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Matt and I were together for 10 wonderful years - met in 1998, married in 2002, until his untimely death on November 15, 2008. We have two beautiful, healthy children - Jacob (born 5/04) and Sydney (born 5/07)... the most precious gifts he could have ever given me.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Arms of the Angel

This song by Sarah McLaughlin has had meaning for Matt and I from way early on in our relationship. It was played on the radio often during that time, and so I've always had a strong association with Matt with this song - probably more than any other song. It wasn't until I heard this song at some point after he died that I realized the irony of that, and it crushes me every time I hear it. Crushes me, and brings me comfort at the same time in a strange way.

It's Christmas night and the kids and I had an awesome day at home, opening gifts, playing with all the new toys, and just enjoying the heck out of each other. Their Christmas spirit totally rubbed off on me and I felt joy all day, and so blessed that I have these amazing kids. Now that the stress of the holiday was off, I thoroughly enjoyed their company and was relaxed and happy all day. Even missing Matt so much somehow didn't dampen my spirit much today (a true Christmas miracle in my book!).

After talking to one of my closest mutual friends of Matt's yesterday, we discovered that we both had "visit" dreams of him either on the same night, or one day apart in December (see previous post). Coincidence? I don't think so. I believe that he comes to us occasionally for a visit and makes the rounds. I relish in those, and I know anyone who experiences the same thing does, too.

Tonight after such a magical Christmas Day, the kids are in bed, the house is quiet, and I'm folding laundry while listening to the last of the Christmas music on the radio before it switches back to regular programming. My mind is wandering between the calmness and beauty of today with the kids, the fun we had with my brother and his family yesterday when they celebrated Christmas Eve at our house with us (for the first time in many years), Christmases past with Matt, and everything in between. At midnight, the regular programming resumed, and the very first song played was Arms of the Angel by Sarah McLaughlin. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Merry Christmas, My Love.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Great dream...

I haven't had as many dreams of Matt as I would like, but last night I had a great one. He had chosen a house for us - not sure where - and had already moved most of our things into it. The first time I got to see it was the day I moved in. I still hadn't seen Matt up to this point, and I half expected to not see him there, but as I was looking through the house going from room to room, I saw him in one of the rooms. We went up to each other and hugged tightly, and with tears in his eyes, he told me he wanted to live with me forever. I told him I wanted to live with him forever, too. It was such a great moment. The excitement of it pushed me to half-awakeness, and then I realized I was dreaming and woke up.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Do you think this will suffice?

TO: Pasadena Unified School District

FROM: Andrea R. Row

DATE: December 6, 2010

RE: Termination of Services for Sydney R. Row

I would be happy to provide the documents necessary for re-certification; however, in our specific circumstances, there are no new documents to present. Your office already has all the most recent information I can possibly provide, and nothing has changed since we made our initial application for services sixty days ago. I was under the impression that we only had to renew our eligibility once per year, and was not aware of your sixty day deadline to get a business operational. The business that I am in the process of starting up is not up and running as of yet, and as such, no income has been earned. Here are the reasons for the delay:

Since we moved across the country from Buffalo, NY to Pasadena, CA just a little over a year ago, my children and I have been sick more often than not – especially since the beginning of this school year. After it became apparent that my children would likely need their tonsils (and possibly adenoids) removed, I had to find an HMO vs. the PPO health insurance carrier we initially started with upon our move so we could afford the expense of the procedures. This has taken quite a bit of research and time to get in order. Now that we have obtained better health insurance coverage, it has taken some more time to get established with the right doctors, and after many sick visits, my children have finally been referred to an ears, nose and throat specialist. Sydney is scheduled to have her tonsils out next month, and my son will likely be next in the near future. I have also been sick for the past two and a half months, and after several rounds of antibiotics that have not seemed to help much, I am now on prednisone. Our immune systems have not only suffered from adjusting to all the unfamiliar germs on this coast, but from extreme exposure with the children in school, and living in a highly populated community versus the rural, sparsely-populated area where we used to live. In addition, my husband passed away two years ago on November 15, and I am still recovering from this shock and trying to hold everything together for myself and my two children who are also suffering his loss and hitting new stages of grief by the day due to their growing understanding and developmental milestones. The anniversary of his death coupled with the holidays immediately following are especially challenging to deal with. I am in the process of seeking a counselor to help deal with anxiety and depression issues related to this grief. This has had a huge effect on how productive I am in maintaining a household, in a new state, on my own, raising my two children as a single parent with no breaks, and trying to keep myself healthy and functioning properly so I can do all the above successfully.

I still need to apply for a license to do business in Pasadena, research the organizations and memberships that I need to join in order to make myself more qualified to hold the title of Independent College Consultant, along with all the other research involved in catching up with the ever-changing dynamics of applying to college since I stopped working in the field over a year ago; especially for students with dyslexia and other language based learning disabilities which are the clientele I will be assisting. There have also been many recent changes by The College Board and the individual colleges and universities as to their requirements of the documentation that is necessary in order to provide services and accommodations to students with disabilities. I have also been researching the psychologists in this area that can perform the necessary tests on the students so the required information is included in their psycho-educational testing reports. I also need to get up to date with the changes that colleges/universities have made with regard to their programs that offer services to students with disabilities.

There are a great number of details involved in starting up this company, including learning how to run my own business, as this is the first time I’ve done so. I have a quicken program that I still need to learn, accounts to open, and still have to market the business so I can get clients. I have had meetings with a few different people in similar fields who have been a help in not only getting the information I will need for an independent college consulting business, but also getting good advice about what is necessary from a business/accounting standpoint. Networking plays a huge role in the potential success, and this is also something that takes time.

In addition to all this, I have to spend the time writing to the Social Security Administration and to the Worker’s Compensation Board to explain to both of them how I’m allocating the funds that we are receiving as a result of my husband’s death, both of which are my sole source of income at this point. I have a mortgage, bills, carrying our own health insurance, etc. that this money is all going towards, as well as the start up expenses I’ve paid out so far to get my business started – books, memberships, filing, computer application programs, etc., and the ridiculous amount of co-pays and prescriptions I’ve had to pay out for the many, many doctors appointments for myself and my children, which all take time during the day to take care of, which as a result takes time out of my efforts to get my business up and running. My expenses far exceed my income at this point.

I also have another potential income-earning opportunity through a non-profit organization that has offered myself and many other widowed people with valuable peer-based grief support after the loss of their spouse. I am the assistant to the Founder and Executive Director of the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation, and this should be considered an internship, since it will eventually turn into a part-time paid position once the organization obtains the funds to support it. I intend to maintain this position even after my own business is in operation as well.

It is my expectation that my business will be fully operational by the beginning of the next school year. I am doing my very best to get everything done, and to get it done in such a way as to ensure its success. I am not one of the thousands of people that drain the system while putting forth no effort to improve their situation. Once I begin earning income from the work I’m doing, I will not only likely lose the services you provide, but will also lose a good portion of the income we are receiving from Social Security death benefits, and therefore will probably not end up any further ahead financially than I am right now.

Sydney is thriving in preschool, and is adored by her teachers and peers. She has learned so much already, and is being challenged in a learning environment the way she really needs to be - much more than what I can offer her at home. If she is not able to attend preschool , especially stopping right in the middle of the school year, it is going to not only completely prevent me from making any progress in getting my business operational, but will also disrupt the reliable routine that has been established for her and cause her a great deal of distress and confusion. She looks forward to school every day. She is a highly intelligent child that needs the structure, socialization and stimulating learning environment that preschool is offering her.

Please contact me if you should have any questions, and with your decision about continuing her services. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future. Thank you very much for your kind consideration in this matter.