good then.

 

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Aside

living like a dead person

By the time you’re eighty years old you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.

Bill Vaughan

My dad’s surprise party is Sunday. He’ll be 80 on Monday. EIGHTY.

I’m not sure why exactly, but for the past several months I haven’t really put much thought into this. I planned a small surprise party at a pizza joint with immediate family for Sunday. I sent out simple little hand-made invites. Everyone is coming. This isn’t some elaborate thing, but it’s a thing nonetheless.

Realizing I still need to order a cake, I wondered, “What the hell do I put on the cake?”

I picked up a big red 8 candle and a big red 0 candle the other day, along with some simple Happy Birthday décor. I plan to get a dozen or so helium balloons on my way to the restaurant Sunday. But what should I put on the cake?

Happy Birthday

Happy 80th Birthday

Congrats for being the oldest living member of your family

Thinking about this led me to think about other things… like the fact that MY DAD IS TURNING 80 IN LESS THAN A WEEK.

While I didn’t want to make a big deal out of this (primarily because I don’t have the funds to do so), this IS a big fucking deal.

And a big deal should be made of it!

So I quickly sent out emails and Facebook messages apologizing for the last minute begging, but asked that people send me quick little anecdotes that involve my dad. Like, “I remember that time we went fishing and you made me stick a hook through a minnow.”

My hope is to get 80 little memories gathered to present to my dad on Sunday.

But now I’m in tears.

The past couple of years have been a bit difficult. He’s been living in an old people’s home (independently) and he feels like he’s “living like a dead person.” Nobody calls, nobody visits.

Anything that ever comes from his mouth is a complaint.

It’s just very difficult to listen to every single time we communicate or are together.

And now I’m realizing he’s going to be 80.

 

I’m going to be a mess on Sunday. I know it. Worse than when I walked down the aisle six years ago with him clutching my arm.

But, hopefully he’ll at least stop feeling like he’s “living like a dead person.”