Thursday, August 23, 2012

California Here we Come...

This past Monday Courtney, Brandon and I came home from our trip to California. 11 days out of the house, away from the daily stresses and routines that were really beginning to create more stress in our lives. This trip was not without it's rough spots. I've seen an anger in Brandon that concerns me - especially since he voiced his opinion to me a few times how angry he was that I did not call him IMMEDIATELY upon Mike's death. I wonder whether this anger will dissipate or whether it will present itself in other ways. But despite those rough spots, I believe we all enjoyed our time away.
Even though we were in California, and our days were filled entirely each and very day - there were more moments than I anticipated of feeling Mike's absence and missing him SO much.
 While I was parasailing on Catalina Island I started to cry because I was so high up in the sky I felt myself closer to Mike. I had a conversation with him that immediately turned to tears.  The peace and quiet up there was deafening and I felt myself feeling truly alone. The realization that this was my future was emotional. Walking around Disneyland I thought of Mike's first time at Disney World for our honeymoon.
 I had been there a few times before, but he had never been, and I enjoyed each and every moment watching him revert back to his childhood and enjoy all that was around him. My mind immediately went to the three times we had taken Courtney and Brandon there and how excited he was at seeing the kid's reaction to the spectacle around them. We saw Cirque Du Soleil - which Mike and I had taken the kids to together. Although the shows were different, I remembered how much he loved the acrobats and clowns. Alcatraz would have been right up his ally and listening to Brandon complain about going to see "the stupid Redwoods" I heard Mike's voice saying the same thing. I was very upset with Brandon that day because he gave me such a hard time about going to Muir Woods to witness the beauty of nature, but I guess it was because I knew I would have had an equally difficult time with Mike. The trees were beautiful, but not a place he would have thoroughly enjoyed being.

Seeing all the families walking along Pier 39 just brought a deeper sadness over me, but I did my best to enjoy the moment with the kids, not knowing when the next time would be that we would be together like this.
We arrived home at 2:40 a.m. on Saturday to find that my BIL had spent a week at our house while we were away, painting and organizing. Four days later and I'm still in somewhat of a shock that he would take the time to come in from PA and work so hard for us. What did we do to deserve anything like that? He wasn't the only one who worked - my brother helped as well as my mom. My sister and older niece conspired from PA - the entire family was involved in this conspiracy spearheaded by my BIL. The kids and I are still trying to find things. He organized so well, we feel like we just moved in.
This Saturday we'll be moving Brandon back into school. His classes start on Monday. Where did the summer go??

I was looking forward to the summer with the kids to talk about and try to heal from the pain of Mike's passing. Instead, Brandon spent most of the summer with his friends and Courtney worked alot. I didn't get to talk to them as much as I would have liked, but I also didn't want to push them any more than necessary. We visited the cemetery again yesterday before Brandon went back to school and we look forward to the day when the headstone will be completed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

This past weekend, the kids and I held our Annual Lemonade Sale for Alzheimer's - it was also 5 months since Mike passed. The "anniversary" date made it that much more important to us, which is why we had a very rough start to the day. Tensions were very high as we considered canceling the sale. We had always been blessed with beautiful weather, but this year we woke up to the sound of thunder. The forecast was not good and I even called upon my very own personal meteorologist (nephew Steve) to see if he could give me anything optimistic. He couldn't. It called for a 30% chance of scattered thunderstorms all day. Added to the fact that it was 5 months since Mike passed, my sister and her crew came in from PA to help us. They never had the opportunity to experience one of our sales and we thought it would be fun for all of us. This combination was an even bigger reason why we wanted this day to be a success. We listed the start time as 11:00 a.m. Finally at 10:40 I made the call to "go for it". Courtney had baked all day on Friday and I knew if it wasn't that day, we wouldn't be able to have it this year. Despite reports that there were torrential rainstorms (with flooding) only one town over from us, we held our sale the entire day with only 15 mins of a slight mist. I am so pleased to report that we made $1,048.29 and counting.......... For the first 1/2 hour, no one bought anything, they just stopped and gave money. My sister was on the opposite corner from me and I looked at her and realized that neither one of us could hold back tears. It leaves me speechless that there are SO MANY poeple out there wanting to help. The entire day people would stop to donate and tell stories about their loved ones who had the disease or passed from it. Many people thanked US for doing what we did. I am absolutely positive that we had help from above that day - to keep the rain away from us so we could have a successful sale.
Each year after sale, I have a BBQ for Courtney and Brandon's friends who spend the day helping us raise the money we do. I had just finished cooking the burgers and dogs, their friends just got their food and just sat down to eat when the heavens finally opened up on us. After a mad dash into the house to finish eating and play some board games, all were fed and satisfied. The rain had stopped about an hour later and they all went back outside to enjoy the rest of the night. My children have a great bunch of friends.
The concern for having the lemonade sale last weekend stemmed from the fact that this weekend will be crazy as the kids and I will be packing for our 11 day trip to California! (The Saturday after we get home, I will be bringing Brandon back to school in CT). We are looking forward to this trip very much, but it is understandably bittersweet. I doubt we will ever be able to take a trip like this ever again, so we will be savoring every moment. Five days in Los Angeles (Disney, Cirque de Soleil, parasailing/zip lining, Walk of Fame etc) and then 5 days in San Fransisco (Alcatraz, Muir Woods, Hauted mansion, Ghiardelli Square etc). I haven't been saying "I can't wait" because I know in the blink of an eye it will all be over as well as the summer. I look forward to making happy memories with Courtney and Brandon. With Courtney graduating from college next year, I have no idea when I will have this time with them again.