Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Moving Forward

Our life is beginning to fall into place, slowly but surely.
Courtney, my brother and myself have been painting our living room. It had been years since it was last painted, and once the hospital bed, Mike's Geri Chair and the oxygen were removed, I realized the walls were in really bad shape. It's really weird for us to have so much time on our hands. Caring for Mike was just something we did, we never thought about it. Now that we're not doing it, the realization as to how much time we put into his care is amazing even us.
Painting has filled up our the last few weekends, and once we started painting, we realized just how much else needs to get done. I FINALLY got a shade that works for the LR and new curtains. Our old TV had been acting up, so we're getting a new TV. This alone will save us about two feet on one wall. Our big TV is old, it must be about 2 feet wide. With a flat screen replacing it, we will now be able to walk from the front hallway to the LR without turning sideways (maybe an exaggeration, but it WILL gives us more room). I remember the day Mike and I, as well as the kids, moved the TV into the house. We must have gotten it shortly after he was diagnosed and I was trying to guide him in helping me. I remember being very frustrated that he wasn't understanding me. The TV was HUGE and we had to maneuver it through the back door, into the LR and it got scratched in the process. I was so upset that our new TV was scratched. It started showing signs of going a few months before Mike passed. How ironic is it that it's lifespan was so close to Mike's.
The kids are getting back on track at school. Courtney had a little easier time than Brandon because her work is more hands on (film) and easier. Brandon's classes are mostly science and math. He had missed a few days the week before Mike passed when he had a stomach virus. Then he missed 3 days when Mike passed and yet another 4 days the week after with the flu. He was having a very difficult time - dealing with losing Mike and trying to keep up with the schoolwork. He felt defeated even more when he found out that he would have to take one math class over. I tried so hard to explain to him that he should be proud of what he has accomplished, despite all that he has gone through. There are kids that have dropped out a semester of college for even less, yet he stuck it out and is now beginning to get his grades back up. I am SO PROUD of both Brandon and Courtney. Life doesn't allow us any time to grieve. We lose someone, but life goes on and you have get to right back into work and school without allowing yourself the proper time to grieve.
Next week Courtney and I will be going to Washington DC for the Alzheimer's Association Advocacy Forum and this year it will take on a whole new meaning. We had gone 2 years ago, but missed last year (bad timing). We made sure we got there this year (even though Courtney had to work around her class schedule. Brandon of course couldn't make it with all the time he has already missed) so we can once again tell our story to our Representatives so they in turn can relate our story to the people who make the important decisions. It was an empowering experience the first time and we hope our story will strike a chord once again and push the changes that are needed.
My brother-in-law and nieces had also come in for a few days to visit and help my mom clean up her apartment. She's getting older and the simplest of things have become overwhelming. They did most of the work, but Courtney and I were able to get there one day to help them.
The kids and I went to Easter sunrise Mass on the beach and it was the most beautiful it had been in years. The last few years it was rainy and foggy. This was the first time in quite a few that the sunrise was absolutely beautiful. Afterward we had breakfast, then headed to the cemeteries to visit my dad, Mike, Mike's parents and my grandmother. Visiting Mike at the cemetery (actually it was the second visit since he passed) still seems surreal. Our next challenge will be picking out a headstone, but I won't be doing that until Brandon is home for the summer and we can all do it together.
I am also going to be taking the kids on a vacation this summer. It's been 8 years since we have been on one together. I'm talking a REAL vacation, not weekends here and there where we have to run around and not enjoy ourselves. We have our heart set on California, so California it will be. Who knows when we will get to go away again. I learned that lesson years ago when Mike and I went to Hawaii. Mike's dad had passed and he left us some money. We put most of it toward our house, but left out some to go to Hawaii. We got some flack from our families for doing that, since they felt we should save it all. Looking back, they may have been correct, but I will NEVER regret that trip to Hawaii with Mike. It was something he absolutely loved and he talked about it for many years afterward. It held such special meaning to us and I am so glad I got to share paradise with him. If we waited until the kids were grown or when we retired, it never would have happened. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but this summer we will at least have California!