Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Reflections

Arlo turned 2 last week, and  I can hardly believe it. Seems like yesterday I was up every 2.5 hours, praying for sleep, daylight, and sanity. It's funny, most of our friends told us we'd *forget* those difficult times, and while I haven't forgotten, I don't cringe as much when I reflect back on those nights/days. .. as a matter of fact, I have fond memories of exploring the wonders that are On Demand television and the art of adjusting his boppy appropriately so I could finish whatever show I was into at the moment. At 3AM, it was just he and I, and there was a sort of bond we built because of that. As mom would say, " that's neat, Laura."

Arlo is a bright, lively force in my life. Everyday he reveals a new parts of his personality that keep me astonished, humbled and curious. He loves Thomas the Train, singing his ABC's, and music in general. Gramma and Paw-Paw bought him a music kit for his birthday, and watching him rock the snare drum is pretty damn awesome. Truly, my family is blessed. Geoff and I have the unconditional support of his parents and our friends, and there isn't a day that goes by that I am not utterly in awe of the kindness and love that our family and friends give to us.

In some ways, though, observing and experiencing Arlo's milestones without mom is like a nasty scratch in your favorite record. Just as soon as I think normalcy is settling in and I am truly enjoying things , something happens to remind me that things are indeed different now. I miss daily phone call updates from her. I miss the weekly packages of toys and clothes. I started wrapping presents today and was reminded I wouldn't be recieving any of her goofy novelty gifts or even see her handwriting on gift tags. I'm trying very hard not to be negative , but I can't help but wish mom and dad were here and present to be able to enjoy Arlo as much as the rest of us. Trying to channel that frustration into something proactive and meaningful is exhausting at times. If I'm being honest, it takes a quiet yet upsetting toll, regardless of support. No one can truly fill that void of my folks not being present, not even me.

Torn and Frayed by the Stones is one of my " I can listen to this song on repeat for days and never get tired of it" songs. Lately it's been on repeat everyhwere in my life-- in my car, computer, head, etc...that and " The Obvious Child" by Paul Simon. Sometimes I measure out my life in songs, and these two seem to be hitting the mark lately. Freudian? Perhaps. Therapeutic? Of course. But overall, I am thankful for what I have now, presently. I have wonderful memories from mom, a dad who is working to get better and stronger, and an amazing son, husband, family and friends. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I figured the holidays would be rough this year without mom. The stress of school has kept me busy, but I still can't shake the feeling that something is missing this year. Even with my finals, term papers, Geoff's job, planning of Arlo's birthday and Christmas extravaganza and other miscellanous issues, I know inherently she isn't here, and won't be again. I hear a lot of " she's here in spirit" or " she's within you and what you do", but even as a therapist and a daughter of two therapiststs, I call bullshit on those sentiments at this time in my grieving process. I don't care about spirits and memories. I want her here, now. I wanted to see her at Thanksgiving, laughing and rolling her eyes at my neuroticism in parenting. I wanted to lay my head on her shoulder and hear her say " I love you, but stop laying on me. It's hot in here, you're 33, and too old to lay on your mama". Most importantly, I wanted her to enjoy watching her grandson as he ran around, played, threw tantrums, and just enjoyed his family and being himself. 

We went ahead and went with the usual Thanksgiving traditions this year, and although there was an observable hole my heart and head, but I am glad we did. The look of delight on my son's face as he entered my Aunt's house with new Thomas the Train toys she had waiting for him was beyond amazing. My Aunt truly made Thanksgiving this year easier to digest even though mom was not present.

Unfortunately, the holidays look like they might be a bit more rough than previously expected this year. My father was placed in the ICU of the hospital this week, and is in serious but stable condition. His nurse was very kind this evening and attempted to help me talk to him over the phone. The only thing I could make out was " Laura Beth" and " I love you and your mother".  I can't fathom life without both of them, but sadly it seems I must. I hope that he makes it through this hospital stay enough to be able to have a little more meaningful time with not only myself, but more importantly, with Arlo and my grandfather(his father).

I just finished up my first quarter of my MSW studies, and I'm hoping to get a 4.0, but we'll see. I truly feel like I have worked hard enough for a 4.0, but tests and finals are tricky so I'll be happy with whatever I get. I've met some awesome folks in my classes and am really thankful for their friendship and support.

I wanted to take the opportunity in this blog entry to thank my best friend, Erin, for not only being just generally awesome, but for taking care of my dad when I couldn't and being there for my family throughout everything. I love you, ED. Thanks also to all the friends and family who continue to be so supportive to Geoff and I, we greatly appreciate it. I also want to thank my mother and father-in-law for being so wonderful in helping to raise Arlo. We are so lucky to have such an awesome support group.

 Arlo turns 2 a week from tomorrow... my, how time flies! He's still obsessed with Thomas the Train and loooooves singing his ABC's song. Everyday he does something absolutely amazing, and I am so lucky to have him as my son. Being a mom has really helped me define who I am as a person, and I have my son to thank for that. His sense of humor and general love of others is astounding.

I hope to update more as the holiday season rolls along. Thanks again for all the support.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


So I guess I'm no longer a full-fledged "stay at home mom" now that I'm back in academia. I've only taken a couple of classes this summer to ready my brain for the full-time experience to come this September, but WOW-- it really is a balancing act, especially with a 20 month old and a husband who now works 45 minutes from home. This isn't a complaint, rather just an observation and description of how my life has drastically changed within the past four months.

My first class was Statistics... and it met every single damn day for 3 weeks. I passed. Nothing really else to say other than I NEVER HAVE TO TAKE THAT CLASS AGAIN. The caps convey my feelings on this. I couldn't have done it without the help of my husband, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and my dad. Arlo decided it was time to nap in his crib right around when class started. Thank you, son. Thank you. Unfortunately, it still seems I suffer a bit from test anxiety. But the math anxiety? That's gone. Not sure why or how, but I got to the point where I pushed myself to believe that I really COULD do it, and threw out the old " I just can't compute" excuses. I think that in itself was a victory-- the biggest most important victory. Ironically enough, on the first page of the book in my psychometrics and personality traits class was a huge, glaring SCATTERPLOT with x's and y's and r= blah blah blah. But i didn't freak out, because I knew what it meant, thanks to my recent dance with stats class and new found confidence that math is NOT the root of all evil. ( it is the root of a lot of evil, but not all)

I registered for classes in the fall-- 16 credit hours, every day of the week, Friday classes are field placements which means I have to do some soul searching as to what sector I really want to work in, and fast. I'm in the mental health/direct practice/clinical track so I have an inkling of what I know I want to do and what I don't want to do. As an aside, apparently the government is offering 5000 bucks to any MSW who goes into the Child Welfare track... wish I could do that but that time has passed with me. Maybe 8 years ago, but definitely not now that I have my own kiddo. Went to the MSW Orientation and re-connected with an old friend which was really wonderful.  I sat there in that tiny little classroom with those tiny little desks and thought... here I am... where I have wanted to be for 10 plus years now.  I hope my mom is watching, and that she is proud.

My current class is extremely interesting but there is SO MUCH INFORMATION. Pro: the professor wrote the book that we are using for class. Con: the professor wrote the book that we are using for class. He's british (YAY, although I detect a hint of scottish in his accent as well) and very knowledgeable. My biggest difficulty is getting through all of the text. It's so dense, and I want to take it all in, but still have a life. In some ways this class is making me realize how much I love psychology and research... never thought I'd say that.

I miss my mom ferociously these days. Still angry, sad, lonely from her death. Arlo pointed to the picture of her and dad on the fridge today and said " gramanduke? hi gramanduke? It still takes a lot of effort not to totally break down when he does things like that. He has a mickey plane that she gave him for his birthday that hasn't worked in like 5 months or so-- it needed new batteries. Arlo likes to cart it around the house for some reason, and last week Geoff said " buddy, we need to get some new batteries in your mickey plane"... not 2 minutes later the thing started working again. Instances like that make me feel certain that she is present with every step we take.

 It's been a tough road lately, but with the love and support from friends and family, we're going to make it. Thanks to everyone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I have to admit, Mother's Day was so much more difficult than I thought it would be. Mom and I spent many Mother's Day celebrations apart, so it was odd to me how upset and depressed I felt when I woke up. I spent the morning watching the newest Harry Potter for the gazillionth time, and the idea that it was all really just a distraction is not at all lost on me.

 The previous week I kept going to the internet to try and order flowers... only to be reminded that I didn't need to. I would see a picture of her in the house and say to myself " you've got to get a card or something" only to have that thought interrupted by the realization that a sending a card and flowers wasn't necessary anymore.

"Not necessary anymore"... this truth haunts me now. I never thought I'd be in a place where I didn't obsess about  the last minute about birthdays, mother's day, christmas, etc... and yet here I am. And it's confusing. Upsetting .But really it just makes me angry. She's supposed to be here to receive all these goofy consumer driven gifts of remembrance. She's supposed to endure my procrastination and tell me she doesn't " need any of this stuff anyway." My son is supposed to be making her scribble scrabble mothers day cards and sending her video greetings/phone calls.

I recently watched a video of my son when he received his "mickey plane" from my parents for his birthday, and in the background,  I heard her distinctive chuckle... that machine gun laugh of  hers that could permeate a room for years. Her passing is STILL amazing to me in that I can't believe it happened. It's been almost two months, and I honestly still can't wrap my head around it.

I'm jumping around the Kubler-Ross stages like my pants are on fire. I so wish that she could have watched Arlo grow up. I have this intense need for him to have some sort of memory of her although I know that his having any true memory of her is probably stretching it. Life with Arlo is amazing-- but life without mom is pretty darn lonely and debilitating. I just hope I'm being the best mom I can be to Arlo.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Blowing in the Wind

My mom and dad were huge Peter, Paul and Mary fans. They saw Peter, Paul and Mary live many times... and I will never forget the instance in which my mother told me she got to touch " mary's flowing skirt" as mary billowed from her limousine into the Seelbach Hotel's Lounge in Louisville where my parents took a parental vacation yearly. Mom was in awe, and if you know my mother, it is very rare that she outwardly showed genuine awe of something. Not that she didn't get excited, not that she didn't care, not that she didn't have important and wonderful things happening around her... she just wasn't one of those folks who wore their "excitement" on their sleeve. Mom would have been an amazing poker player.

She would later describe the event as "magic". She was able to see her musical heroes up close and personal, and for some reason this really affected her. Whenever she would recount the evening, her eyes became starry and she sort of gazed out into the open for a bit, later coming back to her listening audience and stating " I touched her skirt. She was in one of those revolving doors and I touched her skirt. It was white."

Now that mom is gone, I think about this every time encounter wind(and not the flatulent kind:). When the wind blows, sometimes I feel as though she is haphazardly messing with my hair like she used to do, saying things like " you really need to brush this" or " let's get you in for a haircut and highlights". She bought Geoff and I some wind chimes a couple of Christmases ago, and maybe I'm just listening now, but it seems like they make a lot more noise now that she has passed away. Sometimes I imagine that she is patting me on the shoulder, telling me that everything is going to be okay, all the while staring up into the stars... as she was known to do on a consistent basis with me.

I think I am in the phase of  "looking" for things, a sign, etc... and a friend mentioned to me that I may not ever see or find a true, solid sign that my mom is, indeed, watching over me. What she did offer was that no matter what, the love that mom had for me is the biggest sign that she is still with all of us, and the love that I continue to give to my friends, family, and most importantly Arlo, is the biggest truth that she is indeed still here and present in all of our hearts for as long as we want her to be. 

I am still in awe of my mother's being, her presence, her love... I hope to be as amazing a person and mother as she was to me.

Thanks, mom.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Open Letter


I have severe writer's block. I know this is surprising as I have always appeared to  have something to write about. But since you've passed away, I have nothing witty, philosophical or intelligent to proclaim other than the old standby of " I miss you." I am very embarrassed with my current writing skills, but I know I need to emote in this manner it as it is an important way of foraging through the grief spiral.

Nothing will ever be the same. I still can't believe that you are truly gone, " gone" being the word of discussion here. It depends on what and who you believe in, and to be quite honest, right now I am struggling with it all. " Gone" is so final, but aren't we dealing with finalities daily anyway? I think so. Maybe. I suppose my indecision with this makes me the perfect philosophy major. In the end ,though,  in MY mind, it's what we believe to be true and comforting that matters that is important. Who cares what the rest of society believes?

 I continue to project this image of you hanging out with your father(my grandfather), Doris(my father's mother), and your friend Susan who passed away from cancer several years ago, at some hippie bar , laughing and smiling and occasionally checking in on the rest of us down here on earth. My Harry Potter imagination yields you a special wand to wave when one of us finds ourselves in some sort of conundrum.  This image of mine does not paint a picture of "gone" , but rather " delayed" for the moment.

Whatever you are, or wherever you are, I miss you. I think about you all day, all night. When I do sleep, I keep my husband up with my nightmares( which I can't remember). When I am awake, everything I think and do requires a memory that you have provided for me.

I pick up the phone with the intent to tell you something, whether it is that I won the lottery or that Arlo did something ridiculous that I wanted to share. I loved sharing Arlo stories with you because you would laugh that guttural laugh that was your own... daddy described it once as a "machine gun" laugh...and now it will  never be heard again, except in dreams. I want to tell you my day to day boring crap. I want to tell you that I was accepted into graduate school.  I want to tell you, again and again, how much I love you and miss you....

But I can't.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


This post has little to do with Arlo, i'm afraid. Don't worry; he's fine, in the awesome care of my husband and my in-laws... I miss him terribly. Currently I am in Bowling Green taking care of my father. My mom is in the ICU wing of the hospital and I am extremely overwhelmed. I'm headed back tomorrow to be "mommy" again although I think I have been mommy all along while I have been here in BG.

My mom is sick. I'm not sure if she'll ever fully recover from whatever it is that is going on. Doctor says it's septic shock>inflamed liver>crappy blood pressure> strange blood loss with an encore of *" we don't really know what the hell is going on". I keep going to my phone. I keep going to it because I want to call her. I want to call and ask her for help. And then the realization comes that I can't. The ONE person I need right now is the one person who can't help me.

I love her beyond words, beyond this blog, beyond anything. I find it hard to really talk about what's going on which is odd since I am always an advocate for talking about anything that is bothersome. I've never felt so completely helpless. So I beg of you, people who read this, to do what you can to send happy thoughts, prayers, etc this way. Not just for my mom but for my entire family. Dad is tripping along but he needs major support, encouragement and love. I do feel some guilt that I can't be here 24/7 for him but that's my own doing, he doesn't give me any grief. And at the same time I feel super guilty that I am not at home with my OWN family. I guess the correct term for that would be " pulled". But nobody is pulling me but myself.

I'm doing what I can-- cleaning, being secretary to all the phone calls and inquiries... but really my biggest focus is mom. This house is so empty without her.

Thanks for reading my vent.:)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Up and Runnin'

Seems I've lazed out with writing over the past few months, but generally everything has been somewhat the same( as " the same" as it can be with a kid). Now enter the last few weeks: MAJOR GAME CHANGE! One of those " well shit, I thought things were kind of settling down for a bit but NOPE, YOU COULDN'T BE MORE WRONG" game changers.  Arlo began walking pretty fiercely a couple of weeks ago and my attention span/energy level really need to catch up. We were at a birthday party the other day and I thought he was right next to me... turns out he was, but had quickly sauntered off to another child's birthday cake with plans to consume the sugary contents that did not belong to him( hands outstretched, asking the child's mother " Cake?" very pitifully even though I had been trying to feed him his own piece of cake for about 15 minutes but with no luck).  He was so obsessed with walking around observing everyone else and their "cake" that I had to take him in another room away from all the others to get him to eat. He reminded me of a balding restaurant manager in some dark Italian joint in jersey careening around his  family owned restaurant, schmoozing with the patrons.

It couldn't be more bittersweet. One the one hand, thank goodness he is fully mobile. On the other, holy crap, he is fully mobile. He's not a baby anymore...and I can't really pinpoint why that makes me sad. I wasn't very adaptive to the newborn thing. I had a lot of trouble with it. I'm having so much fun now... but for some reason, every now and again, I get a little weepy when I see him chasing sadie around the living room. He's such a joy and that smile of his is absolutely amazing... I can't wait to see his next trick.:)

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Year in the Life

Well folks, we've made to that high water mark... one year. 13 months now, to be exact. I can't begin to express how much easier and gratifying mommyhood has become, so I won't. Just know that it's worlds away from what it was a year ago... still have our ups and downs, major nap strikes, the makings of an interesting little temper... but I'm not sitting on the couch at 3AM sobbing every other night. That alone makes it better.:)

I feel years older than I did this time last year. I have learned so much, and I hope Arlo has too. The heartbreak of the miscarriage I had at the end of the year brought a lot of things into perspective for me, one being that I have an amazing little boy and family, and that I am truly lucky. I also re-vamped my passion for things I had set aside for a bit-- music, movies, books, writing... and this makes me feel like "myself" again, whatever that means.

Arlo is not walking yet but he will be soon. He's jabbering a bit, usually experimenting with " dada", the occasional " ma", and lots of " car" and " gobble". Not sure where the "gobble" came from but it's funny nonetheless.  He is still obsessed with baby einsten videos and watches them with the intensity of a crack addict in Reno. I continue to be confounded by his infatuation, but when he refuses to nap they come in very handy so I will remain blissfully befuddled.

I started and ended a job, all within a month. The money was almost non-existent and attempting to manage and organize the lives of  5 other kids not including my own began to take a toll on me. So I'm a full-timer once again, but this go round is proving to be less "frazzled".

So that's somewhat of an update I suppose. My 33rd birthday was last week, and my one resolve was to be more creative. Hold me to it!!