GBL


Today is Israel’s Memorial Day to remember those who died in action defending the country, as well as those who were murdered in terrorist attacks. For those of you who don’t know, Memorial Day in Israel is nothing like the one in the US – it’s not full of sales and days off  and BBQs.

On the eve of Memorial Day, at 8 pm, there is a 1 minute siren to commemorate those who have fallen. Everyone stops in their tracks – literally. Regardless of when I leave work, I always get stuck on the road at this time, and other than a few select individuals, eveyone stops, even on the freeways, and gets out of the car. I took a picture so you could see how incredible it is – sorry, it was taken with my phone. See all the cars and the people standing outside? Breathtaking.

Traffic stops as the siren goes off

Traffic stops as the siren goes off

During Memorial Day, the radio plays sad music, and a somber mood completely envelopes the entire country. As people began slowing down in preparation for the siren, I found myself unjustifiably – and unfairly – hijacking the sadness of those who have lost family members. In my “defense,” though I am not sure I actually need one, my current sadness began the day before yesterday, so last night – and today – is just a continuation of what was already there.

I realize it’s only been two months, and I know that I am still in mourning, but Memorial Day is specifically geared towards those who have fallen, not everyone who died. If every day we mourn those we have lost, today is the day to mourn those who have fallen. There is a distinction between those who died in war, and those who just died. Not that my mom “just died.”

Sometimes I feel like it would have been “easier” if she had died in almost any other manner – car accident, war, whatever. Just because the suddenness of it, while painful in ways I couldn’t possibly imagine, doesn’t hold the same pain as seeing my mother fall apart, emotionally, physically, and mentally. The sister of a family member of mine, who lost her son in a car accident, even said the same. She said, while it was a shock and incredibly painful, at least she knows it was over with quickly. He didn’t suffer, or if he did, it was for a very short amount of time.

This is in direct contrast to my mom who suffered in every which way possible – and us along with her. The physical loss of dignity, the loss of simple abilities and knowledge (like our names and how to operate the TV remote), and the awareness of it all was, in my opinion, a lot worse than a sudden loss.

I can’t remember what my mom looked like – not before the disease – but that’s a whole different post that I cannot, for the time being, bring myself to write just yet. And I still don’t get it.

At least those who have lost their family members suddenly have the priviledge of remembering as they were, and for that I “envy” those who are mourning today, and I hope they aren’t angry that I joined them in their grief.

And not just because of what you are thinking (as if my mother dying weren’t enough).

My day started out great – I’ve been in a good mood, I haven’t cried in two whole days (tears in my eyes don’t count) – I even tweeted that I was smiling.

But it seemed The Gods of March 2009 decided to give us one more kick in the ass before leaving for good.

At around 1:30 pm I got a call from my grandfather who said, “I’m going to join your mother, take care of your grandmother.”

You know those TV shows where people say they could feel the blood drain out of their body? It’s an actual feeling – take my word for it.

At first, I thought he was going to hurt himself. He’s OK most of the time, but they just lost their daughter, and they don’t work all day like we do – they have much less distractions – so I’m used to hearing him cry, but this was new.

Once I got a few more words out of him, I could tell his speech was slurred – it wasn’t just crying. I asked him to put my grandmother on the line – which he did – and she told me he seemed to have had a small stroke, but he won’t let her call an ambulance.

At this point I’m thinking, “Dear Universe, if this is your idea of an April Fool’s joke, then 1) it’s not April 1 yet and 2) it’s not funny. You suck.”

It took about 5 more hours until we could get him to go to the hospital. Considering we’ve already had more than our share of hospitals for 2009 (my 27 year old sister was admitted the day before my mom back in January with an enormous blood clot in her leg), I can’t blame his lack of desire to submit to all those tests.

On the other hand, I’m thinking, “Just because you bought plots by Mom’s grave, doesn’t mean you need to use them now. I’m almost positive they don’t come with an expiration date.”

My grandfather, who turns 90 in May, is actually a very healthy man. He only takes meds for high blood pressure and that’s it. He has no diseases, is on a regular diet where he can eat anything my grandmother will allow him to eat (I call it the “You Know Who Wears the Pants in this House” diet), and doesn’t even have allergies. He has had a stroke before, though, about 10 years ago, when he was 80, back when he was young. But nothing happened then.

I was at the hospital until half past midnight with my grandparents, getting him through the CT scan which came out normal, and then getting him admitted, which took about a year.

He’s fine: His right eye and the right side of his mouth were drooping a bit in the evening, but not as bad at midnight when the doctor, Diego (no relation to Dora), came to see him. His speech was almost back to normal, a big feat considering 1) it was midnight – which is known to be the 4th time he gets up to pee at night and 2) he didn’t have any teeth in (don’t tell him I told you that).

All in all, he is going to remain in the hospital tomorrow and, most likely, tomorrow night, too.

This comes at a particularly bad time since tomorrow marks 30 days since my mother died, and we have to go to the cemetery for the unveiling of the gravestone.

At least we know he’s feeling better and back to his really bad jokes (hopefully all will be OK tonight).When Diego (no relation to Dora) asked him if he’s sensitive to anything, he answered, “only 17 year old girls.”

I think he’ll be fine.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled cry fest to bring you these news:

Last weekend I ran away from home. And it was marvelous.

Last Sunday I was having a bad day (following by a few more bad days). My friend, The One Who Calls Me Balls Balls, had a brilliant idea, while calming me down, that we should take a trip up north for the weekend. At first I was a bit hesitant – felt guilty leaving so soon after my mother died and all – but I haven’t had a weekend literally since May or June.

So I tweeted about finding a cute B&B up north, and got a lot of great responses from my Twitter friends. The One Who Calls Me Balls Balls and I originally met on Twitter, and met in person a few months later at a Mashable get together. So when another Twitter friend invited us to stop by her house on the way up – of course we said yes.

Mini Tweet Up

Mini Tweet Up

Our friend told us that that blue stuff in the background is called a sky.

After stopping at a strip mall to buy some food and a couple really funny old fashioned porceline pots (she named hers Gertrude and I named mine Bernice), we were going to go hiking in a river on the way, but it was raining most of the day, so we just went straight up north and had linner (lunch-dinner) at an amazing fish restaurant. My friend took a lot of pics, but I will share just one:

Duck

Duck

So thing thing about the B&Bs up north is that they’re all made for couples – which we are not (even though the owner totally thought we were!) The place was gorgeous – so much green (apparently it’s called grass) and a great country smell (apparently cow dung) – and the corniest cabin you’ve ever seen, but it was great. So quiet.

We decided to go horseback riding, which I haven’t done since I left Texas. It was so great, though it took a while to get used to, especially since they “drive” them differently than I was used to. Check out how gorgeous the area was:

Flowers and horses

Flowers and horses

I was behind my friend and she took a picture when I wasn’t looking. I love it. How cool is this picture?

Once a cowgirl, always a cowgirl

Once a cowgirl, always a cowgirl

We also ended up hiking. To save space, I will only post two of the pictures, but my friend took many more:

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

White water

White water

And that’s it. A wonderful weekend getaway, about 5 minutes long, but oh-so-needed. And heavenly.

Heaven on earth

Heaven on earth

Yesterday I read my mom’s blog.

Don’t start putting me down, saying I shouldn’t have read it. It’s been in my RSS reader for a long time, and I have waited a long time – I see it every day (especially since I divided everything up into folders and it’s the only that doesn’t belong anywhere).

So yesterday I read it. I wanted to hear my mom’s voice.

And I did.

But I haven’t stopped crying since then. Literally.

I cried at work.

I cried in the car.

I cried at the gas station.

I didn’t cry on the train, but I probably should have. (My eyes are a gorgeous green when I cry, and there was a really hot guy sitting behind me. Like I tweeted, he was too close to take a picture of, too far to hit on. FLIRT FAIL!)

I cried at the restaurant.

I cried at the grocery store (which was special – how many people cry at the sight of cereal?)

I cried in bed.

I cried in the bathroom.

I cried on the phone to my dad (who asked me why I didn’t come to him – I love him so much).

I’m crying now (good thing I type blind/touch type).

I cried in the shower.

At least I think I did – there was water involved, after all.

I cried to my friend (which makes me feel horrible to the point where I almost stop being friends with someone out of sheer embarassment, and you don’t have to tell me that that’s what friends are for because I already know, but it doesn’t make me any more comfortable doing it).

(Sorry for ending the sentence with a preposition.)

And I just can’t stop crying.

Seriously, I’ve cried so much that if crying made you lose weight, I would be sexy as all hell right now.

(Then, knowing me, I’d cry some more because my clothes would all be too big on me and I’d have to go shopping, which I hate.)

But I couldn’t NOT read the blog, and I think I was hoping that by reading it, it would trigger that breakdown that is supposed to happen, but hasn’t happened yet.

So the flood gates have officially opened, but I’m not feeling better, and I know that I don’t get it. I don’t get that my mom is gone.

My brain knows, but my heart hasn’t yet accepted it. I’m not sure how to express this thought, but I’ll try. When I think of my mom (mostly when I’m alone in the car or in bed), my head knows she won’t be there for all those major life events (wedding, kids, etc.) Those, at the moment, are easier to accept, because they are far away (I realize I’m 31, but since I’m single, they seem very far away).

But when I think that she won’t hug me or kiss me or tell me she’s proud of me anymore, that’s when it dawns on me: It hasn’t dawned on me. I just don’t get it.

And knowing I don’t get it makes it even more frustrating. It’s like I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall. For the last few months before she died, “the other shoe” was her dying. And then it happened. And my logical and grammatically correct thinking said, “The other shoe implies there are only two shoes, and that this was the second, so we’re done.” So my logical and grammatically correct thinking is having trouble processing this latest shoe.

So I was hoping reading her blog would trigger it, but it hasn’t so far. Looked up, no shoes are falling.

I’m not sure who it is that will make that third shoe drop, but if it could be a pair of really nice brown boots, I would appreciate it.

Also, a warning to get out of its way would be appreciated.

For the record, if tears equalled weight loss, I would have lost about 7 lbs during the writing of this post.

For the past couple of days, I have been trying to make a difficult decision. This isn’t the first difficult decision I’ve made at all – I’ve moved continents, I’ve left jobs that I’ve loved to advance my career, and I’ve dumped friends. Generally speaking, I am a very private person, and I very rarely share my feelings and thoughts with others, be they friends or family.

My family is very close. My sisters told my mom everything – probably more than she wanted to hear. 🙂 I never did. I think when I was growing up she took it personally, but then she accepted that it’s just who I am.

Nonetheless, whenever I was at the “I’m-about-to-explode-because-I-honestly-don’t-know-what-to-do” stage, I would go to her, because even though I never told her much, somehow she just knew me.

Which kinda pissed me off, but kinda made me happy at the same time.

Since yesterday, this decision that I have to make has been making its rounds through my brain, especially during quiet times (car ride to and from work, just before I fall asleep, and bathroom breaks). And last night I suddenly realized:

Nobody knows me anymore.

I realize it’s my fault – I’m incapable of sharing everything about me with anyone. My friends would love for me to share or ask for their advice (which I do, but not for decisions such as these for the most part), but they’ve only known me for a fairly short amount of time.

How is someone supposed to know me as well as someone who knew me for 31 years?

My mom had been unable to talk since December, so effectively any advice she could have given at that point was limited to yes and no. Come the end of January or beginning of February, she was rarely lucid – and then not at all. So you’d think this would have hit me a couple months ago.

But I guess, even though it was clear that there was zero hope, somewhere in the back of my mind, I guess I refused to believe it was over until it was over.

And now I’m stuck, needing to make this decision, not knowing how I’m going to make it, even though I have amazing friends who give great advice.

Because nobody knows me anymore.

Update: It seems my dad does know me. He gave me advice I wasn’t expecting. Go, dad.

* Note to new readers (due to today’s sudden surge in traffic): This is my first post since my mother died of glioblasoma, a terminal form of brain cancer, last week. You can read the background here.

I was going to write this post as a just another post, but it ended up being kind of a post to my mom. I guess it’s fitting, considering it’s about her and me.

I always said I was a clone of you. 90% of me is you. How am I like you?

  1. momI look like you. I have since I was born. The only difference between your baby pictures and mine are that yours are in black and white.
  2. I sound like you. People haven’t been able to tell us apart on the phone since I was in middle school. Even at the shiva people kept thinking you were there.
  3. I have your mannerisms.
  4. I have your overbite.
  5. I have your Cheshire cat smile.
  6. I have your handwriting in every language we know. If we couldn’t remember writing something, we never knew which one of us wrote it (the cake signs at Cup O’ Joe).
  7. Like you, I type a million words per minute (mostly to keep up with my brain).
  8. Like you, my self esteem is practically non-existent. Nothing anyone says will ever change that.
  9. Like you, I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. When I’m here, I miss there. When I’m there, I miss here.
  10. Like you, I’m very easy to get along with.
  11. Like you, I have an eclectic taste in music. If certain artists knew who sang before and after them on our iPods, there would be trouble.
  12. Speaking of, I have your iPod. But I can’t bring myself to change its name from Mom’s iPod. So I won’t.
  13. Like you, I make friends easy, but am shy in social situations where I don’t know anyone.
  14. Like you, I am very careful about who I let into my life.
  15. Like you, I am constantly smiling and laughing, even if I’m not feeling it.
  16. Like you, if any liquid spills on the dinner table, regardless of where it is located in relation to me, it will always spill on me. Always.
  17. Like you, I am incredibly sensitive. My feelings get hurt so easily.
  18. Like you, I’m a natural born leader who would rather follow, but I have no problem taking the lead when necessary.
  19. Like you, I pick and choose my battles.
  20. Like you, I avoid confrontation as much as possible, even at the cost of losing a friend.
  21. Like you, I do not easily get angry or lose my temper, but when I do, you better watch out. Remember the time people actually called me to say they heard I got mad?
  22. Like you, I have that innate talent of choosing the one cart out of 7,000 at the supermarket that can’t go straight.
  23. Like you, I have no problem expressing my positive feelings. The negative/sad ones get kept inside.
  24. Like you, I don’t cry in public. Until you got sick, I only saw you cry twice. My one public cry prompted my friend O to write a blog post about it.
  25. Like you, I love cinnamon Trident.
  26. Like you, I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. You have 2 masters degrees, I only have one, but I have time to catch up.
  27. Like you, I’m a bit of a geek, but geek is chic, so we’re cool.

But I have a long way to go to be anything like you. You’d be so proud (and embarrassed)  if you saw all the letters and emails we have gotten from all the people whose lives you touched.

Every since I first heard that Soledad wrote El Tiempo Pasa to her mother, I have loved it (I loved it before, too). When you died, this part of the song popped in my head:

Aunque el tiempo pase fuerte
aunque a veces sean crueles
las agujas del reloj
Yo te juro que mi vida
y las que vengan conmigo
serán tu continuacíon
Para asegurarle al mundo
un futuro tan bonito
asĂ­ como quiere Dios

Someone else wrote it, but it’s my promise to you.

Like you used to write on my letters to camp,

MWWWWWAAAAAPPPPP

I was late to work today. I had an amazing dream, and I woke up exhausted and depressed. I dreamt (not for the first time) that my mother was suddenly feeling better, and she was slowly talking and walking again, and that she came home.

And that she washed my baby niece.

And that she played with my 3.5 year old nephew.

And that she gave me her recipe for her amazing artichoke salad.

And that she was at my wedding (down the road).

And that she got to help me figure out how to be a mom (down the road).

And that she got to babysit my kids so I could get some sleep.

And that she got to have a full head of gray hair.

And that she and my dad got to get old together.

And that she and I got that website we talked about off the ground.

And that she told me how to get the pink out of my white shirt when I accidentally left a red sock in my whites.

And that she told me she was proud of me.

And that she yelled at me for not applying cream every morning to my face.

And she wasn’t crying.

And she wasn’t poofy from steroids.

And she wasn’t depressed.

And I wasn’t either.

And she was smiling and laughing like my mom always did.

And then I woke up and realized that not sleeping is better.

Or at the very least, that nightmare about having my teeth fall out. That’s definitely a better dream to have. At least it doesn’t stay with you all day.

And doesn’t make you contemplate buying stock in Kleenex.

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