Dark Cloud…

I knew you would show up as you do every year, of course this year is no different. All I want to do is make it thru Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years in peace and some joy. But when you arrive you haven’t showered and you smell of horrible BO, you also bring those stinky cigars that mess with the winter fragrance of the season. I can’t really predict when you come to visit but this year I have felt you creeping up the back of my neck for weeks. Suddenly this week you also wrecked more havoc by adding extreme fatigue to go along with you. You make me want to stay at home and not go anywhere, make me feel sick to my stomach and relish the moment the holidays are just over. What guest am I speaking of you ask? Why it is grieving seasonal depression.

To the world Thanksgiving and Christmas are all about families, traditions and being together. For the grieving mother it is more of a reminder of the one missing forever from the holidays. This year I have been trying to train for the Princess half marathon during the holidays, but have come to the point that I physically hurt too much to try right now. I have been feeling really discouraged and questioning why I am trying to run when it finally hit me that it is the smelly old man depression that has waltzed back in. I truly feel this season is worse in some ways and very different in other ways. This December 10th would have been Heather’s 30th birthday. That alone is very hard to deal with. What would she want to do if she was here? It is one of those milestone events and once again she is not here to celebrate. The other reason it is different is heading into 2018 it is the 10th anniversary of cancer diagnosis. WOW!! How did that happen? It is clear and vivid in my mind as if it was yesterday. 10 Years is not possible. However the 10th year cancer also means the 10th anniversary of her death is racing towards me.

I have the house decorated for Christmas and the Christmas newsletter is done and all mailed. However, I have taken time off from training to heal and rest. Fibromyalgia and long distance running don’t mix and when you add some depression it really can mess you up.

Today is Thanksgiving and I am too fatigued to cook. The whole family isn’t going to really be together so a big meal is not really ideal. Not to mention the fact that I have no energy to prepare all the day before items, cook all the food and then clean up. The mom that I once was would never have considered not cooking for Thanksgiving. That was the old me and the new me just isn’t up to a big meal this year. Especially when I plan to cook a big meal in 30 days for Christmas.

In 2008, I fixed a grand, glorious meal as we had so much to be thankful for. I never ever dreamed it would be Heather’s last Thanksgiving. When you gather around your table with friends and family, hug those people a little bit tighter. Just just don’t know what the next year will have in store for you.

Limitations…

Limitations~
1. A limiting condition; restrictive weakness; lack ofcapacity; inability or handicap
2. Something that limits; a limit or bound; restriction
I personally have never been one to walk away from anything. If someone, anyone tells me I can’t do something I usually have to do it to prove to them there isn’t anything I can’t do.
In 2000, Awana was celebrating their 50th anniversary and they created a special Citation award that is awarded to high schoolers in 12th grade that completed all 10 Awana book from 3rd-12th grade. To complete the books, you memorize over 1200 Bible verses with references, read the entire Bible and give a summary of each book of the bible, missionary projects and other areas of service. Well, I decided I wanted the special Citation and I had completed the 3rd grade book and half of the 4th grade book. I was told I could never  finish that amount of work in less than a year. So, from August 1999 to April 2000 I completed all the requirements to receive the special Citations award for that year.

I took on the role of extreme protector the moment Heather was diagnosed with cancer. I never backed down and I fired, doctors, nurses, made sure everyone knew I was in charge and fought tooth and nail for Heather. I have gotten a job at the Disney Store here in Chandler for the 2014 holiday season and was an Assistant Manager at Harkins in 2015. I fought the cemetery, got on the news, made my fight known and didn’t back down. Even though that did not turn out the way I expected in the end I am happy that I have Heather’s ashes back home with me.

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Heather and my’s first 5K, October, 2008. It took almost an hour and a half to walk and allow Heather to rest. She was less than 30 days from her in hospital chemo and was still very weak.
I didn’t back down from seeing thru the dream of having Heather’s story told in a book, nor the follow up book about being a grieving mother. My greatest and toughest role is shouting at the top of my lungs that Heather lived and the injustices that are done to grieving mothers. This I will never back down from, while I was not asked, I will never be the “normal” grieving mother that lives the bad days in silence.
Ever since my fibromyalgia diagnosis in 2015 I have tried and tried not to allow that to define me. The struggle is real and not in my head. I kept pushing till I recently got amazing drugs to help with my sleeping problems and not just sleeping pills. I push to find the answers to medical issues and don’t just settle.

I posted that my goals and plans for 2018 is to run 2 half marathons or 13.1 miles twice. It was announced recently that for the 2018 year there would be no runDisney events held at Disneyland because of the construction for the new Star Wars land, the new hotel, and the adding of Marvel land to California Adventure. This meant that I would not be able to get my Coast to Coast medal to run on both Florida and California coast in 2018. I began to think that I wanted to run a half marathon in Paris to get my castle to chateau medal.

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five blisters in one spot. Running now is a gel blister bandaid with duct tape
I am into my 8th week since beginning my training again because of my hip flexor and psoas muscle injury. I began very slowly and am currently running 2.5 miles every Tuesday and Thursday and a long run on Saturday. This last Saturday, 11/11, I ran 5 miles and walked an additional 1/2 mile home. The plan adds one mile each week. There are currently 14 weeks left till the Princess Half Marathon. I am staying steady each week and putting the roadwork in. My miles are hanging between 13:30 to 14 minutes per mile, which is a good time and well below the 16 minute mile pace required. IMG_3291 2

While I am running. walking or crawling to the finish line for Princess, I have decided that long distance running is not for me and my fibromyalgia. I am pushing the limits on the long run/walk and so far have not hurt myself, but once I complete my goal of the PHM, the longest runs I will be doing are 5Ks and 10Ks. I have nothing to be ashamed of as I tried it, I completed it and mostly I want to be able to function day to day. My hip is not completely healed and I don’t want to do damage to myself that is permanent.

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My run from Saturday Nov. 11
My goal to run a half marathon for Heather pushes my limits to levels I have never known. The journey isn’t just the race, it is what I have been able to accomplish training for the race. When I signed up with Children’s Miracle Network my amount I needed to raise was $1200, to date, when I get the Chipotle check added in, I will have raised over $4100 for CMN. I am very proud of all the love and support I have had from friends. I have made amazing Facebook running friends that support me as well. The things I have learned along the way are just a valuable as the race and the medal itself.
I might be slightly broken, a little bruised and even permanently scarred. But I wake up everyday with a tremendous will to fight. I am a strong woman who refuses to be defeated.

Bibbidi-Boppidi-Boo…

Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
Put ’em together and what have you got
Bibbidi bobbidi boo
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo
~Cinderella~
The blue gown was absolutely perfect in every way. Heather wanted it and I knew she did. It was like shopping for her wedding dress and seeing her face light up. It fit very well and Heather said she felt very much like a princess.
Heather had played with different wigs and different shades of makeup looking for just the right look. She tried an updo with the long dark wig with her tiara, but decided that she looked more like Cinderella if she went with the blond short wig. Her makeup was a smoky eye palette from Chanel. The perfume she wore that night was Victoria’s Secret Rapture. This was my signature fragrance and I would let Heather wear it on special occasions. Only fitting that she would wear that fragrance on this special night.

When Heather finished her treatments I bought her a blue topaz and white gold “princess” choker. I thought that maybe she could wear it on her wedding day. This was purchased BEFORE the gown was bought. I had no idea that this would match and this would be the only time that she would wear this necklace alive. The matching earrings were given to Heather as a special gift from a special someone.

The day of the ball was me getting my hair done for the first time ever in my life. We all met up and had lunch at Subway. Then we went to the Arizona Golf Resort to check out the decorations and make sure that everything was done to my satisfaction. The cake was there and we were all blown away by how beautiful it was. Everything was absolutely stunning and perfect. As I knew the evening would be.

 

All of us got ready. Heather would stay behind and ride in the limo that would be arriving to take them to the ball. The one thing that had to be done is Heather had to be laced into her dress before I left. She had worked on her makeup and it was time to get her into the gown. Heather and I were joking and playing around about how much she had to suck in to fit into the gown. She had no wig on and her hair was just little duck fuzz at the time. We were all in a great mood. Jenn took the opportunity to take a few photos of us clowning around. As I left, I remember giving her a kiss and telling her I would see her there.

 

So this day is a truly amazing memory where tears and smiles blended together. Remembering how amazing she looked and how much fun she had. Five months later she would wear the dress, wig, tiara and jewelry again. Only this time it was not a happy occasion. The dress and the wig are gone forever. Only fitting that she be cremated in those. Her purse and shoes sit in the box they came in. The necklace and earrings sit in a velvet and satin lined box as well. Her tiara sits on the heart box that sits on the piano that holds her ashes. Absolutely will never be forgotten how amazing the evening was on November 8, 2008.

A Night to Remember…

It has been several years since I have posted about the Grand Ball and I thought maybe people would like to know about the Ball and happy of a moment in time it was for all of us.

I know my brain processed things differently than most everyone else does, and especially since the cancer and death of Heather. When I found out Heather was in remission, the only thing that came to my mind was to have a party. This seemed normal to me to celebrate. Of course, my party planning turned from a party into the Grand Duchess Cancer Survivor Grand Ball. I rented a resort ballroom and began searching for all the right decorations for a Princess-type ball. The more I planned, the bigger it got. I just thought it would be the best way to celebrate cancer being gone, honoring Heather, and to thank medical staff, family, and friends for all their support during her treatments. The friends that prayed, cleaned my house, collected our mail, brought meals, and helped keep us going deserved to be thanked as well. The nurses told me they had never been invited to such a party before.

The colors for the ball were pink, black, and white. Heather’s favorite princess was Aurora, otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty. The ball was tiaras, castles, glass slippers, and everything else that goes with a true princess. She tried to find a pink dress but really could not find something that looked right. I decided to take her to a dress and bridal shop to take a look. We ended up at Susanne’s Bridal in Gilbert. Heather tried on many dresses, but none of them looked or felt right. She could possibly have been affected by the steroids during the ball and would need a dress that could adjust for the swelling that occurred with steroids. Finally the gal that helped us brought out one final dress; it was blue, but she decided to give it a try. It was PERFECT! She knew the moment she slipped it on that this was the ball gown for her. I could tell by the look in her eyes that she loved it. It was a bit more costly than I expected, but the look on Heather’s face was priceless when I told the salesperson we would take it. I had not seen her so excited for a very long time.
Heather decided that she would be Cinderella with the blue gown instead of Aurora. Her next task was to find her “glass” slippers. She managed to find some thin metal mesh shoes with crystals on them. They were perfect as well. The last thing I needed to make her night complete was a white limo to take her to the ball. I had checked before, and they were very expensive. I called Desert Rose, the limousine service, and told them my plans, and they were eager to help. They would already be over on our side of town and had hours to kill before they would pick up their other customers. They charged me very little and were happy to help me out. Now everything was absolutely perfect for my Princess Heather.

Saturday, November 8, the day of the Grand Ball arrived, and it was busy. The first thing I did was go get my hair done, and I was really excited because I had never had my hair done before. It was wonderful, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Our family all met for lunch and then stopped by the golf resort to check on the decorations. I had a vision in my mind, but nothing prepared me for how beautiful it all came together. All the tables were perfect. They were named after Disney princesses, and then placed in the center of the table was a description of each princess. The linens were white with black cloth napkins; the pink program was placed on the plates and the glass slipper party favors with the pink M&M’s were placed at the top. Each table had a metallic one-foot-tall 3-D castle on a mirror with tiara tea lights placed around the castle in the center. The cake table had pink tulle around a stunning three-tiered wedding-style cake that was white and pink with tiaras on it. Clear crystals were placed on the pink tulle and a spotlight was placed under the floor length table cloth to illuminate the table.

It was time to get ready, and the royal family left early to get things in place before the Duchess Heather arrived. Each guest was handed a sparkler, and they lined the walkway where Heather would enter. All the guests were dressed in their finest clothes, and it had just turned dark when the white limo arrived with Heather. She looked stunning and was so happy. It was as if cancer had never entered our world. All our family, friends, and most all, the medical staff smiled and blew kisses and were in awe at how beautiful she looked.Our evening began with a toast from Dave Martin, Heather’s third grade teacher and close family friend. Next came our new friend, Nurse Gayle, and the toasts ended with Bill and me expressing our thanks and extreme joy at reaching this moment. Then the buffet was opened, and the food and fun began. Everyone ate, visited and had a great time. After dinner it was dessert time, and Heather cut the cake while Jenn, Wendy, and I looked on. Each guest was served the most delicious cake with a hand-dipped chocolate strawberry. The evening was over much too quickly, and all too soon it was time to pack up and go home.

Heather rode home in an open-top Jeep with Wendy and a friend. She still had her ball gown on but had taken off her wig because she did not want it to get wind-blown. She was laughing and giggling as they came in the door and told us about the crazy looks people gave them when they stopped at red lights and they saw her all dressed up with no hair. We all went out into the back yard and lit the rest of the sparklers as we laughed and talked about the evening. Some people had brought cards and gifts to celebrate the end of cancer and Heather opened those. Bill was also our official photographer, and we looked at all the wonderful photos of the night. It had been a glorious evening and was best described as a wedding reception without the groom. Heather asked me later if that was what it felt like to be a bride. I told her yes. She told me she loved being dressed up and she had the best time. She gave me a big hug and kiss and told me she loved me to the moon and back. I hugged her tightly and told her I loved her to the sky and back as I held my Little Dolly Girl.

Mention Her Name…

Go ahead and mention my child,
The one that died, you know.
Don’t worry about hurting me further.
The depth of my pain doesn’t show.
Don’t worry about making me cry.
I’m already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing
The tears that I try to hide.
I’m hurt when you just keep silent,
Pretending she didn’t exist.
I’d rather you mention my child,
Knowing that she has been missed.
You ask me how I was doing.
I say “pretty good” or “fine”.
But healing is something ongoing
I feel it will take a lifetime.
~Elizabeth Dent~“I know my halo is up there somewhere”
FaceBook by Heather