Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Am a Prickly Pear

Two weeks in a row now I've offended people at church. One poor guy had the bad luck of innocently asking me, "How's it going?" And I think he meant it sincerely, but all I could think was, What do you mean??? How the hell do you think it's going? I answered meanly through tears, "I don't think you really want to know how it's going." Most recently I ran out of the sanctuary sobbing--sobbing--just because someone asked me what was wrong when they saw me crying.

I hate church. I hate church because Mark should be there. On Sunday mornings we'd go to church and all disperse to youth group or Sunday school, then we wouldn't see the kids again until the coffee time in the dining room before the service. Mark would sit at a table with his friends. And then he'd sit with friends in the sanctuary. Now I can't find him. I look around the dining room and he isn't there. I look around the sanctuary trying to do a head count of my kids, but I come up short.

I love church. The people in our church feel like family. They've shown us love and compassion beyond measure. We have five pastors on staff at our church, and four of them were at our house the morning Mark died. Other people from church have reached out in very loving, tangible ways. You couldn't find a better example of a group of people living out the love of Jesus than the people of Elim.

But I'm sure I'll offend someone next Sunday. I can't seem to get through a Sunday without doing so.

I hate church. I love church. I am a prickly pear.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Band concert

There's a high school band concert tonight.  The 10th graders are dedicating their portion of the concert to Mark.

This should have been one of those days when I rush around making sure everything is in order and everyone gets where they need to go--band uniform pieces all present and accounted for, dinner served early, get Mark to the high school early, run to the junior high for a quick meeting, back to the high school for the concert.

I'm not at the high school band concert.  I'm here at home crying, crying as hard as I did the day he died, asking questions with no answers.

Mark was buried in his band uniform pants because they were the only dress pants he had that fit.  I never did hem them.

This is only the beginning.  What am I going to do on the night the class of 2017 graduates?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

He's everywhere


The reminders stop me in my tracks:

The dirty sock among the dust bunnies under the couch.

The extra part for the cheese cutter in the junk drawer in an envelope labeled in his handwriting.

The book he lent me to read, the one about prehistoric sharks showing up in modern day, the one I had no intention of reading but will now just because it was a book he enjoyed.

The winter jacket hanging by the front door, the one I can see him in.

The Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon sitting on top of his dresser, the one he saved up for and bought with his own money and then spent hours building.

A textbook with his name written in the front and the school year "2014-15."

He's everywhere. But he's not here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Slogging through


Sometimes I’m fine and I can look at everything that’s happened with detached logic.  Sometimes I’m a blubbering mess. 

I miss my boy so much it hurts.  And not just the kid he was, I miss the adult he’ll never be. 

Sometimes I wish it was someone else’s kid.  I’d never wish this pain on anyone, but if I could go back and rearrange things, I’d make it someone else’s kid who did this so I could keep mine and watch from afar.  Yes, I’m that mean. 

In the end it is my kid and I can’t undo it.  So I slog through. 

Sometimes I’m fine.  Sometimes I’m a blubbering mess.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Three weeks


How can it be three weeks?
There are no answers.  He left no note, no explanation why that night was the one.  No idea what pushed him over the edge.  Things had been going well, or so it seemed.  In the end I’m left thinking I failed him as a parent.  He wasn’t comfortable coming to me with whatever it was that was torturing him.  It’s my job to make sure my kids are OK, that they’re safe.  I couldn’t protect him from himself.  I would have handcuffed myself to him if I had known I needed to.  I would have done most anything.  I want to reach back in time to the moment I last saw him alive.  I think about all the things I would have done and said.  And would it have helped?  Or would it just have put off the inevitable?  I’ll never know.  I only know that I feel like a failure.
Grief is a difficult process.  Grief layered with a sense of failure takes my breath away.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

God wins


Two weeks ago today my 16 year old son took his own life.  Diagnosed with depression at the end of June and dead four months later.  We did everything we knew to do: started him on meds, took him to weekly sessions with a therapist, checked in with him regularly to see how he was doing, tried to respect his privacy, tried to let him know we loved him, prayed, prayed, prayed, worried ourselves sick.  In the end, it wasn’t enough.  I don’t understand depression.  I don’t understand how a well liked, good looking, academically successful, extracurricularly involved kid could believe whatever evil it was running around in his brain telling him he was stupid and worthless.  In the name of Jesus Christ I raise my fist against the evil that visited my house that night.  You are not welcome here.  And, besides, God wins in the end.  My boy is in the arms of his savior.  Go to hell.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

An Update

The clouds parted, the sun shone, and Ann Bremer managed to secure a spot in the coveted intensive novel writing class when another student dropped out after two weeks!  Woo hoo!  It was a scramble to get there every week, but now that it's over, I'm happy to say I got a lot written and received some really helpful feedback.  My brain is still working through it all, but I'm much closer to having a finished manuscript than I was before.

And I started working on my resume and job search.  My resume is extremely anemic.  What have I been doing for the last 18 years?  Do you think anyone will be impressed that I can change a diaper with my eyes closed?  I'm still in the market for a bookkeeping job that pays $500 an hour.  If you know anyone who's hiring at that rate, give them my name.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Defeated

Live your dream!  Share your passion!  Do what you love and the money will follow!

Ever since I was a little girl, I've been telling stories.  My mom used to stick me in the way-back of the station wagon when we went on driving trips to tell my little sisters stories to keep them entertained.  I remember telling stories on the playground in grade school, and telling stories to my cousins when they visited from Washington, DC.  When I started delivering the evening paper at age 12, I spent my time walking from house to house telling myself stories in my head.  I remember dragging my feet on the way home and arriving well after dark because I was at a good spot in the story and didn't want to quit.  I started telling myself stories to fall asleep at night, just like reading a novel.  I had one multi-generational family saga that I started telling myself as a senior in high school and finished over a year later as a freshman in college.  I didn't write any of it down, and most of it was entertaining only to me, but for as long as I can remember, I've been telling stories.

I've thought about writing a novel for years and finally started working on something with some seriousness a couple years ago.  But I have six kids and little free time, so it's been slow going.  And I don't really know what I'm doing.  A friend recently registered for an intensive novel writing class.  It meets one night a week for 12 weeks--and it looks fabulous!  But I have six kids and little free time.  And no money.  So, no class for me. Boo hoo.

And I'm a Christian, but I really, really dislike most Christian fiction.  What I've read in the past is too simple minded with too-good-to-be-true characters and neat and tidy endings of perfectly answered prayer.  The book I'm working on deals with some pretty non-Christian behavior even though the characters call themselves Christians.  I love the idea of throwing things at characters and seeing how they react, and sometimes having them react badly, but does this glorify God?  And, as a Christian, isn't that what I'm supposed to be doing, glorifying God?  Some days I feel like I'm doing what God made me good at, and that in itself glorifies God, like the character in Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell, who said, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast.  And when I run I feel his pleasure."  When I write, when I'm in the zone, I feel like God and I are in synch, like he's smiling down on me.  But then I look at the inspirational things Christian authors are writing and I second guess myself.  And back and forth.  And around and around.  Big sigh.

In the end, writing is really just a time consuming hobby that won't ever result in monetary gain, and with my oldest heading to college next year, what I need right now is monetary gain.  I'm a CPA.  My last day of work was the day my water broke in the reception area of my firm's office the day my sweet, now college bound, baby was born.  I don't want to go back into public accounting--too many hours and too much work to reactivate my license.  I've been looking at part-time accounting jobs, but I really only have six hours a week to myself and I need more money than six hours a week will earn me.  "Hello!  My name is Ann.  I'd like to do your accounting.  I'm free 6 hours a week and I'd like to be paid $500 an hour so my daughter can go to college."  A couple weeks ago I decided I'd put my youngest in the afternoon child care program at school on the days she goes to preschool, but that same day a news story broke about a teacher in a nearby district accused of sexually molesting little girls.  Ugh.

And so my mind goes in circles rattling between what I want to do and what I should do,  what I want to do and what's best for my family.  And then I just shut down, completely defeated.  There's no perfect schedule.  There's no perfect job.  There's no free time.  There's no money.  I've been spending way too much time on facebook and very little time doing laundry and housework, or writing or looking for a job.  Doesn't that make sense when you have no time and no money, you do exactly the opposite of what you should do or what might actually make the situation better???  And the TV has been on too much lately: Dinosaur Train, Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Super Why, Word World, and on and on.  At least I'm not a drug addict and I don't beat my kids, I think to myself, because comparing yourself to the worst possible type of mother is the best you can do to make yourself feel better.

Stuck.  Defeated.  In a funk.

And I know that this too shall pass.  It always does.  Somehow it all turns out OK.