Friday, March 13, 2015

Today, we focus on Love.

One Year Ago
One Year
God, It Doesn't Seem That Long
But then, It Seems Longer
One Year.

One year since I've seen their faces, except I see them every time I close my eyes. 
Every dream I have, every nightmare.  

... Every Single Time ...

I Miss Them.  
So much my heart hurts.

And still, we grieve as if it were just yesterday.  

Today, instead of dwelling on what happened - today, I'm dwelling on love.  the love we have, the love we had, the loves we lost.  Love.  Today is About Love.
Ours, Theirs, Yours.


So, join me in loving them.  Join Me in Love.
Serandipity - Sera
Gulliver Alloysius - Gullie
Olliver Francis - Ollie
Pixie - Meep
Maximus Elizabeth - Maxi

This is where they live now.

They are - so so so - so very missed.

It's hard to believe it was one year ago

Though she hasn't been gone nearly as long, she is missed just as fiercely.

And now they are all together again, as they should be.
They remain in our hearts, in our minds and in our memories.

And in the Stars.

They are our Stars <3>

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Right Here, Right Now - The Year of Amy

It's no secret that 2014 was quite probably, the worst year of my, our, life so far.
With the loss of our home, our pets, a loved one, friends who just - disappeared from our lives ... our daughter suffered far more than any child should ever have to suffer; and I know there are others out there who suffer more or worse and I hate that, I do.  There are always other tragedies, there will always be other tragedies, but this one was ours.

So.  On January 4th of this Year, I posted the following Facebook Status:

In 2015, I resolve to be me. To be happy. To see the positive in as many situations as I can.
I also resolve to not chase after people who don't care enough to chase after me.
In 2015, I resolve to make this year the year of Amy.

I've lost track already.  Lately, I've been stuck in the past.  I've been letting my fears and anxieties take hold, gain control and derail me further. I've been suckerpunched into a vortex of negativity; one that I refuse to spiral down any further.
Easier said than done, of course, but I'm a work in progress.  We all are.

Here's where I've decided to take a stand and not let this track be the one I continue on.  Right here.  Right now.  The Year of Amy?  Has resumed.

I am no longer going to dwell on what if, what could be, what was, or the hows & whys of it all.   I am no longer going to be held captive by my fears and anxieties.  Right here. Right Now.

Starting with this moment; I'm Done With It.

Do you know why they'll love her?  Because I Love Her.

The hardest part of all of this?  Following through.  I'm a natural worrier, I'm naturally concerned with the whys and hows.  I truly don't care what people think of me, unless they're my friends - in which case, I need to know the truth.  The honest, 100%, absolute, heartbreaking, tear your guts out truth.

I don't know where this NEED comes from, but it's there.  Glaringly, every day. Until now.  Now?  I'm too old for this shit.  I don't care anymore.  It's not MY problem if people like me - even my friends.

This weekend I did something I never ever ever do - I bought make up.  What??!!  No, really, okay - truthfully I bought some face wash that has been ravely reviewed and the make up was free.  Then I thought, Why Not?   I Don't know how to USE half of it, or what half of it even IS - but I have it now and I can learn.  I'm pretty smart. 

I'm Done.

Are You?  Is this a fight you have too? Am I alone in this internal battle?  Caring about what my friends think?  What they really think?  I don't think I am.  I don't think I could be alone in this battle, but what I do think, is that this - THIS is a battle I'm going to win.  Today.  Right here, Right now.

The Year Of Amy.  Sounds Pretty Fucking Awesome To Me. 
Do you know why??  No?  Okay, then.

I'll tell you why, it's because I Am Pretty Fucking Awesome.

I'm offering up a challenge, to you my dear readers .. be kind to yourself and forget about the rest.  You don't need to know what other people think.  Why? Because YOU ARE FUCKING AWESOME.  That's why.  Let it go, make this - the year of You.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Adventures in Dental Care - A Cautionary Tale

Yesterday, after months of waiting, preparing, planning, making appointments, cancelling appointments, remaking new appointments and all of the hoopla that goes with it - Emily had her two front bottom baby teeth extracted. 

To say it went less than text book - is more than an understatement; it's a joke.  A horrific joke that I should have been prepared for.  That I thought I was prepared for.  That I was sooooo not prepared for.

I don't recommend the Oral Surgeon we used, at all, ever.  Not for kids, not for adults, not for dogs, cats, ferrets, feral rats - not for anyone.  I had heard great reviews, had done the research I could, met the office staff, the doctor and the rest of the medical team; essentially we did everything we thought necessary before the actual appointment.  Our initial consultation went great, no way could I have ever anticipated the situation we found ourselves in.

So, now that Em's appointment is over and she's back in school - I think I would like to take a moment to impart some wisdom to those who may have to go through anything similar - and also to those who would be; so without further ado:

If you're running late - exceptionally late, by the way - explain it to the parents, explain it to the child waiting.  No answer, explanation and just a ticking clock doesn't exactly help with the fear, anger and anxiety they might be feeling.  Also, have some fun things in the waiting room for the kids to do.

Tic Tac Toe - again daddy??
Don't lie to the child; especially if said child has anxiety, fear and anger.  If there's a needle involved - tell them.  Sticking it in their gums and acting surprised when it hurts them and results in further anxiety, fear and anger won't help anyone.
She is mini, but she is fierce.  And afraid, don't lie.
Explain what you are doing, what you are going to be doing and what each tool is going to be used for.  Surprising them with needles, pliers and other scary looking tools and then acting shocked when fear, anger and anxiety increase won't help anyone.
If you're running late, don't rush the second parent out of the room without a chance to give said child a hug, kiss and encouraging words.  When you do that, you put yourself further on the kids shit list, which isn't a great place to be.  Especially when fear, anxiety and anger are already large factors.
A Daddy's Girl, she needs to see him too. 

Make sure no one is standing near the feet of said child - even a seven year old with flailing feet can inflict decent damage to the head/neck/face of someone twice her size when fear, anxiety and anger kick (HA!) in.  I should note, she apologized to the dental assistant (or whatever her title is) and completely understands why she refused to re-enter the room to assist with Emily.  I wanted to leave the room and refuse to re-enter.
Listen to the parents.  When they tell you their child has high anxiety and fear with regards to the upcoming procedure - even if it's as minor as having teeth extracted - they're not just saying that because they believe their kid is a delicate little flower.  Chances are - it'll take you 2 hours to pull 2 baby teeth.   Without considering your significant delay from the first oral surgery you were conducting that caused you to run more than 30 minutes late for their appointment.
We know our kid, you don't - listen.  Please. Listen.

and finally - don't threaten said scared, anxious and angry child with a trip to the hospital instead of doing things "the easy way" in your office.  That only serves to further piss off the parent, who is currently monkey-holding said child down and trying to use calming, soothing words, tones and explanation to undo the damage you've inflicted by lying about the needle 45 minutes ago.  As we all know, threats - don't work with kids.  Especially those kids who are strong-willed and stubborn.

It kills me that this experience was as traumatizing as it was - for both of us.  All three of us, really, daddy heard every single thing that happened in that room - from two doors away, and couldn't get to her.  He couldn't fix it, make it better, make it stop or step in.  He could only listen.

Oh! I lied, one more thing ... don't let the tooth fairy flake out.  The one thing Emi looked forward to after the appointment concluded was the tooth fairy visit.  Bitch forgot.

Don't worry though, she'll make it up to Emily.   There's already a plan in place.

Thankfully, she still has an amazing smile, an infectious giggle and a killer personality.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Healing. Slowly.

I have learned that if you allow the grief to consume you, it causes you to waste each day you are given - and those days are not promised, to waste them is such a sin to me I had to find some way, some how to face them and see the positives in them.

I told myself the following things pretty early on after the fire - about a week or so later, and I've repeated them almost daily ever since:

I lost my wedding dress, and wedding photos; but I have my husband.
I lost my baby pictures, and all her baby things; but I have my baby.
We lost 14 + years of our past; but we have a future; and while I will miss those furry faces each and every single day for the rest of my life, I am relieved and grateful that I had them in my life at all.

What a blessing those babies were for me, to me, with me. If I dwell on the things and pets I lost, I would never be grateful for the things, pets & people I still have.

On November 27, 2014 at just barely 7am in the morning - Dexy passed away in my lap.  15 Years, 7 months and 7 days old - her body was old and tired.  She was old and tired.   She saved me, us, in the days, weeks and months after the fire.   She showed us what surviving was.  Even though she was plagued with pain, a persistent cough and congestive heartfailure - she survived.  She made it home, enjoyed our new house, her rightful place in the middle of our bed - and She Survived.  Because of her, WE Survived.

.. Sweet Girl ..
As she was taking her last breaths, Emily was able to kiss her nose - hug her neck - and tell her she was loved, would be missed and cherished for every day we had left.  It's hard, you know, to teach a 7 year old that it's okay to let go, to cry, to say goodbye to a faithful furry friend.  It's hard because, we didn't get that with the other 5, we just had to let them go.

.. Best Buddies ..
She made sure to kiss Dexy five times - one for Maxi, Ollie, Gullie, Sera and of course, her sister Pixie.

I'm beginning to think my little minion of evil (or as you know her Emily) has some sort of intuition.  When she was 3 or 4, we attended a Halloween Party-esque event at a local toy store.  She dressed up in a costume, danced with kids, "trick or treated" through the store and of course took part in some silly party games.  One of the games was "how many candy corn pieces are in this jar?"  She took a minute, paused, cocked her head and replied "576" - we smiled, giggled at the outlandish number and wrote it on a paper with her name, age and phone number.
Two weeks passed, we forgot about the contest - and the phone rings.  Not only did Emily WIN the toy, but she guessed the EXACT number of candy corn pieces in the jar.  The Fuck?

A few years later now and she's won silly things off and on ever since.  Games of luck/chance at the fair?  Kid wins a giant toy.  Games of "guess how many"?  Kid nails it. Random fire?  She knew, not when, but she knew it would happen - she said so for months.  Knowing we're about to have another star in the sky?  She knew.  Somehow, that kid knew.  It doesn't mean it hurt any less, or that it wasn't a shock, because it did and it was.

See, a few weeks before - she participated in a paint nite with me.  The picture we were to paint, was this serene, tropical beach side with palm trees and a sunset over the water (closer to mine on the left).  The picture she painted, revealed a different scene all together:

She started with FIVE Stars in the Sky .... go ahead, take a minute

Take a minute - I did - and readd the stars you see - not just the ones circled .. count them all.  Now, remember Rufus, Maxi, Pixie, Ollie, Gullie, Sera - that only makes six.  Count Again.

Now, take another minute, grab a tissue - and consider this:  the date this was painted?  11/12/14.  Somehow - she knew.

So it's fair to say:   In our losses, we're healing, learning, growing and discovering - together. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Helpful Hints for Helping Friends

Ten Months Ago, tomorrow to be exact, my world was shattered.  

It felt like it had ended, actually.

Five of the most wonderful animals I've ever been lucky enough to call family were lost to a devastating housefire.  Five of the most independent and dependent family members were taken from a (then) six year old girl - and I was angry.  I am still angry.

She was angry.  She IS angry.

Since the fire, we have rebuilt our home.  Slowly, we are rebuilding our lives.

What kills me about this entire situation, aside from who we've lost of course, is the callous response from some people.  Some people who should know better than to say the things they have said or have been saying.  

Callous, heartless, downright mean or cruel things.

I've decided to use my anger and frustration regarding these people, the best way I know how - by writing it out.  In this case, I'll be writing a top 10 list.

Be Prepared - there are a lot of sarcastic "inspirational" type images in this post.  I'm not apologizing for them, in fact, I wish I had more.


The Top Ten Things You Should NEVER Say
(or Do) To A Family After A Housefire

10.   You must be so happy to be standing here today.
Yes, yes we are - but we are also shattered and weary and weak in the knees at who/what we've lost.  Please, don't remind us how "happy" we should be that we weren't *physically* hurt.  Our beds, are entirely too empty - and our hearts, are fucking shattered.

9.   Don't remind us how terrible our circumstances are.
As terrible as YOU think they are, we realize they are so much worse.   The reality of losing everything you've worked your entire life for - and your precious pets -  hits you, hard - and often.  Most times without warning, the reality of loss is far more than you could imagine.

8.    Don't tell us how much worse things could be.
We know.  Trust us, We Know.   But right now - they are pretty fucking bad.  This includes (but is by no means limited to)
  •  God Is Good.
  •  You Are So Blessed.
    You'll forgive us if we don't feel like either of these things mean a whole fuck of a lot to us.
  •  Everything Happens For a Reason.
    really?  What possible reason could there be for a six year old girl to have to bury her five pets?  Including her new puppy?  I'm not entirely sure there is one, so please, kindly - go fuck yourself, after all - it happens for a reason.
  •  You Should Be SO Grateful.
    We are, We are incredibly grateful for the rsponse, the support, the fact that we are still standing - but really, don't say it.  Just.  Don't.   Say.   It.   Please.

7.    Don't say "I Understand", Please don't.
I know this one is meant with love.  But even if you've been through a fire yourself, or have buried a pet (I'm sure we all have) there is no way you could ever possibly understand - because you're not me, you're not Mike, You're Certainly Not Emily - and you didn't buy the fucking Keurig.

6.   You're in my prayers.
Now, before you get all pissy with me - just listen.  We're not religious people. We are faithful people, don't misunderstand.  However, at this point - we're pretty fucking pissed at God.  One of my most vivid memories of that day is praying - out loud - the entire drive home "Please God - let them be okay.  Let them All Be Okay.  Please God, I'm Begging.  Don't Please Don't Take Them From her.  Please please please"    Needless to say - I don't need to know you're praying for us.  I mean, if I know you - I already know that you are, there's no reason to say those words out loud.

5.  What Happened?!?
I know.  curiousity.  I'm guilty of it too.  I'm one of the nosiest people on this planet - and I NEED to know everything, at all times, always.  Emily has this affliction as well.  Unfortunately, some don't know how to control this affliction, or when it may (or may not) be appropriate to utter these words.  And besides, when I'm ready (and I am now - another post to come) you can bet your bippy I'll be screaming it from the rooftops.  because we know what happened.  We don't know why, but we know what - and how.  And when the time is right - we'll tell you.  So don't ask.

4.   Are You Serious?!
Nope.  I Lied.  Made the whole thing up.  Aren't I fucking Clever?!  I should write a book, I'm so fucking imaginitve. 

3.  Smile.  Don't be Sad.  Try Not To Cry ...
There are still days, when I just can't.  When Emily - just can't.  Our family is missing pieces, and will be for the rest of *our* lives.  Because of something I brought into the house.  It is prefectly okay to be sad, angry, less than happy.  It's impossible to smile all the time, and the tears - well, they're plentiful and free flowing.  Often at times that don't make sense to YOU - because they don't make sense to US either.  None of this does.

2.   This Is NOT Your Fault.
Or don't feel guilty, or you can't do that to yourself, or any of the phrases that mean the same thing.  Because I can't help it.  I'm Catholic by nature (even if I'm not Religious) - it's in my Soul.  I bought it, I plugged it in, I left an hour earlier than I needed to that day.  I DID THOSE THINGS.  Me, full body, mind and soul, I DID those things.  I know I can't keep this train of thought because it's not healthy.  I know I cannot blame myself for a freak accident, a faulty piece of a kitchen appliance.  Part of my process, is knowing - at least in my head - that I had a hand in her heartbreak. 

1.   Wow.  You guys really made out in this deal.
Are.You.Fucking.Kidding.Me?   No, but really, ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!  I know, number 4, but really - this is right up there with God Is Good, and You Are So Blessed - stupid, ignorant, mean, cruel and just fucking thoughtless.   We made out in this deal - did we now?  Sure, we have a beautiful home, with beautiful *things*  and we've definitely changed a few things around; but certainly we haven't "Made Out In This Deal" - I'd give it all back - each and every fucking thing back - if it meant they were still here.  If it meant Emily would never know this level of loss, of devastation, of heart break.  I'd give every single thing back.  And if you thought about it?  You Would Too.
Just - Be There For Them.  
Quietly, Strongly, Steadily.  
Be There For Them.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Eight Weeks Ago

how do you tell a six year old her world has been shattered?
if you're me, it goes like this:

Emily:  Hey, Dexy is Here!!  Where's Pixie?  Where's Max?
Me:  Honey, Sit down, We need to talk.
Emily: Okay, but - where is everyone, why are we at Erma's?
Me: I need to tell you something, but first, WE are all okay.  We are safe.  Something Happened Em, there was a fire.
Emily: Pixie?!
Me: She's gone baby.
Emily: MAXI!?
Me: She's gone too, they're all gone baby.  I am so sorry baby, I am so sorry.
Me: We promised we'd do our best to keep everyone safe, and not have this happen, I am so sorry.
Mike: We tried honey, we did.
Me: Dexy survived because she was hiding in the basement.
But listen.  Pixie was old, and she was ready.  She knew you'd need Dex because she sleeps with you every night, Rufus was ready for Sera to come home and play with him again.  He missed her terribly.  And the boys?  Well, Gullie & Ollie have never been apart, and they wanted to stay together.  God gave Maxi to Pixie, so she could play.  Finally, Pixie can play again.  She has both of her eyes, she can run and play.  She's happy. Healthy.  She's not in pain anymore.
Emily: So, we have five more stars in the sky?
Me: Yes baby, we do.

On Thursday, March 13th at 345pm, I received a phone call I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. 

My house, my home, was on fire.  All six of my pets were inside, and normally, my husband would be too.  Thankfully, that day, he had something else to do, and while he was heading home - he wasn't there.

We don't know when it started, we don't know how long it was burning.  My neighbor across the street saw flames and smoke, and called 911.  By the time the fire departments (there were 3) responded, it was too late for our animals.  Dexy was hiding in the basement, where she had routinely gone to escape Maxi's advances for play. 

Fire has recently been Emily's biggest fear.  Irrational, Petrified, Unconsoleably (is that a word??) Sad and Nervous.  No matter what we told her, or how we comforted her, the fear was there.  We couldn't figure out why she was so nervous, yes - fire prevention week had recently passed, but there was never a mention of it.  And then one day ... it was all she could talk about - almost obsessively.

We had a plan, an escape route, a meeting place.  We assured her that we would all get out, and if we couldn't find all of our "babies" (pets) - the firefighters would.  Because that was what they were good at.  We would all be safe. We would all be fine.  We were wrong.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

... EverySingleDay ...

So I've been radio silent for too long here.  (Since November 6, 2012 - as I was gently reminded a few weeks ago)

Lots of things have been happening here, some good, some great, some slit-my-wrist-in-a-bathtub ... Lots of things.

There is no secret that the last year ... or so ... has been a little more than survivable.  Barely more than survivable.

From watching family members lose things (businesses, homes, friends, marriages) to absolutely losing and nearly losing things myself, it was barely survivable.   However, thus far, we have.  We have all survived.  Thus Far.

Without reliving every gory, heartbreaking, and terrifying detail - I'll recount as much as I can because I haven't updated in a while.

In March of 2012, my parents had to close their company of 17 years.   In turn, I lost my job of 12 years.

Then on January 4th, I was laid off.  Due to the "Fiscal Cliff" the company I worked for no longer had construction work, thus claiming they no longer had need or work for me.  I was pissed.  relieved, because I was so unhappy there, but pissed .. the words they'd said, the things they promised, the work I'd done - echoed through my reeling mind.

Not only did they lay me off on a Friday Afternoon, at 230, but they walked me to my desk, stood there while I cleaned it out, and waited while I left.  They refused to allow me to finish my 1.5 hours of that shift, stating instead they'll pay me until 4, but I needed to go.  So I did.  I packed my meager belongings (I hadn't yet made that place home .. it didn't feel like home, and I'd learned from having to pack up an office of 12 years, the less stuff, the better --- those boxes remain packed up, in stacks, in our spare room) and left.   Seething.  Bubbling under the surface.   But relieved.

They weren't nice people.   They never took responsibility for anything they did, instead, saw fit to blame everyone else, whenever they could.  I should have seen the writing on the wall.  I should have listened to the others that were working there.  They all left, of their own accord, in September & October.  Instead, I stayed on.  Hoping they were wrong, hoping it would change, and start to feel like home.  Instead, I was blindsided.  They'd just had a Christmas party, thanked us all, and given us bonuses (some more than others) and handed out door prizes (A popcorn machine, a WII and a 42 inch flat screen TV -- the 3 employees who were there the longest ended up "being the lucky ticket holders" - the rest of us were given gift certificates to a Frozen Yogurt place.  It was kind, it was nice, it was rigged) .. they just said they had the best year on record, and were continuing to grow.  We were in it together, for the long haul.

Except they were no longer growing, and we certainly weren't in it together.

Back on unemployment, Emily home with me in the afternoon .. she hated it.  I hated it.  Not spending time with each other, we did some fun things, had some times with some great friends, but never the less - we hated this "in between" time.  This "will we make it" time.  Times were tough as it was, still trying to recover from the nearly 8 dollar an hour cut in pay, plus the months of unemployment - and here we were, just when things were starting to look up, there goes that damn rug again.

I sulked.  I whined.  I bitched.  I moaned.  But mostly, I watched HuluPlus and Netflix.   I searched for jobs, sent out resumes, took phone call interviews, I even went so far as to apply with a temp agency.  (who is still calling me 2 months later, trying to "place" me ... when I've told them in no uncertain terms, I am employed, please use your resources for those that need the help).  Every.Single.Day.

Now?  I am gainfully, happily, healthily Employed.

That's right.  I am loving my job.   seriously, Loving.

I am now employed by the University of New Hampshire.  Not bad for a kid people said would never amount to anything.  Not bad for a girl who never went to college on her own.   Not bad for someone who thought she was going to drown in all the sorrow of the past year.   Who still has to find the courage and strength to swim against that current more often than she cares to admit.  Not Bad At All.

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I even have a title.  No, really.  Ready?

Amy Mayo
Business Service Assistant II for the Business Service Center for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire (BSA II, for the COLA BSC at UNH for short) ... I am also the Telecommunications Account Manager for the Business Service Center for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of New Hampshire (or TAM, for the COLA BSC at UNH for short) I have an alphabet!  Well, okay, not the entire alphabet, but damn I'm getting close!

I wake up each day, and I'm not dreading the drive in.  I'm not dreading the co-workers. I'm not dreading the work.  I wake up each day, and while I don't exactly vault out of bed, I don't lollygag as much as I used to.

AND?   I get to see things like this:

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Every Single Day.

I am happy.
I am healthy.
I am different.

and also?

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