My turn.

Argh. It’s close to midnight and I’m still awake. Besides a trip to CVS for a drive-thru COVID test and a few joy rides with Ted, I haven’t left my house in 8…9…days…I lost count. Last Friday, after what I was convinced was a bad cold mixed with a stomach bug, my at-home antigen COVID test came up positive. That COVID positive line was dark purple. It might have well been a neon sign shouting, “you’ve got the plague.”

I really thought I wasn’t going to get it. And then a colleague reminded me that I am not, in fact, “super human,” but instead, I am “mortal.” Or was that my dad? Chalk it up to my foggy COVID brain, I suppose.

I pretty slept for 3 days straight from Sunday – Tuesday, and returned to work (from home) on Wednesday. I definitely am glad I had my 4 vax shots or it likely would’ve been worse.

I tested yesterday and today – still positive. Ugh. So, I got a pcr test today and now, I wait.

PS it’s fun to see what the cats are up to when we’re usually asleep!!

5/1/22

We had a lovely 1st Anniversary, complete with Italian food, good company, and minor stressors. My main issue is that I’m still incredibly fatigued, so by 2 or 3pm, I am spent. Like today – it is almost 3pm and I can barely stay awake. The kids are home today from a half day at school, so the cats and I are snug as bugs in rugs in our bedroom. It is tough on these days because my work is interrupted a lot. More stressors.

This weekend we’re off to western MA for a mini-moon, and then soon, we’ll be off to Italy! I’ve been busy researching all of the Covid protocols to travel abroad, and for the low, low price of $400, you can do your own Covid tests! It’s crazy. You have to do a test that is monitored by a professional, which can be done by telehealth, but you need to purchase the test and then pay for the telehealth appointment. Fortunately we have FSA but it’s not for the lazy or cheap! Lots of planning, but it’s worth it in the end to get to Italy!

That’s all for now!

Advocate for yourself

Drip. Drip. Drip.

I watched the last few drops from the rust-colored liquid move out of the bag and into the IV tube. All at once, I felt gratitude, excitement, relief, and fear.

On Tuesday, I sat for 4-hours at the hospital receiving an iron infusion as I was diagnosed officially on Monday with anemia. The normal FE range for a women my age is 37-145 mg/DL. Mine was 19.

I was fortunate that there was a cancellation so I got right in. I was hopeful I’d get in before Ted and I head on our honeymoon to Italy. Time was on my side, because by the time we leave, the iron infusion should be fully integrated into my own blood stream. Until then, I will experience light headedness, headaches, and occasional heart palpitations.

I had no idea I was anemic. I had tested low in October, and my doctor put me on OTC iron every other day. My body wasn’t absorbing it. It can be a side effect for gastric sleeve or gastric bypass patients. Why didn’t my PCP order a follow up iron test? I’m not sure but I wish she had. But, she is churning through patients, as most PCP do, so this is where I get on my soap box and say, “No one will advocate for you but you.” Granted, family may help or friends may want to support you, but no one can tell how you are feeling internally but you. Listen to your body.

When my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer, she was listening to her body, which was telling her something wasn’t right. Sadly as with many Ovarian Cancer patients, the signals come too late. She encouraged me to learn from her experience and so I am.

I went for a sleep study, convinced my fatigue was caused by sleep apnea. I stayed over at the hospital, did my thing, and alas, when the results came back, my sleep apnea was close to normal levels. I asked the nurse practitioner, “Then, what is causing my fatigue and brain fog?” I take pride on my attention to detail and it was off. My nearly photograph memory wasn’t snapping those visual cues the same way.

She ordered the follow up iron test, and alas, that was the culprit. No matter how much iron I took, it wasn’t going to absorb at a normal rate.

I’ve been exhausted for years. I’ve been dragging myself around from point A to B and barely taking anything in. I was caring for mom, then dad, then the kids, and I wasn’t keeping up with my own health. If I am not strong, then I’m not good to anyone.

Mom taught us a lesson. And now I am doing the same. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.

Honeymooners

This month Ted and I celebrate our 1st anniversary. It feels like forever sometimes, and other times it feels like it went so quickly. To recap, in our first year of marriage, we bought a house, we both started new roles at work, and we lost my mom.

We’ll come back to mom in a minute but I did want to say that we have a trip planned to the Berkshires and we’re also headed to Italy in June – Rome, Florence, & Venice. I can’t wait to experience it with Ted!

This will be our first Mother’s Day without mom. It’s pretty painful to think about so I just keep plugging away, but I’m happy that we’ll have a group gathering on Sunday at our house – Ted, my in laws, my dad, my brother, my sister in law, and my brother’s in laws. We’ll be surrounded by love. The kids will be with their mom, though they were sorry to miss my brother’s birthday (also on Sunday).

My job has been good. I have a new boss who started today. I was the only one from my old team who moved over & at first I was sad, but then it was leaked to me that they knew I’d be a good match for him & that they could count on me to acclimate him. I take it as a compliment. I closed a $250,000 gift this week with a donor I’d been warming up for the last 2 years. That was a nice feather in my cap!

I got my booster today. I’ve been experiencing very bad vertigo but I hope it improves soon.

That’s all for now. 💕

4/14/22

Lots of life stuff happening.

Work: I’m going to have a new boss soon. He starts in early May. Should be interesting. Trying to stay positive.

School: wrapped up my marketing class. Happy to be done with it!

Holidays: the next two will be tough – Passover & Mother’s Day. Ted and I will head to my brother and sister in law’s place. We’re spending Easter together with dinner and an evening performance of To Kill a Mockingbird. Mother’s Day is also my brother’s birthday so we’ll do brunch. Kids will be w/ their mom.

Cats: they remain my constant joy & companions. Ok, fine, so is Ted. 😜

Ted and I will celebrate our 1st anniversary on May 15th. Time flies!

3/23/22

It’s 3:12am. I’m lying in bed, listening to the night sounds, which include Ted’s snores, my cat’s purrs, and the occasional rustle of my bag of snacks – tonight, it’s popcorn.

I’m going for an overnight sleep study in a few weeks, so until then, I am awake with my thoughts.

I withdrew from my leadership class tonight. My former self could have swung the balance of work and school, but being part of a family requires sacrifice. The kids need me and I need to share the household responsibilities. But I’m sad about leaving that class, as it was so thought provoking. My professor understood, and thus I withdrew with a perfect score on every assignment. I’m finishing my marketing class since it’s only a few more weeks, and I’m in the middle of my group project. When we met last night, I was nearly in tears when they told me what an impact I made on them and in our classes. Thank goodness they’re still my colleagues!

My new job is very hectic but incredibly fulfilling. I said to Ted I could probably work 24-7 & still not get it all done! I initiated a gathering for 5 of us on my team on Friday who all live near each other so we can chat over coffee. I love my team at work. They’re amazing! I feel very proud to be in my role at work. I’m amazed at what is being accomplished by the physicians and researchers.

I should try to get back to sleep. A lulling podcast awaits.,.

3/16/22

A longtime friend asked for a digital copy of an old photo of us, so I spent some time over the last few days looking for it. Tonight, I took a final perusal of my online photos to see if I spotted it, and it took me on a backwards chronological journey of my Facebook photos. I saw my last photos of mom, photos of her sick, and then photos of when she was sick but we had no idea so we thought she was healthy. Let’s be honest – with the amount of cancer in her body – she was likely sick for years before it was officially disagnosed.

My boss’s boss and I had a great meeting this week, and at the end, he asked me how I was doing after the loss of mom. I told him what I always say: we all go through it yet it is such a lonely experience. I got a promotion a few weeks ago, which is wonderful, and I am so happy about it, but the honest truth is that I feel little joy these days. I am going through the motions most of the time. A lot of it has to do with lack of sleep, and I am going for a sleep study in a few weeks to re-diagnose my sleep apnea so I can get support. I know I’ll get excellent care because my medical center oversees the program. We were ranked in the top 25 hospitals this week in the entire USA. Not too shabby.

Despite my decision to leave my MBA program after this semester, I’m still putting in my best effort. I have an A in my Leadership class, and who knows about marketing? My professor hasn’t given any grades yet, but I’ve done all of the assignments so I’m not worried. More importantly, I’m enjoying them both. But I know it’ll be nice to get some of my time back. I have a stack of books to read, a pile of taxes to compile, and endless other things to do around the house, like I have yet to unpack my boxes in the basement. Yikes.

Then again, people in the Ukraine are being attacked by Russia, so I take it all in stride.

Plus + Minus

Sometimes you need to add and subtract at the same time.

PLUS

I added new responsibilities to my job which I am so thrilled about – I will be adding neurology and pulmonary medicine to my fundraising portfolio at work. This means that in addition to working with retired alumni and faculty, I will be fundraising to our grateful patients as well. Excited.

MINUS

I informed my MBA program that I will be leaving after this semester. It’s just too much. I may revisit going back, but truthfully, I probably won’t. It is expensive, time consuming, and adding undue stress. I felt as if my family was coming in third, after work and school. I’m not a single woman climbing the ladder anymore. I’m a wife, stepmom, and comfortable in my place on the ladder. My priorities have changed. And, my dad is here now, so he is also part of my priorities. With mom gone, he needs our support more than ever. When I told him I was leaving the program, he said it was a “no brainer.” Was that a neuro reference? 😛

I’m in a very good place. Mom is looking down on me and smiling.

War

In my friend Scott’s A Happier You program focused on positive psychology, he provides readers with an meditation/breathing exercise where we move from the self to the world with our thoughts and breathe. It’s too hard to do that today. Putin and his Russian army invaded Ukraine today. There are murmurs of WWIII today. It’s incredibly scary stuff.

With social media, the Ukraine doesn’t seem as far away as it may have previously. It’s just a click away. I met a woman named Julia on a singles cruise many years ago who lives in Kyiv. I wrote a note to her on her wall – like that is going to do any good. I didn’t know what else to do from the safely of my home here outside of Boston.

I was listening to a meeting about the supply chain issues at the hospital system where I work while also perusing the NY Times, which was doing live updates on what was going on across the world. My sister-in-law was born in Ukraine. My colleague described to me over lunch yesterday about her family in Ukraine. It’s closer than we think.

It feels incredibly overwhelming and exhausting all at once. I am also in the process of taking on a new role at work, so that is also overwhelming and exhausting – more to come on that. I’m also in the throws of my first semester of my MBA. I’m exhausted!

2.22.22

Best date. 2.22.22.

Anyhow, it’s Tuesday and I’m alone, unless you count Louie and Nermal chasing each other around the house. Ted and the kids are in FL visiting his folks. Because I have work and school, I stayed behind. I don’t have a ton of accrued vacation time because I used a bunch when my mom was sick.

It was eerily quiet last night and I’m not used to the cricks and creeks of this old house, so I was wide awake at 3am when the heat went on. It sounds like a rush of water and then a flood when our upstairs heat goes on. It sounded like voices in the house so I just laid there and listened. Louie likes to sleep at or on my feet, so he was there. When I fell asleep, Nermal was also on the bed, but at 3am, she was prowling around the house. Then, I was up again at 5:20am when Louie knocked something off my nightstand, which is his attempt to wake me up to feed him. I fed him and Nermal, and then went back to sleep. So it was anything but a restful sleep. I missed having Ted nearby, even if his snores wake me. I prefer to have him near me now. It’s funny how things change.

As soon as I stopped work for the day, I had an immediate instinct to pick up the phone and call mom. It’s what I used to do every day after work. I’d call mom, she’d chit chat with me for a while, and then I’d go about my day. I would vent about work or tell her about the excitement of the day. Instead, I binge watched “Emily in Paris” and somehow, completed the first season. I had finished my homework for the week, so it was a nice to veg. I haven’t had one in a long time where I’m not working or doing school work or something with the family. It was nice and depressing at the same time if that is possible.

I’m having lunch today with dad, so it’ll be nice to get out of the house and have a break. While I do enjoy remote work, it can be isolating so getting out is a good thing. I heard it is supposed to be 70 this week and then we end with a foot of snow. New England is fun.

2/18/22 – Peri what?

I love Friday nights. The work week is behind me, and there are two days ahead to do the things that have been unattended to all week, like lounging in bed and not setting the alarm. Not surprising, my weekend fantasies involve sleep. I am, like millions of other Americans, sleep deprived. You wouldn’t think it as I’m usually in bed by 9, out by 10:30, and up at 7:30/8. But my nights are incredibly restless. I wake up at the sound of a pin drop, even with headphones or earplugs. When Ted moves, I move. And my sweet kitten Louie likes to sleep on my knees or ankles so I’m weary of kicking him mid-dream.

But there’s a deeper secret to my lack of sleep. It’s my dirty little secret. No one dares discuss it but we all know it’s there. It’s called perimenapause. It’s the time that feels like forever before you experience “the change.” Oh I’m changing! I go through so many pajamas from the night sweats and now I have what looks & feels like welts on my chin! It’s cystic acne but man, it’s ugly & painful.

I went to Ulta and whispered, “I need retinoids” to treat my adult acne. The salesperson nodded and pointed me to an $80 bottle of Dermalogica serum that is supposed to help with wrinkles & adult acne. I though, “Can I lather myself in it??” I didn’t flinch at the price. I practically tore it off the shelf and couldn’t get it on my face fast enough! It’s now day #3 and I’m still expecting the miracles. After all, this stuff was $80!

I held up my “Menopause for Dummies” book on my recent zoom with my therapist, and said, “The truth is – my mom never had much to say about menopause when I asked.” She said I could ask her anything I wanted about it. I told her I didn’t even know what to ask.

So, I’ve made a pact to be open about it and talk to my friends as we embark on this next chapter in our lives.

I salute you, Peri!

Kenny’s Ami

When I was a kid, we were headed to Miami with my grandparents. My brother kept referring to “Miami” which I thought was “my Ami” and therefore called it “Kenny’s ami.” Kenny = my brother

Anyhow, I’m in Miami & I swear, I feel like I’m in Europe. Between the palm trees and multiple languages overheard, I want to break out my Italian & start shouting “prego” wherever I go. In the elevator at the airport, I even communicated with a family who only spoke Spanish. Man, I feel like myself again.

I feel like I’m a little lost right now with the multitude of life’s changes. I’m now wife, stepmom, student, cat owner, home owner, like actual house, not a condo), and sans mother. When did all of that happen?? Walking around South Beach tonight to get dinner gave me a brief sense of my former self – independent, adventuresome, and free. It was a nice moment, but fear not (!), I loved speaking to Ted & the kids back at home, and eagerly await Ted’s arrival on Friday. I am happy to reconnect with my “former self” for a little while, but “present self” is not too shabby.

Speaking of school, I started classes this week for my MBA! I’m enjoying them, and I really like this cohort model where I’m taking classes with colleagues from my medical center & our hospital system. So far, so good. Ask me if I still feel this way when I’m sloshing through accounting & finance! Again, I am so glad my hubby has a masters in applied math! 🙌

I am working tomorrow but I do plan to take a break & visit the Jewish Museum, namely because there is a Barbara Streisand exhibit. It’ll make me feel close to mom.

For my Floridian readers, I plan to return in March to the left coast and work from my in-law’s place so I can gather more of that vitamin D we all so desperately need.

Ciao!

A Happier you

Catchy, eh? It’s a book I finished reading today on positive psychology written by a dear childhood friend. When he spoke about growing up or his father, I kept thinking, “I was there. I was part of that journey. I knew him.” He lost his father a few years back to cancer as well.

The book is excellent. It’s filled with practical information, exercises you can do to help capture the moments of pleasure and joy in your life. So often I’m talking to my therapist during darker days and I express to her that I don’t feel any joy in my life. I’m hoping I can use some of the tools from this book to help find those moments of joy, even in those darkest hours.

Today was MLK Day. Ted was home; I was working from home, but it wasn’t my most productive day. There may have been a nap involved.

Ted and I booked Honeymoon #4? #5? for next week. I’m heading to Miami a few days early to WFH (Technically, WFM), and then he’ll join me. We’ll be staying at a little studio in South Beach. I am just excited for a change of pace, a new view outside the window. I think we’ll be very close to the beach. It won’t be beach-weather, as they say, but at little dip of feet in sand never hurt anyone.

1/14/22

My dad passed along an email this morning that my cousin Sue passed away from Covid yesterday. She came to mom’s funeral to offer her support with her husband, who was my dad’s first cousin on my grandmother Ruth’s side of the family. And now, after a bout on a respirator, she’s gone. I don’t know if she was vaccinated or boosted, but after seeing Ted struggling with Covid after having a vaccination, I am going to recommend anyone who isn’t boosted (or vaccinated!) to please go and do it. I am proof that it works. I lived with three people with Covid, and I did not get it. I am boosted as of November 2021. Either that, or as someone said, I have super immunity. I take a handful of vitamins every morning, as directed for someone who had gastric sleeve surgery.

I had my orientation for my MBA last night. We had a chance to hear from one of our professors, this amazing guy who will be teaching us about leadership. He said he is not looking for us to talk about aspirational leadership, but to learn from how we have and currently lead. It should be a very interesting reflection as I aspire to get back into a leadership role where I manage a team again. It feels like a lot to take on right now, yet I am very excited about it as well. Maybe not my accounting and finance classes, but fortunately, I live with a math whiz!

Wishing all who read this a happy friday and long weekend.

Solitude & recharged

I’m sitting in our sunroom, which previously had served as Ted’s office while he had Covid, but he has returned to work today, so I’m taking advantage of all it has to offer. First, there aren’t piles of laundry in there that need to be put away (yes, they’re all mine). And the room is wall to wall windows, so it makes for a perfect oasis for someone who gets season affective disorder (yes, I take plenty of vitamin D). Our two cats love it in here because it can get nice and toasty in a drafty old house, and it has lots of windows for them to gaze upon the neighborhood.

After my meltdown last week, all 3 of the men in my life – ted and the twins – were diagnosed with Covid, so we decided it was best if I took refuge elsewhere until they tested negative and/or were no longer contagious. I had been sleeping on the couch – or not sleeping, I should say – and my neck was throbbing from the lack of support. And I could not get away. I spent a few days at a local hotel and it was the best medicine for me. I was able to sleep as much as I needed – no disturbances unless you count the loud hotel guests – and I watched mindless Netflix. I even skipped a shower. It was lovely. I returned home on Sunday and resumed my role as wife and stepmother. I was able to take Monday and Tuesday off from work using “covid emergency time” which was a terrific option. I even read a book….finished it in one day. It was also lovely. I sat in the sunroom with Ted, and it was nice to just be with him.

I need to recharge alone. I’ve been this way for years. And going from living alone for nearly 30 years to being in a house of husband, kids, and cats is jarring for my former life of solitude. Every few weeks/months, I need to recharge alone. And I couldn’t do it. One of the kids can’t understand “Do not disturb” or “Do not knock.” He just has a compulsion to knock or disturb. So, I am forced to lock the door, which isn’t my favorite option. Everyone keeps telling me to enjoy this time with the kids, that soon they will not want to have anything to do with us, and I’m not complaining about the love and affection from them. They’re wonderful children. But, my nature is to need to recharge alone. So I’m working on it. I told Ted I may need to do the hotel thing again once in a while.

Did you watch Sex and the City? Remember when Carrie and Mr. Big eventually married, but she kept her apartment? It was so she had a place to go and write, catch up on sleep, reflect. I can relate to that need. No, I do not plan to get my own apartment, but you get the concept. I think I need to find the right balance, whether it is plan a night or two away as needed, or plan an annual getaway for me, myself, and I. It is completely separate from my relationship with Ted, who I never feel like I need to get “away” from – it’s more like I need a break from the bills, dishes, dirt, and all that accompanies that.

It’s like the game “whac-a-mole.” You knock down one issue and another pops up right away. Eventually, I just can’t knock them all down and I lose myself in the flurry of stuff to get done. Every time Ted and I try to get a routine going, something pops up and interferes, my dad can’t find my mom’s will and now we have to go to court to probate it, the family gets Covid, we can’t go on our honeymoon (again) and I have to fight to get our money back (finally got it after a public shaming on Twitter), my job gets more demanding, I’m trying to get myself ready for my MBA program.

It’s an endless flurry of stuff.

But, I’ll come out on the other side ok with two feet firmly on the ground, like I always do.

A new day

Feeling better this morning. One of my stepsons tested positive for COVID this morning so I’m off to a hotel. The other one seems ok. His dad will test him when he gets home from school but he has no fever.

My dad said just when it couldn’t get any worse, it did. This too shall pass. That which kills us makes us stronger. Insert meaningless cliche here.

Misery. Plain misery.

Just when I thought things were settling down, Ted contracted COVID. The kids and I tested negative. I’m not going to lie – this is miserable. I had a glimmer of hope with a trip to the Bahamas planned, and that’s off. American Airlines won’t give us a refund or travel credit because we booked a “basic fare.” I booked it through cheaptickets.com and all I can say is, never again! I’m going to have to sit on hold for a million hours to find out if we can get our money back.

And then my dad called me in a panic because his bank froze his assets. It’s all fixed – and it was their error. Poor guy blamed himself.

Kids will be kids. One day at home was enough to put me on edge. Trying to work from home is tough. About 25% of my team is out with COVID, including my intern, so I’m busy doing his work & my work.

Holy crap – while writing this on my phone – Louie the cat jumped on me. I had no idea he was in the room with me. Anyhow…

I’ve been sleeping on the couch and I have such a stiff neck that it hurts to turn it.

I told my therapist that I’m juggling so many balls that I haven’t had time to be sad about my mom. But all I want is to pick up the phone and call her and have her tell me everything will be ok. I have no one in my life now to do that. My friend texted me to “be gentle” to myself. I can’t get away and mourn. I have no privacy, no space. I can’t have a work day without interruption or focus. My therapist keeps telling me to aim for B’s but I feel like I’m barely making C’s.

I miss mom. The tears are flowing now. I’m pretty much at my lowest point right now.

Please – no comments or responses. This is my place to write and grieve. I’m not asking for you to weigh in, console me, or offer me advice. I just need a place to express myself. I want to just be left alone right now and I can’t get away.

I told Ted I need a break, and will go to a hotel for a few days. I need sleep, quiet, a break. Call it self care, an escape, a treatment for depression, but I can’t go on like this.

This is raw and unfiltered. I’m crying uncle.

12/28/21

We’re in the midst of the “holiday season” with three more holidays to go – New Year’s, Christmas with Ted’s family, and wrapping up with Ted’s birthday on 1/4/22.

Today my depression – or the big “D” as I call it – reared it’s ugly head. I couldn’t get up from the couch. I tried, I really did. I even worked from it. I took breaks & watched Selling Sunset on Netflix which may be the most vapid show to be created since the Real Housewives franchises. Yet I still watched it.

I received a wonderful letter in the mail today from a longtime family friend and it really touched my heart. Thank you. I’ll respond to her privately but it was just what I needed today.

My dad is hanging in. He had his first dentist appointment in MA today, and is learning what’s east (Boston) and what’s west (Framingham). My brother is east, and I live south. Boom, that’s all he needs to know.

Ted and I have a 4-day “mini moon” scheduled soon to the Bahamas. However, 1,500 flights are being cancelled daily due to COVID & staff shortages, so who knows if we’ll make it? Honestly, it’s a lot of work for 4 days between COVID tests and vax cards but I’m determined to make it happen. The thought of dipping my toes in the sand and swimming up to a pool bar with my hubby makes it all worth the effort.

The kids are with their mom this week so our house is quiet, unless you count our cats, Nermal and Louie, chasing each other, or as Ted says, galumphing about.

It’s been 2 months – today – since mom died. My mom died. No matter how often I write it or say it, I still can’t believe it. Is she seriously gone? I won’t ever see her again? She’s been coming to me in my dreams. She’s still alive but I can’t make out her face. I just can’t come to terms with her being gone. It’s still too painful. My friends have suggested I try speaking to her or writing to her, but I’m not ready for a one-sided conversation with her right now.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it – this is a very tough patch of life that I’m living in. I’m trying to be very mindful of overpromising & underdelivering because I’m drowning in my own sadness. The sense of loss is, at times, overwhelming.

And just now. I can hear my sweet Louie – aka Boo Boo – with his baby meow in the kitchen as Ted begins to build our new IKEA desk for the kitchen. He will no doubt watch him lovingly, hoping for a treat (or two) and a scratch on the head. His needs are so simple.

Ok, I’m off to watch something vapid or about true crime. Whatever works to take my mind off things for a few moments. 💕

12/15/21

It’s been a minute since I last wrote. I’ve been really busy with work & then I was sick for about a week with a non-COVID runny nose stomach bug type thing so I was flat out for a bit. It’s 11:15pm and in 45 minutes it’s officially my dad’s birthday. Happy Birthday to my dear ole dad!

I’m listening to the gentle breaths of Ted’s sleep. So romantic yet creepy. My sweet toddler of a kitten, Louie aka Boo Boo, is curled up in his favorite spot – my lap – and I’m tapping away on my keyboard on my phone.

I can feel my sleeping pill kicking in so I’ll bid you goodnight and will post an update later!

11/29/21

Just laid on my bed, grabbed my phone, and instinctually went to call mom to discuss my day. So there’s that.

I’m debating now whether I want to do the MBA right now. I am on the fence since I have so much going on right now. At the same time, I know I’d enjoy it. I’m speaking with the program director tomorrow to discuss.

I had my performance review today. Pretty much keep doing what I’m doing. We’ve had to put a lot of my work on hold due to COVID and now staffing shortages = overworked medical teams = not a good time to ask them for money. So I’m focused on alumni engagement & I am set to close a $2 million gift this year from an alum so that’ll get me to my goal.

Dad came over for dinner yesterday & saw our “work in progress” aka house. He had vertigo and is clearly in mourning over losing mom, so there’s that. It’s tough no matter how you slice it. Our family has a mom-sized hole.

I got a new laptop so I was setting that up tonight. It’s perfect for what I need for school and non-work stuff (like YouTube!). I did my first Instagram live tonight after a hiatus & it was fun. It’s a good escape.

I’m trying to get my body back on track after basically neglecting it for months & eating crap, as I sit here eating a cookie. Been taking my vitamins so I’m hoping my iron & thiamin are normalizing again. I’m also going to see a gynecological oncologist from where I work so I can get some advice on preventative care. Good times. Three of my dear friends – plus my cousin & aunt – all had breast cancer so it’s no joke. Plus, mom was stage 4 ovarian when hers was discovered.

That’s about it. Ciao!

11/23/21

Well, the bereavement support group was a bust. It was too painful to hear other people’s stories and the facilitator wasn’t my cup of tea. So, I’ll stick with my individual therapy for now.

It’s been a really tough week with the kids. They don’t understand that my workday doesn’t end when they get home from school, and that I can’t provide them with attention at that time. I have had a tension headache for days and I’m literally going to burst. I have no where to go to be alone, and if I try, I get scolded by them for “avoiding them.” I’m suffering greatly and have no place to go & grieve. I’m not sure how long I can go through this. (Please, don’t text me or email with solutions. I’m not asking for them. This is simply my place to vent. I’m not soliciting advice right now.)

I miss my mom terribly. I can’t look at a photo of her without tears coming to my eyes. It’s too painful. She was the person I’d solicit advice from, so I’m trying to channel her voice as I navigate all of the changes in my life. Everyone keeps telling me not to avoid “feeling” but I have no place to privately “feel.” In the support group tonight I was encouraged to start telling people “no, I’m not available to support you now. I need to take care of myself.” It’s hard. Whenever I try to take care of myself, I’m criticized for “taking on too much.”

My solace right now are our the cats – Louie & Nermal. Louie is curled up next to my leg right now as I type. Nermal is probably pacing in our living room, looking for mice. They are my comfort & joy.

I was talking to our big boss today and he was asking me how I’m doing. I told him that even though we all go through this – losing a parent – it is a very lonely experience as we all mourn differently. I look at the world through a new lens now.

I reconnected with an old friend today, which was excellent. I am so grateful to know him & to reconnect after all of these years. So there’s today’s positive. Good night 🌙💤

11/22/21

It is so dark outside and it’s 5:05pm! I hate daylight savings. I think I wrote that the other day, and I’m sure I’ll say it again. It’s dark and dreary. I just want to curl up on the couch. Technically, it’s after 5 so I can but the kids are home. Speaking of, we’re surprising them with a trip to Orlando for Christmas (we’re going in Feb), so I’m busy working on that. So far we have the Universal stuff booked. Next I need to do Disney and flights. They are going to be so excited! I’m excited because I booked a suite that has a separate room for Ted and me. A little privacy will go along way with me! We’ll have a good time!

It’s Thanksgiving week so I’m excited that it is a short week. I took off Thursday and Friday; because I work at a hospital, we have to take off for all holidays in order for there to be equity amongst all staff. It’s my least favorite part of the job, but it’s not the end of the world. There are so many other benefits to my job, so I have to think of it holistically. I think I also mentioned previously that I applied for an MBA program through my job, and I was accepted. I just found out I have to take Calculus…which I took previously, so I am hoping I can place out of it, but….who knows? I will dread that class!

I’m also joining a Board in January where I’ve previously been an Advisory Board member. So that’ll take up a bunch of time, but I like keeping busy and keeping my brain active.

Not much else to say. I’m cooking dinner tonight, which is a novelty because Ted usually cooks. I’m making Nanny’s Chicken (for those of you who know it, I salute you). It’s an homage to Mom and Nanny, who are both now in my heart and memory.

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving!

11/19/21

It’s 4:46pm and it’s so dark outside. By 6pm, it will feel like midnight and I’ll likely want to bundle up in layers and snuggle under my blankets. I guess there is no reason not to other than it’s our week with the kids so I may need to do some parenty things.

I don’t even know where to begin. I’m back home, back in my life, but my life has forever changed. There is a general malaise hanging over me, like I should be doing something else at all times, and I shouldn’t just be living my life again. One day mom was there and then she wasn’t. When I try to envision her being gone, the pain is too unbearable and I tear up. We were so consumed with “will she? won’t she?” today and now it is just “she’s gone.” It’s painful to look at her photos and I haven’t been able to go through her things. I understand so deeply now why mom couldn’t wear her mother’s jewelry or go through her stuff. I am ok with wearing her jewelry, but other stuff, it’s hard.

The sadness comes and goes. It’s not omnipresent, though it’s still there. I got emotional on a call with a colleague today, which is ok, but not great. All she did was ask how I was doing.

I’m in a relatively new surrounding (my house) that I still don’t feel connected to deeply yet. There are still piles of stuff and we’re slowly making our way through it, but I don’t feel at home yet. Sometimes I just want to run and hide, but there’s nowhere to run. My instinct is to pick up the phone to call my mom, and I can’t. What do you do when the person who talked you off the ledge is gone? Yes, I am fortunate to have my wonderful Ted, but there is 46 years of history that my mom knew, so I’m still getting him up to speed.

I’m starting a bereavement support group next Tuesday, and I am so relieved that I’ll have a place to talk, listen, and learn. This is all new territory for me. In the past when I’ve been depressed, I can just curl up and hide. I can’t do that now. I’ll get scolded by the kids for being absent or I’ll have to do chores, so I am trying to handle my sadness while going through the motions of life. It’s hard to fake joy right now, but I’m doing my best.

You know what’s funny? I miss seeing my dad every day. We went through something so beautiful and tragic together, and now we’re apart. We talk on the phone, and I’ll see him on Sunday, but as he said to me yesterday, we’re all still terribly grieving. And we will for a long time, I think.

I’m going to continue to try to pick up the pieces; namely the pieces of me, which feel feel pretty cracked and needing some sort of emergency crazy glue to keep me together. I was told that grief can feel very isolating, and damnit, it really does. My grief is different than others in that I lost my mom. The only person who truly can relate is my brother and my sister-in-law, as she was close to mom too. So many of you have reached out to me – and it really does help – so don’t stop but remember I may not get back to you right away, but don’t take it personally. It usually isn’t, especially if you don’t make it about you.

P.S. A very happy birthday to my dear A!

11/11/21

There must be something symbolic in deactivating a deceased person’s Facebook account. Not sure what it is, but since my mom’s account was hacked, it is forcing the issue sooner than later. Thank goodness I kept mom’s phone so I can take care of these random things. I’ve submitted a request to “memorialize” her account. Thought that sounded like the most respectful option.

It’s Thursday, and I’ve been back at work since Monday. It’s taken me a few days to get back into the swing of things. I’m working on getting my home office finished, or as I like to think of it, my “oasis,” as soon it will also have a couch and tv set up for “me time.” It’s hard to adjust to all of the tumult at my house.

Thank you to all who have been reaching out to us. I’m finding it very hard to talk nostalgically about my mom or look at photos of her right now, so please understand if I don’t get back to you right away. It still feels very raw and at a moment’s notice, I can burst into tears and then be fine again a few minutes later. It’s not super fabulous if it happens during the work day, Fortunately, if it is during the evening, Ted will give me a hug and that helps.

My dad has moved here to the Boston area, so we’ve been busy getting him settled in. He is about 25 minutes away from me, without traffic, which is pretty much never. But he lives near two good Whole Foods and my favorite TJ Maxx so traffic, schmaffic! He’s getting his furniture deliveries on Friday and Monday, so that’ll help get him settled in. There will also be a series of items coming to my house, such as the sofa and a few tables, plus many boxes of items for us to go through at some point but will land in my basement for the time being. Photo albums, my parent’s china, etc will be nestled somewhere in our basement. Speaking of our basement, did I ever write here that there are remnants of a fire on the beams in the basement from the 1920s from a still that was hidden in there during Prohibition?

Ok back to work.

Mom’s eulogy 10/31/21

When I asked mom what she wanted me to say in her eulogy, she said to stress that she had “no regrets” and she encouraged us to celebrate her life. “I lived a great life, Jo” she told me. So today, I ask you to share in celebrating Helaine and her courage, compassion, love, and strength. My mother was the strongest woman I’ve known. In some ways, there was an invisible line dividing mom’s life before and after her cancer diagnosis in 2018, but in truth, she was very much her authentic self regardless of her own health. My mother was known for providing support to others, and she continued to do this, even while undergoing chemotherapy or recovering from major surgery.

I was amazed that despite her own turmoil, she was still able to sit on the phone for hours on end, and administer her wisdom, offering words of support and strength to others. “Where does she find this inner strength? I used to wonder. Since mom had been a hospice social worker, she was well versed in handling conversations about the end of life. When I needed help addressing something related to her health, I would say, “Mom, what would YOU tell you?” And then I was the one on the receiving end of her wisdom.

There are two particular Helaine-isms I’ve been carrying around for years. First, my mom used to always say to me, “Always tell the truth. You can never go wrong with being honest.” She was right. The other thing she used to say, “You can’t control anyone else’s actions; you can only control your own.” That piece of wisdom has served me so well in life, especially in the workplace. She encouraged me to not sweat the small stuff, and I’m still working on that one.

Besides giving advice, mom was also extremely passionate about music. Mom may not have been able to carry a tune, but she loved to belt out a song, especially in this very sanctuary. I used to make faces at her when she’d sing along here. I can still picture the tears in her eyes when she’d hear Rabbi Pearlman and Cantor Grissold sing. Mom brought Ken and me to Broadway plays and musicals as soon as we could sit still in our seats. We have memories seeing They’re Playing Our Song, Annie, Phantom, Miss Saigon, Anything Goes, Rent. We had a chance to see Barbra Streisand – her favorite –  together a few years ago. She reminded me that she had seen Barbara perform opening night for Drat the Cat in 1965, and it proceeded to close the next day. When she loved something or someone, she gave it her all.

Speaking of loving with her “all”, let’s take a minute to look at Helaine and Don together. They were wonderful role models to Ken and me, celebrating their 52th wedding anniversary this past June. In 2019, my parents renewed their vows in front of their closest family and friends, which was an incredible experience to witness. As Ken, Marina, Kirill, and I held the Chuppah poles, I saw my now husband, Ted, and felt such a sense of pride and peace at the family we had all become. 2 years later, this past May, Ted and I got married in my parent’s living room. Mom was too weak to join us downstairs, so we set her up with her iPad and she watched us from the comfort of her own bed. I can’t put into words the significance of that moment – my mom got to see me get married to the love of my life. We will all cherish that for the rest of our lives.

Mom had an incredible thirst for knowledge, which manifested through her love of travel and devouring the latest best seller from the NY Times Book List. She would sit with her cup of coffee every morning and read the newspaper from cover to cover. But let’s be honest. Her favorite section was Modern Love. She loved a good love story, and was always scouring the paper for the most romantic or unique love story. She would weep over The Way We Were and when we saw Beaches together. And did she love reviewing the Style Section on Sundays! She was always up on the latest trends and her closet – packed to the brim – was filled with the most stylish items. “Jo, do you want to do a shopping trip to NY?” and off we’d go, visiting our favorite floors of Sacks and Bloomies, concluding with a chardonnay and chatter at the Café, complimenting each other repeatedly on the beautiful makeovers we just had at Henry Bendels. I can still picture us coming in with all of the packages and putting on a fashion show for Ken and dad.

As I look around the sanctuary, I know every single person here has their own personal memories and shared experiences with my mother. She knew just how to make you feel like you were the only person in the room, and her complete focus was on you. She listened, she observed, and she cared. My dad recently asked mom what was it about her, what magic did she possess to get so many people to divulge their deepest secrets to her? She smiled and pointed, saying “The face.” And she gave him a giant toothy grin. We’ll all cherish that smile, and of course, that face.

Barbra sang beautifully these words in The Way We Were. I encourage you to all sing along in your minds.

Memories
Light the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of the way we were

Scattered pictures
Of the smiles we left behind
For the way we were

Love you always.