Sunday, October 21, 2012

Grieving and Moving Forward (or... trying to)

I have been gone for so long, I don't know whether I can do justice to a post here anymore. I feel removed from so many aspects of my life; like I'm sitting on a park bench and watching life and all that it encompasses fly past me at record speed. Life feels foggy. Hazy. Thoughts feel jumbled and scattered.

Or maybe it's just my thyroid meds.

I probably ought to check my TSH levels again.

Or maybe it's just my way of trying to process the death of my aunt.

Truthfully, I don't know if I ever can. I'm still in shock and disbelief. Just last week, I was in my kitchen, preparing dinner when the phone rang. For a fleeting moment, I thought, "Oh I wonder if that's Aunt B? It's been so long since I..."

I seriously got that far into the thought before I remembered. And as the phone finished it's shrill ring, I broke down in tears, overwhelmed by grief that came at me out of the blue.

That sort of thing happens every couple of days. Today, I was in a fabric store, looking for something for Petite's Halloween costume and I thought, "I wish Aunt B were here. She would know what to look for," and a tear rolled down my cheek.

She's gone. I never expected that her sudden fall and subsequent departure from my parents' home (and her own home) to go to the hospital that day in June would herald the end of her life and she would not have a chance to return to her own house. She never got to finalize anything. She had unfinished projects here and there. She was not ready. Not really prepared for her days to end. And I never truly got a chance to say goodbye. She never got a chance to see Petite one last time. I will always regret that.

On August 8, I took Petite and flew home for a week. I shed so many tears knowing that she was already gone and I wouldn't see her while I was at home. It felt weird to be sitting in my aunt's house, around her kitchen table--with my parents, my other aunts and uncles, and Petite--and not to have Aunt B there.

Watering the plants at Nana and Poppy's

While home, I had the opportunity to speak for a number of items in her house that I could not bear to see lost to a donation pile. She lived alone and had a house full of furniture, cherished things, photos, items, from my grandparents' days and from her own life. And everyone in the family already has so many things; I mean, how many place settings or sets of dishes does a person need? My parents have their fair share of those things. So do my aunts. But how can you let her favourite tea mug be tossed out? Or her scissors (as she was a seamstress)? Her sewing machine? The beautiful paintings on the walls? How do you let those things go when you haven't really even had time to say goodbye to the person they belonged to and you just want to cradle everything tightly in your lap and never let go of any of it? Because you so badly want to bring that person back to you and you somehow think that by holding her cherished possessions close to you, she is close to you? How do you let go? How do you let pieces of your loved one end up in a bin for strangers to paw through and barter over? It's all too much for me. So very overwhelming.

I walked into my aunt's bedroom, together with my mom, and my two remaining aunts. The four of us were going to go through Aunt B's jewellery and choose a few pieces for ourselves and to give to others. Aunt Li, the one who used to live with Aunt B for many years, and who is the executor of the estate, walked to the dresser and pulled out something. She turned to me. In her hands was a small red pouch. Aunt Li spoke, "Gil, this is for Petite. We want her to have it from Aunt B." (I'm sobbing as I type this. Bear with me.) I was puzzled. I had no idea what the three sisters had done. But it quickly became clear to me.

I took the red pouch, and carefully opened it, slowly tipping it to catch the contents in my left hand.

Aunt B's wedding ring slid out, onto my palm.

I started to cry, and I was promptly handed a tissue. Aunt Li held her own tissue and took a breath, and she reminded me of Aunt B's own words from her hospital bed a few weeks prior, "Now no snottin' and bawlin'. None of that." We laughed through our tears; that was just like Aunt B. Petite and Aunt B had a very special relationship and knowing that Petite has Aunt B's wedding ring is more than I could possibly ever imagine. I will guard it carefully, cherishing it until the day comes for me to turn it over to Petite. She will never remember Aunt B. But she has her as a wonderful, watchful guardian angel. Of this, I am certain.

Playing in the playground where Mommy used to play when she was a girl 

I picked out a few more pieces of her jewellery for myself. The string of pearls she loaned me for my wedding day. The family ring belonging to my grandmother. Two sets of earrings (studs and hoops). A gold rope chain.

I chose a few paintings and pictures in the house. Aunt B had one of Petite's first drawings (done at 20 months) framed on her bedroom wall; I will bring it back to our home and keep it for Petite. I will take some of her dishes, her butter dish, a few special mugs, some bedding (it is the perfect colour and size for Petite's new double bed), some of her sewing items (yes, I took her scissors and her pinking shears) and other items. I went through her shoes and sneakers; Aunt B and I had the same size feet although my foot is a tad wider, but some of her shoes fit me. It was hard to go through her personal items. I will have her sofa and loveseat shipped to me as well; we need a new sofa badly and I cannot bear to see her gorgeous set go to just anyone. My aunts are having items shipped to them too, so the moving company will take it all together.

While at home, we held a visitation at the funeral home on Saturday, August 11. I spent some time creating a little paper, "Memories of Aunt B" that I compiled after talking with her nieces and nephews and their families. I also pulled together a lot of photos of Aunt B over the years and loaded them onto a digital photo frame; it played random photos throughout the afternoon. At the funeral home, we had a number of people come to visit who simply could not believe that Aunt B was gone. Her death was so sudden, and completely unexpected, that it shocked many people.

I took a few quiet moments to touch the beautiful, simple urn that held her ashes and say a little prayer, letting her know that Petite and I were there. Late... but we were there. And we love her and will miss her always.

On Sunday, August 12, we drove out to Cape Spear. The most easterly point in North America. Aunt B loved to go there to feel the wind in her face and watch for whales, or just revel in the roiling waters against the rocks below the steep cliffs. Cape Spear is where Hubby and I got married. It has a magical pull about it; every time I go home, I make an effort to go there for an hour or two. Aunt B loved it there too. On Sunday the 12th, we took Aunt B there for one last visit. Aunt Li took a vial of her ashes, as Aunt B wished, and we took some flowers to scatter into the wind, against the rocks, atop the waves.

Flowers for Aunt B, scattered at sea

Aunt B will always be there, every time I visit. And I hope to visit her often. Her urn was taken to King's Cove a couple of weeks ago for a private inurnment alongside her husband' final resting place. It is what she wanted. I hope she is at peace. I pray for her to visit me and tell me she is, to come to me in a dream and tell us she is all right. My aunts remained in Newfoundland to finish up clearing out Aunt B's house, sorting through her things, holding a garage sale, and selling my aunt's house and her car, dealing with her estate.

Petite and I left Newfoundland and returned to the Capital, and one week later (the last week in August), Hubby, Petite and I packed up and drove down to New Brunswick to be with my family for a week. The drive was relaxing (we enjoy driving holidays) and we loved seeing family members together. I spoke with my cousin and his wife, who had flown down to Newfoundland quickly and seen Aunt B the week before she died. It was my cousin who helped me Skype with Aunt B on her last 'good' day, bless him. It was the only closure I got.

We had glorious weather. My sister flew up with my little nephew from West Virginia and the two cousins had a wonderful time playing together. We stuck them in the bath together. They cuddled and had fun out on the back deck together. It was a quiet time, for the family to just BE together and lick our wounds, so to speak. I think we all needed that. And having the two kids there as a distraction was fun. My nephew is a gorgeous little boy. I hadn't seen him since he was two months old so it was a blast to rediscover him at almost 15 months.

Cousins playing; Petite's 3rd birthday

My sister, my mom, my cousin's wife and I gathered together the first night we were there and Mom gave my sister some of my aunt's items. It was a difficult time. My sister didn't really want to face it; didn't want to handle dividing up my aunt's jewellery or decide who got her leather jacket. The fact that she didn't really get to say goodbye either is hard on her too.

While in New Brunswick, Petite had her 3rd birthday with our family. She was adamant that she wanted a Cinderella cake, and that is exactly what she got, along with some fun toys and beautiful clothing, books, toy instruments, etc. Poppy got her a car with a "'mote control" that my sis brought from the States. She LOVED that.

We did another birthday back at home with a few of our friends and their little kids. We decided to head to a bowling alley and everyone had a GREAT time with that too! It was the first time for most of the kids to bowl but they really enjoyed it to the fullest. I worked diligently to make a Cinderella doll cake for Petite and it turned out nicely if I do say so myself.

Cinderella cake for Petite's birthday

As for us... we have made some life-changing decisions.

We will not cycle again.

I am at peace saying that, at long last.

There are a number of factors that went into that decision, and I know that I would love Petite to be a big sister. However, so many things make it hard on us, as a couple and it isn't the right choice for us, right now. Alas, "right now" is really all we have, given my age. I will not get another opportunity to do an IVF cycle, as I will be 43 next year and that is the cutoff age at McGill if you wish to use your own eggs. We looked at our finances, which took a hard hit with the first IVF (and all the years that came before that), the two years of school that Hubby did, and then the issue of not finding work quickly enough. We looked at the fact that we are just now finding our independence again, beginning to go out now and then as a couple, now that Petite is a bit older (and has been toilet trained for more than a year now). We looked at the fact that we may not get as lucky next time; not just in that I may not get pregnant, but what if we had a child with special needs? That would take away time, energy and money from the little girl that we worked so hard to have. I don't want to do that to her. I want to focus on the gorgeous little girl we DID get lucky enough to have. I want to enjoy her to the absolute fullest. I want to give her whatever I possibly can. I want to enjoy our life as a family and move forward. We are in a good place now and if we do it right, things will get better.

Cheeky girl

So in making that decision, I did not call McGill to start BCP in September and then to do injectables/monitoring in October with a view to retrieval mid-month and an HCG blood test around Halloween.

And making that decision meant that we could finally go through Petite's clothing and baby items, my maternity stuff, etc., and hold the mother of all garage sales. This garage sale was about five years in the works. We have done just that, and the sale brought us about $700. I hope that someone can use the treasured things that we so carefully chose for our little girl. I still have some clothing to consign and/or donate. I'm working through it. And I kept a huge bin of special items for myself.

In having that garage sale, we cleared out our living room, sold our old sofa and chair, and we have repainted with a view to prepping the room to receive the furniture from Newfoundland. I want to order something online for the wall. I'll take a few pictures when it's all done. I'm still looking for curtains and curtain rods, but I suspect that will have to wait until next weekend. There are only so many hours in a day.

We also purchased a new vehicle. Our warranty expired this past summer in the middle of the grieving and travelling, and knowing that we had some repairs on it, it was time to handle that as well. We opted for a Chevy Orlando (not sold in the USA). It's on a par with the Mazda5, sort of a cross between a minivan and an SUV, with three rows of seats for 7 passengers (and very little cargo space) or 5 passengers and plenty of cargo space. Petite's seat takes up a good part of the second row so we can fit 6 comfortably, or 7 squished.

Chevrolet Orlando 2012

And last week, The Wiggles brought their farewell tour to our city. Aunt B bought our tickets to The Wiggles in the summer of 2010. We had a lot of fun. I had expected to give it a pass this time around, but it tugged at my heartstrings, and knowing that it is Jeff, Murray and Greg's last time with the group, and then I spotted tickets on Groupon for a quarter of the price, I jumped at it. We went to the matinee show and we had fun.

The Wiggles, October 16, 2012

Keeping an eye on some bloggers these days: 
After a number of miscarriages, Monday is the day that Mo and Will (Life and Love in the Petri Dish) ought to meet Magpie, their little girl. Mo will be induced and I am hoping and praying that things go well.

And Keiko (The Infertility Voice) got a BFP after a donor egg IVF cycle. I am thrilled for her. And I can relate all too well to her difficulty transitioning from "infertile" to "pregnant infertile." There isn't much out there for those of us who have travelled that particular path.

You're still reading? Thank-you. I'm finding my way back but it may take time. At least now,  you're all caught up. And for that matter, so am I. Love to you all in blogland.


Pam said...

I know how hard it's been the past few months. I heard you made made that decision not to cycle but hadn't had a chance to ask you about it. I was surprised intially but understand. We're hear if you both need anything. Love you guys!

loribeth said...

Gil, so sorry about your aunt. Going through her things when it was all still so fresh must have been so hard... but I hope that spending time with your other family members helped. And I'm glad you've reached a place of peace about building your family. It's a hard decision to make, but it sounds like it's the right one for you. (Which doesn't mean you won't have occasional moments of regret now & then.)

Sorry this is late... I am having trouble keeping up with reading & commenting these days... can't remember the last time my Google Reader was at zero!!

shlomit said...

First off, sorry for the loss of your aunt. Be gentle with yourself as you ebbs and flows...sending lots of love.

Also, WOW about your decision not to cycle. I TOTALLY get it! At the same time I know it's monumental and that too may ebb and flow. Here for you if you ever want to 'talk'.

Finally - so great to see your beautiful little girl! <3


Anonymous said...

I came across your blog during a search on how to interpret my most recent round of hormone level numbers. I'm 40, with a beautiful 2 year old and an awesome partner. We're trying for baby #2 and post 3 miscarriages not having that much luck. We'll keep trying with a fertility clinic come sept. I really respect your decision to not do another round of treatment. I wonder if I should just leave things be because they really are wonderful right now. Anyway, I wish you all the best.

btw, my partner's family is from NFLD and we live in Ottawa so it we share even more in common.

All the best,