January 17, 2022

grief, germs, heavy, & re-entry - not necessarily in that order

Is it time to wash the sheets, AGAIN?

That's where I am. Sort of. Dragging. Stuff to do makes me want to scream. Didn't I just do that? Everything feels heavy. This is not my normal mode. 

I imagine part of it is grief. I'm so grateful that I was able to attend Joe's wake and funeral on Thursday and Friday. It did my heart good to spend time with his family. We hugged and laughed and cried and told stories and got caught up. 

His wife, Gina, didn't know that my sisters and I were coming. After we talked to the family members that we ran into as we entered the wake, my sisters walked to the front of the room to pray near Joe's ashes. I was trailing them. Gina was sitting on a couch. She saw me, hopped up, and came over. We hugged it out for a long time. Sobbing. 

I told her how upset I am that I wasn't able to see him in the fall when he tried to stop in Chicago. How I always felt he was in my corner. How much I already miss him. She kept saying, "Oh, I know, I know. Oh my gosh, I can NOT believe you guys came all this way. I can't believe you're here." 

Then I whispered to her that I felt Joe would probably also appreciate the dynamics of me driving with my two sisters. Shaking with laughter, Gina said, "Yes he would. He certainly would." 


I came home on Friday later than expected because we ended up staying for the luncheon. I'm so glad we did. I embraced that extra time. 

I cried myself to sleep Saturday night. I woke up Sunday morning and lay there for a few minutes thinking. A few more tears. 

There's so much that is weighing ne down:  

 What am I DOING? When Joe died, I started thinking. Why babysit, when I really just want to write my book(s) and get them published? Well, we all know why. Money. There is no guarantee that my writing efforts will lead to a paycheck. You know:  DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB, etc.

Lad. When I listened to the eulogies (3 people spoke, each was amazing - a beautiful tribute to an amazing man), I thought about Lad. I wish Lad could've spent time with Joe, learning to take responsibility, to lead, to make the most of every situation. Not that he doesn't have parents that try to get through to him.

I know that this wouldn't necessarily have been a fix. We've been begging him to go see a therapist. He says he will. He is so much better than he was, but he needs help. I see all that Joe was and I want to bottle that up somehow and gift it to my kid. Joe was one of 5 brothers, and they didn't all lead the way he did - so I get it. Everyone has their strengths. 

Germs. I got home Friday night. Mini played 2 basketball games an hour from home Saturday. Followed by a team lunch. She told me after the first game that she'd thrown up before the game, but she knew she wasn't sick. Ate too early, or something. I believed her. She believed she wasn't sick.  She threw up on the bus after the team lunch and then came home and puked for hours.  

Not sure I ever mentioned here:  Reg, Coach, and Curly all had covid the week before the funeral. Mix in a stomach bug that Lad and the tots/babies had and that might paint a better picture.



This is Joe and his brothers
and me and my siblings
 (plus 3 parents, my mom snapping photo)
on our deck in Davenport.
 circa 1975ish. I'm the very
front with an orange shirt.
 Johnny, my best bud
 who was in the accident is next to me in
 yellow. Joe has brown hair. Wearing a
yellow t-shirt, he's standing
 in front of his dad who is holding
up my youngest brother. 
I tried to explain to Coach how heavy everything feels, but I'm not sure he gets it.   

I don't want to clean house, beg people to help clean house, do all the laundry, plan and prepare all the meals, grocery shop, babysit, pay bills, communicate with teachers, schedule ortho appointments, repeat. Not sure if this is because I'm sad, or just adding to how sad I am. 

Maybe it's all so hard right now in part because I was SO focused on getting to Minnesota. That was a good thing to be able to do, but I'm finding it hard to hop back into all the demands of life. Re-entry, if that's what we call it, is not all that easy. 

I guess after sitting in a car for hours, which sucked but it was also quiet and still and not busy, followed by lots of crying  and thinking of things I want to talk to Joe about and not being able to, and then getting home and trying to dive back into everything here, well it's rough. 

I decided when I woke up Sunday morning to make a list of the things I can control and the things I can't control. I'm hoping that helps. *Have I made that list yet? Well no, but I did do two loads of laundry and a grocery run that involved $600 worth of food.* 

The list is in my mind. I still have to sit down and write it out, but I'm hoping that it'll be therapeutic. 


My youngest brother, Mike,
and my mom at said pool.
A funny from Joe's brother, Mike's eulogy:  Mike said that he'd only once heard Joe say the wrong thing. Joe ALWAYS said the right thing. The brothers were at the neighborhood pool next to their house and two doors down from our house in Davenport. There was a mom with 5 little kids there, some were Mike's age and some were younger. Joe asked this mom if she was pregnant. She wasn't. When they got home, their mom hollered at Joe:  YOU DON'T EVER ASK A WOMAN IS SHE'S PREGNANT. 

*The 'Are you pregnant' was directed at my mom. 


Nicole MacPherson said...

Oh Ernie, I'm so sorry you're feeling like this. It's all so much, losing a friend and dealing with illness. It does make you think about the bigger picture in life, doesn't it. We all grieve in different ways. I hope you can grieve and heal and take some comfort in the memories and the gift that Joe and his family was to your life. It's such a difficult time for you, and I hope those memories can help you through this difficult time.

Beth Cotell said...

Yes, everything feels heavy because you are grieving. You need to acknowledge that and take time to feel what you are feeling. Pushing it aside now will only mean that it comes up later. Go easy on yourself and let things slide for a while.

I'm so glad you got to go to the funeral. I'll continue to pray for you and Joe's family.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love that photo with ALL of you. I could spy you easily as you resemble your girls so much; what a sweet memory.

You are grieving. You owe it to yourself to take the time to do so. I know you have a million things to do but only do what is completely necessary.

I'm so happy that you were able to make it to Joe's services; I know that did your heart some good.

I was going bonkers cleaning ALL towels, sheets, surfaces too and it was only TWO of us here sick. I get it. I do hope everyone is feeling better now.

I will keep Lad in my prayers; I know his well-being weighs on you. XO

Ernie said...

Nicole - Thanks. I appreciate your encouragement. It is a hard time and that makes it tough to get back to the busy schedule.

I knew Joe as a kid, but it wasn't until the last 5 years or so that I really connected with him. We had some good talks recently and he wanted me to come visit over the summer. He tried to visit in the fall, and that didn't work out as it was so last minute and we were out of town. Our plan to get together never happened. In a million years, I didn't think that would be my last opportunity. He knew all about my kids through me, but aside from the weekend when he met Mini - he never really got to know my kids. I so wish my kids knew him. Ugh, it hurts.

Ernie said...

Beth - Yes, so true. Someone recently told me grief is the price we pay for love. I am willing to let things slide, that is my backup mode and we are sliding all over the place here, my peeps are good with that. I am glad I grabbed two carts worth of groceries yesterday. Check that box.

Thanks for the prayers. I appreciate it. I miss him and all that lie ahead.

Suzanne said...

It is so, so hard to lose a friend. I think now, you feel your feelings -- the other stuff will be there when you're ready. Sending you love and light.

Charlie said...

Ernie, I'm so happy for you that you got to go to Joe's funeral and that his family really appreciated it. I am sure that was some comfort to them. Take it a day at a time. Grief is hard, January is hard, having a child who needs help is hard. That's not even mixing in a pandemic, a busy job a full family life etc. Be kind to yourself where you can x

Ernie said...

Suz - We kept saying when talking to his brothers and his mother that it is hard to believe that we all lived in Davenport together so briefly. 3 years. We moved in at the same time and what fun our families had together. So many funny stories. They did visit us in Chicago once we moved back here, and we went back to see them too. The neighbor bar was set SO high. Then I wind up with folks like Mary Ann. Huh? Where's the fun in that?

Yes, always a million things - but hey, we now have a million dollars worth of groceries, so I feel like we can do anything - or ignore anything if we have food.

I really feel blessed to have been at the services. I'd resigned myself to NOT going, considering the germs in our home. It was a time to heal and mourn together. The eulogies alone. Amazing.

Ah, Lad. Yes, his issues seem to be underlying at the moment, but till when? Till stress sets him down the wrong path again? I do want him to talk to someone and make a plan or understand himself a bit better. He is a good kid but not great at figuring out what he needs. He's trying and he is working, etc. but he needs good friends and to feel good about himself. He says he wishes he'd gotten to know Joe, I mean they met when Lad was like 4 and Joe was visiting. Maybe I'll find a way to get Lad to understand all that Joe was. He was brutally honest. Telling people the truth whether they liked it or not. A good place to start.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - Yes, feeling the feelings sounds about right. I can cry at the blink of an eye. And yes, the 'stuff' will definitely still be here, in the form of piles of laundry and the piles of stuff my offspring ignore.

Thanks very much.

Ernie said...

Charlie - I really cannot imagine how disappointed I would've been if I couldn't make the funeral. It was a good place to be, surrounded by so many other people who loved him and knew him and miss him. It is definitely tough right now, and yes I've thought about January a cold slow month that is adding to everything. This dang pandemic. A day at a time. I'm going to work to make sure my kids understand all that Joe did and who he was. There have been some great FB posts about him from people who he mentored in the Air Force and beyond. Thanks so much for the supportive words.

Kari said...

Oh friend, I'm so sorry. It's a lot right now. Sit in your grief for as long as you need. I have to remind myself of this on occasion, but our spouses and children are old enough to do their own laundry and prepare their own meals.

I'm sending you so much love.

ccr in MA said...

I'm glad you got to go to the funeral, AND that you didn't come back with any car horror stories. Go easy on yourself as you get through the first, worst days.

Bibliomama said...

Grief is hard work. I always feel pretty down in January anyway, and anything extra makes it really hard to function. I like that you could share the humour of you driving with your sisters with the grieving widow - we rely heavily on laughter to get us through hard times here.
I know it's natural to think you have to seize every day when you lose someone like this, but I think the truth is there's no benefit in making drastic decisions while you're grieving. I go more for the "do small things with great love" than trying to do great things.

Ernie said...

Kari - Thanks. It is still such a shock. Seeing his 'people' did help and I would've really struggled had I not gotten to go, so I do hold that gift in my heart. Thank you covid for not robbing me of that. And, um, you have not seen Mini in a kitchen or you wouldn't be making lofty assumptions about her 'abilities' to make dinner. You will soon learn as I've started a post to sum up her 'issues.'

Ernie said...

ccr - I am glad that I was there. The funeral was live streamed but hugging people and crying and laughing with them was key for me.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we. I mean I wouldn't call what went on in the car HORROR STORIES, but still . . . there are things to share. Get excited.

Ernie said...

Ali - Yes, thank goodness for humor. There was much of that going around with his family. Laughing sure helps. Learning more about the causes Joe worked towards was eye opening. I do want to make changes and do great things because of him, to honor him. I drafted a life changing plan on the car ride home. LET'S OPEN A BASKETBALL PLACE IN THE INNER CITY AND GIVE KIDS A PLACE TO SPEND THEIR TIME TO GET THEM OFF THE STREET. Well, that was my pitch to Coach, who said nothing - he may have even been asleep while I rambled for all I know. It was late and we were in bed. Joe was committed to helping kids feel successful and since our adoption journey didn't quite pan out, why not do this other thing? Not that I calculated ANY logistics, or financing, or what not. I like your idea to do small things with great love. Probably sensible.

Pat Birnie said...

You have had a lot of sadness to deal with of late. Layer on the viruses in your home, January, which can be bleak and the daily challenges of life: you you deserve all those feelings. Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to grieve. Hugs

Jenny in WV said...

Go easy on yourself, take the time you need to grieve. You don't have to do it all every moment of every day! Remind you kids that it is still your birthday month and so they need to be extra nice to you and extra helpful around the house.

Ally Bean said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I think your feelings of heaviness are appropriate, to be expected. We all are dealing Covid fatigue, then add grief to it and it takes longer to process anything, everything. Take care of yourself, ok?

Ernie said...

Pat - Ah, so true. Yes, I intend to be kind to myself. But I must find a way to do that that doesn't involve dessert. Ugh. Eating my emotions is starting to show.

Ernie said...

Jenny - I promise to go easy on myself. As for asking the kids to pitch in more, well - that is my regular go to mode and it does NOT seem to register with them. I will tell them that you said so.

Ernie said...

Ally - I do agree. When I was crying in my bed, I was trying to tell Coach that I can't even gather with friends right now, or I haven't anyway, trying to avoid covid. I pledge to take care of myself.