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The Stages of Grief: COVID Edition

It's 2020. It's almost Christmas. We're still in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, we are experiencing what appears to be an incredible surge that is exerting tremendous pressure on our healthcare and social service system. The headlines are clear: we're not done with this madness and December 31, 2020 will not magically be the "end of it".  Earlier in the year, our family thought about whether we might be able to travel at this time. We thought that maybe the curve would be flat enough that we could take a few days away from home during the Christmas holidays. We realized that the pandemic would still be happening, but with the right protections and with prolific mask usage, we could get a much-needed change of scenery. During what is now (clearly) a delusional thought process, we booked a stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for the week of December 19th. Spoiler alert: we canceled the trip almost two weeks ago.  Canceling this trip was not a tragedy. In fact, I
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Remembering the Normal

Science tells us that human memory is faulty . We want to think that we will remember certain moments forever like they are encased in carbonite. In reality, we look back on events and retell our stories to friends and colleagues. The story always shifts a little in the process and by the time we have told the story 1000 times, it has changed. It's not (usually) an outright lie. It's just that our brain betrays us. Even our collective memories of major national events that are witnessed by millions of people can be faulty. One study suggests that up to 40% of people changed certain elements of their remembrances of 9/11 as time passed. Something to seriously consider as our recent national discussions about history have claimed the center stage and we continue to live in "unprecedented" times.  Side note: anybody else yearning for some precedented times again?    Fifteen years ago this week, Charlotte Jennie was born. I recounted a lot of her birth story on this

Life is short. Do all the things.

As I spend my 2nd Mother's Day without my mother and my 10th Mother's Day without my One of my favorite multi-generational pics of me, my mom, and Charlotte.  first-born, I'm probably more reflective than usual. I blame the burgeoning pandemic . I'm still struggling with survivor guilt and an irrational, imaginary pressure to be more productive than I should be in a time of stress. I try to balance managing the influx of information for both my mental health and my need to be well-informed. I'm managing a new household with kids learning from home, replacing rehearsals and school with online tutoring, drum lessons, and playdates; none of which, by the way, are adequate substitutions for the real thing.  I'm trying to embrace the new opportunity for more restful weekends (much needed) with my desire to still do as much as I can to be a force for good. I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes by E.B. White:  "I arise in the morning torn between a

Meditations on an Emergency

Nothing like a little pandemic to get me writing again, huh?  I have so many thoughts in my brain right now. A simple social media post didn't seem the right venue. So I have picked up the blog to get these thoughts on paper. Or digital paper, as it were.  Ever since this COVID-19 crisis began, I have been struggling with information overload. There is the desire to be informed and the potential to be overwhelmed by it all. There is the need to filter out truth from fiction. There is the need to distance ourselves, both physically and emotionally sometimes, from others. My anxiety brain often has trouble turning it all off, even in "normal" times. These are not normal times. Many wise people have pointed out that we are in a period of collective grief . Like any grief, the process cycles between despair, denial, bargaining, anger, and acceptance. Sometimes I feel all of those in one day. I think that one of the things I struggle with the most in all of this is wha

The Mom of a Teenager

As I sit here writing this, I mark 13 years since I was in labor with Charlotte. I am the mom of a teenager. And yet, I’m not. Every year, Charlotte’s birthday hits me a different way. Every year in the grief process is a little bit different. The arrival of her birthday so close on the heels of the end of the school year frequently triggers thoughts for me about how Charlotte’s peers continue to move forward while she Seriously. Kids these days... remains frozen in time as a four year old. As the school year ends, I see her peers moving on to middle school, attending dances, achieving milestones, and just plain getting older (Puberty! Eek!). It always leaves a twinge of jealousy and sadness in my heart. I try to imagine what she would be like, what her interests would be. Knowing how much she was my “mini-me” as a youngster, I lift up hope that she might have strayed from my junior high life as an awkward, frizzy-haired, coke-bottle-eyeglass-wearing teenager.

Diagnosis Day Redux

Yes. It's been a long time since I've blogged. Doesn't mean my mind hasn't been churning.  It's *Diagnosis Day*. The picture below was taken by Roger as they were waiting at the hospital for CAT scan results on January 20, 2009. I shared our story yesterday at a Synapse meeting, rather unexpectedly. A "teaser" from another member about the  Thumbs Up Ball 2018  and the pending anniversary of this date were both combining factors that helped me decide to share the story. This day in 2009 is forever etched in my brain. There are few details that I have forgotten. I remember Roger picking me up from a full morning of teaching at Romp n' Roll after he'd already spent hours with Charlotte at the pediatricia n and at St. Mary's for a CAT scan. I remember grabbing a quick lunch from the Drive-Thru of Chick-fil-A, but not really wanting to eat anything. (Not wanting to eat CFA? I know! Right?) I remember using my non-smart phone to call friends

Hidden Triggers

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about Charlotte. She is everywhere. I see her in so many things. Most of the time, the thoughts are happy memories but they are often tinged with a bittersweet sadness and longing.  Around mid-June each year, it starts. For some reason, I'm extra sensitive to different memories or triggers. Some of these make sense. At the end of the school year, as kids are celebrating accomplishments and moving forward in time, I think of Charlotte. She never even made it to Kindergarten. I try to imagine what she would be interested in now, what her summers would look like, who her friends would be. Even with another child who has much to celebrate and keep me occupied, my thoughts fall back to her.  Bear. Just sayin' hello.  Other triggers are more mundane. I was at our chiropractor's office the other day for a regular visit and there was Bear, sitting there staring at me from the kid's play area. I hadn't tho