I thought about Adam a lot today. I thought I needed to cry but didn't. I watched his whole memorial video without crying which was a first. I looked through an old yearbook from 2006 and saw a class picture taken behind the WIU Union. I don't remember ever seeing it before, but there he was in the top row on the far right next to some kids who looked kinda fringe. When I saw something about Probiotics in a magazine I tried to remember the conversation with Adam telling me I should take them; they helped his stomach. But honestly those last holiday photos he was so thin and gaunt, nothing was obviously working...I wish to god I had noticed and intervened in some way. Here come those tears.
I asked for a dream about Adam last night, and I got it, early this morning. After a couple of hours of middle insomnia I fell back asleep and dreamed we were at Grandma Nell's. I was trying to discipline Adam for something and he was being defiant strong willed. So instead we went upstairs and played Pogs. It's funny, even the floor was the same as Grandma Nell's upstairs, that common gray linoleum tile. As we were setting up this elaborate game scenario on the floor, I saw ants crawling around, so we went downstairs to fix some ant bait (Borax, sugar and water). We were then deciding what to get for dinner as there were lots of little cousins around, and Adam suggested making our own hot dogs instead of getting Happy Meals, and then everyone could get an electronic that they wanted (instead of the cheap toy in the meal).
Strong Willed Age 12
The Suicide Support Group met last night. There's a core group of us who all experienced our loss around 2 years ago, one couple 18 years out, and there was a newbie. I can actually say I felt good leaving that meeting last night for the first time. The veteran mom of the group never fails to say this one line, there will come a time it won't be the last thing you think before you go to sleep or the first thing you think of in the morning. This used to make me feel kind of angry because I didn't want that to be true, because that would mean I cared less. Again, for the first time last night, it didn't bother me so much as I realized it was true, and my assigned meaning, wasn't true. Does that make sense?
I'm not an Easter person, never have been. Most likely has to do with my lack of specific Christian beliefs, literal Biblical theology, distaste for commercialization and materialism of holidays, and the oddness of some people that show up to church only on this and other holy days. But why would I care??
Maybe I'm jealous because I never got a fancy Easter outfit, or a basket full of toys on Easter as a kid. Yes, we dyed Easter eggs and had chocolate, a nice family dinner and even went to church most of the time.
My favorite Easter memories are of Betsy and me scavenging in the church dumpster for palms after Palm Sunday and acting out The 10 Commandments and Pat's famous Golf Ball Hunt for our boys.
So I guess I should stay off Facebook until next week and wish you a Grouchy Easter.
Today has been a rather weird day. I got to sleep sometime after midnight (late for me) and woke up an hour later than usual, with the time change back to daylight savings (or off daylight savings- it makes no sense to me). I just know I have been looking forward to more light in the late afternoons and evenings. Especially when I get out of work at 6:00, it is nice for some light to be in the sky again.
This time change necessitated a nappy this afternoon, and I don't actually remember my last nap. Sometime before Florida. And I am a nap addict, so that says something. I took a walk after a late nap and it was gloriously sunny out. There were crocuses poking up in some yards. I was thinking about how much more active Hannah and Eli seem to be in Florida, and I think the warmth and weather has something to do with it. I do go to the Y in the evenings during the winter, but it's so much more fun and energetic to ride a bike or walk in the evenings when it can be done outside. So, my plug for keeping the time like this year round. Or moving to Florida.
I have just finished reading a psychological thriller today (All Is Not Forgotten), and started Lincoln in the Bardo. Both kind of address the idea of what this thing called life is and the possible finality of it. I suppose that has been a human question since humans started recording their thoughts and ideas.
I don't think I can articulate this properly, but the first book has a psychiatrist narrator masterfully orchestrating a series of events around a brutal rape. He does talk about our motivations and the unknown thing called death and whether it really matters what we do here on earth. The bardo is the transitional state between life and death and this book deals with young Willie Lincoln who died at age 11 being caught here. So we shall see if this novel is as good as its recommendations.
My brain didn't get the memo from my body that it needs rest. I call it "activation" or my brain is activated. Probably the main reason is Cal wrote and shared on Facebook a song he rapped as a tribute to Adam last night. It's Adam's life from his perspective. Raw, emotional, sad, yet hopeful. Very brave of that kid to put himself out there like that. This morning he texted me back that he wouldn't have finished it if I hadn't told him to keep at and it will come when it's time. At least I think that's what I said, as I do believe creative endeavors will come to fruition if you are patient and open.
So here I am, coffee in hand, heart full of love, and enjoying the silence. A couple of other songs have touched me this week. They were both up for Academy Awards and so were performed Sunday night. One by Sufjan Stevens, that dude's music is so haunting yet heavenly. This song was featured in "Call Me By Your Name" a film I would love to see. The other was "Remember Me" from Coco, and it just brought back all the beauty, emotion, and tears from that beautiful movie. I absolutely loved that movie. I've always been fascinated with Day of the Dead and that aspect of Mexican culture. A must see for all ages. As much as I hate Disney, well, they do some things right.
Because Cal put his rap together with a collage of images (music video) which I wasn't expecting, I was quite stunned. It reminded me of the bizarre but wonderful experience of being at a group meditation and seeing Adam's life in reverse from age 27 back to his birth, like a movie. One of my all time favorite pictures Cal included is of the three boys in our bed in Lockport, snuggled under the sunflower comforter we had for many years. I think part of Cal's project is reconciling the Adam we knew with the Adam we didn't know, especially as an adult. He had a whole other life we knew nothing about, not to mention the inner turmoil we were likewise ignorant of.
Writing, music, art, whatever form gets us out of our head is super important, and gives us insight and perspective on this thing we call life, and the other thing we don't like to think about, death.
I didn't bring my camera to the beach, because, you know, you just want to not have to worry about that. The ocean was about the same temp as the apartment pool, around 72. We all got in and walked the beach. Jellyfish were washed up in the quieter stretches of beach. Fascinating creatures.
Pat and I went to the movie Annihilation while H and E went to an organ recital last night.
Sunday I went to church with the kids. My second time there. We're really just chillin'.
Two entire days left here in sunny Gainesville. The distinguishing feature of Gville is the Spanish moss draping most all of the trees, and the gators of course. We have already seen many of the most famous Gators including loud Dennis who shouts angrily at passers by in the UF crosswalks, poor Ivy who is a 'business associate' of Dick Butkus, and the Friday afternoon dancing Krishnas on campus.
We got a little lazy and a little pink yesterday at the pool, then met Hannah downtown for dinner. I am glad to say our Illinois flu bug has passed out of our systems.
On to the main event, the Gainesville Orchestra with Eli sitting in on La Mer movement 3, where five trumpets were needed. He had a stunning three note solo! The program theme Majesty of the Sea included Eli on Rapture, a contemporary piece, selections from West Side Story (?) and Pirates of the Carribean overture. They performed to a full house in the concert hall at Santa Fe College. Pretty imptressive. Afterwards we went backstage to meet Dr. Randolph Lee, Eli's trumpet professor.
And just for Betsy, there was yet another Musical Chris Vick Doppleganger on second violin.
Nothing like waking at 3:22 when you don't have to be up until 6 or so...call it anticipation, excitement, or just old vanilla insomnia. Maybe we will make an earlier departure for Florida than we thought.
Getting right with myself means leaving work behind, being grateful for all I have, and apparently stocking up on decongestant and Kleenex. Here's hoping we leave our colds and our worries behind and enjoy a week away from cold, frozen Illinois.
In honor of Adam's life, I am hereby declaring my intention to fulfill my Bucket List. First things first: come up with a new and better name for bucket list. How about Dream Execution? Nah, sounds like I might be wanting to kill someone. Fantasy Rendering? Too kinky. Passion Inventory? This is not a business proposition. Joy Manifesto? Ted Kazinski anyone? Now I am attracting the attention of the FBI. Jiminy Christmas, let's just start over...
I'm just going to go with the working title: Zesty Index of Life Wishes to Complete Before I Die. Nothing to do with crackers, though.
So last week I knocked a couple of items off...I spent 60 minutes in a sensory deprivation isolation tank. Lest this sound too scary, these are also known as Relaxation Floats. You actually pay money to float in a closed pod of body temperature salt water. It is supposed to be sterile, sound proof and lightless. I found only the last component to be completely true.
I took a friend who happens to be a germophobe, so I can attest that the "perfectly clean" claim is questionable at best. You see, there are supposed to be two hours between one hour floats, plenty of time to filter and replace the water, right? But when we arrived, someone had fallen asleep in one of the tanks and was just getting out, and we were told the proprietor would have it ready in just a few minutes. Hmmm, no way were they replacing that water before we climbed in. I gallantly volunteered to use that tank, so that my friend could at least pretend like the other tank had been genuinely cleaned and filtered. It actually didn't bother me that much once I got in and had other issues to contend with.
The pods each have the option to keep the light on and meditation style music playing. I turned the music off almost immediately as wanted the full deprivation experience. Problem there was this location was on a busy city street and I could hear or maybe feel when heavier vehicles were passing by. Not really too distracting though, and only occasional.
The light is initially a pretty iridescent soft blue that makes your body look pretty amazing. Of course, you're in there by yourself so who really cares? I shut the light off too and it was truly pitch black. I couldn't tell if my eyes were open or closed.
Two things initially grabbed my attention and those were that I forgot to dry my face off before getting in as Molly suggested, and I forgot to put ointment on a small blister on my foot, and 1000 pounds of Epsom salt is pretty stingy to even small open wounds. After letting those thoughts go and consciously attempting meditation, I began to worry about haggling over the price when we got out- the posted signs in the spa didn't match what the internet said, so I worried there would be a debate. I worked that out of my head, using my masterful skills, telling myself this is all part of the process. I felt my shoulders and neck not cooperating with the relaxation, and I later realized I forgot another tip Molly gave us: to raise our arms above our head. That might have helped. Eventually I began to feel like I was submerged in a jelly mold. So I began swaying ever so slightly. This was a pretty cool feeling.
Towards the end of the hour, the humidity in the tank was feeling pretty heavy to my breathing. I had the faint thought I might be literally using up all the oxygen. But I didn't want to stir so much as it would take to open the door, so I just settled into that as well. Before I was necessarily ready, the soft light and music gently came on, and I got ready to exit, pleased that I enjoyed it as much as I did. I was absolutely thrilled that we were charged $10 less than we expected due to being referred by another customer. All in all, it was an interesting experience, but I am not dying to repeat it.
This is not me, but gives you an idea what the process looks like.
The days have really been flaking off since the anniversary of Adam's death, 2/2/18. A week goes so fast anymore. I always start the day off feeling great, and by the end of the day, somewhat like a walking zombie. A shower or a walk or ride at the Y usually helps.
I have to admit, I've been counting down the days now to our Florida trip and we are down to 11.
A little over one year ago, I was on this beautiful beach in Destin. This year the destination is Gainesville, which has no beach. No matter...it beats the heck out of Macomb. We are lucky that it worked out so that we are going to be able to see Eli play with the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra. Whatever else happens is icing on the cake.
This was my sand castle tribute to Adam on the beach last year, when I came back to check on it a day later. He loved his sand castles.
My sweet daughter in law posted this on February 2:
I'll never forget seeing "Alice Through the Looking Glass" just a few months after Adam departed from us 2/2/16. Alan Rickman had also passed away recently, and his voice inhabited a butterfly at the start of the film... very poignant. When I think about Adam now, I remember what the Mad Hatter says to Alice at the end... "In the gardens of memory, in the palace of dreams, that is where you and I will meet."
Alan Rickman said "if only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust." I agree with him.
Some of Adam's friends posted pictures, memories and thoughts of him. It meant the world to me, and made the day a bit sweeter.
I have been grieving more in the days and weeks leading up until today, making this day feel pretty okay. I have gotten several messages, cards, and texts, and it is nice to be remembered, and that Adam is remembered. Some wonderful Facebook posts; social media has the power to do good!
I took a casserole and some treats to a co-worker whose grandson died (age 3) on Monday. I don't know her well, but it definitely affected me, being so close to Adam's. I know how much it meant to me when people did anything really, but having plenty of comfort food available was really nice.
On Wednesday evening I attended a free Big Band concert in town. Most of the members were WIU faculty and students, and some talented community members thrown in. They played jazz standards from the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey "chart" (don't I sound fancy?). John Cooper, director of Jazz Studies and trumpeter, was the conductor. He also wrote a composition they played. He introduced it like this:
This piece is about the inevitability of
life, and sometimes you don't get
to say good-bye. So if you're missing someone
tonight, this is for you.
It seemed really personal to him, but I'm not sure who he had lost...it did feel uncanny that I happened to be present, and it was so close to Adam's death date, and gosh it was a pretty number. I couldn't help the tears running down my face through the whole thing. It started with a piano solo, and John featured himself on trumpet.
I had a really good workout in Spin class this morning. Thank you, buddy. However, as I was sitting in the stylist's chair no more than an hour later, I started to feel a head cold coming on, and my bones are slowly starting to ache, even in my hands.
Adam was right there in my dreams when I woke up this morning. He was living at home and for some reason had brought home a white bulldog looking thing with a pattern on it's fur like colored confetti. It was walking down the front steps and I was afraid to touch it. He also had a bull on the porch and had built a little pen in the front yard for it. Pat goes, "You should really have that in the back yard." Then Adam said, "Don't look under the front porch, we put something there, too, it's not snakes."
That's about it folks. It was good to see him but left me feeling more bereft this time. Either today or tomorrow is the actual day Adam probably died two years ago. We don't know for sure.
It feels like Adam's suicide is becoming a fact of my life- not a foreign, unknown, surreal event. I hate that it is. As the two year mark approaches ever so slowly...who invented January anyway? my mood is decidedly crabby, the tears are closer to the surface, and everything seems to be a reminder from the waiting room at work, to Grace driving Adam's old car, to any song that was played in 2016.
OMG- Mozart's Moonlight Sonata is so where I'm at.
I spent a very busy afternoon at the food pantry. Did not expect to see so many people I know. That cheered me up. Some remember me, some do not. I always let them speak first, so as not to embarrass anyone. The flow was just insane today, with three of us working until everyone was served, past the closing time. The other two left more or less on time, leaving me to clean the tables and vacuum. I had to hunt down a new vacuum bag, and make do with paper towels and water for cleaner. It was good.
This evening I will pick up my little sister. She wants to know what we're eating and doing. She wants "choices." I said "Cheesy breadsticks or tacos, baking whole wheat bread, and a spa night." To which she replied, "What can we have with breadsticks?" I figured we could do nails and facials after dinner while the bread is rising and baking. I'm in the mood for a new nail polish color; everything else I have, so I will stop at Walgreens on the way there.
Pat was on his way to visit my folks (that's a folksy term, isn't it?) when I came home between events. That is nice for both of them. I know they really appreciate visitors, expected or unexpected.
I think I will take a long shower before bed tonight. I'm quite grungy from the day already. I deserve it!
My e-mailbox was full again at work. Cleaning it out, I found some messages from 2/2/16 when my world changed immeasurably. I can feel the heavy weight of winter and loss as the anniversary approaches. My thoughts are turning more and more to that day and what led up to it for Adam and myself. It is painful but necessary work.
I was very busy over the holidays, a distraction really. Now, I get ready for another day of work and hope to God there is never another day like 2-2-16. Two weeks from Friday will be two years. Some say the second year is harder, but I wouldn't say that. There is more a sense Adam being left behind, but also happy moments when acceptance and peace fill my heart.
I keep certain things the way they were that day, like those messages in my saved file. His chapstick, Aveeno lotion, a book on my dresser. One day they will change and be gone, but never, never will my best boy be far from my thoughts. One day I will be where he is, we all will. Life is given and taken in its own time.
I thought I was going to write my reflections of 2017...but that was so LAST YEAR.
Up at 4 a.m., I am struck with my New Year burst of energy: energy to organize my spaces, clean my cabinets, write things down, and start new self help books and practices. Yes, I think I always start a new year with the hope of change, renewal, and growth. That's what all this cleaning, writing and reading is about.
My latest read is called 10% Happier by Dan Harris, a journalist who struggled with anxiety and drug abuse and his journey to enlightenment. Now I want to go on a 10 day silent meditation retreat or at least add it to my bucket list.
More practically speaking, I have a few resolutions for 2018.
Be there more for my clients
Live in the moment
Let go when it's time
Be a Warrior Woman and meet my challenges with grace