Serious stuff

Farewell, my girl: If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever

If I had known it was the last time I would brush you, I would have complained less.

If I had known how skinny you would get in the end, I would have worried less about you gaining too much weight.

If I’d known it was the last time I’d hear you bark, I would have let you do so with abandon.

If I had known it was the last time you’d lay in the yard soaking up the sun, nose pointed in the air, eyes closed, I’d have let you stay until you wanted to come in.

If I had known it would be my last 3 a.m. potty emergency with you, I’d have been way less irritated.

If I had known it would be the last time you’d come to me for lovin’ and slobber all over me, I wouldn’t have been annoyed.

But this makes it seem like knowing is what would have made me feel better. That’s not true, though.

I knew when you made your visit to Grandma’s that it would be your last, but it still hurt.

I knew when you had your waffle with eggs and bacon that it was your last spoiled weekend breakfast, and still it ached.

I knew when we came home from the steakhouse that it was your last time being excited for the doggy bag of scraps we always brought you, and still my heart sunk.

Here we are, on the precipice of that final vet visit, and my heart is absolutely shattered.

I don’t know how I will say goodbye. I suspect it will be with tears and sobbing and gut-wrenching sorrow.

I don’t know how I will handle the coming days without you. I suspect with a low down grief that even Angus’s sloppy puppy kisses won’t soothe.

I don’t know how I’ll ever fill the void your passing will leave. I suspect I never will.

Goodbye, my Rosie girl. If love truly could have saved you, you’d have lived forever.

 

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Serious stuff

Changes and a New Focus: Dealing with Family Crises and Finding Balance

So much has happened in the many months since I’ve been here. Too much, really. My family and I have faced so much upheaval that we’re just now beginning to settle into our new normal. That has taken eight, long months and it’s a tentative settling at best. Let me back up and explain.

Eight months ago our definition of normal imploded. All within one week’s time we found out that a close relative was diagnosed with breast cancer, my husband was diagnosed with diabetes, and I had pernicious anemia (PA) and possibly multiple sclerosis (MS). It’s been an arduous journey to health and we aren’t even at the end. Jim has stabilized with changes to his diet. Our relative is (all fingers crossed) in the last leg of kicking cancer square in the ass. Me? Still in limbo, I’m afraid. I can control the PA with bi-monthly shots, but the other symptoms…not quite.

It all began because  I couldn’t walk without falling. The fall that sent me to the doctor frightened me. I was coming down the stairs after my morning shower and I toppled and hit the wall hard, literally and figuratively. I can no longer walk unassisted. I use a cane to navigate stairs and a rollator for all other ambulatory needs. I can drive only short distances, and then only if I absolutely have to. There are days I can’t drive at all because I can’t trust my feet or hands to do as I command. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for me. There are so many other physical changes in my life that I won’t go into here. It all boils down to one thing: I have to accept that I am handicapped now.

And that’s not something I am doing well with. I have always been fiercely independent. Asking for help was not an option I ever employed. If I wanted to go somewhere or do something I just did. Nothing stood in my way. And if I couldn’t do it, well, it just didn’t get done.

But here I am. Needing help every damn day of my life because you can’t just not wear pants because you can’t put them on yourself. You can’t just leave the house without shoes because your foot won’t lift off the floor. You can’t just not eat because walking across the room isn’t an option for the day.

And I hate it. I resent it. I cannot stand it!

The worst part? I am eight months into poking and prodding and testing and multiple doctors and I STILL do not have an official diagnosis. Ask how many Type A people would enjoy that. If you find one, please introduce us. I need help.

All this to say, I am grieving the loss of my independence something fierce. It truly feels like some part of me just up and died. Last August I was walking, driving, and living my life like every other person–going to my nieces’ dance recitals and soccer games, going to the grocery store, taking my kids back and forth to events, going to have lunch with my husband at work. Four weeks later I just wasn’t anymore. Two weeks after that, I was using a rollator once in a while. Eight months later, and the rollator is a part of my body. The fear that a wheelchair looms in my near future is so very real that I want to cry.

Don’t get me wrong. I know things could be exponentially worse. I’m still here, alive and watching my kids transition into the next big phase of their lives, watching my nieces grow, and reconnecting with long lost family. The recent loss of a friend who was only 12 days younger than me drove that realization home hard.  I sat at his memorial last week, weeping for the loss, aching at his mother’s face, his widow’s sobs, and I knew I was being selfish. Talk about forcing some perspective.

However, it’s still a loss I am feeling and grieving. I know, at some point, I will rise above this. I will learn how to navigate this massive change. Until then, I am trying to remind myself that this is not the end of the world. It’s just a hefty bump in my road–a road that I am travelling, like it or not.

For now, I’ve chosen to focus on what I CAN do. It’s the only thing I think will help. I’ve decided to kick my writing goals into high gear while I still can. I’m going to be sharing here about navigating the traditional publishing slopes. I am querying agents for my first novel. I am working steadily on my next novel. I am blogging again. Most of all, I have to remember that I am more than just my rebellious body.

I’m still a wife.

Mother.

Aunt.

Friend.

And writer.

I’m still me.

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Serious stuff, Uncategorized

Treatment: Hope

The summer of 2017 has not been kind to me and my family, both close and extended. So many people I care about have had diagnoses that literally upended their lives this summer, some temporarily, others forever. I’ve been operating under the mire of worry for the last month, trying to find my way past the grey clouds swirling about my head. I’ve spent a lot of time worrying, researching, crying and angry, pondering why things seem so damn unfair. No answers, just the echo of my questions as a reply.

This week I realized something, though. As I watch the stress mount on everyone, as I watch the numbness, shock, and dismay turn to anger, I ask, “How much more? How much before we break?” While I do not get the answers I seek, I do get the picture in my mind of a mountain.

Why the mountain? Well, when you think about it, it’s a steep climb with few footholds to make it to the top. It’s a tough journey, the toughest of your life, and questioning whether you can conquer what seems impossible. That’s exactly what we are all doing. We are standing there facing that treacherous climb and asking ourselves, can I make it? Do I have what it takes? What if…?

You have to embrace your strength. You have to face that mountain with every ounce of tenacity, guts, and grit that you can muster, if for no other reason than that the minute you doubt your own strength, the battle is lost. Even before that first step is taken, you will lose if you don’t embrace hope. Hope becomes all you have. And it can be enough.

You have to have the hope that you will reach the top of that mountain, that you will stand at the peak and scream to the world, “It didn’t beat me! I faced my battle and it didn’t beat me!” Keeping that in mind is what will keep you going. It will see you through. It will be enough.

I am looking at all this that our family is going through and trying to convince myself that this bump in the road may be more like a crater, but it isn’t insurmountable. We are a strong group of people. We are fighters. We are stubborn. We are strong. We have hope. And that is enough.

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Serious stuff

Crash Landing

Way back in ’09 I left a Pampered Chef party at my mother-in-law’s house to go pick up pictures I had ordered.  When I sat down next to the photographer she began to weep, having a difficult time concentrating on my order.  When I asked if she was okay she shook her head.

“No,” she said, rummaging through her purse for a tissue.

“Would you rather I come back another day?”

“No, I’m just sad.  I can’t believe he’s dead.”

I looked at the woman like she was crazy for a minute.  Did I miss something?

“Didn’t you hear?” she asked, her eyes bulging out of her head.

“Hear what?”

“Michael Jackson died.”

I admit, I thought she was a little nutty.  Unless she knew Michael Jackson personally, I thought her grief was over the top.

God laughed at me and put me in my place yesterday.

When I opened my Yahoo feed I was slapped in the face with the news of Robin Williams’ death.  My first reaction was to quickly search so I could find out it was a hoax.  This simply cannot be, I thought.

But it was.

It is.

In that moment a wave of grief swept over me.  No, I didn’t know the man personally, though that would have been cool as hell.  No, I didn’t weep, but I did cry.  I shed a tear for the comedic and dramatic genius that had fostered in me a sense of humor and a love for poignant movie moments since 1979.

As I read the internet stories I grew more and more eager to know details of this man’s death.  Still too soon to report much more than the bare fact that he died by possible suicide, little was found to give answers.  He was always open and honest about his struggles with addiction and depression, never hiding behind cliches or publicists.  As fans, we had all the answers.  We just chose to think the funny man would always have a well of strength to keep him soaring through the stratosphere of fame.

His well ran dry yesterday.

He crash landed.

It wasn’t until I read the tweet his daughter sent out into the world that I bawled like a baby.  From “The Little Prince”:

“You  you alone will have the stars as no one else has them.  In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You — only you — will have stars that can laugh.”

I was at a loss.  How should I remember this man who bounced into my life at the tender age of 5, dressed in a red jumpsuit, flying in an egg, and made me laugh, even though I was too young to get most of the jokes?  For decades, literally, he had released movie after movie right around my birthday.  Each year I’d scoop up someone to go see My Birthday Movie, as I thought of it, as if the man made them just for me.  It became my thing.  My tradition.  What to do?

The answer was simple.

I gathered my sons together.

I made them turn off the video games.

I fired up Hulu.

I began at the beginning.

I introduced them to Mork.

As we sat on the couch, giggling at the nearly 40-year-old humor, I had an epiphany.  Robin Williams left us not just the legacy of an artist.  He left us an entire cache of grief soothing salve in the form of Mork, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Adrian Cronauer.  He left us catharsis in movies like Awakenings, Patch Adams, and Good Will Hunting.  We could still commune with the spirit of this short, furry and funny man.

As I searched through the boxes of DVD’s pulling out every Robin Williams movie I own, I heard my computer dinging with replies to my posts about how sad this news was.  I quit my search and sat down to Facebook and saw post after post of folks who felt the same way I did.

My last epiphany of the evening wasn’t a pleasant one.

He was loved by more than just his family.  And still that love wasn’t enough to save him from the demons that haunted him.

So my wish, if I get one, is that Robin Williams finally finds the peace he so desperately needed while he was here.

My wish is that, after his crash landing, he was lifted up and surrounded by our outpourings of love for a man the majority of us didn’t know personally, but felt like we did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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