Monday, April 26, 2010

Ramblings of a Mother

So, life in our home has been less than stellar these past few weeks. We're not hell bound or anything, well, no more than usual, but we've been dealing with the ghosts of drama past. Aren has had a tough little life, major illness paired with the death of a sister with the same condition followed by a bone marrow transplant less than ten months later. Add to that broken limbs due to osteoporosis, joints that don't move, gray hair and funky skin and you've got the perfect depression storm.

Yup, Aren is ten and has suffered from depression most of his life. He's been popping pills since before he was three, but even medication couldn't keep the monster down this month. We noticed that Aren wasn't himself - he would cry a little more easily and get upset over things that normally didn't phase him and then he couldn't calm himself down, but nothing prepared us for the night when he told Rick he was just done with life. He told Rick he wished he were dead because he wanted to be with Lily again and because he didn't think he was worth it any more.

I couldn't believe it. Anyone who knows Aren can see that he is the sweetest boy around. He absolutely wants to be friends with everyone, adults included. All of his uncles and aunts can attest to the fact that hugs are not optional when he is around, so you can imagine how I would have felt knowing that my poor boy was having these kinds of thoughts.

After weeks of phone calls and screaming at doctors, we finally made our way to a psychiatrist this morning and talked with him for over an hour. We decided the best course of action to take with medication, then the doctor asked if I would consider family therapy. Of course I said yes, but as the day has gone on the thoughts have crept into my head that I am a failure as a parent.

When Lily died I couldn't function. I had never dealt with depression before, even when Rick was in Bosnia and I had a child in the hospital for weeks at a time every month. I've always been able to hold it together. But leaving a lifeless two year old in a diaper and nothing else in a hospital room, knowing the next time I'd see her would be to dress her lifeless body is enough to make the strongest person lose it. I spent the next few months trying to deal with my own feelings, then moving straight into "let's get it done" mode for Aren's transplant, I suppose I neglected to see what was going on with Aren.

Oh, I know I did the best I could with the hand I was dealt, but I still feel horrible that here we are five years later and we're just going to start dealing with all this. I understand the fact that we're dealing with this now is at least better late than never, but still. Guilty feelings creep in and it sucks putting forth the effort to shut them up.

Rambling done.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ode to Rick

We have an old blog that I could never really figure out how to use, but Rick did and so he wrote a lot. Every once in a while I go to the blog and read about those days following Lily's death, Aren's transplant, and the birth of Tatiana. Rick had his own page where he wrote down his thoughts, mostly about life following the death of our daughter. Rick has an amazing way with words and I thought this should be shared. If you're struggling with the death of a loved one or just life in general, read this and love it, just like I do every time I read it.

They say that the grieving process has stages. We’ve all heard of them, from denial to rage to acceptance. The idea seems to be that they just flow from one to the next, until you’ve finally accepted your loss. It’s sort of like a play, and each scene marches forward to the happy ending, where you’ve moved on and begun your life anew. They say that we just need to be patient, and that it will all work out in the end.

I say they’re wrong.

Grief isn’t a process. It doesn’t have stages, at least not like the stages of a rocket, where one burns out and the next starts, constantly propelling you towards that destination, that wonderful place where you can look back on what you’ve been through and say, “I am a better person now”.

If there is any stage for grief, it is closer to the one Shakespeare used to describe the world. But far from the players on his stage, who play their part and are heard of no more, the emotions that are the characters in this play are terribly persistent. They are all players in a large ensemble scene that begins with the news of your loss and continues for the rest of your life. They are always there, sometimes engaged in conversations with one or more of the other characters, sometimes hiding behind the scenery. At their weakest, they are only in the wings, waiting to be summoned back to center stage, where, at their strongest, they dominate the entire theater. While it may be possible, in time, to recognize that someone is being cued, it is usually impossible to predict which actors will come forth. Will it be Regret? Anger? Maybe Denial will make an appearance long after he was thought removed from the drama – but in a different disguise.

The complications don’t end there, however, because this is not just a play – the writer also seems to have taken a lesson from Wagner. Each character has his own leitmotif in addition to the specific part he must play. While one person is on the stage, claiming to reign supreme, his nemesis’s theme is rising softly from the orchestra pit, undermining everything that is being done on stage.

When Lily died, the background music belonged to Denial, though I didn’t notice it at the time – I was to busy listening to the sham monologue being delivered by Acceptance. He was showing me her body, making me notice how lifeless it was, how, even when she was sound asleep there were signs of life – how she would at least try to keep her head up, how I could feel her breathe, and see the blush of her cheeks, and most especially how she never felt this cold. It was Denial, I suppose, that inserted the heart-rending (or maybe just melodramatic) notion that I should hold her tighter and get a warmer blanket so she would be more comfortable. Now, six months later, I meet the same pairing more often, but with Denial’s theme in some twisted variation. Acceptance’s musings hold much more force now. But when Denial sneaks in, he is once again sounding a tragic note, trying to convince me that she never existed, that the three years I spent with my baby girl were all just in my dreams. After all, my dreams are the only place I can see her now, so who is to say that that isn’t the way it’s always been?

Just like listening to the notes of a symphony coming from a stage, your only perspective is what you can hear now as compared to the notes in your memory. And although this music-drama will run for the rest of your life, you will never see the exact same scene twice. Even as you remember, there will be subtle variations that you have never noticed before. In a Brahms symphony, the phrases sound very similar, but if you listen closely enough, the details and nuances emanating from the stage will always be subtly different. But seeing and hearing these differences bring newness to what is happening on stage. Sometimes they are interesting or even amusing. Sometimes the notes sound a sort of pathos with a ferocity that is both contradictory and fitting. But the music and the drama never end, they only interact and change each other and themselves. They just continue, working, progressing inexorably towards that final scene, the coda of our own lives – which in itself can be the beginning of someone else’s tragic opera.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


To the outside world we all grow old. But not to...sisters.
We know each other as we always were.We know each other's hearts.
We share private family jokes.
We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.
We live outside the touch of time. ~Clara Ortega

Oh, I'm crying. I don't use the word blessed that often, but I was truly blessed to be born into a family where I have three sisters. They bring me so much joy. Every time the phone rings, Rick tries to guess which sister will be calling and he worries if he realizes I haven't spoken to one of them on any given day.

This weekend all of my sisters, Katharine, Emma, and Sarah, came down for forty-eight hours of pure heaven. The majority of that time was spent on the road as we were helping my younger sister move the last of her belongings from her old house in New Mexico. I cried as I realized that Sarah really would never be back in New Mexico to live, giving it all up for her beautiful daughter Maren who needs more medical attention than a small town can give. I cried as I realized that Emma would be heading back to Utah and take with her the faces that tell exactly what she's thinking without saying a word. And I cried as I realized that I don't spend enough time with Katharine who lives just three hours away from me. I cried as I realized once again my sisters mean the world to me. We are a part of each other. We know who we were, who we are, who we want to be, and we love each other anyways.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Go Diego Go...Away

I've never been an animal person, but even I am ok with the wild ones. Animals behind bars or from a distance are a-ok with me, which is why I never really cared if Tatiana watched Go Diego Go. Even though he's an eco-friendly hippy animal lover, I could put up with him way more than his loud mouthed cousin Dora.

Until now.

Because of this freak of nature and his rescue pack, my little girl has convinced herself that she's a penguin. She waddles around the house and when I ask her a question with a yes or no answer her response is usually, "Squack." An excited "squack" means yes and a less enthusiastic "squack" apparently means no. I suppose I should have learned from my last caving in animal experience. Stupid hamsters.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


So, I've been yapping away to people about our totally fun trip to San Diego over spring break and have yet to post pictures, so here's proof of our amazing four days (only two if you count driving). Feel free to skip them all and post nothing, skip them all and then post saying "Wow! Looks like a great trip!", or browse at your leisure and bask in the glory of two of the three cutest kids ever born along with one hot looking guy. Yes, I'm talking about Rick.

Aren at the beach at Coronado Island

Just the boys

Shamu doing his thing

Aren had to have this jellyfish hat and Tatiana promptly
declared it hers

Waiting for the show to start...

Both looking a little tired

Tatiana finally passed out after the sky ride over the park.
Jerk. I paid four bucks for her to sleep on a ride.

Enjoying the flowers while Aren and I went on a ride

Dining with dolphins

Tatiana loved seeing the dolphins up close.
Hopefully next year we'll be able to do the dolphin experience.

Tatiana was not happy about this ride at all.

Aren, on the other hand, is totally at home.

Sliding at the Sesame Street playland

Tatiana, too

Aren and a whale

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tender Mercies

Life can be hard sometimes and usually that's all that can be said, but sometimes, when I'm really quiet and trying to listen, something amazing happens.

I've talked before about how Heavenly Father must have known we were a bunch of idiots because He put a lot of good stuff in the first few chapters in the Book of Mormon - you can find that entry HERE. Once more as I begin again I came across the most amazing scripture that I've read a million times, but not until now has it become a favorite.

"But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." I Nephi 1:20

How grateful I am this Easter weekend for the "tender mercies of the Lord". Those few moments I can spend with Aren and Tatiana coloring eggs and talking about which ones are our favorites. Sitting outside with Rick as he digs and scrapes to make a perfect circle around our not perfect tree with bricks and when it doesn't work out he says, "Huh. I wonder which expletive I should use here." Looking at sweet pictures of my darling Lily who left us five years ago but because of the most amazing tender mercy, will rise again and be my daughter forever.

Jesus Christ has risen. He is my Lord and Savior and no matter how hard life seems to get, this tender mercy is eternal.