Wednesday, May 23, 2012

There And Back

It's been 10 days since I last wrote.
I'm not sure what I even want to write about now.
I sat in Pop's rocker on the screened porch he loved so much and thought about what made him so special.
He saw the beauty in every little thing around him.
He was grateful for everything he had, whether major or minute.
He loved this life for all it offered ~ the good and the bad.
He was never a glass half empty type...his glass was always more than half full.

Through this ordeal I realized how fortunate I am.
One brother stepped in and helped my son when I could not.
He and my sister in law comforting my daughter when I could not be by her side at that moment to do so.
The other brother and sister in law lightening my load in every way possible.
A sister who kept checking in to see how I was.
I witnessed a renewed sense of family as arms reached out to console whomever was struggling.
Everyone forgetting about their own sadness for a moment to support the one who needed it more.
Unselfish love and comfort.
An unintentional tribute to a man who provided those two things without fail.

And yet, surrounded by these outpourings of so much love and beauty, I cried.
They were selfish tears of hurt and ache simply because I know I will never see that smiling face again.
Never hold those hands or hear that voice one more time.
I cried for me.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

On My Mind

Life has felt surreal.
My head is reeling with so many thoughts on life and death and our purpose here on earth and while I am dying to start pounding out some of these things on the keyboard, I don't want to be a big, fat, cyberspace downer either.
So for now I am just keeping all these thoughts to myself.
The kids and I travel to North Carolina this week for my Pop's wake and mass and then back home for his funeral here in NJ.
It's weird knowing he's gone, but none of it feels real yet since all of the formalities have been postponed until this week.

My husband decided to fire up our charcoal grill tonight for the first time ever to cook some filet mignons for Mother's Day.
The smell of the charcoal wafting through the windows and clinging to his shirt instantly took me back to my childhood summers at the beach club my grandparents belonged to.
Memories of meals grilling at sunset and my Pop's dancing in the sand after a few too many cocktails felt so bittersweet.
I instantly thought of these photos I snapped of my daughter running on the beach a few weeks ago and for a few moments I longed to be that carefree child once again.
The kid who ran along the shoreline, covered in sand, blonde hair bouncing in the breeze without a care in the world.
Untouched by sadness and the cruelness life can bring.

Tonight I am going to close my eyes and remember those nights on the beach.
Toes buried deep in the cool sand, happy voices singing and laughing, magical sunsets and the warmth of love from someone who held the title "Grandfather" and only acted out the part of "Father".
Those are the memories I need tonight.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Heavy Heart

I knew something was wrong when the phone began to ring around 7am yesterday morning. When I saw my mother's number on my caller ID I knew deep inside that my fears were about to be realized. My incredible grandfather, who rebounded from the most hopeless of situations at Christmastime, had suddenly taken a turn for the worst on Friday.

He passed peacefully at home yesterday morning in his own bed with all three of his children snuggled up close loving on him.

Since his first fall back in November and the close call we had over the holidays, I felt more mentally prepared that the end was inevitable. In reality I have now discovered that we are never really ready to let go of someone who's love has been a driving force in our lives. Who's example helped mold who you have become. The emptiness that is left behind from the loss of a close loved one is too black and deep to be immediately consoled with decades worth of memories.

I am angry at myself for waiting until our upcoming vacation in August to see him again. I am heartbroken that the chance for one last hug or "I love you" is lost. I count the months between when I saw him last October and now and there are simply way too many of them.

My children have been so fortunate to have had a relationship with their great grandfather throughout most of their childhood and for that I am grateful. But the pain that death causes is something I cannot protect them from and late last night the sadness hit my little one like a ton of bricks. Her attempts to grasp the finality of it all had her so overcome with grief that we slept tightly wrapped in each other's arms for comfort.

I have been reminded that there are some very dark moments to this beautiful life we all get to live.

And that my broken heart isn't the only one requiring mending.

Yesterday, the world lost a man who walked through this life in honesty and honor. Always putting himself second to his family. He was truly one of kind and the most amazing man I have ever met.

Thank you Pops for 38 years of unconditional love. You are already sorely missed.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Something Missing

This weekend was great on so many levels. To start it off spending an afternoon and night with my two little angels was a sure fire sign that all would be well with the world. I'm glad it turned out that way. To be honest, I've been a bit cranky lately. Perhaps my husband would roll his eyes at that little understatement. As someone who firmly believes that our mental state is the cause of all of our life's effects, it is frustrating to be in a bad mood. Being in a bad mood makes me even crankier if that makes any sense. (?)

In my attempt to achieve everything I put my mind to I sometimes always overburden myself. I am an overachieving sore loser. Meaning, if I don't do it all I get mad at myself. I suppose you could sum me up as a Typical Type A personality. I oft always take on more than I can chew. I also hold myself to ridiculously high standards. Perhaps some would say I am my own worst enemy.

You already know that I spend anywhere between 3-5 hours commuting to and from work each day. Add that to a full work day and there's not a ton of time left for much else other than sleeping and eating. Of course I also try to squeeze in a daily run, blog reading, blog writing, tidying up the house, preparing dinner for the get the idea. It's no wonder my magazine bin is overflowing with March, April and now May's issues. I am back to my million mile an hour life. I have never been good at relaxing, got a little bit better at it for a while, and now I am back full speed ahead. 

Add to my already full plate this dieting nonsense I have self imposed which calls for measuring, label reading and a ton of prep work. I keep a small, personal cooler in the car with me every day full of water and perfectly portioned sugar free, carb free snacks and a tuna wrap in 1/2 an oat bran, flaxseed lavash wrap. While I enjoy eating this way,  I don't partake in dinner with the family most nights because I am eating "different". Try feeding a scruffy faced teen and moody, prepubescent "tween" lavash wraps and you'll get a chicken nugget thrown right at your head.  I spend so much time preparing food for them and food for me but we are not enjoying meal time as a family together like we always have. Meal time has been a drag quite frankly.

Then something magical happened this weekend. Saturday we found ourselves child free. One was with his father and the other at a friends house until 9pm. I convinced hubby to take me to Goodwill  and on the way home we debated going out for dinner, but that idea didn't appeal much to us. I remembered I had 3 cartons of grape tomatoes at home and had my husband swing into the grocery store. We picked up fresh basil, a sourdough boule and a single portion of Boston Cream Pie to share for dessert. We got home, he whipped up some gin and tonics, we turned on some music, dipped that bread in some flavored olive oil and cooked.

angel hair with tomatoes and basil

I danced around the kitchen singing along to my favorite songs, he watched and laughed. We snuggled up on the couch each armed with a fork and dug into that dessert until we were overpowered by it's sweetness. Our shared love for cooking brought back a little spark that has been snuffed out for a bit.
When we picked up the moody tween, we laughed and joked and teased her until she didn't know what to do with us and ran off to hide in her room.
We had fun.
So much fun in fact that we did it again Sunday night.

Roast chicken, steamed fingerlings with dill and chive and fresh steamed beans made for a perfect Sunday night meal. The four of us sat around the table and ate together. We even went for an after dinner walk with the dogs laughing and chatting the whole way. I felt blissfully happy.

Our shared love for cooking and meal time has always grounded us and kept us close. So I might have to run a little harder and a little longer this week. But it was totally worth it.