Tag Archive | grief

Back to knitting

Things are weird around here. My head isn’t quite right; the experience with my mother-in-law brought back a lot of feelings about my dad and I’m struggling to get on top of them again. Added to that are a few smaller things weighing on me, and it’s all feeling heavy. I haven’t been excited or eager about knitting, so I’ve just been forcing myself to work on my Fade while I watch the French Open.

But here’s the thing: I think it’s getting better. I took two days off after the service and have been spending time with the husband and kids, who are all home this week too, and that’s been good. I had dinner with my siblings, who always make me laugh. My dogs have been nearby, ready for snuggles. And Thursday I cast on a new sock with yarn that was calling my name. So I’m getting there. Day by day, right? In the spirit of easing back into my routines, I’ll show you what I found at an estate sale this week.

VRdkZHfST52b2rxLaVi7kwThe two smaller blue cakes are Koigu fingering weight merino, which came with the unlabeled cake of worsted. The two WIPs I mostly bought for the needles. I’m not sure which brand they are but they remind me of Addi needles. I’ve already frogged the projects, and the big ball of red/blue/white will probably become warm socks for my Colorado girl. And here’s my new yarn, an impulse purchase after seeing it on Instagram.

Z%QLZCKHTxOtf4Bw1pHqGwIt’s called Pride in the name of Love, and is an exclusive color from Three Irish Girls for Eat.Sleep.Knit. I kind of had to get it, right? Purple and rainbow! If you feel similarly compelled, it looks like they still have some in stock here.

With any luck, I’ll get a good photo of my Fade progress this weekend, and I can show that off soon. Happy weekend, friends!

Another good-bye

Grief is so dumb. Argh. My mother-in-law passed away on Saturday. It wasn’t sudden or unexpected; she’d been fighting lung cancer for almost three years and made it longer than any of her doctors predicted. We all had time to go see her while she was still alert and hold her hand and tell her we loved her. One of the last things she was able to eat was a meatloaf I made for them. I had no idea it was one of her favorite meals, it was just easy to transport and bake. I’m glad I was able to be there for her in a few small ways.

But wow. The last couple of weeks brought back so many feelings from when my dad was fighting the same thing. He lived less than a year after diagnosis, and I wasn’t there at the end. I didn’t think I could drop everything to go several states away to be with him, and by the time I figured it out, it was too late. I know now that nothing’s more important. I saw him about a month before he died, and I knew there was a chance it was the last time I’d see him, but still. I’d give anything to have had more time.

And now we’re going through photos, finding ones of her for a picture board for her service, and it’s a wrench, seeing all these people we love who aren’t here any more. My dad, my husband’s grandma, step-dad, and grandpa, and now his step-mom. My kids have had a lot of losses. My own grandparents died when I was very young, so I didn’t have to do this. I didn’t have any experiences teaching me that it’s okay to feel however you’re feeling, that you should go when you want to go, and that it’s okay to step back when you need to take a breath. It probably wouldn’t have made any of the grief easier, though. Nothing really makes it easier. I miss them. I miss them all.

But we’re okay. We’ve had a lot of time to get ready for this, and I’m glad she’s not in pain anymore. We’re sad but we’re okay. Last night, my son wanted to keep looking at photos, so the four of us sat around going through photo albums and scrapbooks, laughing at baby photos and just remembering all the happy stuff. It was a perfect couple of hours.

I’ll be back with knitting soon, I promise. Until then, go hug someone and tell them you love them, just for the heck of it.

New projects!

It’s funny, the way grief can come back and just give you a swift kick in the ass. We’ve been having a long, cold, snowy winter, and I was joking with my husband about how living in the desert would be preferable. And bam, my mind took me back to being in Arizona with my parents after my dad retired, and he was so happy and loved it out there, and I felt the ache of missing him, sharp in a way I haven’t felt in a while. It passed, of course, but it took me by surprise. I wish he was still here, that’s all. And I wish I was in the desert right now!

But I’m not. Instead I’m home in the snowy Midwest, knitting all the time. On the last day of my 4-day weekend, I wanted to cast on something new, so I pulled out three yarns that have been calling my name to ponder, and went with the softest, fuzziest one. It’s acrylic from Joann (I bought four skeins when it was on clearance) but it’s fuchsia and fuzzy and perfect.

I chose the very simple knit COWL pattern and modified it bit, casting on more to make it a bigger, looser cowl. And I do love it, but I kind of want to use the other two skeins to make a snugger version too!

And then, because that was so fast, I went ahead and cast on with my second favorite of the three skeins, a purple Araucania Huasco Worsted. For this one I chose the Escarpment Cowl, which looks really cool. I love the idea of a shawl look with the ease of a cowl. And then I also cast on a new pair of socks, because socks. This yarn is Show Me Yarn Bootheel in the color Butterfly House, and I’m calling them the Granola Socks because I’m doing the 3×2 rib that Mildly Granola recommended.

Yesterday was a little rough because I had to adjust from knitting several hours a day to just knitting during lunch and a little at night. It wasn’t my favorite, to be honest. But hey. Gotta pay for the pups, right? Especially when they break a nail, crack another, and have to go to the vet for a bandage, nail trim, and meds. Sigh.

img_3124

He slipped out of his collar in the waiting room, but thankfully he’s a lover so he just ran back to visit the girls behind the counter. He’s also up to 104 pounds, which I recognize is too high and the vet tech told me…TWICE. So he’s on a diet now which he won’t love and I don’t blame him. BUT! He rides so nicely in the car and sits patiently when I open the door to grab the leash, and he hasn’t tried to chew off his bandage at all. Not even overnight, when he was all alone! If I could combine the good traits of all three of my dogs, I’d truly have the perfect dog. Alas, apparently dogs are like people, with good and bad and you have to accept what you can’t change and love them anyway. Or try to, anyway. I’m still working on that.

If you are anywhere that has sunshine and weather above 30 degrees, please enjoy it on my behalf today!

It’s okay to not be okay

Okay, buckle up, kids, because shit’s about to get real.

I cried in front of my boss yesterday. It was horrible and awkward and super embarrassing. There’s a lot going on in my life and in my head, and most days I’m able to paddle along and stay afloat. But yesterday morning I was feeling overwhelmed and I had an argument with my husband and then I came to work and someone said something that felt critical of my efforts, and when I went in to talk to my boss about something else, it just kind of came out. That’s one of the unfortunate side effects of my depression: I cry super easily and sometimes I’m not able to prevent it.

So, yes, let’s start with the logical and factual and reasonable: my boss is wonderful and supportive. She was kind and said all the right things. In my head I know that what happened was not a disaster.

And yet, here I am, cringing because I don’t want her to think that I’m weak or that I can’t handle my job or my life. I’m embarrassed because I feel like I’m supposed to be strong and capable and competent, and most days I am. What I did left me vulnerable, and in my head that means vulnerable to her thinking less of me.

This morning I chose something purple to wear, and I put on eye makeup that I rarely wear, because I needed those things as a shield. War paint, right? I needed them to help me feel like yesterday was an aberration, not the norm. Then she stopped at my desk and asked how I was doing, and I felt embarrassed again, self-conscious because I don’t want to be on her radar for this kind of reason. I want to be on her radar because I’m awesome at my job. Period.

Why do we do this? Why do we think it’s shameful to be overwhelmed or sad or anxious? Why do we expect so much of ourselves? Why do we think we have to be strong all the time and unaffected by what’s going on around us? Why should we think we have to keep work life and personal life completely separate? They aren’t separate.

I don’t have the answers, obviously. I just have these feelings at war inside me, the one side arguing that what happened was fine, and that we need to be more aware and accepting of those unpleasant emotions. The other side says no, those outbursts are somehow shameful, and I need to project an image of strength and perfection. Yep. I can know it’s wrong and still feel it.

But do you want to know the funny thing? I woke up feeling better today. Part of it was taking care of a nagging home repair, part of it was making up with my husband, and part of it was probably just time and sleep. But I’m wondering if part of it was the release of letting go, because I so rarely get that. I hate to lose control like that, so I hold a lot in, but I also have very few people I feel safe losing control in front of, being that vulnerable in front of.

Plus, if you’re the one always asking people if they’re okay, who’s asking you?

So yesterday was about my body/mind/heart finally saying, “You know what? I know you didn’t ask but I’m actually not okay right now, and I need to let it out.”

I want to support my friends and family, I want to be there for them when they need me. I don’t ever want them to feel like they can’t talk to me. But in doing that, I absorb some of their negative energy that stacks up on top of my own anxieties and worries, and I need to allow myself to release it sometimes, in some way. And I’d like to be able to pick the time and place, rather than emotionally vomit on my boss, you know?

What does that look like? Not sure yet. I’d like to start with regular journaling because writing out my problems helps me so much. I’m not opposed to therapy again, but the therapist I liked is in a very inconvenient location, so I’d have to break in someone new. I probably need to remind myself that it’s okay to be honest with people sometimes, to pick a sympathetic ear and unload occasionally.

These posts are the easiest to write and the hardest to publish, because I know some people in my real life read my blog and this is really painfully honest. But maybe some of them are putting up the same shield. Maybe some of them will realize now that depression can wear a mask much of the time. So for them, I will say what I keep telling myself: It’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

img_1558

Like my father

There’s a song on the most recent Brandi Carlile album that starts out, “I haven’t seen my father in some time / But his face is always staring back at me”. Every time I hear it, it’s bittersweet. I miss my dad. After six years without him, the memories aren’t as fresh. They’re faded, like the photos we took thirty years ago. When I make the effort, I can see his face. I can see his smile, hear his voice, feel his hug. But those aren’t automatic, fresh like they were the first couple of years. I know I take after him in some ways. The small jaw that required years of orthodontia? Thanks, Dad. The crazy crooked toes that look weird and caused me to have foot surgery years ago? Yep, that’s him too. There are things I can appreciate, of course: the wave in my hair, or my smile. But what I appreciate the most is seeing my dad in my son.

I don’t talk about the boy much. He’s younger, quieter, not as outgoing as the girl. Not as active in as many extracurricular activities. But he’s just as delightful as she is, in such different ways. He is growing into such an amazing person and I love seeing the changes happen. If there’s a silver lining to the girl going to college (besides her getting to live her exciting life), it’s that it might give him a chance to shine more. I’m looking forward to some time with him, some time to focus on him. (My girl, I know you’re reading this. You, and the rest of my readers, should know that this doesn’t take away from how much I love having us all together. How much I will miss you. It’s like they are two separate things, existing on the same plane.)

Physically, the boy is very much like my dad, like my brother. They are tall, slim in a way I envy and he feels is gangly, I think. He has my hair, those crooked toes (but even worse than mine. Sorry, kid.) and that small jaw (yeah, sorry about that too). And even though some of the features aren’t all the same, there’s something about his gorgeous smile that reminds me of my dad. Most importantly, I feel my dad’s spirit in him. I don’t mean a ghostly spirit. Just…character, or soul.

Like my dad was, the boy is shy, introverted, quiet in larger groups. But get him in a small group where he’s comfortable and his quick wit and delightful sense of humor come out in full force. I don’t know if anyone outside our little family group knew just how funny my dad could be. In general, like Dad, the boy is a gentle person. He is calm and patient, and does his best to avoid confrontation, though being a teenager makes it hard sometimes. It takes a lot to get him fired up. That part skipped a generation: I didn’t inherit that temperament, to my husband’s dismay. I tend to have a hot temper more often than not. It has gotten better over the years, at least.

The boy is smart, and really could do anything he decides to put his mind to, like my dad learning computers early on to support his family. I don’t think he loved what he did, so I hope my son finds something that brings him more joy, but I admire my dad for what he did for us. And I think the boy has that loyalty too, that desire to make sure that the ones he loves are happy. He’s not overly demonstrative with his emotions, not the type to give random hugs just because. But he’s open to affection, willing to accept it, and every once in a while he’ll say or write something so sweet and thoughtful that my heart melts.

He’s my boy, my son, my baby. He got many wonderful qualities from my husband, and I love those things. I see myself in him, and love that too. I love all the things that make him unique. And I love him even more for all the ways he’s like my dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Miss you.

I’m in a funk

Today’s my dad’s birthday. He would have been 74 today. Except he’s not because he got cancer and died almost six years ago, and that sucks a lot. Usually on days like this I’d write a thoughtful post about what a great person he was, and maybe something about how I’m processing the grief. But I don’t want to. I don’t feel like it. I don’t feel like going down that rabbit hole because I know it’ll freshen the pain that has softened and dulled. I don’t want to feel it fresh and sharp again. Maybe that’s one more step in the process. I don’t know. I don’t really want to examine it that fully. I’ll just say that I miss him, some days more than others, but at least I know it gets easier to bear as time goes on.

I’m in a funk today anyway, and I’m not sure if it’s the date or what. The dogs have this new thing where they wake up super early, like 4:30. We think it might be Grace needing to pee because of her steroids. We were able to halve the dose a couple of days ago so maybe that will get better. But still, this morning I got up with them, let them out, and then curled up on the couch to doze for another couple of hours. Better than nothing, but not as good as real sleep in a bed. And I have a sinus headache. And I have all the social obligations this weekend, instead of two whole days to knit.

So yes. I’m clearly in a funk and need to find a way out. Maybe I’ll spend some time with my socks this morning before I have to do all the things. I finished one sock last night, one for the girl, and it’s good. I like it.

IMG_5757You can’t see the sparkle, can you? But know that it’s there, a twinkly little strand of stellina. It’s in my Wonder Woman sock, too, which is quite fun to knit.IMG_5758

With any luck, some sock knitting and extra tea will brighten my morning and make the rest of the day go smoothly. And even though the dogs are buttheads sometimes, being around them is usually a treat too. They’re good. I like them.

Grief Redux

Grief is a tricky thing, isn’t it? You think you’re making progress, and really, you probably are, and then something comes along and takes you by surprise and kicks you in the gut. And when that happens, it can feel as hard and as fresh as when the grief was new.

I lost my dad a little over five years ago. No. No more euphemisms. I didn’t lose him. My dad died in April of 2012. I’ve been able to say that, in my head and out loud, for quite a while now, without needing to cry or feeling the sharp twinge in my heart. I felt like that was progress. Still do, actually. It took a long time to move past the vague euphemisms, and when I did, it often made me tear up just to say it.

So, yeah. I’ve been making progress, doing well. I’m happy. My life is full and rich, with as many up as downs. I still think of my dad every day but not with the sharp pain, more like a faint ache that I know will always be there. Some days it’s stronger than others, but it’s not crippling. It’s just…a brief sadness.

I’ve recently gotten back to my pen hobby. For years, I’ve collected pens. At first it was any fun pen, but it’s gotten more refined, and now I think it’s fair to say I’m a pen snob. I love beautiful, high-quality pens. I love gorgeous fountain pens. And when I was cleaning out my collection, culling some I no longer wanted, I started poking through all the pen boxes I’ve got, and I found the box for my MontBlanc. Inside, I found a letter from my dad, from when he gave me the pen for Christmas one year. It was a company gift and he’d used it for years, until passing it on to me.

That letter ripped off the scab a bit, and it hurts. I miss my dad. He was a wonderful man, a kind and gentle person who gave everything to make his family happy.  There’s so much I wish I could share with him now. And I can’t, and that sucks so much. I’d gotten to a point where I didn’t remember how much it sucked, and being reminded is…not fun.

But I’m grateful to have the letter, which I’ve tucked back inside the box to discover again in a few years. And until then, I’ll write with his pen and remind myself how lucky I was to have him as long as I did.

IMG_4496