Mother's Day, 2005. She was 28. 28!!! It still makes me angry that she's gone. I've studied a ton of psychology...just kept taking the classes in college cause I thought they were really interesting and fun. It wasn't my major, but I did end up with a minor in it because I accrued something like oh, I don't even remember how many hours. I just took one psych class every quarter until my senior year, so probably something like 40 hours of coursework. Anyway, I liked Psych because I had great instructors, and one of the very first intro classes I took, they opened my eyes to the fact that Psychology is really the study of human brain development, not about figuring out crazy folks. So I took a class in grief; and I'm sure you've heard about the 5 stages of grief. Anger; how DARE this person die on me? Denial; they're not really dead, it can't be true. Sadness/Depression; I'm not sure how I'm going to go on without this person in my life. Bargaining; God, if you bring them back, I'll go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life. Acceptance; ‘nuff said. I haven't listed them in any particular order, because you don't really progress through them in a specified order. And what works for me in dealing with MY loss isn't necessarily going to work for you. When my buddy S's dad died a few years back, S told me that some days he felt all 5 stages in one day; other days he couldn't get past being really pissed off. I'm not still raging mad like I was that first horrible week, but I am angry. There's no reason why J died. She was healthy, no chronic illness, hadn't smoked for years, was a wonderful mommy to her 3 babies. She died in her sleep, probably without any pain, and slipped away from us in the space between one heartbeat and the next. It was a pulmonary embolism that killed her. One of my other cousins is a nurse who worked in cardiac intensive care for many years, and she said there was a test that doctors could have performed to find out about the blood clots that were hitting J's heart, but they don't run whatever test it is on perfectly healthy 28 year olds. Our family does have a history of heart disease, but that really isn't related to what happened to her. The part of me that wants to be all Zen about this says that when it is your time, it is your time. But on the other side, if her death WAS preventable, then DAMMIT, someone should have fucking prevented it. That’s a wee sample of my anger phase for ya there. I have a terrible potty mouth IRL, but I do my best to keep it off the site. Anyway.
I hadn’t been all that close with my cousin in the last few years, her, married with 1, then 2, then 3 babies and a full time job and me, married, and married to my career. I loved her no less for that lack of closeness, as we got older. We had been fairly close when we were younger. Our moms were both SAHMs when we were really young, so we spent a lot of time at each other’s houses. My sister was really close with her, and sweetie, if you read this, I’m trying to work out what I’m feeling and hope this causes you no more pain. One of the things that I really admired about J was her tendency to tell it like it was, and to not sugar coat anything. You were going to get the unvarnished truth from her whether you liked it or not. And if you didn’t like it, too f-ing bad, she really didn’t care much what YOU thought. I admire that independence.
The thing that makes me most angry about her death has to do with her three kids, who are pretty young. The oldest might remember her a little bit; the younger two won’t have any memory of her at all. And she was one very cool lady. They will know that from the stories that they hear as they grow up, but they won’t intimately know her wicked sense of humor, or what her laugh sounded like. They will probably never know how much J liked to harass my father, her uncle. She adored giving him a really bad time about property taxes and school levies, not to mention his-ahem-ultra conservative politics. We’ll not talk about my differences of opinion with my father today or probably any other day for that matter.
What her death has taught me is something we all should not forget. We’re not on this earth for very long; no matter what the span of years that you are granted, from 10-90, it really isn’t that much. Cherish those you love. Tell them that you love them. Celebrate because it is Tuesday. Or Friday. Take every opportunity to gather those that you love around you. Use the good dishes. Drink that “special” bottle that you’re saving. Discard what isn’t working, be it relationships or where your kitchen trashcan is located. Take a deep breath and be glad that you’re alive. Even if it is raining.
The other thing I want to write about is so silly in comparison to the above that I’m tempted to wait another day to post it, but what the hell. My S-I-L got me Def Leppard's new anthology CD, Rock of Ages, for Christmas. I was a HUGE Def Leppard fan in the 1980s. My bedroom was wallpapered with pictures of the lead singer, Joe Elliott. Mmmm-mmmmm! He was hot. And am I ever stunned to find out that he's married these days. I always thought of all of those guys as sort of eternal peter pans. But pop-metal fell out of favor in the 1990s and I found new bands to love, and thanks to all the musicians that I ran around with in college, new genres of music too. And thank goodness for that, although now my collection of music makes me look crazy, since I listen to everything from Classical to Alt-Country. I do prefer to think of my music tastes as “eclectic”. :) What else can you say when you've got Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard next to Nickelcreek along with Ani DiFranco. Then there's DH's music collection, which is real heavy on Journey, Buffett, Rush, and Floyd. But I saw an ad last year around Thanksgiving that this new Leppard album was out, and when S-I-L asked what she could get me for Christmas, I suggested the CD. I’m so glad she got it for me. I’ve been listening to it in the car, and each song that comes on makes me smile. If I were to put together a soundtrack for my life from about 1984-1990, it would be mostly Def Leppard. How silly is this that I can’t remember my sister’s telephone number, but I know allllll the words to every song on both CDs. I'm trying hard to NOT think that might be a sign of age.
Have a great weekend.