Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Holidays Can be Especially Tough for Some of Us

The holidays can be a stressful time for most of us.  People who have lost special people from their lives can find it even harder right now.

I was watching an episode of Scorpion, and part of it dealt with one character's grief.  I ended up crying and thinking way too much about my late sister Kim and other people we miss all the time.

The holidays, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve, or any other special occasion can just make us wish so, so much for our loved ones to be here with us.  The pain can be pretty unbearable, at times.

We can do things in their memory, such as blogging, writing in a journal, or just thinking about them for a while.  Also, try to be of comfort to others who are grieving, whether they are grieving for the same people that we are or not.

The only other things I know of to do are keep busy, help those in need, think of making things good for children, and just appreciate the present moment and the people we have here.

It's easy to get stressed out by so many little things during the holidays, but the other day I was thinking about how I wish our Aunt Dee Dee was here to annoy me in little ways like she used to (chomping gum loudly or singing along to Christmas music in the back of the car when we drove around looking at Christmas decorations).  I mean, how silly to get annoyed by such ridiculous things, when later you would just wish that the person was back with you again.

So, just try to cherish the people you love, and enjoy them and all their little faults (since we all have them - I know that I have many myself).  Try to relax and breathe, stay in the moment as much as you can, and find all the little good things to enjoy during this season.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I Saw Kim Again Yesterday

I know that people around the world are grieving every day, just like I am.
For instance, for the last two days, people in Paris and around the world are grieving for those killed in Paris.  Molly Hahn, who does her lovely Buddha Doodles, posted this drawing in love and support of the citizens of Paris:

I could probably post the pic myself, but I don't know the rules, so you can just click it if you want to see it.

Yesterday (a few hours ago), my husband and I went out for my belated birthday dinner (health problems prevented the outing last weekend).  Our waitress was one of the several Kim look-alikes I've seen since my sister's passing three years ago.  It's always hard when that happens.

Now, it's not like any of them really look like her, if you get close enough, but often if there is a woman with short blonde hair and a profile like Kim's, I can for just a second think that I am seeing her.

Our waitress was very nice.  She didn't look at all like Kim when she talked or smiled, but when she was farther away and waiting on other tables and I saw her from the side, or when she was behind the partition arranging things on plates or something and was looking down, I felt like I was looking at Kim.

It just was so strange that on the anniversary of Kim's passing, when I was wearing my "Kim" necklace and thinking about her so much, we had to have this particular waitress.  Maybe it was another sign, maybe it was a test of my strength, maybe it was just a coincidence and means nothing, but still it's always hard to see my sister, when it's not really her.

I'm sure that many of you have experienced something similar.  It sort of takes your breath away or makes your heart skip a beat, doesn't it?

So many people really loved Kim, and her son really needs her, yet she is gone.  Life is often so unfair, and still we are supposed to carry on, be strong, live, and be happy.  I try, I really do.  I know there is a lot to be thankful for, but this loss will forever be difficult, for any of us who loved Kim.

For anyone reading this who has lost anyone very special, I hope that you can breathe, find peace, and feel more joy again.

We Love You, Kim

As I've said before, I don't remember death dates - not for people or cats or anyone else, but I do remember Kim's, because it's her and because it's a week after my birthday.

We lost our sister Kim three years ago.  I can remember it like it was yesterday, but in many ways it feels so, so long ago, because these years have been difficult - missing her.  And even three years later, I still can't totally believe that she is gone.

I love this picture of Kim because it's how I remember her most - laughing like that.  I wish I had more pictures like this.  They are probably on Facebook, but I am not.

I will be wearing this necklace from my best friend Barbara this weekend, in memory of Kim, just like I did on her birthday last month.  It helps me to feel closer to her somehow. 

I can't say it gets any easier, this grieving stuff.  It just gets...different.

All Glitter Graphics Should Look Like This

I was just putting this graphic into an email to someone and decide to blog about one of my many pet peeves - so-called "glitter" graphics that aren't glittery. 
When I search Google images (one of my favorite things to do) for glitter or sparkle graphics for various occasions, I find that about 90% of them are just images that people put white dots on and called them "glitter" or "sparkle" graphics. 
I might not be posting this graphic in the proper way, because the site this was from wanted me to paste in some code, and I don't know how.  I only know how to upload.  So, in case their code provides a link back to their site, to try to make up for not doing it the right way, I'll provide the link (but be careful if you are easily offended, because some naughtier pics were below on that page tonight when I went there).
So, what I'm saying is, the above gorgeous graphic is a glitter graphic, and I wish all of the ones that don't really sparkle but instead have jiggling white dots would stop calling themselves glitter.  Sorry for ranting.
But, man, oh man, isn't this butterfly pretty?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

There's Nothing More Precious Than a Spouse or Partner Who Really Listens

I'm not trying to brag - really, but I do have the best husband in the world.  He not only puts up with my craziness and my problems, but he actually listens to me and cares about me every day.  He continues to love me, despite my many flaws, and he just made my birthday so great, because he has listened to me for years and bothers to remember what I like.

He can list my favorite colors and my favorite flowers.  He once knew, many years ago, when looking at a full-page print ad for a vintage jewelry auction, which one of the pieces of jewelry on the page I liked the best.  I was shocked that he knew it, but he just pays attention, so he knows my taste.  Not that we could buy any, but the fact that he knew what I liked just made me feel so great.

That's why yesterday he just gave me the perfect presents for my birthday.  He always does, and for Christmas, our anniversary, and Valentine's Day, too.  Of course, he writes a beautiful note in my cards, too, and usually he has to say "and I really mean it" after I read it, because I find it hard to believe that such a wonderful man can love dopey old me, after all these years.

He even knew, when I was taking a picture of one wrapped present up close, why I was doing it.  I said, "It's not about the present, but about art."  (I just liked the way they made the design on the wrapping paper.)  He said, "I knew that."  He just "gets" me, and it's a great feeling.

Even though we've always said that one of our songs is "Danny's Song" by Loggins and Messina (just the chorus part - "even though we ain't got money, I'm so in love with ya' honey"), he's always managed to spoil me, at least according to my tastes.

So, the first things I opened were the biggest presents, because he knows I like to end on sparkly presents (which are small), so those go last.  Price means nothing, so even a super-cheap, sparkly bracelet makes a better ending (for me) than something expensive (or sentimental either - I mean, I am very sentimental, but for presents I have that sparkly ending that is necessary).

The first present was a Fart Blaster, from the movie Despicable Me.  Of course, that seems like a weird present for an adult woman, but Dean knew I really, really wanted one.  Our nephew has one, and it makes us all laugh.  It makes a nice variety of farting sounds and we like to sneak up behind each other and pull the trigger.  Dean said once that I'm like Ethan's younger sister, even though I'm his aunt.  We laugh at so many goofy things, and he's 8 now, and I'm still like 5 when I'm with him, so he's my big brother, just like Charlie and Lola, which is the next thing I got.

The Charlie and Lola DVDs.  Two seasons of it, at least.  I just like that show so much.  We first saw it when Ethan was watching it a few years ago, and I just love how silly and fun Lola is.  We even named one cat after her.  What's best about the show is that Lola's older brother is just so patient, kind, and caring with her, even when she's a bit (or a lot) annoying or mischievous (so Charlie is like Dean, when he is putting up with me, too).  I love their British accents, too.  It's so cute.

Ethan and our mom (his grandma) used to talk to each other with British accents and call each other Charlie and Lola when he would have sleepovers at her house and they were going to sleep.  I wish I had recordings of that, too, but those don't come on DVDs.  Darn it. 

Then there were the Stargate Atlantis DVDs, that I've wanted for years.  I love that show, except for parts that are too gross, where I look away, but mostly I love the humor in it (especially the Rodney McKay character), just like I love the humor in Stargate SG-1.  These shows can make me laugh, on some episodes, more than most sitcoms do.  But that's just when you know the characters and how they are, like with most shows.

Dean also gave me some bracelets from Michael's (the craft store).  They have had these beautiful crystal bracelets there for the last few years, from around now until around Christmas, and they only cost $4 each.  They are so sparkly and pretty (better than the photo shows), and I love the new ones he finds, and even to get more of the ones I already have (in case some get broken or scratched up).  Of course, Dean knows which ones I already have (he remembers all that - he has a good brain), but he knows I never mind having more, especially when something is so reasonably priced.

Actually, I did tell him to spend much less on me this year for my birthday.  He didn't really listen, and got me all of these nice things, but I told him that he really had better cut down from now on, because we can't afford it.  It's not like these things are super-expensive, for some people who buy "real" jewelry or designer stuff or give each other cars for presents and whatnot, but to me these things are all treasures.

Still, there is more.  Dean got me a Swarovski crystal bracelet and also he made me an amazing necklace (shown above - it's even prettier in person).  The necklace is made from a piece of quartz from the Star Trek warehouse.  Actually, it's a piece of a big chunk of quartz he bought from Paramount or somewhere.  It may have been used in an episode of Star Trek Enterprise, I think he said.  Anyway, Dean made the necklace himself, from that cool piece of quartz.  We both love Star Trek, by the way.  Matching set of geeks, we are.

It's not about the presents, but that my husband listens and cares so much.  He never complains or criticizes me, and just loves me all the time (no matter what).  We both try to be very good to each other all the time and say "thank you" for little things we each do around the house, etc.  It's just so nice and friendly around our house that it would make most people disgusted, maybe (his aunt used to jokingly complain about our sweetness), but it's how we like to be, for many years now.

He just knew so much this year that what I really needed were things that could make me feel happier, make me feel better - things we could watch together, things I could wear, things that would bring me continuing joy.  We've been through a lot, and he got me so many things that would help us to feel happier, like I've been saying that we need to do. 

I know this is probably all too personal, for those of you who don't know me, but I'm just talking about some fun shows that I like and about being grateful for the good in your life.  If you can find all of this in that special person in your life, you are truly blessed, so just realize it and be grateful every day, like I try to be.

I mean, even though we have grief, loss, and pain, if we have someone like this in our lives, we can make it through everything.

I'm also just trying to write about finding ways to have joy when we are grieving from loss (even losses that are several (or more) years ago and still causing us lingering pain).  My husband bought me things that he knew would make me feel happier to watch them, wear them, or play with them (like the Fart Blaster).  We need to find moments of joy and fun, to be able to live with the pain that is also inside of us. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Grief Advice from a Zen Buddhist Nun

My husband recently got me a book by the people who make Prevention magazine.  I think the title is Prevention Happiness Now because that's what the inside page says.  I think he got it at the grocery store.  It says on the front of it "Display until December 19, 2015," so as of this writing, it would probably still be available somewhere.  I tried to find it for sale online, to put up a link, but couldn't find any.
Anyway, it's a pretty good book overall.  I liked a lot of it.  It had one chapter in it that was about a woman who lost the love of her life 14 years ago and then became a Zen Buddhist nun.  Her name is Sister Dang Nghiem, M.D.
Some things she had to say in this chapter were pretty good.  She said:
Breathing heals; time doesn't.
"It's a myth to say that time can heal.  Time cannot heal.  Breathing and mindfulness can.  [Long after a traumatic event happens to you,] a sight, a sound, a smell, a taste, a touch can trigger the complete stress response as though it's happening all over again.  What saved me was the mindfulness of breathing.  Sometimes I would lie down to breathe and put my hands on my belly to slow it down and anchor my body.  Through breathing, you learn to slow the stress response, the fight-flight-or-freeze response.  If you can do that when going through a very intense experience, the next time you recall that trauma, you will do so with more peace, mindfulness, and clarity."
You can cultivate joy even when you're hurting.
"It's been 14 years since John died.  I still miss him every day, but I have learned to cultivate joy and peace in each breath, even though I feel that pain.  You have to do them both at the same time.  It's like a garden:  You have to take care of the weeds, but you also have to plant flowers.  If you only weed, you'll be exhausted and lose hope.  And if you plant enough flowers, eventually there will be less room for all the weeds."
You can keep the dead alive.
"When a person dies and you lose all your joy, then it is like you are making sure that person is as dead as possible.  But you can learn to call on the spirit of that person for help and learn to see him or her around you.  When I see a purple flower, I remember that John loved purple flowers, and I smile.  That flower, in that moment, becomes him."
Her words helped me a lot.  I know that I've been guilty of losing most of my joy, since my sister died and we lost other very important people.  But I also have felt that presence of the loved ones and have even asked them for help.  I remember when my husband was having his heart surgery and I was so frightened and I prayed to all of our dear departed loved ones and told them that if they see Dean coming toward them (coming toward the light) to please tell him to go back, come back and fight to stay alive, come back to me because I need him so much.  I don't think he experienced any of that during his surgery, but I had to say it to them, just in case - make him come back to me.
I also have felt the presence of loved ones in ways I've mentioned before - in signs, in inspiration, etc.  I guess I have to work on feeling that even more, and also cultivating more joy in general.  I have been trying, but many days it's very hard, as some of you might really, really understand if you've experienced a major loss (or several, like we have).
I just hope these words (from the book) help you as they are helping me right now.
May love and peace be with you,

Saturday, October 10, 2015

I Believe in Signs of Love and Support from Departed Loved Ones

Happy Birthday, Kim, and thank you for the signs and the support. 
I know it might sound strange, but I do believe that our departed loved ones can send us signs.
For example, a day or so after we had to put down our very sick cat Dino, who we had for many years and loved so much, we were going to Toys R Us and saw the most bright and brilliant pink sunset (my favorite color, when it's not pale).  I felt that it was from him, telling us that he was okay.
Last winter, I had to do the shoveling, because my husband has had heart surgery and because we can't afford to pay anyone.  We were both worried because of my heart and my back not being strong enough, but when I stepped outside to shovel this deep snow...

...I saw this heart in the snow: 

I felt that it was a sign from all of the people we've lost through the years, telling me that they were watching over me and that I was going to be okay, and that they loved us.
Then, a few months ago, we were passing Kim's old apartment on the way to the health food store, which always makes me sad, but we don't try to drive around it or avoid it.  So, I was feeling terrible, saying in my head, "Kim, I miss you so much."  Then some adorable things happened while we were sitting in the parking lot, before I went in.
First, there was a little bunny - not a baby, but not full-grown.  He was so cute, munching on leaves from plants growing on the edge of the parking lot, by a fence.  I went inside to get him some shredded carrots from the salad bar.  I did see him again, but not while I was sprinkling the carrots around all over onto the plants (he was hiding, of course).  Both my best friend Barbara and my husband love bunnies a lot, so it meant a lot to me to see him and leave food for him.
Then there were two women talking in the parking lot and one of them saw the container I was holding, and said, "Oh, I thought you were smelling the purple irises that smell like grapes."  So, I went back and smelled them.  Actually, they smell like grape soda, not real grapes, but it was amazing.  I told the women that those were so incredible!  I wouldn't have even seen those women if I hadn't been feeding the bunny first.
Then, when I was getting out of the car to go into the health food store and Dean was driving across the street to get groceries at a regular grocery store (sounds silly, but he had to drive because he had to get bottled water, cat litters, and stuff), there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky.  Dean saw it from the car and I saw it from the parking lot, but we both would've missed it if not for the bunny, the carrots, the talking women, and the purple irises.  We both would've been inside our stores already.
I felt that all of these things were sent to me by Kim, to comfort me, to let me know she was okay, and that she was thinking of all of us, too.
A short time later, we were heading past Kim's place to go to the health food store again, and I was feeling very sad and wondering, in my head, why can't our dear, departed loved ones help us with all our pain, why can't they send us some love and support or something?  Why do Dean and I have to both keep feeling so much pain over our losses?
This time, in the health food store parking lot, we saw the brightest, full-across-the-sky rainbow that we had ever seen (other than in pictures).  Everyone was standing in the parking lot saying, "Wow," "Amazing," and thing like that.  Again, I felt this was a sign from the people we care about, because it was right when I needed it and asked for it, and it was so beautiful and brilliant, as if they all banded together and created it, for us to see.
I wish I had photos of some of these things, but I only have a flip phone and my husband's smart phone is cheap and doesn't take great photos, and I keep forgetting to bring the camera when we go out. 
Also, recently, about two weeks before Kim's birthday, Mum landed on an old Facebook post from Kim (so, from more than 3 years ago), and a couple of days ago I accidentally ended up on a chunk of email from Kim in my "old mail" folder (which contains tens of thousands of old emails).  Like I mentioned in a previous post, I suddenly got the urge to delete some old mail (I almost never do that, obviously - that's why it's so full), pulled down once on the scroll bar and landed on emails from Kim, even though that was so unlikely because of the small amount of them that were from her.  Also, a few messages down from the oldest one were a couple from her replying to me when I was saying "Happy Birthday Kim!" which today now is, too.
Now, some of you might be saying, "Well, that's just all coincidences," or something like that, but I choose to think it's messages from people, saying hello or that they care or that they love us and are watching over us. 
Maybe some of you reading this have had similar experiences, too.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Happy Birthday Kim - Thank You for Everything

Tomorrow would've been Kim's 45th birthday, but I wanted to write this now, in case I'm too busy tomorrow.
A lovely necklace that my best friend Barbara gave me (that I'm going to wear tomorrow) is a heart with an inner heart that flips.  One side is engraved "Kim" and the other side says "When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure."
I wish I could say that I could just treasure the memories.  I mean, I do, but they also bring me pain.  It will probably always be that way, for some of us.
One thing I do feel is that I need to honor Kim's memory by trying to be okay, and by doing what I can to help her son and others.  This might sound strange, but I felt her presence early this morning when I was working on some of my work projects (more on that soon).  I felt that she was right by my side, giving me ideas and inspiration.  I've felt that before and also received what I believe are signs from her and other people we've lost (http://christinabambinasays.blogspot.com/2015/10/i-believe-in-signs-of-love-and-support.html).  I actually had a feeling of peace come over me today, and I feel it came directly from Kim.
Kim, it's not fair that you are gone.  We will miss you forever.  
This is just a song I love and a lyric that made me think of Kim today:
Journey - Wheel in the Sky
Steve Perry had such a beautiful voice. 
The mornin' sun is risin' - it's kissin' the day.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Spend Time With Loved Ones, While You Can

I decided to delete a few old emails last night.  I grouped the emails into who they were from, pulled down the scroll bar to look for a chunk of something to delete, and out of all of the tens of thousands of old emails I have (I really let them pile up), I landed on emails from my late sister Kim.  I didn't even remember that there were any from her in there.  They were only from about the last year of her life, and there weren't that many.
I started to copy and paste them into Word, since I feel we have so little left of her, not enough to hang on to.  Like I've said before, I feel I didn't pay enough attention to my two sisters (both younger than I) when they were little, and because of fatigue and health problems on my end, didn't stay in touch often enough even later. 
Kim was living elsewhere a lot (Madison and Portland) and I didn't like to talk on the phone (wears me out), and Kim didn't like to write much (or didn't have time), so we just didn't have much contact.  Even after she moved back here, I didn't see her much. 
I was surprised to see in the few emails I've moved so far, that much of it was me saying that we (my husband and I) couldn't attend various things, either because of fatigue, money, or because the gathering was too large for us (like, more than 5 people). 
I guess we just think we have all the time in the world, to be with people.  Even with the older relatives who used to be in this house with my husband and me, people who we spent a whole lot of time with, for many years, I still feel it's not enough now that they are gone.  I was just saying this to Dean the other day.  You always wish for more time, when people you love are gone.
Sure, we've had health difficulties and problems and excuses, but we should've made more time, somehow.  We shouldn't have let so many things stop us.  It's not good to have these regrets.

Remembering Kim's Memorial

I can't sleep, so I might as well blog.  Probably a common occurrence for some of us.
Sometimes we just can't help but think about our grief and pain more.  Like, when someone's birthday is coming up.  Kim's birthday would've been this Saturday.  She would've been 45 years old.
I was thinking (when I couldn't sleep) about our sister Kim's memorial service, almost three years ago.  Our sister Juli planned everything.  It was as beautiful as something like that could possibly be.  The food looked very nice (my husband Dean and I were too sad and nervous to eat), the music was nice, and the photos were great.  The problem was, if I looked at the photos that were being shown on the screen, I would burst into tears, so I only saw about 7 of them.
I was very nervous and sweating like crazy (probably not nice for some of the people I hugged that day).  I'm very nervous around people, so I didn't know what to say or do.  I know I probably said some stupid things.
People were asking me how my mom was doing, and I know that at least a couple of times, I said, "Well, her favorite daughter is gone, so she's a mess," or something like that.  The one time I said it, Juli was there, and said to me, "Oh, you're going to hell for saying that."  I didn't know what she meant by that, but I guess she thought I was trying to make a joke at an inappropriate time, so therefore earned myself eternal damnation?
Actually, I wasn't making a joke at all.  Mom just always was very obvious, to everyone, that Kim was her favorite daughter.  We all knew it.  I wasn't trying to be funny.  I was just trying to think of something to say when people asked me questions.  Of course, the people's laughter wasn't the raucous "aren't we having a ton of fun" kind anyway.  It was more the nervous kind that people get when situations are awkward or painful.
The woman who babysat me when I was very little, who is also named Chris, came to the memorial.  It was nice to see her, and relatives I never see, too, like my Uncle Dick and his wife Marianne.
Strangers, patients, and friends of Kim's were talking to me, saying how great she was.  Yes, I agreed, and tried not to cry in their face.  I actually did burst into tears a few times when patients who recognized me from photos asked if I was Kim's sister and told me how wonderful she was as a doctor, or when people I actually knew just came up to me and said they were sorry.  I probably should've just been watching it all from a video drone or something, thereby reducing my social anxiety to zero and eliminating the embarrassment of sobbing when people talked to me. 
Anyway, I don't really care about how stupid I seemed to anyone or how sweaty I may have been.  All that matters is that Kim is gone, and no one is happy about that, since everyone loved her.
I so appreciate the lovely memorial that Juli set up.  I don't know how she does it - she is younger than I am, yet so much stronger, more sane, and capable.  She's also prettier, more fun, and a lot of other good things, but let's not start any sibling rivalry!  Ha ha.
Seriously, though, Juli did such an excellent job, at a time when Mom wasn't up to handling things, and neither was I.  I know some people couldn't make it to the memorial, since Kim knew people from all over the country, but the people who were there (and there were pretty many), were all there trying to come together and honor her, which is what it was all about.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Dr. Kim Saxe I'm sure would have agreed - laughter is the best medicine. 
Some of us grieve even harder over the loss of her because of her son.  We worry because losing your loving, caring mother at age 5 is just not right.  We worry also that he won't remember her enough.  I hope some of the things I post here will help him to know her better, when he's a bit older.
Kim's son loves to play video games and laugh a lot.  He and I laugh over the silliest things.  They usually aren't even that funny, to other people, but for some reason we just crack up and it's the best thing ever.
Kim and I enjoyed that same kind of laughter many times, but I remember one time in particular, back in the apartment days that I mentioned previously, when she was about 11, and I was a bit older.  We had to share a bed and one night ended up going to bed at the same time and for some reason were having a real giggling fit.  Maybe we were super-tired or who knows what, but we kept busting out laughing over silly things when we were supposed to be sleeping.
One thing that kept happening was we'd both be laughing super-hard, then finally we'd stop and then sigh, and that would start us laughing all over again.  Mum yelled from her room for us to shut up and go to sleep because she had to work the next day.  Of course, that just made us laugh even more, like when your friend or cousin makes you laugh in church and it's the very last thing you should be doing, but that's why it happens, for some of us silly people.
Anyway, it was a great memory.  I only wish Kim's son had had more time to make more of his own memories with her, too.  He missed out on a lot, only having her for such a short time.  Nothing can replace the hugs, laughter, and love he would get from Kim, if she were here.  A mother is a special thing.  We all try to help fill the gap.  His grandma (our mum) does a lot and is so good with him and good for him.  She's devoted incredible amounts of her time and energy to trying to help him to be happy. 
Like I've said before, I write these things to help myself, but also to maybe help others who knew Kim, or people going through similar losses.  I don't really have any answers for feeling better during grief, other than to cherish the ones who are here, and love and take care of each other during these tough times we experience.  That's all we can do, I guess.

When Does My Grief Turn Into Acceptance?

This picture originally had one of our adorable nieces in it (from a few years ago), but I cropped it because I've heard that you shouldn't post photos of other people's kids without their permission, and I'm not taking the time right now to ask for it.  I just want to write this now.
Our late sister Kim would've been 45 this weekend.  It's been almost 3 years that she's been gone, and I still don't believe it 100 percent.  I thought it was just me, but our mom still feels the same way.  I don't know if this is normal, but it's how we are.  For me, it's like part of me feels that Kim is just living in Portland again and hasn't been back home in a while.
At around the exact same time that I was thinking this very thing yesterday and writing a note to blog about it, Mum wrote an email to me and said it, too.  (Freaky timing.)  It just never fully feels real or possible, to us, that Kim could be gone.  Other people accept it, but part of us just can't.
I see women sometimes, with short blonde hair, who from a distance look like Kim.  I keep thinking she must be around, someplace.  Is this normal or not?  I don't know.
Anyway, here's another happy memory of Kim.  When Kim was around 11 years old, I was living for a while with her and Mum in an apartment.  For part of that time, Kim and I had this nice, little routine where I would cook her breakfast, then wake her up with a song from an album that she had:
Bee Gees & Peter Frampton - Good Morning, Good Morning  
I'll bet that she would also have liked to wake up to this song, a song I've loved for years.  Michael Strahan (from the show Live with Kelly and Michael) mentioned about a year ago that he was playing it before coming out and doing the show every day.  What a great way to start the day!
This video has the song and some nice images to go with it:
Lovely Day Bill Withers  
Great song.  I love the video, too.
I would've sent it to Kim, probably.  I wish I could.

Monday, October 5, 2015

It's Kim's Birthday Soon

Our late sister Kim's birthday is coming up on Saturday (poor Juli has to DJ that day and try to be "up" and cheerful at work), so I've been thinking about Kim even more than I usually do these last few days.
I know this is a goofy-looking pic of her and I don't know what she was looking at, but it was from Christmas 11 years ago, so she looks healthy and happy, which is a great thing. 
My husband and I were watching an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond a couple of days ago and Ray Romano was playing the piano (it was really him) and he was very good. 
This brought to mind the time, many years ago, when Kim and I were at a piano playing and singing this song:
KEANE- Brothers Sherry
Even many of you who are old enough might not remember the Keane Brothers, but some of you might.  They were really talented singers and had a short-lived variety show that we watched back then.

The house we moved into after our parents divorced happened to have a piano.  No one ever played it much, that I can recall, but when I got this Keane Brothers album, we loved it so much that I bought the sheet music for that Sherry song and learned to play it, sort of (not great).
Of course, our sister Juli is the real singer in the family.  She's sung in plays and shows and even sang the Korean national anthem at a Tae Kwon Do tournament and everyone was so proud of her for learning it and singing it so beautifully.  If it was on YouTube, I'd post that link here, too.
Kim must've been a pretty good singer, too, since she did play Cinderella or something in a play during high school.  I didn't get to see it because I lived way across town and didn't have a car at that time.
I'm the worst singer in our family, but it hasn't stopped me from singing at various times, like singing along to video game songs when our nephew is playing different games on his new Mario Maker game (and he's shocked that I know all of the different "old school" tunes).  It did, however, stop me from singing when we were forced to be in the choir in junior high.  My friend Tammy told me around that same time that my singing really sucked (she was right), so in order to not throw anyone else in the choir off, I would lip sync all the songs (better for everyone all around, including the audience).
Anyway, this is just a fond memory of our little sis Kim, back in the day.  Me trying to play the piano and us belting out that song - Sherry.
I will miss her forever, of course.  Everyone who knew her always will.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Love to See People Being Great Parents


When my husband and I were grocery shopping a couple of days ago, I saw a young couple in the self-checkout line.  Their toddler was fussing a bit when sitting in the cart, and her dad went to her and put his arms around her and then kissed her on the head.   The little girl seemed to feel better and calmed down.  It was such a beautiful moment. 

All kids should have parents as good as that young man.  All kids deserve that.

I was wishing later that I had said something positive to him about what a great dad he was.  I know it could’ve been a bit awkward, but maybe he would’ve liked to hear it.  I hope his wife or girlfriend appreciates what a good man he is, and tells him so, too.  Don’t just take it for granted if a man is that good, kind, and loving.  Acknowledge it and respect it.

The mom is probably a good person, too.  She was doing the grocery scanning, so she was busy, but she looked like a kind person, too.  So, that kid is lucky.  Many kids aren’t.

In contrast, I saw a woman once at the Target snack bar with her girl who was about 7 years old maybe (I’m not good at guessing ages).  The girl was eating her lunch or snack and the mother spent the entire time doing things on her phone.  I was sitting there a long time waiting for my husband to do some shopping (so I wouldn’t go in with our list and spend twice as much as he would), and the whole time this woman just ignored her daughter, didn’t say one word to her.

Now, I’m not saying that kids should be constantly entertained, never have one second of boredom, or anything like that, but I do think that a kid shouldn’t have to sit in silence eating, as if they are alone (and for all intents and purposes, she was alone).  That mom could’ve taken the time to actually converse with her daughter, create a moment based on love and caring.  I know I shouldn’t judge people, but that mom made me angry, especially because her daughter looked so sad the whole time. 

If you are a loving and attentive parent or grandparent, then I’d like to express my thanks to you, on behalf of your child and everyone else, too.  The world needs more love and caring all around. 

Also, if you know someone who is a good and loving parent or grandparent, please try to let them know how you feel, and that they are doing a good job.  I’m sure they need to hear it sometimes.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sometimes Grief is Never-Ending

This is an appropriate picture of our late sister Kim, because that is how I think of her - happy, bubbly, enjoying life.  I wish I could be like that.  I hope to be able to be that way someday again.  I used to be more like that, at times, before we had to deal with so much of this grieving.

It's also fitting that there is an angel in this photo (on Juli and Kevin's Christmas tree), because I think of Kim as being an angel now.  Many people who loved her thought of her as an angel even when she was here and alive.  She had so many friends and was so outgoing and fun and friendly.

I've probably said this before, but don't ever let anyone tell you that you are grieving wrong.  Everyone is different.  Some people may distract themselves or seem to move on quickly, or possibly even wish that you were doing the same.  Other people might want to think or talk about the person, or talk about feelings.  Whatever way you grieve is whatever is best for you at the time.

I worry so much about Kim's son Ethan.  Some of us adults are not coping well with this loss, more than two years after her passing, so how can a child understand and cope with it?  We talk about his mom when he wants to, and bring her up when memories occur, and we look at the beautiful book that my sister Juli made with photos and memories of Kim.  Most of the time, Ethan is trying to distract himself with video games and things, probably trying to not feel most of his pain.  I do the same things, too.

In my younger days, I experienced some losses that didn't feel very difficult, like the loss of grandparents I wasn't very close to, or other people I didn't have a strong connection to.  In recent years, though, there have been important and serious losses, like my sister very quickly passing away from cancer.  Other big losses have been my in-laws, and my husband's aunt, all of whom felt like real parents to me.  Plus, we all lived in the same house.  I feel that the grief over these recent, big losses will never really go away.  It seems to stay and stay, and continue to cause a lot of pain for my husband and for me (as Kim's loss also does for Mom and Ethan and Juli and others).

Grief isn't limited to just people, either.  My husband and I still feel grief over some of the most special cats we've had, too.  As anyone who has truly loved a pet knows, they are like little, furry people.  We love them and care for them and miss them a lot when they are gone.

I guess this is what getting older is like - dealing with loss after loss, if you are lucky enough to be someone who remains alive yourself.  It's a very hard thing.  Like I said in my previous post, I keep calling this compound grief.  It's as if each loss opens the previous wounds again, or as if the crack in your broken heart gets bigger each time.  Then you try to heal a bit, and experience another loss and it rips back open.  Each loss seems to remind us more and more of all of the others who are gone, and we aren't coping too well with it, at times.

We keep trying.  We keep setting goals, making plans, trying to live our lives, but as any grieving person knows, there are constant reminders that make you think of the people over and over.  Sometimes we have funny or happy thoughts or memories, but other times it's just painful.

It's not like I'm enjoying this continued blogging about grief, but I have these thoughts and they need to get out.  Writing these things makes me cry and it feels very hard, but maybe someone can relate to something that I say, and it might make them feel less alone, less odd.

Please be kind and gentle with yourself if you are experiencing grief.  Take care of yourself and give yourself credit for just getting through each day and doing the best you can.  It's such a difficult thing, especially for extremely sensitive and caring people.  Loving and caring about people brings us much happiness, but also pain.

I wish you peace and comfort and joy in the future.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Compound Grief

I know that I keep using too many of the same photos.  I just don't have the time or energy to search around for other ones right now.
These two people are the ones we lost most recently - my sister Kim and my husband's Aunt Dee Dee.  I never know whether I'm supposed to say my Aunt Dee Dee or just call her his aunt.  I tried Googling it once, and came up with the wrong results to answer my question.
One thing I've noticed in all of these recent years, with several more of the important people we love being gone is that each loss seems to make the previous ones hurt even more.  I've been calling it compound grief when talking with my husband about it.  I don't even know if that's a term that anyone uses, but it's just what I've been saying.
I guess how I'm feeling is that with each loss, there is one less person who loves and cares about us, and who cares about the same people that we miss.  It seems to keep dwindling down to a few of us who are really sad about all of those who are gone.
I don't even feel like I'm explaining this correctly.  Perhaps a lot of my pain and my husband's is because four of the losses we've experienced have been very important people, and three of those were people who lived in this house.  We all had our separate areas to live in, but could all visit and talk and care about each other, which was wonderful.
I know it's strange to many people, in this day and age, to stay at home with the older folks and live together.  The fact is, we never could afford to leave, but also we didn't want to.  We loved these people.  Dean's mom never wanted us to leave - ever - she told us that.  She wanted us all to stay together, and we all felt the same way.  Sure, we all could've used more room, but being together meant more to us.  So, even if we would've had the money to move ourselves, my husband and I always said that we wouldn't move unless we had enough money to move all of us to a larger place (or attached condos or something).
Getting back to the compound grief concept - each loss we experienced was terrible, but there were still people who we did things with and took care of, in this house.  When Dean's dad, Ray, passed away, we focused on doing things with and for his wife Milly (lots of gifts and cards, cooking and baking for her, going out to dinner, etc.).  We had something to do - care for her, and knew she was here caring about us and our pain, too.
When Milly passed away, we focused more attention on her sister Dee Dee and doing things for her.  When my sister Kim passed away, Dee Dee was here to comfort and console us.  We were still together, some of us.
Of course, the most important person in my life (my husband) is still here, and I am supremely grateful for that.  I still have my mom and my sister Juli and other loved ones, which I am also very grateful for. 
When my husband had his heart attack and heart surgery and I had some time at home (when I wasn't at the hospital), no one was here for me at home, other than the cats.  Mom and Juli and people on Dean's side of the family were supportive, but no one was here in this house with me, talking with me and comforting me, so it was hard.
I guess, in a way, that I will be glad to leave this house someday, when we can afford to go someplace else.  Too many memories are here.  People's things are all over, because we don't have the emotional or physical strength to clean them out.  We are in Dee Dee's old place, and almost all of her things are still here.  It all feels so strange, all of them being gone.  We just feel constant, daily emotional pain - not that I think it will lessen much when we move anyway.
I know this might be sounding too personal, too much like a journal entry and not a blog, but I'm still hoping that it will help others who are grieving, and make some difference to anyone who can relate to any of these posts.  I know I could just be writing all of this in a simple journal and keep it all to myself, but if it helps even one person, then it's worth putting it out here.  I know that sounds like such a cliché, but that's how I feel.
If you yourself are experiencing any type of grief, I wish you comfort and peace. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Grief and Those "Helpful" Comments

That's my sister Kim.  She passed away more than two years ago, but it still hurts so much every single day.  I think about her all of the time.  I said to my husband once that I feel like if Kim lost me or our sister Juli or even Mom, she would be handling it better and be living a better, happier life than we are doing right now.  I feel like somehow she would manage to enjoy life and live each day to the fullest.  My husband said that's not necessarily true - we don't know how Kim would be handling this, really. 
I feel that I'm not doing as well as I should be.  It doesn't seem to get much easier.  I mean, we do go on and we do live our lives, but some of us will never be the same because of this loss.  Of course, Kim's son has it the worst.  How can a small child understand, when we adults can't?  Mom is also grieving hard, and hers is even worse than mine, I know.  I'm not really doing okay either.
Sometimes people will trot out their platitudes and say things like "time heals all things" or "God never gives you more than you can handle" or "it will get easier in time," and things like that.  These types of expressions never seem to help, and sometimes they even make a grieving person angry.  Here is a good link for things to not say to a grieving person.
Okay, I know it might sound judgmental or harsh to tell a person what not to say.  They might say that they are only trying to help, but are they really?  Sometimes people truly want to say something to comfort a person, but in my opinion, at other times they just want you to "get past it" so that they don't have to think about the uncomfortable topic of death, or so that they don't have to feel your pain.
I'm not saying that's the case with all people, of course.  Some people truly care and are truly trying to help you feel better.  I guess you'd know which type of person they are by the person you think they generally are.  Are they usually kind, caring, and sympathetic, or are they generally selfish and just wanting to talk about themselves?  Of course, they can also be caring people, but they just are uncomfortable talking or thinking about death (since it's a fearful thing for most of us). 
I'm lucky, in a way, because I don't spend time with too many people.  My mom is the one who gets these types of things said to her, and sometimes she gets angry about it. 
I'm just saying, try to be understanding of those who truly do mean well when they say these things, and possibly distance yourself a bit from those who are less sensitive individuals, if this is a time when you really need love and support.
For anyone who is grieving at this time, whether it be from a recent loss or one from many years ago, I just want to wish you peace and love.  I have had several recent serious losses so I do, in some way, understand how you feel even though no one can really feel the exact same things.
We all just try to go on and do our best.  Reach out to those who truly care, and try to find love and happiness wherever it is available, as you continue on without those you loved (and still do).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Grief and the Holidays

Okay, I know it's way past the holidays, but I'm still thinking of them anyway.  It's just especially hard to deal with the holidays when you are grieving.  Actually, our grieving will never end.  It just continues on, since our losses were very deep ones.

It's tough dealing with the holidays, when so many things remind us of those we've lost.  We continue some of the traditions on our own, but it's not the same.  We feel that we need to make some new traditions for ourselves, but we can't really think of any, and we still don't care that much about the holidays anymore anyway.

Basically, we just tried to get through the holidays as best we could, and focus on the children.  Maybe it would help more if we had our own children (more to keep us busy and distracted), but we did focus on nephews and nieces, and try to enjoy the time with them and for them.

I feel like the holidays and grief will continue to be difficult for us for the rest of our lives.  I guess that's just the way life is.  Maybe some people, less sensitive people, can just move on, party on, and have a better time, but we just aren't that way.  We really do try to enjoy our lives, but it's been hard.

The moments that we do manage to lose ourselves and enjoy ourselves seem to happen when playing or laughing with the kids.  So, I guess that's my only advice about any holiday and your grief - think of the kids and try to enjoy things as best you can.