Tag Archives: Losing Loved Ones

Where the Hell have I been?

I know, I know, I’ve been bad.  My blogging has fallen by the wayside because of my other, more pressing endeavors… Jacq’s Rox & Jersey Shore Gourmet – but let’s not forget my real job – career in fact – a magnanimous & entertaining French & Spanish teacher.

Oh – and let’s not forget ebullient.  Tee hee.

In any case, I have a lot on mind – some good, some bad – and my brain is often fried or vodkafied when I return to my quiet (only if my husband is out), cozy home – cat meowing and all.

My husband’s Uncle Joe just passed away.  He was such a nice man.  I’ll miss him.  Death puts me into my own reflective and pensive world – too introspective for my own good.  I start thinking about my mom, her death, her illness and how I could have been a better daughter.

Ok – the tears are here now.

I’ve written about my mom so many times because it comes from the heart and seems to be genuinely cathartic for me.  AND if I can help someone along the way who is going through the same loss, I’m thrilled about it.

Mommy will be gone 7 years in February.

I can’t believe it’s been that long.  It seems like yesterday yet sometimes so far away.  There is not a day I don’t think about her, talk to her, cry to her and ask her for her strength.  She was so strong.  I’m not sure I can ever be the woman that she was – but I try to be the best woman that I can be.  I think she’d be proud.

I want to share so many things with her every day but all I can hope for is that she’s listening to me from wherever she is and is channeling all her strength and fortitude my way.  I still find myself picking up the phone to call her.  Then I catch myself.

When you lose a parent it all makes sense.  Not their death.  Not their suffering.  Your own life, as crazy as it may seem, starts to make sense.  It’s like someone opened a window into your soul and you finally think about what’s important in life, in death and inside.

I will never stop missing my mother.  I will never stop hoping that she is pain-free,  at peace and watching over me (and my Dad too) as much as she can.

I think she’s watching like a hawk and still trying to guide me to make the right decisions.

If you knew Phyllis, I think you’d agree.  
My mommy is still here with me.  
From Heaven or from right above.
She never stops giving me love.
Mommy I miss you so.
I find it so hard to let go.
As I cry and write this poem.
I wish you were with us at home.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

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It’s All About The Boobs – In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Boobs, jugs, peaches, ninnies, tits, rack, eyes, knockers, cans, sweater meat, knobs, boobies, breasts, titties, mammaries, pins, bazooms, bazongas, headlights, hooters, lungs, fun bags, tatas, maracas, girls, twins and the list goes on.

What is the obsession with boobs?  Especially men’s obsession – straight or gay, single or married, bi-sexual or A-sexual.  When I lived in Paris, my “happy” flat mate Vivaldo loved my boobs.  He used to hover outside the frosted glass window of the bathroom door waiting to catch a glimpse.

When I was in graduate school I did an action-based project on boobs.  It was titled, “Do Big Boobs Really Make A Difference?”  My professor at Montclair State loved it and I got an A.  It was an interesting project.  In a nutshell:  I went to several places one of which was a supermarket.  The first time I walked in with no cleavage but looking nice.  I couldn’t find a soul to help me and left the store unsatisfied.  The next time I went, I was sporting full boobage and the young men at Shop Rite couldn’t wait to come to my rescue.  They actually followed me around the aisle and made me feel really uncomfortable.

What I found on my quest for truth was exactly what I thought I would find.  They DO make a difference in how people treat you.  Really how men treat you.  You/They are objectified.  You/They are ogled.  Christ!  Even Mike Tyson leered at my boobies, paused to smile and say a personal hello.  Men are notoriously easy when it comes to visual stimulation.  You have to be a confident woman to walk around with perky boobies.

A female friend of mine asked me if they were real and touched them for verification.   Another friend, on my birthday, reached over into my shirt at the Avenue in Long Branch and felt me up!  I looked at my husband and laughed.  They’re real people.  It’s all in the bra.  Lift and push up.

The size of your breasts and the way you present them is everything.  When I’m in a bad mood the last thing I want people to do is to leer at me and the twins, so I cover them up (this does not always help – it may be my posture).  I always felt sorry for the girls in grammar school that had beautiful breasts and were completely objectified by immaturity.

My mom survived breast cancer and had to go through a double mastectomy.  I had 2 tumors removed from each breast before I hit 30.  Just waiting for the pathology report was one of the longest weeks of my life.  Thank God they were benign but I know a lot of women, my age, younger and older who have battled with breast cancer.  They are courageous women from whom we should take a lesson.

If it’s all about the boobs when you look at them, it should be all about the boobs when you take care of them.  Self exams, mammograms, doctor visits.  Just do it.  Big or small, our breasts are important – we are important.  In this day and age when we hear of so many incidents of breast cancer in both women and men (yes men), we need to take action quickly as early detection is the beginning of the battle.

So as a favor to me and as a service to yourselves, everyone grab your boobs on three.  One, two, three….  It may save your life.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.   Republished.

My Most-Visited Post: Losing The Ones You Love

I was just reading through some of my older blogs, trying to avoid cleaning up the kitchen, when I came across one of my first “from the heart” posts.  On January 3, 2010, two hundred and fourteen people viewed Losing The Ones You Love.

Today I decided to re-blog that post and also include all of the original comments that both friends, family and readers made that day.  I read each and every comment and really appreciated all of them.  They way you all opened up was wonderful and cathartic for me.

Grief is a terrible thing.  It’s stressful, sad, happy and so many other things.  It helps to read about others who are or who were in the same situation as you.

I’ve lost so many people in my family but losing my mother was the most grueling, tragic and heart-breaking of them all.

If you have a sensitive side like me, get your tissues out and read.  Whether this post makes you cry, remember or realize the joy of life and living while it’s here, or even if it reminds you to make that call or visit before it’s too late – then it has accomplished something.

Losing The Ones You Love

Hi everybody.  I was originally going to talk about addictions today but I’ll put that on the back-burner for another day.
My friend Vicky who just joined Facebook, after months and months of urging, posted a comment that made me think of my mom. A memory, a good memory, that I suppress along with a host of others.

She wrote, “Were your ears ringing Christmas Eve night?  We were in church – Silent Night was playing and I was remembering how you, your mom , Jules & I would go to midnight mass- I shed some tears.”

Well that did it.  The tears welled up and I started to cry.  Thanks Vick.  Then I started to think about how shitty the world is without the people I love.  I have lost a lot of people to death.  It’s not at all comforting but we all have to deal with it eventually.  It made me think of my mom’s death and how I can’t watch movies or TV shows where someone s dying, is in the hospital, has cancer, etc.  I think they call that TRANSFER.

In case you didn’t know my mother, her name was Phyllis.  Phyllis was a pip.  Funny, strong and definitely outside the box.  She was a straight shooter – so if you didn’t want to hear the truth – you shouldn’t have asked her for her opinion.   Everybody loved mom.  Even when she tried to run them over with her car – but that’s another story.

My mom Phyllis died of sepsis at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair in 2005 after fighting cancer for 24 years.  Twenty four years!  That’s amazing to me.  When I think about it, I don’t know if I could be that strong.  Radiation, chemo, chemo, radiation and finally chemo – once per week for the rest of her life.  She went into remission twice but it always came back.

She tried to refuse treatment, but the doctor fought with her to keep her alive.  I never really realized HOW SICK she actually was.  Maybe I was in denial.  Her personality was so effervescent, it never clicked.  When I look at photos of her right before she died, I can see how debilitated she became.

I remember the last time that she went to see Dr. Lee and she told her how far the cancer had progressed.  She hoped that she would go into remission again, but that didn’t happen.  It seems like yesterday.

I was waiting for my mom and dad to come home.  My Aunt Mimi was upstairs and I was in the basement cleaning poop off the dog’s butt.  I heard the door open and my aunt say, “How did you make out?”  The next thing I heard broke my heart in half.  My mother was absolutely hysterically crying and sobbing as if she couldn’t believe that she still had, at full force I might add, this cancer that was NOT going to go away.

I didn’t know what to do.  I wanted to run upstairs and hug her with all my might but I too had started sobbing and I wanted to stay strong for her.  So I finished up with the dog, choked back my tears and slowly went upstairs.  There were no words.  I couldn’t say anything to her that would help, so I just hugged her and hugged her and hugged her.

She died in a semi-conscious state while my dad, my cousin Elaine, my husband John and I were all with her.  She opened her eyes to look at every one of us – I was the last one.  I held her hands and said, “Mommy, I love you.  I don’t want you to go, but if you have to, it’s ok.”   My mom closed her eyes and the doctor came rushing in.  We asked him why he rushed in and he told us that her heartbeat just slowed significantly.  I told him that I told her that it was alright to go and he told me that it was the best thing I could have ever done.

I still question that decision.  Fighting with my selfishness and my selflessness.  I don’t care how old you are, you always need your mother.  Losing people you love is difficult.  You miss them so much but hang on to the memories.  I suppress.  It doesn’t get any easier but it gets easier to deal with or to hide.

Shortly after she died my husband said to me, “Jacq, some day you’ll talk about her and laugh.”  That may be true, but how freakin’ long does that take?  Does anybody believe that?  Is it true?  I still cry everyday.  The holidays are the worst.  Thank God I still have my dad and he’s healthy and doing well.

If you knew my mom and have a good memory of her, please post it.  If you didn’t know my mom and you have a memory of someone who you loved and lost, please post that too.  As much as I don’t like to depend of people, everyone needs someone to lean on, a shoulder to cry on and someone to help you through the worst times and the best times of your life.

Comments Below…

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.  Republished 2011.

Comments:

Hey Jac,

Unfortunately, I didn’t know you mom, but she sounded like an amazing and strong woman. I read you posting today and I found myself sitting here crying myself,…and laughing. My mom died very suddenly 2 years ago today. I think it is sort of ironic that you wrote this posting today because I was just sitting here thinking about how there couldn’t be anyone in this world who understands how it feels to lose their mother, besides someone who has lost their mother….

My mom called me January 3rd at 8 am and asked me to drive her to the hospital because she had a stomach virus and was in so much pain. Josh and I picked her up and took her and after hours and hours and hours in the ER, they finally moved her to ICU, where she passed minutes later. It was such a shock for someone who was never sick and who never complained about anything. She ended up having a serious issue with her pancreas which shut down many of her other organs. My mom was the most selfless woman that anyone could ever meet. She would honestly give you the last dollar in her wallet if you asked her. She did anything and everything for the people she loved. She made everyone feel comfortable even if that meant that she would be without something…or anything.

I remember sitting in the waiting room after I watched my mom go into complete cardiac arrest, surrounded by family and friends and thinking that I would never, ever be able to sleep, eat, love, laugh or live without my mom….my rock. I remember going home with my Dad and sister and brothers and sleeping (well not sleeping) on the living room floor, night after night after night….and just tossing and turning. I could not find happiness in anything….the holidays are still extremely hard. My sister and I cried through the planning of both of our weddings, and every other joyous occasion that my mom should be here for. We got totally jipped!

Some days are def. better than others, but I agree, every day is still a struggle. I miss her every single day. It sucks that my children will never get to meet such an awesome lady. My Mom was the kind of person found humor in the littlest and silliest things. Honestly, that’s what gets me through the hard times. I too find humor is simply stupid things….and when I do, I think of her and laugh…

Eventually I was able to laugh again, live again, love again. But every day I miss her.

Thank you for posting this today. :) You don’t know how much your story helped me.

I actually remember you talking about your mom in class. It was evident that you two were close but I think you wished that you could be even closer. As an only child, you knew that you had to be there for her through all her treatments and always had to be strong for her. I remember you showing us a picture of your mom one of the times she was in a bit of remission and her hair had started to grow back a bit. Strange that I remember that, but I do… possibly because I lost my grandfather freshman year of high school? I don’t know. It’s been 12 years since he passed now and I think about him all the time. My family talks about him a lot and we laugh, sometimes so hard we are crying. Then later, I sometimes cry just because I wish he could be here to witness us laughing at him 12 years after he’s been dead. lol, It’s definitely hard to lose someone, but if you stay close with your family and keep the memories of her alive, a part of her stays alive. I can still picture my grandfather sitting in the living room and his reactions to things as I’m sure you can your mom. Keep her alive in your heart and embrace the memories.

I never met your mom! I did have the privilege of talking to her on several occasions! I felt has if I had always known her! And you are right about one thing! If you didn’t want an answer to your question then don’t ask it! I have tears in my eyes as I am writing this to you! What a great wonderful woman! My mom is a lot like yours…pulls no punches…if you don’t like what she has to say don’t ask.

I don’t ever think you get over losing a parent. I know for Jeff it still haunts him….being only children..it is always there. I can see Cameron at Tony’s visitation and my dad taking care of him. I guess we think that our parents will live forever! Yours does in your cooking and making the dishes you grew up with….mine too! I lucky I still have my parents and they are in good health. I know that I am going on and on but I don’t seem to be able help myself! Your mother loved you and always wanted the best she could give you. She also knew that you were very special and had so much talent! Be proud! You come from tough stock! And Just remember a cousin in law in Arkansas loves you!!!!

Jackie, I have so many memories of your mom, but I was so young when I knew her. She always invited me in for a visit when I would walk around the corner to see if you were home. I also remember this one time you were teaching me how to twirl (I wasn’t very good!) and she stood on the steps and watched looking so proud of you! They all seems to blend together in my mind from one visit to the next. but I was always happy to see her and she always welcomed a tiny drop in visitor from around the corner.
I just had a funny thought…..I was at your house and we were talking about boys and I was reminiscing about my first kiss. I remember your mom knew his family and was giving me the lowdown on his siblings and I remember being mortified that I shared that story.
Hi Jacq don’t know how to start but here goes… your story brought me to tears i lost my mom in 2007 after suffering for ten years from alzheimer’s, it was and is still a struggle but i move on for her, she would have wanted it that way. My memory of your mom happens to be with my mom! Our football games you twirling and me in my tiger outfit they never missed a game and the cheered for us like crazy!!! Still could see them up there in the bleachers soooo proud of us.. it just isn’t right that he takes the good ones, sometimes i wish he took another mother one that doesn’t have a daughter, some girls don’t even get along with there moms he could have taking one of them right? But i guess he needed them, but they are together again watching us from above and cheering us on together again…..sorry for your loss xoxo
Hi, Jacqui!

I got chills reading this. I can tell your mom was an amazing and feisty woman. I guess that is where you get your spunk from. Although her battle with Cancer was a long road I am glad she was able to give you 24 more years of memories to hold on too. Your statement that said, ” I don’t care how old you are, you always need your mother. ” is sooo powerful. My biggest fear in life is to not be there for my children. I always pray for God to keep me here long enough to have my children be able to be independent of me. But like you said, no matter how old you are you always need your mom.

I just lost my friend Diane to Cancer this past Christmas Eve., 12-24-09. She also battled for a long time, close to 10 years. Her children are young adults and I am sure the holidays will never be the same for them.

I also did loose a parent too. My dad! But I was only 3 years old. I really don’t have ANY memories of my dad and that can be really painful too. It also explains why growing up for me was so hard. I did luck out though because my mom re-married and I do consider myself lucky enought to have had two dads. I am glad you still have your Dad also.

I am sure the holidays will never quite be the same but I hope your pain lessens as the years pass. Four years is only a short time to loose someone you have loved for a lifetime. I am sure you will keep your mom alive in memory and by living your life by being a reflection of her. Keeping you in prayer!


Jaqui,

I read your blog about Phyllis about an hour ago and I had to give myself some time to think.

I will never forget her the few times I spent at your house with you and your incredible twirling awards and trophies!! I remember her yelling JAQUI be careful in there! you and she were quite a pair!

Like me and my mom.. I miss her soo much Jaqui, It’s is close to 15 years and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. I understand your saying you surpress your memories cause I do too. I have to if I am going to continue with my life, it’s still painful for me to think about her. but I didn’t start this to talk about my loss, I wanted to share a memory of your mom .

Remember when we were in girl scouts and we went camping? Carols cabin and we were scared shitless!! I remember this one particular night we were sleeping on the floor and each one of us kept having to go to the bathroom, it’s really kind of silly but she said something like” Boy, what does everybody here have a leaky faucet?? well needless to say we all thought that was the funniest thing we ever heard! Just the way she said things was funny.

I remember the last time I saw her, it was in the “old” Brookdale Shoprite, she was wearing a bandanna on her head and she was telling me how she beat the cancer! I was so amazed at her strength, I remember going home and telling my mom (who knew your mom pretty well), That I was inspired by her courage.

It is true that our parents live on through us, but I still wish every day I could see my mom and dad here on earth even just one more time. I do have faith that I will see them again, however, you never stop wishing for one more.
God bless you Jaqui and keep your faith!

Hey Jac,

Now I’m crying after reading what you wrote! My mother and I just went to see the Radio City Music Show today and I’m so glad we did now! Anyway, I do remember your mom, I remember going to your house, and what I remember was that when you were punished and it was your mother only home, she would let you go out anyway, but if your mother and father were both home, you were really punished!!! I always remembered that, I thought it was funny!

Hello my friend,

There are sssssooooo many emotions I have after reading this blog. First off, it sucks losing anyone, especially a parent. It really is hard to move forward and enjoy life in the same manner. It definitely changes things. Your emotions are in turmoil and it is hard to put everything into perspective.
I have found, since losing my dad 23 years ago and my husband 12 years ago (those being the most tramatic to me), that everytime I start to get a little down, or find myself feeling sorry for myself, something happens or I hear of another person’s struggles and it reminds me that I have a lot to be thankful for.
I do tend to talk about that person, in a funny or positive light, if I am feeling down, and it reminds me that we were able to share a lot of wonderful times and although the time we shared may have been too short, it was great while it lasted.
I know that this may sound like a big fat cliche’ but it has really happened to me over the years.
When you are ready, you will speak of your mom in a way that makes you happy.
I am absolutely sure that when that time comes you will remember some hysterical stories. She was a pip, just like you said. She was always there, sick or not. She never missed anything or a trick for that matter. She had a heart of gold and was always there to lend a hand. She was a mom that was involved. There aren’t a lot of kids that can say that their parents were there for them. You can! You might not have liked it at the time, but looking back I know that you are glad now.
Jacqui, my friend, someone very wise told me that it would take 5 years to wake up from whatever funk I was in to realize that I was actually in a funk. I thought, yeah right. They were right! The day WILL come when you will realize you have been here, but not really here. Trust me! And when that time comes and you want to tell stories, I’ll be ready to listen. I can always use a good laugh, and cry, for that matter.

Ginamarie M-S | January 15, 2010 at 9:11 pm | Reply |Edit
Jackie,

I did not know your mom passed. I am soooo sorry. I will always remember your mom. You’re so right- she was a pip and a definite straight shooter- not unlike my mom. That must be why they liked one another. Your blog made me cry. I lost my grandmother to cancer years ago and it will always stay with me. I never in a million years thought my grandmother would not be at my wedding or not be around for my children. I remember when she was in ICU and I held her hand with tears in my eyes and told her she didn’t have to fight for us. I just didn’t want her to suffer. Just last month, her son, my Uncle Frankie passed- he too of cancer. It was terrible. I was by his side when he passed, as was most of the family. I miss him so much. We take people for granted- especially family- sometimes, thinking they will be with us forever. Don’t take anything for granted because none of us is promised tomorrow.

Jaqui:

I am reading through ALL of your blogs and I have to say your write beautifully!! I had to comment on this one about your sweet precious mom!!! I loved that woman!! I will never forget how she helped me on my wedding day! I like you know the feeling of losing my mom and to not have my own mother there with me on one of the most special days of my life was hard. I wouldn’t have had any other person in my life in the room with me that day! I remember when we got to the church she stayed in the back and helped me with my veil and train. She was one of the most wonderful people I ever had the honor of knowing. The way she made us laugh will never be forgotten. She was the true definition of a angel on earth!!!

Love this post, it really made me remember about my mother too. She passed away 4 years ago and I still think of her every now and then. I’m sure it’s difficult for everyone when they lose their parents, mothers especially.

Stay strong. I’m sure she’s in heaven watching you (:

PS. Interesting blog you have here. Will link you!

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.  Republished 2011.

What Lies Beneath: A Repost

Every time I watch that episode of Sex & The City when Samantha is giving a speech about cancer and rips off her wig to reveal her much shorter mane beneath, I think about the first time I saw my mom with no hair.

Every torn off wig in that episode makes me relive the moment which had to be so much more horrible for her than it was for me – but it didn’t feel like it at the time.

My mom was always so confident and not at all into that vanity shit like I am.  She went out without her boobs, without her wig but with her dignity that she always maintained.

One night we were all sitting around the table bullshitting about this or that.  My mother was notorious for her hot flashes as long as I can remember.  Cancer made them even worse and covering up her head added to her internal fire.

Anyway… she said to me,
“Jacq.  Do you mind if I take this frigging thing off my head?”

I said to her,
“Of course not Ma.  Take it off.”

She reached for her turban and unraveled if from around her head and hung it over the back of the chair.

As I looked at my mother I immediately started crying as my eyes filled up with tears and my heart broke for her.  It broke into a thousand pieces.

She asked me why I was crying and I said sobbing,
“Oh Mommy!  I’m so sorry you have to go through this.” 

I couldn’t imagine the pain of looking in the mirror at a bald head.  The pain of going through CANCER and all the rotten stuff that goes along with it.

My mom was stronger than me.  She never looked at it as pain, just a temporary setback of sorts as she energetically  plodded through her sickness and took everything as it came.

When I find myself upset, I pray to HER to give me the strength that she had.  HAS in Heaven.  I’m sure God is putting her to work doing what she does or maybe he’s just letting her rest for a while.

I any case, I hope she knows that she has always been an inspiration and a role model for me.  I hope that kids todays will realize how great their parents are before it’s too late.

I know that my mother knew I loved her but I regret so many things every single day of my life and I hope that she can forgive me wherever she is.

I hope she knows that sometimes I didn’t show my emotions (my defense mechanism) but I was with her every step of the way from North Junior High School when she found out she had the disease to Mountainside Hospital, 28 years later, where she left us so she can finally have some peace.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.  Republished.

Do They Celebrate Birthdays in Heaven?

Today my mom would have turned 75 years old.

But alas my mother is in Heaven doing heavenly things and all I can do is miss her terribly.

I’ve been completely alone since she left.  Yeah, I know I have a husband and a father who I love dearly – but I am alone.

I’ve been wishing her Happy Birthday all day.  I’ve been  trying to keep busy because as soon as I’m alone with myself, I cry and cry and cry.

So Happy Birthday Mommy!  I hope you’re watching over us as much as I think of you.

Do they celebrate birthdays in Heaven?

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

If There Were No Words, I Could Still Hear You

A photo tribute to my mother…

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© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010

What Lies Beneath

Every time I watch that episode of Sex & The City when Samantha is giving a speech about cancer and rips off her wig to reveal her much shorter mane beneath, I think about the first time I saw my mom with no hair.

Every torn off wig in that episode makes me relive the moment which had to be so much more horrible for her than it was for me – but it didn’t feel like it at the time.

My mom was always so confident and not at all into that vanity shit like I am.  She went out without her boobs, without her wig but with her dignity that she always maintained.

One night we were all sitting around the table bullshitting about this or that.  My mother was notorious for her hot flashes as long as I can remember.  Cancer made them even worse and covering up her head added to her internal fire.

Anyway… she said to me,
“Jacq.  Do you mind if I take this frigging thing off my head?”

I said to her,
“Of course not Ma.  Take it off.”

She reached for her turban and unraveled if from around her head and hung it over the back of the chair.

As I looked at my mother I immediately started crying as my eyes filled up with tears and my heart broke for her.  It broke into a thousand pieces.

She asked me why I was crying and I said sobbing,
“Oh Mommy!  I’m so sorry you have to go through this.” 

I couldn’t imagine the pain of looking in the mirror at a bald head.  The pain of going through CANCER and all the rotten stuff that goes along with it.

My mom was stronger than me.  She never looked at it as pain, just a temporary setback of sorts as she energetically  plodded through her sickness and took everything as it came.

When I find myself upset, I pray to HER to give me the strength that she had.  HAS in Heaven.  I’m sure God is putting her to work doing what she does or maybe he’s just letting her rest for a while.

I any case, I hope she knows that she has always been an inspiration and a role model for me.  I hope that kids todays will realize how great their parents are before it’s too late.

I know that my mother knew I loved her but I regret so many things every single day of my life and I hope that she can forgive me wherever she is.

I hope she knows that sometimes I didn’t show my emotions (my defense mechanism) but I was with her every step of the way from North Junior High School when she found out she had the disease to Mountainside Hospital, 28 years later, where she left us so she can finally have some peace.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010

Death Changes Everyone

Death changes everybody.

It changed me.  I’ll never look at the world the same.  I’ll never look at life the same.

When there are more of us in the ground than on the ground, life is depressing.  I’ve been sleeping for days.  I can’t leave the house.  I want to die too.

How do you get through it?  How do you survive the death of your mother or father or child?  You never really know until it happens to you.  I didn’t.

When my mom was really sick, just the thought of her dying made me ill.  The feelings inside me exploded like a volcano.

And then it happened.  Mommy died.  Mommy died 6 years ago today in her hospital bed with all of us there – and right before she closed her eyes for the last time, she managed to look each and every one of us in the eye to say good-bye.  I love you and I know that you love me too.

At that moment I fell apart.  Completely apart.

Sure, I stayed strong until all that nasty business of burying someone was over.  Going to the funeral parlor, picking a casket, picking clothes, deciding on a stainless vault versus a bronze vault.  Then off to the cemetery to walk around and pick a plot.  I had to pick a plot to bury my mother – and essentially my father – and guess what?  Me too.

We (my father and I) chose a spot on a hill, under a tree because my mom didn’t like the sun.  She hated it.  She loved its warmth but despised its shine.

Now I despise the shine of the gravestone when I visit her.

I miss her so much and often think it would be better if I were dead too.

I know that she was hate that I feel this way but I can’t control it lately.

It doesn’t get any easier as the years go on.

It just gets easier to suppress.

And I am a suppression expert.  But all those repressed feelings have to go somewhere.  Maybe that’s why I am miserable.  Miserable.

This is the one time when my misery doesn’t love company.  I just want to be alone and suffer in peace.

I wonder if I died on the same day that my mother did, if I would have a better chance of seeing her?

I think I might.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010

Are You There God? It’s Me Jackie.

Ever since I lost my mother my relationship with God has taken a beating.  Frankly, I’m pissed.

I watched her suffer for so many years with cancer.  It weakened her body and her spirit and my faith in God.

I’m sad because she grew up without a dad to watch over her.  He bled to death when she was 18 months old.  I’m annoyed that she was not always treated right by her relatives when she was but a child.  I remember a story she told me:  She asked her grandmother if she could please have a  banana because she was hungry.  Her grandmother said to her in Italian, “You can’t have that banana because you’re not a son of a Grasso.”  What the hell is that all about?   I can’t even imagine my grandparents ever saying that to me.

I’m angry because her childhood was cut short when the social welfare people pulled her out of school at 15 years old so that she could go to work to support her grandmother, her mother and herself.  She never had an education and was forced to be THE adult.

At 15 years old, shouldn’t our parents be taking care us?  My mom and dad did.  I know I didn’t grow up wanting for anything and had a completely different life than my parents; but aren’t kids supposed to be kids?  Shouldn’t they be allowed to have fun and play and not work to support a family?  At 15 years old my biggest concerns were what shade of blue eyeshadow I should spread across my eyelids, how would I get that certain guy to like me and how could I outsmart my parents so I can continue with my philosophy of life and not theirs.

When I pray now (yes I still pray) I find myself praying to my mom for strength, guidance and protection.  I rarely address JC if ever, anymore.  My mom has become my God.

I went to my Aunt Gladys’ wake last night.  Uncle Mikey, her husband,  just died in November and my dad lost his best friend.  When I was listening to both the nun and the son talk about her going back home to Jesus, though emotional, I felt myself internally rolling my eyes and getting more and more cynical.

When mommy died I was worried about her.  I didn’t know where she was or if she was out of pain.  I worried about her well-being whether she was on this earth or not.  I stressed that she was okay or not okay – or I didn’t know what.  I was confused and doubtful.  Maybe that had something to do with my husband (born and raised Catholic) who believes that when you go in the ground, it’s the only place that you’ll ever be.  He does not believe in Heaven or Hell or much of anything.  It deeply saddens me.

My relationship with God may be damaged but my “faith” is still strong.  When strange things started happening I felt a sense of relief that she was peaceful, out of pain and in Heaven with everyone else.  Maybe she’s even with her father that she didn’t know.  Maybe she’s playing cards with my Aunt Mimi and Aunt Tootsie or sitting on a porch swing just BS ing.  Or maybe her soul has been recycled and has been put on this earth again to live yet another life.

I may never know until I die too.

Yesterday on my way up the Garden State Parkway I was listening to my IPOD in my car.  It shuffles the almost infinite number of songs it possesses.  I stopped at the cemetery to visit Mom.  We had a long talk.  I told her that I was going to Aunt Gladys’ wake.  I told her that Johnny Maestro died at 70 from cancer.  (We were Brooklyn Bridge groupies.  We followed them everywhere.)  I talked about a host of other goings on, said bye and left.

My mood being a tad somber, the song that was playing was a definite 90’s dance music mix and too loud for me at that moment.  I hit the “next song button” and all of a sudden I heard Johnny Maestro singing My Prayer.  My mom’s favorite.  She requested that song every time we saw them and they played it for her.

I immediately started crying.  I knew she was listening.  I knew she was trying to tell me something.  I sobbed all the way to my dad’s and as I pulled into his street and into the driveway, the song was over.

When Phyllis died a part of me died with her.

ARE YOU THERE MOM?  IT’S ME JACKIE.

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

 

As Christmas Approaches… My Emotions Are Off The Chart

After blogging about Christmas music yesterday, I decided to load up my ¡POD with some new holiday tunes and listen to them on the way to work.

As usual, I left my house in an utter tizzy, trying to feed 4 cats, get my lunch together and set the alarm.  I hopped in my car and plugged in my ¡POD – but first I had to wait for the traffic report.

As a Garden State Parkway commuter, I have to listen to the traffic BEFORE I leave in the morning because there is always some accident, rubber-necker or left lane dick who gets in my way.

I turned onto the main drag and saw something lying in the road.

Oh no!  A kitty!  OMG!  Someone just left him in the street to get squished.  Why do people let their cats out?

My eyes filled up with tears and I started bawling over this poor unknown (to me) kitty’s life and how his or her family would feel when they saw the lifeless, innocent corpse laying in the middle of the road right before Christmas.

What a shame!  Maybe I should get out and put it on the side of the road?  Who just left him there?

This is ridiculous.  I need to get my mind off the cat.  Ok.  I already heard the traffic so I’ll listen to my Christmas Playlist.  That should work.

That did not work!

I can only imagine what the people on the Parkway were saying about the hysterical woman in the faux chinchilla in the black BMW soaring up the GSP like a fighter jet involved in serious combat over a hostile territory.

They thought – no – knew I was losing it… and I was.

Dammit!  My eyeliner!

I tried to stop crying so my eye makeup would not be a total mess but it didn’t work.  I composed myself somewhat only to drift back in to a sob or two and one too many tears over the dead cat, my dead mom, my dead family, my cat that I’m going to give away so she can have a good home where she will be the queen of the castle and not just one of the many royalty milling around at Versailles, my marriage, my bills, my weight gain and then back to the dead cat and my dead mother.

And that was all before I got to work!

Ten seconds into Amy Winehouse singing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus“, I started to sob uncontrollably and think about when I was little and how my mom and dad created so many great Christmas memories for me.

I remember waking up early on Christmas morning and creeping down the stairs.  Once I peeked into the living room and saw all the presents under the tree, I ran back upstairs, jumped in bed with my parents so excited that Santa came during the night.  I couldn’t contain my joy.

I ran downstairs with Mommy and Daddy checking to see if Santa ate the cookies that I left and drank the glass of milk alongside.  All that was left were crumbs and an empty milk-stained glass.

Santa!  Thank you for coming!

I  flew under the tree and started examining the gift tags.

  • To:  Jackie  From:  Mommy & Daddy.
  • To:  Jackie  From:  Santa
  • To:  Daddy  From:  Santa
  • To:  Daddy  From:  Mommy
  • To:  Mommy  From:  Jackie

and the list goes on.

I was always happy about Santa’s choices.  I loved my Barbies – anything Barbie!  I loved it all!  The only thing I never got that I wanted was a motorized, battery-powered car from Sears.  Oh well….

I used to mark-off everything that I wanted in the Sears Catalog so that my parents could tell Santa what I really fancied each Christmas.

Mommy has been gone for almost 6 years and it still seems like yesterday yet so far away.  And every year I get melancholy over my family who cannot be here with us on this Earth – but I do hope and pray that they are watching over us from Heaven.  Guiding us.  Protecting us.  Yet somehow celebrating Christmas in Heaven so they can be around family too.

Pretty soon there will be more of us up there than there are down here – if there isn’t already.

I usually start my holiday depression in November but somehow it seemed to be better this year.  What was really happening is my head and my heart were storing it all up so I could have a proper emotional breakdown today.

The funny thing is that I never stopped listening to the Christmas music!

My battle has just started.  I love the holiday season but often pine away for yesteryear and long to see my loved ones again.

I hope you can survive the same because I know my mom would not want me to be upset but would want me to celebrate the life that I have and the life that’s ahead of me.  I hope you can do the same.

Merry Christmas!

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Image: graur codrin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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