Sunday, December 28, 2008

What a year! A roller coaster post.

How to describe 2008? That's the only way I can describe it. What a year. It started out pretty good. We spent last New Years with some of our bestest dearest friends. We had lobster, champagne and high hopes. 2007 wasn't that great of a year financially so at the end of it we were very much looking forward to 2008. Most of our friends in Florida work in the real estate/mortgage industry. So by the end of 2007 we honestly thought "gee, it can't get much worse. It can only get better". We were all using slogans like "things will be great, in 2008!"

Well, we all know what happened to those hopes.

2008 started with someone's son (someone who we are very close to and love dearly) committed suicide. We should've know then how things were going to go after that. He was such a wonderful young man. He was on the dean's list at the University of Connecticut. I can't remember how old he was 22-23? How our hearts grieved for his mom and family. It was heartrending.

Then, of course, the worst possible nightmare for us started just about a week later. Well, we won't go into that. We all know what happened to Denise. I will say what happened to her taught me a lot about her. I never knew how smart she was, how brave she was and how selfless she was. When her nightmare began her first thought was of her kids when she got the monster as far away from them as she could. When her nightmare was over her last thought was of Nathan when she took off her ring to leave for him to identify.

Then the financial quandary Mark and I were facing took a back seat to Denise's tragedy. This past year has been pretty much devoted to Nathan, Noah and Adam and trying to mend our family.

Much of our year was spent in numbness. A lot of our year was expressed in anger. But I still think the majority of it was spent in loving each other and trying to help each other through some pretty tough stuff.

Mark and I did get remarried this year on what would have been our 25th wedding anniversary and was our 25th anniversary according to the Catholic church which is where we were originally married. I told a friend this past year that even though we had given up on ourselves and others had given up on us, at least the Catholic church kept faith. And according to them we were never divorced considering they don't recognize divorce. So, Mark and I accompanied by Nathan and the babies got married at the courthouse. The only two missing from the ceremony were Brian (he was up in Tampa) and, of course, Denise. Both were there in spirit.

Then Mark pretty much lost his job. The mortgage company he had been working for had gone out of business in late 2007 and Mark went to work for a new mortgage company. We had great hopes and truly like all the people he was working with. But as you know, no matter where you work in the mortgage industry things are bad.

So many of our friends and even family members have lost their homes and their livelihoods.

With the loss of Denise, it's been hard for Mark and I to think straight and make major decisions. And now we're losing our home too. We think we need to be out of this house the middle of January. How we got to this place, I have no idea. It's been hard on Mark especially with his work. His job is basically sales. How do you remain upbeat and positive when you're experience so much grief, anger and perpetual numbness? It was just impossible. Also, think about all the calls he gets from people who are losing their jobs and their homes begging him for help. Crap! He couldn't get them loans even if they had jobs.

Then Mark's brother and our sister-in-law moved away to Tennessee. They, too, have experienced a horrific year. It was our sister-in-law's nephew who committed suicide that I spoke of earlier. Double whammy for them. They, too, have been numbed. On a positive note, they have started over in Tennessee and are running a restaurant. My sister-in-law has the most amazing personality and I'm sure is perfect for what she's doing. She's also probably the best cook I know. So.... at least, they're moving on.

But it was still a loss for us. We miss them more they can possibly know.

One of Mark's best friends passed away this year. To an aneurysm of the aorta? He was in his late fifties and seemed to us to be in perfect health. What a shock that was. This man, was one of the nicest, friendliest, kindest persons I have ever EVER met. He was so upbeat and so positive. He was so caring. He left behind a beautiful wife and a lovely 13 year old daughter. Sadly, we're still grieving so badly over the loss of Denise that we're not nearly as supportive as I believe we'd normally be. Also, with losing our home in less than a month, we're.... Well.... it's taking all our emotional energy just to get through the holidays, help Nathan and figure out what we're going to do. We still don't know.

One even greater loss than all the above is my loss of faith. I'm trying desperately to hold on to my faith but I just can't find it. Sometimes it seems as if it's coming back and I start to rejoice a little but........ it's like trying to catch a butterfly.

The year is ending on a positive note.

The two most important things in my opinion are happening. My brother Danny is returning home from Iraq the end of January. Thank God. He was injured the beginning of this month but he's okay. I can't express how proud I am to have him for a brother. His courage, his honor, his bravery, and just his person are all so special. As the younger baby brother he was the comedian in our family. He always brings joy to us. Sometimes it's a sarcastic joy... But he's one to make us laugh. So, trying to visualize him in his tank in Baghdad is extremely difficult. But he's doing what he always wanted to do and that's being a soldier.

The second positive note is that Nathan is doing his best to move on. He's started, of course, the Denise Amber Lee Foundation to help improve our 9-1-1 system throughout not only Florida but the country. He started the foundation in Denise's honor to help pay back our community for all the love and support they've given him and us. He's doing very well with the boys. Noah and Adam are happy and healthy (other than Adam having constant running noses mostly from picking things up at daycare). They are pretty much very normal kids. They know they are loved. I think they are a tad spoiled in certain ways. But, hey, with what they've been through they deserve to be spoiled, in my opinion. Adam is very attached to his bottle, blanket and Binky but that's okay in my opinion. Being shuttled around the way he is and not having a memory of mommy, what they hey? Let him have them if they bring him comfort. Nathan is doing is best to try and move on past the pain that engulfed him this past year. Oh, watching him in pain was the worst thing and is the worst thing I've ever experienced in life. The pain of losing Denise totally trumps the pain over losing our house. Anyhow, Nathan is trying to reach past the pain. He's started to date someone new. He hasn't closed Denise's chapter. I'll doubt he'll ever be able to do that. Her chapter continues on with the babies and she's a person who was so perfect, it'll be difficult for him. But he does need to get past the pain. Getting past the grief will be much more difficult, but the pain at times was unendurable for him. I remember going over to his house in the morning and picking up as many as 50-60 Kleenex's off the floor. It's just not healthy for the babies to be around so much pain. Being around grief? I think that's okay. After all, they need to know how much their daddy loved their mommy. And how much we loved their mommy. In any case, it's been almost a year.

A year of great pain and sorrow and much much loss.

For those of you who believe we shouldn't be dwelling on these losses and that we have to get past them. I don't know what to say to you. Other than, it's not so easy to get over.

And believe me. We know the positives. We know what our blessings are. If we didn't, we wouldn't be able to go on.

And I'm constantly reminding myself just how good I have it. Look at that beserk Santa out in CA wiping out an entire family. Look at the Anthony's losing a grandchild.

I belong to a support group where so many have lost people to murder. One couple in particular, I can't help thinking of constantly. Lloyd and Deborah's ex son-in-law not only shot and killed their daughter, but he shot and killed their two beautiful grandchildren too. Both under the age of 6. Then he shot him self. A whole family wiped out. We still have our grandbabies and we still have Nathan! And we were probably only about a half an hour away from possibly losing all. If Nate had come home a half hour earlier, what would he have found? A man in his home with a gun. Nate and the babies could very well be dead too. So, trust me, we KNOW WHAT OUR BLESSINGS ARE!

We've made so many new friends who I just can't describe how selfless and wonderful they've been. We've experienced more hugs and prayers than you can imagine. The outpouring and generosity of our community, of strangers, and even an on-line community of piano lovers has been nothing less than phenomenal.

The world is filled with so many good people. The other day I received a package from Australia. Half a world a way where they are celebrating Christmas at summer time. A woman, I've never met other than on-line sent the boys little trinkets from Australia! How cool is that?

Another woman, I've only met on-line, provided us with our Christmas tree and gifts from Mark and me to the kids. We didn't have money for presents this year. But we were able to bake cookies, decorate and celebrate all because the woman's two little boys raised money on Noah and Adam's behalf. How cool is that? I look at my tree and I think of her and how wonderful she's raising two boys to be as wonderful as she is.


I've received tons of pictures of my family on Christmas cards but then pictures of strangers too. All happy, all smiling, all joyful. It's good to know that life is continuing around us. I find hope in those pictures. I find hope in my grandchildren.

And, Brian, if you're reading this. Truly..... I love you with all my heart. I'm so proud to have you for my son.

I've learned the good trumps bad.

Am I looking forward to next year? I'm trying to. When one door closes another opens.

I do sincerely wish everyone who is reading this a genuinely loving, happy New Year. And thankyou so much for being a part of my life. You are all angels in your own ways.