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

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

 

Accept the things to which fate binds you…

Hi,

The title of tonight’s blog is a partial quote by Marcus Aurelius, and I saw it at the end of a movie my husband was watching when I got home from work this evening. It gave me something to think about and kind of tied my thoughts together in a weird sort of way. Let me explain…

I have fought so hard these past 17 months against the loss of not only our daughter, but against the loss of our son-in-love, grandson and granddaughter. I realized this morning sitting in my car in the parking lot at my job that I was and am fighting against that over which I have no control. I am done. Done. Done giving away parts of myself in the most minute of ways to where no one else can see what it costs me to keep hurting. I am done giving away any part of my heart to anyone other than those to whom I choose to give it to. I will always love the little girl I gave birth to and mourn the woman we lost almost 35 years later, though as far giving away any more contol… Done. I have to be. It’s time to accept the things to which fate has bound me, and the loss of our daughter is one of those things.

Fate has also bound me to accepting pain. Crushing pain. I’m okay with this as I know the pain I experience has been, can be and will be able to help another parent somewhere come to grips with the cruelty of being thrown away. Or of being accused, however falsely, of terrible acts against their own child. All I can say to another hurting parent is to remember that the burden of proof lies with the child doing the throwing away. It sounds simple. In essence it is simple. In reality, it’s anything but simple. Anything but easy. It’s a tough pill to swallow. A bitter tonic to drink. No matter the metaphor used, being thrown away by a child that you created and nurtured is cruel, mean, and very often without grounding. My husband and I were not perfect parents, but we were and are damned good ones. I cannot change that which fate has bound us to, but I can rise above it all and hold my head high knowing that I tried my best to be a good and loving mommy to both my little girls.

Fate has shown me that love isn’t enough for some people, but that it is enough for me. I have wonderful friends and the most amazing family that any plain and ordinary person could hope for. My husband of almost 38 years loves me. Me. The unlovable monster that has been accused of heinous things. I am not a monster. I am not evil. I am not unkind. What am I? I am broken. I am shattered. I am loved. I love. I have friends that know the darkness that I find myself in at times, and they shine a light into that darkenss so I can find my way out. Fate would try and have me accept the things of which I have been accused, and this is where I mock fate. I know better. Sorry fate…

I accept that fate has been a powerful and exacting teacher in my life, though I struggle with such an admission. Why would fate choose such a life for any mother? Father? Sister? My place is not to question why, but to figure out how to keep moving on. I am only responsible for what I do. How I act. What I say. I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try to turn the other cheek, it takes more strength than I myself possess. I don’t try to stand alone anymore, I’m not strong enough to do so. I lean on my husband, my friends, my faith and my family. I am but one, and it takes a village…

So, in closing, remember that Marcus Aurelius was a very wise man. We have to accept that to which fate binds us. We can push back against it, we can fight it with everything inside of us and we can turn and run… It won’t matter. Fate is what it is and we learn from it or let it take from us. I have nothing left to give Fate, I accept this.

Goodnight…

Where did she go?

Hello,

Yesterday I found a box of photos in our laundry room that hadn’t been opened since we moved into this current home. For 362 days, this box sat on a shelf and contained within its cardboard walls were pictures of the little girl that once loved us. The little girl that was a big sister and loved her little sister. Where did she go? Why did she go? I was tempted to throw some of the photos in the burn barrel, but then realized that the memories invoked by these pictures were actually good. We did have good years with our oldest daughter, and those memories haven’t been tarnished by the hatred and cruelty we have experienced because of her. I am not throwing those away, or burning them, they are a part of a life that was, and I want to remember that.

When does the heartbreak end? As far as I can tell, it doesn’t, but it does dull. It also comes back with a vengeance when you least expect it. Today was such a day for me. I talked with a trusted friend that has much more knowledge of mental illness and she tried to help me understand that our daughter left us long before she actually did. Mental Illness doesn’t care about how much you love someone, or how much damage it does to the individual battling it, it ravages and steals and kills all kinds of connections. I used to believe that somwhere within our daughter’s heart and spirit there had to be something left that would make her seek to heal her wounds and forgive, but that’s not a possibility now. I have to accept this. I just have to.

How is it possible that one person could control so much without a single person giving up control? I believe the demons she fought within her mind are what caused the irreparable damage that our family now lives with. Broken relationships, secrets, lies and abuse are the leftovers of a life that seems damn near impossible to live, let alone understand. My husband and I have had to learn how to be erased grandparents because the child we gave birth to believed that using love as weapon was okay. #loveisnotaweapon is very much my motto these days, and I am very guarded now as to who I share my heart with. I have to be.

What does all this mean? Our lives are different after being thrown out like garbage by our child, but we are not garbage. I’m sure she believes that we are toxic, that we abused her as she had said, and she’s wrong. I find much comfort in knowing that the burden of proof of actions allegedly committed by me lie with the accuser. I also remember that you “can’t reason with the unreasonable.” These simple truths sustain me on my darker days, and thankfully those darker days are few and far between now. I experience sadness daily because of the losses of our daughter, son-in-love and grandkids, but sadness doesn’t define me. If it did, that would be giving away my power and I fight every day to seek joyful moments and smiles. She lost more than she gained, and while the same is true for us, we know that better days still lie ahead.

It’s getting late here in the SC Lowcountry and these old bones are tired. I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to write and share my heart, it’s comforting to know that my pain can and has made a difference to others. None of us are alone, and there are still people out here willing to help. Remember that…