This has been a tough month to say the least. Let me start by saying that the 5-day power outage was just the beginning. From there we moved on to a busted waterline (the line to the ice maker) that flooded the basement. Thankfully, most of the stuff that was in the flood zone was in plastic containers so I didn't lose a lot...but the walls, carpet and ceiling in the furnace room, my studio and a guest bedroom (that now sports a relaxing waterbed) got WET. Modernistic came to dry out everything which made my job pretty easy; they even moved stuff and boxed up some things for me. They ran fans, heaters, and dehumidifiers for a week which almost doubled our electric bill- ironic after the power outage...am I right?
The worst thing to happen however, was much, MUCH worse. My 15yo, Ryann, is part of a very close freshman class at her high school. Two weeks ago one of the most popular boys, and a very good friend of Ryann's, committed suicide after a long history of severe headaches. It left Ryann a devastated wreck. I felt a lot of guilt; I KNOW all about chronic headaches and I know I could have given him hope that "it get's better". It is so hard to keep that in focus when chronic pain takes away fun, steals your life and sucks out your soul. I may have even been able to offer some help with a finding a diagnosis as my path to an accurate diagnosis was long and hard. It left me with both PTSD and a lot of knowledge about atypical headaches. I learned that 1. It is hard to hang on to hope when nobody is willing to help and 2. That doctors really don't know a lot about headache pain that doesn't fit their specific model for migraine and/or tension headache. Instead of looking for other causes, they stuff you into their model... come hell or high water. There is a lot of misunderstanding even among doctors who call themselves headache experts. One of my worst experiences was with the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago.
But back to Jake. I know, I KNOW, I could have helped him...but we just didn't know. He never told his friends exactly how BAD it was. So, I feel regret and remorse over something I had no control over ...but that is so damn horrifically sad, that it brings me to tears. Then there was the funeral. An experience I will never forget. From the woman who switched seats with me (it was a full house and I had to sit one seat in front of Ryann). Ryann started crying before the service started and as I turned to say "are you ok?" the woman said "I will switch with you". I was so grateful.
Being a former pediatric oncology nurse means I have been to my fair share of kids' funerals. But this funeral was...a lot. It was both devastating and heartwarming. I watched a tremendous number of freshman boys openly grieving together; hugging and holding each other...crying so much. The support they gave each other took my breath away. So many tears were shed that day. Many friends and classmates-14-and-15year olds- got up and spoke to a standing-room crowd. They spoke about their friend Jake. It was beautiful and so so sad. His family spoke- his mom and 3older siblings- poured their hearts out giving Jake beautiful, devastating eulogies. So much regret and guilt.
Today would have been his 15th birthday and it hard not to wish there was something I could do to help his mom...his sister who is having an especially hard time. But I can't do anything but remember the bright boy with so much potential who was a great friend to so many.
We will remember those we love and cherish this holiday. Tomorrow is Ryann's birthday...where have the years gone? She is becoming a beautiful young woman and while I want to stop time and keep her my baby, I am also excited to see where her life takes her. Tomorrow is the big 15.
I intended to post my pics of my holiday decor but after writing about Jake, it wasn't appropriate. So, I will make that post tomorrow.