Walking in the Valley of the Shadow…a Dawning…

There were many times over the past 1 1/2 years that I thought of writing about something and lately, I realize that I miss my blog.

When I wrote the last post, I was tired and it seemed that all my heart could do was bleed. Words didn’t come to me. It was a constant moan that permeated my being.

Each day was the same. It was a fog of nothing new. It was the same old thing. Get up. Get dressed. Go to work. Come home. Numb out on TV….

As the next year unfolded and through the battles to get the right care for my sister with Down’s Syndrome and dementia, I began to come out of my self-pity and self-imposed isolation. I realized that my mental depression and fog of existence was self-imposed. My sister’s was totally without choice. I needed to grow up. I needed to grow out of this Valley of Death where I had grown so comfortable.

I realized that the part of me that I shared on this blog was the inner most part of my being. When I stopped posting to this place, I lost communication with that vital part of myself. My isolation was most definitely was self-pity. I needed to come to terms that my life was according to my choosing and not Dan’s dying.

I am choosing to live. Even though I walk through this new and different Vally of Death with my sister, I am seeing so much of me  fears the evil of isolation.  I need to stop being afraid.

Because I am not writing in real-time, it will take some efforts to organize my thoughts.  Every detail doesn’t need telling. What needs sharing are the lessons learned from continued living. Lessons need  to be carried forward. Those are the stepping-stones that lead out of this Valley.

For now, I am not changing the face of the blog or going through the efforts of having a second site. I am going to continue on with this journey. It is all the same really.

 Hopefully, I will be faithful to myself to write on about living and not the process of dying. There is a new dawn. It has to start somewhere. It must start where I stopped. There is no other way out of this Valley but to walk it.

Advertisements

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?

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…

Changes….Part I

A Work of ArtAs some may noticed, I haven’t been posting as frequently as I did in the past…there are several reasons.

At first, it seemed that what was in my heart was already written. I have found that grief can be a continuous “loop” of emotions and images in my mind. There have been days when I wished that I could hit the “Stop” button and take a rest from my tumultous feelings and intrusive thoughts of Dan’s death.

But, unfortunately, there is no such button and the continuous play of these ever present memories wear me down both physically and emotionally.

Weariness is a thief to the body, mind and soul.

I didn’t post as much because I felt that writing and re writing thoughts and feelings that I had expressed here was a redundancy that no one should be subjected to, not even me.

Also, in the past few months, this old computer has made quite a few unnerving sounds that only supports my fear that it is about to take a major and expected full stop. It  is getting “old and moldy”. I have spent many hours at this keyboard that  resulted  in loosing all that I wrote. It has become a frequent occurrence.

When this happens, I don’t know whether it is a part of grief or my natural “red head” reaction to frustration because my next thought is to take a hammer to this churning box of circuits and make a permanent “adjustment” in its motherboard. Thank goodness reason returns  and I count the cost…close to a thousand dollars to replace it…and I don’t have the money for that, so I put the hammer down and start over.

Much of my lack of posting  has its base in my “technical difficulties”….there are other reasons….

AmazingAs the months and weeks approached in marking Dan’s death, a restlessness began to “boil” inside of me. I talked with my grief counselor and found that everyone has different reactions when this milestone is reached. Some become more emotional; I, on the other hand, became more anxious which results in a lack of patience and a relentless need to keep moving.

She asked how things were going at work. I replied that I had a few frustrations and I told her about  things that had happened that was leading to my discontent. The majority of my differences are with personalities. I assured her that it was  nothing that I couldn’t handle and I expected some of this kind of frustration as I have employed people when I owned my own companies. I find that I do not enjoy working with an all female staff…I prefer working with men… male clients, male coworker…I am not the sorority sister type.

I also told my counselor that I had a “knowing” that I would not be with this company for much longer. As I explained this intuition, I demonstrated what I was feeling about my job by placing my hand to the outer perimeter of my peripheral vision to show that I knew that a change in employment was coming soon. I also said that I felt that it would be better for me, yet I was relunctant to make any change because of not wanting to leave my clients.

I explained that, in April,  I had been offered a position with an Indianapolis based company who provided home care for children and that, even with the offer of more money, I decided to stay with my present employer. I continued to explain that I believed that my clients gave more to me than I could ever give to them. My loyalties lie with my clinets over any loyalty with the present company.

Yet, in my heart of hearts, I realized that I just could not face changing anything as the first anniversary of Dan’s death loomed before me. I suspected that my decision to stay rather than accept the new position was one that was rooted in grief and anxiety.

Little did I know just how accurate this forknowledge would be.

In late May, I talked with the scheduler and requested that I have Tuesdays  and Thursdays off. I told the her that I knew that they were having trouble replacing the 22 hours that were lost when one of my client’s grandmother became disgruntled with the company and changed agencies as provider for her granddaughter’s care. The issue that prompted the change wasn’t one of quality of care, but rather, an issue over how her hours were administered by this company.

Since April 1st,  the company tried to replace these lost hours, but 22 hours is a lot to replace in a short time. One of my goals was fast becoming unattainable. I wanted benefits i.e. paid vacation time and medical insurance.

I stated that it was clear that I was not going to qualify for these benefits before my anniversary date and that with having only 25.5 hours/ week, I felt that  I didn’t need to go out on a daily basis. I knew that I could work those hours  in three days and that would help with the wear and tear on my car,on me and was more cost efficient for me.

 After some discussion, she agreed to my having one day a week off rather than two that I requested. The schedule was modified for me having Tuesdays off.

I also discussed with the scheduler that even without paid vacation time, I wanted the week of Dan’s death scheduled off. I explained that I needed the time because I didn’t know how I was going to emotionally process this anniversary.

I was concerned about the financial impact of loosing the weeks hours, but emotionally, I really didn’t care. I would find a way to meet my obligations, even if I didn’t eat…it would not be the first time that I had to do without something. Time is what I needed…more than anything.

It is just another example of how so many health care workers are denied health care coverage and benefits because many home health care companies refuse to guarantee hours to the field staff.

Never mind, that is another post….

Two weeks before the unpaid vacation, an opportunity came that would allow me to pick up 20 extra hours. That would pay for my week off and I accepted the extra hours gratefully.

What it would require is for me to work the extra 20 hours as well as my regularly scheduled 25.5 hours. It would require my regular clients to adjust the times that I normally arrived, but it definitely was able to be done.Lost in the Storm

By mid week, there was a problem….

Release

As I sit here missing Dan, I thought of this song. In many ways, he was a gambler. He took his risks and he placed his bets on those things in which he believed. Many payed him back well; others left him feeling the loss. He may have made different choices, but he would have gambled on living life his way.

As I listen to the lyrics of this song, I relate to the words about the song in the heart of a woman and how her song could only be released by the truest of loves.

I was that woman. Dan’s love set the hidden melody that was inside of my lonely heart free. I was free to love him totally without reserve or fear. That in and of itself is a miracle.

 Without Dan in my life, I would have been bamkrupt of the joy or contentment. I, forever, will know difference betweeen true love and what is produced by expectations or media influence. So, many live a lifetime and never know what true love feels like. I am one of the lucky ones. His love gave me so many wonderful gifts.

Dan loved beautiful things. His eye could always find the fine lines in a classic car. (Sorry to say that he didn’t like the looks of today’s cars very much).

He admired the touch and skill of a sculptor and their finished creation. He was mesmerized by the muse that struck the artist’s hands.

He loved the essence of color in all living things. He never overlooked the colors in a mountain scene or the display of color in a sunset.

Because of his artistry, he loved women and his eyes rested on me and I became the literal definition of the word “Wife”;  the desire of the eyes.

He found beauty in all women. He gave compliments easily and he meant them. He never “flattered”. He stated the obvious. Many believed that he was just saying empty words or that he had an agenda; they misunderstood him. His  security in his manhood allowed him to be sincere. He meant what he said.

Lately, I have pondered all of the gifts he gave me. They are not of the material nature. His love was a key that unlocked so many things that were out of sight, especially my sight. The best gift was my discovery of all that was held within my heart.

He made me understand what it was like to be cherished. I did not know what it was like to be valued like a precious gem. It was in the safety of his love that allowed me to dance in the palm of his hand and I saw him delight in me. I was amazed.  His eyes became my “looking glass”.

Without Dan in my life, I would never have known such joy. I grew up with a father that didn’t value women. He never gave compliments and he insisted that women were  not “made” to do the things that he respected. Sadly, I learned at an early age that women were of less value than men. I learned to discount my worth because I was a female.

Dan taught me  that all of me was of value and he celebrated  my womanhood, my femininity because he had a deep respect for strong woman. I believe his understanding of women was because of his grandmother. His love for her formed his respect for  women, and because of her, he was not threatened by their strength. He admired their strength as well as their beauty.

In his eyes, I had  that strength. He didn’t try to dominate it nor did he try to control it. Instead, he nurtured it and it grew within my heart. He saw my strengths and was not intimidated.

He  delighted in most everything that I did. It didn’t matter if I was singing in church or in a Karaoke bar, Dan was my greatest fan.  He never failed to encourage me after a song and he told me when I needed to use more air to keep the pitch. He had an acute ear for music.

He would tell me how he loved watching my hair blowing in the wind as we rode  the Harley. He said that he loved the shades of brown and red  highlights my hair.

Sometimes, he would sit and stare at me. When this began to unnerve me,  I would ask him what he was looking at so intently. I always expected a critism, but he never gave one. He commented on the petitness of my hands and how he loved to watch me play piano.

But, the comments that I will store lovingly in my heart of hearts will be the ones he gave me for just being who and what I was. I will never forget the evening that we went to the symphony. I finished getting ready and came out of the bedroom. In a hushed voice, he said,  ” You look stunning.”. I had never heard that phrase before in my life. I was speechless. I always felt beautiful with him.

He always told me that how much  he loved my shape and the feel of my skin. He helped me become comfortable with living in my body. Somewhere inside of me, I reasoned that if a man like Dan loved my body, why should I not trust that there was value in it. Without his love, I could not  have  discovered the joy of being a woman.

Everyday, I take the time to make myself look the best that I can.  I want to make him look good. I am proud to be his widow, as much as I was proud to be his wife, the desire of his eyes.

After thinking about the song that Dan’s love  released inside of me, I realized that his love set my heart free to be me. And then a new discovery came forth. For the first time in my life, I am free .

I was no longer in the role of wife or parent.  At first, I felt the emptiness that this kind of  loss brings. For these past few months, I felt the sting of not being someone’s wife and I struggled to understand just who and what I was to do now. As I grieved  over these losses, as well as his death, I felt abandoned and useless.

Then, it came to me. I have no parents to  disappoint nor do I have a husband to please. My children are grown and the responsibilities for their upbringing has past me. I am no longer required.

But, as I processed this feeling of detachment, I came to a new realization. I am free to be just be whomever I am and I am free to go wherever it takes me. I was surprised by my own reaction to this understanding.

I am acutely aware that my time on this earth is running low and I have discoveries to make about myself and the person who has lived and survived so many tragedies.

His gift of love freed me to a new horizon that I did not know existed. I began to feel a new kind of relief. A relief that I do not totally understand.

In someways, it feels like when I was in middle school and I was just learning about the wonders of a world outside of my parents and church.

I suppose it feels like a new birth of sorts. That is the best way I know how  to describe it.

I do know that I have a different appreciation for life than my peers. I know that I want the final 25 years of my life to be more and not less. Because I am widowed and without the responsibilites of parenting, I am not confined by these roles which allows me to be redefined by the present and not the past.

I don’t want to sound as if I begrudged those roles of daughter, wife, mother, step mother and grandmother. That is far from the truth. Rather, it feels like the spark of a new fire that is being kindled inside of me. It borders on excitement…I seem to have forgottem what that felt like.

Yes, Dan’s love set me free and, now,  I am trying to learn how to “soar”. To rely on my own set of wings. I am so very grateful to him and the love he gave to me.

As I watched this video, I was taken by all of the beautifl landscapes and sunsets. I thought of how Dan saw the Rockies for the first time as he drove his Semi truck through the high passes. As I watched further into the video, I saw his life and the many miles that he lived providing for his loved ones.

The lyrics speak of  a light in the depth of the darkness and a calm in the eye of every storm. Maybe, I am beginning to see both the light and calm….

His love was for a very important season of my life. I will always have it and I have one more obligation to him. I believe it would be his desire for me to learn to really live. He would want the effects of his life to shine on past his days here. And the best place to see the beauty of his life’s sunset is in the lives of those he loved.

How is the best way to thank him for everything he was to me? I believe the best thanks to him is for me to live, live well.  And I shall  live a life of  thanksgiving for the man who set my heart free….

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….

Coincidence or Timely Messages?

12_77_57-red-rose_web1Sometimes, the anticipation of pain is worse than the actual pain in and of itself.

I had a neighbor who suffered from kidney stones. He had terrible pain when one would develop and the doctor allowed him to have a very strong pain medication for relief. His wife was a RN so the doctor allowed the medication to be administered by injection while he was home  . It was given every 4-6 hours “as needed”.

It wasn’t too long before the multiple dose vial was empty. The doctor refused to refill the medication because the neighbor went through it so quickly. The neighbor was upset because he only envisioned that the pain would come and he was without anything to offset the excruciating pain.

As his frustrated wife discussed this with me, she voiced her anger that her husband would become totally unreasonable when she tried to encourage him to try a pain pill before having the injection. She also was upset because she knew that the doctor lost trust in her as a nurse because of the quick consumption of the potent pain killer. Once a doctor believes that someone is abusing this kind of medication, there is nothing that will pursuade him to order the medication again.

I suggested to both the neighbor and his wife that it wasn’t the pain that was causing him to reach for the injection, but rather, it was the fear of the pain. The memory of having that kind of horrific pain caused such a fear of its return that a person will want to be relieved of the possibility as much as the pain.  The medication can become a “security blanket” of sorts and the fear had to be dealt. The doctor was not going to allow the fear to become the first steps toward the chance of addiction.

When I said the words “fear of the pain”, my neighbor chimed in that it was the fear of the pain that caused him to become irrate and unreasonable when his wife tried to get him to delay the injection. The fear became more powerful than the pain.

So it seems to be the same with me. I think that the past few weeks of living mountain-in-the-midst-of-a-stormthrough the first wedding anniversary without Dan, remembering in disbelief that the happiness found in the Renewal Ceremony had come and gone and it was just a year ago. And then the first Valentines Day without Dan; all of this was akin to  my neighbor’s fear of the pain. 

My anticipated fear of Valentines Day was more potent and dreadful than the actually living through the day and being reminded of loosing Dan.

Yes, it did hurt to not have the customary card or gift from Dan. Overhearing of everyone’s plan for the special day also was a hurtful reminder that I was alone without love in this world. For a while, it caused melencholy to sweep over me  as I spent the evenings alone.It was the fear of the approaching day that became more intensely painful. That is until I received something special.

I came home on Friday to find a voice message on my home phone. My neighbor said that he found an envelop with a card in it in the ditch in front of his house. It was addressed to me and that he walked the 50 feet to my mailbox and placed it inside. He made the comment that he thought that it was peculiar that the card was so far from my house. He just couldn’t understand how the mail man had lost it so far from my house.

After hearing the message, I went to the mailbox. Inside was an ink smeared envelope. My name and address was barely legible.  On the return address was a familiar name. It was from a friend of Dan’s and mine who worked in one of the doctor’s office.

I stood next to the mailbox and opened the envelope. On the inside of the card, our friend wrote of how much she enjoyed reading this blog and how she looked forward to each new posting. She added how both she and her husband realized how difficult this holiday would be for me. 

She was already familiar with Dan and my story. img_2036She saw us every week for the past year and half. She knew Dan’s personality well. She watched our life unfold around Dan’s  final days. In the card she wrote …”He was so strong and had that certain edge about him that made him so tough-Yet, he seemed so kind and loving at the same time…”  She and the doctor commented on Dan’s will to live and how he fought a hard fight to survive cancer. Inside the card was $25 with the instructions to “treat” myself with coffee and chocolate.

As I stood by the mailbox reading this wonderful card, I marvelled at the special circumstance of receiving this card and I pondered over if this was just coincidence or was this a timely message that I needed to hear???

Immobilized II

Thanks to you all who commented on the Immobilized post.

I was able to get out on Friday, but it was still “tricky” to get around. The roads out here were finally attended to at 3:30 AM on Friday morning. I was awake when the snow plow raked what it could off of the road. At least, it took the ruts down so that I would not bounce in and out of them and find myself in the ditch.

Sunday afternoon, everything was in a major melt mode and the ruts were as bad as before. Later in the day, the snow plow came back through and the pavement was a welcomed sight.

Today, I only had to deal with the refreeze and that was a little challenging at 5:30 AM, but I got to my client’s without incident. But, tomorrow, the forecast is for 3-6 inches of fresh snow and I need to be at the client’s house 30 minutes earlier than usual because the mother is traveling to a new location…

Oh, how I will welcome spring and it takes more and more of me to daily say, “Thank you Lord for another beautiful morning”…

I know that February is the month that we in the “southern” part of Indiana have the most snow and winter woes…please pray for me.

My biggest battle is not the weather, but it is the fear of what the consequences of poor driving conditions or poor driving skills can heap on my fragil state of existence.

As I tried to explain to my employer, I am the only income in this household. I have no one to find me if I am missing, provide for me if I am injured nor keep me safe and warm if I do not work…so I am evaluating each day as to the risk involved and weighing it against loosing the car or my health…

I doubt if it made a dent in her thinking, but that is the way it is when others haven’t experienced what it is to loose a spouse or a livelihood…so, whatever they want to do to me for not venturing out in a Level II Snow Emergency, it is what it is

This is my reality.

As far as my being grateful, I am truly grateful that my daily needs are met and that I have electricity and warmth. So many in Kentucky are without power and heat. There are some who have been in shelters since the beginning of this mess and they are being told that they may have an additional week or more before power is restored.

Gratitude is never relational, but our awakening to our blessings may be…Gratitude is a way of life and I am striving to learn the lessons that Dan taught me regarding the subject…I am not a fast learning when it comes to things that are against my circumstances, but I am determined to learn. If not for my own benefit, for Dan’s memory…

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…

The Changing Sunsets

It seems that I am surfacing from the overwhelming pain of January, only to realize that the next few months have more pain to bring.

Maybe, it is the anticipation of these things that are more stressful than the time itself.

I am not looking forward to Valentine’s Day. Dan was so good at being romantic. He truly enjoyed the flowers or the gifts he bought  me.

The second time when we began dating, I was seeing a man in Canada. Dan knew about this man and, when the Canadian would call me at work and Dan would answer the phone, Dan would tell the man to stop calling me…what a stinker! He was dating other women, but he didn’t want me to talk or see this guy! Then, there was the time that the Canadian sent me flowers and Dan took the card off of the bouquet and wrote his name…he was so full of it!

I really never needed the candy or flowers on Valentine’s Day. I was content in knowing that he loved me and he never failed to tell me.

In the late afternoon or as we were drifting off to sleep, he would ask, ” Have I told you that I love you today?”. I felt so lucky to have someone who wasn’t afraid to tell me that he loved me. Because I always heard his words of love, these special days were already filled by his love before they got here. He never wanted me to feel that he took me for granted.

I miss hearing those words.

I miss his warm touch and his mischievous grin. I miss his hands. I loved the callousness that hard work placed on those gifted instruments of touch. I loved the way his hands looked when he played the bass. They reminded me of my brother’s hands as he played the guitar.

In those hands were so much talent. He could turn a wrench, pick up a hammer or draw  anything that his mind’s eye could see. I miss watching him draw pictures for my grandsons and their amazement that PapPap could draw dinosaurs and monster trucks.

I miss his arms and the safety that I found within that circle of soft caring.

I miss his eyes. Those beautiful emerald eyes that were the window of his soul.

I remember the family doctor saying that Dan intimidated him the first time they met. I asked the doctor how could that be? Then, I remembered that most fail to look into Dan’s eyes. His eyes told everything. Maybe, that is why he always wore those “Blues Brothers” dark glasses. He was hiding his soul. If you failed to look into his eyes, he could seem intimidating, but once you saw his eyes, you instantly knew that you had nothing to fear.

Each day, I keep looking for the moment when I do not have him constantly on my mind, but, so far, not a day passes when he isn’t the first and the last thing on my mind. 

He said that he had to leave so that I would fulfill my destiny. But, my heart still whispers, “You are my destiny. Now, what am I to do?”

Last evening, the sunset was glorious. The sun pillar sun-pillar-at-sunsetwas so high that it tickled the belly of the highest clouds. And, of course, my thoughts said, “Dan, did you see that one?”

He would have loved it…then, I wonder what glorious sights he sees when he looks from the other side of the sunset. How glorious are things from Heaven’s perspective?

I know that things must change. That is my head talking. My heart is so stubborn. It refuses to see the changing sunsets and accept that they are viewed by just me…

Maybe, the day will come when Dan is just another memory, but I can’t imagine it or hurry my heart…it is still with him.