Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

Judgey Judgerson

Call me Judgey Judgerson.

My post last week was comparing my grief to someone else’s grief.

Perhaps that was poor form.

Last week, a dear friend of mine had come home from Germany because her father had passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

While my friend was away taking care of her family, her dog was hit and killed by a car.

And I thought of my friend and her dear puppy, everything she had gone through the last week and I felt incredibly sad.

And I felt kind of crappy about my last post.

Because I have no right to gauge how anyone else feels about their loss, I can only gauge my own. And my even own sense is a moving target, varying from minute to minute, day to day.

I once talked to a friend who wrote about mourning the loss of his mother. “It was so intense,” he said, “I could not get out of bed. The sadness seemed to consume me. Ironically, my mom and I were never very close.”

My friend decided to see a Hospice counselor and together they determined that he was mourning his mom but he was also still mourning his first marriage.

Sneaky Grief, trying to get a package deal…..

I always feel a little cheated, a little one-up’d when explaining a situation and someone says, “I know how you feel.”

Because we don’t. Our feelings are masked by years of experiences seen only through our eyes. I don’t know how you feel. You don’t know how I feel.

But that’s okay, we can respect and empathize, listen and provide comfort. It does not help anyone to proclaim “you have not been through what I have been through….you have no idea lady! ”

That would make me a grief snob. And if I have to choose what I want to be snobby about, Grief is not on my top ten list; shoes yes, grief no.

So I will not rank anyone’s pain. I will not judge.

Or at least try not to.

Or at least acknowledge when Judgey Judgerson rears her ugly head.

And to my dear, dear friend…..you know who you are. I hope you know how much I love you and how sorry I am for your loss. If it is any consilation, Samantha is taking good care of your puppy.

Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

Lunchtime Topics

Today I was at a business lunch.

The woman we were meeting with was grieving the loss of her 14 year old lab-husky mix. She talked openly about her loss with tears in her eyes. “I miss him so much. He was my baby. Losing him was like losing my child.”

The words hung in the air losing him was like losing my child.

My co-workers/lovely friends were at lunch too and know my story well.

We all averted each others eyes.

I took a roll and started picking the sesame seeds off the top.

The woman pulled out her phone and started showing us pictures. She went into great detail about how sick he became; how he barked aimlessly at the door, lost bladder control and couldn’t walk up the stairs.

They had to put him down.

And I know it was very, very sad.

But I don’t think it was losing-a-child sad.

I continued to pick sesame seeds off my roll until the phone came my way. I looked into the brown eyes and grey muzzle of 14- year old Fido and told her how sorry I was for her loss.

I was surrounded by a pile of sesame seeds so I tore at my bald dinner roll.

I wondered if in return I should pull up pictures of Samantha and tell my story….no really, I didn’t wonder that but it would have been interesting to see the outcome.

Instead I mutilated the bread.

Two hearts; one that I share with the world and one that I hold very close. I think it’s a way of survival in order to function during awkward luncheons…..the closed heart is a little scary for those who do not know me.

Because you can talk about losing your dog over lunch with strangers. Many people have lost a pet….you can compare stories about a lovable companion gone too soon. You can talk about how the pain is comparable to losing a child among those who have never lost a child.

To talk about losing a child over lunch with strangers is a little too close to our hearts. You have to be invited to share that heart….trusted with a sense of intimacy and even then, there are times when it is too much.

I get that.

So instead I debated between fish tacos and a tuna wrap. I excused myself for a call that I really didn’t have to take. I refreshed my lipstick. Upon my return, a coworker shot me a supportive glance.

I was happy my coworker knew about my other heart. I was grateful that she handled it with subtle care across the table.

Scooting back into the booth, I slathered butter on my mutilated roll and asked our lunch guest if she planned on adopting another puppy soon.

Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

Expectations


Last Monday was my birthday.

“41, life’s just begun,” ….this is what my husband has claimed as my mantra.

It’s a good mantra but at 41, I feel I have lived quite a lot of life.

We drove to Fort Collins for a fancy birthday dinner.

On the way over, my husband asked if I this is where I thought I would be at 41.

I glanced over at him. He has grown a beard for the winter. Every year when it grows in, it becomes more and more speckled with grey. The grey mixed in with the ginger makes him look a little older in this distinguished, rugged manner. His beard matches the orange in the frame of his glasses which matches his turtleneck.

I looked over at him, driving down College St. and was happy he’s my husband.

“Honestly?” I said, “I thought we would be in a different place. I thought the back of my car would be littered with french fries and stuffed animals. I thought that on my 41st birthday we would be debating what kid-friendly restaurant would take us for the evening. In my head, my expectations were a little different.”

He reached over and patted my knee, “yeah, me too.”

“and it’s not that it’s bad. Look at us, we’re going to a nice restaurant to meet great friends, drink wine and have a fabulous meal. Tomorrow we’re getting up to ski. And I love you. And I love that you love me. And I love that we have helped each other through this. But no, I had expectations for a different 41.”

And he held my hand as we drove to the restaurant.

Expectations suck.

Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

I still have a dream

This weekend I was reading through Facebook and came across a very disturbing post- a post that I had to think about and process for a while.

A transplant doctor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is recommending to his team that they deny two year old, Amelia a kidney transplant because Ameila is “mentally retarded”.

“You can take it to the ethics committee but as a team we have the final say.” These were the final words of the doctor.

Kid you not. The family is not asking for a kidney- they have a donor within their family. They are asking for the surgery to be performed. He told them he will not.

It’s 2012 and we live in this amazing country but apparently some people ‘count’ more than others.

You can read Amelia’s denial for this surgery here.

You can also sign the petition to allow Amelia to have her life saving surgery here at change.org

I read this on Saturday and felt awful for the family. I also selfishly thought to myself, Well, we don’t have to worry about that anymore.

And then my sweet Samantha, wherever she may be, came down and bonked me on the head. She reminded me that I promised to continue to be the voice for those who can’t talk, to work and advocate in her name.

And the more I thought about this, the more I knew I had to help spread the word. Thank you Lil’ Miss.

On MLK eve, I can honestly say that I did not feel discriminated because of Samantha’s illness but I also know were incredibly lucky. We were never denied a thing and worked closely as a team with her doctors. These doctors loved her and did whatever they could to make her comfortable and healthy.

…..but there were those times, those times when we had a new nurse or doctor, those evenings when the night staff was shocked by Samantha’s condition, when the words quality of life were thrown around…..I would think, you don’t know, you don’t know her, you don’t know us, you cannot make that judgement.

They made that judgement at CHOP on Friday.

And it is also times like these that I am proud to be part of a community that fights adamantly and honestly for their children, Facebook is blowing up, blogs are everywhere, the CHOP site is posting statements….this all happened on the heels of a long weekend, I’m sure the hospital Public Relations is going nuts.

As they should.

Granted, these were the words of one doctor and a social worker, this is not the overall opinion of CHOP. But if this woman had not spoken up, had not put this on her blog and facebook, the transplant would be denied and her daughter would have died.

And in the words of the great Martin Luther King, Jr; He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

To our voices.

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Jr. May we all continue to fight the good fight.

Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

What Lies Beneath

Hubby was lucky enough to go to last week’s Bronco game.

I was nice enough to pick him up after the game.

After a run and a little shopping, I decided to watch the rest of the game at a downtown hotel with a glass of wine until hubby called for his Chauffeur.

I whisked into the Westin and ordered my Cabernet while squinting to see the score on the TV.

“Are you waiting for your little girl?” the man next to me asked.

“I’m sorry?” I asked, distracted and still trying to focus on the screen.

“Are you waiting for your little girl? Is she in the modeling class? I’m waiting for my daughter in the modeling class…..she just adores….”

Oh for the love, I thought.

“No.” I cut him off “I’m not. I’m waiting for my husband.” With that, I turned my back to him and watched the game. The bartender handed me my Red which I took along with the beer nuts on the bar and positioned myself as far away from Modeling Dad as possible.

Poor Modeling Dad. He had no idea what he was asking.

Today the Rep from GoDaddy called to re-register our Miracles for Mito domain name and ask how our service was.

Impatient, I almost let him go.

I am a busy Sales Exec after all!

I have to go…sell….something.

“What do you do?” the Go Daddy rep asked.

“What do I do?”

“Yeah, your website. What’s it about? What is Miracles for Mee-to?”

“My-to”, I corrected him. “It’s a foundation we started in memory of my daughter. She had a nuero-muscular disease called a mitochondrial disease. We help other families in the area.”

“Wow, well that’s just great.” He said. “My wife was diagnosed with cancer last year. I was always a cynic about the power of kindness in people but everyone just rallied around us, they gave money and time, it was really incredible what people did for us.”

My smile relaxed my body. “It’s pretty amazing isn’t it? Is your wife better?”

“Oh she’s just fine now.” And with that he gave me a discount on our domain renewal and told me to keep doing our good work.

Funny how a poor nonchalant Dad question spins me into my beer nuts and the GoDaddy rep makes my day.

Small talk….it’s a risky, risky thing, you never, ever know what lies beneath.

Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

The Plunge!

I deviated from the norm this New Year’s.

I found myself at the Boulder Reservoir with a mess of crazies.

And I was one of them.

January 1, 2012 I was standing in a long line, shivering at the Boulder Reservoir, waiting to jump in the water. My Supermom friend Amanda was by my side. Amanda put it best.

“My life is full of uncomfortable situations. This is nothin‘”

Gotta love me some Amanda.

A funny thing happens waiting in line to plunge into 35 degree water, you bond with the people around you. You talk about why you are doing this, you decide that you might be certifiably crazy but that crazy is kinda fun.

Our turn came, I held hands with people I didn’t know, I ran into the water and swam out to the ice. Swimming out was really no problem….really.

Coming back, my body realized the extent of my craziness, forced all warm blood into important organs, leaving my legs to fend for themselves.

My legs didn’t want to fend for themselves, in fact they were really quite upset about it. But I stumbled out into shallow water, looking like a drunken sailor and made it to the beach.

And then I realized I had toes…..toes who were just as pissed as the legs…perhaps more so. Toes who were so angry they felt like they just might explode off my feet….little piggies everywhere.

Wool socks and a hot shower convinced them to stay.

Who is joining me next year?

“Why did you do this?” Asked a friend of mine.

“Because it was there?” I answered.

But that’s not it, really. It’s more that when you are faced with death- when you are forced to live beyond death, the need to embrace life becomes outrageously important…..throw yourself into 35 degree water important. Your toes may be numb but they are telling you every single second that they are quite unhappy….that you are connected to toes….flesh and blood toes.

So 2012, I have made the plunge for you. I really don’t expect anything in return just a reminder that I am alive. And perhaps a moment, one or two, to embrace a little craziness.

Happy New Year.