Father’s Day from an Orphan’ s Point of View

Sorry for the long silence. Things have been a bit rough and I haven’t been able to write. This was written last year, but I felt too vulnerable publishing it. But now I think I need to, to help me as I try harder to stay in the present and not obsess over the past or worry about the future.

“All you had to do was say you’re sorry. I would have forgiven you.” Postcard on http://www.Postsecret.com

I didn’t become an orphan in the usual way, where both parents passed away at the same time. No, that label took 16 years to take hold, the first parent leaving when I was 13, the other parent leaving when I was 29. One left by choice, the other by circumstance.

The one who left by choice was the man who helped my mother have me. When he decided she wasn’t enough woman for him and walked out to be with his girlfriend, he turned my world upside down. I was 13, already dealing with hormones and body changes and mood swings and I didn’t understand. I was angry, and felt forced to spend time with him and felt like he didn’t want to be with me either. Then one day when he dropped me off after a particularly awkward “visit” he said, “I was never a 13 year old girl. I don’t know how to relate to you.” And those were his last words to me.

I have tried through the years to contact him because I couldn’t bear to not be in his life. I realize now he should have tried to contact me, because he couldn’t bear to not be in MY life. My college graduation, my first marriage, the celebration of earning a Master’s degree. I wrote so many letters, some I sent, some I didn’t because I was upset and afraid to send them, telling him, begging him, to come to these events, that nothing from the past would matter. And no response. I don’t know why I kept trying, to be honest. Maybe I thought he wasn’t getting the letters, that his new wife was intercepting them so if I kept trying maybe she would relent or he would get to the mail first. Then his mother died and the obituary said she was survived by one grandchild. I was the oldest of two. But though that hurt me, I still had hope that he would find me and say he was sorry, can we please start over and try to fix our relationship. And I would have!

But then on whatever day I had the service for AngelMom, I knew he would do something to show that he cared for her, for me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted him there, it would distract from her if he did come and probably upset me more, but I hoped he would at least send flowers or a card or something. Again, no response, on the day I most needed one. Maybe he didn’t know where I lived but he could have sent something to the funeral home! So that is the day I decided he was dead to me and I was officially an orphan.

But deciding I was an orphan didn’t turn off the feelings completely, I guess because the mind knows you’re lying to yourself, that it’s not factual what you believe. Two months later I married Mr. G, and then a little over two years later I had Peanut, and then four years after that I had Bird, and through all these years I would see him around town. I so wanted to go up to him and say, here are your beautiful grandchildren that you will never have the joy of knowing! I looked just like him, he would always know me right? Of course he would! I never went up to him because I was afraid he would pretend he didn’t know me, and by rejecting me again he would reject my children as well and they didn’t deserve that. I couldn’t bear that. So I kept quiet and made myself miserable.

What’s funny is that those hateful last words put me on a path for what I thought was normal male behavior. Three boyfriends followed after he left us, one almost turned into a husband, and one did turn into a husband, and they all felt that I wasn’t enough for them and found another woman, yet I felt it was my fault. I was a teenager or in my early 20s, I didn’t even know who I was or what I wanted, how could it be my fault???? Did any of them really love me? I don’t know. It made me distrustful and guarded and reluctant to love.

I did have positive male influence in my life, and I appreciate those men who were or still are in my life, and the new men who have accepted me as family! But it’s not the same as the blood relationship and believe it or not, Father’s Day is almost as unbearable as Mother’s Day! It’s the same ache, same jealousy I have watching other women with their mothers. My children will only have Mr. G’s parents as grandparents and that makes me sad. But unfortunately there is nothing I can do about that. I can’t try anymore. He doesn’t want to be in my life. I have to accept it. And yet, I will still think of him today and wonder if he thinks of me too. I can’t help it. I wish I could. He has hurt me enough.

To the man who helped my mother have me: None of this is my fault. It’s yours. All you had to do was say you’re sorry.

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Sad but Thankful

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Wishing I was already stuffed from breakfast. Angel Mom always made traditions that were slightly different from what everyone else did.  Although I miss her and am sad today,  I am thankful that I have happy memories of things she did for me to show how much she loved me. May my friends and followers find something to be thankful for and enjoy this blessed day!

I’m Tired of Wishing

The place where I go to visit Angel Mom is down the road from my office. And while there are no significant dates that make me miss her just now, I have been taking her flowers almost every Monday, and sometimes go back again later in the week just to sit with her and talk. 

I talk to her all the time anyway, but there’s something about the peacefulness of the cemetery that is calming, and makes me feel closer to her. 

This was “our” conversation today:
Mommy, I wish you could see Peanut run cross country. I wish you could see Bird play basketball. I wish you could hear them talk and be excited about things they are learning in school. I wish you could hug me and I could feel it. I wish I could call you and get advice when my life with Peanut is too much and I don’t know what to do.  I wish you could make me laugh when I feel sad. I wish I didn’t have to come here to visit you. 

And her response: silence.

I’m tired of wishing for her. I’m tired of watching other people who are being impatient with their mothers. I’m tired of using losing her as an example to try and explain to Peanut how lucky she actually is, and Peanut not really caring. I’m tired of being a motherless daughter.

As I sat there feeling sorry for myself a beautiful and huge orange Monarch butterfly appeared and was fluttering around and almost flew into my van. Then, as my signs from Heaven usually do, the butterfly just disappeared. Although the butterfly was beautiful it didn’t comfort me much this time.  I found myself wishing it had stayed longer. 

Just another wish I’m tired of making.

When Butterflies Appear

butterfly“Butterflies hover and feathers appear whenever lost loved ones and Angels are near.”

I have started a pattern of writing every other night, and mentioned it last week, and now as usual when I have a self-imposed writing schedule I am getting writer’s block. It happened when I did the November blog challenge, and again when I started my Miss You Monday letters. I was going to write about taking Peanut bathing suit shopping, (good story but not in the mood to describe it since she’s ignoring me so I don’t want to “summon” her and have her bite my head off just for breathing), and then considered the NAACP President calling herself Trans-racial (ridiculous in my opinion but didn’t feel like dealing with any backlash.) So I did the obvious thing writers do when they have writer’s block and opened my laptop and just sat here half watching a recorded (almost said taped! HA! 🙂 ) DVR of America’s Got Talent and flipping through Pinterest for inspiration.

So apparently Angel Mom wants to be the topic of conversation tonight because I found that quote that I had pinned a few days ago. 😛 I’ve written about my signs and dreams before. It’s funny how you really don’t pay attention to things until they apply to you. I had always been interested in pennies from Heaven and spiritual events, but never really thought they were real until July 23, 1999. After that I decided they were real because that was the only comfort I could find in the nightmare that had become my new normal.

Sunday I wrote about how I was feeling discouraged because my fundraiser hasn’t gotten the response I hoped for and my Horoscope confirmed that I’ve become apathetic and I need to change my attitude and I will succeed. Even so I hadn’t really done anything since last week, and with only 11 days left I can’t really afford to not work on finalizing the details. Last night I was looking at the Facebook page of a girl at Bird’s daycare who is hosting a Color Run on Saturday to benefit Penn State’s Four Diamonds Fund (Peanut and I are going to walk….so either you’ll have a great happy story or a great angry story…stay tuned!) in honor of Nephew, and I was a little mopey because her mother is very involved and proud of her and signed up to run or walk too. I wished that my mom was here to help me with my event and tell me she was proud of me for trying so hard to make this nice for everyone involved, and tell me of course it would be great because I was in charge of it and I learned how to plan amazingly successful events from her.

Today I had my women’s networking luncheon and as I was leaving a yellow butterfly appeared and fluttered wildly around, maybe so I would notice it, and then disappeared. Now it was very hot and humid, and there was a heavy rain shower while we were eating and there was still wind when I left although the sun was out. Typically there aren’t bugs around when it rains or when it’s windy. And it really did appear and disappear. They always do when they’re my signs. Most of the time I see yellow butterflies in ridiculous places…at my second floor window or in front of my windshield on the highway. That’s how I know they’re my signs.

The point of all this is I was encouraged by the butterfly’s appearance. After dinner I organized my raffle prizes, cleared out my scrap room a bit, worked on creating the prize info cards and updated my income spreadsheet and felt at peace. It will all come together and it will be ok no matter how much is raised, whatever I raise is money Nephew didn’t have before. Butterflies are proof that she is with me, and I love butterflies even more now, especially the yellow ones.

You Really Don’t Want to Know

Today a new writer friend made the comment that her friend’s mother had recently passed away, even after all these years I still can’t bring myself to say died, and she said to her friend that she doesn’t want to know how her friend feels, but she will be there for her to help her get through it. I said, “No, you really don’t want to know how she feels.” I was not offended by her comment, and hope her friend wasn’t, and I wasn’t trying to offend her by agreeing. Being in the motherless daughter club is not prestigious. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and wish we all would not be sisters through loss.

I also said that I have learned how to be happy in spite of my grief but I have not gotten over it. I will never get over it. I am thankful that people who don’t know how awful this loss is have finally stopped telling me it’s been long enough and they don’t understand why I am still mourning and I need to get over it. They don’t understand and the only thing I need to get over is the need to listen to them or the guilt I sometimes feel because yeah it has been a long time and I have things I should be happy about. But that’s the thing. It’s been 16 years since my life changed forever. The hole in my heart is still as big as it was that last day of my old normal. Time has put a thin layer of new normal over the hole that allows me to have moments of happiness so I can enjoy my new life, but I also now have constant feelings of how bittersweet whatever I’m happy about is because I can’t share it with my mother. Then the thin layer of normalcy gets ripped off, usually by something completely mundane and unexpected, and I’m drowning in the grief again. It’s a constant swing and I can’t stay on the positive side long enough. It’s exhausting at times.

I’ve been very emotional lately. Mother’s Day just passed and soon will be her birthday and then her anniversary. I hate to rush time but it will be easier when August is here and I have a break before the painful holidays begin again. I haven’t written because I’ve been busy with my new job and my fundraising event, and I’ve been ok about that, but it seems that whenever I talk to the woman I talked to today I am inspired to write again. Perhaps Mom is talking to me through her, and giving me “permission” to write about her, or maybe I just have built up enough sadness and it needs to be released and it’s just coincidence that I talked about it today. I don’t know. I just wish that the pain would go away.

Miss You Monday – 1/5/15

Dear Mom,

It’s hard to believe another year without you has started. 15 years into 2000s too!

It’s another year of having news to share and having to tell myself out loud so I can pretend you can hear. Another year of feeling like there’s just a little enthusiasm missing from the people I can tell. Another year of random loneliness and sadness. Another year of wondering why.

But this year has started off well with some good news and a new opportunity to change my path, so this year is not going to be just another year. I’ll still have random times of pain I’m sure but I’m striving to be more positive and focus more on what I have and less on what I’ve lost.

I still miss you, Mom.

Miss You Monday – 11/3/14

Dear Mom,

It’s hard to believe after 15 years I still think about calling you to tell you the good, the bad, the boring, anything to just talk to you. At least I don’t pick up the phone anymore, I just think about calling you.

The last few weeks I’ve had plenty I’ve needed to talk about, not much of it good. Mr. G is the only one I have to talk to, but sometimes he gets tired of hearing about it, or he tells me I need to speak up and stop letting everyone take advantage of me, or he says Peanut acts the same way with him and I need to let it roll of my back like he does.

But Mom, I don’t care if he’s tired of hearing about it, if he thinks I’m weak, or if he has the same problem, which he doesn’t. I don’t need him to fix my problem, I just need him to listen to me, no matter how long it takes or how often I’ve said it. I need him to be like you, willing to talk to me about anything I want to talk about, anytime.

I talked to you a lot once I was old enough to appreciate you, and sometimes I didn’t really want to but felt I had to since you were my mother. And it’s one of the things that I really miss now that I don’t have it. Sure I could talk to my mother-in-law, but it’s not the same. She might just be listening to be polite, who knows?

I talk to you now, but I can’t hear your response, and that’s what I need. I need to know that it will be ok, that my feelings are valid, that what I said was funny, that the person I’m mad at was wrong or I’m being dramatic and I’m wrong. It doesn’t really matter what you would have said. It just matters that I could tell you and know you were listening.

I miss you Mom.

Starting Tomorrow…Miss You Monday

Last week I attended a womens networking group, and I met a writer who has a local publisher. She suggested I start marketing my book before it’s completed, and said maybe I could regularly blog about what’s been happening in my life as letters to my mother.

So starting tomorrow, Mondays will be “Miss You Monday.” Although 15 years have passed, I haven’t truly healed from the loss of my mother, but have simply learned how to cope. I will focus on how difficult it is to navigate the new stages of Peanut’s life when I have no one who’s been through it with me to tell me we will eventually be ok.

Her loss still affects me, and sometimes I still don’t know what to do without her. I am sharing my story not for my benefit but for yours, so you know you are not alone.

If you have any suggestions for future letters or for ways to cope, please let me know.

Still Vivid After 15 Years

Even though it will soon be 15 years since Angel Mom became my Angel,  and it certainly most of the time doesn’t feel like it’s really been THAT long, I still remember a dream I had a few days after her funeral.

I was the only one making all the decisions, and unfortunately we never talked about what she wanted so I really had no idea what I was doing or if any of it would have been what she wanted. In my shock and daze I made decisions I regret now, but at the time I couldn’t think clearly. As the funeral director patiently asked me about every detail I never imagined, I struggled with every answer I gave. It wasn’t enough that I had this enormous grief, and the guilt about all the nasty things I’ve ever said to her, I had to have anxiety that I was failing miserably at this last thing I had to do for her.

So I somehow decided which details to say yes to and which to say no to, and got through the 2nd worst day of my life. I alternated between sobbing, numbness, and regret that I didn’t do this instead of that for her.

I think it was the 2nd day after her funeral when I had this dream. We were sitting on her bed and I started telling her about the funeral and how nice it was that so many people came, and most of them knew me even though I had no idea who any of them were. It comforted me that she had touched so many people’s lives and that she had talked about me so much to them. I told her all the details…what I liked, what I didn’t like and said I was sorry I didn’t handle it properly. She told me it was just fine and she was happy with everything and I did the best I could do. I asked her why she had to go and she said she couldn’t tell me now and I can’t ask anymore. And then suddenly I woke up, I tried to go back to sleep to keep the dream going but of course it didn’t work. I did feel very peaceful, although sad that the dream was really just a dream.

Some people, myself included, believe that loved ones visit us in our dreams because we can’t see them when we’re awake, and it’s easier for them to communicate with us when we’re in a trance-like state. Isn’t this a lovely thought?

May everyone have the dreams they want to have every night.

Hard Decisions

It’s a rainy, cold Sunday and so I spent the afternoon writing about the most depressing topic I can: dealing with Angel Mom’s passing. Bird was putting together a ginormous Lego set and wanted me to sit with him, so I brought the laptop down and attempted to clean out my “online” email. I deleted about 300 emails :O and then got bored with that and decided to work on the book I decided to publish myself after my nonfiction story was selected to be published in a collection on Amazon. Check it out, I’m Pennsylvania! I decided to write about Angel Mom and how I have dealt with that loss and hopefully help other people who are or have gone through the grief of losing a parent.

So anyway,  I’d like you to read this excerpt and tell me what you think. I feel like it’s not quite finished, but maybe you think it is and it reads/ends just fine. If you want to read another excerpt, please see my previous post I Don’t Want to Look at the Stars. More excerpts will come soon. Thank you, I appreciate everyone reading my blog!
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Very early on the morning after she passed away, I had to start making decisions about what to put in the obituary, where to have the viewing and service, what to dress her in, whether she should be buried or cremated, whether or not to donate her organs. I had no idea what she wanted because we never talked about these things. Of course she was only fifty when she passed away so I didn’t feel that it was an urgent issue to discuss either. So I made the decisions as best I could and hoped that it would have been what she wanted. I think what made this so stressful is that I did not have any siblings to share this responsibility with, there was no one to take charge to help me. My aunt could have helped me, or my mother’s companion, but they didn’t have the authority to decide for me. Plus I was in a numb state of mind, exhausted from sobbing all night, how can I be expected to make such important decisions?

I still remember a dream I had a few days later. Mom and I were sitting in her bedroom talking about the funeral and all I had done and how nice it was that so many people came to pay their respects. I don’t remember exactly what she said to me, but I woke up feeling that I had done everything right, and that there wasn’t anything for me to be sorry for and she was pleased. I believe that our loved ones visit us in our dreams since we are not always open to or able to see them when we’re awake, so this dream really helped me to come to peace with the decisions I made.

For the most part, I don’t have any regrets about the decisions I made because they seemed to be right in my heart. The only one I do regret is that I did not donate her organs. I knew her heart probably wouldn’t have been a viable organ because she died from a massive heart attack, and later it was confirmed that she had heart disease. I suspected her lungs and liver wouldn’t have been good because she smoked most of her life. No one called me for these anyway, so I guess they knew at the hospital not to bother asking. But on the night she died, someone did call for her eyes, and I had to decide right then, yes or no will I help someone else see. I chose no. For some reason I couldn’t bear it. The man assured me no one would be able to tell at the viewing, but I just couldn’t do it. I honestly don’t know why it mattered, or if it really mattered. I suspect it was just too much for me to handle while I was still numb from the shock of her dying and I wasn’t thinking clearly. That’s what I tell myself anyway, but the guilt of that one decision out of so many still lingers. I did the best I could, why isn’t that good enough for me?