Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Letter to my brother.

On December 9th, 2011, my brother Roger died at home after suffering from a brief illness followed by a heart attack. He was 34 yrs old. It was extremely sudden and very traumatic for my whole family. My parents had found him in the bathroom, on the floor. He was already gone. It's been a difficult few months, to say the least. And each of us have been dealing with the pain and sadness in our own way. Writing is one of my coping mechanisms.

Dear Roge,

 I know it seems like a really crazy idea to write you a letter. Well, among all my "ideas" that I have had over the course of my life, this one seems pretty tame. I think it all started because Zach told me that he sent you an email. He said there were just things he wanted to tell you. Things he wanted to say and it seemed like the best way to get that all out. I could probably write you every day for weeks and I would really never tell you all that I wanted to. At least I am starting somewhere.

 I suppose it's one of those moments that will never leave me. That moment, on Dec 9th when I knew that you had died. The sound of mom's voice on the phone. What she said. Trying to understand the words. How I started to feel like I couldn't breathe.There was hole in my chest. I sat on my kitchen floor and said "ohmygod. ohmygod ohmygod" about a thousand time. My head on my knees, rocking back and forth. Trying to use the phone to call for help for myself. Lost. Totally lost as a person. For quite possibly the first time in my life...I didn't know what to do. Knowing that everything was going to change. Forever. That point where we need to start talking about you in the past tense. Where you won't always be 4 years younger than me anymore, rather you would stay 34 forever and Marty and I would move ahead...without you. All those pictures where 5' me had to stand in the middle of you and Marty with your 6+ feet of height, so the photo wouldn't look off balance. Now it's just me and Marty.

 And I am sorry but I wish I had never seen you in the ER that day. The day you left me. Zach wanted to go in...and you know he couldn't handle it. He couldn't stay. But I just couldn't let mom see you alone. But I really wish I didn't see you like that. You had been sick, and your beard was terrible. That crazy Hoeft hair growth. One week of not shaving and I could hardly recognize you. As dumb as it sounds, I was hoping that there would be some last minute miracle. They mixed you up. Confused you with the dude down the hall who is asking for me. It's wasn't the day for a miracle for me. So far from it.

 You still had the ET tube in and your eyes weren't all the way closed. The bright lights. The stupid hospital gown. So many pieces of medical things in the room, surrounding you, that I touch and work with every day of my life. They seemed so foreign to me that day. The whole place was ugly and harsh. It took so many nights (and so many xanax) before that wasn't the last thing I saw before I fell asleep every night, or even just randomly flashing through my head at inconvenient moments. Now it's just now and then, but I know it will never really leave me. I wanted to just sit down on that floor and just fade into it. I wanted to be anyone, anywhere, at anytime other than there. I wanted my alarm to go off and it just to be a nightmare. I wanted to know what to say or do or how to act. I wanted to make it all fit and make sense, even though I knew it never would.

 But mom couldn't live through that alone. She was drowning in sadness. Someone needed to stand next to her as she talked to you, touched your hands and kissed your forehead. I thought she would just collapse into the pain that that moment. And who could blame her? That time in the hospital was so strange...it seemed to last forever and then also to be just a blink. I made my phone calls like a robot. Calling everyone that mom called out to me. Calling work...and scaring myself with how calm I was sounding. Scaring them, too. The lists of things to do rattled through my brain. When was I working next? How was Marty going to get here in time? How was I going to do this? All the questions pounding me one after another. Really what I should have been thinking is...how the hell am I still able to stand up or even just breathe?

 The roller coaster of that day was exhausting:

 Talking to dad on the phone, like I had done a million times before and but this time I had to deliver horrible news to him. Unimaginable news. Hearing him break up and fade off the phone as I hung up. Knowing he was sitting at home all alone and dissolving into tears.

 Then talking to Marty. Hearing his voice, knowing he was swimming in sadness and his mental list growing every minute. Trying to get home to us as fast as possible.

 Telling the kids when they got off the bus. They had gone off to school like it was any other, typical day. Coming home to the world turned upside down and painfully different.

 Picking out your clothes for the funeral home and planning your wake and funeral. As I looked for your shirt and pants...I just sat in your chair in your room and cried. Not gasping, sobbing tears anymore. I didn't have the strength anymore...but slow, quiet absurd tears that just wouldn't stop. You know how much I hate crying in front of people. Had to break that rule a lot in those following days. Except trying not to cry in front of mom or dad...because I couldn't add to their hurt anymore. Feeling that full, pounding-in-my-chest pain, over and over.

And I kept thinking back to the days before. I talked to you on Tuesday. I knew you were sick but I wanted to tell you something about someone we knew. You made some dry jokes and you were off the phone in no time. Mom had told me that you were sick for a few days, and that you didn't want to go to the hospital. You always had a cold or the flu...something nagging you constantly. How was I to know this was different? Part of me has to live with the fact that I am a highly skilled ICU nurse...and I didn't come see you and assess you. Maybe I would have seen something. Maybe you would have listened to me instead of mom. Maybe I would have just taken over and gotten you to the hospital. Don't think I don't hate myself a little bit for that. Even though I rationalize it all. I know that this ending could have come just as easily in a hospital. I know all of that...but I didn't even try. My own brother and I didn't even walk in your room and do a basic exam of you. What the hell good as all my skills at that point? To save strangers and not my own family? I can walk into a hospital room and know exactly what the problem is and exactly how to fix it....but didn't fix this. And I know that you don't blame me. I know that with my whole heart. Still, it will be a hurt and an disappointment in myself that I will live with forever.

 I keep thinking back to a conversation we had once...a long time ago, when you were having trouble and in the hospital in Detroit. I think I said something like: "What the hell, you asshole! Are you trying to kill yourself!?!?" and you said "Ohh, are we going to talk like that?? Bitch. (pause) Shit, Heidi. I'm sorry. I can't even say that to you. I am sorry"

 I have always told everyone that I never fought with you. Not one day, one time, in our entire life together. The kids never believe me. Siblings always fight, right? I would always said "Ask Uncle Roge. He will tell you the same thing" That just wasn't the kind of relationship we had. Well, it just wasn't the kind of person you were. A lot of that credit goes to you, not to me. You can ask Marty.

When I think about last year, with how sick mom was...and how there is no way I could have done that alone...I start to cry a little. What if I have to do that again...and you aren't here? What if I can't do it all? What if I need you...no...when I need you...what will I do? The answer to that overwhelms me. It makes me panic a little inside. There's so much more to this that I keep deep, in a private part of my heart and the good thing is...you already know all of it. I don't have to try and put words or feelings to it. You just...know. Even if I can't understand any of these feeling myself...you get it. I will never really be done "writing you a letter" It is a constant dialog.

Forever it will be the reminder of an inside joke here and there. It's a smell from our youth. A random thought about us dividing up your Star Wars action figures, which took so long in negotiations that we never really played. And you always let me have what I wanted, even if I tried to hid it from you. You knew me that well. I remember holding you for the first time on that green and white, horrible 70's style couch. I couldn't even stand to look at you until mom asked if I wanted to hold the baby...and then it was love. I remember every cast you wore. Summer nights on Chesterfield. Winter walks home from St Al's in a blizzard. Being excited to share a new album with me. "I like the Fresh Prince, Heidi. But have you heard Run-DMC?? Now that's IT!" Dancing the the kitchen when mom and dad were at work and we were making dinner for ourselves. Bonfires at Babcia's. Family vacations. Teasing Marty into believing Freddie Kruger was at his window. Proud moments when you told people that you were glad to spend time with me again, like we had so much last year. My heart so happy when you said how you had missed hanging out with me and that if one good thing came from mom being sick all those months...that it was the time we had together. You weren't the best at expressing how you felt. You kept a lot inside, so hearing that made me so happy. Because I KNEW you loved me and you thought I was interesting enough to spend time with.

 I remember how good you were to my kids. They love you so much. They always will. No one is like Uncle Roge. My kids always disappeared into your room the first chance they got...because you were so damn cool. And they just wanted to be close to that for a little while. I love that you appreciated Sam and his quirks and that you saw some of yourself in him. Like me, they miss you every single day. Several times a day. I remember that really...you were my first friend. and I was yours.

 Believe me, I remember all the bad along with the good. One thing I loved about you is that you were always so honest about yourself. You knew all your faults. All those years of struggling..for you and for all of us who had to watch you and live our lives around you. I am sorry that you felt all that pain inside. That you struggled just to feel 'normal'. And I am annoyed that depression took so many years away from you and prevented you from enjoying your life more. You fought for so many years. I know it must have been exhausting. I can only imagine.

 I just don't want to dwell on those hard time, because that is not who you were. Even when you hit the very bottom of the blackest bottom...you were always kind and quiet and just...sad. I think that is why it hurt us so much to watch those years go by. And you pushed passed them and got better...some days were better than others. I think in the back of my mind I always thought it would be one of those demons that would take you away from me...and it was sometime much more real and medical.

 I haven't really gotten to that anger stage yet. I don't know if I will. I am too sad, too hurt to even consider it. Is it stupid that some element in your blood was low and it caused you to have a heart attack at 34 yr old? It's totally STUPID. But it happens every day. Sure, I could be mad at potassium or human physiology. Is that worth the effort? Not really? Things happen for a reason, right? This better have one HUGE good reason. I could be mad God, I suppose. But I don't feel that either. I don't know why. I can't explain it...I just am not.

 And I mad at you for leaving? For not taking better care of yourself...maybe a little but I think I am just much more sad and scared. And I think that is more of about who you were. Anger wasn't part of you. You were docile and quiet and I rarely saw you mad. So, I guess, it just isn't an emotion that I think about in connection to you. It was hard to be mad at you or if that ever happened, I never stayed mad at you.

 This was just how the story goes in our case. It's certainly not the way I wanted it to go. I just have to figure out how to keep you close to me and also to move ahead without you. It just seems impossible. I know it will take time, more tears and more crazy letters to you. I go through days like it didn't even happen. I think of something I want to ask you or tell you...and then it just smacks me back down to earth. I know that I am just in the beginning of this. Just starting to put the pieces together and make my way through it. It isn't the hot searing pain of a few months ago. Today it isn't more smoldering, underlying. Always there and ready to take my breath away at any moment.

I don't have to say that I love you. You know it. You always have. I know that send me things along my way, to help get me through. The exact song I need to hear, at the exact perfect moment. The flash of a childhood memory that makes me smile from the inside out. A random smile on a stranger when I feel like I am going to start crying in the middle of the grocery store. I know that you are never really far away from me. I just have to listen a little harder and pay attention a little more. But you are there.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The post I never, ever wanted to write

There's been a halt to the writing here, and not for lack of wanting to. Not for lack of material. Not for any reason that I could have foreseen.

Simply put there has been a tragedy in my family: On Dec 9th, 2011 my 34 year old brother suddenly, very unexpectedly died.

My brother died.

Those words don't seem real, even though I have said them many times over the last month. Well, that isn't entirely true. Sometimes they seem real and heavy and overwhelming. And sometimes they feel like I am saying them about someone else's life.

It's only been a month and trying to sort out all of those feelings is still impossible.

My brother was born when I was 4 years old. He was my first friend and I was his. He was a person with whom I shared a history that no one else will ever understand. We were so different in so many, many ways and oddly similar in others.
(One year while we were living at opposite ends of the state, we both bought our mom a Mother's Day card with the same joke, different cartoon...but the same punch line.)

I could write so much more. I am trying to find that line, where I have the right reaction. Did you ever feel that way? That endless loop of "Am I sad enough?", "Am I too sad?", "Am I just feeling sorry for myself" , "Should I be able to just get over this?", and "what the hell does this mean for the rest of my whole, entire life?"

Thing is...there is no right reaction. There is no right way to act or think. I am finally getting that through my head. You know, after I did all the things I needed to do. I did all the tasks on the list that needed to be done in the time between hearing my mom's voice telling my brother was dead and then all those sad, exhausting days following. And then the holidays ran up over me and now I finally have a few of those quiet days where I can begin to grieve and figure out how I am going to move through the days with this feeling of sadness. Funny how sometimes it is the furthest thing from my mind and then there are moments when I think I will never be able to shake off the crushing hurt.

Anyway, this isn't going to be become some blog where I write endless sad posts. Just sometimes. :-)
I will be back on the normal writing soon enough. I will be faking it until I can make it.

Just may take me some time. I am sure you understand.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blog Challenge: Day 3

I decided to go with two lists for blog this bog challenge, because some of the topics bored me or were just not really the type of thing I would write about to the general public. My choices for today were:
A.What kind of person attracts you
B. Write about your first love.

Well...I am going to take the MUCH safer road of topic A! It lends itself to far less embarrassment. Someday, kind readers, perhaps you will know all my deep, dark secrets. Today is NOT that day.

Let's see. I am a nurse. As a general population we are freaky people who are attracted to and attached to broken people. Listen, I know several of my friends will be offended by that term but they need to get over it. Partly it's my fault as well. I always want to 'fix' people and so I think in someway I draw them out. It's probably a pheromone signature in my DNA. A gift from genetics, yet again. (I said that with a really big eye roll..lest you think I was serious.)

Anyway, in terms of men I think I only need two things...intelligence and the ability to make me laugh. That sounds like some crappy dating website answer, but for me it's true enough. I like a challenge. I want to have crazy conversations about current events. I want to fight about Jeopardy answers. It keeps me from being bored. I didn't marry the class valedictorian for nothing, people.

Good lord, so much easier than 'my first love'.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Blog Challenge: Day 2

So getting to Day Two only took me 5 days. I told you I made no promises. I knew I would suck at the whole deadline thing.
Here we go:

How have you changed in the past 2 years?

You mean besides creeping closer to (BLECH) 40? Besides needing to have my hair dyed more frequently and making sure I rub Oil of Olay on my "trouble areas" every night?

eh. Wow, this one took me some time to really think through. Who really stops and looks back at themselves and does an evaluation? Ok, maybe some of you do. I am just not that kind of person. You are all better than me, I admit it. I am lucky that I know my work schedule from week to week and that I make it out of the house with semi-matching socks.

More and more over the last two years I have become a 'big picture' person. Certain stressing events have happened over the last two or so years which have changed my view...or made it widen, at the least.

Without going into ridiculous detail, I realize that things happen beyond our control and all we can do is let it roll along, fall off the table and gather up the pieces and try to glue them back together into a decent looking vase...errr...life.

That isn't to say that I don't freak out over little things, cry in the shower every now and again and pout when I can't have what I want when I want it because I am such a totally balanced person, who believes it all works out in the end. Frick, no. However, when the day (or crisis) is done I can see the whole thing settling out and I can find away to take those hideous, jagged pieces I am given...and make them fit. Hell, I jam them into place when I need to. I am small, but scrappy. I learned I am resilient and a better problem solver than I gave myself credit for in the past. And I actually learned that I trust myself as a parent and even as a nurse more then I had ever before.

Sounds easy, but I wasn't always so philosophical. Some days I am STILL not. But in general, I am more grounded, more secure in my own ability to handle crisis and much more empathetic to my fellow man after living through my own. You know everyone has their own piles of crap that they shovel, step around and clean up all the time.

God, I hope the Day Three doesn't take me as long to write and I hope it is a buttload easier!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blog Challenge: Day 1

Day 1: Introduce, recent picture of yourself, 15 interesting facts.

I suppose I have to start somewhere. Even if it sounds lame.

Hi, my name is Heidi. I am a blogger. Sort of. Not really. Only a little.

I am:
A mom of three boys (19, 15, 9)
an ICU nurse.
car dancer.
Photoshop user.
closet romantic.
closet poet.
smartphone obsessed.
fairly ridiculous.

Facts about myself?
1. Good God, I hate olives. Like really, really hate. I can't even handle the smell. I keep trying them every few years to see if my tastes change...they NEVER do.

2. I really don't enjoy Winnie the Pooh. Those books were dreadfully boring. The Disney versions weren't that much better.

3. The 'whites' of my eyes are blue due to a genetic bone disease I have called Osteogenesis imperfecta. Makes my bones more breakable than 'normal' people. Who really wants to be normal anyway? I break bones. I heal. I live.

4. I try to hide it, but I am a pretty much a book nerd. I read more than almost anyone I know. I converted to the Kindle recently. That only made it worse.

5. My family nickname is Ida. My great grandma couldn't say 'Heidi' and every time she tried, it came out sounding like 'Ida'. It's my mom's favorite way to get my attention...'IDA'!!

6. The only time I ever got into a car accident ( well, I backed into a parked car) the guy sent ME flowers. For being so honest and probably because when I found him to tell him, I was sobbing. He felt bad for me.

7. I hate whistling. It makes me sick to my stomach. BLECH.

8. I am addicted to Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry.

9. I take a photo...of something...anything...just about every single day. If I could be anything at all, it would be a photographer.

10. I have a weakness for violins in rock songs. That song could SUCK...throw in a violin and I am sold. I think it all goes back to my love of Buddy Holly. He was the innovator of orchestra music mixed with a little rock-n-roll.

11. Several of my best friends are ones I have known since kindergarten or thereabouts. I went to a really small Catholic school and graduated 8th grade with 21 in my class. Those people mean the world to me.

12. I have been in 38 of the 50 states. I LOVE New Mexico and Utah the most of the ones I have seen.

13. I remember almost ALL of the dialog I hear in movies and TV shows. It's freaky and I am sure if you are around me...it can be annoying. I try to reign it in.

14. I have a TERRIBLE potty mouth. The more I try to get a handle on it, it more I swear. It's a sickness.

15. I have worn hearing aids for almost 5 years now. My stupid bone disease ( see above) has effected the bones in my ears and made me lose a great deal of my hearing at a 'young' age. I am annoyed that I have to wear them but then also happy that there is something available to help me out and that I don't have a worse ailment. It rarely effects my day to day life. And when I do sleep...no noise wakes me up. You win some. You lose some.

Ok. Day one...done. Let's see how badly I mess this up and how many days I skip. Hey, maybe I will surprise myself! HA!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back to the blog!

It's not like I haven't been thinking about writing. I have. And I just need to get back to doing it. I know that usually I am the one who put the PRO in procrastination, but I am hoping to change all of that...soon.

I am taking on a "blog challenge" of sorts. I have two lists of topics and I will *try* to write on one every single day, which with my work schedule is HILARIOUS! On those work days when I am up at 5am, out the door by 6am and come home, starving and wrung out like a used washcloth, the last thing I am ever going to want to do is to write. One those days I will give myself a break. Don't judge me!

I know that I have all of about 4 readers on this blog( I think it is less but I don't want to sound overly pathetic just yet) and it will be such a miracle that I wrote ANYTHING that I am sure a day of two "off" won't phase a soul.


Back to writing!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

That "little" break

Damn. Who even knew I had a blog still?
I guess I have to try to force myself to write something other than a kid's note for school or a Facebook update or 140 character Twitter update. I even suck at Twitter for the most part. I am going to blame it on my adult onset ADD again.

Believe me, is not like I don't have a plethora of topics to write about...I do, I just have to find more than 20 mins to string together to make some sense of a jumble of sentences I have on notepad.

Well, since I wrote last...I broke my wrist pretty badly ( GREAT excuse..no?) I have been to Europe, my youngest broke his arm quite horribly and about 1,000 other every day life events have kicked my ass up and down the street.

I have to sift through my "drafts" folder, which is a mess of half written ideas and nonsense.

For my 3 or 4 readers..I am here! I swear!
I will not promise posts...but my intentions are so good!
And maybe I will feel inspired. you never know!