A Simple Hello…

Happy Sunday to you all!

I’m grateful to be at what some of us consider the end of our week and some consider it to be the beginning of the next week. No one likes to be caught in the “middle” of many things, but this is one time the middle is a good place to be. Take a few minutes and think about what you accomplished this past week. Was it a lot? A little? Nothing? Nothing isn’t really a factor in this question, because if you woke up every day and that’s all you did, you still did something! I’ll admit that this past week started out by showing all the signs of being a week where I would have to dig in and “embrace the suck.” Thankfully I was wrong. Very wrong! Monday was the worst day I had and by Wednesday I was back on track. Getting knocked down isn’t fun, nor is the pain we experience, but we have the ability to get back up and keep moving forward as long as we can breathe. I’m still breathing.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn to incorporate into my life since my husband died is the knowing that every time I wake up from a nap or a full night’s sleep: the sting of loss is new in that very second. Daydreaming brings the same sting as well. And if the daydream is about him, I usually have tears streaming down my face without even realizing it. It’s okay. I would rather feel the sting 10,000 times a day than to never experience it. That sting lets me know that he was. And that he is. And that he will be forever in my heart.

As I look back over the life of my blog, I see so much pain and anguish and sadness. I also see strength and grit and and tenderness. Let me admit here and now that I know there were times where it seems I was unfair, and I was. This blog was born out of the worst type of pain I’d ever experienced up until my beloved died and the pain I wrote about sometimes came across as hateful. I really can’t apologize for where I was, though I know I should. I know I’ll never hear an apology directed towards me, and that’s okay, too. The further away from the events of May of 2018, the less power they hold over me. God hasn’t given any of us a spirit of fear, and I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. It’s the same for the pain of grief. The further away from the date my husband finally succumbed to the ravaging effects of his stroke, the pain of grief becomes less harsh. The sting? I can deal with it. I almost welcome it, like I said. It lets me know that he was loved and that I was, too.

I’m not a perfect person, I don’t want to be. I’m perfectly loved and that’s what really makes it possible for me to push my way out of the darkness and live in the light. When we sink to our knees in prayer, we don’t always get the answers we WANT. We get the answers we NEED. We all know there is a difference between want and need. What happened recently isn’t important anymore, it’s what I’ve learned that makes all the difference. I’ve forgiven myself and pray for forgiveness from the person I hurt. I know the saying is “forgive and forget” and I’m good at the former, not the latter. Each day I wake up is another day towards forgetting. This is an area of my life I need to work on. I try, and fail. And try again. And fail, again. Don’t we all?

When life doesn’t turn out like you thought it would, leave the darker parts of it behind you. Let the sun shine upon you and warm your battered spirit. When you cry out to God or the Universe or whatever higher power you believe in and you get no response, look deep within and try to be patient. The answer is out there somewhere, and it will come to you when you truly need it. I got my answer about this past week’s turmoil on Wednesday and now it’s a solid comfort to my spirit. I hope you find the same peace.

Be well dear readers and remember, in a world where you can be anything, please be kind! Until next time…

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

Finally…

Finally… Look up the definition of the word and you’ll see where I’ve been. “After a long time, difficulty or delay.” (Oxford Language Dictionary)

As a courtesy to those of my followers that may not believe in God, I want to tell you up front that this post will be pretty saturated by my faith. I try not to write about it extensively, but this post calls for it. I won’t be offended if you choose not to read further, and should anyone choose to leave derogatory comments on my site, please know that I’ll just delete them. Thanks.

Finally… I saw him. People talk about seeing their loved one after death in things like butterflies, birds, and the like. I hadn’t experienced that until this morning at precisely 5:30 a.m. EST. I woke gently for once, my cat not making unreasonable demands like she does most days. She was tucked against me, I was warm, and slowly opened my eyes. He was there, like, right there. Standing next to our bed, his head covered by a white hood and I could see the folds in the cloth he was wearing. A simple draping of fabric laid across his broad shoulders and chest. His steady breathing, and the most encompassing sense of peace. Am I insane? Probably. Do I care? Not at all. I’ve been pretty raw since it happened, but not in a bad way. It just felt so real. I know it was him. I’ve often written about hearing him and that still happens. Music is the connection between us and that will never change. I hear him almost everyday. Seeing him? I can’t even…

Finally… I’ve started chasing my degree and my dream to write a book. I’ve been working hard at becoming a student in the 21st century, and it I have to tell you something. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! I’m living proof! At the age of 59.5 years old, I squashed the inner demons of self-doubt, second-guessing, and over-thinking. And I continue to that every day! It’s not easy, but if something is worth having, it’s worth working your butt off to get it. No matter who other people think I am, the only true opinions that matter are my own. And God’s. Without the foundation of faith I am once again standing on, I couldn’t make my life make sense. People hurt one another. I’ve hurt people I love. I need the healing that only He gives. I want to be connected to others, of course I do. I like people and we’re not created to be alone, so it only makes sense that I would need/want to feel connected. Being connected doesn’t give the person on the other end of that invisible cord the right to hurt me. Nor I them. Things happen. The cord snaps. Sometimes you can bring the ends back together and bind them in a fashion that holds fast again. Sometimes the ends are frayed beyond repair and at some point you have to recognize that things will never go back to the way they were. Wherever you are in your relationships with others, I pray that you’re happy. And whole. That wholeness for me comes from God.

Finally… I’m happy. In the most basic and simple of ways. I’m happy. I have a wonderful family, a few amazing and closer than my own skin friends, and a life that doesn’t look like much to most, but it’s all I need. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be happy again, especially after the death of my husband, I would’ve done one of two things. I’d cry, or tune you out. I still cry, but not like I did a year ago. I try not to tune people out, I fail. We all do. When you get tuned out, it hurts like hell. I don’t want to do that, or feel like that, ever again. The Lord promises us good things, and sometimes those good things come out of bad. Sometimes we have to struggle and beg and cry out to Him to find the answers to our whys. When the answer is revealed, you”ll know it’s from the Father above. How? That I cannot answer. You just know. I know I’ll feel left out or discarded again, it’s human. When I do, I’ll cry out to Him. I’ll hit my knees and pray. Simple, profound, and overpowering. Happiness isn’t impossible to find, it comes from within. And from Him.

Finally… I can look forward and see a little of the path I’m on beginning to blossom with blessings. My best friend is on the transplant list for a kidney. By summer she may have one. After almost 5 years and countless roadblocks, things are beginning to look up. Literally. I can’t fathom losing my spirit sister, and I have very selfish motives for feeling that way. I have never had a friend like her, we are one spirit in two skins. Please pray for her when you read this. God knows who she is and who her potential donor is, that’s all you need to remember. He’s clearing the hurdles in a mighty way as I type. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is no joke. Please consider becoming an organ donor, or even a living donor, if you feel led. Giving the gift of you, in some form, can alter a life. A family. A community. The world…

Finally… I’ll end here. I wish the snow would! It’s snowing here in southwestern PA, and it sucks. I’m so ready for warmth and sunshine and outdoor play time. I hope that if you’re reading this, you’re happy and warm and safe. If you have a partner, hug him/her. Just because you can. Please pray that God continues to help me heal and move from grief to peace. I’m hopeful that somewhere out there is a person willing to accept me as I am, and that I can open my heart to someone else again. If companionship for me isn’t part of God’s plan, please pray that I find the inner strength I’ll need to live out the remainder of my earthly life in service to others. For, with, and because of Him…

Broken

Broken…

What does that mean to you?

Hello Friends, I’m writing today about a subject that looks different for each and every one of us. Broken, by definition (Oxford online dictionary) means: 1.) having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order. 2.) (of a person) having given up all hope; despairing. I have been, and am, both. The second description is less of who I am than the first, though it wasn’t all that long ago in the reverse. I am no longer despairing. I haven’t given up. I’ve accepted. In that acceptance I’ve found that I have hope, though at times the hope is fleeting. Fleeting is better than non-existent.

Broken isn’t always bad. Sometimes we need breaking. An addict that wants to become and stay sober has to break their habit of drug use, drinking, anger, etc… As humans, sometimes we have to break cycles of addiction, abuse and neglect. More often than not, we become chain breakers of repeated circumstances. Of chains cast upon us by generations past. Being broken can open doors to the healing that we all crave. And need.

Broken people hurt people, and the cycle of brokenness is perpetuated. As you know, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, I started writing because my husband and I were estranged from our oldest daughter. She accused us (mostly me) of heinous things, and the power in those statements damn near ruined us. Damn near. What has happened since the estrangement began is beautiful, yet sad. As time marched across the vast emptiness of shattered and broken hearts, we were growing without realizing it. We spent the first year trying to find a way to make sense of a non-sensical situation. A letter came. Another boulder to break the miniscule, and I do mean miniscule, healing that had begun to sprout through the cracks in our hearts. The letter became a tool in the healing process, not a detriment. We knew the day that courier showed up at our door that we could remain broken and struggling, or that we could accept and move forward. Without her. We chose the latter. Accepting that you’ve been thrown away like nothing more than a gum wrapper is beyond difficult to process, not impossible. Seven months after the letter arrived, my husband suffered a catastrophic stroke that would ultimately end his life. More breaking…

Breaking someone’s spirit because you can doesn’t make it right. I’ve done this very thing and am grateful that I, too, was broken because of my actions. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to be as right as I thought I did. Being right, or winning, isn’t winning anything if the victory is hollow. I’d rather lose a fight to hold onto peace and experience healing than to win an empty cup. Sometimes acceptance becomes our trophy, we just have to be willing to be open to what the lack of fighting may bring.

Being broken sucks. Plain and simple. If you’re shattered and experiencing so much pain that you can barely see, breathe. Just breathe. Sometimes being able to breathe is all we get when the white hot pain of brokenness rains down on us like a violent storm. Don’t bother with the umbrella, the winds of pain and heartache will continue to rip it out of your hands. Stand as strong and as fast as you can manage to against the tempest. Lean in. Breathe. I promise there will come a day when sunlight breaks through the proverbial darkness. You probably won’t recognize the light at first, I didn’t. As you put one foot in front of the other, your path becomes more well lit. Someday, you’ll look behind yourself and realize you’ve made progress towards that sliver of sunlight.

It’s been almost a year since my beloved died from that afformentioned stroke, and my heart is healing, yet stays broken as well. I’ve made many changes in my own life over the past year, and I’m proud of myself (mostly) for the way I’ve learned to accept what is, and isn’t, part of my life. I’ve moved. I start college (after a 40 year break) next month for my English degree. I’ve attended conferences that offer peer support to America’s families of its fallen heros. I’ve found a church that I like and I’ve met some wonderful people there. I also feel regret. I’ve lost people over the past year because I’m healing in a way they don’t understand. Part of the journey to heal our brokenness brings more brokenness, how could it not? It’s okay. I’ve adopted a new fur baby that makes me laugh out loud with her silly antics. I spend time with my youngest daughter, her husband and their terrific kids. I pray, without ceasing, for myself and others around the world. Music is never not on in my apartment. Music is like breathing for me, I can’t live without it. I’m learning that there is so much beauty in my brokenness that I can’t contain it all and I feel compelled to share it with all of you.

Being broken is hard, that’s for sure. What we choose to do with our brokenness is individual to each of us. For me, the hardest part of being broken is finding a way to accept myself when I make a poor decision. I’m human, I hurt, and the self-recrimination I place on myself after a poor decision can last for many, many days. Even many months. It’s when I get to a place where I can look back behind myself, that I see the healing that’s happened.

Go, be broken, and live. It is possible. Give yourself ALL the grace and mercy you deserve and forgive yourself. Forgive others. Life is messy, and this broken woman in Southwestern Pennsylvania hopes that you can see the beauty in the mess…

Photo by Barb Enos

Trees

It’s been a while, thank you for reading…

I’ve been praying a word a day since 1/1, a guided devotional supplies a new word each day. Today’s word is tree. It got me thinking that growth is always possible. Even at its weakest stage, a tree will reach towards the sunlight to be fed. I am as a tree, sprouting, reaching growing and seeking the water I need to survive. The Living Water supplies all my needs.


Job 14:7 reads; At least there is hope for a tree; If it is cut down it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.


As the one year anniversary (angelversary) of my beloved’s death approaches, I can feel myself wanting to hide, to become dormant as a tree in winter. Still living, but resting so deeply, the trees appear dead. As a grieving wife, I’m incredibly sad. As a grown woman, shaped and molded by the life I’ve lived, I know I’ll continue to grow if I just nuture the roots of my being. Sunlight, clouds, rain and time all contribute to the nurturing, all gifts from the Father above.


No matter what you do or don’t belive when it comes to God, I hope you all know that you are part of my growth, even if you can’t see it. I’ve been planted in fertile and giving ground, and for that I thank God. As my journey towards relationship with our Heavenly Father continues, know that without the support of all of you, I wouldn’t grow. You are my sunlight, my rain and my soil…

Charles River in Bellingham, MA. Photo by Barb Enos.

Dear America,

Dear America,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Triggers…

What is a trigger in regards to mental health?

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

(definition copied from Google search)

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

Every. Single. One.

Every. Single. Day. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Barb Enos Revere Beach, MA.

Generosity…

Hello world,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

(Image credit belongs to: Grief to Gratitude)

Directions…

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

~ Jack Thorne, (British Screenwriter) ~

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

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

Fast forward 18 months.

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

Fast forward 7 months.

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

Fast forward 17 days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Thoughts…

Hi,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carrying the Luggage of Grief…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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