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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Grieving one daughter, and helping another grieve

Even grief sometimes has a purpose.

Learned that today when a colleague at work told me that he and his wife had decided to have an abortion at 16 weeks, after finding out the daughter they were carrying had so many birth defects, that it was doubtful that the pregnancy would come to term, and if it did, the kid would probably be a vegetable.

Been there, done that. And I was, out of the folks in the room, able to share some of my experience with simon.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Home alone, so let's turn on Cold Case, then the Tudors

When Gary works late, J and I have a tendency to take over the TV before it can be flipped to HGTV or DIY.

Our faves are Cold Case and The Tudors, which sadly, we can't watch anymore because of paid tv, Showtime, I think, not being on our DirectTV list now. But they had a freebee over the weekend, so we quickly Tivo'd.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Yahoos in the Garden

Jennifer has promised to go to church with me, even tho she's considering becoming a Buddhist (that's for the next post) because of this following essay which the pastor is very interested in. Public speaking isn't my favorite pastime, even tho yes, I've attended Toastmasters.

So as a holiday/Easter gift to me, she's promised not only to come with me to church this week, yes with Adam in tow, as they've gotten back together, but next Sunday too. Nice gift.

Yahoos in the Garden of Gethsemane

This is often the week that we focus on the last days of Jesus, his last words, meal, his crucifixion and resurrection.
I’m not really interested in any of that. I want to focus on his friends, and how they reacted when they saw Jesus in the garden, in deep and terrible grief.

Often, the 4-5 disciples that camped out with Jesus that night are criticized for falling asleep while Jesus debated about whether to duck and run or stay the course- yet I think there are deeper lessons to be learned besides tut tutting about their behavior. This story can teach us important lessons about friendship through trials and crisis that often get overlooked.

The scene teaches us about how friends should and shouldn’t react when faced with a loved one going through pain. Extreme pain at that. I would like to point out that the group WAS in the garden and managed to stay awake, at least for the first part of the night. There is a great comfort of friends showing up, even tho you might not have all the answers, or the fixes for the situation. They could have chosen to go to Bethany, or find shelter somewhere in Jerusalem, but they chose to stick it out with Jesus, who in their eyes, was acting stranger more desperate by the minute.

So the first lesson: show up. Call, or heck, reach out through texting if you must. But do reach out when you find your friend or family going through a turmoil – be it death, a cancer diagnosis, job loss, a kid going out of control with drugs or behavior , mental illness (one of our own forms of leprosy in our society today) or another severe trial of the soul.

There was one scene in The Passion (although as a whole, I thought the movie was a mess) that especially struck home with me. Christ was begging in the Garden for his father to stop this journey now, to offer another way beside the trial, torture and cross. He was crying, pounding the ground, pulling his hair. His disciples were looking on. They were afraid, because they’d never seen Jesus this distressed and out of control. The group stayed their distance, rather than getting a nearer to this situation.

Another lesson that links into the first. Show up, and get close, even if it’s scary. And believe me, it will be scary to get near someone in great grief, with a problem that can’t necessarily be fixed. When I lost my youngest daughter, Sara, during a late term miscarriage at 6 ½ months, I went to the hospital to take her body out of me, when the surgery went awry and I almost died. There were many, many many friends who visited and sent flowers and magazines. So many showed up that I was stunned. I was also surprised at some close friends who never showed up, never called.

The same thing occurred with a friend who lost her child to meningitis a few years ago. The bacteria claimed her son within hours, and she was prostrate with grief that day, keening on the floor in a fetal position. Many came away from that experience understandable shaken, and feeling helpless. Some stayed away entirely.

My friend told me later that one of the more comforting things that she remembers from that day was friends who showed up, and got close, literally covering her body with theirs in a group hug on the floor, and let her cry, and cried with her.

A third point. Show up, get close, and this applies especially to men. Don’t try to fix things. Many times, there’s no fixing the situation. You need to experience the grief and witness to it, which will provide its own comfort. Now, that’s not to say don’t offer help - if real help is to be given - but realize, there’s nothing in many cases of deep grief that’s going to make the pain go away, at least initially. And please, please, please, aside from the urge to “fix” things, leave behind the platitudes that may make you feel better “It’s god’s will” “God has a plan” “It’s for the best.” Or in my case. “Oh, you’ll have other kids.”

Well, no I didn’t and I knew that then. And my relationship with God wasn’t great for about 5-6 years after Sara’s death. When I did pray, it usually ended with a “by the way, fuck you, God.” Anyone that pitched Bible verses at me were likely to be asked to leave or met with a tight-lipped stare. Most in deep grief, if they are people of faith know that yes, God probably does have a plan for their life. But that’s now what they need to hear then.

However, if you have gone through what your friend or family member has gone through, share your story, it will provide more comfort that you can imagine, even if it means opening an old wound, like I did with my friend when she lost her son. Share how you felt and still feel.

I commented to her in a letter that it was perfectly okay to be furious at God and tell him to go fuck himself for awhile. She told me later- brought her some much need laughter in those dark, dark days right after his death.

Finally, let’s look at the end of Jesus’ garden experience. He’s finally accepted he’s going to die, and it’s not going to be pretty, and there will be no supernatural cavalry sent his way. His friends have fallen asleep in a huddle. He can probably see the lights of the soldiers coming nearer.

An angel comes to help him. I read this again in Luke, I believe, to make sure I had this right. One angel. One angel only. I imagine that while the disciples were scared, wondering what was going on with Jesus in this side, the angels were looking down, a bit nervous themselves. Perhaps playing their own version of “no nose goes.”

Not to be crass, but we all know the rest, and it wraps up pretty quickly over the next 72 hours. Arrested, tried, whipped, convicted, crucified. And then of course, new life. For many of us, the events aren’t that tidy.

Years may go by before child turns their life around; a dead child is never coming back, and no meaning to the death is ever revealed, the cancer continues to grow, the divorce comes despite counseling, an alcoholic never quite gets to a 12-step program. Someone struggling with mental illness goes off his meds again.

Again, I say show up. Even when all the casseroles are gone, the cards are recycled and the flowers mulched. People have paid their respects, but have moved on, and wished you would too. Be that friend, who sticks with it and asks, really, through the days, and even the years “how are you?”

I can’t tell you the relief I felt when one day, my sister in law turned to me and said, “Can I talk about Sara. I grieve for her. And how are you??” This is not even a topic that my husband and I can discuss 9 years later, and it was a relief to know that someone remembered her.

Follow your gut. Listen to your intuition and the Holy Spirit. You might be that one brave angel, or yahoo, that sticks with it, shows up, and helps your friend wait through the darkness, until the dawn breaks.

And oh yeah, if you do show up, try to stay awake.

-Barbara Conner

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Perdiddle? Or Sex it?

Driving out of our neighborhood today, we passed car with a headlight out. I mumbled "perdiddle" which was a game I played as a kid. Whoever said it first, got to punch the passenger next to you (exp. the driver was exempt).

"What did you say," my daughter asked.

So I explained and she started to laugh. The game has changed in the last 40 years and is now called "sex it." When said car sans one headlight is seen, whoever in the car touches the roof and says "sex it." Last one to do so has to take off a piece of clothing.

"No mom, I haven't done this...and beside no one ends up taking off too much clothing," she quickly said.

"And you haven't done this?"

"No, just heard about it."


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Break ups and tears

Well, Jennifer and her amore broke up, which is too bad because I liked Adam, and I just met his parents and liked them as well.

I think what will make this particularly hard is that they were truly friends before they started going out. I just got a teary message from J. who is busy crying on a friend's shoulder at friend's home (even tho, this time, she was the one who called it splits) so I don't know the reason yet.

I wouldn't be surprised if this religion tug-of-war had something to do with it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mom, make the appointment now, or you'll forget

Jennifer called me up today about 10 am, so I answer the phone, thinking something is wrong, when no, in fact, she just wants to chat, and seen if I've made her hair appointment at the Auburn SuperMall HairMasters yet, with Jessica.

No in fact, I have not. It seems like fires needed to be put out at work the last few days the minute I walked in the door. She really doesn't care.

"Could you please do it Or you'll forget and we'll be having this conversation again tonight."

Fine, fine. Dialing now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The innocent 60s

Yes innocent.

Both Jennifer and I had that reaction as we watched "Ed Sullivan and the 60s" on PBS. Fortunately we Tivo'd it, so we could get around all the annoying fund-raising chatter (sorry KCTS), but it was interesting to see the parade of stars that went through the Ed Sullivan show: The Beatles, of course, Mick Jagger and the Stones, Jim Morrison, The Little Rascals, and The Mommas and the Papas. Even when all were trying to be bad ass, ....even Jim...they just seemed like innocents being bad ass.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Another hell portal visit in our future.

OK, officially annoyed here with the DOL.

We set the alarm for 7 am, drove around and practices the strange requirement of backing around a corner (has anyone done this in the last 20 years..or ever?) and the hand signals for right, left and speeding up (again, has anyone ever used this?)

But again, she didn't pass because the instructor had to tell her to stop on pulling out from a parallel parking slot. She did the parking perfectly, but the instructor thought she was getting too near the other car (close, but she didn't hit it) so she automatically failed her. OK, exactly what law did she break? And aside from startling the tester, what happened here?

So we're trying again in April, at other location and see if three is a charm this time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Catching History While You Can

Last night, Jennifer decided that she wanted to attend PLU's Holocaust Conference with me this am. And as my hubby and I mulled it over, it was with regret that we decided not this year.

She was sick for 3 days 2 weeks ago, and is still making up the homework and tests (for the first time, she had to explain why she had a C on her progress report). And her first period teacher has decided for some reason, she's not very fond of Jennifer, so if she missed work, she's very iffy about letting Jennifer make it up. And since this class is Chemistry II, not aerobic walking, I really hate for her to miss, or be late for the class.

However, next year, Jennifer's coming to this event. The first-person eyewitnesses to the Holocaust are going to be gone within a half a generation, and I think it's important for Jennifer to hear their stories. Just watching Schindler's List doesn't quite cut it (although she does like the movie).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

PDAs are okay by me

On her WASL - lite test, or whatever its called now, Jennifer was asked to argue pro or against banning PDA (public displays of affection) at school.

She argued against the ban, since she a. doesn't see the harm in it and b. sometimes, this is the only affection kids get.

Good girl. She'll make a good lawyer someday.

She still doesn't want Gary and I to show any PDAs tho. That ban she is for.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Scholarship chase

Why do I feel that I'm already behind in paying for my daughter's college education.

When she was born, 16 years ago, we did set up a bank acccount and started throwing $100 a month in a stock fund. And I'm now working at PLU, which means she'll get almost an 80 percent discount on tuition at this school and other affiliate colleges.

But after attending a 2-hour "How to get into college and find those scholarships" seminar at Auburn Senior High School last night, I already feel behind.

So, this weekend, we're checking out the websites, we're looking at a few books and the hunt begins. Oh, and that leadership conference we were considering -- nada. I was told it's just an expensive summer camp. Focus on community service (for which she needs wheels and those scholarships)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Yep, they're an item. Now he wants to go to church with her

And debate religion.

Jennifer announced to me this weekend, a fact I'd already surmised, yes, she and Adam are now an item.

Which I good. I like the guy. And he's a Christian and goes to church regularly. All good, except he wants to talk religion with my I'm-not-sure-what-I-want-to-be daughter and keeps asking her if she's accepted Jesus Christ into her life yet.

Poor boy, he doesn't realize he's just stepped in it.

Jennifer hasn't regularly attended church with me since...maybe she was nine?

Then it ratcheted down to once and awhile and then...well, on Mother's Day as her gift to me.

She asked me the other day if I'd mind if she became a practicing Hindu. Ah, well no, not really any complaints here. And then she let loose with the whole Adam conversation.

Adam goes to a pretty conservative church in Burien. Its red haired minister sports a helicopter. Ahem. And basically Adam believes that if you're not a church-going I have professed my faith Christian, you're going to hell. Which, of course, makes every hair raise along the back of my give-em-hell daughter.

"Listen, I advised, you go to his church, that should be an experience... and he goes to ours, OK, mine, (a gentle presby church), and then discuss it. Heck, I'll even drop you off at a breakfast spot where you can hash this out. Then drop it."

Both sides have agreed to do this. We'll see if this actually occurs and just how long this relationship lasts. Might have been better to remain friends. Then I think Adam would have been less inclined to convert her.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

From friend to something more

Dropped off Jennifer and Adam at the movies last night. And as I went to pick them up 3 hours later, I could have sworn they were holding hands, and not as friends.

But you'll be proud of me, I didn't grill her the minute he got out of the car. I'll let her tell me the relationship has changed, even tho all the body language sez so.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Back to work tomorrow

I don't know if it was the zombie movie, or the constant drone of toyota cars going out of control, but woke in a sweat this am from a really weird dream about a car going out of control, and of course, I was in it.

Later, as we both were getting ready for school, Jennifer opines about the fact she'll get to sleep in tomorrow.

"But I guess you won't, will you," she said, remembering I'll be working at PLU.

Yes, thanks for remembering.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back to the portal of hell

One look as she walked in the door at the Kent DOL and I knew the answer. She didn't pass. So we'll try again on the 20th.

But as to why she didn't pass, that still leaves me fuming. Apparently she didn't slow down to a complete stop in a right hand turn lane before turning right. It was a 1 mph turn, but still, it counted as "going through a red light," in his book -literally, that's what he wrote down. Yes, the light was red, but then dock her, don't simply fail her! Or if you must fail her, don't be rude about it,please.

That was the real burn for me. The tester was rude on the way back and shouted at her when she had trouble parking the car. So, if said grumpy guy walks out next Saturday, I'm asking for another instructor. If they won't accommodate me, we're going to another site.


So to cheer her up, we went shopping at Target, bought her fav. roast chicken dish and watched Zombieland. Nothing quite cheers the heart as a good zombie movie.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Working the automatic

Mom has graciously driven down her car so Jennifer can take the test tomorrow in an automatic. Actually, the kid's a better parallel parker than I am at this point. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Do you get credit for chutzpah ?

Here's crossing fingers, and toes that this is so.

Day after tomorrow, Jennifer is getting her hands on grandma's automatic, and taking it to the Kent DOL for her driving test. Hopefully it will be the first and last time we spend time at this glorious place.

And snow is in the forecast.

"I wonder if they'd just let her take a short test and give her her license if she showed up during a snowstorm?" my hubby wondered.

"And if she showed up in a stick to boot, maybe they'd just give her the license w/o the test," I added.

One can dream.

And no, she won't be taking her test in a Toyota, of any make.For that, the tester would probably flunk her for being stupid.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Snarky teen may end up on e-bay

J got out on the wrong side of the bed today, as was snarky almost from the moment she got dressed...all the way down the road.. and oh, the honors clean-up-the-park thing is at 10 am., not 11 am like she first told me and oh, I need gardening gloves, can we stop by Target?


Once we pull up at school, without the gloves, which we didn't have time to find in the messy garage, or at Target, she jumped out, left her purse and slammed the door, ignoring the question about whether she wanted the winter gloves, as it was supposed to snow today.

She didn't even turn around. So I just drove off and didn't insist. Again, thinking about E-Bay.

About 2 hours later, a call "Mom...I'm It's snowing out here."

"Well, darling, I'm at work. And leaving early as it is. What do you wish me to do?"

Make sure you get here on time? Fine. And I did.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Jennifer and I are already planning our Oscar night dinner tonight, and rooting for Up, even tho we think The Hurt Locker will probably win. Go Up!


My husband couldn't quite believe his eyes, or ears, as his producers discussed an upcoming story about a Bellevue business that will pick lice out of your child's hair, or your own, for you.

The three, with young children, and calling zip codes like Mercer Island or Bellevue home, were horrified that any parent would be so negligent to allow a louse into their child's hair. Well, we both laughed. They'll soon find out that lice, who have kicked around this world for 30 million years or more, actually prefer clean digs. We found that out the hard way when J went through not one, but several lice infestations she caught from a. daycare and b. when she tried on a hat at The Bon one day.

Our entire house smelled like tea tree oil for weeks, as we washed the bedding, wiped down the counters and sprayed the couches and cars. And each other. The little buggers hopped to our heads too.

So, we're going to wait. We know what's coming.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What's it going to take for you to stay in school?

That apparently was the talk J's Chemistry teacher was trying to have with her Thursday, her first day back after battling a 102 degree temp. and a sinus infection for four days.

Jennifer called me at 8:30 am that morn (I was going into work late)and I could tell she was crying.

"What's us," says I, wondering how thing could have gone so wrong in the first half-hour of the school day.

Apparently the Chemistry teacher, who has a rep for being a little PMSy, took Jennifer aside, asked her about the absences and all the times she'd been gone during the year.

"All the times?"

Opening up her class calendar page, she pointed out where Jennifer had been absent 36 days since September.

I personally was speechless, and I knew she hadn't been gone that long or that much. But then the truth came out. Each time she missed an entire day, that counts as 6 absences (one per class) and each time she was late to first period (yes, I know, some of that is my bad for letting us stop by Starbucks first) that too was counted as a full absence in her book.

"But you're getting an A in her class," I sputtered.

SHe told the same tale to her dad, who promptly (after I proofed it) shot of an e-mail to said teacher saying in essence - look, our daughter is a straight A student who happens to love science..what's up? Let's talk.

We got a short reply back saying that Jennifer didn't seem to want to do the catch up homework, which again seemed in error, as she brought it home last night.

To be continued....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Mom, are you coming home yet?

I set off to work today, after checking my daughter's temp. Still hot, but not roasting, so off to work I go, with strict instructions that she call me if she gets worse.

She didn't. And I know she was feeling better last night when she began texting way in her bedroom, and has now asked for her fav. Starbucks drink on the way home. She's still not going to school tomorrow if she still has a fever. But again, another sign she's getting better - she's bored and wants to go back to school.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Back to work, after playing concierge

Well, it's back to work tomorrow after two days of playing Dr. Mom, writer, editor, boss from afar and trying to mind the next door neighbor's dogs, who promised just maybe I'd get some of those hot red Canadian Olympic mittens for watching their house.

They are back now, and asleep, so we'll see about the mittens.

Jennifer's temperature is down, but she's still staying home from school

I however, am leaving her well-stocked with drugs and Sunny D. and heading in tomorrow.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Not meningitis

The doc. at St Joe's in Tacoma almost scoffed when I asked him directly if Jennifer might have meningitis, bacteria (not good) or viral (better).

No, I think she has a sinus infection, says he. And the nurse was sympathetic, but gave me a look that seemed to ask why I felt the need to drag my daughter out of bed when she should be at home. Ok, fine, neurotic mom.

But when she went to bed with a screaming headache last night, and woke up with said headache and a high temp (even without drugs it was 101.7 at the doc's office), oh, and a sore neck, that was a default position.

So called work, rescheduled all appointments to tomorrow.

Wait on the phone to get an appointment for about 15 minutes. Make the mistake of hanging up, so I'm on the phone for another 10.

From noon on waited in docs office, with daughter sleeping in my lap (I know she was feeling bad when she didn't fiddle with the radio channel on the way down to Tacoma) and spent another 20 minutes waiting for drugs.

Stop by her fav. coffee store.

She starts fiddling with the radio. I know she's feeling a little better now.