Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Grieving, Loss, Living

This year . . . Man, it's been kind of the absolute worst. Oh, there's been moments of supreme happiness and warmth but these last few months have been the most trying for me. Every day I feel like I take one step forward and two more back. To say that this time has been trying is putting it lightly. You see, grief isn't this this thing that I can take on and off or leave at home when I don't feel like dealing with it. It's this constant weight that lives with me. And I don't know that I'm managing all that well. I know that I'm not the same person I used to be, not by a stretch . . . But I'm trying. I'm really trying. Losing my Mom was like losing a part of myself that I will never ever get back, and I know that I'm not going to be the same after that. She was one of my brightest lights in this world, and she was one of my anchors. There was no one like my Mother, there was no one I can talk to like I could talk to my Mama, and I just don't really know who I am without that. Losing Mom was kind of the tip of the iceberg with this depression/grief situation I've got going on. There's so much more tied to loss of a loved one than planning a memorial and saying goodbye. There was dealing with her stuff, her clothes, furniture, jewelry, etc... Watching the sweet life that she created move on was difficult, but I'm not working and I need the money, so there ya go.

The other thing . . . That I never put on FB or shared with anyone outside of who already knew, was that I had a miscarriage right after losing Mom. When I found out we were pregnant; we were over the moon. I had this fu**king fairy tale built up in my mind, like God took my Mama from me but left me with this beautiful gift. When we went in for our first appointment, the baby didn't have a heartbeat. A whole new devastation took place after that. I remember holding Phillip's hand, so excited to hear that flutter and have the room go quiet because there was nothing there. All I could feel at that point was sorry, sorry to my sweet husband, sorry to my Dad . . . Just sorry. After that we needed to get the F outta town, and we did. Took my Pop to some Dodger games, and went to Laguna . . . Released my sweet Mother back into the universe, and went to Disneyland . . . Where I proceeded to full-out miscarry. It was the most physical pain I have ever been in in my life, but like all physical pain . . It passed, and we were back to enjoying our lives the next day. I'm crying writing about this . . . 1 in 4 women lose their babies and no one really talks about that . . . I find it ironic, really . . . I spent my 20s trying NOT to get pregnant and now all I want to do is have my husband's baby. He takes it all in stride because he's wonderful and amazing in every way, but losing mom, losing baby, not working all of this is taking it's toll on me. And I want to be better, I want to be the me that loves life and truly lives. I want to be the me that's happy joyous and free. I want to be the me that my Mommy would be proud of. I feel like I've become a shell of my self, and I gotta tell ya I don't love it.

So, I'm running out of money, which is just fantastic!!! And I'm trying to go back to work. I've been trying really, but not getting any bites. Thankfully, I got a job offer that I really like. I'm just not crazy about the hours, but I'll do what I have to do in order to contribute to my household and not be more of a burden on my sweet husband, who I'm sure should be sainted by now, really. I have an interview tomorrow for a position that I reaalllyyyy want, but the way things have been going lately . . . The things that I want really haven't been panning out. Today was not a good day for me. It started out sad and just got worse from there. I write, that's my outlet, this is the only thing that takes some of the sting out. And I still hurt . . . I constantly hurt.

I'm feeling really lost, and a bit hopeful . . . If that makes sense at all. Because if there's anything I've learned in the last years it's that this too shall pass.

Friday, July 24, 2015

New Normal

It's been just over four weeks since my Mama shuffled off this mortal coil. I thought that I was ready or prepared for what I was gonna feel after she was gone, but in reality . . . there's no preparing for that. I think it really hit me one day when I was getting my hair done. Here I am in a salon, one that she used to work at, surrounded by laughter and the sound of blow dryers. My Desi's assistant was washing my hair and it hit me that my Mom was never gonna wash my hair again. If any of you had my mom wash your hair . . . You know what a treat that it was. Anyway, up until that moment I think I had this sliver of secret hope that she would miraculously get better, bounce back and want me to take her to the Bellagio. See, the thing is, I actually enjoy my parents. I'm close with them and I always have been. I legit loved the company of my Mother. I loved just hanging with her. Watching the food network, chilling in her little dollhouse, hate watching awards shows. Whatever we did, I just loved to be with her. She wasn't just my Mom, she was my dearest friend, and now that she's gone . . . I'm a little lost as to what to do with myself. I left my job back in April, and I'm enjoying being off work, and I'm happy that I got to spend the time with my Mama . . . But what now?

I went to a meeting and dinner with my friend the other night and I saw Stein Mart and just started bawling. She loved to walk around Stein Mart and just look at stuff. It's those quirks of who she was that I miss. So, I'm sad, and I'm trying to move forward but some days . . . Well, some days are just harder than others. I'm so beyond grateful for my sweet hubby who takes such good care of me, and my Dad, who was by her side and mine the day she passed. My Mom went out on her own terms and surrounded by the people that she loved and that loved her so much. Me, my Pop, My Aunties and Uncle and one of mom's dear friends. Her service was beautiful and touching. I feel like the world has kept spinning but mine has kinda stopped. My garage smells like her, and I have her teapots up in my kitchen and some of her art on my walls. I know that she'll never really leave me, but not being able to smell her, hug her, hear her voice . . . All those seemingly little things that we take for granted about our loved ones.

So, I'll press on and live one day at a time, talk about her, share memories of her and do my best to be a little more like her every day. I've said this before and I'll say it always . . . Hug your Mama.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Terrie Hughes + Mike Casey

So we packed my Mom's house today. When she gets out of the hospital, she won't be able to be on her own for a while so she's going to stay with my Auntie. Have I mentioned how awesome my Aunties are? Seriously, I have the most bitchin' family. The way my Aunts and Uncles come together when one of them falls ill is such a beautiful thing. My Dad was with us today and he was packing up Mom's office when he found her cosmetology book from when she was 18... and inside was written "Terrie Hughes + Mike Casey" My Pop came in and showed me the book and I immediately started bawling. My Papa just held onto me and told me how he would always love my Mom and how when they were kids, nothing could ever keep them apart. The other thing is, I write Joanna Loves Phillip on everything ever. Every work notebook I have, every journal . . . Everything has Joanna <3's Phillip written somewhere. I know how much I resemble my folks both in looks and personality, but to see little quirky things that she does that I do too; for some reason that just struck a major chord with me. I am so grateful, so full of love and gratitude for my family, for the bond that we share and for every single friend who gives me their support. Knowing that I'm not alone gives me peace.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Closing a Chapter

When I moved from sunny San Diego back to Las Vegas in 2006, my intention was to be here for a year . . . Yeah, it's been 9. Part of what happened was a massive career change. I was a server, a lifer and although it was hard and sometimes soul sucking I enjoyed it. Part of what I enjoyed about (and what I enjoy about life in general) was the people. Namely, the Zappos crew that would come in for lunch. Most of 'em Giants fans, which is always a good time for me ;-) After a year of waiting on these guys every day they told me to apply and come work for them. It was a scary decision, I was giving up easy money and the freedom of a serving job to go join the corporate world.

It's hard to put into words what my Zappos life has been. I feel like I've grown up here, I have so many memories here, and tomorrow I say goodbye. I feel bittersweet about all of it. While I'm excited to start a new chapter in my life and spend more time with my husband and family, I'm devastated to leave a grip of people and a "job" that means so much to me. 7 years is the longest that I've worked anywhere. I kept waiting for the ax to drop and it never did. I'll never forget when I interviewed with Jerry and he told me I'd need to change my email address from DodgerLover to something more acceptable, or when I got sent a Giants email that made my computer shut down, or traveling to Canada and New York and meeting so many great people along the way. Singing on stage at the Smith Center, and being able to do what I love and follow my passions has been an indescribable blessing.

Some of my co-workers have turned into best friends and one was in my wedding, shit without her insight and guidance who knows where I'd be. I thank God for the experiences that I've had here. Walking out that door tomorrow is going to annihilate me. There were many days that I felt like a shell of a person, and my team held me up and put me in a better mood. The one thing Zappos has always done well is get the best of the best and I'm going to miss working with the best.

So one more time I'm doing what's scary and uncomfortable. Leaving my safety net for the unknown. I need this time to be with my Mom, to reset my focus, and actually do wifey things like cook, maybe clean a little ;-) Whatever the future holds, I get to face it and I won't be alone.Like I said I grew up here. I fell in love with my husband while working here, I've experienced a wonderful life here . . . One that I am sad to see go. So, if you need a friends and family coupon now's the time to hit me up!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hospital Halls

You learn not to look when you wander the hospital halls. Seeing people in various stages of ailment - you don't wanna look. Keep the eyes forward or the sunglasses on, hold your head up. The business of sickness . . . Lots of watching, and waiting, and breaking. It's a weird, and sad, and unsettling part of life. Smiling nurses, shrewd doctors - I wait and wait and then wait some more. Going through this with my Mama . . . It's like I'm half in my life and half in hers. I'm scared to go anywhere, to not be here because what if . . . What if what if what if . . . Life is happening. Life is in session. My life is in a massive upheaval and transition right now. I have a weird sense of peace about all of it. My emotions are allover the damn place and it's gonna be that way for a while. I'm grateful for my man, my friends, my family and all the support and love around me. I've got it better than I deserve, that's for sure.

This business of an ailing parent . . . It's brutal. I hate it. It's soul crushing. So what do I do? Word vomit on a page that not many will read, but I get it out. Purge my hurt so that I can show up, stand up, and be the daughter that she needs me to be.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Ever have a song that resonated with you so much that you couldn't listen to it and not cry? I have so many like that. One of my friends at work says "You and your chills" but it's true. Ask my dude, I break out in goosebumps on the regular. Music and lyrics move me. Drums and bass own me. The pain and crackling in a singer's voice brings be to the brink every time . . . Think Florence and the Machine or Jared Leto singing "Stay". I love Sia. Vocalists resonate with me for a number of reasons. My mom was/is one, I play around as one. One of my favorite memories growing up is my Mom singing and playing the piano and my Dad's red guitar... I digress.

For anyone bothering to read this that doesn't know my personal life, I'm an alcoholic and a drug addict. My addiction wasn't pretty and I hurt a lot of people. I hurt myself. My last days of getting loaded were no longer "fun" it wasn't a party, fuck . . . It hadn't been a party in years, but I couldn't stop, and I couldn't get out. I wished and prayed to stop living. I was 26 and I was at the end of the road. I ended up going to treatment, and getting sober. I celebrated 10 years clean and sober just a few weeks ago. Those last days though. Those last days of drinking and using were nothing short of hopeless. I can try to put into words what it's like to climb the walls, to be afraid to face your closest loved ones, to lose everything in life that mattered . . . There aren't really words that I can say that will do that time in my life justice. It was fucking brutal, and no way to live. I hate myself, I hated you, I hated feeling anything. My only goal, my only mission was to not feel a thing. And it worked . . . Until it didn't.

The song Chandelier by Sia represents every single feeling and emotion I have about my alcoholism. This song comes on my playlists in life and it always makes me stop and thank God for the peace and freedom that I have today. Free from the bondage of drugs and alcohol. Free from the bondage of self. A beautifully normal life with a loving man who I don't deserve. Free, safe and loved. I don't want to ever forget where I came from. This gorgeous song is one of the things that helps me always remember.

Party girls don't get hurt Can't feel anything, when will I learn I push it down, push it down

I'm the one "for a good time call" Phone's blowin' up, they're ringin' my doorbell I feel the love, feel the love

Throw 'em back, till I lose count