Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cole

My nephew passed away a week and a half ago, on a Friday evening, in St. Louis. He was 4 1/2 months old. His mama and his daddy held him while he settled into peace at last, and all of his grandparents were in the room. He was, and is, incredibly loved.

I flew out to be with them that Sunday, my girls in tow. We all had 4 1/2 months to get used to the idea that baby Cole would be leaving us, but that didn't make anything easy. I think I was doing alright, though, until the visitation. We arrived early, as family does, and waited in the next room until Eric and Jennifer were ready to come out and let us in. When they did, I gave Jennifer a hug, and then behind her I saw Eric. And I don't believe I'll ever forget seeing my big brother standing there, still, perfectly pressed in a suit jacket and tie, looking like I usually would see him before something like a holiday, or a wedding, except the look on his face was somehow the exact look of a father who is at the funeral home for his son, his only child, just a little baby who looks like he is sleeping in the next room, but isn't.

All I wanted in the whole wide world at that moment was to be back in our old family room, sprawled out on the floor with our Legos, building spaceships, fighting over pieces, me trying desperately to make something even half as cool as he could - my brother the future engineer - and probably annoying the heck out of him in the process. I just couldn't believe that we weren't there, surrounded by a sea of tiny bright plastic colors, but were here instead, getting ready to receive guests at little Cole's visitation.

Part of me always knew I would have a nephew named Cole. Cole is a family name for us. It was our grandfather's name, the one Eric and I never met, whom my brother Mark only knew as a baby, but about whom we always heard such wonderful stories. My grandfather died from an accident while my mom was expecting Eric, I believe, and Cole became Eric's middle name. My dad's brother's name was Cole, too, and he was certainly a favorite uncle. Any time he called the house and I answered the phone he would make a point to talk to me for a few minutes, asking me how I was, always telling me a joke or two, before asking to speak with my parents. And we lost him too young, as well, from pancreatic cancer when I was in college.

Both times I was pregnant with our girls, before I would find out I was expecting a girl, I remember making a conscious note that as much as I loved the name Cole for a boy, I really shouldn't use it in case Eric would want to use it one day.

And I just can't believe that my nephew Cole finally came, only to leave so quickly. I wanted to get to know him, and I wanted so much to see him growing up with Eric as his daddy. I wanted to see them playing Legos on their family room floor.

We are heartbroken that Cole is gone. Relieved for him in some ways, that his troubles are over, and his little body doesn't have to work so hard. And so happy that he was able to spend two months at home, being loved on and cared for and cuddled by his parents, his parents who were nothing short of amazing during this entire experience. But still we are heartbroken that he is gone. I am heartbroken.


Thank you, friends, to each and every one of you who extended thoughts, prayers, and love to our family. I said it before on facebook, but I want to say it again here because I mean it: every bit of love you sent meant the world.

And I hope and pray that one day, when we ourselves pass through the veil, we will get to know Cole. Until then, I believe that he is in the arms of a loving God, peaceful, and so happy that he was able to spend even a little time with his mama and daddy, who love him so.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

because if you asked me in person, i would tell you. or i wouldn't, but in that case it just seems all the more important.

Last Friday was our first day officially off the Whole30 diet, and I had plans. PLANS. Blueberry oatmeal for breakfast (plus flax!). PB&J on homemade wheat bread for lunch. In the evening I attended a booksigning, and they had snacks! Yogurt-dipped pretzels! Barely-sweetened lemonade! And I might have stolen a chocolate cupcake for later. When I came home, Jimmy had made a cashew-crusted chicken for dinner, some vegetable or other, and we each had a glass of white wine.

Saturday morning, I felt pretty physically yuck. I didn't sleep as well after the wine, and the sugar had me feeling hungover. I was short-tempered with the girls. We somehow managed to herd everyone out the door for an appointment, and I want to say we had eggs for breakfast? But after the appointment we headed over to Umami Burger, the (arguably) best new burger joint in LA, which is, if you didn't know, a town with an unusually intense fixation on burgers. I've been wanting to go for at least a year, and it was absolutely worth the wait. I'm not sure it was worth the price tag, the lack of included accoutrement, or the almost invisible service, but oh, that burger was YUM.

We promptly went home, put the baby down for a nap, let Lena watch a movie, and collapsed into unavoidable, almost uncontrollable food comas. My body was in full shut-down mode, and after napping I think we spent the rest of the evening taking it easy around the house. I don't even remember what we had for dinner, but if I know my husband, it was probably leftover chicken and salad.

Sunday. I was irritable again. I don't remember what was for breakfast, but I do remember having a terrible time getting everybody out the door for church, and I remember being almost incapable of dealing with all the toddler whining that came from the backseat on the way there. I could barely stay awake during the sermon, which I thought was otherwise unusually good, and beelined for the after-service coffee much faster than I usually do. We treated ourselves to brunch out, because I'd planned for it for so long! But Jimmy, who had learned his lesson by now, ordered something healthy. I desperately wanted that pain perdu, but in trying to be good opted instead for the ham/cheese/potato omelet and a chocolate croissant. And a latte. I KNOW. But there were eggs! And I had FRUIT instead of the potatoes au gratin!

I know.

I continued to be grumpy. And began to be bummed out, because I didn't think I deserved to be so grumpy.

We had a lovely dinner that night over at Jimmy's sister's home, and while it didn't exactly meet all paleo guidelines, it was delicious, and balanced, and plenty healthy. I drank two glasses of wine, mostly trying to enjoy myself and to take the edge off the grumpy. For dessert, Jimmy and I split a s'mores-flavored gelato sandwich, which was so delicious we both agreed we could have forgone every other cheat we'd had that weekend in exchange for that half-a-sandwich. Lesson learned.

That's the weekend laundry list. And I've written it all down here because it was so important to Monday. Monday, when we went back to routine, and went back to paleo, and I went back to my workout. Monday, when I went back on my homeopathic meds. And Monday, when none of it mattered. On Monday I did my best to power through and do everything right, to fight off the growing, paralyzing fear I felt that I was losing control again. That I wasn't just grumpy and irritable, but I was also fending off feelings again of being inadequate and incompetent, that I failed at everything and everything I tried to do or be was dumb. And I was trying not to lose control just because I was afraid I could be losing control. But it was undeniable, and on Monday I felt like I was drowning.

On Tuesday, I woke up hoping to be back on my feet, because on Monday I had been so good. But on Tuesday I still had that sensation of drowning, only on Tuesday I realized I'd also completely lost sight of shore. The benefit, I suppose, of being on the paleo diet for the previous month, and maybe also that little bit the day before, was that I could see what was happening to me with much more clarity this time. I could see that I had somehow, almost out of nowhere, plummeted back to the bottom of depression. It was a sneak attack, and it was terrifying. I could also see that this was probably much bigger, overall, than how much sugar I ate. That plunging into the depths just because I had a free weekend was probably not the safest gamble to live with. I knew - I know - that I am not at all in any control of how this monster makes me feel, and just because I can muddle through the bad days now does not mean I will be able to next time. That I can't take that risk when I have girls to be present for, to hopefully even be a model for.

I spent half of the day crying for no reason at all, and the other half trying not to. And of course, my therapist is on vacation.

Jimmy was able to be home yesterday, and that man is a Godsend in my life, literally. Without his support, encouragement, love, advice, and - let's face it - his sense of humor, I don't know where I'd be. Today I am back on the upswing, but it isn't easy. It is work, and I am petrified that a day could come when I am too tired to do the work.

Clearly, I need to spend some time with a professional, but I'm pretty sure that this is me on the road to antidepressants, at last. What about the diet, you say? Yes, it helped, SO MUCH. But even on my best day on the diet, I'm pretty sure I was still just okay. I have no way of really knowing, though. Depression is something I've been battling since high school, if not my whole life, which means I have no "normal" personal experience to relate to. My guess is that my cycle of moods - my highs and lows - are just generally set much lower on the chart than everyone else's are. My best days are the days when I am simply too distracted to be down, or when I just feel even. There are indeed times when I am truly elated, but they are rare, and seem to be always followed by a crash. And my crashes are hard to recover from.

So, we will see where this goes. I am almost as terrified of taking antidepressants as I am of depression itself. I've read up on the possible side-effects and I know I could possibly be taking them for the rest of my life. And frankly, I have no idea what I SHOULD be feeling like, not to mention how antidepressants COULD make me feel. But every time I look at the little checklists that begin with "Are You Depressed?", and I check off every single symptom, I know it's the right time for me to try something different. Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with a husband who supports me. I hope you will, too.

Goodness knows, I need it.