The past few months have been difficult. My family lost another family member, my cousin Bette Anne. She died at the age of 33 from cervical cancer. Fucking cancer. She left behind a 10 year old son and my aunt and uncle and her sisters who all adored and worshipped her. In some ways, her death has me way more shaken up than my dad’s. To be fair, I hadn’t spoken to her outside of Facebook for a while, but we were really close our entire childhood. We are the same age and had a lot in common. Especially music and movies and boys. In the summer of ’95, I flew from my home in Florida to spend the summer in New Mexico with my grandma and cousins, as usual. After that, it was decided that I would go spend some time with my cousins at their lake house (that sounds a lot fancier than it really was) in Arkansas. They had no air conditioning, so we spent our days swimming and listening to music in front of a floor fan. We were 14 and thought we were really cool, but we still loved the New Kids on the Block. With each other, we could let our NKOTB loving flags fly high and proud. Sure, my other cousins teased us relentlessly, but we did’t care. After Arkansas, we somehow talked our parents into allowing her to come spend a couple weeks with me in Florida before school began. Earlier that year, I discovered the Beatles. I found a cassette tape of Abbey Road in the kitchen junk drawer. With nothing better to do, I popped it in my cassette player and put on my big headphones. As corny as it sounds, that was a life changing moment because I’ve been a Beatle fan/freak since. Now my love for the Beatles is just like a nice, warm constant. Back then, it was the new, fiery, obsessive kind of love. So I told Bette that I had some music I wanted to share with her when we got to my house. I remember her being polite, but not really excited. I knew how to get her though, I had a secret weapon: a VHS copy of Help! and A Hard Days Night. I showed her those movies and that was it. She was now a Beatlemaniac with me, and she’d remain that way until she passed. I might even go so far as to say she loved them more than me. When that summer ended, I very distinctly remember getting on the bus to begin the first day of school and thinking, “1995 might just be the best year of my life.” She probably didn’t know it, and it’s entirely my fault if she didn’t, but she was one of my most favorite people. One of those people that are in your life for a reason. That make an indelible impression on your heart forever. That was her. I wish I could go back to the summer of ’95 one more time. She and I had a lot of great times in the years following, like a graduation trip to Boston. Oh man, that’s a whole other post in of itself. I’ll write that someday. And the Paul McCartney concert in Las Vegas. Dancing with her at my wedding. But I think for now, I’m going to remember that happy, sweaty, musical summer and sing Beatles songs at the top of my lungs in her honor. I miss her. —– There’s more stuff going on that I’ll write about soon. Basically, I’ve had my laptop stuffed under the couch for months because when Henry sees the glowing screen, he goes insane. But now, it’s under my bed and I’ll pull it out and write when my anxiety is peaking or I feel it bubbling up, which is almost always these days. I need to write. It’s always been my release. And with this new chapter in my life, I will be starting a new blog in the next couple of days. I’ll post the link when it’s up and hopefully all of the two real people following me will bookmark me over there. I promise to not always be so sad-sackey.
It’s been a little over 3 weeks since my dad died and it still feels like yesterday. Maybe because there’s no funeral or memorial service until next year, so I feel sort of in limbo or something. I made tentative plans to have my own memorial service up in the Russian River Valley but I haven’t done anything toward it yet. It’s almost like I’m not really ready to say goodbye but I know I need to. Hell, I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that he is gone. That he’s ashes in an urn. It’s unreal.
I have to keep it together during the days when I’m at home with Henry. I have a kid to nurture and take care of, I can’t be falling apart. But at night, when he’s asleep and Chris is finally asleep, I break down. I have this image of my dad — I don’t even know if it’s a real memory or one I’ve created in my mind — of him standing there, greeting me. He’s in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip flops, his normal attire, and he’s smiling. Not a big smile, just his usual closed mouth smile. He looks younger and healthier than he did even a year before he passed, when we went to Florida to see him. And he’s just standing there. When I lose it, is when I close my eyes and imagine myself hugging him. I can feel his arm around me and I can smell him. I can smell him now as I sit and type this. I can’t describe it, but it was him.
Last week, Henry and I got sick. I got way sicker than Henry, thank god (I just don’t want another hospital stay). But I know it was from not sleeping and not taking care of myself. I know if my dad were around, he’d tell me that I need to cut the shit and sleep, eat, and get some sunshine. That it’s ok to smile and it’s ok to laugh and it’s ok to live life again. I’ll get there.
I don’t know what I would have done without my family and friends though. My brothers and my mom have been great sources of comfort, just talking to me. My husband has been very empathetic. And my friends have been INCREDIBLE. Yes, the deserve all caps. AMAZING. KIND. LOVING. AWESOME. I could go on, but I won’t. My friends and family reading this, I love you all so much. I might not have called you back or written you back yet. But I love you. And I will.
Now it’s time to try to sleep. Wish me luck.
This week, I was lucky enough to see Henry two more times. Once on Tuesday, where they did a growth scan (he’s estimated at over 8 lbs now! But those are notoriously wrong, so the doctor told me I could expect anywhere from a 7.5-8.5 lb baby). Then today, I had another ultrasound so they could perform another biophysical profile. He scored a perfect 8/8 again.
The kid is already funny. He was kicking the tech like crazy, so she put the 3D on his face. He had the cutest little pout and chubbiest little cheeks. We both laughed at his little face. I think he’s his father’s clone, but we’ll see. Those 3D ultrasounds look kinda funky.
As I’m writing this, he’s moving around in there, just days from gracing us with his little presence. I’m feeling really blessed and simultaneous sorrow and grief for the families in Connecticut who received the worst news of their lives today. My heart just breaks for them. It’s completely unimaginable. Unfathomable. But there are people living it. Mamas who just a few years ago felt those same kicks and movements…now suffering greater than most of us ever will. I can’t even put my thoughts into words properly, so I’ll stop now.
God bless those people, their family, and the community.