Category Archives: Life

How do you teach grief?

I am sad … and then I feel selfish, and helpless.  My Goddaughter lost her baby girl only a few weeks old due to contracting Group B Strep bacterial infection, GBS.  I had never heard of this insidious infection.  It has robbed my niece of her happy self.  Joy so quickly turned to sorrow.  And I don’t know how to help her through any of this.  I have dealt with my own grief so many times yet these days I am lost as to how to help my own Goddaughter.

I wish I could hug her and tell her things will get better, lighter with time.  But I know from my own personal experiences that is a lie.  Time doesn’t diminish grief.  Time doesn’t make it better.  Bad things happen to good people.  Things sometimes don’t happen for a good reason.

Logically, I understand and accept that grief is indeed an inevitable part of life; but knowing this doesn’t make getting through the day any easier.  Everyone grieves differently and I just wish I could spare my niece this unbearable pain.  I don’t know how to make her empty arms not ache to hold her baby girl.  I don’t know how to fill the wounded hole in her heart. I don’t know how to lessen the ache she must be feeling each and every minute.

How do I help her heal by letting her know that grieving is more than acceptable?  How can I begin to explain to her that loss has taught me to love more and appreciate life even more?  How do I show her that by writing, by sharing my own stories, reaching out to others has been my saving grace?  How do I teach her that love nor the pain goes away, it doesn’t diminish but when love grows I know there is life with loss, slow part of healing.  How do I let her know that she will always have a forever hole in her heart?

How do I show her my very own social face of grief?  I worry so much for her since I know how much grief can isolate one.  Depression and PTSD have isolated me too much in the past.  It has taken me a long time, and much effort to keep getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other … and now knowing what I deal with, I wish I could somehow spare my niece even the tiniest bit of this darkness.  I pray that she finds the strength to get up, move each day.  I know she will stumble and wonder how she can move when her spirits are so weighed down.

How do I let her know that my own grief still paralyzes me at times, that tears still surprise me?   How I do I let her know that choosing to live is a choice I make each and every day?  How do I express to her that although it has taken me a long time, and I still work at it every day, but I have learned how to live with loss.  I wish I could hug her and absorb some of her pain.  How do I tell her that it is okay to be happy and let joy in?  How do I show her that life changes and you grow from the deepest parts of your soul?  How can I show her how to claw from the bottom of despair and such unimaginable sorrow and pain over and over again?  How can I explain how grief teaches us to love more and reach deeper in our souls for acceptance for living?

I feel so much more deeply now because of my grief – its a cursing and a blessing.  I don’t know how to make things better for my Goddaughter.

I will never stop letting her know I am here … for whatever, whenever.  As I continue to work through my own grief, accepting that healing doesn’t mean I am never sad or that my memories fade … instead I try to relive certain memories, smiling through the tears, forever grateful for having those memories … learning how to embrace all of my feelings …. the love, the grief, the pain, the sorrow, the smiles, the joy … with grace in my step and hope in my heart.

 

 

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You won’t know until you get there that you’re okay …

Wow!  I haven’t written in a really long time.  Had some minor surgery and being laid up, missing work, but catching up on reading and watching movies.  Just watched the movie. “The Hollars” and it had me crying through the tears.  Funny, sad, characters are quirky and the family dysfunctional …  life.

It’s about John Hollar (John Krasinski – who also directed this gem), a struggling NYC artist who returns to his small hometown and reconnects with his estranged family because his mother falls ill.  His girlfriend is pregnant, having twins and she is beautifully played by Anna Kendrick.  When John admits to his Mom that he is terrified she states, “Don’t worry.  You won’t know until you get there that you are okay”.

And that is exactly how I feel.  Loved this movie.  It was sweet, thoughtful.  And it reintroduced me to this great song by Indigo Girls, “Closer to Fine”.

Lyrics:

 

I’m trying to tell you something about my life, maybe give me insight between black and white. The best thing you’ve ever done for me is to help me take my life less seriously, it’s only life after all.  Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable. And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear. I wrap my fear around me like a blanket. I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it, I’m crawling on your shore. I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain.  There’s more than one answer to these questions pointing me in crooked line. The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine …

Yes … the closer I am to fine …. with hope in my heart, grace in my step, tears in my eyes, a smile on my lips …

 


Plan for my 50th BirthYear!

I’ve thought about this a lot. There wasn’t one big thing I could do today. Instead of a big birthday celebration or, I  have decided to have a birthyear! And I’m going to do 50 things that will make me happy, starting on my 50th Birthday, and go straight through until my 51st. It’s not a bucket list, but it’s things—that I know will bring me joy and will let me celebrate this wonderful birthday, for which I am grateful, for longer than one day.

It’s just my way of embracing the start of this important decade in a very meaningful and fulfilling way. I will share some of the things that are on my 50 Things I’m Going to Do to Celebrate my 50th Birthday list. None of them are a huge stretch, and most are simple, every-day pleasures. And, each and every one is on the list because they will make ME happy, not someone else.

Here is a peek at how I am planning to celebrate my 50th from March 20 2017 to March 20 2018:

  1. Actually, exercise … yeah maybe join a gym. Yikes!
  2. Visit Oregon wine country
  3. Visit my Texan friend
  4. Go to a dance class
  5. Rescue a puppy from a shelter
  6. Register at the police station as a line-up person.
  7. Keep writing
  8. Be more selfish
  9. Stop being afraid of failure
  10. Keep forgiving people
  11. For every three pieces of chocolate, eat a vegetable …Double yikes!
  12. Wear more colors than just black
  13. Go to the park – and swing
  14. Ride a bike
  15. Try yoga / meditation
  16. Write a love letter
  17. Cook for someone special
  18. Stop saying, “sorry”
  19. Schedule a massage
  20. Do / watch something scary
  21. Sleep more than 5 hours
  22. Start baking again
  23. Flirt more
  24. Go for a tarot card reading
  25. Give and get more hugs

Clearly my celebration list is a work in progress.  Celebrating me and my life is not something I do naturally.  This will surely be an interesting year as I dabble in and practice this thing called CELEBRATION.  Since today is the first day of my 50th year – I better go get this party started!


Giddy at Fifty

In exactly 7 days, I will turn 50 years old … yes, me turning 50!  I am over the moon ecstatic.  I never thought I would reach this age.  I am a cancer survivor, a crisis survivor, continue to battle PTSD and depression.   I have lost so many loved ones when they were too young – my brother 25 yo, my Dad 57 yo, my fiance 37 yo, aunt 35 yo … I had decided that was my fate as well.  I have spent most of my life thinking I was running out of time.  I lived in the past or in the moment, never fully preparing nor planning a future.

I am almost halfway to 100 and I am so giddy lately.  I am finally midlife.   I will be half of a century old.  How downright exciting … to be me right now??   I am about to finally reach a true milestone and with this I have learned that a happy life starts at whatever age you finally grow up and realize that it’s yours to live … not dictated by family nor work.  It’s all mine.

Sure, I am not naive enough to think it will all be smooth sailing here on out.  I have been through too much to believe that.  But I have been through so much already, I know I can get through whatever life throws at me.

I do worry at times, financially I am not in a good place; nor romantically…even professionally.  Could I have accomplished more?  Sure.  I have spent way too many years in the past.  I no longer live there.  I have hibernated enough.  I have compromised enough.  I have sacrificed enough.  Cancer, regret, loss, crisis, compromise, sacrifice – all have changed the course of my ideal life.   I still have many anxious moments – I still work hard each day to keep my fears and demons at bay.  I have learned and accepted that even with the best planning, we are never fully in control of our own destiny. This lessons learned has come with a high price in my life; it’s a benefit that I have been gifted with the act of getting older, being wise, being experienced.  I am fortunate enough to understand that growth in life doesn’t just stop midlife – it’s a continual realigning, reevaluating, realizing, reexamining, renewing, reconnecting, reacquainting and renewing…and loving the alliteration as always … finally relaxing and just accepting me … yes ME.

Learning as I turn 50, there is so much of life to look back on …and there is so much more to do.  I live for all my loved ones who died too young.  I live for me.  Turning 50 is great because I am still here.  I have learned to be my own cheerleader, my own support system.  I am a survivor.  I have found my smile even through my tears.  I fight through any pain, any sadness, any setback.  I look in the mirror and am happy to see wrinkles, even the gray hair and the love handles.  I have earned this life.  I have lived this life.  And I will continue …. with hope in my heart and grace in my step.  #JustT

 


Need A Spark …

Well I am trying to be more social again and start dating …yes trying again to put myself out there and be open minded.  Agreed to meet a nice looking, age appropriate man for coffee.  The night before we talked on the phone for three hours…yes, 3 hours!  We talked about so much even politics.  It was refreshing.   So when we meet today – conversation is easy.  He is a great listener as well as a good speaker.  Bur we talked about work, skills – more professional than personal.  There was no romantic spark.  And I find myself home, writing this post, feeling a little sad.  On paper he fits all my criteria – he is dark-haired and handsome.  He is employed. He is Christian.  He believes in family.

But I touched his hand … and nothing.  We chastely kissed at the door – I felt nothing.  Well, ironically there was jolt of static cling electricity but not a true chemical spark.  So no spark, now what??

Now I am tired of all my friends saying I am too picky, or I don’t give men a chance.  But how long do you wait for the spark to develop?    How long should you give to see if there is true chemistry?  I am mature and intelligent enough to understand that sparks are usually temporary and they don’t normally last.  Compatibility lasts.  Logic.  But I have lived too many years without true love and passion.  Don’t I deserve it?  Don’t I deserve the butterflies?  Don’t I deserve to feel that zing, that unexplained must-have chemistry, pure magic??  Do I have to settle?  No I refuse to settle.  I need to feel that spark.  Soon!  I totally accept that love at first sight is beyond rare.  I need to accept that we may need to allow for the slow burn of attraction, let our first meeting date jitters to pass and try to get to know each other.

The guy I met today is into the gym and working out hard, faithfully and is very physically, outdoorsy active.  I am more a home body and I have let myself go a little sideways, struggling with weight, body image issues, hitting 50 and pre-menopausal.  So maybe he wasn’t physically attracted to me hence no spark.  I don’t know.  Maybe I don’t care too much right not to learn otherwise.  Maybe he has zero boyfriend potential; maybe he is indeed just a nice guy.  Perhaps there isn’t enough chemistry for a relationship. But seriously how many ‘dates’ do I need to go on to find out??

I will try harder to keep from closing off.  I just don’t want to be that girl – every man’s buddy – where they think I am a great lady, we talk for hours, laugh, but they use me as sounding board.  They want to hang out, talk about their job, family and dating woes, ask for advice but ultimately there is no shared attraction, no sexual interest.  No passion.

So we didn’t make plans to meet up again, but we did text already tonight when he got home.  Maybe we will just be friendly.  I don’t know.  I would go out with him again though if asked.  I think it’s rare to know whether we have real dating potential with someone after only a few hours.  I do enjoy conversing with him.  He has a great phone voice as well.  Easy on the eyes, yes.  Who knows….

So as much as I didn’t get that instant overwhelming attraction to him, we still got along.  Time will tell I guess.

Remaining positive … with hope in my heart and grace in my step … learning how to sashay.


39 More Days

Only 39 days left until Sunday – January 1, 2017!  39!!  I don’t know where the time goes.  Most days, it all seems to pass in a blur … a blur of depression, sadness, hurt, tiredness.  The past two years, I have to admit, has seen me at my most vulnerable in real time and not just via words on my blog.  I have had some heart-to-heart conversations with family and so-called friends who have hurt me or not been there for me in my darkest hours.  I have done a lot of de-cluttering of my life.  I may still be alone, but I am at peace.

I have tried to make each year better but I failed so many times.   I pray that 2017 is it – the biggest year for me yet.  I have been living off the radar, under the bar for so long.  Now I just want to shine bright.  I want to be noticed – I want to be appreciated.

I wish I knew now what I have learned while dealing with the death of so many loved ones back-to-back.  I believe I wouldn’t have lost so many good years due to my mourning.  I put myself in such a dark place, such a sinking hole.

Ironically, I have complained that I had no support system but honestly I realize now how much I cut people out, and how easy immediate family made it for me.  As for new friends, I rarely let new people in my life the past 15 years.  Working hard on trying now.   I need and want people in my life – but worthy, deserving people.  I want to be able to build each other up, not tear each other down.

For so many years, being strong found me pretending to be okay.  I didn’t want to appear weak.  But this pretending came with a very high cost which I am still paying the price.  I shut people out, I lost interest in so many things, I gave up, I let depression and PTSD keep me mired down in grief.  I hid parts of me away.  I would not get really close to anyone.  I kept to myself, isolated.  I didn’t want to be completely vulnerable nor have anyone worry about me.  So today, I have no support system and no one is worried about me.  I guess I ultimately got what I thought I wanted.  Emotional seclusion instead of a complete and utter breakdown is where I have been residing.  And the few times I have let myself be honest, forthcoming, and vulnerable, I have been met with lack of understanding.  So I withdrew even more.

It’s such a cycle.  When a person like me who is already an introvert, keeps everything inside, never fully accepting how messed up I really was, it’s all downhill from there.  I find myself trying so hard to crawl out of the dungeon I found myself in.  Writing has helped me tremendously.  Social media  has helped me as well – I get to be somewhat social without actually investing in friendships too much or sharing true intimacy.   It has provided an outlet – a necessary one.  I need to search and bare my soul.  I need some guidance, acceptance, understanding – even if it at first it appears shallow.  We all need to feel connected.   I’m thankful that social media has brought people back into my life. To me, the past few years have been a rebirth for me – learning how to crawl, walk, talk … all over again.  Now I am more than ready to spread my wings and fly away … with hope in my heart and grace in my step.


His smile…

Lately I have been seeing my forever heart’s smile everywhere.  I was so afraid for years of losing the essence of him.  I can’t recall the sound of his voice, his laugh, anymore and that hurts my soul.  For many years, I hadn’t been able to look at photos of him, it hurt too much.  He has been gone for 15 years – I wish I knew then how important photos would become – since now I want to recall his face, and I have so few photos of him, of us.  Now if I fall in love, I will take more photos.  Photos have become so much more important to me especially after losing the three most important men in my life.

The other day I just was in total silence, alone, and found myself staring at Michael’s photo – he had such a beautiful smile.  That smile got me through so much.  And now after 15 years of isolating myself, of mourning, of hibernating, I am allowing myself to be fully vulnerable.  I have tried the past three years but I strongly believe the past few months have seen me at my most raw vulnerability and reawakening.

I am open to so many more things and experiences this past year.  I also see the beauty all around me.  I had died when Michael died but I have been given new leases on life and am finally, finally and finally ready to fully live … accepting change, opening my heart … no more  halfheartedly living.  I am no longer just writing about embracing life and I am living and looking for that embrace.

I came across this passage that resonates:

“I’m not sure I’ll ever know the meaning of life or what comes for us after death, but I know it’s more than the hysteria people make it out to be. It’s about freeing your soul when no one else can; turning thirty and still feeling like you’re seventeen. It’s about taking chances on a whim, embracing the rain during the storm, and smiling so damn much that you start to cry. It’s never regretting, never forgetting, and always being.  It’s kissing underwater and touching in the dark. Loving even when you think it’s emotionally impossible and surviving someway and somehow.   It’s about living life with a full heart and an overflowing glass.

I live life on the edge. I dream, I care, and I belong.  I know there’s a here and now.  I know that I want it.”  ―Nadege Richard, 5 Miles 

Yes!!!  After so many years of living like I was dead, I am ready to live life on the edge, in the here and now.  Fully present and aware and accepting.

I am seeing Michael’s smile in others, I am seeing the good and love in others.  I don’t want to lose that smile nor my own ever again.

I heard this stirring song the other day, and I know there will be many days where grief keeps me still, sadness will wash over me, but I don’t want to live there anymore.

I see your face
in the boy that stands beside me
and I just love the way that feels

I heard your laugh
in the cafe on the corner
but that voice belongs to someone else

And I hoped to find you
standing by my side forever
where we would have stayed
for always

And I’d hoped to feel you
holding my hand in your hand
where we would have stayed
always

I’m sure I felt
your warm breath on my shoulder
the breeze was playing with my mind

I know we had to be apart
these thoughts are locked away inside my heart
I know you never meant to leave me here behind

And I hoped to find you
standing by my side forever
where we would have stayed
for always

I miss you
and I need you

And I hope to find you
standing by my side forever
where we would have stayed
for always
And I’d hoped to feel you
holding my hand in your hand
where we would have stayed
always

My love for you has been torn apart
left me stranded
left me in the dark

Love that started out with open doors
has been put back into pause

My thoughts of you will keep me going strong
I think of you holding on
just one more day I forever crave
Always

And I miss you

 

 

 

 


Still Here …

“Still Here”

Musing through memories,
Losing my grip in the grey.
Numbing the senses,
I feel you slipping away.
Fighting to hold on,
Clinging to just one more day
Love turns to ashes,
With all that I wish I could say.

I’d die to be where you are.
I tried to be where you are.

[Chorus:]
Every night, I dream you’re still here.
The ghost by my side, so perfectly clear.
When I awake, you’ll disappear,
Back to the shadows
With all I hold dear.
With all I hold dear.
I dream you’re still here.
I dream you’re still here.

Hidden companion
Phantom be still in my heart
Make me a promise that
Time won’t erase us
That we were not lost from the start.

I’d die to be where you are
I tried to be where you are

[Chorus]

I dream you’re still here,
Ever slightly out of reach.
I dream you’re still here,
But it breaks so easily.
I try to protect you,
I can’t let you fade.

I feel you slipping.
I feel you slipping away.

[Chorus]

I dream you’re still here
(Every night I dream you’re still…)
(Every night I dream you’re still here)
I dream you’re still here
(Every night I dream you’re still…)
(Every night I dream you’re still here)
Ever slightly out of reach.

I dream you’re still here
(Every night I dream you’re still…)
(Every night I dream you’re still here)
But it breaks so easily.


One day … See You On The Other Side

Where does the time go?!  Why do some things never get any easier with time?  Why does my heart ache so?  Why does my anxiety level just skyrocket this time of the year? This weekend is so hard already for me.  Was in NYC and every time I heard a siren, I found myself nearly jumping off the sidewalk.  Too much sadness in the world.  So much on the news.  Sunday will mark 15 years since 9/11 terrorist attacks.  My life the past 22 years since my brother died in 1994, followed by my Dad’s passing in 1998 and then my fiance’s death on 9/11/2001- has been a long journey of loss, worry, depression, grief, anxiety, failure and slowly healing.  Each death, each loss, each time – something about my life changed and I lost pieces of myself.

Time does not fully heal all wounds.  I may still be broken, and my heart remains shattered…but it still beats and for that I am grateful.  The past few years of heartbreak and loss have also shown me much compassion and gratitude, and strengthened my faith. Some of my fear has diminished and I have more clarity, focus, determination to live fully for them.  I have found some peace.  Grief doesn’t end for me; doesn’t go away…but it does change.  Times like this weekend stir too many memories – good and bad.  Sadly, so many people believe that my grieving is a sign of weakness – but they are wrong.  Some people believe I lack faith – but they are also wrong.  My grieving after all these years is a testament to the love I shared with these men in my life.  The price I pay each and every minute, of every single day for loving them; for allowing their love to be a part of me.  So I don’t care if people think I am weak or mad.  I have had magic in my life and there is still fire in my will.  My brother, my Dad, Michael, my forever heart – they don’t just cross my mind, every once in a while – they live in it.  Always loved, forever missed.  In laughter and in sorrow, in sunshine and in rain – I know they are watching over me… my very own Angels in Heaven… until we meet again.

Grief is my shadow – following me everywhere I go.  Pain is manageable, dulled by my memories.  Ache is constant, made more hollow with sadness.  But then love and compassion fill me with light and hope.  Sunshine comforts me.   Some days I allow myself to just exist, no pressure and I get through it without guilt. I am able to find peace in moments of time, where I move forward, slowly with grace in my step, hope in my heart and smile through my tears.    Just breathing.

This song gets me each and every time … Ozzy Osbourne – “See You On The Other Side”:

Voices, a thousand, thousand voices
Whispering, the time has passed for choices
Golden days are passing over, yeah

I can’t seem to see you baby
Although my eyes are open wide
But I know I’ll see you once more
When I see you, I’ll see you on the other side
Yes, I’ll see you, I’ll see you on the other side

Leaving, I hate to see you cry
Grieving, I hate to say goodbye
Dust and ash forever, yeah

Though I know we must be parted
As sure as stars are in the sky
I’m gonna see when it comes to glory
And I’ll see you, I’ll see you on the other side
Yes I’ll see you, I’ll see you on the other side

Never thought I’d feel like this
Strange to be alone, yeah
But we’ll be together
Carved in stone, carved in stone, carved in stone

Hold me, hold me tight, I’m falling
Far away. Distant voices calling
I’m so cold. I need you darling, yeah

I was down, but now I’m flying
Straight across the great divide
I know you’re crying, but I’ll stop you crying
When I see you, I see you on the other side
Yes. I’ll see you. See you on the other side
I’m gonna see you. See you on the other side
God knows I’ll see you, see you on the other side, yeah

I’ll see you. See you on the other side
I’m gonna see you. See you on the other side
God knows I’ll see you, see you on the other side, yeah
I wanna see you, yeah, yeah, yeah, see you on the other side
God knows I’ll see you, see you on the other side, yeah
I’m gonna see you. See you on the other side


Waiting On Something Beautiful

Been home sick, trying not to get too depressed, watching old movies… watched “Waiting To Exhale” and I absolutely love the scene where James (Wesley Snipes) sends Bernadine (Angela Bassett) a letter – melts me.

I miss the days where people actually write words down on paper.

Below is the except of that note from James in the movie:

I’ve been thinking about you a lot, Bernie.  Every day. All the time.  I’m embarrassed to even write that down…but it’s true.

Bernie, I fell in love in one night.  You know what’s even harder for me to understand…is that what I feel for you…has never undercut the love I have for my wife.  Now, how is that possible?
I still watch her every day.  So beautiful. So brave.  I just wanna give her
everything I’ve got in me.  Every moment.  She’s hanging on, fighting to be here for me…and when she sleeps, I cry…over how amazing she is…and how lucky I’ve been to have her in my life.  Can I say it?

 

You’re the only person in this world I ever knew I could tell this to…
and even if this never finds you…and we never speak again…you’ve changed my life.

You know what inspiration is?  It’s someone who lets you know life will go on…and something beautiful can be waiting somewhere.  Somewhere when you least expect it.

Yes, waiting to exhale…waiting on something beautiful…with grace in my step and hope in my heart…


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