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Grief

It’s been a long time since I posted here, but recent life events have made me want to start writing normally again about my life.

Sunday, February 12, one week before my 32nd birthday, I lost my father suddenly to a heart attack. He was 65. We hadn’t seen it coming.

I know he wasn’t in tip top shape – his doctor had been on him to reduce his sweets intake, which he had been doing for the most part – but we still never suspected something like this would claim his life. Mom pointed out that he’d been complaining of indigestion in the months leading up to it, and I can’t help but wonder if maybe it was something cardiovascular masquerading as stomach issues.

Going back to that day, my best friend and roommate, Lisa, and I had gone to eat lunch at a fast-casual Japanese place we’d never tried before en route to downtown St. Louis to catch a few more Porygon before the Valentine’s event ended. We had gone Pokemon hunting the day before with two of her coworkers and managed to catch quite a few, but wanting to make it to lunch in time with my parents had cut the day short and I found myself lacking about 16 candy that I wanted.

Though the restaurant was a little disappointing, we pulled out with our bellies full. My phone rang – it was my mom, and I answered with a cheerful hello. But there was panic in her voice.

“Katie, something happened to your dad. He collapsed in the garage… The paramedics have been working on him for a while but I don’t know..”

I immediately started to panic myself. Something twisted in the pit of my stomach. I asked her if I should come home, and she said yes, so, since I fortunately had not gotten back on the interstate yet, quickly changed lanes to head back home. It was about 15-20 from my location to my parents’ house, but that day the drive seemed to last hours.

The whole time, I was in tears, mumbling to myself. “Please be ok, please God be ok…” Beside me, Lisa reached over to pat my leg as I drove, trying to calm me so I wouldn’t drive erratically.

As I pulled onto their street, police cars, a fire truck, and an ambulance lined the side. I parked behind them, two houses down, and ran to the house – I left my purse and jacket in the car. As I got there, I ran up to the garage, where mom had said he had been.

There I saw him, laying on the ground, a white sheet on his torso. A police woman quickly ushered me away to the front porch (the garage is on the side of the house, not the front, so I couldn’t see what was going on) and had a paramedic talk to me.

They had pronounced him.

It was as though the ground was ripped out from under my feet.

It hurt, so much. I immediately went to my mom and held her, both of us crying. Lisa hugged us as well and cried with us, since he was like a second father to her. We saw my parents almost every day, from running errands with them to eating dinner to going to sporting events with my dad.

The rest of the day is a messy blur of tears. My brother and half-sister showed up, just as shocked as us. The funeral home came and took him away. They set up a meeting for the following day. I got the story from mom of what happened…

They had just returned home from eating lunch. Dad hadn’t even gone inside; he wanted to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to cut down some branches from the pine tree in front that were damaged in an ice storm the month before. Mom had gone inside and was laying down. After a bit, her phone rang. It was my dad, and she could tell something was wrong. “I need you…” he said. She asked where he was. In the garage. So she ran out, phone in hand, and found him laying on the ground. He reached up for her, she took his hand, and he passed out.

She fumbled with her phone to call 911 and tried her best to do CPR while waiting on the ambulance. She said it took about 5 minutes for them to arrive, but it felt like ages. I know she blames herself for not calling fast enough, for not doing CPR right, but honestly, from what she said, it was likely too late already.

The firemen cut down the branch for us before departing.

The last week and a half have felt like an eternity. We had the stress of planning a funeral with no idea what to do, of figuring out where we go from here. Mom hasn’t been working; dad was providing and wanted to work a few more years before retirement so he could “pay off his toys”. We’re trying to figure out how soon she can get payouts, if she’ll be able to keep the house, and whether or not she’ll be forced to go back to work. This is all outside our comfort zones, and we feel like fish out of water – never mind not even having the time to properly grieve my father’s loss.

In addition to gathering photos for the visitation and writing my dad’s eulogy, my mom’s brother, whom I hadn’t seen in years, flew in for the funeral and stayed at my house. Even though I took a week off school and work, I barely had any rest. I had to wake early on my birthday to take my uncle to the airport, and the day passed with a whimper – not even a cake (which I did get, though a few days late).

Even returning to school and work has been hard. I missed a math test that I had to make up. I had to cram two weeks of homework into just a few days. At work, once again, my coworkers neglected my birthday (it’s custom to pass around a birthday card for all to sign, but not once since I began working here have I received one). I did receive two sympathy cards, though, and just reading them made me start to tear up again.

Despite the stress, my dad has been laid to rest in a national cemetery. He was a 20 year Army retiree and veteran, so he received a spot to rest, overlooking the Mississippi river, along with military honors – Army pallbearers, presentation of the flag to my mother, a rifle volley, and the playing of taps. All in all, it was lovely, but it still doesn’t feel right.

My dad was one of my best friends.

We shared many hobbies. Photography, astronomy, hockey, technology, just to name a few. We spent lots of time together. I ate with my parents nearly daily, and I was always happy to run them around or just provide company if they needed me. My dad would always message me on Google talk first thing in the morning – usually to report on that morning’s cat antics.

He was a smart man, a silently caring man, one who was always there to bail me out of trouble if I needed him. He never forgot a birthday or anniversary. He loved to learn, and loved to share his knowledge. He was opinionated, but wouldn’t force his opinions on others. He was kind. He was funny. He was the best dad I could ask for, and I miss him more than I could ever put into words.

I want to try to document my fondest memories with him before they start to fade. Like going to the Winter Classic in January, the first one ever in St. Louis. Of going to many hockey games, particularly this year, when we bought a 12-game pack to see the Blues play. Of going to take photos together. Of going to look at the stars together.

It hurts, and it probably will for a long time. I still expect him to message me any minute. I even had a moment of wanting to tell him about NASA’s planetary discovery yesterday, only to despair when I remembered that he’s not there.

I’m terrible with grief. I’ve really only lost my grandparents – my mom’s parents were gone before I was even born, and though I have lost both of my dad’s parents, they lived out in Arizona for most of my life, so I never was super close to them. I cried a little when they died, but it didn’t feel like a knife to the chest or a kick in the gut the way this does. I don’t really know how to process a loss this close to home.

To my friends – please forgive me if I’m not quite right for a while.

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I miss you, daddy. You were awesome.

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Happy New Year!

I keep meaning to post more, and life keeps getting in the way. I figured what better time to try and get back into the habit than the beginning of the new year?

2015 was rough. Among many things, I turned 30. My roommate lost her job, leading to increased financial pressure at home. My mood has been far from stable. I fractured my foot. My car was backed into. Record flooding in my area closed out the year.

Flooding in Valley Park, MO

As the flood waters receded, the sun came out for the first time in what felt like forever today. I’m thankful that I live at a high enough altitude that the flooding didn’t impact me personally. On December 30th, I went down to check out the waters of the Meramec River about 12 hours before they crested in nearby Valley Park, MO, where Interstate 44 at highway 141 was submerged. It was a surreal scene, to see an intersection I go through regularly completely shut down due to water.

I went back today and took more photos, which I will post later on. For now, you can see my album from the 30th here.

2015 wasn’t entirely bad, though. I started to fit in more at my new job. I expanded my doll family. A lot. I also expanded my cat family. I’ve become a slightly better photographer.

I still feel, though, like in the grand scheme of things, 2015 is a year that I’d not like to repeat. As I rang in the new year, with my best friend Lisa, my parents, and my Uncle Larry, I resolved that somehow, this year would be different. Somehow, I would make things better. Even if just a little at a time.

Then I promptly knocked over – and broke – a jar containing decorative sea shells.

Quite the unfortunate beginning, for sure.

After much needed rest, things weren’t exactly better. Moods around me were sour, which is a bad thing for an empathetic person like me, and after taking photos of the flood waters, I wound up with a hell of a migraine. I had to rest in a dark room for about two hours, even then waking up woozy, but at least I awoke with my darling calico, Rio, snuggled beside my legs. Usually, she sleeps with my room mate, so it was a welcome surprise.

Though 2016 might not have kicked off in the best way, I’m still hoping that things will slowly get better.

Happy new year, everyone!

PS – I’m going to be participating in the Dogwood Photography 52 Week Photo Challenge. Once I get going, I plan to post my photos here weekly. If you have a Flickr, feel free to follow me there. If not, check back here!

Long time no see

Since I made the doll blog, and that’s all I’ve really been posting lately, I’ve been ignoring this blog. However, my short attempt at using my livejournal again was cut short by my anger at their new friends feed layout that I can’t seem to undo, so I’ve come back here, and will likely continue to use this for my blogging purposes. I miss the security controls of livejournal, but it’s possible that WordPress has some that I just don’t know about? I’ll need to investigate further.

So, what’s been happening this year?

Dolls and more dolls. Of course, since that’s documented at my Doll blog, I don’t really need to update here. This year started out on a pretty good foot, despite being in a job that still has a lot of free time. My health hasn’t been so great, and I’ve put back on 20 or so lbs since 2011, but I’m maintaining at the moment, and somehow I’m getting by. My doctor retired at the end of June, so I had to start with a new one, and put her to use fairly quickly with migraine issues…

In life, my roommate was laid off at the end of May, and is still in search of a new job. We’re scraping by with my salary and her unemployment checks, but a number of things have been going wrong to make things harder on us. For now I’m holding my breath and hoping a new job comes through before the end of the year.

This put a damper on our wanting to go to Japan at the end of the year, though. At this point, I can’t say when we’ll be able to go again. Will I have to wait until I’m out of school? Hopefully not… I’m trying not to think about it too much, anyway.

I could go on about a number of silly little things that have gone on this year, but they’re likely boring. I’ll leave this here for now, and make another post full of cat photos I took while trying to shoot my first assignment for Digital Photography (including a few of our new kitten, Aya :D).

Whoosh!

What a difference two months can make

My life is on an upswing.

I had thought that the job opening I applied for within the company would go to another coworker, as she had already had an interview while I had yet to even receive a call back. I brought up to my boss that I had applied as well, and he mentioned it to the powers that be when he had an opening. Within the week I had my first phone interview, then after another week or so of waiting, got set up with a call with the man in charge of the position.

Phone interview on a Friday, and Monday I was called to say he would be in town the next day, along with a job offer.

Wait… what?

I hadn’t been expecting it to move so quickly, but as soon as I saw the number written on that piece of paper, I was in. A chance to do something new, get away from the dead end that was my position, and make more money.

It was a bit of a rocky transition, with my final day of the job I’d held for seven and a half years being rather anti-climatic (my boss wasn’t even there due to family medical issues), but I’m in the new position.

I celebrated by buying myself a Prius C and selling my Scion xA. I was able to use money from the Scion to pay the taxes and pay off some bills I had been way behind on, and I think that from now on, things will start to get better.

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I’m still unsure of this new position, as even the ones in charge don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing exactly… it’s the kind of job that will build as time goes on, but for now I’m in waiting mode, just trying to jump in where I’m able.

I had one business trip already for “training” (touring a printing plant, basically), and more are to come. I’m new to the world of business trips and business lunches… but it’s nice to be treated like more than just some flunky data entry employee.

Doing a little better in Calculus now, have my induction to Phi Theta Kappa next week. It’s a breath of fresh air to be getting recognition for my hard work.

I added one more AD to my mix, which I’m still adjusting to, so it’s too soon to tell if it’ll help, but based on the bouts of start-up depression I’ve been fighting, I’m realizing just how much my first AD is helping me. To think that I used to feel like that daily… no wonder it felt like things were falling down around me.

Here’s to a good end of 2014 and an even better 2015.

Summary of lately

1. My father shattered his shoulder about a week and a half before my moving date, rendering him unable to help
2. My father had shoulder replacement surgery the first day of the move, rendering my mom unable to help due to helping him out
3. Due to overtime at work/helping dad with things before his surgery/etc, we were no where near fully packed on moving day
4. Paid brother and a friend to move the furniture (thank god) but everything else was up to us. We are two weak-ish out of shape girls. Cue tears, exhaustion, and copious bruising
5. Still got out of the old place 2 hours late.
6. Started school immediately after move, so haven’t had time to fully unpack
7. OT at work has meant 1 day weekends, on which I am too tired to do much homework or unpack
8. Haven’t been sleeping enough lately due to life BS
9. Have been dealing with the worst breakout of my life
10. Have been having to seriously juggle finances, constantly flirting with overdrawing my account and praying that my phone doesn’t get shut off before I get my student loan refund to help pay the bill
11. I have a calculus test on Monday (which I’ve barely studied for), plus a chapter to read, quiz to take, and three page paper to write by Sunday for Politics
12. Despite being exhausted and having calculus tonight, my dad insists I come over to help him get 20 boxes of long, heavy porcelain tile from his truck to his house. Despite having a hand truck to help, it still took all my energy, since dad couldn’t help much due to his shoulder (why he didn’t ask my STRONG brother to help is beyond me)
13. He wants me to help mow the lawn tomorrow
14. I’m on the edge of losing it due to stress and worry
15. I’m out of vacation days at work so I can’t even take a damn day off

There you have it.

Summer Semester

The summer semester officially ended yesterday, but I was done with all of my class work on Friday once I took my music appreciation online final. I’m still waiting on the official grades to be entered in the system, but my online reporting for music appreciation shows I received an A, and for oral communication, I received As on every assignment except the first test (a high B). I think it’s pretty safe to say my 4.0 GPA is in tact.

I’m still surprised I was able to do this. Not just to get back to school, but test right into calculus and receive an A, as well as get As in all of my other classes. I’m proud of myself, and it’s motivating me to want to keep doing my best so that I can graduate near the top of my class.

Now, I only need to get a handle on other aspects of my life. There’s a new job opening in my company that I recently applied for, and if I were to get the job, I would get a nice pay increase. I’m not crossing my fingers, though, so at the moment I’m still pretty poor, and still asking for help. Best to assume things will just continue as they are.

Please help if you can. I won’t get listed in the public search until I reach $100 in donations (which may never happen) but I want to give it a shot.

http://www.gofundme.com/gallbladderhelp

Thanks again!