Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I Will Survive

Remember that expectation that I should perform top notch work at ministry? Well, I may be the only one who is holding myself to that expectation but this week has been insane. Most of my fellow staff is out sick so we're short staffed. Missing two and a half days of work was like missing two weeks. I can't seem to keep my tutors straight in our programs because there is so many tutors! Homework club was cancelled on Monday and Tuesday because the students had a half day at school. I don't have the master list of all the tutors. No one does...so I have volunteers making half hour trips to help out only to find they have no one to tutor and nothing to do. It makes me look unprofessional and it wastes the volunteers' time. I can't do anything about it because I can't get the master list. I'm going to have to have a running list at the club and get the tutors' info that way.

I'm single handedly planning and preparing for our Star Student Awards Party. All the kids that earned perfect attendance or honor roll are going to get a certificate and a special prize. I've been getting gift bags together, making fliers and invitations, trying to get a hold of my tutors whose information I have and make certificates for each of the award winners. It is a lot of work. This is one of those lessons in delegation. I'm supposed to delegate tasks to my co-partner in this event but instead I'm doing everything myself. I don't mind doing all the work but it is Wednesday and I'm almost at burn out point. That is when I start getting passive aggressive.

This week has been full of stomachaches, fatigue, lack of sleep, and headaches. Also I think I'm gaining a little bit of weight which freaks me out because I have been on such a roll. I really just need to sleep for a week straight and then I should be ready to go.

I do have some exciting news in spite of another debbie downer post. I bought tickets to see Cage the Elephant perform at Theatre of the Live Arts in Feb. I'm stoked! The tickets were really cheap and its general admission. Connie and Stephen are probably going to go too. We make time to do fun RMC activities together. For example, we went ice skating in December and this month we watched Harry Potter 6 together. Well, next month it is Cage the Elephant concert! (We do hang out more than once a month...this is just planned hanging out). I'm the only person who knows and loves CtE, but I think it will be an awesome time for all involved. Whenever I hear their songs I think "I want to see them in concert some day." Then at work the radio announced they were coming to Philly. I bought my ticket within 48 hours.

So there is the ray of sunshine amidst the storm. I'm just a bit stressed right now. I enjoy being busy but I don't like being on edge. I will survive...even if it is only Weds.

Until next time....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baby Steps

Ok, I admit that the last post was beyond depressing. Unfortunately, I wrote exactly how I felt that day. I'm pleased to report that I was productive on Saturday. I tried to stick to my weekend routine. I actually dragged my butt to the gym for a solid hour and a half. I showered, cleaned my room, and ran errands. That evening, the Mercy Volunteer Corps came over and we played some games. It was fun and I'm glad they came. Originally, before I went out for my errands, I didn't want to do anything Saturday night except write and sleep.

I have these mini-rituals regarding my Mom Mom. I'm not ready to remove her picture from my facebook profile yet. I am not ready to wear the jewelry she left for me. I don't eat the peppermints that are in this small flowerpot with our pictures on it. I wear the charm bracelet she gave me in in 2004 everyday. The items I have from her house rest in a pile on my floor. I look at them often, even show them to my community, but I don't move them from the pile. Today at mass I think I endured the last round of "I'm so sorry for your loss." I appreciate every sentiment of sympathy from everyone but I will admit it hurts to hear those words.

This week is another full and busy week at work. I'll be expected to perform top notch work and I'll do my best to do so. The work occupies my mind so hopefully it will be to my advantage. This week is full of meetings and programs.

In other news I've had horrible stomach cramping all day. I have no idea what the pain is. Perhaps I have caught some sort of stomach bug or something. I don't know. I'm going to let it run its course unless it gets really painful. Then I'll seek medical attention. Honestly, I don't have the money for more medication right now. I have to wait for the stipend to come in at the beginning of Feb.

So I'll take baby steps to normalcy. Life is not over for us, it has merely changed. Mom Mom isn't physically present but rather present everywhere all the time. Here's to charging through this week with spirit and strength.

Until next time....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Get Back Up When Life Knocks You Down

Yesterday was my Mom Mom's funeral. To be honest, the last funeral I went to of someone who I was very close to was my grandfather 16 years ago. I saw family I hadn't seen in 16 years. I hugged people who I apparently have a blood relationship with. I tried to be strong and be positive in the most utter sadness. I read the first and second reading at her mass. I carried up the gifts. I delivered a small speech at the cemetery and my voice didn't crack once. Sure, the breakdowns were intermittent throughout these moments of strength. As the tears streamed down my face my mother asked, through her own tears, what was wrong. Nothing was wrong...I missed my Mom Mom that's all. Her departure from me was the best of circumstances. My last words to her were I love you. The last time I saw her she was waving goodbye at her front door as my mom and I drove away. She died peacefully, painlessly and with family by her side. Her funeral was sad but beautiful. We had a state police escort for the funeral procession and there was a bagpipe player at the cemetery. When I got home I felt tired and numb, a standard set of emotions for a person who has experienced such a loss.

Today I found out that one of my favorite patients in the Sister's infirmary has been on hospice. This was news to me. I also found out that she was on her deathbed. I was supposed to write her a letter and we'd correspond back and forth because we shared a love for writing. I never got around to writing that letter to her. I stood by her bed and apologized for that. I told her I loved her even though I didn't know her for very long. Her niece invited me to help her open birthday presents for my friend. It was a nice moment to share. She is expected to pass within the next 48 hours.

Today I also found out that I will owe over $100 a month for my student loans which are deferred through Americorps. I don't have to pay the interest, but it will be tacked on to the grand total of money I owe for the loans. That totals to an additional $600 I will have to pay back because I chose to volunteer for a year. This news made me angry and I was a bit snappy on the phone with my mother, a courageous woman who buried her own mother yesterday. I called two hours later to make amends.

Some other stuff came up and I had to call my mom again to talk it out with her. Stephen came in to remind me that community prayer was going on. I told him I wouldn't be there and made some stupid excuse. I was on the phone with my mom and the oven was preheating so I could eat pizza for dinner. He left my room, clearly disappointed that I wasn't praying with the community. Honestly, I'm in a rough spiritual spot. I am not in a place where I can pray in community with others. I need to just rebuild my spiritual life myself. Unfortunately after prayer I learned that one of my community members picked a special reading out with me in mind. The prayer was slightly focused on me and my loss. I wasn't there. I could sense disappointment in the room. At that moment I felt so incredibly ungrateful. Here my community is constantly keeping me in their prayers and trying to comfort me the best they can. The least I could do is attend community prayer and just allow their gesture of comfort and healing wash over me. But now, I was too wrapped up in myself again. Just as I was too wrapped up in myself that I forgot to write my infirmary friend a letter. Just as I was too wrapped up in the little things that I didn't exhaust every possible option with my lending institution to prevent $100 interest charges from accruing.

Now I'm sort of an unraveled mess. I picture my life as this situation: I'm in the ocean, enjoying it to the fullest on a warm summer day. Suddenly a giant wave knocks me down and sucks me under the surface. As I'm tossed and turned by the angry ocean, all I can do is wait to be spit out and resurface again. When this finally happens, I see the shore and I'm determined to swim back to it. As I start to paddle and position myself so the waves will carry me in, another wave knocks me down and sucks me under. This keeps happening until I wonder if I should continue trying to swim back to the shore or just let the waves keep sucking me under. No this scenario is not about death, but rather my fear to carry on with life. I am actually scared to try to enjoy life again. Things were almost perfect before my grandmother passed away. Life is full of ups and downs, I get that, but I figure that as soon as I establish a sort of happy normal state, another wave will knock me down and hold me under. They say death comes in threes and I'm just wondering who is next. What financial difficulty will I have to face? What horrible thing will happen to me, my family or my friends? This is an irrational and horrible attitude to have but I can't help it.

Another thing I worry about is the grief process itself. What if I still feel this way in a week? Will people get tired of me and tell me to get over it? I don't need excess attention or anything but if I'm still in a rut I hope people understand and don't think I'm milking it. When should I start to live a normal life again? When is it safe to try to make my way back to the shore?

I suppose I should pray for strength. The last thing I prayed for was humility and instead I got this. Part of me thinks I'm going crazy with my irrational fears. Another part of me thinks I'm fine and this is just the way I process death and unhappy times. Then I look at these two parts and wonder why I'm not sure about either. After that assessment, I get angry at God and ask Him why he puts people on Earth just to take them away from you. I mean look at Haiti, of all the countries to get hit with a natural disaster, the poorest and most needy country almost gets destroyed. What is the point of that? I'm not angry with God now but we're not speaking. I'm fine, I swear, I can probably convince the world that but the first person I have to convince is myself.

Until next time....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mom Mom, May You Rest in Peace


On January 16th, early into the nightfall, my grandmother, Mom Mom, passed away. Even though I had been preparing myself for the inevitable, the news still ran shock waves through my heart. I cried so much that I almost threw up. Then I felt numb.
Today is January 20th, the day before her funeral. I'm scheduled to catch a ride down to South Jersey to spend the night with my Mom, Dad, and dog...in my grandmother's house. The funeral is at 11 and internment is in Philadelphia. My family is going to drop me off at the house after internment since I live about 15 minutes away from the cemetery. I'll give them a tour of my living space, we'll eat, and then they will depart back to South Jersey to tend to some affairs.
I understand she is in a better place. I understand she is with her husband who passed 16 years ago. I understand she is free of pain. I am grateful for everything she has given me and all the memories we have had together. My Mom Mom was an incredible woman. I will miss her everyday we are apart but I know she is continually watching over me.
Until next time...

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Black Speck on Perfection

Life has been wonderful lately. I was selected at the Employee of the Month for November (found out yesterday during our quarterly staff meeting). Work has been great. I've been very busy everyday which keeps the days going by. I can actually feel the productivity and I've gotten positive feedback from the residents regarding the programs I have implemented for their kids. I've lost close to 23lbs which is a record in my life. I feel healthier, I look healthier and I guess you could say I have a bit of cocky self confidence in my appearance and abilities. My community feels closer than it ever has been before. My prayer life is on the mend. Life has been great.

But you know when life is great and you almost feel like you are on an invincible high? When you know that the feeling won't last forever and something horrible will come and knock you down off your pedestal. That is how I had been feeling but I pushed it aside and basked in the glow of my happiness.

Then it happened. I was knocked down. Hard.

I am a kaleidoscope of emotions today. Currently my grandmother is lying in her bed, refusing medication and medical help. She is bitter, depressed, and honestly just wants to pass on to the next life. This is the most heartbreaking feeling in the world for me. My grandmother, Mom Mom, is 87 years old. That is a remarkable feat in itself. She is a fortress and I honestly can't believe she wants to give up and go. She has fight left in her but she is refusing to channel it.

My grandmother is alive today, and may very well be alive for the next few days but all I can do is wait and pray. Pray for what, I asked my mother. "What is best for Mom Mom," she replied. I always prayed that when it was her time she would die peacefully and painlessly in her sleep. Well, that might be the case for her but it is the rest of us that have to watch in pain. I refuse to call her because she is not herself. I do not want my last memory of my grandmother to be her distant, bitter voice. That is not the Mom Mom I know.

There is a certain helplessness that weighs upon me. The hard part is that this is so sudden. On January 10th she turned 87 and her demeanor was positive and happy. Now she doesn't care about life or anything. But she is a fortress and I want my family to exhaust all possible conversations to make sure that this is what my grandmother wants. She has to want to let go with all of her soul before I can let her go. But I can't do anything about it except go about my day, remember the good times, and wait for that phone call that is going to break my heart in half.

This situation is a black speck on perfection. My life is great and I still feel the shadow of my happiness. I can still feel a tingle of joy and pride from my accomplishments. Perhaps I should be grateful for this shadow because it slightly numbs the sadness and hopelessness I feel regarding my grandmother. Perhaps my streak of joy was supposed to happen to balance out my streak of despair.

I know what is going to happen. I can't possibly prepare myself for it. I don't want to prepare myself for it. It makes me question which visitation from death is better...the sudden shock of it or the long drawn out waiting for arrival. I don't know.

Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers. I will be at Sea Isle City this weekend with my community for our annual weekend adventure. I am trying to focus on the good times I will have tonight and this weekend because my grandmother would not want it any other way. She'd "pop me one" if she knew how much this situation was troubling me. Thanks.

Until next time...

Friday, January 8, 2010

It is a Brand New Year!


Happy New Year to all! It is a brand new year and that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Some people decide to reinvent themselves and change things in their life to make it better. Other people don't care and just start life on Jan 1st like they did on Dec 31st. It all depends on the person.

I have one resolution and that is to learn to Latin dance this year. Salsa and tango and hustle. I think that would be a lot of fun. Other than that, its just a new year.

The holidays were great with my family. I'll be honest, I came back to PA with an extreme bout of homesickness and real sickness. I was coughing every five minutes and sometimes couldn't stop. Additionally I really enjoyed being with my mom and dad and my dog that I missed them terribly. I came to the realization that the rest of my life is going to be full of visits, hellos and goodbyes. It is always going to be like that! Originally that depressed me but now I've sort of accepted it. That's life.

After a few days I got back into the swing of RMC life. I went back to the gym, continued dieting, went back to work and readjusted to the life I had before I went home for the holidays. By day two at the gym, I had injured my wrist somehow. I was using this arm rotator machine and my hand slipped off the handle and slammed into the middle console. Ouch. I had to leave the gym early because it hurt so badly. It has been bugging me off and on.

New Years was awesome. I went to the Sisters' party for a little bit and ate some delicious food. Then I went out with the Mercy Volunteer Corps to the Tattooed Mom, a bar on South Street in Philly. We had a grand time of merriment, champagne, and camaraderie. I got at least four free drinks from various guys that night and a delayed New Years kiss from a stranger. We were talking and he said, "I just want to kiss you right now." So in super diva New Years fashion I looked at him, smirked and said, "then do it." I love living on the edge. :P

On New Years Day I went to see the Mummers Parade on Broad Street. That was awesome. I took tons of pictures which you can find on Facebook. I really enjoyed my time with the Mercys and was so glad I got the opportunity to watch the Mummers Parade live. I was hugged by drunk Mummers and got my picture taken with a really nice older Mummer and his float. I got to see the end of the Comics, all of the Fancies and the first two String Bands. The bands didn't perform because they were waiting to be judged at City Hall. By the time I got home from my adventures I got to watch the String Bands perform on TV.

The New Year at work has been a blur. I modified one of my tutoring programs to a more concrete structure and I've been busy with various odds and ends. The past few days have been going by so quickly since I've been busy. Overall work has been great.

As for health, I finally got medicines for my cough. I've got antibiotics and a codeine based cough syrup. I love the cough stuff because it helps me sleep at night. The only downfall is that I'm pretty sedated and drowsy for the next day. I'm only going to take it one more night since my cough is just about gone anyway.

For the weekend I'm probably going to Catholic Underground on Saturday night and just relaxing and working out. Next weekend I'll be in Sea Isle City with our community. That is bound to be a blast.

So far 2010 is great and life is good. Until next time....