Vacation

Summer Vacation

It seems like we can’t get through a summer vacation without a thing or two going awry. That’s what makes it so fun. What could possibly go wrong with a trip that starts out with 1000 miles in a car? Here’s how it all went down…

Happy and in love, two tired parents were geared up for a much needed vacation without their two little friends in tow. We’d planned it out for months, and it was time to get this party started. My lovely in-laws had volunteered to watch our kids for their own staycation at home. Unfortunately, there was a death in the family that necessitated the in-laws urgent departure from home. We scrambled around to piece together babysitters to watch over the littles so that we could continue on our way. Thank goodness for Grandmas.

First crisis averted, we journeyed another 500 miles to reach our destination. We pulled up to our hotel and it looked like something out of a bad horror movie. The lovely lady at the desk advised us she had lost our reservation even though we clearly had a confirmation printed out in front of us. She argued and argued with us until she begrudgingly gave us her supposed last room. Apparently Mobile Alabama is a happening place to be.

The room was so disgusting. There was only one working light. No lights worked in the bathroom. Every surface was visibly stained and dirty and sticky. The microwave was filled with old food splatters. The fridge had a white, puffy thick cream stuck in the door. In the bathroom, used soap bars lined the sink. A towel was hung behind the door from the previous occupants. The room smelled like a pack of wet dogs had a party the night before. We needed several glasses of wine before we could attempt to climb into the bed. It felt like it was full of sand. The worst part is there was no beach nearby.

Lucky for us the receptionist decided to give us a call at midnight and 1 am to let us know she had finally found our reservation and we needed to come to the desk immediately to pay for our room. Wow…We finally found ourselves at the free continental breakfast made up of stale frosted flakes and cold coffee and were told the only utensils they had were knives. We’d have to make do eating cereal with knives. But finally we were out of there and ready for our cruise.

Despite being treated slightly like criminals having our bags opened and contents spewed across the table and searched, finally culminating with the security folks confiscating our banned power strip boarding the boat was relatively uneventful. We sailed away and then had our fun day at sea. It was actually quite fun. Next stop Costa Maya. We toured some Mayan ruins and it was probably only 111 degrees out with enough humidity to make your smile sweat. The ruins were nice enough despite the oppressive heat. We headed to the beach. Supposedly there was open bar, but the bartender let us know if we wanted to use our open bar, we had to pay an extra $20 each. Sure thing. Maybe the craziest part were all the dogs. Random stray dogs everywhere.

Next day brought Cozumel. The beach was sort of sea-weedy but we had fun all the same. It was so hot, even the water was warm. Nothing quite says refreshing beach day like warm bath water. Back on the boat and tomorrow was another fun day at sea.

Fun day at sea starts off with me jumping into the cruise bed and banging my head on a metal light fixture conveniently posted at the head of the bed. Unfortunately enough I developed a fine concussion. The next morning we depart, our lovely vacation was coming to a close just a thousand mile drive to go. We caught a cab back to hotel strange and our driver informed us that someone had been murdered in that very parking lot while we were away at sea. Good luck for us I guess. I left my better half in Alabama to attend a funeral and I started the long trip back home. Driving 1000 miles with a minor brain injury should be a piece of cake. I made it all the way to Greenville, SC before my car broke down. But to my surprise, I broke down right in the parking lot of a repair shop. Thank goodness. I stayed the night in a comfy hotel and in the morning drove the long 500 miles back home.

The closer I got to home, the dizzier and blinder I was getting. I stopped in urgent care to get a quick check of my head and I was sent to the ER. They offered to call the ambulance but I assured them I could drive myself. The nice doctor let me know that I was not allowed to drive. I confirmed I had a ride and promptly got in my car and drove over to the ER.

The waiting room looked like Armageddon on steroids. But after a short 9 hour wait, I was declared brain bleed free and sent on my way. Home at last. Only when I arrived the security system and smoke detector were malfunctioning and the alarms screaming out of them would make your ears bleed even sans concussion.

Just another day in the life and another relaxing vacation on the books.  In all honesty, we actually had a blast. My cynical nature and slightly bleak portrayal of an unfortunate series of events aside, I am ready for the next amazing trip.

 

Moms

Lollipop

She pulled up in her lollipop pink oversized SUV. One of those soccer moms whose kids are too good to even play soccer. Her curly blonde locks tumbled down her back as she jolted a perfectly shaped leg decorated with a four inch patent stiletto out of her door. She is beautiful, she is confident, she is strong, she is sexy. She is everything I am not: an effortless mom, a classic beauty, a social butterfly.

I pull up behind her in the car riders line at school, my mud stained SUV looking lonely behind her shiny pink beast. My posture is slumped, my body is lumpy, my short uneven hair is matted down against my head from sleeping right after a shower the night before. I am wearing cut off jeans and flip flops as I tumble out of my car to unbuckle my daughter and kiss her on the head while she runs into school. I sigh an enormous sigh of inadequacy that I hope does not rub off on the little human bouncing into those glass double doors.

First Fatherless Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day and I am scrawling words in a new notebook next to your grave. The pages are blank like a life that’s not yet been lived, much different from your own where all the pages have already been filled. I sit with my back against the cool, hard granite, my legs atop the sparsely growing grass and I imagine I am sitting with you and not on top of your body lying in a wooden box layered with dirt and concrete. Today isn’t like the other days here at the cemetery. There are many other fatherless folks standing and crying at their beloved dads’ final resting places.

I am not crying, I am rearranging the fake flowers in your stone gray vases. It makes me feel like I am doing something. I imagine you standing underneath our old red deck, grilling some sort of meat on the grill. The blue and red bag of Kingsford charcoal slouched up against the garage. And with your Budweiser in hand, drinking some and pouring a little bit more in the sauce. You’d stand a little way back from the smoke and you’d look over at your garden. The rows of tomatoes and squash peeking up through the dark, freshly tilled earth.

These lazy Sundays filled with yard work and cooking and football games. We didn’t say much back then. You were a smart man who, though not many knew it, did not give yourself enough credit. But you only spoke when you knew you were right and didn’t have much interest in small talk. You’d point out a cardinal in the tree or an eagle in the sky. You’d talk about the different kind of evergreens and tell me about the big, old maple tree in the back yard and how to tell the difference between oak and maple trees.

Who knew these lazy Sundays that I never even noticed would be all the best memories?   that’s how it goes. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

I ran a race for you today. Well, a race for Father’s day and for the Cancer Society. I went to church and lit a candle. I am sitting at your grave and later I will go home and cook tuna steak on the grill and boil the shrimp the way you taught me with the Boy Scout veggies in the foil packets.

I have been here almost two hours now. I flipped my shoes off and plopped on the grass on top of you. You never believed in wearing shoes in the summer. That’s not exactly true. You always wore shoes because your feet always hurt. We buried you in your sneakers. But if your feet weren’t always in such bad shape, you’d not be wearing shoes.

I am sure you’d tell me to go home now. Go home and take care of my babies. No use sitting here crying over something that can’t be undone. Happy Father’s day, dad. My first one without you. I hope you know I am doing okay. We came from good stock and we know you did a good job.

Rest easy, dad. Rest easy.

Down Part I.. The pain

As a healthcare provider, I look back and wonder how I didn’t see it. How I didn’t notice the obvious signs of decline or at least a serious illness in my dad. Perhaps because my dad’s life was filled with so much hidden pain that this new hidden pain was barely perceptible over the mask he already wore on a daily basis.
My dad retired in 2010. Thirty years after first working for the federal government in the role of some sort of budget officer or analysist. He was only 54 years old. And he didn’t retire because he had a desire to stop working or had a work ethic that was not pristine. He retired because he hurt.
He was crippled at home with arthritis. His gout got so bad that the knots on his fingers swelled so immensely he could not maneuver his fingers to eat or button up his own shirts. His knees buckled under his weight and he often used a cane to get around at home. His puffy, fluid filled feet no longer even fit in his tennis shoes, and when he did manage to get them on his feet, mom had to get them tied for him.
He could no longer take the grueling walk from the parking lot into the pentagon, yet he hid his cane in the back seat, drove to work largely thanks to cruise control and a prayer, and somehow limped his way inside without his coworkers ever finding out. He was a strong, strong man.
So he retired. He got a little bit fatter and a little bit weaker and a lot more stiff and pained. But my mom was always by his side to help with the little things he could no longer do and no one was the wiser.
The pain was so great, he could barely get up from the recliner chair most days, but he continued to be strong and stoic and took care of most of what needed to be taken care of without ever revealing his true misery to anyone. Fast forward to 2015. Dad was having stomach aches. Some indigestion and diarrhea. He went to his primary care doctor who gave him some fiber tablets and told him he would be fine.
We booked tickets to my graduation from my graduate program. Surely, dad would never miss an opportunity to cheer on and show pride for his little girl. But as the day grew closer, it became clear that dad did not intend to come. Not because he didn’t want to, but because he was embarrassed of his need for such frequent bathroom stops. So he did not come and he visited the doctor again who ordered some labs and more fiber and sent him on his way.
A few months later dad had trouble breathing. His head and neck swelled up to the size of a watermelon. His airway and breathing were quite compromised and even though he resisted he spent a chunk of time in the icu. The diagnosis, anaphylaxis related to some NSAIDS he’d been taking for quite some time.
And time marched forward. Dad’s arthritis got worse. The swelling got worse. He could barely move his legs and mom diligently wrapped them in plastic trash bags to catch the fluid that was forever draining out. The lumps on his fingers grew bigger and he had taken up an almost daily ritual of chopping these lumps off with a sharp, dirty pocket knife.
Fourth of July was always special to us. Dad helped with the fireworks. He employed his stringent fire safety rules. The wet wood board under the fountains. The five gallon bucket of water for the used up fireworks to be discarded into. The hose hooked up and at full attention, ready to strike at any given moment. But this Fourth of July, dad sat in a chair, somewhat distracted and did not participate in any of the festivities.
The belly problems lingered as well, and dad was finally able to get in to see a gi doc and have a colonoscopy. He was 58 and this was his first one. When they finally did it, cancer was found and had spread into many of his surrounding organs. The exam was aborted.
I’m not sure how it feels from going from healthy, or relatively so, to terminal in a matter of weeks, but I guess you only ever know if it happens to you. The cancer trajectory is rather predictive. There is a relatively long period of high functioning stability followed by an often rapid downward spiral where functioning and quality of life quickly decrease.
I always thought cancer might be the best way to die. You have a small amount of time to get your affairs in order that you do not have in sudden death. And there is not that slow, dwindling decline that is often seen with dementia. And there are not periods of nearly returning to baseline between intermittent episodes that is so often the case with cardiac and respiratory issues. But working with oncology patients for 12 years hasn’t been enough to show me cancer is no walk in the park. Dad illness had to hit me smack in the face.
There is nothing beautiful about dying from cancer. We are all dying from something but cancer just isn’t the way to go. I imagine how bad it must have hurt for him to be willing to take a knife and carve his flesh. I imagine how strong the internal angst must have been when he realized that if he had done the colonoscopy, taken care of his symptoms years earlier that the discussion with the doctors may have been focused on cure rather than palliation. Maybe I can’t imagine loving my family so much that I would be willing to suffer immense pain in silence and without support just to spare others some of that pain. I don’t know if you were hard headed or kind hearted. I just know that I love you. With pain or without.

uniform

Uniform
I wear the uniform of grief. The blank stare. The vacant eyes. The mind at flight. The uniform of a weary solider. I have fought the battle alongside my comrades. Our leader is down. But we must march on. We march on without a guide. Wandering quietly in and out of a life induced fog. Waiting for the next command. But nothing comes. We are left to fight alone. Determine the course of action for ourselves. The dust settles. The survivors do not.

I wear the uniform of mother. My hands are gentle. And firm from the callouses of small permanent grips. I am fierce. I am a fighter. I am soft. I am love. I am loved. I wear a cape of joy and a crown of suspicion.

I wear the uniform of a survivor. I struggle. I win. I lose. I climb. I triumph. I persevere. I wear the uniform for those who have left their own behind. I pile weight on my back and I do not break. I walk and I drag and I pull myself up. I wear the uniform of the battered and healed.

I wear the uniform of caregiver. I am a daughter. A nurse. A lover. Gems of compassion hug my swollen, worn fingers. I am loving. I am empathy. I am trust. I am your warm blanket and milk and chocolate chip cookies on the first day of school.

I wear the uniform of the insomniac. The flight of ideas. The active mind clashing with the exhausted body. The angst. The lust for sleep that never quite reaches its destination.

I wear the uniform as a disguise. There is nothing underneath. The uniform is safe and comforting. The uniform hides the emptiness. The uniform hides the truth. And the grief bubbles through the cracks in the surface and the uniform starts to break. And the self is cracked and battered and broken. But I am alive and I am strong and I do not need a disguise to survive.

 

We are all mad here

th4TQ3S50EAt the suggestion of several well-meaning people, I decided to give the counseling thing another try. Apparently between dad dying, regular life stress, and the anxiety of dealing with an unwanted sexual invasion, one should have an urge to spew their anxieties and feelings onto a professional who will regurgitate these said feelings, spit them back out at the “patient” and some sort of wild clarity will be gained. At least that’s what I was hoping or have heard.

I’m not sure why anyone would ever want that job. The job of listening to people whine and complain all day. Delving into things that happened in the past and that may or may not have any relevance in the present or future. I can’t imagine taking in all that stress and compiling with my own. I don’t know, in a lesser way nurses do the same thing. And the old, wounded stressed out nurses suffer just as much as the patients. They call it vicarious trauma or compassion fatigue, but I digress.

I have a long, but remote psychiatric history. Diagnoses loom in my medical record from teenage and young adulthood that seem to follow me wherever I go. I have been stamped, branded–a scarlet letter to mark my shame. So when I begin to spout my long history of psychotic mental illness at this baffled woman, somehow she hones in on the psychosis, the disordered me in the distant past and seems to forget the me in the present. The “me” that is not delusional or psychotic. The “me” who is just anxious and a little bit stressed just like a normal person would be if they were to have gone through the last year or two like I had.

But here I sit, like a piñata of delicious, DSM V candies waiting to be cracked open and gluttonously devoured. She seems excited, ferocious even to dismantle my every day emotions and turn them into something pathologic, something disordered. She seems to want to take my feelings and assign them all as symptoms rather than as a normal human response. Of course I feel anxious in her chair, because I can see what she is doing. If anyone else were to walk through that door and sit in this seat, they would have the freedom to be anxious, to be afraid, to be down, to be sleepless and that would be okay. But not someone like me.

Maybe that’s why I hardly ever tell my story anymore. Not because I ashamed of it, more because I don’t want to be viewed through a lens of “other,” something outside the ordinary. And here she goes. She first compliments me. She tells me I am amazing. So awe inspiring. Like maybe I should be in a museum. Look but don’t touch. Somehow, against all odds I have left schizophrenia behind and am functioning like an adult being. Wow, do I get a piece of that candy now? She just can’t believe how inspiring I am. But what she means is I am lesser. I am other. She will now view me as someone once disabled, who may now appear normal but could morph back into a psychotic mess when the sun goes down like a werewolf or shapeshifter.

How could I possibly be handing this so well? She seems to question herself. Certainly I must be on the brink of breaking. I want to tell her I am strong. I am so strong, that I am powerful. That it wasn’t magic that overcame this disease, it was pure grit, and will power and perseverance and a lot of support from people I love. I hold my tongue. For if I proclaim I am powerful, it may be viewed as a delusion of grandeur. And I spy over her notes as she writes, “Pressured speech, inappropriate affect” and I politely explain when I am anxious I talk faster and I giggle a lot. I giggle because I am light hearted, because I like to smile. Giggling is not pathologic. But her black pen scrawled across the yellow lined legal pad tells another story.

Halfway through this supposed counseling session, I knew I had lost. No longer was her focus on helping deal with the stressors I had come in to talk about, it was about a detective doing her work. Honing in on what she believes are symptoms of a larger problem, but are in fact just a part of who I am. I tell her I am happy. I tell her I enjoy exercising and running because it helps my mood. Those sound like perfectly sane, healthy ways to deal with stress to me. But her response, Are you too happy? Are you exercising too much? Five days a week is too much she says. Despite the fact that the American Heart Association and numerous other well-recognized organizations recommend getting thirty minutes of exercise a day, five days a week. Apparently, that applies to everyone except for me. Five days is too much for my feeble mind to handle. I might explode just like old Violet after eating too many blueberries in Charlie and the Chocolate factory.

She scribbles down in her notebook, pleasurable activities to excess. She has turned my morning workout into another symptom. I should ask everyone else in my boot camp class if they are similarly afflicted by this pathologic desire to exercise. It’s not even that pleasurable for me. I like it. I don’t look forward to it. I would much rather be eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream. God forbid I did that. I am sure pleasurable eating is not on the list of acceptable sane activity choices.

My one hour session was over. I am quite sure the counselor got more out of the session than I did. When she proclaimed her findings, an old diagnosis rediscovered, she seemed excited. Like she had conquered the mystery that is me. In 55 minutes. Perhaps, she herself is suffering from the delusions of grandeur. As she brought up points to support her hypothesis I countered with rationale arguments. She told me that my excuses, my denying symptoms were part of my illness. That arguing with her only strengthened her position. Never mind the fact that this “disorder” she has given me does nothing to impact my daily activities. I am working. I am a mom. I am not distressed. I am not detached. I am just a normal person trying to work out some things after having something traumatic happen.

Only not today. Today I am back in my cage. She shoved me neatly back into my box. Today, I am not strong or powerful or fearless. Today I am put in my place. Today I am weak. I am submissive. I am other. I left in worse shape than I arrived. Feeling more like Alice than myself…

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad”

Indeed, we are all mad here.

 

If you give a mouse a bucket list

 

I don’t think dad ever got to finish his bucket list, if he even had a bucket list. I don’t know… He was sort of a private person. He didn’t share much with me.   He shielded me from anything painful because he was the dad and I was the daughter. That’s how life is supposed to work. One person shielding the ones they love from the pain they are experiencing so they don’t feel pain themselves.

I was thinking if dad had a bucket list a jimmy buffet concert would be on it. I got us tickets to the Beach Boys six months before he died, but he was too sick to go.   I got him tickets to lynyrd skynyrd four months before he died, but he was too sick to go. So I did those without him. And jimmy Buffett just seemed like something he might really want to enjoy so I did that without him too. It was fun in a I drank too much tequila and might just want to go home and sleep sort of way. It was quieter than I expected. The parrot heads don’t make too much noise.

I’m not sure what else might be on his bucket list. I wish I had a chance to go to a show with him. Music is one of the main things we had a shared love for. He sent me an email on Father’s day last year. He said he wished he was at Scotty’s on the Strand in Hermosa Beach. I’m hoping that next year we can get to Hermosa Beach. It would just be nice to go places that he had been before.

In between the weirdness that being a fatherless daughter is, I also have to be a mom. One of mom’s primary duties is to be a nighttime bedtime story reader. Have you ever read the book, if you give a mouse a cookie? We seem to read it constantly. If you give a mouse a cookie he always wants more, he wants a glass of milk and crayons, and coloring supplies, and anything else under the sun. I don’t really care for that book.

Every time we read if I just think, if you give a mom a glass of wine. If you give a mom a glass of wine, she might ask for some cake. If you give a mom a slice of cake, she might ask for some coffee. If you give a mom a cup of coffee she might ask for a donut. If you give a mom a donut she might ask you for something else and the list goes on and on and on and on. If you give a mouse a cookie, a mom might want a bagel.

My son asks me if I’m still sad my dad died. Yes I am still sad. He doesn’t understand. He is three. He talks about how dad is coming back to life and how things will be when he does. He doesn’t understand time or permanence, but it still makes me sad sometimes when he talks about it.

So, I’m working on an imaginary bucket list. I’m working though the stuff that may or may not have been important for dad to get done. The important thing is that I’m working and keeping busy. What else can I do? If only I knew.

One piece at a time and it didn’t cost me a dime…

We are almost done with five months. Five  months without dad. It seems like it has been forever and it seems like it has only been a minute or two. Dad’s headstone came in today. I do not know how I feel about that. I was sort of sad that it was disrespectful that it had not come in yet. His basically unmarked grave sitting lonely along the side of a dilapidated fence with a beautiful view of popeyes. Now that it is here, it seems so much more real. It is only now that I am beginning to feel it all. Grief takes such a long time. And it is just compounded. Every time we lose someone, it just adds to this cumulative mass of grief bubbling below the service. But, I’m no expert.

So much has happened in the last few months. My daughter had a birthday, I had a birthday, mom had a birthday, and mother’s day came and went. All these holidays and events just going along without dad, but somehow each one is becoming a little bit more okay.

I have changed a lot. I do not even know why. I have been learning to stand up for myself and setting more limits with life and work. A few weeks ago, I was sexually assaulted. It was bizarre to me that this is the second time in my life this has happened. How can anyone have the bad luck or misfortune to have such a horrible thing happen not once but twice? I am not sure. I did not even really know what to do. I went to the police. I have no clue what is going to happen, but I keep thinking to myself over and over that I am really glad my dad is dead at least because of this. Because he surely would have killed him, gotten angry, brought a gun, and shot that guy right down, cancer or no cancer, healthy or not. And if dad were not in the grave, he would most certainly be in jail.

It might be strange, but it does not even make me angry. People make mistakes. And I do not have room to be angry. I only have energy to keep moving forward. Beyond that, I started exercising more. I always hated exercise. I just like to eat and be lazy too much. Food makes me happy. And it is hard for a fat girl to get moving.

But I started working out in a crazy hard boot camp four times a week and it is actually super rewarding. The sweat and hard work makes me happy. I am glad to have something to wake up for. I am glad to feel something besides nothing. Even if it hurts.

I have been gardening. I suppose because my dad used to like to garden. I have some cucumbers and squash and peppers and tomatoes. I think I am doing it right. I wish that I head learned more from dad. So many times lately I am thinking that I wish I had asked dad more about this or that. All I know about the garden is that the last frost is April 15 and the last is October 15. And that you should plant marigolds to keep the pesky tomato bugs away. The garden is sorta schizophrenic looking. I put so much stuff in it. And I planted things way too close together, but it is nice to have a new hobby and it is nice to remember my dad by doing some of the things he liked to do.

I am looking for new hobbies. I have done the gardening. I think I might look into beekeeping. I really want to learn how to fly helicopters and one day I hope I can open my own ice cream shop. How can you be sad when you are making ice cream all day? I love ice cream. Dad was not really a fan of sweets, but he liked ice cream, too. For now, I am still a nurse. Dad was always proud that I was a nurse and I am a pretty darn good one. I do not know what the future holds. For now, it is one day at a time and that is good enough for me.

Easter

It is Easter Sunday. Jesus has risen from the dead and humanity is filled with hope and excitement and awe and disbelief. A man once buried has awoken from death and is alive again. Most Easters are filled with joy and peace for me. An unfulfilled promise coming to fruition. A reward for the sacrifices made in the weeks of anticipation leading to this morning. Everything is a little bit clearer. The sun is brighter and hope is renewed in a way it hasn’t been in a long time.

But, do you know who is not rising from the grave? My dad. His body still sits. Encased in a wooden box. Fake puttied skin plastered to his decaying flesh. Inside a concrete vault and then buried with too many pounds of dirt to think about. And little sprouts of grass on top of his grave that seem almost disrespectful. The little flecks of green do nothing to pay homage to the patriarch sleeping below the feet of the tiny emerald blades.

So today, the world isn’t quite as shiny and new and hopeful. Today is another day without my dad. No one told me it was going to be like this and I guess it is kind of odd that I didn’t anticipate it. But today was hard. The first holiday without my dad. Well technically the second. But the first was New Year’s which occurred two short days after he died. That holiday we were pretty much in shock and had so many tasks to keep us busy I honestly don’t even remember if I knew it was New Years. But today was different. Today I felt like someone punched me in the guts. Today I felt like I did not even have the power to breathe. Today I felt anxious and unsure and the concrete brick in my stomach did nothing to chase away the negative emotions. Food tasted blander. The colors had momentarily faded from the world.

Nobody told me it was going to be like this. That I would spend part of one of my favorite holidays trying to chase away bad feelings and wishing that this giant hole in my chest would stop growing any bigger. The the first real holiday without dad would feel less like a holiday and more like a recreation of his funeal. No, there will be no moving of rocks today. No stone to roll away from the grave. Just a daughter feeling a little bit lost and confused. And eyes hurting from running out of tears.

It’s not like Easter was even a big thing for him. He only became catholic at the very end of his life and Easter didn’t have the special meaning for him as it did for me. But I am sure he would have enjoyed watching the kids find Easter eggs and just being kids. But he wasn’t there and that didn’t happen.

I didn’t know it was going to hurt like this. I didn’t think I was capable of hurting like this. I just wish you would come home. That we could have one more Easter dinner before the cancer took away your ability to eat because of the painful mouth sores, or socialize because of the embarrassing bag attached at your waist or as the disease progressed and tumors filled more of your belly than did organs your and stole away your appetite. I wish you were here eating ham. Not being fed through a tube shoved into you through a large IV line situated just near your heart.

But that wasn’t helpful. The IV nutrition was the only thinking keeping you alive. I didn’t think you would have wanted that. But I am not the boss and I can’t make those decisions.

Anyway, I wish I had known it would feel like this, the first holiday without you. I wish I had known my heart would be ripped out of my body and stomped on. I just wish I had known.