Tag Archives: death

A Bologna Sandwich

6 Jan

Sometimes, when you’re grieving, that’s all it takes.

Only a few days after my dad passed away, my mom made lunch for everyone. It just so happened that she was making fried bologna sandwiches, a childhood favorite of mine. If you haven’t had it, try it! It’s pretty damned good.

I put my sandwich together, held it in one hand and went to grab a plate. I looked down at it for a second, looked up at my mom and all I had to say was “This reminds me of Dad” to start to well up with tears. It’s true though, he was always the one who made them for lunch.

To stop myself from completely crying, I had to go so far as to set the sandwich down. I told me mom “The last thing I need to do is cry over a damn bologna sandwich”.

My father’s death was expected. And at least for me, it isn’t the day to day monotony that makes me sad or overwhelms me, or even talking about it – it’s the little things that unexpectedly pop up that you aren’t prepared for that upset me. A song, a trinket, a memory…a sandwich. That is really all it takes.

But I’m doing okay.

[Hopefully] Happy New Year

31 Dec

While I know that when I wake up tomorrow, life won’t be suddenly rainbow and butterflies, but with the beginning of a new year upon us, I can only hope that the next one will be better.

I hope that it will be a time of healing, a time of self-discovery, a time of exploration, and most of all…a time of happiness.

The past year and a half has challenged me with multiple deaths, homelessness, losing friends, and more downs than ups. I can’t imagine what life could possibly throw at me in the coming year that would be worse.

Actually, I can imagine. But I’d rather not.

I’d rather just hope that the universe has kept me down and out for long enough, and that I’m on my way up.

I sure could use a bit of that happiness I hear of…

Cheers!

Dear Dad [Rest in Peace]

26 Dec

DSC00466

Dear Dad,

I called you dad, pa, daddy, Roberto, papa. You called me Michelleeanna, Annie, hot rod…Anner Nanner.

You’ve been the best father that a girl could hope for, and you’ve been with me through every moment of my life, big or small. As we go through your belongings, we find things that bring back the best memories…memories I’ll cherish the rest of my life. You may be gone in body, now, but you’ll never be gone in spirit.

The day of my wedding, you’ll be there.
The day I finally buy a house, you’ll be there.
The day I graduate with my next degree…you’ll be there.

You live on in me and my sister, our mother, and your grand children.

I find solace knowing that you are finally at peace, and that your pain has ended. You fought a good fight, Dad, and I knew that no matter the outcome, the day you told me I’m going to fight this damn cancer  that everything would be okay. And I know that as much as I love you, and I admire you that you love me and are proud of me.

Everything I’ve done until this day, and everything I’ll do in the future is to make you and Mom proud of me. You are such a major part of who I are, and who I’ve become. You’re the fire to my phoenix.

I know that you held on as long as you did for us, to make sure we were ready and that we would be okay once you were gone. Thank you for that. I know it was a hard, long struggle. I know you were worried. But we will be okay. I got to spend one last Christmas with my papa, even if you were only hanging on by a thread, even if you couldn’t sit with us next to the Christmas tree…I got to sing Christmas carols to you, and buy you one last Christmas present, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

I’ll miss you. I love you.

Give ’em hell, Dad

Rest in Peace
12.26.14
2:19 pm

When “Alone” Doesn’t Begin to Cover It: Being the “Balanced” One

2 Dec

Over Thanksgiving, I was once again reminded of my role in the family: the balanced one. I don’t know how I got stuck with that title, but it appears I have no choice. My sister and my mother can’t seem to stand each other. One owes the other, and one can’t see that she’ll never be repaid. They are both anxious and nervous, and can’t seem to talk to one another even on the eve of my fathers death.

So Mom comes to me to cry about everything because my sister isn’t talking to her. My sister comes to me to cry about everything because she isn’t talking to my mom. No one seems to be able to remain calm but me.

Balance.

Being the balanced one means I don’t get a lot of time to be unbalanced, which sometimes I so desperately need. I have to be balanced, because if I become unhinged like everyone else, the world plummets into chaos. And I can’t handle chaos.

It’s lonely when you’re balanced.

My mother told me something on the phone the other day that I just can’t seem to shake. I know it’s true, and I know that means I’ll be alone. She told me, when talking about the grief counselor that hospice sends over once a week, that herself, my sister, and I will each need someone to be our rock on that day, and that my mom doesn’t think she will be able to do it.

I haven’t heard such a truthful statement.

And on that day, I will be the loneliest, most alone person on the planet. My mom has the grief counselor, my sister has her husband, and me…well…

I have no one.

But I’m the balanced one. And the balanced one must remain balanced, so naturally I will use logic to assess my emotions, that my emotions are valid, that death is necessary and predictable, and that having no one is a result of being balanced. Because only the balanced one can be okay without someone else to balance for them.

And on that day, I fear nothing more than my entire family becoming unhinged and estranged from one another, simply because the person who made the balanced person balance, is gone.

Death: Logic & Reason VS. Feelings & Emotion

27 Oct

I tend to be a very logical person. A great example (at least to me) was the time that I blacked out in a hotel. Once I started to come to, my first full thought was “Please don’t need to go to the doctor to get IV fluids”.

Or, when I get broken up with or rejected or anything of that nature, I always acknowledge that it’s okay if you don’t like me. It is. You can’t force anyone to like you or to love you, and we don’t have control over our feelings.

I do tend to be a very sensitive individual, too. I don’t have any great examples for that one, so you’ll just have to trust me.

With death, and this may be a “me” thing or an “everyone” thing, I find that these two seemingly contradictory processes makes dealing difficult.

My dad has officially been placed on hospice care. The treatment for his cancer is too hard on his body, and he has been given only a couple of months to live. I can only hope that is a conservative guess, and that he might have something closer to 4 or 6 months.

Being faced with my father passing soon, I find myself conflicted. I just don’t know how to feel.

Death is probably the most logical, reasonable, and expected thing in life. We know it’s coming from the second we know what death is. It happens to everyone and everything, and the only thing we don’t necessarily know is when and how. Because it is such a logical thing, I feel like I’m being somewhat cold to the situation. Of course I think it is too soon, and if I had a choice my dad wouldn’t have to leave me, but he does. If it wasn’t soon, it would be later, and it would still happen. It  will happen to my mom and my sister, and eventually me and my husband. My nieces and nephews. All of us.

But like I said, I’m a sensitive soul. I’m torn up that I’m losing my father. He won’t get to walk my down the aisle when I get married. He won’t see me get my next degree. I won’t be able to take care of him when he gets older and I have the ability. There are so many times I turn to my father to make me feel accepted, and happy, and justified in my feelings. I feel frustrated with myself when I start being logical about the situation.

I’m stuck in the middle. One part of me says that I should stay strong and carry on, that feeling overwhelmingly sad is unnecessary. The other part of me says that I should quit my job and glue myself to my dad’s side until he passes and that there should be no moment that I’m not crying.  One part says that it is time to accept what is happening and the other part says do not accept defeat – you aren’t ready to lose Dad yet.

On one hand, I’m quite fortunate to be able to sort these things out [somewhat] before he passes, but on the other, it gives me more time to think things over too much.

How do you deal with death? Do you reason yourself through it, or do you just let the emotion flow? Is this a weird “me” thing, or is this an “everyone” thing? With the death you’ve had to deal with, was it sudden or did you prepare prior to it’s occurrence? 

Quote 22 Oct

Every time I tell someone that I want to get married soon, they say that I have all the time in the world. That I don’t need to rush. What they don’t understand is that the single most important thing to me about getting married is having my father walk me down the aisle. And for that…I have 2 months.

Faith: A Desperate Man’s Prayer

23 Aug

As I’ve grown older, I’ve almost completely stopped telling people about major events in my life that might garner some sort of sympathy. This is one of those times, but I find that it would be out of character if I didn’t make a point out of life events. It’s kind of my thing.

So, I regret to inform you that my dad has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

I don’t know the type or the prognosis or really much of anything, but my mom says that, while the doctor didn’t say much, it sounds like its terminal. If she is correct, she also didn’t give me a time frame to consider.

I’ve only actually disclosed this to 3 friends, and it was because I knew they wouldn’t have much to say on the matter. No amount of “I’m so sorry” will do anything. Nothing. My situation is not unique. And knowing that my friends are “there for me” doesn’t really do anything for me either (the only thing that might make me feel better is having a man in my life, but oh well).

Death is a fact of life, and I plan to treat is as thus.

It’s almost like a clean slate when you might be dying. You can do whatever you want. Even be reckless if you so desire. Maybe its even liberating.

But, of course, I don’t want to lose my father. I assumed I had at least 10 more years with him, but remarkably, I’ve been preparing myself for the loss of my parents since I was a small child. One night when I was probably 6, I woke up from a nightmare that both my parents had died. I told my mom, through tears, about the dream. She comforted me about this plan God had that one day, he will save the world and people will live forever again as they were once meant to.

I held onto that for years.

Unlike the rest of my family, I have not held onto that faith in a higher power. There are moments when I wish that if I prayed a miracle would happen, and being agnostic makes it even more difficult. And that is how I feel about faith in religion. Desperation. So I hold my faith in science and medicine, as I should. There have been remarkable advancements in cancer treatment, and I think that even if God did exist, he would have given us these tools for us to use.

While I hope that something amazing happens and his cancer goes into remission, I hope, too, that my father is proud of me. The two things I wanted my dad to still be here for were to walk me down the aisle of my wedding, and to see me graduate from vet school. Unfortunately, I’m not close to accomplishing either of those things and I do feel some degree of failure because of that, but deep down I know he is very proud of me (all I really have to do is ask and he’ll boast).

I love him very much, and I hope that if it’s time, I’ll at least be able to get the most knowledge I can out of him before then. Because goodness knows, I feel like I call him every other day asking him how to change or fix or make things.

Death of a Roommate: One Year Later

16 Aug

It has officially been a whole year since the discovery of my roommate, dead upstairs, having been laying there for over a week.

Technically it’s not a full year until about 11:30, but still.

This year has probably been the worst year of my life, having had to deal with being homeless for so long, going into and out of relationships, losing friend and having other move away, and having my parents in poor health. Moving has been hard, as adjusting to a new job has been. But I’m optimistic.

I’m looking today to be the end of awful, and the beginning of getting my life back in order.

The death of my roommate has effected me much more than I ever could have imagined, but it has been so subtle it’s deceptive.

At the beginning of this week (the anniversary of him actually killing himself), I made a sudden realization that caused my sleep to be poor for the following days. Saying that I lived with a dead body for a week doesn’t even begin to cover the horror of it. Saying that I lived with a decaying corpse does. Where there are flies, there are maggots, and that is a visual that I am glad only exists vaguely in my mind.

To think the gruesome occurrences that unfolded upstairs went completely unnoticed makes me shudder, and to think that perhaps had I been more available, it might not have happened at all. (But no, I don’t blame myself. To be perfectly honest, I feel quite bitter toward my former roommate, who had only lived with us for about a week.)

Going into this new year, I believe that I’ve reached a point at which I can move forward comfortable, and settle back into the things that were once normal. I know that at least some of you have noticed I haven’t been writing almost at all. I haven’t been sewing. It’s as though I’ve been suspended in time for this year, and now I’m finally able to move forward again.

Tonight, I was supposed to retrace the steps I took that fateful evening, to hopefully accomplish something of a sort of rewriting that memory so that this day no longer holds the connotation it holds now. I was going to go to the same restaurant and bar we went to, with the friends who accompanied me through that night’s events. It was really important to me, and much to my dismay, they couldn’t join me.

I was going to go anyway, because even though they didn’t feel it important that they were there, it was important for me to go. As much as I wanted to hope, I’m not on their list of priorities. Due to circumstances outside of my control, however, I’ve been stranded here, so I am unable to retrace my steps.

It’s okay. Mostly because there is currently no one dead in my house right now.

And here is to tomorrow, that while trying, will be a new year with new adventures.

 

May my former roommate rest in peace.

It’s [Finally] Over.

25 Apr

On August 16, 2013, my roommate was discovered dead in his room.

With the help of a few friends, I was able to make any attempt to get life back to normal.

And today, 8 months later, I turned in my key to my old landlord, and got the last of my belongings we could find, and I got my deposit back.

I, also, went into the room he died in for the first time since the incident. I never saw the room after he died, and luckily my friends weren’t the ones to find him, but it still took me some courage to go upstairs and go in. Even when I had to gather my bathroom items in the few days after we found him, I sprinted into the bathroom (across from his room) and sprinted out without so much as a glance.

Now, the last image of his room is one that looks lived in, and well taken care of, by the new tenants. And I don’t know what I was feeling, but I had to make an effort not to cry the second I walked in. Of course, I cried after I left the house, but it’s done.

With any amount of luck (I think we can all agree the universe has it out for me), this will never happen to me again, and I can do nothing more than hope that no one has to go through this.

 

Life Update: Back to Blogging

19 Jan

It’s been so long, hasn’t it? Well, let me tell you what you’ve missed while I’ve been gone.

First, let me tell you the story.

On Tuesday, August 13, 2013 I came home after work and was greeted by the smell of feces. Having two cats and a dog, I immediately began looking for the source of the smell. I looked under things, behind things, checked the litter boxes, but unfortunately my sense of smell is poor, and soon enough I couldn’t use my nose to track the scent, nor did I find anything. Frustrated, I dismissed it. The next day I brought a coworker over to hang out for a spell, and asked her if she could smell it. She said she could, but it was faint, and that it smelled musty. On Thursday, I came home and my house smelled like sewage. My first thought went to the pets, but being unable to find anything, I checked the downstairs and upstairs bathrooms. Nothing. Again, I wasn’t able to smell anything else, and while I was concerned, I began making dinner.

When I was almost finished, I started to become aware of the fact that there was a really large number of flies in my house, and not the normal kind – they were the large, iridescent ones that are usually associated with death and really gross things. I tried not to let my thoughts consume me, but I was suddenly made conscious of the fact that I hadn’t seen any sign of my new roommate in over a week. It was at that moment that I completely freaked out and had to leave. I almost ran out of the house.

I texted a female friend, who I knew had been ice skating with most of our other friends, but no response. Frantic, I called her – again, nothing. Trying to figure out where to go, I grabbed my food and decided to sit in the car, and maybe call a male acquaintance of mine in desperation. As I got into my car, I finally received the text from the friend saying I could go to her house.

When I got there, the only thing I said was I think my roommate is dead. Like I assumed her, her boyfriend, and our other friend all thought I was crazy. I started telling them the signs – the weird smells, the flies, not seeing him for over a week. They dismissed them, and talked me down, which in that moment was really what I was looking for…honestly, people’s roommates don’t randomly die, right? The flies were due to recent spraying for mosquitoes, I didn’t check my landlord’s bathroom for the source of the sewage smell, roommate has a girlfriend…all things that make sense. It was enough to get me to go home, because it did make sense, and of all things, I know the smell of death and my dog hadn’t paid any attention to it, so why should I?

I got home, opened the door, and it smelled faintly of death. Not enough to know absolutely that it was death and not mustiness, but again…these things don’t happen to people.

The next morning, Friday, I woke up and went through my normal routine. As I was watching TV, about to leave for work, I hear my dog whine, and paw at my roommates door upstairs. While I was still in denial, I knew. I yelled for my cats and dogs to go downstairs, and tried to muster as much courage as I could. I couldn’t even make it all the way up the stairs. I reached, and gave three brief knocks, before bolting back downstairs and leaving to work. When I told my girl friend, she said her and our guy friend would come over after dinner and come investigate. I agreed, not knowing what to expect when I got off work.

I didn’t even have to open the door after work to smell the overwhelming smell of death. I let my dog out, stayed in the back yard, then kenneled him and went to dinner. At dinner, my friend bought me a dead guy ale, just for kicks. We laughed and made jokes, and eventually made our way to a bar. After a few drinks, it was time. When I got home, I couldn’t even be inside. I went out to the backyard and waited for them to arrive. When they got there, they finally admitted that I might actually have a problem. They knocked and called out and knocked some more, but my roommate didn’t reply. When we tried to open the door, it was locked. I thank the stars for that every day. We tried as many keys as I could find, but to no avail.

I called the cops (after much coaxing), and the dispatcher said to wait outside until they got there. The first cop to go inside immediately knew and acknowledged what was:

Yup.

It was the wee hours of the morning on August 17, 2013 when they found him. They had to break down the door, and he was in the worst point of decomposition – 7 to 9 days after death. We were all interviewed, and the detectives couldn’t wrap their head around why I didn’t find him sooner.

He moved in on August 3, after finding our house on  Craigslist. I had spoken no more than 3 times to him. I thought he had a girlfriend, and was out with her frequently. He didn’t have a car, so I never knew when he was home or not unless I saw him. How was I supposed to know?

Then we had pancakes. At 4:30 in the morning, thanks to two wonderful friends, one of which even went to go get milk. At 6:30 in the morning, while I was trying to go to sleep at my girl friends house (we all had a sleep-over), I texted my supervisor that I wouldn’t be in the next day, also after much coaxing by my friends.

I stayed with her for a week, but due to her mother’s arrival, I had to find shelter elsewhere. I spent the night at the male acquaintances house (who bought be the dead guy ale), and went to my parents to take my pets for the next two days. I came back, and actually stayed with him up until 3 nights ago. I slept on an air mattress for the first week, then my girl friend and her boyfriend gave us their old mattress, so I started sleeping on that.

Only a  few days later, a Tuesday in fact, the male acquaintance who had been so supportive (henceforth known as Fella), and I started dating. He is the most wonderful, tender, masculine man I have ever met and I can’t say that I’ve found anyone who can match how amazing he is. I had had a thing for him since June (at least set in stone – even the first time I saw him, I was smitten), and I had all but given up on the thought of us ever dating.

Our first weekend we were together (I took my vacation a week after we started dating), we almost took another camping trip to Crystal Mill where I had just been. I really wanted to, but we decided to go drive and check out the changing Aspen’s instead. It was great, and we parked at the top of the pass and ate lunch, and Fella got to watch me fall not once, but twice down the mountain side as I tried to take pictures in the snow.

We dated for about a month and a half, before telling all of ours friends. Most everyone knew, on at least some level, and expected it of us. After that, things got increasingly more complicated, and there were several times when I actually questioned the decision to tell anyone about us. I don’t like to announce things anyway, but oh well.

Then, one Sunday morning two and a half months after Fella and I started dating, he called it off over pancakes. I don’t want to get into the break-up as much, but I understood and really, there wasn’t anything I could do. He was still nothing short of amazing, which made it all that much harder to get over him. On my first day back to work after that weekend, my back windshield suddenly shattered and collapsed into my car.

As if things weren’t bad enough.

Things got so rough for the next two weeks, and then one day, I realized that we still should be friends, and that if I could still live with him, I was fine with that. We are still really great friends, and he is so supportive. One must always remember – have low expectations, but high hopes. That way you can work toward a goal, but if things don’t work out, you won’t be let down.

In the midst of all of that, I went back to the house to feed my chinchillas, and found that my snake was missing out of her Terrarium. I looked everywhere, but couldn’t find any sign of her. This was right before I took my trip in September, and I didn’t really have the time to look.

A while later, I came to do the same thing, and I found Pandora, my lady chinchilla, dead in her cage. I was heartbroken. It was this day that I found my snake, randomly, just laying in front of my bedroom door. A  few days later, I found my male chin, Hesiod, dead as well. And not too long after, my snake also passed. The only thing I can gather is that due to everything that had happened, they fell ill with an upper respiratory infection, or something similar, and I was unable to notice because of my absence.

And that’s the story. The abridged version, kind of. Then, there’s the here and “now”.

Up until the first of December, I was planning on moving back into the house that I had been living in. A lot of work needed done on it, and after months of fighting with the insurance company, they finally settled with my landlord to pay 50,000 dollars for repairs. My landlord set my move [back] in date as mid-December.

Yes!

And then I found out she was thinking of selling it. That was when I started looking for a new place to live, and not terribly long ago, I found this little gem of a place in the mountains (I live in Colorado, remember?). It made it really difficult because even though I no longer had my snake or chinchillas, I still had a dog that needed a yard, and two cats.

While I was looking for a place to live, I was also dealing with career upsettings. All of these things I am talking about – breakups, landlord selling the house, looking for a place to live, career changes, dying pets – are all happening at the same time. The only good thing that came from my roommate dying was Fella, and when that ended, there was nothing good to hang my hat on. I was down and out, and very bitter. I’m still being jerked around at my job, and I don’t know where I will be in even a month. I was trying to do behavior, and then supervisor, and now I don’t know what’s going to happen with it all.

But I did find somewhere to live. The place I found is nestled in the canyon, with the river running through it, placed on 23 acres, 2 of which are fenced. I can live alone and afford it. 

I started moving in last Sunday, and spent my first night here last Friday. I chose this weekend mainly because of the prorated rent, but also because I went to the hot springs for a few days and wanted to deal with it after.

To make everything more difficult still, I fell down some rock steps at the springs, and messed up both feet and ankles. All my toes are bruised, my weight-bearing foot has a sprained/bruised ankle, and my non weight-bearing foot has a huge lump that wraps all the way around the outer portion, and is incredibly bruised. It’s gotten better, but I’m still not back to 100%. That night, I had to climb up the side of the mountain back to the cabin in the snow. It was so incredibly painful, and I wanted nothing more than to be carried, but I had to buck up. I didn’t want to be that girl, so as much as I wanted to cry, I held it back until I was alone. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go back to the springs when everyone else did because of my ankle. Another girl friend stayed with me, and we played cards until everyone got back.

When we got back, I started moving, hurt feet and all. And while it’s been physically difficult, it has also been the most emotionally charged move I have ever made, other than the one when I moved from my family to go to college.

Really, living with Fella has been the easiest living situation I’ve ever had. I was happy, but I couldn’t just abandon my pets – I love them! I had no choice but to move out, and not only to I dislike change, but I dislike giving up happiness for the unknown. I live 30 minutes away from all but one friend, have no cell service here, and am genuinely worried that I will become alone and isolated. It hasn’t been bad, but going from seeing someone every night, who cooks amazing food for you, and always has good conversation to living alone again is difficult. I don’t know if I have spoken a single word out loud all day.

The unpacking process hasn’t been easy. Luckily enough, the workers who have been tearing up the house packed up all my stuff. Unfortunately, the basement flooded and some of it got wet/ruined. And then there is the dead roommate that is on all of my stuff. Everything I unpack has to be disinfected. I got a new mattress to help combat that and luckily enough (ish), I don’t have to worry about a couch, but I have had to wash every single article of clothing that I own. It’s been at least 6 or 7 loads of laundry, and I’m still not done with it.

But, I will have my cats and dog back in probably about 2 weeks, maybe 3. This summer, I can host awesome barbecues and we can hang out on the beach and swim in the river. I don’t have to worry about roommates. This basement apartment is pretty big, and open, and new. I literally live over the river and through the woods.

And probably the most exciting part – redecorating. I have big plans, and so many of them are DIY that once I get things settled, I will still have plenty to do.

And now that I’ve updated you, please look forward to a normal number of blogs from me. I apologize that I’ve been so absent. As you can tell, it’s been a roller coaster.