If There Hadn’t Been You…

Hi again,

Today’s title comes from a 90’s era country song by Billy Dean. I heard it in my car this morning, on my way home from picking up my pup’s remains at his vet. Morgan is home now, safely ensconced in a beautiful African Walnut urn, next to his former kitty mate, Dexter. I miss my four-legged boys, and try and remember that they both had wonderful lives, were loved and spoiled, and had it not been for them, my life would not have been as joy filled. Rest well sweet ones, until we meet again…

Hearing the song this morning made me think of all the people that have been a part of my life over these 57 full, and just shy of 58 trips around the sun. I think back to the very first memory I have and I was 4. In the Boston Children’s Floating Hospital, (which no longer exists) in an oxygen tent with a terrible case of pneumonia. I didn’t know it then, but the man who was my nurse was considered a trailblazer by many. He was a man in a world that didn’t readily accept men, especially black men. 1968… and only one of those things seem to have changed for the better. Men are no longer seen as less than for being a nurse, but being black is still an issue for many narrow-minded, priviledged people. I was sick. I was very, very sick and this man would hold me in his huge arms, sing to me, rock me and make me balloons out of rubber gloves. I didn’t care then that he was black or male, and I don’t now. 54 years later I am just grateful that he was there. A human being with a gift for compassion was what I needed, and he was that person. If there hadn’t been you…

If there hadn’t been my first best friend when my parents divorced, and my mom moved herself and three kids to the inner city, I wouldn’t have had the most awesome childhood adventures. My best friend was from a large family, still has the most stunning red hair and accepted me as the skinny country kid that had no clue how to make friends. The friends I’d had up until then were basically built in. I still maintain contact with her after 50 years, and if this damned virus ever breaks, I hope to see her again someday. If there hadn’t been you…

If there hadn’t been my middle and oldest siblings what would this life look like? Sure, we have our issues, but siblings are our first friends and they don’t really have a choice about that. Unless of course they’re much older and reach adulthood long before you do. My siblings are mine, and though I wish they were closer to one another, I maintain relationships with them both, just separately. I’ve always thought that after your parents die, who keeps the family together? Siblings do. It takes effort, but we’re all that’s left of our parents, and I am not willing to expend energy on the negative side of sibling rivalry. Heck, my husband had 5 siblings and is now down to 3, it’s sad and lonely and hard. The conflicts aren’t worth the hatred that grows from things unresolved. Eventually that hatred becomes numbness and numbness brings apathy. There are times that apathy can be a type of shield, a protection from the heartbreak of a child throwing her parents away, but it’s not something I want to have to learn. Or to live with.

If there hadn’t been my first serious boyfriend, there wouldn’t have been a future father-in-love to save my life. Literally. I have never had the easiest of lives, and that’s okay. I left home at 15 and ran to my boyfriend’s house, where I was safe and protected from the demons that preyed on me as a young girl. My future father-in-love slayed the demons and he saved all of me. My physical self, my emptional self, my spiritual self. Looking back more than 40 years later, I realize that he loved me then, and I think he knew his youngest son would become my husband. He died in1999, and I sure do wish he could’ve lived forever. Or at least long enough to know the joy of being a great-grandfather. “Bumpa,” we sure do miss you.

If there hadn’t been all the amazing friends I’ve made over the years, I wouldn’t be half the person I’ve become. One of those friends became a sister-in-love when she married my husband’s next oldest brother 11 months after my wedding. I am not proud to say that I let her down, but am beyond grateful that she forgives me for such. We are reforging the bonds of love, family and forgiveness as we walk out our grief together. I know she knows that I love her. So much. Life seems to have brought us full circle and though we both wish our husbands could be with us to share in the journey we’re on, we know that they had their own journey together. Their journey was complex, as is ours, and we know our husbands made true amends at before the end for both of them. My heart aches so much for her loss, and though my husband still lives, the man I married all those years ago is gone as well. We feel our husband’s walking beside us in spirit, and for now, that has to be enough.

If there hadn’t been my husband, there wouldn’t be the gift of our youngest daughter. She is an amazing woman, a great mom and a compassionate person. She is as moms want their daughters to be. Strong, fierce and brave. Tender, loving and kind. She has given us the son we never had when she married her husband and he is the answer to prayer. Many prayers. As girl parents we prayed often for the men that would one day join our family and our prayers were answered. Without my husband, we would not have our oldest child. And though she is lost to us, we prayed for her mate as well. We miss him very much, as well as our beloved oldest grandchild. I now pray for our son-in-love and grandson to be safe, and that’s all I can do. Love will break your heart, and love is worth the pain, even when the brokenness is more than you can comprehend.

If there hadn’t been our youngest grandson I believe my husband would have died from pneumonia in November of 2019. Sometimes you just have to let go and that night was such a night. My husband was so sick and his doctor said I should call family since he believed my husband would die in the night. I did. I whispered to him it was okay to go, our daughter did the same. Sometime during that dark and scary night my husband dreamed of our youngest grandson. He swears that little boy is the reason he lived. I am beyond grateful.

If it hadn’t been for our youngest granddaughter, I wouldn’t know what joy really looks like. She is fearless and stubborn and so much fun to be with. She loves with her whole heart and has had it broken, even at her tender age, and she still loves with all she has. She will be a world changer someday. And the world will be a better place for all because of the fire that lives in her heart. She believes in fairness, and she knows that people are not always kind. She keeps going with a determination that most adults would love to have. It’s true, she gives her parents a run for their money, and she can be as sassy as any 5 year old, but she is light and happiness and joy also. She is my heart beating outside my chest X2.

If it hadn’t been for the pain brought into my life because of the events of May 2018 and the ensuing months of turmoil, this blog would have never come to life. My heartbreak has found an outlet to ease the pain and I am so thankful that people read what I have to say. After my husband’s stroke I thought I might not be able to write again, but I was wrong. His stroke has changed the course of both of our lives and the lives of our entire family as well. It has become my priority to keep him safe, let him know that he is loved and to appreciate whatever time we have left together. My blog gives me a way to share and hopefully communicate that we don’t have to be alone. I feel bereft much of the time, but I know I am not alone. My most sincere wish for people all over the world is that they know they matter, and that they are not alone. Being lonely happens to each and every one of us throughout our lifetime, but there is always light at the end of any tunnel. Walk towards it. Crawl if you have to, you are worthy and loved and no one should live compltetly in the dark.

Until next time…

Photo by Barb Enos

8 Days Later…

Hi All,

It’s been 8 days since my beloved dog, Morgan, died. Why does it seem like 8 years? Life without him is sadder and less fun, but I’m doing okay. I find my self listening for the click of nails on the hardwood floors just a little less with each day that passes. I find that the first thing I do in the morning is NOT look over the edge of the bed to look for him. After 8 days I find that I am not looking down from the dinner table as much to see that goofy Boston Terrier smile. He didn’t beg at the table, just sat with a certain expectation that he never lost. He was always hopeful that someone would drop something for him to scoop up and feel like he got away with something. He was a happy dog, he made my life a sunnier place to be and I will always miss him.

Eight days later and I am still waiting on heartbreak to take a rest and not plague me with the pain of losing so much. I am learning to accept that I will never be as I was before, and that I don’t have to be. Change is hard, and it hurts, but we can all benefit from it personally if we allow ourselves to. Not all change is self-created, and changes thrust upon us by someone else are probably the hardest to accept. And to adapt to. It takes a great deal of personal strength and more determination than we think we possess to adapt to unwelcomed changes. It takes giving yourself grace. It takes a certain amount of faith in yourself and it takes time. Time. More than 8 days…

Eight days. What can happen in 8 short days? Well, with the Coronavirus raging, hundreds of thousands of people have become infected. Thousands more have died. Many thousands of people have recovered. The virus has touched me personally more than once, and I am shocked at the lack of concern in my home country for our fellow human beings. I don’t debate with others about wearing a mask, I just wear one. I am living in one of only four states not experiencing some type of surge of the virus, but Massachusetts was raging with the virus just a few short months ago. I’d like to go to SC and NC to see family and friends, but will stay here in New England until I feel I can safely travel and not become infected. and to not bring that infection home to my housemates. Eight days in a different environment could potentially cause a world of havoc. I’m unwilling to open that door…

Eight days from now I have no idea where my head will be, but I imagine that I will still be trying to cope with the loss of my pup and missing my husband. The missing my husband will always be, and I know that as time passes, I’ll be able to better handle the loss of my dog. Grief is the price I willingly pay for having loved him as I did. I’ve learned to accept that love is not always the best feeling in the world, but living without it is so not an option. I am more cautious than ever about opening myself up to pain, but I am not ever going to stop loving because it hurts. Life without love seems like a very dark way to live to me, and I don’t want to live in a world made darker because I am afraid to love. I’m not. I just realize now that the price paid can be quite high.

I know this blog post is shorter than most, but it’s really all I have to say right now. Be well, stay safe, and remember always to be kind. Shine your light into the world’s darkness, love your neighbor and love yourself.

Until next time…

Photo by Barb Enos

Dog is love…

Hi All,

Yesterday, July 2, 2020, will be another one of those dates we all have. You know, anniversaries for a special (or not so special) event. My beloved Morgan, my 9.5 year old Boston Terrier, crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He is running without pain and illness, I am, however a wreck. My experiences dealing with crushing loss will see me through. I’ve learned over these past three years that I can withstand heavy losses, both emotional and physical. I’ll be okay, some day… I know the decision to have my beloved dog euthanized was the right one, but it doesn’t make the loss any less greivous. Even when we decide a loss needs to happen, it doesn’t diminish the pain. At. All.

Almost a year ago I had to let go of my Dexter kitty, Morgan’s kitty mate. The two boys loved each other… after Dexter decided this small, smelly, beastly puppy was no threat to himself or his domain. Morgan came home on March 17, 2011 at the age of 8 weeks and was as cute as could be. (Yes, they were named Dexter and Morgan for the series on TV called Dexter.) And, the best part of bringing him home was the puppy breath!!! He was small and warm and happy, and we all loved him so much. He had his challenges as he was born with a mega-esophagus, and had also suffered a stroke at birth, but he was ours and he became my constant companion. We had intended to make him our grandson’s dog, but dogs choose their people, it seems, and he chose me. I am so glad he did because after my husband’s stroke, the dog became the driving force in moving forward in my life. Once my husband was moved to Richmond, VA for long-term treatment, I lived for getting Morgan back. He spent 6 months with his foster Momma in NC while I was dealing with my husband and his decline. We were reunited in April and now he’s gone. To say I am sad is putting it mildly, but I am so grateful I had these past 3 months with him… Thank you KP, for all you did for MoMo (a nickname) and for me.

Morgan had a plethora of health issues throughout his life, but we managed them and he flourished. We went on hikes together in the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains when we lived in Western NC, he played with our daughter’s Dutch Shepherd whenever we took him there to visit. He would jump in the car, as excited as he could be, until you turned the key and started the car. Then he had a split personality… he would never look out the window, wouldn’t lie down, and prefered to ride behind the driver’s seat on the floor. Weird. He barked aggresively at gun shots, thunder and fireworks, but was afraid of the bing of my phone telling me I had a text. Weird. He loved to play tug of war, and would growl incessantly while doing so. Weird. Eating was his favorite thing, next to farting (ugh) and he would eat until he puked if I let him. I didn’t let him. He was fed twice a day, loved to play, hated the bath and having his nails trimmed. He loved his D, his Daddy R and Momma D, and me. Our youngest grandson was so in love with him. He loved so many people in his own goofy way. He loved me through the crushing grief of losing our oldest daughter. He loved me through leaving NC for SC. He loved me through my husband’s stroke and craniotomy. He went to his foster Momma the night of the craniotomy, and he loved me through the move from Richmond to Boston. Four weeks to the day after we moved to Boston, he was gone.

I am thoroughly convinced that grief is the price we pay for love and I can also tell you that I am no longer willing to pay such an exacting price again. I am done being a dog owner; I can’t bring myself to step over the threshold of loving a dog again. At this point in my life I am learning that inviting pain is unwise. I’ve learned that sometimes the choices we have to make are not at all the ones we want to make. Not even close. The choice to put Morgan down was made a tiny bit easier because I had taken him to his vet just a few days ago and his health was failing. He was showing signs of increasing neurological damage. He was losing muscle mass. He was falling. A lot. He was in pain. His liver was failing. He went to his vet on Sunday past because he had fallen down the stairs late last week and I wanted to make sure he was okay. No broken bones, but lots of soft tissue damage. Lots of pain. Then he fell between our stone wall and our neighbor’s privacy fence and I knew then I had to make the choice I did. It wasn’t a matter of being strong, it was a matter of doing what’s right. It killed me inside, and it will for a long time, but it was right.

Morgan had a good life and he gave so much more than he was given. He was many things and had many names. MoMo, Puppa, Dews, Beast, CC (constant companion), stink-pot/stink/stink-butt. For anyone that has owned a flat faced breed, you know this to be true… He loved to sleep in the bed with his humans, he loved stretching out in the sunshine and he hated going out in the rain. A well lived life for a well loved dog. What more could we ask for?

Morgan, wherever you are, know that I loved you so much… So did everyone who met you. Run free, sweet boy, and give Dexter hell!!! I hope you found Zoe and Gozi and that the three of you play without ceasing… Goodbye, MoMo… You will be missed.

Morgan in Virginia. Photo by his Momma, Barb Enos

My Heart Hurts…

HI Again,

This blog entry may be a bit longer than what I normally write, but this subject matter is heavy on my heart and forefront on my mind this weekend. I state unequivocally that I am no expert when it come to Mental Illness, but I have been both a patient diagnosed with depression, and a human being directly affected by other’s diagnoses. I really don’t have the time to sit here at my desk right now, but I can’t afford not to share my heart right. Time is irrelevant at this precise moment, I’ll get done what I need to do later. Right now I have to share…

My heart hurts today for more than one reason. First, today is our 38th wedding anniversary and because of COVID-19, my husband and I are unable to be together. He has been hospitalized almost 7 months now, and I haven’t seen him in 7 weeks. Yes, it sucks, but it’s for the best. Not only for him, but for all the patients at the Richmond, Virginia VAMC. I understand with my head why I cannot see him in person, but the heart wants what the heart wants and I miss him. I would give anything to hold his hand, hug him and feel his warmth. I can’t. It’s just that simple. I also hurt because tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I am separated from my beloved younger daughter and her children. Mother’s Day is a stark reminder of all that I’ve lost because of someone else’s mental illness. Our oldest daughter threw us away right after Mother’s Day weekend of 2018. In fact, the last time I heard her voice was the day before. After two years I have learned to let go and not focus on the constancy of the pain I feel, but the sting is ever present. Losing our grandchildren is a much harder pill to swallow. I pray for our lost daughter every night, that she find peace of mind, and I let go. Every day, I let her go. She no longer exists as she has been replaced by a woman with a different name and an entirely different personality. Both my husband and I miss what was, and I can sleep at night knowing that we were good parents, we loved our daughter and we learned the hardest way possible what love really costs. We have lost our oldest though her body still lives. Our daughter has been ravaged by mental illness, and like any chronic condition, if you don’t, or won’t, treat your illness or disease, it will eventually become the driving force of your life. A negative driving force.

My heart hurts because I find myself struggling with the ghosts of my own mental illness. I had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with homicidal tendencies because of events that transpired long ago. I sought help before I went through with the act of homicide and I have walked out the advice and guidance of my doctors, my therapist, and others who have helped me over these past 20+ years. The self-isolation I live in right now because of the Coronavirus pandemic has triggered many painful memories, but none of them so hurtful that I need to seek inpatient treatment. I would, and have considered it more than one since February, but I maintain the lines of communication with my therapist. She is my first line of defense against the dark thoughts that start to invade my mind. I have felt the suffocation of loneliness here in this tiny apartment, spent many nights tossing and turning because I can’t get my brain to shut off, and cried out to God for relief from the pain. I am not a religious person, but I do believe. Religion hurts so many people, spirituality is comforting to me. Most believers would call me a hypocrite, it’s okay. I love people with all their faults and demons and misgivings. It’s not for me to judge. Ever. If I’m to be judged at the pearly gates someday, I hope to be able to own all my faults like I do here on earth. Anyway, as for mental illness, I have struggled and know I will again. I believe my struggles help me feel empathy for others and those same struggles give me strength to dig deep within and keep going. I love my life in spite of all the heartaches I’ve experienced, and I am still determined to seek the smallest moments of joy. If I weren’t willing, what would be the point of moving forward?

My heart hurts for those around me I see struggle with issues of their own and there is nothing I can do to change their path. Life is hard, but beautiful, even when the hard things are all you can see. There is no shame in reaching out to others for help when you find yourself in situations that you can’t figure out on your own. I feel like there is more shame in denying that there is something amiss in your life. Educating yourself about whatever you are facing takes a great deal of strength. Shame is not healthy, we all know that. Pride is very often mistaken for shame, and pride can destroy not only you, but those around you. It’s not shameful to be mentally ill, just like it’s not shameful to have cancer, or kidney disease, or to be recovering from a catastrophic stroke. I left my pride back in Boston in November of 2017 and have been reminded many times over just how necessary that was. I am not weak. I have been hurt. I have hurt others. I’m learning every day that strength and fortitude come from the weakest and darkest moments of our lives. If we allow ourselves to let go of our pride and learn from the lessons experienced through the falls we take, we come back stronger, wiser and more apt to help others deal with their issues. Other people need to know that they can make it through whatever they’re facing because someone else has been there and done that. Sharing your experiences with someone that is struggling or hurting can be a balm to their broken spirit. If you know of someone that hurts for whatever reason, let them know they can reach for your hand and that you’ll help carry their burdens. Telling someone what to do isn’t helpful, in my experience, it automatically brings out defensiveness. Instead of telling someone what to do, ask questions instead. Ask what you can do to help. Ask if there is anything they need. Ask. Don’t tell. If you’re met with the automatic “no” that most of us give as an answer, don’t be discouraged. Just let them know they’re not alone, that you’re available to listen if they need to talk and give them space. I know the triggers that signify a depressive event may be coming on for me. I had to learn them through trial and error over many years time. I know I am loved. I know I can reach out to people. And I do. Not everyone has that knowledge, but everyone can learn.

My heart hurts when I think too much about the unknowns my future holds and I feel myself slipping into dark thought processes. I have carried enormous weight on my shoulders since my husband’s stroke, but I haven’t had to do it all alone. Nor do I have to face the future alone. I have had to seek help. I have had to realize that I am not alone. I have had to realize that while I may feel incompetent, I am not. Lately I have been feeling that I don’t have a purpose in this life anymore. I live alone. I eat alone. I sleep alone. Alone. Ugh… not my favorite word, though it is factual. It’s true that my purpose is not exactly clear to me at this moment in time, but I keep pushing through the darkness. I get vertical. I pray. I walk my dog. I call family and friends. I hear the sweet voices of my SC grand-kids and my heart melts. There is purpose in the melting. I give the shoulders that bear so much weight to my daughter and let her cry on them when she needs to. I am a mother. There’s another purpose. I hold the hands of another hurting mom I know and while we hold hands virtually, she knows I am there for her. There’s purpose showing up again. Not being able to care for my husband on a daily basis has wreaked havoc on my mind, and I’m strong enough in my weakness to admit that I’ve let that havoc wreaking happen. I know I am not banned from seeing him because of something I’ve done, but guilt and loneliness have found fertile ground in which to grow because of the ban on visitation. Something completely out of my control… Purposefulness is something we all need to feel, and when it hides from us for long periods of time, it’s hard to rediscover. Writing this blog entry today became a purpose and I’m glad I took time away from the things I NEED to do to do something I WANT to do. It helps me immensely to put the words in my heart out there and know that someone else may benefit from them. Encouraging others = purpose.

In closing I’d like to say thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I have much to be thankful for, and hope that you do as well. Yes, life is hard. Darkness and strife are all around us, but so is joy. If you’re feeling off, call a friend, or your mom, or anyone you trust and just say hello. Let the conversation flow naturally. Share your heart, laugh, cry and remember always to be kind. To others and especially to yourself… until next time…

Eastern North Carolina shore
photo by Barb Enos

My Heart Cries…

Hi All,

Again it’s been a while since I’ve written, and I have no other reason than I just haven’t been able to share my heart recently. With the COVID-19 virus ravaging the world around us, I have been keeping to myself and feeling the sting of being alone on a daily basis. I have been fearful for my husband, as he and I haven’t been allowed to visit in weeks, and though the possibility of his becoming infected is somewhat slim, I worry about his state of mind. Being in the hospital is hard enough, and then to add isolation on top of everything else makes my heart break for him. And for myself. I am very grateful for the fact that the people he is being cared for by are people I had the chance to get to know before the visitation ban came about. It does bring me comfort to know that he is surrounded by compassion and love. The staff on the Polytrauma Unit at the Richmond VA Hospital became like a family before the changes in routine were put in place, and it helps that I can see him on his phone. He has improved so much since his stroke last year, and without ALL of the people involved from the initial EMT’s in South Carolina to the staff of the VA Hospital here in Virginia, I have no idea how he (or I) would have come so far. We still have a ways to go yet, but we’re getting there one step at a time.

My heart cries quite a bit at this time year. With Mother’s Day fast approaching I am reminded just how long it’s been since I’ve been able to talk to my oldest child. I am also reminded of all the hurting parents out there that have been dismissed by their offspring. I’m very glad to be able to say that I’ve been able to let go and continue to live. And to heal. Not everyone is so lucky. It’s been easier since the stroke, but I wouldn’t wish a catastrophic event like we’ve experienced on any hurting, alienated parent. The cruelty of alienation is more than any one should have to handle. The events of last year helped me redirect my focus, and my rage, into the strength it has taken to face each day. I am ever grateful that when each day comes I am able to get vertical. And sometimes that’s all I can do. Then there are days that I can accomplish more than I ever thought possible. I was able to make my bed today, and leave the apartment to run an errand or two, but yesterday I could barely walk my dog. I am not any different than any other person who has been thrown away by an adult child, nor do I wish to be. I just want to help those whom I can by letting them know that they are not alone. Nor are they bad, wrong, evil or less than. If you’re reading this and have been hurt so deeply by your child(ren) that you swear you’ll never heal, please know that you will. It takes time. Your healing may not look or feel like you want it to, but it will come. It may take a long time, or it may happen fairly quickly, every story has its own rhythm. If you had told me a year ago that I would be sitting alone in an apartment in Central Virginia and being okay with it most of the time, I would’ve laughed. Out loud. A year ago I was enjoying planting sunflower seeds in my little backyard in Summerville, SC with my two youngest grandchildren. A year ago I was learning how to let go of a rage so deep that it consumed me 24 hours a day. A year ago I was attending church with my husband and our youngest daughter and reconnecting with people from my past. A year ago I was not the same woman I am now. A year ago I was able to call my best friend and go drink margaritas and eat Mexican street corn whenever I wanted. Life changes, people change, and times change. A year ago I could fall asleep next to my husband (if he wasn’t twitching or snoring!) and now it’s likely we will never sleep in the same house again. A year ago… and I’m almost ashamed to admit this… I didn’t know how hard life could be, and I thought I had pretty much seen it all. Being thrown away like garbage by a child you created out of love, that you nurtured and rescued and prayed for without ceasing is devastatingly cruel. Beyond comprehension. For my husband and me, we know that the child that we raised and cared for has been ravaged by mental illness and that mental illness has taken our little girl away like a tornado can. We had absolutely no warning and no choice but to accept what has become a life without her. If you’re a hurting parent, reach out to me privately if you like, I’d love to encourage you if possible.

My heart cries for the world in which we are all living right now. COVID-19 is a lethal and insidious condition that has exposed the times in which we live in a less than favorable light. I watch the countries of the world come together and am appalled by the lack of action in my home country. The finger pointing, the back stabbing, the blaming… None of it is needed, desired or necessary. I hear people call it “the Chinese Virus” and that makes me sick! And angry. People I know and love are blaming the Chinese people as a whole and that’s not fair. Where is the evidence that Mike Pompeo says he’s seen to prove it was “created?” Show us, prove it! And guess what, even if he does, I still won’t hold 3 billion people responsible for the actions of a few bat-shit crazy scientists. Pun intended! How dare we as human beings think we’re better than anyone else just because we live in America? Just like my government doesn’t represent me, nor does the Chinese government represent all its people either. Government officials in both countries care only about saving face, not lives, and it saddens me to no end that so many Americans blindly follow a man and his minions to the edge of insanity. Wearing a KKK style hood in a grocery store? Storming your state’s capitol building while brandishing swastikas and assault rifles? Shooting a security guard in the head because he was doing his job? Pushing a park ranger into a lake because he had the audacity to try and reason with you? I’d like to think that the world has gone mad, but I know it’s not entirely true. I have recently begun to think that I am an unrepresented American, but it’s kind of okay. I’d rather not be affiliated with, or identified as, someone who doesn’t believe in the goodness of humanity. There are plenty of decent human beings all over the earth, and I would rather be unrepresented as an American and more recognized as a member of the human race that still gives a shit. How people can be so damn cruel to one another is something I am all to familiar with because of my own flesh and blood, I have to decide daily, many times over, to look past the craziness and hatred and noise to find the good. I do this because I believe that we are not meant to be alone on this earth, that we are not meant to be treated with cruelty, disdain or harshness. We should be the change we want to see, we should be the change you we desperately crave and we should be the change that resets the world around us. As you’ll hear in Frozen II, “do the next right thing.” This quote and one other seem to be at the forefront of every decision I have to make these days, whether I want to make them or not. In the world in which we are currently living, doing the next right thing is quite possibly only the next right thing for you, but someone has to try. Why not you? Or me? I do find the darkness that surrounds us all to be quite disturbing, but remember that other plagues and pandemics have come into being and have been overcome. Or at the very least, managed to a degree that we can move about somewhat freely. It’s scary to know how many people are dying alone and are unable to hold the hand of a loved one when they die, to hear the whispered I love you that a family member or friend says, and being scared and alone when death comes for us all is a fear we all have. No matter your belief system or lack thereof, we all fear dying alone. I do not fear death itself, just the being alone, without my husband, or daughter or a friend beside me.

My heart cries for the children that have no idea why they can’t have a birthday party, or the HS senior that will have no graduation. It breaks for the front-line workers that are spit on, mocked and made fun of. My heart breaks every time I drive down Rte. 10 here in Virginia and see the long, long line of cars waiting to be served at the county food-bank. My heart also rejoices in a small way when I see that same long line because I know my neighbors are helping one another and children are not going to bed hungry. I am a firm believer in seeking joy in any situation, seeing the good in people and embracing the community in which I live. I don’t seek recognition for acts of kindness, it’s not about me. I try to give back when can, I pay it forward often and I look for the joy, the silver lining if you will. I believe that we should never take more than we give, that we should speak up when someone needs us to, and I believe that you should find and live your passion. I know that living our passions change direction many times over in the course of every life, but as long as we’re willing to not live with our heads buried in the sand, we can have a rich and rewarding life, no matter the circumstance around us. I am almost two years out from the alienation cast upon us by our child, and I can tell you without shame that these past two years have yielded moments of excruciating, exacting pain and joys beyond measure. I have watched my husband knock on the door of death twice in the past 6 months, survive and thrive. I have ached for my beloved sister-in-love who lost her husband, my husband’s next oldest brother, very unexpectedly in February of this year. I have spent countless hours praying for her to feel comforted and loved by those who love her. I have come to accept that bad things do happen to good people, and there is no rhyme or reason as to why. I’ve learned to stop asking why, sort of. Most of the time I am able to not overthink or over analyze why things happen, but then a morbid curiosity takes over and that same curiosity tries to run me over in my own mind.

My heart cries for all the unnecessary pain each and every one of carries in the darkest recesses of our hearts. That private, locked away pain that we share with no one. I write when I feel the dam about to burst, I walk, I hide, I pray. I will continue to pray and to write and walk, and I will try not to hide too much. I hope to write again soon, it truly helps me make sense of my minds musings and my heartache. Be well, dear ones, stay safe and seek joy!

Photo by Manuel Alvarez on Pexels.com

Rambles…

Hey All,

It’s been a really tough three days for me, this week has not been at all what I hoped it would be. I did accomplish something on Saturday past by getting my beloved Boston Terrier back from his foster mom after almost 6 months without him. I had been so focused on getting him back for so long that I truly had no idea what it would do to my emotional state. I feel elated and defeated all at once. Elated to have my constant companion with me, but defeated because I have nothing left to look forward to right now. Monday was so hard, I cried my way through the day suffocating in my loneliness and despair over missing my husband. I hate not being allowed in to the hospital to see him and feel so left out of his life every day. I know I am no different than millions of others not allowed to visit their loved one in a hospital, but that knowledge provides little comfort. Logically I understand, emotionally, well, the heart wants what it wants. I know I can’t be with him, but that doesn’t make me feel like I shouldn’t be there to support him. My heart breaks for the thousands upon thousands of people who are having to say a permanent goodbye to their family members who are dying alone. It’s so sad, more sad than anyone should ever have to be. I know that death is not something that any of us escape, but having to die alone because of this damn virus seems unusually cruel. I pray daily for the world to begin healing, and also that we be a kinder, more compassionate and loving society when all of this is over.

Having something to look forward is paramount to maintaining our sanity, no matter what is going on in the world around us. I have decided to take solitary road trips in my car to different areas of Virginia where my husband may possibly be moved to for further rehabilitation. I can’t sit within the 700 sq. feet of space I call home and only take my dog out. Or watch TV. Or cry. I may not be able to go inside the facilities, but I can at least get some idea of the surrounding areas, learn my way to and from, and get out of the apartment that all of a sudden seems too small for me and my dog. It’s not, it’s fine, but I guess I just need to expand my horizons as much as I am able right now. Life is so hard when it’s “normal” (normal is nothing but a cycle on the washing machine) I feel like I am making my own life harder by not only living in this apartment, but by living in my head… A dangerous place for any one of us to dwell too long. It’s time for me to push back against the noise in my own head and do something that needs doing. Get up, get going, and push forward.

Since my husband’s stroke I can’t remember being this down. I’ve cried and raged and prayed and begged for so many things, none of them for myself. I had been so solely focused on him and his needs that I pretty much put myself up on a shelf and shoved me into the shadows. The past three days of self imposed darkness have been the hardest days I’ve experienced in such a long time, especially since they seem to be so self induced. Sure, the circumstances surrounding the separation between my husband and me are completely warranted, totally understandable, and necessary, but even knowing this doesn’t help all the time. People tell me to be strong, I’m trying. Even the strongest among us have breaking points, I think I reached one of those breaking points on Monday. Now I start the daunting climb to reach a place of light, and I know that it won’t be easy, but it is doable. A little determination, a lot of faith and a ton of tenacity is all it should take. I possess all of these traits and more. I decide what determines my course, and I just need to re-focus, re-group and look to the light. Where I am now reminds me of the darkest days after losing my oldest child because she decided I wasn’t to be a part of her life anymore. Those first months were horrible. I survived. Losing my grandson is still so damned painful, but I manage it. Our child’s cruelty does not get to define us, no one does. I miss our grandson, our step granddaughter and our son-in-love, but I’ll be okay. My husband needs me to be okay. I need me to be okay. I’ve survived and carved out a decent life for myself since May of 2018, in spite of all the loss and heartache experienced, and I can’t let a few dark days erase the years of progress. I won’t let that happen.

When you find yourself sliding down that steep slope into the dark pits of your mind, I hope that you can recognize the decline and put the brakes on. I pray that you can stop the fall and find your way back up to a happier place. To peace. It’s hard, and every single one of us does it differently. That doesn’t matter. Do whatever it takes to find peace and happiness. It’s beyond difficult, the struggle can be excruciating. What works for me may not work for anyone else, so keep trying until you find your way. People are not meant to be unhappy all the time, and learning to make yourself happy, without depending on someone else, is really tough. It’s also really rewarding. When I sit and write this blog, I am making myself happy. If what I write makes just one other person happy, or shows someone that they can live through the darkest of times and smile afterwards, that’s more than enough for me. I am not a materialistic person, and the longer I live the more this serves me well. So much has happened in the past 29 months of my life that I look back and see where the lessons learned got me to where I am tonight. Many of those same lessons have helped others. Where would I be if I hadn’t shown myself some grace and given our marriage another chance? Loving my husband is the easy part of this chapter in our life together, but it’s also beyond painful. Not being able to touch his face, hold his hand or laugh with him is troublesome, but I still have the opportunity to do so. I think of my sister-in-love every day and how heartbroken she is since losing the love of her life. She will never get to see her beloved again, or hear his voice, nor feel his touch. I ache for her, and she knows this. Knowing that others feel like this doesn’t take away the sting of death, though I hope knowing does bring her comfort. Life just isn’t fair… We can seek fairness in most any situation, but it’s just not easily found.

In closing, I ask that anyone who has taken the time to read this knows that I appreciate it very much. I don’t claim to be an expert in any area of life, I just share my heart. It’s hard to admit to a world full of so much negativity that I feel defeated by the same world, but it’s also important to me to share what helps me get beyond the negativity and find hope. Without hope we have nothing, and without hope what’s the point of being here? I continue to remind myself to seek joy, and I just wish I had reminded myself of this on Monday instead of letting the noise and darkness take over. Another lesson learned… I hope.

Morgan
photo by Barb Enos

And it Happens, Just Like That…

Hi All,

And it happens, just like that. What happens, you ask? Life. As you know, my life has been a challenge for a long time, and most days I can reasonably roll with the gut punches, and I was gut punched yesterday. Thankfully I was somewhat expecting the punch, so it didn’t take me by surprise. It still knocked the wind out of my sails so to speak, but I’ll be okay. Yesterday word came to me via the Veteran’s Administration I would no longer be allowed to visit my husband while he’s there, and while it sucks, it’s not about me. I miss him, and he misses me, but this change is for all the patients safety, and I’m okay with that. The COVID-19 pandemic has become personal to me, and I am not going to fight against not seeing my husband since I know the VA is just trying to do what they think is best. I support the decision, I just don’t like it. And it happens, just like that.

And it happens, just like that. Your life seems to be gaining traction in the right direction and something comes along to upend everything you’ve worked for, dreamed of, and had within your grasp. Moving to Virginia was never part of our plan, but it happened, just like that. We had lived in Eastern Virginia in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and we enjoyed our time here. Heck, my favorite place on earth is the Shenandoah Valley, right here in Western Virginia. I plan on taking a day trip out that way soon since I am self isolating, what better way to spend a day than with my camera, my car and the Blue Ridge Mountains? Just because life happens and it doesn’t happen like you thought it would, it doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of whatever situation you find yourself in. I think the ability to make lemonade becomes second nature as we age, and if it doesn’t, keep trying. Lemonade is sweeter when you make it yourself, even if you’re not quite ready to make it.

And it happens, just like that. You begin to believe that you’re making strides towards personal peace and acceptance, and someone decides to that they are okay with hurting you even when you beg them not to. Let it go… It’s on the person that does the hurting, not you. If you made yourself and your reasons clear, if you’ve begged, pleaded, screamed, cried and all other manner of trying to get your point across and the other person still hurts you intentionally, forgive them. That forgiveness is for YOU, because hanging on to hurt and bitterness only hurts you, not them. As Elsa says, let it go, let it go, and let the storm rage on… you know the song. I’m never going back, the past is in the past. Leave it there.

And it happens, just like that. You begin to accept that you can’t keep trying to make someone love you. Sooner or later you realize that the person(s) you are trying to connect with simply don’t want you, or need you, or even want themselves. Keep your face pointed towards the sun, even in the harshest rain storms, because the sun will shine upon your face again. The loss of love is not the end, though it sure does feel like that when it happens. When someone deliberately throws you away, you hurt. Let yourself hurt. For a while. Don’t let the hurt consume you forever, it’s not healthy nor is it worth it. The person(s) whom hurt you, they’re the ones that will reap what they have sown, and even if you never see what happens to them, you can live each day knowing you did the next right thing.

And it happens, just like that. You reach the end of your blog entry and say good day to your readers. I am humbled each time I think about making a difference in just one person’s life by sharing my heart. And my experiences. I ache to get back to the me that felt like I was able to encourage people to get through the trials of estrangement. I want to feel like I am writing again from a place of light, but am not quite there. Be patient with me as I work to repair and clean up the shards of my heart; after so many shattering events it’s almost impossible to pick up the pieces. Until next time, stay well, social distance as much as possible and turn towards the sun if you are able.

Photo by u5609u6dc7 u5f90 on Pexels.com

Spring is upon us…

Hello again,

Now that I am about 90% settled into my new place, I am hoping that I am inspired to write more frequently. Being settled is just a small part of my new life here in Central Virginia, but small and settled is so much better than the chaos, turmoil and uncertainties I have faced over these past five months. So. Much. Better.

Today it has been three weeks since we lost a beloved family member and my heart is sore. It aches for my sister-in-love, her girls, and the entire extended family. We miss you, dear one, we always will. Just today your baby brother said he wasn’t the same without you. None of us are. Even when the miles separate people physically, the heart connection is ever present. It should be this way… Memories are the gifts you left us. It shouldn’t be this way… You should be here, loving your wife, hugging your daughters and making people smile with your quick wit. Life is a little less bright without you here, but we are beyond grateful that we had the chance to love you, that we have the laughter and joy to remember you by. We will never forget…

Everyday I drive about 15 miles to the Richmond Veterans Medical Center, and for the past two weeks I have been watching Spring make its’ way into the greater Richmond area. There is a section of Hwy. 10 that I drive every day and it reveals a gorgeous and tangible reminder that life not only continues on, it blossoms, grows and keeps reaching for the sun. I’ve been watching the trees go from bare, to bud, to white, flower filled branches. Now the flowering branches are turning a luscious green, and it appears to be snowing when the breeze blows. I love knowing that the Earth is waking up again, it reminds me that nothing is impossible. Even when I feel defeated by circumstance, all I have to do is go for a drive on Hwy. 10 or 288, or just look out the window of my husband’s hospital room to know that the promise of renewal is within reach. Heck, just watching my husband work so hard at his recovery is more encouragement than I deserve. He is a champion, he’s my champion. He is the epitome of spring. He’s been cold, dormant and withered; now he is standing (with assistance, but standing,) he is regaining memory and he is reaching towards the sunlight. I am reminded every day that renewal is possible, even if the season of our individual winters last much longer than the winters of the calendar.

I’ve been told countless times by so many that I am strong, and though I don’t feel it, all I have to do is look back to October of 2019 to see my own strength. My strength is not my own to claim, it belongs to so many. It belongs to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It belongs to the love between my husband and me. It belongs to our younger daughter and her family. It belongs to my best friends, to the friends I’ve made here in Virginia. It belongs to the staff at the VA who have held me while I’ve cried, to the therapists that encourage us and to the Chaplain that prays with us. So many people have helped make me strong and without them I wouldn’t be able to find my way. I am so grateful to the paternal Gma to our oldest grandson. She is a strong and wonderful woman who has not only let me cry, rage and rant about the unfairness of everything, but she has fostered my beloved pup since NOv. 2, 2019. Her love and devotion inspire me. To all of the people that have held my hands, driven moving trucks, carried boxes, unpacked boxes and made sacrifices in large and small ways, thank you. Thank you so much.

Spring is a promise of growth, a time for refreshing, and an opportunity to reflect on the darkness of the winter, all the while seeking the light and warmth of the sun. I have lived in such a dark and dank place these past five months, though if I am to be totally honest it’s been more like 2 years. We were shunned by our oldest daughter almost two years ago, though that pain pales in comparison to the events of the past five months. I truly thought I would never hurt more than I did when she threw us away, but I have. I still hurt from time to time over her and her disregard for her parents, but I really don’t have all that much time for that hurt anymore. I pray for her peace of mind every day, that’s all I can do. I don’t seek, expect or even want reconciliation. Reconciliation would require trust and trust is not possible anymore. I am focused on the fact that the Spring of 2020 will bring growth and restoration for my husband’s brain and body, the rest of what I think about will have to wait for now. Spring this year is full of the goodness of God, and of love, therefore I will not open myself up to something that I know will hurt me. I am learning, as always, to protect my heart from that which I know will hurt it. Like spring plantings, I will plant the tenderness of my heart in the richness of the soil of love. Life is too short to plant your heart among the weeds and thorns that want to strangle and hurt you.

Tomorrow I will again drive east towards Richmond and take notice of the growth of the trees lining both sides of the road. There will be less white and more green, and I will be reminded by that green to keep reaching towards the sun, and the heavens, for my own renewal and growth. May you find moments in your own day to welcome the warmth of the spring sun into your own heart, and may you know that spring is a time to shake off the cold, the grey, and the heaviness of your own winter.

Until next time…

Photo by Louis on Pexels.com

Circles…

A group of people with shared professions, interests, or acquaintances. (as defined by Oxford Press)

Do you ever think about the roles that circles play in our everyday lives? Do you ever just sit in the sun and ponder your “circle?” I am not so gently reminded as of late as to just what my circles mean to me and how they influence the forward motion of the paths that are laid out in front of me. I hope I can make sense out of the words bouncing around in my head today, as I am hurting and feeling the width of my circles growing smaller.

I believe as we age that our circles of friends, family and influence grow smaller and smaller as time goes on. In the shrinking of circles we find acceptance, we find happiness, we find peace ,and if we’re lucky, we find love. Unfortunately we also find betrayal, strife and pain that is so deep it becomes impossible to comprehend. The impossibility of such pain is very much on my mind today and I am not only reminded that my circles are getting smaller, they’re getting less welcoming to intrusion. That lies on me, and it’s a decision I fully accept responsibility for.

Circles are round. They have no ending, no beginning, and they’re symbolic in so many ways. Wedding rings, eye color, portholes, etc… Why does a rock thrown in the water leave rings rippling outward of the splash? Why is a tree’s age determined by the amount the rings in its trunk? Why are bubbles round? When I think of the ripples left by a rock tossed in a pond, I think of the trials my family has faced, especially in the past 2.5 years. My husband and I are the rocks thrown in the water, our children, grandchildren, extended family and friends are the outlying ripples. I started things off by throwing a large rock in the water when I left my husband in October 2017. A huge splash with so many ripples. Next came our reunion, after just seven weeks of separation. More ripples were created, as we came to realize just how much we had to lose. In May of 2018 my husband and I were tossed out like a trash bag full of bricks, the splash being so loud and so large that the vast extended family was affected as well. March of 2019 brought a boulder sized splash, and the ripples haven’t stopped. October of 2019 brought the largest splash of all and the ripples caused by the event of my husband’s catastrophic stroke still grow in scope. We sold our home after 15 months of owning it, we battled craniotomy, pneumonia, a move to another state, and we had to begin to rewrite our fairy tale. The circle that is our life is evolving, as are we.

We lost a beloved family member just 11 days ago, and the ripples from the loss will continue to be felt for quite some time to come. The circle of our family has been getting smaller, whether by choice or not, and we are learning to move ahead. Just last night my own personal circle became smaller, though not by my choice. I do choose, however, to not try and enlarge said circle at this time. For me to do so would mean opening myself up to trusting people again, and that trust has been demolished. I find that trust means many things, and that within the circle of my own life, it means everything. I’ve come to recognize that people who I thought I could trust will betray me, hence making it easy to make my circle smaller. Making the circle smaller hurts deeply, but once the crushing pain begins to subside, I am still able to hold my head high and look forward towards MY best future. Looking back does nothing but make you spin in circles of craziness, and I opt out of that. I leave the crazy for someone else to live with, and wait for the next rock to be thrown in the water…

Spinning in circles can cause dizziness, dizziness can cause confusion, and confusion can cause misunderstanding. The circles of confusion had had their circumference clearly defined and coloring outside the circle’s edge has caused ripples of mistrust, hurt and loneliness. Within my heart lived a sense of belonging to a circle that presented itself as safe, but that safeness was false. I’ve closed the door on what happened to make me mistrust, and my intention is to never open it again. I’ve been gravely wounded, as have many others, by someone throwing rocks that they threw without forethought or care for what type of ripples would be left behind. The circles of my life continue to change, as do I, and I know that at the end of the day, my circle is as it should be… smaller, well defined and fiercely protected.

There is a small part of me that wishes I didn’t feel so much. I get tired of feeling so much and so deeply, but would it better to not feel? I don’t think it would be, though at times I’m not so sure. The things I’ve learned over these past 2.5 years have changed me to my core, and the lessons have been hard. Extremely so. Yesterday’s lesson cost me more than people, it cost me another chunk of my heart. The reward? I learned that trying to be heard only matters to the person that is speaking, not the one on the other end of the line. I rise up in spite of such hurt, I become a ripple in the water where the rock was tossed and I tighten up my circle. Protect your circle, keep your rocks close and when you need to, toss them into the water and let the ripples remind you of your circles…

From the North…

Hey all,

I’m writing today from the Northeast, and trying to come to grips with loss, heartbreak and rage. I’m currently in New Hampshire, I came home to New England to say goodbye to my husband’s beloved brother who died on the 25th of February. He was such a kind and loving man, and the world is a sadder place without him in it. He left behind his wife of 37 years, 2 beautiful daughters, and so many family members and friends that will never be the same. He had a wicked sense of humor, a lightning fast wit and a heart as big as big can get. He will be missed more than most and forever remembered as a person that loved deeply and lived life with joy.

In the aftermath of such a devastating loss, I am left again to witness not only the depth of sorrow that losing someone can cause, but the absolute carelessness of others. I am appalled that there are people who can put their selfishness and self serving ways ahead of the rest of their family. I’ve always said that family drama arrives uninvited at weddings and funerals, and the uninvited is about to knock on the door that should remain closed. Why would you want to show up where you are not welcome? Why is okay to wreak havoc on those who are already so heartbroken that your presence would compound the brokeness? Why? Only someone so selfish and narcissistic would make an event such as a death about themselves, not having regard for the pain and anguish of others.

I feel an almost uncontrollable sense of rage when I envision what “could” happen because one person decides that their twisted sense of self is more important than that of others. In a world filled with so much angst and hurt and chaos, why not just leave well enough alone? Why insist on inserting yourself into that which doesn’t concern you? Why ask to be left alone and then inject yourself into the lives of those you walked away from? My emotions make me think of the adage “be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.” The situation we are in right now as a family is a perfect example of that adage. We, as a family unit, didn’t ask for this. You did. Without your parents, you wouldn’t be a part of the family you think it’s okay to shun. Without your parents, you wouldn’t be a part of this family in the first place. Without your parents, you wouldn’t exist. In denying your parents existence, you deny your lineage.  As your parents we have learned to let you go, so stop trying to cling on to that to which you don’t belong. Yes, I hurt, and I am sure that that is exactly what you want me to do, but I don’t hurt for myself. I hurt for the grandchildren denied love, I hurt for the grandmother that you deny by denying your parents, I hurt for the larger family that you were once a part of that you found so easy to throw away. You are not welcome here by your own design, is that so hard to understand?

There was a time I had the wherewithal to forgive you. That time is no longer. You can’t forgive that which doesn’t exist, therefore we move forward, beyond the forgiveness. You no longer have a place in your family of origin, by your choice, so we have no reason to focus on forgiveness. To have been accused by you of such heinous and horrible things stings me no more. I have said all along these past two years that the burden of proof lies on the accuser, so prove it. Prove that I hurt you, and since you can’t, we move on. As you age, I pray that you will come to know the depth of pain you have caused, but more than that, that you care about the pain you’ve caused. In the deepest recesses of my heart, I believe that you will not care and that you will never even think about caring. When a person lives with the amount of selfishness and self-centeredness that you do, there is literally no hope that you will ever find any type of compassion in your ice cold heart.

In closing what has become a letter to you, and I know you know who you are, I want you to know that I pray for your husband and son every day. I pray for their safety. I pray that they be safe from your illnesses and that somewhere they find peace of mind. They deserve to be treated with love and kindness, and those are attributes that you are incapable of giving…20190612_1217032011319798756635633.jpg