Sunday, October 30, 2016


I went to Al's viewing/life celebration Friday night. There were hundreds of people in attendance. I felt like it was a long and grueling process driving more than a hour down the turnpike in rush hour traffic, finding a place to park, standing in a receiving line that stretched all the way out the door, paying my respects to the family, watching videos of Al's younger years, looking at pictures of his older years that included my brother and some other long time friends who were dead or still living to going to the FOP lodge to have one drink with girlfriends I have known since childhood before driving back on the turnpike in lighter traffic to my home and bed where I tossed and turned all night then getting up to go to work being the counselor on site this weekend, conducting three family sessions, completing two assessments on new admissions and teaching one class.

It was weird to have known someone for so many years full of life be reduced to some pictures and cremated ashes in a small wooden box. Al committed suicide by gun shot on October 20th and eight days later we stood in a funeral home saying "goodbye". I originally had planned to attend the mass on Saturday however the day was so long on Friday and with a lack of sleep and knowing I had to work after the mass, I opted out. I paid my respects to his wife, two sons, brother and sisters along with his mother on Friday after working all day then signing papers on the refinancing of my home for a lower interest rate prior to attending the viewing on Friday. I discovered I am not as young and vibrant as I once was. I am tired and drained and getting older though I rather not admit it.

I also made a promise to myself Friday night as I sat in the lodge with old time friends. I promised I would be a better friend. I have become so busy in the day to day life and responsibilities that I do not call or see friends and truth be told I do not just want to see friends at funerals when one of us dies. We get one go around in this life and it is easy to waste it with things that need to be done that take us away from people we care about. How difficult is it to call or text a friend or make plans to see them once a month? What I excel in my profession I lack in friendship.

Shortly, I will get ready for another day at work conducting another family session teaching another class and completing a few more assessments on new admissions before heading down to the city to drop off Halloween cards to grandsons, but I will take time to call  and reach out to friends.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Daily Living

We closed up the beach house last weekend which is the earliest we ever closed the house. Bill wanted to head out to the mountains or out western Pennsylvania to photograph the Fall foliage so we are off to Carlisle this morning.

In the meantime here are some pictures from our last weekend at Cape May.

 We had dinner with my father then headed out to the beach to capture the sun set and the full moon rise. It was a magical evening.

Two weekends ago we took Aubree to visit my parents (her great grandparents) at their home in Washington Crossing.

Aubree loves her grandmother "Mar" and makes herself very comfortable when she visits my parents.
Aubree is nearly two years old and repeats every word anyone says. She is also a Daddy's Girl and it is really sweet to hear her talking to her Daddy, (My son Josh). It is even funnier to hear her tell my son, "NO DADDY" when he asks her "What are you up to, Aubree"?

Aubree is a gift from God  and the gift of Aubree, my littlest grandchild, has brought me so much joy over the last two years.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Depression, Suicide, Loss of Hope

I received a message today from a childhood friend who informed me another mutual childhood friend committed suicide yesterday. He apparently said "I have had enough". What did that mean and why?

Then, I began to remember when we were teenagers and how he first entered my life. He was friends with my older brother Michael and Michael and I had the same friends. Brown hair, brown eyes and not very tall. However, he had a presence about him that demanded notice. He drank a lot but I cannot say he had a problem with alcohol as we all probably drank more than we should have back in those days. I dated him for a very short time when I was about sixteen. He went into the Navy after he graduated from high school right after my own brother joined the Navy.

I remember going to his wedding. It was the best wedding and I remember how much fun we all had. I was already married to Joe and was the mother of three little boys under 5 years old. He married a girl who was a nurse. They had children. They moved into Winchester Park. I did not see him much after that except at house parties or weddings then funerals of some of our other friends.

Today, I felt sad. I received Donna's message right after I facilitated a group between 11a to 12p. Group discussion was about Depression and suicide and the importance of being medication compliant. I spoke about "Hope" being the light at a very dark and long tunnel and I told my group to hold on with both hands to the hope because the darkness will pass. Once group was over I looked down at my phone and read the message.

I have had friends die from various reasons but I believe I never had a friend commit suicide. Eddie died in an alcohol related car accident. Cheryl died of a heart attack. Danny died of liver disease. Frenchie died of lung cancer. Now, Al is gone too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

No Title Required

After a night of disappointment , back pain, vomiting, bouts of insomnia and vivid nightmares I gave up on getting any sleep, washed my face and turned the coffee on to start my day. I learned a long time ago that though uncomfortable a lack of sleep will not kill me.

I debated on calling out sick to my employer until I remembered I had an assessment due on one patient while another patient needs a safe place to discharge to in Friday. Truth be told, I have not allowed myself to take a sick in a year. I made a promise to myself after all the times I sat in court for my son that I would not take a sick day from work unless it was absolutely physically impossible to go to work. I would force myself each and everyday to work despite any migraine headache, shoulder pain, depression, disappointment or lack of sleep because no physical ailment or emotional distress could compare to the loss and heartache of sitting in that court room day after day for three years for my son  and having Ava who I loved with my entire being removed suddenly and unexpectedly from my life  by her  mother. Honestly, no lack of sleep or physical ailment could ever compete with that emotional pain. Not to mention, all the should of, would of, could of thoughts and emotions of that time.

Nightmares. I still struggle with them from time to time. They do not come as often as they did in the past and they are usually parcipated by anticipation then disappointment of an expected event that did not come to pass or anything disturbing in the news. However, when the nightmares do come they are vivid and they are always about danger and looking for someone who is lost. Those dreams feel very real. When I awake, I feel shaken but regroup quickly especially when I call out for Bill and he puts his arms around me.

5am approaches and the coffee waits to be poured and I begin another day with thoughts of remaining humble and doing my best by those I encounter this day and offer hope, support and kindness while staying close to God and the Blessed Mother who I believe guides me and watches over me. 

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Girls Weekend Day Four

On our last day in Iowa and before we made the four hour drive back to Chicago's  O'Hare airport and onto the flight back home, we took a tour of the farm and said our "goodbyes to family". Below, is the original family home of my Aunt Catherine and Uncle Bob in which both have passed away. It then belonged to my cousin Carol and her husband  who passed it to their son Derrick and his wife Lorie who are currently renovating the house for their own family. Carol and her Husband currently live in another house on the property as well as my cousins Jim and his family and Kevin and his wife. It is my understanding that out of the four children of Aunt Catherine and Uncle Bob, three live on 265 acres of the farm. The fourth cousin, Michael and his wife reside in town.

Some other buildings on the farm.

Live stock.
Carol's House.


Cousin Jim

Waving "goodbye".

Cedar Rapids River that runs through the farmland.
Crossing the Mississippi River in route to Chicago, Ill.