It Was Only A Dream

I felt his touch and I could smell the scent of his skin. Then, I saw his face.

He was smiling that warm, filled with mischief smile that he reserved just for me.

Without speaking a word I poured out my heart… In my  heart I heard his voice  echo my words. I didn’t hear words, but I heard an unspoken melody that emanated from his heart to mine.

It seems that our souls are as entwined as deeply as they were before he died. The bond is alive and as strong in death as it was in life.

Then he invited me to nestle by his side, to hold me in his arms.. .. as I slipped into his arms, I felt that I was finally safe.

I felt my mind, soul and body relax for the first time since the day he died. I returned to my place.  I was safely cradled in his embrace. 

Yet, as I felt his warmth, I knew that this wasn’t occurring in the present. I was aware that he and I were in the land of dreams and this fading moment cannot  be measured in time. I knew that it couldn’t last.

The tears began to flow down my face as I whispered my words of love in his ear.  As I gazed into his eye, he was fading before me. As he became transparent, I was willing myself to not wake.

But, I did. As he faded from my dream filled eyes, I woke to my tear drenched pillow. Stardust had evaporated and he was gone.

On my pillow were tears of joy. Tears of relief. Tears of deep longing to stay in those strong arms.

He held me. I touched him.

At this moment, I know that I am awake and alive because I feel the pain of being left behind again.

It was only a dream, a vapor, a wisp of  whimsy…

It was wondrous. It was heart wrenching. It was comfort. It was security…all of these things captured in the state of dreams.

After all of these month of missing him, I was blessed to see  his face one more time and…

Then he was gone.

How ironic!

Today I prayed and told God that I realized that I was open to the idea that I desired to share life’s path with someone and asked God to show me if there was someone that would be a friend and companion, possibly a mate….and then Dan came to me in a dream…

I can’t help but wonder if the dream is the  answer to this prayer or was the dream my way of letting Dan go so someone else can come into my life? Is this dream my final goodbye? Or, is the dream telling me that no one will be in my life but Dan?

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Silhouettes

August SunsetNothing signals the change from late summer to fall like the brilliant sunsets. I grew up in a house that faced the west and I became fasinated with the glories that heraled the end of day.

The autumn sunsets were always the announcement that a change was approaching. It was the ending of a season of warmth and bounty. It was the sure signal that colder weather was coming. A new and harder season was fast approaching.

One of the most striking differences from the summer sunsets and the fall was the contrast seen in the silhoutes cast by the fall sunsets. Everything before the sinking sun and its fading rays were sihouetted. The trees with their lost leaves, the barns, the houses were all dark against the intensity of the fading sun.

This has always been a bittersweet, melancholy time in my heart. I truly hated seeing the end of warm summer breezes. I waited in anticipation of the coldness of the winter snows that were sure to add more difficulty to the everyday happenings.

This year has been especially difficult for me. With each new sunset, I see Dan and I riding the motorcycle in our leathers. We would find the highest vista in the Hills of Brown County to observe the freshly harvested fields. We would catch the fading rays in the distance and know that we needed to leave before the ride back home would permiate our bones with the cold air.

I miss looking into his eyes to see my reflection. In his eyes held all unspoken but clearly known feelings reserved from his heart to mine. I miss his eyes.

Many times we would set in a coffee shop and I would just watch him watch people. He was an astute observer of people and he had a discernment into their character. He would watch them and I would watch his eyes.

I could dance in the palm of his hand with just a look from him. To him, I could do no wrong, even when he knew that I was as wrong as I could be. His eyes never betrayed me.

As I watch the fall silhouettes, the words written in his lost letter come to me.
” As I lay on the couch filling up time contemplating what is going to be, I watch you sleep. So soundly is your slumber, I wish and pray that this disease would pass and we could start all over…I miss sleeping with you and holding you in my arms. I miss the soft tender touches that passed between us. And, I miss your kisses, oh, so sweet.

I miss our bike rides in the evening sunsets. Watching your hair blow in the breeze. I miss your laughter and you wonderful smile. I miss watching our grandchildren grow up.

I feel that this disease is driving a wedge between us. I am so sorry. All I can do is pray for healing and the healing of our children’s hearts. I love you so much that my heart feels as broken as does my body.

It seems to early to stop making memories and plans. I miss you more and more…I love you as no other…

Dan

In his words, he seems to capture the silhouette of our life together. He wrote the essense of our life together and he wanted to begin again. He wanted the memories to continue. He wanted to be restored so that we could be husband and wife with all its responsibilities and wonders.

My life is so much less without him here with me and I feel my life become the shadows of the tree that lost its leaves.

His sunset has come and gone. Mine is still above the horizon. It is not as brilliant as it once was. It feels so faded and worn.

Will I ever know what it is to thrill at the changes embedded in the glories of the seasons again? I wish I knew…but where ever I am, so he will be…

Darkest Before The Dawn…

astronightIf there is any truth to this old adage, then the faint rays of dawn should be on the horizon. The past few weeks have been terribly dark for me. Even in my dreams, troubling imagines and circumstances are indications that I am not coping with my life.

Several nights ago, I dreamed that my family doctor told me that the results of my tests were not good and that I, too, would be leaving this earthly life. My response was not one of fear or dread, but rather, I asked if the doctor could orchestrate my leaving to be at the same time as Dan’s.

In light of my families’ tendency to have prophetic dreams, at first, I was alarmed. But, on further reflection, I realized that my inner person was telling me that my desire to live this life was not strong and that I needed to be proactive about my physical and mental health.

When I began to contemplate all that was in the dream, I recalled the statistics regarding caregivers and depression. Depression is very common in those who have loved and cared for someone until they died. In fact, I don’t know how you can not become depressed as you watch someone who has become a part of you suffer and loose their battle to live.

The article that I read noted that caregivers and spouses of the terminally ill often develop terminal illnesses or develop chronic conditions frequently after the death of their loved one.

I became aware of this while I was caring for Dan. and I began a routine of  walking regularly. I knew that physical exercise helps to balance anxiety of the mind and it releases helpful hormones to the brain.

After Dan died, I would walk Mozie twice a day. Once before I left for work and then on my arrival home. I kept to this routine until on one of these walks, one of my cats was hit by a passing car.

I  realized that this accidental death could have been me or Mozie. Most times, it was dark when I would walk. Even though I had a flashlight with me, I know that I was not easily seen by the motorist. I decided that it was too risky to continue to walk the dog in the dark and I stopped.

Then the cold weather hit. jack-frost-nipping-at-your-nose1

It seems that I have become quite a wimp when it comes to cold weather. I really didn’t want to walk in the cold. It seemed that it took  hours for me to feel my extremities again, so I talked myself out of walking in the cold. 

Now, I am out of the habit and I find all manner of excuses to not do what I know will help my mental and physical health. Inertia has definitely set in. The longer inertia is allowed to stay, the more resistence there is to any kind of movement.

There is one activity that I have not quit doing. It is somewhat  an unconventional  but I believe that it has helped me both physically and emotionally deal with grief.  I attend Sweat Lodges.

I can’t remember if I posted about this on the blog, but attending sweat lodge was a major part of Dan’s inner healing. It put him  in touch with his Native American roots.

Our family doctor suggested that Dan to this and the first sweat that Dan attended, he was not able to complete all of the rounds. I took his place as  his proxy.

It was not an easy sweat because this was the first sweat of the new season and the round that expressed thanksgiving for the new willow saplings for the lodge was quite intense. sweat-lodgeIt was also very warm outside, so this round was not easy for the seasoned veteran of attendants. But, for Dan’s sake, there was nothing that could have prevented me from enduring the heat. After that experience, I knew that I could endure the sweat and I seemed to find a peace during the ceremony.

Since the time of our first sweat, our family doctor completed his study with an elder and he is now able to hold sweats. The elder under which the doctor studied  has taken the elements of the sweat and modified the ceremony to be less specific to the tribe and more universal. Everyone is accepted. The is no restriction or  requirements to observe. You are asked to pray.

After Dan died, our doctor invited me to one of his sweats. I was thankful for the invitation. As I was thinking about attending a sweat on my own, I remembered what my friend, the hospice chaplain, told me about the physical composition of the tears of grief.

She explained that I tears of grief are of a different chemical composistion. She explained that the tears carry away the residue that grief leaves behind in the body.  She wanted to explain this to me because shecould sense that I was refusing to cry. She wanted me to know that tears of grief were made to be released and should I not do this, I was holding within myself toxins that needed to be cleaned from my body.

As I recalled her explaination for tears, I reasoned that the sweat would further help my body by release the toxins that stress and grief manufactured. I also was needing a place where I could moan, lament and cry without worrying about others trying to “fix” me. I need autonomy.

In the hallowed darkness inside the lodge, I am free to allow my grief and pain flow from me. In the midst of  endless tears and drops of sweat, I can feel the toxins and residue of this kind of living are wash from me. In many respects, I as I did when I was baptized.

When the sweat is completed, I feel refreshed and regenerated. Physically, I feel lighter and emotionally, I feel peace. For the short time afterwards, I feel  happiness return and I also enjoy the feast and fellowship that follows the sweat. I feel clean and restored.

For a time after the sweat, I have increased energy and I feel like doing things that I have recently lost interest. The effects of the sweat can last a few weeks before I feel the strain of bereavement return. Then, I begin counting the days until the next sweat.

I attended a sweat this past weekend. Instead of the effects lasting a few weeks, I was returning to the strain after a few short days. I have a couple of months before I can attend the next one and my dream was telling me that I  didn’t have the luxuary of time. I need to counteract this depression, now. I called and made an appointment with my family doctor.

The dream has become the catalyst for me to face  what this pain is costing me.  For some time, now, I knew that I have several symptoms of depression. The one that has plagued me the most is  lack of sleep.

Each night, I fall asleep on the couch around 8:30 in the evening and wake up around 10:30 PM. I know that I must get back to sleep because my alarm clock is set for 3:30 AM. I have to be at the client’s house by 5:30 AM. If I can’t get back to sleep, I will be awake about 20 hours. After a few days of this, I am totally exhausted.

This cycle of sleep deprivation has caused my immune system to be compromised and I can fall victim to every flu virus that comes along.  I cannot afford to miss work and I cannot afford to become chronically ill.

I also noted that I seem to have an increase for minor accidents. Lately, I have pulled muscles in my ribs and arms. I have sprained my ankle and I have fallen more than I usually do. Normally, I don’t find myself so clumsy. But, I know that this kind of thing goes along with depression. Now that I live alone, falling and spraining things are more of a concern. I know that I can have an accident and no one will know until I am able to get to a phone or have another way of communciation. It becomes more of a concern.

Depression can be well disguised when you keep yourself too busy to think. I think that the dream caused me to acknowledge that I need to be wiser than my pride and accept that I need help so as to not be overtaken by this kind of dark of shadow.

After seeing my doctor on Friday, I am to start on an anti depressant this weekend. As I discussed this with him, I expressed that I do not want medication to become a long term kind of treatment. I told him that I do not want something that will keep me from grieving, but rather, I need this medication to be a tool and I want to take this medicine for 6 months to a year period at most.

I won’t be relying on medication alone for this problem. I will be doing the  things that I know will help combat this disorder. I will return to walking for exercise andI will try to eat better. I will also take supplements to help build my immune system.

I also contacted my hospice chaplain friend about a bereavement group that meets at times when I can attend. If there is no group, then I will go back to meeting with her for counseling. I know that this must be a balanced plan.

One of the other tools that has helped me has been writing this blog. You may have noticed that I do not post as often as I have in the past and that I do not respond to comments like I once did. Writing has been my “saving grace”. Now, it is not as fluid. That was also one of my warning signs. Hopefully, the blog will see more attention.

So, now, I begin the uphill climb, up this rugged face of a mountain called depression, toward an emotional recovery. I am not walking an unknown path. Many have struggled with this pain as they try to find life after the death of someone they loved deeply. glorious-sunriseThere is no reason to stay in this dark moment.

I will meet a New Dawn. To accomplish this,  I will need every tool to be successful in this quest.

If it is true that it is darkest before the dawn, then know that, at this moment,  I cannot see my hand in front of my face. But  know this, I shall see the light of a new day dawning…Dan told me that I cannot leave here as yet. I must stay….

The Story Continues…Part III

Rehearsals for the spring musical were increasing and the days seemed more hectic. I was busy, but I was excited about singing with the Preacher’s Son.

I loved to sing with him, but I was looking forward to spending some time so that I could talk with him about some of the perplexing things that were happening.

Instead of practicing at the church with his mother, we decided to pick out the song at my brother’s house. We knew that whatever we chose to sing, the Preacher’s Son’s mother could play and follow our lead. We just had to decide on the song.

It was more comfortable at my brother’s. signs-of-springThe Preacher’s Son was more relaxed and he seemed to enjoy the atmosphere. As we looked through the music, I asked him why he didn’t call or come by for Valentine’s Day.

His reply was vague and I was more convinced that I knew so little about what really was going on in his life. He asked about the musical and how things were going at rehearsals.

I told him that the director was biting his fingernails because the cast seemed not to be as serious about the performance as he would have liked. It was then that I decided to ask the Preacher’s Son to come to the cast party with me. He accepted the offer and said that he would look forward to it.

We decided to take a break and go outside. My brother was in the barn and he was saddling up one of his horses. The Preacher’s Son said that he had worked on a horse farm in Chicago and he liked to ride. My brother asked if we would like to take his horse, “Bill” for a little exercise.horses

Now, my history with “Bill” wasn’t a good one. I thought that I loved horses. I would spend hours looking over the fence at this animal and dream of riding him with my hair in the breeze.

The truth of the matter is that Bill hated to be saddled and he really didn’t like people much. I would take him apples to eat and he would gently take them from my hand. At the last minute, he would nip me on the shoulder. He wasn’t being “playful”. This animal liked to inflict pain on people.

So, when the Preacher’s Son got on Bill and reached down to help me up to ride behind him, I was suspicious as to how long Bill would let us be there.

It had been quite a while since a saddle was on this horse’s back and he wasn’t too pleased to have to do what the reins said. The horse walked from the barn to the road. He seemed that he would behave himself, then all of a sudden, he took off at a full gallop.

I was hanging on to the Preacher’s Son with all my might, but this horse was heading for the woods and low branches. The Preacher’s Son was pulling on the reins to get this horse to slow down, but the more he pulled, the faster this bag of glue would run.

In front of us was a fence and I could see that Bill was going to try and rake us of off of his back by taking out our legs. Still, the Preacher’s Son was trying to get this out of control animal to mind and the horse, which was more like a mule, was running as fast as he could. I was loosing my grip on the Preacher’s Son and I was thinking how to fall off of this nag without getting kicked in the head by those flying hooves.

I told the Preacher’s Son that I couldn’t hang on much longer. It was then that the Preacher’s Son pulled on the reins to where the horse’s head was looking at him eye to eye. Bill finally stopped his running rampage.

After we stopped and dismounted, the Preacher’s Son took the reins and pulled the horse’s head down to his level. The Preacher’s Son pulled back his arm and landed a fist on the side of the Bill’s head.  Then, the Preacher’s Son mounted and pulled me back on the horse.

Old Bill walked docilely back to the barn as if butter would have melted in his mouth. I think that it was then that I decided that I never would own a horse.

It was getting dark and the Preacher’s Son said that he had to go home. I didn’t get to talk with him about all of the things that were on my mind. I just knew that this boy was hiding himself. Not just from me, but to most everyone around him.

He said that he would tell his mother about the song that we chose to sing and to come early on Sunday morning so that we could run through it before service.

As I watched his ’51 Ford leave down the winding drive, my heart ached. So much to say, to ask and so little time to say it…

I was more excited about the cast party than the performance. I would be going to the cast party with the Preacher’s Son. It would prove to be quite interesting to have the old boyfriend and the Preacher’s Son in the same place at the same time…

Time In A Bottle

As I think about this day, the first Wedding Anniversary without him, I wonder,” Do you still have wedding anniversaries when you are a widow? ?”

It was our day, now it is mine. Mine alone.

As I write about the beginning when we were 17 and 18 years old, this day becomes a reminder that, it isn’t only our Wedding Anniversary, but today is exactly 38 years from our first date.

Instead of Spring, there must be something about “Midwinter” that became our time. Warmth from cold, love from second chances, and dreams from painful losses, all are contrasts and so were we.

I was the “good girl” and he was the “bad boy”. Later on, I was the “business woman” and he was the “hard core biker”. I was the Christian and he was the Lost Soul. How could there be compatiblity? So much for eHarmony if we abided by perceptions.

The past opinions were costly perceptions that caused us to live with lost time and love lost. He was told that he wasn’t good enough for me. I never knew this until we married. Those opinions cost us 25 years. What is the price of time?

Like the song, I wish I could save those 25 years that we were apart in a bottle. I would have loved to been his young bride with the hope of family and children with him. Instead, we had the later part of our young adult life and the beginning of our middle age years.

I am grateful for those years that were seasoned with life experience. Sometimes, when the pain seems too great, I ask myself if I would have walked away from him had I known about the premature loss from cancer? Then, I realize, I would have been even more resolved to be a part of his life if I had known he would die at 55.

Saving time…if only there was a way. But, there is no way to save time when it is lost….just like Dan, it is gone…

Seeing Beyond The Veil…Part I

four-generation1There are so many mysteries that we can never know while confined to this existence. I have always been fascinated by mysteries and now I have one that has had my attention for the past few days.

As I have written in past posts, my husband’s mother has the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I have come to believe that everyone who has memory loss or what was once called “hardening of the arteries” or ” senile dementia” is now given the Alzheimer’s diagnosis….truth is, this condition can only be diagnosed and confirmed by autopsy. I personally believe that it is a pharmaceutical ploy to get people to want their doctors to give them the new drugs in the hope that something can stop the progression of this condition.

I, personally, do not believe that these drugs do anything other than cause terrible side effects for those who suffer from loosing their memory and identity. Both of my “in-laws” have taken the drugs and both have not improved. They also suffered from side effects that compounded their quality of life.

It was last Christmas that my husband and I traveled the 2 hour trip because his mother’s dementia worsened and it seemed a sure bet that she was leaving the hospital and going into a nursing home. On Christmas eve afternoon, Mom’s mind cleared and she knew her surroundings in the present. This avoided the nursing home entry and we all rejoiced to “have her back”. She was released from the hospital that day.

My husband and I were at his parent’s home when she was returned. As she came through the door, she seemed to relapse into the fog of confusion and began to talk about her mother, who has been gone since 1967, and a sister who is in a nursing home in Chicago.

After witnessing this, my husband took out of the house for a walk.  I knew that he went to walk through the tears that had welled up into his eyes. He loved his mother and he just couldn’t bear to see her like this.

This episode didn’t last too long and by the late afternoon, she knew where she was and she was back into the present. This was a Christmas gift that we hoped would last, but it slipped as the days and months progressed.

autumn-mystery1From that time to this, Mom has walked farther down the road of dementia and so has Dad. It is a surreal world that they live in. Many things are a sad comedic situation to watch. Yet, they seem to find contentment that is derived from each other’s presence.

Their journey only deepens into  obscurity. When my husband died, Mom had moments where she could grasp what had happened, but they were only fleeting. When my aunt talked to her after the service, she mentioned me to Mom. She replied, “I don’t believe I know her.” My aunt told her that I was her son’s wife then the conversation turned to something else.  My aunt knew that there was not much more she could say or relate to Mom.

I called a few times after my husband’s passing. It was clear that neither Mom or Dad knew who I was and I tapered off contact. It caused pain upon pain for me and there was nothing that I could do to enrich the quality of their lives.

This past Sunday, Mom fell in the kitchen and broke her leg. The break was severe enough that a total hip replacement was necessary. The effects of anaesthesia on the brains of the demented is devastating. They seems to loose so much ground in the land of reality. So it was with her.

I did not know about her fall, but Tuesday evening, I called my husband’s brother and asked, “What is wrong.” He told me about the situation and that this was definitely the time that Mom would be going into the nursing home. He told me the details and then we said, “Goodbye.”

During the night, I dreamed of my husband. The events in the dream were sketchy, but I definitely knew it was him. It was a dream of him. I was relieved. I needed to dream of him.

When I woke up on Wednesday, I recalled the dream and I felt a need to represent my husband at this moment in the life of his mother. I knew that Dan would be there if he was able and I also knew that he would be there even if he wasn’t able. mom-russell-and-her-new-wig

I called my brother in law and said that I knew the kind of pain that comes when you have to place a parent into a nursing home. I explained how heart wrenching it was on my sister, but she and I made the decision together. We also went to the nursing home and signed the papers together. I told him that this is easier if you don’t have to do it alone. I told him that I would come up and be with him, I would represent his brother and we would walk this event together.  His brother said, with relief in his voice, “Thank you.”

So, on Friday, I drove the 2 hour trip and met my brother in law. He showed me all of the paperwork and told me of Mom’s present condition. He said that she didn’t have any moments of lucidity and that Dad had stayed the night at the hospital because she was so frightened. She is a “sundowner”

That is a term used in the nusring industry to describe those whose dementia worsens at sundown. I have witnessed some to be lucid throughout the day only to slip into the fog of dementia as sunset approached. It is a common effect of the disease.

The doctor said that Mom would be released over this weekend so I wanted to go and see the facility.  While there, I was able to talk to the Director of Nursing. I asked about the training for the nursing assistants regarding a fresh post op hip replacement. I discussed the concern over Mom popping the hip replacement out.  This is common if a patient crosses their legs or if they fail to have proper alignment while they are in bed. I asked if there was enough staff to cover this fresh surgery. I also asked her how this facility was going to deal with the complication that Mom’s dementia presented.

Most dementia patients do not know that they have a broken leg or a condition that prevents them from walking. So, the patient will try to get up and walk to only fall again and exacerbate the original injury. This can lead to a second surgery which, in turn, causes more deterioration of the mental condition.

I asked her how close Mom’s room was to the nursing station and what was their care plan regarding prevention of pressure sores. I finished with the comment that this case would be “a squeaky wheel”. The DON smiled. She understood what I was saying.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is an old saying used in the nursing home industry to categorize patients whose families are always present and have no qualms about complaining about the care that their loved one receives. I purposely wanted her to know that this family and their friends would be coming in to see Mom at all hours of the day and night. I believe that my comment was understood as a forewarning from the family to the facility.

I found that the best way to ensure good care is to let the facility know that we would have no qualms about insisting on good care. Even though I cannot be there often, my husband’s daughter will fill this void. She worked in a nursing facility in her town and she has training in dementia. Ensuring Mom’s care  was another purpose of my 10 hour trip.

After the meeting, I left my brother in law and went to the hospital to see Mom.  Her sister was sitting beside her bed calming her fretfulness. I entered her room expecting her to not know me.

“Hi, Mom.”, I said. I told her my name. The first thing she said was, “Dan is here. I have seen him.” I thought nothing of this. Then she said, “And so is your brother.” She then turned to her sister and asked, “Is the funeral over?”

By that comment, I was convinced that she knew who I was and how I was connected. But what caused me to pause and think was her comment that she saw my brother.

The aunt thought nothing of what she said because the aunt was unaware that Mom knew my brother. Her memory of him would have been from when they lived down here and pastored my church.

My brother was my husband’s employer. My brother was the one who taught my husband how to drive a semi and by doing that, my husband always had employment.

Dan spent a lot of time at my brother’s house. They both loved cars and,  when my brother bought a 1970 purple ‘Cuda that had the highest performing engine that Mo Power ever produced, Dan was the first person that he showed his new car to. That was an honor. My husband and my brother were so very much alike.

For Mom to recognize my brother in her room, it meant that he had to look like he did in 1970…

My brother has been dead for close to 20 years When I entered her room, she saw the two men that I loved most. Both are dead. In her dementia, could she be seeing “behind the veil” that is between this world and the next?

It Is What I do…

sunset-with-cross.jpgAs a child, I was quite isolatedsunset-with-cross.jpgsunset-with-cross.jpgsunset-with-cross.jpg and it was up to me and my vivid imaginations to occupy the day. I was easily amused. I would pick out rocks in the gravel driveway and I would admire the colors embedded deep within them. I especially loved quartz…it is such a mystery to me.

Then there was the huge black ant colony that inhabited the heart of the big sycamore tree. It was located in the center of the grassy part of the circular drive. So, when I tired of the rocks, I just moved a few feet to play with the ants.

These  black creatures were carpenter ants and I learned that they devoured wood like termites. I didn’t care. I found it amusing to try and stop their mindless march towards their home. I would disrupt their long caravans and I devised all manner of obstacles attempting to thwart their efforts to bring food back to the tress. In the end, it was I who was defeated. Their determination to overcome prevailed. No matter the size or complications of my contrivances, they would go to any lengths to get through my challenges. In the end, they won and I lost on a daily basis. They helped wile away the empty hours of a typical country day for a very lonely child.

The indoor past time was coloring. I was fascinated by color. I wanted every color that Crayola  ever developed. Coloring and drawing pictures kept me occupied and I wanted so much to be an artist. Alas, I have no talent, so I admire.  I love color and anything that displays its beauty. Flowers, sunsets, paintings, all were tangible representations for color to me…and in the midst of this, my dream was to capture the colors, not in a rainbow, but in the sunsets.sunset-in-pastels.jpg

I can’t remember when I discovered the intrigue of sunset. But, I am sure that it was the burst of colors that originally mystified me. I think that it was the subtle changes of hue as the sun sank farther below the horizon.. All of those iridescence on the clouds reflected and emanated from the last rays were pure eye candy for me. No matter how I tried, I could never find the right shade of the right hue that captured the corals, muted purples and the pinks!…The varied shades of pinks, like cotton candy, were too difficult to match in the 64 quantity box of Crayolas.

184d695fc1.jpgMy childhood home faced westward. Daily, I was treated to the day’s grand finale. It seemed that sunsets were just an extended part of me and I don’t understand how I lost touch with them in my adult years, but I did.

As adulthood traveled at the speed of light, I failed to stop and inhale the sunsets. It wasn’t until I tasted the bitterness of divorce that I recalled the wonderful evening light-shows. I needed to stop and watch the sunsets again. Pain and loss propelled me into the evening display for consolation and I couldn’t say, “No”. My memory highlights three sunsets in particular.

During and after my divorce, I chose to do a lot of business travel. The changing of scenery seemed to help me muddle through those dark and unforgiving days. It was on one of those westward flights that I noticed, as I was flying close to evening, it seemed the plane was chasing the sunset. If we could just fly faster, we could cause the sunset to  stand still, maybe never end. I would look out of the airplane’s window and marvel at the moment by moment subtle color changes .flying-above-the-storm.jpg

It was on business travel to St Louis, MO. that  I decided that I wanted to view a sunset from the Arch. My hotel was a few blocks away and one late afternoon, I cancelled my dinner plans and walked to the Arch.

I thought how this Arch represented new life for all those who passed through St Louis. The brave and ambitious ancestry ventured and wagered on a new start in the unknown. I needed to connect to that kind of spirit. Divorce calls on you to let the past go and only look forward. I, too, needed to be brave and ambitious and venture forth in a new life…

When I got to the Arch, I stopped in mid step when I saw just how small the cubicle was in which you road to the top. I have slight claustrophobia and I am  taller than average so the idea of folding myself into that tiny space was about to cause me to turn on my heels and go back to find my friends in the hotel.304dae27b1.jpg

Then I stopped again, in mid step, and I turned back towards the Arch. I didn’t know the future and this may be my one and only chance to see a sunset from the magnificent wonder. Should anyone around me have the misfortune of reading thoughts, they would have thought that I lost my mind with all the self dialog transpiring within my head.

I decided I could do this. I just had to stop hyperventilating long enough to enfold myself and sit on this chair like contraption. This wasn’t going to be so bad….

It wasn’t so bad until  somehow, I overlooked the architecture of the Arch. I had failed to notice how narrow it became as it got closer to the top. As the space in the cubicle also became even more cramped, my breathing became more shallow…I needed to get to the top and back on the ground quickly.

Just as I was about to pass out from lack of oxygen, the sunset came into view through that tiny window. In the next instant, I forgot about breathing because the sunset was breathtaking. I didn’t have words to discribe this beauty. It seemed to last forever. I thought for a moment that time had stood still. It definitely was worth hyperventilating for…

The next sunset that stands out in my mind is one at Marco Island, FL. My Association held its Annual Meeting on this marvelous island or in Scotsdale AZ….I attended most years. It was held in the middle of February and it was wonderful to leave the cold and bitter days behind. In February, this trip was paradise.

I loved the beach side hotel with its balconies and colorful sails of the sailboats that were pulled onto the white beaches.  I loved the sound of the waves on the shore. I was surrounded by everything my weary soul needed. On this particular trip, I arrived a day before all of the meetings. After the flight. it was an hour’s drive to the island. Even though I like to drive, this was tiring for me, so I always came the day before to set back and relax.

686dae5151.jpg As the valet parked the rental, I entered into the lobby.  I stepped through the doors into a welcoming space, and immediately, I was bathed in the light of a majectic sunset. As I looked up, it seemed that the windows became a frame for one of the most glorious settings of sun…

I hurriedly checked in and had my bags taken to the room. I sat down in one of those overstuffed chairs that faced the windows and watched the sun set into a deep blue sea.  The music was wafting through the lobby and I was oblivious to everyone and everything around me. I was mesmerized by this huge orange ball before me. I felt as if I had stepped into this wonderful picture that was hanging on the wall.

It was a year after the divorce and I was in the healing process. I had adjusted to being alone and I was becoming more confident that I would be alright. This scene from a movie had enveloped me and I basked in the last rays of the day…I was convinced, I would not only survive, I would live and enjoy my life.

My most favorite sunset isn’t a particular one. It is a composite of all of the sunsets that I ever dreamed and of those that I have experienced with my husband. The setting is one in which my husband and I are newly married. Life is good. I am in love and content for the first time in my entire adult life…

I come home from the office in the afternoon, change my clothes so we can take a ride on the motorcycle. (It doesn’t take long for me to go from business woman to biker broad). When my husband walks through the door, I meet him dressed in my leather jacket and chaps. I tell him that I need a ride. I never need to beg him to fire up the Harley….. In an amazingly short amount of time, we are in the wind. There is nothing that compares to a ride on the back of “Black Betty”.

As she rumbles to a start, my husband asks me if I want to learn how to ride and each time, I say, “No”. Finally, he asks me why and I tell him that, in my “queen” seat,  I have the best of all possible worlds. I can leave the cares of the traffic and road to his capable hands.

As the lines on the road quickly whisk by,  I can lean back and feel the wind in my hair, listen to the throaty bass tones of the exhaust and surrender myself to all that surrounds us in the relm of atmosphere. For me, riding on “Betty” is next to personal flight. I am free to escape to “La La Land”. Free to leave the cobwebs that the day collects behind me….those worries and cares are lost, gone, blown away by the wind.wonderous.jpg

As we leave the house, he asks me where I want to go. As usual, I say, ” Just put it in the wind and head west…” For the next few hours of the day, we are free to let the road take us where it will.  It is in the direction of comfort, contentment and peace of mind.

As we head west, he finds a gravel road that leads to the top of one of the hills in the National Forest. Usually, he finds a vista that faces west. When he finds the perfect spot,  he decides that this will be the place to say, “Good bye to the day”.  As we set on the provided bench, he holds my hand. We talk softly as we anticipate the approaching moment of magic.

Here, we speak of our future, our dreams and recount our great fortune of finding the love that we thought once was lost to us. In the softening rays of light, he kisses me and we no longer need to speak. We set quietly accepting our moment in the sun. This is my most favorite scene of setting sun…the one sunset that I wish to capture, to hold and to hope that time will hold still. Just one more ride, one more sunset, one more dream….

gloaming-in-purple.jpgReflecting back over time, it would seem that, for me, life is an array of sunsets; always an ending and a beginning. I dreamed that he and I had more sunsets to watch as we sat in the final rays of our days.

But, I know that his final sunset is approaching. And when that ending of days comes, I will set, hold his hand, kiss his lips and tell him how much I enjoyed each moment, each sunset that we shared. I will watch his final sunset and be in awe of its beauty…because

It is what I do…I relish sunsets….af9c03e371.jpg

Sunsets and Shadows

My husband told the doctor today about the dream that he had last night….This is my husband speaking:

In the dream, I was walking with the Lord in a  beautiful prairie. As we were gazing over the open prairie, a old bison appeared over the knoll. The old bull was haggard and had many scars from fighting off its enemies. He had seen too many battles and he was tired.

The old bison looked over and around seeing no one or nothing. He was looking, but not seeing. No threat of danger, no herd that belonged to him, just open field and the sun was approaching the western horizon…

Not seeing anyone or anything, the old bison began a slow, tired walk with a hampered gate toward the west….he was going into the sunset….

Then my husband awoke….

It isn’t hard to understand the dream. It encompasses both of my husband’s spiritual traditions. He is walking with his Lord, that is his Chistian tradition and the old bison is his Native American. He is from a long line of Christian pastors and evangelists and his Grandmother was the Native American woman preacher of the 1920’s & 1930’s. A very dynamic person in his life….in this dream, he has both….

The young doctor listened intently. He knew the meaning of the dream as well as I. My husband’s time of weariness is growing to a close.

When my husband was very young, his uncle nicknamed him “Buffalo”.  It isn’t a far stretch to see that in his dream, he is the old bison.  He is worn and weary from life’s many battles. He has lost more than he has won and it has left him alone, in a peaceful field.

One of the old mountain sayings for when a person passes away is that they are “Walking with the Lord.” I don’t think that the symbolism can be any clearer. His days are numbered and passing fast.

These are not easy things for me to see, but they are the part and parcel of our reality of walking toward the Sunset of Life…

The doctor can see that the tumors are growing. The are protruding and very pronounced under his shirts….

I am grateful to the young doctor who believes in treating the whole person. He has my husband come in once a week after his office hours and he sits with us. The room is quiet and the candles are burning. There is worship music on the player and we sit…my husband lays on the exam table and he begins a deep relaxation while I sit in the corner and I pray.

Yesterday, in my prayer, I saw and spoke out what I saw. I told the doctor that I saw when the cancer came. It was at the time when my husband had lost custody of his youngest daughter to her bi polar mother. He had received a long sentence of child support and the visitations were started with the ex’s new boyfriend meeting my husband in the driveway with a rifle. He hit my husband in the head when he refused to leave without his child.

Afterwards, there were times when my husband would pull into the driveway and a red dot from a laser would be a pin hole on his chest. He always knew that the possibility of being shot for insisting on being a part of his child’s life was real. But he came anyway.

After time, my husband had given into despair and he could only see his life as being long and alone and no joy was on the horizon. It was then that the cancer accepted what despair had invited. My husband’s heart was battered and bruised and he was too tired to think about living. In his silent request to leave this world and all of the sorrow that was in his heart, he opened a door that we cannot close now….only our Creator, can reverse this course. I am sure that it will not be reversed. The dream says so.

My husband said that he felt such peace in the dream. He longs to walk with the Lord like that. He is not only walking with his Lord, but he is the old bison whose heart took too many bruises and had too many battles. He wants to go home.

My husband normally doesn’t remember his dreams so when he does remember, I listen.I have heard his heart’s cry and even though I don’t know how to let him go, I know I must.

Please pray for me to have the strength to let this old Bison, my Buffalo go…

In These Shadows, We Are One

In the Shadows, it is hard to distinguish individual silhouettes. Usually the perimeter of the objects are seen but if one figure overlaps the other; there is no way to determine where one shadow ends and the other one begins.

It is the same when one spouse has the infirmity and the other one doesn’t. The physical aspect is born by my husband. He has the discomfort of tumors growing in his abdomen and expanding into every available area. At this late stage of the cancer, the tumors are crowding out the space that is occupied by internal origins, i.e. liver, pancreas, stomach etc. Emotionally, he deals with the fear of the unknown-the frustration of incompleteness, helplessness and hopelessness. The cancer may not be invading my body, however, I feel the emotional burden of the disease; the fear of the unknown-being on this earth without him, frustration of being incomplete without him, helplessness and hopelessness.

We are two shadows occupying the same space. In the emotional and spiritual realms, we are one and we suffer as one. I know his pain, fears, anger, frustration, helplessness and hopelessness. I suppose that is why we rarely have to talk about things, we already know.

He and I have always thought the same things simultaneouly. We finish each others sentences. We usually choose the same things to eat when we are in restaurants…I think that I have made the point, we are one.

How is it going to be possible for me to survive if he doesn’t? How am I to find the will to live if he is not there to walk this road with me? I know that life goes on and there are the mundane things of living that will be performed. It is the desire to make living something worth living that continues to haunt me.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t see me without him. Some who would read this would have red warning flags flying like they are in a gale. Those who know me would understand that I am not talking suicidal thinking, however, I am posing practical, pragmatic questions as I understand my life.

It is like asking how do you separate two shadows? The answer is that one object must step away from their position so that the full silouette of the object can be revealed.

He and I will have our 15th wedding anniversary on January 14, 2008. That is a milestone. My husband’s other marriages never reached this number. My husbands says that we have always been married. In our hearts, we have been a union since our teen years. We have always been in each other’s shadows and I know that he is the only man that I have ever loved. Even though I have others who loved me, I have only loved once in my life and he is that one.

Sometimes, I wonder just how much I am defined by him and he by me? Without him, how am I to fill the void? I have no answers to the questions and I lack wisdom as to where to look for these answers. I know that I must look for them by spiritally allowing my God to re define me. I first must find my will to allow God to do that and in all honesty, I don’t know if I can trust God enough to allow that to happen.

Again, I am writing about my fears, my will, my endurance…..and it isn’t about me. But, if my husband and I are one, yes, it is about me…..We are one in these dark shadows.

Shadowy Dreams of the Sunset

 “Wispy dreams that come in the night are vaporous shadows that follow in the daylight.”

This dream has lurked in my memory for twenty plus years and with my husband’s diagnosis of cancer, it became my reality. The dream stopped being elusive when the doctor repeatedly said, ” I am sorry. I am sorry. I am so so sorry”.  The doctor was expressing his regret when he informed my husband of the diagnosis. Cancer. Finally,  I understood this dream.

The moment wasn’t an epiphany, or an “aha”, it was a moment of “knowing”. It was knowing something was tangible, a reality that it is yet to be. This knowing was as real to me as knowing my name or that I have a son. In that moment, this vapor of a dream changed from wisp to weight. 

This dream was the beginning of my relationship with my husband. It was the second stage to a romance that was begun 20 years before. In the years before he physically walked in the door of my work, he came to me in the dream. I always knew that it was a warning. A warning that he would be leaving me.  It foretold my future with him.

I’ve tried to write about this dream many times and, each time, I could not encapsulate the imagery in this black and white reality. It was like trying to catch a moonbeam or a bit of starlight, a mystery,a vapor. This vapor, this wisp of smoke was foreshadowing  the sunset of days.  Unless powerful prayers impact the Heart of God, this cancer is the sunset in which he walks; he is leaving and I cannot follow, at least not now….

It reveals the desperate soul of my husband and it speaks of his deepest desire. It exposes his futility and my naked, bare love for him. It also foretells the price that I will pay for this love. Unless the power of prayer alters the outcome, for this love, I will be left destitute in all ways, emotionally, spiritually and financially.

If I had this warning, why did I choose to enter into his life or allow him to enter into mine? My heart would let me do nothing less than love him.

In the midst of all of this pain, I have been blessed. I know of many who live a lifetime and  never loved or known love like this, but I was given a second chance. I took it. 

Once, I asked my husband if it was better to love or to be loved? I think most would answer that it is better to be loved. I have known love from others.  I did not return their love and I would have been a parasite to accept them for loving me. I could not lover return their. But, with this man, this time around, I wanted to love. I wanted to give totally, 100 percent, to love with total abandonment. He is and always will be the only man that I can love like that…. When he came back in to my life, how could I turn away? I couldn’t. So, knowing the end from the beginning, I entered this love with a choice. Even if he didn’t love me as much as I loved him, I chose to love him and be satisfied.  I chose this in spite of this warning. This is my dream.

The Sunset Dream

I am observing a man and a woman inside a glass dome like structure. A dome is the best and only way that I can describe this enclosure because it was unlike any thing with which I was familiar. In this dream, I was  observing what transpired with in the dome from a higher position, as if from a tree… 

In the dome, the man ( my future husband) was desperately pleading with a woman without a face. Even without a face, I could see that she was very upset and angry with him.  He, on the other hand, was on his knees, begging and pleading with her to love him. Standing with her back to him and refusing to face him, he continued to declare his love. The intensity of his pain and desparation was palatable.

In exasperation, he got up from his knees and looked up at me. When he realized it was me, he looked relieved and he started toward me and he hurriedly came outside of this dome. By the look on his face, I had hope that he had realized that I loved him and it was me who truly loved him. With these realizations, I believed that he was leaving this faceless woman and making his way to me.

As he approached me, I was hoping to hear him him to say that he realized that he loved me; instead, he asked me for $100.00. A hundred dollars was all that I had in the world and I remembered thinking that if I surrendered it, ithis act of selflessness would show him the depth of my love for him.  It was my total value, my worth, it was everything that I was. With joy in my heart, I gave all that I had to him.

Much to my surprise, he took the money from me and I watched him re enter the dome. Once he was inside the dome, he offered my worth to the angry faceless woman. My heart was shattered into a million tiny pieces. I felt as though I was scattered to the four winds. Each tiny piece of me was lying alone without hope or value.

I continued to watch him go down on his knees, once again, pleading for her to take my gift as a symbol of his love. He emptied himself of  what was mine and gave it to someone who was so undeserving of his love and my worth.

In the next moment, the woman turned and walked away from him and left the dome. He followed her with his arms outstretched begging her to take everything. I was being sacrificed so that he could love her completely, yet his love was given without it being wanted or returned. I continued to hope that he would somehow realize that all of this was futile and that she was not going to love him. Instead, I watched him continue this sad dance of love as they began to walk downward on a rough and rocky path.  

I followed them. As the day began to slip away, I noticed that the path was leading into the sunset. The last rays of the light were slipping under this horizon to where I could not follow them any longer. They were walking further into the sunset.  I stood there watching them grow smaller and smaller to the point that they almost disapeared from view. 

I stood there watching my hope of being loved by him fading into the glooming and I could no longer watch. With my heart broken and feeling a great emptiness I had to turn from this sunset and go back from where I had been….he was forever gone.

I woke up.27715869e1.jpg

Now, I realize that we are at the sunset of his life. It isn’t a faceless woman with whom he is leaving. It is the face of Cancer with which he walks. How can I compete with this disease? I know that it isn’t cancer that he loves. It was the woman before me who he wanted. He chose to love an impossibility. It was her mental illness that was a glass dome. Bi polar disorder prevented her from loving anyone.

What he received in spite of his love was anger, bitterness and failure. All of these became the cornerstone for his cancer. (I have medical research articles that substantiate this theory. The article states that cancer co relates to people who have terrible emotional shocks or wounds.)

When my husband returned to me, he was badly wounded. He was so angry and full of hatred for women I was afraid that he would hurt me or any woman until they were as full of pain, anger and bitterness as he was. Yet, I willing gave all I that had in every way to him. I loved him. I always loved him.

Regardless of his prayers for forgiveness and his changing heart( Love truly a heart; not only my love. He came to know God’s love and that changes every mans heart.) No matter with all of the changes, the cancer refuses to stop growing. Cancer continues to fill every physical void that is in his body with its mutinous poison. Just like the bitterness in a heart, cancer consumes a body.

He has done all that he knows to do. Both, spiritually and emotionally, there is nothing more to do. There are no more apologies to be made. There are no more sins of which to repent. He has done all that he can do and yet, the cancer grows.

I just stand here, watching him wrestle with this monster and I am helpless because I have given all that I am and all that I have….The sunset beckons and I can not follow him.

Because of the dream, I know that prayer and a miracle are the only things that can divert his path. It is inevitable. As I did in the dream, I will to stand as if to keep watch. 

Scripture says “After you do all that you can, then you stand.” (my paraphrase). I am still standing. I haven’t turned away; I can’t.

I believe that God gives us dreams and they can foretell what will be. I also believe that prayer can alter these events should it be God’s perfect will. It is in the prayers that Hope lives. That is why I must pray. But, like Jesus prayed in surrender to His Father, I too must say, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”01d077c531.jpg