Wondering

Warning: rambling posts to follow. Blog posts this week may not be coherent.

It’ll be one week on Friday since Mike died. And it’s more emotional than I thought it would be.

We were separated, but we were still friends (when he was sober).

We were divorcing, but he was still the person I called when something good – or bad – happened to me.

We weren’t living together, but he was still involved in making decisions for the kids (when he was sober).

Some days it seems surreal, like this is a dream. That he’s not really gone. Sometimes I wonder if his death was somehow faked, an elaborate hoax. That he’ll some day reappear, sober and with the personality of the “old” Mikey.

I often think about the long-term effects his death will have on the kids.

I wonder if I’ll find love, companionship, friendship, passion again.

I wonder how we will get through this week… How Ethan will manage… If Lauren will even realize… If I will get the motivation to actually DO anything this week…

Follow up: teacher meeting – OMG

I wasn’t sure why Ethan’s teacher wanted to talk to me, but I suspected it wasn’t to tell me that my son was student of the month.

Ethan and I walked into her classroom after school. She immediately sent Ethan to the office to wait for us.

Two more teachers (the reading teacher and the music teacher) came in.

She told me a story about Ethan telling a kid that his artwork was bad. It was apparently five minutes of Ethan shouting at the kid that his shark picture sucked. He later told the teacher that he thought the kid was showing off. The teacher told Ethan he was jealous. She said that he threatened to rip the picture up in art class.

(OK, that’s rude and this was the first I heard of it. There’s no reason to do that to a kid – and this particular boy is a REALLY good artist. This will be addressed with Ethan. But, I wondered, was that enough to call me in and have two other teachers in the room?)

“And I’ve been really disturbed by something you mentioned last week. I’ve been thinking a lot about it, actually,” E’s teacher began as the other teachers pulled up tiny chairs to sit on either side of me. I felt trapped and ganged up on. I didn’t realize this was a three-on-one situation. I wasn’t comfortable with this at all.

“You said he wasn’t in counseling. He needs it,” she said.

(Fucking brilliant, that woman.)

The other two women nodded their heads, staring at me.

“As I mentioned, Ethan’s former counselor wasn’t used to kids as young as he is, nor was he versed in child grief,” I said calmly. “I think I found a good counselor who works with young children. We’re meeting on Tuesday. She and I. So I can vet her a final time before introducing her to Ethan.”

“How soon will Ethan start with her?” the teacher asked. “He needs to talk to someone at least weekly effective immediately. I reviewed his records from his previous school and he had issues there, too. I’m not sure this is grief, since it started before his father died. You need to be open to the possibility that it’s more.”

That’s when I lost it. And unfortunately, when I lose it, my eyes leak. It’s not tears. It’s more like a flood of pissed offishness.

“Are you remotely aware of how a child grieves? When you’re sad or full of emotion, what do you do? Take a walk? Surf the Internet? Call or email a friend? A kid doesn’t have those resources. If Ethan gets emotional – and I’m not even sure he has the maturity to know what his emotions are on this issue – he’s still expected to sit quietly, face forward, pay attention, do his work, keep quiet. He doesn’t have an outlet!” my voice quivered.

“He can always tell me if he wants to go to the office to calm down,” the teacher said. “And this started well before you moved here and his dad died,” she continued.

“You don’t have a baseline for his behavior! He lost his grandfather before he started kindergarten! He had that loss. He saw the troubles in my marriage at the same time. Then I moved him here. Then Mike died. That’s a lot of stuff to happen to a kid in a couple of years. He’s only seven years old!”

“Still, the behavior was going on before Mike died.”

“HE HAS NEVER BEEN IN SCHOOL WITHOUT HAVING GONE THROUGH A LOSS! THE KID IS GRIEVING AND I CANNOT HAVE OTHER ISSUES ADDRESSED UNTIL HE CAN DEAL WITH THE MAJOR LOSSES HE’S SUFFERED!” My voice was louder now (and my eyes continued to leak, soaking every inch of the tissue I was holding).

The teachers went on about how Ethan has outbursts in class. Surprisingly, this time they’re saying that the wiggliness and getting up isn’t an issue and they really don’t mind it (that’s news to me, as his “motion” is usually the subject of these meetings).

I’m not opposed to having Ethan diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, but I also know from extensive research and conversations with experts (and other parents) that kid grief can “look like” other behavior issues, especially at school.

We left the conversation with me telling his teacher that she needs to communicate with me better (like letting me know there’s a problem, not waiting days/weeks to address it.

Damn, I can’t wait until he’s done with this teacher.

Right now, I just need a drink.

Teacher meeting, new therapist

Ethan’s teacher emailed yesterday, requesting that we meet in person after class today.

God, I hope she found a man for me.

LOL

_______________________________

On a more serious note, I think I found a new therapist for Ethan. After an exhaustive search of providers covered by my insurance (and much thought about the pros and cons of staying with the same therapy group as our last therapist), I found a woman who specializes in working with young children (as young as three years old – wow), and has a lot of experience with helping young kids through the grieving process. She’s an elementary school teacher turned counselor, so I’m hoping she’ll have some good insight and recommendations for how to help Ethan through this.

We’ve emailed a few times, and although we keep missing each other’s phone calls, I’m fairly certain that she’s going to be a terrific fit for us. Fingers crossed.

In-law mail

Since moving to Wisconsin, I’ve maintained two addresses – our home address as well as a postal box. I’ve been transitioning my personal mail to the house address, but I keep the box open for things relating to Mike’s death – creditor letters, estate requests, correspondence from his parents.

I checked the box just before Christmas. Nothing from his family. Not surprised. We hadn’t heard anything from them since the weirdo birthday cards for the kids and the message that she left months ago. (Nope, never called her back. Figured if it was important, she would call again or just send the info in the mail.)

We don’t go to the box often. There’s really not much coming there anymore. But Ethan and I were out running around last weekend, and I popped in to get the mail.

Tons of catalogues. Creditor letter for Mike. Random crap for my mom. I almost missed the two envelopes. I started to open the one addressed to the kids, but stopped. I decided to let Ethan open it.

I handed him the envelope and mustered up my cheery voice, “Oh look, Eth! I think this might be a card for you and Lauren!”

He reached for it and tore it open. He read it aloud. I asked to see it.

The cover of the card read: To my granddaughter and my “grandson.”

“What the hell is wrong with these idiots?” I thought. This isn’t a card for kids. It’s a card that a grandparent would send to her GROWN granddaughter and her granddaughter’s HUSBAND – hence, the quotation marks around “grandson.” (I hate grammatical and punctuation stupidity, so this offense was particularly…offensive.)

There was some mushy bullshit preprinted in the inside of the card, along with a brief handwritten note: “Ethan and Lauren, the best part of this time of year is thinking about both of you. Love, Grandpa and Grandma (LAST NAME).”

So, they only think about their ONLY grandkids around the holidays? Nothing about “hope you had a good Christmas” or “would love to hear about school” or “maybe we can come see you sometime.” Nothing about “we still have your dad’s Christmas presents from LAST YEAR that we want to give you.” Nothing about “we’ll be sending all your dad’s stuff that your mom requested at the funeral because it’s stuff she wanted to give TO YOU BOTH !”  Absolutely nothing else in the card – no gift cards, not a check or a savings bond. Nothing.

My kids don’t need anything. I’m providing for them just fine. But a stranger (to them) sent holiday gift cards, and their grandparents sent… only a crappy-ass card?

I set the card aside and picked up the second envelope from them. This one was addressed to me. “Maybe they’re sending the kids’ gifts to me?” I thought, knowing that wouldn’t be the case. “Maybe this is an apology letter,” I thought, knowing I was wrong.

Nope. Envelope number two contained no handwritten note or even a “hope you’re all okay” note. It was just a statement from the storage company that the rate on Mike’s unit was increasing as of January 1.

And so, as I approach the one year anniversary of Mike’s death, he’s still gone and the in-laws are still assholes.

Still dead, but thanks for checking

Mike died (basically) homeless, unemployed and in major debt (mostly from law school loans). We were separated and going through a divorce.

I certainly didn’t want, nor feel responsible for, his bills.

I worked for months talking to his various creditors, explaining that there wasn’t an estate and the bills would not be paid. I thought everything was taken care of.

On Saturday, I received a notice in Mike’s name from a collection agency for one of his credit cards. There was an 866-number and “Mike” was instructed to call the number immediately.

I dialed my cell phone on my way to the grocery store. “Damn it!” I thought. “This is all taken care of.”

I knew I had talked to this particular creditor MONTHS ago. In fact, I knew the last notice with my notes on the conversation was filed with his other bills (and their notes).

I told the woman who answered that I was calling on behalf of my late husband and that I was pretty sure they had written off the debt several months ago.

“Of course,” she said. “We just want to make sure there’s no change to his status.”

“Um, his status?” I asked. “His status is dead. January 25, 2012. Dead. Do you get many status changes from death?”

“Well you never know,” she answered. I could hear her fingers clicking on her computer keyboard.

“Nope, I’m fairly certain the death status is pretty final,” I responded. “Is that all you need? Just to make sure he’s still dead?”

“That’s all,” she responded. “Thank you for calling and we’re sorry for your loss.”

WTF? Not sure if I’m being scammed, but I’m really starting to dislike credit collectors.