So, now I have taken you through the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month that I had. Things are beginning to calm down, but I am not out of the woods yet.

I found a new part time job that I will be starting next week. It is a bit of a step-back career wise. I'll be back to doing development work and the pay is not great. But, being part time it will give me a chance to figure out what I want to do with my life. Plus, it will allow me time with my beautiful little baby.

It is going to be tough financially for a while, but we trust God to see us through. Prayers of friends and family have sustained us over the last few weeks.

But, I still have a heavy storm cloud over me.

The week before I went to the beach, J took my car with him down to the big city since it gets good gas mileage. On his way, a truck sent a rock spinning into my windshield. It left a huge crack in the center that was dying to spread. I had to scramble to get that fixed before we went down to the beach.

Then, on the way down to the beach, we stopped at a gas station where an idiot BACKED INTO MY CAR. I couldn't get out of his way because of pedestrians around us. I did, however, lay on my horn for a good 30 seconds. Everyone in a three mile radius heard me and looked my way. EXCEPT THAT IDIOT. I had to get a new fender.

When pondering my life these days, I have stopped saying the words "I cannot handle any more". I discovered that this is a challenge, and I do not want any part of it.



By now, I am physically and emotionally exhausted. I want to sleep for a week. Maybe three.

So, I did the best thing that I could do. I went to the beach.

I love the beach. My 6-month old had never seen it. I was so excited about taking her.

My family had planned this trip for months. The timing was perfect. We all needed to get away.

J & I went down on Saturday. Grace had her first contact with the sand and the beautiful ocean. Of course, we got it all on video!

J hates the beach and he needed the hours at work, so he went back Sunday and Grace & I stayed until Wednesday. My parents and the rest of the family stayed on the rest of the week.

We had a fabulous time. Other than missing J, I did not want to come back home to reality.



Saturday, August 1. The next phone call came.

This time it was my father. My grandmother's body was shutting down. They called the family in. She had gotten really bad overnight, but had stabilized a little bit that morning. But, they knew that the stabilization would not last.

We were in the middle of getting Grace's 6 month portraits done. We were told we had a little time, so we finished up the portraits as I made frantic phone calls to various family members. Then, the MIL had us run an errand for her on our way home to pack up before I made the trip back to my hometown. But, that's aside from the story.

J did not come with me this time. He had a firefighter class and I told him not to miss it. I knew from the situation that we would be there a long time. Grace & I made the trek alone.

The day before, my grandmother may have had a stroke. One side of her body seemed paralyzed and she could not swallow her food. She was too weak for them to do any tests to verify this, but she was exhibiting classic stroke signs. She had been bedridden for some time and sometimes would not speak. So, no one could say for sure exactly what happened or simply find out from her how she was feeling. Earlier in life, she had objected to tube feeding, so we knew that was not an option. She was not going to pull through this time.

When I walked in the door of the rest home, my aunt greeted me. "She's waiting for you."

The family gathered at her bed. The nurse said that her body was shutting down, but she was fighting it hard. She was probably afraid to die. They told us to assure her.

We were there for hours. She would float in and out of consciousness. By this time I was well versed in the breaths per minute measurements. Her numbers would go up and down.

The lobby of the rest home, much like two weeks before, was the family's central gathering station. It was hard to get all of us in my grandmother's room. We ate meals there. We talked there. We completed many, many sudoku puzzles. We even played cards (this was in honor of my grandmother - she loved cards). Grace provided the entertainment again.

Night came and the staff encouraged all of us to go home. They said it would be a long night. Reluctantly, I did. I knew Grace would be more comfortable there, and that there was no more that I could do.

Early the next morning, my dad called. My grandmother was gone.

Two weeks from the day my grandfather passed.

Their perfect love story ended that way. She wouldn't go on without him. After 68 years of marriage, we should have expected it would happen that way. We will never know for sure if she realized what was going on when he died. She was in the room when that happened, but they pulled curtains around her bed so she would not see his body. I am sure in my heart that she knew.

I found out later that my grandmother would worsen after everyone left. The staff called her children back, and then she would stabilize. Then when they left her room, she declined again. She fought until the very end. She did not want her family to see her take her last breath.

We made arrangements identical to my grandfather's. Same locations. Same flowers. Same album surfing for photos for her slideshow. Same trips back and forth for a week. Same family dinners. Same memory-sharing sessions. Same pastor with a comforting message. Same cousin with a eulogy. Same aunt with a song.

I lost it walking from the church to the cemetery. The ground was still raw from my grandfather's burial. Again, my sunglasses hid my tears.

I prayed a lot that week. I begged and pleaded with God to keep my loved ones safe. I cannot go to any more funerals for a while.



In the days that followed, I spent so many tears that I could not cry anymore. This led to a migraine. After a week straight of suffering I awoke early one morning to dizziness and nausea. Even while I was lying down. So, J took me to the ER.

It was probably the worst ER experience that I have had. Waiting to be called back. Waiting for the doctor. Waiting for the shot. Waiting for the nurse to come back and check on me. Waiting for the doctor to come and release me. Waiting for the wheelchair to wheel me out. Waiting for administration to go over paperwork. I couldn't sit still and I was crawling all over the hospital bed the entire time I was there. I had just wanted to get my shot and go home.

The doctor said I needed to see a neurologist.

I have had migraines forever, but I have never seen a specialist. My family doctors have the CT Scan, put me on Imitrex, etc. But, I have never been willing to take it further. Now, with my daughter, everything is different. I cannot afford to be immobilized. I agreed to the neurologist.

I informed my work that I would have to have some tests run.

Three days later, my manager's manager set up a call for the end of the day with himself, my manager & I. I didn't have the first clue what it was about, but I wasn't even nervous. I should have been.

I was fired.

"Budgetary reasons" he said. I really don't believe that.

When I first started this job I worked 9 days. Then I was admitted to the hospital with pre-eclampsia and the premature birth of my daughter followed. Then, I was out for 8 weeks. While the company itself was pretty understanding, I knew that my manager was bitter. I never even stood a chance with him. He spent the rest of my time with the company making my job difficult.

I knew he was threatened by me because of the close relationship that I developed with our clients. I thought that the constant positive feedback they sent his way about me would overcome that. I was wrong.

I really do believe that my telling him I would need to have some time off for doctor's appointments of the next few weeks was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. I can't prove that - that's just what my gut tells me.

Am I bitter? Probably. I'm not sorry to lose the job. I'm sorry that I have to look for another job again. But, I had been thinking about jumping ship for a while. I just wished it could have happened on my terms. And, that I would have seen it coming.



It began on a Sunday morning during church - July 19. A cell phone began to vibrate during the sermon. I saw the people around me began to twist and turn, each checking their own phones. I knew immediately that it was mine. I began to sink into the floor.

My phone was in my purse, on the floor underneath the pew in front of me and blocked by Grace's car seat. It was just out of my reach. After an eternity, it stopped.

At this point, Grace woke up and began squirming. I grabbed all of our stuff and took her out into the Mother's Quiet Room. I had not even sat down when my phone went off again. This time it was the notification that I had a voice mail. Something told me that I needed to check it.

It was my aunt. "Pawpaw's not doing so well. They are calling the family in. You need to come"

My heart dropped.

My grandfather has suffered from Alzheimer's for the past several years. Some days, the charismatic man that I spent my whole life looking up to is a completely different person. Other days, he is the same - only a weaker version. Every day, he is miserable. Some Alzheimer's patients go into a state of happiness - get lost in happy moments of their childhood or some time in the past. They may not remember who you are, but they are still happy. My grandfather was the opposite. He became paranoid that people were out to get him - even to the point of violence. His one light in life is my grandmother, his soulmate, and some days she doesn't know him. He carries a heavy burden that none of us can help with, no matter how hard we try.

So, I thought I had made peace that this time would come. I thought I would be ready. I was wrong.

My Dad (who was staying with us for the weekend), J, Grace & I made the hour and a half drive in minutes. All of my family scrambled into place around his bed. And then, we just waited.

As his breathing grew more shallow, we talked to him. Sang his favorite hymns. Shared fond memories. Made promises to take care of my grandmother.

From my spot seated at the end of his bed, I found I could see his pulse in his neck. At times, the beat would stop. Then it would start again. I stared at his neck for hours.

Then he was gone.

I had just visited my grandparents the previous day. Pawpaw didn't have a lot to say. Because of his aggression toward the staff, he was on medication that made him drowsy and weak. He did smile at Grace & I, and before I left he kissed my cheek. I had no idea that the next day he would be gone.

The next few days were a whirlwind. I traveled back and forth to my hometown nearly every day that week. Grace came with me almost each time. I clung to her and so did the rest of the family. She was the bright spot - the entertainment - the joy.

The visitation was held in my grandparent's church fellowship hall. At first I didn't like this idea - the inside looks like a gym. But, my grandfather helped build the facility, so it was fitting. It also turned out to be a blessing. I have a hard time at funeral homes - even the smell gets to me. We saw family we never see, friends, neighbors.

There were people that should have been there, but weren't. That's another sad thing about Alzheimer's. People forget what the person was like. They forget how the person was a pillar of the community. They forget how many lives that person impacted and changed. All of that becomes overshadowed.

The funeral was rough. My uncle gave a moving eulogy. My cousin made me laugh and cry as he talked about my grandfather from the perspective of a grandchild. My aunt sang. VFW did full rites - "Taps" and gunfire included. A bagpiper played "Amazing Grace". My sunglasses hid my tears.

Personally, I was devastated, and I would be lying if I said I was over it even now. I did not want to deal with the loss. I spent the week gathering photos for a slideshow, organizing things.

Sorrow led to anger. I couldn't believe the world didn't stop. I clung to the thought that my grandfather was finally at peace.

Little did I know that was only the beginning.


Life Storms

The storms of life are slamming me at the moment. I will post again soon.