Category Archives: Life thoughts

3:00 a.m.

 

 

It’s 3:00 a.m. and I am awake

like I am so many other nights.

My first thought is,

“Of course, the moment his heart

stopped.”

I am tugged out of the escape of sleep.

The house is dark

and so quiet.

I get up, walk to the bathroom,

walk back to bed,

waiting for sleep to return.

 

It’s 3:00 a.m. and time moves slowly,

becoming 3:15,

when there was still hope,

when the phone rang and

in a foggy confusion I got

in the car.

 

It’s 3:30 a.m. I am still awake,

watching minutes tick by,

noticing the light of the moon

trickling in

through the window shades.

 

It’s 3:30 a.m. and I run,

too late,

through

the hospital to Urgent Care.

Missing the pronouncement

by only one minute.

 

It’s 4:00 a.m. and the mockingbird

is singing as I try

fruitlessly to return to slumber.

There isn’t enough air.

The room is too light,

the blankets too warm, and

the pillow offers no comfort.

 

It’s 4:00 a.m. and the hospital room is full,

of family, friends, support.

But, it is empty too,

of a life, of a future.

The nurses say, “It’s time to go.”

The doctor’s say, “We must clear the room.”

But how can we move when time is standing

so still?

 

It’s 4:30 a.m. and my mind won’t stop

thinking about this different life

filled with decisions I make alone,

about paint colors, room designs,

coordinating the arrival of cabinets,

the avoiding of packing

my old life and deciding what to take

into the new life.

 

It’s 4:30 a.m. and we are leaving

the hospital room,

lingering in hallways,

hesitating,

not ready to head home,

away from the place

where hope once lived.

 

It’s 5:00 a.m. and exhaustion is

setting in.

Sleep is slowly returning

and it doesn’t matter that the bed

is too big or

that the bird is still mocking.

 

It’s 5:00 a.m. and we are all exhausted

by the disbelief,

coming home to the whirlwind of

plans and decisions.

eating bagels, drinking coffee,

We are waiting for planes to arrive,

for cars to bring everyone

together,

our eyes aching, dry and red.

Multiple empty boxes of Kleenex

dotting the house.

 

It’s 6:00 a.m. and morning is near, but I cling

to sleep.

Just a few more minutes…

The sounds of other birds begin now,

robins, finches, the occasional cry of a hawk or crow.

They beckon me to rise, eyes opening again.

 

It’s 6:00 a.m. and it feels like

A thousand hours have passed.

3:00 a.m. is a lifetime away.

Time is divided into before and after.

Information is being gathered,

preparations are being made,

prayers are sent and phone calls break the stunned silence.

 

It is 6:15 a.m. and

the sun rises.

It is a new day and the need to crawl

back to sleep is over.

This is the first day of a new life,

another day of a new life.

A blend of old and new,

memories, hopes, the unknown and maybe

there are still

some dreams.

 

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Filed under death, Family, grief, Life thoughts, sleepless

13 Months: Through The Looking Glass (Reflections on entering the 2nd year.)

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The 21st is a hard date to face each month. A month ago I was standing on the other side, the Looking Glass in front of me, looking over my shoulder at the first year, my past, hesitating to step through to my future, but really, what choice did I have? I can’t live in the past, with regrets, and wishes don’t make the future a reality. So, I stepped through and I find myself here, on the other side, insecure in my uncharted territory with a million decisions to make and myself the ultimate consultant.

I am fine most of the time, well maybe ¾ of the time, as long as I stick to my routine. The decisions are hard, the weekends can be hard but I’ve gotten used to the nights. I’m fine and some of the time I even enjoy the time alone, to think, to write, answering to only myself. I have a home that stays clean, food that I like to eat in my refrigerator and half as much laundry to do each week. I’ve almost stopped waiting for someone to come home.

It is different here, on the other side of the Looking Glass. The world looks different and feels more uncertain, but I am trying to create a landing pad, a place to feel at home and friends to share some good times with. I am making different memories while struggling to keep the old memories alive, the good ones, the laughter, and the adventures shared. This side of the Glass has a long road stretching out ahead and I am traveling light, taking only what holds memories, is beautiful or needed, letting go of so much. Not just hopes and dreams, but also the weight of all that is carried through a lifetime.

A Looking Glass is for looking through, but once I’m through it, I can look forward and while I can’t see too far down the path, I can see a day at a time. I can plan a day at a time. I can live a day at a time, with gratitude that I have these days and that I have this path to walk on. I am fine, most of the time, but having the support of my family and friends is the buoy keeping me afloat. You’re asking, me answering, I’m fine most of the time. Thanks for asking.

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Filed under change, choice, death, grief, hurdles, Life thoughts

Just A Year

 

It has just been a year but it has been so much more. It has been a year of grief and joy, of being paralyzed and times of flow.

There have been

31,536,000 seconds

525,600 minutes

8760 hours

365 days

…yet not a day goes by that I don’t feel.

 

Grief

Blessings

Sadness

Happiness

Anger

Fondness

Disappointment

Wonder

 

It has been just a year, a blip in time and an eternity. It’s a mixed bag and so much can happen in a year.

The vanishing of my life partner and best friend,

The conception and birth of a child,

The closing of a chapter of my life,

The completion of a school term,

The tremendous fear of facing life alone,

The growth of confidence,

The grief bursts and

The partial evaporation of tears.

 

It has been just a year and I have walked the path of seasons and holidays alone within arms reach of family and friends

but with an empty space beside me,

the markers of time anchors for me as I wade through the sometimes-deep waters of the unknown.

The future is still murky and mysterious but little glimpses of clarity peek through.

The paralysis is defrosting.

 

It has been just a year and the signs are still appearing.

One mourning dove outside my window in the morning, mussed covers and the feeling of presence, songs on the radio and an un-requested inscribed cake.

The feeling of being connected to something very far away, and yet disconnected floating through time.

 

It has been just a year since

Life was normal,

Life was full,

Life was complete,

Life was more known than the unknown.

 

It has been just a year but I am learning

To depend on myself

To ask for support when I need it

To go to experts for advice

To re-imagine my future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unconditional Love

Love comes in many forms throughout our lives and we experience it differently depending on our age, our family, and where we are in life. As I reflect on my life, my family has received my unconditional love for as long as I can remember. My love has resided in my heart and at times, has been so intense that it aches. I can remember feeling the clinging, dependent love for my mother when I was a little girl, and the longing love for a father I barely got to know. I remember the loving times with my sister, spending hours playing, imagining, singing and giggling, wishing for our perception of normal. I remember the excitement I felt when my mother remarried and I had the chance to have a father to love and who would love me. I remember crushes, and more serious young love and then, the surprise of meeting the one who would change my life.

Meeting Gary, who would become my husband and my life-partner, opened the door to unconditional love apart from that of my parents and sister. The kind of love that sticks around through the years, the experiences, and the ups and downs of years of living, growing, and aging together. We were young when we met and we learned to be adults together. We shared interests and learned to appreciate each other’s passions: the ocean, music, the mountains, theater, baseball and books. We were there for each other during the happy celebrations and we waded together through the scary times.

Children come into our lives, planned, unplanned, quickly or after years of hoping. When they do, with their small, soft innocence, their sweet, intoxicating smell, and utter dependence on us to meet their every need, it is impossible not to fall in love. As our children grow, we live through their ups and downs, we are the consummate cheerleaders with the photos to prove it, and we hold out safety nets and are cushions for their falls.

Our pets show up in our lives, sometimes mysteriously, sometimes with intention. They are found in the puddles in alleys, in animal shelters and through rescue organizations. We look for the perfect companion and when we find our life-long friend, we shower them with unconditional love. We forgive them for shedding, chewing, for eating the food off our plates. We teach them to go out to pee, to sit, and try to teach them to stay off the couch. We take them for walks in the heat of the summer and in the rain. Their aging is hard for us and losing them is heartbreaking.

Life, like love, can be unconditional. We don’t have the control we want to believe we have; we learn to ride the ebbs and flows, to relinquish control and to find a way to love life unconditionally. We take the gift of each day and we look for signs of love, in heart-shaped rocks, in clouds and in the foam of a latté.

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Metamorphosis

                                Last Spring

 

Last year, in the spring, my favorite time of year, I was shocked into retreat. I became a small newborn shell of the person I was, lost and stagnant and felt like a little caterpillar egg, waiting to hatch and to become something new and different. My prior life was suddenly gone and I had no frame of reference, so, I stayed in the safety of my egg, waiting.

 

After a few weeks I came out of my egg, more by force than by choice. There was nothing else to do but to emerge, look around and see what I was facing, so I did. I began to look for familiar things, yoga, the beach, work of course and the children. I looked for friends and family and for ways to occupy myself. I resided in the familiar, but everything was different now.

                         Starting to Bloom

As small as a caterpillar, I crawled along, nibbling from the familiar and attempting to try a few unfamiliar things too. I traveled alone, I traveled with my daughters and I connected to everyone I could. I found out who my true friends were-the ones who stuck around and cared. I rediscovered the importance of family and traditions and I found joy in my new granddaughter. I wrote more, read a lot, found strong roots in feminism and awareness.

I grew and became more than the small egg and more than a small caterpillar crawling along alone; I became bigger. I was still me, with my sadness, insecurities, and fear of this new, unknown life and though I had new experiences that felt good, the winter brought cold and darkness and it was hard to find any light. I retreated.

 

I spent the winter in the cocoon of my routine, the security of my home with cozy fires and getting inside out of the darkness. I spent weekend mornings in the safety of my flannel sheets and most nights with the company of the television. I waited for Gary to walk through the door but of course he didn’t. I stared at his collection of cars, his clothes and it seemed surreal, the magnified sadness of the winter only kept at bay by keeping busy.

Then, last week, the rain stopped and I saw the first lupines and poppies blooming in the Canyon. The birds once again wake me with their songs and sit on the wires in pairs, some building nests in the lavender bushes. The hills are lush green from the heavy winter rains and the trees are filled with buds. I feel comfortable beginning to nibble my way out of the cocoon, or at least a bit of the way out. I am not quite ready to emerge, my wings still wet and new, but I can imagine flying.

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Filed under change, death, grief, Life thoughts, writing

Sixty-five

         Perseverance can pay off.

Sixty-five is a monumental year for most. In years past, it used to be the time to retire, but no one retires these days. It’s a year that means senior discounts begin, and Medicare. The brochures arrive daily, advertising Medicare options, reminders that it is time to enroll, and encouraging offers from the Neptune Society. None of it is needed now.

March 3rd, the day Gary would have been sixty-five and now, in the year of firsts it’s the first time we haven’t celebrated his birthday.

Sixty-five used to seem old, but somehow, it doesn’t seem that old anymore. I am nowhere near retiring, in a way; I am just starting out again. During this year of firsts, there are more than just holidays to contend with, there are the first time experiences like negotiating a new car deal and even though I ended up getting help from a friend’s broker, I felt confident, thanks to years of listening to Gary talk about the car business, talking the car talk and was clear about what I wanted.

There is the first time tax preparation, gathering the documents, touching every page. There is the feeling of pride when I am told I am an “accountant’s dream.” I’ve always been organized and learned a few years back to understand finances enough to make sense of my life.

This was going to be the year we started planning our travels, a year we would enjoy the rewards of our years of work. This was supposed to be the beginning of the golden years, but there are a lot of things that aren’t fair these days. In this time of discrimination, deportation and deceit there are people fighting for equality, fighting for health care and fighting for opportunity.

This is a time of broken dreams and broken hearts. Our hearts ache for loss, but also for the hate that seeps into the unnoticed cracks, the hate that is dismissed and ignored and the cruelty seemingly “normal” people subliminally inflict on others. I’m more sensitive to the broken-hearted and the fearful now.

I am starting out again on a path that I selfishly feel is my own, but a path that many others walk alone with me.

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Faith Blooming

rosesTen months in as of next week and change comes slowly. Little things need to be taken care of daily, shopping, eating, laundry, and then, suddenly I realize my car lease is up, ironically on the year anniversary of Gary’s death. I am proactive and start looking for my new car; something I have never navigated by myself, having a husband in the car business came in quite handy for the past 20 years.   Now I am trying to remember all those things Gary negotiated for us, the warranties, the car lease terms, the car accessories and interest rates. I am navigating the unfamiliar and while people do this all the time, I have never done this alone and I want to make a good deal.

I made it through another holiday, the romantic one I’d been lucky enough to take for granted for the past 37 years. I always had a Valentine and plans for dinner; most of the time we cooked it together at home. We spent quiet evenings at home, but enjoyed the company. This year I realized it is a good thing to be a kindergarten teacher on Valentine’s Day because it comes with the guarantee of little cards, some chocolate and lots of handpicked flowers. This year, the year I wouldn’t come home to roses, my daughters thoughtfully ordered roses. My daughter coordinated with my dear friend, who kindly delivered the roses to school, and I was moved to tears by the sheer thoughtfulness and love the act represented.

I long for ritual.  Every holiday is a pause in my path to acceptance, or at least acknowledgement, of my new life and after I’ve made it through the day, I exhale. The day after Valentine’s Day would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday. He died when he too young at 75. This past week was a double hit. After surviving the loss of romance, I woke up to the loss of the other man who had influenced my life.

This week I am tackling taxes, organizing my documents and doing my best to organize Gary’s tax documents. Cruelly I have to file joint tax returns for two years, reliving the past year and then next year, confronting the void of documents. We always worked as a team to assemble the paperwork, but truthfully, though I organized, Gary was the numbers guy. I am double checking everything.

People surround me, but many times, I am alone in this new life. Some days go by and everyone is involved in his or her own lives. I realize I have to find one, fill it up and think of myself, something a wife and mother rarely does. I am unaccustomed to putting myself first, but I have to learn to do this if I am going to survive. I am doing my best to stay in survival mode, dipping my toe into new things, dinner with new friends, figuring out how to negotiate a car purchase, and organizing my tax documents.

A Valentine chocolate came with this quote and I saved it, rereading it, and gathering faith. I am looking for the faith in the best outcome, the faith in the relationships I cherish, the faith in the possibility of a future.

quote

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Filed under death, grief, Life thoughts