The Apple Tree – (It’s Really Not About The Turkey- Part 2)

English: An apple tree loaded with apples in i...

English: An apple tree loaded with apples in its upper crown. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children leave you, like everyone leaves you; you know it is true. Ultimately that’s our biggest fear and the only one that we can’t deny because we know it’s true. We are born alone and we die alone. Children have been leaving us as soon as they take their first step.  Dying is just the last step, in this world at least, but people and pets have gone ahead of us all our lives. It’s the one thing we cannot control, the one thing that causes us the most pain and grief yet we can’t prevent it nor can we heal it. We can’t make it better for others nor can we help ourselves. For me, the only solution I have found is time and letting my pain out like a bursting dam, writing about it helps but it takes a great amount of time to wrap my head around the fact that I will never see that person again. We all grieve differently. Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve or that you are not grieving the “right ” way. Time does heal, but you can’t expect to forget. Eventually, the memories become sweet reminders of the past.

My children, who have been home for Thanksgiving, for four days, are excited to leave for their other “home” tomorrow morning at ll:00 a.m. They are going back to their respective colleges.  I was surprised to hear how early they were leaving; I know they have a very long drive but deep down I knew that wasn’t the reason. They were ready to go home to their friends, their college family, their parties. I was not surprised at how much they wanted to go back but I was a little disappointed.  I am glad they are their own people now but deep inside my empty womb I felt a pinch of disappointment, of grief. They have left us for good.

Like a sturdy tree, we have stood as a family for twenty years. Now, the tree that once stood so solidly is dropping its apples and the apples are good, they are tasty, juicy and we as parents are proud.  We have made them but they are not our apples anymore, they do not belong to us. They belong to the world, to the men and women who take them home, who love them. Surely, they will remember us, but we will never be their first priority again. It’s a true fact, one you can’t deny and one parents everywhere have to accept. It’s not easy, I know.

So, yes, it was wonderful to watch them grow and to keep watching them, every step of the way. Deep in our hearts, we know, that it will never be the same as it once was. Never. Sure, they will love us in they hearts but they will no longer need us the same way; our goal was to make them independent, remember? I forget too sometimes. They go out into the world to find their own place, to meet their own loves, to start their own families.

We are alone, like when we were born. We will probably die alone, which I know, is a scary thought. Maybe we will be lucky and someone will be there to hold our hand or to whisper “I love you” in our little, paper-thin, shell-like ear, but no one can promise that. We die as we are born. All the steps along the way are lessons to be learned on separation. Be your own person, as much as you can. Love yourself first before you love others.

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Forecast: Snow And Pain

Ground blizzard conditions in Ontario. HWY 26 ...

Image via Wikipedia

I never wanted to be a weather forecaster but I have found if I listen to my body, I truly, can predict the weather. This is not a fun job for me; nor is it a fun job for any people who have Fibromyalgia or another chronic pain disease. There’s a blizzard going on in the Northeast and before I heard about it, I felt it. I felt it in my tired and achy bones and muscles. I couldn’t stand up from a seated position without a lot of pain. I needed to hold on to someone’s hand because I felt off-balance. Some experts say it’s related to the barometric pressure changing. My degree in weather forecasting is not that advanced.

My bones, muscles and body hurt enough as it is. Today, my back and shoulders  and legs are aching and cramping horribly. I am having trouble getting up, sitting down, walking (shuffling) while holding on to the railing in my house for the stairs, one step at a time. I also have the infamous Fibro (Fibromyalgia) Fog that causes me to lose my train of thought or forget something that someone just told me ten minutes ago. It’s bad enough that it’s painful but feeling embarrassed and humiliated is another blog post altogether. I do not understand this mystifying illness; that said, it is hard to expect others to understand it as well.

We’re in the middle of a snow, blizzard emergency now.  I am praying for the electricity and power to stay on so we have heat all night. I’m piling on the blankets, flashlight at my side, candle at the ready….just in case.  It may look pretty outside with snow drifts and the sheets of snow coming down sideways in the light of our windows but it doesn’t feel pretty. It feels horrible, it’s like clenching your teeth in every body part. My neck is stiff and constricted, my shoulders are tight, I feel like the Tin Man of the Wizard of Oz but there is no oil to relieve my pain. I hope for continued heat for all my friends but especially my Fibromyalgia friends because we really know what COLD feels like.

Stay warm my friends, we’ll all get through this together. Huddle under extra blankets and lie still. There will be hot coffee in the morning or English Breakfast Tea with milk and sugar. It’s just the beginning of winter; we have a very long way to go.

Love, Loss and Leaving

12/31/09

My father died on New Years Eve, 8 years ago. Time of death was 10:20pm although the death certificate had a different, later time. I remember looking at the digital clock that still rests on the left side of the bedside table and seeing the number. I remember I was on the phone with my mother and she said “it’s done.” For a few seconds I was confused,  a steak is done. My dad was gone but that’s the only way she knew how to tell me.  Today is about loss,  New Year’s Eve will always be about loss. For most people loss is not unfamiliar to them. I an envious and jealous of those who do not know what grief and loss tastes like, looks like and feels like.

My dad is  gone and even though there are times I think I see him, or smell his cologne, he isn’t here on this physical earth anymore.  I try to forget about this date but I know I can’t; I think I am over the crying and the sorrow but of course I’m not. The remembrance candle burns dimly on the old kitchen stove. My father is with me in spirit and sometimes ,but much less often now, he sends me messages in dreams or songs or smells. What I do know is this, when I need him, really need him, he is still always there for me. For this, I am eternally grateful.

Leaving and loss go hand in hand. My children are in the process of” leaving me” in a year or two, they are getting ready for it and  gearing up. I know they should, they are 15 and 17 but I find the adjustment terribly difficult; more difficult than I thought it would be but I always get upset way before things happen. When the time comes, I’m a star; strong and proud.  I can cheerfully wave good-bye with a smile on my face and jump up and down with joy as they practically skip to summer camp but this is very different.  This is the start of a new life for them as well as for my husband and me. And, we all know, change is not one of my strong suits.

The moment a child is born, they are already leaving you, second by tiny second. You coo over the tiny pink shoes for your new sweet daughter, you feel a rush of euphoria when you find the right Thomas the Tank Engine for yours very special little two year old boy.   You applaud their independence, their first step, their first wave good-bye…..you just don’t know at the time what it really leads up to. No one ever tells you what it is like later on. People want babies desperately as we did. But no one ever told us how hard it would be when they grew up. It sneaks up on you, believe me, but somehow the children don’t feel it in the same way; they can’t wait to grow up. If you were crazy enough to tell them this, they would, as expected, laugh in your face. Didn’t we do the very same thing?

Loss is very lonely, any type of loss. All things end up with you being alone in some form or another. On one side it’s frightening, on the other side it’s reassuring. It’s all we have, we need to take hold of ourselves and hold on, for whatever light that will guide us and keep us. I am scared to death with life without my husband and my children, family members and close friends and my dog,  but I prepare for it in my mind.  Some would say this is crazy, others will say it’s strategy. I think it’s both. We all do what we have to do to go on, another day, another week.

There’s no need to put me on suicide watch; some days and nights are harder than others. Especially tonight. Tomorrow is another day, an endless day but a new one. The start of a New Year, 2010, that I pray will be better than 2009 was. I have to believe in that.

What’s left of the old are family traditions, jelly doughnuts and chocolate glazed doughnuts once a year on New Year’s Eve. For those of us who can’t make it to welcome the New Year, our own New Year is at 9pm.  Tonight, it will be just my husband and me.  Most times, I like to hide under the covers and welcome the New Year in from my comfy bed. The four of us used to jump down from a higher surface to a lower one to honor the passing of the old to the new. We would celebrate with Martinelli’s apple cider together. But tonight, it’s just another day of breathing in and out, until all the pain and the anticipation of pain, leaves you calmly, slowly, and very quietly into the dead of night.