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What I Learned This Week – 4/6/14

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WEEK-baby

This week I have been following a new drama.

It is a medical based drama. A baby was born at just 24 weeks (they are supposed to cook for a full 40, or as close to it as possible) and less than a pound. The doctors said the preemie wouldn’t last 48 hours. But the couple was still so positive and happy. Getting pregnant had been a struggle for them. They had tried for years to have a baby that they could take fishing and make root for the Green Bay Packers.

With the prayers of all their friends and family and Facebook friends, the baby boy made it past 48 hours. He then made it past 72 hours. They called him their little fighter, their little angel.

I couldn’t help but be envious of their positive attitude. I had to send my own son off into operating rooms three times in the past, every time I was almost hysterical and convinced I would never see him alive again. And he was six months old and a healthy weight the first time that happened.

The thing is, this wasn’t a new television show or a Hollywood movie. This was the child of my former neighbors.

Neighbors are a weird thing. We are in the city. We lived close enough that our driveways and back doors are only a few feet apart. We would help each other look for our lost dogs in the dark. We would hear each other arguing with our spouses, either outside or when the windows were open. We would reveal things to each other in passing. For example, they were the third people to find out when I was pregnant with my own son. Only because they happened to be outside that night.

Yet, when all this happened, we aren’t technically close enough to them to help in any meaningful way. All I could give them were thoughts and prayers.

That wasn’t enough. The baby passed on after 4 days.

I know from my own limited experience with a child in the hospital that their lives must have revolved around that baby and that hospital for that period of time.  A hospital is not a nice place to live.  Especially if you are not the one who is being treated.  I have never lost a baby myself. I can’t imagine how horrible it will be for them to return home after this ordeal, empty-handed.

What I learned this week is that I am not good with birth. Or death. And that we never appreciate what we have.

I didn’t get that shining moment when you hold your baby and smile at it. I was busy puking while someone else was trying to tape a bag to his tiny nutsack so they could get a urine sample.

I live in denial about death. I try not to think about my hamster who died over ten years ago. I compartmentalized my gramma’s death. Part of my brain just thinks she is still off in the nursing home.

I think we are just programmed as humans to not be able to realize how lucky we are. It is so easy to get in an argument with my 3 year old son over eating his breakfast or sitting on the potty. I should be so happy that he is here and healthy. But, I guess, if I remembered that, I would also never discipline him and buy him Thomas toys until we are broke, bankrupt, and foreclosed on.

Life balance is hard. Maybe we should just spend a few minutes every day realizing what we really have.

This is all painful. It is not my story. That is why I haven’t included any names or dates. But a lot of my past week was thinking about this little peanut, and I felt like I had to spill it out of me.

What I Learned This Week – 1/19/14

This week I learned that it is easy to become just a statistic.

My asbestos friend used to babysit a little girl after-school everyday.  She was particularly memorable, because she had the same first name as my asbestos friend.

One day she announced, as kids do, “Two people cannot have the same name.  I will call you Frank.”

And the name has stuck.  Many of my asbestos friend’s family members still call her Frank.  And I do too, on occasion.  That was probably another thing in high school that my classmates thought I was weird for, calling her “Frank.”  But it made perfect sense to us.

My mom also happened to work at the same factory where both the parents worked.

The family ended up having a little boy that my friend babysat for as well.

Years later, at my asbestos friend’s wedding, I sat at the same table with the family.  I didn’t know them well, but we all chatted.

So, I casually knew of them.  They were acquaintances.

But it was still very sad to hear that this week the father died at 57 years old from the H1N1 flu.

The little girl that my asbestos friend had babysat for?  According to pictures I see on Facebook, she is expecting her own baby soon.  So sad that her father won’t be around to meet his grandchild.

And now?  His whole life has been reduced to a statistic by the local news.  He lived in Lenawee County.

He is the statistic right at the beginning of the news report.  The rest of the report is about Lucas County, Ohio.

Photo: 13abc.com Click picture for story.

Photo: 13abc.com
Click picture for story.

Clickable link to the same news story: http://www.13abc.com/story/24462839/60-year-old-curtice-man-dies-from-flu

Bobby Jo Jinkins

I was looking through a pile of old poems the other day and I found this gem. It is written in a similar vein of The Ballad of the Fried Squirrel and The Legend Live On, which I previously posted.

These are the rare funny poems. Most of my high school poems are about suicide. It is amazing I am still here. I could have really used some hard-core therapy my senior year of high school. Instead, I read Sylvia Plath and wrote lots of dark poems.

Enjoy this ditty!

Note: Bobby Jo Jinkins is a guy. I don’t know why I spelled the name like that.

Bobby Jo Jinkins
By: JLF
11/15/94

On a chilly autumn day,
I sat and watched the squirrels at play.
The sun shone down, bright upon the leaves
That were freshly fallen from their trees.
When all a sudden, their chatter ceased
And they ran away like pigs that were greased.
So I crept up to the leaves, to see what they’d found.
To my surprise, what was buried in that mound
Was a three-week dead, worm-eaten corpse–
It was Bobby Jo Jinkins, of course!
The story had been in the papers for days
Bobby Jo Jinkins wandered into the corn

    and got lost among the maize.

But more than corn mites had found Bobby Jo.
It looked as though his head was bashed in by a hoe.
Poor Bobby Jo, what a terrible fate for a Jinkins,
His life had been rubbed out in a blink of a blinkins.
Oh, oh. If the town could see me now
They wouldn’t believe this sight–oh wow.
No one I knew, ever believed
I could ever get Bobby Jo Jinkins alone with me

    under the trees.

(Aint life wacky?)

A Tribute To Someone I Hardly Knew

When I think of Schindler’s List, I always think of a girl I went to school with named Alicia Foote.

More on that in a minute.

I met Alicia Foote in Writer’s Workshop in high school. [Then I might have thought of her as just Alicia, but now I always hear her full name in my head.] Writer’s Workshop was a wonderful class that anyone could take, from freshmen to seniors. And it was taught by one of my favorite teachers, who I sometimes believed to resemble a Panda. I thought I had him wrapped around my finger. I am sure he was totally on to me.

The first ten minutes or so of class, we were to do a free-write (wait, isn’t that what THIS VERY BLOG is? I give myself an “A”:P). The rest of the class, you could write stories, poems, etc. My asbestos friend and I ate it up. My other friend and I would eat blue raspberry blow-pops in class and turn our tongues blue.

Being the Co-Editor of the school newspaper, I spent a lot of time working on the newspaper during class. But I also found time to flirt (badly) with freshmen boys. And I became friends with a couple of freshmen girls who were in the class. One of whom was Alicia Foote. She was short with long blond hair and the biggest smile. From how I knew her, she was one of the few truly nice people I have ever known. The phrase “heart of gold” comes to mind. In any century, it is hard to find a high school student you could say that about.

So, through the year, I would talk to her in class, she wrote a little for the newspaper, and I believe I even sat with her at lunch sometimes. So, by the end of the year, when our school took five school buses of students to go see Schindler’s List in Toledo, she was sort of my friend. The seniors all claimed one bus. On the way home, after the movie and lunch, extra kids piled on to the senior bus. After all, seniors are so cool. The bus was totally overfilled. I ended up riding home on Alicia Foote’s lap. Never mind that I was three years older than her and probably 20lbs heavier, at least. She should have been on my lap, but somehow it didn’t work out that way. I still think of her like that on the bus that day.

I think the last time I saw her was when she hugged me at my graduation and my mom snapped a picture.

Alicia & I together on the occassion of my high school graduation.

Alicia & I together on the occassion of my high school graduation.

I believe she graduated in 1997. She is totally the type of person I would look up on Facebook to be friends with today. But I can’t. She died in a car accident a year or two after her graduation. She had a baby, who survived because of it’s car seat. And who will never know what a great person it’s mom was.

And yes, I cried writing this. Writing about a girl I barely knew. Who has been dead for years and probably forgotten about by half her own classmates. But I think I cry more for the loss of the kind of person I envisioned she could have grown up to be. A good, kind person. The world needs more people like that.

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Time Machine

Do you ever wish you had a Time Machine to skip over a hard day? I sure do.

I could put on Facebook when my son is going into the hospital to have surgery (which seems like a form of medieval torture) to get sympathy and support. But I do not, for two reasons:

1. I don’t want thieves to go “Oh, she is at the hospital with her kid, let’s break into her house.” That would add insult to injury.

2. I may want to get a job someday, and I don’t want potential employers to know that my kid has racked up over $100,000 in medical bills this year, and counting.

I must be the wussiest parent ever. All the other parents in the pediatric pre-op waiting room seemed calm and composed. I was a freakin’ mess. I was freaking out for two main reasons:

1. I am afraid when I hold him before surgery it will be the last time I ever hold him. Surgery always has risks.

2. I feel like this will never end. I feel like my son will be 18 years old and we will still be going to the urologist every month for his dilated kidney. I would LOVE for the doctor to fix it and then we only have to have a test like once a year to make sure it stays on track.

* I secretly believe my son’s urologist is writing some groundbreaking article he will publish in a medical journal about my son’s unique complications and the doctor will make a ton of money off of it.

As my son screamed in the backseat, my overwhelming thought on the hour drive to the hospital for my son’s latest surgery was: I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to be an adult. I don’t want to be a parent. I can’t handle all this responsibility. Everyone has their limit of how much shit life can throw at them, and my son’s medical issues are bringing me very close to my limit.

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