October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Joe and I have a bit of a tradition when it comes to Halloween - one year on and one year off.  Last year we were definitely on.  This year is much more low key, but we still like to keep it festive.  Here we are as bank robbers, a sack of money, and a handsome teller who didn't stand a chance.
Let me point out a couple things:
1. I am fully aware that Ellie will look back on family photos and wonder why the h*#@
we made her wear a paper bag.  Never a princess or a fairy - every year she is but a cog in the machine that is the Hardie Family Costume.
2. Two kids later and I'm still rocking the leggings for Halloween - I think we can all agree this is a big win.
3. Is there anything cuter than a baby in a mask?
How about a baby in a mask who can....stand up by herself!
Thank you, Ellie for being such a good sport.  You worked that bag!
And thanks for sticking your finger in your nose at just the right moment.
This is family photo album gold.

Happy Halloween everyone!  Let us not forget that last year Halloween marked the beginning of a series of events that caused a major decline in the quality of life at the Hardie household.  Here's hoping that the curse on our house is broken after one year's time.  Muuuahh-haaa-haa-haa

October 24, 2012

Pulse Check

Ellie contemplates her morning smoothie.
Boy, does she look wrecked.

Remember how my last post was all about finding meaning in the loss, and it wrapped up with a nice sweet statement about a butterfly?  Well, a lot of life has happened since then.  And life can be awfully hard to boil down into a few words for a blog post.  So I'll just go a little stream of consciousness for a while:

The day after the big 6 month milestone, I was an absolute disaster.  Could not stop crying to save my life.  Finally had to break down and ask for help from the sweet women around me.  Women I didn't yet know well enough to let them see all the cracks, to feel comfortable with them seeing me so broken.  But like it or not - I couldn't hold it together anymore.

So they came, they took my children for the day while I slept and cried on the couch with an intensity that rivaled that very first night when my world came tumbling down.  Such a release was just what I needed for so many feelings and anxieties that had built up since moving here.   And then I took a deep breath and thought, "OK - moving on.  Time to get back to normal life."

Had a trip to the city recently.  It was great to see friends - so very wonderful.  And exciting to have so many photo shoots.  But taking a work trip with kids and without a husband is a recipe for disaster.  (as is sleep deprivation, the ill-timed menstrual experience, 7 friends in a 1 bedroom apartment for 9 days, and the observation of what would have been Mom's 43rd birthday)

Well.  When I write it out like that - it's no wonder I was a mess.  I wanted so badly for this trip to fix all of my woes.  Wanted the familiarity of friends and neighborhoods to cure my pain.  Instead I cried on the phone to Joe - like a kid at summer camp.  "I want to come home."  

That need to come home - it's such a recurring theme in my heart.
Wanting to be taken care of.
Wanting to feel safe.

It wasn't until midway through my NYC trip that I realized - Oh, I'm still depressed.  I prefer to talk about my depression in the past tense.  Something I experienced and left behind.  But it's not so.

In the time since my last post I've had multiple trips in and out of this gloom.  I haven't written because I keep waiting for it to be over.  I like to tell a story with a moral.  I like to know the end.  It's difficult to chronicle my life on the blog because it doesn't translate so well into these black and white words.  It's gray right now. Constantly shifting.  I feel as though I don't move along the same linear track as the people around me.  It's a little disconcerting, but I'm learning to accept it.

I'm trying to just be.

Still, my mind is never quiet.  I'm constantly composing in my head.  Searching for the meaning in this experience.  Sometimes words too raw to share here spill onto the pages of my journal.  Sometimes laughter wells up at the sight of my girls.  Sometimes tears follow my happiest thoughts. Everything is poignant these days.

I still have a sense of humor, too - it's just not as funny to other people these days.  Even in my deepest despair however, I think I am hilarious.

There are lots of things I want to write about:
 - the way that this grief has changed me - in ways I don't want to forget or forsake when the fog of sadness is lifted
- that you should never send a depressed girl to Target because all she can commit to is brownie mix and candles
- the flexible and unsteady nature of my faith.  The feeling that this experience completely hollowed out all of the things I had built up to be my belief system.  The way that this stripping process felt so meaningful at first, so full of promise that God would fill me with something better - but now it just feels empty.
- how hard it can be to wait on God
- how freeing it is to love without judgement
- how good it feels to talk kindly to myself (I hope everyone reading this practices a gentle inner dialogue)
- how kind and long-suffering my dear Joe continues to be
- all the books I've started and stopped.  (as much as I believe in the cause, I just can't read about the impending doom of climate change - not right now)
- when am I going to write that post about how to help a grieving friend?  I guess when I figure out how to define that exactly.
- that giving up cooking was the best choice I made for my mental health.  Who knew baked chicken nuggets and green beans from a microwave bag could be so good for you?
- the way it feels so good to give up all those unimportant things.  My list of important things (though it changes daily) is so much shorter than it once was.

Well, I guess I've written it all down now.  Sorry that it's not pretty or coherent or rife with meaning.  But it means something to me.  I think one of the reasons we suffer is so that one day we can occupy a comfortable place for someone else who is suffering.  I'm leaving these words here tonight (against my better judgement to hold the delete key), as a testament to the process I am going through to become that kind of person.  The path is murky and confusing as hell to navigate.  But I think that's where I am - and I haven't given up on the person I could become on the other side of this grief.

Also, please don't send the rescue teams after me.  The house is clean, the kids are clean and fed and snuggled and read to.  I am functioning - just differently than I used to.  Definitely more honestly than I ever have.  It might look like a cry for help, but it's not.  Just a desire to let you see me as I am.
(photographic proof of the well being of my lovies)

October 2, 2012

I took this photograph on the way home from blueberry picking this summer.  As we drove by these fields of sunflowers, I actually lost my breath.  It was like a dream.  A miracle.  A bit of magic.  How blessed I am to live in this world - to experience such beauty.

Today marks 6 months since Mom's passing.

Yesterday I got weepy in Wal-Mart (why does that place feel so much like home?) It was the laundry aisle that did me in. 

In the evening I gave myself a short cry in bed, followed by a nap while Joe played with the girls.

Today I saw a beautiful butterfly that struggled fiercely in the wind to fly above me for a long moment.  The way it beat its wings, was swept up by the wind, and fluttered back, determined to stay within my gaze - I could have sworn it was her.

When I see something truly beautiful, I sigh with sadness.  It's a shame she can't be here to see this.

Then I wonder vaguely if she can see all this.  If somehow she sees more than I can know.

That thought passes without an answer - just the sense that wondering is enough.

My heart holds so many things.  Sadness and hope and relief and regret and acceptance.  Today, though.  Today I feel wonder and gratitude for my butterfly.