Cemetery Gates

Dad, circa 1968

I visited my Dad’s grave alone for the first time last week. It wasn’t something I specifically went out of my way to do … I just felt compelled to go there one cold morning.

I had just dropped Hubby off at his new place of employment and had nothing on my own work schedule until a 12:00 pm meeting. And since I had been in Chicago, I hadn’t had a chance to visit Dad for the past two weeks.

I don’t know what the “etiquette” (if there is one)** for how often one should visit a loved one’s gravesite. I’ve never had to deal with a direct relative’s (let alone a parent) passing before; never had a relative buried in close proximity to where we lived.

The closest experience I had to losing someone I felt incredibly close to was well over 20 years ago. And when I look back now, I have to believe that being part of my Godmother‘s journey — especially that last year when I was a Senior in High School — is what pushed me to believe I could make a good nurse. Or at the very least, she taught me to be compassionate in the midst of pain and sorrow.

After her passing, my Mom and I made it a point to visit her at least once a month. But as I had started university that fall, I must admit that the visits started to become more scarce. In fact, the last time I visited her grave was 11 years ago during the funeral of another close family friend. Even after all those years of not visiting my Godmother, I couldn’t help but open those floodgates once I saw her gravestone.

Hubby clears a path to Dad ...

Since my Dad’s passing, I’ve made it a point to try to visit him once a week. Usually it’s on a Sunday after Mass with my Mom, followed by brunch and a trip out to the cemetery. Regardless of the weather … and believe me, there were those horrible Snow-maggedon days this past winter … I’d be at the cemetery. Hubby even went with me during the three weeks my Mom was in the Philippiness, just so that I wasn’t alone.

It’s now been close to 4 months now, since my Dad died. Every time we’ve been to the cemetery, I still feel the unexpected loss of my Dad. I might not shed a tear when I’m physically there at his grave site (perhaps to appear “strong” in front of my Mom?), but once we’re a distance from the cemetery, I still break down in tears. I still feel the intense sadness I did the first time I visited Dad’s new living quarters; which happened in the dark of night, less than a week after his burial.

This week I believe that I was compelled to go to the cemetery on my own; not because I hadn’t gone in two weeks. But rather, because I wanted to test how strong I could be; if I could survive going at it alone. I wanted to know if I could be strong enough to cry in front of him and still be able to pick myself up and drive away. After all, if it wasn’t for my Hubby during that first late-night visit, I might have spent the night on top of Dad’s grave.

So with a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee in my hand (it was 20-some degrees outside at 8:30 am, after all), I walked from my car to Dad’s grave. I told him some funny stories and told him how much I missed him. And I cried. And cried. And cried.

Afterwards, I picked myself up, said a few prayers, and walked back to my car. I sat in the car for a bit, warming myself up and drying my face off from my frozen tears. And after a few minutes, I drove away.

So now I know: I am strong enough to go to the cemetery on my own. However, I also know that I’m still raw inside; I’m still tender around my heart.

And I wonder if it’s ever going to go away***.

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** What do you think, oh Internets? Anybody who has had experience in losing a parent … how often did you visit them in the beginning? And …

*** Will the intensity of how I feel right now ever go away?

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One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands. EVER.

New Directions

I had a life plan.

Never mind the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life (at least in regards to a career), but by the time I was 15 years old I had a general sense of how I wanted my life to turn out.

I wanted to get married by the time I was 25 years old and have my first child by the age of 27.

And because I had this notion that thirty years was a ginormous age gap between my last child and myself, my goal was to quit “baby-making” by the time I was 30 years old. This notion came from the first hand experience of a 15 year old who not only dealt with a big generational gap but a cultural gap as well.

But yeah; I’d have all the kids I could bring into this world before I turned 30 years old.

Obviously, this life plan never panned out. I mean … geez. I even pushed “actively trying” for that first child into my mid-30’s. We had already gone through all the infertility treatments we could (financially and emotionally) put ourselves through. We had even seriously considered other options to bring a child into our lives; either through domestic adoption or international adoption.

But in the end, Hubby & I made the decision to move on with our lives without children.

*****

There have been many reasons why Hubby & I decided to close the door on the quest to have children. One of which was to regain some sanity in our lives.

Living in 28-day increments, in which any given moment can produce the tiniest bit of hope, can be exhausting. Especially when the next given moment can quickly turn into a major disappointment. I won’t lie … it has been incredibly nice  to step away from living in four weeks of constantly worrying about whether or not I’ll see two pink lines.

Another reason was obviously to start moving on with our lives; to start planning a “new future” without children.

When that “life plan” I dreamed of at the age of 15 was completely derailed by infertility, I know I spent a lot of time and energy trying get it “back on track” … In other words, I fought tooth and nail not to head down the child-free “railroad track” that my life was already on.

Making the decision to move on with our lives was not an easy decision. But when we finally decided on the child-free path — this “railroad track” (if you will) — it was as if I could finally allow my life to move forward in the direction that my life and our marriage was already on. I could finally stop struggling to get “back on track” and accept that perhaps we were never meant to be on that particular “track” at all.

****

A "chance" photo, shot during our trip to Banff,  Alberta
A "chance" shot taken from the road in Banff, Alberta

****

Today I turn 38 years old. I’m obviously very far from where I thought I’d be by now; in that “life plan” I concocted at the age of fifteen.

If my life turned out as I planned it to be, I would have had at least one child somewhere between the ages of 7 to 10 years old. And I probably would have begun to think of returning to the work force after being a Stay-At-Home mom once the 7 year old started first grade.

But it’s not … and today I can finally say that I’m actually really okay with it. Maybe it has to do with age, but I’m finally to a point where I no longer have focus on the dream or “life plan” I had always had in my mind.

Instead, I can finally accept that this is where Hubby & I are meant to be at this exact moment in time. And we can forge forward in this new uncharted direction in our lives.

Bullet The Blue Sky

It’s another warm and sunny day here in Chicago; been like this since last week. Not that I’m complaining … I’m just hoping the Blue Skies stay through the Memorial Day weekend. Especially in Detroit.

Anyway, because I’m admittedly lazy today, I’ll have to do one of those bullet updates as to what I’ve been up to. Because contrary to popular belief, I’ve been a bit occupied.

  • Applied for every Case Management position available in the Hospital and Health Insurance settings in both Chicago and Detroit
  • Never received any phone calls from any companies located  or based in Chicago
  • Received calls and set up a few interviews with companies located in Detroit
  • Interviewing by phone today for the position which requires traveling (cross fingers, peeps!)
  • In the mean time, helping Hubby’s friend out with populating pages for WordPress-powered websites and getting paid to do this. Woo-hoo!
  • Somehow knew my blogging skills would get me some sort of work … 🙂

Anyway, wish me luck on the interview I’ve got scheduled for this afternoon. This is the one that I really would love to try out. It combines my clinical knowledge and my love of teaching/training. And, if I should be so luck to get it, would allow me to live anywhere as long as I’m close to a major airport. So … once we have our house sold, Hubby & I can look at moving further west!

I promise, more witty and inspiring posts at a later date.

A Folgers Moment

Hubby & I are back in Michigan for a few days; and I must admit that it’s good to be home. Especially after the past couple of weeks, post-employment.

Would LOVE this view with my Morning Java ...

I won’t lie. I’ve been completely stressed out over the unemployment issue. Between Hubby not getting paid in a timely manner (despite working non -stop on multiple jobs for the past few weeks) and me not bringing any income … we’ve been up late and night worrying about finances. And my job hunt has been painstakingly slow (well, at least in my eyes anyway).

So being in Michigan … and not having to be back to return on Monday to a non-existent job … has been nice. Minus the multiple loads of laundry we’ve brought back with us and cleaning up around the house we now consider our “home away from the city”, we should be able to relax … even for just a little bit.

We came home yesterday afternoon in time for Tyler’s Confirmation; where Hubby was given the honor of being his Sponsor. Afterward, we spent time at the In-Laws trying to convince Kairi that we were, indeed the same Auntie & Uncle she visited earlier in April. And after dinner, we spent time trying to sharpen Tyler’s Scrabble skills by playing a couple of games. So by the time we arrived back at our house, it was pretty late and it took all of a few moments before the dog was fed and we were in bed for the night.

Hubby & I crashed so hard that when the alarm I set on my phone went off this morning, I picked my phone up and “answered” it. And while I admittedly slept well in our wonderful non-IKEA queen-sized bed … I have to admit that I woke up feeling stressed. It’s as the minute my eyes opened, my mind bypassed neutral and went straight into overdrive.

Yeah. I’m that pitiful.

In any case, after a few moments of tossing and turning in bed I got up to take a very anxious Kozzy out for her morning business. After all, If I couldn’t calm myself down … the least I could do was calm Pacey McPacer down. So I took puppy-girl and headed out our front door. As she did her business next to a couple of bushes on our front lawn, I sat on our porch to take in the morning air. Then Kozzy decided to do the same thing; laying on the grass to bathe in the morning sunshine. It was … the most relaxing moment I’ve had in a looong time.

And because I had to share the moment with my best friend, I went back in and grabbed Hubby. We sat there for a spell, taking in the sights and sounds of a beautiful Sunday morning and absorbing the tranquility of our surrounding. No trains passing by in the distance, no traffic down the street … no taxis honking at the cars in front of them. Other than the sounds of birds chirping and the slight breeze passing by, it was so quiet.

A Couples Massage would be nice right about now ...

Unfortunately, we had places to be by lunch so we reluctantly went back in. Even Hubby agreed that it was a nice calming moment … saying that the only thing that would make it better is if we could go to the spa and get a massage**. And I couldn’t have agreed with him more!

But wow … what a perfect way to collect our thoughts and start the day. If I could find away to capture that moment and relive it every morning, I totally would. But then I guess this wouldn’t be a moment I’d be able to treasure forever.

I wouldn’t be able to document my own personal “Folgers Moment” …

~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~

** The irony? Our Kozzy-girl is the one with a Spa Day. She gets to go to the groomer tomorrow and get a bath and her nails trimmed … or, as I’ve been calling it, a “Pedi-Pedi”! Is it wrong that I’m jealous?!

How I Spent Mother’s Day

In years past, Mother’s Day would have been a difficult day. Yesterday was less difficult than the previous years; less traumatic.

I contribute it to the fact that Hubby & I weren’t physically “in town” to celebrate Mother’s Day with our respective Moms and his sister. Not that I didn’t like going out, typically for brunch, every second Sunday in May … it’s just that the day has always been a painful reminder of what I’ve never achieved in life.

I mean seriously; even at Mass. Any Catholic Church I had ever gone to on Mother’s Day always always always have all the mothers and pregnant woman stand up before the closing prayer to pray over them. And every year, I would glance around the church to see which women remained seated like me.

Don’t get me wrong … such a prayer is much deserved for all the under-appreciated hard work and unconditional love that a Mom provides to their children. But for every year that I was not “included” in these prayers, the less I felt “connected” to those women who would stand proudly as they received these blessing. The less I felt as if I were a part of that “sisterhood.”

Hubby, the "Cat Burglar"

The less I felt blessed amongst other women.

This year, Hubby & I spent Mother’s Day in Chicago; opting to call both sets of Moms and wish them the Happiest of Mother’s Days. And afterward, settled down on our couch to watch a marathon of movies on TV, starting with “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”** and ending with “Sweet Home Alabama.”

And this year, instead of getting all weepy over the twenty zillion Mother’s Day commercials that ran during the TV breaks, Hubby & I would have fun poking at the sometimes fake sentiment that these ads would portray.

This year, as Hubby & I sat on our couch, feeling completely unmotivated to do much but cook meals and take our puppy-girl on an extended walk to the beach, I felt completely blessed .

Because although I remain separated from the ever-elusive “Mommy” Sisterhood … I know I’m blessed with an incredible Husband and parents/siblings, as well as 3 four-legged creatures that look to me as their Mom.

So yeah … that’s my small victory for the day. I turned my Mother’s Day Frown upside down. (Pretty positive for a currently unemployed person, eh?)

Me, surrounded with two of my three furbabies

** LOVE that film. And check out what star, Nia Vardalos, says about her experiences as an infertile on Mother’s Day.

Hubby with Rain (Yami's on the window sill and Kozzy's on her rug next to Hubby)