calvin and hobbes and greg

I came across this photo today (taken in 2005 when Greg still had long hair) and had to laugh because every time I look at it, I picture a Calvin and Hobbes collection of comics that Greg had (and we still have!). He used to read it with Squirmy and explain to her what all the jokes meant. :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Calvin and Hobbes sledding

Just this.

Oh and Happy Spring!

xxx,

Mariah

0

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

 

0

affirmations

When I was pregnant with Squirmy, and at our doula’s suggestion, Greg made me a bunch of heart-shaped post-it notes and put them up all over the house with positive pregnancy/birthing affirmations. As a first time mother-to-be, I had a bit of anxiety about giving birth. I knew I wanted to have a natural birthing experience and having these post-its around the house helped me to stay calm and reminded me that I was strong enough to do just that.

When Greg got sick, he wanted to use this same idea to stay positive and let go of his fears, so I made him some. They said things like, My family loves me more than anything…I accept help…I am healing. As I was going through a box of his things last week, I opened up his wallet and found this.

i am healing

In the end, these post-it notes didn’t save his life. But they were a nice reminder to him that he was loved, his body had been good to him and if not in a physical way, there were parts of him that, through this intense process, WERE healing. Parts of him that had been hurt in the past and had essentially shut down. I’m not sure if I ever wrote about how much Greg reached out to people when he got sick. He was a man that, for the most part, stayed away from a lot of social situations and he now wanted people around. He reached out to people…and he let them reach right back, sharing the love.

I was making some of these post-its for a pregnant friend and I had a few ideas but wanted more. I found this list. It’s a long list at this specific website but I’ve compiled my favorites, things that really spoke to me. I know it’s just words on paper but that simplicity is part of what makes it so great. I think I might start including these as gifts to all my pregnant friends.

My baby is strong and healthy.
I trust my body.
My belly is full of light and love.
I am a strong and capable woman.
I have patience.
There is no need for us to hurry.
My body knows exactly what to do.
I trust my labor.
I embrace the wisdom of my body.
I am surrounded by loving, nurturing support.
I feel good being pregnant.
I listen to my body and my heart.
I believe in birth.
My baby knows how to be born.
I put all fear aside as I prepare for the birth of my baby.
My mind is relaxed, my body is relaxed.
My baby will be born at the perfect moment.
My body knows exactly what to do.
I love and trust my body.
I am a wonderful mother.

Sometimes all we need is a little reminder.

xxx,

Mariah

 

1

vegetarian mulligatawny soup

Years ago, I checked out the New England Soup Factory Cookbook from the library and had Greg scan a few of the recipes for me. There were many great soups in there but this one is my favorite. The cookbook tells me that mulligatawny originated in India and the name comes from the word for “pepper water”.

This is also the soup from the famous Seinfeld episode where the guy yells out, “No soup for you!” I honestly have never seen it (are some of you yelling at me?) but Greg was a huge fan of Seinfeld. When he got sick, his co-workers at AmFam had some bracelets made as a fundraiser for us and they had that phrase on them. :)

I just made this soup for a friend’s baby shower this weekend and I didn’t get any photos of it so I’m going to borrow a photo from another website/blog, The Good Weekly. She takes great photos of the process and gives great instructions. Hmmm… I wouldn’t blame you if you just followed her blog on this one. BUT if you just want the basic recipe, scroll down for my version with all the extra carrots I add!

mulligatawny

Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced (I usually use yellow onions in my cooking)
2 ribs celery, diced (I use at least 4)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced (I use at least 6)
1 lb dried lentils
2 cups (16 oz) canned whole tomatoes, cut into pieces (I use whatever tomatoes I have)
1 can (16 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (I always double this because when the girls were younger they insisted on having a chickpea in every bite of soup so only one can, or 16 oz, was not enough)
8 C vegetable stock
2 C tomato juice
3 tsp yellow curry powder
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (16 oz) coconut milk
2 Tbsp honey
1-1/2 C cooked basmati rice (I mess up the recipe by always using brown rice)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Heat a humongous stockpot (this recipe makes a lot!) over medium-high heat. Add the oil, garlic, onion, celery and carrots. Saute for 7 minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, chickpeas, stock, tomato juice, curry powder, cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pot and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes (I don’t simmer this long because I don’t like my lentils to get too mushy). Stir in the coconut milk, honey, rice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Makes 12 servings.

Whenever I make soups, I never think the recipes include enough carrots or celery so I always add more than they call for. I think I’ve always thought that if this is going to be our meal, we all need more veggies!

This soup really is delicious. You should try it. The recipe makes a lot so invite some friends over and make it a party!

xxx,

Mariah

1

color block candles

When we lived down by Madison, I was a part of a craft group. We’d get together once a month to make something that the host would prepare for us to do together. We made great things like shower caps, cake stands, teacup candles, canned veggies and fabric travel shoe bags. Plus, it was a great mix of ladies and we had a ton of fun seeing each other.

I decided to try and start a craft group in my new town. It’s slowly taking off since it’s hard to find time every month to get together. Everyone is just so busy. I’m hoping we get into a good groove with it.

Anyway, I chose to make color block candles when I had people over to my apartment in January.

Crayon-14-Row-645x429

We followed the step-by-step tutorial HERE using soy wax and crayons. The candles turned out really sweet although it took a long time for the wax to dry (and lots of microwaving!) and I only did one of the tilted method because I didn’t have a great place to prop them (although that’s my favorite one!). The rest I just did in straight up stripes which was much easier but I don’t like the look as much. I had a lot of wax to use so I kept making them even after my guests left.

DSCN2612And I still have a lot of wax left so I think my next craft will also be some sort of candle! Maybe I’ll have to make THESE again, from Martha.

teacup candles

Happy candle crafting!

xxx,

Mariah

 

3

billboard

A friend from Madison sent me this last week. I gave Agrace the okay to use our photo for a billboard and I guess it’s already up. I’m not really sure where it is…somewhere along the Beltline in Madison. We haven’t been back to visit yet and I’m not sure I’ll ever see this in person. That’s probably just as well, it might be overwhelming.

Billboard

It’s hard to put into words how much Agrace helped our family last year. I will be forever grateful.

If you see this, give us a wave.

xxx,

Mariah

1

reluctantly taking care of business

It turns out the days leading up to the anniversary of Greg’s stomach ache were much worse than the actual day. Last week, I had been gathering tax info for my accountant so I had to go through all of our medical bills and receipts. I even pulled out our CaringBridge entries and our 2013 calendar to help figure out our medical mileage. Greg’s handwriting had marked the days of important appointments, “Esophageal Ultrasound, MRI, UW biopsy”. And an appointment with his psychologist, written in classic Greg-style, “Brain Doctor – 11 a.m.”  :)  It was strange to be reminded of a time when we didn’t know, when we started worrying and then when we knew it was what we’d been dreading. It was almost as if I was a stranger looking in on us from the future…”Those poor bastards were so happy and clueless, they have no idea what’s about to happen to them.” It made me feel so sad for them – for us.

Not only was the process of leafing through those three months a painful reminder, it was frustrating to do because this was Greg’s job. HE was supposed to do taxes. HE was supposed to figure out our mileage and look through receipts and make phone calls.

The other day I finally figured out our healthcare so that I don’t have to continue paying $1,104.65/month to occasionally visit the doctor!  As I tried explaining to the woman on the phone what a frustrating experience it had been working with them (insert reasons I had to call them weekly to fix something), I started sobbing to her. Greg would have been taking care of this for us.

A few weeks ago, Greg received a packet in the mail stating that he was the beneficiary of a small account that his mom had had. She died in 2004 and this company was JUST NOW aware of her passing. So I called and filled out the proper forms to get it transferred to my name. They left me a message a week later so I called them back. The woman on the other line couldn’t disclose any information over the phone because the last name that it had been transferred to was different than mine. I heard her laugh a little when she said that. I thought that was strange but she told me to just fill out the additional forms with my real name when I received them and it would be fine. So earlier this week I got a package in the mail from them addressed to MARIAH CAREY. So maybe someone had that name in their head as they were mindlessly typing in my information and I’m hoping that’s all it was. I’m not a person that gets angry very easily but for some reason, this makes my blood boil. It felt like they were making fun of me. Here I am trying to get something taken care of from my deceased mother-in-law left to my now deceased husband and it’s like someone is making a joke about my name. And how do you make a complaint about that? “Hey huge corporation – I’m already sad and you hurt my feelings!” This is something Greg would have taken care of for me…and not only would he have taken care of it, he would have made it right. And made me feel better.

Yesterday I had to call Greg’s old employer to ask a question that was pertinent to our taxes. I typed in their 1-800 number that I found online. I forgot that this used to be Greg’s work number and that it was still in my phone. So as it starts to ring, this is what I see…

DSCN2710

“Hi Baby! Can you please take care of all this stuff for me so I never have to deal with it ever again? And then can you please come home? Okay, love you! Bye.”

xxx,

Mariah

2

tummy

Here it starts.

Today marks the anniversary of the stomach ache that revealed Greg’s cancer. I didn’t think this would be so hard but leading up to this day feels like someone punching me in the chest, all over again.

We were at a child’s birthday party and after a couple pieces of pizza, Greg started feeling bad. I realize this is a weird photo to include and I’m not even sure why I took a picture of him laying like this. Here we are at a kids birthday party; a fun place to play and run around with our kids in the middle of winter. But Greg is in pain and has to lay down in the middle of it. I walked over to him after I took this picture and he stuck his tongue out to the side and smiled like he felt silly but just couldn’t help it. I wish I would have known how much pain he was in – this day and every day after this. I look at this photo and just want to scoop him up and rush him off somewhere to save him. But even in this picture, his cancer was already at Stage 4.

2-24-13 photos 070

At some point, we asked Greg’s oncologist how long the cancer had been growing. They estimated that it had been about 6 months based on how fast it was spreading. I look back at this photo of him during a really fun date night  in August and wish we would have known on this day. Or maybe the day after this – I wouldn’t have wanted to ruin this night. It was perfect. And then I could have somehow saved him.

8-5-12 photos 024

I’m counting on my girls to help me get through today. Like every day, I guess.

xxx,

Mariah

4

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.

2-24-13 photos 040

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

xxx,

Mariah

0

my own group therapy session

I wrote this on Monday evening but I didn’t want to post it because I didn’t really like it and felt like I was being too negative. Plus, I was exhausted from crying. I remember when Greg was sick and I couldn’t bring myself to post on CaringBridge because I didn’t have anything positive to say. I guess I still feel the same way about writing something that you will all see. I want to be able to have a happy ending or at least some hope to leave you with. For you and for me. So, to add a little happiness to what you are about to read…I’m feeling better today. The sun was shining and I let Squeaky play in the van out in the parking lot (buckling and unbuckling her ‘babies’ is so much fun!) while I stuck my head out the door for a little sun. I prepped everything to work on taxes with my accountant next week. I THINK I finally figured out our health care situation. AND Squirmy and I found a game on the iPad to play together that had us cheering and high-fiving each other – the game is Where’s My Water. I’m sure you have all heard of it already and have been playing it for years and years but we had a great time with it tonight!

Anyway, I still don’t like this post but I’m going to share it anyway. See below for some ramble-y, 3-day old whining.

_____________________________________________

I don’t feel fun anymore. I THINK I used to be fun. A fun mom. A fun daughter. A fun friend. I’m just not fun. I’m too stressed. I’m crabby. I don’t know how to participate in small talk so I just shy away from conversations regarding anything about anything other than my immediate sphere of circumstance. I have tried participating in some conversations but I float away, feeling like I have no right to be talking about daily things, silly things, trivial things. Things that don’t pertain to life and death. I still don’t know what’s going on in the news and that’s depressing to me. I try participating in things in the community but I’m held back by inability to converse and the fact that I’m now a single mom with no back-up parent. My girls like babysitters but I sometimes think I get them too often. They are usually very crabby and clingy to me the next day. I don’t want my girls to think I’m leaving them too, but mama just needs breaks. And it seems so selfish of me but after I get a break one day, I need another one a few days (sometimes HOURS) later! It’s never-ending guilty feeling.

I was supposed to go to my first group therapy session tonight but it was cancelled because of the snowstorm. I was actually looking forward to starting some kind of therapy. The next one is a month away and that feels like ages from now. I keep telling myself it was meant to be because everything that has happened since Greg died has felt bigger than me, more deliberate, just meant to happen. Every door that opens, I wander through. I do this because I’ve always liked going with the flow but in some ways I don’t feel strong enough to attempt anything else. It’s exhausting to stress about going in a different direction so I just float through that open door. Maybe this is the way I’ve always done things and I’m just more aware of it now. I’m paying attention more, wondering in what ways Greg is still helping us along.

I’m used to mourning the loss of Greg but I guess I’m now feeling like mourning the loss of me. The old me. The fun me. The aware me. The crafty me. The political me. The self-deprecating me. The save the earth me. Some days I just don’t recognize this crabby lady. This lost lady. This lady growing grey hairs and new wrinkles who’s yelling at her kids to go to bed or plopping them in front of the tv or telling them that she’ll read them a book only to realize she forgot to call the IRS to request 3 years of back taxes because she can’t find them anywhere in her computer files or that she hadn’t even thought of what to make for dinner and all that there is in the fridge is old tofu and yogurt. I realize that there are a lot of people going through hell in their lives worse than I am so I don’t like outwardly complaining. I just hate seeing me this way. Me not being able to handle it all. I’ve always been someone to pick myself up and go. But I still feel lost. I can pick myself up but I just don’t know where to ‘go’. Then I do my floaty thing.

We’ll be coming up on a bunch of anniversaries soon…the day Greg got his stomach ache. The day I KNEW it was cancer. The day we got the actual cancer diagnosis. The day I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe because I knew he was dying. The day he started radiation. The day he started chemo. The day the oncologist told us there was no more plan. The day hospice came to our house. The day he was taken to the in patient hospice unit by ambulance and the girls started screaming and crying and clinging to me when they found out I’d be going with him. The day of his party. The night I woke up and cried to him because I knew there would be so much to do when he died and he wouldn’t be there to do it with me. The day that was the beginning of the end. The last time I held his hand.

2-24-13 photos

Greg and the girls on February 23rd, 2013, the day before the stomach ache.

People always tell me that firsts and anniversaries will be hard but I never really believed them. I didn’t really even think of ‘firsts’ until I had a shitty time this Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and an even shittier time at Christmas. I wanted it to be good but it was all just too normal. Normal stuff we would usually do but with that big, gaping hole right next to me. I guess Monday, the anniversary of Greg’s stomach ache will feel like just a normal day. I’ll have to plan something to make it not normal. Maybe then I’ll feel a little better.

I don’t feel like this every day. Just some days when I feel I’ve done a shitty job of what I’m supposed to be doing. Or when I just don’t give a shit about this or that. Or when I feel like I should have my shit together a little more. Shitty shit shit.

On a bright note, I do remember making some people laugh the other day. And today I was watching an old video of Squirmy and Squeaky dancing that Greg had recorded almost exactly a year ago. It made me laugh so hard I cried. It’s been a very long time since that has happened.

Well, I guess that’s my therapy session for this month. And a successful one at that, since I have a pile of snotty tissues on the floor next to me. Maybe next month I’ll be able to say it all out loud.

xxx,

Mariah

P.S. I did NOT go with Greg right away to the hospice facility. I stayed home to make sure the girls were okay and happy having a picnic before I said goodbye…just in case you were wondering.

 

6

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes