I can’t believe the news today

Oh, I can’t close my eyes and make it go away

Sunday, Bloody Sunday by U2

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“Spring Time In Ohio” Spirit photography by Michelle and Ricky Schill.

Before I began my work with hospice, I had to receive training. I attended two hour classes two evenings per week for six months. Part of our training was in grief counseling. I believe that the most important thing we learned is that everyone grieves differently. There is no one “right way” to grieve nor is their a specified time limit to grief.  There is no limit to the depth of ones grief. Although there are “steps” in the grieving process, they are not linear nor organized. I envision them being more of a tangled ball of yarn. It is a one step forward and two steps back process and depending on the relationship with the one who crossed over, the person left behind may never fully recover. This is all okay. These factors are based on the individual griever, their personality, life experiences, and interaction with the one who has transitioned.

Unfortunately, I had to quit working with hospice when ME/CFS came into my life; however, what I learned there was priceless and has served me well.

If not for my knowledge which I obtained through hospice training and work, I would have thought I was losing my mind after that fateful Mother’s Day in 2014. The day my oldest child took his physical life. I say physical life because he could not end his real life, his existence. It was only his body he could destroy, thankfully.

For a very long time after John crossed over, every Sunday morning was a nightmare for me. I awoke with anxiety, depression and my grief more pronounced. This would last until 10:00 am, which was when the police officer left my home and my family began to arrive on that Mother’s Day morning. The rest of the day on those following Sundays was not pleasant but more bearable than the mornings.

Eventually this phenomena ceased and I began to enjoy my Sundays again. Well, except for spring time. Except for April and May. That time has been difficult for me over the past few years. Spring has always been my favorite time of year because I love to garden and I enjoy the new plants and blossoms popping up everywhere. The odd thing is that spring is still my favorite time of year while being my worst time of year simultaneously.

I must admit that last year seemed much easier. This year, however, seems to be much worse. I am not sure why but can only guess that it is due to the fact that I am experiencing “empty nest syndrome” with my youngest son. I believe that I may feel as if I am no longer a mother. Being a mom has been the most important and enjoyable role in this lifetime for me. I feel if I am not a mom then who am I?

I have not awoken to Sunday morning being horrible for a very long time until this morning. I awoke with a lot of anxiety and that morning in 2014 replaying through my mind. All I can think is that May 11 is in a week and a half and Mother’s Day is in two weeks.

May 11, which is the date Mother’s Day happened to fall on that year, is much easier for me to deal with than Mother’s Day itself. I think this is due to the fact that I always make sure that I am surrounded with people who understand, love me and care and we have a beautiful celebration on that day. I also think that in my mind this is my own special day, which I do not have to share with every other mother in the United States. I always enjoy that day.

Mother’s Day, on the other hand, is a day that I dread every year. I cannot tell you how much I loathe that day. I cannot stand to see the advertisements for weeks beforehand. Although my youngest son and I spend the day together and do something special, it is a very difficult day for us both. My youngest son does not show it and I do my best to keep a stiff upper lip, but there is tension and an under lying sadness in us both.

The previous two years I would have dreams about that day for about two months before the date arrived. This year that has not happened but I have been having strange dreams which are not detailed and directly involved with that day.

Yesterday afternoon I became quite drowsy and fell into a deep sleep. I had a very bizarre dream in which the past was blended in and melded to the present. I remember looking at a picture frame which contained a photo of my youngest son, Christian. For some reason I removed the photo from the frame and behind that was a picture of my oldest son, John.

The picture was of John sitting on my parent’s back deck as a teenager. Perched on his finger was a wild bird and John had a big grin on his face. Behind John were my two oldest nieces. The strange thing about this was that I had the impression that the photos of both of my sons were very recent. When John was a teenager, my nieces were in elementary school and Christian was a toddler. Yet, the photos depicted Christian as a young adult, John as a teenager and my nieces as toddlers. The chronology of my dream was very messed up.

The dream then morphed to the time when my aunt was very ill just before she crossed over. We were moving her out of the home she was living in. I remember going into her car for some reason. I absent mindedly placed my dog in the car. When I realized I could not find Snuggles, my dog, I panicked but something told me I should look in my aunt’s car. Upon opening the door of the car I found my little white Havanese curled up on the floorboard on the driver’s side of my aunt’s car. I asked “Snuggles, what are doing on the floor of Aunt Charlotte’s car?” The problem with this scenario is that this was not how this played out in the Physical Realm at the time. Also at that time Snuggles was a puppy but in my dream he was the age he is now, which is seven.

Upon waking I asked about the oddness of this dream. My Aunt Charlotte came through and told me that it was because I had never dealt with the trauma of being the one to find her.

There was a night in September 2010, when I was living with my mom, where she had just spoken on the phone with her sister, Charlotte. My aunt was living in an assisted living apartment at that time and was not in good health. A little while later my mom needed to call my aunt back but my aunt did not pick up. Both my mother and I assumed that my aunt had fallen asleep for the night. The next morning my mom went shopping and I was at home. My cousin called to tell me that she had been trying to call our aunt since the previous night but she was not picking up. Aunt Charlotte never married nor had children so her nieces and nephews stepped into that role. My cousin said that she was watching her grandchild all day and could not leave. My other cousin, who was our aunt’s Health Care Power Of Attorney, was at work that day so she asked me to run over and check on our aunt.

While driving to my aunt’s apartment, which was only ten minutes away, I knew that the situation was not good. My cousin told me that if my aunt did not answer when I buzzed to be let into the building to buzz the manger and explain the situation. Upon arriving, my aunt did not respond to let me in. I then attempted to reach the manager, who also did not answer because she was at lunch. I immediately began to panic. I saw one of the residents in the lobby and began to knock on the glass door. The woman shook her head at me and tried to ignore me. I began to yell through the glass that this is an emergency and my aunt is sick. The woman still would not let me in and said she did not know who I was. I told her that my aunt lived here and she was sick and I needed to be let in to check on her. Finally, the woman gave in and opened the door.

I dashed up the stairs because I felt the elevator would take too long. My aunt was in the habit of leaving her apartment door unlocked during the day and locking it only at night. When I reached her door it was unlocked and I rushed in. I began to yell “Aunt Charlotte” even though her apartment consisted of a small living, a tiny kitchenette, a bedroom and a bathroom. I found her sitting in the living room chair, half undressed with her pajamas and robe next her, unconscious, with vomit on her chest.

I called 911 and then my cousin and my mother. I draped the robe over my aunt because I knew that had she been conscious she would not have wanted the paramedics to see her naked. It seemed to take the ambulance forever to get there and I called my cousin in a panic. She told me that they should be there any moment and if they are not to call them again.

The paramedics finally arrived, worked on my aunt, put her on a stretcher and whisked her across the street to the hospital. During this time one of the paramedics was trying to get me to calm down. I was not hysterical or screaming but I was upset. I was told I could follow behind the ambulance in my car.

There was construction in the driveway of the hospital and road workers were redirecting traffic. I was so upset that I almost did not notice this and nearly ran right through the construction. I really do not remember much after that of the day. What I do remember was that the doctors felt that if my aunt survived she would not be able to eat solid food again, barely be able to speak, etc.

My aunt fooled everyone and was able to speak and eat again but had to spend the rest of her days on this planet in nursing homes. She did cross over four months later. She told me yesterday that she had that recovery because she was not sure if she really wanted to cross over just yet. She said that after her experiences with the nursing homes, she decided she had had enough of that SHIT and decided to cross over. She also said that I was correct in my assumption that she became ill right after hanging up the phone with my mother the previous night. This was obvious to me because I had found her unconscious with her robe in her hand and half naked. It has bothered me that she laid there alone from the previous evening until I arrived at noon the following day.

On a lighter note, the Spirits in my life have been a bit silly this past week. This probably is an attempt to cheer me up and help get me through this difficult time of year.

I have mentioned that John likes to play with Snuggles. At least once per day the two of them get at it. John will grab Snuggles’ tail and Snuggles will run in circles trying to get John. Then Snuggles will do the play bow in every direction of the living room as John flits from one corner to the other. This always makes me laugh and if I am in the right frame of mind, I will be able to watch John’s sparkly and shiny energy flit about the room as they play.

The other night as I was preparing for bed, John decided to try another approach. I was at the bathroom sink and Snuggles had followed me in there. I began to notice that Snuggles was curiously searching out the corner of the room and then would pull his head back in a very startled manner. I thought maybe there was some sort of insect or rodent in the corner that Snuggles was checking out so I decided to take a look for myself. I found nothing.

I went back to the sink to finish preparing for bed and Snuggles went back over to the corner, stuck his nose in and jumped back out. I turned around from the mirror to find a Spirit’s hand grabbing at my poor dog’s nose. I asked, “John, is that you?” John was laughing and said “yes, mom.” I said, “your terrorizing my dog.”  When I went to leave the bathroom, Snuggles was reluctant to walk past that corner. I said, “John, look what you did to my dog.” John must have made Snuggles aware that it was only him because Snuggles did not have a problem walking past that corner after that. John has always loved dogs and would not want Snuggles to be afraid.

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Snuggles. Spirit photography by Michelle and Ricky Schill.

My father would go through periods of time when he would smoke a pipe. I always loved the scent of the pipe smoke. It was very delicious smelling and had a very calming and comforting effect on me. Yesterday morning, while I was working, this same aroma wafted through my home. I knew it was dad and began to laugh and said, “I haven’t smelled that in years.”

My father seems to make it a habit to be sure to do something such as this at this time of the year. Again, I believe it is to comfort me and help get me through this difficult time. My father’s profession was a mail carrier. Last May, just before Mother’s Day, I was sitting on my front porch having my evening tea. I looked across the road at my mailbox and who do I see standing there? My dad. – Michelle

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