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Finally not “different”

This past weekend (Since Thursday) Richard and I were in Maine at Camp Sunshine  Camps Sunshine was founded in 1984 as a Family Camp for people who had children with cancer.  Since that time, it has grown to offer sessions for children with other horrible illnesses as well.  What makes this camp different from other “cancer camps” is that it is for the WHOLE FAMILY, not just the child that is sick.

The time we spent there this weekend, was for a Bereavement Session.  This is a special session they hold twice a year for families that have lost a child to STUPID CANCER or other kinds of horrible illnesses.  It was an amazing time.  Throughout the weekend, they have Day Camps for kids of all ages, they break up by age.  They also offer fun activities for the adults.  Some for the parents together, some for the men, and some for the woman.  One of the greatest parts I though were the Parent discussion groups.

Since we first heard those words “I am sorry but Alexander has cancer”, I have felt different.  I was no long just “Nancy – Alexander’s Mommy” but I was “Nancy the one whose baby has cancer”.  I did not like being different.  I made some wonderful friends at the hospital that were different like me, and it was there that I felt “normal”.  But outside of the hospital I was different.  Many people did not know how to act around me, or how to talk to me anymore.  I wouldn’t say I “lost” any friends, but things were, well, different.

After Alexander died, I was now “Nancy the one whose baby died”.  Again, many people not knowing what to say or how to act treatment me different.  I am sure much of it stems from people thinking “how would I act/feel/be if I were in Nancy’s shoes” – of course you can never imagine that – and I hope that no one ever has to imagine that in their lifetimes.   But, intentionally or not, I do feel like some people treat me differently.  Sometimes I feel like people think I SHOULD be sad all the time, or they are surprised when I am not upset on certain days, like Christmas, his birthday or Angel day.  But, in reality, most of the time when I say I am “fine” – I really AM FINE!  Of course I have my down days – sometimes it is a down week.  Often when people have asked me how I am I will reply with “today is a good day” or “today is a bad day”.  It really is day by day.  On the days that people would think I would be sad (like his Angel day)  I am actually doing rather well.  Until you have walked this path (and again, I hope that no one I know now EVER has to walk this path with me!) you really can’t “get” what I am saying.

So, back to the parent groups at camp.  For the first time since we found out about Alexander’s cancer, I didn’t feel “different”.  I felt Normal (whatever normal is!)  I was not the “one” whose baby died – because everyone there had lost a child.  Some were more recent than my loss (just a few months) some were many many years down the road of grief.  Everyone had a different story to share  I was able to talk to some families that went on to have or adopt other children since their child has died.  That was great, to give me some hope for the future with our new baby.  It will be hard to let this new little one know about Alexander, but I am feeling better about it after talking to some of the other parents.

We are home again – and back to “reality”.  But I feel better than I did when I left, because I know I have a whole new family of friends that “get it”, and whom I can call upon to help me through those bad days.

Thank You Camp Sunshine for all that you do!!!!!!!!!!!!!


What to be when I grow up?

The age old question “what will I be when I grow up”.  I can remember as a child, wanting to be a Firefighter (I had a way cool toy fire truck) A Doctor – I had the doctors bag toy!.  In one book, it was written down that I wanted to be a “Dunkin Donuts Worker” (I never achieved that dream, but I did work at McDonald’s and Brugers Bagels!)

I have often asked little children what they want to be – I get typical answers – often based on what the parent does – firefighter, doctor, artist, postal worker, teacher.  I have one young cousin that wants to be a Pediatric Oncologist when he grows up!  But then there are some kids that just look at me and say “I don’t know”.  I realize that at a young age it is hard to know, but then I think, “Don’t they have dreams? Wishes?”

For myself, I am in that rut of the children.  I just don’t know what I want to do with my life anymore.  Those that know me, know I have been through MANY career changes in my life!  Part of it is my ADD, and part of it is my strong will. I read a great book called Redefining the Strong-Willed Woman.  This book talks a lot about Strong Willed woman and how they often change careers.   It isn’t that we are wishy-washy, it is more that, we like what we like, and when we don’t like it anymore we change, if we can’t change the job itself.  Also, from that book and reading books on adult ADD, it isn’t that we are necessarily, bored.  It is more that we want to know about EVERYTHING – and when we feel we have learned “enough” we move on to the next great thing.

When I first went to college, I was studying communications – TV/Film Production.   I have an associates degree in Media Technology.  I really enjoyed learning about those things.   After I graduated, I took a year off to be a full time volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.  While that was not all I had hoped it would be, I did have a great time, and lived with a wonderful family with whom I am still friends with today.  I did work in Sales for my dad’s company for a bit, and realized I was a horrible sales person! Next, I did some temp jobs.  While doing these temp jobs, I started to teach CCD at church, as well as doing Youth Ministry Work.  I then felt called to be a teacher.  I went back to school to study Education and Religion, as I wanted to teach Religion in a Catholic School.   I only last 1.5 years.  The first school I was at was very tough.  I was not prepared for the student population I would face, and left after the first semester.  The second school I was at the principal was an insane nut, that like to threaten to fire me about once a week!  Needless to say, it was not a good enviroment and I left at the end of the school year.

I was then offered a job to work for Lycos – a growing internet company.  I was a Sales Assistant.  The internet was growing like crazy!!   Although, the bubble was also just about ready to burst, and I didn’t not make my millions.  I sometimes wonder, if Lycos, had taken off instead of Google would we all be saying “I Lycosed that” instead of “I Googled that” Sigh…….

After September 11th, we were in a meeting and at one point the leaders said “we know this is a tough time, but GET THE NUMBERS”.  I knew there had to be more to life than that.   I then began my journey into the world of Human Service work.  You can read about that on my Sept 11th Post.

After Alexander was born, I took time off to be a mom.  I was just starting to go back to work when he got sick.   When people asked me where I worked I would answer “I am a private duty nurse to a 1 year old with cancer”.

After he died, I just couldn’t go right back to work, it was just too sad.  But after a few months, I did.  I first took a per diem job at a Nursing Home.  Because it was adults and not children it is of course very different.  I was able to focus on my work.  Although, every night as I was leaving I would think “What am I doing here?  I just want to be in bed under the covers!!”

After being there about 2 months, I got a job offer with a Visiting Nurses Group. I thought I would really enjoy this.  I did not!  It wasn’t that it was different from anything they told me, it just really wasn’t what I expected.  During this time, I also found out I was pregnant.  Having nausea and driving around all day long is NOT a good mix!

After I left there I took a few weeks to just “be”.  I did look into some jobs, but not too much, because I thought “who will hire a pregnant girl” (Of course I had almost 6 months to go, but still….)  I did apply for one job, but never heard from them.

In some ways I am glad I have not had to work (Thanks mom!)  But, in others, I have wondered if it has not been good for the grieving process.  I have SO much time on my hands, that I think about it A LOT.   Having a job would have been a distraction and given me a reason to get out of bed each day. I did try to do some volunteer work. I went once, and have never gone back.  I don’t know why really, I just couldn’t.

So – now, back to the original question.  What am I going to do when this baby is born??  I know that I do not have the heart of a stay at home mom! I also know that I do need to work to be able to add to the household budget! (I am good, but not THAT good!)

I am not sure that I want to be a nurse anymore.  I worked so hard to earn my LPN status, but after what I went through with Alexander I just don’t know if I want to do that anymore!  But yet at the same time, I do want to do something in the medical field in some way.  Perhaps in a job that is “behind the scenes” and not dealing with direct care.

I could go back to an office job – I am good at that – but is that something I would really like to do? I said to one friend I looked into a customer service type job.  But she wondered if I would really be able to deal with all the idiots out there! (like say, if the instructions said “press any key” and someone called saying “I can’t find the ANY key on my key board!)

I know I would be good at being a parent advocate, someone to help parents of very sick children, navigate their way through the system, help them to fight for their children.  There is a great need for that, although I don’t know if there is a great amount of jobs in that field.

Sigh…..I just don’t know…..Maybe the perfect job will just fall into my lap one day.  Then again, they are always hiring at Dunkin Donuts.


Mother’s Day

This is a re-post  from last year. I added a little at the end.  I also added a poem to the end of it.  Sending Love and Prayers out to all those that are without their children for the first time this year.

So tomorrow is Mother’s Day.   A Day to celebrate mom.  For some this can be a wonderful joyous day – for others not so much.

Perhaps you had a bad relationship with your mom – or maybe mom was abusive – if that is the case, then you would likely not want to celebrate her!

Perhaps your mom has died, and it is a sad day for you, because it reminds you of all that you have lost.

Perhaps you don’t have a “mom” in your life – again, a day filled with sad reminders for all you don’t have.

Perhaps you CAN’T have children, and want nothing more than to be a mom.  Sadness again.

Perhaps you have chosen to NOT have children you are frustrated that you can’t buy roses this week, because the prices has doubled from last week just because of this “holiday”

Or perhaps you are in a situation such as mine where you child is no longer with you here on earth.  It is a very sad place to be.

Before I was pregnant with Alexander, I was pregnant with our first child.  We were so very happy.  Sadly we lost that child about 7 weeks into the pregnancy.  That child, who we decided was a girl and named Sarah, would have been born on mothers day. Not a happy day for me.

When I was again pregnant, this time with Alexander, I was still having nausea! Again, mother’s day not so thrilling, because I was sick!

Last year, my “first” Mother’s day – we spent it in the hospital.  Alexander had been admitted for 1 night, and it turned into 5 weeks.  While, Richard and I were ale to enjoy a nice meal out thanks to a gift from an Aunt, it was not really a happy day for us.

And then that brings us to this year – can it get any worse?   I have read all the poems about how I am “still a mommy even if my baby is in heaven” – but that doesn’t make it any easier, or make it hurt any less.   I don’t feel like a mother any more – I just feel a sadness and emptiness inside.

So on this Mother’s Day, give your mom an extra big hug and kiss, and pray for those who on this day, are filled with sadness and heartache.

  First time Holding Alexander

Mother’s Day 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Additions for 2012

So, last year, mother’s day ended up being okay.  My awesome sister send me a yummy edible arrangement.  I went for a nice walk with my very good friend and her children.  When I came home, there was a note for “Mommy” on the table.  It was “from” Alexander.  It was very nice – yes, it made me cry, but it was very kind and thoughtful too.    My mom bought me a special Crystal Butterfly for our collection (Butterflies have become special signs of Alexander to us)  Overall, while sad, it was a good day.

I found this poem – I don’t know who wrote it though

I thought of you and closed my eyes and prayed to God today.
I asked what makes a Mother and I know I heard Him Say…
I just had a baby, this I know is true, but God can you be a mother when
your baby is not with you?
Yes, you can He replied, with confidence in His voice.
I give many women babies when they leave is not their choice.
Some I send for a lifetime, and others for a day.
And some I send to fill your womb, but there’s no need to stay.
I just don’t understand this God, I want my baby here.
He took a deep breath, cleared His throat and then I saw His tears…
I wish I could show you what your child is doing today.
If you could see your child smile with other children and hear him say…
“I went to earth to learn a lesson of love and life and fear.
My mommy loved me oh so much I got to come straight here.
I feel so lucky to have a mommy who has so much love for me.
I learned my lessons very quickly, my mommy set me free.
I miss my mommy so very much, and I visit her every day.
When she goes to sleep at night, on her pillow is where I lay.
I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek and I whisper in her ear,
“Mommy don’t be sad, I’m your baby and I am here.”
So, you see my dear sweet one, your baby is not sad nor blue.
Your baby is here in My Home, and at Heaven’s Gate he will wait for you.
So now you see what makes a mother, it’s the feeling in your heart.
It’s the love you had so much of right from the start.
Though some on earth may not realize you are a mother
until their time is done,
they’ll be up here with Me one day
and know you were the best one!


Random Thoughts

Just some random thoughts and ideas today….

Public Restrooms

Only speaking about the ladies rooms here!  Clearly they are NOT designed by woman or those that are handicapped.

1.  Why do the doors on the stalls swing IN!  Especially when there is hardly even an INCH between the door and the toilet!!?   It is so hard to get in and out with touching the toilet – never mind if you are just a bit overweight, pregnant, or have a nice DRESS on.  I remember being at Prom and having issues!

2.  Toilet paper – don’t you just hate those ones that come off about three squares at a time!?!?   Not good if you are trying to cover the seat!  Cheaper and thinner paper isn’t always better, just makes me use MORE! (although I do understand plumbing issues might be the reason for that)

3.  Seat Covers!  Please, have them!!!!!

4.  Back to the paper – why do some stalls have them so LOW that you have have to reach UP to get to it – if you can do that at all, because it keeps breaking off!  I have seen this in the handicap stalls – they are UNDER the bars!  Do they really think a disabled person can reach that!?!?

5.  Handicap stalls – thankfully, I am NOT handicapped – but I do sometimes use the stalls (see reason number 1)  but I have noticed, that some, do NOT have raised toilets, or even proper bars!

6.   Drying your hands – okay – I get the whole “going green” thing, and not having paper towels.  But, PLEASE have a dryer that actually gives out HEAT and FAST – there are a few out there (xlerator hand dryer is one)  that do get the job done well!   If you are going to have paper towels, PLEASE leave a barrel near the door.  Don’t you know that not EVERYONE washes their hands (eww gross!) and it is nice to be able to open the door with the paper and toss it right out.  If you have an automatic dispenser, please give a half decent sized sheet!


The lost art of personal communication

I have a box filled with LETTERS from friends.  Yes, you remember letters right? You got paper, hand wrote or typed your message, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it put it in the mail and your friend got it a few days later.  It was fun to go to the mail and find a letter from your friend!!

Then came e-mail -and how cool was that?  I first had e-mail back in 1992 when I was at college.  We were thrilled that we could send a message to each other across campus.  I soon found online “pen pals”.  But, it was still a while before e-mail really caught on, and I was still getting letters.  It was especially nice when I was living in Virginia and I got mail.

But, as times changed, the letters slowed down – and soon, so did PHONE Calls even!  I remember getting together once for dinner with a friend, and we never once talked on the phone about it – we just e-mailed.  I thought about how odd that was.  Soon, so much of communication was done by e-mail.  If you didn’t have e-mail you were “weird”.

As e-mail and the internet grew, out came “Instant Messaging”  Again, I had that pretty early on. It was awesome being able to “chat” with my friends in Michigan when phone calls were so expensive.  Sometimes at work it was cool to use, when you just had a quick question to ask someone.  Okay, maybe we were just LAZY and didn’t want to walk two cubicles over to ask the question. Or sometimes that person might keep you chatting when you really didn’t have the time.   I do still use that now on Facebook – and it can be kind of cool still I will admit.  Especially when you can “talk” to people in other countries!

Next were the text messages – I didn’t do that for a bit – and I still don’t do that a TON, but I do use them.  It can be nice to have them.  How the kids do it so fast and non-stop though is beyond me.  Just pick up the phone and TALK to you friend!!!  In Massachusetts they have banned doing it while driving – how anyone can do that anyways is beyond me!

In 2004 Facebook was launched.  It started off slow, and was mostly for college/high school kids.  I think I first got on it in December of 2007.  Some people at work were on it so I thought I would “check it out”.  It was cool to be able to reconnect with people who I knew way back when.  This year, I was found by a girl (now woman) I worked at during the summer of 1988 or 1989 at a camp  She is from England (we use to write those LETTERS to each other I talked about!)

Sometimes I think Facebook is great.  Like when Alexander was sick, It was a fast way for me to get a prayer request out, without having to do a care page.  The messages people wrote me, often helped get me through the day.

But, in some ways I do NOT like Facebook.   For example, a lot of companies offer “deals” but you have to “like” them on Facebook. Well, what if I don’t want to “like” you – I don’t want you to have access, however limited, to my information.  And what if I do NOT have or WANT a Facebook account? Don’t these companies know they are missing out on a whole population of people???

As Facebook has grown I have noticed I get less E-mails!   People are now using Facebook to “e-mail” people! I guess that is okay, but what about people who don’t use Facebook all the time? They just go on occasionally – they might miss an important message/invite/etc.  What really gets me are those people who don’t even bother to send a “private message” and just say “Hey you, are we meeting up Tuesday or Thursday”.  Does the whole world really need to know your plans?  And, back to the title topic, where is the PERSONAL communication?  How about picking up the phone and just ASKING that question?

Now, I am not saying I am not also guilty of any of these things – I am sure I am.   Just an observation of life – and the lost are of Personal Communication.


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