Archive for January, 2006

A., Liz and I had lunch at McDonald’s today. We each got a cheeseburger Happy Meal, with a little Strawberry Shortcake family member inside. We’re keeping the dolls on our desks at work so that we’ll have them as a cute and precious reminder of you. We had that picture of you, your daughter, Liz and me, and Mom with us, and remembered the good times. We laughed about the funny things we did together.

On the way back to the office, we stopped at Sonic and I got a cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper in your honor.

When I go home tonight, I’m going to stop at the grocery store, buy a can of chocolate frosting, and take a big spoonful for you. I’m sorry I didn’t get the chocolate frosting for you those long years ago. And I promise that the next kid who asks me for a can of chocolate frosting as a treat will get one.

I love you and I miss you. I hope you’re finding some peace now. Until we meet again, know how much I love you.

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It’s interesting. I’ve noted that people seem to think, because of the way A. died and the circumstances that led up to her death, it’s almost indecent to acknowledge that I’ve suffered a loss. My truest friends have been nothing but kind and loving and compassionate. And I received a sympathy card from a dear lady I used to work with, and was deeply moved by it. But my in-laws (some of whom know the whole story, and others just know that one of my sisters passed away last week) have not made any acknowledgment to me of my loss, nor have some other people from whom I might have expected it. Granted, my in-laws–as much as I love them–are far from being overly sensitive of my feelings (e.g. they completely ignored the IVF, both the attempts and the loss). Still, it stings.

Liz met me for lunch today, and we shared a chicken-fried steak meal at Chili’s. It’s the first food I’ve eaten since A. died that actually tasted good to me, and it’s the first full meal Liz has eaten in that time period as well. That indicates that we’re moving through the initial stages of the grief and finding some pleasures in life again.

I’ve felt a little guilty, like maybe I am cold or something, because I haven’t reacted with the major outrushings of grief that Liz and Mom have. Don’t get me wrong; I have wept and sobbed over A.’s death. I never quite know when it’s going to hit me. I can be watching “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and start bawling. But except for those moments, and except for when I’m listening to J. or Liz or my husband talk about A.’s life and death, I have remained pretty calm. Perhaps it’s partly because I can recognize that A. never “fit” into this world, and now she’s somewhere that she can, I pray, find in death the peace that escaped her in life. I don’t know for sure why I’m feeling this calmness, but I’m grateful for it.

Sometime in October, I made the decision to quit watching R-rated movies. I went years where I never even thought to watch one, but I started watching them around ’99 or 2000. I kept insisting that it didn’t affect me, and I was careful in what I watched, but that’s not true. They did affect me, and I can see it all the more clearly now that I no longer watch them. I started to watch a movie the other night that had been described as a very funny and enjoyable movie, but had to turn it off after about 15 minutes because it was just disgusting. I didn’t find any humor in the sexual innuendos, particularly some that were pedophilic (is that even a word?) in nature. I don’t know that I would have even paid those things any heed before. So yes, they did affect me in a way that I am not comfortable with. I’m glad they’re not in my life anymore.

Also, my husband has long hated the fact that I used to watch the police and crime shows on TV. I told him that I grew up with a mother who was a forensic investigator, and have read and watched police and crime novels and shows all my life, and kept watching. But when I moved back home after Joe and I had been separated for a few months, I decided to try paying attention to his concerns. It truly bothered him that I watched CSI and Law & Order, and it certainly didn’t hurt me to quit watching those shows. So I quit. On the night I learned that A. had probably been involved in a homicide and was herself killed in a police shootout, I thanked heaven that I had paid attention to my husband and quit watching those shows. I don’t think I’ll ever watch them again. Liz said she turned on CSI Thursday night, through sheer force of habit, only to turn it off within about 5 seconds. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when your life is closely touched by crime.

Please don’t think this is a condemnation in any way of people who watch R-rated movies or crime shows. It’s not. It is, rather, a recognition that I am happier having made the decision, for whatever reasons, to eliminate them from my own life.

More moving on stuff: Joe got a fantastic job offer from a company that he has been wanting to work with. It is a great opportunity for him, and I’m so glad that this worked out. Also, I got notice from the teacher certification program that I have been accepted into the English-Language Arts-Reading Grades 4-8 program. I am taking my content area exam on February 18th, and can then start applying for teaching jobs for the 2006-2007 school year. And Joe went to church yesterday for the first time since I had my hysterectomy performed, a few years ago. That’s perhaps the best thing of all.

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Two Losses

There are two losses here. There is the loss of my sister’s life, the fact that she’s no longer in this world. And then there’s the loss of something else, something indefinable, but it’s gone. And it’s that loss that’s harder for me to bear than the other.

Somehow losing A. has made it possible for me to distinguish between the person she was and the person she became. I’m glad for that. I have always loved her, and I always will. But I loathed the person she became, while cherishing the person she was. She hungered for love, but always turned away from it when it was there. Her last boyfriend, J., is a loving, kind man. I told him yesterday that he is adopted into our family. I’m so sorry that A. couldn’t light the darkness within her and allow J. to love her and to freely love him. For she did love him, that I know.

During the time that A. was living with me and Joe, the subject somehow came up of toys. I remarked, as I often have, that I always wanted an Easy-Bake oven, and never got one. One day she came home with an Easy-Bake oven for me. We gleefully baked all the mixes that came with the oven, and ate everything, and had a delightful time. I later gave it away to a charity, so that some other little girl who always wanted an Easy Bake Oven could get one and enjoy it. That’s the kind of sweet thing that A. Would do.

Our whole family is seriously messed up. Yet some of us persist and pull through the crap to live a decent life. Others don’t. What makes the difference? It’s not worth–I believe that each human life is of the same intrinsic value. It’s not strength–A., for example, had a lot of strength that was misapplied. I don’t know.

I always thought there would be time. I thought that one day A. would wake up and realize that she had trashed her life, get tired of it, and do something about it. But the time is gone. At least, earthly time. I do believe that she is still in existence, and believe that she has a chance now to make something of herself. She never fit into this world. Liz said that she was “born broken.” That’s probably the best way to put it. A. seemed to think that she had to walk in the path of her birth mother, like a fate she could not escape.

I know these questions have no answers, but I can’t help asking them. Did we do enough? What could we have done differently? Does she know that we love her, no matter what?

That’s what I’ve been praying for. I’ve begged Heavenly Father to make sure she knows that I love her, that I always have and always will.

I want to write a letter to the P. Family and express my sorrow for their loss. I also want to write the police officer who shot my sister, and tell him that I have no anger for him; he was doing his job, and did what he had to do. I’m sorry that he had to do it, for his sake, but it had to be done.

I’m so grateful for our friends who have reached out with love and compassion, reserving any judgment. They help us all get through this. I get sick every time I hear the telephone ring, but I’m hopeful that the worst of it is over, and now we can begin to heal.

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I have some photos of A. that our grandmother took. A. had the chickenpox, so she had red spots all over her body. She had gotten out of the bathtub, and refused to allow our grandmother to dress her, and instead dashed over to her rocking horse and rocked madly away, buck naked.

I remember one day when A. had come over to spend some time with me. We took a walk, and she wanted a soda. Instead of asking for one, she mimed gulping down a soda, smacking her lips with satisfaction, and then making an “aaah” sound. I pretended not to understand what she wanted, and she kept doing it over and over.

Another time I was going to buy her a treat, and asked what she wanted. She gleefully asked if we could get a can of chocolate frosting, and share it! I was totally grossed out by the thought, and refused, but got her something else that she enjoyed almost as well.

When Joe and I were newlyweds, we had A. over to spend the night a few times. Once I took her with me when I was getting the truck washed at one of those automatic car washes. I told her, with dramatic emphasis, that after the wash cycles were finished, a huge vacuum was going to go over the car and suck up all the water. I said it in such a way that she would think I was joking, and the look of delight on her face when the vacuum cycle actually did suck up all the water was beautiful.

Once when the parents were out of town, I was staying at their house keeping an eye on things. Liz was still in high school, and A. was in elementary school. A. was going through a hating to bathe phase, and flat out refused to take a bath. She was nasty stinky, and I was determined that she would bathe that night. Finally I got tired, and filled the tub with water and told her that if she didn’t get into the bathtub by the time I counted to 10, I’d throw her in with her clothes on. She giggled and laughed, thinking it was all a game, until I threw her in with her clothes on. She sat there for a moment completely speechless. Then her face started to get red, and she opened her mouth and began to bellow. “I’m going to tell Mommy! I’m going to tell Daddy!” and she went down the list of everyone she was going to tell on me. I calmly stood there and waited for her to finish roaring, at which point I said, “You know what? Mommy’s going to think it’s funny. Daddy’s going to think it’s funny. Liz and I think it’s funny. And I think if you stop yelling for a minute and think about it, you’ll think it’s funny, too.” She sat there for a minute, and then started laughing. Of course, she hated having that episode brought up in later years, and probably never laughed about it again.

During that same week, we taught her how to make a family dish called “Something Different.” Mom had whipped it up when, as a newlywed, Dad unexpectedly brought someone home for dinner when she had nothing to fix. A. made the dinner on the night our parents were expected home from their trip. When we asked her how she liked it, she said, “It’s distinctly good, because I made it!”

Once Liz and I took A. out to dinner. She ordered spaghetti and meatballs, and the food was taking a little longer to arrive than she thought appropriate. She took her knife and fork and banged them on the table, yelling, “Where’s my eats, woman?” Liz and I shrunk under the table and tried unsuccessfully to pretend that we didn’t know A.

One day I had taken Liz and A. for a ride. A. was in the back seat, belching as obnoxiously as possible. She could belch on demand as loudly and violently as any boy I’ve ever heard. Liz began getting disgusted with it after a while, and proclaimed that “belching isn’t funny. Snorting is.” I laughed my butt off when A. began snorting, and carried on for the remainder of the ride. Liz wasn’t amused by the fact that she opened herself up for it, and had no one to blame but herself.

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I wonder. If one knew in advance that a day was going to be a horrible, terrible, life-changing day, would it be easier? If when the alarm went off, it could say, “Warning! Today will suck beyond the imagining of it,” would it make it a little easier to deal with what is coming, or would one still be in denial until the terrible thing happened.

I don’t know.

Eleven days ago, a man was murdered. I live in a different state, and didn’t know anything about it.

This afternoon I got a phone call from my sister Liz. She had gotten a phone call from J., the former boyfriend of another of our sisters, A. J. wanted to talk to A., who told him that she was living with Liz. She wasn’t. J. said that the police had gone to talk to him, and informed him that they needed to speak with A. in connection with the murder of the man.

Liz and I were sickened by the mere thought that our sister had been involved in a murder. We were nervous about letting our mother know, as she is in poor health. Our mother is a trouper, and handled it far better than we dared hope. She called the police, talked with them, and then let us know what she had learned. A. wasn’t suspected of actually firing the shot that took the man’s life, but was definitely believed to have been with the person who did.

When I got home from work, I called the police officer to give him some information on A.’s half-sister who might possibly have had some knowledge of where A. was. He didn’t take the information from me, but said that they had some new information and that he was going to my mother’s house to talk to her. Thinking that perhaps they knew where A. was or even that she was in police custody, I tried not to worry about things.

The phone rang about half an hour later. My mother, sobbing, told me that A. is dead. She and the man that had committed the robbery and murder with her were on the move, and had gotten involved in a police chase in another state. Their car crashed, and the man got out of the car firing shots, and was killed by police. A. got out of the car, brandishing a knife and making threats, and was killed by police. Apparently she was close enough to an officer that she could have killed him, and they had to shoot her.

I hold no malice or anger whatsoever to the police. They were doing their job.

I can’t believe that A. is dead. But even harder to believe is that she could have been involved in a murder. I had no trouble believing that she was involved in a robbery that went wrong–she has been a drug addict for some years, and drug addicts do all kinds of things to get drug money. I believe the police when they say that she was there and was involved; and if she was participating in a robbery that ended in homicide, then there is nothing more to be said.

My heart aches for the family of the man who was killed. I saw his picture, and he looks like my late father-in-law. He was a hero. And his life was taken for nothing.

My heart aches for my mother. She loves A., and couldn’t love her more if she’d given birth to her. My mother taught A. right from wrong, and adored her, and has been heart-broken by her continued bad choices.

My heart aches for M., A.’s daughter. She has been in the sole custody of her father, who has since remarried, for two years. I hope her father can keep her from this knowledge for now, but eventually she will know what her mother did and be hurt by it.

My heart aches for A. I keep wondering if I could have done something that would have made a difference for her. Maybe I could, probably I couldn’t have. Either way it doesn’t matter–it’s done. She’s gone.

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Flu and Fever Induced Dreams

In my dreams today, I learned that I do not have the flu; I have “le moo.” Yes, you heard it right, le moo, caused by black and white French cows. Said cows look really funny when they get out from under the covers to go to the bathroom and get goosebumps.

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Since I had gotten all of my work completed, and the pains in my head and my chest and my throat weren’t getting any better, I did end up coming home. My boss was sympathetic, as she herself was leaving half an hour before I did so she could go to the doctor because, yes, she’s been sick all week. I stopped on the way home for an industrial-sized box of Nyquil gelcaps and some Ben & Jerry’s. The Ben & Jerry’s soothed my throat as much as I’d hoped it would, although now that I exercised some self-control and put half of it back into the freezer, my throat’s raw and owie-ful again.

Also, I must take this opportunity, before I pass out (I hope, anyway), to inform you that I have a very, very, very smart dog. Molly avoids the bathroom. It is the room of baths, the room where she is stripped of her dignity and filth as she gets forced into the bathtub and sudsed and rinsed. She will come visit me in any room in the house except the bathroom. Once I was in the bathtub with the door open, and called her to me. I watched her go down the hall, resolutely avoiding the making of eye contact, and heard her slither under the bed in the guest room. I’m familiar with that eye contact avoidance, since it’s the technique I use with the people who sell hand creams at little kiosks in the mall. So you’ve got it, right? Molly hates the bathroom.

However, if we’re home and she has to go out, but cannot rouse us from slumber, she goes to the bathroom in the bathroom. Not only does she go in the bathroom, but she goes right in front of the toilet, where I’m bound to step in it when I sleepily toddle to the bathroom at 3 a.m. She doesn’t do that when we’re not home; if she absolutely must go when we’re gone, she considerately uses the piddle pads we leave out for her. No, it is only when we are at home but insensitive to her needs that she goes into the bathroom to make her statement. See, I think that’s brilliant of her. She knows what purpose the toilet is intended for, and I guess she figures she’s one of us and may as well use the facilities like we do.

So instead of griping that I only very occasionally find a puddle or a pile in the bathroom at 3 a.m., I should be grateful that she condescends to go outside when she can get us to let her out, or on the piddle pads during the day. Right? Right?

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Being sick sucks

Sick, sick, sick. Sick is not good. Sick is not fun. Sick is lying awake half the night, coughing and feeling pins and needles in your throat each time. Sick is sleeping the other half of the night, and while sleeping dreaming that you’re lying awake, coughing and feeling pins and needles in your throat each time. Sick is getting up in the morning, completely not wanting to go to work but knowing that you have to go and going. Sick is going to work not giving two cents about your appearance or greasy hair. Sick is sitting at work wondering if you dare tell your boss you need to go home, and what will her reaction be, because you’re still temping and don’t want to burn bridges, but dangit you’re sick! Sick is sucking on Halls Max honey lemon throat drops like they were candy, because they do soothe the pins and needles in the throat.

Okay, I know it could be much, much worse. So I’ll quit griping for now.

Joe had a good job interview yesterday, and thinks they’ll probably make an offer within a few days. Basically, he would be hired by a different company to stay onsite at the bank where he is already the primary telecom person. We’ll see what happens. He’s talking about getting a new car. I assumed that he would drive the new car and that I would continue driving Buffy, which is completely fine with me. I mean, he’ll be driving a lot more than I do, and besides, I got the new car the last time. But no, he said that he’ll get the car for me, and he’ll take over Buffy. I only ask that the new car get good gas mileage, have air conditioning (we do live in Texas, after all), and have an automatic transmission. I had forgotten how unpleasant standard transmissions can be when one is in heavy traffic. That’s another reason I figured he’d want to drive the new car; I only have a 14-mile round trip in comparatively light traffic each day; he’ll have about a 45- to 60-mile round trip in very heavy traffic each day.

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Wednesday Mind Hump

Crank Up The Stereo Day. Let’s get humping!

1. What artist and/or band (or a few) makes you want to crank your stereo so the whole neighborhood can hear?

The Clash, Billy Idol, Violent Femmes, the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge, the Eurythmics, Paris Combo, any of the Putamayo CDs

On the rare occasions when I am on a cleaning spree at home, I like to have the music loud and rowdy. My neighbors can probably hear it down the block–but that keeps me going. Also, when I’m in a black mood, I like to listen to this kind of music; it allows me to indulge my black mood until it miraculously vanishes when I realize I’m having a good time. And I love listening to the Putamayo world music; I crank it up loud and merengue around the house until I collapse.

2. What are a few of your favorite songs to crank on your stereo?

Run S***head Run, Rebel Yell, White Wedding, Should I Stay or Should I Go, Rock the Casbah, Missionary Man,

3. What artist or style of music do you NOT want to hear cranked up on a stereo?

Oh, gosh–I hate hip-hop/rap/whatever you call that stuff. It seriously annoys me. Which is funny, because I love hip-hop dancing.

I also don’t particularly care for hearing mariachi music cranked up. When I lived in Anaheim, we had some neighbors across the street who congregated in the driveway every morning starting at 7, and they spent the day drinking cerveza and listening to mariachi music that was cranked so loud the whole neighborhood could hear it.

4. What “stereo” do you use most often: regular stereo, DVD player, clock radio, computer, Ipod, or car stereo?

I don’t use any one more often than another. It is all determined by where I am and what I’m doing. I do not use a clock radio or an Ipod, since I have neither.

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Well, Joe got the word yesterday. He is laid off as of 1/31/06. He is taking it pretty well, I think, although he is quite tense. He had an interview yesterday with a headhunter who informed Joe that he has been seriously underpaid. No kidding! Joe, in a desire to bring his appearance more in line with a serious candidate for employment instead of a rock star, got his hair cut yesterday. Now, he’s told me before that he got his hair cut, when I suspect he really had the stylist wave the scissors near his hair. So I wasn’t really expecting a cut. May I say, wow! He got it cut SHORT! And it looks fantastic–it’s not a fuddy-duddy short hair cut like he is so afraid of getting, but it’s quite stylish and makes him look younger. I got him some designer shirts & ties on Saturday (I love you, TJ Maxx), and he got some new dress pants, so he is looking extremely tasty these days.

He called me a few minutes ago full of lofty plans for the future, including getting a larger house with a huge kitchen and, not to cast aspersions on my housekeeping talents, said that he’d like to get a maid to come in once a week. Am I complaining? I think not. I’d love to have someone come in once a week to do the ooky work, like mopping floors and cleaning toilets. Frankly, I’d like to have someone come in once a day to do it all–cook, clean, etc. I’m not a domestic diva. No Martha Stewarts live at my house. I’m a great interior decorator, but I hate cleaning.

What kind of Mormon am I! gasp! I don’t like to do crafts, don’t like to clean, don’t sew, don’t have kids . . . . It’s funny how easy it is to get caught up in the culture, and think you have to fit into this nice, neat little niche in order to be a member of the church. You don’t, of course. It’s not about having a billion kids or making all the bread for your family or having the cleanest house on the block or sewing all the clothes for your family. It’s about your faith in God the Father, your belief in and acceptance of the atonement, about your belief in the restored gospel. Those things I have.

On Monday night, instead of watching the Golden Globes as I’d originally planned to do, I went to see Narnia with Joe. I’d seen it twice already, but he had not yet seen it. And he so rarely likes to go to the theatre that I will drop pretty much anything to go with him when he suggests it. As we were walking hand-in-hand from the car to the theatre, he remarked that we’re really lucky we don’t have kids, because we get to have a highly extended honeymoon. We could just get up and decide to go to the movies without having to get (or pay for) a babysitter. That’s how I’ve been trying to look at it for a long time–if I can’t have the blessings that come with having children, at least I can enjoy the blessings that come with not having children.

I am coughing and hacking up a lung today–I sense yet another upper respiratory infection coming on. Fortunately I already have a doctor’s appointment set up for this Friday afternoon so that we can discuss the efficacy of the Effexor (I think he may raise the dosage, because the depression is still pretty severe, but it’s better), so it won’t be a problem to mention the drainage, coughing, sinus pain, headaches, yadda yadda. I’m hoping to convince him to write me a three-month prescription for the anti-depressants, so that I can get it filled through mail order before our benefits run out at the end of the month. I also hope that when he gets a new job, the insurance will allow us to continue seeing our current doctor, who is just the king of doctors. He’s dealt with me through the depression, breast reduction, ADD diagnosis, and nervous breakdowns. We found him back in 1999, when we were starting the proceedings that led up to the IVF, as Joe got pericarditis about the same time I had my first laparoscopy. He was just wonderful, and we’ve stayed with him since. I love having a doctor that actually listens to me, and doesn’t show in my presence how crazy he thinks I am.

I watched about an hour of “Earthsea” last night. I was enjoying it quite a bit, but wanted to go to bed early. Joe told me today that he did finish watching it last night, and liked it a lot. So I am planning to finish it tonight.

Oh, and I almost forgot–I got a letter from ECAP (the teacher certification program I’m hoping to attend this summer) yesterday. They said that I have passed all the preliminary requirements, and just had to do an online interview. I detest doing online interviews, but went ahead and got it out of the way last night. I’m scheduled to take my content area exam on February 18th. So assuming that I passed the interview yesterday and that I pass the exam on the 18th, I’ll be all set to attend the job fair in May. Whee!

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