Sunday, December 14, 2014

What Makes You Strong.

The loss of a loved one is so profound.  There are a million ways in which one can cope with the loss and grief of this event.  Some people grieve silently, some out loud.  Some keep busy and others seek out comfort from their loved ones.  Grief can look like many different things and take over at any time.  I remember being in Potbellys when the wave of grief for my dad hit me.  The musician that was playing in the window started playing a Beetles song.  I remembered my dad playing that song on his record player.  I ran out of the restaurant sobbing as the tears flowed.

I have been raised to be the strong one, the get things done girl, the rock, the pull my big-girl pants up girl, the stand tall and be the last man standing girl.  That is my role, my ethic in all that I do, even how I grieve. This is also my curse. 

In my mind, I am the one that takes care of everyone.  I’m the mom.  I’m the wife.  I’m the fierce protector of my family that my parents raised me to be.  I am the strong face that lets everyone know that everything is going to be OK. The problem is, I neglect to take care of myself while taking care of others.  I have not allowed myself to grieve.  I have not taken care of myself.  I have to learn how to do this.  It’s hard to unlearn habits you have carried with you all of your life.

Today I surrendered.

After being sick for almost 3 weeks and having a headache for a whole week, today I took myself to the doctor.  Apparently, I have been walking around with a sinus infection and some nasty “school virus” for some time. 

Later in the morning, I cried about spilling my coffee.  The tears just spilled out of me.  The tears flowed down my face just as easily as the coffee flowed over the kitchen counter.  Both the coffee and myself were a big mess.

The truth is, those tears were not about the coffee.  That was my moment of vulnerability.  My moment to let the grief I have been feeling spill out.  I miss my dad and I miss Eric’s dad.  I grieve for the fact that I don’t have a dad with me anymore.  I grieve for Eric, because now he knows this feeling of loss.  I grieve for my girl’s loss as they believe that their grandfathers were the two of the most influential people in their lives and now they are gone.

I blamed my tears on the coffee mess and the fact that I was not feeling well. There was a moment of confusion on Eric’s face, as I sobbed in his arms.  The poor guy probably thought I had either over-dosed on antibiotics, was having a serious menopausal meltdown or I had not caffeinated myself early enough in the day.  As I tried to shake it off and compose myself, I knew that he knew what was really wrong.  He gave me space, let me cry and then allowed me to pull myself together again and emerge from the room composed and strong again.

The weird thing is, I felt so much better after I cried.  My headache went away.  My cough subsided a little bit.  I think I needed to cleanse myself of the feeling I was holding onto in order to protect the ones I love.  I think now I know I need to protect myself too. 

I will wake up tomorrow and probably go back to my same old habits, but I have learned a lesson in this day.  Being vulnerable makes you strong.  Being resilient makes you strong.  Being loved by those that go before you makes you strong.  Holding on to their precious memories makes you strong.  Having love in your life and giving love makes you strong.  Shedding tears makes you strong.  At the end of this day, I am stronger than I was when I woke up this morning.  I will stay strong.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Back to Normal?

All of the house-guests have left.  All the sheets and towels have been washed and put away.    The house is quiet again.  We are beginning to return to our regular routines.  Our lives are back to normal.

The only thing is, we can never go back to normal. Our lives have all been changed.  We have lost a loved one.  Raymond Richard Aiden…a father, a grandpa, a father-in-law, a friend.  His presence in our world was not normal, it forever changed each one of us for the better.

Death is normal, but this does not feel normal to me.  It feels wrong.  I feel cheated.  I feel as if my family has been cheated.  The world has been cheated of time with this amazing man.  

There was not a single moment from the time that Eric and I first started dating that Gramps (aka Raymond Richard) didn’t make me feel as if I were a part of the Aiden family.  It wasn’t normal to feel so at ease with a family, but it was easy. 

He always had a smile, a laugh and a hug to give, even when you knew he wasn’t feeling well.  It’s not normal to be so happy all of the time.

When my father died 6 years ago, Gramps became my father-figure, the man I knew would take care of me as if I were his own daughter.  It felt normal.  It felt good to know that I did have a “dad” by my side.

In the 22 years of being with Eric, Gramps only got mad at me once.  How could this be?  Not normal.  He called me to talk it out and then it was over.  I, on the other had, found myself being perfectly normal and got mad at him a few times.

How do you go on as if everything in back to “normal” when something so tragic has happened?  When someone so significant in your life and the lives of those around you is gone, how does that feel normal?  

We have to find our new “normal” now.  What will that look like?  Right now we are all struggling to find our way, to find a new way that will be different and feel different.  Some of this process will be normal…we will grieve, remember, cry and laugh.  We will be angry and question why we lost our loved one.  We will reflect on our last words, actions and things we may have taken for granted when we thought we had more time.  All of this is normal. 

What will be different is the fact that we will all rise from this as a stronger family, a more appreciative family, an extraordinary family, not a normal family.  That is how we will remember our Extraordinary Gramps. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I'm Going Back To Cali.

Gabby is back in California now.  She is safe and sound and all settled into her new apartment.  I got to deliver her this year, as Eric is recovering from his surgery.  I also instagramed the journey:)

There was a lot of work to be done in the move-in process but also some time for a little fun. 

We did some marathon shopping, moving, unpacking and putting stuff together on Saturday and Sunday which allow for us to have the whole day on Monday for some California adventures!

It was nice to get away for a few days, away from home, away from Evanston and be in the California life.  I see how people can so easily fall in love with the state….great weather, adventures in almost every city and just a different way of life.

 It was hard to leave my girl behind, but not nearly as bad as last year.  This year, I left her with a great crew of friends and a lovely collection of roommates by her side.  This year I know that she will be OK.  I think she was actually looking forward to going back to school; I guess that’s a good thing.  It was nice to have her home for the summer, but also satisfying to see her want her college life independence and freedom back.  Christmas is just a few months away….she'll be back!

See ya soon Gabby!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Story Of The Patella Tendon

Eric’s surgery was today.  

He was wheeled into recovery at 10:02 am this morning. 


Oh yeah, if you are reading this and have no idea what I am talking about, then you have not heard “The Story Of The Patella Tendon”….

Patella tendon: A tendon that extends down from the quadriceps muscle in the thigh to incorporate the patella (the kneecap) and attach it to the tibia (the shinbone), providing extension at the knee joint. The patella tendon is also called the patella ligament because it connects the patella to the tibia. (Ligaments connect bones while tendons connect muscles to bones.)

Once upon a time, there was an Aiden family reunion being held in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Eric, Tracy and Sinobia Aiden arrived in town, safe and sound, on Thursday evening (Gabrielle stayed home to attend the Jay-Z and Beyonce concert). 

The family members all greeted each other, had breakfast together on Friday morning before heading off to the park to play some friendly family games and relay races.

Across the park, many could spot the men engaging in a slightly non-competitive, old man vs. young man game of basketball.  A few minutes later, Sinobia is spotted running across the field, towards her mother (that’s me).  She says, “Dad is hurt.”

Tracy runs across the field to the basketball court (yes, I really ran), where she sees a group of men hovering over Eric, who is lying on the ground.

Eric has that dazed look in his eye.  Tracy can tell he’s either in pain or in shock.  He says he’s fine, but he can’t bend his leg. 

Someone calls the ambulance and the park police.  They both arrive at the same time to the scene.  Eric is assessed and then lifted onto the gurney and deposited into the back of the ambulance.  Tracy gets to ride in the front seat as they drive through 2 or 3 towns to the nearest emergency room, where they are greeted by a group of friendly nurses and doctors that take really good care of Eric. 

X-rays are done.  Nothing is broken, but the knee is too swollen to really tell what the damage is. 

Fast forward to Sunday morning…..Eric can’t drive, so Tracy has to drive them home (Tracy hates to drive).  After 2 hours of traffic, rain and flash flood warnings in the mountains, they arrive home 11 hours later, safe and sound. 

Eric visits the orthopedic surgeon upon his return home.  He is given the diagnosis; a torn patella tendon.  Surgery is scheduled to happen in four days!


Well four days later, here we are.  Sitting in the surgical center waiting room, drinking up their free coffee, watching movies on our computers, trying to purchase 5 seconds of Summer “pre-sale” tickets with the not so fast internet they are offering and blogging about our late summer/July/patella adventure.  All went well and Gabrielle, Sinobia and I are headed home to nurse Eric back to health. 

Not "The End" of this story….to be continued.

Never a dull moment in the Aiden House.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer Time

My last blog entry was exactly one month ago on July 1st.  I wrote that I was having a hard time getting into the swing of summer…now I am starting to mourn the loss of summer as it is quickly slipping away.

We will be back to school in a few weeks.  Gabby will be heading back to California.  Sinobia will be starting high school.  I will go back to meet my new group of kindergartners and Eric will head back to ETHS to keep all systems running.

So, as all of this creeps up on us, I wanted to just post an update on how our summer has been.


We celebrated Eric this summer for both Father's Day and his Birthday (July 10).  You all know that Eric is our favorite guy.  They don't come any better than him.  He is an amazing father and an incredible husband.  I have gushed about him many times before, he is a rare breed!

Sinobia and I attended the Pride Parade (and brought Leah with us) and scored our prime spot in front of Whole Foods again this year, so we were front and center and in the middle of all the action!

The 4th of July was celebrated in our traditional Aiden way; lunch together and then attending the Evanston Parade in our coveted spot in front of Starbucks!

Gabby has returned to her home at the Actors Gymnasium for the summer.  She performed at their fundraiser night at Temperance Brewery in Evanston and is working as a camp counselor at the Gym with the circus kiddos. 

The Actors Gymnasium also offers a Summer Intensive Class every year, that Gabby looks forward to being a part of.  This summer, she and her friend Justin (shout out to my honorary son Justin!!) choreographed and performed an amazing trapeze routine together.  We have been waiting for these two to put their strength and skills together for years…the did not disappoint (see video above)!

Sinobia has gone concert crazy this summer! She attended the Paramour and Fall Out Boy concert with friends and then convinced Eric and I to take her and her friend Leah to the Warped Tour 2014 at Tinley Park.  Well, warped tour is an all-day (11:00 am to 9:00 pm), "alternative band" music festival.  Eric and I were definitely out of place; we lacked the colored hair/Doc Martens/piercings/grunge look that was the vibe for most of the attendees.  2 more summer concerts to go for Sinobia.  With these last ones, Eric and I have split the duties, so I get One Direction and he gets Ed Sheeran!

Eric, Sinobia and I attended the Aiden Family Reunion in Gatlinburg, TN towards the end of July.  The Chicago Aiden crew planned and coordinated this year's event and everything turned out amazing (we did a great job Aiden/Hilliard Crew)!  Gabby stayed home to see Beyonce and Jay-Z perform at Solider Field, so it was just the 3 of us up in the mountains with the family!

A few weeks left of summer….who knows what adventures are in store for us.  We'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Getting In The Summer Mood

Summer has begun.  It’s always official in my mind once I’ve made my first trip to the beach. 

I usually have a hard time getting into the summer mood.  There’s a guilt that I feel for not working full-time in the summer and having time off.  I always feel like I have to clean, organize and complete projects to justify my time off.  This year I have one main project, but it will go on through the span of the summer.  I have decided to print some of our digital photos from special occasions and place them in photo albums…old school style!  I feel as if digital photos never get printed and then the memories get lost.  People always look as real photos, so graduations, proms, trips abroad, etc. are getting printed, sorted and placed in photo books this summer!

This year I have decided to try my hardest to be a little more laid back about summer and to take it easy.  I am trying to enjoy every moment of my well-deserved summer off.  What I love most about summer is that the sun shines most days and I don’t need to wear boots and a coat.  This sort of weather makes me smile.  I love not having to wake up at 5 am each morning to go to work (even though Nera the cat has not figured that out yet).  I love that I sway away from my routine of ironing my clothes every night during the summer; I giggle every day as I pick out my clothes and just shake them out!  I love that the days are long and my carpooling is less in the summertime. 

I love that I have the opportunity to catch-up with friends during the summer.

I love that I am not a slave to the clock during the summer; we eat, we sleep and we play when we want. I don't pack lunches during the summer and don't stress out about dinners being cooked. I love that my load becomes a little lighter, which allows for my mood to be a little lighter too.

This year, my college girl has come back to me for the summer.  I’m not sure if she came home to see me or to just be back with her beloved circus family that she missed so much while she was away.  She is working at the Actors Gym and taking an intensive class there too, so much of her day is spent at the gym.  Gym or no gym, I still love having her in the house again.  It is my understanding that the time will soon come when she will not be coming home for the summer, so we will enjoy the visit while we can.

My newly “middle-school graduate” is attending summer school at the big high school and is figuring out her newly found “high school girl” freedom that comes with this summer.  I am learning not to text and call every half hour and to trust that she and her great friends are having some good, clean, safe fun while away from the houseJ

We have already had a few adventures this summer.  We treated Eric to the Michael Jackson Cirque Du Soleil show that was in town.  Gabby even took on a dare and jumped out of the car and juggled to some Michael Jackson music for a small crowd while we were stuck in parking lot traffic. 

Sinobia and I brought a friend to spend the day with us at the Pride Parade last Sunday.  We were front and center in the midst of all the action.  Sinobia and her friend scored bags full of Pride Parade swag.  I scored a sun-burn on my shoulders and back. 

With summer school, summer camp and summer jobs in full swing, whether I am ready or not, summer has begun.  So, let the summer festivities begin!  I think I'm finally ready….