Dancin’…

Good morning, all, I hope this entry finds you all well and staying as safe as possible. With Coronavirus surging again, the future looks more bleak every day. That’s what got me thinking about dancin’…

Dancin’ with the devil… Dancin’ on the ceiling… Dancin’ in the dark… Dancin’ in the Rain…

Take your pick, the field is wide open. Right now I am basically dancin’ with the devil. The devil of depression, the devil of despair, the devil of loneliness. Too many devils to name them all. What keeps me going is knowing that I can and do dance with my friends, my family and with my faith. I don’t write much about how I believe, but I do. And that belief helps me beat back the devils I dance with on a daily basis. I’m a believer that doesn’t identify with mainstream Christianity. I know that’s not a popular thing to say, but it’s the truth. I see things from a more open-minded view point, and how I pray, practice my faith and worship, are very personal to me. I don’t share much more than that.

Dancin’ is something that should make us feel good, the more movement we get in in a day helps keep our spirits up. I love all different kinds of music and sometimes I just want to find that rhythm that makes me move without even thinking about it. I know that when people drive by me and I’m dancin’ in the car, it always makes them smile, and sometimes laugh at me when they pass by. It’s okay, I laugh at myself, too. I believe in simple joy, and knowing that even for a few seconds that someone finds something to smile about in this dark and somewhat oppressive world because some fool woman is dancin’ in her car brings me joy. Simple.

Do you ever think about how crappy this world would be without music? Without dancin’? It would be a place that I would not want to be, music sustains me. Especially in this dark, dreary and uncaring world. I would rather listen to music than watch TV, and dancin’ is just a way to bring music to life. My husband and I would dance in the kitchen when he was able to. I would dance in the kitchen with my children held in my arms when they were young. I love to hold my grand-babies and dance with them when I am able. Being silly and dancin’ with my beloved Boston Terrier, Morgan was something I would do often. I miss dancin’ with my dog, he crossed the Rainbow Bridge in July of this year.

Dancin’ is a simple way of relieving stress and who cares if you look foolish or not? I don’t worry anymore that people will think I’m a freak for expressing myself. I don’t care anymore what other people, especially those I don’t know, think of me. I am broken and hurting and trying to keep my head above water these days, so what someone else thinks doesn’t matter. Stress will eat us all alive if we let it and adding to that because of someone else’s opinion? I don’t think so…

I just wanted to say a quick hello and am getting ready to head to hospice to visit my husband. Please know that I appreciate all of you and the time you take out of your busy life to read my blog. Have a joy filled day and remember to dance whenever you want! Life is too short not to!

Photo by Barb Enos

Thursday Morning Thoughts…

Good Morning. Welcome to Thursday! This week has gone by pretty quickly, but being a day behind until this morning helped speed things up. I’m caught up with the rest of my life now and having a few laughs at myself. I’m glad I can laugh still, especially as my life is falling apart. I’m holding on by the skin of my teeth, still looking ahead to the sun rising again and bringing me some peace. And moments of joy. Even stolen moments of joy.

This morning my husband is first and foremost on my mind. As always. I find myself cherishing each day, each moment with him just a little more than the day before. As the world implodes all around us, I am becoming more and more insular within. His days are numbered, but how many of these numbered days do we have left? Yesterday he was pretty zombified by the morphine he’s now receiving regularly, and while the situation continues to crush my heart, I am at peace. As is he. To be able to spend time with him in the midst of the pandemic is a gift, and I am determined to make the most of our time together. Watching someone you love transitioning to death is not easy, not at all. It’s like a double edged sword. On the one side we want more time, on the other side we want less suffering. I can’t imagine my life without him, but I can’t imagine him in constant pain and suffering. A complex oxymoron…

It’s a beautiful fall day here in New England and the sun is shining brightly in Boston. While the country I love races towards self-annihilation, I find myself stuck between wanting to scream and wanting to hide. I want to scream because people of color are treated as less than by a broken justice system. I want to hide because the noise of turmoil overwhelms me. Especially now. I want to stand up and fight for what matters to me, and not being able to is a tough pill to swallow. Then I think, “Hey! You are fighting for that which matters most! Your husband.” I am learning a little more each day how to grant myself grace. And forgiveness. And I ask for forgiveness from my friends. Forgive me for not being able to do more, but I know you all understand why I can’t. Thank you.

As you go about your day today, remember to be kind to those you meet. You never know what someone is going through. Kindness matters, and these days it matters more than ever. With so much hatred and discord being spread by people that are in positions of great power, it’s up to the rest of us to hold onto kindness and share it. Smile at a stranger, even though they might not see it behind your mask. They’ll see it in your eyes. Let that car trying to turn left into that parking lot go ahead of you, just because you can. Take a walk and just listen to the world around you. Sit in the sun. Be kind to yourself. And others. We all need more kindness and you could change a life with a simple act of kindness.

My Thursday thoughts could go on for quite a while, but I’m ending here. I’m going to take that very walk I encouraged you to do, and listen to the sounds of the city I love. Traffic, sirens and dogs barking are a given, but birdsong, children laughing and quiet are not. These are the things I will be listening for…

Until next time, be well and stay safe!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

A Love Letter to 1988…

Dear daughter,

February 12, 1988, was a chilly Friday morning in Hampton, VA. Your maternal grandmother was at our apartment helping your soon to be “big sister” ready for school and the dentist. Daddy and I were going to Hampton AFB Hospital to welcome you into our arms and introduce you to the world. You were so loved and we were ready to grow our family for the final time.

You were born after 11 hours and 56 minutes of labor, though not all hard labor. You were very small for a full term baby, sort of blue, and screaming once the doctor got the cord from around your neck. You rapidly turned pink and had a set of lungs that would continue to give you issues throughout your youth. You were jaundiced, laid under the lights in the hospital and then in the sunlight streaming through our patio window once you came home. We loved you so. We still do…

You were an easy child to raise but a difficult babe to carry. I was very sick the entire length of my pregnancy with you. I’ve often said had you been born first I never would have had another child, but I would have. Especially if that child was like you. I remember being so sick your Daddy would cry from not knowing how to help me. Every single day of sickness was worth it because we have you and we love you. So much…

I don’t know how to tell you how much your love has meant to both Daddy and me. How do you tell someone that they’ve been your guiding light? How do you express a love so deep that to think about it brings tears of joy and pain at the same time? Joy because you are a wonderful person. Pain because we miss you so much. You had so many physical challenges to overcome as a young child, and you did. We loved you through all of it, we still do…

You were young when you said to us that you would never hurt us like your older sister did. You never have. I know you miss her, we do, too. Your determination to stay out of trouble and do well in school has led you to a wonderful life full of love, learning and stability. You set the kind of example for your children that shines brightly and they have the most amazing mom. Ever!

There are so many things I would change for you if I could. Your Daddy wouldn’t be sick. We would still be in SC being hands-on grandparents and enjoying being so close to you and your beautiful family. I wish I could give your son back his Poppa. I wish I could hold your daughter’s hand and see her new Hatchimals in person. I miss you and love you, so much. We both do…

When people tell me that they’re amazed at how strong I am, I tell them that I don’t have a choice. I’ve had to be strong. With you I can fall apart and cry and rage and hide… and I appreciate that more than you will ever know. I’ll be honest and tell you that I am weaker than ever, but in that weakness is beauty and resilience. With each day that passes and we cannot be together, I want you to know that I pray for you and your family. I pray that you all know how much your Daddy and me love you all. I pray for your safety. I pray that your children know how much they are loved by their grandparents. I give thanks to God and the universe for the gift of you. As a mother that has known the pain of losing a child, I can tell you that the joy of loving you has been a healing and soothing balm to my broken heart. Thank you for loving me, for loving Daddy and for being the daughter that you are. You are my heart. Always…

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Man Without Us…

Hi all, I hope this entry finds you all well and staying safe…

I write a lot about how I feel because it makes sense to me to write what I know. I know how “I” feel. I woke up this morning feeling like I usually do. I wake with the light and since the light comes early on the East Coast, I wake early. Not a big deal. This morning I woke and my first thoughts were of my husband as they always are now. This morning I woke thinking how each day passes and how alone he must feel without us. How alone he must feel without his brothers, his mom, his daughter, his sons-in-love and his grandchildren. How alone he must feel without all of the people that love him being allowed to see him everyday.

The man without us is a man of broad shoulder, barrel chested, sports a military buzz cut, and has blue eyes that shine. My husband stood at 5’11” and carried himself with the discipline and pride instilled deep within by the many years of service to our nation. He was a larger man, with a solidness that made his hugs the best ever. A Teddy Bear in private; a fiercely loyal and protective man all around. He served 24.5 years in the military and it was an honor to serve beside him. It wasn’t easy then and it’s not easy now, but we made it through all those years, surprisingly intact, and I am grateful for the opportunity we had to make a life together.

As I sit in the kitchen of my oldest brother-in-law’s kitchen, I find myself feeling way too much to be able to share everything in my head about this subject in one blog post. Can you imagine what any patient in a skilled care facility must feel on a daily basis because of the restrictions of visitation due to Covid-19? Granted, the restrictions are in place to protect the health of patients and employees, but when you’re dealing with compromised patients, they aren’t always able to process rules and regulations. They see limitations as cruel, and hurtful, and beyond their comprehension. My husband was a smart, logical man before his TBI, but now he’s like a little boy that just “doesn’t get it.” He cries, he rages and he aches for the loving touch of a hug, a hand held, and a kiss on the cheek. He deserves that. We all do. Imagine having that taken away from yourself with no warning, no comprehension, and no end in sight? This is the plight of hundreds of thousands of people across the country. We are being told that we can visit our loved ones by appointment only, but that we can’t touch them, we can’t approach them, and we can’t hug them. It’s torturous from no matter how we look at it. People mean well when they say things like “you should be grateful that you can see him.” They tell me to be patient, that “this too shall pass.” Or, “You should…” You need to…” “I want you to…”

The man without us doesn’t care that other people “think” those of us that love him “should.” He doesn’t care that the reasons for the limitations on visiting are in place to try to protect the most vulnerable among us against a silent virus that spreads like wildfire. He cares that he’s lonely, that he feels abandoned and that he thinks no one cares. I love my husband beyond my own life, I would take the TBI onto myself and set him free of all the pain and loss and loneliness. I can’t. What I can do? I can carry my share of his heaviness and do it with as much grace, fortitude and determination as I can muster on a daily basis. Some days it’s easy, some not, and then there are the in-between days. The days that start with tears, but end with smiles. The days that rain without ceasing and you swear that you’ll never see the sun again. The days where the weather is the stuff of dreams… I know the man I married all those years ago is gone, but he’s not at the same time. Until you experience the challenges of an event like the one that changed our lives, and the lives of so many around us, you’ll never quite understand the struggle. I pray you never have to understand the struggle.

The man without us is safe, he’s being well cared for and he is loved. At my darkest times I cry out to God for the strength to make it through another day. I cry out in my pain and beg the universe for peace, and sometimes I find it. I think back on the happiest times we had as a couple and relish the feel of my husband’s arms around me. I can hear his voice saying “baby, take your glasses off, you’ve fallen asleep reading.” I can picture him playing Matchbox cars with our two youngest grandchildren. Or fishing with our oldest grandson. I can see him encouraging our oldest granddaughter to hit the softball. The man without us is not without us, he is always with us. In our hearts, in our minds, in our every day lives.

The man without us would want those of us that love him to continue pressing onward toward that which brings us joy. He wants us to live, and love ,and never forget that he loves us. He is a Poppy, Opa, Daddy and Dad to so many. An uncle, brother, brother-in-love, and friend. He is strong even in his weakness and he is loved beyond measure. He is my person and I am not without him, no matter what happens. I hope that his life and the trials we face together and separately help others know that life after a TBI is possible. It’s very different, but it’s possible. The love shown to me by the man I married in 1982 is pure of heart and simple in nature. That everyone would know that such love exists is possible, and seeking it is worth the effort. When you wake up each day, I pray that you find joy in greeting the new day, even if the struggles you know you will face seem unbearable. If you cry each day, don’t despair. Learn what you can from your pain and sorrow, and give the gift of yourself to someone else.

The man without us is not alone in spirit and for this I am beyond thankful. He prays, he sings and he talks to his Lord in his own way. I am comforted by this. I believe differently than he does, and that’s okay. Knowing that we’re not alone is sometimes all we get, and learning how to be grateful in the small moments makes the larger ones less scary. I miss the man that was, I love the man that is, and I pray for continued safety for us all.

Until next time…

Stay safe, be well, and remember to always be kind…

Photo by alexandre saraiva carniato on Pexels.com

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

Wednesday’s Heart…

Wednesday is here, and so am I. Hump day… Half day… call it what you will, I am here on this humid and what should be wet Wednesday in New England. I woke up with a start at about 5:45 this morning having a dream that I’d rather forget. My husband was in my dream, but it wasn’t good so I’m glad to have woken up. My dream has me thinking about the trajectory our lives are on right now and I’m determined to hit the reset button and go in a different different direction.

The long term effects of a catastrophic stroke on the person that had the stroke are visible, and hidden. The long term effects on the family and friends are also visible, but less so. As the spouse of the man that has had the biggest stroke I have ever known anyone to have, I can honestly tell you that as the months pass, I realize that the stroke didn’t just happen to my husband, it happened to me as well. And to our daughter, our sons-in-love, our grandchildren. We’ve all lost the man that was the strong one, the fixer and the lover of all things family. Our friends have suffered as well, and those ripples you see when a rock is dropped in still water? Those represent so many lives that have been changed because of the stroke. My husband is the one who has suffered the most, especially physically, and my heart breaks for him every single day. Over and over and over again.

I’ve spent the last 8 months pushing against the tide, trying to make sure I “do” everything right, that I live up to the expectations (I hate that word) I have of myself that I lost myself along the dark paths of this journey. I spent this past Monday with a much loved family member and we walked along the beach and talked. About everything. She helped me see that I have worked so hard at being strong and doing, that I got lost in the weaknesses that strength needs to keep going. I realize that statement doesn’t really make sense, but it does to me. All of us can be strong at any given moment, but it takes weakness to bulid strength. Life knocks us all down, and when we’re down, most of us fail to see the beauty of weakness. I was turning a blind eye to my weakness without even knowing it, but I see it now. And now? Now I am going to determine to become stronger. Stronger with a greater sense of self awareness. I’m gonna let myself fall as many times a day as I need to. I’m going to work harder at walking the walk and not just talking the talk.

I believe with all I am that kindness matters. I haven’t been very kind these past few weeks and I am hoping to change because of, and learn from, my lack of kindness. Life isn’t fair, we all know this. In spite of the unfairness of it all, we can find moments of joy and gratitude. We just have to want to find those moments, and then seek them out. Sure, there’s not much joy in what’s happened, but there is joy in the love I see in my husband’s eyes when we Zoom visit. There’s joy in the reconnecting with family that was always so far away. When we live as though we are dependent on someone else for our OWN happiness, we sell ourselves short. Happiness is personal and joy can be sought out. Kindness is learned, self taught and so needed in today’s dark world, why not spread a little today? If you need to apologize to someone, or yourself, then do so. The apology helps heal wounded hearts and spirits, and hey, it’s free to give.

Sometimes, when we’re stuck in the middle of our self-made battlefields, we forget to surrender. We dig in, we have to “win” (another word I can’t stand in certain context) and we have to be right. At what cost, though? Is winning worth losing your parents? Does winning mean you step on, stomp on or spit on someone else? To some people that’s exactly what winning means. For me, winning is knowing that it’s okay to be weak as long as I can remember that out of every weak moment I’ve had, something beautiful blossoms. Winning is knowing that I can discern between what I need to fight for and what to let go of. Winning is not found in setting out to deliberately hurt someone, but in sincerely apologizing for doing so. Hurt people hurt people, but that doesn’t mean you get free license to do so. Apologizing isn’t weak, it takes a great deal of strength to do so. And when you apologize and the other person doesn’t hear it, or accept it, that’s on them. Taking your high road can be painful and very difficult, but when you look back over the road traveled, you’ll see the sun shining and fell its’ healing warmth. That warmth is the representation of your winning a battle that could have defeated you.

In closing on this Wednesday, I hope you know I appreciate you’re reading my blog and that I am striving towards joy, gratitude and letting go of some of the burden I have placed upon my own shoulders. Go live your best life every day, even when you’re best doesn’t feel like enough!!!

Until next time…

Norfolk, VA photo by Barb Enos

Simple things…

Hello world,

As I sit here in my little apartment with the windows open, a gentle breeze floating in, and Jim Brickman music playing on my Echo dot, I am reminded that the simple things we take for granted every day are more precious now than ever before. The breeze here in central Virginia today is something I will remember a week from now when the breezes I feel will have a northern chill to them. I am reminded to appreciate the train whistles I have come to love here in Virginia, knowing that soon I’ll be trading them for sirens, traffic and city noise. Life is about to get complicated again, but the complications are welcome ones in most ways. The complications will bring about a more simplistic way of life down the road, I hope… I just have to navigate a few more twists and turns to find a bit more joy amidst the trials life has brought to my door. This move doesn’t come without its’ share of heartache, but I have learned that heartache is not the silver lining. Joy is. Love is. Friendship is. Living a life with purpose is. Silver linings are the hugs from my precious grandchildren. Silver linings are the opportunities to spend time with family. Silver linings are the walks along the coast of Maine. Silver linings are the simple things…

What could be more simple than going home? Going home is something each and everyone one of us deserves to do, and going home is not always going back to the place where you were born, it’s going back to a place, or places, where love lives. I may be going home to New England soon, but home is also in Charleston, SC with my beloved daughter and her family. It’s hanging out in my best friend’s new backyard with her and enjoying her company. Home is in Asheville, NC with my oldest grandson, his stepsister, his dad and his paternal grandmother. It’s hanging out with JH at the Ice Bar and enjoying drinks and garlic knots. It’s in North Asheville with 3 Boston Terriers and their people. Home is in Jacksonville, FL with my extended family. My heart lives on in many places, and I am blessed beyond measure to have a sense of home in Richmond as well. After almost 6 months here, it’s time to take my husband home and start over. Again. I will cry as I drive away this week, that’s for sure, but I will also fall into the arms of my family and be loved on. That’s all I can ask for.

Simple things are, or at least they should be, the foundation we build our lives on. Faith, trust, gratitude, love, appreciation for others… These things should be easy to come by, but as we age, they can become things that we lose because of stubbornness, pride, rudeness, silence. I have been thrown away, maligned and accused of terrible things. Things I never did. It’s okay. The person making the accusations is sick, I pray for her peace of mind. After 2+ years of not having her in my life, I can honestly say that I would like to thank her. Her actions have shown me just how strong I can be. Her actions crushed my heart, but my heart beats still. I no longer engage in the destructiveness of her drama and I thank her for that. I sincerely hope that she knows that people are praying for her around the world and that letting go of her has been hard, but it has been done. Saying goodbye is never easy, and it’s especially hard when it falls on deaf ears and a hardened heart. Be well, dear one… we will always think of you with fondness and compassion.

Simple things are all around us, so much so that we really don’t have to look too hard for them. The sun shine is a simple gift. A gentle rainfall in the early evening, another simple gift. A sticky faced toddler that gives his MiMi a kiss, a beautiful, simple gift. A 5 year old girl, inquisitive and fierce, drawing a picture for her beloved Poppy, a breathtakingly beautiful simple thing. With the world around us in such chaos, the simple things may seem much harder to find, and while they probably are, when you find them, take time to pause and enjoy them for the simplicity they present. My heart breaks for this nation in which I live, and while I try not to make my posts focus on negativity, I am saddened at the current state of affairs we find ourselves in. I will simply pray for peace and understanding. And for justice to be swift and true. I will also try and enjoy the simple gifts that each day brings, be they few or many. May peace be one of the things we find. And soon.

In closing, I would like to say that I appreciate all of you that read my blog. I am hoping that this next move makes it possible for me to get back to writing on a more consistent basis. My husband’s recovery from the catastrophic stroke he suffered last year has been long, hard and made more difficult by COVID-19. I haven’t been able to see him for months, though we do talk every day. I miss touching his face and hugging him, and hope that sometime soon I will be able to visit him. He is my person and being kept apart like we have been is hard on all of us, not just he and I. We have much to be thankful for, and the simple things are most appreciated. Be well and stay safe!

Arnold Arboretum, Boston, MA.
Photo by Barb Enos

My Heart Hurts…

HI Again,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eastern North Carolina shore
photo by Barb Enos

My Heart Cries…

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Manuel Alvarez on Pexels.com