THE SCHOOL OF LIFE

Game of Groans
Yesterday I went to the bank for the purpose to set up some stuff for Mom down the road so that I don’t have to scramble if something should happen to her or if circumstances change. Unfortunately it would have been more complicated than I thought due to the fact that Dad and Janet are deceased. We did go over my investments and talked out different scenarios. My Dad was our financial advisor. Sometimes it was hard because he was very controlling. It took me a long time to be ok with spending money on treats for myself.
Last night I realized just how much I have had to learn how to do for myself since Janet and my Dad died.
When Janet died I had to deal with a lot of media due to the public nature in which she died. I planned the funeral almost entirely on my own because I was the closest person to her. It was a reflection of how many people loved her.
I had to advocate for my Dad when he had cancer. I had to stand up to my brother and my Uncle who had different opinions on Dad’s care. I looked up information online to be as informed as I could be.
I’ve had to maintain a house and yard almost entirely on my own. Yes the yard is pretty weedy but the front is maintained.
Last night I wrote out questions for the meeting at the hospital today. None of my friends my age have had to do this. I did talk it over with my friend JB and she was a tremendous help.
My cousin’s wife tells me all the time how proud she is of me. And you know what I SHOULD BE PROUD. Look at all I’ve accomplished. As my friend TAR would say I ROCK.

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CALL/THAT

______ is the new ______
Interesting that these are the two words that came up when I counted out the words. I got a phone call from my Dad’s only remaining sister yesterday. We have call display and I didn’t answer. She doesn’t know that Mom is in the hospital. She is 92 and her memory is going and I just don’t know whether it’s a good idea to tell her. Should I…maybe but it’s just not my priority at the moment. I should probably phone my Dad’s sister in law too but I don’t want to listen to her talk about her son coming for the long weekend and what a great help he is when I am doing all the work myself.
My Dad’s family does not do well in a crisis. They tend to run or live in denial and pretend that it didn’t happen. It’s why I have had to distance myself from some because I chose not to live my life like that. I can’t deny that Janet died or that Dad had cancer or that looking after Mom is hard. It’s why I connect so well with my cousin’s wife because she is honest about how much she misses her husband. She is the only relative who has said that grief is hard work.
Yesterday I wished that I could go back in time when my family was whole. I wish Janet was here so badly. I wish she was here to talk to, to share the load, to have someone who would make me laugh.

Real life ain’t like the movies

Fourth Wall
I got a phone call around lunch time from social worker at hospital that they are going to set up a family meeting on Friday. He went over some stuff with me over the phone. Asked if I feel burnt out and I said yes. It’s not physically tired (although some days it’s that too) it’s the strain of having to look after the house, go to the hospital, answer questions if people phone to ask how she is. The well meaning people who tell me to be assertive when I don’t have any fight left in me.
In the back of my mind I have known that decisions will have to be made. Things need to change so that we can have some sort of normalcy. But whatever decision I make will not be an easy one. It’s not in my nature to be selfish. I have always put my family ahead of myself. Not to the point where I don’t take care of myself too but it’s because I love my family. When my Dad had cancer I took care of him. It was hard but I treasure that time I had to tell him I love him. To know that he was thankful for what i did for him.
Both my parents know what I had to give up for them. But I can still write from home. I still go out for coffee with friends. And while I can talk to friends for support none of my friends have been through this. I’m 41 years old and have lost my sister and best friend, my father and now have to make health decisions for my Mom.
In the movies there is usually a happy ending but life isn’t like that. There’s no sign that says “choose this road”.

Favourite movies

Fourth Wall
If I could spend a day in a movie it would be hard for me to choose between Mary Poppins and Under the Tuscan Sun. Can I do half a day in each?
I know what you are thinking…but Mary Poppins is a kids movie. Yes, but it’s so much fun. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with Mary Poppins while they clean their room. Or go to the park with Bert the chimney sweep. Mary Poppins is still one of my favourites even as a big kid.
I would love to spend part of the day in Under the Tuscan Sun for the food alone. And there aren’t any calories in movie food! I could sit out in the garden and write, go for a walk in the country side ahh sounds blissful.

DREAMS

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
About a month after Janet died (the day before Thanksgiving) I dreamed that Mom and I were in the kitchen cooking and she came walking through the door. She was wearing her white cap sleeved top with fooler scarf attached. I remember waking up and it seemed so real. My Mom had similar dreams. It’s because in our heart we had not fully accepted that she was gone. We expected her to walk through the door. Thanksgiving was a holiday that Janet and I shared. We loved cooking and we would share the duties. We wouldn’t even have to tell each other what we needed we were so insync.

Around the time of my brother’s wedding I dreamed that Janet, my friend Tasha and I crashed a wedding at Casa Loma. I have never been to Casa Loma (it’s in Toronto) so why I picked that place I have no idea. We were running up and down this big staircase. Janet’s dress was red, mine was royal blue (same colour as I wore to my brother’s wedding) and Tasha’s was a white strapless gown. I remember waking up feeling happy, like it actually happened.

I have had many dreams where Janet and I are going somewhere and we get lost in the airport. Sometimes I lose her and sometimes we are together and we are lost. But when we are together I don’t feel lost. I’m not anxious. I know we are lost but it doesn’t matter because we are together. It’s like when she was physically with me in life we could do anything together.

How I would spend $1 Billion Dollars

You’re a Winner!
First off let me say that I don’t actually buy lottery tickets. When I go to the grocery store I hate getting behind people who buy lottery tickets, I think it’s a waste of money. Ok, now that I got that off my chest here’s how I would spend it.

I would purchase a property in this neighbourhood, tear it down and build a one floor property with a indoor pool, a spa bathroom for myself complete with heated floors, walk in shower for Mom. Bedrooms in separate wings but with intercom in case she needed anything. I would have my own chauffeur, maid (of course). I would have a huge media room with massage chairs a place for my drink and a popcorn machine.
I would buy a small house for my friend JB so that she could have a place that she could make her own.
I would arrange to pay the way for everyone who wanted to go to Twinless Conference for one year. All expenses paid–travel, food, accomodation. It makes me sad that there are people out there that wouldn’t get the experience due to finances (even with help).
I would give a big portion to my church. I would give some to my former church so that money wouldn’t be a hinderance to helping people.
I wish there was a way to heal my Mom but no amount of money in the world will do that.

I once told my Mom that we are rich. Oh not monetarily. We have a house that is paid for, food in the fridge, clothes in the closet and money in the bank. We don’t need for anything so in that regard WE ARE RICH.

Shoulda done laundry yesterday

Shoulda Woulda Coulda
Since I am on my own I don’t really have a list of things that I “should” do. I have to do some laundry since I’m running out of clean clothes. Something we all do at least once a week. I should do dishes more often than I do but I finished yesterday. Quite proud of the fact that the kitchen no longer looks like it exploded inward. Not quite sure what i’m going to do about groceries this week. I don’t HAVE to go immediately but I haven’t decided whether to just go myself or whether to have them delivered so I can free up time to do something else.

Life if full of choices. Things that we should be doing but for whatever reason we don’t get around to it. Things we talk ourselves out of doing because there will be time. I’m living proof that we don’t always get the time. I went to Vancouver in 2007. If I had waited chances are it wouldn’t have happened. The friend I stayed with is now living elsewhere. When I went to Detroit I decided I was going to buy the quilt. I could’ve told myself that it’s a lot of money, you shouldn’t buy it but I decided to listen to the voice that told me “you deserve it”.

Here’s what we SHOULD be doing
Give yourself permission to have fun.

Sometimes I forget

Well, I Never…
This morning I woke up and felt like I got hit by a truck, my arms were sore, my back was sore and my head was fuzzy. I did too much yardwork yesterday and I was feeling it. Unfortunately I couldn’t go back to bed as my neighbour was coming to fix the handle on our toilet in the powder room. A hot shower helped a little bit. It took a lot longer than I thought it would with multiple trips home to get stuff so I wasn’t able to visit Mom this morning. By this afternoon I really needed a nap.
This morning a friend of mine sent me an email with a picture of the program for the “Inspirations for the Day” or as I call them “Morning Devotions”. The person leading it does an amazing job picking out songs and readings that really speak of loss and hope. She usually ends with a prayer too. This afternoon I was looking at it more closely and this is the song that she ended with

Thank you my twin friends for the reminder I needed it.

My Twin Friends

The Perfect Game
Today is the first day of conference. It is being held in Nashville this year. A twin friend of mine is keeping me informed by email. It’s kind of cool when she emails and says “so and so just arrived and so and so says hi”. I’ve seen some pictures on facebook.
I remember the first time I went I was so nervous. It was like the first day of school. Wondering whether anyone would like you. It is a bit like high school in that I’m not going to connect with everyone.
What do we do at conference? Today is for board members and Regional Coordinators. They go over the business stuff. The reception for members is at 6pm. This is where you get to mingle with new people and catch up with friends. Once the conference starts it’s a full day. The day starts with Inspirations for the Day at 7:30. We sit in a circle around a candle and she usually does a reading and plays a song. It’s a very calming way to start the day. I have to admit it’s pretty hard for me to get up that early sometimes. The day officially starts at 9AM with announcements and then we have a guest speaker. Usually someone who works in Grief Counselling. Then we break up into groups depending on the type of loss…early loss, later loss, spouses of twinless twins. Friday night there is free time for sightseeing. Sometime during the weekend they do a balloon release. This is probably the most meaningful thing for twins because it’s our way of talking to our twins. It’s so special watching our balloons soar into the sky.
Saturday night we all get dressed up for a special dinner. There is a live auction after dinner which is a lot of fun. Many times people get into a bidding war with another twin and there is a little friendly competition. Believe me it’s an experience.
I haven’t been to conference for 4 years for many different reasons. I miss going but look forward to next year. I do know where it’s being held but am not allowed to say until it’s officially announced during conference. I can’t wait to be able to sit and chat with my friend JB. I get a hug from EJ. She gives the best hugs!! By the end of conference I feel full to bursting with so much love. It’s magical.

SONGS

Always Something There to Remind Me
I guess I could say that songs fall into two categories for me. Songs that evoke good memories and songs that have more of a sad connotation for me.
My sister couldn’t hear “Send in the Clowns” or “Memories” without thinking of our Grade 4 teacher. He was the person that did all the school plays. We were in the choir but we disliked this teacher because he thought we were stupid.
Hearing the song “Shiny Happy People” by REM makes me think of a summer camp that I went to in 1991. We danced to this song.
I was listening to the song “I’m Your Angel” the other day. I can remember when it first came out and we would hear it on tv and radio probably 4 times a day. It’s such a beautiful song but now it means something different to me.
When my brother got married we had to pick out a song to be announced by at the reception. We just got back from the funeral reception and my brother’s fiance brings out her laptop and decides we are going to do this right now. Honestly I couldn’t have cared less. Her parents came in on “Celebration”…well it wasn’t for us. I couldn’t tell you what song we actually picked because it didn’t mean anything to me. All I could think was Dad should be doing this with Mom, not me.
Sometimes when I feel things building inside I will put on songs that make me cry so that I can release the emotion. Right now I’m listening to Kelly Clarkson “Stronger”. Yes it’s about a breakup but it’s such a true song.
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER