Post Traumatic Growth 101

From traumatic beginings to "normal life", choosing to grow and wanting to empower others. This is my story.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Big Bad Bus

It's 4pm - wait, it's 4pm! I've got to go get Sam from the bus! The first wave of panic crashes against me - will I have time to get Mack from the babysitter and be at the bus stop? I better hurry! Rush rush rush to find my coat, put on my coat, find my shoes, put on my shoes.

I'm sprinting up the street - what if her bus comes early? I turn the corner and go three houses down to pick up Mack. They're outside waiting for me, phew.

4:06 and Mack and I are at the bus stop. Phew, the bus is expected at 4:21pm. I made it! Mack and I start singing/playing/naming the colours on the cars.

Another wave of panic hits me - I haven't checked my watch, what time is it, it feels like we've been here forever, where is she?

4:11pm. Come on self....relax. She's been going to school for almost two months now. She will be here.

4:16pm I spot it, the bus. "Look Mack, Sissy's bus!" We both get up from the ground where we've been cuddling while watching all the leaves blow down the streets - it's a windy day! The bus gets closer, I'm getting anxious to see her.

The bus stops at the stop sign in front of us and the male driver waves dissmissivly at me and drives off.

Wait, what? There's never been another bus coming from that same direction as Sam's bus before. Wait, Kathy said the bus driver was male yesterday - Sam has a new driver. OMG...that bus didn't know who I was and drove off with my kid! FULL BLOWN PANIC, why didn't I bring my cell phone? That bus driver is new and he didn't know me and now my kid is in the bus driving away from me! She's only 4! She can't handle this! I can't move from this bus stop, what if it wasn't her bus, no one will be here! But I have to call the bus company and find out of she was on that bus!

4:17 ok...technically the bus isn't late, so I can't move. Maybe the bus driver will remember Sam is on the bus and turn around. I can't wait to see this guy and freak on him! I picture the conversation "This is our first year with a child on the bus. She's freakin' 4 years old, do you know what this has done to me? How could you forget to stop! Why didn't you open the bus door and ask? Don't know you that was a scheduled stop?" I'm pacing now, barely taking my eyes off the direction her bus should come in. I'm getting angry at myself for not bringing my cell phone!

I feel this way every time I pick her up - I should have brought my friggen cell phone. At least today I have a watch. I've learned that lesson.

4:20pm she's still NOT technicall late, but I just KNOW she was on that bus. I'm really in a panic now. This happens to all parents right? She'll be fine right? I smile at Mack as if to say "We're Ok!" but inside I'm ready to cry.


I don't know why we were excited for this school thing, she's 4 years old! She's too young to take a bus. She can't handle this! What are we going to do? 5 more minutes and I have to leave. No I can't...I have to wait until 15 minutes after the scheduled time - just incase. But I KNOW she was on that bus that passed by! Where's Corey? Isn't he panicking yet? We've been gone so long! Isn't he wondering where we are? Why isn't he coming to the stop? Then he could call the bus company. We need to radio that bus and get them to

"Mommy! Sissy's Bus!" 4:22pm

A Bus! It's coming from the direction Sam's bus comes from! The tears of joy are welling up in my throat. The bus turns it's stop signals on 15 feet away from where we are as it approaches. The wave of relief is almost powerful. The bus stops and the door opens. It IS a male bus driver!

"Sam!" I practically scream when I finally see my baby.

"She was complaining she was hot" says the amused bus driver.

I grab my kid off the bus and she walks towards home, not a care in the world, happily talking about another "awesome" day of Junior Kindergarten.

I'm just thankful I don't have to do this everyday :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bringing Out "The Draft Post"

This week marked the Anniversary of my Grandmother's passing. Last year I wrote the following Blog around this time. It's been in my "Draft" folder ever since. I'm ready to share, to give some insight into my world and what it really is that I deal with when it comes to family. Part of the "mourning process"? It is for me :)


I felt the need to write today - it must be a Friday thing. Before writing though, I reread my last post. Wow.

That Friday I did call my Nanny and talk to her. It was a good conversation. We avoided the obvious and chit chatted. She couldn't talk long, you could hear the rasping of her failing lungs and she ran out of breath very quickly. The next day, Saturday, my brother and cousin went up to see her. They phoned me in the evening and told me she was getting worse - fast. I told them to let me know how things were going the next day and I would make any decisions then. The next day they called to say they all had been called to the hospital, Nanny and slipped into a coma and was being read her "last rights". I immediately started making plans to fly out ASAP. Auntie L joined me and we made the 4pm flight. We got to Nanny at about 7:30pm.

She was lying in her hospital bed gasping for breath. She didn't even look like the same Nanny. We talked to her, told her we were there. I stroked her hair, willing the feelings through my touch, hoping she could feel and hear my presence. Shortly after we arrived, they removed her Oxygen (I later found out they had removed it earlier, but had put it back on when they heard we were coming). At aprox. 9:40pm she passed away. I was in the room with her and her sister and we talked to her as she passed, telling her it was ok to let go and that we were all there for her. I watched my grandmother take her last breath and simply stop. It was one of the most peaceful experiences of my life.

Wonderful story ain't it? I wish it ended there. I wish I could tell you all the family that was there gathered for a peaceful farewell, a chance to remember who she was together as a family. But this is my family :)

Before arriving my Aunt and I were prepared for some drama. My cousin J and my brother N were there and some family members did NOT like their presence. They didn't think it was good for G'pa because of COURSE he was stressing out. They also don't like my cousin and brother because of the choices they have and are making in their lives (they're young troubled kids - THANKS TO THEIR PARENTS who in J's case continue to torment her). Do I respect their decisions? Yes. Do I agree with them? No. Do I love them? YES. That to me means that I will TREAT THEM with LOVE and RESPECT. Everyone is entitled to make their own decisions in life and I'm sure the two of them are judged all the time negatively. As their family member, I am here to support them WHEN THEY NEED IT. Family members making very important decisions flat out asked them to leave ASAP (J's OWN MOTHER supported her this way - so tragic). According to these people, they were "not entitled to mourn their grandmothers passing" - it wasn't what "they" wanted. They even told them it wasn't what Nanny wanted. Can you imagine how that feels? Can you imagine how damaging that is to their core? Especially coming from your own mother? The person who is supposed to support you NO MATTER WHAT! Maybe I'm in the wrong here...making blanket statements like "Mothers are supposed to support their children NO MATTER WHAT". Or maybe I have to expand on support to illustrate my point properly...supporting doesn't mean agreeing with your childs decision. It means making sure your child knows you're ALWAYS there for them if they need LOVE and HELP. Love shouldn't, imo, be "assumed" just because you're the childs mother. Children, even 25 year olds, need to be reassured all the time of your love.

So we knew going into the situation that some drama had occurred. The Aunt-horrible-mother had told her daughter to get lost and the daughter was torn between that drama and watching her grandmother - who HAD in her own way showed support - die. My brother, who had found his own mother after she committed suicide, was thrown out of their house while he watched his dead mothers mom - who in her own way HAD supported him - die.

Bring in myself and my Auntie L to pick up the pieces. And you know what it took to make them feel better? NOT MUCH. A few hugs and kind words, some listening. The night my Nanny passed away, we took the abandoned with us to our Motel. That night, we all sat at the Motel bar together, toasting Nanny and talking about her memory. We finally smiled, we finally laughed and we slammed "those people" in our family who are so freakin' quick to judge and cast off. It was one of the best nights of my life. I felt like we were finally a FAMILY. When we came together as a family to remember Nanny, we weren't a "mom", "blind person", "whore" and "drug abuser", we were family who were bonded by a woman who we knew loved us all. What a great lesson.

The next day, we sent my cousin and brother packing. They were so fragile and hurt, we didn't want to subject them to anymore of the negativity "those people" would inflict on them. They had been through enough.

I had a pressing need to go over to the house where my Nanny lived. I needed to feel her presence, her alive self. I needed to feel connected to her somehow and thought going there would help. It did, at first, because no one else was there! They had gone out to the funeral home (to make arrangements for a NON FUNERAL - don't ask). We walked around the house musing over THINGS (later found out THOSE PEOPLE thought we were looking for things TO TAKE). I stood on a wooden platform in the basement and remembered dancing on it as a kid, it had been my "stage". THINGS were important to my Grandparents, typical of their generation I think. They horded the weirdest stuff! I didn't want any of it, I just wanted to spend some time with my Nanny, "in her brain". I wanted to feel connected to her for a little while, to feel her spirit.

After we did that, we walked down to her neighbours house. Her neighbour had lost her husband in May and we knew had grown closer to Nanny since his passing. We wanted to be there for her and in turn she gave me a wonderful gift, a part of my grandmother I didn't even know existed. This woman was my Nanny's BFF and she wanted to talk about it. She welcomed us into her home with genuine love and support - even as she herself mourned her best friend. She shared stories of a woman who had made a connection with another woman - something I believe all women need. My Nanny's BFF was sweet, had an open heart and was genuinely happy to see us. We connected instantly and it reaffirmed who my Nanny was to me.

Then THOSE people got back to the house. The tension over dinner was disgusting. I could barely eat my food. It was the total opposite of how I felt the night before in that little Motel bar or earlier at my Nanny's BFF's house. Everyone followed their stupid "rules" and tried to make polite chit chat. It didn't take long for the drama to start after dinner. My Auntie L is a very emotional person and she had a very special relationship with her mother. I don't think her sisters understood/liked this and have pretty much taken control over my g'pa (it's what Nanny wanted I'm sure they thought - because Nanny told them to "Take Care Of G'pa"). One of her sisters called her "heartless" when she was having a private one on one conversation with her own father and it sent Auntie L into a tailspin. I was called "delusional" when I was asked a question because my answer was more than the "yes" or "no" THEY required. These people wanted to control EVERYTHING and were hurtful to people who didn't follow "their rules". We just left.

So here's the confusing thing. Before my Nanny even died, we were told NOTHING was happening. That's what she wanted and we all had to respect that. She was going from the hospital to the crematorium to the plot. No ceremony, nothing. All of a sudden, the next day, we were supposed to all meet at the funeral home to go over to the crematorium for a little ceremony. I flat out said I wasn't going, I didn't understand why we were being told our presence was against all of her wishes and then the next day going to some ceremony she "never wanted". I changed my mind after all the drama at the house, I wanted to be there for my Auntie L.

Big mistake? In some ways that hurt me personally, hurt my Auntie L. In other ways, I was glad I went - got to see some of my Grandma's sisters! Super nice/open/friendly people! I got more support from these "strangers" than I did from my own "close family". We all gathered at the funeral home and drove over to the Creamatorium. My Grandfather insisted that all of his daughters drive with him - such a freakin' joke. People who accused my Aunt the day before of "trying to take Nanny's things" all of a sudden wanted to know specific questions about Nanny's things - in the funeral home! It was just a mess of stupidness.

When the Funeral guy said families deal with these situations differently and that we should all look around us and see the support we had to help us get through the process of losing someone - I literally lost it.

I don't know why, but I went "there". I went to my Mom's passing and how I was all alone (well, with Corey, but that's different). I went to the fact that I was told I "should" have a funeral for her. I went back to this "funeral" and all the phony "support" the three family members (slight exageration I know) gave me that day. I was a crying mess at my Nanny's cremation and her sister comforted me.

You know why she (Nanny's sister) didn't comfort me when my own Mother passed? She didn't even know. Nanny never told her that my Mom had committed suicide :(

It's time. It's time for me to face facts - I don't have the "family" I want. Move on, get over it, grieve the "loss". I have to, for my own sanity.

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