Wednesday, December 1, 2010

P for Passages of Time

It is amazing how quickly time manages to fly by; isn’t it, lovely reader? Life has been hectic lately. Like don’t remember what day of the week, let alone what month, it is kind of hectic. Psychology class is over, and Algebra wraps up in a couple weeks, which means I’ll soon be on a lovely three week winter break! Wooohooo! I’m looking forward to having some downtime, catching up on my blog reading (I have a lot of catching up to do), and enjoying some time with friends and family. In addition to the busyness of school, work, and life in general, there has been some pretty major family drama too. I just don’t have the energy to get into it right now, so I’ll summarize as best I can…

My mother, who had weight loss surgery over three years ago, is incredibly ill. Like the possibility of dying exists kind of sick. While she insists that this illness has nothing to do with her surgery, it’s hard to deny that it makes recovery more difficult. It’s also hard to ignore that she’s been ill, in one way or another and to one degree or another, since she’s had the surgery. But, whatever.

She’s severely malnourished; her body does not retain any nutrients, or calories, or apparently anything from the food she eats. She’s gained 30 pounds of water weight alone. Apparently there's a possibility that she might have thyroid cancer, but the tests haven’t come back yet. She just started 24/7 IV nutrition therapy in the hopes that they can get her nutrition levels up enough to figure out what exactly is wrong with her, and then hopefully fix whatever it is. To top it off, she and her husband continue to barely scrape by financially. I have loaned given them more money than I care to think about or admit. And there’s no sign that any of that will get better anytime soon. It could, in fact, get worse, because there is a very real possibility that my mom will lose her medical insurance as a result of having to take 3-6 weeks of leave from work in order to try to get better.

It has become a very real possibility that MusicMan and I will need to take custody of my nephew, Li’l D, a lot earlier than we thought we would. We’re as ready as we can be for this, and of course, we want what’s best for Li’l D. Unfortunately, my mother remains stubbornly resistant to the idea. It’s getting to the point where I’m going to have to tell her that, if I’m going to financially support Li’l D any longer (because that’s really the only reason I have given her so much money), then he’s going to live with me. That’s not going to sit well at all. She might sever ties with me, and as a result sever our access to Li’l D. In which case, I will be forced to drag the whole thing into court, because I want what’s best for my nephew. But for now, we wait. And hope…

That things will get better. That my mom will heal and survive. That Li’l D living in such a stressful environment won’t affect him detrimentally for the rest of his life. That mom will come to her senses and do what’s best for Li’l D. That MusicMan and I will be able to handle suddenly becoming “parents” to an almost five-year-old basically overnight. That life will just quit being difficult for a while.

Speaking of difficult, I mentioned at this time last year that I hate this time of year. I gave a few reasons; the biggest of which, is that the anniversary of my youngest sister’s death is in December. It’s amazing the difference a year makes, lovely reader…

December 19 will mark three years that my sister has been gone. I’ve been so focused on finishing up the semester at school, getting ready for the holidays, and excitedly anticipating the bonfire we’ll have (on December 18) to celebrate her life that I momentarily forgot the significance of the date. My cousinfriend made a comment in a conversation we had recently about the date, December 19, being a hard day for my other sister and my twin brother (this is what my mother told my cousin, anyway). I seriously had to think for a few moments about why that would be. Imagine my shock and horror when I realized that the significance of the date is that it is the day, almost three years ago, that my sister was robbed of her life. Time flies.

This, of course, caused me to think about how far I’ve come in that time. I don’t cry nearly as much as I used to. I no longer fear the question, “How many siblings do you have?” and can talk about Kristine’s death without feeling anxious or having a panic attack set it. These are really good changes. Yes, I’ve come a long way since December 19, 2007.

When I first noticed that I hadn’t “lost it” in a good long while, I felt so guilty. How could I not be crying over my dead sister? What was wrong with me?! Then I realized that there was nothing to feel guilty over. Not crying regularly doesn’t in any way diminish the feelings I have for my sister or the profound sense of loss that will always exist as a result of her absence from my life. I love her beyond words. I am thankful that I got to spend the time with her that I did. And, I will never, ever, ever forget her.
I can't cry forever, and crying really truly doesn’t make me feel better about anything. Nor will it change anything. Don’t get me wrong, when those moments of extreme, gut-wrenching anguish hit, I give in to them. I cry my heart out until I just can’t cry anymore. But those moments don’t happen nearly as often anymore, and for that, I am incredibly thankful. The fact that I don’t cry as often anymore means that I’m not in pain as often, and that’s a good thing. It means I am moving forward.

I still think of Kristine every single day—at least once a day, but usually quite a bit more. I miss her more than words can even describe. Of course, I want her here. I want to hear her laugh, I want one of her amazing hugs, and I want to be enveloped in the light—the spirit—that was her. I want my nephew to have his mommy; to know what an amazing mother she was instead of having to hear about it as he grows older. These feelings never go away. My heart physically aches at times over all that she’s missed out on, and will miss out on, and over just how much I miss her and long for her to be here. But, I’ve realized that just isn’t possible. She’s not coming back. Ever. That is a cold, hard, unchanging fact of life.

The grief and healing process is a weird, horrible, confusing, multi-faceted, terrible, amazing thing. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, but at the same time, I know I will be healing for the rest of my life. A big part of that healing lies in forgiveness. I swore I would never, ever forgive Kristine’s murderer, Zachery, for as long as I lived. Like most people, I confused forgiveness with forgetting. Just as I will never forget my sister, I will never forget what Zachery did. I will always, always remember that he hit her so hard that he knocked her out, made a ligature out of a shoelace, and used all of the force he could muster to squeeze the life out of her for no less than two minutes.

But, I’ve forgiven Zachery. I really mean that. Those words—I forgive—come from deep down, the bottom of my heart.

I. Forgive. Him.

Of course, that forgiveness is more for me than it is for him. It means nothing to him; it would mean nothing to him even if he knew. It doesn’t mean that I’m in any way okay with what he did. It doesn’t mean that I don’t miss Kristine. It doesn’t mean that I love her any less. It certainly doesn’t diminish the tragedy of what happened. No.

What it does mean is: I’m done with him. Forever. He’s not worth the time or effort I was spending on hating him, being angry over him, or wondering why he did what he did. There’s just no room for that in my head or heart anymore. I’m taking back the power he, or at least what he did, had over me. He did what he did, and he’s being punished appropriately for it. Just as we have to deal with our loss for the rest of our lives, he has to deal with what he did for the rest of his, and that’s good enough for me. I’m done.

I think I needed to forgive him in order to move on with my life, and I really truly have. I feel lighter...cleaner...just plain better. My realization the other day—that I had sort of “forgotten” the significance of the date—makes me realize that I have chosen to honor my sister’s memory not by focusing on her death, but by celebrating her life.

I’m choosing the good memories over the bad. This was her most favorite time of year—the festive feel of the whole season and the buildup to one of her most favorite holidays. Since she can’t be here to enjoy it, I owe it to her to at least appreciate that I can be. This year I’ll do one better. I will joyously anticipate and celebrate Christmas like she would have. In her honor. Because I can’t think of a better way to honor her. Besides, she wouldn’t want me crying all the time. That was so not her style.
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  1. I am so sorry to hear about your mother. That must be so hard for you. And I couldn't imagine dealing with that and worrying about the care of your nephew as well. I hope it all works out in the best way possible, and know that I am thinking about you during this difficult time.

  2. I am glad to hear that you are doing okay!!!! It is such a huge step to forgive him but the best step you could ever make.

  3. This is such a great post, I admire your strength. I hope everything with you mom and your nephew turns out well, you'll definitely be in my thoughts.

  4. Wow, you've got a lot going on. I hope your mom gets better soon and that she doesn't lose her job. The situation with your nephew is tough--hopefully your mom will see that you're up to the job sooner than later!

  5. Thanks, girly. It's really not as hard for me as you might think. I've been meaning to do a post on my relationship with my mother, but just haven't gotten around to it yet. Suffice it to say, it's not your typical, loving mother-daughter relationship. While I'm sad and a bit scared that she's sick, I'm also kind of unsympathetic (as awful as that sounds) because I feel like she brought a lot of it on herself.

    Thanks for thinking of my nephew and me. I'm hoping it all works out the way it should. I will, of course, keep you all posted.

  6. Thanks, Margaret!!! People look at me like I'm a crazy person when I say I've forgiven him, but I think it's one of those things you can't understand unless you're in the situation.

    I hope you're feeling better, lady! I've been reading your blog (though not commenting...shame on me), and I'm sorry you haven't been feeling well.

  7. Thanks so much, Wendy! I appreciate your admiration of my strength, though it feels undeserved. I don't think I would've found this strength on my was kinda forced out of me by the circumstances of liffe. I think we all have it, but we might not always see it or feel it. It's there though.

    I appreciate your thoughts.

  8. I don't think my mom will lose her job, since her illness is covered under FMLA. Which means, at the very least, that they have to hold her job for her. However, if she doesn't put in enough time to retain her benefits, she'll have to find a way to pay for COBRA, which is $$$$$$.

    Thanks, Emma. I'm really hoping it all works out for the best. Even though I really don't know what "the best" is right now.

  9. This is a lot to deal with all at once - especially at this time of year. It sounds like you've got the right focus - I'm hoping things get easier for you and that your mother recovers as quickly as possible.

  10. Yeah, it's a bad, bad time of year. It always will be though. No changing that. That's why I choose to work hard to maintain a positive attitude. Negativity helps nothing, ya know?

    Thank you. I'm hoping mom's recovery is quick too. Mostly for my nephew's sake.


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