Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Teaching moment gone awry

Last night as I was doing my last check of email I noticed an influx of messages from parents on one of the listserv groups for Sofie's school. I read the first message and had no idea what letter they were referring to, so I ran back upstairs, rummaged through Sofie's backpack and found the offending letter in question. After reading the memo, I went back to my email to see if the other parents were as upset as I was becoming. Indeed they were. The gist of this memo was to inform the parents that a Freshman Dorm at Duke has taken our school on as a "service project." There are so many great ways this could have been handled. Unfortunately, the "service" is to buy our kids gifts!

Setting aside the general assumptions made about children who attend public schools, let's think for a moment how many other ways that money could be used. Supplies for the school, playground equipment, sponsoring some sort of assembly or guest that the kids might learn from and enjoy, let the kids come up with gift ideas for kids who are in need...the list goes on. I'm sure there are families at her school that will welcome the gift, but our family isn't one of them.

Debra and I both have been working on teaching Sofie about giving and sharing instead of acquiring more things. In so many ways, Sofie has a huge heart. She's compassionate, loving and gets pleasure out of helping people. So what is it about "stuff" that makes her turn into a big selfish brat?!?! Debra thinks it goes back to her orphanage days and not having stuff. That may be true to some extent but I think it has to do with the fact that we SPOIL her. I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to giving Sofie too much stuff. It started early and it's apparent it's going to be a hard habit to break.

Over the past couple of years while dealing with illness and other stuff, I've gotten into a space where "things" don't matter and I'm tired of all the clutter those items cause. It's partly spiritual, it's partly a change in a way of life. It's the way I'm choosing trying to live and I'd love to instill those values on my kid.

This morning became a battle of wills on the subject. In my quietest, most sincere voice I attempted to explain to Sofie that she's a kid living a great life and that there are so many other kids who, through not fault of their own, live in situations that might cause them to not have a happy holiday season. (As I was saying some of this stuff I was hoping beyond all hopes that she didn't say, "Why doesn't Santa just bring them toys!!"...luckily that thought didn't occur to her. Whew, I escaped that one by the skin of my teeth!!) In the the over dramatically way that she can be, tears welled up in her eyes and she said in a long drawn out moan...NOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Theatrics at it's best! Well, that just annoyed me, so the quiet, sincere mom clammed up and the loud, self-righteous one reared her ugly head. After getting nowhere, I sent her upstairs to start breakfast while I got dressed.

While downstairs I heard stomping, slamming and arguing. I guess she'd told Debra of my evil plan to give away all of her toys...well, one of them anyway! After getting dressed, I went upstairs to continue the lecture. She argued, but didn't have any good was mostly selfish. My point was that we could let Santa know that instead of the gifts she was supposed to get from him, she decided that she'd rather have the ONE gift from the Duke students and to please give those gifts to kids who were nicer and needed them more than she did. (Manipulative, yes. Effective...yet to be determined.) Bottom line, she WILL give up that toy to Toys for Tots or something like that. Will she learn a lesson from it? Again, yet to be determined. All I can say is we're trying to create a giving person instead of a selfish, wanting little person. Maybe it's too much for a 7 year old, but at this point my will is stronger than hers and I'll win this one!

Was I too harsh? Will she forgive me? I told her to tell her therapist tonight that Mama Jamie was evil and making her give away a toy! She laughed and glared at me in a fake evil look. At least that'll take some of the focus off of Debra's illness. I can be the bad mom, I can take it!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Laugter and tears

After picking up Sofie and Debra from the airport we headed back to Debra's for a low key afternoon and evening. I could tell that Debra was feeling pretty punk when I first saw her at the airport. She had a couple of good days in Chicago, but seems to be feeling pretty much like she did before they left. We arrived home, she went to bed and Sofie and I had a good rest of the day. I was glad to be there. I had really missed Sofie and wanted to spend some time with her.

While I unloaded the car and did a few things downstairs, Sofie became reacquainted with her plethora of animals. At one point she asked me to dig out her Singing Santa Scooby Doo. We searched high and low and she found it tucked behind an otter in the guest room closet. A few minutes later she wanted the other snakes that were packed in checked luggage. She informed me that all the animals were gathered around and they were going to listen to Scooby sing Christmas carols. I just cracked up and walked downstairs.

A bit later she got to jump on the trampoline with the neighbor kids...I heard them say, "You went to a water park?!?" I could hear the doubt in their voice...if I didn't know she'd gone, I'd doubt her too. Apparently this was a mega indoor water park. She told me she went on an "upside down in the dark and out of the dark slide"...whatever that means. She had fun, but the "worstest" part according to her was the ankle bracelet they made her rubbed a blister on her heal. Nice souvenir!

A bit later, we played with her Webkinz, Snowy the polar bear. After becoming bored with that she wanted to watch the second live action Scooby Doo movie. I convinced her that showering and getting in her new warm, fuzzy, squirrely pajamas would be best for the flow of the evening. As I was brushing her hair after her shower, I asked what she wanted for dinner. I offered up mac n cheese or something else. She said, "I wish we had a supperable to eat." It took me a second to realize what she was talking about. And when I did, I busted out laughing...loudly. Then she realized she'd made a joke without even knowing it.

For those of you without kids, there are these things called "Lunchables" that are prepackaged lunches. We have a few to use for emergency lunches or snacks. However she was referring to the Kid Cuisine Meals that we used to keep around mostly for babysitting nights. Since Debra's recurrence, we've used them once or twice for "supper" on those nights that either I wasn't available to help out or both of us were just too wiped to cook. So, you can see why "supperables" made me laugh hysterically. So we created our own version of supperables...chicken noodle soup with a fruit rollup...then popcorn for movie time.

After the movie, it was time to read. I was looking forward to bedtime tonight because I stumbled upon a series of books I'd never seen before while on a shopping trip to Target. When I read the title of the first book in the Judy Moody series, I knew I could relate...and when I read the intro paragraph, I knew Sofie could relate, too.

Judy Moody did not want to give up summer. She did not feel like brushing her hair every day. She did not feel like memorizing spelling words. And she did not want to sit next to Frank Pearl, who ate paste, in class.

Judy Moody was in a mood.

Not a good mood. A bad mood. A mad-face mood. Even the smell of her new Grouchy pencils could not get her out of bed.

“First day of school!” sang her mother. “Shake a leg and get dressed.”

Judy Moody slunk down under the covers and put a pillow over her head.

“Judy? Did you hear me?”

“ROAR!” said Judy.

That's a T!! Her new nickname...Sofie Moody, but only at the times she's flinging attitude! I sure did miss that girl...and that sense of humor.

After reading a lot of the book, I turned off the light and started the bedtime back rubbing routine. Sofie was preoccupied...I could tell. I asked her what was up..."I don't know. I'm tired but I just can't go to sleep." I tried all the tricks and when they all failed, I got up and told her she needed to try to get to sleep. I walked into Debra's room to check on her and a few minutes later, Sofie stormed in, burst into tears and said, "I CAN'T GET TO SLEEP!!" I suggested she climb into bed and cuddle with Mama Debra a little bit. She lay there sobbing. Debra and I asked what was going on..."I don't want to talk about it." "Are you sad?" I asked. Her sobbing head nodded under the cover. Debra asked what she was sad about? "I don't like that your sick!" More tears and talking. She cuddled and cried a bit more. When she settled down, I asked if she was ready to try it again? "Will you rub my back?" Of course I did. She was sound asleep in 5 minutes. I guess that release needed to happen before she could settle for sleep.

I suspect there will be more of this. I'm glad she's comfortable and safe enough with us to let us her way...when things come up. I'll be here however she needs me.

Long weekend of respite

Today is the day Debra and Sofie return from a long weekend of family time in Chicago. Today is also the day my 4 days of no responsibilities(other than the cats) ends. It was a luxurious weekend. My idea of luxury is different than many people's idea. Luxury to me a few days of doing nothing if that's what I want...or a few days of mixing it up by doing nothing, hanging with friends or just whatever. My weekend was the latter and I loved it. I'm looking forward to picking Debra and Sofie up at the airport in a few hours but while I'm waiting for them to arrive, I thought I'd catch up on my blog.

My weekend actually began Wednesday. After dropping Sofie and Debra at the airport at 6a I headed to work for an all too long day. I was exhausted due to 3 or so hours of sleep the night before but I just dealt with it. Knowing I had a four day weekend sustained me enough to get me through the day. The rest of Wednesday and much of Thursday was very low key.

Thursday I went over to my friends Joy and Susan's for late lunch. It was 78 degrees which just isn't right for Thanksgiving day. Running the air conditioner in The food was fantastic as usual. The company was entertaining. I ended up hanging out for many hours. Fortunately I was sent home with enough turkey for a couple of turkey sandwiches and some wonderful mashed potatoes(the best food on earth!)

Friday I didn't leave the house until 5p! It was a day of bliss. Reading, watching movies and catching up on a couple of shows I hadn't seen for a few weeks. Pure heaven, Jamie style. I only left the house because I had dinner and saw a movie with my friends Donetta and Elizabeth. After an early dinner at Carrabba's we headed over to see a movie I hadn't heard of until looking for movies to see...Bella, which was a very sweet movie. Glad we picked it. After the movie I stopped by Target to do a little holiday shopping. It was great! Hardly anyone in the store. I did run into a friend and chatted for 30 minutes or more, then we both went on to finish shopping.

Saturday was my most favorite day. I woke up early, headed to Mebane and met my daddy for breakfast...yes, I'm 42 and still call my dad, "daddy"...that's who he is and always will be and yes, I'm a total Daddy's Girl. He's the person that fostered independence in me. He taught me so much and the coolest thing is that we often don't see eye to eye on things. But that's okay...we have a healthy respect for each other's values or beliefs. That's the coolest thing about teaching your kid to be independent and a free thinker. I look forward to instilling some of those same beliefs in Sofie.

After hanging with Daddy for a bit, I headed to Burlington to shop a little more. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but Sofie has friend that's a squirrel...well, at least that's what she says. I've never heard her talk to him, but she seems to communicate somehow. She refers to him as "my friend squirrel." My dad said, so she's her "Tubby"...Tubby was one of my imaginary friends that I had as a kid. So with that in mind, I found the cutest pajamas at Carter's. She's getting too big to wear Carter's clothes, but these were so cute, I had to get them.

Saturday evening I hung out with Betty and Delma. We went to dinner at Nantucket Grill, then went back to their house and chilled out watching a little TV. I had just bought a 20Q and brought it along to dinner. We tried to stump it over dinner. I think we succeeded only one time! I want to know HOW this thing works!! It's a fun game.

Well, only an hour until I pick the girls up at the airport. I missed them and can't wait to see them. I'm sure we'll just hang out the rest of the day. The weekend of bliss is almost over then back to work and reality.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pre-Turkey Day Thanks

It's that time of year where we pause, give thanks then eat too much food. I thought I'd try to give thanks before the food gets in the way and fogs my thoughts!

My list of things and people I'm thankful for are in no particular order, except I did save the best and most important for last!

I'm so grateful and thankful for my family of origin(that means the family I was born into)...I have the greatest, most supportive parents...ever. They love me unconditionally and accept me for who I am, quirks and all. The rest of my family, although we may have differing opinions or beliefs also love unconditionally. This family is where I learned how to laugh and that a sense of humor is vital in the world.

To my chosen family(that's the people in my life that aren't related by blood/marriage or the like, but play as an important role...if not sometimes a more important role...than my family of origin), you guys are my rock AND you all rock! (You all know who you are!!) We too, have some differences, but that's what makes the world a great place. Thank you ALL for the love and support you've given over the years and allowing me to be part of your lives.

To Cancer...thank you for your humbling experience. My life will only get better after battling you.

To all my various health care made my life more bearable this past year. A special shout out to Dr. Valea, Teri T, Dr. Bland and in GyneOnc; Dr. Marum; Dr. Jones and Jane in RadOnc; and all the cool nurses and volunteers in the Chemo Treatment room at Duke.

To everyone supporting Sofie's growth and progress a big THANK YOU. You've all loved and supported her in many ways and she's doing so well because of your influences. Special thanks to Dr Jane R, Mrs. Kelly, Mrs. Ewald and the entire team at Morehead Montessori(Sofie's wonderful elementary school) and everyone at Camp Kesem.

To everyone else, even the strangers reading this blog...thanks for showing up. I hope you've gleaned something useful or enjoyable from my heartfelt words and that you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing.

Now to the most important people in my life right now:

I'm thankful for the worlds greatest daughter. We are told over and over by so many different people in Sofie's life what a great kid she is. I want her to know how lucky I feel to be a part of that life. I'm looking forward to learning all she has to teach me. Thanks for putting a smile on my face each and every day.

The person that I want to give the biggest thanks to is Debra. This is the hardest, most bittersweet Thank You I'll ever do, that I am sure. I want to thank you for barreling forward with Sofie's adoption and allowing me to continue to raise and love our beautiful daughter. I feel like I've been given such a gift...and I promise I'll take care of that gift and give her all the love and support she can handle so she can grow into the fine young woman that we know she'll become.

I love you all and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving however you are celebrating.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Chillin' at the condo and more

Sofie and I had a very intentional low-key weekend. She seems a bit more tired these days...maybe I'm projecting, but it is how it seems. I picked her up from Debra's after an early morning appointment on Saturday. We gathered her clothes and various animals she decided to bring and off we headed.

First stop was Chapel Hill to pick up her very colorful painted sculpture of Scooby-Doo from Paint the Earth. I had no idea you could get so many different colors on one statue!

Isn't he colorful?!?!

On the short drive from Durham to Chapel Hill, she fell asleep in the car. See! More tired! After picking up Scooby, we headed back to Durham. I had no plans at all, I was just playing it all by ear.

Since it was lunchtime, I asked Sofie if she'd like to stop and get lunch at Red of her favorite places to eat(they have cartoons on the TV monitors!) She didn't seem that into it, so I suggested picking something up and going home and just chillin' out. She seemed all for that. I even let her pick the restaurant...why was I not surprised when she picked Biscuitville! She's becoming the most Southern girl via California by way of Ukraine. She's even developing the cutest Southern accent...only on certain words, though.

Our afternoon included watching a bit of TV, playing her V-Smile video game, and rebuilding her T-Rex Mountain, which is really hard when there's no instructions(and a few pieces missing.) She's kind of out of her dinosaur phase, but she wanted to use it as a habitat for her animals(lions, cheetahs, alligator/crocodile and tigers...yes, I realize they don't live together, but she insists.) She's WAY into animals. No dolls for this girl. She's very clear about that fact. She even hates commercials about dolls...especially when I joke that Santa is going to bring her a pile of dolls for Christmas because he knows how much she loves them! Don't tell her but I think Santa is going to bring her a cool zoo with animals to replace the trains(that's she's no longer into) on her great train table. Santa's going to have a LOT of work to do Christmas eve to set that zoo up!

After the afternoon of just chillin' at the condo, we headed over to Emma and Jacob's to play and hang out while their mom's went to a party. We were joined by Taylin and her mom's, too. It was initially crazy noisy, but Donetta(Taylin's firm yet fun mom) got all the kids in order while Elizabeth(Tay's other mom) and I just sat there with our hands over our ears and pained looks on our faces. (That's only a slight exaggeration, too.) I have no idea how parent's can have more than two kids without going crazy or deaf with the noise level! (Can you tell I'm an only child raising an only child?)

Sunday we slept in...until 830a! I'd promised her a game of "Tickle Tackle"...honestly I didn't know what it was, but she's been bugging me to play ever since we got back from Minneapolis. Kim played a rousing round with Sofie and Zander while I was sick in bed. If you're really ticklish, I recommend you not play. However it is extremely funny hearing the giggles come out of a child, especially when she's tickling her mom! We played most of the morning away and headed out for Brunch with Sofie having her standard pancake, bacon AND sausage.

The girl LOVES bacon!!

After Brunch, we headed to the local AMF bowling alley for the Fall Reunion of Camp Kesem campers, counselors and family. Check out Sofie bowling. She has a style NOT to be missed!

I have to say, it's always nice to hear good things about your kid, but I'm telling you the counselors just gushed over Sofie and what a great girl/camper she was...especially since it was her first time at sleep away camp. I told them about the comment she made about wanting to be a CIT at Kesem when she's older. There was a collective, "Awwwwwwww!" heard round the alley. Bean, Sofie's cabin counselor was there. We all bowled a game. It was nice spending time with such a giving group of young adults. You can see how it really touches them to see the kids again. I'm looking forward to the Spring Reunion and Sofie's looking forward to next summer for her week at Camp. (Remember, it's free for the campers. If you're feeling in the giving spirit, please click on the link at the top of the page and make a donation to help this wonderful group continue.)

Sofie, Mama Jamie and Bean after a successful bowling adventure

The rest of Sunday was pretty simple. A trip to Sam's Club, back to Debra's where Sofie and I watched the first Scooby-Doo live action film. She giggled a lot, so that was good. We had dinner, cuddled on the bed with Mama Debra and I read and tucked her in for the night. I keep wanting to pinch I really get to parent such a great kid? I just love her so much and I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of grown-up she becomes...but just not YET!! We still have years for that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Traveling girl memories

I've had a pretty emotional week. Some good emotions, some bad emotions. Some about work, some about life. It's been a roller coaster ride. I won't go through the drama of the ups and downs, but know that's why I haven't written much this week. I have, however, enjoyed a trip down memory lane this week so I thought I'd share some of those memories.

A couple of days ago, Dana over at Mombian posted a request for "Good Lesbian Travel Writing." Unfortunately I don't have anything to contribute on such short notice, but it did start me thinking about all the traveling I've done during my life. This week, Debra was graced with a visit from a long time pal, CJ. I was reminded of other fond travel memories by her visit, too. Since she lives in Colorado, I'm sure there will be other memories created if Sofie and I take a visit to see her in the mountains.

Traveling has always been something I've loved to do. I enjoy exploring new places, learning about other cultures/communities, playing in other peoples backyards, as it were. I've always thought it was because my ascendant in my astrological chart is Sagittarius...known lovers of travel. Could also be just my natural curiosity and love of seeing new places. Doesn't really matter, it's just one part of who I am.

For all of our differences, Debra and I always enjoyed and traveled well together. Many of my fondest memories involve trips that Debra made happen or had a big part in creating. CJ's visit sparked a walk down memory lane regarding my 30th birthday. Debra and I visited CJ and her then partner Lori in their home in Idaho. What I didn't know at the time was that they had planned a wonderful float trip down the Snake river on the day of my birthday. Unlike many people, higher altitude's give me a jolt of energy instead of the sleepy's like many flatlanders encounter when visiting the mountains. I attribute that factor to my genetic make-up...I come from mountain folk! Mountains have always seemed like home to me. One day, I will live in the hills again. On this trip, Debra experienced the sleepy's in a bad way! As we were gently floating down the beautiful Snake river and seeing sites that inspired Ansel Adams to take beautiful and breathtaking photos, Debra kept dozing off. Slyly, she was wearing sunglasses, so I don't think our guide new. We got a kick out of it, since I seemed to be on speed and she was slower...kind of like we traded places for the weekend. That entire trip made for my most memorable birthday experience to date. I may have to scan and insert some pictures for your enjoyment!

The other trip that I'd love to write a story or two about was our trip to South Africa. There are so many funny stories along with a multitude of life changing experiences. Seeing Nelson Mandela in person, witnessing a lunar eclipse of a full moon, waking up early and seeing the grounds surround our cabin covered with Nyala(their version of deer), watching the sunrise over the Indian Ocean and set over the Atlantic Ocean, being surrounded(literally) by a hundred elephants, eating food I never thought I'd eat(ostrich, chicken that tasted like fish, babootie, musk gum and passion fruit yogurt), eating some of the best Indian food I've ever had, seeing various wildlife in the actual wild, meeting and hanging with some very cool people, seeing the shanty towns that are on the outskirts of Cape Town, and hearing live music in downtown Cape Town. I could go on, but I'll save some things for stories to write later.

As we tread through the tough times ahead, I love that I have such wonderful memories to sustain me. I have great stories to tell Sofie about the life Debra and I had before she came along. At some point, I'll get to go with her on bigger adventures and share the love of travel that Debra and I so enjoy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Change (from the perspective of a 7yo)

For the past 3 months, our family has been attending monthly KidsCan! meetings at Duke. These meeting are intended to provide emotional (and educational) support for kids in families where a parent(or in our case, parents) have been diagnosed with Cancer. Each month there's a new topic that is discussed separately with kids in one group and parents in another. At the end of the evening, the two groups come back together and a facilitator gives a brief synopsis of what each group discussed or activities in which they participated.

Last month, the kids got a tour of all the areas the parents might experience on a typical visit for treatment. They visited the clinic area and radiation and chemotherapy areas. They learned lots of great information and got a groovy goody bag at the end. This month, the topic was change and how it might be affecting the kids. The parents had a lively discussion of their concerns while the kids were having a "snowball" fight! Okay, it wasn't an actual snowball fight, but it sound fun, nonetheless.

Another activity the kids participated in was talking about changes that have occurred or might occur in certain age groups. They had big sheets of paper hanging up with age ranges on the top of the page. Parents were encouraged to go around and read the lists. I read with the intention of figuring out what Sofie had listed. Trust me, it wasn't hard! Under her current age, these were the two "changes" she listed: "I get to be the boss of my mom" and "I get to buy animals." What?!?! Which mom? My guess is she made the correlation of what changes have happened since Cancer entered our family...not just typical changes that have occurred in her life. I was impressed with a change she wanted to happen when she became 13...she wants to be a CIT(counselor in training)...I'm not sure if it's for Camp Kesem or Sportsplex. She's had great experiences with counselors at both, so it's hard to say. I'm just thrilled she's so into camp.

Change through the eyes of a spunky 7 year old can mean a number of things. I hope she holds onto to some of those since we're all in for more changes to come.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Who Dies?

I've been thinking a lot about dying lately...not my own death mind you, but dying. I've never been afraid of dying and I'm quite fascinated by the process both physically and spiritually that happens when one dies. Recently I was chatting with my very dear friend Rick. He's the coolest guy...ever...and he recommended a couple of books for me. They're both by the same author, Stephen Levine(and his wife Ondrea co-authors one of the books.) One is entitled, Who Dies? An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying and the other is entitled, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last. I ordered both books online and I began reading Who Dies? today.

The Table of Contents and the index of Who Dies? have me enthralled. I can't wait to dig deeper into this book and finish it so I can start the other book. The first book is to prepare me for what's to come with Debra. I'm the kind of person that likes information, so the more I have the more comfortable I'll be. The second book is more for me and how to live my life differently.

Conscious living and dying are only terms that I've encountered here and there. I've never read anything about it or even investigated it. Even though I'm not well versed in the topic, I can tell that my own beliefs include what's being discussed in this book. I'm anxious to expand on them to see where it takes me. Topics discussed include: Models of dying, Finishing Business, Grief, Heaven/Hell, Working with Pain, Approaching Death, Letting Go of Control, Stages of Dying and many more aspects. I intend to come out of the other side of this book mentally prepared for death. I know I'll still have stuff come up, but I want to be clear and full of ideas and be able to explain things to Sofie if/when she asks.

After I read it, I'll post more information, but for now, that's all I've got.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The grumpies

I'm grumpy. Not sad. Not angry. Just grumpy. While searching online for the perfect image to illustrate just how grumpy I am, I stumbled upon the company I should model or work for...Grumpy Girl Clothing. Some mornings, Sofie could get a job there, too! Too bad the shirts only come in girlie sizes. Big girls get grumpy, too!

Before you jump on the bandwagon to tell me that my grumpiness is grief related, let me just clarify...I've been grumpy much of my life for one reason or another. I don't particularly think this time it's grief. I think it's the fact that I'm getting a cold, I'm exhausted, I have no winter clothes that fit and did I say I'm exhausted? So there, it's not grief at ALL...just me being me.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Scooby Doo and Shaggy, too

Scooby Doo and Shaggy, too
Originally uploaded by cybrarygrl
Halloween, 2007. Scooby put the "goatee" on Shaggy all by herself.

Am I blue?

I'd love to post something witty, unfortunately I'm feeling quite sad today. Seems all that realization that the anger I've been feeling was more about the underlying sadness has really had an effect on my mood this weekend.

Sofie spent the night with me on Friday. I picked her up from Kids Night Out at KIN after a lovely spontaneous movie night with Betty, Delma and Debra. On the way home I thought she had the sniffles from the cold air. She actually had the sniffles from crying. When we arrived at my condo and the interior light of the car came on she burst into tears. "My head hurts!" Once unloading the car and getting upstairs we laid on my bed and she just cried and cried and cried. I felt her forehead and she felt hot. I took her temperature and lo and behold she had a fever. I searched my medicine cabinet and found ibuprofen for her.

Sleep wasn't great for me as she had a restless night of kicking, grunting, sighing and sweating. Next morning she still had a bit of a fever, so I gave her more ibuprofen. Later that morning she pointed to her eye and said it hurts. That means only one thing...a herpes outbreak. Yep, there it was, inching towards the corner of her good eye. We went to Debra's, picked up her meds and had a fun afternoon out and about. For the first time EVER, she picked out clothes at Old Navy. Made some cute selections, too. We we busy much of the day and went to see Bee Movie late in the afternoon. Funny movie. Laughing helped.

I've been home, on the couch literally all day. Just feeling blue...very blue. Some days you just have to let the blues win. Tomorrow I'm sure I'll be back to "normal", whatever that is this week.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Mask of anger

Last night while I was in my own therapy session, Sofie was apparently having a very similar session of her own. Seems we're both handling our pain and sadness in the same way....anger. My therapist gave me an excellent tool/image to use to work with this emotion...the mask of anger.

I've noticed that increasingly over the last few weeks I'm living with a shorter fuse. I'm getting angry at everyone and at everything. Seems anger is a common emotion often used to hide profuse sadness. It's been painful to watch Sofie get angry at Debra more and more. I hope that my realizations can help Sofie deal, too.

So what do I do about it? Well, the first step is be aware of it. Oh, I'm aware alright. It's painful to realize that anger is where I go to hide sadness. I was feeling so guilty about getting angry, especially at Debra or Sofie. Now that I'm consciously aware, I can try to get more in touch with the true feeling of sadness. Since I know that Sofie's dealing with her sadness/confusion in a similar way, I can let her know that my anger is coming from being sad about Mama Debra's illness. I may even get creative with her and we'll actually draw a mask of anger that we can take on and off...with a mask of sadness on the inside for us to see as we're taking the masks off.

What can *you*, my friends and family do about it? Call me on it. If you see I'm getting pissy for no reason and you feel comfortable seeing me sad...check in with me on an honest level. I know most people get uncomfortable when others are crying or grieving. Ironically, I don't get uncomfortable when others are crying or grieving. I can be present with people in a very supportive way while they're why am I having such a hard time with my own grief?

I hope this discovery makes the future easier for all of us.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A waiting room's entertainment value

Hospital waiting rooms provide so much material for writing, it's almost not fair. Yesterday, I spent much of the day at Duke in the family waiting area for those scheduled for surgery. Posted all over the doors, entry ways and even provided in the pre-op information it is stated clearly for each patient to bring a maximum of two friends or family members...TWO. The waiting area consist of the lobby just off the elevators and a smallish waiting room. So why is it that I got stuck sitting with two with SIX plus a baby and the other EIGHT family members?!?!

Let's start with the family of eight. Debra and I had moved to a room in the back of the waiting area after a woman(who by the way was having surgery) reeked of so much cigarette smoke that the already nauseous Debra was going to hurl at any moment. We were escorted by the front desk lady to a nice quiet room that only had one other person there...well at least for a few more minutes. Debra and I were quietly chatting when I looked up and in walked a small herd of what was later determined to be religious fundamentalists! Each person read the sign on the door that politely asked for their cooperation around the "no more than 2 family members" suggestion...I would say it was policy, but policy would mean that someone actually enforced it...which never happened. Each "family" member read, looked somewhat uncomfortable with the fact they were breaking a rule, then hastily retreated to the corner of our cozy room. Initially I thought it might be two or more patients, but then that all started the crosstalk that became my entertainment for the next few hours!

It was quickly made known that this "family" was from a small town south of the triangle. It's a town that, had my family been a bit less lucky, we would have been stationed after my dad finished Highway Patrol School. I could have ended up *just* like these people! Okay, that's a stretch because we did end up in a small town that's probably pretty similar to this small town and I think I escaped relatively unscathed. As I often do in group settings, I started sizing up this unit. Cultural Anthropology at it's best!

I was quite surprised that approximately 95% of their conversation centered around church. Going to church, how church has helped them, how someone is doing "so much better" because they started going to church. Singing in church, eating in church...heck for all I know these people LIVE in a church!! The oddest thing about this family...I'm about 99.9% sure two of the men there were a couple...a redneck couple, but a couple nonetheless!! How do I know...well one of them "shows" Boston Terriers...yeah, it's a stereotype but stereotypes exist for a reason!! I was just simply amazed at how much "church" was part of their life, too. I'm not talking mainstream liberal religion...I'm talking fundamentalist in the most strictest of ways. I certainly hope that I'm correct and that these two young men are accepted by their family for who they are. That would be a nice change of pace from the typical reaction of kicking family members to the curb or insisting they "straighten" out(pun intended.)

The second family really didn't give me much material. The all kind of made me laugh when the three guys in the group whipped out their laptops and proceeded to work/surf or do whatever. It was precision laptopping at it's best! Initially there were only 4 members, but apparently their preacher and two other family members and a baby were sitting in another area of the waiting room. It was crowded yesterday, so after Debra got out of surgery, I chatted with Dr. Bland and found out she was okay and what to expect, I went downstairs to the lobby...where NO one was sitting!

Debra is doing quite well from her biopsy. We won't know anything for a month or so, but that's okay. She's beginning her radiation sessions today. Thanks to everyone for continued support, love and care. Our little family needs it.