June 10, 2013

Tough Love for Weak Motives


Dear Mom,

I wrote the post below when I originally started my blog years ago and found it in the archives of unposted, ballsy letters. I figure, why hold back? Let's keep it real. Most likely the people it's written about have long forgotten about this by now anyway, although a piece of me hopes they have not! Everyone deserves a dose of tough love every now and then when needed. Here goes nothing...

Love you,
Sami

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Dear Mom,

Since I started my blog this summer, I have been going back and forth on whether or not to put these particular feelings in writing. I keep telling myself no, that it is too risky, and yet the same thoughts cloud my mind every time I start a new post. I just need to get rid of them, for my own piece of mind, and I think this is the only way.

Sometimes the greatest blessing is the rare opportunity to see yourself through someone else's eyes. So, if anything, I hope that these people I love will realize I am doing this to show them that their actions and their words are weapons when they are used in the wrong way; that they caused pain to my family that was unnecessary and tormenting; and that I cannot move on until I explain this to them here. Even if they've forgotten about my blog and never read it... just to know that I said my piece.

For the first year without you, our little family of three was absolutely destroyed in every sense of the word. I think if it were only me that were hurting, then I could handle that, but unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Seeing Dad and Tom cry on a daily basis was one of the worst parts about losing you. It made me realize that I love them more than I love myself, and their red, swollen eyes day after day took a toll on me in ways I never thought possible. Before you died, I could hardly remember ever seeing them cry, and it was so difficult for me to accept that that will never be the case again.

I never realized it before then, but I guess a part of me was always protective and nurturing. That would explain why I started writing letters to you before your chemo appointments, and that later explained why I called Dad every single day the year you died. I think it had less to do with me needing comfort, and more to do with hoping that's what I was providing him with (which helped me heal more than I think I realize). So many nights we spent crying together on the phone, over two hours away from each other, both feeling so alone.

When Dad called me one night to tell me he had gone out to dinner with someone, I surprisingly felt relieved. She was going through a divorce, needed someone to talk to, and they became quick companions. It was never about replacing you; it's impossible. If only some other people knew that.

The things that some people said to him were inexcusable. It disgusted me. On numerous occasions I was so sick to my stomach that I contemplated calling them myself, but I didn't know how Dad would feel about that, so I didn't. They thought that they were defending you, when really they were disgracing you. I have never in my life met any adults more immature and tactless. Their words gave him more reasons to cry; and I was infuriated. It made him question everything. How long did he have to be alone to please them? Forever?

What irks me even more is that these same people, who were now judging Dad for moving forward, were the same people that moved forward while you were still in chemotherapy. Where were they when you were crying because they didn't visit you in the hospital? Or when they never called to see how your treatments were going? Of course they showed up when you called to tell them you'd be dead in a few months. Did that help them sleep better at night? Did 'defending your honor' or trying to tell me how to grieve help them justify all the times they found something better to do with their time than to spend it with you? Apparently so.

Eventually, the harassment stopped. I'm not sure if everyone came to their senses or just got bored and found someone else to torment, but it stopped. And what makes these people think they are above offering an apology for the hurt they caused, I will never understand. But we all act like this never happened; no one brings it up; no one acts like they are still hurt.

Well, I am still hurt. And before I try to put this behind me once and for all, there is one more thing left to say. My father is a great man; an incredible man. He is honest, kind, and loyal. He didn't come from the greatest place, but made sure his children did. He is strong and supportive; he stood by your side for years through the ups and downs that cancer brought into our lives. He slept beside you every night knowing that he may roll over to find you dead. Some men couldn't handle what he handled; I couldn't handle what he handled; and these people most certainly couldn't handle what he handled. And if anyone in this whole world deserves to find happiness, it is him.

No one is perfect; we have all made our share of mistakes. But the one thing I can't stand is when someone thinks they have no need to own up to them. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words break hearts. If I am able to accomplish anything from this, I hope it is that people think of the effects their words have on others, and if that's not possible... at least have the decency to help them pick up the pieces.

Miss your kind heart,
Sami

June 8, 2013

Dear Mom,

It's been just over six months since I have written. In these past months, I've been doing really, really well. I put on about 20 pounds of 'happy' weight living with my boyfriend (which I desperately needed, I was down to 114 during my grieving years), later joined an amazing fitness network and lost 8 of it already and am feeling really healthy, toned, and amazing, got two promotions at work and started a position in our marketing department after a year and half of being with the company, rescued a puppy from a high kill shelter in Alabama who makes my days so bright, and moved into a new townhome with my love where I feel safe and at home, at last.

What actually brought me to revisit my blog today is a bit less of a happy note, however. A friend I've come to know through my fitness group across the country actually lost her father to cancer just two days ago. I e-mailed her about my blog this morning, and I thought it would be a little hypocritical to tell her things get better, when the last post she'd read was about how desperately I still missed you after five years. I mean, it's true, I do miss you, but it doesn't cripple me every day and in every way like it used to. I still have my days-- everyone cries some days about something, loss or no loss-- and that won't change, but it doesn't mean things haven't gotten better. I can't even begin to explain how much better things have gotten (well, I guess I can, it's basically summed up in every entry since the beginning of my blog!). If I could just fast foward time to keep my friend from having to experience the heavy-heartedness that comes along with losing a parent who is as wonderful and loving as you, I would. But at the same time, these past five and a half years have taught me more about myself than the previous 20 did. She's going to grieve, but she's going to learn and grow and become the woman she is meant to because of it. I just hope I can lessen the pain even in the smallest of ways while she gets there. She called me her angel, Mom. Her angel. Our story is changing lives-- bettering lives-- it's meaning something even five and a half years later.

I figured that without updating my page, I'd be commentless and traffic-less when I logged in today. Obviously because I'm even mentioning it, you know that wasn't the case. I. Can't. BELIEVE. It. Even without writing another letter to you since December, I still had almost 1,500 views last month. WHAT?! I still had a ton of comments about lives I've somehow impacted and days I've substancially improved, and I just... I'm in awe. I choked back tears this morning reading the most heartfelt, elaborate, open-hearted comments from people who don't even know me. If only they knew how much they impacted me today and turned my day around. If only they knew how much they are bettering me.

Sometimes little blessings can emerge from such a tragedy... and that gives me hope.

I love you,
Sami

December 2, 2012

Five Years: How Did I Get Here?

Dear Mom,

Five years. Five long, short, devastating, exhilarating, empty, fulfilled, blurry, memorable years without you.

I'll just come right out and say it. Enough with the excuses. It's not that I don't have the time to write, or that I have nothing left to say, or that I've found closure... it's that I honestly can't bring myself to log on anymore. I don't want to talk about your death anymore. I don't want to think about cancer anymore. I don't want to be reminded of life's struggles anymore. I just want to be feel normal; it's been five years! Shouldn't I feel normal again?

I'm frustrated because I know now that I'll never feel like my old self again. My heart will always, always, feel a void. And it breaks me.

I thought finding love would fill me-- and it does-- but then I'm left dreaming of what it would be like to see the two of you getting to know each other, exchanging quick-witted jokes, laughing, and loving me together. I thought moving away would separate me from the hurt, but it only does so in a physical sense, and I'm left missing my family, my old friends, our home, and feeling that closeness to the life we had together.

It's been five freaking years. How did I get here? It's truly such a blur, yet if I had another day with you I could fill it with the most incredible details of the life I've made for myself since the day I lost you.

I think the only thing I've really come to terms with is this:

Those random times I go from laughing to an absolute monumental meltdown; those nights I toss and turn and still recall so vividly the way you smelled and your warmth when you hugged me; those damn episodes of Grey's Anatomy that leave me a sobbing mess on the couch because it triggered a memory; those days I just have absolutely no idea which road is best for me and would give anything to hear your wisdom... Those moments aren't a sign of weakness; I know that now. Instead, those moments are a clear and direct reflection of the utterly amazing woman you were and just hard difficult-- no, impossible-- it's going to be to ever, ever stop missing you.

I love you,
Sami

7/19/1962 - 12/2/2007

July 19, 2012

Over the Hill?!

Dear Mom,

I thought I'd break my unintentional silence to wish you the happiest of birthdays this morning. Somewhere, in some way, you are celebrating your 50th year of a wonderful life that we all know was cut much too short. Is this the age they say you're 'Over the Hill'? Well, I certainly wish you were merely that far away from me.

A few months ago I drove the 8 hours home to Maine with my boyfriend to throw Dad a 50th surprise birthday party-- Harley Davidson themed, of course. And yes, I even tucked away my button-up sweaters and skinny-leg jeans for a night of bandanas, leather boots, and homemade ass-less chaps (and they say being in a sorority doesn't teach you anything?!). It was the best birthday party he said he ever had, complete with a video slideshow I made him to play at the local little bar we held it at that was always your favorite. The photos that reminded us that we used to be captured as a family of four had even my old high school friends tearing up, but I was smart to put it to "Sweet Child of Mine"-- who can cry during that anyway?! Weirdos.

Today I woke up wondering what we'd be doing to celebrate your 50th. I'm pretty sure you'd already be putting on that oh so up-to-date flowery one-piece bathing suit, grabbing a glass of caffeine-free diet Pepsi, and heading out to the pool with your sunglasses and whatever book was next on your chopping block. They better have that set up in Heaven for you; I think you've earned it.

Dad's love for motorcycles has only continued to grow over the years as his love for playing pool has lessened. What would you love even more today? Maybe cooking? Scrap booking? A Harley of your own?

The only answer I know would be true is... me. You would love me even more today.

I miss that love. I miss you.

But I am okay, I promise.

I am happy, but you see that, wherever you're watching me from.

But stop watching me today-- it's your day-- LET'S PARTY!

Happy 50th Mom.

I love you,
Sami

January 4, 2012

I'm Not In Kansas Anymore

Dear Mom,

Not that I ever was in Kansas...but I'm not in Maine anymore either!

I hardly had time to hit the publish button on my last post before I was packing my bags and visiting my boyfriend. I went down to see him with no return date in mind, and actually ended up not coming home at all except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was spontaneous and absolutely crazy, but, three months later, I find more and more reasons to be happy every day.

Going from long distance to no distance was an easier transition than either of us thought. After only three months of knowing each other, taking a "leap of faith" was a complete understatement. Regardless, we went for it. Moving in together so quickly was a 100% make it or break it kind of thing, and surprisingly, I feel like I've been here with him for years. I can't wait to be.

Looking back on it, I can't explain why on Earth I even thought this was a good decision in the first place-- it was so reckless and unlike me-- but it just felt right. And it continues to feel that way. Sure, we've had our arguements; we've learned what it's like to see each other every day rather than to just talk constantly over the phone; we've had to make adjustments to help make our lives mesh. But like I said, I'm happy, and the only times I really cry are when I take a look at my life and wish so badly you were enjoying it with me. Will that pain ever go away?

As for my new job, new friends, this new place, etc.? There's more information to come. Hold tight!

I love you,
Sami

October 3, 2011

Many Milestones

Dear Mom,

Lease my apartment: check.
Quit my job: check.
Move back to my hometown: check.
Get a boyfriend: check, baby!

Guess which life change I am most excited to tell you about? Four guesses.

Okay, yes, I have a boyfriend! Can you tell I'm your daughter? All of a sudden I had the biggest realization that it's not what I'm doing, but who I'm doing it with that truly makes me the happiest. And to be honest, my new boyfriend is exactly what prompted me to make all these recent life changes and decisions.

I know you're dying for details, so let me back it up a little bit.

Long story short (when are they ever?), the day after I wrote the post about meeting my fair share of losers, Dad invited me to a 4th of July BBQ back home at his friend's house. He's asked me to go to this annual party for the past three years, but I've always declined for whatever reason. This year I finally caved and made an appearance. About an hour into the party, I stopped dead in my tracks at the first sight of him and said out loud, "I need to meet him." Within 10 minutes, that's exactly what I did, and we haven't missed a beat in three months. It was the weirdest thing, but I was immediately overcome with this crazy feeling that I was looking at the person I've always visualized myself being with, even though I had never seen this guy before. And not to jump the gun or anything, but the instant connection we had that continues to grow each day is telling me that my gut instinct may have been correct.

Dad has known him for quite a while and definitely approves (such a plus by the way; we got to avoid the awkward father/daughter discussion about me being in a relationship with some guy he doesn't know-- you were always my go-to gal for that!). He is the nephew of Dad's friend, and by chance was in town visiting his family after being deployed to Iraq for the third time. He's in the army and stationed elsewhere, so our relationship consists of monthly visits and hours on the phone every day having some of the greatest conversations I've ever had... siiiighhhh... I'm such a girl. I'm completely smitten. It's kind of sickening and completely fabulous at the same time. I am so happy and I am finally allowing myself to be vulnerable and fully let someone into my life. It's scary because nothing is ever for certain, but at least I know now the kind of genuine, funny, caring, appreciative man I am deserving of does exist and can feel the same way towards me.

And the best part is: he asks about you. When he visits, he invites Dad to come do stuff with us; he brings me to his parents' so I can get to know them too. He's shown me just how important it is to surround yourself with the people who make you happy, and that's why I moved home. I didn't feel good about where I was, but now I finally feel great about where I'm going. Where exactly? Well, that's TBD... but for now, it's in the house that you spent 19 years with me in teaching me what's truly important in life: family, friends, and love.

I love you,
Sami

August 18, 2011

Friday Mourning

Dear Mom,

Whenever I'm feeling upset, I remind myself repeatedly that, no matter what I'm crying over, I went through worse when I lost you. Typically that is enough to help me snap out of my funk, but of course there are those times where the only remedy seems to be a box of tissues and my comfiest PJs.

And that was exactly the kind of day I had last Friday.

I've been so focused on getting my new, single, fabulous little life figured out during these past few months, and in an instant I realized that I have absolutely no clue why I am where I am, doing what I'm doing, and feeling how I'm feeling. The only thing I wanted to do was curl up on the couch next to you while you played with my hair like you did when I was little, and knowing that the one thing I wanted was also the one thing that definitely wasn't going to happen only added to my heavy heart that day.

I've been sick for about a week (how is it that my body fights viruses like a champ during Maine winters, but can't handle a few months of 90+ degree weather?), so that didn't help my mood. I was at work for less than 30 minutes when I decided there was no way I could make it through the day in one piece and needed to get out of there immediately. One look at my manager-- who is just as caring and approachable as you... AND shares your name, ironically-- and I was one hot mess. I told her how much I just miss your advice and how much I wish I could hear it now. She suggested that I write you a letter, read it out loud, and wait for the answers to eventually show themselves to me. Little did she know that writing letters used to be our thing, and, through my blog, still is. It was just what I needed to hear.

I got in my car and drove 2.5 hours to the cemetery. I know that technically you aren't there, but for some reason I found comfort in sitting beside where your body is resting. While I was there, I finally allowed myself to let it all go. I am so confused. Why am I living in the area that I am right now? I came here for college, that is over. I stayed for a relationship, and that is over too. My closest friends have all moved away and have started their lives; why haven't I done the same? What am I waiting for? My job here isn't my dream job, and frankly the only reason I look forward to going in is because my co-workers are so great, but is that enough to keep me here? Not in the least.

I had a long talk with Dad that night and have decided that I'm moving home. I'm giving myself the next month to figure out the logistics of this next step. I'll have to look for a new job, find someone to lease my apartment, etc. I feel relief knowing that I am finally closing this chapter in my life and moving forward, but at the same time, I'm wondering how I will adjust to life in that area after being on my own for five years. How will it feel to live, for the first time, in the house you died in? How will it feel to wake up every morning in the home we spent 19 wonderful years in together and walk downstairs and not see your smile? I'm nervous for it, but ready somehow. It is time. And at the end of the day, I know I'll be alright because I went through worse when I lost you.

Love,
Sami