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.

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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…

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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…

When is a long time too long a time?



Hey everyone,

It’s been a really long time since I’ve written, I’ve been working 6 days a week for the last few weeks and when I get home, I’ve been doing the dinner dance. You know that dance, right? The one where you get home at 7pm, try and figure out what to cook, if you’re going to cook and then hanging out with my husband until I crawl into bed just to get up and do it all over again. I need to plan our meals, and am fully aware of the benefits of such behavior, so I really have no excuse as to why I don’t. It’s been too long since I have done a lot of things and the time spent worrying about what I haven’t done is gone, so I look forward and resolve to try harder.

I’ve had a couple of setbacks in dealing with the loss of our daughter since I last wrote, one of those setbacks came yesterday morning when I heard the song she danced with her Daddy to at her last wedding. In the very beginning of the estrangement I couldn’t listen to it at all without falling apart, but as time when on and we accepted the permanence of the loss, I got to a place where it became just another song again. Yesterday it just made me melancholy that in just 3 years time, our daughter would think so little of us that she would throw us away. My heart hurt for my beloved husband yesterday, and though it hurts for him everyday in the face of such loss, yesterday the loss was just at the surface. I’m not okay with myself when I get like I was yesterday because it makes me feel like our daughter has too much control over the lives of her parents. She doesn’t deserve to be given any credit for anything but trying to destroy the very people that created her out of love, she didn’t try to control herself, so we work hard at not giving away any control over our lives to the grief and anguish she has caused so many people, not just her parents.

It’s been too long since I’ve let my heart just hurt and on Monday of this past week, I had a meltdown at work. Thankfully I have a fantastic boss who understands that when a person you loved so much decides to check out of being a part of your life, you lose yourself in the grief sometimes. You also lose yourself in the anger, the rage and the utter disbelief of it all. I struggle with the woman I become when I fall, and again, it all seems to stem from trying to NOT give away any of myself to the loss over which I had no control. I still find it incredibly hard to understand how one person in a world with 7 billion people can affect so many lives in such a negative way. One person? Our daughter hurt so many when she left us, and she hurt herself, though were she still a part of our lives she would never admit it. She would point the finger of blame at me, at my husband, at her sister. Her poisonous tongue would say things that are as ludacris as they sounded when they came out of her mouth. I’ve learned through the grief that I have the power to hurt or heal with my words, and while I don’t always say or do the the right thing, I firmly believe in taking the high road now more than ever. I am a good person, and I almost lost my goodness because of the actions of another. I lost so much, so now I fight to hold onto the goodness I have left.

It’s been too long since I have focused on the healing that writing this blog, and my book, brings me. I have been denying myself the time to sit and focus on myself, and without self love, life starts to become more and more of a struggle. Yes, I struggle with the loss and the volume of the noise that my own head can produce when I think about the why of it all. Why did she make false claims about us? Why didn’t she ever try to talk to us about the things she believed to be true? Why did she think she was less than? Why did she? Why did she…? Enough already!!! I am not controlled by her thoughts, but by my own, and I have to slam the door on the negativity that creeps in like a thief in the night. Just like setting the alarm on the house, I need to set the one in my brain to alert me to the invasion of negativity that comes out of nowhere. I have to allow myself the grace to accept that I am powerless over this loss. I am powerless to change the mind of anyone else. I am powerless in many ways when it comes to this loss. I am not powerless when it comes to changing the direction of my thoughts. I am not powerless in my desire to move forward and seek joy. I am not powerless in my ability to love through the pain. As pat as it sounds, time really is the only thing that helps in dealing with losing someone you loved so much. Time. It speeds by and it crawls. It gives us hope and takes it away. It never stops marching on, so sometimes you have to let it go and rest. Time spent wallowing in grief is not time wasted, it’s time soent healing, even if you can’t see or feel it.

It’s been too long since I’ve said to myself that I am confident, that I matter and that I am worthy of good things. I have a good life, it’s just different than the life I thought I would be a part of before losing our child. Loss changes you and when you finally reach the place where you no longer recognize yourself, it’s time to reevaluate and possibly head in a different direction. I’ve always had a more positive outlook on life, I’ve always believed that kindness matters and I’ve always believed in the power of selflessness. I lost a lot of these things as time went on after losing our daughter, and there are times I don’t like who I am becoming. I have fought back against being bitter, only to lose. I’ve fought back against the rage, only to have the rage consume me at times. I am now much more aware of how words can kill the strongest of spirits, and my spirit is not okay with this. I am better in many ways than I have ever been, but I find I am different. I’ve lost the desire to trust, to reconnect, to love with abandon. I’m working on these things every day, and while my circle of friends is smaller than ever, the circle that remains is stronger than any grief or evil deed. If I were to perish tomorrow, I would be leaving behind a life that needs more time to become whole again. And I will be whole again, I am more determined than ever to keep seeking good. Keep seeking joy. Keep seeking kindness.

In closing it is my hope that if you are hurting over something in your own life, you know that you are not alone. We need each other to lean on in a world that seems to promote discontent these days. Find a support group, go for a walk on the beach, hike in the woods, pray and/or do what brings you peace. If that peace only lasts a few minutes, embrace it. The struggle never ends, but the periods of peace become longer and longer until the day WILL arrive where you find a smile that lasted all day in your heart. Losing a loved one is not easy, it shatters even the strongest of hearts, but we can put the pieces back together as much as possible and learn to appreciate the jagged edges left behind in a new way. Be well, dear ones, I won’t wait so long to write again.