June is a hard month for me. I used to love June. It happens to be my birthday month. It used to mean birthday parties with friends, spending the days at the pool, summer break, etc. As you get older, your birthday becomes less exciting. People tend to forget your birthday unless Facebook reminds them. Especially if you have kids. Birthdays are more exciting when you have kids. You can focus on them and make their special day something to remember. June, however, is a very dark month for me. I dwell on things. It’s what I do.
When you look at my astrological sign, you will see that I am a Cancer. Us Cancers are apparently super sensitive and have old souls. That’s me alright. I take things to heart, I’m overprotective of family, and sometimes I can be pretty wise beyond my years (not all the time, obviously). June makes me sensitive. When I think of my birthday month now, all I can picture is my grandpa. He was an amazing and funny man. When I lost him, it broke my heart into a million pieces. He wasn’t just my grandpa. He was someone who I was very close to. I spent my entire life around him. When people learn that he wasn’t actually my grandpa by blood, they look at me funny. It doesn’t matter if he was or not. He adopted my mother as an adult because he had no children of his own, at least not that we know of. He had been a landlord, a friend, and someone my family could always count on. So, when he became my grandfather when I was around 9 years old, it was the best thing ever. I had no grandfather. My dad’s father had died when I was just a baby and my mother’s biological sperm donor wanted nothing to do with us, which is for the best. My grandpa was my grandpa.
He passed away shortly after our big move to Wisconsin. I remember going to the home to visit him one last time before we moved. It was so sad. I’ll never forget the way he looked. When mom asked if he remembered me, he managed to mumble, “the oldest”. That was enough for me. Most of the time when I visited him, he knew who I was and it felt good. When I tell people he had Alzheimer’s Disease, they always follow that up with, “then the outcome was expected”. No, no it wasn’t expected! I didn’t want him to go. I didn’t want him to be taken from us with such a cruel disease. In all honesty, though, of course it was expected. He was getting older and his disease was progressing. It just wasn’t something I wanted to think about. I guess I had hoped he’d be there the next time we visited Missouri.
It was rough move to Wisconsin. Leaving the only state I had ever really lived in was a huge ordeal for me. I had two young children and no help. Ronnie was working late hours every day. When Thanksgiving rolled around, Mom had told me that Papa wasn’t doing so well. She said they would be sending hospice in soon. I burnt Ronnie’s pumpkin pie. The first one I had ever attempted to make. My mashed potatoes came out like soup and it was the worst Thanksgiving dinner ever. Ronnie said it was delicious. This is why I keep him around.
December 1st he went to be with the angels. I remember that late night phone call like it was yesterday. 12:08am on December 1st, 2008, mom called to tell me he left us. My heart froze. My hands went numb. I remember hanging up the phone and walking to our living room. I just sat there with my hands in my lap, crying. Ronnie tried to talk to me, tried to hold me. I was inconsolable. We were able to make it home a week later for his burial. It wasn’t much, he had planned everything. He knew where he was going to be buried, he wanted to be cremated. He didn’t want anyone to say anything. He didn’t want a big show. I wrote him a letter before we left Wisconsin, stuck a few pictures in the envelope and left it in his grave. It was freezing out and as the tears poured down my cheeks, I still couldn’t believe that he was gone. I had put on a brave front for my family when I was home but inside, everything was black.
Things went south from there. I wasn’t sleeping because we had a 6 month old who didn’t want to sleep through the night, and I was distraught over my grandfather. I won’t bore you with the details but I was deeply depressed. I had hit rock bottom. His loss had struck me to the core and I wasn’t sure how to climb out of the abyss that had swallowed me. The depression worsened but I finally got help. I still struggle daily with it, but it is just that, a struggle. June makes it worse. His birthday was in June. I can remember celebrating birthdays together. I remember being mad as I got older because I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday with his. That makes me feel guilty, all those guilty feelings make me feel sad again. I remember all the birthdays he came to and all the gifts he gave me. I remember always being able to count on him to make an appearance on my special day. I miss him a lot. I think about him constantly and this month I always have memories of him popping up.
We didn’t just lose Papa in June though. We lost Ronnie’s grandfather unexpectedly a few years ago. It was heartbreaking watching Ronnie go through that. I knew somewhat, what he was feeling. It brought up old feelings for me too. It was a hard time. He was such an all around good guy. Ronnie and the kids miss him a lot. When we go home, I still catch myself saying, “Ron and Carmen’s”.
Then last year, totally unexpected, our dear friend took his own life. The circumstances surrounding it are still unknown to us, but I am guessing he had demons that he just couldn’t fight. People call it cowardly and speak their opinion on the subject all the time. I have been there, though. I have stood on that cliff’s edge and thought, “I can do it. I can just jump and no one would care”. I remember looking down and seeing nothing but darkness all around. Luckily, I have a best friend who saw the signs and stepped in. I have a supportive husband who makes sure that I stay on this earth to torment him longer. I guess our friend didn’t feel that he had that, or maybe his demons just got the best of him. Either way, he is missed dearly. I can’t say that I understand why he did it, but I can say that I understand wanting to.
After all that has happened and all of the people we have lost, I have come to this conclusion. Life Happens. People are born, people live, and people die. Sometimes they live full, happy lives and sometimes they are cut short. I’m not sure what my beliefs are when it comes to God and Heaven. I hope that there is a God, and that he welcomed my loved ones with open arms.
We all get one life, so we should make the best of it. I want to be someone who my kids, my parents, my siblings, and my grandpa would be proud of. I’m going to make June fun again. If that means plastering on a huge smile for my children and keeping busy, then so be it. I don’t want to miss out on anything by being sad because life happens.