Everyone deals with grief in a different way. When I was sixteen, my grandfather died. My dad offered up our house for the wake, and my eccentric aunt came to stay with us. Well, maybe my dad actually had less choice in the matter, but this is the perspective of a sixteen-year-old, housed in a memory from more than a decade ago, so bear with me.

I remember several things about his death, but one moment that sticks with me happened in the car, on the way to a restaurant with my parents, sister, and the eccentric aunt – I’ll call her Stella. It fits. Being sixteen, I was about as self-centered as any other sixteen-year-old, and I was feeling rather put out that Aunt Stella and Uncle Max had to stay at our house – why couldn’t they stay with Aunt Beth and Uncle Joe? They had a spare room. And why was the wake at our house? Surely there was a better venue for a good thirty-odd people to gather for this whole thing. Why did we have to go to that restaurant? And at six-thirty? I was starving.

Being sixteen, and me – which probably closely resembled a sixteen-year-old Stella in looks and personality – I voiced my frustration at being put out by all of this. Aunt Stella, who was driving my father’s car (still not sure about how that happened; I guess her OCD won out over his that time – I come from a long line of folks in denial that they have OCD), bluntly told me that it wasn’t all about me and to stop being selfish.

Knowing what I know now, about the process of grief, the way I handle emotion (or didn’t handle, at sixteen anyway), and that everyone has their own method of dealing with death, I would have said something more like, “You feel ignored and you have no control over what’s happening in your own house. I get that. But I’m not in town that much and I’d really love to try this restaurant I’ve heard such good things about.” If I had been in her shoes.

But then, I have a five-year-old. This is pretty much how I talk to him. Maybe not an appropriate way to talk to a five-year-old or a sixteen-year-old. Eh.

I’ve gotten sidetracked.

This time it was very different. The circumstances were very different. Not an elderly relative who had been ill for several years, not natural causes, not with me a self-centered teenager. This was a cousin who was making plans – for her wedding, for her birthday, for a big move out West, for a new career now that she had graduated from college. This was a kidnapping and a murder. And now I am a mother who can’t even imagine what her parents are going through.

She disappeared. Just up and disappeared. The sweetest, most level-headed girl said goodnight to her fiance, just days before her birthday, and went to bed. Then she was gone, with nothing but her cell phone. Her dog, her car, her purse, were all still in her apartment. A missing persons report was filed. The police investigated. Searches were conducted. Nothing was ever found.

That was more than a year and a half ago. This week they found her skull. A few days later they concluded that it was her skull. Now her family is having to face the police, the media, and the assholes who think her fiance did it, all over again.

When I found out I called my mom. Gave her a vanilla version of what I knew, asked for prayers and positive energy. Told her it was good. At least now everyone can get some closure. And thank Goddess she wasn’t being held captive and forced into prostitution (ever since I saw Taken it’s been all I’ve thought about). Thought about lighting a candle, but didn’t feel up to consecrating, charging, blessing. Had a bottle of Woodchuck instead. Didn’t read the news article to get all my facts straight. Mostly just ignored.

The next day I knew I would need to face it. My mind would not let me rest until I got those facts and allowed myself to cry. I held it together until I began to read all of the sympathetic, pitying, comments on Facebook. Not to diminish what my friends and family offered, or to somehow insinuate that their words weren’t genuine and their hearts weren’t pure. I believe they were. But there’s always a little pity there, isn’t there?

I knew the best way for me to cope at this point would be to write about it, but I wouldn’t get a chance until well after the kids went to bed. My daughter takes two naps with a lot of convincing, but my son (who only has the requisite hour of quiet time now that he’s outgrown naps) is never down at the same time.

I broke down. At least my son was at preschool, and my daughter, being less than two, doesn’t have the words to ask about it. I just picked her up a couple of times during the day, and hugged her for awhile. I had a hard enough time explaining it to my son when we picked him up. I told him that we might be going out of town to see Grandpa and that when we got there, everyone would be very sad because somebody died.

Now we’re not even going down. Money is too tight while we wait for our tax refund and I continue to look for full-time paid work. We’ll make the trip for the funeral, or whatever arrangements end up being made, but none of that will likely happen until the case is closed.

And I will continue to drink alone. No tequila with Aunt Terri. No comforting words from Oma. No eccentricity from Daphne, my in-laws’ version of Stella, to distract me. My husband doesn’t even really drink that much. He works too much. Probably good that he doesn’t. He snores when he drinks.

How does one wrap up this kind of post?

Kumquat

First off, my apologies if you were looking for something to read here over the last few days.  I have only three words: Major.  Writer’s.  Block.

It is something we all deal with.  Please bear with me while I get back into the swing of things.  I promise you will be rewarded for your patience.

First reward: baby update, complete with pictures!

Last week I went in for my first OB visit, received the first sonograms, and told my family the good news.  My mom had been suspicious for some time.  Moms always know.  At the time of the sonogram, I was still in week 10, in which the baby is supposedly about the size of a kumquat (about an inch long from head to bottom – they must not be able to measure head to toe yet).  Since that’s when we told my mom, that’s what she’s calling the baby.  Kumquat.  My son was kumquatsSesame (at the time I found out I was pregnant, we thought he was the size of a sesame seed, and even though he was actually a little bigger/older than that, that was his name until we found out he was a boy).

Incidentally, have you ever had a kumquat?  I did once, when my husband and I were trying to experiment with different fresh fruits and vegetables to see what we liked, in an effort to eat more real food and less processed junk.  It tastes a little like an orange and a little like a lemon.  It is one of those fruits that we put into the “sometimes” category – something to eat when we need a little more variety, but not one of our mainstays.  We tried it, and it’s not our favorite.  But we didn’t hate it.

Where was I?

Right.  Baby pictures.

sonogram

The official Week 10 sonogram.

sonogram

This one is a little better.

limeI like that second one; you can actually see an outline of a “real” baby, as I told my family.  Not a little alien sea monkey.  But these were taken in the middle of week 10, and today is the second day of week 12.  Baby is now the size of a lime, which is closer to 2 inches in length.  Weight is up to half an ounce.  I do like limes.  And grapefruit.

But this is not about food.  This is about pictures:

week 12

Yep, that’s me.  No, I haven’t gained very much weight yet.  My appetite hasn’t been great.  I’ve been nauseous almost every day, although I’m still only vomiting occasionally.  I guess that’s lucky, although if you ask me, lucky would be not feeling sick at all.  But I’m starting to feel a little better this week.  No doubt I’ll be eating everything in sight soon enough.

Mel

6:47 am

This post was written after a nap.  What?  I’m pregnant.

One of the truly awesome things about my son is that he is usually a really good sleeper, at least at night.  He typically gets to bed around 8:30 pm and stays asleep until roughly 7:30 in the morning.  If he goes to bed a little later, he sleeps a little later.  He’s had a few nightmares lately, but as soon as I’ve assured him that his scary dreams aren’t coming true, he goes back to sleep for the rest of the night and usually sleeps in a little.

Naps have been more of a struggle.  He had been taking about hour-and-a-half long naps, but for the past few months or so, it’s only been 50 percent of the time, sometimes less.  Some days, like yesterday, he is truly exhausted and actually takes a nap after some stalling.

Last night was not a usual night.  We went out to dinner for Daddy’s “real” birthday (my parents couldn’t do dinner last night, so they took us out Friday).  His birthday restaurant was at Easton.  For those of you not from Central Ohio, it’s a mostly outdoor mall that is fun to walk around and window-shop when the weather is nice.  And window-shop we did.  We first went to the Lego store, at my son’s request, although my husband and I found a good deal of sets to geek out about.  They have really neat displays all over the store, and sell sets of people and blocks that you can put together yourself for a completely customized set of Legos, sold by the container.  We then spent a good deal of time in Brookstone, checking out the Tempur-Pedic beds and massage chairs and nifty little gadgets.  They had the Glee! soundtrack from this season playing in one display area, so quite a while passed before I realized it was past somebody’s bedtime.

It was a late night, and by the time he fell asleep it was probably after 10:15.  Way too late for my liking, but time flies when you’re having fun, and it was nice to spend time together as a family.  I figured he’d probably sleep until 9 or maybe 9:30 if we were lucky.

We were not.

I heard him open his door, tried to pretend I hadn’t, and repositioned my arm so it looked like I was still fast asleep.  Not that pretending to be asleep has ever worked on my son.  And boy was he awake.  He greeted me – not my husband, mind you – with “Mommy, let’s go downstairs.”  With a good deal of effort, I forced my eyelids to open and turned to look at the clock.

6:47.  Seriously?

I know I should count myself as extremely lucky, considering he sleeps very well most nights and sleeps in most mornings, comparatively speaking.  But 8 hours?  That’s not right.  For a three-year-old.

And did he nap today?  No.  Of course not.  So he’s walking around like a zombie, cleaning up some toys, while Mommy sulks.

Parenthood.

Mel

Success!

Shopping went well yesterday.  I found a bathing suit that actually fits and, even better, one I like.  It may not fit at the end of the season, but I’ll deal with that when I get to it.  It’s a two-piece: I love the mix-and-matchability of two pieces, for size, cut, and style options, and one piece suits rarely work for me because I’m so short-waisted.

The top is a tied halter that actually has straps thick and sturdy enough to hold everything in while I’m playing in the pool with my son, but it doesn’t look matronly or anything.  It’s an abstract pink-purple-black-white tankini top (Best.  Invention.  Ever) with colors cool enough to complement my fair skin tone.

But the bottoms are the best part: two pieces for the price of one.  The base is a mid-rise bikini bottom with a moderate amount of coverage, solid black.  The other part is a detachable skirt that ties on one side, sarong-style.  The bottom half is just a little too big – not so much that it’s going to fall off in the pool, but maybe it will fit all summer.  And it literally cost the same as the plain bikini bottom.

I know visual aids will help illustrate, so I will update with pictures soon.

So I found what I was looking for.

And then some.

On my way to the checkout, I realized I had nothing to wear to a semi-nice restaurant for my husband’s birthday dinner this weekend.  Literally – my only pair of shorts that fits right now are my jogging shorts (not that I jog).  I’m just a little tired of using the “rubber band trick” on my nice jeans and shorts.  I can’t even use it any more on my denim skirt.

So I started looking around for a bigger skirt, denim or khaki or something casual.  In the whole department store, I found two denim skirts and one khaki.  The khaki was a skort that I really wasn’t sold on.  Of the denim skirts, one was “distressed,” which I don’t personally care for (even though it makes me feel old to admit that).  The other was from the juniors’ section and just this side of too tight and too short.

And then I found a dress.

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My mom saw it first – she bought the cobalt one to take with her to the beach when she goes on vacation with her friends later this summer.  I picked up the fuschia dress to try on, and immediately got distracted by a different dress (thank you, pregnancy brain).  In my ADD,  I completely forgot to try it on.  I didn’t realize it until I got it home, at which point I discovered it actually fits perfectly.  It falls to just under my knees, and because of the empire waist and loose, flowy construction, it should fit all summer.

I dressed it up with my bronze sandals and gold/CZ earrings for dinner, where we shared the news about my pregnancy and showed off the first sonograms.  I will be uploading those in a separate post.

Mel

Bathing suit shopping…

…words to strike fear into any woman’s heart.

I’m finally on a short break from my classes.  What better way to spend my brief summer break than to torture myself tomorrow at my nearest department store?

Does anyone actually like to shop for (and, in a frigid fitting room underneath horrific fluorescent lights, try on) swimwear?  I think there was a time when I did – it must have been at least four plus years ago, seems how my son is now three and a half.  The last bathing suit I bought was three years ago, and the whole reason I went for the halter top was for easy feeding options, if you catch my drift.  I got rid of it last summer when my ridiculous cat chewed the strap off.

Let’s go ahead and add in the fact that I’m pregnant again, and what the hell kind of bathing suit do you buy when, at a minimum, boobs, belly, and hips are going to be a different size in August than in June?  I’m at that awkward point where things are just starting to expand.  No need to fetch the box of maternity clothes off the top closet shelf yet, but already none of my jeans fit.

Shopping is supposed to be fun.  Why would we intentionally set out to purchase something that is going to eat away at our self-image all summer?

The good news is, my dad’s going to take my son out for the day so I can shop without a busy little boy in tow.  My mom is even coming with me to help me pick something out.  The bad news?  We haven’t yet told anyone that I’m pregnant.  I just had my first OB visit this week.  I have a feeling it’s not going to be much of a secret once my mom sees me in nylon and Lycra.

Wish me luck!

Mel