Dear America,

Dear America,

I stopped watching and reading the news months ago because your intentional decline is not something I wish to participate in. It’s shameful that we, as a collective nation, vilify and sabotage one another for nothing more than monetary and political gain. I never thought I would become apathetic towards the nation we served for so many years, yet I have. How is it okay for politicians to promote gun ownership over the right of high school students to live? Follow the money trail…

When did it become permissible for people to show such blatant hate towards one another? Not a single one of us can prevent the color, or lack thereof, of our skin. This is a racist nation, no doubt about it, though within this nation there are people willing to reach across the proverbial aisle and hold the hand of someone who looks different. Those who are unwilling to admit that America has failed people of ALL colors? Follow the money trail…

You don’t want to get vaccinated? Don’t. Plain and simple. I’d like to ask you to pay the increases in MY health insurance to cover the costs of YOUR treatments. Not willing? Follow the money trail…

You want to prevent safe abortions for women in need? You claim to be “pro-life?”  You’re not, you’re pro-birth. Life happens between birth and 18. Who is going to support this babe that was forced on a 14 year old child that was raped? Who is going to provide a life to the homeless teenagers and women that society has turned its back on? Where is the pro-life movement in these situations? Follow the money trail…

America, if you think you’re still a powerful and respected nation on the world’s stage, think again. As a nation we are rapidly heading towards a failed state status. If you’re not white, rich and of the male gender, you simply don’t matter. Why? Follow the money trail…

My rant may make you mad, it’s supposed to. I don’t have a lot of money. I don’t live in a grand house, just a small and older apartment. I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who does. I believe in God, and I have many friends that don’t. I walked away myself many years ago. I came back because I was nothing without Him. Whether you believe or not isn’t something that I can make change, but I can pray for ALL souls, and I do. It’s MY time I’m wasting if that’s what you think. MINE, not yours. I have seen with my own eyes what the Hand of God can do, and I choose to follow Him, not the money trail… Do churches succumb to the almighty (not) dollar? Every single day! Are all pastors, priests, clergy, and churchgoers above reproach? Not by a long shot. Am I? Ah, not even close. I am one among millions lost and struggling to find a place in this country where love is present in spite of politics and money. I am one among millions that never seems to be heard by the masses. It’s okay. God hears me, that’s all I need.

This very morning I made the mistake of reading the headlines and am appalled, as I always am these days, by the level of hate, discourse and downright meanness of the press at large. ALL of it. I bleed for this country that once showed such great promise, but is now so divided, I’m bleeding out. If my bleeding to death on the altar of America would solve our problems, I’d willingly sacrifice myself for the future generations to know a kinder, more accepting place to live. I don’t have enough money to buy a politician, and I pray I never do. As a people, we are to blame. Yes, we are… We vote the same people into office year after year after year, and yet seem surprised that things don’t improve! Do you know the definition of insanity???

America, I miss the promise of you. I miss the days when respect was normal and kindness mattered. Now it’s all about dumbing down, fleecing, blaming and, most importantly, money. Follow the money trail…

Noise

Noise, by definition, is an unwanted sound considered unpleasant, loud or disruptive to hearing. To me? All I can say is is noise is so much more than that which disrupts the ears…

I find myself disrupted by noise quite frequently throughout each day and as I struggle to understand why, I begin to see the changes in myself that are flawed, yet at the same time, perfectly beautiful. I’m a neat freak, I admit it. I also choose to live a minimal lifestyle. Both things, for me, bring peace from the noise of the world around me. I’m not a recluse, though there are days I think I would love to be. The world is a harsh, noise-filled, rat race. I’m not a rat, I don’t race around with seemingly no direction at all. I’d miss the small, intimate moments of joy that would pass me by if I lived my life trying to “just accept” the noise around me.

Not all noise is unwelcomed. Can you even begin to imagine what we’d all miss without noise? The sound of a baby laughing out loud for the first time comes to mind. How sad would it be if we just decided we didn’t want to hear the laughter? How empty would our lives be without music? People who are deaf still enjoy sound as they know it, and the vibrations of life become much more enjoyable when they learn to hear intentionally. We should all be so lucky as to hear with intention, being able to shut out the noises that divide humankind. What about being able to shut out the noises that live inside our heads? Those noises? That internal voice? I’m on a lifelong journey when it comes to being able to discern which noises, which voice, to listen to. As I age, I find myself more in tune with myself, and the noises that bring angst to my heart and spirit affect me greatly. That affect is not always positive, so I work my way through the thought processes that bring negativity and try to find a positive result.

I recently spent some time away from home and was exposed to the type of noise that not only triggered great sadness in my heart, it left me so overwhelmed that I can’t begin to shut it off. I’ve tried. I’ll keep trying, though I’m sure this is another journey that will last years. I’m pretty resolved to the fact that the only way to make it through this journey is a shoulders back, head-up approach, yet my shoulders are exhausted and my head is so damn heavy right now. When does the noise actually abate enough so I can hear myself think? I can stand on top of the highest mountain on earth and scream into the sky, yet no one will hear me. I can run myself to the point of exhaustion, and no one will be there to catch me when I fall. I can cry. I can hide. I can fight. I can give up. I can talk. I can listen. All the while the noise will still be present. Managing the noise as best I can is really all I can do, though how to manage it is a mystery not easily solved. Nothing worth having comes easy, including the absence of too much noise.

Is your life too noisy? Too messy? Do the noises and messes feed off of one another and leave you feeling like you’re bat shit crazy? Are you like me, a highly sensitive person, an empath? I have the capacity to feel so much, and the capacity to hear noise that a lot of people can’t. I’ve spent a great deal of time becoming the person I am right now, and I like her. I like that I’m able to hold myself accountable for my mistakes. I like that I don’t need to have the approval of others. I like that I can make my way in this noisy world. I like that I’m strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when I need help, and brave enough to actually ask for it. I like that I can focus and re-focus on the joy-filled moments my life gives me, even knowing that struggle lurks just around the bend. Struggle isn’t a bad thing, it helps sharpen our coping skills and adds tools to the toolboxes we all have to have to survive. Using those tools, both old and new, is a choice we all have to make for ourselves. Coping with the volume of noise I’ve been exposed to over these past 4+ years has been made more tolerable because my toolbox has what I need in it. Coping with the increase in volume pertaining to the noise I’ve recently been exposed to is going to be tough, I have no doubt about that. I can, and will, find a way to turn down the noise. I have to…

Be well, dear readers and know that I appreciate you all. Very much! Be kind, stay safe and turn down the noise whenever you get the chance!

Triggers…

What is a trigger in regards to mental health?

In mental health terms, a trigger refers to something that affects your emotional state, often significantly, by causing extreme overwhelm or distress. A trigger affects your ability to remain present in the moment. It may bring up specific thought patterns or influence your behavior.

(definition copied from Google search)

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything, in any form. I’ve been so busy moving, unpacking, and driving back and forth across the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania that my laptop has begun to feel neglected. So has my mental health. I can’t begin to stress enough how much my mindset affects every facet of my life.

Every. Single. One.

Every. Single. Day. 

Not a day goes by where the hamster wheels of grief, sadness, loneliness, misgiving and misunderstanding don’t seem to turn. And squeak. It seems they never stop. They do, however, slow down from time to time.

The date range of October 2nd thru November 18th is loaded with triggers for me and my family. Especially this year, the year of “firsts” without our beloved “Grumpy Poppy.” My husband was half of the heartbeat of our home, and now that heart is irrevocably broken. On Oct. 2nd, 2019, I hugged my husband for the last time as he hugged me back. A full on body to body hug on our front porch. The kind of hug that had I known it was the last one, I never would have let go…He was leaving for an extended trip to New England to visit family. I watched his truck fade from sight as he drove away from our little ranch house in the Lowcountry of SC. Little did I know Oct. 2nd would become a triggering date. October 20th, October 30th, November 2nd, November 8th, Veteran’s Day and November 18th are now all triggering dates for me. They always will be. My hope is that as the wheels turn and squeak through this time period, they will surely spin with less force as my endurance grows. Am I ever going to forget? No. Absolutely not. Perhaps the best I can, and do hope for, is that the triggers, when pulled, lose their force as time marches on.

When someone we love dies, a part of us dies, too. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I’ve spent the days since my beloved died trying to find that one piece of me that died when he did. I know I’ll never find it, though my spirit keeps watch for the tiniest glimpse of even a reflection of light bouncing off the missing piece. I think that piece was the one piece that gave me strength to deal with triggers. I don’t know what to call that piece, other than missing, and that’s okay. Missing seems an appropriate thing to call that one piece. It sums up what I’ve been doing since my husband died. Missing him. Missing our life together. Missing his hugs. Missing his presence. Missing the me I was as part of an us. 

When our minds and hearts pull the triggers of our emotions on us, most of us are not able to recognize the “why” of our reaction to the discharges. At least not right away.  I know I’ve floundered through these past couple of weeks trying to figure out just why I have been soooooo sad. The obvious reason speaks for itself, but there is more to it than the loss. And the triggers. I’ve been so hyper-focused on moving from MA to PA, I didn’t consider that when it actually happened there would be a massive let-down. I had to say good-bye, again, to my brother-in-love, who flew from FL to MA to drive the rental truck to PA. My daughter’s family suffered the loss of their beloved dog to cancer. Triggers; being pulled over and over and over again. We spend our time planning and researching and setting-up our lives, not realizing when the goal is met that we are left standing on the other edge of accomplishment. Yes, I moved. I found an apartment I can manage on my own. I’ve saved for this life-changing event, remained focused and determined, and yet the sadness was, and is, my constant companion. I’m not sad I moved, but I am sad that I left my family and friends in MA. I achieved my goal of being closer to my grandchildren, but I wasn’t fully aware of the fact that the move would be far more expensive emotionally than financially. 

I reached out to TAPS.org (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) when I finally crashed into the wall of myself. I’ve cried and sobbed and begged for relief from the ever present pain of the triggering dates and memories. My Peer Mentor is amazing, she helps me see that the hamster wheel can, and will slow down. She also helps me realize that I can continue to move forward in peace, as long as I give myself some grace. We HAVE to feel, it just happens. I wish it didn’t, but it does. I remind myself frequently that the pain I feel is in direct relation to the loss of my husband. The pain helps me remember that what we shared was, and is, REAL. He was, but more importantly, still is, my person. He always will be. The white hot pain of his loss will become more of a glowing ember, it’s just going to take time. There will be more triggers before there are less, and I need to be ready to face them head-on. TAPS.org will be right there beside me; they’re right beside all of us. TAPS.org is a family of broken people, and I firmly believe that being broken together is far better than being whole apart. None of us are meant to be alone. While each and every one of us needs alone time, and that’s healthy, navigating the twists and turns on the pathways of grieving sometimes means we need to be carried by others. Others that “get it.” I get it…

Be well, dear hearts, and remember always that help is readily available to all of us. The TAPS.org family, of which I am honored to be a part, is a phone call, text, and/or an email away. There are many worthy non-profit agencies available to us, we just have to seek them out. The triggers will come, and when they are firing faster than you can understand, trust your gut and reach out. You are NOT alone…

Photo by Barb Enos Revere Beach, MA.

Building a Better Boat…

Hello!

It’s been a bit, but I’m still out here and still moving forward. I just heard Build a Better Boat by Kenny Chesney and it prompted me to take a bit of a breather during these final, frenzied days in Boston and share my heart. I’m moving to Southwestern PA next weekend and while I’m looking forward to it for many reasons, I’m also very nervous. The song made me think about what’s been going on since I made the decision to move and gave me a moment to pause and reflect.

I don’t really want to build a better boat, I have to. Life has an uncanny way of pushing us along even when we absolutely refuse to step on to the platform of the ride. I’m not the type to hide in the corner, even when my flight instinct kicks in. I have, however, become the type to try and work my way through whatever roadblocks are thrown in front of me. I’ve learned that a lot of the roadblocks are of my own making and as I work through whatever the situation is, the situation becomes part of building that better boat. Sometimes I withdraw, and though others may not understand my withdrawal, I have to sort myself out first. I’m tender-hearted. I can’t (and don’t want to) change that. I’ve learned that being so makes me more misunderstood by others. I don’t know how to make someone understand that my silence and lack of interaction isn’t about them, it’s about me… and while that may sound selfish, it’s not. It’s self-care. And that’s a blog idea I’ve written about previously. Self-care is imperative for all of us. If we run on empty all the time, what do we have left to give anyone else? Life is full of moments where self-care can be, and will be, viewed as selfishness. It’s an unintended consequence that happens when I put the brakes on and face the roadblock head-on.

Building a better boat takes patience, something I never wanted to have to learn. The last 4 years of my life have been beyond erratic. Painful. Lonely. Confusing. I’ve been lost and found. I’ve been kicked and slapped by fate so hard, the sting will never fade. I’ve deliberately hurt those I love the most, not because I wanted to, but because I’ve had to. I’ve learned that some things, no matter how much they matter to me, matter to no one else. I can’t begin to let people know how sorry I am that my time frame for working my way through the hurts and grief and misunderstandings is so unpredictable. It takes as long, or as short, as it does. Patience is a virtue we all need more of and I’ll gladly be the first to admit that I lack it at times when it’s needed the most. Other times I possess so much of it, I don’t recognize myself. I left my husband in 2017, I managed to leave him without his knowing what was coming, and three days later, all I wanted to do was turn that car around and drive straight back into his arms. I broke him. I broke me. I broke our family. Three days after I drove out of our driveway, I wanted to go home. He was beyond hurt, and I am sorry. I know he knew that. He was enraged, and hurt, and beyond broken. So was I. He found the strength to say that we needed to see where the separation could take us and that I needed to be patient. He knew me better than anyone. He knew what an impossible task that would be for me. Patience didn’t come easy to me, it still doesn’t. 7 weeks after I left him, I went home. We worked hard to rebuild the marriage that I burned to the ground… The beauty that was painted from the ashes became something we never lost again. Patience played a huge roll in our reuniting, and because we practiced patience, we were able to build a better boat. Together.

Building a better boat is hard. There’s not a single doubt in my mind that it’s an impossible task to complete alone. There are moments I feel like I’m standing on the edge of an abyss so deep, and so dark, that if I lose my balance, I’ll simply disappear. Sometimes I think we may all want to disappear, and seeking a little personal time is okay. The boat I’m building is smaller than the boat that capsized when my beloved husband died. The new boat will have a minimal amount of stuff on board, but the deck, the berthing compartment and the galley will be absolutely full of memories. The memories of a life well lived, and a love so true, will be the wind in the sails. The storms will surely continue to roll in and toss the new boat from side to side, but the strength within the foundation of the new boat will prevail. I’ll proudly and humbly steer this new, smaller boat as steadily as possible, knowing that from time to time I may need a life saving ring tossed into the waves. I don’t have a choice about moving into the open waters on my own in many ways, but I do know that I have many life rafts waiting on shore should I need them.

Building this new boat has been challenging. I don’t necessarily think it’s better, it’s just different. My life is different now, not better. I miss my sailor (he was a US Navy sailor) and I miss the anchor he was in my life. I miss the hugs and the warmth and the adventure. I miss what could have been, and am trying hard to be comfortable in facing what is. The waves and storms and riptides will pull my new boat in a million different directions, but my heart will always be seeking the true north that my beloved was. No compass will ever point me in a direction where he doesn’t exist…

Generosity…

Hello world,

I’ve recently returned from a weekend conference in Columbus, Ohio…

How many people can say they practice generosity? I thought I did, and I do, but not on the scale of what I experienced this past weekend. Not even close. I probably shouldn’t even be writing about my weekend until I find a way to process, and put into words, how much this past weekend means to me and the impact it’s had on the life-long journey of healing that stretches out in front of me.

If you’ve been a follower of mine, you know this blog was born out of a pain so deep, and so dark, I was literally bleeding to death via my laptop. It began because our oldest daughter threw her family of origin away. She cast her parents and sister aside, and ripped apart so many relationships through her actions it seemed none of us would ever heal. The human spirit, however broken, always seems to find ways to begin the healing processes we all so desperately need throughout our lives. Flight, fight, fawn or freeze; these are the innate defensive responses that live in every single person. In the early stages of the estrangement, my first response was to fight, and I tried, it took me 10 months to just breathe…

Fast forward from May of 2018 to October of 2019. My husband and I sold a home in NC and bought a house in the Lowcountry of SC. Our “forever” home. It was small, on a small lot in a neighborhood that was mostly rural and had an older population. Perfect for us, as we were staring down the path of retirement. The estrangement was still a part of our lives, though by this time we had found ways to cope. and to let go. Life was quiet, simple and full of love. We were close to our youngest daughter and her family. Lot’s of grand baby love! We were back in an area we loved, had a community we appreciated, and I had a wonderful job with UPS. Roadblocks were in the rear-view mirror. Or so we thought…

The massive head-on collision barreling toward us was stealthy. Sneaky. Silent. My husband crashed into it in a preliminary way on October 20, 2019. It was like a side swipe, a tiny glimpse of the on-coming crash between an economy car and a massive freight train. The accident happened on October 30, 2019 and the aftermath will never not be felt. We all know what can happen when a freight train hits an economy car. The pictures are downright gruesome. Lives are shattered. Nothing, absolutely nothing, remains as it was.

This past weekend was like having an insurance adjuster visit the scene of the aforementioned train crash. And having that adjuster find fault with the train, not the car. The train represents the Grim Reaper in my head, and he was just waiting for my husband to approach the most dangerous intersection of his life. Just waiting. Well, the Grim Reaper has zero power over me now, though the carnage wreaked at that intersection can never physically be undone. My husband didn’t die in the crash, he didn’t die on the operating table and he didn’t die due to lack of care. It took 16 months after the collision for him to die, the after affects of the train crash too much for his vital organs to keep working properly. He fought, and he thrived, and then the Grim Reaper’s cousin, known as Covid-19, decided to visit him. That made it so no one else could. No one he loved, not just me. No visits from his daughters, his grandchildren, his brothers, etc… Sorry (not sorry) for the language, but fuck Covid. Those innate responses we all possess? Fight was my husband’s companion after the stroke, flight never had a place in his recovery. The stroke didn’t make him give up, the isolation of Covid did. Anyway, the weekend. Generosity. And such…

Generosity comes in many forms, from many directions and from many, many different people. TAPS.org is an amazing non-profit! The acronym stands for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. Survivors of military personnel. Any survivor is welcome to join the TAPS family and I am ever grateful that I did. I’m a self-aware person, I believe in determination and I try to live with a constant sense of mindfulness. TAPS is there to help me, and so many others, every second of every day. It’s a peer support network for all military family members, and friends, left reeling from the loss of a loved one that served. The military person doesn’t have to be KIA (killed in action) for family to avail themselves of the services,educational benefits, and support of TAPS. There are groups for survivors of all manner of death. Suicide, accident, homicide, sudden death, long-term illness, etc… If your person wore the uniform of any of the Armed Services, you can seek help.

TAPS holds regional seminars around the country every year and a National Conference is held each year over the Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, D.C.. The organization started in 1994, born out of a deep rooted need when the wife of an Army officer lost her husband in a military plane crash. If you want to learn more about the founder, please research TAPS.org at your leisure, you’ll be amazed at how one woman, in what was a very dark time in her life, knew she needed “more” than what she was finding outside the community of the military. Her vision and drive created an organization that personifies generosity at every turn, and the need never seems to end. Freedom isn’t free, we Americans know this, and to have such a caring and safe place to manage the grief that never seems to end is simply a gift. People don’t “get it” if they’ve never served, and that’s okay. They don’t have to get it. The people that do get it, well, I met so many of them at this conference. I don’t know how to make anyone understand that the level of generosity was second only to the love and compassion shown to me, a stranger in a foreign, but also familiar, land…

Generosity doesn’t always have to be on such a grand scale… It can be something as simple as sharing a smile, lending a helping hand or simply praying for someone. We ALL, no matter who we are or what we do, have hurt and anguish in our lives. Simply saying hello on the street too a stranger can lighten the heaviest of burdens of the person to whom you say good morning. Being generous might mean you buy the coffee for the car behind you in the drive-thru line, stop and let a car out of a side street during your morning commute, or even just giving a few minutes of your time to a neighbor in need. Generosity breeds kindness and kindness breeds generosity, and we can all acknowledge that those two attributes are most definitely something this world needs a whole lot more of! TAPS generosity is beyond amazing and made possible by some pretty fantastic supporters. To those supporters I say a humble thank-you. Thank you from the bottom of my broken and shattered heart. It’s because of the support of so many that I know I am going to be okay. I’ll never be the same, I’ll always hurt. I’ll always miss my husband. And, I’ll always miss what might have been. I can grow with TAPS, I can give back by volunteering when I’m able and I can spread the kindness and generosity I’m blessed to receive with others.

So, go out into your world, live your best life and be generous. You don’t need to be rich in money to share the gifts of generosity and kindness, you just have to be willing…

Be kind always, remember to breathe and, say thank-you to someone who has served…

Until next time…

(Image credit belongs to: Grief to Gratitude)

Directions…

“Those we love never leave us. There are some things that death cannot touch.”

~ Jack Thorne, (British Screenwriter) ~

As I sit down to write this morning, the sun is shining in an amazingly clear blue sky, and the sounds of heavy equipment accompany the playlist of music I have open on my phone. I’m sitting at my youngest daughter’s dining table in southwestern PA and find myself at a crossroads in life. Again…

I used to love to write for my blog. It’s beginning to feel like a chore. I’ve seriously considered taking my blog in a different direction, though what that direction is remains to be seen. In the beginning my blog was written as a way for me to live outside the realm of pain caused by our oldest daughter throwing us away. Estrangement and abandonment are not easy to live through, of that I can speak with certainty. When your child decides that your existence is irrelevant and toxic to their well being, there really is nothing you can do. Especially if the child engaging in estrangement is an adult. When that same child makes it clear that your presence is no longer welcome in the life of your grandchild, whom you’ve always had close, the pain and hurt is indescribable. Simply indescribable. My blog gave me an avenue to release a lot of what festered inside of me…

Fast forward 18 months.

The estrangement happened in May 2018 and in August of that same year my husband and I sold our home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC. We moved to the Lowcountry of South Carolina to be closer to our younger daughter and her family since we were still allowed to be grandparents to her children. What our oldest did to us broke us both, but our marriage was solid and we survived, and even thrived for a while. In March of 2019, we received a very threatening letter from an attorney demanding that we stop writing to our grandson or our daughter in NC would have warrants issued against us for stalking. Does anyone remember the song by Chubby Checker called “How Low Can You Go?” We sure do, and I still do. Suffice it to say that that was the day we both knew we had to let go of our daughter, her husband and our grandson in order to find peace. Not an easy thing to do, not at all. We managed to be happy in our little home in SC and were very much looking forward to building our future there. I kept on writing my blog to keep finding the release it gave me. The tenor of my blog began to change, though offering encouragement to others still remained my top priority. It became less about the pain and rage, and more about the journey of healing. My blog was evolving, just as I was. As we were…

Fast forward 7 months.

Life was relatively quiet by October 1, 2019. Little did we know that a darkness we had NEVER known was lurking and swirling around us. All of us. Even the child that had wilfully shunned her parents would be affected. My husband left our home on October 2, 2019, in the late evening to make an almost 1000 mile drive to New Hampshire. He was always a night owl, so driving through the night was basically normal for him. I stood on our front porch after we hugged and said all the “be carefuls, I love yous and I’ll miss yous” and watched him drive away. I stayed behind because I was only 4 months into a new job with UPS. He was going to New England to see his next oldest brother who had had surgery to remove some toes affected by diabetes. My husband went to see his brother to lend encouragement and to mend fences, so to speak. I’m happy to write that the trip produced the results they both needed and they became close before the lurking darkness would change everything. Absolutely everything.

Fast forward 17 days.

On October 20, 2019, my phone rang. Not an unusual occurrence. My husband told me he was experiencing the worst headache he’d ever had, and that his neck hurt. Here comes the aforementioned darkness… I begged him to go to an Urgent Care, an Emergency Room, a VA Hospital, anywhere! Go and get checked out, please!!! What I should have done was get on a flight to Boston or Manchester the next day and dragged his stubborn ass to an ER myself. I didn’t. He kept telling me he was okay. He was a grown man that didn’t “need” babysitting. Um, okay? How the rest of his life would play out might have been so different had I just flown to New England…

I can’t live my life in the quagmire of “What if?…”

I’ve shared through my blog the journey I’ve been on since the estrangement began. The pain and the rage and the feeling lost. I’ve shared about my husband’s stroke and what it feels like to be helpless and have a front row seat to the chaos that became my beloved’s life. I’ve always hoped that through my sharing that someone, somewhere, is finding comfort in knowing that they’re not alone. It feels incredibly lonely when you’re on a path so dark it seems no light will ever get through. It does, the light does shine again, though it seems to take forever. Sometimes the things that happen to us are so painful and so uncalled for that we simply adapt by staying stuck. Sometimes we try to hide, even though we all know that hiding is never a solution when it comes to healing. Healing from traumatic events such as estrangement, catastrophic stroke and death can be beyond challenging, to say the least. Healing from any event that causes our spirit to break is challenging. It’s become my belief, because of my own journey and consequent healing, that the human spirit is much stronger than we human beings give it credit for. I think this is the reason why I’m beginning to think I should take my blog in a different direction. 

I am now, and will always be, so very grateful that people read my blog. I’m now a widow, just seven months into living a life that I have no idea how to live, though I do know this… I know that because of the support of others, I’m healing. I’m becoming someone new, and yet I still remain who I was. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, and it may be a long time before I post again. I am in a transitional phase of life right now, trying to figure out how to move forward without leaving the past behind. I don’t want to carry the baggage of pain forward, just the sweet memories. I know I face more darkness as time passes, life is just dark sometimes. I also know I will make it through, as I’m doing now. The next journey might be messy, or neat and tidy; it may be fiery hot or ice cold, but I know, I simply know, that I will face whatever comes and find my way. I’ll reach out to someone else who may need a hand while walking through their own darkness, and gently squeeze so they may know they’re not alone. The quote at the beginning of this post is absolutely true, there are some things that even death cannot touch. 

Remember to always be kind to one another, kindness matters…

Incoming tide and riptide crashing together. Revere, MA. Photo by Barb Enos

Sunday Thoughts…

Hi,

Yes, it’s been a bit, I’ve been living my life and trying to heal. I’m moving forward with the grief of my husband’s death still holding one hand, but in the other? The other hand has been multi-purpose. It’s been drying my tears, pushing me towards my new life in Pennsylvania, and steering the methods of whatever it takes to get me there.

I’m currently house-sitting for some dear friends while they’re on vacation and just like last year, I am thoroughly enjoying their deck. Their home is a ranch style, very comfortable and in a safe neighborhood about 30 miles southwest of Boston. I’ve been thinking that being here is like having “training wheels.” I’m almost ready to take the training wheels off and move out on my own. I haven’t lived on my own since June of 2020, and am beyond thankful for the support of my family and friends during these dark times in my life. This summer has been hard on me emotionally, I’ve withdrawn from people after being hurt by someone I trusted, and am finally able to see the sunshine again…

When someone hurts us, we can only control our reaction to what’s been done, not the actions done to us. I realized as soon as the words left this person’s mouth that I would never be the same again. Wanna know what else I’ve come to realize? I realize that because of one sentence, I’m okay with not being who I was. I am very different now, and I actually like me more than I did before. Sure, what was said was hurtful. The words piercing my heart and leaving me feeling like I didn’t matter. This event also showed me that I am not without boundaries, self-respect, and value. Maybe I don’t matter to the person who hurt me, that’s okay. I still matter. To me. To my children and grandchildren. To a few select friends that I still trust. I don’t need more than that. I’ve also learned to pull back on how much I share on social media, to stop and REALLY think about what I’m saying, and to listen to my gut more. To value my personal space and privacy. Silver linings for sure…

The heatwave that has gripped Northern New England broke overnight, and today is just freaking glorious!!! I’m doing what I love by writing, listening to music and making plans to spend time with people I love in the coming days. I’m still sad, overwhelmingly so, and am accepting that sadness is my constant companion these days. I’m also happy. Happy that the sun is shining. Happy that I am able to enjoy the gifts that Mother Nature has granted us today. Happy that I got to see 10 turkeys in the backyard and watch them wander off. It may seem silly to notice such simple things, but just think about all the things that demand our attention on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s just nice to sit on the deck, listen to your favorite music and take in the beauty of your small portion of this world. Appreciation is good for the spirit!

With the day being as lovely as it is, I’m thinking that I may not be leaving my little haven of paradise for the madness of the shopping center down the road. I have two shirts I need to return, and am thinking they can wait for another day. As I sit here and revel in the sunshine, I realize I don’t want to trade the peace and quiet of this deck for the chaos and madness of a big box store. I have everything I need to make it through the day without sacrificing my peace of mind. I’d rather stay here, quietly thinking about my husband and just enjoying the ability to be. We all need to treat ourselves from time to time, no matter what that looks like. I’m staying close to home today, not listening to or giving in to the voices in my head that say I need to “go and do.” I am doing by not going and doing, and that’s that!

It’s been a little more than 6 months since my husband died, though it feels like 60 years. I miss him. So much. I’ve come to realize just how much I miss the touch of another human being. The hugs I always gave and received? Gone. The simple touch of his hand on my lower back? Gone. I’d give almost anything to have him back, and while I know that’s an impossibility, the craving that lives within me for the touch of another is not gone. Nor is it impossible. It’s not the same when someone else hugs me, it can’t be. No one loved me like he did. No one knows me like he did. No one could ever take his place in my life, or in my heart. He was my person. I was his. We were an us. When you become a me after being an us for more than half of your life, the transition is fraught with emotion, growing pains and tears. Time is supposed to help, so whenever time decides to get on board and journey with this broken woman, I’m ready! Until then, I will hug my friends and family, wipe my own tears and move forward with as much purpose as I am able. Living a purpose driven life will give me opportunities to honor the memory of my beloved.

I’m hanging on, and am so grateful that I have the opportunity to share my journey with people through this blog. Life isn’t always harsh, though sometimes it feels that way. This summer has been painful for me, but also enlightening. I have to keep my eyes on the roads ahead, while looking back and figuring out which roads to avoid. The curves and bends can seem scary, especially when they come out of nowhere. Keep looking forward, keep unpacking the unnecessary baggage you carry, and stay the course. Life is to be lived. And savored. Take the bitter and at least try to make it into something sweet, you may be surprised at what happens. Embrace the suck as the Navy Seals say, and turn the suck into success!

Until next time remember to be kind always, smile and believe in yourself!

To My Husband…

When you spend the majority of your life in the service of others, how do you let people know what that looks like? I think it looks like this…

You were born the last of 6 children to your loving parents and they raised you all to reflect their beliefs. You valued family. You were raised to believe that manners mattered and maintained your gracious and beautiful manners right up to the end of your life. You had all the traits of being the youngest of a large family, but those traits gave you insight to so much more than most people ever get to see. Being the youngest gave you a fighting spirit, a determination to be seen and the courage to try. You learned what to and not to do. You gave of yourself privately, with much abandon and with a love so steady, a lot of people mistook it for aloofness. 

You were a wonderful Daddy, and I loved being the Mommy to your Daddy. I also loved being the MiMi to your Poppy and the Oma to your Opa. I was the Auntie to your Uncle for so many and I will always be so grateful for that. How is it possible that you loved me so much that the hole in my heart where you lived will never be filled again? I will heal, and I will move forward, but that hole will remain. 

Our daughters are so lucky that you were their Daddy, even when you were vilified and thrown away. Those were the actions of someone else, not you. You stood strong through the pain. You may have been away from home a lot while serving, but the girls knew you loved them. They have always known that, even when our family became broken. You were the first man either of them loved and they are blessed to be a part of you. I am blessed that I got to share parenthood with you, even though you and I had to carry each other. We had to carry one another through the hurt and trials and pain. I would give anything to have you carrying me right now… 

When our grandsons become men, I pray that they become a little of you. Hard working, a wee bit stubborn, smart and loving. If a man is defined by his character, they have big shoes to fill. You gave so much without people ever knowing just what it cost you at times. When I needed you, you were always there. Even in our darkest times, I know you never gave up on us. I regret that I cannot say the same. But when I think about it, maybe I didn’t give up, either. Otherwise we would have never stayed married for as long as we did. I loved you more than my own life, and I only wish I could express that. If our grandsons grow into even a little of the man you were, they’ll be beyond blessed. So will their future families.

Our granddaughters have been so lucky to have been loved by you. You were the best Poppy and Opa ever, and they will miss you. I’ll teach them about how much you loved them, and their moms, so that they know that true love is possible. The pain of abandonment will always be a part of the fabric of our memories, but as time goes on the pain diminishes. I pray that our granddaughters never know that depth of pain. I’ll encourage them to seek a life partner that gives them confidence. encourages independence, and is willing to be a “kitchen song” dancer…

When someone asks me about you 10, 15 or 20 years from now, I’ll say that I was loved by a man that was warm, strong of faith and loyal. You were so loved by so many and we all miss what could have been. I pray that you’ve found the comfort you so richly deserve in the arms of Jesus and that you are reunited with those who went on before you. I will join you someday in the future and we will hold hands, hug one another and pick-up where we left off… in love, in like, and simply happy. 

I miss you. 

I love you more than most and…

You were my end from the beginning.

Pathway at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. Photo by Barb Enos

Things I Wish I Could Say…

To the demons that keep trying to beat me down…

I wish I could say…

I’ve spent more time in the past 30 days giving you space in my head, and heart, than I’d like to admit. I want to reclaim it. The space, not the time. Thank you for understanding.

I wish I could say…

Oh wait, you don’t understand, do you? You don’t know what you said, and that what you’ve said over the past year has been hurtful on so many levels. I didn’t want to believe those thoughts that were spoken out loud. I wanted to believe that because I was hurting then, as I am now, that you couldn’t possibly be who someone said you were. What a fool I’ve been.

I wish I could say…

Sometimes break ups are beyond painful for both parties involved. Somehow I think that you’ll fail to feel pain. Relief and freedom will be your first thoughts, and reactions, to this break-up. I hope that’s true as I never wanted to hurt you. I know what I need to say, and I should have said it long ago. I’ve been absent on purpose. I didn’t want my words to pierce your heart the way yours have pierced mine.

I wish I could say…

I’m done crying over you and am taking back the space in my head, and heart, and re-purposing it. I’m giving it back to the one that makes me feel safe. I will pray for you. Over and over and over again. When I ran back to God, He embraced ALL of me. ALL of my brokenness. ALL of my hurts. ALL of my shame. ALL of my guilt. ALL of my regret. ALL OF ME…

I wish I could say…

When I love, I love hard. I don’t regret loving you, I’m just more cautious now. More guarded. More protective of the pieces of me that you stole and stomped on. More aware that not everyone that says they love me mean it. It’s okay. I’m okay. I hope that you’re okay. It’s a lonely, cruel world, and even more so now that I’ve realized you are not safe for me. I love you, I just have to do it from a distance.

I wish I could say…

Someday, when the sun shines on your face and you turn toward the sun, I hope you can feel my love for you. I will always love you, I just don’t know how to trust you with MY heart anymore. I pray that you find peace in your new life without me, and that you’ll know that I miss you. I’ll miss you always.

I wish I could say…

I believe this isn’t the life we were meant to have, it’s what we’ve got. I would sell my soul back to you if it meant you could give me what I want, but you can’t. I know this now. I accept this. I am no longer as a child, believing you because it’s what I’m supposed do. I don’t believe in you, I don’t know you well enough anymore to display that kind of faith.

I will say…

Remember always to be kind to one another.

Seek joy. Promote Peace. Love fiercely.

Shenandoah National Park Photo by Barb Enos

Carrying the Luggage of Grief…


As most of you that know me well, you know I’m planning on moving to Southwestern PA in the fall. My life looks nothing like I thought it would, still I move forward. I miss my husband more every day, and can hear him encouraging me to seek joy. Being closer to our grandchildren was part of the reason we moved to the Charleston area in 2018. So much has changed since then…

I am a widow… A word that defines my marital status, not a word that defines me. I’m a MiMi, Mom (in-law,) Sister, Friend, Sister-in-love, Auntie… All words that define roles in my life, they are not all of me.

I struggle daily with the thoughts of not being good enough. I struggle daily with being rejected. I struggle daily with trying to figure out what I did wrong, and why I feel less than. On the flip side of all the negative? I work daily towards my goal, towards PA. I have remained dedicated to self-care as I promised myself I would. I try daily to remember that I am worthy of love. I try daily to be kind. I try daily to let go and let God. I’m not good at letting go, but I’m not good at being an emotional punching bag either.

I have changed so much along this journey, and I’m so grateful for those changes. I’ve learned that there are far more unintended consequences to be dealt with when I, or someone else, says or does something without thought. Then again, maybe things are said and done with thought that were not intended to hurt. Words hurt. Words hurt me more now than ever, and they help as well. I find much healing in being able to express my thoughts through written words. I find confusion, angst and dismissiveness as well.

Learning continues along the journey of grief, and the roadblocks, twists, and turns, become less harrowing as times marches on. As I march forward. The heaviness of the luggage of grief becomes lighter, the noise becomes a softer humming and the darkness that dwells within is turning to light. There is no switch inside my heart, or head, to turn the lights on suddenly, it’s a slow turn of a dimmer switch. Very slow. Somedays, all I can manage is to touch the switch. Sometimes I can turn it, and other days I can’t even find it.

Grief has no GPS. Grief is full of detours. Grief is the cliff edge of the mountain, and the chasm below. Grief is grey skies, torrential downpours and angry horizons. Grief is also a companion that never goes home. Grief is love with no place to go…

I’ve read many times that grief is the price we pay for love. I wholly believe this. Grief costs more than I will ever be able to give, yet I keep grieving. And giving. Oxymoronic at best. How the hell do I look forward without looking back? I don’t. It’s that simple and beyond complicated at the same time.

The luggage of grief is not required to be carried every single day. Somedays you can just carry a backpack. Somedays you can carry a wallet. Somedays, though not many, you might actually not have to carry any luggage at all. Those days are a long time in coming… I haven’t had one yet, nor do I expect to have one anytime soon. I do HOPE that I have many as time goes on.

Remember always to be kind, and show kindness to yourself. You ARE deserving of kindness, love and compassion, as am I. Grief makes for a lonely companion, but we are not alone…