Friday, November 20, 2009

I am a survivor

November 21st is National Survivors of Suicide Day. A day for those who have survived losing someone to this horrible disease. When I first heard of a "Suicide Survivor's Support Group" I was confused. Why was I labeled a survivor. I didn't attempt suicide, I didn't pull the trigger and survive. I certainly was not a survivor. I was a sister who lost a brother, I was traumatized by the very act of his death, I was living in the aftermath. I was not a survivor. Or was I?

The dictionary defines "Survivor" as any of the following:

1. To remain alive or in existence.
2. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere.
3. To remain functional or usable:
4. To live longer than; outlive.
5. To live, persist, or remain usable through.
6. To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after

Maybe I was a survivor? That was a very big maybe. I still wasn't convinced. After all I didn't have cancer and beat it, I didn't walk away from a car crash, I didn't narrowly escape a burning building, I didn't survive a damn thing! My brother died at his own hands. He did not survive. My brother suffered pain, depression, loss, despair. My brother found that he could not go on. My brother thought his only resort was to end it all. My brother did not carry on despite hardships, he found he could not remain functional, he felt useless, he didn't outlive any of his siblings, he could not persist, cope, or persevere. He was not a survivor.

November 21st is not about those who died. At least not directly. It is about the people who are still living. Still living with the pain of losing their loved ones existence. It is about the people who are carrying on despite the trauma of replaying that very act of me when I tell you just because you didn't witness the act your mind will play it like a movie anyway. It is for the ones who function when they just want to crawl under a rock. It is for the people who cope, who live, who persist, who persevere. It is for the people who use their loved ones tragedy to continue to spread the word about suicide prevention, for the ones who refuse to let the memory of their loved ones die when their life was taken by this horrible disease.

National Survivors of Suicide Day is for those who have survived this goddamn awful disease we call suicide. It is a day when millions of people will unite in spirit & strength, in prayer & hope, in telecasts & teleconferences. A day when millions of people who have never met will come together to beat down this awful disease. Suicide is the cancer that we will beat, it is the car crash that shatters our lives, it is the fire we will put out.

I WILL live in the existence of suicide, I WILL carry on despite this devastating loss, I WILL persevere, I WILL function & be useful to this cause, I WILL outlive the pain, I WILL persist, I WILL cope, and I WILL do all of this because I am a survivor!

My heart is with all of those who are amongst those that this day honors, you may not feel this day is for you, you may feel you are not worthy of being called a survivor, you may not feel like getting out of bed on this day...but you WILL. You WILL survive this!

If you, or someone you know, is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Friday, November 6, 2009

25 Things About Me

This went around facebook for awhile...why not put it here too!

In no particular order...

1. My middle name is Sue after my cousin Melissa.

2. I have 2 beautfiul (yet challenging) children.

3. I love my husband so much my heart hurts only I don't think he knows this about me.

4. I kissed Benjamin in the 1st grade even after he said he'd break up with me if I did...I've been a rebel since.

5. I like to dream...not big goal-dreaming but at night when I sleep...I love it!

6. I've been hot air ballooning and would like the chance to go again.

7. Yes, my REAL maiden name is's French for Courtemanche and the literal translation means "sleeves of short".

8. I smoked when I was a teenager and am now disgusted by that and would never touch it again!

9. I've had 3 unexplained "paranormal" experiences and it bothers me that my husband doesn't believe that!

10. I whole-heartedly believe that I was visited by my Father, Mother, and Brother (each one seperate) after they died. I don't believe it was "just a dream" and I'm thankful for the experience.

11. Claymation or computer-like-claymation figures make me nauseous. They really do.

12. I cannot curl my tounge and watching others do it creeps me out.

13. I a survivor sibling of suicide.

14. I have 6 brothers and 2 sisters...I'm number 8 on the Shortsleeve Totem Pole.

15. I think I'm a good mom but would like to be a great mom.

16. I finally after 10 years of marriage made a good meatloaf for my husband.

17. I hope to visit Italy at least once in my life.

18. I don't have the strength & courage that other people think I come by naturally.

19. My favorite song is "At Last"

20. When I listen to classical music I envision myself ice scating flawlessly...and if you saw me on ice skates you'd realize why this is JUST a vision.

21. Old people make me cry.

22. I don't like blue flowers I think they are freaks of nature.

23. I don't clean behind things, I don't clean baseboards, and dust doesn't bother me.

24. My daughter is named after Audrey Hepburn.

25. I regret not doing better in school, I regret not pursuing more college, and I wish I had had more inspiration to do so...but that isn't stopping me from planning to go after more & do better!

My kids' funny quotes part I

"You be the ocean and I'll be the sun of the beach"--my 4yr old daughter.

"Princesses don't wear underwear"--my 4yr old daughter.

"He's being a naughty little boy and he always does everything that naughty boys do"--again, the 4yr old in da house.

"I'm the bestest ever"--Audrey Age 4.

"Mmmm, the leaves smell very colorful" --Audrey full of wonder, Age 4.

"Mommy has enough love for two of us and that makes sense; you always have to share your friends"--Audrey Age 4 to her little brother, Age 2.

"Yup, I inpossible"--my little bear, Ian.

"I'm sorry for losing my attitude"--Audrey.

"When I was a little baby I didn't know how to do this and now that I'm 4 years old I still don't get it"--Guess Who!

"Don't worry about me, Mom, I have a plan"--Our almost 5yr old

"Ya know, I *AM* one of a kind"--Audrey.

"Shy means when you are allergic to strangers"--Audrey

"Mom, you are going to be so excited I am so proud of what I learned...I just learned to pee outside in the grass"--Audrey age 5

"I wish I could be a mouse so I could poop in the recycling bin"--Ian age 3 1/2

Look At Me Blogging Now

I'm not sure why it took me so darn long to blog. I don't consider myself a creative, interesting, or inspiring writer...but then I realized I'm blogging I'm not writing a novel. I will save the novels for my creative, interesting, & inspiring know who you are! (:

So excuse the incorrect grammar, the random order of my thoughts, the mispellings, the uninteresting and the uninspiring. If you're lucky you just might get to see some of the creativity I'm sure is hidden in here somewhere. For this is me, no ryhme no reason, just me!

I believe in signs & this is one of them

November 5, 2009

The past few weeks I have been more active on the American For Suicide Prevention's page here on facebook. Out of that I have met some incredible people, have made a couple of new friends, and have been touched & haunted by those personal stories of life and death.

For those of you who don't know my brother died by suicide on August 3, 2007. Out of his personal belongings I obtained a few books of his. Not sure why he had them or where he got them but there they were. Tonight some of you heard how "defiant" my children were. Which is a whole other (comical) note in itself. On my way to bed minutes ago I see that they pushed all of the books off from the lower shelf of one of the end tables in our living room. Laughing at the little monster's work I pick up one of the books that had of the very books my brother owned...a book of poetry. It literally fell open to this page that I will share with you now. I believe this is a sign, a message from my brother, or perhaps a message from one of the ones whose stories have touched me so deeply. Don't ignore what's in front of may just be the message you were searching for.

"LIFE" ~~From the book titled "A Heap o' Livin'" by Edgar A Guest

Life is a gift to be used every day,
Not to be smothered and hidden away;
It isn't a thing to be stored in the chest
Where you gather your keepsakes and treasure your best;
It isn't a joy to be sipped now and then
And promptly put back in a dark place again.

Life is a gift that the humblest may boast of
And one that the humblest may well make the most of.
Get out and live it each hour of the day,
Wear it and use it as much as you may;
Don't keep it in niches and corners and grooves,
You'll find that in service it's beauty improves.

Thank You to my brother or one of the many who planted that sign in front of me!

The Sleepover Sept. 2009

A “sleepover” in my bed, with the kids, that was my first mistake! It sounded like a good idea at the time; Friday night, hubby is out of town, snuggle time with my kids, a treat for them, and a much deserved early bedtime for me!

Apparently children learn from a very young age that sleepovers are all about talking & giggling & talking some more. It was cute for the first three minutes. Then I made my second mistake. “Whoever is the quietest the longest and falls asleep first gets a prize”. Certainly one little lollipop for breakfast won’t kill them. All was quiet until I hear “Mom, Ian…what will the surprise be”? “Is tonight a school night”? “I need a drink”. “I’m hungry”. It’s obvious at this point that both children have lost the game and clearly Mama should win the prize. Certainly one little shot of Bailey’s in my coffee won’t kill me.

At 1:30a.m. I awake drenched in sweat. Gross I know but the truth must be told. Apparently at the time of proposed sleepover a queen size bed seemed large enough to hold a mother who is not exactly the same size she was when bed was purchased, a five year old, a three year old, and a 15 year old cat. I get comfortable once more and I hear this awful “grrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaattttttttttttttttttttteeeeeeeeeeee” that which can only be described as rubbing a rock on a cheese grater. What the…when your husband is out of town your mind goes to places in the middle of the night that no one in their right mind would admit. Lucky for me I am not the sort in the right mind and can admit such things. I imagined we were under attack by alien rock graters. Turns out my alien was a 3 year old boy who grinds his teeth in his sleep. Okay get comfy once more, “ggrrrrraaaattttteeee”. Oh Boy! I actually found myself squeezing his cheeks, gently mind you not like Aunt Hilda used to do after she hadn’t seen you in a year. I gave up, I rolled over, I dreamed happy thoughts (two shots of Bailey’s), and finally fell asleep as my alien kept grating rocks!

“Mmmmmmmmmoooooooooooooommmmmmmm” I need a tissue…HURRY! Where am I, I just fell asleep, what is going on, now what? I glance at the clock (3:30) as I fall out of bed to run to get a tissue…a wad of toilet paper because I am one of those slacker moms who doesn’t keep tissues on every stand in arms reach. I race back, five year old is upset and still in need of the tissue. “Mom, what is it…ewwww”. Tempted to say “It’s just the rock grating alien invading your body” but knowing it would scare the heck right out of her I opted for the truth. “It’s just a bloody nose honey, lie back on your pillow and hold this” her 3rd wad of toilet paper. “Mom, remember you said we get a prize in the morning” How could I forget. I glance at the clock again I can’t help but think that it’s 3:30 in the morning and I don’t see how this is possible as it was just 1:30 and surely time has been altered while we were fighting the heat & the aliens.

And then it was 6:30. The sleep was over. The alien was awake asking me to get up with him and when would it be light out. We stumble downstairs and I pour the coffee with a smile knowing it’s going to be a great day because Mama has now earned 3 shots of Bailey’s for her coffee!

The sleepover may not have been my best idea to date but I don’t regret it one minute. Because for 10 hours, while they were 10 interrupted hours I had my babies close to me and I know that the next 10 years are going to fly by as quickly as those 10 hours did and I know they’ll be asking for real, unsupervised, sleepovers with their friends, not with their Mommy.

A Season of Change

It’s September 8, 2009 and as I look outside my windows I see the leaves not only changing color but falling. My husband says to me, “Did the leaves change this early last year?” Honestly I can’t remember but I know that it seems Fall is officially upon us and yet I feel like it’s Spring.

Spring is a time of rebirth, of blossoms and blooms, of new beginnings.

This Fall my husband is taking a new job which will take us from our home in upstate NY where we are surrounded by trees, wildlife, and quiet country living to the hustle & bustle of MD where I doubt we’ll be graced each morning by the wildlife that stops by to entertain the kids. He has faced this change with more certainty than any man I’ve ever known and has struggled through those rough uncertain times with more courage than I could have shown.

This Fall my first born starts Kindergarten. I know my tears will fall faster than the leaves. I am both excited and anxious for her as I send her out on her own for the first time. Yes, I know she won’t be alone but she will be with out me and trust me when I say there is nothing lonelier than not having your Mother there for you. Or maybe I should say that after 5 years I fear there will be nothing lonelier than not having my daughter there for me. She has blossomed into a beautiful 5 year old full of not so beautiful attitude…but it is with the strength of that attitude that I hope she carries herself through school, life, and change.

This Fall my baby bear starts Preschool. He is so excited and full of curiosity and wonder. I have been through this before with the first born so it is with great excitement (and maybe a little anticipation of my alone time) that I send him off to learn to write his name, recognize his letters, and have the opportunity to make new friends. I know he will miss me just enough and my hope is for extra snuggles on these upcoming crisp fall mornings and cooler nights.

So it is with all of these changes happening and to come this Fall that I feel Spring in my soul. A season of new beginnings. Yes it does seem that every year the leaves change earlier than the previous year, maybe because we find ourselves so caught up in change that we forget to slow down and enjoy the moments that are and the moments that were.

Cue My Stand In

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Last night just as I *thought* Audrey, my 5 year old, was falling fast to sleep she sat up in hysterics. Screaming, crying, sobbing. Then out of her mouth came "What if I'm crossing the road to get on the school bus and a car squishes me". "What if you forget me at Kindergarten". "What if they don't teach me bus safety". I thought only Moms, not children played the tragic what-if game and created the unlikely scenarios of a day with out your child.

This was where I needed my stunt double, after all my stand in had done an excellent job so far masking my own fears and anxiety about sending my baby to Kindergarten. I was heartbroken. But, I put aside my usual tendencies to scoop up my baby, and tell her it was all going to be okay. After all, in her little world it's not okay and besides I was trying to tell myself it was going to be okay and I just couldn't share an ounce of that. Instead I promised we'd work through this together, that I'd talk to the bus driver to make sure she got bus safety, that we'd inspect her class room together, that Mommies NEVER forget their children...I left out the story when my own mother forgot my brother at Grandma's house, that together we'd take on Kindergarten. I assured her that everyone gets scared and nervous and that it's hard to understand how something new will work but that it gets easier and fun each day.

Putting this all down on paper makes me realize that I have over and over and over since preschool graduation told myself those same things. Because what if...what if they don't teach her bus safety, what if she hates it, what if she forgets her Mommy? What if she loves Kindergarten so much she doesn't even have time to hug & kiss me good-bye, what if she forgets to wave from the bus, what if my baby grows up to be a beautiful young school age child. The answer is I'll be proud. I'll be proud of what I've done to shape her into a 5 year old...a little nervous, a little scared, and yet head strong like her Mama willing to accept the challenge of moving on to this new phase.

Last night I wiped her tears, I made promises to never leave her side, and I did what any loving mother would do...I scooped up my baby and tucked her into bed with me and whispered, "It's all going to be okay" Because it will be, it will be okay! I promise!