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Remembering The Band’s Babies: The Ache

When a baby dies, we are fragmented. Shattered, we must pick up the pieces and put them back together as we pay tribute to our children, our tables forever missing one, our families incomplete, our treasures in heaven, our babies alive only in our hearts.

It is through our stories that they live forever. These children were here and they mattered. They were loved.

They are loved.

My therapist told me that I hide behind walls of humor.

And I do.

I laugh so I don’t cry. And I have been doing a LOT of laughing lately.

But I have been doing as much crying, just behind closed doors. I have been going through all the stages of grief and grieving in like a minute every single day. It’s wearing me down.

I miss the baby I lost so much that I ache.

I thought Christmas – her due date – and what would have been her first birthday would have been harder.

remembering the bands babies

I’m okay in public and with those who she’s disappeared to. I can pretend everything is okay; that I am fine.

I’m not fine.

But today. This date which means nothing to me is harder than her day. Tuesdays and the 28th of every month are torture because she was taken Tuesday, July 28th. But today?

Why am I aching for her today, a day that means nothing? Why do I miss her so much that I can barely breathe?

She would be a year old.

What would she look like?

Would she look anything like her sisters?

Would she look like her daddy or me?

Would she be walking?

Would she be talking?

Would she cuddle me when I needed her?

It’s such a punch in the gut, living without her. Having these thoughts. And seeing her and her “birth” (which wasn’t a birth to anyone but those who really loved her) every time I close my eyes.

My therapist wants to talk about it; deal with it.

If I talk about her and heal, will what few memories I have fade?

I don’t know that I can relive that night out loud. I see it over and over in my head. I wrote about it here. But I can’t say out loud. I can talk to my husband and mother because they were there, they know. But even my husband doesn’t grieve with me. He has almost moved on. I don’t think I ever will. I held her in my hands. And always in my heart.

Everyone grieves differently and he just wants me to be better.

How do I get better?

Why on a day when I should be semi-okay does the grief come out of nowhere and take me to my knees? The pain. The anguish. I feel like I am drowning.

All I want is to hold my little girl in my arms. To rock her and smell her sweet smell. I never got to smell her sweet smell. It’s not fair.

I want to punch walls and throw things and scream at the top of my voice, “it’s not fucking fair!”

This aching, this longing for something that can never be. That is the hardest. I miss my daughter. I can’t breathe without her today.

Maybe tomorrow will be better but today it’s not going to be okay.

Today, I want to fall apart.

Today, I feel like I am dying.

You are invited to add your child’s name to our wall of remembrance.

Is This Living? Because It Feels Like Waiting

Addiction isn’t called a “family disease for nothing.” The family of an addict is just as impacted as the addict.

This is her story of her son’s addiction:

 

My child has become an addict and loving my child is so very hard. I’m trying to find my happy as I learn to deal with his addiction.

With the overload of health issues around here, along with the common “life stuff,”  I willing took a break from blogging after the last attacks from trolls; trolls who don’t know me, know my child, know my life, know my situation, and will never understand my life or my thoughts.

Simply: I took a break because I wasn’t strong enough to keep going,

Three blogs, five days a week, and two little freelance writing gigs with groups have kept me tied to the computer dumping out my odd take on humor, insane fake advice, and occasional a vaguely serious topic.

I have decided I will blog, on my blog, and the trolls will not, cannot affect me. I won’t allow them that kind of power. I have to share this story because as odd or awful as this is, I can’t believe I am the only one. Sometimes knowing you aren’t alone, can make a differences on your life. It has in mine, just like everyone here at Band Back Together.

For a very long time, I’ve been living while waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I call it “living” but it’s really just existing –  when I can muster the strength to push the elephant in the room to the back of my mind. This horrible addiction elephant.

an addiction elephant in the room

When someone you love makes horrible choices, you can still love your addict child, but you also have to make a choice.

I made a choice to love from a distance to allow my son to deal with his addiction on his own time, allow that person to do things at their will, wherever they wanted. The condition was: I would not support that person, their activities: not emotionally and definitely not financially.

Of course that comes with a higher emotional consequence for me, a soul-eating, mind -boggling, hellish existence.

Torn when the phone doesn’t ring, furious, emotional and torn when it does. There is no happy medium, is no mutual enjoyment of life, it’s an inner ring of hell.

loving an addict family

It’s odd how the human brain learns to process things so completely outrageous and unacceptable if they happen often enough; the brain removes logic to save the heart. The brain knows if one more little piece of your soul falls to the floor, you will collapse and finally fade away.

Things you never thought you would hear, become expected. Disappointing? Of course. Scary? Almost every time.  Seeing red with anger? A lot. Somehow, your brain allows it to roll off your back.

loving an addict through childhood

loving an addict through childhood

You can’t fix it, they don’t want to be fixed, no matter how absolutely insane and ludicrous the situation, you cannot even point out how completely illogical the situation is, let alone offer solutions. There are no less than 683 million reasons why all of your ideas are completely stupid.

You learn to focus not on the highs, not on the lows. Not the shocking news, but only that you love that person, your child, who just happens to be an addict.

You make sure whatever you say won’t offend them, or their choices, and you make double damn sure that person knows you love them, you love them deeply, you love them completely, you love them from your soul.  You only want the best for them, safety for them, happiness for them.

No one really has the same idea of happiness.

it took me 43 years to realize that.

Another thing I learned; just because it’s ” the normal” thing that you’d make anyone happy, happy and delighted and feeling so very lucky, this can seem like hell on earth to someone with a different view of happy. So who am I to attempt to enforce my idea of happy on anyone? Simply put, I am no one. I am just a daughter, a wife, a sister, a mother, an aunt, a friend.

I am made up as we all our of a unique cocktail of our childhoods, our teachers, our elders, our peers, our life lessons, co-workers, books, and shows we have seen. Just a big casserole of a human being trying to find “happy.”  When I achieved happiness, I assumed it would be wonderful – more than wonderful – and that, in turn, everyone else would become happy. Everyone would see how hard work brings happy, how loving each other brings happy, how walking the right road, singing your own song, and smiling would obviously land you in happiness.

The past 20 years, I tried to shove people into the happy, I tried to drag them into happy, push them in, beg them, lure them, slide shows of happy, handmade cards, long emails, song dedications, heartfelt talks, and hugs, I could surely get them to happy. Once they saw happy they would be like “duh, I want to be happy too!”

I was wrong. Their happy was so different than mine so I had to accept they would not be in my happy with me. Maybe they were taking a different route, and we would meet up in happy. Maybe their happy just meant more pit stops, more experiences, different criteria, maybe their happy would never lead to the same location as my happy. What would I do then?

image of addict son as he gets older

Their happy could be really good for them, so I will work on being happy for their happy.

Little crumbles of your heart fall as your soul tears.

In the end, all you really want is for them to be happy. You convince yourself not to be such as narrow-minded selfish ass who demands everyone’s happiness is within arms reach of your happiness.  We are not all alike, and really, what a boring world that would be. Keep telling yourself this as it makes it easier to persevere your heart, mind, and soul. Besides, it makes them happy that you are happy for them. It’s painful but it’s good for them and for the relationship.

Then the call comes, not a happy call, you are prepared because you know when this disease spins ’round, the calls come in two forms and two forms ONLY.

One, the world’s best thing ever, everything is amazing.

The next call, though, could be in a week, a month, a day, or within several minutes: the world is ending, there is no hope, no escape.

There’s not a single thing you can do to make it better. So you listen, try not to cry, remembering to love, offer helpful solutions, offer to make arrangements or calls, you do what you can and it’s usually for nothing. It rarely works out, but you make damn sure they know you love them so much you can’t breathe when they are in pain.

The calls – you see the caller ID – it’s a number from a state that you don’t know, but you do know who is on the other end, you never know the type of call, only that it’s from them. So you take deep breaths and you prepare to play the roulette game of their life. What kind of call you don’t know it could be: an incredibly fantastic words of grandeur.

Or the call can be gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, sobbing pleads for help.

You don’t know, because you can’t know but you answer the phone, inviting the roller-coaster of love and hate and pain into your world.

Nothing surprises you now.

As long as it’s their voice on the end, you are prepared, it’s now become common practice. You’ve learned to stop yelling, begging, urging, and learned to focus on conveying the fact that you love the elephant in the room. You love that elephant when your eyes open in the morning, and you love that elephant when your eyes close at night without a tear running down your cheek. No one sees your tear.

No one hears your cry and no one, no one can understand why this elephant is needed, deeply; it has become comforting.

Then as you are in your happiness on the back porch wind blowing you sit with your little family, cross-legged looking at your happiness, eating sandwiches, and thinking how peaceful and loving and happy this all is.

The phone rings.

The addiction elephant steps outside. The elephant sits on your chest, takes your breath, and overcomes you. Sometimes, when that elephant climbs on you, you compartmentalize you soul, your heart, and your brain as this allows you to attempt to speak in a sane, calm, tone, using gentle words, no blame, just love.

The call ends, with mutual ” I love you’s.”

The happiness is now gone for them as they are faced with a very adult matter that can’t be “worked away.”

You don’t remember the rest of the happy picnic: the people in your happiness with you do not have a conversation about it. You move on as you do after every call. But something is wrong, very wrong

You can’t tell anyone, yet you don’t cry, you don’t sob, you don’t fall to the floor, you don’t steal a car to get to the addiction elephant to hold them.

What the hell is wrong with you?

Why are you not responding like a human?

Why aren’t you happy?

Why not like the other times?

You haven’t fallen apart yet.

Will you fall apart?

Will this change your ability to move forward?

You know that If this person comes back, can you handle it?

Can the happy team handle it?  What will be the cost of the elephant if you don’t?

What will be the cost of happy if you do?

I know the other shoe will fall, there’s just no way to process this without dying more inside. Maybe I am out of a soul, a heart, tears. Maybe I have been cried out, maybe I am stronger, maybe my brain is trying to protect me.

I am very much not okay, mostly because I feel okay, there is no way that I should feel okay.

Why am I not shaking, sitting in the shower crying, sobbing, and vomiting like I’ve done before when the bad news comes?

I’m not even shaking.

The shoe will drop, I hope, I beg, I have the strength, the knowledge, the wisdom, the compassion, the ability, the life experience, balanced with the brain, the heart and soul, to take this journey.

To share my happy, to understand their happy, to make a new happy, but most of all, to convey they undying, deepest of love and the basic humanity to make their happy the best happy I can.

Please find your happy; let everyone you know how much you love them – no matter what what makes them happy.

Remember Your Purpose.

Losing a pet can be as awful as losing another family member.

Please, share your stories of your wonderful animals.

Sebastian was a foster fail. My fiancee and I took in he and his two kitten brothers after they were dumped in box outside our Humane Society. Sebastian and his brothers were tuxedo cats, their black fur so shiny and soft. Sadly we lost one of the brothers, George, early on from a terrible respiratory infection.

The other brother, Bellamy, stole my Love’s heart. Another foster fail.

But Sebastian…Sebastian was mine.

pet loss tuxedo cat

While we were supposed to be fostering them until they were adopted, we just couldn’t let them go. Our family of 4. So 4 became 6 – we’d become a foster-fail family, and we loved it.

Alex and I were outnumbered by cats but we wouldn’t have had it any other way. We got them fixed and they settled right in.

Sebastian became affectionately known as “Bash” or “Limp Noodle”. Whenever you picked him up he went limp and let you hold him however you wanted.

Sebastian wasn’t quite two years old when we first started seeing signs of lethargy. One day, that same lethargy led to a temperature check. While it was supposed to be 99.5-102.5 Fahrenheit.

It was 106.

We raced to the emergency vet only to hear the devastating news of Feline Leukemia. We were distraught. but It was a road we had been down before and understood. We lost my fiancee’s first kitty love to feline leukemia.

The emergency vet suggested that we put him down. We just weren’t there yet.

We felt he still had more time and we wanted to look into to doing something, anything that might help Sebastian. As he was also fighting a secondary infection due to the lowered immune system caused by leukemia we started my sweet foster fail on antibiotics. His regular vet suggested an immuno-reglan booster –  $26 a shot on a strict schedule. Not a problem.

We were willing to go into deep debt for this guy.

The first several shots brought on massive improvement; it was like he was a kitten again, jumping and playing around with everyone. We thought that maybe, just maybe, he could have some quality of life. Then came another secondary infection.

He spent 3 days in the hospital fighting it. Got to come home and continued his shots, but they were no longer working. He was spending his days sleeping and hiding in cabinets.

Not two weeks later, his infection came back and back he went to the hospital.

This time he stopped having any interest in food.

The Thanksgiving holiday was coming up and after three days in the hospital, the vet thought it might be getting close to time. He gave us a choice, put him down or wait through the holidays and see if his appetite returns.

We chose to wait.

I look back on that now and wonder just how selfish I was being. We just kept hoping that our pet wouldn’t die.

The following Monday there was no change. We took some final precious moments with our baby boy. He lay on us and meowed at us when we spoke to him. He was tired and he had fought all he could. He was letting us know it was okay and that he knew it was his time. He went quietly and peacefully.

tuxedo kitten before pet loss

I had been through the loss of fosters before, but never one that became a pet. He was my first foster fail.

I loved him so much; missed him so much, that I cried for three weeks almost every day.

It’s late August and I’m crying as I type this.

Pain can lessen, but it never fully goes away. Not when the loss is so intertwined in your heart.

Recently our Humane Society shut down. We’ve affiliated ourselves with another rescue and have continued to foster cats. We end finding a lot on our own through people who reach out via Facebook saying there’s a kitten here or a litter there. We’ve also started working with a group of people who TNR ( trap/neuter/release) feral cats.

Our city here in Arkansas has a horrible cat overpopulation problem.

One night after doing “surveillance” on an area we are hoping to trap some adult cats to TNR we noticed a tiny little kitten head poking out from behind a bush. We stopped and spoke to the kitten who became very chatty with us. He was not a feral, he was entirely too friendly. Someone had dumped this poor baby.

Alex opened a can of wet food and approached him. He was apprehensive at first but eventually she was able to pick him right up.

Alex came back to the car with him and was nearly in tears. “Look at him,” she said.

It nearly took my breath away.

This four month old baby looked exactly like Sebastian.

He’s been with us for three days now. He’s a goofy thing. And I swear walking through our apartment and running into him I think it’s Sebastian. I don’t know that we will keep Cooper but I will be forever grateful to him, for reminding me of my sweet boy and that I serve a purpose here.

Tuxedo kitty pet loss

Save and fight for those who have no voice. Love the forgotten and uncared for.

In These Dark Times Practice Love and Kindness

Every time I see the latest affront to human decency perpetrated by this administration and its dark legions of slavish devotees, I make a point of doing something kind for someone else. I practice kindness.

Anonymously, if possible.

practice kindness rocks colorful

Practicing kindness doesn’t have to be a big thing, or involve money, or even a lot of time. The point is not self-aggrandizement or warm fuzzies; the point is to pump an antidote and practice kindness to combat a pathological campaign of destruction, bigotry, and vile greed back into the body of this nation.

The point of practicing kindness is to actively resist an agenda that others women and minorities, strips hungry children of food, destroys families, and trades respect and decency for jingoistic greed and willful ignorance about our shared existence on this precious earth.

My kindness suggestions are always simple, but they are also effective:

  • Feed someone who’s hungry.
  • Help someone who’s struggling with work, their kids, with transportation.
  • Support artists, writers, and other creatives who are generating the beauty we need to combat fascist exploitation and dehumanization.
  • A friendly ear and a smile; a hug.
  • A cold drink on a hot day.
  • A ride to the grocery store.
  • Speak up when you hear someone abusing another.
  • Refuse to leave unchallenged the propaganda and bigoted views you encounter on the daily, especially if they’re being used to actively attack, demean, or insult someone outside of the oligarchy’s CisHet Anglo Ubermensch paradigm.

Remember that you have far more in common with every day citizens of all races, sexual orientations, genders, and creeds than you will EVER have with a cadre of planet-crushing exploiters and fear-mongers eager to add more filthy lucre to the golden beds around which they coil like the dragons of old.

I used to agonize over who could possibly save us from this slide into brutish dystopian horror.

But I have come to realize that the light we need to banish the darkness comes from within each of us, and it is only by combining that light that we can combat the torrential flow of poison and bile.

So yes, absolutely call your elected officials. Definitely vote. Volunteer your time and resources to causes you care about. March, protest, resist.

But remember, too, the smallest acts; those tiny daily affirmations of our shared humanity, kindling a light to push back the dark.

 

Ask The Band: My So-Called Life

It all started when I was a teenager. Or maybe that was the end. I still don’t know.

Before that, life was good. I had a great mom who took good care of me and my brothers.

Then she married a monster.

He molested me, scared me so much that I couldn’t tell anyone, especially my mom. She went to her grave thinking life was good and fair – and I’m glad for her.

But I paid for her peace of mind. God, I paid.

I lost track of how many times he molested me. There were just so many. Three years of that man forcing me to do things I’d never heard of, threatening to kill my mom if I told anyone he was abusing me.

It took me nearly three years to do just that – tell someone.

Then I married, and acquired an instant family. I thought life was going to be better.

That’s when it started.

At first it was little comments, “That swim suit shows too much,“ or, “You shouldn’t wear that, because your legs are too fat.”

Then, the rapes started.

He knew what I’d been through with my step-dad, yet he was doing the same thing – he raped me.  I felt like this was just how men treated women. I was afraid to leave, and afraid to stay.

By then, I had another wonderful daughter. She was, and still is, my best friend in the world.

But he was still raping me.

And, yes, I took it.  No one told me I didn’t have to.  I am just now figuring out that I deserve better – and I am almost 53 years old. So much wasted time.

He finally found someone else.

I pray for whomever he ends up with, but I can’t turn him in. He is the father of my children. I can’t go through the public humiliation.

Divorce sucks, but it has to be better than my previous life, right? But I’m scared. I’m scared of another man doing this to me.

I will not let that happen. I think I’d rather stay single. I may be broke, but I won’t be controlled by anyone else ever again.

Maybe, in time, I can let more of this out. Right now, this is a huge stretch for me even writing anything about any of this.

How am I supposed to cope with my past, while living in my present?

Happy Independence Day

There is no spectacle—no empty, gaudy, tin-hammered mockery bedazzled with tanks and star-spangled jingoism—that can bring honor to the honorless. There is no parade that can instill leadership, or merit, or ethical, rational thought.

There is no amount of desperate, flop-sweat vamping that can erase the knowledge of crimes perpetrated against the American people, or the seemingly bottomless well of sexual harassment and bigotry, or the concentration camps that stand in brutal, ironic contrast to the very notion of Liberty and Justice for All.

There is no shimmering fireworks display that can outshine the glaring lack of empathy toward the rights of women and minorities in our sociopolitical landscape. What sparkler can hope to compete with the blazing trash fire of constricting rights, expanding violence, and vanishing erudition?

Two hundred and forty-three years after this country was founded in pursuit of lofty ideals supported on the backs of the oppressed and displaced and exploited, we find ourselves with much to consider and little to celebrate.

If we would seek Independence in the manner of our forefathers and foremothers, then I would invite you today to seek independence from greed. From capitalist exploitation. From broken, hateful policies and standards that minimize human dignity while seeking to maximize profits for the inhumane. I invite you to declare your independence from the vision of the United States as either the world’s policeman or its enterprising overlord.

I invite you to declare your independence from “fuck you, I’ve got mine” and embrace mutually beneficial collective endeavor as a virtue. Participate in your political process, by all means, but break away from the idea that these grasping, puling monsters are meant to be our masters. Say no to bigotry. Punch a Nazi in the face, because when you stand up with capital-E EVIL, a face punch is the least you deserve.

Say no to equivocation and good-little-cogism. When you see the jackboot descending onto the neck of someone who’s not your color or sex or gender, don’t sigh in relief that it’s not you and look away. Use your voice and your hands and your heart—your raw, wounded, beaten-but-not-dead-goddamnit heart—to lift them up and cast the boot into the sea.

Look away from the scampering puppet show, there in the dark and the muck, where tanks roll like pilfered dollars and anyone too queer, too brown, too female, too empathetic is simply fodder for the beastly machine that feeds and feeds and feeds.

Break away, and look to the light of a tomorrow worth living.

Happy Independence Day.