Tag Archives: love

The itsy bitsy spider…

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I had fully intended to have a Donna Day, pj’s, Bose, paint brush in hand.   I did all of these, but I have been distracted all day, combined with the untreated ADHD, we are talking some major bouncing today.

Received some very hard news this morning that is not up to me to share, but I have been sick to my stomach all day.   Perhaps one day I will be able to share on it all, but right now I cannot, and will not until I have permission.

As everyday comes and goes I am always reminded of how short life is.   To see my great niece and nephew’s pictures on fb, I am shocked at how much they have grown and matured.  There has been so much that has happened this year, in the past year and a half, that I can’t even keep up.   My head feels like I am on a hampsters wheel this minute, trying to wrap my head around all the changes.   I think of my dad who will be 85 in a couple months, and how difficult that situation is, I guess when your parents are that age you have to think about their passing, but Lewy Body Dementia.    NOT FAIR.  But NOTHING has been fair in my family.

I have been feeling good, accessing some hard times and working diligently on the book I promised myself I would write 10-15 years ago.   As a creative I sometimes feel like I am channeling, because I sometimes read back what I have wrote, or painted, and I think “who did that?”   And just when you think you’ve caught a break, something else shows up to knock you to your ass.  Yes, I know, this is life.  We were never told life would be fair, nor was I born with a silver spoon in my mouth.   But I come from strong line of parents.   Brave parents.   I have often shared about how they taught me to be resourceful.    As an artist it is a wonderful trait and skill to have.

Right now I am not centered, and I am walking in circles, and if I allow myself to feel anything today it is anger.  But we all know that anger is a whole lot easier to feel than emotional pain, or sadness.    I have thought about those souls who “cut” themselves.   It offers relief from their pain, their torment, but of course it’s temporary.   But what I am reminded again today is that everything is temporary.

In my life I have vacillated through much.    Decades ago now when I had to have a sportscar, or designer clothes.   Those days are long gone.   That doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams or see cars that I like and say “damn”, it’s just that for a long time, I have struggled with basic survival needs.   Right now while I am not where I want to be, but I am so better off than I have been in a long time.    I sometimes think to myself “When I get here, I will be okay, etc.”    Then days like today I am reminded that TODAY, this moment is all we have.   Rather than beat myself up for where I wanted to be at this point in my life, I am taking a very deep breath tonight, saying prayers of thanks, and asking for  the ability to help someone I love.

Life isn’t about money, yes, it is easier to have it, I remember the days fondly when I could buy whatever I wanted, but now those things mean very little to me.   The greatest commodity we have is time.   Tomorrow is promised to no one.    The successes in my life have to be celebrated each day, not as certain intervals that I think would bring me more happiness, or at a lower weight, or whathaveyou.    Future’s have a way of falling down in midflight.     So today I am right back to basics, and feeling grateful for where I am, that I have a comfortable bed to sleep in, that I have food in my refrigerator, that I have a place called home, and that as far as I know today, right now, I have my health.   Cannot stress enough how if you have your health you have it all.    If you don’t understand this, you one day will.  I think it’s a right of passage per say.  When you or someone you love is faced with serious illness, the gift that comes out of it if you’re strong enough to grab it, is perspective.

I take things for granted, we all do.    We leave our driveway and take for granted that we are going to go to the grocery store and come back with food, safely.     We take for granted much.    And yet, how I feel right now tonight, is that it is the recipe, or all that we take for granted that really can define your life one day.    It’s the smaller things in life, the tiny steps, the smiles, the tears, reaching out your hand to someone in need, these are the things that really matter.    I am reminded when I spent some time at Mass General Hospital with serious illness, infection, and the night prior to being admitted I had been bitching about my hard mattress, and stupid shit that the next day, upon admission and realizing I was in a fight against time, none of that mattered.  It didn’t matter.    When I passed the danger zone and was released and I drove myself home, and I got home, the very things I had been unhappy with a week before were now embraced, loved, as luxuries.

It’s impossible not to take things for granted, otherwise we would live in constant fear, etc.   But in the classic christmas movie, I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it right now, but he grabs the broken stair bannister and smiles, celebrates it.  I think if we can recognize that everything here is temporary, so you do your best (if that’s who you are, and you give it your best, and if it’s a hard day, you hope tomorrow will be better, but if for some reason you don’t wake up tomorrow, or tomorrow comes with more calamity, what were the simple things of yesterday that you had that you wish you had on this new day?

I am not a religious person, I am highly spiritual however, and I try not to judge others, but I fail, and I give my life my best, and some days, I can’t get out of my own way.    I win, I swear like a parrot at times because it makes me feel tougher, and that somehow I will not be hurt again, or being tough will keep others at bay.  Whatever.    It’s all so stupid, it’s meaningless.

Life isn’t about hiding from the hard shit.  It’s about walking through it, and if you’re fortunate, coming out the other side.  It’s about growth from A – Z, it isn’t about the destination but the journey.     How brilliant our lives would be if we were appreciative of the smaller things.

I am going to try to be kinder to myself, I am going to try to slow my mind down, feel each step as I take it, and look around to what is there, and I hope I will become more aware and appreciative of the things that I take for granted.   I have been doing this somewhat with my painting.   I used to paint something to finish it.  Not anymore, I work on it slowly, sporadically, I think about it, where I want to go with it, what I like about it, or what I don’t.   It has made me a better artist.    So no doubt, slowing my ass down and recognizing all that I have to be grateful for, will make me a better, happier person.

Go forth, in love and acceptance of yourself and others.  And I pray that from this moment forward I will not overlook the itsy bitsy things that are more precious than gold!

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Structured rambling

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If the past few weeks has taught me only one thing, it is that time waits for no one.   I have some serious goals for myself, including getting the book I have been writing for years, done!     So I am setting structure for myself.  I will be painting, walking, writing each day.

I have always steered clear of structure.   I guess I think if I don’t do it, I am a free agent and no one is telling me what to do.   But doh!   What if this is good for me?  And I know it is, so get out of your own head and make it happen!!!  (me to self)

Thoughts today have been on my mom.   Missing her.   Her Siberian Irises are in full bloom, as well as the Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart, and more.      I talk to her when I am outside because that is where she spent the majority of time when she was here.

As true with any loss, if only we could have “one more” everything.    I was fortunate to have her for so long, but it wasn’t long enough.  And then a friend and I were walking our dogs and talking about how difficult it is when a parent dies.   It really is so hard.   The day after my mother died I woke up and the world was a different place for me.  There is no other way to describe it.  I felt vulnerable, because my biggest protector in life was no longer here.  My girlfriend described it this way.    When you have your family, your parents, it is like you have this safe house with loved ones.  When a parent dies it is like the roof is blown off.     I nodded.   Vulnerability.

Those closest to me know how difficult the first year has been without her.   Winter was hell.   Also as true with loss is the painful reality that we feel on the first birthday, holiday, without them.   The “firsts” of everything hurts.   Sometimes I feel her essence and I am very grateful for this.   Until you lose a parent, you will not fully grasp how hard it is.   The day we lose my father will be a frightening day for me for several reasons.   I pray it isn’t soon, but I also pray he will not suffer with this “Lewy Body Dementia” shit.    But I know too much on it.

I have been thinking about life.   You are raised, schooled, taught, and then you start your own life.   You find a spouse, or significant others, and  most will have their own families, children, and then grandchildren, etc.    With this life you are constantly growing, learning, because there is no quicker way to learn than to teach something!   I wasn’t able to have children.  So my life has been different, but not bad.    I believe in “What’s meant to be will be”.   Children for me, was not meant to be.   Have long since accepted that.   But I have been active in my nephew and nieces life and always will be.  They bring me much joy, they are entertaining, they are perfectly imperfect beings.  I just love them.    But they are busy with their own lives.    As they should be!

A lot of my friends are single.   A lot of my friends are childless.  Many of us have furry kids.   Lilly brings me much joy.    It wasn’t that long ago I had two dogs and three cats.  I used to say “Every single self employed artist needs five animals!”    But truly, they were so important to me, and I was fortunate to have them, and had friends and my mom to help me here.   My animals probably spent equal time with my mom when I travel taught.    It was funny to see the “loyalty” shift back and forth.

With the exception of my australian shepherd “Brody”, all others were rescues.   And it’s interesting when you rescue an animal, or so you think, and then you realize that they rescued YOU!!   I had to put my cat Zoe down because she was sick and I didn’t have the money to get her treated.  It has tortured me.   I feel like I failed her, and while she lived 14-15 years, my other two cats were 19 when they died.   Anyway, I prayed daily for them all to stay healthy (I had adopted them when I was in a relationship and we lived together).    Little did I know Brody would outlive him!

Rambling, and that’s okay.    Doesn’t matter if you are single, married, straight, gay, white, black, I hope you do have loved ones in your life.  I hope you have experienced this.   I believe there is only a couple things we take when you die… love and love!    I hope when it is my turn, I will take with me much love.   Peace to all reading this.      xx

Saying goodbye

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Today I asked for prayers for strength and courage from friends, and drove to the nursing home where a friend is in liver failure.  Our friendship started just shy of 40 years ago.   As I walked to the door of the place, my legs felt wobbly, rubbery, and I had to stop a couple of times to breathe, to pray.    The place appeared like a madhouse to me, but that is coming from someone who feels other peoples feelings, energies, (Yes, I am crazy to most).  I felt like I was in a boxing rink until I arrived at her door.   Had to turn my head when I saw her, it had been 2 weeks since I had seen her, and she has declined greatly.    I sat on her bed, and grabbed her hand.   The first thing I did was cry, and tell her I loved her.   I am not beating myself up for this.    I have no doubt that she knows she is dying, and her love is and has been unconditional.   Her love has been a true gift for me in various times of my life when I felt like I didn’t want to, or could go further, and she pulled, sometimes dragged me through it.

As I sat there, I smiled at her many times, said some things, first of all, thanking her for everything she has done for me.  There were times when she was right there with me, so weak I had to lean in to hear what she was saying, and while I couldn’t interpret all, I did hear her say “love, love, love, love you!”    I told her she was “my Edie”, a woman her senior, that mentored her throughout her life, with love and incredible grace, the same way she had me.  She shook her head up and down.   I squeezed her hand.

The longer I was there I realized the less I needed to say.    All I needed to do was sit with her, hold her hand.   She was easily confused, organs shutting down and morphine play a part of that.  What do you say to someone who is at the end of their life?

Flashback to my kid sisters bedside four days before she passed, 16 years ago now. at the age of 38.   She had told our older sister who was there caregiving that I had to be serious, not my wise cracking self.    That wasn’t easy.  It meant sitting with enormous pain i was feeling in my heart, or not distracting from her skeletal cancer ridden body and knowing this would be the last face to face conversation I would have with my kid sister.   I selfishly said to her “I hope I have been a good sister to you”.    She turned her head, telling me NOPE, we aren’t going there.   And then it became clear to me.   None of this scenerio was about me.  It was about her.  And so started the next level of understanding within myself, the understanding that while I sat holding my sisters hand, my heart bleeding, right then, right there, this moment was about her.     I look back and shake my head, thinking, how could I have been so far off target?  You live, you learn, and with every goodbye, you learn.

I am reminded that everyone deals with death differently.    NO ONE escapes it.   When you are there with them at the end, you can’t live the life you’ve had with them over, you can’t make things better, or take away their physical or emotional pain, or even your own.   But bearing that pain, sitting with them, sometimes in silence as they rest, or stare off elsewhere, is really a wonderful gift that we can give them.    For the moments where they are lucid, that we will hold onto for probably our lifetime, and the moments in between where you want to be somewhere, anywhere else, but here, now.  It is not an easy thing to do, and it doesn’t get easier.

It is okay to cry, to show emotion, it is okay to tell them you are going to miss them, or that you don’t know how you will live without them, but THEN you tell them, you will find a way, and you give them permission to let go, you convince them, in your own fragile emotional state, that you will be okay.  Why?   Because this time isn’t about you, or me.    This time is all about the person whose life is ending.    The future without them, your own personal hell will begin soon enough.   The journey of grief is a hard trek.  But it is also unescapable.

This friend experienced a near death experience many moons ago when she was in Maine on her summer excursions.  Years of hers and her partners life was spent in a camping ground with others, right alongside York Beach.   This is what they loved, this is where they found peace, solace, this is where they visited with and acquired many good close friends.     She had emergency surgery, and when she came out of this, with a temporary colostomy bag, she just kept telling everyone close to her “I love you, I love you, if we don’t see each other for 20 years and something happens to me, please don’t ever worry about it, it is ALL about LOVE”.      And she was all about love.  She learned in that horrible time, when her family and friends were holding their breaths in fear of losing her, that life, and where we go from here is all about LOVE.

We have had many talks on this subject.   My favorite, was a three way conversation in which she and I both said “you go from believing, or wanting to believe, to knowing”.     We were the lucky ones, as we got the message.   Nothing else in life will ever compare or bring you greater joy, or greatest loss, than love.  Both her and I have had experiences that gifted us from “wanting to believe” to “knowing”.  I know that when you die, it isn’t over.   That’s why she knew to forgive, and she forgave me several times.  We are all but human.  Perfection should not be expected of humans, or it is is, then right then and there we haven’t yet accepted that we are perfectly imperfect, all humans are perfectly imperfect.   The sooner we accept this about ourselves, regardless of what anyone else has to say about our “errs or lessons” the sooner we will find peace…   And what is the difference between an error and a lesson?    Simple… you learn from the experience.  Sometimes you learn at a different pace than those around you, or they, you.

Hope changes.  The most we can ask for when someone is dying is that they be comfortable, at peace.   Words of love can be said through your touch, your presence.   There is sometimes nothing you can do or say, and when your heart is up in your throat and the tears are falling down your cheeks onto their hand, their arm, that is okay, too.     But then you get strong again, and you remind yourself that this is not yet about you (if ever).  This is all about them.

I remember reading the book “Final Gifts”.  I have since bought and given that book out probably a dozen times or more, to friends.  It’s written by hospice workers, who share what is “normal” in the dying process.   And I use that word loosely.     There are phenomenas that have happened, over and over again.    They’re seeing people who have previously passed.   Who are we to say that person isn’t there for them in their transition?   Some will say “drugs, delusions”, and yet it happens to many, many, many.

Tonight my heart hurts, and the past couple days I have cried many tears, and know there is a river or more coming, but I also feel full of love, I feel her love, as I sat with her.    The first time I pick up the phone to call her, or email her, or stop by her house, it’s going to hurt like a son–of-a-bitch, it’s unescapable.     I have a cousin who works in the field of mental health, she and I have had some heart to heart interesting conversations.  One day she said to me “I try to talk to the patients about just sitting with their feelings”.   That is quite deep and NOT easily mastered.   But if we can sit, watching whatever horrors unfold (every person has their own plethora of fear), and just be present, we are sitting in grace.

The ability to sit in your pain, to put on a brave face and give your loved one permission to leave when our heart doesn’t want nor knows how to say goodbye, when you can do this, I believe, you are experiencing and giving the highest level of love.    You don’t want them to leave, you see their pain or discomfort and by the end of their  passing you are grateful that they are out of pain, that they are at peace.    Your prayers go from that of and including ALL five phases of grief (Elisabeth Kubler Ross), to please, take them soon.  You want their pain over for them, even though that means for yourself, great loss and pain.   This is LOVE!  You are sending them off in love.

I have found in life, when I am able to sit with my greatest fears, sometimes watching them unfold before my eyes, the reality is not nearly as bad as living in fear.    This journey from birth to death to whatever you do or don’t believe, is doable with LOVE.  And if you read the final words of men of “great success”, in the end a hospital bed is just a hospital bed, whether it cost $10 or $10k.

Another friend visited.  It was hard for her to see her friend this way.   She said “I will pray for a miracle.”  I said “she wouldn’t want that, because she knows where she is going, and at the end of all this horrible (and it is hell) illness, she will return to LOVE.  And that is all they will take with them when they leave.

Obviously, this blog isn’t for everyone, and obviously not everyone “believes” or “knows” what I do, or visa versa.  It doesn’t matter what your religion or NOT.   It doesn’t matter your Faith or NOT.   It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor.  It doesn’t matter your skin color.  Somehow, someway, it is LOVE that will get you through it, and you’ve done your very best to send your loved one off with LOVE.    “It’s all about love!” she said repeatedly, when she survived her near death experience.

One more note, I have learned that when someone you love passes, the love doesn’t stop.  It grows, miraculously.   It grows with new appreciations of what you “didn’t know then”, through missing, and more.     Their life end, here, is a painful event for us, it’s a hard chapter in our own book of life.   But it’s inevitable.     Kindness matters.  Love matters.   Helping another matters.     Mother Theresa  “I have found a paradox in love, if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, only more love”. 

 

 

And the beat goes on…

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Sometimes amongst the monotony of everyday life I find myself taking a deep breath, in awe of the personal growth I recognize in others, in myself.  Today has been one of those days that provide evidence of my own growth.    I sometimes wonder about others life experiences, what event in their life caused the most personal growth?

Things have been “clicking” for me the past few weeks.   I attribute it to the loss of my mother a year ago.   A difficult, strong woman who could plow anyone over with her opinions.   I was very grateful she was on my side!   But more than that, I attribute my growth to living life without her.

I know I was fortunate, and still am to have my dad at 57.   I am grateful for this.    I am also grateful for my own ability to forgive others, to look beyond past hurts or painful times and set myself free of anger, angst or stagnancy.   I don’t forgive another for them, I forgive them for me.  I learned this many many moons ago.  I do know how to forgive, I have gifted myself with this many times.  Others close to me have said “How do you do that?  How do you forget that?”    It really isn’t about forgetting.    It’s about moving forward, putting the unfortunate moments behind, but I never forget.

It’s been a week or two of sorting through feelings, examining relationships, behaviors, and recognizing that, in which I would like to change in myself, to add quality to my life.   Today I’ve been tossing around disappointment.   When someone you love disappoints you.   And when you realize, as you take stock, that this isn’t new behavior, but old, and perhaps the harshness of some everyday life events has exposed in myself an ability to see that which I couldn’t earlier.

Why do I see some people the way I want, with blinders?  Why do I seek accountability from a person who has rarely if ever been accountable?  Is this about the persons behavior or my own?   For me, it’s about my own.   Why look at someone with blinders?  We all know the “love is blind” saying, and yes, I do love the person who disappointed me.  What is it in my psyche, in my minds eye that hasn’t allowed me to see, or more important, just accept without expectation that which I’ve seen throughout my life?

I can’t change anyone else.   I know the pain of trying.   I also know the pain of defending someone I love who wasn’t “pulling their weight”.   I know the difference between helping and enabling, and I know the pain of failed outcome doing both!

I will find my way to forgiveness, because i just don’t have the desire or energy to hold onto the weighted disappointments.   Life has taught me that I cannot have peace without acceptance, and this situation is no different.    So how do you “love” someone, and detach with love?    This is old alanon teachings.   When I was regularly attended AlAnon I learned so much about myself, some things I’d rather have not seen.   But I also learned tools that helped me detach, give the other person the dignity of making their own decisions, even if I think they are heading in a direction that I think is dangerous.

I think sometimes about desensitizing.    Every time i read the news I think of how much I have desensitized, how I HAD TO for survival, and then also to move from survival mode to actual living!  Detachment with love is not desensitizing.  It is releasing expectations (also known as premeditated resentments), quieting my judgement, my fears by offering prayers or good tidings to this person, and then focusing on myself.   Clearly there is a difference for me.

Tomorrow will be an easier day.    I have sat all day with the uncomfortable feelings that I used to “eat” away.   I’m no longer wanting to harm myself (by bingeing or overeating) because someone else has ticked me off or acting like an ass.    For this realization alone, all the feelings of disappointment were well worth the ride to get here.    I am responsible for me, and only me!  I’ve no children, spouses, or dependents.    I will always offer to help those I love who are helping themselves, but I’m going to stick to improving, always, the quality of my thoughts, time, and thus, my life.

 

Experience, Strength and Hope

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The past couple of weeks has gifted me with answers to a couple incidents in which I pointed fingers to another.  What was that gift?  “For every finger you point, there is three pointing back at yourself!”     Wow!   Basics of Life 101!

Today marks a very sad occasion in my life.  16 years ago my sweet kid sister took her last breath on earth.   At 38 her life was plucked out from under her with the nasty, insidious disease of cancer.    Darlene was an old soul, a kind soul, she worked hard and played hard.   I think back on her life and I am so grateful that she lived her short life, well.  She really did.

Those close to me know I mention this every year, and at least weekly I mention the cancers in my family, or the losses I’ve experienced.   It isn’t “to dwell”.  It is that grief has been the hardest walk I have ever been through in my life.   Last night I said “goodbyes” to an online friend who I believe is in final stages of dying from cancer.   It wasn’t easy, but I did it.  And now I am offering prayers for her, that this please be over for her soon.  Too much suffering.

I mention loss and cancer because both are a big part of my life.   Every day, it doesn’t matter how many years it’s been, I have to make choices to live my life the best I can, with realities that aren’t easy, not in the least.    I’m not “stuck” in grief.   Part of my daily choices are to live my life to my best, accepting my own shortcomings and issues, and there are many!   Some day I succeed, other days I have a hard time getting out of my own way, but because of what I have been through with family and loved ones, I try to make my life and each day purposeful, I do this for those who I have lost and no longer have that opportunity.  I do this because they have taught me to appreciate myself and my life, the earlier which is my greatest struggle.  There isn’t enough time in this day to share my struggles, nor am I into sharing them for the world to see.  I will share on some, because it’s part of healing for me, and my hope is that if my blog(s) help one other person through a crap time in their life, then my own suffering isn’t in vain.

At this age, and well over a decade of living alone, I have come a long way baby!  I will always be the person who wants to help others, I will always offer experience, strength, hope to another, always.  But what has changed is that I must do this for myself, first.    The world doesn’t need to know nor do most people care what I’ve been through in my life.   Thank god!  Otherwise I may be another “celebrity” that idiots look to for answers!   Yes, I said it.   Celebrities too often have a larger sense of self importance than the rest of us.    I’ve learned that it is important to take care of and love myself, to have self respect, but equally to know heightened self importance isn’t the authentic person that I consider myself to be, and aspire to be.    I’m reminded many times why we have two ears and one mouth!   To listen!

This week I am starting anew with some self care things, and rather than to beat myself up because I had lost my way to these, I am proud of myself that I picked up the phone to make the phone calls to help myself.  I didn’t discuss this with anyone, it was something I did for myself, something I recognized I needed.    I’m getting far too old to keep beating the shit out of myself for being human.   Will I do this perfectly?  Um, probably not!  lol.

I have been enthralled in feelings of fear for someone close to me, someone who I love.  Every essence of my being says they’re headed for trouble.    But this time, I have the experience of watching another person I love self destruct.  There is nothing joyful about it.  It is hell, first losing respect for someone, and also “waiting for the shoe to drop”.   The fact that I reached out for help for myself tells me I have learned that the only true person I can save is myself.  And if someone doesn’t care that much about themselves, no matter how much I love them, (and I do love deeply), I cannot fix or make another person love themselves.    With that said, it doesn’t mean I stop loving them.

So today, on this day, I am remembering my sister(s), her antics, her love of life.   I miss her more than words can say, but I know i always will.    I’m not a believer that “time heals”.    I don’t think it does.   I think time teaches us how to coexist with whatever it is, for me today, the loss of my kid sister.   I had to do the work, I had to walk through the barbed wire fence, and scratchy bushes of grief to get to where I can recognize when I’m in need of help, tears, other.   In the beginning, it just isn’t impossible, at least it wasn’t for me.  The waves were too often and inconsistently.   Nor am I right now, allowing the very fear I walked in losing a love to alcoholism, with another person close to me.  My job in all of this is to take care of myself (and I’m still learning HOW to do this).

I guess I could say today there has been tears, I am thankful for insight gained today, and I am grateful for where I am and who I am today.   Getting “back on” a train isn’t as hard as trying to catch it at 90 mph with insane thinking!   I am grateful.  I hurt, I feel, I have sadness, but I also have choices to help myself, I am learning!   And for me?   That’s enough right now.  I am learning.  I am also very grateful for the many friends in my life who gently remind me to be kinder to myself, and sometimes this happens when they are beating on themselves or other.   Detachment doesn’t mean I don’t love them, it means I offer prayers for them, help when asked, but I first and foremost take care of myself, first.
Love to all reading this

 

 

 

One Year Anniversary

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Today has been a hard day.  Although not as hard as it was one year ago this evening,  when my mom took her last breath.  I was blessed with my mom for over 56 years of my life.  While not every moment was hugs and kisses, that long span defined our relationship, mother and daughter, and friends.

For the first time this morning, I sat and read all the comments friends had left on my facebook page one year ago today, about 600 of them.   I knew I didn’t have the strength prior.  Crocodile tears were in abundance.   With some, telling the honest to goodness truth about this “passage of life”, “Donna, you will never get over this, you will  think of her everyday and you will miss her everyday, but I am here to help you”…  They are right.  Never in my life will I stop missing her, and everyday of my life, just like I have with both my sisters, and Jim’s death, I will think of her, and I am very grateful for that.

My mother was quite a character.    People, friends would tell me how strong I was, and then they’d meet my mom and smile “Omg, I can see why, now!”   I am smiling.   My mother’s strength and love had carried me through a lot in my life, and throughout HER life.  You never know what a person is going through, unless they tell you.  My mother kept a lot to herself, as do I.   She never liked that I blogged, because she felt I put too much out for people to read or see.   But writing, sharing for me, is how I get through. “Mom I wouldn’t blog about my sex life, even if I had one!”   She would roll her eyes and shrug her shoulders, head out the door to the gardens that she so lovingly cared for for decades.      How grateful I am, today, that I had my mom as long as I did.

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye, and gives it a wink.”   – Gina Carey

My relationship with my mother was strong, complicated, ever changing.   We argued, we made up, we argued some more, we laughed.  We were always “doing something”, because my mom could not sit long.   Unless she wasn’t feeling good, and then you’d find her cozied up with glasses on, nose in a book.   She helped me with my studios past and present, renovating my home, and it didn’t matter the dozen or less times we weren’t speaking, if I needed her, all I had to do was call.   She was amazingly resourceful, I have never known anyone (but my father) who had the talent to fix, repair, replace ANYTHING!  Except of course, addiction and alcoholism.

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”  – Honore de Balzac   

Like many of us, moments from my childhood reared pain in maturity, but I had long since forgiven my mother for the manner in which she treated me, because maturity showed me my own imperfections, and I not only loved my mom, I liked her.   I wanted her in my life.   So in my late 20’s after years of “therapy”, I forgave, and freed myself of the disappointment, harm that I believe only happened because of the hell she had lived through.   I still struggle daily with self defeating behavior, but it’s all mine.  I am the only one who can change that, and someday’s I succeed, other days,  not so much.

My relationship with my mom in my 40’s and 50’s were the best.  Both single, we looked out for each other in a world that wasn’t always easy to exist in.  A therapist once described my relationship with my mom as “spousal”.  I laughed.   Um, no, CLEARLY she was always the mother!   And I smile.   We spent a lot of time together, enough that I know I will for the rest of my life have memories of her, us.   I could go on and on pages long, of the countless things my mother did that helped me, but I’d rather save them for the days ahead when I need to remember them.     In my 40’s and 50’s she was my greatest support, particularly when she gave back the care giving I did for her through her cancers, and she, through my own.

A friend said to me after she passed “Donna, I knew your mother had been through some shit in life, I knew it just by her stance alone “Don’t mess with me!”   I laughed and nodded.   Like mother, like daughter there.    Our lives ran parallel in many ways, both affected by another’s alcoholism, both betrayed in marriage, both creative souls, financial duress, heartache and disappointment.   There were times we laughed so hard I had to go take a shower, because the tears ran down my legs.   One way we did differ was when I would do something REALLY stupid (and that happens a lot) the first thing I would do is call my mom and tell her.  She would say “And don’t go sharing this with everyone either!”.    But of course, I did.   As soon as I hung up the phone I called one of my girlfriends and share my stupidity, because I learned long ago how to laugh at myself, and my many true friends love to laugh as much as I did.  Laughter is healing, and my favorite emotion is laughter through tears.    I had a lot of these with my mom.

There were horrific times in my life, one being when I found out Jim (love) died.  I drove from Watertown, NY, stopped for a 2 hour visit to see his parents outside Albany, and my mom begged me to get a room for the night, I lied to her and said I would.   A few hours later when I arrived home (was bad driving conditions) she was up, waiting for me.  “I knew you wouldn’t do as I asked!”   We sat up that night and talked for hours, and hours, and hours.   We both cried that night.   I was sharing the agony of knowing he had self destructed, Jim was a good person, we had a nice life together, but his alcoholism was a deal breaker.   That night, as I shared about my conversation with his parents, I knew then, my mothers tears weren’t just for me or Jim.   I believe she grieved for her brother, and his children,  to whom they lost to alcohol, too.   It was an area of her life that she rarely spoke of.   It was then the first time I realized, all the times that she watched me walk through the talons of alcoholism, she didn’t offer any advice, only offer to help where she could, and of course, prayers, except the last event when I told her “I need to tell him to leave.”   She then encouraged me to remove myself from the now alcohol ridden relationship,  and did all she could and more, to help me through this difficult time.  How many times did my words or my actions hurt or recall pain from her own life?   But my mom just silently dealt with it on her own.  We spoke usually daily, and it was a rarity when she wasn’t at my house at least once during the week.   She co-owned all 5 of my animals, as she took great care of them (and my home, when I travel taught).

Over a span of 17 years, there were numerous trips, later on to Boston for her surgeries, and trips to chemo, and doctors.  It was very hard to be my moms primary care giver.  Our last trip to Boston was straight out of hell, and I told her on the way home after complete emotional breakdown pulled over on the side of a road at 1am in Boston, “I can’t continue doing this mom”.   For a while I felt guilty about it, because I knew, when I could no longer do the long trips to Boston with her, that the disease would take over, and that is exactly what happened.  That’s a very hard reality for me at times, but I know, I was a good daughter to her, and I did everything I could and then some.   My own health issues needed tending to.   But through it all, today I am nothing but grateful that I was there for her, and I did all that I did for her.   I will carry this with me throughout my life’s time.

I recall being admitted to MGH (Mass General Hospital) for cellulitis.  This happened after an exchange surgery (reconstruction for breast cancer).  I had left the house that morning telling her not to worry, they were going to give me a shot in the ass and send me home with a bottle of bigger pills!    I called her, crying, could barely catch my breath “I’m being admitted”.   You are what?    “I’m being admitted”.    “Omg, okay, are you okay?”   “No, mom, I’m scared”.    “It will be alright, Donna, we will get our prayer warriors right on this”.   Also recalling seeing my doctors face color and expression change as he lanced open my right breast right then and there.  “Am I going to be alright?”    “I don’t know, Donna, but we are going to do our best and you will be in patient for awhile”.    “Mom, I am going to be on Bigelow 9” (Ever seen MGH, HUGE! I was on the 9th floor of Bigelow building).   “Gigolo what, Donna?”  BIGELOW MOM, BIGELOW!

It’s been a challenging year.  When she died the next day, the world felt different.  I no longer felt brave or safe.  How could I?  My greatest protector was no longer here?   A friend asked me if it (grief) was harder than I thought it would be.  “Yes, yes it is”.  Having the sad experience of losing my oldest and youngest sisters to cancer, and Jim to alcoholism, I knew it would be hard.  I just didn’t know exactly how hard it would be.

A few years ago my Uncle, her youngest and only living brother of 3 passed.  We needed to clean out his apartment, and notify next of kin.  We had four cousins we only saw when very small.   We needed to send them paperwork, so I found one cousin on facebook, I will never forget the day we, she learned, that her nephew, Brady had died of cancer.   Her face turned white.   She took a deep breath and sat down at the table in my studio.  Clearly distraught.   We have a couple gene mutations in our family, and are a gene pool you wouldn’t want to swim in.   I knew what was going through her mind was hard for her, like maybe SHE DID give us the mutations.  She uttered some words softly, one being her brother’s name, and her nieces name, and then headed out to the gardens that brought kept her busy and brought her peace.  I will never know what she was thinking, but I knew it was quite painful for her.   This was a really hard night for both of us.   Nor I or my siblings ever asked either parent to be tested, and we certainly didn’t look to them with blame.   They too, were victims.  But I sometimes would find my mom quiet in reflection, and I know she struggled with the idea that she may have passed down her cancers to us.

I know she is with me.   She will always be with me.   I talk to her daily, and while I have received “signs” confirming so.  Today’s sent me to tears yet again.  I am trying to finish the last project we collaborated on, a victorian desk, and somewhere between A – Z, I had lost the front plate for the keyhole.   I looked in my pocketbook 3 times.  Nothing.  I called my girlfriend, it wasn’t in her car.  I was ready to head back out to Home Depot where we had gone and I realized I hadn’t grabbed my phone.   I prayed to St Anthony, and asked my mom to please, please let me find this plate.   Two seconds later I slid my hand into my pocketbook to get my house keys (which were my moms set), and out with them in my hand was the keyhole plate.  For me, that was a sign that she is with me.   I find comfort in that.

“Her damaged petals are what made her more beautiful than all the other flowers”-  a.j. lawless

I was not easy to parent, so I’ve been told.  And she wasn’t an easy mother to parent in later years.  She was stubborn, impatient, hmmmm sounds familiar?

“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it”.  – Mark Twain

 

Temporary Insanity

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I have been a bit insane the past few hours.    No, not a Hannibal Lechter persona, but too much sugar, overly stimulated and obnoxiously enthusiastic.     Let me tell you, it really doesn’t make for a great mix.

But what I want to talk about tonight isn’t how crazy I can get, but how I have grown, even around the crazies.  For one, I can sit back, look at my behavior and feel whatever it is I am feeling, and sit with those feelings.    For example, when I realize I’ve been a bit tattered, I recognize that.   And then the “frantic” thinking comes in, how I have to fix, fix, fix whatever it was that I think I did so wrong, or who I offended.  I keep my hands busy as I work my way through the emotions of the moment, not an easy task for a right brained outrageously over sensitive soul!     Then somewhere, in its own time, I forgive myself, I acknowledge what it is that I need to do, many times an apology is in order, but in apologizing, I am not beating myself up, nor am I painting myself as a crazy person or add unnecessary drama to an already cluttered scene.  Once I have calmed myself, I simply apologize for my actions, or reactions, or obnoxious enthusiasm that others sometimes put up defense to.

Sometimes it takes me a while to write the apology, because it has to be sincere, and while I always taint whatever it is I am doing with humor, (and sometimes displaced humor) I am being altruistic with my apology and sense of humor.  Humor that many may think is dark, perverse, or  thwarted towards that “insanity” thing again!  But I swear to you, humor is one, if not THE BIGGEST tool I have in life.     There really isn’t too much I cannot find humor in, and I surround myself with friends who “get me”, and love me just as I am… imperfect.  Perfectly imperfect.   But I was not designed to be perfect, nor NEAR perfect!   That title belongs to a being I cannot ever compare myself to!  Because I don’t believe this “being” will ever compare me to another as well.   It helps me gain perspective, composure, and the ability to laugh at myself is healing.

Now, in order to find humor in others actions, words, I believe we first have to be able to find humor within ourselves, and make fun, or light of that which we do ever so swiftly, and incompetently!   Because that is what I was designed for.   To learn, to grow, to step outside of my safety zone, to forgive myself,  (and others) as I do others (well, for the most part).   Because if i don’t forgive myself then I am inviting the reign of depression, and oppression into my soul, and that is NOT a good place for me to be, nor to subject myself (nor others near me) to!

The next step in this developmental growth is to not only earnestly, honestly apologize with sincerity, but to detach from whatever THEIR (my victim, hmmm that’s too hard of a word, let’s say “the unfortunate receiver  of my craziness!”      Time used to control me.   I am one where learning “delayed gratification” took a few decades to grasp.    Now time helps me cope.  It doesn’t change what has been done, nor give (nor should it) excuses for my ill behavior, but in that time I can center, focus, and release that which used to hold me bondage to.

I do care what the person I’ve made amends to is feeling, but I have to also let that go.   They are on their own journey of discovery, recovery, or plain survival!    So to keep myself and my side of the road clean, I detach from it, from them.    Time will reveal what is meant to be, or not!   I’ve learned that life is like a 100 piece puzzle.   Sometimes I immediately am granted 60 pieces to that puzzle, but the other 40 pieces are only revealed over that four letter word again “TIME”, and I’ve also learned not to expect clarity in all aspects of my life, my puzzle.  That 10-20% of missing pieces can have its own speedy pace of the “why’s” or “how comes”.  Words that are really best used by the adolescent, experiencing whatever it is he or she is seeing for the first time.   I haven’t had much luck at picking up those words or questions.   It just leads me back to the path of bondage and insanity.

So tonight, I’ve made my amends, and when I crawl my tired butt into bed, I will pray that if it is meant to be, please let my apology be accepted.  To also offer whatever it is needed to and for the “receiver of my craziness”!

What a tongue twister this blog has been.   Be well,  be honest, be kind, and if you have inherited a nasty need to beat yourself up…..  Let it go.    Practice self love, practice real love, practice real people and life.    It is amazing what this “self love” stuff can do.     I just want to end with one more platitude, if that’s the word.     Every day I hear people say “Time heals”, particularly around loss.     Well, I disagree.     Time never “makes right” that which has been lost, or passed, but it DOES help us, teaches us how to COEXIST with this loss.   There is a difference!

Sending love and light to whoever is reading this!

 

 

On Love

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Today I want to talk about grief, and love.

I’ve felt “off” for a couple of days now.   But there is a lot going on around me, which has resurfaced old memories, feelings, and emotions… Are they one in the same?   My father hasn’t been doing well.   He is having “spells”, falls, and as a hard working man, he cannot find acceptance with the fact that he cannot do the things he used to do.   And since our moms passing, he has been talking often about his youngest daughters ashes.   They reside with her life partner, with instructions for nieces to scatter the ashes upon . her partners passing.    I’m not going to get into it any deeper than that, but my dad never liked the fact that we didn’t “know’ where her ashes were.    My sister and I never doubted the significance that would be placed on these from her partner, she’s a trustworthy person and was broken into pieces when Dar died.    My sister (only sister I have left of 3), took it upon herself to get in touch with her, and my dad will soon be receiving some of our kid sisters ashes to put in his creel, as was originally planned when she died.   I am on overload, sensory overload.   Flashes and images coming back from that time in my life, painful, painful memories on so many levels including many people, including my sisters partner.    So I have been, not purposely, revisiting all that, and then having just buried my moms ashes, it’s become very clear that I will never again see my mom.   There are no words.    Sporadic crying jags, the heavy feeling in my chest, and sorrow, grief.    I’ve now lost my mom and two sisters to cancer, my father had cancer and so far so good, the three of us children remaining are all cancer survivors and carry gene mutations which has also been resurfacing.  It has never gone “away”.  It will never go “away”.  It’s a fact of life for us.   Ohh, and add to this a canceled oncology appt for me this week because I hadn’t slept and wasn’t up for the drive to Bean town!

Nothing I can do or say will take away this turmoil I’m feeling.   I just know that it will pass, relief will come, and I am really looking forward to that happening.  So, being kind and nurturing myself, i spent the day listening to music.   I am so very grateful for music, art.   If I attribute my depressive disorders to that of an artist (hardly famous), it makes it a little easier to walk through.  Creativity is vital for me.  It might as well be a vital organ because without it, I will fall flat and refuse to get back up again.   And yes, i am stubborn.

Tomorrow I am picking up my bff who is flying in for a 10 day vacation with me from Omaha.    She was supposed to come a couple months ago but because of work it was delayed.  I AM SO GRATEFUL, now, that it was delayed because I pick her up in a few hours.     My home has been filled with family and friends for the past few weeks… MORE GRATITUDE.

My pcp told me I need to find a therapist.    So I bought a BOSE revolve wireless speaker.   I also sent my dad home, two weekends ago, with my Bose Wave radio and cd player.   A thank you to him for introducing us to music.   My family has an above average love and need for music and in our last childhood home there were five stereos at one time, all different music.    I was grateful to hear that my dad spent a day last week listening to music, and ON THE BOSE.   I know it will help him, I have wanted to do this for a while, but my WAVE is seriously one of my most prized possessions.    I didn’t know if i could do without it, but when I saw the shape my dad was in, there was no question what I was going to do.   So my sister and i packed it all up for him.    His sister had burned him a lot of cd’s so he’s enjoying them now.  It’s funny how little effort it takes, when we love someone, to give that which we love, but know will help them.  It was the right thing to do.

I haven’t finished writing what i wanted to tonight, but it’s going to have to be enough.  Thanks for reading my blog, and for all who do, I wish you a pleasant, peaceful day and sleep!

Darkened corners, finding hope

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A serious talk tonight, as serious as I can get, anyway.   Have learned to laugh at almost anything and everything, but this topic, NOT.

My 14 year old niece has been with me for several days.   She wanted to watch a series “13 reasons why” on Netflix, so I agreed.  She had already watched some episodes.   It is about a teenager who is bullied and raped in a school that idolizes their male athletic team.   Not all, but many were guilty of what I stated above.   This beautiful, kind, young teenager takes her own life, and leaves these tapes telling why she decided to end her own life, sadly.   Now I’m trying to decide where to go with this blog from here.  It certainly showed the torment of her parents, and how her death has affected her friends.

I don ‘t want to share too much on this in case you haven ‘t watched it and plan to.  I will add that before each episode the audience was warned of graphic, violent, hard topics.   And at the end of each episode gave hotline numbers and offered information on where to go if you are in need of help.   I was impressed with this.  I was impressed with it all, because I am a truth seeker and speaker.  These two traits can make me very unpopular, very quickly.  I don’t do it for that.  I just strive for the truth and as hard as I try to relay my view, opinion, or what i believe to be the truth in whatever, I’ve learned that a lot of people go about their lives with very little honesty.  Honesty with others, their honesty to themselves.   It’s rather sad.

Now I am going to tell you how this two season show affected me.    I am going to speak on the topic of suicide, so please choose whether you want to read this knowing that.   I am also going to unveil a dark side of what it’s like to live through four major depressive disorders, and working on the fifth.   My late mom would prefer I didn’t share such personal things, but for me, it’s not that I have shame, and I’m so tired of the antiquated stereotype, and stigma around mental illness.   I’m tired of the lack of help I, and others I know with their own mental issues are seeking,  needing.     We need to do better here.  So my sharing is so if I can help just one other person from feeling alone, slighted, branded with mental illness, wanting help but not able to find it, then . it’s worth my sharing this part of my life.

I could relate on many levels to this young teenagers struggles.   Each time she decided to give her life “one more try”, and giving others a chance to possibly reach her, or help her, they disappointed her.  I have on numerous occasions in my life, had my own “Why NOT to, and WHY TO lists going.   I’ve saved a few only to serve as a gauge, to remind myself of the progress I have made, and the strength and courage I have had living with major depressive disorder.   I have contemplated suicide on numerous times in my life, and in the not so far away past.   So as I watched this show, I was relating, and at times was choked up.  I’ve had family member and friends who have succeeded at taking their own lives.   I see the hell family members go through.  The questioning, the guilt, the anger, a before they turn the corner to once again pose the question “WHY?”

For those who read this who have contemplated the same, I just want you to know that you aren’t alone in your struggles.   And should you ever need an ear, drop me a message and we can set something up.  I’m not looking to be anyones therapist, but just a human being reaching out their scarred hands to another one in the depths of despair.  There have been times that I have gratefully made it, but in absolute shock that I have made it as far as I have, given the darkness i find myself in.

I don’t believe I really want to die, I just want some peace, and when in the throws of it, I can see no other alternatives, and as many friends and family members I have, when I am at my darkest, I isolate from family and friends, and my thinking is so distorted that I cannot think of anyone to call!    I don’t believe others really want to die either, I think suicide comes when they just cannot take any more pain, because someone who is depressed IS IN IMMENSE PAIN.  I obviously cannot speak for everyone, but when I hear someone has taken their life, I say a prayer for them, or a few, and I pray that i hope they found the very peace they longed for, and I do believe they find it.     If only they could’ve held on one more day, night, if only something good would happen, and then the added problem of distorted thinking, can they see it if it is there?

I’m sorry for anyone who has lost a child, parent, grandparent, friend, niece, nephew, sibling to suicide.  My heart goes out to you, and I do say prayers for families who are left with the aftermath, the questions to a puzzle of 100 pieces in which you probably get 50 or 60 pieces too, maybe a few more here and there over time, but to a healthy mind, it is just a stupid, selfish thing to do.     I don’t think it’s selfish.   Sorry.    I think every person has their breaking point, and while many who struggle with this at one time or ten in their lives, they reach a place where they can’t see any other solution, and that is sad.

I can’t tell you how many times ai have reminded myself “It’s always darkest before the dawn’, and I’ve held out, hoping for light, warmth soon, and it has always came.    Maybe not in my timeframe i want, but relief does eventually come.      It really does.   But the distress and pain those who have done this and succeeded on their loved ones is overwhelming.

I have made and set some rules for myself.   Some of you reading this are probably thinking “what a fucking whack job this woman is!’, and that’s okay, your entitled to your opinion, but I could never follow through with taking my own life while my parents are still alive.  I could never do this to them.    Having just lost my mother, and my dad having major health issues, and fails a bit everyday, I think about the pact I made to myself.   What will happen should my father die before me?

My meds are kicking in, and I would like to continue this blog tomorrow, as I want to talk about the things that people do and can do that help me when I am in the darkness,.  They don’t even know they are doing it.     I want to talk about the signs and struggles of those with mental illness, particularly depression.   I want to share my story and my experience to help another and to help myself.   I do not feel so alone when I write, and I know we are never alone, whether we have no family and friends or not!

Stay tuned for more on this topic.   For those reading this, I wish you peace, love, self love, respect and most of all I wish you HOPE.    Hang tough.  It’s so true, it is always darkest before the dawn.

Love to one and all.

Grief 101

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It’s just over three weeks since my mom died.   A good friend asked me if it’s harder than I thought it would be, the answer is NO.  I always knew it would be hard.  But what has surprised me is the areas in which it is affecting me.

For one, self confidence.   I consider myself to be a fairly brave, very strong independent woman.  And I just realized a couple weeks ago that I’m old enough to be classified as “Senior Citizen” on Wednesdays at JoAnn’s Fabrics.  I’ve traveled up and down the East Coast, all over this country and others by myself.  I would think very little about driving an hour or two here or there to score a good find from Craigslist, or the like.  I don’t feel comfortable doing this right now.  I don’t feel confident enough to do this.  I’m really shocked at this.

I don’t feel safe in this world, since the death of my mom.   I always knew, wherever I was, went, I could call her and she would come to my rescue.  For a couple of decades we have been each others main support, both single women living on little, we helped each other.  My mom was a huge help to me in areas that I many times lack or slack in.   I cannot attribute this to anything else, believe me, I’ve tried.

In every room in my house, there are memories of my mom.   She always rolled up her shirt sleeves and jumped in when it came to cleaning, repairing, maintaining, and a couple years ago, renovating and ultimately redecorating again.  It is s hard for me to fathom that she will never again step foot into my yard, my house, nor spend hour upon hour working in my yard, her flower gardens, because they really were hers.  I haven’t worked in my flower gardens for a couple of decades, she did it all.  Now she loved doing it, and she was very good at it.   Will I take care of them?    Can I take care of them?  Will I know how after all these years?   There’s a little bit of fear here.  I am feeling fear.   Because many things that she did to help me, I had to stop doing so she graciously took over.

I find my tears come in waves, and triggered by many simple things.   I pulled out a folder of my decorative painting designs and my heart sunk.   My mother was a huge part of my success here, she made e prepping surfaces or house or dog and cat sitting.  Back in those days I had five animals for her to care for!

Another thing that is happening that I didn’t expect.  I feel like I need to know everything, because she is gone.    I identify with these feelings when I found out many moons ago I was pregnant.  OMG I need to get my act together so I can be a good parent!  Only now, I need to get my act together because my mom isn’t here to help or assist

Sleep is being affected.  I wake up every hour, only early morning hours offers good sleep.  As a result, I am plum pooped.    I was so tired the other night after finishing things up downstairs that I slept on the couch.  I didn’t have the energy to go up to my bed.   I have been on this journey called grief many times, and I know it’s a hard hard walk.   I either forgot or the loss of my mother is proving to be one hell of a challenge.

I miss my mom.   I miss her voice, her outspoken manner, and more.    I know in time it will get easier adjusting to this new life, life without my mother.   While grateful I had my mom for the first 56 years of my life, it doesn’t matter at what age you lose your mom, for me, anyway,  it’s a colossal loss.