Archive | Squeaky

remembering daddy through pictures

I don’t want my girls to forget. It was one thing that Greg was terrified of; that the girls would forget him, especially Squeaky since she was just 2 when he got sick and not even 2-1/2 when he died. I remember coming home from Hospice in early May last year and Greg insisted on stopping at Best Buy in a wheelchair and his pajama pants to get an additional external hard drive so we’d never lose photos of him.

I like having photo albums to look at. I know they are heavy and take up lots of space but there’s something so real in sitting down next to someone and looking at printed photos with a heavy album in your lap. I’ve been falling behind in printing out pictures of the last few years of our lives – some very, very important years.

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So, I’ve been printing out hundreds of photos at a time to get caught up. So far, I’m only to 2011 but it makes Squeaky happy that she can finally see photos of her as a baby.

We’ve been looking through them together and I’ve already found the girls sitting together with the albums, looking at and talking about the pictures to each other.

I’m now not as concerned about them forgetting. These pictures and my stories will help fill their sweet memories.

xxx,

Mariah

 

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asking for help

We were having a HORRIBLE time at bedtime. Every once in awhile it gets pretty bad, but once last week, I ended up running to my closet, falling to my knees, crying and yelling into my hands. I tried to close the closet door to muffle the sound so I didn’t scare the girls. Squirmy came in and said, “Mama, you can call Nana and ask her for help. She can help you.” After thinking how sweet that was for her to say, I then thought, “What is Nana going to do? Come over here and put you to bed a half hour from now while I’m crying in the closet?” I got up, gave both the girls big hugs and kisses, apologized for “freaking out” and we all went to sleep, exhausted from our drama.

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A few nights later (damn daylight savings time change!), it was almost the same thing though not quite that bad. After the kids went to sleep, I took Squirmy’s advice and called Nana, my mom. We brainstormed ways to help the girls get to sleep and decided that even though they share a room, they need different bedtimes and they both need a little bit of one-on-one time with me before they go to sleep. So, I’ve started working on this with the girls and a few nights later, Squeaky is quiet and cuddled in bed within minutes! I have been able to lay in my bed, cuddling and reading books with Squirmy uninterrupted AND listen to HER read to ME! This makes me so, so, so happy!

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Squirmy and Nana, helping me out.

Last Monday night was also my first group therapy session with other widowers. This was the one I missed last month. It was a big group. I walked in and saw only one box of tissues on the coffee table in the middle of the room. I thought of grabbing it and putting it on my lap immediately! But I sat down and waited until a few tears fell in my lap. Then, someone passed it over. We went around in a circle talking about our experiences with loss. I was by far the youngest one there. There were a lot of different feelings and thoughts shared. Not all applied to me but I took at least one thing that everyone said and could relate.

One thing that stuck in my mind was the feeling that after a month or so go by, people forget about what you’re going through. One of the women in the group said exactly, “At the funeral everyone says, ‘Let me know if you need anything. I’m here for you.’ But then a month later, they stop checking in or asking you how you are.”

I understood where she was coming from but the words that she used finally made it click for me. I completely understand that a widow (or anyone grieving) needs a lot of love and support and it can feel very lonely. But at some point, your friends and family do need you to let them know how they can help. Most people don’t know how they can help. To be quite honest, I wouldn’t necessarily know how to help a grieving friend, even though I’m going through it myself! And I’ve learned that, most of the time, it’s up to me (or my 5 year old!) to say it out loud. Because at this point, nobody really knows what we need but us.

I recently pulled a little quote from a magazine that asked the question, What’s the most important question you’ve ever asked yourself? One woman wrote, “I’ve always thought that asking for help was a sign of weakness, but when my mother died, I learned that it takes greater strength to lean on others than to stand alone. In order to heal, I asked myself, What help do I need in this moment?”

When Greg got sick last year and we heard the word cancer, my dad had JUST driven home from our house, seven hours away. After putting the girls to bed, Greg and I were struggling with the weight of it all coming down on us. In between tears, Greg said, “Can you ask your dad to come back? We need him.” I was thinking the same thing although I had been too scared/proud/??? to say it out loud. I called my dad immediately and he packed his bags and came right back. In the days and months that followed, when someone asked me what they could do to help, I told them. And in those three months, we were never alone. There was always someone living with us, running errands for us, fixing things in the house, helping with yard work, bringing us dinner, babysitting the girls or keeping Greg company. There was NO WAY that we could have done it alone.

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Papa with Squeaky

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My aunt and uncle lived with us and helped us out for over a month.

Our case is pretty extreme, I guess. We needed lots of help. We still need lots of help. I know that everyone is going through different struggles and your friends and family do want to help. But if nobody knows what you need, it’s really hard to get that help. People aren’t cold. People aren’t heartless. People need to know.

So, how can I help you?

xxx,

Mariah

4

daddy bears

When Greg was at the hospice unit in late April, his Dad’s cousin flew in from Pennsylvania. While he and his wife were here, they went to a Build-A-Bear store and got two bears for the girls. They brought them back to Greg and had him record a message on them. Greg spent a lot of time thinking about what he wanted to say, and here is what he decided on:

Hi H….. Squirmy Wormy, this is your Daddy. Your Mama and I loved you a long, long time before you were born. And when you were born, you made ourselves a family.

Hi H…. Bagel, this is your Daddy. Your Mama and I loved you a long, long time before you were born. And when you were born, you made our family complete.

These little guys spend a lot of time with the girls and they get a lot of squeezing to hear Daddy’s voice. Squirmy sleeps with her bear every night. At first she did not like her bear’s eyebrows that she even frowned when she got him and asked me if we could cut them off. But a few weeks later she told me, “I want to keep him just the way he is.” They don’t have specific names, we call them both simply, “Daddy Bear”.

DSCN2732Sometimes, if I’m upset or crying or angry, Squirmy will run to get her bear, give him a good squeeze and hand him over to me. Even though I don’t have one of my own, the girls are willing to share. And hearing his voice with one little squeeze is good enough. Most of the time, it’s all that I need.

Thank you again, Ted and Leni, for such a wonderful gift.

xxx,

Mariah

 

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chocolate ice cream face

In yesterday’s post, I included a photo of the girls with Greg. They both have chocolate ice cream on their faces. Here’s what happened just before the picture with Greg. We had just gotten home from a fun day in Madison and the girls had ice cream cones. I can’t believe I let Squeaky (at 2 yrs old) have an ice cream cone in the van by herself but I did! So Squeaky chows down her ice cream cone and is finished before Squirmy. Squeaky is totally eyeing up the rest of her sister’s cone. She asks Squirmy for some of hers. Without hesitation, Squirmy reaches over with her ice cream cone for her little sister to share. I remember this wonderful gesture and it is part of what made this such a great day. This, and as far as we knew that day, Greg was healthy.

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2-24-13 photos 041I am so grateful for my darling girls.

xxx,

Mariah

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piles and piles of artwork

Our little apartment is being overrun by artwork and papers sent home from school/daycare. I want to preserve the artwork without having to save bins full of papers that nobody will ever look at again.

I try to keep to a bit of a routine…

  • Anything that is ripped out of a coloring book is tossed. Sorry girls. So far, nobody has even noticed. I would rather have a blank refrigerator than Hello Kitty or Lollaloopsy staring at me while I cook.
  • Artwork that the girls are proud of is either put on display on the fridge/bulletin board or put in a drawer for photo documentation when I have time or when the drawer gets so full that I can’t shut it anymore.
  • I take a photo of every piece of art before it goes into the trash/recycling/gift pile (he he!) with the intention of someday making a poster like this…childrenartwork

I do get rid of a lot of their stuff but I do also have a big bin that is almost full. Here is a current sampling of the girls’ artwork from the last camera download…DSCN2636

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I asked Squirmy who’s in this picture. “It’s Aiden and me, marrying.” Well, SHE looks happy! :)

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What do you do with your kids’ artwork?

xxx,

Mariah

 

 

4

distracted

I’m having a hard time concentrating on anything lately. When I do get time alone, I seem to start something and then get distracted and want to sit and look at old pictures or find other memories.

I came across this photo the other day. It’s the last one taken from Greg’s phone. Squeaky’s little hand on top of his, about 12 hours before he died.

last picture on Greg's phone

xxx,

Mariah

 

2

the gift of music

When I was a kid, we had a piano in our living room and my brother and I took lessons from a neighbor until we got busy with other things and didn’t want to do it anymore. Years later, we still had a piano in our living room so my parents put a PIANO FOR SALE sign on it. This was before craigslist so I guess having a big sign in your home was the best way to sell something. :) Next to the sign, was a framed embroidery that read, “Long after the toys of childhood are gone, the gift of music remains.” We still laugh about that quote right next to the PIANO FOR SALE sign.

Squirmy and Squeaky love music and singing. They both wanted to learn to play an instrument so we started ukelele and piano lessons.

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The ukelele was originally for Squeaky and the piano for Squirmy but since we all go to the lessons, it seems as though we are all learning, including me. Time to brainstorm band names!

xxx,

Mariah

1

an elevator to heaven

We have this menorah gel cling on our window that I haven’t had the heart to take down for the season.

The reason I can’t take it down is because it isn’t a menorah anymore. It’s an elevator panel and when you push the buttons, it will take you up to heaven to see Daddy.

How could I take THAT down?

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So there it clings.

xxx,

Mariah

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squeaky’s party and skiing

Tonight (Sunday), I’m recovering from a busy weekend consisting of Squeaky’s party, an impromptu sleepover (thanks again A and T!) and x-country skiing.

Did you know that you can order fondant cake toppers on Etsy? So all I had to do was make and frost the cake and Squeaky helped put the owl and flowers on top. We found them HERE.

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Our good friend, Tom Pease, came to sing and made it a proper party! Thanks again, Tom!

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We planned on going to the ski hill on Sunday for a leisurely day of skiing but we got there and the place was packed for some ski races! Squirmy has only been skiing once before (and loves it!) but she clicked on those skis and participated in the kid’s race. She came in last but there were a few people that waited at the finish line to cheer her on. She had such a great time, she insisted on going out again. Squeaky fell asleep on my back during the race but after she woke up, she wanted to go out too.

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We went out together but had to turn around after awhile since BOTH (err…ALL) of them (us) were worn out and cranky.

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Squirmy was just a little angry with me for taking this picture. It was such a cool shot, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. :)20140112_150804

Have a great week everyone!

xxx,

Mariah

1

death and bodies, part 2

Since Greg died in the early morning while the girls were asleep, I had a choice to make. Should I wake them to say goodbye or just let them sleep and tell them when they woke? Part of me wanted to just let them sleep because all I wanted to do was to curl up in a ball and cry and cry and cry. But deep down I knew that was not the right answer. We had done our best to be truthful and include them as much as we could when Greg was sick. I knew I had to wake them so that they were able to have closure in their own way, as much or as little as they understood at the time.

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When Greg was healthy, he went into work around lunchtime and every day the girls would hug him goodbye and make sure to put a bunch of kisses in his pocket to last him throughout the day until he got home. On Greg’s last night, as the girls were saying goodnight, he gave both of them a crystal butterfly box full of his kisses that would last them their entire lives. We still take kisses from their boxes every night before bed. I do too. I figure there are probably a few in there for me as well.

That evening, Greg had taken an obvious turn for the worse and we knew his time was very close. I told the girls that Daddy might not have much more time and that he would be dying soon. We had talked about it a lot before this but because he hadn’t been ‘actively dying’ I could always tell them he still had time. As I was tucking Squirmy into bed, she asked me, “Is Daddy going to die tonight?” I told her yes, he might. She nodded and cuddled up in bed.

I woke Squirmy and Squeaky at about 5:30 in the morning and told them Daddy had died. They both clung to me and Squirmy started crying with me. I took them upstairs to see Greg. He had the white teddy bear tucked under his arm that the girls picked out for him when he was away from home at hospice.

We had a little ceremony to say goodbye to Greg before the funeral home people came to take him away. The girls both continued to cling to me but they saw him. The thought of them being scared of him hadn’t crossed my mind until we went into the bedroom to see him. But they had also seen Greg with his eyes and mouth open while he slept so they were used to it. A few times, Squirmy buried her head in my lap. Squeaky held me tight but her eyes jumped around to watch facial expressions, taking cues from everyone around her. The Hospice Chaplain said a few prayers, the girls and I quietly sang the Barney, I Love You song and we played the Talking Heads song, This Must be the Place (Naive Melody).

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I don’t remember if either of them touched Greg but I don’t expect a 2 and 4 year old to have the same kind of experience that I did. They are both so young. I’m just glad that they were there. They were (and continue to be) a huge support to me even if they didn’t know it and they were there to be a part of something very important. While they both exhibit a surprising understanding of what happened for kids their age, it’s still quite hard for them to grasp the concept. When the funeral home people took Greg away, the girls said goodbye to him one last time and watched as his body was wheeled out the door. Then they went back to playing with their cousins.

And that’s when I went back upstairs, curled up in a ball and cried and cried and cried.

xxx,

Mariah

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