Tag Archives: loss

Acknowledgement

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For those of you who have experienced the loss of someone close to you, you will understand what I am writing about.     It never goes away, at least not for me.

Fourteen years ago today my kid sister died at the young age of 38.   She had been diagnosed just ten months before with Ovarian Cancer.   I’m not sure what hurts the most.   The journey through it, where we did our best to comfort her and bring her to any treatment allowed, or the endless missing.  I think it’s the missing.

Fourteen years and I still cry when I acknowledge this.  But if I don’t, it makes its way through illness or pain, so it’s best to nod to the memory than deny it, at least for me.

At 37 she and her partner had just bought a house and had moved in just two weeks prior to the emergency surgery that was previously scheduled a week or two later.   I remember it all so well, and I’m trying hard to not go there today.  To just honor her, and tell you what a great person she was.

I can tell you that she worked very hard and knew how to play.  She had a boat, snowmobiles, a toy for every season.   She loved to fish, to play sports, and was a natural athlete.   She had an old soul, I think about this often, wondering if this played a part in her short life.  A natural observer, she was always warning me when to shut my big trap, or when I had gone past “obnoxious” she called it.   Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.  It’s one that I experience a lot when I think about her.

One would think that after fourteen years you wouldn’t on occasion say to yourself “I have to call her, and tell her this!”    It happens less each passing year, but it still happens.

She was my dads bud.  I mean that with every part of my being.  She loved hockey, she loved fishing and shared these things with our dad.   We all share memories of this with her.   It was rather comical last year when my father admitted one day “Okay, Darlene was my favorite”.   The three of us laughed until tears came out of our eyes.  “What?”  “I’m sorry” he said.   “Um dad, we have known this FOREVER!”    I think he really believed it would shock us.   NOT.   I was sitting beside her on her couch the day she learned she was not going to recovery from this, and she called dad to tell him.  “I’m sorry, dad, I’m so sorry”.

So it was on this day that my, our lives changed.  For years I described things as “happened before she died, or happened after she died”.   I didn’t mean to.  It was just a game changer.    My life changed.  I changed.

I remember asking my cousin Marie, who came down to sit with me just hours after I learned she had died “How am I supposed to stop loving her?”   “You never will, Donna” she said.   How did she know?    It was through my sisters death and living life without her that I learned, love doesn’t stop just because someone you love died.   Nor does life stop, as cruel and vulgar as it seems at the time.   “How can the birds still sing?  How can people laugh, how can anything go on when my life has just come to a screaching halt?”   But it does.  But I have learned something beautiful within all the sadness and that is that love doesn’t ever stop, for me it continued and miraculously grew and still does, all these years later.

So on this day, I acknowledge that hope changes.   At first you pray for a cure, you pray for treatment to work, and then when that stops working, you pray for strength and a new doctor, another treatment, and more.   That is until you realize the suffering is going on too long, and you start to pray for God to be merciful with her, with them.  Please, take her soon.   Yes, hope changes.

I miss you every day.  There hasn’t been a day in fourteen years you’ve been gone that I don’t think of you.  You are part of me, you always will be.    I can still close my eyes and see your face, the little tiny mole above your eyebrow, and see that beautiful smile that radiated wherever it was shown.

Time does teach us how to coexist with such loss, but it doesn’t heal the broken heart.  I think because even when you pray for an end to the pain, and there is relief when that happens, the missing?  It never stops.

 

(end note:  I wrote this and posted it on 4/8 but for some reason it’s showing the 9th which I find interesting, because I actually found out about it just minutes after midnight on the 9th)

 

 

With every goodbye, we learn

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Saturday night.  I’m painting, with music in the background.  Finally got to town to get a few groceries, as we’re going to get another 12-18″ snow tomorrow.  The scraping of the windshield is old.

Have been reflecting today on many things.  For one, how the gift of age brings you knowledge.  Important knowledge.  Unfortunately our bodies wear out as we become brilliant!  But seriously, I’ve been through enough in my life to know, it may be dark now, but it won’t last forever.  One day I will feel better, and before you know it, that which caused me angst or grief becomes background flack.  Nothing you really miss over time, but you always remember the lessons.   Pain is a great motivator for change.   Pain is much of the reason why people change themselves, their lives.

I’ve also been thinking how grateful I am that I have good, sound, (well, somedays!) intelligent parents.   I’m grateful for the upbringing I had, and while I’ve skated in dangerous territory, I have the strength of my parents morals and standards, to hold strong too, as they are now, mine.

But youth, and I’m talking in your teens or twenty’s, depending on what you’ve been through, you don’t necessarily know at that age that things will fade, things will improve.  That doesn’t mean you stay laying in “wait” of it.  Because I think we were granted “free will”, and that gift can destroy us, if we let it.    But the strength of experience, that can sustain you for much.  It’s so unfortunate that at the toughest parts of your life you learn who is and isn’t your friend, who is loyal, who is worthy of being sent out to sea, but this, too, strengthens us.  We come wise.   The trick is not to become bitter.

I also see how things were prepared for me, to “get strong”.  What I mean by that, a divorce that I didn’t want but that a couple decades later I AM SO GRATEFUL it happened.  My life has been so much better than it was then.  But I was afraid, and I was young.   And while I didn’t know if I would get through it, I did, and I met someone else, and I worked on myself, and worked through the crap of it all.  I became a better person for it.  A person who at that time learned, I CAN accept, I CAN get beyond, I CAN grow, and learn, and start anew.  Then, when cancer starting ravaging my family, and the loss of my kid sister, that was so much larger than any divorce for me.  But I saw how going through the divorce years before had strengthened me.  So when my sister took ill, I could be there for her, and I was.     And then months later, her passing, the strength and wisdom I gained from that helped me, once again, start over, and say goodbye to someone I needed to say goodbye too.  And it took every bit of me to do that.

This is not to downplay loss.  Not at all.   In the end I had to accept the loss of this person, not just to booze but to death.  So, I can look back and see the times that brought the most growth for me.    And I’m a pretty strong chick!  Gotta tell ya!   But even in this, there are days I could easily fold into the arms of a trusted, and surrender myself in tears.

I’m thinking all of this because of a place where someone I care about is.   Man, he’s getting thrown a lot of lessons, and pain.   But I believe he will make it.   Once he starts building HIS life again.  I will be praying for him, and asking my faithful prayer friends to do the same.  He is a survivor of sorts already, freed from people that the average person would not even know exist, and trust me, I hope you never do.   But there are some pretty sick, ignorant people whose very ignorance is a bit scary to someone who follows rules and works for a living, and for everything they have.

So, that’s it for tonight.  I need to get back and finish the fifth rooster I’ve painted this week.   It’s been enjoyable, and I’ve regained some confidence with the brush.  Just have to do it, and say no to the negative.

Happy night!  Hope yours is, too.

There’s another storm a

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Dragged my butt out of bed this morning because my cat was persistent.  I was dizzy, my head felt separate from my body, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to even get down the stairs.

An unproductive day bothers me.  I feel the need to accomplish.   But carrying around severe clinical depression in a knapsack on my back, some days I have to give myself a break.  Sometimes getting out of bed is the one and only accomplishment I’ll get done.   I have friends, friends who understand the talons of this disease, and encourage me to do the basics.

So when I was able to make it to town to get milk and a few groceries (We are in between storms here in Vermont, and I should’ve shopped LAST week!), I was thrilled with myself.  Managed to get the garbage out, and then took a three hour nap.  Cold medicine helped me lift my head from my favorite couch pillow, and I felt well enough to paint.   Happy!

The market where I went to get milk, bread, basics, there was a woman my age who was working.  She was friendly, pretty.   We spoke briefly on the impending storm, and she mentioned she had to shovel her drive and walkways.   I comically shared with her that Winter, three-four years ago I had a plow bill of about $450, and I figured I’d have to sleep with my plower to get the bill paid off.   She did a huge belly roll, surprised that I said that.  “I have no one to plow, my husband died in July”.   “I’m sorry, I said”.

Normally here, I would offer a brief  pause in my day to listen, if she wanted to share.  I wasn’t feeling well enough to stand there much longer, so I wished her a good day and drove my ass home.     All the way home I was thinking about her.  Man, she’s still green with her loss, that is a hard hard trek.   But she was working, was very friendly, KIND, and I said a prayer for her.   So many friends are experiencing loss right now, or serious serious illnesses, life threatening.   It’s hard here in New England in Winter.  I can go all winter without seeing my next door neighbors.  It’s just the way Winter is.

As I was painting tonight, (working on farm animals, not my forte, but I want to get good at painting them!), I thought again about her friendliness, her kindness, and somehow, some way, I will do something kind for her without her knowing it.   She so deserves that.  Facing such pain and changes in life, for her to be MORE than civil, is, in my book, awesome.

Now I’m going to go finish this Rooster, and then head to bed.   I’m finding that I don’t want to go to bed.  I love my bed, I truly do, and my bedroom is pretty.  But I’m finding it harder and harder to get up.   Need to boost up my D3 intake, and get outside, in fresh air, no matter the weather.   But today?  Today I think I did very good, given how crappy I was feeling.

Kindness is so contagious, and in her circumstances I dare say “courageous”.

 

“50 things about me!”

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1.)   I get teary eyed and goose bumps when I see a big old Red, White & Blue flag flying

2.)  One of the proudest days of my life was when I bought out my ex-husband, and owned my own home!

3.) I am the middle of five siblings

4.) I have known love

5.) I hope to be half the person my dog thinks I am!

6.) My mentor is an 87 year old retired art teacher who I just adore.

7.) I have been in a room with someone I loved when they were told they had only a short time to live

8.) I have EXCELLENT taste in friends.

9.) I find great joy in making things…. Art for one

10.) I have had more surgeries than I can to share!

11.) My home is like my womb, and I hope it’s comfy and inviting to all my guests

12.) I do not like to cook

13.) I rarely lose anything

14.) I am not a morning person, have never been

15.) I was unable to have children, so I guess I married them

16.) I believe in God, and I’ve been blessed to see his work in my life

17.) I believe if you give to another it comes back to you, tenfold

18.) I do not feel my age mentally, but physically I do

19.) My most creative time has been 10pm – 2am

20.)  I despise phones, but I love what my Iphone offers me

21.) I have smoked one cigarette in my life (at age 15), and I had a headache for 2 days

22.) I love Bailey’s Irish Creme

23.) I believe when a door is closed, a window is opened, or visa versa

24.) Music is vital to my happiness

25.) I have had the following cars:  1976 Subaru (Turquoise), 1980 Subaru Coupe (New), Renault p.o.s., 1988 Honda Prelude (new),  Pontiac Fiero, 2003 Subaru Wagon, 86 Jetta, 91 Jetta, 2003 Honda Odyssey, 2003 Jeep Liberty, and I now drive a 2002 VW Passat with 270K!

26.) I am my own worst critic

27.)  I believe food tastes better, and possessions are more appreciated when earned or grown yourself

28.) Sometimes I think about growing old, and I wonder if I will

29.) I am very grateful for my parents and their love for me

30.) The best advice given to me (or that I heard) was “Step back, look at the situation before responding, hence reacting

31.) I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that life is like a 100 piece puzzle that we will only get 60-70 pieces to connect

32.) I know mental illness intimately

33.) I love being near or close to bodies of water, I find it tranquilizing

34.) I hate snakes

35.) Family comes first, always

36.) I know what lost love feels like

37.) I am a cancer survivor

38.) I have laughed so hard I’ve wet my pants

39.) The older I get, the smarter my parents are!

40.) I believe we are responsible for our own happiness

41.)  I don’t like the state of the World.  It saddens me

42.) I have been physically abused before

43.) If I had to do it over again, I would have become a graphic artist

44.) Nature grounds me

45.) I like who I am, I am honest, kind, caring, and I love to laugh

46.) I have lost two sisters to ovarian cancer

47.) I fear more loss

48.) I love animals

49.) Fall is my favorite time of year

50.) I am an extrovert who heals and recoops like an introvert

Whose next to share their list???????????  I dare you!

Like sand through the hourglass

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The past couple weeks I’ve had to take a hiatus from working on my house, given that I lifted my mantle off the gas fireplace and wrenched my back.   So I have found myself sorting, tossing, and thus, revisiting my life with notebooks of writing, poems, boxes of pics, and more.  Where the hell did the last 54 years of my life go?

Further depth came after the tragedies in Orlando.   I will not even go here.  I will say that I have been and am praying for all those affected by such monstrosities.   I am saddened beyond words, of what has and is transpiring in this country, in this world.   I pray for ALL of us.

But I will admit, there is something more going on with me.   I don’t fully understand it, nor am I questioning it, but I am at peace with so much, even in spite of all that is going bad in this world.   I FEEL something coming.   I have random thoughts of what it may be, but I’m not going to go here either.  What I want to share is, I’m accepting myself for who I am, where I’ve been, and finding peace with all that I wanted to be, do, but probably never will.

While looking at pictures from my past, I feel the moment, I recall the times, the feelings, the good, the bad, and the beautiful.   I am aligning with who I am.   And while I want to lose 75 lbs, and more, I am finding peace even with that.  What if I don’t?  Do I want to spend another minute of what’s left of my life worrying about or condemning myself for NOT  BEING PERFECT?

It’s interesting, the story of my life told in pictures.   I have known great love.  I have known great pain.  I have accomplished a lot on my own, without formal education, and I have met SOOO many wonderful people in my life.   Many friends have come and gone, and that’s okay, it is just the ebb and flow of life.  Today, tonight, as I write this blog, I am right with all that has transpired in my life.   I have found peace, and for that I AM TRULY THANKFUL.  If my life ends tomorrow, I am okay with it, because this place where I am is amazing.

I am grateful I was there with my sisters through the illnesses that stripped them of life.  I am grateful that I spent almost a decade of my life with a man who shortly thereafter, drank himself to death.  I am grateful for this “fat” that encompasses my body, because it helps me feel protected from an uncertain world.    Feeling safe anywhere today, is a big thing.   But most importantly to me, I am thankful that I am a good, honest, hard working person who finds pleasure in the simplest of things, in nature.   I don’t spend my time wishing I was in a relationship, or with anyone else, I am happy with my life.   I have learned the most through every tragedy and laughed immensely through much.

In many ways, where I am right now reminds me of surviving and completion of treatment for breast cancer.  It was freeing.   I had (and still have) no room in my life for luxury drama, or bull shit.   It’s actually a little frightening how vocal I can be now regarding this.   The tiny filter that I once had is almost entirely invisible now.   The older I get, the freer I feel about speaking my truth.

Long gone are the days when I worried about someone liking me, or what they thought of me.   I’m right with myself, with God.   I’m right where I’m supposed to be, and it feels good.

I hope that you are finding peace in your life.  I hope you are, too, realizing how precious life is.   How every second of every day is not promised to anyone, and in the blink of an eye your life, and those lives around you, can be altered drastically.  Anyone hearing of the massacre in Orlando, can you help but think this?

Sending you love, light, and as I mentioned earlier, prayers for the world we live in.

 

Not Yesterday’s tears

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written.   I’ve been holding things within, things that I don’t want tarnished by another person’s view, or comments.   I have had what some would call “wild” experiences, but they bring me tremendous comfort.   I am not ready to share them, and I may never be.    But I have so much gratitude for these signs, times.

I’ve had an eventful year so far, two days in San Juan, Puerto Rico, followed by a 7 day cruise with my best girlfriend.  It was amazing.   We visited St Croix, the place where someone very special to me took his last breath.   It was comforting to see such a beautiful place, I could easily visualize him there, and happy, and that is a gift, a true gift when someone dies too young.   It brought me peace.  We also visited St. Kitts (swam with dolphins), Barbados, Dominica (tubed down a river in a rain forest) and St. Maartan.

I returned home to my house in repair, and new windows.   I’ve been asked on numerous occasions if I hit the lottery, if I had a sugar daddy, or a new boyfriend who was footing the bills.  My answer is all the same.  No!    I have been blessed with good people in my life, good friends, family who look out for me.   For some reason, this year I scored, and big… I am again, very grateful.

The past few days have offered no restful sleep, and high pain levels.   I am tired, beyond tired.  I know I’m not alone here.    I’m reminded of a quote a friend told me many years ago “Fatigue makes cowards out of all of us”.   I wouldn’t quite describe myself as cowardly, but my body is clearly not cooperating with my desires or plans.  I don’t like it.  Today, after a couple of weeks with high pain levels, I want to raise the white flag and surrender.   I want to give up.    Today I called my dad, and during our conversation I unexpectedly starting to weep.

A couple of weeks ago I had a similar experience.  It was a sleepless night, I was scrolling through facebook and read a post that shared hundreds of ugly, vile comments on homosexuality.   At first I was in shock.   Then I got angry, and I wanted to respond, but I recalled a post by a friend who experienced something similar, and it helped me.  To my credit, I knew I was tired and could never hold a candle against people with such harsh views.  Instead, I cried.   The tears just flowed down my cheeks until the sheet I had tucked myself into needed to be replaced.    I am not gay.  My late sister called me “pathetically straight”.    I thought of her, and all my dear family and friends who are gay, and cried for them.  I cannot imagine being judged so harshly because of who I am.  I then cried for those I didn’t know who were being judged so harshly, so cruelly

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve also been witness to a friends “religious friends” judging her and her actions.    This instills so much anger in me.  Really?   When did God put you in charge of another person’s life?  Religious beliefs?  Spirituality?    I am not slamming ANY religion, but I am so dismayed by people who claim to be so holy, and yet they only portray to me and to many others, that this is NOT what I want in my life!  I have religious people in my life who treat me with respect, allow me the space for my own beliefs, and who are and will be there for me without judgement.  One cousin I am close to, who helps me more than he will ever know.  Who will, when asked, share his views and beliefs, and interpretation of the bible, but does not judge me or others.   Do I know which of these two examples is “right?”  No, but I sure the heck know which person I would like to hear more about his God from!  The paragraph is not about religion, but the lack of love, respect for others.   We are living in some pretty hard times, and frankly, I’ve run into some pretty cold people.

This afternoon I dug into my bureau that holds my most prized possessions.   Love letters, favorite toys of my aussie’s, pictures, emails, cards.   One of the items is packed neatly into a box with Bugs Bunny characters on the outside.  I opened it, and there was my sisters cap and gown, and the paperwork that we were handed when we went to see her graduate with a Criminal  Justice degree.   I pulled out the cap, the tassles that signified the year, and her graduating with honors.    I have had this neatly tucked away (and I have taken it out many times before) for almost 13 years.   She died April 8, 2003 at the age of 38.   Something fell out of her cap.  It was a pair of her sunglasses.   I wrapped everything back up, and then found an email from my older sister who gave us updates on how Darlene was doing.  This was 6 days before she died.   In the email she wrote “She seemed to have some unfinished business with Donna.  We had a hard time understanding her.  But it was a simple as ‘Tell Donna I love her and will miss her’.   I don’t think Darlene was able to say those things when Donna was here and it troubled her.”     Talk about tears.  I fell to my knees, sobbing.   Where was this email for the past 13 years?   Why had I not seen nor remembered it?    But you know what?    It was just what I needed, today, on this difficult day.  It was like having been penned and sent from heaven, itself.

And one last thing I’d like to share.  It was written in a card from the beautiful soul who I mentioned earlier who died in St. Croix.   “Dear Donna,  Being away from you has made my feelings for you and about us even stronger and clearer than before.  I know today that I want to spend the rest of my life with you.  I love you, Jim”    I love you too.

I am not living in yesterday’s pain, or dwelling on my past.   Today it helped to revisit these momentous beautiful times and people who were once very prominent in my life (understatement).  It has helped to remind me that in spite of all the pain and shit that happens, love never dies.  Even when someone has crossed over, love can continue to grow.  And that perhaps, I may experience this amazing journey of love again, with someone new.   And as I looked at the MANY pictures of my sister, there were only a handful without her smiling.   She lived life well.  She worked hard, played hard.   She was just an awesome person.  I miss her everyday of my life, and to think ill of her because her sexuality, well hey… guess what?   If you do?  It’s on you.   I’m so glad I didn’t miss a moment with her.  She taught me so much and one thing she taught me by example?   Live your life, be true to yourself, and pay no mind to those who judge you!  It was a nice “visit” down memory lane.   It helped me gain new perspective (now through my sisters sun glasses), and those who have brought me dismay of late, have no more power.  I am reminded of all good.  I am reminded of why sometimes it’s so hard to carry on, because life was indeed much easier with the presence of those who are no longer with me, but just to be back there mentally, gives me the strength and desire to fight on.  Today it was nice to revisit the warmth of yesterday.

Go have yourself a great day.  Sending you all love and light,

Donna (pronounced, DonNUH)

 

 

 

Sophie (Loren)

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It’s not always easy doing “the right thing”.   The past week I have been thinking about a german shepherd that I rescued, and eight months later placed into gsd rescue program.   The past couple of days I’ve been thinking of her non stop.  When I went on facebook tonight, I realized why.  It was one year ago today that I placed her.

I didn’t want another dog, but she needed help, so I took her in.   She was just 14 months old, missing half of her fur, her ears were angry red, she cried if you touched them.   She scratched herself ALL THE TIME.   Sophie had major allergies and did so well on GOOD dog food ($50 a bag).  But I didn’t have the means to give her this.

The morning she left we laid on the couch together.  She rested her head in my chest and just looked up at me with those big brown eyes.   I couldn’t hold back the tears.  Goodbyes are so hard.    In my life I have learned, even goodbyes that bring relief are not easy, and for me, not painless.  I’ve had a few.

I’m trying to hold onto gratitude.   How well she looked, last time I saw pictures of her, and how happy she looked.  She was one smart dog.   She was just so big and strong, and at the time I was having physical problems, well still do, but I remember how bruised I got a couple of times with her.  She didn’t even know her size, her strength.   The fastest dog I’ve ever seen, and my aussie was a tennis ball and Frisbee chaser.  Sophie had it all over him, hands down.

So I’ve shed a few tears tonight, thinking about her, I do miss her.  I never thought I would give up an animal, ever, always had them.   Last year at this time I had two dogs and three cats.  Every woman needs this much responsibility!   Now I have one dog and two cats, and my cats are geriatric.  In fact, my Maine Coon who spends summers outside, hasn’t shown her face in the past couple days.  I am concerned.  But I remember being concerned one time when I hadn’t seen her for a week (We are talking probably 12-14 years ago now), and she came crawling back.  I think she got locked into a building across the road, and finally found her escape.   I am thinking back on the tears I shed that day when she came home, tears of joy.

My little terrier was groomed the other day.  I typically do it.   Can’t say as I like the looks of her head the way it is, I prefer the ragdoll look, but she sure does smell good, and her fur is so soft.   Unlike my aussie who pranced around and thought he was the cats meow after he was groomed, she ran under the ottoman and stayed there for the day.

I know I did right by Sophie.  I know because it was one very hard decision to make and follow through with.  I’ve found that doing “the right thing” is typically the hardest choice, and the most difficult to do!

Time to go to bed, and hopefully sleep will come.   I hope! I hope! I hope!   And I hope you have a great day!

Is there alcohol in heaven?

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Today has been a hard day.  No particular anniversary, minimal physical pain with the exception of that place that resides in my chest and harbors my heart.

My sleep schedule has been largely disrupted, but that’s okay, I am getting A LOT of work done.   What happens, however, is a crash and burn.    But it’s the best sleep next to anesthesia!  I am one who loves being knocked out.  LOVE it!   When my time comes to die, I hope to be wide awake, waiting for that light.

As I slept hard, and what feels comatose, my dreams consisted of people and places in my past.  People who have passed.   Normally I wake up, can shake off the initial pain (remembering… realizing…  reality) and be grateful that I saw their face, eyes, smile, heard their voice once more.  But not today.  Today I am lingering in a world that no longer exists.  My head knows this, my heart doesn’t want to hear it.

A friend, consoling me said “It doesn’t matter how long it’s been”.    I thanked her for that.   No, it doesn’t.    Last night’s dream still has me walking on shaky ground, many hours later.  I know I can’t go back, if I could, I would’ve by now.  Someone I need to walk through this day, embrace what is, be grateful for what WAS and is, and let it go.   But that’s much easier said than done, at least today it is.

I wonder, is there alcohol in heaven?    Hiss at me for suggesting such.  But when you’ve loved and lost someone who is or was an addict, there is some peace in knowing, their fight, their plight with their demons has passed.

We drove past a church where a service was being held for a young man who died of an overdose.    My heart hurt for his family and friends.   “His mother said there is some peace in knowing, it’s behind him”.  I nodded, thinking about what I said above.   Yeah, I said to myself, and I pray that it will carry her through the hard days ahead.

To grieve, to mourn is not anti God.  It is not a horrible thing to do, and while it is hard, for me, apparently today, it is necessary.   For those who have on occasion suggested differently or in a bit of kinder, less harshful words than “Move on”, I bid you, how the hell does one do that?

Last night I visited the past.   A past that ended tragically, but one that was also filled with immense love, memories, and some of the best times of my life.   Today I’m trying to get back to acceptance, beyond the pain of loss that revisits on occasion.   I know I will find my way, but right now?   Right now my heart hurts.  I am longing for acceptance, and soon.  I know why I’m feeling this way, I know that I have to face one of my own demons…. fear.  Fear of being hurt again.     But will I?

Missy Higgins “Scar”

Happy Birthday, my friend

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We were so young when we met.  My God, were we ever that young?   The first time I met her she came to my house with my brother.  Dressed classy, wearing a very wide brim hat, my brother introduced her as his date.   I laugh when I think of this, because I know her very well know.  She has this one look where she puts her head up in the air, as if daring fate to come get her.    At first I thought she was a snob.  I suppose that is why I laugh when I think of that face.

A disastrous marriage to my only brother, two sons that have brought so much joy to my life.  A friendship that has spanned over broken relationships, deaths, 30 years.    She was more than my sister-in-law, she was my friend through so much.   The laughter, the tears, the fears.   We have helped each other walk through some very painful parts of life.   And more important than that, we have LAUGHED our way through it.   Things that you never thought you could joke about, become humorous with someone who knows you like a book.

As years came to be, and she shared of her childhood, struggles, I grew to respect her more each passing year.   It isn’t easy for someone who has been walked over, to stand up and fight back.   But she has.   Stereotypic essential relationships that should have gifted her with confidence, esteem, and overall sense of self respect delivered exact opposite, or was meant to.   I witnessed things over the years that made me so sad for her.   But also, made me love her all the more.

After the divorce, and a bitchy evil “step mother” stepping into the scenario, I was summoned more than once to cease my relationship with her, after all, we were no longer related!    But that only served to set my heels in deeper.  Why would I sever a relationship that was essential to me?  Why would I sever a relationship based on lies that were being told about her?   More than once, more than a handful, I got into shouting matches with my family.   I was the bad one, for keeping up the relationship.   Shaking my head.    Yet it was this woman who stayed up with me ALL night, for months on end, playing Literati, helping me walk through some of the hardest times of my life.  No, I guess we were no longer related, but we were friends.  I know we will always be friends.

I have seen her shape from a broken uncertain soul, into an amazing woman.   Now a grandmother, she and her husband took a plunge and moved across country.  I encouraged her.  It was time.  Always a mother, she would still be available as she was when near, and this day and age of technology, a phone call can now be face to face, expressions inclusive.   But it was time for them to do for themselves.   I don’t think it was an easy decision, given the level of family commitment they have, but it was a good decision, for all.

I’ve watched my nephews mature.  They are GOOD human beings.  I’m proud of them.   Was she a perfect mother?  Why YES ( 🙂 )…. who EVER is perfect?   It’s impossible.  We are designed to be perfectly imperfect, she, no exception.    For whatever she would do differently today, she taught her children to NEVER GIVE UP.   It is okay to take a couple day sabbatical, but then?  Then you get up, and you start over.   Defy the powerful forces that had great potential to tear flesh, break your spirit.   Put your head up high, and walk however you must towards self love, acceptance, success.   Stick that nose up in the air if it helps you walk through fire, whatever it takes!    This is why I smiled at the beginning of the blog.  That snobbish look she can give, I know what’s behind it.

She has walked through fire.   She has taken my hand and walked with me, through fire.   I am in awe of her strength, and the person she has become.   I’m proud of her and what she has done with her life.  She is courageous, intelligent TO A FAULT.   I don’t care if her last name has changed, or where she is in the world, she will ALWAYS be my sister-in-law, and she will ALWAYS be the mother of two beautiful souls that I love dearly.   I am grateful for her existence in my life.

As typical, I sit here with a sign from above.   I am laughing, because I smell birthday candles.  I have actually gotten up and looked around my house to make sure there is no flame anywhere.   I bet you I know who is sending you birthday wishes from the other side!   The same person you drove 3-4 hours in bad weather to say goodbye, who adored your boys, too.  Or maybe?   It’s the person who I know loved you deeply.  The woman who I know you loved dearly.   I know when she died you were broken, felt like the truest form of love you had ever experienced had all been lost.  But it wasn’t!   You passed on what she taught you to your boys, and I know will, your grandchildren.   She exists in you, and no doubt, is very proud of you.

Thank you for all your love, support, friendship, hours spent listening to me.  Thank you for loving my art, for caring about my family in spite of all the difficulties in the past.   Thank you for sharing some of the BEST belly laughs I’ve ever had.    I am grateful for your existence in my life.  I am grateful for you.

On this day I want to wish you a very happy birthday.  You deserve the best.  You have fought your way through much, and you are still standing, as beautiful as ever, with the best looking legs I have ever seen on a real person!    Have an awesome day!   I love you, and I look forward to many more years with you and our “boys”.

My kid sister

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51 years ago today, a beautiful soul was born into this world.    She was as cute as a button, and a very happy baby.darlene3 001

My sister had an old soul.   She was chronically wise.  A natural observer, she would often sit back and watch me open my big mouth, or do something that would inevitably get me into big doo doo’s.   We were 2.5 years apart in age.   When it came to common sense, she was born with it.

She had the biggest brown eyes, beautiful woman.   She had a great smile and she wore it more than most.   She was a happy person.  A hard worker, who equally played hard.   She lived wisely, she lived well.

It has been twelve years, maybe more since she was taken out of this life, too young.   Too young.   But when I say that, and I do feel that way, I am reminded of one of the many trips to Dartmouth Hitchcock for treatment, when we walked into the chemo ward and there was a child, a baby really, being infused with toxins to save his life.   “I guess I don’t have anything to complain about, do I now?”    I think of those words often, not to dwell, but to remember her strength, and to learn from her courage, her wisdom.

She died 10 months to the day of diagnosis, ovarian cancer.   She was 37 at diagnosis.    As I sit here typing this, all these years later, the journey through treatment, the painful truths that were worded carefully, revealing her fate, fills my chest cavity with void, with pain.    I don’t believe I will ever “get over” this.   And that is okay.   Death is a part of life, an important part.   I have come a long way in my grieving.   I seldom cry anymore, tonight I am.    Because I’m remembering the difficult journey she walked, and she did it amazingly well.  I never heard her complain.  Ever.  Please don’t say “I’m sorry”.    I was so fortunate to have known her.

I remember walking into Higgins Hospital in Wolfeboro NH, she was getting a transfusion.   I walked into her room, and she was white as a sheet,  double fisted in pain.   I asked when her meds were due.   “I could have them at 3pm” (it was 3:45)   “They’ve been really busy”.    I stood up, walked out into the corridor and down to the nurses station.   “My sister is in pain, her meds were scheduled for 45 minutes ago”.   “Yes, we’ll be right there”.    5 minutes later, 10 minutes later.  I walked back out into the corridor, this time offering no kind tone “MY SISTER NEEDS HER MEDS….. NOW!”     Within a couple of minutes she was given her meds.      I sat beside her bed, rubbing her arm, talking to her, trying to distract from what was obviously horrendous.  But you don’t really distract from that, do you?  Can you?    “Donna?”   Yeah, I said.  “Thank you”.    If you knew my sister, this spoke volumes of what her pain level was.   She didn’t like discord, and certainly didn’t want to ruffle any feathers.   She would roll her eyes at me when I would.   Night, day.

This woman meant the world to me.  If you have sisters and are close, I needn’t say more.  She lives on, in my heart, and my memories have faded some, but not drastically.    I can close my eyes and envision her sparkly brown eyes that lit up our fathers eyes, soul.   I remember that she didn’t like to try on clothes, so when we shopped, I would slide the pant leg up my arm.   If it came to the end of my fingers, they would fit her.   Laughing now.

Sometimes I think about the loss I have experienced, and I am not seeking sympathy, but reflecting on my life, on the lives of those I’ve loved and lost, and I just cannot believe I survived it.   But when I wrote her eulogy, I vowed to live every day of my life to the fullest.  I wanted to live a good life, to live a purposeful life, in her honor, in her memory.   Sometimes I think I’ve fallen short, I don’t think she would agree with that.  Sometimes I feel my best isn’t good enough, and it is.   I can hear her saying that to me.   “It is!   All you need is encouragement”.

So on this day, her birthday, I am going to do something kind for another, randomly, for her.   And I am going to do something kind for myself.    I am a better person for having her in my life for 38 years.   I know I, we, truly were fortunate to have her in our lives at all.   She was everyone’s favorite.

If you want to do something kind for another today, in her memory, I would love that, she would love that.  Remember, kind can be just a smile!   I will light a candle, and I will follow the ritual I have done since she passed.   It is a special day.   Today, 51 years ago, a beautiful soul was born into this world.  I know, because I was fortunate and blessed to call her my kid sister.  Today I, my family, will celebrate her life.

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