Monday, February 28, 2011

A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss

In other news, I continue to be a medical marvel.  I'm waiting to give birth at this very moment.  Give birth to a kidney stone, apparently.  I also have a kidney infection.  Want to know the best part?  I have no clue why this happened.

Is there a family history of kidney stones?  NO.

Do I drink anything other than water, besides the occasional glass of wine?  NO.

Do I eat rhubarb, sweet potato, beets, spinach, swiss chard, wheat germ, soybean crackers, okra, black tea, or beets?  NO.

Do I eat peanuts or chocolate?  Sometimes, but not regularly!

Do I eat grits, grapes, raspberries, fruitcakes, strawberries, marmalade, or liver?  NO.

Do I drink or eat a lot of dairy?  NO.

Do I drink any beverages that are dark?  NO.

Do I eat a lot of meat?  NO.

I continue to amaze myself with the stunts my body will now pull since I am apparently in the geriatric category.  You know, my life was just FINE and DANDY until I turned 30, and then my body went to total crap! 

Thanks to this latest development, I was "fortunate" enough to be one of the first patients to use the internal ultrasound in the doctor's new office unit.  Which means they were unaware that the GIANT framed picture they had placed across from the table just happened to reflect what was...happening...on the table.  The only thing more gross than the internal ultrasound is watching yourself experiencing the internal ultrasound.  I have been told they have corrected this situation since my visit.  (I also have a very, very, very crass nickname for the internal ultrasound, but a good Christian girl shouldn't say such things!)

So, I feel like an expectant mother, pacing the floor, going for walks, and trying to get through the discomfort.  Thankfully I have Devil Dog to pull me along on walks.  I'm sure the faster I walk, the sooner the thing will come on out.  I thought earlier that I was in transition because I had a great deal of pain and nausea.  I wanted to shout "CROWNING!" but no one was here, so no one would get the joke.  Besides, it turned out to be just a false alarm.  The Braxton-Hicks of the kidney world.

If you'll excuse me, I have to go drink my 45,000th glass of water for the day.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Single Woman Saturday

Sitting alone on a Saturday night, wishing you had a date?  Follow this handy tip for making yourself more appealing to the opposite sex!

Rebel Friday Fail

I carpool with a friend of mine.  She's very funny, and you just never know what to expect when you ride with her.  A cup full of tiny shovels from Orange Leaf?  Got it!  A restroom stop at a fireworks warehouse?  Done it!  Listened to a lot of Glee songs?  Yep.

She is a lot of fun, and since we have to leave at the butt-crack of dawn for our long commute, it makes those early mornings a lot more bearable.

This past week, we had to stay at school late for a night event.  After we left, I suggested that we could go to work later in the morning so we could sleep in a little bit late.  If we made it to work on time, and liked it, we could do this weekly and call it "Rebel Friday."  I even declared that I was not going to wear an official school shirt (as is a requirement on Fridays in my school).

I didn't think it through, though.  You see, I'm not a rebel.  Not by a long shot.  I am neurotic.  If I'm on time to an event, I feel like I am late.  I have to be early to things.  So, by getting to work at the exact time I am supposed to be there, I feel like a failure.

We left, marveling at how weird it was to leave when it was light outside, and how there was quite a bit more traffic than normal.  We were perky and well rested.

Thirty minutes later, I was feeling very anxious.  I kept watching the clock.  I kept accelerating more and more.  Finally, I admitted to my friend that I was feeling stressed about leaving so late.  She admitted that she was feeling the same way, and couldn't stop watching the clock.

85 MPH later, I was praying that I wouldn't get caught by a cop.  We made it to work in excellent time, and all was well.  But the fun was sucked right out of "Rebel Friday."  This is why I never did any majorly rebellious behaviors as a teen - I just couldn't do it!  I couldn't handle it!

I'm going to rename it "Fuddy Duddy Friday."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Private Eyes...They're Watching You!

Here is some background music for you to listen to as you read this blog entry:

There are a few things they neglect to tell you when you go to college to be a teacher:

1.  You will never urinate on a normal schedule again.  You'll be expected to hold it allllll daayyyy longggg.  Then, when you are not at work and dreaming of wearing a diaper, your bladder will continually scream at you "You can go to the bathroom!  Go!  Go!  Every 15 minutes!  Go!"

2.  You'll have to stand outdoors, dressed professionally.  Nothing puts a damper on a cute, expensive, professional outfit than standing on a boiling hot playground with sweat rolling down your back.  Also, if you're half albino like me and have to wear a hat every day, it really messes up your hair.

3.  You will never have privacy again.  Seriously.

When I was a kid, I had a teacher that I absolutely adored.  I will call her Super Teacher.  The idea that she was a real person was mind boggling.  Then, she got pregnant!  Then, she invited me to her church to watch her baby get dedicated.  I was on Cloud 9 with joy!  THEN, we started going to her church so I got to see Super Teacher all the time.  The best part was that I even got to go to her house and hold her baby.

I'm sure we all can recall moments where teachers did nice things for us, or we realized that they didn't live in the classroom.  Just a smile at the top of your paper, or a star, meant sheer bliss!

I became a teacher and was determined to make connections with my students just like Super Teacher did.  Naively, I gave my students my home address and phone number.  The address thing was good - who doesn't love to get mail?  The phone number?  BAD IDEA.  Kids would call me non-stop.  Little Davy must have called me 4,000 times.  He wanted to just hang out with me on the phone.

Later, I got Caller ID and stopped giving out my phone number.  This didn't stop parents from calling me, even when I was unlisted.  Parents will call you at home at night.  You'd think it would be for something important.  But most of the calls I got at home would be things like "Sadie lost a form that you sent her, can she have another one?"  And if you don't answer, they call over...and over...and over.

So, I stopped answering if they were parents or students.  Email came along and really revolutionized things.  People called less and emailed more.  This was a good solution for me.

But then, there's the whole privacy thing outside of phone lines.  What about the time that I had three students literally run after the car when I got in a car to go on a date, yelling "Ms. Non-Mommy, is that your boyfriend?"  Or the time on a date with another man when we entered a movie theater full of children I knew.  They all yelled hello at me, and kept turning around to look at us.

At church, parents come to talk to you about their child's grade card.  Or they'll want to pump you for information about another student's parents' divorce.

I used to have a child that would comment about my home constantly.  He'd say things like "I noticed that your TV was on late last night, what were you watching?"  "There was a red truck at your house, who was there?"  "Ms. Non-Mommy, did you know that your garage was open late last night?"

I've perfected the art of sneakily entering the wine section at the local grocery store, peeking around the corner to see if any kids were nearby, and then running to save my life.  I'm sure the security team at the store laughs at me every time.

The best part is when your students live near you.  They ring the doorbell constantly.  They play in your yard.  They look in the window.  They wave at you as you walk by your living room window.  They watch you mow the lawn and yell at you over the sound of the mower, even though you are clearly wearing an iPod.

But hey, at least if I were to ever go missing, I'd have tons of eyes watching my every move.  They'll tell the police where to find me!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Technology is awesome

Right now, one of my closest friends is in labor.  She's texting me a whole lot, which means that things aren't really rolling too much.  I wanted to take a nap, but I'm too excited!

You know, as the only single woman on the planet, with eggs that are rapidly approaching geriatric status, you'd think I'd be used to this.  All of my friends have babies.  All of them.  And yet, each time they go into labor I'm ridiculously excited and a nervous wreck.  I want to be there!  I worry about if they are in pain or not.  And yes, part of me just wants to get my hands on that kid.

As an aside, I'd just like to say that I want to see someone give birth.  I know it's gross, but I don't care.  I just want to see a live birth!  No one ever takes me up on it, not even my sister.  My cousin would probably let me, but she lives a million miles away and has no plans for a Non-Mommy, Jr. either.  I am screwed.

Anyway, soon I will get to snuggle with a new baby.  They don't do much, but there isn't much better than holding a warm bundle of new goodness.

(Please note the restraint I have shown in not complaining about it never being my turn!  Also, if you know any single men, please leave me their pertinent contact information.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Per Aspera Ad Astra

The late evening stars in the sun rimmed sky beckon us outdoors. With a mischievous point in her ears and a whimsical wag to her tail, we obey their command, my canine friend and I.

One week ago, it was -10 degrees.  Today, the mercury rises to 72.  The change creates strong winds.  We walk down a familiar path, struggling to walk against the fierce current.

The winds blow over us.  My skin sings at its first contact to open air in months.  No layers, no coat, just simple, calming wind.

A rabbit ventures out, wanting to see if the snow is truly gone.  I find myself on an unexpected chase, pulled along against my will.  My dog wants to greet an old friend, but the rabbit is not convinced it is ready to meet her just yet.

The wind continues to blow over us, bringing new smells and feelings to us both on this familiar, worn path.  Hinting at the change to come, the wind invigorates us.

As we go along, it is obvious that we are not the only ones that the stars beckoned to.  Somewhere, a child is attempting to play the trumpet for possibly the first time.  Teenagers sit outside, listening to music, laughing, their friendship a warm comforter against the slight chill in the wind.

We continue on the familiar path, the wind stirring up feelings and emotions.  Reminding us that things change for the good and the bad.  Filling my lungs, I fight against melancholy, attempting to put spring into every cell in my body.

Homes we pass give us glimpses of the small worlds of others.  Some closed, cold, vacant.  Others so warm and inviting you want to curl up in their home and soak up the joy.

Soon, all that I can hear is the wind in my ears, my own steady breath, and the excited pants of an old four legged friend.

The winds of change.  We are powerless to stop them.  Soon I find that I'm back home, back at the place where it all started.

Cold days may still be ahead, but spring is coming.  I drink it in through my pores.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You Don't See That Every Day!

Imagine our shock when my carpooling friend and I drove up next to this today (click on image to see it larger):
Once we got over the initial shock of seeing that in the car, we then stalked the poor driver until I could get a good shot.

No pun intended!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Things We Do for our Students!

Last week, on a day that I didn't have to get up as early in the morning, I curled my hair using a flat iron.  I had been practicing it for some time, but had yet to debut it at school.  It takes me some time, and since I already have to be up by 5 a.m. if I am going to have time to eat breakfast, look pretty, and still get to work on time, curling my hair isn't really an option on a regular basis.

When I came to school, everyone wouldn't stop talking about my hair.  Granted, I did just think the other day (while renewing my passport) "I've had the same basic hair cut for 10 years!" but all the adults and kids in the building were making comments.  With the exception of one boy who said "WHAT did you do to your HAIR?" everyone else was very enthusiastic.  I like to get attention, but not attention for the way I look, so it was bordering on annoying that there were comments everywhere I went.  One little girl was particularly enthusiastic and must have told me 1,000 times that she couldn't stop staring at my hair because it was so pretty.

When I showed up the next day, with straight hair, she looked at me, her face fell, she sighed deeply and said "Oh.  Well, maybe on Monday for our Valentine's Day party you'll wear your hair curly."

So tonight I scramble around, planning to get up EXTRA EARLY just for Marley.  She had better appreciate it!

Do I win the teacher of the year award for doing my hair the way the kids want?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Single Woman Saturday

Single?  Saturday night?  Try this helpful tip to catch yourself a date for the next weekend:

With this sexy "walking pivot" you won't be single for long!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Signs it is time to go back to work.

I've been off of work a whole, whole lot lately due to winter weather.  This means that I am a) watching TV a whole lot, especially Bravo and b) reading the internet.  A lot.  So it should come as no surprise that I dreamed the following last night:

First, I was at Lisa Vanderpump's house, and you could see The Pioneer Woman's ranch across the way.  A tornado came, but Kyle Richards refused to bring in her baby from the storm.

Then, I dreamed that I was bounty hunting with Dog and Beth Chapman, and we were in Alaska.  While there, we found the church that Finnskimo attends and found all kinds of costumes she had made for a kid's play.

Finally, I dreamed that I was eating gourmet food at a ball field.  I dreamed that because last night I watched "Top Chef" and it was food for Jimmy Fallon, and he loves baseball and it reminded me of that movie that he was in with Drew Barrymore.

This is all true.  Not made up for entertainment's sake.

Time for Non-Mommy to go back to work.  Or give up TV for Lent.  Or stop taking melatonin to sleep at night.  Or all three.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Wrong Kind of Education

Once upon a time, an enthusiastic blonde teacher from the midwest was dressed for book character day.  She was dressed up as "Marly" from the very sweet book Miracles on Maple Hill.  It was one of her favorite books growing up!  She wore ski pants and a dumb hat with the ear flaps.  The enthusiastic teacher ended up looking more like a character from "Grumpy Old Men" instead of cute little Marly.

After recess ended, the teacher had her jacket on and was walking down the hallway.  As she walked down the hallway, she unzipped her jacket.  The problem is, the teacher did this subconsciously.  She entered the classroom and began talking to the children about the plans for an upcoming classroom party.  While addressing the classroom full of children, the teacher reached for the zipper on her jacket (remember, she had already unzipped it unconsciously).  She felt a zipper tag, and pulled.

The teacher thought "Gee, this is taking me a long time to unzip this jacket.  Does the zipper always go down so far?"

She suddenly realized that she had unzipped the SKI PANTS all the way down to the crotch.  With a classroom full of children looking at her.

She quickly and deliberately zipped the pants back up.

Was she wearing pants underneath?  No way, Jose!  It was hot in those ski pants!

Did I mention that all the children were looking at her?

The teacher died of humiliation.  

The end.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sappy McSapperson

When you come back to school after an extended period of time, whether planned or unplanned, you get two kinds of reactions.

Reaction number one is kind of like "HEY!  How ya doing, Ms. Non-Mommy?  High five!"

Reaction number two isn't just spoken.  In fact, many times there are no words.  You see it all in their faces.  They look at you with this hungry, sad look that if it could speak would say "Oh thank God, I'm so happy to see you."  They wrap themselves around your waist, or shoulders when they are huge, and hang on for dear life.  I know that many schools have a no hug/no touch policy, but screw them.  These kids received no affection, no affirmation, nothing positive while they were gone from school.  As I hold onto them, I can smell cigarettes, dirty hair, and fried food.  While they still hold on, I ask them about their break.  I listen to their silly stories.  I give them an extra squeeze and tell them that I missed them and was thinking about them.  They've just been given their first hug of the day, some of them the first hug in several days.

What they don't tell you now, they will tell you later.  Or you'll piece it together.  The power was shut off at their house, so they were cold.  Someone in their family was arrested.  A sibling tried to kill themselves.  The one car the family has broke down and no one was able to leave the house for days.

All the while, through these sad stories, I have to act normal, when really I just want to scoop them up and take them home.

In these moments, I alternate between feeling uplifted that they know I care and heart broken that there are such sad, lonely kids out there.

I have 30 and 31 children in each of my classes.  I hardly get to see them at all, when you really break down the day.  In that one moment, can I convey "I love you.  You are not forgotten.  I care about you" adequately enough?  Is it enough for them?

I can sense it all in their facial expressions, embraces, and stories.  Sometimes it is more than I can carry.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Things I'd Rather Do

I don't get it.  Really.  When I watch football, I am not paying attention in the least.  I like parties as long as there are other people for me to talk to.  Pro games are kind of fun, only because there are more interesting things to watch.  I hate going to high school football games.  You are either frying like an egg on a hot metal bleacher, or you are frozen to the metal bleacher, hoping that hot chocolate will thaw you out enough to get you to the car.  The only good thing about football is visiting with people.  That's it.  So, I present to you:

Things I Would Rather Do Than Watch Football

Shave my legs

Get my teeth cleaned (maybe even a filling, that's how much I don't like it!)

Do my taxes

Put away clean laundry (does anyone else not like doing this?)

Listen to my crazy grandfather rant about how most people in this world are going to hell

Break down all the boxes I need to take to the recycling center

Cross stitch

The infamous "Well-Woman Exam"  (hey, I'd rather just get it over with, unlike a football game which can go on forever and forever and forever)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why I Quit Preschool

I used to teach preschool at my church.  I took care of 35 three, four and five year olds. THIRTY FIVE. No one would help with them at my church, so I agreed to.  Keep in mind, the children's names are not simple things like "Bob" or "Dylan" (Hey! I didn't mean to do Bob Dylan. Funny!)  Oh no. These kids have names like Missouaiwani or Fredizingibolb. Or the 13 variations of the name Kali/Cali/Kaylee/Kayley/Kaleigh.  And of course, their names can only be located on the name tags on their back, because I can't remember 35 kids names. Once upon a time there was one other woman in there with me, and she had her own kid. I hated that! They should make rules against that! She fussed over her little darling the whole time, leaving me drowning in a sea of children. She told me that she was taking her kid to use the bathroom, and was gone for half an hour. The service is 1 hour and 15 minutes. Geez.  Not a shocker that she quit shortly after.

And of course, there is also a HUGE difference between a three year old, and a five year old. They wanted us to sit down and play with water pitchers and talk about Jesus being kind to the Samaritan woman at the well.  Being the good Christian that I am, I took one look at the pitchers, one look at those 35 kids stomping the heck out of one another, and promptly said "Oh HELL no!"  Don't even get me started on the activity where they had paint cups for each child, a straw, and I was supposed to monitor 35 children as they blew paint out of the straw onto a large sheet of paper.

There must be a special place in Heaven for those who teach preschool. Because I'll sure never know.  After two years of blood, sweat and tears, I quit!

So next Sunday, think of the poor preschool teachers. They could be stuck in a crazy room with 35 kids , saying things like "No no, Ellebellamorganfreeman, we don't pee pee on other people. No, Zoinka, don't throw the dinosaur at her. HEY! We keep pee pee in the TOILET."

I'm tired just thinking about it. 

Things That Helped

In the past year, a lot has happened to me.  All the small things seem insignificant compared to the loss of my beloved father.  As the year mark of his passing approaches, I wanted to document a few of my thoughts and feelings.  Going through the grief process is incredibly wild - exhausting, frustrating, uplifting, and blessed all rolled into one.  While my intention for this blog is to remain generally lighthearted, I think it is important to not only document these life changes, but also to help others going through the same thing.  No one grieves in the same way, but maybe something I've experienced can help you.

If you're wanting something less serious, skip this post.  As I write more entries about grief, you will be able to locate them at the top under "Non-Mommy Gets Serious."

The unexpected death of my father was really a culminating activity of my very own "annus horribilius."  If I told you everything that happened, you'd think I was lying.  So not only was I reeling from the death of my father, with whom I was very close, but I was also challenged both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Nothing can make grief, or life suckiness, go completely away.  However, a few things really helped me keep going, or lifted my spirits.  Here are some of my "must haves" for going through a rough time.

1.  Ann Taylor Loft

I don't know what came over me.  Truly.  One minute, I was a hesitant, cheap shopper.  The next moment I'm burying my dad and burning through my future children's inheritance one sparkly shirt at a time.  Truly.  OK, I didn't turn into a total spend-a-holic, but man oh man, did I ever replace like my entire wardrobe with clothing that really pushes my public educator budget.  But you know what?  It made me feel good, and gave me a little extra confidence.  I never spent more than I had, and dang, I looked good, too!

2.  Phil Wickham

I had never even heard of Phil Wickham before my dad died.  I was sitting in church and this most incredible song was performed.  My mother and I were together, and we both cried.  I immediately went and looked up this album and was it ever worth the money.  Seriously.  This is a Christian artist who has an entire album devoted to Heaven.  It is completely inspiring, gorgeous, and therapeutic.  This would be a great gift for someone that is grieving.

3.  Steven Curtis Chapman

While I'd never been a huge fan of his music, I was aware of Steven Curtis Chapman.  More specifically, I was very aware of his work assisting families in adoption.  I was also aware that a few years ago his daughter Maria was killed in a tragic accident in their driveway.  When an opportunity arose to see Steven Curtis Chapman in person, I went because I'm a celeb-a-holic.  I was completely amazed at the ministry that he and his wife have created to help people deal with grief.  It was awesome.  I also purchased his album.  While I'm not crazy about all of the songs, I have listened to "Spring is Coming" about a bajillion times, as well as "Beauty Will Rise" and "Yours."  Very helpful.

4.  Boxes of Trader Joe's goodies.

I'm a huge fan of Trader Joe's, but there is not one close to my house (HINT HINT, TRADER JOE'S!).  A very dear friend has taken some time to randomly mail me boxes of Trader Joe's goodness.  Somehow, these packages always come just when I am needing a lift, and the fun of pulling out boxes of weird (yet wonderful!) items that I can't get is more fun than Christmas.

5.  Lots of time in the sun and swimming.

As a former Albino (just kidding), I avoid the sun as much as possible.  I want to love the sun, but the sun won't love me back.  This means that I typically am extremely well covered when outdoors.  This summer, however, I spent a lot of time outside in the pool.  I'm very self-conscious, and don't want to blind anyone with my pasty whiteness, but I truly believe that being in the sun was VERY good for me.  Being in the pool and getting regular sunshine "healed" me faster than anything else could.  I truly believe that.  This summer, I plan to take out stock in the sunscreen industry.  Who knows, I could become a billionaire!

6.  Lots of time with a two year old

I am so fortunate that my job gives me summer breaks.  This summer, I was fortunate enough to spend a tremendous amount of time with my two year old nephew, Former Baby.  Being with a child is beyond therapeutic.  When I needed a hug or a cuddle, there was a little blonde guy to do it.  When I needed to laugh, the little blonde guy was there to crack me up.  His presence allowed me to slow down and just be.

8.  Just saying "NO!"

I am an extreme people pleaser.  I will typically do whatever anyone wants, so long as they are happy.  This isn't very healthy for me, but it's something I struggle with.  After my dad died, I felt much better about saying no to things.  It's good for others to step up to the plate at work, and it's good for my own personal needs as well.  Saying no helped me realize that not everything will crash down if I don't do it myself.

9.  Making a book on Blurb.

I knew that I wanted to make something special in honor of my father, so I decided to make a book about his life.  This began a very lengthy project involving scanning about a billion pictures and creating a book that took on a life of its own.  I knew that I wanted to make one for my mother and sister, and I wanted to do it well.  In the end, the book became quite large and costly, but it was worth every single penny.  Making that book, putting down family memories on paper, and celebrating the life of my wonderful father was awesome.  I can't put into words how much fun I had with this.  I was sad when it was done (and sad I'd made it so big that I couldn't afford to send copies to everyone he knew!).  

10.  Spending lots of time with family.

After my father's passing, all I wanted to do was be with my mother and sister.  In fact, I went back to my parents' house every weekend after he died for four months.  It was just a safe and comfortable place to be.  It was really hard to explain to people that I felt like I needed to "withdraw" in a sense and just be with my family, but it was (and still is, to some extent) what I needed to do.  It may not make sense, but that's what needed to happen.  The cool thing about being together is that we all fall apart at different times, and are there to clean up after one another.  His death has brought us all closer, and I know he'd be pleased.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Victim of a Terrible Crime

Before the blizzard snowed us in, I took my nephew (Former Baby) to our favorite place, the indoor pool.  We had a great time and I had to drag him out of the water when he began to turn an attractive shade of blue.  We walked into the family changing room, and I immediately noticed an open locker.  Strewn about were Adidas pants, a t-shirt from my school, and clothing that looked identical to what my nephew was wearing when we came to the pool.

Our things were everywhere!

My heart immediately stopped.  I didn't have anything valuable in the locker, but I still felt violated.  I also was worried about my car keys.  It was a cold, snowy day and there were very few cars in the parking lot.  It wouldn't take long to match the keys with the car, and then get my purse which was locked in the trunk, and then my WHOLE LIFE WOULD BE OVER!

I gathered up our things, and went to the locker.  My things were all there.  What had happened?  And then, I noticed.

The towels were soaking wet and balled up in the locker.  Someone had pulled all of our things out, used our towels, and then shoved them back in the locker.  They left my clothing all over the changing room, and left me with two wet towels and a Human Popsicle in need of a good dry-off and clothing.

Angrily, I used the wet towels to dry off the Former Baby and I, got dressed, and went home to immediately shower off someone else's skank.

Grr.  I bet it was James Brolin or Matthew Fox.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Things You Won't Know Until You're There

In the past year, a lot has happened to me.  All the small things seem insignificant compared to the loss of my beloved father.  As the year mark of his passing approaches, I wanted to document a few of my thoughts and feelings.  Going through the grief process is incredibly wild - exhausting, frustrating, uplifting, and blessed all rolled into one.  While my intention for this blog is to remain generally lighthearted, I think it is important to not only document these life changes, but also to help others going through the same thing.  No one grieves in the same way, but maybe something I've experienced can help you.

If you're wanting something less serious, skip this post.  As I write more entries about grief, you will be able to locate them at the top under "Non-Mommy Gets Serious."

Losing my dad was hard.  Really, really hard.  His unexpected death was the closest death of a loved one that I have experienced.  Everyone grieves in different ways, but looking back, these are some of the things that I never knew about grief, and now wish I had always known to support others during a time of loss.

When you watch someone die, it can be very difficult to replace the images of their dead body with healthy memories.  Watching my father pass away was an experience I would never miss, but I'll be honest.  It's taken months and months for me to not think of his body as a yellow shell.  I also replay his death in my mind over and over.  Watching him struggle to breathe was hard.  I remember it less now, but it's there still.

Watching death is not scary.  It isn't pleasant, it's not pretty, but when you love someone, you simply want them to be comfortable.  It's sad.  It's a...very unique experience.  And, was I ever bummed that after I watched him pass away, I couldn't see thestrals (Harry Potter geek alert!).

Wow, do you ever get hugged a lot.  This is a tough situation.  When you see someone suffering, you want to give them a hug.  And I so appreciated the hugs and comfort.  But it can be wearing as well.  During my father's visitation, I was hugged approximately 500 times (literally).  Then the funeral.  Then the return to work.  It got to the point that if one more person wanted to hug me, or turn their head to the side and look at me with pity, I thought I was going to scream.  It's a fine line.

Food, food, food.  After my father passed away, we had truckloads and truckloads of food delivered to our home.  It was amazing.  There was so much that we never could have eaten it all.  And since his death was near Easter, we received at least one ham meal a day for seven days.  It is so touching that people want to provide for you during your time of loss, but think about other things besides food.  Great items to donate could be a roll of stamps for thank you cards, paper items such as toilet paper, paper plates, and napkins, or other things to help the person deal with the constant stream of visitors and family.

People want to help you.  Every single person that gave me a hug, or talked to me after his death, asked me "Is there anything I can do to help you?" or "Call me if you need anything." What a kind thing!  I will say, though, that asking at such an emotional time for you to tell them if you need anything can really put people on the spot.  It's fine to offer to help, but try to think about them a few weeks later, when things have settled down and the grieving person knows more about what they need help with.  During this time, I literally heard God say to me "Let people help you.  They want to do something, and you need help."  That was not an easy thing for me to do.  However, I see that this was actually a healthy decision for me to make, and that I should let people help more often, no matter the circumstance.  The truth is that everyone can help you in such different ways.  Maybe you have a friend who will listen to you cry.  Another friend will help you sort through the person's things.  Another friend will send you random gifts, even up to a year after, that just brighten your spirit.  Let them help you.

Physical reactions happen.  When I first arrived at the hospital to find my dad on life support, I was very sick to my stomach.  I sat there, thinking "This isn't happening" and willing myself not to vomit.  After he passed, the next few days (and maybe even weeks) were literally a blur.  I truthfully was so fuzzy in the head.  I couldn't remember anything.  I wasn't crying all the time, but I'll be darned if I could even remember all of my students' names.  Give people a wide berth and some understanding at this time.  They may not be fuzzy headed.  They may be crying all the time.  Angry.  Cutting others off.  Give them time.

Don't ask if they were close.  I got so, so sick of this.  Everyone would ask "Were you close to your dad?"  As if death is less painful if you weren't close.  Just assume, regardless of the situation, that the loss of an important person is painful, no matter what.  Also, try to be cognizant of saying things like "I'm not close to my dad, but I can't IMAGINE losing my mother!"  It makes the person feel like their loss is less important, or like you really don't know pain until you lose your mother.  Just think before you speak.

Heaven talk.  About a billion people must have told me things like "Your dad is up in Heaven, right now, riding a motorcycle and telling jokes."  Again, they mean so well.  I do appreciate it.  But it doesn't really help you feel any better.  I know without a doubt in my mind where my father is, that he is in a much better place and happier than I can understand, and I don't wish him back.  But for me, I'd rather people just be honest and be like "Dude, this completely sucks.  Even when you know that he's in a better place, it doesn't change the fact that death is painful and changes everything."  Or cry with them.  Don't try to sugar coat it.

Grief is very, very weird.  One minute you'll be going along totally fine, not thinking about it at all, and the next minute you're a total wreck because of something silly like needing your tires rotated.  It's up and down, constantly.  Also, it makes people feel uncomfortable, so they won't talk to you about the death, but truthfully?  My sister and I both noted that we wanted to talk about it.  We wanted to tell the story.  We wanted to talk about him, and his last moments.  It's hard to not talk about something that is so life changing.  But I get that people don't want to upset you, or don't feel like they know what to say.

Finally, death is a blessing.  It truly is.  It completely hurts, it messes you up, but there are so many positives along with the negatives.  I can look back and see very clearly that God was preparing us for this loss.  I can see some truly beautiful things that have happened as a result of my dad's death.  I have a greater sense of what God is doing in my life, and that small things are trivial.  It isn't something that I want to go through again, but the reality is that I will.  The other reality is that you have to choose to see the beautiful things, and move forward.

We were built to carry on, and we do.


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