In the longest almost year of my life…dad’s health issues have taken over his Lewybodys Dementia and he’s in his last days. When LBD hit rapidly last July, after a septic UTI and hospital stay, our world was forever changed. Massive significant health problems, including surgeries and an amputation, made his confusion from LBD and his confusion of what was medically happening to him absolutely devastating to witness. Now I sit by him at his facility and he sleeps most of the time. He stopped eating a couple of days ago and it’s even hard to get him to take a few sips of water. I’m a writer, novice, but it’s my love language. I’ve barely been able to even write the utter emotional and physical despair this has inflicted on me and my family. Most importantly, on Dad. How is it possible that in less than a year, I am losing my big, strong, successful, insanely intelligent, funny, loving father? What we are all going through, this is the hardest stuff of life. I’m clinging to him in the last moments of his; praying for his calm and his peace, until he finally can be with our loved ones in Heaven. Hugs to everyone who has had to go through this. You don’t know until you know.
The first headline I read this morning was from Huff Post:
“Gen Xers and Millennial’s Got Into Weirdest Fight Over Super Bowl HalfTime Show”
My eyes are full of tears and I have to look away. I glance up at the hospital room TV. The halftime show star is starting, but it’s on mute. Mike and I are helplessly watching two hospital nurses shake you awake to see if you were ok. It takes about 10 minutes. You are so confused when you wake up. I have to leave to room to go cry in the hallway. Again.
We missed the half time show. But we also didn’t miss a thing.
How is he talking to me and he looks like himself and his hands move like himself and I’ve sat in this chair across from him a million times while he sat in that chair across from me a million times? Now all his words in their order make no sense like cut up, strung up and mismatched pieces of fabric. I’m trying to smile on the outside and I’m praying he can’t tell that I’m screaming and crying on the inside.
I’m in awe, and it’s not in the fireworks way, or being at Disney way, or a nurse handing one of my babies in my arms for the first time sort of way. That’s all awe filled with joy.
Tonight he couldn’t tell me very importantly what he very importantly wanted to tell me. That’s awe filled with sad.
Falling asleep, broken heart. Scrunch tears and think of years ago, walking on a beach where he pulled me out of the water, laughed loud, called me “twinkle toes”, skipped a rock and bent down to hold my hand.
I did not blog yesterday, so now I owe myself two today.
Round one: Yesterday got away from me…and then, we got a big delivery. After 21 years of marriage, we finally bought a new mattress. The one we were sleeping on was a hand-me-down from my parents and I think by the time we got it, it was already 12 years old. Current mattress situation: basically feels like sleeping on an Anglophilian-inspired straw, feather and horse hair stuffed abomination.
We bought a Stearns & Foster, just like my parent’s five-star hotel-like guest bed. While I was recently sick in our hay bed, my husband went to a mattress store, laid on a few, flopped around, called me for final approval, took the leap and paid a stupid amount of money. We had to wait over a month and we were panting for this thing to come. Finally we got word that it was on it’s way and I needed to deal with the bedding situation.
I have a problem with big box stores like Target, Costco, freaking Walmart. If I can’t see windows, I get tweaked. I couldn’t trust getting anything online, because I needed to feel everything. So I hyperventilated through Nordstrom Rack, sweated my way through Target and survived a full-on panic attack in the bedding department at Bed, Bath and Beyond. While I was doing this, number three called me to tell me that she had to leave Great America and go to the ER because her friend got sick (she is totally fine now, Thank God) and she needed a ride home. Full on breakdown in the sheet aisle. I did some lamaze breathing, called number one to go get her. He said, “Mom: Chill. I got her.”
Because of his helpfulness, I bought him new dorm bed sheets and upgraded the thread count. Mad props. I finally settled on 400 count for us and a snuggly UGGS comforter set, all in CREAM. Bold.
So yes, victory. Last night was amazing. It’s like sleeping on a cloud. The mattress is glorious and the bedding is so freaking cozy. The only negative is that one side of the comforter is literally the fuzzy stuff that’s in the inside of an UGG’s boot. Little sweaty. Will be perfect for snuggles in fall and winter. For now I’ll just keep cranking the fan on us.
I crawled in it at 6pm last night and I am still in it at 9:15am. I eventually have to get out of it to go see my dad, but for right now…
I need to put one of my new iTags on my actual purpose, cause I’m having trouble finding it.
I’m not even a week in with my 365 blogapalooza commitment and I’m already dreading writing about my One Big Thing today. It’s depressing.
I’m flailing. I’m in a funk. I’m blue. I’m lying here trying to find my damn solace. I’m feeling it’s somewhere along the lines of pulling up my big girl pants, getting over my bad self, making a list of things I need to get done and just freaking doing them.
But from the minute I woke up this morning, I’m finding it really easy to be sad. Sad about being sick, sad about my dad, sad about number one going back to college, sad about the sinking ship that is my music career, sad about the Rizzo, sad about not having a job.
Maybe I should just give myself a day to BE. I’ve been doing such a bang-up job for the last seven months wearing myself thin, not taking care of myself and treating myself badly, that it’s become a hard habit to break.
Welp, there you go. This is why I love writing. I just spoon fed myself my answer and found my literal purpose for the day. I’m going to give myself a hug, lay on my hammock, go out to lunch with my parents, enjoy my family. I can continue to wallow tomorrow. Today’s mission: Sunday funday.
I try to think when my loseeverything-itis started to get really bad. I think it was after I began having babies. Maybe not, but I usually blame everything else on that. Even as a kid, I was always flighty. I was perpetually ditzy, often confused, very emotional, constantly disorganized. However, I was kind of adorable and that helped me get away with a lot. This very annoying problem I have has definitely gotten worse over the years. Also, I am also not so adorable anymore, so it’s harder to get away with it.
My incredible friends get the brunt of it. I am constantly leaving my shit everywhere. Boat days are the worst. Shelly has my flip flops, Hank has my towel, Evelyn has my sunglasses and we are all still looking for my phone. I think for awhile it was funny, but now it’s just annoying, sprinkled with a hint of sadness. This one time, I left my iPad on the top of my car. You heard me right. I was in between two back-to-back gigs and it was a very stressful day. I had to run home to get something (probably something I forgot) and I totally also forgot about the iPad. It fell off my hood and someone ran it over with their car.
My iPad is my life blood when it comes to my singing jobs. I was devastated, disappointed, ashamed. A week later, for Christmas, those same incredible friends all chipped in and bought me a new one, so I could keep on playing music. Yep. Incredible. My heart still overflows, because they love me so much, despite…me.
So it was cute my husband bought me the key ring. The truth is that I just recently lost my keys and it had all of our new car FOB’s on it. I think I threw them away by accident. I guess you can say this gift is more for him, than me. He can finally take a break from digging in the garbage.
It’s not the first time someone I love has bought me a lost and found tool. A dear friend of mine gave me a purse a couple of years ago and three Apple tiles. We hid the first one inside the very cute purse. We put one my wallet. Super helpful. Then we put one my keys. That was blissful and happy time in my life. I knew where my shit was. Eventually they lost their charge and chaos ensued. And here we are again.
I can kind of guess what you’re thinking. “Pull yourself together, Heather. Put everything away in your purse and put it in a safe and remember-able place everyday.” Now YOU’RE adorable, but nay, nay. Too easy.
Picture, if you will, a big tornado of chaos. That’s me. I am always in a hurry, always late for something, always in a perpetual frenzy of mayhem, bewilderment and perplexity. In short: it is very, very difficult to be me.
Recently, I bought a key hook to put right in the doorway when you walk in the house. Brilliant, the family said! Well thought out, the family said! You actually have to put your keys on it, the family said! They use it. It comes in really handy when you have four drivers and we play car Tetris every day. The only problem is just that I keep forgetting to put my keys on it. DAMMIT.
I feel like there is money to be made on my imperfections. I smell invention. I’ll see your tiles, Apple, and I will one up you with little chip stickers. Cheaper, more compact and you can stick them on anything. For instance, I really also lose my lip gloss about for times a day. It’s incredibly frustrating because I love a good moist lip. What I need is an affordable little itty bitty sticker on there, with a microchip, that I can program in my phone and when I can’t find it…push the button…beep beep beep….lip gloss found under my car seat. Lip crisis averted.
I could put one on the portable fan in my room because my freaking kids keep taking it. It’s really not that HARD to find it when it’s missing, because I just have to burst in yelling to one of their rooms. But If I had an annoying little alarm, I could really drive it home with them to stop taking my stuff. I could just incessantly beep it in their rooms until they can’t stand it anymore and they bring it back. I absolutely need one for my hair straightener. Number three is a double dog down thief. She’s definitely at her absolute worst when she steals my very posh shampoo and conditioner, brings it in her shower, leaves it there and I don’t discover it until I am naked, wet and super pissed off. Definitely need a little sticker for that. *Add waterproof to business plan.
Those are instances of criminal thievery by my children. But I also need help with things that I lose like…documents. Medication. Numerous articles of clothing. Clothing tags….I can sew them in like camp. Yes! *Add name tags to business plan.
While I am at it, “it” being creating new things to help me get through my day, I should also look into memory care. Things that help preserve the brain I still have left and try to stop it from rotting, or whatever it’s doing up there. Maybe I will start doing Sudoku with a clicky pencil. I can suddenly take up gardening and consume fish oil. In the end, I think I just need to slow my roll. Continue my quest to heal my sick body, gets some damn sleep and stop sweating the small stuff.
“People give the worst advice about lost things. Retrace your steps. Pray to Saint Anthony. Think about where you last saw it. But that doesn’t apply to the things that matter. Those are right in front of you, except they can’t be found by looking for them. Only by looking at everything else.” ― Kristen Lepionka, The Last Place You Look
It was so much funnier when it was a family joke as an idiotic 14 year old. My brother and I thought it was hilARious to run around the house, whining, “I’ve got diiiivvverticullliiitttiiisss!”
Laugh it up, chuckles.
Now, look. I’m a lady. I do not want to talk about my intestines as much as I am sure you don’t want to hear about them. They are all sorts of pissed off. It started June 30th. I know the exact date because it was the last time I sat down and had an actual meal. Since then, I have lost 15 pounds, orange Jello is my life blood, Desitin isn’t just for babies and I have had labor-like stomach cramps for three literal weeks. Many sleepless nights, crying in the fetal position, while my poor husband felt helpless. Gigs cancelled all over the damn place and way too much energy exuded pretending I was ok, when I was dying in the inside.
One urgent care, two hospital visits (MORPHINE, HOLLA!), one cat scan that also found a monster cyst on my ovaries (WTF. That’s next week’s drama.), one endoscopy, complete with my last words as I was getting the Twilight Saga drug, “I’m a singer; don’t screw it up“, and one incredibly disgusting, gross, intrusive and weird colonoscopy.
Diagnosis: Diverticulitis or Osis….I think it’s more osis, but not sure really yet. The doctor went on vacation hours after he did his photoshoot of my screaming bowels. And Oh my God, dude, this guy deserves that vacation. Why did he, on purpose, choose to be this kind of doctor? Why, why why.
I see him on Monday to talk about my issues. Find out what meds I need, learn what I can eat, reveal if my polyps were scary polyps, discuss how chia seeds almost killed me…until then, I am a Google research machine. I am hunting and gathering information and I am so damn confused. Currently, I choke down broth and hard boiled eggs, I take the weight loss as a big girl win and practice calm meditation. Very needed, because this was all brought on by massive stress, my bum immune system and…Chia.
Freakin’ Chia. I should have known better than to eat anything you spread on a ceramic plant statue of Bob Ross’ head.
Yesterday I did what I’m sure looked like an obligatory Facebook brag post. Especially to people who probably don’t have school-age children, or …any children. But the ones who had to hands-on watch their children navigate their education through a pandemic every day for the last year, I bet they got it.
I didn’t post that for myself. I already know how neat my kids are; I get to live with them every day. When I posted that, I posted that for her. Whether it helps her read it today or it helps her when she reads in 20 years, she needs a reminder that her mom loved her and what she overcame. She will see what I wrote, remember the lovely comments shared from people who are dear to us and see a picture of what she looked like at that moment.
Just because she did well and got straight A’s, doesn’t mean that she didn’t work. her. ass. off.
It’s not a scenario where things come easy to her, look at how perfect she is, blah, blah, blech. The real truth is that I watched her study and worry and plan and make goals and work really hard to finish them. That’s all on her.
And she did all of this basically sitting on a mattress, on her bedroom floor, surrounded by Cheetos’s, our loyal dog and a teenager amount of dirty laundry.
Please make no mistake, as a mother trying to help my children learn through a pandemic, I’m an idiot and can’t teach them anything, but I can online shop. I transformed the loft and I set up quite the beautiful school area. It had wonderful lighting and it was comfortable, with productive desks and chairs. I tried to give both her and her brother, who was enrolled in some CLC college courses, an environment where they could concentrate when they needed it, and then walk away when they were done.
I’m pretty sure they used it for about a week and a half. And I didn’t push them because this wasn’t about me doing all that work and me getting upset because they didn’t use it. (Truth: It gave me something else to do during the pandemic besides putting booze in my coffee and overeating. ) Nay, nay: It was about them being comfortable when everything around them made no sense.
Her freshman year in high school should’ve been filled with nervous giggles, experimenting with outfits every morning, walking to classes with new friends, sneaking out to get ice cream on her lunch break, walking in the halls and blushing when she passed somebody she had a crush on, laughing with her friends in the locker room about how much swimming class sucks with their period, going to a pep rally…going to a football game….going to Homecoming, going anywhere…with anyone…
Our walls are thin in our cookie cutter home. Her bedroom is next to mine. I know the sound of fear, frustration, angst, anxiety and sadness. Her teachers voices came out of her laptop sounding legit Charlie Brown. I heard late-night heated and passionate conversations, but couldn’t make out the words. Those emotion-filled moments made my tears run all the way down to my pillow.
But, there where lovely noises. She taught herself some pretty bitchin’ guitar playing. Her lovely voice, soft and lilting, wafted into the hallway. The strumming was comforting, the sounds of her trying to figure out the Bohemian Rhapsody solo, endless Fleetwood Mac. She had the lonely time to do that. l will cherish those sanguine sounds that seeped through my bedroom wall.
Another sound that didn’t make me feel sad to accidentally overhear: the laughter with her friends. They found a way to make the “pandemic sleepover” work; messy but still with laughter and love.
What one wouldn’t also post on social media is that she battled two significant and private medical issues that most don’t know about, and one very significant dental issue that meant literally 30 doctor and specialized dentist appointments in a year. In one year. In a pandemic.
Could she cry to her friends at the table in the lunch room, where she could get hugs and whispers of support? No. But she could talk to their faces on her small phone screen and at least feel some love, however she could get it. Funny…it’s the one time as a mother I have been grateful for my children’s social media.
Life has gotten slowly back to “normal”. She eventually went back to school, picked out cute outfits, walked the halls, snuck off to The Jewel with friends on her lunch break, met her teachers face-to-face for the first time, played an actual high school lacrosse game, even laughed on a bus with her teammates…normal things started happening again. I think the kid is finally able to realize that she is going to be okay.
My life purpose is to love and protect my family; keep them alive for a life that is worth living. I have two other great kids who are creating their own life journey tapestries, but I celebrate this moment for the little one who won an epic battle this year in her bedroom. Shine on, little diamond.
My eyes were still trying to focus, failing miserably to recall the details of the very weird dream I just had about going back to college…I was doing the groggy, obligatory reach-over for my glasses and my phone.
A very upset dear friend sent me a text. “…Did you hear about Sammy?…”
No. No no no no no no no. Not Sam. Samsamsamsamsamsam.
What is that thing? What is that thing our minds do at times like this when memories, clips, moments, feelings…they all attack our brains and our heads and our faces…flying at you like a colorful tornado…recollections of the past floating around. You close your eyes and you try to grab ahold of one to steady it for second, and it moves and then you open your eyes. Poof. There they go. You try really hard and they come back again and you struggle to remember them in a not-fuzzy way. For me: a laugh, a look, a rehearsal, a tipsy walk down the street, a striped shirt, a giggle-filled stage kiss, a hi and a hug, a deep talk in a dark bar…reminiscences all chaotic, all fighting, bumping into each other, these memories belligerent and clawing to be seen and competing to be remembered in my mind, just as they were in that memory Polaroid…those memory Polaroids…snapshots of those times, that small moment of many; many and not enough tiny moments that make up the time when I had Sam in my life.
He was just a friend. Not a past lover. Not someone I even truly knew anymore. But my heart aches just the same. Crying for his family, bawling for his loved ones. Then my inner dialogue goes Tasmanian Devil…we do this to ourselves….I’m yelling at me in my car yesterday morning, fists gripping my steering wheel, “Why in the hell didn’t I talk to him anymore?!”
Stop, breathe. Hug ourselves. It’s in this moment that we need to tell us that we are ok because life. simply. moves. It just keeps moving. That time I had with him was there and then life moves so fast…onto the next show, the new circle of pals, the new job, the new husband, the kids, the more kids, the more jobs, the more life. The journey takes us; the road winds and we drive farther on The Map of Life. But it is on that Map that you mark those special tack pins. You take them and stick them in all the locations that you really lived and loved, because you want to remember that time and that spot and those people. They meant so much to you that you saved them for later. You do that, so when you go back to The Map and look at all the beautiful places you have been, you remember what a great journey we are on so far…And Sam, my friends, was definitely a tack.
I love Facebook. I fucking hate Facebook. But most importantly, I NEED Facebook. Not just to promote my music career, but I need Facebook so I can look back on all my connected tacks. I go on my feed page so I can laugh at a ridiculous cow meme that was posted by an old theater professor, or admire a neighbor’s summer garden or feel happy for the old middle school friend who found great love, or I can even just send a virtual hug to a long-distant cousin who just needs a freaking hug. It’s not the same. It’s not in person, it’s virtual, but it’s the best I can do right now and I MEAN it. It’s me saying to everyone, “I am busy on my path, but I am still so glad that you were on one of mine.”
Sam was just this stunning human. Strikingly good-looking, yes, but that wasn’t even the best part. First and foremost, he was a deep and true listener for all. When you spoke to Sam, he concentrated on your words with his warm puddly eyes and his beautifully enormous heart. All of this greatness was surrounded by a unique and rare talent for performing. I have a funny Polaroid in my head that reminds me I had a little crush on Sam. I was playing Chris Hargensen and he was my Billy in a hilarious Chicago musical called “sCarrie the Musical”. We were the mean kids and made out a lot. Which wasn’t horrible. We had this rather rated-R musical number where I had to sing to him while I was performing….well…let’s just say, that the entire cast could barely get through it every time because we were all laughing so hard. Best of times.
I don’t know how we lost Sam. What I pray for is that he didn’t feel one ounce of pain. What I wish for is that his legacy will live on for all days, by the people who loved him. What I know is that all of it is a complete tragedy.
Pray for his family. Hug everyone you can. Love everyone you love. Go hang your Map.
This moment only took me four years. But alas, I am here. I have officially been put in a vaginal timeout by my Lady Doctor and there is no going back. My last check-up a few weeks ago with him went a little something like this:
(Scene: Doctor’s office follow-up with results, after complete biopsy under the hood.)
Lady Doctor: Besides your endometriosis, your fibroid is growing.
Me: I’m an overachiever.
Lady Doctor: (Not amused. I start to think: when you look up chee-chaws all day long, I guess humor slowly erodes away like lining of a vaginal cavity.)
Lady Doctor: Last year your fibroid was a lime. Right now it’s an orange. It’s time.
Me: Hm. Ok. Now, would you classify that as a clementine? I love those little guys.
Lady Doctor: (Not amused.) Not at all. The big one. It’s time.
Me: That doesn’t sound apPEALing!
Lady Doctor: (Literally no expression.)
My Trunk Junk.
Friends, meet cervix. Cervix, meet friends. In 2 short months, all of these once-overactive baby maker tools will be Jack-the-Rippered out of me. Sayanara, sweeties!
The saddest part is all the excuses I have made. I can say that I put these shenanigans off because of “work”. I book our gigs months in advance and I don’t want to screw my musical partner out of months of work=valid.
I can say that I can’t afford to stop teaching and singing for two months=valid.
I can say that I don’t want to leave my students voice teacher-less in the heart of high school spring musical audition season=valid.
I can say that I am scared to get all the weird and non-glamorous side-effects I will adopt, after they rip out my woman bits=valid.
I can even say that I am not sure what I am going to do with myself for two months, because I literally have watched the absolute and complete entire collection of Netflix=VALID TO ME. And also embarrassing.
But the real truth…the one that festers and bubbles…the one I dare not whisper to anyone, even sometimes to myself…is that I am dreading the pain=The most valid.
But it’s going to hurt me so badly. Not so much from the relinquishment of my reproductive whozits and whatzits galore, but my actual BODY will pulse and vibrate with breath-taking pain from not being medicated. I have to go off of my Humira 10 days before and I can’t start up again until 6 weeks after. During that time, my rheumatoid arthritis will unleash from the very gates of the seventh circle of hell to attack every joint in my body. It’s a dark place, brother.
I could be all Pollyanna and pretend that it will “not be as bad as I think”, but fuck glasshalffull. I know it will suck hard, because it happened to me unexpectedly last year. (Please refer to the past WOUND posts. It wasn’t pretty.) It freaking hurt. I’d rather have 5 more babies, all popping out at the same time. Oxycodin from my surgery will help, but eventually I will have to stop, to prevent me from being an addict looking for a fix in the parking lot of Mariano’s, Zumba and all the other popular mom-addict drug spots in the surrounding Lake County area.
But it’s time. Now I have 51 days to really show my ovaries a rockin’ good time. I’m taking them to Florida. I am definitely not going to neglect them from any opportunity to enjoy a tall Tito’s and soda. They can help me decorate my Cubbie Christmas tree this season. I’m even going to dress them up in flapper sequins and let them sing with me at my big closeout NYE gig this year. They will want for nothing…..these bitches will be spoiled, but they are going out in style, yo!