As I Drive

Where my mind goes as I drive, I think back to those long torturous drives that I had grown to detest, anticipating the anxiety that arose as I approached my destination. I have grown to hate the radio because of those long drives, angry at its insistence to play happy annoying songs, angry at its ignorance of my need to hear sad songs or silence because the music or talk it emits draws upon too many emotions that at the moment I cannot focus on. All I can focus on is my arrival at her side. I circle the building, over and over looking for free parking, I could park in cozy and safe underground parking but at fifteen dollars a day times forty two days so far is not realistic, so I circle, praying for someone to leave, desperate. Finally I find one a bit further away but I do not care. I need to get inside. I need to see her. I exit my car, often forgetting all that I will need for the day and eventually having to run back to get them. I run, my legs ache it feels as though I am not moving very fast, I push the doors open and begin my agonizingly painful walk down the long, white often empty corridor, trying to avoid the smells that surround me, wanting desperately to just magically appear at her side every morning; but having to endure this long routine of getting to her. I finally reach the room; I rush to scrub my hands, remove my rings, and sign my name on the visitor’s sheet although they should know who I am by now. I drop off the extra snacks I have brought for the kids of other families that visit in the adjoining family waiting room. I remember the first time I brought my other children here, in shock, not prepared for them to whine for food and having none. I did not want other new comers to have to feel that, I wanted to help. I wanted someone to help me. I felt so lost, so confused, so scared. Finally I get to her side, I see that they have been poking at her again; I hold back my tears as I stroke her beautiful little face, that is splattered with dried blood from their obvious failed attempts at finding useful arteries. Why. My mind so often wonders why. Why me, why her, why does this happen to anyone. I try to pick her up but it is so hard with all the tubes and IVs, so I lay my head on her tiny body, the body I grew inside my own, the body that grew unable to breathe on its own, the beautifully perfect on the outside but so broken on the inside body, that now has become mine as well. Broken; my heart is broken, my mind, now broken, unable to understand the jargon being spoken to me by doctors, specialists and surgeons. I am unable to function I just want to hold her and have everyone else shut their mouths. Stop talking to me; stop telling me to leave her so we can have a meeting about a future no one knows for sure. Stop making me drive all the way here every day, getting stuck in traffic wondering if when I get here will she be the same, will she still be there. The panic that has grown in me over these last few weeks is almost unbearable I say almost because I am still here. I just want to take her home; I just want her to be normal, to be able to breathe on her own, to not need multiple surgeries to fix the problems with her heart. I just want to stop feeling scared and sad. I often think back to all those times I knew something was wrong, all those appointments with my doctor where I could not stop crying nor could I explain why I was crying, I just knew something was wrong because of the morbid, guilty thought I often had was if I have a miscarriage that may be better. Then she came, it was traumatic to say the least. She was folded in half, I needed a caesarean but it was four in the morning and no anesthesiologist was on so I was supposed to wait till she got here, but I could not wait, not anymore, I was already two weeks late. I kept pushing, another thought that will leave me riddled with guilt, what if I just waited, what if I did this to you. So out she came, folded in half, not breathing and turning blue. The room went silent. Hours passed before someone came back to talk to us. I did not even know until months later that your dad was asked to hold your hand and talk to you as they tried to resuscitate you. A moment he is haunted by today. They told us you were being transferred to the neo natal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital. They told us we should follow. They told us I would be admitted there. That they had to insert a tube so she could breathe but with an unknown amount of time without oxygen that she most likely had brain damage, there is even a name for it: asphyxiated birth- birth without oxygen. One of many new words I was forced to learn very unwillingly. That they would do what they could for her but that there were no guarantees. This was the first of many long, silent drives down to the hospital, to see my daughter that was born not breathing my daughter that we also later would find out was born with congenital heart disease: three holes in her heart, an abnormal trachea and needed a feeding tube. Her first surgery was when she was just 5 weeks old. But I knew none of this on that first drive. I was in shock, in denial, a part of me assumed that when we got down there, she`d be fine. The brain is funny that way. That was the first drive until 52 days later we made the last. We did not know it was the last of course, not until we got there and learned of the results from the latest scans, I did not know that was the beginning of my anxiety that surrounds driving now. We learn that the chance of you surviving, being so small and so fragile already, that the chance of surviving the surgery needed to fix you was slim if any chance of survival at all. We were told they would operate if we asked them to. But did we want to lose you on the operating table or in our arms. It is quite odd to have people speak to you this way, so matter of fact, about your child. That is going to die. They offered to move you to hospice but did not know if you would survive the transfer. So we held you, right there in the pediatric intensive care unit as they removed your tubes, always in the back of my mind was the thought -what if she breathes on her own, what if. A saying that will haunt me forever: what if. But you did not breathe on your own. Your dad and I held your amazing, precious little body until we could not. We walked silently back down that cold, white corridor for the last time and drove in silence for the last time that long treacherous drive home; never to see you again. Never able to drive again without thinking of the first, the last and the fifty lonely drives` in between trying desperately to see you.

That is what I think of as I drive.

Thanks for reading

Namaste,

Sheri

Thoughts…

Do your thoughts wander…. from one to the next, in odd fashion? Have you ever obsessed over the same thought over and over? Lost sleep over ‘too much thinking’ Cant turn your brain off. I think it is a trait that is innately human. We learn, we obsess, we overthink… When series of events cause us to overthink or overlap our thoughts, we get anxious or afraid at outcomes we cannot control, one wonders why we are so wired to worry about what we cannot control. perhaps sayings like: always stay positive or never give up, you are what you make of your self  and maybe even you are what you eat. Cause us to grow up thinking we can control our outcomes or what happens to us. But often things happen that we do not want to and things do not happen that we do want to. That is life.  We believe we can control situations as long as we follow steps a, b and c, unfortunately there are always unaccounted for endings, like the one we don’t want. In a way things happen to us that will teach us, where we can learn and grow but also serve as a reminder we are not in control and need to accept that and ultimately let go.  If we can look at life as a journey, with probably more downs than ups, a journey where our overthinking will overlap our thoughts and intentions and that is ok. We maybe can enjoy the journey better in a way that we do not or have the need to be right or positive or as it should be. I am not a fan of the saying everything happens for a reason but I do believe that we are meant to learn what we can from things that happen that we did not want to. The greatest thing to learn from is death, loss and grief. How we learn to cope. To grow. To accept. These things take on so many forms for so many people. Some depression. Some become adventurists or less shy or more introvert as they ponder their own mortality, as inevitably it pops up when we lose someone. we tend to think about others around us dying or even ourselves. It is a scary train of thought that precedes the death of a loved one. It takes years to get over a loss although you never fully recover. I believe it takes us consciously accepting the fact that we do not or can not control the outcome of most things and therefore allow ourselves to be free from the guilt that also follows death. The what if? that haunts your thoughts’ There is no easy solution to grieving but to let it happen. Get lots of sleep, lots of water, long walks. fresh air, talk to friends, write in a journal, but most importantly stop obsessing that you could have done something differently, that its your fault. Because we are not gods, we do not control what happens as much as we try to believe or are raised to think we can/do.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

Reality of Life and Death

After talking with a  few friends who are having a hard time with recent deaths of those very close to them, they’re having a hard time having never experienced  loss before or perhaps dealing with death; the older we become it seems to get harder because of the realization of our own mortality. They are in there mid thirties to mid forties, so I was surprised; I just kept thinking how lucky they were to have been spared for so long. But of course knew how insensitive that was to think.

I started to think of my own life and those that have died around me. The first death I experienced was the death of my friend/neighbors mom when we were 7 or 8. I knew it was sad, I knew she was “gone” but did not really understand what happened or the loss to the family. I remember her brother who was 10 or 11 yelling at me and my brothers for going to their moms funeral saying that we just wanted to miss school. I didn’t understand why he got mad at us not until I was older. The next was not for almost 10 years later when my paternal grandfather died, I remember going to the hospital to say goodbye, I am glad my dad brought me. I remember how shallow and scary his breathing sounded; I remember crying but also trying to hide it. The worst was watching how that death affected my dad, he began drinking more after that, and maybe that’s why within a few months my mom left him.

The next death that impacted me was that of a friend who was beaten to death. The hardest part about that was that it was done by other mutual friends. Not being able to understand why. His funeral was hard because some of our friends ,who were friends with both were not allowed to go; I was friends with both but not close to either at that time. It was hard because it wasn’t right, no one deserves to be murdered and no one expects others to take one’s life so carelessly. It really opened my eyes to the brutality of life. After this I was in my early 20’s and quite a few friends and acquaintances in the years that followed had died or been killed or overdosed. It almost started to be ‘normal’. No, just easier to accept I guess. Then 2 friends from high school died, we were not close anymore it had been almost 10 years since high school but it was hard to understand and handle none the less. One was killed by a drunk driver leaving behind 3 kids, and just having had my 1st child being pregnant with my 2nd it literally shattered my heart to think of their loss as well as her for not being able to see her kids grow up. The other friend took his own life, battling a terrible depression that none were even aware of. The amount of death at my minds door at the ripe age of 30 was astounding. But nothing prepared me for the next year, the year I turned 31. I gave birth to and then lost my 3rd child when she was 2 months old, 2 months later my maternal grandmother passed and 2 weeks previous my paternal grandmother passed. All the deaths were overwhelming. I felt surrounded, I was in shock for most of that 1st year, as I sit and type I realize the fog lifted shortly after a year but I think I hurt more because I started to feel more, the shock being gone there was more room to think as well as feel. I felt not only grief and loss but guilt and longing were added. Then I thought about all those lost before and felt just so overwhelmingly sad and mad at the world. How do we live “happily” when so many are not given that chance? How can we accept death when it is so unexpected most of the time? How do we live with the intention of putting love first when some of us are lucky enough to not experience hard losses and therefore live to maturity and grow wealth or some that disregard life and kill the earth or our environment due to lack of empathy. I believe death teaches us empathy, to care more for what is important. I hate death and the things it has taken from me but it has given me appreciation for things like a 100 year old tree, spring flowers, a hug, a kiss, a smile. Things money cannot buy.

At times when I see others pain in coping with death and loss I wish I could take it or make it go away, but I also know that it is part of accepting the reality of life and death in having to accept others passing and how it makes us feel.

So as I enter the later years of my life where I am watching my friends deal with the loss of their parents, I know that there is so much more death around the corner as I get older, I just am not sure how to prepare my heart for the pain that I already feel brought on just by the thought of loss and not yet the actual death. I think I’ll have to go hug a tree, cry and hope I will have the strength to let go as I already have.

Thanks for Reading,

Namaste.

Sheri.

 

 

Dealing with anxiety and depression; no easy answer.

Depression and anxiety are rampant these days and with good reason, with all the tragedies happening around us, combined with us all wanting more than we need because of what marketing and the media have cramed in our faces everyday helping us to feel less than when we don’t have it all. When we cannot do it all, as we are told we should. ADD, ADHD, Autism spectrum disorder (varying levels now) too many more mental illnesses. Breast cancer, Leukemia, Alzheimer’s and devastating childhood Cancers. So much we deal with, we look at but are told to be positive, don’t cry, you don’t want to make others uncomfortable, so instead we show off the people that we are not on Facebook, we Instragram the meals we pretend to cook daily, we Tweet our ‘heroes’ for attention, sadly they are famous people(not the scientists, doctors, army veterans that it should be) that do nothing helpful to the world(some do) but encourage consumerism by showing off all they’ve acquired, with glossed over, highly filtered shots that hurt our minds and grow our insecurities. People that suffer from anxiety tend to have suffered a traumatic event in their life, events that can range in degrees of harshness but are nonetheless traumatic to the recipient. We don’t learn how to cope with PTSD or the ensuing anxiety, we do learn to pretend, to be positive and when we cannot pretend we want to hide and isolate ourselves and unfortunately some isolate themselves to the point that they lose touch with reality or with society, trapped in their evil mind of negative thoughts. They venture to a doctor brave enough to tell someone they are not coping, only to be prescribed a deadly dose of mind numbing chemicals that in the end cause dependency, just a temporary solution instead of simply encouraging exercise, a better diet, two things which are proven mood lifters, they help with sleep and connect our body to our mind. Not our mind to drugs that in the end worsen the brain and the problem. I wish there was a magical cure for all those that suffer from depression, isolation, anxiety, I do think if our young were encouraged to go get fresh air when upset or go for a walk when frustrated or angry, if we could teach simple coping techniques; like meditation when feeling scared or confused, how better off we might be. When I feel so trapped inside my anxiety all I can do is ride it out. Knowing I am stronger than the thoughts that cause me this pain. I often wonder how much worse it would be if I didn’t exercise daily. When I was fourteen I tried to take my life. I was an undisciplined, (felt) unloved, labeled some terrible names at school because of untrue rumors that I was constantly running from. My parents were divorcing; I had no rules, no goals, no forced values or concern. No one would miss me, no one needed me, I didn’t understand the point. I went into the bathroom and took what was left in a bottle of Tylenol, about 20 pills, I figured it would be enough to do something, and went to bed. As I lay there crying I eventually started to think of the future, of what I wanted. What I hoped might happen one day. I got back up went to the bathroom and made myself throw up. I never again got that sad, sad enough to think I should be dead or not care enough to live. Not until my daughter died almost twenty years later did I think death would be better than living, one reason that I didn’t seriously consider it was because of my other two young kids, the thought of them losing their mother after their sister was a hard one, but I knew they’d be fine, they had an amazing dad, so every night after I’d wake up from a nightmare filled with dread or survived another panic attack because they were not home, I considered more and more the reasons I didn’t have to keep going, the only one that kept me alive in the end was the thought of my husband, who was suffering more than anyone cared to pay attention to or notice but I saw his pain every day, I felt his sadness, and watched his mind disappear and become numb with every drink he poured, I thought how he would be ruined if he lost his wife right after his daughter I knew my kids would be fine as long as they had their dad, but saw that their dad wouldn’t be fine and for that reason, my love for him, is why I decided to keep going. Why I have kept going. For them to have him. Now four years later I keep going for myself, to see my kids become adults, to maybe meet my grandchildren, to do what I can to make the world a better place for them until then. It is so easy to question the world, to hate your life. But if you can think of how people will be hurt because of  a selfish decision, it can be eye opening. I don’t know what made me throw up the pills I took that night when I was fourteen, but maybe it was to get to this day, because god knows the hardships that followed were more than a lot deal with, but as they say, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and for the longest time that was my mantra. I became hard, I am not very sympathetic to people with champagne problems or self inflicted issues or self imposed isolation. Go outside. Take a breath of fresh air. Remember what you have that some don’t.

I strongly believe that life is suffering; we need to feel the pain to feel the strength, esperience the hurt to see the happiness when it comes.

I wanted to share this not for pity or sympathy but because so many people assume only the ones who hide away, suffer or have suffered; only the ones on pills are truly understanding of mental disorders, but that is not true because all of us suffer at some point in our lives, it is just how we pick ourselves up and decide to keep going that makes a difference.

We need to keep going, to keep hoping.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste.

Sheri.

My Space will soon be 4

The space

There is a space in our family that cannot be filled. At one time it was tiny, 18 inches long, yet to reach three pounds, long and lean but tucked into a bundle dripping with my tears.

That space inserted itself into every day. She was milestones unmet, crib sheets unused, car seats returned. The pain of her absence stubbornly followed my every moment. Tears in the shower, aching emptiness in my chest and constant wonder over the functioning world.

Our space grew as we did. Two years old, a height evenly between her brother and sister, toddling in places she should be and shouldn’t.

This space came and went. She woke me up in the morning and reminded me over again how life had changed, she was a hair color I would never know and words I would never hear and this spot in every photo where I knew she should be.

As our space got older we got stronger. At four she was probably all kinds of things, probably tall and thin, probably inseparable from her sister, probably the one to like hugs more and dirt less.

We could almost see her, the little person she would have become and this hurt so much more but sometimes less.

When our space inched past 6 she was so far from the baby we held we weren’t sure how to imagine her. She might be the tallest or the shortest or have straight hair or curly forever tangled in a brush.

She wasn’t just remembered by us anymore, her siblings drew her into their imaginations, painted her into our world, dripping with vibrance and swirling colors. Their thoughts of her made our hearts burst and break at once knowing they had glimpsed our emptiness. She was their space to hold too.

Our space will be 8 soon, we’ve held her for that long. She would be begging me for purple in her hair or loving it cropped short. She should be trading clothes with her sister and sharing her bed at night or hiding her things so she won’t borrow them again.

She is the sister my daughter is sure would fix every annoyance from her brothers. The daughter I imagine would have made our life that perfect kind of ordinary. And the child I would give anything to have back.

She is the space we will always hold, she’s changed form and size and intensity over the years but there’s no force greater than what she’s left for us. A family forever holding her place.

See more of this article at: http://fourplusanangel.com/2015/09/the-space/#sthash.c9obvphA.dpuf

View original at: http://fourplusanangel.com/2015/09/the-space/

I love this post written by Jessica author of ‘Four plus an Angel’ it came in my inbox at the most necessary time. I couldn’t have written this feeling, these sentiments or thoughts any better so I have shared it with you.

Namaste,

Thanks for reading.

Sheri.

My Apologies

My Apologies

I think I am ready, my vision is not so blurred, my wound not so fresh.

I realize in my grief that I have hurt many people, not purposely, not intentionally, also at the time not really caring. I didn’t care how my words affected people, it didn’t matter to me; nothing did.

But I did hurt people, I did lose friends. And I am coming to see that I was to blame not them as I had chosen to once believe. The ones closest to you disappoint us the most when they don’t know what to say- but really no one did and nothing said was ever right, but we expect more from certain people and when I felt they didn’t deliver I was cruel. Yes, I was hurt and did not care, to quote the movie ‘Home’ I was ‘sad-mad’. I also wanted them and others to hurt, to lose someone, to lose me even. Grief blurs our reality and for a while it is helpful but when the haze clears sometimes there are regrets and this time it is not about the loss or if I could have done something differently.

It is realizing that in my pain, I caused pain to those closest to me and for that I am sorry.

“Because even the smallest of words can be the ones to hurt you, or save you.”
Natsuki Takaya

3 years.

Featured

My daughter Lily was born still.

That’s what would have been my statement had we waited any longer. She was born blue and was resuscitated; because of her beginning without oxygen she suffered brain stem damage, she was frozen for 3 days to help heal her brain damage, the first time I held my baby girl she was 4 days old. But she was alive so I was grateful.

Weeks passed with so many tests, all with a negative conclusion and after having a feeding tube surgically placed into her gastro intestine we were able to take her home. What gets me is that even though they did 3 MRI’s and multiple other scans, they missed what would eventually kill her. That was her trachea. They were so close too, they found the holes in her heart, they found the valve that pumped the wrong way, all of these would need surgeries to be fixed but she needed to be bigger and stronger to endure them, had they looked an inch higher they would have seen her abnormal trachea.

The night Lily stopped breathing and I performed CPR on her plays out as a nightmare in my memory, for the longest time I wanted to move because every time I looked at that spot on the  floor where she lay, my heart stopped, but then we replaced the carpets with hardwood and I was sad that that was now gone too, so I knew I couldn’t leave the one place she had been. When they found out about Lilys trachea, the doctor phoned and told me she would need a tracheotomy to live- that’s a hole in her throat to breathe, he said she would never have a good life, would never speak, would never taste anything and would have a shortened lifespan because of it. That surgery was on top of the other 4 heart surgeries she needed. This one would now be 1rst though. He said I will do it if you tell me to but even on a healthy baby the chance of survival is slim. What the fuck do you say to that!? We had company downstairs that day, I didn’t go back down.

We went back to the hospital 1rst thing the next day probably our 100th drive then. I suffered from ptsd every time I got into the car after she died. 4 days later we signed a do not resuscitate order, they took out her breathing tube and we held her until she died 30 minutes later at 4:55 pm on February 18 2012. I am forever haunted by this. What if we did the surgeries? Most likely she wouldn’t have died in our arms but on a table. What if we accepted the transfer to Canuck Place? We probably would have had a nicer end of her life together as a family. What if she was born still? None of these traumatizing experiences would have happened, we would have still grieved but differently I imagine. The hardest, what if she continued to breathe, what if she was that 5% that survived.

So as life goes on, as we try to understand the why’s of it all, we want to grow, we hope to learn, we try to accept, we continue to live. We chose to remember.

“The Trauma of Everyday Life” by Mark Epstein, MD

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 'The trauma of everyday' By Mark Epstein MD Quote from (pg.94)

‘The trauma of everyday’ By Mark Epstein MD
Quote from (pg.94) “This idea, of broken dreams expressing broken aspects of our beings… It is another way of talking about the trauma of everyday life, about the bits and pieces of catastrophe we dissociate from but still carry with us. These traumatic experiences are left hanging just outside awareness. They peek out from our dreams or nag at us in the privacy of our aloneness, a lurking sense of sorrow or disquiet that underlies our attempts to be ‘normal,’ but it is rare that we feel secure enough to let them fully speak.”

Life is Grief

When tragedy or loss strike; grief comes full force after the shock fades, it turns the world upside down,  a new universe in which you are scared and alone, one where lies are revealed, truths are sought, feelings broken, hearts shattered, lives and friendships torn by reality.

Grief  now makes it appearance at every birthday, every anniversary every holiday, every season ending or beginning.

Your life is now grief, grief for the kids that are no longer little or there, you grieve them growing, you grieve the little moments that once were so tiresome but are now gone, forever. You grieve your past, your failures, your regrets, your wants that went untold or unfound. You grieve what you had but lost and also what you never had but desperately wanted. Life is grief.