Of rebels with causes and final farewells

My grandmother, my dad’s mom, officially died on Friday night. On the one hand, it’s sad. She’s the first grandparent to die. On the other hand, it’s a relief. We’d been going back and forth for almost a month. I know it’s been really hard on my dad. I listened to him read and rehearse her eulogy for over a week. I don’t think he knew I could hear him through the door. I sat on the floor and cried, not for me, but for him. As I’ve said, I’m not close to any of my grandparents. But it really hurts to watch someone you love lose someone they love, even if it’s not a surprise.

I won’t be going to the funeral. Originally, I was going to go to support my dad. It would take either a $1500+ round trip plane ticket with a layover each way or an 8 hour drive one way. He told me he didn’t want me to spend that much money and time to travel there and back. I think part of him doesn’t want me to see him upset. If he doesn’t want me to go, then go I won’t.

Friday was difficult for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the announcement of her passing. I’d already planned to take Wednesday off anyway, so I’m going to take tomorrow and Tuesday off as well. I need a little bit of time to regain my bearings after the emotional meat grinder I found myself being fed through repeatedly. It’s one thing to keep getting up and going to work because otherwise I know I’ll just stew. It’s another thing to genuinely need a few extra days to shake myself out of it. A few days to lie on the couch marathoning whatever show is on (Criminal Minds is Mondays and Tuesdays! Woohoo!) and refusing to put on actual pants. It’s better for me to shut my brain down for a few days than trying to keep going and end up sobbing in the bathroom every day just because I can’t take it.

What all of this has done is trigger my rebellious streak. The proverbial cut class, put on clothes my mother wouldn’t approve of, go to the mall, and stand outside smoking. I want to just say “fuck it”, go get another tattoo, ball up all my J.Crew outfits in favor of my old Alexander Hardy dresses (see my profile pic for a reference), and revert back to when I was actually rebelling against everyone and everything, especially in my own head. While that’s all very tempting, it won’t make me feel any better. It’s just like when I would drink myself to the point of falling over. It would feel good at the time, but then the hangover would set in.

No matter how strong a person is, it’s a little difficult to end a 4+ year relationship, be rejected for every single job you’ve applied for in the past year (if you were actually given a formal rejection in the first place), and watch a family member die all in the span of about 6 weeks. It’s hard not to blame myself for two of those three. What could I have done differently to get that job? To make the relationship work? The answer?

Nothing. I can’t control other people (no matter how much I would LOVE to). I did the best I could. I wore the right clothes and gave the right answers in interviews. I put myself out there. I gave what I was able to give. If that wasn’t good enough, that’s not my fault. I know when I’m giving it my best and when I’m not. I half assed something recently and did get called out on it. That was my fault. I knew I wasn’t doing what I’d been told to do to the fullest and best of my abilities. I didn’t want to do it, so I did the bare minimum to get it done. The rebel had already started to sneak out a bit. So we’re all going to take a time out. She can sit there with her feet up on the table, smoking and playing on her phone, then flipping off the camera when someone tries to take a picture. Then it’s time to go home. I guess Hailey has herself a sister now. As if it wasn’t crowded enough in here already. 😛

Now time to finish off my leftover sushi from last night and figure out what to marathon next. Catch you on the flip(ping off) side.

XOXO!

Of death and only the beginning

Big week, big week.

Last Sunday, my parents celebrated their 35th anniversary. That’s the third of the 4 banner year events in 2015. My dad will turn 60 in June to round it out.

On Monday, I passed my Series 51 exam. I am now legally allowed to not only give you stock advice, but I can supervise the people who review your mutual fund trades. Quick! Get excited! I got the bare minimum passing score, but who cares? A pass is a pass, n’est pas? It’s just one more dollop of icing on my resume cupcake.

For the past week, my parents have been up in Virginia. My dad’s mom hasn’t been doing well. They were supposed to come home yesterday, but apparently my grandmother flipped, so they stayed an extra day. In retrospect, yesterday was Good Friday and they’re uber Catholic, so it kind of makes sense. In all honesty, I’m not that close to her. I’m not close to any of my grandparents. That might make me a horrible person, but it’s true. I won’t personally be upset when they die, I’ll be upset because the respective parent is upset. My dad is literally the person I love most in the world, so I’ll lose my shit if I see him do it. He’s not the ‘lose your shit’ kind of guy, but who knows? When my mom texted me yesterday to say they were going to stay an extra day, she said my dad cried. I have literally in my entire memory never seen him cry. Ever. At all. I’d like to keep that streak going. I’m of the mind that if I don’t see it, then it never happened. Him crying, in my world, qualifies as losing his shit.

Death is a funny thing, especially when it’s family. There are so many different family dynamics, family types, and families themselves that influence how they handle death. How did the person die? Old age? Long illness? Suicide? Accident? My office likes to circulate notices when someone’s family member dies. I’ll refuse to let them do that when my grandmother passes. I don’t want people coming up to me and apologizing. I never flat out say “I’m sorry for your loss” when I know someone had a death in the family. It’s simply “I heard about…” and let them take the lead. In the case of one of the other managers, her dad died about a year ago. I told her that I’d heard and her reply was that she really wasn’t upset, the only reason she was even going to the funeral was because she was his only child. One of my other friends had a cousin die in a car accident. He had previously been arrested for drugs and possession of child porn. Needless to say, she wasn’t sorry to see him go.

On the flip side, it doesn’t even have to be a person’s death to hurt. My sister had to put down her beloved kitty a few weeks ago. That broke her heart. When my childhood kitty died of (very) old age, I cried for days even though I knew it was coming. People really don’t understand how much that can hurt, especially in comparison to the death of a person. I got plenty of funny looks when I said I was crying over the loss of a pet. I don’t judge other people for what they do and don’t grieve for. I have no idea what the dynamic was. Yes, I do care about my cat more than my grandmother. Is that your business? No, it isn’t. Your grief and mourning is none of my business.

Emily wasn’t family, but I took her death harder than I know I’ll take a lot of my blood relatives. It wasn’t just that she was young and committed suicide. I, quite frankly, cared more about her than I do various aunts, uncles, and cousins. At her memorial service, her mother told me how much that Emily cared about me. I didn’t see her as a heroin addict. I saw her as a girl who just needed someone to be her friend without judgment. That went a long way for her. I still have the letters she sent me when she was in jail. I still have the program from her memorial service. If she were still alive, she’d be 28 at the end of the month. I’ll always remember her fondly and that my last words to her were kind ones. That’s all anyone can hope for.

On that depressing note, I’m off to take some allergy medication & continue binge watching Criminal Minds. The Atlanta Pollen Snow has set in and my left eye is about to itch right out of my face. Blech.

XOXO!

Of going too soon and arriving too late

There are certain moments which put your life, and your problems, in rather harsh perspective.

My first boyfriend ever died yesterday. He had just turned 30 in February. When I saw it on Facebook, I didn’t believe it. I was thinking “Wow, that’s a really cruel joke to play. April Fool’s Day was a week ago.” Then his sister posted confirmation. I was completely stunned. I haven’t seen him since he graduated high school (2002) and I only recently found him on Facebook. We dated for all of 4 months over 15 years ago. He was my first kiss and gave me my first hickey (much to the great dismay of my mother). He also had the most ridiculous reason for dumping me I’ve heard since we started dating. There were rumors constantly flying around that he was gay. In a Catholic high school, that’s a loaded statement. He denied it vehemently and kept a string of girlfriends after me. He was a very talented singer and actor which only fueled the gay rumors. Everyone kept telling me he was gay and questioning why I was dating him. He dumped me, so that ended things swiftly. When I was in college, I heard he came out. It didn’t surprise me. I was happy that he had the courage to lay it out there in his very Catholic household. I would idly see his posts on Facebook. He appeared to have reinvented himself. He started going by his full name and gave a pass to everyone who met him before his college days to call him by his nickname. He’d found a partner. There was nothing indicating anything was wrong. Then just like that, he was gone. I’m planning on going to the memorial service this week even though I doubt his sister will remember me.

I read a quote from, of all people, Teller of Penn & Teller. He was talking about rehearsing in the theater and the thought crossed his mind that someday, he won’t ever walk into that theater again. His heart dropped at the thought. Then he said, think about something like that for your own life. Let your heart drop. Then remember that day isn’t today. So I let my heart drop and reminded myself that today is a day I’m still here. Today is a day everyone I love is still here. Give it a try. I promise it will provide the good shake we sometimes need.

Rest well, Jeff. Rest well.

XOXO!

Of anniversaries and memories

Yesterday was the second anniversary of my friend Emily’s death. I met her in AA when I was giving that a go. We were about the same age, had the same name, and bonded very quickly. She was a recovering heroin addict. She was in drug court at the time after getting caught for several impressive drug charges. She’d had her license revoked, so I would drive her to meetings when I could. We’d sit in the parking lot chatting while we waited for the boring opening part of the meeting to finish. She ended up going back to jail twice during the time I knew her. I would call her when I was driving just to pass the time. One of the very last things she said to me was “The next time I use, I’ll die”. A week later around 11 in the morning, I got the call from her sister. She was 24.

She was the first person really close to me who died. I knew, deep down, it wasn’t an if but a when. She’d been shooting up since she was 14 to treat bipolar disorder. By the time they diagnosed her, she was already addicted. My bosses sent me home early that day as I was a sobbing mess and could barely explain what was happening. As I was driving home, I saw a rainbow right over the (approximate) area of her house. There was no reason for there to be a rainbow in the middle of the day on a completely clear day. I’m not one to believe much in God or any kind of afterlife, but I like to believe that was her way of telling me she was okay. 

I could never prove it, but I know she chose to do it. She knew what the consequences would be if she did it again. Just based on what she told me, her kidneys were failing. They had to take blood from the veins in her feet because every other vein was too damaged to use. I also learned more about vein placement than you would outside a medical school. Her heart was probably equally badly off and she smoked regularly. I guess she figured going out on her own terms was better than dying a slower, much more painful death when her body failed. I still have the letters she wrote me from jail. I was one of the few people who wrote to her. I’ll read them periodically and be reminded of how far I’ve come. I have something she’ll never have. Tomorrow.

Rest well, my friend. We miss you.

XOXO…