August 2009


Sounds a bit weird, doesn’t it? After all, the poor man just died of brain cancer. But, yes, I am jealous.

I would, of course, rather no one have to lose a family member to cancer, but as hard a time as his family is having right now, luckily they don’t know that it could be much worse.

I have a pretty good idea of what his family is going through right now, having experienced it almost 6 months ago myself, however they will have a much easier time coping and moving on than we did.

Not knowing what condition Senator Kennedy was in during his final days, I do know that 6 days ago he wrote a letter to Massachusettes leaders asking that they expedite the process of replacing his seat in Congress, and not wait the mandatory 5 months after the seat is vacated (AKA after the Senator dies).

Several logical conclusions can be reached from this letter:

1) The Senator was mentally healthy enough less than a week before he died to acknowledge that the State of Mass deserves to have 2 representatives and that the current 5 month process doesn’t make sense

2) He was not expecting to die so soon (though he did not attend his sister’s funeral several days before), meaning he was self-aware (or was expecting to die soon, thus the letter)

3) He was lucid

In the week before  my mom died, I saw her blink several times. That was it. She wasn’t even lucid enough to swallow oatmeal.

In the six months since my mother died, the hardest part for me hasn’t been her absence as much as my inability to remember my mom as she was before her illness. There is much you, my readers (as well as closest friends), don’t know about my mother’s condition during the last 8 months of her life, information I will not share, but suffice it to say that even now, 6 months later, when I picture my mother in my mind, I cannot seem to find an image of her in which she is smiling.

And a non-smiling mom is NOT my mom.

During my darker times, in which I cry uncontrollably for days until I randomly stop, when I am asked what it is I need to feel better, my only answer is “to remember my mom as she was.” I am positive, without being or seeing a shrink, that my problem is moving away from the disease.

It’s not even her absence from major events in my life, or the fact that I have been missing her a lot lately. That doesn’t make me cry for extended periods of time (though I haven’t had a major life event yet, other than being with The Boy, so ask me when I get married or have a kid).

I sincerely believe that once I think of my mom and retrieve a memory of her pre-disease – in any situation, even yelling at me to clean my room when I was a teenager – that my healing will have truly begun. Once I can look at a picture of her where she is healthy and laughing and not see a stranger, or need to concentrate to convince myself that it’s really her, then I’ll be fine.

I’m not quite sure how articulate that last thought – I can look at a picture of my mother and just stare at it, and in my head I tell myself, “That’s my mom, that’s how I need to remember her, she was honestly like that for the first 30 years that I knew her,” but then myself will tell my head, “I’m sorry, head, that woman is a stranger. This is what she looks like” – and then a mental picture of my mom after her paralysis began pops into my head. It doesn’t even have to be from the hospital, just from the time that she lost her independence, AKA the third time I lost my mom.

So, yes, I feel so bad for the family of Senator Ted Kennedy. I can, unfortunately, say I know exactly what they’re going through, which is not something I am proud of, but at the same time I admit, I am incredibly jealous.

The image they have of their loved one is one of a lucid man who, in his final days, was still trying to get his affairs in order. I sincerely hope this fact will help them in their time of grief, though I doubt that it is a thought running through their heads at the moment.

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So I haven’t written in a couple weeks, and there is a good reason for it. Two, in fact. The first, as I mentioned just before I left, is that I went on vacation with The Boy to Spain for a week (and a day in Paris). It was wonderful. I cannot possibly put into words how much I needed this vacation, and the timing was impeccible.

As you can tell by my last post, I was having a rough time for the last few weeks before I left. I could not stop crying for more than 2 hours, which meant I couldn’t really go out and couldn’t go to my dance classes. Luckily for me, The Boy is very patient and understanding, which is wonderful, and thankfully, so are my friends (who, over the past 2 years, have already gotten used to me disappearing every now and then).

Despite the small fear that something may go wrong on the trip (seeing as many people don’t get along on vacations), all went perfectly well. We did tons of walking, eating, touristing, picture taking, concerting (Madonna and La Oreja De Van Gogh), museuming, and not so much resting, but that’s OK.

Before we left, I was seriously considering getting a prescription for anti-depressents, to the point where I was fearful of going on vacation because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stop crying.

Luckily for me, the timing was perfect and the vacation was so much fun. The Boy is a great tour guide (he’s from Paris so he knows the history, and enjoys telling the background of practically everything so much that it just makes you want to hear more), the concerts were so much fun, and we both seemed to move at the same pace.

I returned refreshed and ready to deal with life again, though I wasn’t sure that the calm that had finally come over me would remain. What if it was just the after effect of our vacation? But we’ve been back for just over two weeks now, and I am still doing well, other than being sick this weekend (not swine flu, thanks for asking :-))

The other reason I had resisted writing is that while writing is extremely therapeutic for me (it is, after all, the reason I began this blog), it is also very difficult. It usually takes a lot out of me emotionally, and I almost always cry when I’m writing. Therefore, since I haven’t been crying, I am almost fearful of writing because I don’t want to start again.

I’m posting a few pictures from our trip. I’m not posting any close ups of me and The Boy out of respect for his privacy; Those of you who are my friends on Facebook can see all of the pictures there.

I promise to get back to writing again. I still have the need to get things off my chest, and I have much left to say. Thanks for being such loyal and supportive readers.

Some pics from our trip:

Placa Catalunya

Placa Catalunya

Batlle House (Gaudi)

Batlle House (Gaudi)

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia
At the Madonna concert

At the Madonna concert

Champs-Elysées (Paris)

Champs-Elysées (Paris)