Friday, December 31, 2010

my final blog..... of 2010

the blogger's version of the 'see you next year' joke.  remember, in school?  probably like middle school, when we all had THE BEST sense of humor.  the last day of school before the chrimbo holiday break, you'd tell all your friends 'see you next year!'.  like any of us would forget and be like - WHAT?? WHAT DO YOU MEAN NEXT YEAR? WE HAVE A SCIENCE TEST IN JANUARY. 


so now that we're grown up (ish) bloggers, i can say 'my final blog.... of 2010' and think that maybe you'll only see 'my final blog' and be like ZOMG STEPH GAS I LOVE YOU WHY WOULD YOU STOP BLOGGING?!??!!??! 

and then you see the 'of 2010' part and are like, oh.  okay then.  you got me.  well played, steph gas, well played.

not really.

anyway. my new job started this past monday.  while i was stranded in new york.  thankfully, they've been supergreat through the past month - cutting me some slack while mom was in the hospital, moving me into another class when she died and i needed time off, and the other peeps i'm working with have been really supportive.  they help me with my stupid n00b questions and it's a great group of people.  however, i feel horrible because when i switched classes, they dumped all my codes to access systems to help people.  sooooo i'm kind of useless right now. 

but still, they pay me and let me learn and don't say nasty things to my face.  probably just behind my back.

and when it rains, it pours, because i may have another top secret job offer in the works.  but it's totes, like, top secret.  so i'm not telling you yet.

all in all, the past six months have had super high highs and fucking ridiculously low lows.  it's been one hell of a roller coaster and i really don't know how i feel about any of it.

tarzipan helps.  no, really.  i get that kind of flat affect thing that anyone who's ever taken anti-psychotic medications is probably familiar with.

looking back over my year, i don't even know what to think.  the only thing i can really remember is my mom dying, and that was just a few weeks ago.  she's not even been gone a month.  i keep finding myself wanting to call her.  if we go out to dinner, i want to call mom and remind her to eat since i won't be cooking.  samantha did something really funny, and i wanted to call her and let her know.  when we were in new york, i wanted to call her to vent about being stuck in the blizzard. 

when i was in new york, i figured she was home with the cats.  when i'm in florida, i figure she's in new york living with my revbobdad.  i remember discussions i've had with people, saying i wouldn't be able to get on with out my mom.  how just talking about her dying was enough to get me borderline hysterical.  i always thought i'd never be able to function without her in my life.

so far, i am.  i'm not sure how well i'm doing, but i am functioning.  i'm surviving.  i'm living.  and i'm kind of enjoying it once in a while. 

i asked my brother if i could share what he wrote to read at my mom's wake.  this was the only thing i hated about mom's wake - he didn't tell me he was preparing something and he totes showed me up.  dick. 

anyway, here it is.  and remember how fucking precious life is.  i'm not going to get all tim-mcgrawy on your ass and say 'live like you were dying' (even though that's one of the very few country songs i like) but don't be a dick.  have fun.  love people.  try hard to love yourself.  and let people love you.  enjoy your friends and family.  don't fucking hold grudges.  and seriously - stop smoking. 

I never thought I'd be writing my mother's eulogy this far ahead of my 30th birthday; I always thought it would be a more adult worry for a more adult version of myself. It's hard for me to think of what to say in a situation like this. Our family has always been very open to speak about death, so that way, when it did come knocking on our doorstep, we would not react with fear or shock but with the ability to understand that it is the most inevitable part of life. But on a day like this, when death has not waited kindly on the doorstep but barged through the door right past us, raided the fridge, and sat down with his feet on the coffee table, how do you react? I can't help but find myself trying to make a joke about it because for as long as Mom had been a part of my life, that is how we've done it.

Mom never would have wanted us to sit in a room draped with black bunting, with the lights dimmed low, and with tears flowing freely. She would've told us we were wasting our time being miserable when there are so many more ways we could be out there making ourselves smile. I can almost hear her saying, "why bother crying when it's not going to change anything?" And for the most part, I think she was right. Mom always taught me to look at the lighter side of life, to find the happiness and joy in the small things and not get bogged down worrying about the things you can't have. I feel like everyone in this room would has their own personal story about Kathy that would bring a smile to their face, and I'm willing to bet that they're all completely different stories from completely different times and completely different places. Mom had an infectious personality that couldn't help but leave a smile on your face.

The one trait I could hope to have gained from Mom was her generosity of spirit. There are so many points in my life where I can remember mom putting my sister and myself before her own needs, making sure we were comfortable and happy before worrying about her own problems. Our lives may have had difficult times, but she never let us go wanting because of that. She always taught us that material possessions are not where happiness lay - it was in the experiences you had and the people you shared them with. I remember her always telling me when I was younger to live by the golden rule - treat others as you would want to be treated. It's a rule we all strive to live by but too easily forget, but a way of life that mom imprinted on me. I think it would be amazing if I could wind up being a tenth of the good person Kathy was.

I think if there is one thing Mom can teach us in her passing, it is to value not just what we have, but who we have it with. The amount of love and compassion that has been shown to our family has been mind-blowing; I could have never imagined how many lives she had touched. Whether you knew her as intimately as her brothers, sisters, or children did, or have just heard the stories we've been telling over the last few days, I hope that her spirit and generosity will stay with you through the years. I love you, Mom, and I always will treasure the time I had with you.

mom at sanaa, july 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

happy fucking holidays.

i'm stuck in new york until tomorrow.  thanks, blizzard of 2010.

we had it all planned out: land thursday night, xmas eve with the family, xmas day running around with the family, and sunday we'd have breakfast and get the fuck home.  since some of us started a new job yesterday.

instead, it fucking snowed LIKE WOAH.  like 20+ inches, 60+ mph winds, blowing snow, ice, the whole nine yards.  and our sunday flight was cancelled.

so i called jetblue to reschedule (at least they were letting us do it for free) and the first flight we can get back to orlando is TOMORROW morning.  so instead of flying out sunday afternoon, we can't fly out until wednesday morning.

fucking. snow.

i mean, it's pretty, whatever.  but my new job started yesterday and i would have liked to be home to start it.  instead, i'm trying to do it on my laptop which isn't really 'work-ready'.  at least they fucked up all my codes to log in so i can kind of blame it on them.

and since it's snowy and icy and the roads are for shit, i can't even spend the extra two days i have here eating delicious new york food or visiting new york friends. 

yes, i mentioned food before friends.  i love you guys, totes.  i promise.  but i also love pizza and greek food.  at least i was able to get some greek food on friday with sisterfromanothermister and awesome husband.

anyway, happy fucking holidays guys.  hope it was better than mine was.  at least i have new year's to look forward to, a night when we drink and play video games and fall asleep by 10:30.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

coming home

i know i've been a horrible blogger for the past month.  sometimes it's felt like a whirwind of activity, and sometimes it's felt like molasses in january. 

i'd love to say 'i'm back'.  i'd love to be able to promise you more posts about awesome husband, eating tarzipan, my ridiculous family, and my fucked up life.

i don't know that i can promise you any of that.  i get through my days with the help of tarzipan (and probably more alcohol than i should admit to drinking), awesome husband, my brother, and my great family and friends.  it takes a tragedy to bring us closer together sometimes, and that has been exceptionally true in my family.  it's not that i was like estranged from members of my family, but there were some family members that i might have only seen or talked to a couple of times a year.  with my mother's illness and passing, i feel like i have a whole new immediate family now.  specifically with a few of my cousins - even though i may not talk to them much more than i did previously, i feel like we are all closer.  and i wouldn't feel strange calling one of them in the middle of the night if i needed them.

it's a different feeling than i'm used to.  but i like it.

what i can promise you is more bullshit about life, the universe, and everything.  i plan on going back to talk therapy in the new year - so that will be worth at least a blog or two a week.  probably about how much i hate my therapist.  and awesome husband and i will be moving back to new york.  so packing and stressing and actually moving will be amusing - to you guys, at least.  and of course, i am continuing on with my schooling.  even though new york state will not recognize an education degree received online, so i had to switch my plan of attack.  i'll now be getting an associates with a concentration in psychology.

other than that, you'll probably have a lot of blogs about my mom.  about what happened, how fast it was, what it felt like, what i was thinking.  about planning your mom's funeral when you're 30 years old.  how it feels to have another empty room in the house.

about how i can't walk into her room too often, because it still smells like her.  how taylor - the oldest cat - has taken to sleeping on her pillow since mom left.  how i keep putting off opening her drawers or closets or looking under her bed, because i don't know if i can see her things yet.

so yeah, it won't be a barrel of laughs.  but i know it will be good - for me, at least.  and maybe it will help some of you too.

mom and me at my wedding, october 2004

Friday, December 3, 2010

another post i thought i wouldn't write, at least not for a long time

supersuperfast post.  my mom passed away this morning.  she went peacefully in her sleep.  it has been less than two weeks since she went to the emergency room experiencing vision loss. 

if anything, at least she went quickly and without having to fight.  the cancer spread so fast and was so aggressive that there was nothing they could do but keep mom comfortable.  i'll be here in new york for about another week, taking care of business and spending time with my family.

thank you all for your kind words and thoughts.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

another post i never thought i'd write

here i am, sitting in the hospice inn at huntington (great facility by the way).  my mom is not doing great.  while she was occasionally smiling and giving us one-word answers to direct questions, she is now fully unresponsive.  she can no longer swallow.  her breathing is a bit ragged and gaspy - which is why they have her on oxygen, to keep her comfortable.  mom has a fever that they cannot break.  these are all signs that the end is near.

it sounds so melodramatic.  'the end is near'.  mom will gasp her last breath and die.  but it's really not that dramatic.  she breathes, albeit not well.  she has a compress on her head to try and keep her comfortable.  she gets morphine every four hours, also to keep her comfy.  there is a bag full of her pee hanging on the side of the bed.  mom has an iv needle thing stuck in her arm so they can administer the morphine, the steroids, and the anti-seizure medications.  her eyes are kind of open, but she isn't seeing anything.

if anything, it's like ANTI melodramatic.  it's actually pretty boring.  i do my classwork, watch some television, listen to her breathe, and shop online for her urn.  yes, you read that right: i am shopping for her urn as she lies on her deathbed and i am sitting next to her.  they have free wifi here.

my family is NOTHING if not practical.

today was an exciting day.  i had to go to the hospital where she was originally treated to hand in a fuckload of paperwork to get her medicaid application moving.  the social worker was shocked to find out mom is in hospice care.  even after she passes, he will still work on getting her medicaid approved so we don't have to pay the tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills that hospital stay (mostly in icu) wracked up.

then i got to go to the funeral home.  now, i am irish.  that means we like to wake.  there's four visitations over two days for a friend's aunt?  we're there for ALL FOUR.  seriously - the irish invented wakes.  you know how people always bring food to your home when someone dies?  there's a reason.  in ireland, when a family member died, the only room large enough to have everyone over to pay their respects was usually the kitchen.  the kitchen table would be cleared off and the body would be laid on it.  seriously.  and all the neighbors and friends and relatives would bring over food since the family's kitchen was otherwise occupied. 

things work a bit differently now, but the thought is still appreciated.  i'd prefer vodka instead of food.  and not smirnoff, please.  i'm irish, not desperate.  i prefer sobieski, grey goose, or at the very least, absolut.

so i went to the funeral home.  the guy - bill - was supernice.  we talked about having something a bit different.  mom was not one for open caskets.  hell, she didn't even want a wake - it's mostly for me and my brother.  and she wanted to be cremated.  so i was like, well, why don't we cremate her first, then have the wake instead of pumping her full of embalming crap and then cremating her and dumping her now-possibly-toxic ashes in the sea?  bill was totally on board.  we're doing a direct cremation - mom will be taken directly from the hospice inn to the crematory and then will be delivered to the funeral home.  we'll supply an urn (biodegradable, of course) and we'll basically have a wake with an urn instead of a casket.  i think mom would totally love it.

plus, it's a bit less expensive.  mom could pinch a penny until it screamed.  she'd definitely appreciate this.

but bill is taking care of everything.  obituary?  he helped me write it.  list of things i need to do?  he gave it to me.  how to pay for it?  i can give him mom's life insurance policy numbers and they'll contact the company, get their payment from the policies, and the company will send the rest to me.  could it be easier?

it could be.  mom could not be dying.  and i wouldn't have to do any of this, make any of these decisions.  i wouldn't have to tell my brother, my mom's siblings, or my dad what we plan to do when the end is no longer near, but passed.  i wouldn't have to pick out flowers to sit next to the urn, or photos to add to the collages we plan on having at the wake.  i wouldn't have to call the pastor from my high school to see if he'll come speak at my 56-year-old mom's funeral.  i wouldn't have to buy an appropriate pair of shoes to wear to her wake (i have been informed that my zombie shoes may not be appropriate.  while mom, awesome husband, brother, sisterfromanothermister, and select family members would appreciate it, the general consensus is most will not get it.  damn it.) or hope i have time to get my nails done.  i wouldn't have had to choose whether or not to include the cats in her obituary (yes, i did.  shutthefuckup).  i wouldn't have to figure any of this out.  i would be sitting at home, bitching about my cats yelling or fighting or vomiting on the bed, and mom would be here in new york, living with my dad - her ex-husband - and training for the new job she really wanted.  we'd be moving forward with our plan to come back to new york permanently and be a family again.

somehow, i don't feel like we will ever be a family again without mom.