Saturday, March 31, 2012

3 Weeks A.P. (After Patti.)

I have an odd feeling of my life being on "pause." That while all around me things are going on same as usual, I am stuck in the realization that the activities and interests I cared about on March 9th suddenly meant nothing on March 10th, the day my sister died.

I've always been one to love projects--at least the idea and planning of projects--and books and yarn and ice cream with friends and going out to coffee. But right now I'm stuck. Stuck in the space in my head and heart that knew Patti as a constant.  But now, the constant of my sister and our shared history and inside jokes is the rug pulled from under my feet. And I'm stuck, trying to keep my balance, Keystone Cops style.

I know eventually I'll find equilibrium. I know that eventually I'll care again about books and yarn and starting a new project before I've finished the last one.

I know eventually I will smile when I see a beautiful landscape she would have loved to photograph, and to laugh when daughter Cori (who Patti seems to have imprinted her attitude on at birth) makes a snarky remark that channels her aunt.

And I know I'm missing her this much because I had her in my life. Our father gave that up when he chose to molest her throughout her childhood. Our mother gave that up when she couldn't accept any of her children unless they agreed with every last thought of hers.  Our missing brother Michael gave that up when he turned his back on us some 23 years ago.

And once again, in the land of my birth family, it's been their loss.

So I'm kind of privileged to be missing her this much, because
*****I have much to miss.*****

Miller kids, left to right: Julie (me,) Michael, Patti

Skimmer's Recap: Missing Patti = "Good Grief."  
I'd like to thank my Mental Health Care Professionals, my family and my friends, for helping me be at least as stable as I currently am. :-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Taking care of business (everyday.)

As much as I'd like "self-care" to look like me and a big ol' bag of Lay's Barbecue chips with a side of cheesecake, I've learned much over the past years about what real, healthy self-care looks like.

I've worked on the mental/emotional part of it over the last decade, and the physical part over the last year. I'm learning to make better choices, to be aware of when my idea of self-care looks more like shooting myself in the foot. Don't think I've got it all straightened out with perfect self-discipline, oh no. I've even had some barbecue chips, just not the whole bag. I've had an ice-cream sundae, I just had a smaller one. And not every day. (Honestly, I've never been prone to huge binges, just lots of little bad choices that add up!) And the big part:

I went back to the gym this morning for the first time since my sister died on March 10th. I decided to show up for myself, for my health. It was tough, I haven't wanted to go out much the last couple of weeks. I feel a little helpless and a little hopeful on this whole grief thing; helpless because I don't know what to do or think about it, and hopeful because I know in time the blow will soften.

And meanwhile, I'll be taking care of myself, in a more positive way.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Good Grief.

The Miller siblings 1956, left to right: Julie (me), Mike, Patti

i like to call it "clean grief." That's the best way i can describe it. A grief uncluttered. A purity of "i miss her" with no complications.

Not that i mean it's an easy grief, for grief to me will always be painful, hitting me out of the blue, taking me to the mat hard at the least provocation.

But with my sister...i just miss her. i miss the reality of never hearing her voice again, or seeing her face, never again sharing a laugh caused by her off-beat, cynical sense of humor. i miss the thought of sharing the good memories of the time i spent with her in the Colorado Rockies. i miss being able to ask questions about our childhood of things i only remember on an emotional, fearful level.

 i miss. i miss.

With other relatives who have died, there have always been the wrappings of the dysfunctional family we were born into: the packaging of accusations that we had not-done-right-by or enough-for the now deceased relative, the bow tied with a flourish usually the pronouncement that We Were Lacking. Guilt, my family loved them some guilt.

With Patti, my only sister (and the only sibling left to me after our brother also decided We Were Lacking and left with no forwarding address back in 1989,) i see no gift wrap of Not Good Enough. She loved me like no one else in my birth family had: without condition. It was a New! Improved! way of relating in our birth family. We had changed things for the better within our gene pool.

That change makes it hard to say goodbye. There is so much Goodness to miss. But at least it's a New! Improved! grief, an uncomplicated grief, untouched by large servings of guilt. My only regret? That i will never again be able to tell her "i love you!" and hear her answer with a smile in her voice, "I love you more!"

i will miss.

Skimmer's Recap: i miss.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3 days A.P. (after Patti.)

How am I today, you ask? Oh, just your regular, everyday sort of devastated, thanks.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Remembering Patti.

When we were young i thought she was the pretty one and she thought i was the pretty one. As adults, when we talked on the phone after i said "i love you!" she would always say "I love you more!"

As young adults, she welcomed me into her home after i had left college and was at loose ends.

When my daughter was born, she stayed and took care of us, feeding the baby in the night so i could sleep, doing our laundry, making my bed each day so it felt fresh when i got back in. We tried every new outfit on the baby like she was a doll.

When our mother had her lawyer send me a letter after her death to tell me what a disappointment i'd been, (though i was the last of her 3 children still speaking to her) my sister helped me through the pain, having made peace years before with the knowledge that our mother could never be pleased.

She loved hard.

She had a wicked sense of humor and could always make me let out a big ol' belly laugh.

i will always remember Patti Miller Woodard, gone at just 62 on March 10, 2012.

i can't believe i'll never hear her voice again.

i love you, Sissypoo, always and forever. <3

Friday, March 02, 2012

Life by the Numbers.

< imagine funny cartoon about numbers here because
 i couldn't find one. numbers just aren't that funny. >

I've long had a love/hate relationship with numbers. I don't love math, but I love that my birthday is 9/9. I was a giggling (old) girl about my 09/09/09 birthday. People just looked at me when I mentioned it with that half smile/half quizzical "not sure what you want me to say" expression.

 My British son-in-law and I have spent an exceeding (Brit-word alert!) amount of time during the birth of each of his children trying to add up the date numbers to come out as an even number (his favorite) or odd (mine.)

 I can remember important points in my life by the number of my weight at the time: my wedding (down 20 because of my nerves,) or just before the birth of my daughter (roughly the size, shape and weight of a dirigible.)

And driver's licenses. How many lies have I told filling out that form over the years? I've always tried to stay in the believable ballpark, not wanting to risk the raised eyebrow of the store clerk reading my I.D.

And there have been more numbers since December, since I've been using to count calories. I've learned things that cause my blood to run cold, like the calorie count of a Costco cookie (230) or Costco's Cinnabons (over 500, for cryin' in a bucket!) And I've learned just how much time I need to spend on the treadmill to warrant having that super buttery, yummy pasta dish my daughter Cori makes (a lot. But so worth it.)

SO: between my Year Of The Gym and starting MyFitnessPal, I've lost enough weight that, get this, I WEIGH LESS THAN THE NUMBER ON MY DRIVER'S LICENSE! I hate to say it, but this is probably the first time. Ever.

I'll probably never turn into someone who does Trigonometry for fun, but I'm definitely feelin' a little more love for the numbers these days.

Skimmer's Recap: For once in my life my license weight is a lie. In a good way. (Thanks, Sabrina, for introducing me to MFP.)