Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I'm not a big fan of spiders. I know they are beneficial. I can examine a spider web and wonder at the intricacies of the design. When I taught science, we didn't kill the spiders. We recued them to fulfill their purpose.  But I just don't like them. I can deal with them, though, when I am prepared. If I see one across the room or am called to take care of one, I can deal. It's the unexpected ones that give me the chills: the ones that drop unexpectedly from above or suddenly appear crawling on your shoulder. Because I recognize this fear, I avoid spelunking in dark caves, exploring dilapidated houses, or walking with someone who likes to play practical jokes.   Grief is like that. I received a questionnaire the other day from Hospice in the Pines. It basically asked a series of questions to evaluate how I am doing. Some examples:
1. difficulty sleeping = only when there's a symphony of snoring
2. little appetite = just the opposite. I can always eat.
3. have not been able to return to work = nope. I find comfort in my job.
4. avoid going places or doing activities I used to go with Lizzie = never. I love remembering.
But then there's
5. lacking in energy = yes
6. attending to Lizzie's personal belongings = haven't done it yet.
7. possibly depressed: don't seem myself anymore = yes
8. allowing myself to really let go and cry = here's where the spiders come in
I can talk about Lizzie all day long. I have no problem with providing anecdotes of life with Lizzie. I am prepared for those. I have control over the situation. It's those times when I'm not prepared that get me and I have a hard time dealing. We were asked to remember the first day we took our own child to kindergarten during an inservice for school. I had no idea we were going to be asked to recall. All of the sudden, an image of Lizzie popped into my head. Lizzie went to kindergarten at the same school at which I taught. She would run errands for her teacher and would always take the long way back to class so she could stroll by my room. I can still see her looking into my room as she passed - walking very slowly - with this cute little smile on her face. I would stop my lesson and run to the door to give her a quick hug and tell her that I loved her. Grief was a spider that fell from above. I felt the tears well. I felt the pain in my chest. And when my dear friend looked at me with sympathy in her eyes, I lost it.  I've learned to avoid certain situations. Even though I read The Fault in Our Stars (at Lizzie's insistence), I will not go see the movie. I refuse to watch The Red Band Society that is about to show on TV or the show where the girl finds our she has leukemia. Certain commercials on TV or the radio get hastily changed. So how am I doing? Not sure. I miss Lizzie so very much. Words cannot adequately express the depth of my missing her. It's in my bones. It's in every breath I take. It's in my core. I know letting grief out in a good cry can be beneficial. As long as I avoid those dark caves and scary houses, I have control over my grief. As long as grief doesn't drop from above like a handfuls of daddy longlegs, I'm ok..... I guess. I don't know. Likening grief to 8-legged creatures is kind of weird.....

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Testimonies Part 4

So, the next year was a whirlwind. Lizzie was off at college enjoying her life. In the fall, we had family pictures taken. I can still see Alex chasing Lizzie through the trees at St. Cyprian's. I'm not sure what Lizzie did to Alex, but she was sprinting around laughing while Alex chased her.  In December, my mother arranged a trip for Lizzie, Alex, Stephanie (sister), me, and herself to New York City. It was a wonderful trip. Our hotel was fabulous and only a few blocks from Time Square. Needless to say we walked around in a state of awe. Imagine 5 small-town East Texas women loose in the big city constantly looking up. And it snowed! We visited Rockefeller Center and saw the famed Christmas tree and all the ice skaters. Someone was filming at the time, but we couldn't tell who. We made it to the top of  The Empire State Building, roamed  The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. I didn't care that much for modern art, but the MET was awe-inspiring. We walked central park - rode a horse-drawn carriage through the park, and strolled down 5th Avenue. We even got to see Wicked on Broadway! The store fronts were decorated for Christmas and were amazing. I can remember being stuck in the middle of my mom and Stephanie and the two girls. I was trying to stay with Mom and my sister, but also trying to keep an eye on two teenagers blasting their way through crowded streets. That February was a trip of a lifetime to Rome, Italy through the Make A Wish foundation, Alpha Chi Omega sorority at SFA, and an anonymous benefactor from Huntington. We had been working on this trip for an entire year. It came to a point where Lizzie's oncologist contacted Make A Wish and said that if she was going to be able to go, it needed to happen soon. At that time, Lizzie was still full of energy and I'm not sure if the gravity of her condition registered. All five of us were able to go: Ricky, myself, Lizzie, Alex, and Chrissii. The flight over was rather uneventful.....except the in-flight movie was TAKEN! Yikes! It was over night, so we slept. We weren't so lucky on the way back. Our hotel was very nice - not far from the Coliseum. The three girls stayed in one room. We could hear them at night laughing and giggling and cutting up. Our first night there we ate at......Hard Rock Rome. BUT, while roaming around after dinner, we stumbled upon The Trevi Fountain. This quaint shopping area became our stomping grounds. Make A Wish did an excellent job of planning  our stay. We were able to see The Coliseum, The Vatican, roam the city, shop, and take a train ride to Florence to see Michelangelo's David. (He's huge!) We went on a walking tour which was very interesting. Our guide showed us where you can actually see where Rome is built upon Rome! She told us that The Coliseum is not in ruins due to age, but parts were actually taken to build new parts of Rome. When building the Vatican, bronze was taken from other structures such as The Pantheon to be used. We saw the most magnificent fountains and statues - all with truly interesting back stories. We were there at the time when the new pope was being decided upon. It was interesting to look each day to see if the color of smoke changed. We also learned that when Romans are taught to drive, they are taught to "fill the empty spaces." This idea created many harrowing taxi rides for us! The girls had a blast, and everyone there was so friendly! At first, Ricky and I were like secret service men standing outside of stores so that the girls could shop. After a day or so, we felt comfortable enough to give the girls some space. Thinking back I'm literally at a loss for words. In February Lizzie was buzzing around Rome. Just a couple of short months later she was tired, sick, and out of breath. As I've said before, Alex and I visited Lizzie for Easter. She was feeling drained. In May, Ricky and I visit to help move most of her things back to Lufkin. She had no energy. A week later, she was in the hospital. It all came crashing down so quickly. She never really recovered from the chest pump.