I know I haven't written in a while. I guess it started to feel a bit trivial. But tonight I just miss you so much and I really needed to talk to you. So here I am.
Not sleeping well tonight has lead me to googling people from our past. I found out that Marco died in 2012, but Flo passed away this past April. She lived to be 97. Can you believe that? Her obituary had photos and she looked good in them. How I remembered her as a child. For some reason I assumed she probably already had passed away and I felt bad for not reaching out.
I left a comment on her obituary thanking her for being a wonderful neighbor and that it really does take a village to raise a child. I thanked her for being a good friend to grandma and said that perhaps they are your neighbors up in heaven.
Whilst thinking of people from the past, I saw that Doc and Marsha are still living. And he is still practicing medicine part time in Florida. I hope they are happy in their later years. Doc is into his 80s, right?
Things with the kids are good. They seem to love their new schools and Ashlie will be starting college soon. You would not believe how big Poppy Marie has gotten.
Tavo's dad has been spending a lot of time with Robbie, but I know he misses you a lot. We all do.
I didn't know who else to tell about Flo and Marco other than you and Lauren...
I was thinking about writing Brian again. Just so I can maybe get a response letter. But I guess that is silly isn't?
Why did you never tell me you played the bongos? Or made leather belts and jewelry to sell in the city? Your life before kids is so interesting to me. I wish I knew more.
I am going to try and sleep now. Good night dad. I love you and I miss you.
Last night I dreamed about fishing at the lake with my dad... the lake off Webster ave in Pelham, NY. I often wonder how it looks now and if I am remembering it right and how much has changed over the years. One of my favorite things to do was see how much the trees grew in photos from the year before.
As the dream went on I started to remember my dad's Lung Cancer....I wonder why he isn't sick and why we are back in NY. Then it hits me....
My grandfather walks up to me, and we are both watching my dad fish.
I said to him, "he looks good, huh?"
He smiled at me...
I then said... "I know I'm sleeping."
His face dropped and everything around us went grey. Just a big empty space. My grandfather and I are the only two people there. I then said...
"It's ok. Thank you for letting me come here."
And he hugged me. He hugged me so tight I felt it and I swear it was real. I woke up feeling content.... and calm. Many times I dreamt about my dad or my grandparents it hits me that I am dreaming, but this is the first time I ever told them I knew.
My new sleepless night routine is listening to the old 1950s Scifi radio show X Minus One. I am obsessed. The story telling is great. A lot of it is predictable, but there are some surprises. I was very surprised at the quailty. Sounds as good as it did when it first aired I imagined.
I think it's also a cool way to connect with my dad as this was one of the shows he listened to as a kid. I find a lot of enjoyment in doing the things he loved. I truly believe that our loved ones live on through us. Doing their hobbies, listening to their music, telling their stories.
I wanted to share the story of my journey from atheist to believer. My mind changed based because of several experiences I had with my father the last week of his life...
My father found out her had terminal Lung Cancer (extensive stage small cell with mets in both lungs, neck lymph nodes, and later found out several in his brain) in late April. In mid May we tried Chemotherapy. Our intentions were not to cure, but to shrink the cancer a bit to allow easier breathing and possibly give him some more time with us. We also could have went with hospice then and there. (The choice to not do hospice then still bothers me. But I had to let him do what he felt was best for him.)
At first things seemed well. He handled the chemo like a boss. Didn't feel too tired.. things seemed great. He was happy and confident he made the right choice. Around day 5, something drastically changed. He got huge blisters all over his legs and feet. It was a rare reaction to the chemo...
As the days passed his blisters were just getting worse and worse which made walking very difficult for him. He got transferred to a rehab center to help him learn to use his walker. Before the Chemo he was able to walk around... but after that first week, he would never be able to walk on his own again.
He was in the rehab center only about a week before we got the terrible news that he had contracted pneumonia. At this point my father had been in the hospital and rehab a combined total of 27 days. He was tired. He refused antibiotics and had me call the hospice.
We called hospice on a Tuesday am. They had everything set up in my home by Wednesday and he came home that evening.
It was really weird because at first, he was almost himself. Granted he needed help walking around, using the bathroom etc..but he had this HUGE burst of life and energy. And all he wanted to do was talk to me. About life, his childhood... my childhood. The circumstances were not the greatest... but I never felt so close to him.
I asked my father several times over this whole thing if he thought we would see each other again and each time he would say no. He told me that if it made me feel better to pray, I should do it... but it meant nothing. Sigh... I still asked. It was like in my mind, even as a non believer, if he could believe, then I knew I could... but it didn't happen.
That Saturday my dad's best friend came in from NYC. They got to spend time together and say some goodbyes. It was almost like my father was waiting for him because that is where things got bad. After my dad's friend left, my dad was in a lot of pain. He just could not get comfortable... and he hardly slept.
The following morning, Sunday he started to not know where he was. He was able to recognize the kids and I, but he thought we were on a boat and heading to an island. He kept telling us we had to be careful because the crew couldn't be trusted. Both my dad and I were on less than 1 hour sleep. It was pretty brutal.
Throughout all this he was still letting me help him walk, eat his meals, and use the bathroom. The hospice suggested a sleeping pill. He took it no problem. My bedroom was next to his... and when he finally went to sleep, so did I...
I remember it was around 12am when I felt really warm. I can not explain it... almost like someone put blankets from the dryer on me. So I sat up, and standing in the hall without his walker or help was my dad. I sprang up, yelled for my husband and literally caught my father before he could fall. My husband helped my dad to the chair and I laid on the floor bawling my eyes out. I felt so guilty for failing because I didn't hear him get up.
At this point my father no longer remembered that he had lung cancer. He didn't understand why he was so weak he could not walk. I asked the hospice nurse and the doctor on call if they thought he would come back to us and that he would remember where he was. They told me with the size of the mets on his brain and the infection, I am lucky he still knows who I am.
The hospice brought me a baby monitor. And my husband, oldest son, and I all took turns sleeping in shifts. At around 7 pm my dad was very upset. (This was Monday night). He told me he would be to the island soon, but he had to figure out the numbers first so we could be safe. I had no idea what any of this meant, but he asked for pen and paper. I gave it to him and he did what looked like some math and wrote out some numbers.
We gave him another sleeping pill, and my son fell asleep in the chair next to him. My husband and I were awake in the room next to him. We had the baby moniter, and were going to try and do sleeping in shifts.. but he (my husband) had what we believed to be a minor case of food poisoning. So I was between helping my dad and helping him as well.
I don't remember the exact time, I want to say it was roughly 2am but I head a strange sound on the moniter. Like someone going through a drawer. I called out to my son, he didnt answer. So I walked to the bedroom and as soon as I got to the doorway, I see my dad take a lighter to his oxygen tube. HUGE rush of flames as I instinctually pulled the plug to his oxygen machine. My husband ran to our son as I went to aide my dad.
Somehow he remembered a stash of cigs and where he hid his lighter. It was his bedroom and I honestly never thought to hide things. He had quit smoking 2 months ago and had been doing great at it. To this day I still blame myself.
He had some burns and the hospice told us that we should call an ambulance despite my father's wishes. When we were in the hospital, he started to forget who I was... or anything that was going on. The ER doctor told me that I could keep him there. That dealing with a dying person with dementia is hard for professional care takers emotionally and that he could not imagine what it was doing to me and my family.. I thanked him, but said I would please like to take my dad home... and a few hours later, I did.
All afternoon I sat with him. He randomly yelled... cursed. Talked more about getting to the island...telling us we were lying, he was never sick. He did not even remember the fire.
He finally fell asleep and I just broke down. I prayed..... for the first time in roughly 15 years
I just kept asking god.. I said whoever is listening... I know his body is destroyed. I know it. And I know that he can not be healed. I know it's his time... I know you have to take him.. But PLEASE...not like this. Please god... whoever is up there. Let his soul say goodbye to us. Please. Let us have him back. Please give us our goodbyes. Please god. I never ask you anything. Please give me this. Even if just a day...
This was Tuesday night.... I fell asleep in bed next to him. First time sleeping since Saturday really... I heard a voice..
"Maggie is Robbie ok.."
(Robbie is my son)
I thought it was my husband, and I started to reply and then the voice said..
"I don't know why I tried to smoke that last cigarate, I am sorry. Please tell me I didn't hurt Robbie..."
It was my dad!!!!
I jumped up and said Robbie is fine! We are all fine. Do you know where you are? He looked at me confused and said I am at home?
He remembered everything! The cancer, the fire, being on hospice etc. He did not remember telling me he was on a boat, or that he was going to an island. And when I showed him the paper with the numbers, he had no idea what they meant.
The next day we even had a laugh over the whole thing. It was incredible. Like his mind never left us. We had an amazing day.. but that evening I started to notice he was getting weaker. He didn't want to eat, and told the nurse he did not want to wear his oxygen mask.
I told my husband... I knew... I knew it was going to be soon. Early Thursday am the hospice nurse told me she didn't think he had more than a few hours left. I put some music on for him. And he told us he loved us all. He told my husband to watch over his daughters, and protect his grandkids. He told Robbie he had many regrets, and there was still so much he wanted to tell me. We told him we loved him dearly and I know he loved me. And that we would all be ok.
Just before 11am he took his last breath in my arms. And I will never forget when they took his body from my home, soon as he was in the car it poured. Pouring rain and thunder.
Next 3 days were a blur.. I didn't leave my bedroom. The hospice came to get everything quickly. I asked not to watch. When I finally did go back down stairs, the first thing I saw was the paper with the numbers on it....and that is where it hit me...
I felt the warm again. Just like the night I woke up and stopped my dad from falling...
Then I thought about how tired I was the night of the fire. But my husband was ill... so we were both awake...
Then I remembered the prayer. My prayers were answered. NO ONE can tell me otherwise. I was told he wouldn't remember me again, but he remembered everything. All of us. He got to say goodbye... and so did we.
I still have no idea if the numbers actually meant anything, but I took pictures to remember. I also often wonder if the island was were his soul was going and the "crew" who was hostile to him were his fears of death.... I hope some day to understand.
But because of this, I try to look for signs everywhere. I have faith that there is a life after this one and that spirits are all around us. Finally working up the courage to write this whole story up is my Father's day gift to my dad. It has taken me two years to do this, but I feel much better after telling it.
I think everyone has such a mindset that death disconnects us from our loved ones. This isn't true. You can still connect with them. They are always with you. We are energy. The physical body has died but the soul is eternal. In life we interact with souls even though we see bodies. Changing the way we think about life and death is a big step towards changing grief. Yes loved ones are not physically here but energetically will always exist and be with us. We can still speak with them any time we choose. If anything I think there is more accessibility because there is no physical barrier. It's all in how you think about souls and death.
The following post is from my personal facebook;
I deleted facebook a couple nights ago because I have been feeling very triggered as memories I had turned off keep popping to my feed and this is around the time 2 years ago were I was looking up hospice.
I have also been struggling with drastic mood changes which cause me to engage in stupid arguments that are nothing more than semantics.
It's funny how facebook has become the needed platform for a lot of our lives. I am not talking addictions, that is a whole conversation in itself. I am talking about the way companies, artists, support groups, teachers etc have based their whole entire business through facebook.
I sat down this morning, made my coffee and thought to myself... oh yeah peer grief therapy tonight. Got to make it. My therapist hosts these 3 times a week. Two of which are streamed via facebook live in a private support group.
These aren't mandatory meetings, and apparently facebook is the preferred method as others tend to be internet challenged and only use their devices to access facebook. Sigh
Then I realized with my own bussiness, deactivating my page makes it not visible. In 2018 your value as an artist or photographer... well, business owner really.. Your work, at least in part is evaluated based on the activity and popularity of your social media pages.
Not complaining in the sense of.. oh my let's all delete facebook. Merely saying that I am surprised how reliant I am on this platform for more than the basic checking up on family and friends.
I am not in the greatest place right now mentally. And I say mentally because everything else in my life is pretty... awesome.
With that said, I am in therapy. I have been seeing the same therapist since Pennsylvania through her private sessions online every two weeks and group peer meetings weekly. I attend. I don't usually want to, but I do it anyway.
Long story short.... my page is here... but my mind and heart really aren't into social media right now. I know a lot of people love and care about me... So I wanted to make sure everyone knows that I am ok and I will be back to posting normal again as we get more into summer.
This time of year will always be hard for me. Thanks for understanding.
So that is where my heart and mind are this morning. As I promised, I won't just share the good through my journey... but the bad too.
I am also not giving up on my journey to happiness through love, kindness, and compassion. I just need a little break.
I say it all the time, but self care is so important. You can not help others without taking care of yourself too.
I have a lot of topics I really want to touch on this week including my spiritual experience during my dad's hospice and why I feel openly taking my readers through this with me is very important.
I will also share some recent selfcare and meditation items I bought, as well as the current book I am reading.
Here are some things I’ve learned since you passed:
1. It helps me to talk about you. Some people want to avoid the topic for fear of making me sad, but honestly that just makes things worse. I love telling stories about you because it's my way of keeping you alive.
2. I feel okay sometimes. Sometimes I even feel strong. But if I don't allow myself time to cry each day, sadness catches up and bursts out unexpectedly - at the bus stop, out to dinner, on hikes...
3. I have a really great support system from my family and friends (mostly thanks to you).
4. I find it super weird that grief has its own hashtags (you would have a big laugh over that), but it's helped me to find a community of others going through the same thing, helping me to navigate through my own grief.
Those were the words I sent via text to my husband today when he sent me a beautiful picture of our daughter helping his father in the kitchen. 'And my dad is dead'.
I regret it and soon as I sent it, and all Tavo could do is send back a sad face. I don't even know why I said it. Why was I so triggered tonight?
I am left feeling a bit selfish. We moved to Chicago for family dinners like these. The tiny moments that make life worth living. I wanted this, but yet I am consumed in this moment with anger, jealousy, and sadness.
I am glad she gets her other grandfather.
"I may not fully understand it, but my life makes sense. I make sense. I can let go of the past and move forward. Today is the first day of the rest of my life."
Something that was shared in therapy this evening.
Time doesn't heal all wounds. Not when it comes to grief and loss of life. Time is simply the space we move through as we use our own trial and error coping systems in an effort to find ways within our lives to move forward. There is no getting over. You do not get over this kind of loss, you cope and learn how to move forward with a life without that person. Please stop trying to fix people who are grieving. Just listen. Sometimes the best way to help someone is to not say anything at all. Not every situation in life calls for advice, wisdom, and accidental opinions.
ॐ ⏀ ♡ ↟↟↟
I get a little tired of people who assume that just because you have kids, you are automatically completely uncool, and that all your time is spent wiping babies from head to toe, giving spit baths, criticizing their every move, volunteering for PTA, blogging in your spare time, clipping coupons before crock potting a pot roast, ironing the clothes, bleaching the whites, mopping the floors, harvesting your eggs, sewing for your etsy shop, scrapbooking the little things, taking pictures of everything they do, saving for college, reading Dr. Suess, socializing at the bus stop, sweeping the floor, laughing over coffee with your jogging stroller, wearing your birkenstocks and listening to Baby Einstein.
Just because I DO THESE THINGS OCCASIONALLY.
Does not mean for one second that sometimes I don’t just want to be a kick ass girl with streaks in her hair, a ring in her nose, a tattoo on her arm, concert tickets in her purse, vodka in her fridge, a leather mini-skirt in her closet, her best single friends and a standing reservation for Las Vegas once a year with a don’t ask don’t tell policy, and the desire to just once be seen as more than the mother of 5 kids. Sometimes I just want to be seen as a “Maggie”. A “Maggie” with an extremely adorable set of children… (I joke, but sometimes it's hard to over come labels. )
Married + 5 Children
Born in New York
Living in Chicago Land
Italian + Mexican American household
Published Photographer + Artist
Lung Cancer Activist + Advocate
Social Media Enthusiast
Openly in Grief Therapy
Believes in Freedom Of Religion
Studied Animal Science
Sand Cloud Ambassador
Backpacking + Hiking
Crystals + Meditation + Yoga
Writing + Scrapbooking + Blogging
Foodie + Cooking + Baking
Tropical Fish Keeping
Coffee + Coffee Shops
Travel + Road trips
Okkervil River + Good indie bands