Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Mia Day

I expected to be curled into a little ball today. I thought that after a year, all the magical energy that has somehow been holding me up and keeping me together may diffuse and I'd be a big pile of sad mush. Last night I shed a few tears, today I might shed more, but all and all, there isn't any mush to be seen. I am still a fully functioning person - well maybe not "fully".

It's been one whole year since my Mia's heart stopped. I think of her, I miss her, and I will always ache for her, but we did not stop with her. In that year we have grown and loved and lived.

Bittersweet is the only description I can muster. I am so thankful that Mia had my heartbeat and her sister's warmth. I don't know if I believe in heaven, but I have experienced enough magic and miracle in this world to hold the faith that our spirits will meet again.

I have rethought the whole loss thing. It's not only that we lose someone when they die, it's that we may feel lost after they are gone - frightened and directionless. Love has been my compass this year.  A year ago my doctor loved me, my nurses loved me, my husband, my mother, family, friends and strangers. Maybe that's been the magic that's kept me on course. It's love that leads my way.

So, thank you family. Thank you friends. Thank you sunshine. Thank you world.

Thank you Mia.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

In which we have a visit to the ER

I was not a healthy child. Some of my earliest memories are of the Emergency Room in the middle of the night. I had ear infections and viruses and all sorts of things that babies/children shouldn't get. Growing up I developed an acute dislike of doctors and hospitals, not because of their service, but because of all the guess work and red tape involved. By adulthood it had to be a "bleeding from the eyes" sort of situation before I would go into be seen. Pregnancy helped to change some of my reluctance. Since I was high-risk and had a belly full of two babies I understood that doc visits were necessary. Each trip was still an annoyance, but I went knowing that I was doing the best I could for my girlies.

Parenthood has given me a whole new perspective. I didn't realize that every time I didn't want to go the hospital my folks had the fear of God in them that the worst could be wrong. I get that now. I completely must apologize for 98% of their grays.

Leeloo and I are back in Arizona for another visit. Trips here are always a jam packed. In just a couple of days we were at an airport, a church, a playground, the Y, grocery stores, target, abuelita's house and  the rental car in between. Somewhere in that Family Circus path the chiquita got sick.

Around 6pm my little girl had a fever - easily overlooked (especially with all the droolishous teething that's been going on). We went to bed early (about 8:30ish), and I watched her toss and turn more than usual. An hour or so later when I put my hand on her back to sooth her I realized that she was no longer just warm, but hot. I took her temp three times: 102.9. Entirely too high for my comfort zone. I called the Kaiser advise nurse (5 million thank-yous to my trusty partner for providing us with insurance!), and after a series of questions she told me to go to the ER. In fact, she didn't suggest, she ordered, and then she made me repeat it back so she was sure I understood. We were on our way - no more hesitation ever about going to the doc. I woke my mom up and we all headed to the University Medical Center where I was born.

At this point I wasn't too frightened. I had answered "no" to most of the nurse's questions and I was sure she was just sending us to the hospital as a precaution. Despite being sleepy and hot the chiquita was smiling and in mostly good spirits, she was even flirting with the desk crew while I was filling out paper work. The all-consuming fear and worry came when I went to give to nurse my insurance card and Leeloo went Linda Blair all over my mom and the lobby. I had no idea that her little tummy could hold so much to throw up. She was covered, her abuelita was sprayed and the furniture and floor looked like a bad roller coaster accident. Sad baby, stressed mama, sticky grandma - welcome to the ER in the middle of the night.

After her Exorcist moment, Leeloo felt a lot better. Her fever went down immediately and she was back to playing with the hospital staff. Nurses and interns and docs poked and prodded her until it was determined that she had a Upper Respiratory Infection (which I think is fancy talk for "cold"). After hours of the waiting game (and falling asleep in the room), we were discharged at 3am.

All wrapped in a blanket at 3am.
Since then we've had low fevers, runny nose and a few restless nights, but she seems better each day. Last night we even slept through the entire night. Big sigh o' relief. This mama stuff is stressful. Now on with our vacation!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day of the Dead

This was a big in the death year for our family. Mia, Pops, Papi. It seemed just as some healing began we were scraped raw again. I wish there was a pause button, some kind of universal time out that we could have taken for ourselves, but life didn't work that way. The dishes needed to be done, homework, dinners, family, friends - nothing stopped. Our pain was acknowledged, and sympathized with, but nothing was put on hold. It turns out there is no room for death in life. Death happens everyday, but life never skips a beat.

When Mia died I was in shock, by the time Ripley was born I was exhausted. I got home and had a non-sleeping newborn, and when she did sleep I stayed awake longer just to make sure she was actually breathing. We also had the boys at home, they were expecting two girls and we only came home with one, there were so many questions. On top of that family and friends all wanted to come by, which was lovely, but it meant the chaos had to be mostly controlled. It was, and is, busy. A lot of my grieving and healing happened in between the lines. There were many middle of the night crying sessions and tears alongside the incredible happiness of having a growing baby. Life moves on and we try to keep up.

I made a conscience effort this year to make more time for death. Scheduled time when our only purpose was to feel and share those feelings. One of those occasions for me was Day of the Dead. In Tucson there is the All Souls Procession that culminates around the traditional holiday. It has grown by tens of thousands and it's something I look forward to every year. This year D agreed to bring the boys so we could process together. There is something to be said about being completely surrounded by people who are paying homage to the deceased. It's powerful and amazing. It was a great reminder that we are not alone in grief - everyone has their experience. I am so happy that the boys had this chance to stand for our family - I'm so glad we could do it together.

Our masks.

Not scared of skull mommy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Mi Familia

We have a beautiful family and a wonderful place to live - we are lucky. The trade-off? All extended family is far away. It's hard to get used to such a small family. I grew up surrounded by grandparents and cousins and aunties and uncles. Every birthday, holiday, even weekends were filled with noise and laughter and controlled chaos. I don't remember ever being bored or lonely, because I was always surrounded.
Lucky for us, my fam isn't too far away, so we get many visits in. It's not quite the same as growing up, but it's special. Maybe one of will win the lottery one day and we'll get to visit even more :)

Pictures from a quick lunch with my brother and his family:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

9 months

Yay! Ripley turned 9 months. Well, technically, her 9 month bday was two and a half weeks ago. But yay for 9 months!
These days the little one is in full steam mode. Everyday there isn't just one new thing but several, and what isn't new gets fine tuned. It's all very fun and exciting and exhausting (at least on the mama front). She has finally graduated to napping on her own which gives me time to eat and shower and check email (you know, the basics). I also finally gave into a baby cage. Chiquita was too fast and clever when she got the crawling thing all figured out. Now she's finding weaknesses in the gate - one day I'm sure I'll find her climbing over it!
Gone are the days when we were waiting for her to do stuff. Here are the days when we are trying to keep up. She is vivacious and happy and super fun. I am bursting with the mama love.

Loving on her Sara (my beautiful Goddess daughter)
She has decided that she loves sand. Beach Betty fo' sho'.

Learning the basics to sand castle building.

Luckily she has a Sara to take her out into the waves (mama likes much warmer water).
On our way to AZ. Four hours in the terminal - chiquita was a trooper.
With her Abuelita - we may have been sad in Tucson, but she did her best to cheer us all up.
Hanging out with Tio Chris.
My auntie and mom introduced her to the mall, specifically the kids play yard. She loved it!

You can tell she was having a great time. 

I call this her tata face. Scrunchy and devious!

Flying with her Uncle Terry. 
With her Tia and her Cousin Dillon (after he decided being a cousin wasn't all that bad)

Uncle Steve has already got this kid thing down!
On our way back to Cali. 

She was so great on the plane. 
Back at home it was business as usual.  Here she was helping daddy correct Z's homework.

When a baby meets Avocado.

This is my favorite dress of the moment.
She is so very close to the walking thing.
As always - she loves her Uncle Dave.

She officially graduated to a big girl carseat this month!
I am not a fan of the tele - but sometimes Big Bird is needed.
She still loves the pool too! 
Before the baby gates - I tried everything to barricade this girl in.

Little stick on earrings make me wanna put holes in her ears for the reals!

Our adventures in food have been quite fun.

So far - she like almost everything :)

My goal is to blog once a week. So far, once or twice a month is the norm. Goals are good things to have. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Once again with the death thing.

(August 13th)

My dad died today.
He went in to the VA Hospital for knee surgery and he died.
I'm totally over this whole death thing. Death, if you can hear this, please move along now. Quickly.

(August 14th)

This year is kicking my ass with sadness.  When dad reacted badly to the surgery I immediately thought of flying out.  He didn't want me to go because 1) hospitals are no place for babies, 2) the million degrees that is Arizona right now and 3) he's mostly a no-fuss sort-of guy.  After a couple of days passed and he was still struggling I booked a ticket. I had visitors coming and the monkeys were starting school, so I decided to wait a week before flying out. My dad died unexpectedly yesterday and my flight is today.
I am so sad. I want to start up with all the "what ifs", but Mia taught me that those are futile.

(August 31)

I've spent the week in a sort of bumbling haze. I went to Tucson and stayed with my Tia. Before dad died I had made all these plans to see people. The thought was, I'd visit him in therapy and then make the rounds with the girlie. Once we landed I didn't really know what to do. We went to my sister's house and sat and talked and ate. At my Tia's house we sat and talked and ate. My dad insisted on never having any type of memorial service, so there was nothing really to plan. All of us were just locked in this stunned holding pattern. We woke up every morning and spent the day being thankful for the family and love that we still have. Even if a large part of that family had just slipped away.

I knew three sides of my dad. The first was the tequila drinking, mischievous, short tempered Marine. My parents got divorced when I was around two, so my dad had me on the weekends. However, he never let that stop him from having a good time. I would go to bars and dance halls and backyard poker games, hunting, shooting and we always would dance, dance, dance at weddings. I've heard stories of his high school football jock years (getting away with so much even though my tata was the Chief of Police). He told me about the Marines, and Vietnam, and getting shot and blown up (I have the bullet that went through his leg). He gave me my first drink, and let me smoke cigarettes with him when I was fourteen (and pretending to be tough). He would take me to R-Rated movies and horrors at the Drive-In. He would let me steer the car and shoot his pistol and dust me off whenever I fell or hurt myself. When camping I would get dirty and pee outside and he never made being a girl seem any different from being a boy. He put me on horses bareback and helped me up again after they'd buck me off. I would watch him play pool with his own stick (and he'd win enough money for dinner). He would drink and laugh and eat and tell jokes and enjoy the life he was given.

Despite doing lots of things that made my mom cringe, my dad would spend lots of quiet time with me too. He would take me to church on Sundays, then we'd go home and watch golf. There were lots of visits to museums and galleries followed by picnics in the park. We'd go play golf and he'd have me carry my clubs. We would spend a lot of time with family, I had a handful of cousins my age that share the majority of my childhood memories. We would go to carnivals and fairs and he'd always try to win me a prize. We'd spend hot summer days inside malls, people watching and making up stories as they'd pass by. Dad and my Tia would take us all hiking on holidays, Easter was usually spent by a stream, or at the park. He'd buy me outfits on layaway, and never believed in credit cards. He'd make me over-easy eggs and taught me how not to break the yolk. We would go to car shows and fiestas in the park. He loved mexican music and 50's songs. We would drive for hours just to see where the road would take us. We would go to the Swap Meet and Gem shows and buy treasures. We would dance in the living room and I would stand on his feet. He taught me how to play chess and he never let me win. I don't ever remember him yelling at me or being too angry (even when I lost my tata's ring on a golf course and dad was crushed). I always felt that he loved me and he was proud, no matter what I did.

The summer before I left to college my dad had a serious stroke. He was in his early 40's and it turned him into an old man over night. Some years before that he remarried and I got a new family filled with brothers, sisters and nieces and nephews. I had the chance to see my dad as a husband, and a grandfather. After the stroke he retired, and he had to walk with a cane. His life slowed down, but he still liked to cook and eat and tell jokes. He was stubborn and would try to fix things by himself. He was off balance and always had some sort of cut or scrape (and the most amazing skin that would magically heal). He moved to Rio Rico into a house on three acres of desert. He would drink coffee and make salsa and watch boxing in his chair. He watched me get married, and divorced, and date all the wrong people. He watched me perform, even if it was late at night and crowded. He watched me jump into everything with my whole heart, and he would still brush me off if I fell. Our visits were quieter and calmer, but we would sit and talk and eat and hold hands. He would smile and tell me he loved me. He watched me move to California and become a stepmom. He walked me down the aisle for the second time and held me when Mia died. He loved Ripley and even learned how to Skype with her on his first computer. He got frustrated at his body and hated being slow and achey. He wanted knee surgery so he could move around better and keep up with his newest granddaughter. He wasn't a perfect man, and he wasn't always a good man, but he was a wonderful man. My Papi. I loved him and always felt loved back.

I miss you dad. Take care of Mia for us.

60 year span.
30 years old. 60 years old.