Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Survival in a new world

Well, I survived. I made it through the first Christmas without my mother.

I was fortunate to spend Christmas and NYE with my family on the East coast. First on the agenda was the gingerbread house decorating party at the Glowatz's. Everyone decorated with intensity and the most creative designers took home the top prizes. We stayed up late drinking into the night and few people may or may not have smashed houses with glee when the Christmas spirit had bubbled up through their beers.

Katie and I wrapped presents and put the finishing touches on Christmas Eve with Aunt Sue and Uncle Matt--I think they were more excited than Sky and Clay! It was a joy to experience Christmas from this perspective. Uncle Matt and I had a long conversation about my next move and he encouraged me to pursue the life I desire and to enjoy the open air. Yes, I've become that cliché.

I stayed up late stewing and processing my situation as it has become multifaceted. My boyfriend and I split up, a move we had been discussing for a few weeks as we recognized our paths were moving in different directions. Although we adore each other, neither of us is committed enough to drag each other through what lies ahead. Maybe when we're older.

As a part of my grieving process, I found it scary to be without my mom for Christmas. Here's a letter I wrote to her on Christmas Eve:


I wanted to tell you about a few changes. It’s 2:30 am on Christmas Eve and Santa has already visited. Of course, I can’t sleep. These things are no different than any other year. Katie and I have gotten to spend the last two days baking with Aunt Susanne and Skyler, laughing at Uncle Matt’s goofiness, continually getting surprised by the amount of growth Clayton has had over the last 6 months, watching movies with the whole crew, decorating gingerbread houses at the Glowatz’s. I even got to go on a walk with Kebo, Susanne and the kids. Where the hell are you?

When I crawled into bed ten minutes ago, my stomach turned. All the muscles in my legs were activated, and I couldn’t tell if they were moving or not. My eyes wouldn’t stay shut. I’m not excited about Santa.

We made breakfast cocaine, pumpkin cheesecake and cheesy potatoes. Don’t be mad if we eat them without you. I think you’d be mad that you didn’t get to tease me about my inability to properly melt chocolate for the peppermint patties. I just blobbed semi-soft chocolate on top of each white patty. They taste the same.

I’ve decided that I want to give you a Christmas present, but what do you want? I’m not ready to have children, and there aren’t too many charities that would really benefit from the 20 bucks I could offer. There is one thing that you asked of the family. When you went into hospice care, the only vivacity left in your body was exhibited through your eyes. Your big sparkling blue eyes showed fear, happiness and exhaustion. You took shallow breaths and paused after saying a few words. “Continue to love each other.” That’s it. That’s all you want for your family. In my best way possible, I can do that.
I did this in a fit. The board includes ghosts and chemistry.

Merry Christmas,

I don't think she'd be mad.

In addition, I've been enjoying spending time with my dad, my stepmom and brother in Doylestown. At my mother's funeral my dad made it very clear that he was taking this opportunity to set up and be a bigger part of my life. I was apprehensive at first but it has been so nice to hear his words of wisdom and have his support. Little did I know, I've been missing it all along.

Finally, I have been considering a career change. I have been contemplating it for awhile and the holidays became the catalyst that I needed. Initially I thought I'd be in Philly/NJ, then back to Indy, and finally in DC. I drove back to Indianapolis and spent some time processing all these emotions through crying, creativity and conversation. This weekend my good friends helped me pack up my apartment, donate most of it and toss the rest. Somehow I was able to fit my bike, a croquet set, and my golf clubs in my two-door Sunfire. I also have Aunt Mary's singing cow, a small suitcase of clothes, about 20 books too good to sell and a box of memories. At present, I am visiting with Alex at Penn State. He has been generous to let me stay at his place to break up the drive to Aunt Mary's. 

This came out of the same fit. I'm so glad my friend
Hannah recognized the beauty in the breakdown.
Yesterday I made announcements on my Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts about my move and asked for contacts. No, I don't have a job but making friends and knowing people in the city is the first step. Catching wind of this update, JP offered, "Have fun, hope you find what you are looking for." The obvious response would be that I'm looking to be an adult without my mother but right now I would like something better. I'd like to find a life where I'm happier, more successful and healthier. I understand I'm in this for the long haul. Wish me luck.


  1. You can have roots and wings. I can't wait to see where this adventure takes you.

  2. How appropriate, Leah. My mom stitched a piece for me when I graduated high school that included the an inscription wishing I'd have roots and wings.