Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life List Be Done

As of this morning I barely had just over 40 items on my life list.  I called up Art and asked him to meet me at Peet's to help me brainstorm.  He knows me better than I know myself sometimes, and since many of the things I want to do, I want to do with him, I knew he'd be able to help.

We sat there one by one, adding some amazing things to the list.  All of a sudden I told him one of the things I wanted to add to my list; find the man that murdered my brother.  He immediately said absolutely not, and I knew deep down he was right.  He reminded me that I needed to move forward and suggested instead that I make a promise to visit his grave on a regular basis.

It's been 16 years since my brother was shot and killed in a cheap motel room just blocks away from our parent's house.  We don't know for sure what happened and his killer has never been brought to justice, but we can only assume it had something to do with an old drug related deal gone bad.  Since the day we buried him I've never once visited his grave.  Grief is a strange thing.  It ties you up in knots for days on end and it leaves you feeling wasted and like you never want to visit it again, and then it somehow disappears all together, sometimes for years at a time before you see it again.

I think it's safe to say that I've never properly mourned the passing of my brother.  When someone you love, someone in your immediate family, dies in such a way, there's all sorts of ugliness tied up in the mourning process.  Shame, embarrassment, regret.  Shit loads of regret.  Grief is grief and death is death and all of it is really crappy no matter what the circumstances, but when you hear that your oldest brother was shot and killed in a motel room, it's a bit unconventional.  When someone dies of cancer, or a car accident, or bravely doing a job, there's a sort of socially accepted form of conduct that goes along with the grieving process.  Within weeks of my brother's death, my high school boyfriend's sister also passed, from cancer.  She left a husband and son, and I brought them a chicken dinner, I remember.  I visited their home and gave my condolences and the house was packed with family members grieving for the loss of their daughter. sister, wife, mother.  They were reminiscing about her and talking about how much she was loved and cherished.  I remember thinking "well, things look a bit different here."  Where's the grieving manual titled Mourning the Loss of Your Family Member That Had a Disease and Was a Jerk?

I went away to university and graduated Magna Cum Laude (although it was from UCSB and their standards are a little lower), and I got a fantastic job working at a fancy-schmancy clothing company and I married a good boy from an even better family and made fine upstanding friends.  I went years without even telling a soul about my oldest brother.  Shame, embarrassment, all that ugly tied up in the grieving you know.  And then it really started to eat at me.  The last 2-3 years or so.  I started having reoccurring dreams about my brother.  In them I was always very young, and he was nothing but my big protective brother that nicknamed me Minnie on the day I was born.  There was none of that shame or embarrassment tied up in those dreams.  Every time I woke up crying from one of those dreams though.  I loved him so much and I miss him and I will always miss him because he was my brother and no matter what he did or what happened will ever change that. 

And so no, I guess I don't need to, or want to find my brother's killer.  That's not something I need to accomplish in my life time.  Instead I need to learn to properly mourn his death and remember him, the good and the bad, and I need to visit his grave.  And I need to take my kids to his grave and I need to tell my kids about him one day.  Because right now they don't even know he existed.  And I obviously need to see a shrink to work through some stuff because sometimes, it's screwed up there in this head of mine.  This time I'm going to try and find a Christian therapist to work with though.

So after all that, here's the final Life List.  I suggest you write one too just for fun.  Hopefully it won't bring up all sorts of angsty crap like it did for me ;)  I leave tomorrow.  I'm nervous and excited and I have all sorts of fun outfits planned because, DUH, what better way to deal with crappy childhood stuff than to plan fun things to wear?  Wish me luck.  Thanks for reading too.  You guys are the best.  Honestly, you are.  And really, can I just get some credit for giving it all to you guys here?  Fashion, DIY ideas, recipes, religion, childhood tragedies, I've got it all covered.  Adios amigos!

Andrea's Life List (as of 11/10/11)
Teach my kids how to fish
See my kids graduate from College
See my kids get married & have children
Organize a family reunion
Throw my parents a big party for making it this far
Visit all major museums in the US
View the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from an apartment
Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with the kids
Take kids to Yellowstone & see Old Faithful
Stay on a ranch/farm
Take the kids zip lining in a rainforest
Teach kids how to snowboard
Teach kids dirt bike riding (Art’s in charge of this one)
Go sledding in White Sands New Mexico with the kids
Make a family movie
Cliff jumping
Teach kids how to drive
Take kids to their first Angels game
Digitize all film & organize footage
Organize all digital photos
Hot air balloon ride 

Read the Bible cover to cover
Go on a Mission trip
Visit the Holy land
Have a 1 on 1 session with a Pastor & ask all the questions I’m afraid to ask in public
Attend Bible study on a regular basis & study all the books of the Bible
Visit my brother’s grave annually
See a shrink to work stuff out

Travel & Adventure
African Safari
Great Britain
New Zealand
Swiss Alps
Visit 44 states (the coolest ones - there's 6 I have no desire to visit)
Live in New England for at least a year

Just For Fun
Learn a choreographed dance routine
Participate in a flash mob
Learn to spin records, even digitally
Go to the Winter Olympics
Go to the Summer Olympics
Create a bottle of wine with my name on the label
Attend Sundance Film Festival
Attend Cannes
Get teeth professionally whitened
Go to an NFL game
Own an acre of land, somewhere, anywhere
Watch 100 Best Movies of All Time (AFI’s 10th Anniversary edition)
Own a 2nd home for vacationing
Baby Whisperer meet up

Run another half marathon
Become flexible enough to do the splits
Learn self defense
Complete a 1 month detox
Go to a wellness spa

Write a screenplay with my husband
Attend a marriage and counseling seminar with husband to have a kick-ass marriage
Renew my vows
Celebrate 50 years of marriage
Go on a romantic vacation just the two of us
Finish that book we’ve had for a long time

Charitable Causes
Donate hair to Locks of Love
Start a Love 146 task force in Orange County/Long Beach area
Dedicate time consistently to a charitable organization
Raise & Donate at least $2000 a year to charitable causes (besides tithing)
Build a house with Habitat for Humanity
Donate money anonymously

Home Ec
Grow flowers from bulbs
Make homemade pasta
Create & maintain organized files/records
Maintain the 20 minute rule
Make authentic Spanish paella from scratch
Make sopapillas like my Grandma used to make
Learn to make Chile Rellenos
Master a basic pie pastry recipe
Create a working office/craft room
DIY an office desk
Invest in a quality sewing machine
Pay off mortgage
Get all ducks in a row for financial investments

Personal/Professional Development
Learn to speak fluent Spanish
Learn to play the piano
Making a living off my blog
Return to the fashion industry within the next 5 years
Take a photography class
Take a graphic design class
Learn Photoshop well enough so I don’t need Art’s help
Read at least 50 of the books on the 100 Classics List of All Times (between the US/UK versions)
Become a certified fitness instructor of some sort
Take an art class
Take an advanced sewing class
Take a jewelry making class
Get paid to do what I love

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