Monday, January 26, 2015

A Ski Weekend

For four years in my twenties, I lived in Colorado.  My sister called me "a ski bum with a real job."    Taught middle school punks during the week, skied all weekend.  And missed my family, a lot. Which is why I eventually came back to Ohio.  Because even though I love those mountains,  I love my family more. 

Fast forward 8 years.

Soon after Lydie died, I proposed a weekend ski trip to New York to my family.
"You want to go skiing?" they asked.
They'd pretty much give me anything I asked for at that point.  Not that they could ever give me what I really want.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to go skiing.
That's the thing about my grief.  It feels right to be sad.  I don't particularly want to try to have fun.
But I also know that holing up all weekend, every weekend, can't be too healthy.  
And fresh air is healthy, right?

Last week, I told our grief counselor that I am consumed with thoughts of my daughter.  I do not think about anything else.   I cannot think about anything else.  (Would I want to if I could?)  Even when I'm with Ben, even when I'm working.  Hell, even when I'm sleeping, all my dreams are about my dead daughter.  It is exhausting.

So, this weekend, I took my grief and my all-consuming thoughts of my daughter to a different state.

When I was skiing, losing my daughter didn't hurt any less.  It just gave me a different view to look at in the meantime.

I did okay overall.  Besides hours of skiing, I felt the sunshine, drank some wine, had some normal conversations, watched my son run around laughing with his cousins.

Other moments, it was hard to breathe.

My family tries so hard.  I hear stories of other families, ones who won't acknowledge the loss or speak the baby's name... and that just makes a tough situation tougher.
Still, my sister has the older brother, younger sister combination.  She had it first, but I was supposed to have it too.  I was so close to having it, and then it was snatched away from me.
And so being around my own nephew and niece can be really hard.
It can continue that "why me?" mentality that eats me up inside.
It's easy to get angry at my family right now.  If for no other reason than, I'm angry.  And I can't take that out at work, and I can't take that out on Ben, and if I took that out on my husband, I'd be risking my marriage too.  And let's face it, I really need my husband and my marriage.  So sometimes, I unleash that anger on my mom or my sister, like on Saturday, when we got separated and I started skiing alone, watching the rest of them ski together and ride the chair lift up together.  I felt rejected.  I felt like my life just completely sucks and I am miserable to be around.  I got unreasonably mad about the given situation.  I felt 15-years-old and unable to handle my emotions, unable to be reasonable.   But the truth is, I'm just really angry.

Later, when I wasn't so visibly pissed, my sister wanted to take a picture of us and I said, no, I still don't do pictures.  I wonder how long I can get away with not doing pictures.  And part of me is a little sad about that, like I can't even have a nice photo from our ski weekend, because being in photos makes me too sad.  When should I force myself to buck up, fake a smile?  How long should I keep punishing myself?

And on Saturday afternoon, as the lodge was bursting with people living such seemingly normal lives and the chair lift line full of ten-year-old girls, I thought I was going to lose it.  Now, I know one could argue that I have no idea what grief all those seemingly normal people are experiencing.  And for all I know, one of those girls could be a rainbow baby.  But I needed to get away.  And that made me be done skiing for the day, to head back to the security of my family and our condo.  There's the anxiety, the creeping feeling that I may lose my shit at any given time.  And crowds and packs of 10-year-old girls seem to be triggers.  Well, girls of any age really.  All these girls, none of them Lydie.

Between the hard moments and the rising anxiety, while always missing Lydie, I had a pretty okay time.  And maybe that's the best I can hope for right now, pretty okay.


  1. I'm glad you had a "pretty ok" time. I would agree that's all you can ask for now. I've been missing you and your blog posts, so glad to get your update today. Lots of love!

  2. "Pretty okay" is probably pretty good at this stage. You're pushing yourself outside your comfort zone,learning your limits and how to manage accordingly. Give yourself a pat on the back, Heather. You deserve it.

  3. Pretty OK is totally acceptable.

    I'll admit--I think about that lodge scenario a lot now--How truly, I have no idea who there has been through terrible, awful tragedy. Because now, 2.5 years out from losing Luke, I must look like a perfectly normal, happy person. No one can visibly see my baggage anymore. The most I can hope is that someone sees my tattoo and asks me about it. But that's all I have. And it feels like a betrayal to my grief, but at the same time, thank GOD I'm betraying it, because if I stayed so visibly sad, I would be a mess.

    The other day, I saw a girl crying in her car on the freeway. And I started crying for her. Because that girl used to be me every single day when I drove home from work to an empty house without Luke. For at least 2 months. While I had to deal with the fact that my siblings were both going to have babies. And I wouldn't have mine. I cried SO MUCH in that solitude of my car. And when I saw that girl crying, I just...went right back there. And then I remembered...there are so many pains for so many people. In a way, it's freeing to think about, because you feel less alone. Just like I feel less alone by knowing you and Lydie.

    Pretty OK is exactly that. It is what it is. I remember--One of the first things the girl who runs the OC Walk to Remember out here told me when I met her was this: "It's gonna be a long time, but you'll find happiness again. I can't tell you when, but you will."

    I'm so relieved that she was right. It's happiness tinged with sadness, but happiness all the same.

    I feel like I'm rambling now, so I'm just gonna go eat some Girl Scout cookies and sit in my car in traffic on the way home and hope I don't see another girl crying. Cause I might eat that whole box ♥

  4. Heather, your mom and sister deserve a pat on the back too. It's not easy being around the grieving people.

  5. Pretty okay is pretty great at this point. Good for you for getting away and making the most of a weekend. We went away for a ski weekend about 4 weeks after losing L and it was terrible (the whole thing), but we at least were proud of ourselves for getting out and doing it. Don't expect too much of yourself...

  6. Thanks, Aunt Helen. Mom and I can take it. I just wish we could provide more solace.

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