Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dealing with heartbreak

Sometimes I wonder why our lives have so many obstacles. Are we supposed to learn from the difficulties we encounter to become stronger? Is it that we have to be tested? I have seen pain and sadness in growing up as a child and there were times of uncertainty and a feeling of not having control. I saw times when my dad was in such pain and he was in the hospital after suffering from a fall on the job and mom would clearly be affected by this as she was the one who took on the worries and it truly wore her down. She had a healthy vitality and a spirited way about her that was slowly taken away with the harsh and painful realities she had to endure with the dangers of dad's work and the uncertainties of it. I was very aware that dad was in a very dangerous job and mom would always worry that he would be protected and be safe. I remember as a young boy praying for my dad that he would be safe and I would also pray for my mom that she wouldn't have to worry all the time. Despite all the worries and hospital stays my parents managed well to raise my sisters and I and provide us with all we needed.

I do remember vividly seeing my dad grimacing with pain quite regularly but he would get up every morning at 4:00 am because he had a responsibility towards his employer, himself and his family. We always came first in our parent's eyes. It was very comforting knowing that they loved each other and would be there for each other and for us. The hardest part of growing up was the lack of communication between my dad and I because he was always so exhausted and his body racked in pain. He always pushed himself and would never miss a day of work unless he had to go to the hospital. Mom held her feelings in most of the time but eventually it would come to a point where she could no longer do this.

I remember vividly when I was a sophomore in high school and 16 years old my mom had what you would call a mental break down. She had started back to work and had seemed like things were going well for her. She enjoyed what she was doing and felt great to be in the work force again. She just fell apart emotionally after a while and could no longer go on. It was a trying time as dad had the pressures of his work and I was now in my high school years. I remember the first time we had to summon the EMT to come to the house because mom was acting incoherently and was not able to make sense and she became a danger to herself and to us. I was very disturbed by her rants and her screams and seeing her regress to such a low point to where she was unaware of what was happening and she completely lost all control of her emotional well being. I remember losing my composure and I started to cry because it was very scary to see the torment she must have been going through. She was 37 at the time and seemed quite young to be experiencing such a breakdown.

I remember we as a family had to pull together and be strong and supportive but we were hurting seeing this happen. My sisters were 14 and 10 when we started to encounter the emotional breakdown of our mom. Dad was very strong at this time and he was very responsible with his work, with visiting mom and with seeing that we all did our homework and ate our dinner even if it was McDonalds.

It was this time in my life where I seemed to shut everyone out and I felt very alone and not sure why we had to endure this overwhelming feeling of sadness and witness such a difficult and emotionally painful situation with my mom. I give my dad a lot of credit for his internal strength and his loyalty and compassion. He was so instrumental in helping mom to come back and get back to herself. She managed to get through this difficult time in her life and was able to get back to work as well. We were happy once again and we were a family again even though we had our difficult moments.

My saving grace in high school was that I was recruited by the high school coach to run cross country and I became a member of the team and felt I belonged and had a healthy outlet and a way of making friends. I was shy but it was a very positive experience for me and my coach took a personal interest in my development and served as a good mentor as far as training for long distance running was concerned. I had a lot of emotional pain and my running was very helpful to me and it helped me through the rough times. As time went by mom would require more times in the hospital and we were always there for her especially our dad.

Sometimes I look back at these times and I wonder how we were able to get through them. We managed but there were tragedies along the way. I will never forget the time when mom was going through a very bad time where she had bouts with paranoia and thought everyone was plotting against her. She became irrational in her thinking and she became very violent. I was now working in the accounting field and I was now 28 and my sisters 26 and 22. It was Thanksgiving day 1989 and mom completely fell apart and was reacting very violently and she tried to punch dad and I as we were trying to restrain her. We needed to have the EMT restrain her and calm her down. It was very hard having to hold my mom down as she kept saying "Why are you doing this to me?" I completely lost it when they strapped her down and witnessed her screaming and not making sense. It was a very heartbreaking thing to witness and I felt things would never be as they were. It was a very sad reality for me and I just cried that night and asked God why we have to suffer so much?

As they rushed her to the emergency room we followed behind and accompanied her to the hospital. She was admitted and we had to go over all the medications she was taking and give a rundown of her medical profile. She was admitted and we had to get in touch with her psychiatrist to let him know that she was admitted to the hospital. She was transferred back and forth between two hospitals and it was very difficult seeing her as she completely lost her will to live and she stopped eating. Her body became emaciated and I could no longer bear to see her in this condition but I had to continue because she was my mother and I loved her and my heart was breaking knowing that we were facing a grim reality that we were most likely going to lose her. I remember my last contact with her was a weeknight after work and I came up to visit her and she was non responsive. I stood by her side and I told her how I loved her and couldn't wait for her to be able to start to sit up and walk around. I was trying to be optimistic. As I told her I loved her and would be up to visit her again soon I felt her clench my hands and it made me feel good because I knew she was still holding on and I had tears streaming down my face as I kissed her goodnight. We all were very faithful to her and made a point to visit her. I remember the night before she passed I was watching Beaches with my 2 sisters a real tear jerker with Barbara Hershey and Bette Middler. I was touched by the movie and just felt something. I wasn't sure what but it was definitely something I felt in my heart.

I was walking off the train in Bellmore planning to go and visit my mom and I was heading for my car by my sisters house when my brother-in-law waved me to come to the house. My sisters were there and they asked me to sit and I had this terrible feeling but I now knew what I was feeling. I knew but they confirmed it and as I heard the words all I could do was cry and after I cried I asked how dad was and obviously he was very shaken by the loss as we all were. It seems that Life is painful at times and we all have to be strong because we just never know. My mom was only 50 years old when she passed and as I approach that age this does come across my mind as I have a wife and an autistic son that I need to be there for and I must be strong for them because I love them very much and they mean the world to me.

Edward D Iannielli III

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Please feel free to read my writings and leave a kind message or suggestion. Thank you. Emily