Everything happens for a reason. Everything is a lesson. Nothing is a disaster. Nothing is the end of the world. That’s what my mother taught me.

In the last 3 months my mother died unexpectedly, our family dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer, & I dislocated my knee cap on Christmas Eve resulting in crutches & a straight leg brace. While each of these events have tested my will, my faith, my optimism, none of them has knocked me out (even though any one probably should have). I don’t believe I’m any stronger than anyone else. I’m devastated. I have minutes, hours, days where I just want to scream. I want to rail against the unfairness of it all. I want to be bitter that I’ve been dealt all this at once. I cry. I breakdown. I wind up on the kitchen floor in the fetal position, now & again. But then, I have to get up. I can’t keep it up. I can’t sustain the tears, the sobbing, the depression. I just get tired. For me, it’s more exhausting to give in than to get up & try again. (more…)

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…and still counting.

At least Christmas is over. Got through it by ignoring it. I slept through Christmas Eve as I slept off the morphine. Christmas Day managed to be a non-event as I didn’t feel like going anywhere. My brother & I just stayed home watched movies & avoided the day. Worked out well. We agreed that next year we’ll make an effort, but this year it just wasn’t going to happen. The knee just made it easier to do that & get away with it.

Went to my writing group this morning. Nice to get out & to catch up. Not so much writing. I know, I know. I need to write. I need to get on it, but apparently I’m a master of avoidance. A theme these days I suppose.

On my own this evening. My brother & his girlfriend are off to see friends they haven’t seen since coming into town. I’ve been left with my supplies in reach: TV remote, laptop, books, magazines, assorted pain killers (although really haven’t needed them), water, & snacks. They took the dogs for a long walk & fed them before they left. They’re sleeping now. Hopefully that will remain the case until they get back. Otherwise if they’re looking for attention or to go out, I’m screwed; or rather they are. (more…)

So, one way to avoid Christmas…dislocate your knee cap…not intentionally, of course.

Yep. Ever well-coordinated me managed to loose my balance while putting my jeans on this morning and fall, dislocating my left knee cap in the process. Smooth, I know. This meant a trip to the hospital in an ambulance & about 2 hours in the ER.

I have experience with this injury. I dislocated my other (right) knee cap when I was a freshman in high school (eeks, like 18 years ago! Wow, that long ago?!?!). I did it on the last day of gym class right before summer vacation started. Luckily my gym teacher was the physical trainer for the football team & she was able to pop it back in right then & there. Still, had to go to the ER & everything, but when your knee cap is sitting on the side of your leg, all you really want is for the damn thing to be put back ASAP!

Unfortunately, this time, I had 5 paramedics/EMTs & they refused to do it. They said I had to wait for the doctor to do it, despite my pleas. When I did get to the hospital, the doctor was able to do it fairly quickly after arriving. Thank God!! Seriously, the pain of having it popped back in is absolutely nothing compared to it being out. Admittedly I was doped up on a good amount of morphine, but it really didn’t do anything for me. Made me a little woozy, but didn’t distract me from the pain like they said it would. Really don’t get why people drug-seek for the stuff. Not impressed.

So, now I’m home in a straight leg brace, on crutches, & vicodin as needed. More or less my knee feels fine–despite the fact that I can’t bend it, bear too much weight on it, etc. There’s just a slight throbbing/pressure pain that the vicodin I just took should help alleviate. Honestly, since I’ve done this before, it’s not too big of a deal. Although the fact that I’m on crutches & in a leg brace for at least a few weeks could prove to be a bigger deal. (I wonder if I can drive?…hmmm.) But for right now, I’m fine & choosing to laugh at the absurdity of this happening now.

My best/oldest friend was on her way to my house when this all happened (I was getting dressed so she could take me to pick up my car at the mechanic-luckily that turned out to be a minor repair). She rode with me in the ambulance & hung out at the hospital with me while my brother stayed home to take care of the dogs & wait for my father to drive up. She pointed out that this was “my 3rd thing.” You know, that whole “things happen in 3’s.” So, we have:

1. my mother

2. Leo’s cancer

3. my dislocated knee cap

So, I’m done according to her. Things can only get better. I choose to think she’s right & to laugh at the silliness of today–like razzing the paramedic who took 3 sticks to get the damn IV in me or telling them they were useless if they weren’t going to pop it  back in & to go get me a gym teacher. What else can I do? Cry. I will. I have. But I can’t do it forever & really I’m tired of focusing on the negative.

Leo had his 2nd chemo session today.

His 1st went completely fine. No side effects. He was perfectly himself this past week. Good appetite. Good energy. No nausea, vomiting, or fever. None of the things we were supposed to keep an eye out for. So, that was good. Really hoping this next week goes just as well.

The vet did say that his white blood cell count was a little low, but still within range. Anything bellow the “3’s” (not sure if that is 300 or 3000–still learning the lingo) & they would have held off on his next treatment. But he was at the high end of the “3’s”, closer to “4”, so he was ok to get the 2nd dose. She said his bone marrow will regenerate & the count should go back up once his body adjusts; but just to keep an eye out for fever (i.e., a possible infection). Fingers crossed, that will not be an issue.

He did drop a pound between last week & this week–from 27 to 26 lbs. They said they weren’t worried because it could be any number of factors, most not related to his cancer, that could have caused the fluctuation in weight. But I still don’t like it because weight loss is something we do need to be concerned about. But at the same time, he was eating normally last week & no vomiting; so no real explanation there for the weight loss. Our approach at this point is he gets to eat whatever the hell he wants at this point; we’re bulking him up…of course within reason.

Today/last night was just stressful. The chemo thing really wasn’t that big a deal which is weird to say. Last night I just started feeling stressed because I realized that since my mother died, I’ve been taking care of everything on my own, all the things my mother used to take care of; plus now, I get the added stress of the family dog’s cancer. And it’s just worn me down. I’m kind of at the point where I really can’t handle things going wrong. Last night I was worried that our other dog (the one who was attached at the hip to my mother) was sick. He seemed better this morning, but the thought that something was wrong with him just didn’t sit well. My ability to cope & deal these days is paper thin; so the thought that Teddy, our other dog might be ill, just made me crack. So, it didn’t help this afternoon when, after my brother & I dropped Leo off at chemo & made our way to Starbucks to get something to drink/eat–since we hadn’t done either yet, the car started having problems. Had to have it towed. Not what I needed. Throw on top of that that Leo was supposed to be picked up within the half hour of us leaving him. In the end, the car was towed–problem still to be diagnosed; a friend picked us up & took us to pick up Leo. We got him 3-hours later than planned, but he was fine. But it was just not the added stress that I needed. I basically had a breakdown as we were waiting for the tow truck. I’m stressed. I’m tired. I’m sick of my mom being gone. I want this to be over.

The added stress of Christmas tomorrow doesn’t help. My brother & I are still in avoidance mode. We talked about our lack of plans today & just decided to wing it. We have invites, but we’ve committed to nothing. This period is just proving to be rougher than I expected or was willing to acknowledge. Now it’s here & I can’t, we can’t. The only consolation is that we have each other to get through it; but we still have to get through it, & that’s the part that fucking sucks.

I did realize this morning that I essentially need a day off. I need a day where I’m not responsible for anything; where I don’t have to take care of anything or anyone; where I can run away & just do whatever the hell I want without having to be somewhere. I need a break. So, once the car is fixed (hopefully tomorrow!), sometime in the next couple of days, I am doing just that. My brother can take care of the dogs & everything at home, & I’m just going to disappear for a day. I’d love for it to be longer, but reality prevents that. So, I’ll settle for a day.

But first, I have to get through the next 2.

Seriously, positive thoughts. Things need to get better. I choose to remain an optimist, even though I have every reason not to be.

Merry Christmas.

You know, I’m really still waiting for all of this to sink in. Yes, there are constant reminders; and in those moments, there is a realness to it. But for the most part, it just feels like she’s on a long trip. When does that stop?

Today was a good-weird day.

Started it off at my writing group. I haven’t been in 3 weeks, so it was nice to get back. Most of our time was actually focused on writing, but I really only got a paragraph done, and I’m not even sure I like it. I’m struggling a bit with the beginning. I think I’m trying to get it right this time before I go too far forward. Right now it’s between one day & the next. I could jump forward or around & work on something else, but I really want to get this figured out because I don’t want to have to restart again. Also, I guess I’ve been having a little trouble focusing & getting in tune with my character this week. I really want to be over this lack of focus thing, & every time I think I am it just comes right back and kicks me in the ass.

At the end of the day, I guess I sould just be happy that I got 2 hours in of thinking about my story, even if there wasn’t much in the way of word count.

So, after writing group, I had lunch with an old friend from high school. We haven’t seen each other since we were 18. Yep, 15 years. So weird to begin with. Anyways, we reconnected through Facebook. I swore I’d never get on that thing, but I have to admit, in the 5 months I’ve been on I’ve reconnected with 2 friends that I had lost contact with & really had no clue how to get in touch with otherwise. So, very cool. Anyways. It was nice to see her, but it was weird. Right before a 3rd mutual friend showed up to join us (someone who I still keep in touch with, but whom she hadn’t seen), she tells me that her mother passed away 2 months ago. I hadn’t mentioned that my mother had as well until she said it. Before I got there, I wasn’t sure how to mention it or if I would need to. It’s definitely one of those weird things to bring up & just drop in a conversation. It’s kind of mood killer. We really didn’t talk about it because the 3rd person in our group showed up. The only thing I learned was that her  mother’s death was also sudden. It’s just weird to be sitting across the table from someone who really understands what you’re going through & who’s kind of at the same point in processing it. Yes, I have friends who have lost parents, but they’ve lost fathers. And not to devalue fathers–I love mine, but there is a diffrence. And there is something to losing someone suddenly. It’s differnet from losing someone due to long illness. With illness you get to say goodbye; there’s time to process what is about to come. I’m not saying it’s any easier; but it’s different. So, even though we didn’t talk about it today, it was just incredibly strange & comforting. I’m not sure where our relationship is going. We exchanged numbers & talked about getting together again soon. I did send her a message on Facebook saying if she needed to talk, to call me. So, we’ll see. It’s just weird that we’re both going through this & meet up again now.

I do believe there are no coincidences & people come into your life for a reason. So, we’ll see what this reconnection means.

One thing that did come up in our conversation was the fact that this new/old friend mentioned she was ready to get back out & date. I don’t know how much this has to do with the loss of her mother or to a relationship that ended a while back, but it brought up something I’ve been debating. The last deep conversation my mother & I had was the week before she died. The Saturday before we had gone to lunch & she ended up bringing up the fact that she really wanted to see me in a relationship & thinking about marriage. Now, usually my mother doesn’t butt in; but for some reason that weekend she did. There was even a comment about her being willing to fix me up. I said no thanks. Since I moved back here 5 years ago, I haven’t dated anyone seriously. Except for some ill-advised hook-ups with exes, who need to remain exes, I’ve been on my own. I’ve spent a lot of the last couple of years trying to figure out who I am, without needing to explain myself to someone new. I’ve met a couple of people & while I went out a few times with one of them, nothing really stuck. Just really wasn’t my type when it came down to it. So, now, I’ve been debating this whole dating/relationship thing. Yes, there is a part of me that wants to make a more concerted effort, but another part of me that is very conscious of the fact that I’m considering it because I don’t like being alone right now. And for me, that seems like a really bad reason to want a relationship. I don’t trust myself to make good choices right now. Even though I’m very self-aware, I could see myself choosing to be with someone just to be with someone, not because they’re the right person. So, I don’t know. Something to think about. At this point, I’m not going to over think it. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. But I’m a little wary right now.

My brother comes home for Christmas break in 3 days. I’ve never before been so excited to see my brother. It will be nice not to be in this house on my own for a couple of weeks. As okay as I am here, I am alone & as much as I used to love alone time, I’m over it.

Image: Leo Reynolds via flickr

Today I finally got back to the gym. Haven’t been since…. Not that there was any connection between the gym & my mother’s death. I guess it was just part of my old routine that for some reason I hadn’t yet reintergrated into my new routine. So, we’ll see how good I am about going. Fingers crossed. It’s good for me.

It’s pouring rain now; a novelty here in LA. While I usually love the rain, I’m not such a big fan right now. The fact that I just drove home in it in the dark doesn’t help to improve my opinion. It’s not exactly conducive to a happy mood. But still, I’m ok today. And the day is over any way.

Another one down.

Oh, and don’t worry, I haven’t forgot about the upcoming holiday. Thanksgiving. Honestly, I’m not too worried about it. Thanksgiving really hadn’t been a major holiday for us in a while. Plus, I spent 10 years away from home on Thanksgiving. I’m kind of used to a low key Thanksgiving. For the most part that’s what this will be. I will be meeting up with a couple of my uncles & my grandmother to go eat dinner out–our family tradition. Yes, I’m definitely going to notice my mother’s absence. This is her family. Besides, she hated eating out & last year swore she wasn’t going to do it again. It’s my grandmother who is against anyone cooking. She doesn’t see why anyone should go to the trouble. My mother had planned to make a point of either cooking for the family this year or doing our own thing without her family. But now, I’m going on my own. After that, I’ll probably go to a family friend’s for dinner with my father. There should be enough distraction there that I won’t notice, but at the same time, I know I will. There’s no sense in fighting it or thinking otherwise. What I’m really dreading is Christmas. But I’m not ready to go there yet. I’m putting those plans off until I have to make a decision. Honestly, I’d be happy if the next 4 weeks would just disappear from the calendar this year. No chance of that I guess.

Currently listening to: Long Division by Death Cab for Cutie

Well, got 2,344 words today. So, I’m just over 5,500 words. Still woefully behind, but at least I did a good chunk of writing this weekend. The nice thing about this NaNoWriMo is that there are a total of 5 weeks this year. One more than usual. Weekends are the best time for marathon writing sessions to catch up, or at least make some headway.

The day started decently enough. Slept in for the first time in weeks. It feels like months since I last had nothing to do on a Sunday. While I have moments where I hate being alone, I find myself needing it nonetheless. I did catch up on some phone calls. Talked to my brother’s girlfriend. She brought up Christmas and an open invitation for us to spend Christmas with her family. That effectively brought my decent day to a crashing halt.

I spent the rest of the evening trying not to think about Christmas: the fact that my mother won’t be here, & the fact that I don’t have a clue what we are going to do. My family is very small. For the most part, Christmas was my mother, me, and my brother with her family thrown in for a couple hours, and my dad. I only ever missed one Christmas with my mother. I was 22 and I was studying for the year in Italy. I was ok with it. This is different. Then, I naively believed there would be a next Christmas. And at least there were 10 more. But now…. I’m trying not to think about it right now. But my mind wanders. I’ve had to yell at myself a couple times this evening, telling myself that I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to worry about this now. But of course, I still do. While my brother always spends sometime with his girlfriend’s family, the primary focus has always been our family. But now…. I appreciate the invitation, but I can’t fathom spending Christmas with her family. They’re nice people, but her parents are so different from my parents. Her mother is the antithesis of my mother. Her mother is politically conservative (Yes, a McCain supporter, complete with a framed & signed 8×10.), and a slightly fanatical Christian. My mother was incredibly liberal (She spent many years registered with the Peace & Freedom Party.), into New Age thinking, and followed Native American traditions. I know what’s really bothering me. The invitation reminded me that if/when my brother & his girlfriend get married & have children, her mother will be the only grandmother their children will ever know. That kills me. I hate that.

I can’t see my brother, my father, and me celebrating Christmas with them. Maybe we’ll stop by, but that can’t be the primary way we celebrate this Christmas. This is the first time I’ve thought, “I just want to skip the holidays, pretend they don’t exist.” I made it 7 weeks and 1 day before I thought that. I know we’re going to need to find some way to celebrate that feels right for us, for me. But I hate thinking about it. There’s plenty of time for me to obsess about it. I didn’t need to start today.

Image: mrlerone via flickr