Birthday in heaven

I awoke this morning, like I do everyday, before dawn, I’m getting used to this. It’s my time I guess, my moments with him. It happens everyday, like clockwork. I get up and glance at the clock, hoping it is after 4am? I scuffle into the bathroom and I talk to him. Everyday, the same feeling. I need to connect to him. Feel him near me. I speak to him in whispers and my love pours through my veins. The tears they flow, my heart, shattered in pieces and I am aware of the enormous burden and pain, the grieving, the shock and reality. I awake today and say Happy Birthday Thomas. Today, my brother would be 56. He died 2 weeks ago. We won’t celebrate. I am consumed by loss. I am trying to be gentle, easy on my soul. None of this is easy. It never is. Acceptance isn’t easy. Hell, we all struggle with letting go, letting it be, accepting what “is” our entire lives. Death teaches you finality, and in the same moment, it teaches you how precious each moment is, “for we only have today, for none of us know what tomorrow brings”….The only glimmer of hope is I know, in time, the pain softens. In time, the memories take over again, and your mind allows you to forget the horror and reality of losing your loved one. The process is all too familiar, but it still sucks. Every second of it does. My role…as the big sister, And…the middle child,  is to make sure everyone is “ok”. Whatever ok means at this stage it’s kind of strange.  I reach out and offer my services! I cook. Italian women do that. They all seem to enjoy the home cooking and I want to comfort and console and nourish them.  The kids haven’t reached out. They post a picture here and there. His wife is slowly dealing with the aftermath.  I went grocery shopping and dropped off dinner and groceries at his house. His wife didn’t mention his birthday. She did mention, she thought it would be her first night alone in their home. My heart broke. She is so scared and lost. She is trying to be strong and hold on for everyone.  I honestly can’t imagine her grief and worry. It’s just 2 weeks. She is overwhelmed, who wouldn’t be? Please continue to pray for our family. My faith is helping me cope and hold on.  I miss him every moment.

The first real snowfall on the island this morning. it looks so pure and white and still.  I am grateful that I have no agenda or schedule to deal with today. I will try and pray, read scripture, and honor him in my heart and allow myself to grieve him and miss him. I will reach out to his children again, and just let them know I am here, thinking and grieving with them.  I feel like I keep dwelling in thoughts.  I feel like I need to piece together a story, a beginning, a middle and an end. I get angry at myself, and remind myself that in the one moment my brother decided to die, does not define him.  It does not control us or him. It does not dictate who he was or what had become of him. His decision, I believe, is something no one will ever ever grasp or understand. It boggles my mind and thoughts. I pray eventually it will just be . Acceptance takes time, so does healing and forgiveness. This is not easy or quick, but the reality sucks.

These last two posts have been very difficult.  Secretly, you pray you aren’t the blogger, it’s not your story. Sadly, it is. I am dealing, one day at a time. I am sharing my pain, dumping it in my “secret” blog.  I am still not up to sharing pictures and smiles and I can hardly bare listening to music. Today, I listened to spiritual songs I love.   I started with Carrie Underwood, her live rendition of How Great Thou Are”, my favorite.  I finished with Josh Groban, “You’re still here”. The only dedication I care to share with my brother Thomas today. J’taime Thomas Joseph.

 

In a NY minute…

I didn’t want to write or share my pain & sorrow.  But this is what I do, I write. I have always penned my deepest pain, and greatest joys since I am a child, I write to heal. I often  wrote poetry. I write what moves me and inspires me. Through this blog,  I have shared my life, my family, my dreams and sorrows on this blog. This is what I do and it has always been my therapy and healing. After all, I have been blogging for months about the upcoming birth of our Granddaughter. We breezed through the holidays and celebrated with my siblings and extended family. Our anticipation and excitement and endless prepping for her arrival, kept all of us busy and focused.  We had a few celebrations before New Years Eve.  Her due date. All of them at my eldest brother Thomas’s home. He hosts all the big holidays, he has 5 kids now, we need a lot of space! So our Beautiful, soft and fierce  babygirl Anna Lisa,  came into this world, healthy and safe. It truly was instant love. We were so relieved and grateful that she and her mother were doing so well.  All our prayers answered. I watched my son from the moment his daughter came into the world, covet, and cuddle and feed and kiss her from the moment she was born. It was a feeling in my heart, my soul, that finally, perhaps we had done something good in this world.  My child was holding his. The bond was strong, his Mama was melting, elated. And for one second the world appeared to be happy, joyful, evolving beauty and we are  so very blessed. Our new addition gave us a reason to be thankful and humble. She is truly a joy. Everyone who holds her, engages with her says the same thing.  This baby is heaven, so soft and petite and delicate and so very calm and peaceful. Amen, praise Jesus for this blessing. She is discovering this world, thriving and being nurtured  by two loving parents and many, many cousins and family. She is sunshine and new light every single day.  Please continue praying for this baby and our family.

One week later, I received the worst news of our lives. My brother Thomas had taken his life. He ended his beautiful existence on 1/7 in the early morning at my parents gravesite. My brother shot himself with a shotgun in his SUV.  We were told,  he could not have an open casket. The horror began on that cold winter morning. His wife called me at my office, I remember her telling me, Tom took his life this morning. I said Tom WHO?…The truth was, he did. I can’t even imagine what pain this man was in that day? He drove and went to my parents at our family plot. He needed to go and be comforted and I believe forgiven by my Father and held by our Mother as he left this earth. I will never ever get any of his last days here, I try not to focus on his pain and suffering. He had snapped under life’s pressures and failures. He decided in an instant that living was too painful, he said; he made too many mistakes in his life? He said, he could no longer function; and he let everyone down. My brother suffered a secret depression, rage, and some sort of a total mental breakdown. He told no one, not one person his plan. He hid his pain inside. He didn’t ever ask for help or reach out to one living soul. For the rest of my life on earth, this will haunt me, he wouldn’t ask for help! My brother,  he was a gifted,  an exceptional person, masters degree, ran a multi million dollar big commercial electrical company. Thomas, to everyone was the quintessential NY big shot. He was a workaholic, from a young age, driven to be a millionaire by 30. My brother, he lived for everyone else, his family, his business, his friends. He had it all, or so we all thought. When his businesses failed, he collapsed. Yes, I noticed a lot of subtle changes, and most recently a very gaunt, physical change in his color and face and eyes. I was with my brother and my entire family on Sunday. His son Thomas jr. US Army Sargeant,  was on leave for holidays and just returned from Poland and was awaiting assignment to Korea. He had a big party for his son’s birthday.  All his friends and family were there. I noticed again Tom looked sickly, pale and seemed rather quiet or tired? But with his house full, he smiled and socialized.  He was drinking, I realized recently, he was never much into hard liquor, a beer occasionally, over the last year, he drank more and more, with his wife who has wined daily. He was addicted to diet pepsi, that was his choice! again, subtle changes, and yes, slowly he was changing. My heartaches, some signs were there and I knew he wasn’t “himself”. I mentioned it to my brothers and husband that over Thanksgiving into Christmas, Tom looked “shot”, exhausted. He had been a mischievious, comedic, smart witty guy, had the room in stitches with his comedy and impersonations. Honestly,  over the last few years, those things diminished, and over time disappeared. He spent 20 hours aday, dealing with his business issues, he told no one he was losing it, slowly shutting down, overwhelmed and distraught, he hid most of this from everyone around him. A lot was subtle…no one else noticed, however, I had begun to notice and be concerned. The most difficult part is, I had spent the last 2 months with Thomas, and we hadn’t had a meaningful, connected conversation. I was upset about that, feeling he was distant. Almost like he wasn’t totally present. His daughter said she felt it also.  So, after Christmas  My brother took his family and friends to ski for 10 days in Mt. Snow, Vermont. He rented a big ski chalet and partied it up. The pictures he shared with me, hell…honest, he looked GREAT!  I thought, man this is what he needs, some “me” time, family time. This will be good for him. He skied for almost a week, top form, he recently lost 125 lbs, &  had a bariatric sleeve 2 years ago,  in honesty, for that week, to me, he looks like the old Tom. I am sad to say, he ended his life one week later, after his son’s birthday party. The kid had just landed in Texas, back to his Fort Hood home base for future assignment. The anguish, pain, worry for my brother’s children is enormous and encompassing. I am keeping close contact with them.  What a valuable lesson he taught us in taking his own life. In ending every single dream, his five children and wife, us, his family. We grieve. Our hearts are broken, clearly in shock and anguish over his choice.   Our world stopped. It all ceased to exist. The last 10 days have been a blur, nightmare, anguish and the worst tragic death in our entire lives.  We are breathing, moving forward not remembering where we are. Where should we go? What should we do? The children, his wife, his entire life is still here. He isn’t. His decision was planned, but somewhat spontaneous. There is no way possible, that the brother I have known for 52 years, was the same man who woke up and said, the world will be better off without me. He was not the Thomas that loved 1000’s of people and took care of everyone, he was someone I didn’t know, and I couldn’t help. When we held his service, almost 1000 people came to pay respects. I have never seen an outpouring of love & support and community, like I saw for my brother. He touched millions of lives, he was well respected and adored by his children, step children are heartbroken and lost. We are all holding each other, supporting one another as best we can.  Some of you know, I have had a shitload of loss, both me and my husbands family have suffered many deaths. This one is the most painful, shocking and devastating of all.  I called a hotline for grief counseling. I met a wonderful woman named  Donna. She came to my home and counseled and helped us after the funeral.  Everyone has shared, she helped them a lot with this grief. She has offered to counsel us all again.  I went back to work, keeping busy, I know the routine, yet still,  it stuns me, how life simply goes “on”, even though he is now gone. We move forward, because there is simply NO going back.  We sit in shock and horror at the reality of what has happened. The aftermath….well no one is prepared for any of this, no one. My brother was not prepared, he was just overwhelmed, with every single thought. I grieve for him. I miss him every single moment. I talk to him, the medium said he wants us to talk to him. So I am, my own dialogue, scattered, fragmented thoughts, memories. I can’t bear to stare at him….not yet, but he is beautiful.  I wrote a eulogy for him. I wrote it from my heart, for him, for his children, for Thomas.  Please, I ask for prayers for his wife and family and our family. We are holding on, but it is so very hard.  Blessings & Love. ~leelee

Isn’t she lovely!

Blessed are those who are lucky enough to experience the moment when you hold your Grandchild for the first time…. I  am truly blessed. I am happy to announce & welcome the newest member of our family….

 

Miss Anna Lisa

Birthday 12/31/14

6 lbs, 12 oz. 19″inches of pure love & joy.

 

She came into this world like she belonged

Her sweetness & love are totally infectious

She is like a little angel, made of soft silk and calmness

The moment she arrived, our world was forever blessed <3

 

Anna Lisa 4

Mommy & baby Anna Lisa are doing great. She LOVES her Daddy and he is completely smitten with her. She eats like a typical Italian, and consumes every last drop! She is growing and thriving and keeping her Mama & Daddy busy for sure.  Everyday, she brings us pure joy and LOVE into our hearts.  Each day she stays awake abit longer to soak in all the beauty and love that surrounds her. I watch my husband with this child and my heart melts. He is also head over heels for our baby Anna Lisa <3. Welcome her to this beautiful world.   Her mother snapped this picture in the hospital at 2 days old.  I know…….feel free to Melt…you can’t help it!

~leelee

Pins & Needles!

Good Morning. I think Mike and I have pre delivery jitters! We have been anxious and abit hyper the last few days. The final stretch is approaching. Just a few more days of anxiety and prepping for our new arrival. We are patiently waiting.  Neither of my births were scheduled. I had both my children natural, without any epidurals. For some odd reason, I thought that was organic and healthier for the baby. Things were different 30 years ago. I had ultra sounds and weekly visits. I had high risk diabetic pregnancies. I remained healthy and glucose controlled. I lost weight and thankfully, my children had no side effects from my diabetes.  My children were induced, both times. My daughter was 2 weeks overdue. When my OB asked how many “weeks” I was at a weekly check up, I mumbled 52. She listened and decided to do the induction the next day. Joanna is resting, nesting, and feeling very pregnant. She can’t sleep much at all. The baby is moving all night, she told me yesterday, she is ready. I suppose we all are “ready”. As ready as one can be. The anticipation and anxiety are high. The days drag on, and time stands still…while we wait.  I have tons of nervous energy. This morning we awoke @4am. That is just plain silly. The extra early awakening allows me to make more detailed lists and projects to accomplish. I thank God for my energy and stamina. The one amazing perk about losing weight and quitting smoking is you have a ton of energy. What I celebrate is not being winded or out of breath or tired, sleepy, lethargic, and no more extreme joint pain. I can run up stairs like a kid. It’s crazy, yet I am privately celebrating these moments. I have been going 110 mph, for days, I admit it. I need a way to burn off all this anxiety and worry and excitement. For those who know me, well Shopping is my #1 go to…I’ve done enough of THAT the last 12 months, just saying. So I clean and decorate and organize. Yesterday was nearly 50 degrees again, so Mike and I did some yard work. We haven’t had any shhhhhh snow yet, so we cleaned out flower beds and raked and organized some more.  It was good, fresh air, sunny, nice.  It’s nice to have a few days off to catch up and organize and catch up on stuff.

I was hoping to post the pics of the baby nursery. I’m sure all the wives reading today, know this & can relate. The new to be Grandpa, well, he is a procrastinator! he waits to the last minute to paint and finish things, and it drives me NUTS! I did not ask or nag, I simply waited, and waited and huffed and puffed  and mumbled how HIDEOUS the walls look all scuffed up and the room needs a good “scrubbing” from top to bottom before any BABY sleeps in there.  (It worked smirk)…& he loves to “scrub” for special occasions! He should finish the painting today and the room should be ready. I promise to share some pics of the little nursery with you…(yeah, I sound repetitive). How do people function at the 11th hour? I am so not about that. As I get older, I crave organization and order. De Clutter is my new Mantra….(whaaaaat)?? Sounds ironic for a mini hoarder/collector huh?  Good times. LOL. I did finish some cute accent furniture for Anna Lisa’s nursery. I really enjoyed refinishing and decorating, its quite therapeutic. This baby will always have a special room at Nana’s <3.  So we are at the final stretch 4 days and counting! I will certainly keep you posted and appropriately Brag like a good Grandma should :).

So I sit and write to you, and sip my hot coffee and ponder what to do next! I’ve been up for hours already and I must stop myself from dismantling the Christmas décor! It’s not even New Years, I think I should wait a few days.  Part of me is saying. You know how clean and organized it looks after you put away the 20 boxes of Christmas stuff!  It’s that ridiculous OCD organizational voice again. RELAX LeeLee! Geez….. I know.

I await the sunrise this morning, to start a brand new day. I have always believed in God’s grace and the  ” gift” of each new day. In my life, no matter how sad or how bad things can become, it is your faith that enables us again and allows us to begin again, & hope again with each sunrise we are blessed to have.  Pray and meditate today to allow your spirit to comfort and renew you all over again. When we truly live  by the mantra ~One Day At A Time~, it calms and centers us spiritually and mentally. I wish you all a peaceful weekend of serenity and inspiring love <3

*peace ~ leelee