The End is Approaching

Yes, my blissful maternity leave is almost over.  In a little less than a month, I will be back to work full time with both boys spending a full day in day care.  However, the director at the daycare said a week or so ago that Jack was demonstrating readiness to move to the Preschool program from the older toddler room this fall.  She said he has hit the milestones and would be great to move up with the other children!  We are so proud of him!

So much has changed since Jack was an infant and started in daycare.  No more glass bottles (we use Coddlelife glass bottles as we feel they are safest for our children), only sleep sacks, no blankets and the list goes on and on.  Jack never used a sleep sack, so we just bought one from Baby Gap that was on sale with an extra 40% off!  Go me!  And yes, I bought the 6-12 month one to get the most use out of it.

I have so enjoyed my maternity leave with my little ones.  We were really able to spend the time together that was desperately needed.  Jack has been able to spend more one on one time with me and Max has gotten to know his Mommy and his brother, as well as his Daddy.

Some of my projects that I have been working on have been completed or almost completed while I have been home.  The cleanout?  Well, that is an animal all in itself, but it is getting done.  The dumpster will arrive Labor day weekend and many of the weekends in September will be spent cleaning everything out of the garage, attic and basement, as well as other areas.

One project for me that was very important was to create a photo book of all of the pictures with my Mom and Jack so that Jack can have that and look at it to remember her.  That should be completed and ordered sometime this week from Shutterfly, and I just got a free photo book code, so it is a win-win!

Many of my days these past few weeks have been spent choosing things for our new house; tile, plumbing fixtures, granite, cabinets, siding, shingles, stone for the front, shutters, and the list goes on.  Trying to get as much done as possible before I go back to work full time as I know that we will only have the weekends to get any major planning done as I will not have any vacation time left for the remainder of 2012.

The house is coming together and we should be going to settlement next week!  We can’t wait!

Although I am going to miss all of this extra time with the boys, I know that working will allow me to be able to provide for them and also allow us to build and live in this beautiful house.

So, for now, I am cuddling with my little Max and enjoying some extra time with Jack while playing with cars and trucks.  These are the moments that are most important for me.

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Sorting Through 30 Years

I started slowly cleaning out my mother’s house about 2 months ago.  A closet here, a cabinet there and now I am at a point where I really need to hunker down and focus on the basement, garage and attic, which is where the majority of items are kept.  I decided long ago that my mother’s room would be last as I feel that will be the hardest room to do.  The room is still exactly the way that she left it, except for a few times that I have changed the sheets.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my mother and wish that she was here.  She would be hogging Max and reading books to Jack every day.  I cherish the times that she had with Jack and I know that he does too.  Jack asks for her almost every day and tells Chris, his teachers, his Aunts and others that he misses Mom.  My heart breaks for him, but we let him watch videos with her in them and I plan to create an album solely dedicated to photos of him with my mother.

Going through these closets and cabinets is such a walk down memory lane.  My Mom was a tucker and would save everything from newspaper clippings, photos, notes and more in address books and other little pads of paper.  I smile as I find her bridge tallies from games that she would have with her friends here at the house or cards that people sent while she was sick telling her that “bald is beautiful.”

There were always certain things that my mother saved that I appreciate and have been finding all over the house.  Two things were obituaries for friends and relatives and prayer cards from funerals and wakes that she had attended for many of these people.  I’m glad that she did so that my sisters and I can continue to remember those who have passed away that were close to us.  She also appreciated a beautifully written obituary and had often times told me how hers should read and look.  “Never include a photo of me from my teenage years.  We obviously have more recent photos of me and why wouldn’t we use one of those?”  Or being very specific about where she went to school, where she graduated and certain things that needed to be included in her obit and information that wasn’t necessary.  Her friend Maureen was the person in the end who wrote her beautiful obituary with some edits and inclusions from me the morning after she passed away.

In going through the 30 years of items in this house, I have also found little items from when my father passed away 20 years ago that my Mom kept.  I’m sure that she missed him up until she joined him in heaven, but little things that she held on to make me think twice about hanging onto something before throwing it away.  For my mother, it would be some bridge tallies and notes.  For my father, she saved things like cards and some slips of paper where he was doing measurements or calculations.

While going through all of these memories, I really wish that we had my mother recorded on a video telling my sisters and I how much she loved us and how much we meant to her.  Or a book recorded with her voice reading to her grandchildren.  All of the things that were too difficult to talk about when she was sick but would be nice if we had them now.

I am absolutely nowhere near being done with cleaning out the house but am approaching a point where I need to order a dumpster and ask my sisters to designate what they plan to take and everything else will be sold in an estate sale.  My heart breaks that we can’t keep everything, but we don’t have room to keep it all.

This process of cleaning out will continue and once we are at a good point, we will put the house on the market, also a very tough decision.

Although it is extremely difficult to go through this process, it is a nice walk down memory lane.

I Still Feel You Here

The past three plus months have been nothing short of difficult.  There have been a million times where I would have loved to call my Mom and ask her the simplest but trivial sorts of questions and just to hear her answer, regardless of what it would have been, is something that I miss more than words can describe.

I have started on cleaning out small parts of the house that weren’t exceptionally emotional, but I dread the times that I will have to walk into a closet or her bedroom and begin sorting through her things.  The items that truly said who she was.  The shoes, scarves, crisp linen shirts, white button-down shirts with ruffles.  These things were staples for my mother.

Friends of hers have offered to come over and help me begin to go through the big stuff, and it isn’t that I don’t want them here, because I absolutely need their help, but I truly don’t feel ready or prepared to take that next step.  It feels so…final.  In a way, I feel like I am slowly removing my mother from this house and from my life.  Additionally, I know that as this house is nearing its “Showing Ready” stage, it will go on the market and will eventually be sold to a new family.  A new family who will happily make memories in it for the next however many years.

Chris and I have absolutely agreed that we need to move on and venture into something new, which gets me excited about building a custom home for ourselves, but I will always be heartbroken to know that my family home, my first home and only home for the past 30 years, will soon have a sign declaring it for sale very soon.

There are still some things, which I refer to as Unfinished Business with my Mom, that need to be taken care of that I have decided to put on the back burner.  One is that I need to order a new footstone for where my Mom is buried.  She is in her family plot, but we need to get something definitive to state that she is there with them.  Flowers must be planted, which I believe I may take care of this weekend, and the phone calls of people calling her to see how she is also need to end.  Telling people over and over that she has passed away has become second nature to me, even to the point where I can now say, “She died.”  The D-Word.  The most insensitive and difficult word to say following the passing of a loved one.

Sure, many people will say that someone has “passed away” or “has gone to be with God” or something similar.  Never the D-Word.

Even when I feel like falling apart into a sobbing mess on the floor, I get the sense that she is with me and I will hear the wind chimes on the back porch begin clanging as if to say “It’s okay my baby.  I am still here.”  I know you are here Mom in every sense of the word, but I just wish that you were sitting next to me on the couch so I can hold your hand and we can watch HGTV or Law & Order and laugh about something that Jack did today.

I know that she is proud of me for all that I am doing and for everything that I will do, but hearing her tell me how she feels is something that I long to hear.

Jack still asks for her and where she is, which gives me comfort that he hasn’t just forgotten about her.  One thing on my Maternity Leave To Do List would be to create a photo book of just photos of Jack and my Mom throughout his life.  This way, he can look through it and always remember all of the wonderful times that he had with her.

And one last thing got me on a major crying jag today on lunch.  Mother’s Day.  Going to Hallmark to choose a card for my Mother in Law and not my Mom had me in tears.  My emotions got the best of me and had me thinking about what it feels like to not have parents.  I know that I still have my husband, Jack, the new baby and my sisters, but I am essentially an orphan.  The phone never rings anymore in the house of people checking in, the cards and e-mails have stopped and the feeling of being alone has never been more apparent.  To me, it just makes it more noticeable that she isn’t physically here anymore.

Time is a great healer and I know that although time will never completely heal me, it will make things easier as we try to move on.

New Baby in Philly!

We went down to Philly last weekend for one last attempt at packing up the house before the movers come on the 14th and to catch up and spend some time with friends, especially our soon to be former neighbors across the street.  They were our first real friends when we moved to Philly and had many fun nights out to dinner, getting puppies, having children, working on the houses, having a few drinks and just enjoying each others company.

Chris and Eric, the sports nuts, were always talking about the Philly teams and could joke over anything while standing over the grill with some cold ones and grilling the burgers for dinner.

Erica and I were always talking about the kids, fashion and anything else that was on our minds.

Other than the fact that we will both miss seeing two of the most awesome people just about every day, we are so happy for them.  They have a beautiful daughter and have just welcomed a second beautiful daughter about 2 weeks ago.

Jack didn’t show much interest in the baby when we came to visit, but we did get some very cute photos, including the one below.

Jack and the girls 🙂

Precious Voicemails

It has been a little over two months since my Mom has gone off to be with my father in heaven and although it seems that she is constantly on my mind, I have an irrational fear that I am forgetting so much of her.

Jack continues to ask for her just about every day, and now that Spring has decided to come a bit early, our time in the backyard is increasing.  When playing in the backyard, Jack loves to go into his little house and picks up the phone to tell me that Mom is on the phone.  He then tells her about his trucks, that he misses her, that he loves her and that he is going to draw her a picture with sidewalk chalk.  My heart melts and breaks all at the same time each time that he does this.

My mind and my hand still continue to reach for the phone to call my mother when I am on my way home from work or when Jack does something that she would love to know.

I have a secret though.  While on my way home from work, I listen to old voicemails from her asking me to pick up Twizzlers at Target, telling me that her friends are coming over to visit for a while or that she needs me to call her back when I get this message.  Listening to her say my name, talk about Jack and just talk to me like she used to seems to make me feel a bit better.  I am so glad that I haven’t deleted these voicemails so that I can always have a little moment where I can hear her talking to me for real.

The past two months have been rough without her, although I know she is always here, but the voicemails offer a bit of comfort that makes me feel better.

One Month Today

It has officially been a full month since my Mom has gone to be with God, her husband, her parents and many other friends and relatives who have been called to heaven.

My heart is still hurting and I still feel a very deep void in my soul.  I still reach for my cell phone right after work to call her and tell her about my day and see how she is doing.  Jack is still asking where she is and telling me, “I miss Mom.”  He also tells his teachers each time that he steps up to the easel that he is going to “make a picture for Mom.”

We still haven’t begun cleaning out the house, going through her things or working on moving on.  Everything is still as she left it in her room down to her perfume collection, perfectly ironed shirts, pants and skirts in the closet and the shoes that take up the entire floor of her closet.

Mornings are still the hardest part of the day, aside from getting in my car and getting ready to leave work.  The phone calls are not as frequent, other than companies trying to get my mother to lower her interest rate on her credit card.  Cards and mass cards are slowly filtering out of the mail, and I am thisclose to finishing the rest of the thank you cards.

Shopping doesn’t make me as happy as it used to as the majority of people that I see shopping are daughters with their mothers, which just breaks my heart.  I would give anything to be able to go shopping with my Mom for new items for the baby or even to just have a day of shopping and lunch like we used to before she got sick.

Looking toward the future, I realize that I don’t know what it is like to truly have a maternity leave.  My last maternity leave after Jack was born was spent taking my Mom to Fox Chase just about every day for clinical trials, bloodwork, chemo, CAT scans and other appointments.  This maternity leave, I will be able to truly have that bonding time with the new baby and part time with Jack as he will only be going to school 2-3 times a week as opposed to full time.

I can still feel my Mom in this house, with my family and I as we grieve, laugh, cry and try and move on with our lives.  I know that she will always be with us, but I would give anything to have her with us again.

One month has passed and it has not gotten easier.  One month has passed and the pain is just as great.  One month has passed and I miss my mother more and more each day.

Here is one of my favorite recent photos of my mother and I.  (It was also the day that we told her that she was going to be a Grandmother of two!)

My mother and I on Thanksgiving morning

64 Years is Not Long Enough

As many of you know, my mother lost her battle with Cervical Cancer on Saturday, January 28.  She went very peacefully surrounded by her three loving daughters, son-in-law and future son-in-law.  Knowing that her time was close, we sent Jack to be with friends for the day so that we can put our full attention to my mother.

She was not in any pain, thanks to the wonderful Hospice nurses, who are absolute Earth Angels, and for an array of pain medications.

As I held her hand and talked to her, often times alone throughout the day, I told her that it was okay to go.  My sisters and I would all be alright and we knew that she would always be with us.  I also told her that she fought a good fight and she can finally be at peace with herself and God.  “Daddy and your parents are waiting for you.  I’m sure there will be a wonderful party held in your honor once you are there,” I said.  I watched and counted and prayed as her breathing kept changing and her apnia episodes getting a bit longer.  She had a very peaceful essence about her as she finally went to be with God.

“She isn’t breathing anymore,” I told my sisters.  The nurse came over and confirmed that the time had come and that she was on her way to heaven.  We all cried and sobbed and told her how much she meant to us and how much we will miss her.  I never once let go of her hand so that she never felt alone.

Almost immediately following her passing, the wind kicked up outside and we heard the wind chimes that she loved so much clanging together as if she was saying that she was still here and will always be with us.

Telling my family members that she was finally at peace was extremely difficult and a bit of a relief at the same time.

The next few days were a blur of people coming over with food, drinks, memories, cards and phone calls.  Making the arrangements as surprisingly easier than I thought it would be.

As it has only been a week since she has gone to be with God and my father, the reality is finally setting in.  When Jack says or does something funny, I immediately want to pick up the phone to call her and tell her about it, and then it hits me that she is no longer here to answer a phone.

My heart is absolutely broken, but I try to remain strong for my sisters and my family.

Jack is still highly unaware of what has happened, which is somewhat of a blessing.  My mother had told me before she passed away that she wanted Jack at the wake and the funeral when the time came, so dressed in chinos, a button down and a sweater, he came into the wake, crawled up on the kneeler and said “Hi Mom.”  I explained to him that Mom was sleeping.  He would constantly get up on the kneeler saying “Wake up Mom.  Look at my truck.”  Or he would get up and say “Mom is sleeping.  Tickle tickle, Mom.  I love you Mom.”  My heart broke into a million pieces each time he did this.  I know that he would never remember doing it, but those memories are engrained into my mind forever.

Jack’s last words to my mother as we were getting ready to leave for the funeral mass were, “I love you Mom. Night night.  I’ll see you later.”  Yes my sweet baby, many many years from now, you will see Mom again in Heaven.

I’m sure that many more posts related to my Mom’s passing are coming, and although I find that I typically write a very happy and upbeat blog, it is therapeutic to type out the events and how I feel.

Please say a prayer tonight for my mother and my family as we go through this unbelievably difficult time.

Praying for Peace

This past week, my mother’s condition has gone significantly downhill, and according to her oncologist, we don’t have a lot of time left.  She sleeps most of the time, has no appetite, is too weak to stand or walk and doesn’t always make sense when she talks to us, and is just in overall poor health.

The time has come to say goodbye to my mother, which is breaking my heart into a million pieces.  We have been preparing for this for about 3 years, but now that the time has come, I don’t want to let her go.  As my father has passed away almost 20 years ago, losing my mother will be an enormously felt loss in our family.  My mother has been the backbone for our family.  She has acted as both parents, walked me down the aisle when I got married, was the first family member, other than Chris, to hold Jack when he was born.  She has been there for everything and losing her can only be compared to losing an arm.  You will always know and remember that your arm is no longer there, but you will eventually learn to live without it.  There is no replacement, just the fond memories that you had with it.

As my mother has fought for many years against this terrible disease, it is now time for her to stop fighting and be at peace with herself, her family and God.

She is not in pain and occasionally opens her eyes long enough for Jack to give her a kiss and show her a truck before she goes back to sleep.  I spent last evening and the evening before just holding her hand and talking to her and enjoying the moments that she is still with us.

Between bouts of tears and crying, I just pray for peace.  It’s okay my brave Mommy, you have fought a long and courageous battle and it is alright to let go.  You will always be with us.  I love you, now and forever.

Please pray for my family during this difficult time.

Memorial Day Weekend

We all had a blast this weekend!  Aunt Colleen came home with her friend Lizzie and we just kept busy from the minute that they arrived.  Following a day of swimming in the baby pool, playing on the sand and water table, and running around the back yard, Jack fell asleep that night almost instantaneously.  He was wiped out!

Hanging out with Daddy

Saturday was another busy day with errands, hot weather, and remembrance.  Chris and I put Jack down for a nap and took a trip to my father’s grave to plant some flowers and do some weeding.  Upon arriving there, I was a little upset to see that there was no flag placed on my father’s grave or on my Uncle Bob’s grave for their service in the military.  I started to get angry.  How could they just forget to put something on the grave?  They both fought for our country and served proudly and there is no flag to indicate that?

I located the groundskeeper who was returning the backhoe from a freshly dug grave and inquired about why there were no flags place on the grave.  He explained that the grave markers, the metal flag stands which used to be on the grave, were not there and the servicemen only place a flag for each marker.  “One hundred and twenty five of the metal grave markers were recently stolen from the cemetery and the military is the only group that can replace them.  I asked for two individual flags to place in the ground instead.  He obliged and Chris and I proudly put the flags in the ground at their final resting places.  They should be honored, grave marker or no grave marker.  Hopefully the military personnel will see the flags and replace the markers that were stolen from the cemetery.

We woke up Sunday morning and went to mass.  After mass, it was already beastly hot outside.  (Around 90)  So, Colleen, Lizzie and I all jumped in the car and headed to Target for a larger pool for the backyard and other fun outside items.  Chris and I took this large rectangular pool and filled it up with air at the local convenience mart and drove home with the pool being held onto the roof of the Venza.  Totally redneck, but we laughed the whole time and got some interesting stares from many neighbors.  🙂  Needless to say, even though the water was FREEZING, we still enjoyed cooling off and soaking up some rays while enjoying burgers, hot dogs and other cookout-style foods.  At night, Grammy offered to babysit so we could all go out together, so once Jack was asleep, we headed to see the Memorial Day fireworks at the casino.

Jared, Colleen and Jack

The new pool

Love

Crawling through the tube

Grammy was having a good day

This was the first time that I have ever seen fireworks set to music, and needless to say, it was interesting.  We  were a little surprised with several of the music choices, but all in all, it was a great time.  A beer or two later, following some sightings of people in prom-style dresses (It’s a freaking CASINO people!), we all headed home.

We all went to the Memorial Day parade on Monday morning to honor those who have served and given their lives for this country.  Jack loved all of the trucks, especially the fire trucks, and was glad to see all of the children as well.  Aunt Colleen and Aunt Lizzie did their auntie duties by chasing down the candy that was being thrown by the people in the parade and filled a few bags of tootsie rolls and peppermints for later.  No children were harmed in the chasing of the candy, although they were the oldest two collecting the candy.  😉

Watching the parade with Big Leen

Watching the trucks

I need one of these

Fire trucks!!

Following the parade, we were invited to a cookout and to have a swim in a friend’s pool around the corner.  Jack loved the water and was thrilled to be able to splash around with Mommy and Daddy.  When we tried to put him in his float though, that is when the tears started.  Big fat tears.  Maybe the Mommy and Me swim class spoiled him into thinking that each time he is in the pool, he will be held and not in the float.

We left for nap time and I just started packing and prepping everyone for Tuesday.  My first day at work, even though I am spending it flying to Chicago, and Jack’s first day at his new school.  (Jack’s first day at school will be in a future post)

We remembered those who have fought for us.