Thank You…

Hi everyone. Another day is upon us all and I want to share my heartfelt thanks to all of my readers, followers and to the world beyond. I don’t have the most successful blog out there, but it’s okay. I want my blog to be something I look forward to writing, I need that more than ever right now. I wish I had the desire to write every day like I did in the beginning, but my life has changed so much since then that I’ve had to completely shift my focus.

Thank you. Those two words never seem enough to say, though most times they’re all we have. There are so many people I wish I could say thank you to in person… I would love to say thank you to the Polytrauma Unit staff in Richmond, Virginia at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. The amount of love, compassion, patience and expertise poured into both my husband and myself while we were there goes way above and beyond “work.” We were cared for like we were family and the time spent there will forever be a cherished memory. As human beings, we’re not meant to spend our lives alone, and we were not alone there. Though Covid-19 kept me from physically being with my husband during his last three months there, I knew that I was there in spirit. I was included in his life daily and saying thank you just doesn’t seem enough.

Thank you. Those two words have been said more in my heart and mind than anyone could ever know. I have known more pain in the past 2.5 years because of other people’s actions, and if I could, I would say thank you to those very people that hurt us. I know that sounds weird, but the pain inflicted on me and my husband served a purpose that I’m sure was unintended. The most painful thing I’d ever experienced was nothing more than the pouring of a foundation on which to stand against that which we now face. The fact remains that we still feel the pain of estrangement, but the pain of watching the man I love slip away from this earthly life far outweighs the pain of being abandoned by our daughter. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it and incorporate lessons learned into our present and future.

Thank you. I am grateful to God that I have been blessed with the ability to forgive others. And to forgive myself. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we forget the wrongs committed against us, it means that we accept what is and that we choose to lay down the weapons of anger, resentment and confusion. I have been able to walk through the angst of what life throws at me because I truly believe forgiveness matters. I’ve had to forgive myself so many times throughout my life for things I’ve said and done, and I know I will continue to do so. Forgiveness towards others is easier for me than self forgiveness, but I still believe in it. When someone wrongs you and you hold onto that bitterness and anger, it hurts you, not them. Forgiving isn’t forgetting, not at all. Forgiveness can help you find peace within if you let it.

Thank you. A simple phrase that packs such a punch. Being thankful and having an attitude of gratitude, even in your darkest times, can bring light to your heart. And life. Am I sad most days right now? Sure I am. I also know I will be for some time to come, but that in time, I’ll be okay again. I’ll be different, I’ll change over the course of time but I’ll try to remain positively changed. It’s impossible to not be changed by the pains life gives us. In the long run, over the course of our lives, pain defines and re-defines who we are and who we will become. I accept this. I try hard to learn from the situations that cause me pain, and since life is nothing more than a series of lessons, I know that what I am learning will have great impact on me. I don’t seek pain or painful situations, but I don’t hide either.

Thank you… for reading this. For sharing my journey. For lifting my husband and I in your prayers. I hope that no matter who you are and what you’re facing that you’ll find encouragement through my journey. The only thing that will save us all is all of us, humankind can save humankind, and I am ever hopeful that we will do so…

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This Hurts So Much…

I am an American. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a grandmother, I am a wife, I am a friend, I am an Auntie. I am not a punching bag. I am not a fool. I am not a failure.


I am many things to many people, but what I am not is probably more noticeable than what I am. At least right now. It’s not about what I am, but who. Right now pain defines my life, but it’s not always going to be this way and I know this. When you look at me, what do you see? Do you see beneath the surface of my skin? Do you feel sorry for me, or with me? Do you see the way life’s circumstances are starting to show in the lines of my face? Do you see the depth of the sorrow I feel in my eyes? Do you see the silver in my hair? It’s okay if you see all these things, I don’t try to hide them anymore. I hurt. I cry. I cry every single day, I cry myself to sleep most nights while I pray for those I love.


I have been loved and I love with all that I have. There is no way to put my pain into words to make people understand what I am going through. I ache for my daughters, they are losing their Daddy and I can’t take away their pain. I can’t imagine not having the man that is the Poppy to my MiMI, but I can’t imagine him having to “live” in constant, physical and emotional pain with no end in sight. I am so conflicted.

My husband is now in hospice and we are waiting for something that no one wants to wait for. I want to wake up tomorrow and have it be 1993. Our girls were 5 and 10 that year and we were an intact family. I never imagined that all these years later that we would be so broken. Families belong together, not apart. How do I fix this? How do I survive this? How to I protect my children from what’s coming? How to I let our grandchildren know the man their Poppy was? How do I live without the man I love more than my own life? How? I know the why, not the how. It’s all so painful. All of it.

When life gives you lemons you’re supposed to make lemonade, right? Well, this Boston based girl says 2020 can suck those lemons… I am so over this year…

If you’ve read this far, please know that I appreciate you. I wish this were a happier posting, but I am not happy. I’m raw. I’m shattered, and I’m bereft…

Be kind always and stay safe…

Photo by Barb Enos

It’s Not Easy…

Hi All,

Life sucks right now. It’s not easy. Actually, I don’t think it’s supposed to be easy. I think life presents us with challenges to hone our deepest survival skills and teach us what really matters. What really matters? I can only answer that question for my self, and I’m going to try. And keep on trying as long as I am able to.

It’s not easy to wake up every day knowing that I have to face the longing in my heart for my husband. Yes, he’s alive, but the man I loved all these years is gone, both in mind and in spirit, replaced by a man that is so different I don’t know him. At all. The strong, loyal and fiercely protective husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend is forever changed and forever scarred by the stroke that took him away from those of us that love him. In place of the man I knew is a little boy’s mind full of fear and angst and self-doubt. The heart that beats within his chest is not the same heart, it’s compromised and broken and weakened. He has no quality of life as long as he lives within such a tortured mind and broken body, and I can do nothing to help him except to hold his hand and tell him I love him. And I do.

It’s not easy to know that my husband, who is currently in the hospital, will be going back to his long term skilled care center and once again be forced into isolation. Coronavirus is a stealthy killer, but it doesn’t just kill those infected with the virus, it slowly kills those people that are living alone, forced to be kept from their loved ones in order to “protect” them. Protection my ass… People need love, they need physical touch and they deserve to stay connected to their loved ones. Can you imagine being a caregiver in a nursing home and having to enforce rules that you know are not going to protect your patients? Can you imagine what it’s like to have to walk the halls of a place where people are forced to eat in their rooms, where people can’t commune in what should be a community? Not only do the patients and their families suffer, so do the staff and their families. Failure to thrive is killing thousands across the country and while these numbers are not included in the daily count of Covid deaths, they should be.

It’s not easy to watch the country I love destroy itself more and more every day. As a collective people we are imploding and unless we stand united, divided we will continue to fall. Not all law enforcement officers are bad, not all people of color are criminals and not all caucasian people are racists. The civil unrest and ensuing protests are warranted, the violence and death and destruction are not. Vigilantes? Really? In the 21st century? POC aren’t even safe when they’re sleeping peacefully in their own beds. Breonna Taylor did not deserve to die. Neither did Tamir Rice. Or Botham Jean. Just because someone looks different than you do doesn’t mean they’re criminals. Hell, Tamir Rice was a 12 year old boy, a child, playing in a park. WTF America? Are we so desperate to prove ourselves as a bully nation that we think the loss of life in the black/brown communities across the nation is worth the price being paid? POC are human beings, plain and simple, and deserve to have the Constitution and The Bill of Rights work for them as easily as it seems to for white people.

It’s not easy to be an empathetic person in a world full of cynicism, narcissism and selfishness. It’s incredibly difficult to stay positive when the world around you is always so damn negative. I am trying really hard to hold onto the tender heart that beats within my chest but there are more days than not now that I want to give up. What’s the point of being kind to one another when your kindness is received or mistaken for weakness? I am NOT a weak person, but I am broken. I am not a cynical person, but I don’t trust very often anymore. I am not a shy person, but I don’t want to put myself out there anymore to meet people. The world around me has become so dark and so cruel that I don’t want to participate in it. I want to hide most days from what’s going on around me and that’s not healthy. At all.

It’s not easy to know that someone I care deeply for is now experiencing the pain of seeing her beloved grandchild used as a pawn, a weapon. Really? Another family torn apart because pride and the desire to “win,” is all the involved parties can see. Sure, throw another beloved grandmother to the curb, we’re older, so we don’t matter. As hard as I try I will never understand why the children of my daughter’s generation think grandparents don’t matter. They need to know that the pain they willingly inflict on us will come back to them someday. And when it does, your parents will no longer be able to help you find your way home. Remember this… Karma is a bigger bitch than you, the children that throw their parents away, and she (Karma) will find you. I don’t relish the idea that my own flesh and blood will someday know the pain that I carry every day because of her actions, but she will. I can do nothing to stop it. Again, be careful what you ask for, because when you get it, it’s probably not at all what you want.

It’s not that easy to let go, and harder to hang on. Living in the 21st century is not for the faint of heart and it takes blood, sweat and more tears than a human body should be able to produce. I have cried enough tears since May 2018 to fill the oceans, and know there are many more to come. Hug someone you love after reading this, thank the universe for the breath in your lungs, and thank whatever God you believe in that you can smile through the pain. It’s not easy, but it is possible…

Until next time…

Photo by Barb Enos

Blocked…

Hi All,

I’ve been trying to write for several days now but have been blocked out of my own head. I’ll feel the urge to sit and write, then the words don’t flow. I’ve got a lot going on, but that’s not any different than it was a week or a month ago. It’s not timing, it’s not for lack of something to share, it’s just me. And to be perfectly honest, it frustrates the hell out of me.

This last week has been a trip of extreme lows and highs, almost whiplash like in its own way. Last Saturday morning I had the most terrifying thoughts screaming inside my own head, and they came out of nowhere. Absolutely debilitating in nature. I had never been so afraid of myself as I was last weekend. It was brief, but paralyzing at the same time. I feel much better now and by the end of the day I was okay. I spent the afternoon and evening surrounded by my precious family and 5 young women from the ages of 11-14. The girls reminded me, without even knowing, that life is a series of “the next adventure.” Even when the adventures take twists and turns that would never be welcomed by the traveler, they appear and you go along for the ride. This past week has been a ride I’ve been ready to get off of, but thankfully the last part of the week was quiet and somewhat boring.

I wish I could wave a magic wand and make my life make sense again. I try hard to keep my blog positive, but today it’s just not possible. I miss my husband, that makes me sad. I miss my daughter and her family, I miss my grandchildren and their dad in NC. I miss my friends. My family. Sometimes the pain of missing my husband is so blinding, I feel physical pain. What should be doable has become such a struggle. The mental health ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic have been so vast and so varied. Then add the restrictions of having a loved one in a long term care facility… Not a single person is untouched by this virus. No matter who you are, or what you do, all lives are touched by it in some way. It’s incredibly hard to get my brain injured husband to understand why he can’t see me every day. I haven’t found a way to break through the injuries to help him realize that I don’t choose to stay away. I would be there with him every day if I could be.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn how to do since my husband’s stroke is to not share my heart with the man I love. He doesn’t process conversations the way he did, and adding the hurt I carry with me is not something that would be beneficial to him. No matter how much I want to share with him, I can’t. I won’t. It would be like telling a five year old. I wanted to get to a place where I could join a support group for caregivers, now the pandemic makes that an impossibility. Virtual support is good, but the human interaction of meeting with others face to face would be better. Someday…

Being blocked and not knowing what to write is antithetical to my mind. I usually have a head and heart full of words, not lately. I am usually more upbeat, not today. I want to feel the knowledge that words are not escaping me, but I don’t. I haven’t written in my journal, or my book, in weeks. I don’t know what to say.

I realize that this is not much of a blog entry, but it’s all I have right now. I appreciate you all and hope that you stay safe. And well.

Until next time…

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon 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

Gratitude…

Gratitude. From the Latin word gratia. Gratia also means grace and graciousness.

As I sit here in my room reading, and now writing, I am moved by the word gratitude and its’ multiple meanings. I have spent the last four and a half days focusing on being more grateful, more positive and more kind. More gracious. Being gracious doesn’t mean you let people take advantage of you, at least it doesn’t to me. It means you show kindness and compassion and understanding. It shows that you see the world around you with a more positive set of eyes. I am very grateful that someone that loves me enough to say the hard things I needed to hear wasn’t afraid to speak up. She showed me the book she was reading and now I am reading the same one. “Attitudes of Gratitude” by M.J. Ryan. A beautifully written missive on the importance of living with a spirit of gratitude, even when things are bleak, hard and seemingly impossible to surmount.

My husband and I have been married 38+ years and have experienced so many highs and lows, like any other couple has. We had our first date in June of 1977. We went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant and then to see Star Wars, the first release, and we had such a good time. By this time we were both in high school, but we met in elementary school. 6th grade. Mrs. Sallen’s art class. I didn’t like him much then, or any other boy for that matter. Our date was sweet, and when we got fortune cookies after dinner, his said, “Stop searching, happiness is just next to you.” Those same words were in the fortune cookie of the author M.J. Ryan when she went to lunch with a friend after completing her book!!! Happiness… Happiness has been next to me for the 44 of the 57+ years I’ve neen alive in the form of my beloved and I am very grateful for him. Gratitude is not difficult to come by if you practice finding it, so practice frequently!

We can get lost in our lives so easily. Sucked down into the depths of stress, grief, angst and a myriad of other vampiric emotions. It seems that these type of emotions are more likely to be present in today’s noisy, fast-paced and tumultuous world. Slowing down in today’s world is pretty much frowned upon, or misunderstood, but it’s necessary. We get one life. One. That’s all. No matter the circumstances of your particular life, isn’t there a little room for an attitude of gratitude? Start small. Restart small. I woke up this morning. I’m grateful. My beloved husband is doing as well as he can since his catastrophic stroke. I am grateful. I am grateful that I saw him in person yesterday, albeit from 6 feet away, with no touching, but I’m still grateful. Looking for the moments that we can be grateful for becomes easier as the time goes on. It takes personal effort to look within and find those moments, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Having an attitude of gratitude doesn’t mean things won’t be difficult, or that you are self-centered, it just means that you choose the positive, no matter how small. You matter. I matter. Human beings matter and when we lose sight of just how much we matter to ourselves, it’s very difficult to believe that we matter to anyone else.

How is it possible that something as simple as having an attitude of gratitude seems so unreachable? What stands in your way? I’ve stood in my own way for much of the past 8 months, and the only person putting up road blocks and barriers to my personal peace is me. Other people have hurt me, sure. But those hurts are on them, not me. I’ve been struggling with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for many months now on my husband’s behalf, and I’ve been damining them at every turn on one hand, and grateful for them on the other. I’ve decided to try and be more patient, though I’m not exactly known for being patient. The federal government of the United States is a behemoth, its far reaching tentacles invade most of the lives of those of us that call America home, but that invasion is no reason for me to be ungrateful. I am beyond grateful for the care my husband has received, and continues to receive. Yes, he earned his benefits, but those benefits come with milies upon miles of red-tape, and that’s where the damning comes into play. The red tape just is… it’s not a reason to be defeated or ugly tempered. I’m tying hard to remember this.

Close your eyes for a minute when you’re done reading this blog entry and just breathe. Breathe deeply and slowly. Be grateful for the ability to do so. Listen to the world around you. What do you hear? Do you smell anything on the air? Are you surrounded by man made noise? Is your environment a pleasant one? What can you do to change your environment if it’s not a pleasant and peaceful place to be? At this precise moment I can close my eyes and hear the floor fan blowing in the background. I hear my dog snoring under the bed, his favorite place to be. I hear my Echo playing music I love. I smell the body lotion I out on after my shower. I feel the softness of my favorite t-shirt against my skin. I can see the light from my desk lamp through my eyelids. All small things to be grateful for. When you seek gratitude, I can guarantee you’ll find it, don’t give up!

I’m going to stop here as I am hoping to get some surprise house work done for my sister today. Something else I am grateful for the chance to do. I live in her home now, and I am hoping to show her that I am grateful for her opening her home to me. People say I love you in a million different ways… I do things to make her life easier because I love her. She loves me, too. I am grateful…

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

Pain, Pain, Go Away…

Hello world,

Why doesn’t the pain ever stop? Why? What the hell is it about pain that makes it seem never ending and so damned present every day? I wish to hell just one day, once in a while, even once in a great while, a day would pass with no pain. Physical pain is not the pain I am writing about, but yeah, I have that, too.

Pain is listening to your beloved husband sob on the other end of a virtual visit while he’s lying in a strange bed, in a strange place and has been completely isolated for weeks. That happened to him today, the sobbing and the crying and the despair. Why does it have to be this way? When I know he would be made to feel better with a simple hug, a kiss on the forehead and a smile. I can give him none of those things in person. Damn COVID-19. I can’t help but wonder how many millions of people in this country are feeling the exact same way… It shatters my already shattered heart to hear and see my husband cry out about being helpless and not be able to comfort him. In any way. He’s not helpless, but he can’t hear me through his own pain to know that he matters to a great many people. He can feed himself, he can love his grandchildren, he can sing, he can smile. He’s not helpless. He perceives the need for assistance as helplessness, and I can totally understand why. I feel helpless also, knowing that I could make a difference in his life by just being near him, and I cannot be… The long lasting effects of coronavirus on people’s mental health will long be fresh study material, and I volunteer to be a case study.

There’s so much pain involved in losing people you love, whether to death, traumatic brain injury, alienation or a vast array of other causes. Pain has far reaching tentacles and those tentacles hold on tightly while trying to squeeze the life out of you. Pain is exhausting. And cruel. And not welcomed. It’s because of pain that I can hold my head up high and look forward. Pain has taught me to expect nothing, and to be grateful for what is. Expectations are evil and make life more painful when they are not met. I am now thankful for the loss of expecting anything, thought the lessons it took to learn to be so were very, very painful. Those same lessons taught me that not everyone that says they’ll do something will do it. It’s easier for me to just do it myself, or not ask for something in the first place. People let people down, it’s that simple. And in that simplicity is pain. And in that pain is healing, if you’re willing to fight for it. There are more days than not that I just want to stop fighting to feel good, it would be easier to give up, but I am not a quitter. I’ve learned that through painful lessons as well. Pain is a forging of the spirit, a cleansing, and I am trying hard to not feel pain all the time.

When I watch the world around me imploding as it is, I feel so sad. This country seemed to be heading in a progressive direction such a short time ago, and now? Now we are inviting pain into our living rooms, our classrooms, and our lives by condoning hatred. It pains me to see how many people think it’s okay to hurt someone. To kill others. To mock those that dare stand for decency. As painful as it is to see communities torn apart, I keep trying to look for the helpers. Mr. Rogers taught an entire generation to look for the helpers. Helpers ease the pain of others without expecting anything in return. I don’t have any answers as to how to help heal the divisions we see on TV every day, especially when the one person we should all be able to look up to makes a mockery of kindness. Or mocks empathy. I say let’s not play follow the leader, he’s not able to set a decent example. Being kind helps heal pain, even if only for a few moments, so spread kindness, not pain.

My life right now is full of pain, but I am hoping for relief. That relief may come in a form I may not recognize right away, and it may not come at all. My happiness is dependent on me, and I find that I am struggling at the present time to find happiness. I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m lonely. But I am also loved. I’m favored. And I am blessed. Pain cannot last forever, it has to give me a break every now and then. I hope that no matter what causes your pain that you also find peace. And remember to always choose joy…

photo by Barb Enos

I’m Gonna be Okay…

Hey all,

Do you find yourself saying this inside your head a bazillion times a day? I do lately, and have for the past two and half years. I’m gonna be okay… Seems like a reasonable mantra, doesn’t it? I’m gonna be okay… I am… soon. Soon seems to elude me on a daily basis, and soon seems just around the corner. Now the corners I’m trying to turn onto are sharp, blind and steep, Unforgiving. I’m gonna be okay. I swear, I’m gonna be okay.

You would think by now I’d be a pro at saying good-bye. So long. See ya later. As many times as I’ve said good-bye or been told good-bye doesn’t make this impending good-bye any easier. I am tired of leaving the people I love and am close to, behind me in the wake of a life I once recognized. Eight short months ago I told my husband good-bye, drive safe, let me know when you get there. All the things a wife would say to her husband that was leaving their home to drive hundreds of miles from home to visit family. “I’m gonna be okay” he said. He drove away one man and came home another and he is forever changed. As am I. I’m gonna be okay I tell him now, knowing that most days I feel anything but. My husband is never gonna be okay again, at least not like he was. It’s amazing how a stroke and the ensuing brain damage can change a person right down to the core of their DNA. He’s the one who physically suffered the catastrophic stroke that ravaged us both, and our family, and trying to be okay is not so simple anymore. Neither is saying goodbye.

We are on the cusp of more change and now that the changes are imminent, I’m afraid. Am I making the right choices for all of us? Am I strong enough to keep going? Am I gonna be okay ever again? I am. I’m sure of it, I just have to give myself, my husband, and the new journey we’re embarking on some grace. Grace. That word makes me think patience, and the thought of patience makes me chuckle to myself. I’m gonna be okay… as long as I give myself grace. And as long as I show myself some patience. If you knew me personally you would know I have never been long on patience, but this ride I find myself on lately has almost beat me into a submissive sort of patience. I’ve learned the art of grace because I believe in self-forgiveness, and grace is a huge part of that. Forgiveness as a whole requires grace, it’s that simple. And not. Being okay is giving yourself the grace, patience and forgiveness you need to face the next trial, and there’s always another trial… Change happens and most times we cannot control it, all we can control is our reaction to the change. Will you give yourself the grace and patience you’ll need to be okay? I try hard everyday to be okay, I hope you do, too.

I try really hard to not focus on the past, but the past has taught me so much about how not to be that I have to let it in sometimes. I’ve learned that no matter how much you love someone, they’ll hurt you if they’re intent on doing so. I’ve learned that being okay looks different in different situations. I am learning how to be okay with being the mother of one, not two daughters, and it’s going okay. I learned to let go fully just about a year ago and have spent this past year enjoying the absence of anger and hatred. Those two things can destroy even the strongest of spirits, and I am not inclined to let that happen to me. Both anger and hatred try and make their presence known, I just push harder to close the door on them. My spirit soars these days knowing that I am a decent woman that has been wounded, but haven’t we all been? I have hurt others as well, both with and without intent, and I am sorry for that. I’m gonna be okay. I have asked for forgiveness, I have asked for help, and I have left my pride by the side of the road in my quest to be okay. It’s all been worth something. The struggle to find joy in a world full of so much pain is hard enough, I have been trying my best to not make things harder.

Being okay is not always possible, realistically speaking. Things happen. Events that rock our world happen. Even our small, personal worlds implode. A stroke takes away your mate, but leaves the body. Someone you love more than your own life dies suddenly. A sibling hurts you with words and actions. An adult child keeps a beloved grandchild from you. You lose a job. You learn that your spouse was unfaithful. A trusted friend becomes someone you don’t recognize. There are so many things that happen around us to make us not okay. How do we get back to being okay? For me step one is to get vertical each day. I make coffee, and coffee makes me okay for a few minutes. I shower and appreciate the pounding of the shower on my back. I listen to music that makes me happy. Or calms me. Or makes me move. I know there is something within each 24 hour time period I am given that shows me I’m gonna be okay. Even when I cry, and not a day has gone by since May 15, 2018 that I haven’t cried, something shows me I’m gonna be okay. The more you look for that which makes you feel okay, the easier it is to find. I lose sight sometimes when I’m looking and when I feel overwhelmed, but the more I search for the okay things, the more I find. I’m gonna be okay…

I’m gonna be okay, and so are you. Believe in yourself first, turn toward the sun, get vertical and shine on!!!

Photo by Barb Enos