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Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Depression is weird.

Lizzy and I were out for three hours; we got her ears pierced and went to another store in the mall; then we went to lunch.

I'm freaking exhausted.

Three hours.

Oh, we did a lot in that time. Ear piercing, picking out other accessories; they were buy three get three free, so she got more earrings for when they're healed and a set for Abby. She also got a headband, a very girly diary, pink polka-dotted earbuds for her Kindle, and some other small accessories. Then we went to the bathroom and there is a game store on the way, so I replaced my Kingdom Hearts games (the PS2 is bye-bye and the PS2 games don't work on the PS3 unless you get the remastered version or the downloads).

We went to our favorite sushi restaurant and the owner gave her free Mochi because birthday celebration.

Then we came home to find her birthday gift from her dad's parents had arrived; some really cute outfits and cash and a card.

And I'm totally wiped out.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What Now?

Laston, my dad, and me in April 2016
Yesterday's memorial - in all its informal glory - was really, really nice.

There was no drama (Leanna's mom and I agreed today that we were both concerned there might be) and lots of lovely conversation about everything from birth to death.

We had serious amounts of food and non-alcoholic drinks (the gentleman who planned to raise a glass of SoCo and sweet tea couldn't make it due to health issues). People brought gift baskets (lots of fresh produce from people's gardens) and flowers (ditto) and wrote lovely little memories about Laston on these scroll-looking papers I put out (we're going to compile those along with the ones my friend +Tim Bruhn (Yang) found on FB and G+, and the GQotD/GSotD ones from +Charlie Hoover, and make a book). My dad made a slide show, which I YouTubed.

It was kind of beautiful watching my dad and some friends try to get all that working from dad's MacBook to my older flat-screen TV. The HDMI was easy enough but there was some format tweaking required. Laston would've loved it.

Miss Leanna got to have her father's computer and desk and chair, and the full-time denizens of Chez Kirkland have rearranged and are in the process of organizing the space that was Laston's office and is now becoming the kids' homework/arts & crafts room. It's about half done and I discovered the most amazing thing: with the laptop over here I can print again!

So Abby now has access to printable monologues for her auditions again, and I can print all my own forms for school and work and whatnot.

My mother will be relieved.

Now, my issue is this: apparently all the anxiety and stress and depression of the past three weeks came crashing down today, when tomorrow is my first scheduled day back at work. I'm also still stupid frustrated with little things: a bug bit nearly undid me, and I'm about ready to throw my newly printing laptop through the window if it doesn't let me back into my OneDrive account.

This is a problem, because Google only knows what will make me lose it at any given time right now; I fear for a whiny customer with slow data.

For three weeks I slept like crap every night. Last night I slept for twelve hours, got up, ran some errands, and went back to bed for an hour before starting work on the room. Now, I have a call into the HR people and my direct manager (poor lady; she was my manager for all of a week when this all went down) to see if I can get a work accommodation (like FMLA for me and the girls, or the Washington State equivalent) so I can take a few hours off here and there without penalty to my attendance record.

I'm sure I can; they've been nothing but kind and understanding through the whole mess. But it's more damn paperwork and possibly a doctor visit or two to show that I (or Lizzy or Abby) need it.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Two Weeks Later

Or it was yesterday.

I'm typing this on Laston's computer, as I clean it out to give to Leanna, our oldest daughter. She doesn't need - as an example - my social security number or some of the racier (read Boris Vallejo) pix Laston had on his system.

When I'm done cleaning it out, I'm going to give it to Leanna, complete with desk, chair, and all the accessories. I got a different desk (with gift cards, thank you very much) and I am going to set up what was Laston's office area as a homework-and-arts-&-crafts space for the kids; the younger two all the time, and Leanna when she is here. That means that Abby's easel will be accessible again, there will be a set place for school backpacks, and the girls can find their own damn markers and scissors instead of searching the house for them.

As always, the people in our lives have been so supportive (in addition to the gift cards with which I bought the desk, which I received nearly two weeks ago).

Yesterday I had one of those more positive ways or relieving anxiety in the form of a massage.

I've been lent a number of books (and bought a few on the cheap) in the Cozy Mystery and Historical Romance genres (I enjoy them, and I just don't have the brain power for my usual deeper science fiction at the moment; I'm looking for escape here).

My mom has the kids at her condo as per usual this time of year, so I have had the leisure time to do some grieving without feeling like I need to be Strong for the Kids.

My boss is trying to get me what they call a Work Accommodation for the first few weeks back, as I'm not sure I can handle four ten-hour days just now.

So thank you, all of you, for your support, whatever form it took.

I look forward to seeing some of you at the memorial open house on Saturday. Eleven to four. I have ice, cups, assorted waters, and fruit/veggie trays; if you want something else, please do bring it along. And leave space in your cars; the yard sale was a bust and if you'd like a keepsake in the form of a movie or a PS2 game or a comic book or three (don't worry; they're all newish and not worth money), or even some handed-down clothes for the kids, they'll be available.

And I think that rearranging his office and having you-all over to raise that glass will help with the grieving process too...

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Memorial as a Celebration of Life

I'm posting this as I try to hold a yard sale on a semi-rural street during a heat wave when no self-respecting Seattleite wants to be outside. And someone stole the A-frame signs the neighbor who organized the neighborhood yard sale had out, so there's very little traffic. But we have a nice little breeze and a shaded porch and a nearly-nine-year-old playing with the early birthday gift of assorted My Little Ponies that we picked up on sale yesterday.

Anything we don't sell I guess we can keep long enough for the memorial we're holding next week; maybe some of our friends and family can use clothing, DVDs, newer graphic novels (Marvel, mostly), PS2 games, or assorted kitchenware.

This post serves as an official invitation to anyone who wants (and is able) to come to that memorial; it's a pot luck open house celebration of life at my house a week from today. We're shooting for 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM; we're not sure how much we can handle in our current state.

If you don't know how to get here, message me and I'll get an address and directions to you; I'm not so depressed as to forget my Internet Safety Rules and post it for the world to see.

I don't really have a plan; it's fairly free form. If you are inspired to say a few words, raise a glass in Laston's honor, play a hand or two of Munchkin, we're here for that. (At the moment I'd also accept tripping the young man from down the street who rides his motorized scooter up and down the road; I want that noise gone).

Book Signing at a Norwescon
A caveat; if you choose to bring food, please make sure it's either nut-free or well-labeled (or both); I would really rather not see the hospital again, well, ever. Certainly not right now, and the last time Abby had a cashew, well...

If you can't make it because of time or distance or health or inability to cope, please feel free to post on this thread; I have two friends who are compiling such things and printing them as a memorial book. Or you could buy a book or give to colon cancer research (links in the sidebar, although I think they do not show up on all mobile versions of the site).

So come on over, if you feel you can. We'll be glad to see you.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Temporary Normal

Depression Awareness Ribbon
It's going to take us a long time to get back to anything approaching a new normal, but I can see us making stabs at it already. In the meantime we're in that limbo known as situational depression, where normal and even funny things happen but the eggshell fine is still pretty cracked.

For those who are worried about our emotional well-being, well. we're getting there. We've been watching a movie - mostly Disney classics with a little Harry Potter thrown in for good measure - almost every night, and tonight (as Lizzy and I are reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) we had a little catharsis in discussing Sirius' death and the implications of survivor's guilt.

Even Lizzy at not quite nine groks that survivors' guilt is irrational but very very real. As is the depression (not rational, but reasonable) and anxiety and the symptoms thereof. Irritability is a big one; I find myself shouting at the kids for such heinous crimes as Being Thirteen (eye rolling) and Being Eight (random wiggles).

I have medication to help me with this one; half at Ativan when I'm feeling especially overwhelmed and at bedtime seems to do the trick. Ativan is in the same class of drugs as Xanax. I don't really like taking it - even at half a dose - because I prefer other ways of reducing anxiety. But sometimes one needs a chemical boost in the short term.

Those other ways? For me it's mostly keeping busy. That means getting kids' school stuff ready (mostly done), setting up our booth for this week's neighborhood-wide yard sale (half done) and extreme housecleaning (almost done, mostly by friends and family).

And the friends and family are helping in more ways than that. This week for instance I have friends coming over here to provide moral support and company (that is not comprised of children at whom I am shouty) on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; on Wednesday my mom is coming over in the afternoon while my sister takes Abbs shopping. I have two sets of friends working together to make a memorial booklet based on all the nice things that have been said about Laston for those less tech-friendly among us (like Laston's parents). And that doesn't even take into a ccount the lovely things done by people already.

Sunday Abby will be coming back from her dad's and I'll take the kids to my mom's time share as they do every year, and I hope to return to work on Monday (the 22nd). Not only do I need the money, but I think with the kids gone for the week, I'll want something like work to distract me from the temporary normal, as depressing as it is.

On Saturday the 27th, everyone who loved Laston (or loves someone who did) is invited over for a potluck open house memorial. Nothing formal, but if you want to say a few words, raise a glass, play a round of Munchkin, whatever in his honor, you are welcome. Those of you who need to know how to get here, please message me.

Just clearly label foods please, if you bring some; I never want to see that hospital again if I can manage it.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Four Days...

...or it will be at 1:50 (official time of death) Sunday morning.

That kind of blows me away. I was in a restaurant today and I must have asked five or six times if the cashier was absolutely sure today is only the 13th.

It seems a lot longer.

People have been so kind, with flowers and condolence cards and prayers and gift cards and food - lots of food, most of it not horrifically bad for us - and help around the house.

Today I had a cousin, my mom, two aunts, an uncle, and a friend/neighbor family. Between us, we managed to tidy and organize the dining/game room, parcel Laston's clothes out to the girls or charity as appropriate (nobody in the family wants his sweats for example, but there are a number of nerdy shirts and hats the girls and I wanted), cleaned and powerwashed the porches, cleaned the gutter, fixed the refrigerator, too a bunch of canned food to places where it will get used, and cleaned the girls' rooms. And fed everyone lunch.

We took Leanna her birthday gift and went out to dinner.

Sometime later this week Leanna is going to go through some of her stuff too, because we're having a neighborhood-wide yard sale this weekend. I plan to give the three kids all the money we make from sales therefrom.

I may seem a little detached, and maybe I am, but there are two main reasons for that. One is the good offices of medication prescribed for anxiety. This is a short term solution. The other reason is actual... shock, I guess.

Is it weird to be shocked when you've had days and even months to prepare? I wasn't surprised, but I suppose I was shocked.

In an effort to process I tend to find problems I can solve. Hence the timing between going through Laston's things and the yard sale. And probably why I plan to go back to work a week from Monday when the kids are out for a week; the house will be awfully empty otherwise.

Oh... if you want a good cause to support in honor of Laston, check here. They get 4 of 4 stars from the people who rate such things.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The End of an Era

As most of you know, my husband Laston died in the middle of the night between Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. He'd been under (colon, metastasized to his liver) cancer treatment for ten months, and in the past few weeks his liver just gave up, taking his kidneys with it. So the rest of his organs started shutting, with one week between learning he was terminal and last night.

All I really have to share right now is a rather disjointed collection of impressions, both good and bad, and I hope you'll put up with me. Also I am a little tipsy on exhaustion and anxiety meds, prescribed by my doctor on the suggestion of our nurse social worker in the oncology unit.

Hospice is the most helpful place ever; from nurses to doctors to counselors and even the ambulance drivers (I needed to do something positive and so I called their supervisor to give them kudos). I can't think of a better place to end life than the Evergreen Hospice Care Center.

Pacific Medical Center really needs to change their hold music. It hasn't changed since before Abby was born (so around fourteen years at least; she'll be fourteen in December). It has this pause that makes the caller think that the line has been picked up, and then the damn music starts again and you just want to scream.

I have overcome my fear of underground parking garages and their adjoining stairs and elevators.

People are just so supportive and so nice. I haven't got enough space to list everyone here, but a few shout-outs go especially to Mike & Gabi, Mike & Lucy, Carrie & Jason, Rich & Diane, The denizens of Chez Davis-Downes, Aileen, Mom, Aunt Wendy & Uncle Bob, Dad, Steph, Chrissy, T, Meg, Dianna, Brandi, Charlie Hoover, and the members of the Woodinville Washington Friday morning at ten Weight Watchers meeting. If I've missed anyone, please forgive me.

Also, please know that while we are heartbroken and despairing at the moment, we're going to be okay over here at Chez Gamers Babes. All of your support, from monetary to changing light bulbs, from offering specific services and help to just being there; these things will help us tremendously, and we so appreciate it.

I think we will have a very small memorial service soon, and then in a few months we'll have a full-on Laston Kirkland Memorial Game Day Open House.

I think he'd like that.

That's all I have for now; I think the meds are starting to hit. But thank you my friends, all of you.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Worst News

I don't know how to start. I guess I'll just say it.

Laston's going into end-of-life hospice care as soon as the good folk of Evergreen Hospital can get the gastro symptoms under control. Our hope is that we can get him in home hospice care, but if he needs more support, like IVs and things, he'll be in the hospice care center instead. For him, the most important thing is access to his computer so he can finish his current book.

I am very sorry to have to type this, but Laston and I agreed that all of our loved ones - offline and on - need to know. His cancer got so aggressive that the chemo just couldn't keep up, and as the cancer was in his colon and liver, the liver gave up and his kidneys are straining to take the load. His organs are just failing and short of a miracle, this can't be fixed.

So here we sit.

We have tons of support; our respective parents and friends and neighbors and siblings. My Weight Watchers group has offered to make food for us to freeze. Our friends have offered to help the girls clean their rooms. My friend A. has offered any help I need so many times (and I'd like to add you to the girls' pickup lists at their schools, if that's okay). I have a neighbor offering fresh eggs and mushrooms, My parents have been chauffeurs and babysitters and general support and have taken me out of myself with musical plays and good seafood.

I have had more people than I can count offering to help us, but I usually don't have enough energy to think of something on the spot. So I'll just list some random things that would be  super helpful if you want to help. You could give to the GoFundMe attached to this post, or buy one of Laston's books from the other links. If you're handy (and local) we could use a new bolt for the toilet seat, someone to unstop the bathroom sink drain, and maybe someone could look at our freezer, as it seems to need defrosting and the icemaker hasn't worked for a year. Someone (Steph?) to take Abby back-to-school shopping (Lizzy's done, provided we can find her socks).

I don't even know what to do at this point, so I went to default (which means it's just as well the Weight Watchers group will be feeding us soon): comfort food. The girls and I had my favorite comfort food, the one I ate at least once a week while pregnant with Lizzy; this is Chinese food from Chan's Place. With enough leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.

We'll just try to keep life as normal as possible.