Hello Again World,

February was a long month. It was a month of being very very sick and then I got better, and then I got worse. You don’t need the details, but I’m waiting to hear back about test results and I am not doing much better in the mean time.

I am stuck wrestling the frustration of a long winter, with the rest of us Canadians. There is something disheartening about muddy snow covered streets, exponentially higher car accidents and the constant bundling up against wind chills.

The good news is. I have finally secured a full time job. Yes folks, I have joined the ranks of the “real adults” working 8am to 430pm. I even moved into my own desk on Friday. On Monday I plan on prettifying it a little bit with my own calendar and maybe a photo. I called my Grandma today and she suggested flowers. Apartment Therapy suggested that too, there is nothing fresher or more satisfying to the eye than flowers! Especially with no windows back there.

This weekend was some tough talk with family members. I called my Grandpa on my biological mother’s side. We talked about the controversy over her death, and where the paperwork was sitting for him to have custody of my brother and sister. He said he’d keep me in the loop, which I appreciate. I worry about them! It’s strange to slip into the role of granddaughter with him and his wife. Hell, it’s strange being in the role of family member with that side of the family, period! But I’d rather be in touch with them than not.

I also called my Omi and Opi. They didn’t pick up. And they’ve disabled their voicemail. So I wrote them the most straightforward letter I have ever written. I let them know that my Opi’s sister called me to ask if they were ok, but I didn’t know because they haven’t talked to me. I let them know this past half a year I had two family members pass away, that I got a new job, and that I was frustrated with reaching out to them and have them not respond. I let them know that I’ve learned life is short, and that I get angry with them sometimes when I think about all the letters and phone calls they haven’t replied to. I didn’t ask for an apology, I just asked that they be a part of my life, because they are after all, a part of my family. I don’t know what else to do as far as they are concerned. I haven’t decided if this is my final attempt with them, or if maybe when I am out West I’ll just show up at their door and invite them for coffee.

While this wasn’t the most uplifting of posts, it was some things on my emotional and mental to do lists’ that I’ve been putting off checking off. Now that they are done I’m going to enjoy a book, maybe do a bit of tidying up, and then eat dinner with the amazing people I live with. Because they make me so happy! (And there is Sesame Chicken on the menu for dinner tonight and folks, it is to die for.)

Enjoy the last bit of your weekend lovelies! And chin up, spring is in the air! ❤

Advertisements

Feeling Messy

Hi folks. We’re a week away from Christmas, and while I am 3/4 of the way ready, and about the same amount excited… the rest of me feels scattered all over the place. I think a good symbol of that is the three projects all in piles around me, and two started in other rooms… 

My grandpa on my mom’s side is celebrating his birthday today, and all I can think is how hard that would be. This close to Christmas, and his birthday, and this year the huge shadow cast on that. He just got in touch with my birth mom this past year or so too. We were texting yesterday, just checking in. He and I agreed that sleep isn’t the same anymore. I wake up most mornings sick feeling and worried, and to distract myself from all that I keep the day busy. 

I called my Dad this afternoon, on a dog walk around the block. He asked if I had talked to my brother lately, and I said I’d text him this afternoon. My brother is stressed about school, he’s a year and a half away from graduating, failing a course, and therefore discouraged to the point of not even going to classes. I don’t want to push or nag him, and I am actually concerned that he is depressed. There’s an alarming amount of teenagers suffering depression. High school pressure isn’t what it used to be. In grade nine we had universities coming in and pushing us to pick degrees and career paths. I remember all to well the overwhelming panic that set in that early. And god, I’m four years into university, half done a degree, and I still feel that way! So anyway, my brother opened up, explained he was confused and let me in a bit. So I sent back a long response, saying I understood, offering advice. He immediately shut down, and now I just feel worse about it.

It’s the same feeling with my sister, she texted me last Friday, letting me know she and our brother are going to a foster home. There’s nothing I can do, not much I can say, and that is so frustrating.

Negative feelings really are a little crack in the dam, and now I’m feeling even heavier. I suppose I’ll get some cookies going, just to keep my hands and mind busy. There’s just so much sadness this year. My family on my stepmom’s side is still reeling from my grandpa’s death in the fall. My friend texted me yesterday, saying a woman from work just lost her daughter in a car accident, the father had finally agreed to see the daughter after two weeks, and on their way back to the mom’s place they got into the accident. My friend was upset, and couldn’t imagine how the mother felt. It really puts a twist in the stomach, to come up on a holiday that is all about family, and be feeling the ache of lost family members.

I hope your families are safe and healthy, and you get to enjoy some cookies too! There’s a lot of snow out here, but it’s pretty to look at, and makes home feel that much cozier. And as my Dad said before we got off the phone: “Do make the most of your time here!” 

Open Arms or Armor?

The funeral is tomorrow.

I’m unsure whether I want to go in a full suit of armor, or completely open and receptive. My personality is leaning toward the armor instinctively, but there are a couple things that are encouraging that choice…

The main one being my Great Aunt… let’s call her Great Aunt May. She is already on one of my last nerves and I haven’t even MET the lady yet. She kicked it off on the wrong foot over the summer when she made clear that she expected all the family – including me – to fly out to B.C. to meet this Great Grandmother that I didn’t know existed.

Now here’s where I’m kind of grateful that I have evolved as a person. The old me totally would have been frantic and guilty and felt obligated to scrounge up money or put a ticket on my visa just to fly out and see people that were never there for me. Wanna know my response?

“I’ll send her a letter if someone gives me her mailing address. But I have a hard enough time affording a plane ticket to visit my own family.”

I never did get that mailing address…

Anyway she’s kicked it up a notch, she asked if her and my other Great Aunt could stay at my boyfriend’s mom’s place. When I made that clear that it couldn’t work out (and that it wasn’t my home to just open up to relatives I’ve never met before) she moved on. And then asked me to pick her and my other great aunt up at the airport and drive them the hour or so out to the town where the funeral will be. When I responded that no, I don’t own a car and couldn’t do that, with apologies even…. she said “Well do you have any idea what a cab would cost from X to Y?” Infuriated I responded “Why no. I don’t. Because like I said. I take transit.”

So I guess I’m a bit on edge and defensive going into this. And I don’t want to be! I want to be open enough that my sister and brother can approach me and that we can meet and bond and they can know undoubtedly that I am there for them.

And here’s where the story gets all Hollywood Reality TV: I don’t know if my Mom’s abusive boyfriend will be at the funeral. Furthermore, I don’t know that I possess the self control to not punch him square in the nose should he approach me. Or my siblings

So it seems the regular cheer up techniques aren’t going to work out for me.

I painted my nails. I’ve listened to music that doesn’t allow me to wallow. I’ve allowed myself moments to be sad. But after talking to my aunt and uncle, my boyfriend, and my boyfriend’s mom I’ve come to the conclusion that:

Grieving never stops.

It might become fewer and fewer between. It might become bittersweet, and it may stop hole-punching into your lungs when it hits. 

I’ve had my heart broken before. I know it gets better. But I don’t know what to say to the six year old who lost our mother. I don’t know what to say to the preteen girl who looks like a mirror image of me at her age, with a matching anger and hopelessness already blooming across her life. I don’t know how to connect to the man who lost his daughter, and doesn’t know this granddaughter.

I don’t know how to answer “How are you?”

I don’t know what to say to “My condolences.”

And I know I’m not alone. I know this isn’t something that I’m the only person dealing with. I know all of you readers have experience loss.

What did you do? How did you respond to family and friends? What did you tell yourself to keep moving?

“Keep moving” has worked pretty well for me this far. Just don’t stop. It allows me to collapse into bed at the end of the day, into the welcoming fog of sleep.

I wish you a cheery Christmas coffee, some cookies and warm things for the snow. 

Off to tidy the room and get some sanity before bed!

xo

Decking the Halls; Receiving Hard News

Last night I lit candles, and played Christmas music. (Songza is the bomb for Christmas music BTW) I washed dishes, and had a beer and laughed with my boyfriend as we put up decorations. It is still surreal to me, that my mom passed away on Friday.

I didn’t know her all that well. She was present in my life for the first few years and then disappeared. She came back in my life just last year. We messaged back and forth on Facebook, many of her family members found me through her, and it was strange to watch my family multiply. And now she’s gone. Just last week I told her we should catch up soon. Just a couple months ago, I thought about when I will be ready to meet her in person. Maybe we’d go get a coffee in her town so close to mine. Maybe we’d meet up for brunch, maybe she loved breakfast food as much as me.

I think what will bring this home and make it real to me, is when my brain and heart fully accepts that none of that can happen now. I think my heart will be drop kicked into mourning when I meet my sister and brother and cry with them.When I think about what will happen to them now, and where they will go and who will care for them. But. Until then, I am on autopilot.

I am cat and house sitting, and so far it has been…. an adventure. There are six litter boxes. They are fed 11 cans of cat food between the 14 of them twice a day. The floor needs sweeping and swiffering daily. They are adorable though! And the energy level is much lower than dogs in here. My favorite is curling up on the couch and they all just settle around and we spend some quiet time. It’s a good distraction.But I am looking forward to my own bed!

Well. With this little grenade of a post, I hope your December is off to a lovely start!

Writing Letters

I’ve always revered the old fashioned. Ideally I would have been born in the time of hoop skirts, homemaking and one building schools. Growing up, Little House on the Prairie was sheer perfection. And it’s funny how little things have become so “old fashioned”… like writing letters. 

A few times a fellow student will sit down at the table I’m at, and we’ll chat about class and life and work, and they’ll point to the letter I’m writing and say “Homework?” with a raised eye brow. And I laugh and say, “No. I’m writing a letter.” And every time I get something along the lines of “Oh how sweet, I didn’t know anyone did that anymore.”

I love mail! I love opening something, and seeing someone’s handwriting, and knowing that they sat down and wrote however many pages of their life down so that I could read it. It isn’t a 160 character touch base, it isn’t a phone call (that I often don’t have time for, caught between evening shifts or class) but it’s personal, and sweet and maybe a touch old fashioned.

I successfully sent off a Wedding RSVP, two cards for both my Omi and Opi (German for Grandma and Grandpa) and my Grandma, and a full three page letter to my Stepmom. 

My Stepmom is trying. She really is. She mentioned my grandpa (her dad) in every other paragraph of her letter. She said she’s trying to live a bit more like he did, worry less and enjoy the day. I’m proud of her. She and I are a lot alike. We stress over the little, uncontrollable things, and it disrupts us and puts our mood off, ruins a day, taints a memory. I’m glad she’s trying to get rid of it also. I’ve been trying with yoga and deep breaths and personal reminders and the “I’m Grateful For” game. (It’s hard to be frustrated with anything when you’re mentally listing every positive thing in your life you can think of)

It was in writing my mom back that I realized how adult my life sounds. I told her about our couple friends, double dates, my boyfriend and my’s plans about saving for a house, my reading about what career would best suit me…. And I like it. I’m not anxious about it. I like that I’m easing into adulthood. I really have my boyfriend’s mom to thank for that. It would have been a two footed jump into ice-cold reality had a moved into my own apartment after leaving my friend’s home. And I’m well aware of that reality I’ve avoided for the time being (rent, bills, hydro, internet, grocery trips…. jeepers.)

Anyway. I’ve just come back from walking the dog in those crisp multicolored leaves! And I really have some studying to do. So I wish you a very good evening, and some happy mail 😉

 

How to Travel Alone [in Sad Situations]

There are many different kinds of travelers: the vacationers, the family trips, the business trips and sometimes people (like me, today) are traveling  due to family emergency. I have never travelled for any other reason than a positive one, but this trip to see my grandpa has made me aware of all the reasons behind people’s travelling.
I have a three hour layover today. So I decided to write a quick how to post to keep me occupied.

First. When traveling via plane: bring gum. It can help “pop” your ears  as well as keep your breath from offending people. Pick mint flavor (unless you hate minti suppose) as it may keep your stomach settled.

Second. In case of a long layover bring a favorite pick-me-up movie to keep you smiling and engaged in something.

Third. Get coffee and food and sit in the sun. Surround yourself with strangers.

Fourth . Remember strangers can be annoying. Pack headphones. Listen to happy music you could sing along to. 

Fifth. This is very important. Do not think deeply on any subject. Be calm and objective, resting on thoughts for only moments. Notice your surroundings; be as curious as a five year old: wonder how things work. (Bonus points for googling it and finding out how it works)

Sixth. When you reach your destination. Hug your family tightly. Accept sadness. Accept every feeling no matter the sense of them. Support and lean on those around you. No matter how tempting, do not disengage. Continue to live in the now. Above all, love your family and keep in touch with them. Even if you “just don’t feel like calling today”. Do it anyway.

Looking Fall in the (Super Scary?) Face.

Well, now that I have fully and completely enjoyed my summer, I am looking at a pretty hectic fall. 

I am going to be flying out west on Saturday, as my grampa was diagnosed with cancer. I never really know how to react to news such as this. I take the necessary “adult” actions, and remain in a state of calm only broken by the crack in my Grandma’s voice over the phone, and the empathy of my manager as I tell him I need time off. My goal, really is to remain out of the middle between my aunt and my stepmom who haven’t talked in two years. And to be helpful and empathetic and patient. 

I have yet to get all my textbooks for class, buy my (overpriced) bus pass or a locker…. the line-ups for all these things will be just atrocious so I am far from excited. I think, in my university career, I am finally at the point where I just want this over with.

My family is so excited to have their “first university graduate” so lord help me if I don’t go through with the ceremony and pomp and circumstance-y stuff! If it were up to me, I would complete my courses and have them mail me my degree certificate so I can move on with life… But that sounds so terribly bitter and un-enthused! Ah well.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with your own exciting or not exciting outlook on this coming fall, because it is approaching quickly!

What things do you leave to the last minute for the season change?

ps. this is not to say that I do not love fall. Fall is my favorite season for all the cliche reasons, as well as the fact that it always felt like a fresh start to me. But I’ll spare you the list of loves of autumn and let you get back to your precious summer days! Take care!