Saturday, August 29, 2009

What Gives You the Right?

I was reading the message boards on the MISS website today.

I caught a thread that made me so unbelievably angry--and I haven't been this angry in a long, long time.

The nutshell of this post was a woman talking about how her SISTER of all people was calling her psychotic for remembering the daughter she lost last year. And by remembering, this woman basically did a balloon release this year on her child's birthday.

The letter was awful:

you having a birthday party and even posting photos is very sad and disturbing, what does Jason think of all this. I have MANY friends how have lost children in many stages of their lives. NONE of them have gone to the level is psychotic. I debated adding you as my friend because of what you post. I do not want my friends to see how disturbed you are. I have blocked you from my wall. Please seek help to remedy the loss you have experienced. Please move on with your live and live in the present not the past. What happened happened. I love you and want you to close this chapter and begin a new one. Christina is alive and so are Charlie and Roman. Take pleasure in them not the child you lost. She will never be on this Earth while you are. We are sad for your loss.
Rhonda, Elaine, Gammie, Cory, Katrina, Dana are just a few people who have lost children and they are living their lives not dwelling in self pity and sorrow, waiting for some one to keep feeding this addiction.

The poster's response:

You know I held my tongue the last time you called me crazy,
as much as I wanted to do nothing but cuss you out and defend my
feelings. I just can't keep quiet anymore...

Firstly, I am NOT the only mother or parent of a child who has died
that has had a birthday or angelversary celebration for that child.
Jason even helped to pick out the balloons and got them out of the
tree so we could get them soaring to heaven as intended.

Secondly, I know you have had some small amount of schooling in psychology,
but that doesnt give you the right to say I or my actions are psychotic!
Maybe I am the only one not putting on the fake "Oh Im ok and don't miss
my baby" face. Maybe I am working thru and dealing WITH my grief, not
shoving it down inside until it explodes out of me in 20 years. Maybe you
just don't understand, and I f**king thank God for that! That means you
haven't had to suffer the loss of a child.

Thirdly, I am seeking help, even if that is none of your business.
I am just as "normal" as the people in my support group and the online
child loss group I belong to. I am not living in the past, I am keeping
Elora alive and in the present. Just because I like to talk about her,
doesn't mean I'm dwelling or not moving on. All I'm trying to do is
honor her.

Lastly, I know good and well my other three children are alive!! I take
lots of pleasure in celebrating them and their lives. They like to talk
about and remmeber their sister too! By the way, I did not make them wear
the cremation jewelry they have. They chose the urns on their own to
suit their own personal style. It was charlies idea for all of us to put
tokens in the casket before she was creamted, so that we would have parts
of all of us...together as a the charms.

I'll bet if you gave your friends a chance, and actually asked them how
they are doing, they might tell you the truth. Did you ever think that
this attitude keeps them from opening up around you, and letting you know
that they are still hurting? You don't just lose a child and
then move on after a while!

Until you can treat me and my family with respect, and the grief that we are trying to get thru,
I don't want to hear anything else you have to say!

The death and birth of Elora did close a door
to the previous chapter of my life. Like it or not, this is the new one...

Her sister's response:

Now you have pissed me off. I sent that to you, not all your friends. Thanks for the privacy.
Treat yourself and your family with respect!!! You are not just honoring her. You love her more than your living children. That what it seems like from here. And the memories that they have are what? A few hours of holding a dead sister. Yes I have asked my friends how they are doing. Dana had a difficult day 7 years ago on her son's 10 anniversary of his death. You know what, she was at work. Now visiting cemeteries, not baking birthday cakes for 17 years, no she is living her life and had a child a few years after the death of her other one. He was 10 days old and died in her arms.
Gammie- gave birth to two children between Mom and Uncle Jerry. She lived. She took them on vacations across the country, raided them on her own after her husband committed suicide. She was and is a very strong woman. one was 2 weeks old, the other a few hours.
Rhonda- had two living children. She has a husband who tried to commit suicide and is now in a full care facility. She still had one in high school. She is doing well, i ask her how she is holding up, and how her kids are dealing with their father like that. Years ago she lost a child. She is actually a happy person.
Elaine- lost a child, a few days old. She is very funny, positive and had managed to have a good life.
Cory, has one child. She went on maternity leave and came back to work 2 years ago. Then she left for a couple weeks, she lost a baby to SIDS. She was devastated. She managed to come back to work and care for her family that was living. She will always remember her girl but she moved on.
Katrina has had 2 miscarriages this year!! After the "safety point" she has managed to stay herself and is pregnant again. We are all praying for her to keep this one. She is 27 years old.
Bonnie- her oldest son was killed by a drunk truck driver when he was 16 years old. She did have a hard time dealing with her loss. however, her oldest child and youngest child helped her to move on with her life and not dwell on something she could not change. They helper her live.

I have kept quiet for a long time. I am the only one who will say anything to you about this. I am glad you didn't come to my wedding. I did not meed your pathetic, pitiful, pay attention to me, feel sorry for me, because you will keep this up for year to come. You love the attention.
As for your group. They are dwelling in sorrow from what is sound like. It is a perperual circle. You all just sit around mourning for what will never come back to you while you are on this earth. Why do you insist that she will come back? you will meet up with her when it is your time.

The Poster's Friend's 2 cents worth and her Sister's reply---

Me Today at 12:50pm
I'm not sure if you remember me or not, but I'm a friend of Kim's. I've just read your email to her and let me just start by saying I have never in my entire life come across someone as completely heartless as you.

To say the things you've said to a complete stranger is bad enough, but to your own sister? You have absolutly no idea the total devestation a person suffers at the loss of a child. Just because you know people who have lost them does not make you privy to what it feels like. And I hope to God you never do come to that full realization yourself.

Kim is not crazy, nor are her actions in grieving Elora psychotic. Keeping her daughters memory alive is the only thing she has left of her. Why you can't seem to understand that is beyond me. This wasn't some aquantience, this was your niece for crying out loud. That if nothing else should garner some sort of respect.

Your words and actions toward Kim are completely unacceptable. How dare you even think them let alone say them to her. The fact that she has three other surviving children does not, and never will ease the pain of the one she lost. Nor does that make Elora any less important to Kim, and to those who love her.

To say that you love her in the same breath as saying all the other horrid things you did, just in that one email alone makes me wonder if you are the one who is psychotic. Quite honestly it shows exactly how little you care for your sister and the loss she has suffered. All it does is prove exactly how heartless, self-serving and concieted you are.

At the very least you owe Kim an apology. Although I honestly hope she never accepts it.

Mother of the angel Brianna Christine

Chandra R. Today at 1:23pm
You are not my family nor did I post that to anyone but her. She is not healthy. She is living for a dead person. You cen't just keep feeding her addiction and I know that people do not become obcessed with the dead being a good healthy thing. I am not heartless, not cruel. she needs help. Medical attention. For all I know you are a freak. By keeping this going you are aiding her living for a dead person , not the ones who area still alive. Waiting for her to love them. They are not getting attention and love they deserve. She loves a child that has gone to heaven more than the ones who are alive. That is even more sad.

Me Today at 1:39pm
Wow, you really just don't get it do you. Granted you've never suffered the loss of a child and to that great extent you never will fully get what it's like.

I on the other hand have. I know exactly what Kim is going through, I've been through it myself having lost a daughter 16 years ago.

The loss of a child, or the grieving that goes with it is not an addiction, it's a process. There is no set length of time for that process, especially when that grief is over the loss of a child. And there is absoulty nothing unhealthy about it.

Kim is getting the help and support she needs both through her AGAPE group as well as her friends and family. I'm sorry that you don't have it in you to do your part in helping her. Because what you are doing to her is only hurting her further.

There is no need for anyone to wait for her to love them. She loves Christina, Charlie and Roman with all of her heart and soul. Loving and missing Elora does absolutly nothing to take that away.

What is sad is that you can't see that. What's even more sad is that you are doing everything within your power to further the hurt and suffering she feels.

No other e-mail have been sent from the sister to date. And the poster wanted to share that the responses she got from her real friends----those who were NOT related to her, were wonderful.

I know that people who witness us going through all of this don't really get what this is like. They read our blogs and maybe talk to us about it once in a while. To the outside person, it may seem that we are not moving on, or that we are clinging to the past if we continue to talk about what happened and what we have lost. It is these thoughts, like this fucking idiot sister, that had women swallowing their grief 50 years ago, insisting that they never speak about it, that caused a lot of fucking neuroses. Closet drinking, whoring around, whatever they could do to numb the pain. Talking about it until we are blue in the face is a lot easier, I think, than watching your love one self-destruct. No?

If I had a sister who told me this crap, I would sever that tie. I am grateful that only one person tried to play shrink with me never tried to again. That being said, I am quick to slay anyone who thinks that I am crazy, citing references and making sure that at least my fucking spelling is correct. Call me Type A, whatever.

Crazy and grieving are two entirely separate things, but because we as a society have been told that grieving should follow a certain protocol, when our grief falls outside the scope of comfort, it must mean that it is wrong, and that we are wrong.

We all adapt to carry this burden. No one has the right to tell us that how we carry it is wrong.

No one.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I know it's been forever since I have posted, and for the 5 people who read this, and have been checking in--sorry for the delay.

The funeral and trip down South to pay respects turned out as well as could be expected. I have a whole lot to write about the service and the flood of memories about Ronan's service that overcame me, but I have been busy as hell lately. My cousins who were around my age were nice and happy to see me (even though it had been 15+ years), and my aunts in general were too wrapped around in their own grief to start bickering crap with me. It broke my heart to see my grandfather stare at the body of his wife of 54 years during the rosary. But after the funeral he seemed at peace with it as he held and played with Radha's feet. Overall it was a pleasant trip and I am glad I went. It was nice that even the young cousins (who are mostly teenagers) knew who I was, and held my first grandchild ranking with some respect. In their hearts, we are family, irrespective of time and distance. That's all I ever wanted. And it was I who took up the rear in the line of family that followed my grandmother's casket to the hearse to be carried to the cemetery. It felt appropriate. And I was grateful to be a part of it.

After we got back from the funeral I dived head first in proposal hell and tried to prepare my team to deal with my absence as I was scheduled to go to DC and make a presentation this week.

It was hell preparing to leave Radha for the first time. And I know that I can share with you here that the thoughts that go through your head once you are a member of DBL are not rational and tend to be more in line of slightly morbid. Planes crashing, cars crashing, fate being cruel and awful, etc. etc. My heart was breaking because I didn't want to leave and I didn't want to place our family in fate's hands. Again. I know they make drugs for this, but listening to In Cold Blood on audio downloaded to my ipod seemed to take the edge off the plane rides.

It turned out fine. I was worried I was going to dry up (I am miraculously still breastfeeding), but lo and behold, pumping went beautifully---a 1000 times better when I was relaxed in a hotel room versus held up in my office under the crunch of deadlines and bullshit. The conference went well, but a quick scan of the audience revealed that my nemesis was in the audience. She sashayed up to me and shook my hand, I smiled a "DIE BITCH!!!" smile, which my boss's boss picked up on and smiled an amused smile, but alas, she was too wrapped up in her hairstyling products to notice. What I noticed was that there were A LOT OF promises of change---especially of how money is doled out, and her sugar daddy's power is supposed to be lessened, and a working group is supposed to take the helm and decide who is worthy of $$ and projects---based on merit, not bra size.

I don't know if it will come to fruition, but props to one of the Directors who gave a talk about our Division who made it a point to make me and my colleague stand up and announce that we were responsible for about 90% of the projects that he was discussing. I made it a point to be charming and lovable when meeting new people, and I took it as a great sign that the Director of my wing (who is a very high ranking Civilian) made it a point make my talk, because he was impressed with me when he met me three months ago.

Perhaps 97% is worth something in the long run. A girl can dream, no?

Hope you all are well!

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's time....

My Grandmother finally passed away today. Monday is the funeral.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You Have Mail

The alert reminded me for the 8th time that if I didn't archive my messages that they would send the e-mail Nazis after me to break my knees ala Nancy Kerrigan.

I spent some time yesterday moving messages from 2008 into the archive. All my e-mail started March 3, 2008---when I returned from my 'maternity' leave after Ronan died. 5 weeks later and I was back at my desk typing, typing, typing......numb. So very numb.

I read some of my e-mail from then. They are coherent and concise-- well thought out and professional. I remember typing back then while thinking WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING BACK AT WORK?!?!?! MY SON JUST DIED!!!!

There was a request from a Colonel that I had lunch with 3 weeks before Ronan died. She asked for my help and I answered her e-mail quickly and professionally. She sent back a thanks and a line:

"I was so sorry to hear about the baby, Reese"

I didn't tell her thank you. My fingers froze on the keys. My professionalism suffocated by the reality that I was typing so fast to forget.

Everything had dates and reminded me of that time between March and May---the time we were waiting for the test results (mailed out on my 33rd birthday), the appointment with the geneticist, the plans to meet up with old friends in Boston, the day I found out I was pregnant again, etc. etc.

I put those messages in an archived folder.

I pray I never have to open it again.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Relatively Speaking

I want to talk frankly about family.

To preface all of this, let me start by saying that my maternal grandmother is dying and will probably pass in the next few days. As I am getting this news, I am a little shocked that I don't have more feeling about it.

So, I have been delving into memory banks trying my hardest to try to come up with a memory, any memory at all that would be 'grandmotherly' in nature to associate with my grandmother.

And I got nothing.

My mother comes from a large family (12 children that lived, a couple of stillbirths also in there). So, my grandmother was always busy having kids/raising kids, so much so that my grandmother's youngest child is only 3.5 years older than me. She was not the affectionate grandmotherly type. Her feelings were always guarded. She didn't bake or hell, even cook all that much. She never sat down in any real attempt to get to know me. Once when I was in college, she called and asked if I could pick up her son at the airport (who, would be my uncle) but she made it sound like I was an acquaintance she was asking for a favor, not her granddaughter. To this day, it still blows my mind about how Peyton's Nana treats him and his brother and how my mother-in-law treats Radha. It is what you read about--that blind devotion. My paternal grandmother is a little more like that---but there is a language barrier that always seemed to get between us.

When I went to college, I attempted to bridge gaps with my maternal grandparents. I sent a few letters to let them know how I was doing. I invited them to my graduation, which they attended, said hello, and skipped out on all the festivities in lieu of a shopping trip in San Antonio. I continued my card/letter writing when we moved to Michigan. In 6 years of writing, my grandmother wrote one letter, a few lines, to tell me that her mother had died and she was devastated. She also said she wished me well and apologized for not writing more.

When Ronan died, there was nothing. Not from her or anyone on that side of the family---even from my aunt who lost 2 boys to Pompe disease, and knew personally the hell we were going through. It was like I had been written off already, the eldest grandchild. Gone.

I have been doing well not caring about it---until now that the very real reality of her dying and me having to make a decision about whether or not I will drive 5 hours to attend her funeral is upon us---Can I handle watching all my aunts and uncles and the grandchildren who were loved sob over a woman who I just remember as being so very cold?

On one hand, I keep saying that I am an adult. I should be respectful and give respect even though it was not given to me.

On the other hand, I am bitter, mad and wanting to throw a tantrum about the crapiness of it all. It really pisses me off that I have only one side of my family I can depend on. And not to be too stereotypical here, but I am a Mexican American. And Mexicans PRIDE themselves on family (LA FAMILIA!!!!!). How in the hell did it even get to this?

I can already tell you I am going. Whenever it is. Because it is the right thing to do.

But I gotta tell you, this grown up shit sucks.