Monday, August 10, 2015

Ramblings of a 36-year old orphan

This is a true rambling post. All I can think about is how I'm an orphan and how weird it is.

It’s no fun and it makes me very sad. I find myself being jarred when someone talks about their parents, because I don’t have any and it’s weird that others do. And those people will have those same parents for about 40 more years.

When people say that it is so tragic when someone dies, at say, 70, 80, I just feel very numb. Like, really? My mom died at 53 and my dad at 59. It is really tragic that someone lived a long life and people miss them? Isn’t that the whole point?

It’s awkward and uncomfortable to be without parents. Every time you hear someone talk about their parents, I feel like they feel weird because they remember I am an orphan.

I lost my dad four days after I told him I was pregnant and I lost my mom 13 days before I had my little girl. I do feel as though I was blessed with this baby because God knew that I was going to have a tough road ahead.

Since the deaths, I have been focused on my family, job and Zoloft. Lots of Zoloft. I’m not sure if it’s helping or hindering my grief, but I can’t even worry about that right now. All I know is that I am putting one foot in front of the other…the best way that I know how. It’s all I can do.

It’s weird to think that I’ll never talk to my parents again. That they’ll never know my youngest. That I thought my son would remember them….but he was only 18 months when my dad passed and my daughter was only 3 ½. They’ll never remember him, or her. That just doesn’t make any sense to me.

The thing I hate the most are the “doe eyes.” The cocked heads. The slow nod of the head as I say that I miss my parents. I know that people are trying to make me feel better, but it just makes me feel more isolated. What would make me feel better? I have no idea. I just know that I hate the pity.

Do you know that I now have more in common with 60 and 70 year-olds than I do people my own age? Who else has two dead parents? My friend Sara in MO, but she’s so far away. I know I should lean on her more, I just feel that the shitstorm hit me so fast that I can’t even process.

Again, timeline:

January 18, 2013 I tell my dad that I’m pregnant, he was in the hospital. I had no idea what was to come.
January 21, 2013 – I get the call from my cousin Amanda that my dad has passed away. TBH, I still don’t know why/how he passed. I’ve never asked.
September 3, 2013 – my mom dies of metastatic breast cancer
September 16, 2013 – my baby Elise is born
October 15, 2013 – I get the call while on maternity leave that my position at The University of Akron has been eliminated
April 12, 2014 – my family and I move to Columbus to start over. And it’s been awesome ever since.

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 3, 2013

So this post has been weighing heavily on my mind for awhile now. The day my mom died. It's only taken me over a year to get to the point where I think I can begin to tell the story. I'm going to be honest here, I'm not sure how much I can get through. But I am going to try.

I can't bring myself to read the posts that led up to her death day, but I am pretty sure that everyone knows Labor Day weekend, my sisters, dad and I were caring for mom around the clock. My dad "had" to go to work on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, so I told him that I would come to the house at 6:30 in the morning to relieve him. That day I was planning on going to Dr. Greenfield's to have my FMLA paperwork signed so that I could care for mom. And please remember, I was 37 weeks pregnant with my third child. It was a chaotic time.

I got to mom's as planned at 6:30 in the morning. I remember that I was wearing black gauchos, a black long-sleeved shirt and my sandals. Dad greeted me at the door saying that it had been a hard night and that he didn't want to, but had to go to work to put in some hours. When I walked into the family room where the hospital bed was....I found my mom in a disgusting state. She looked like an animal the way he treated her.

She was laying in the hospital bed, skin and bones, with her nightgown CUT OFF at her belly button and no underwear on. My dad explained that she had peed on herself last night and that he couldn't get her up, so he just cut off her nightgown and took her underwear off and tried to change the sheets. I was looking at my mom, all of about 90 pounds at that point, naked and vulnerable and out of it. She would have been MORTIFIED.

I quickly put a sheet over her so that she wasn't as exposed. It was truly disgusting.....she may not have been with it, but she deserved dignity.

I should note, I didn't go over to mom's that day thinking that that was going to be her last day with us. I knew she didn't have long, but I never thought she was going to die that day.

So, my dad started telling me that Kasey was coming over as well, because when mom would want to get up to go to the bathroom, I wasn't going to be able to handle her by herself. At this point she was using one of those toilets on wheels. We would have to hook our hands under her arms to lift and move her to where she needed to be. He was afraid that with me being so prego that I wouldn't be able to do it by myself. I would soon learn that he was right.

So, he left and I sat down and started watching trash TV. I held her hand, caressed her skin and just sat.

Kasey came soon after, maybe around 8:00? At that point, mom started to fuss. After a little bit of a scramble, we figured out that mom had to go to the bathroom. So I hooked my hands under both of her arms and lifted. She was a little heavy, surprisingly. As I turned to take her the two steps to the toilet, she started peeing. My poor mom who was only half dressed, no underwear on, with her oldest daughter holding the front of her and her baby holding her on the side, started peeing.

I remember the pee falling on their hardwood floor and splashing up my leg. I remember putting my head down and just.....painfully....taking the moment in. She didn't know what she was doing, she just knew that she couldn't pee laying down. I believe that both Kasey and I put our heads down when we realized what was happening.

I struggle as I write this because my mom would have been mortified. But she was so sick from the cancer that she was literally out of her mind. When mom was done I was covered in her urine and the floor had a big puddle. BUT, she felt better and that was all I cared about. Fuck if I care that I have some pee on me. It was traumatic, because at that point I think I knew there was no going back. Mom was so out of it that there was absolutely, positively, no going back.

I think I have to stop now because I am honestly feeling sick. Sick because the fucking breast cancer made my mom's last day traumatic. Sick because I've finally put it out there. Sick because I've acknowledged how my dad left her that morning. Sick because she's dead. And sick because I miss her.

I guess I'll try another day to tell more. I can't do it now.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jumping...Dancing....Doing Highkicks!!

This is exactly what I am doing right now. I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You are currently reading the words from the Cleveland METAvivor liason for their Sea to Sea campaign that is kicking off next year. EEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKK!!

METAvivor is the only non-profit in America that is focused solely on metastatic breast cancer RESEARCH. They collect funds, and then distribute to doctors and researchers who are looking for a cure. The Sea to Sea campaign is going to visit some of the research centers that they have funded.....which means The Cleveland Clinic is getting a visit!

I spoke to Christine today and she asked me what my ultimate volunteer role would be. I told her that I would LLLOOOVVEEE to stand in front of a room, share my mom's story, my story as a caregiver and educate an audience on MBC. It looks like I am going to get my dream!

More details to come, I just had to share. This is AWESOME!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


On May 22, 1960 Kimberly Hope Perkins was born. She was a bouncing baby and the apple of her mom's eye. She would grow to be a kind, loving, giving, complex, stubborn, beautiful, flawed, silly woman. She would raise three daughters to have many of her own characteristics, both good and bad. She would die with her family surrounding her until the very end. She would be 54 tomorrow.

Honestly, her birthday crept up on me. I have been so busy with my new job, getting acclimated to a new city and my own kids, that I haven't really thought about it much. Mother's Day was also a major distraction from her birthday. Excuse my french, but mother's day fucking sucked. Major big time. Now, the night before mother's day was AWESOME.

My sister Katie graduated with a 4.0 from nursing school! My whole family and I went out to celebrate her major accomplishment. It was the first time in more than three years that my family had a real celebration. A true celebration. We are all so proud of Katie and so happy that she is truly filled my heart up celebrating with her and my family.

Me, Katie and Kasey

But alas, the fun couldn't continue. I woke up super sad at 3:00 a.m. in my mom's house. See, it was the first time that I had stayed at mom's since my step-dad was in Belgium and I had to take care of her. That time was awful....this time was better, but still a kick to the gut to wake up on Mother's Day in your dead mom's house. I know that sounds awful, but that's how it was.

I was in a funk. Shitty things happened on MD and I hate it. I fucking hate it. But I can't change it. Whatever. Gah, I want that whole day to just go away forever.

Anyways, mom is gone and tomorrow is her birthday. I feel robotic. I need to own those feelings, yet I feel that I should FEEL more. But that's hard when you are on a super high dose of Zoloft. I hate this drugged up state that I am in, but I can't change it. Not right now. I just have to be.

Happy heavenly birthday, mom. I love you and miss you....

I added a flower from my sister's graduation hair to mom's grave on MD. I thought it was fitting.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Because of Her

THIS! THIS is how I am going to spend my mother's day. Reading about my fellow motherless daughters' moms. I am waiting for approval on my submission, but this is truly beautiful.

Because of Her

Read, share, enjoy. It feels weird to say "enjoy," but I did it anyways.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

8 Months

Today marks eight months since I've seen, talked to, or held my mom's hand. Or harassed her. Or tricked her like I was always doing. Or rolled my eyes at her when she goes on and on and on and on about something. 8 months.

At this time eight months ago, I was on my way to my mom's oncologist to have him fill out FMLA paperwork so that I didn't have to go back to work. I knew we were nearing the end, but I had no idea that mom would pass away in less than two hours.

We had already done her last rites about two hours previously. At that point, I thought we were just doing them to get them out of the way. Merely four hours after we did them, she passed away. How was I so naive to think that I could do an errand while my mom was literally on her death bed. Isn't it weird what we do in our darkest hour?

As I type this, I am watching my bouncing ball of 7.5 month old joy, Elise Kimberly. She'll never know her namesake. That bothers me. But there is nothing in the world I can do about it.

8 months. I cannot believe that it is soon to be a year. Blah. I am to young for this. And she was too.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The gift of life

I am very excited to announce that I have landed a job with Lifeline of Ohio as their new media and public relations coordinator! I could not be more thrilled with becoming part of their team. I received the phone call the day after my other job officially was quite serendipitous.

Lifeline is an organization that promotes the gift of life through organ, eye and tissue donation. I was amazed when I learned how many lives could be saved or enhanced through donation.

My personal journey with this topic is through my dad. When I got the call last January that he had passed away, my world was cracked into pieces. I called my best friend, my dad's friends, my family...I was on the phone for hours. Crying in anguish. At about 11 pm, I turned my phone off. When I awoke around 4:30 am, I turned my phone on again to find that I had two voicemails.

One of the voicemails was from the hospital and the other was from an organ donation center in TN wanting to know if I would give consent to have my dad's eyes harvested. By the time I called them around 5:00, the eyes had already "expired." Honestly, I felt conflicted. I never knew I would have to answer that question on behalf of my dad. And then I was thinking about his lovely blue eyes in someone else. It was a gut-wrencher. But I knew that my dad would want to help someone...he would have done it in a heart beat. I would have given consent, of course....I just missed the deadline. Part of me still feels sad about that. My dad could have lived on.

Dad and Sadie - this was his favorite picture...and mine too.

During the interview process, I was asked this question:

Jessica, we deal with life and death. Are you comfortable with the topic of death?

How unfortunate is it that I am "comfortable" with that topic? In my phone interview, I told them about my dad's story. In the in-person interview, I had to watch as three people took in the news that I had lost both my mother and father in the span of nine months. I felt bad for having to inflict that upon them. . 

During the interview, I also talked to them about empathy and sympathy. I feel like I know how to talk with someone who has lost a loved one. I've had it all in the past year. People you want to slap because they tell you how you have it "better off" than they do, those who think they can explain it away, and those who just sit with you. This video is perfect in my mind. I often share it with people who ask me how they should be comforting a friend in their time of need.

For now, I am going to tuck into bed and think of my great new job. I am really looking forward to next week and beginning a new journey in my new hometown.