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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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fill it Out. you know you want to

Can you fill this out without lying?
You need to answer all the questions HONESTLY.

1.What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
 Penis. Just kidding... no but really. I'm sorry. --- this answer was just too good to change :)

2.Where was your profile picture taken?
My favorite place in the world - our boat, on the lake

3.Can you play Guitar Hero?

4.Name someone who made you laugh today?
Mary Jo

5.How late did you stay up last night and why?
11pm-ish .. couldn't sleep

6.If you could move somewhere else, would you?

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks?

 8. Which of your friends lives closest to you?
That's a tough one .. everyone has moved recently .. Brandie is still the closest I think

9. Do you believe ex's can be friends?
Meh, depends on the Ex and what caused the "EX" status

10. How do you feel about Dr. Pepper?

11. When was the last time you cried really hard?
Tuesday, April 16th

12. Who took your profile picture?
I did

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of?
Emily and Mike

14. Was yesterday better than today?
Not so far.

15. Can you live a day without TV?

16. Are you upset about anything?
The state of the world I am raising my daughter in.

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?

18. Are you a bad influence?

19. Night out or night in?
Nice night out followed by the remainder of the night in.

20. What items could you not go without during the day?
Music.  whatever I'm using to play

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?
My Mommy.

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say?
"Your reg is all set if you get pulled over"

23. How do you feel about your life right now?
Pretty dang good

24. Do you hate anyone right now?
I do not hate anyone.  ever.  I am indifferent to a few people. but hate? No

25. If we were to look in your facebook inbox, what would we find?
Old messages ... messages about baby showers, friends who are adopting, the upcoming Relay, and yard sale site purchases

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?
Damn skippy -- I even have someone you can call to administer testing - if you need!!

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
Nope.  I'm blissfully Imperfect

28. What song is stuck in your head?
1, 2, 3, 4 - Plain White T's

29. Someone knocks on your window at 2:00 a.m., who do you want it to be?
Someone who clearly doesn't want to live

30.Wanna have grandkids before you’re 50?

31. Name something you have to do tomorrow?
Work.  Which I'm loving .. A LOT

32. Do you think too much or too little?
Too Much

33. Do you smile a lot?
I do the best I can

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

She's Only Five.

My child is amazing.
She is smart, she is witty, she is kind, caring, gentle.

She is also mean, fresh, mouthy, sarcastic and bitter, and vicious.

My child is five.

Those times when she grates on my last nerve with her mouthy fresh barbs.  Those times when I think - I can't take it anymore - I'm done, over it - out. (and trust me, they happen.  embarrassingly, they happen)  Those times when I have just Had It.   Those times?  I need to remind myself - she's only five.

She acts, talks, thinks, and reacts like a 12 year old.
She acts, talks, thinks, and reacts like a 5 year old.

My child is five.

as much as I absolutely, without fail, miss this little girl:


I absolutely, without fail, adore this one:


I need to remember.  She's Only five.

She has those moments where she makes my heart melt:

But really .. she's only five.

We will have days when we fight, when she says things that are hurtful.  When she pushes those buttons... but then.

She's Only Five.

And she does stuff like this:


And then I laugh, and smile .. and melt again

Monday, September 17, 2012

Simple Goals

I'm a fairly simple, easy-going girl.

I always have been (in my own head.) low maintenance.   Very few things are necessary to make me happy. A camera, a book, and a little time to myself - perfect afternoon.

After getting married, and having a child?  Those types perfect afternoons are fewer and farther between.  I have to adjust my way of thinking.  So .. Now?  A perfect afternoon still involves a camera, but now I don't "need" (always) the time to myself.

Since being married, and a mom - my goals have also shifted.  No longer do I strive for professional perfection.  No longer do I strive to dine out every night of the week, or even once a week, or even once a month.  No longer do I strive to see "The It Movies" while they're in the theaters.  No longer do I want to be President, or a Lawyer.  Now?  Now my goals are .. eating dinner together, at a decent time, at the table.  To maybe have some time to myself, once a month or so (Book club) .. to keep in touch with friends (which gets harder and harder to do it seems.) Now, I strive to make sure that Emily has everything she needs, while still understanding the differences between "want" and "need" ... 

However, ONE goal that I have had since I was a little girl - third grade, actually, when we moved from Massachusetts to New Hampshire - was to see every Covered Bridge that is still standing in New Hampshire.   Legitimately.  And to photograph them, naturally.  I will complete this goal, even if it takes me the rest of my life.

Thus far, we have crossed 10 of the listed covered bridges off ... (though, since some of them are close, I'm sure I'll double dip a few times. So to speak)

This past Saturday, we decided to take a jaunt to the closest town that we hadn't traveled to - in order to see the two bridges there.

Here are just a few of my most favorite pictures from Saturday, our recent Covered Bridge Excursion.










Perfect Late Summer Day <3 br="br">