Grief & Loss, Healing, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

Can A Dinosaur Die?

Uncle Jim & Aunt Irene visited us last month and the little munchkin was just really happy spending time with them. A few weeks before they arrived, he had started mentioning and asking about his Daddy in more frequency. I’m always unprepared whenever he mentions Steve.

Walt Disney's Dinosaur
Walt Disney’s Dinosaur

It’s not that I don’t want the little one to mention and ask for his Dad. It’s actually great that he still remembers him. It’s just that what I’m concerned about is my reaction to his questions. Most of the time I don’t have any answer at all and all I can do is just hug him. Also, it’s the longing in his voice that I hear that really rubs it in. It’s like he’s expressing what I’m feeling inside that I’m trying to quell because sometimes, I have to.

A few weeks ago, I borrowed the Disney animated film, “Dinosaur” from the office library for our weekend movie marathon because the little munchkin is crazy these days about dinosaurs. I won’t be surprised if he turned out to be a paleontologist  someday. He can actually tell me their names or the different types of dinosaurs which is kinda cute. There was one scene which is almost at the end of the movie where the tyrannosaurus rex Continue reading “Can A Dinosaur Die?”

Issues, Labor Issues, Quotes & Excerpts, Thea's Thoughts

Working Smarter Rather Than Just Working Hard

Because of the recent tragedy in our family, I’d been reflecting on what are the most important things in life. A few of the things I’d been thinking about are time and work. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do for work. I’m thinking about how I’m going to juggle quality time with my little munchkin and being my best at work at the same time. Because of this, I’d been reflecting on about the American perception of working hard. I’d been hearing about this “working smart” idea for the longest time and I want to apply it to my life somehow.

Making Time
Making Time

Working smart is not about working less or not working hard at all. I think working smart is about finding the job that you’re passionate about, balancing life and work by spending quality time with your family, taking care of your health and rejuvenate, and still have time to take care of your chores.

According to the American Psychological Association, we have an overstressed nation. “As the aftershocks of the Great Recession continue to be felt across the country, money (76 percent), work (70 percent) and the economy (65 percent) remain the most oft- cited sources of stress for Americans. Job stability is on the rise as a source of stress; nearly half (49 percent) of adults reported that job stability was a source of stress in 2010 (compared to 44 percent in 2009). At the same time, fewer Americans are satisfied with the ways their employer helps them balance work and non-work demands (36 percent compared to 42 percent in 2009).” This stress could translate to physical and mental health problems.

I don’t always agree on Bill Maher’s politics but on this one he has a point: “Our politicians love to brag, “The American worker is the most productive worker in the world.”  Yeah, ’cause they work scared. That’s why a majority don’t even take all of the few vacation days they get.  Because you don’t want to seem less valuable to your boss…”

There’s a movement named, “Take back your Time” which is working on ideas for an action and a comprehensive program to win more free time for Americans. They have a website:

http://www.timeday.org/

Also, they’re promoting a bill called” The Minimum Leave Protection, Family Bonding and Personal Well-Being Act:

http://www.timeday.org/right2vacation/Minimum%20Leave%20Protection%20Bill.pdf

I’d been thinking about how this proposed bill would mean to me. I work on a contractual basis and I think about what will happen when my contract ends this year.  I really like where I’m working now which have a flexible working time. Because our government  don’t have any mandated vacation time, I worry about the next job that comes along.  Would it have the same working conditions that I have now?

I’ m also thinking about the employer’s perception on single parents. Even if there’s a considerable progress that has been made here in this country, there’s still a perception that if you’re a woman and you’re the sole provider for the child, you’re somehow limited on what you can do at work. I think that if you’re not available to work overtime because you need to pick up your child at school at a certain time or you have to take a half day off so you can be with your child  for their dance recital, it doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of the job. I think that mandating vacation time would protect my quality time for my son,  for myself and still be productive at the same time.

It’s ironic how Americans joke about how other industrialized nations have mandated vacation time with an average of 20 days paid time off on top of public holidays and sick leaves and yet, we secretly wish we have the same thing.

Grief & Loss, Healing, Quotes & Excerpts, Reminiscing, Thea's Thoughts

Halloween 2012

Happy Halloween
Happy Halloween

Holidays are difficult without Steve. It’s a reminder that we’re celebrating these important days without him. Last year, we spend Halloween at the East Coast. It’s one of our favorite holidays, especially for my brother in law. It also gives us an excuse to be silly & wear costumes. Steve is not a costume-y kind of guy. The most costume that he would wear would be a devil’s horn that I bought for him years ago for the West Hollywood Halloween Parade but he loved bringing along the little munchkin for trick or treating. This time I decorated a little bit outside our home. I think I was  making a concerted effort to compensate for Steve’s absence.

Happy Halloween
Happy Halloween
Halloween 2011
Halloween 2011

This year, we had full day celebrating Halloween. The nursery had a little Halloween party with the kiddos  wearing costume during the day.  I left early from work so  I can bring the little one trick or treating at the mall since they stop giving treats at 7pm. Then I brought him to the Los Angeles Live Steamers to ride the Halloween Train. Before the night ends, we drove all the way to a family friend’s Halloween Party to meet up with my cousins and celebrate the rest of the Halloween night there. The little munchkin was wearing his dinosaur costume, playing around with my cousins roaring and eating los of candies and chocolates. He definitely had a sugar overload that day.

Halloween 2011
Halloween 2011
Halloween 2011
Halloween 2011

The next day when he woke up, instead of asking eggs for breakfast, he was asking for a lollipop. That made me smile.

Halloween 2011
Halloween 2011
Halloween 2011
Halloween 2011
Grief & Loss, Healing, Quotes & Excerpts, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

Are you a Grief Victim or a Grief Survivor?

Being a victim is a state of mind dictated by others.

A survivor dictates his or her own state of mind.

 

A victim fears the moments of grief.

A survivor welcomes those moments!

 

A victim knows about feeling down and tries to stay up.

A survivor knows feeling down is okay.

 

Steve's pumpkin tree
Steve’s pumpkin tree

 

A victim tries hard to hide the tears.

A survivor never leaves home without kleenex.

 

A victim struggles to maintain a state of normalcy.

A survivor knows normal no longer exists.

 

A victim gets caught in isolation.

A survivor reaches out when they need to.

 

A victim is afraid they in time will forget.

A survivor knows they never will!

 

A victim sometimes feels guilty laughing.

A survivor laughs through their tears.

 

A victim tries at times to block out the memories.

A survivor embraces memories of all kinds.

 

A victim wants someone to cure his or her grief.

A survivor just wants someone to share his or her journey.

 

A victim struggles to get over their grief.

A survivor fights to get through it.

 

A victim tries to get on with their life.

A survivor lives their life knowing nothing will ever be the same.

 

A victim says, “Oh I’m okay”…then secretly cries.

A survivor openly cries… and says, “I’m okay.”

 

~Author Unknown

 

I came across this piece from the support group that I attend to whenever I can. I hope that somehow this will help someone who is also suffering from a loss.

Grief & Loss, Healing, Quotes & Excerpts, Reminiscing, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

Memories

“Memories are what warm you up from the inside. But they’re also what tear you apart.”
~ Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

I know that it’s coming from the heart when people tell me that I can take comfort with the good memories I had with Steve. I do appreciate the good thoughts and prayers that’s coming my way, even from people who I don’t even know and just happen to stumble about Steve’s story from the news or from the webpages.

Steve Swimming in the Open Sea
Steve Swimming in the Open Sea

I don’t know if anyone could understand that when I think about him, I would rather have him than thoughts of him. Thinking about all the things we’d done, all the places we’d traveled together, it just makes me yearn for him more. I just ended up sobbing. I wish I could make more memories with him but I can’t. I’m very aware that this is all a process. I have to learn and to accept how to live without him. And that thought still makes me cry. How can anyone eventually live without the love of their life? I don’t even know if anyone has an answer to this.

Boracay Trip with Steve
Boracay Trip with Steve

There are occasions that any thoughts about him makes me smile. Most of the time, it’s something that someone said that reminded me of a joke that Steve and I shared, or something funny that Steve said or did when he was still alive. There are just a few people who knows this side about Steve. He was just more than a quiet man.

My family and friends literally embraced Steve into their lives.
My family and friends literally embraced Steve into their lives.

By the way, to those who sent messages, condolence or mass cards, funeral flowers, gifts and donations to me, I’m truly grateful for all your generosity. I haven’t finished with my thank you cards but know that all of you had touched me deeply with your kindness.

“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depths of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.”
~ Alfred Tennyson

Boracay Trip with Steve
Boracay Trip with Steve
Forensics, Grief & Loss, Healing, Recovery, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

Dr. Neal Haskell, Forensic Entomologist

It took me a while to find Dr. Neal Haskell.  During my research if there’s a science that exist to determine the decedent’s time of death during an advanced stage of decomposition, I stumbled on the Caylee Anthony’s story.   He was one of the Forensic Entomologists who had determined Caylee Anthony’s approximate time of death. If you watch Investigation Discovery, you’ll learn that Forensic entomology is an application and study of insect and other arthropod biology to criminal matters.

Dr. Neal Haskell
Dr. Neal Haskell

The LA County Department of Coroner hired a Forensic Anthropologist to help with Steve’s manner of death but she told me that after two days, it’ll be hard to determine the decedent’s time of death. The reason why I sought out Dr. Neal Haskell was because I believe Continue reading “Dr. Neal Haskell, Forensic Entomologist”

Grief & Loss, Healing, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

Where Is Daddy?

Occasionally, the little munchkin and I will go out for dinner instead of staying at home on a weekday.  I would still cook but not that often since it’s just me and the little one. Most of the time when we go out, he would order his mac and cheese. It’s interesting to see how different restaurants interpret their own version of mac and cheese. I think he had tasted them all. He’s my little creature of habit.

Daddy and Me
Daddy and Me, 2010.

After our meal, I brought him inside the public bathroom for potty time. As I was cleaning him up, he looked up to me and started talking:

Continue reading “Where Is Daddy?”

Grief & Loss, Healing, Quotes & Excerpts, Thea's Thoughts

Without You

With all the things that I have on my plate, I’m filing my taxes so late. Thank God for the extension. While I was working on my 2011 taxes, I’d just stopped to listen to the music that was playing on my macbook. It was “Without You,” from the musical Rent. Most of the time there are songs that just speaks to you.

Rent, The Musical
Rent, The Musical

WITHOUT YOU
by Jonathan Larson

Mimi
Without you, the ground thaws, the rain falls, the grass grows.
Without you, the seeds root, the flowers bloom, the children play.
The stars gleam, the poets dream, the eagles fly, without you.
The earth turns, the sun burns, but I die, without you.

Without you, the breeze warms, the girl smiles, the cloud moves.
Without you, the tides change, the boys run, the oceans crash.
The crowds roar, the days soar, the babies cry, without you.
The moon glows, the river flows, but I die, without you.

Roger
The world revives—

Mimi
Colors renew—

Both
But I know blue, only blue, lonely blue, within me blue.

Mimi
Without you.
Without you, the hand gropes, the ear hears, the pulse beats.

Roger
Without you, the eyes gaze, the legs walk, the lungs breathe.

Roger
The mind churns!

Mimi
The mind churns!

Roger
The heart yearns!
Mimi
The heart yearns!

Both
The tears dry, without you.
Life goes on, but I’m gone.
Cause I die, without you.

Mimi
Without you.

Roger
Without you.

Both
Without you.

Grief & Loss, Healing, Quotes & Excerpts, Thea's Thoughts

Books About Grief And Loss

I’d always loved reading books. I could go on for days just reading. Steve loved it, too. We could be sitting side by side reading a book. But we do have different taste in books. He prefers nonfiction and I prefer fiction works. But these days, it seems I have a lot less time for reading. Whenever I can, I try to read a few pages at a time to read a book.

Here are some of the books that I’m currently reading or planning to read:
“No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving The Suicide Of A Loved One,” by Carla Fine.

No Time To Say Goodbye
No Time To Say Goodbye

 

“Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide,” by Kay Redfield Jamison.

Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide
Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

 

“Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief,” by Pauline Boss.

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief
Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief

 

These books had been inspiring me to continue on writing down my thoughts. Maybe, I’ll write a book someday but that’s too far ahead and that thought scares me. Again, one day at a time.

The last set of books that Steve had been reading were:
Red on Red: A Novel,” by Edward Conlon
“Blood Lessons.” by Charles Remberg
“The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda,” by Peter Bergen
“A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,”by Eckhart Tolle

 

Funeral, Healing, Recovery, Reminiscing, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

Seeing Steve Again

In the 80 days that Steve had been missing, I’d always anticipated that he’ll be coming back home. But sometimes, it felt like that the probability of Steve coming back was nil. There were times I’d felt uneasiness in the pit of my stomach because I had no idea where he was.

A Man In Brown Suit
A Man In The Brown Suit

The longest time Steve and I were apart was when he was training to become an FBI Special Agent. We didn’t see each other for two months and yet, we called each other almost everyday. After that, I would visit or stay with him. I knew then where he was and he was doing something really important for himself and I supported that. We always supported each other’s career. We both believe that a person’s work should be something that you enjoy. It should be more than just a job.

The EAP staff from the FBI picked me up from work that morning when the news broke Continue reading “Seeing Steve Again”