Saturday, June 16, 2012

This was Ethan when he was 5, showing us how he felt about shopping:

This is Ethan, at the age of 7, expressing to us his feelings about going to the SAME stores:

How's that saying go?  "Some things will never change?"  Ha!
It was so refreshing to be with my mom and sister again, enjoying each others company.  Our days were filled with sunshine, swimming, and super energetic, chatty children.  Our nights were quieter, mostly in hopes of getting said super energetic, chatty children to sleep, but also to discuss how our dynamics have changed, and how we are coping.

My mom and I had picked up within each other that each of us were still grieving, just in a different way.  That is okay, of course, but the bad part about it was it was slowly pulling us apart.  THAT cannot happen.  No way, no how.  My mom has been my rock my entire life.  I know I have helped her through some rough times as well.  And just as I anticipated, a short conversation in front of the glow of some strange car TV show (up-northians, what on EARTH do you guys watch? ) and things were quickly resolved.

I bet at least one person reads the word "GRIEF" and thinks "WOAH!  OVERBOARD MUCH?"  because Leslie. didn't.  die.  She lived, she beat all the odds, hallelujah amen, the end!   Now don't get me wrong.  We are thankful.  We are SO thankful.  Our hearts are practically bursting with thankful-ness (did I get my point across there?)

But that doesn't mean we (and her!) did not experience great, great loss.  My mom's way of dealing with the changes is she pours her heart and soul into making sure my sister is okay.  All her needs are met.  Belly fed, laundry done, bills paid.  She's tired, though.  She has always done so much.  So, so much, for everyone, and does so little for herself.  That's why I adore and admire her so much as a mother.  Not gonna lie.  She raised some pretty amazing women.  We are gentle, yet firm.  We are loving and loyal.  We are hard working, and have morals.  We respect those that deserve respect, and turn away from those that are set out to bring us down.  Bottom line:  My mom is GOOD.

So as any amazing mother would do, when one of your children (even adult ones!) falls into crisis;  when one of your children (even adult ones!) escapes death miraculously... you naturally will fall back into that mother/child role, just as she has done.

Wanna know my way of dealing with it?  Wait for it.  Wait for it.  Okay, I stay away!  SUPER SISTER!  I stay away.  I think about her constantly.  I rehash those first dreadful days often.  I thank God for my sisters husband, who has stuck by her entirely and is doing such an amazing job with this new life.  But if I stay away, I can remember her the way I choose to.  I remember what she was, because seeing how she is is too painful.  I don't seek reality.  I don't WANT reality.  I'll just stay in this fantasy world inside my head and pretend nothing ever happened.  I'll admit, though.  It sure is a lonely way to live.  To say I don't love my sister because this is my coping mechanism sounds so cold.  Truth is, I love her so much more POST-incident.  I saw her fight.  I saw her scared.  I heard her raspy, hoarse voice say "sister" as one of the first words she said, and let me tell you, my heart grew 3 sizes bigger.  Yes, Les.  Sister.  Sister then, Sister now, and Sister for always.  If you ask me who my hero is, I will say, without a single bit of hesitation:  Leslie. 

Neither of these mechanisms are healthy, and I am so thankful we recognize this.  We will figure it out. 

And heck!  (Re-) Starting our annual girls trip was the PERFECT way to start!

Thank you, mom and Les.  I love you guys SO much and there is NO ONE ELSE I would want to share those memories with than you.

And before I wrap this up, remember those pictures of Ethan?  Well thank GOD for this little petunia, who will forever be my diva-licious shop-a-holic:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I still remember the day quite vividly.  My mom and I were sitting in their living room in these God awful sea-foam green chairs they had.  Jay and I were still only dating.  I was in my first semester of college and Jay was away at college.  It was tough being apart and our relationship was a bit rocky.  On a whim, my mom and I decided to head off to Chicago for a long weekend.

That was what started a long tradition.  Every summer, my mom, sister, and I would whisk away to the Windy City and spend until our bank accounts were bone dry, eat at all our favorite restaurants, and giggle as we would try to hold our breath in the back of the stinky taxi cabs.  We had a blast. We were the perfect balance:  I was the crazy shop-a-holic that could not possibly find enough hours in the day to shop to my hearts content; my sister HATED shopping, but preferred doing more educational nonsense, like browse book stores, travel stores, or the Apple store; and mom was in the middle, just going along for the ride and enjoying every second.

We continued this tradition for YEARS.  When I finally got married and was quite pregnant with Ethan, we STILL made our way to Chicago, and I bought myself my first maternity swim suit (hot pink, mind you!)  Once I had an infant at home, we slowed things down a notch.  We still did our annual girls trip, but we kept it more simple such as Frankenmuth or Saugatuck, and more often than not, we had a crazy toddler in tow.

Our last girls trip (plus Ethan!) was to my parents camper.  My mom, Ethan, and I drove in one car, and my sister drove up with her husband a day or so later.  We still had a great time.  We made smores, took turns with Ethan in the pool, and just all around enjoyed each others company.

Last year was the first year we DIDN'T go.  Last year we were too busy adjusting to our new lives post-incident.  It might seem selfish and petty, but when Leslie was SO critical, the thought of never doing our girl trips again was a thought I couldn't even fathom.  It physically hurt my heart to even think of it.

Tomorrow, we restart our tradition.  No, we aren't heading back to the Windy City (although I would love to go again someday!)  We are keeping it simple and going camping.  I'll be bringing my two kids along as well, because you simply can't go camping WITHOUT them!

This weekend we will be reminded of the changes we never asked for, but this weekend will also reaffirm to each of us that nothing, not even sudden cardiac arrest and anoxic brain injuries can stop us from having an amazing time.