Goodbye’s The Hardest Part.

Had the memorial for my uncle yesterday… it was hard. Harder than I guess I expected it to be. His nephew gave a beautiful eulogy that brought tears to my eyes just listening. Avie sat on my lap during the service and when she whispered in my ear, “Uncle Dick can hear this”, I almost started crying. I honestly don’t know if there’s such a thing as Heaven, but holding her and seeing the conviction on her face when she said the words, I sincerely wanted to believe that there is…so I nodded in agreement. Wherever he is, I’m sure he would have been humbled and proud, of everyone.

Because he was a Navy Veteran, a couple Navy officers were there and they performed the military honors during the service. Naturally, I cried during the playing of “Taps” and when I watched them present my aunt with the flag and saw her just start sobbing…it was something I don’t think that I’ll ever forget. I mean, it’s one thing to watch something like that on TV…but quite another to witness it first-hand. It was emotional. Beautiful and touching…and emotional.

My aunt is holding it together well…or as well as can be expected, I guess I should say. She broke down a few times that I saw–which was tough to watch. It’s hard seeing her like that…worse, knowing this hasn’t yet really sunk in for her. Once it does…I feel so bad for her. To lose someone that was literally your whole world–I don’t know how you handle that…how you survive. But as my grams said…she’s tough and she comes from strong stock…she’ll get through this. She will…I just think it’s going to be a long, long road for her. And I hate to see her, someone I love and respect so much, go through that. I think anyone would.

It was weird being at their place, though. I went up there with my mother when I got into town Friday morning to see my aunt and get all the pictures for the collage I was supposed to do for the service. The first thing I did when I walked through the door was look towards the direction of the couch where he was sitting the last time I saw him on Memorial Day, when I said goodbye to him and he smiled and waved. It felt strangely empty, him not being there. Just weird altogether.

He was a good man though…someone who won’t soon be forgotten, as his nephew reiterated in his eulogy yesterday. Not by us or anyone who knew him. And certainly not by my aunt…who was reminded of his love Friday afternoon when she decided to go ahead and order flowers for the service, despite the fact that he wasn’t a fan of flowers and had expressed his desire for there to NOT be flowers at the service when they’d gone ahead of time and taken care of the funeral arrangements the month before he passed. She was telling us as she broke down in tears how she opened his wallet at the florist and there was the money and a note in there that indicated it was for the flowers. How he knew…I don’t know. But it was a sweet gesture…just a reminder of how special and amazing he truly, truly was. I’ll miss him. So much.

“Those we love don’t go away.

They walk beside us everyday.

Unseen, unheard, but always near.

Still loved, missed, and very dear.”

-Author Unknown-

Uncle Dick's memorial collage - without writing

xoxo, MESSIE



Rest In Peace, Uncle.

We just got the call a little while ago. My uncle passed away tonight…

It doesn’t seem real. None of this does. Even though we knew this was going to happen…and soon…it just doesn’t seem real. We’d all hoped he’d have the summer, at least. He’d said it himself when he decided to stop the chemo and all treatment…that he wanted the summer to get his strength back up and do the things he’d been wanting to do…to enjoy the time he had left. He wanted to live. He wanted to go up to the 1000 Islands where my great-uncle has some cabins and go fishing one last time. He and my aunt had made the reservations and everything, but had to cancel at the last minute last week because of how weak he’d gotten.  He hadn’t been doing well the past week…and just the weekend my aunt told my mother that Hospice didn’t think it’d be much longer. Yesterday, we got the news that they didn’t think he’d make it 24 hours…and they were right. My sister stopped up there after work to see him…to say goodbye. She didn’t want him to pass and her not have been there one last time. She was just telling me not two hours ago how weak and frail he’d looked…how horrible it’d been for her to see him that way. Apparently his daughters were there, already going through his things and claiming what they wanted…the sick bitches. Vultures, are what they are. They really are. He might be their father, but they’ve barely had anything to do with him over the years. And now they come swooping in at the very end to claim entitlement to parts and pieces of his life that don’t belong to them…at all. It’s sick. It’s despicable. It’s a good thing I wasn’t there because I wouldn’t have kept my mouth shut…despite the fact that I’ve never met either of them before. I don’t care…it’s wrong.

My sister had asked me if I wanted to drive out tomorrow and see him myself…before we got the call. I told her no…I didn’t want to see him like that. I really didn’t. Death and situations like this make me really uncomfortable, to say the least. I don’t know what to say or do and I end up feeling pretty much like I’m feeling now…helpless and useless. I wish there was something I could right now for my aunt, who is probably a total mess right now…but there’s little I can do from here…me being almost 2 hours away right now. My mother and sister went up to be with her, I know…and I’m sure his daughters and Hospice are there and the last thing they need right now is more people.

The next few days are going to be bad. I really don’t know how to accept this. I mean, I know I wasn’t all that close to him, but he was family. He’s been my uncle for as long as I can remember. One of the few male figures that’s been there in my life…which is saying a lot. I can’t picture my aunt without him. Or family functions without him there. I regret now that I didn’t take the time to talk to him more on Memorial Day when we had our cookout there. I said goodbye that day like any other day, like a see you later. I never thought that would be the last time I’d talk to him.

My grandmother would say that he’s at peace now. That he’s in Heaven. And I’d like to believe that, I really would. At least that would be a small consolation that there’s some kind of happy ending here. But honestly, I find it so hard to believe in Heaven or a God who could do this…make him suffer like he did these past few months…who’d take him before he had a chance to live out his final wishes, before he was ready to go. It’s hard to see the reason in this. Maybe there is one…but I don’t see it. I’m thankful he’s no longer in pain or suffering, I am…but I’m sad that he’s gone. That there’s this loss…this void now in my family that can’t be refilled. Wherever he is, I do hope he is at peace. I hope that with all my heart.

RIP Uncle Dick. You’ll be forever missed. And if my grandmother is right and you’re up there in Heaven, say hi to Papa for me. I’m sure the two of you will have plenty of stories to share.  🙂

xoxo, Your Niece MESSIE

Can't believe this was just a year ago...
Can’t believe this was taken just a year ago… RIP UNCLE DICK



Let Me, Let Go.

So when I was little, I had this toy where you pull on its arms and the arms stretch as you pull them. Well to be totally fair, it was probably my brother’s toy that I “borrowed” but that’s besides the point. Anyhow, I forget the name of the toy, but that too, is besides the point. The point is, that’s how I’m feeling right now. Like I’m being pulled in opposite directions. And I’m sure if that toy weren’t an inanimate object and could talk, it’d probably have said that it really, really sucks….or something along those lines. Because it does.

It’s my family. My sister primarily. For weeks now, she’s been coming at me with this big idea of me forgoing school in Tennessee and starting my own photography business up here. I love her to death, I really do…but she’s relentless. She wants me to stay here in New York…she’s been pretty vocal on that point from the very start, so it’s nothing new. But what started as innocent ribbing and teasing that was more annoying than anything, has gotten to the point where it’s almost frustrating now. I mean, I’ve gotten used to the occasional taunt of “oh, you’re gonna miss moments and milestones like these with the boys if you go to Tennessee” or whatever…but now she’s upgraded to this whole business thing. She keeps saying things like I don’t need to go to school for photography because I’m good enough already to make a career out of it…how everyone who sees the pictures I take of the boys always ask her who she had them done by because they look professionally done…and things like that.

I keep telling her it’s not about school, but she just doesn’t get it. I mean, she says that she’s happy for me and proud…but still, it’s like she’s doing everything in her power to keep me here. And that, I don’t understand. It’s horrible, but for the first time, I honestly don’t know her motive behind wanting me to stay. I mean, does she want me to stay because she doesn’t want her little sister moving on her own, so far away from everyone…or because she doesn’t want to lose her “nanny”. Again, I know that’s a really horrible thing to say, but honestly, I can’t be sure which it is. I mean, I know that my watching and being here with the boys is a big relief and burden lifted off her shoulders–that the boys are with someone she knows and trusts and that they’re safe and well taken care of…rather than stuck in some busy, unfamiliar daycare. I understand where  she’s coming from, I do. I know she worries and that she’d rather the boys were with me than being taken care of by strangers, I get that. I’d want the same thing if they were mine.

I get it…and I’m really happy to be here, helping my sister out like this with the boys and all. I am. Hell, she’s done so much for me over the years that this doesn’t even come close to making up for it all. I owe her a lot, so this is nothing. Really. And I love the boys as if they really were my own. They’re amazing and I wouldn’t trade this time with them for anything. But at the same time, they’re not mine. That’s the stark reality of it. I don’t mean to sound selfish, but I can’t stick around for the next 4 1/2 years raising someone else’s kids. I’m going to be 27 years old in a few weeks. I need to make a life of my own. I love my sister and I love her boys more than anything, but I can’t stay here.

I need to go. I need to fly. I need to try to make it on my own. Maybe I’ll fail, maybe I’ll succeed…who knows. But at least I’ll have given it my best shot. I know it’s Tennessee and it’s 1000 miles away from everything and everyone…but maybe that’s what I need. I’m so used to having someone there to catch me when I fail and fall…there’s always a crutch when things get bad…and that’s not always necessarily a good thing. I need to learn to do things on my own…to make my own way. So no, Tennessee isn’t about school. It’s about freedom. My freedom. I can’t breathe here, surrounded by my past and my failures and everyone else’s dreams.

I wish my sister would understand why I need to go. That she’d stop with the teasing and guilt trips. I know that she’s only joking…but she’s not…not entirely. I know that she wants me to stay and she’ll do what she can to change my mind. But I need her to realize that her teasing is only making me want to go that much more, you know? It’s only pushing me further away, and I don’t like that. I want to go because it’s what I want–what I need to do for myself–not because I’m running from someone or doing it to push back at those that are pulling me in. For the first time, I want a clean break. I don’t want to be running from something. That’s all I want.

I want to stop feeling like this…like I’m being pulled in two directions. It shouldn’t be like this. I should be excited and looking forward to this…not biding my time. Not feeling guilty for leaving…It’s just not fair.

xoxo, MESSIE

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming.

Well, things have been pretty up-and-down since my last post, as is to be expected, I guess.

My mother finally had her appointment with the oncologist. It’s Stage Two Ovarian Cancer, which in terms of stages anyhow, is somewhat good news. As far as they know, it hasn’t spread beyond where it was found and that relatively, it’s in the early stages, so the better her chances are at beating this thing. She’ll be having chemotherapy, of course. Her first session will be later this week, I believe. Then she’ll have two more sessions, after which she has to have another surgery to remove her uterus and complete the partial hysterectomy she had in her previous surgery last month. Why they didn’t just take everything when they were in there last time is beyond me, but these doctors–in my opinion–are–to put it nicely–friggin idiots. I say that because they are. Or most of them are, I should say. I mean, it’s hard enough to find out that your mother has been diagnosed with cancer, but to find out that it could and SHOULD have been detected far sooner than it was–now that’s just unacceptable. The doctors found the cysts back in February and despite the fact that she’d gone to the Emergency Room on several different occasions because of the pain the cysts were causing—and despite the fact that the cysts her found to be growing at a rapid rate each time they did their sonograms and tests—AND despite the history of ovarian cancer in the family (my maternal great-grandmother died from Ovarian Cancer the year I was born)–despite ALL OF THAT, no one ever mentioned the c-word…or even tested her blood for abnormal levels of the cancer antigen. Could they have prevented her from getting cancer–probably not, but they sure as hell could have prevented it from spreading as it has to get to this point. If that’s not medical malpractice and negligence, I don’t know what is.  I get that doctors are human and that they too, sometimes make mistakes…but come on. This is just ridiculous. Really. You’re holding a person’s life in your hands…you can’t afford to make easy mistakes such as not running a simple blood test. To say that it’s just a mistake is bullshit. It’s careless medicine. Once my mother beats this, and I have to have faith that she will, she should sue the idiot doctors that missed the diagnosis and brushed off her worries every time she went to be seen. At the very least, she should sue them. Granted, it won’t change what she’s had to go through, or will continue to go through even after the cancer’s beat…but it’s something.

Unfortunately, there’s only bad news to report for my uncle Dick. He’s not doing good at all. We all got together at his and my aunt’s place, like we always do, for the annual family Memorial Day cookout last week. My brother-in-law took over the cooking, which normally would have been my uncle’s task…one that he, naturally, wasn’t up to this year. As happy as I know he was to see and have everyone there, he wasn’t in good shape. He spent most of the day in the house, away from the festivities, on his oxygen because the wind and fresh air was just too much for him. It was hard to see him like that…like this, to see him barely holding on. It just feels wrong, you know? Wrong. My sister and I stopped in with the kids Friday afternoon since we were in the area so he could see the boys, but he was sleeping on the couch and though we stuck around awhile, he didn’t wake up to see them. My aunt told my sister that they’d gone and made the funeral arrangements just a few days before…and that she didn’t think he had much longer. We were all hoping he’d at least have the summer, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be having even that. It was horrible, seeing my aunt stand there crying, admitting that she’d started having panic attacks in light of everything and that she didn’t know what she was going to do–God, it was hell. It really was. More so in that I don’t have the slightest idea of what to say to her. I really, really don’t.

It’s just sad, all around.

And to top it all off, I’m hobbling around again with this damn hurt ankle of mine. Went to see the ortho surgeon again on Friday, and yet again–surgery was suggested and shot down…by me, AGAIN. They did more x-rays, which found a healing fracture that had until then, gone undetected…which suggests that when I fell back in November, the bone was in fact, broken…and they never caught it. Which is just freaking wonderful, isn’t it? Oh yeah. And then there’s the matter of the ligaments and cartilage that’s all messed up in there. Since I shot down the surgery option, the doc suggested a cortisone injection for the pain. Stupid me, I went for it. I figured, what the hell. It’s just a shot…it can’t be that bad. Yeah…bad assumption on my part. Big time. First off–I nearly passed out when I saw the size of that needle. And screw that numbing spray–I felt EVERYTHING as she kept pulling the needle out and moving it around in there until there was literally a huge lump of cortisone inside my ankle. By the time I got home, my ankle was throbbing. I figured it was nothing and just wrote it off as having just had a huge ass needle stuck inside my ankle…but it got worse. It’s been hurting like a bitch–pardon my language–ever since. So needless to say, pain killers have been my bestest friend these past 48 hours. So since I’ve been laid up (because walking around is NOT an option) I decided to do a little research on it. Lo and behold, I found that it’s quite common…pain after a cortisone injection. It’s called a “steroid flare”, I believe. It can last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks…which isn’t a very comforting thought. Especially since my doctor said NOTHING about it before giving me the shot. Absolutely nothing. She simply said that the shot should help take away the ankle pain…not that the shot will CAUSE more/worse pain. If I’d known that, believe me, I never would have agreed to it. Especially since the pain I’m having now is twice that of the pain I was having BEFORE I got the shot. I mean, the whole point is to eliminate the pain, not ADD to it, you know? So yeah, I’m in a bit of a narcotic-fog while I type this, but it’s unavoidable. Hopefully, this “steroid flare” doesn’t last much longer and the cortisone works as it was intended to. Here’s me hoping…

‘Til next time.

Always, xoxo MESSIE

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