Sunday, October 30, 2011

Granny and Pop Jerry came over yesterday and finished texturing Tanner's bedroom walls and we can start painting tomorrow.  I can't wait to see the finished product!

It already looks so much cleaner and brighter in there without all the posters on the wall.  He's decided to use gray paint with a highlight wall done in black.  Then we are planning to go with some framed brightly colored posters (in good taste this time).

Granny and Pop Jerry are going to give him their leather recliner so he'll have a sitting area in the room so that he doesn't have to sit on the end of his bed when he's playing video games (which is not good on his aching back).

I'll be sure and post pictures of the finished product.

I told Tanner and Cearra that I would take them to the movies yesterday and asked that they pick out a film they wanted to see.  My only restriction was that I didn't want to see a horror movie.  They came up with Puss and Boots - which ended up being an amusing end to a loooong day.

They are spending the day today with Cearra's family so I think I'll go and mow the lawn.  I've been told that I should only have to mow one more time before winter arrives and since it's such a beautiful day, I think today is the day.

“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.
For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I'm feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I'm feeling sad, it's my consolation. When I'm feeling happy, it's part of why I feel that way.
If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone.”
Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Switched Moods

It seems that Tanner and I have switched moods.  I've started to pull out of my depression and Tanner has sunk into his own dark mood.

He has been very low all weekend and told me that he doesn't know what is wrong with him; that he just feels very sad.  He said he hasn't felt this depressed since his and Trevor's friend John committed suicide when Tanner was only nine years old.

I went out after work yesterday and didn't see Tanner when he got in from school last night so I didn't have a chance to talk to him and see if things were any better. 

I talked with him earlier and he said his doctor's appointment went okay - but Dr. Albritten wasn't there today so it was just his routine chemo appointment this week.

He's amazed me for more than two years now with how well he's handled this whole process so I'm not surprised that he has low days occasionally. He's actually done better than his mom when it's come to strength in dealing with everything since his diagnosis.

Granny Jane and Pop Jerry came over a couple of times this weekend and are helping us textureTanner's bedroom in preparation for a new coat of paint.  I think taking all the posters off the wall and moving out some of the old furniture was a little overwhelming for him but I hope that when it's finished and he has a "grown up" room, he'll be glad for the changes.

What is life without change?

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”.. Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On My Own

So, it's worked out that the psychologist wanted me to see either a psychiatrist or my family doctor - but either appointment would cost over $300... So, I'm going to continue to do this on my own.  I've been doing it on my own all my life and I see no reason why I can't continue that way.  It's going to all be okay eventually... One way or another...

Hurt, heal, and move on.... learn to live again.  Do what I have to do... 

I've started the process and I've come a long way from where I was a year ago... a month ago...

Tanner continues to do great.  His Multiple Myeloma is under control, he's going to school, doing his homework, dating Cearra and, as he puts it, "loving life".  What more could we ask for?

He's learned to live in the moment.  He has a terminal illness and he's "loving life"... Really, what's more amazing than that statement from a 19 year old with cancer?  If he can face what he's been through and learn to live in the moment... If he can find his way back to loving life again, it's time for me to learn from him.

Sometimes the answers we seek lie in the silence...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Balancing Act

So, I started my day with an early morning appointment with a phsychologist.

On the way there, I kept telling myself I was fine.  I was thinking "Why am I doing this? Everyone gets drepressed sometimes. She will wonder why I am even here".

I arrived and she took me back to the room and told me that this visit was going to be a little more "formal" than future visits and that she needed to gather some background information.  Then she started asking me about my family, my childhood, my marriage, my relationships, my sons, and myself - and the tears started flowing....

She says that with my family history, I am chemically predisposed for depression and asked how in the world was I coping everyday with all the extra issues in my life - and I told her that I don't have a choice.  What do you do?  It's just me and I have to get up and go to work; I have to function.  She said that they "see that all the time in women".  That just because you keep functioning every day doesn't mean that you arent' depressed.

We talked for over an hour and at the end of that time, she told me she thinks I'm having some significant depression problems and that she wants me to commit to a year of working through some of these issues... of getting the help that she thinks I need.

She said that depression, for many people, is an hereditary illness... like diabetes, or any other illness.  It isn't something to be ashamed of - and it isn't something you can wish away - and it isn't something that is often understood by the vast majority of people who don't have any experience with it in their lives. 

I told her that I've tried counseling off and on through the years and that I'm not good at it; that opening up to people doesn't come naturally to me... but I also told her that with Trevor's mental issues and Tanner's cancer, I've reached a place in my life where I know I have to do something. 

I told her that I have a friend, Donna, who has been there for me for over thirty years.  She's my family - the one I can always count on no matter what - and I have to force myself to talk to her.  I have to force myself to go out with her to eat, to the movies, just out...  because my instinct is to just hide in my bedroom... to withdraw... but I have been trying.  I have been going out - and I have been reaching out to my friends.

I know all the positive things I need to do.  I know that it could be worse... I know that I have so many people who love and care for me and the boys... I know I need to live in the moment...  I know all of those things, but I'm struggling...

I've reached out to my friends and have been going out with them, I've been visiting churches, and I've admitted to the doctor that I'm struggling.  I've been doing what I can to pull out of this.... but I am who I am....  and I'm doing what I need to do...

So, since I don't have insurance, she's going to talk to the psychiatrist on staff and see what they feel my next step should be.  Commiting to a year of treatment isn't going to be cheap...  so believe me, I'm back to telling myself I can do this on my own.  I've always been able to do this on my own.

Please don't think I go around all the time in tears... I laugh every day, I enjoy the people I work with, I spend time with my friends and family, and I especially enjoy spending time with my grandson Beckett (my granddaughter lives out of town and I don't get to see her very often).  I find enjoyment in life almost every day... but at the same time I also struggle on an almost daily basis...  It's a balancing act...

I guess we'll see where it goes from here.

In the meantime, Tanner is doing great!  He says he's doing good in school in all subjects except math and when I talked to him about a math tutor, he says he has a friend who has been helping him. 

His health has been stabilized, school is going well, and his relationship with Cearra seems to be moving right along.

He's come so far in the last year!  It's been nice to have my sweet Tanner back these last several months!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I had my grandson, Beckett, over to spend the night last night and it was wonderful!  We went to Jesse's house and I cooked dinner and he played with Eva - running and jumping and giggling... It was an almost perfect night...  I blew up the air mattress (thinking it might be a little less scary to say we were going to watch a movie in the living room than telling him let's go to bed) and we put in "Rio" - and he spent his first night alone with Maw Maw..

This morning Alicia and I met and visited the First United Methodist Church in downtown Fort Worth.  The Sunday School class was good - and they discussed forgiveness...  and it touched chords in my heart.

We attended the contemporary service that they call "11:11" and it was really nice. The music was wonderful... a cello, mandolin, tubas, flutes, and guitars... and wonderful vocalists...  The speaker was in no way your old fashioned minister, but his message, too, dealt on forgiveness - and I left feeling uplifted and glad that we went.

Church was followed by lunch with Alicia and, following a night spent with my grandson and family, it was a good start to my Sunday.

Tanner is in Corpus Christi with his dad and grandfather and judging by his texts and pictures, he's having a wonderful time...  A much needed break for all of them...

I came home from lunch and thought I would have just a lazy day at the house but the walls started closing in on me.

Dr. Albritton had recommended that Tanner and I go and see the movie "50/50" and I started thinking about going - but then thought, "No, I should wait and go with Tanner"... and then I thought, "No... no - it would probably be best that I see this movie on my own."

It deals with a young man in his twenties who's diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and is given only a 50/50 chance of surviving.

A young man with a rare form of cancer and low odds of beating the disease...  I decided seeing the movie on my own would be best - so off I went for a Sunday evening at the cinema...

It was a very good movie...  but not for everyone... Lots of cursing (and medical marijuana).  Being the mother of two sons, I could handle the reality of much of what was dealt with and how it was presented. 

I sat in the dark theater and I would think, "Oh, that's how I felt"... "I wonder if that's the look that was in my eyes??"...  I would wonder,"Is that how Tanner felt?"...  "Is that how Tanner feels?"

A scene where the young man is sitting in a car and he screams...  He screams for all he's worth...  till there's no more scream left in him... and I thought, "I've done that... I wonder if Tanner's done that?"

It dealt unrepentantly with many of the aspects of a young person who is diagnosed with cancer...  How their young friends, who love them deeply, might not know how to express their love and concern...  How some of their friends might leave them because they just can't deal with the reality...

I sat in that darkened theater and I wept...

I got in the car and plugged in the IPOD and put on my Hallelujah playlist and drove home emotionally wrung out...  I put my earphones in and listened to the same playlist and went for a long walk on this beautiful, cool, and rainy evening... and here I am.... 

It was a hard movie for me to watch.... I'm glad I went.... and I'm glad I was alone...

I don't know if I've mentioned it (LOL), but I've been struggling lately... Donna at work made me "pinky promise" that I would email Dr. Albritton and let her know about some of my issues... So I did... and she emailed me back - and then followed up with a calll. 

She said that with all the issues I've had, it's not unexpected that during this "calm" I would have some sort of a breakdown...  She said they've been worried all along how well I was handling "everything" that we've endured these last years....

She asked hard questions and I gave her honest answers and she told me that I wasn't unusual... that I'm not crazy - and that the good thing is I reached out... I reached out and asked for help....

I've committed to see a psychologist over at the Moncrief Cancer Center - and I'm going to call to make the appointment this next week.

I keep telling Donna that "it's going to be okay", and I'm sure it will be, eventually, but it's just hard...  It's hard...

I know I'm not the only mother who's had a child with a terminal illness... I know people who've lost a child...  I know it could be worse.... it could always be worse.... but this is our journey... this is where we're at now - and it's hard... 

No one can fix me; make me happy, change my reality... except myself...  I've reached out and Dr. Albritton responded and I'm going to get some help, because like she told me, I need to deal with my issues while things are "calm" because it won't remain this way...  There will be another catastrophe, more problems, more health issues - and I'm going to need to be strong.

So, it will be okay.

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


So... I logged onto Facebook and saw an entry from Tanner (he's not home from school yet) and it says that he did his Powerpoint presentation at school tonight (about Texas Death Row) and that it went well and that the professor told him he did a good job!  Yay!!  I know he's been working hard and seems to be giving school all he can.  A mother couldn't really ask for more.  I've always told him to just do the best he can and ask for help when he needs it.

I'm so proud of the progress he's made in the last several months.  He texted me tonight to ask a question - and I became frustrated and in answering, I went too far... Said too much...   After a bit, I texted him back that I was sorry... that I've been stressed and that I sometimes "go off" and say too much.  He responded that it was okay, that he knows that I, "deal with emotions" like he does and "that's mostly alone and kept in" and that he was sorry that he "hasn't always been the son that he can be".  I told him I was the one sorry for overreacting, that he's been doing good, and that I love him very much.

See...  we often communicate via text...  Today's world! 

I work all day and then he's in school when I get home.  If we're lucky, we have a few minutes conversation before I go to bed - but since he has a girlfriend now, somedays I don't see him at all.  On most days, I'm thankful for texting!

He's 19 and it's not all perfect, but what a sweet son he is...  I hope and pray every day for his health - and that he will make good choices...  I'm sure that's what most parents of 19 year olds do on a daily basis. 

He's actually been doing so well on all fronts of his life for quite a while now...  I find myself spending a lot of time on my own...  I was talking with Donna at work about it this week and I told her I was so gratelful for his continued good health and how well he's doing in his personal life, but as he's becoming more independent, I'm finding myself floundering here on my own...  I've wanted him to become independent, both of my boys, for a long time.  I've worked and waited on the day for them to become responsible independent young men and now it looks like that day is approaching...  Not toally here yet, but there - in sight...  and thank goodness for it!  Two years ago we didn't even know if Tanner would be here at this date and time!

I've spent so much of the last two years solely focused on his health...  getting him to tests, treatments, making sure he takes his medicine... picking him up off the floor when he was too sick to rise himself...  Now I find myself with all this time on my hands...

I've spent so many years pretty much solely focused on my sons.  There was so much going on in their lives - it consumed me...  Then Tanner got cancer and all traces of any life beyond taking care of him and getting as much work done as I could - simply disappeared...

Now here we are.  Tanner goes for his weekly chemo (which luckily doesn't make him sick) attends school four nights a week, does his homework, and spends as much time as he can with his girlfriend...  and here I sit... still worrying...  waiting for that other shoe to drop... the next catastrophe... and I need to stop that...

I realize how alone I've allowed myself to become.  I've narrowed my life down to counting on just a few things and people - to the point that I've largely isolated myself.  I'm not the best of friends...  I'm not "easy"...  I don't call as much as I should (I'm horrible with talking on the phone), so I allow too much time to pass before I reach out to my friends...  so much time that I'm sometimes surprised that I still have that core group that are still there for me through thick and thin - no matter how hard things become or how far I pull away.  I am blessed for you Donna, Sandy, my other Donna, Alicia, Sherry.... Thank you all for being there for me.  I love you all...

Tanner and I have been visiting McKinney Bible Church off and on for a while now and this past Sunday I went to their "adults" group.  They had a lady talking about surviving in todays world... but it dealt largely with pornography and how it's a much larger problem than most of us realize...  Not quite what I was looking for when I went to the session.  My thoughts in attending the adults group was that I hoped to make myself meet new people - and as large as McKinney Church is I thought their group might be a possible answer... but I really didn't "feel it" in the meeting Sunday.

First United Methodist in downtown Fort Worth has several groups and they break it down into ages 30-40's.. 40's-50's... and from checking out their calendar I see that they do all kinds of things...  This week they have "Meet, Eat, and Chat" at a popular mexican restaurant, Cha-Cha dance lessons, volunteering at a homeless shelter, dinner and a movie, and a patio party.... all in addition to the church events.  I raised my boys going to a Methodist church...   Maybe this will feel more comfortable to me.

Alicia at work and I talked about it and I think we are going to visit the church Sunday and attend the 40-50's class and see what we think.  I need to broaden my horizons...  I need to get out of my house - my bedroom - and try not to worry and obsess all the time... over things I have no control of.    I need to find my way back from just simply surviving the days to wanting to actually, really LIVE again.

Tanner is doing so well... It's time for mom to do better too!  I'm going to try....

Intuition is the clear conception of the whole at once... Johann Kaspar Lavater

Saturday, October 1, 2011

An Emotional Trip

Tanner is actually in Oklahoma right now with Cearra and her mom and I'm having a quiet night at home.  The weather tonight was absolutely beautiful and I went for a long walk as the sun was setting for the day.

Yesterday, I headed down to Clarksville to put flowers on the graves of my mom, dad, and two brothers and it was an emotional trip.  How do you drive to a cemetery where the majority of your family rests (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents - in addition to those from my immediate family) and not think about death?

I was 15 years old when my 20 year old brother was killed, had a two year old toddler when my mom went into a coma and passed away, had two young sons when my dad passed, and then endured the pain when my youngest brother became addicted to drugs and shot and killed himself.

I've watched my oldest son battle his demons with manic depression and drug addictions... rehabs and prisons...

I watched my baby face cancer and I thought that was the worst of my worries.  I thought, when he reached remission, that my biggest fear would be if he were to relapse...  Then the insidious disease of addiction took hold of him too... and I found all new depths to my worries and despair.

With the help of Dr. Albritten and her staff - and Granny Jane and Pop Jerry - Tanner has turned his life around.  He's beaten off his addictions to the pain medicines that were prescribed for his treatment, has started college, and has found a girlfriend (something I didn't know if he would ever have the chance to experience when he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma two years ago) and above all else, remains in full remission.

But, being me..  I still worry.... what if... what if...  I'm always waiting on the next "shoe to drop"... the next disaster...

I drove to that cemetery yesteday and I put out the flowers and I remembered my family... and I wept...  My family is almost all gone and those that remain, are largely fractured and broken... and it's so very sad... and I'm so very alone with this despair and worry...  I miss my mother, my memaw... I miss them all... but my mother and my memaw... oh how they would have been there for us during this journey with Tanner's cancer...  I miss their unconditional love...

After the cemetery, I went to dinner with my Aunt Onvie, whom I hadn't seen in a few years, and we talked and talked about the family and she gave me some of that unconditional family love that I've missed over these last few years.  I wish my boys had a chance to know her and their cousins better... the way we all were a knit family when my grandmother was still alive.

I truly don't know what me and my boys would have done, would do now, without Granny Jane and Pop Jerry... but sitting beside those graves, I wept for the loss of my family... for that love that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they all felt for me... for all of their family...

I'm having a hard time.  My "motto" when I'm depressed has long been "fake it until you feel it"; put on a smile and eventually you will start to feel better...  but I'm having a hard time pulling out of this depression...

My friend, Shirley (that we met in Arkanasas when she was going through her MM treatment) has been emailing me and asking about me and Tanner.  I told her I'm having a hard time and that she wouldn't believe some of the thoughts that cross my mind.  She told me to ask for help... to talk to Dr. Albritten.... 

She's right, it's time for me to ask for help...  So tomorrow, I'm attending an adults class comprised of married and single adults who meet, talk, socialize, and support each other.  The man I've been emailing about the group said that a woman is speaking tomorrow about the struggles she's faced as a single mom in today's world...  Probably a good group for me to start with. 

I've always been a little introverted...  okay, a lot introverted.... so walking into that room by myself won't be easy for me to do but I'm hoping it will be a good thing for me to do...

I'm also planning to talk to Dr. Albritten this week about the fact that I'm having a hard time pulling out of this bout of depression.  I don't have insurance so I've been hesitant to seek medical help - but she knows our history the last two years and I think it's time to admit to her how I'm struggling...

When we were in Arkansas, things, in many ways, were "easier"... We were so focused on Tanner's treatment and dealing with the unbelievable illness caused by the chemo, there was very little room for any other thoughts.  Now that he's doing so much better, isn't sick from his treatment, is going to school, has turned his life around - I have too much time to think... to worry...  to mourn the loss of innocence....  the thought that "this will never happen to us"... the loss of family, security, love... of oblivion...

Tanner has seen me cry these last few weeks way too many times.  It's time to seek the help I need to pull out of this and for me to turn my life around... like he's done these last several months.

We're going to be okay.