Lessons Learned From the Death of My Beloved Son


This morning I walked downstairs and into our great room with a heart and body full of emotions.  My husband’s big comfy chair by the window was back in place after a few weeks of being upstairs in a bedroom.  We had become incapable of helping Rich navigate the stairs as he lost more use of his body so had moved first his bed, and then the hospice bed into that corner by the window.

We all lived an extremely intense few weeks and his stay here in our home was such a gift.  With the help of his wife and my husband, I was given the privilege of being with him in our home for the last six weeks of his life, and my sister came for the last week.   What would I ever have done with her too!  I was privileged, as well, to be able to do every single thing that a mother could do to save her son.

I have lived for many years wishing I could have a “do-over” raising my children.   I loved them but looking back, I didn’t know much of anything about love, about being fully aware and truly and consistently cherishing them while they were learning about life.   Fortunately I’ve been blessed with many years to cherish and love them and they clearly know how much they are loved and valued.

My daughter lived with me until she left home as an adult but when the boys were pre-teen, they went to live with their father and although only a few miles away, and back and forth between our homes, I often regretted my allowing them to leave.  I missed so much.  The little things and also some of their life-forming experiences.   I can remember at least once that each of them didn’t want to stay there after they had left and I could see in later years that it had impacted them heavily, the fact that I had allowed them to go – even though they wanted to be with their Dad.   At the time, he and I felt they should be allowed to decide where they wanted to live.   It had a heavy impact on all of us.

Many years ago, Rich and I talked it through and he said he had peace but that didn’t change the scars and fear of being alone and feeling abandoned that he lived with for the rest of his life.  Perhaps those issues had less power over him- I don’t know.  I have lived with a lot of guilt that I didn’t hold on to them tighter and refuse to let them leave.  Who knows what was the best for them.  I still don’t know.  I do know that over the years, I’ve been blessed with a very close and loving relationship with both of them.

I, along with my other son and my daughter, were with Rich in the hospital in the state where he lived when he was given the heart-wrenching diagnosis of glioblastoma multiformae Stage IV.  You can read his story here.   He and his wife had wanted to move back home – here in Washington State- for several years. Now was the time.  They packed what they could carry in their suitcases and 3 days later we were on the plane home for treatment at Oregon Health Sciences University and then to Compass Oncology.  Rich didn’t live long enough to get into treatment.  Maybe a blessing.   We were furiously fighting for his life but the tumor was on a mission of it’s own.  The tumor won.

He passed on Tuesday and this is Thursday.  I was in an abyss of grief and despair until last night.  I was adjusting to the change in my life – going from the intense life we had all been living for six weeks – every thought, prayer, breath, action included Rich and fighting for his life.  When he came home from the Hospital a week ago on Thursday for hospice care, I was challenged to change my focus – from fighting to accepting and simply making him comfortable.  That was a heartbreaking change in every aspect of my care for him.  It brought me once again to my knees emotionally and physically – in grief and prayer.

I’m so grateful that my sister and Rich’s wife were here to share my final experiences with my son. I couldn’t have done it without either of them.   My two remaining sisters are very close to him.  I know how I would feel if this were one of their children and I know how much they both love Rich and that they were experiencing very close to what I was experiencing during his final days.  There is huge comfort in shared experience.   Thank you!  I’m so grateful to you, Lynda, for being here.  I know Carlieta would have been here too if at all possible.

I had incredible joy and many “grateful” opportunities seeing my three children together during these weeks – nurturing, loving, caring for one another.   I know very well who they are but it touched me deeply to see them together.  Their living separately as young children had no impact at this point.  That was one of my concerns and pictures of a fractured family.  But this proved to be family at it’s finest.  I saw healing at a deep level for them and I know it was for me.  I am so blessed.

I have watched Rich go through many years of incredible pain, physically and emotionally.  My other son has navigated authentically and courageously through his life challenges and my daughter is a very courageous colon cancer survivor.  All three of my children are my great role models.  Their outlook on life, the way they navigate and function in life, their deep beliefs – somewhat differing but tolerant and strong, inspire me.  They are truly my greatest teachers, along with their children and grandchildren.  I’m so blessed and grateful to have these people in my life.

I’ve learned, on a whole new level, about courage, trust, faith, humor, diversity, loyalty, compassion and truth.

Last night and this morning, I have grief, of course, but that really comes in small waves.  I’ve been given the gift of peace and comfort.  I still don’t know what I believe or how this has come to me.  After the last few days when I’ve felt lost and searching, trying to live what I think is my belief, failing and faltering,  I’m given this incredible peace and feeling of being more deeply grateful than I can ever remember.  And yes even joy!

I still can’t say that I’m able to live my belief but I do know this for sure.  I’m writing it down to remind myself when I need to…we are nothing more than visitors on this earth.  We are gifts and lessons to others.  My children are first and foremost a soul that I’m privileged to know in a special way but they are not mine.  I cannot hold on to them – I simply get to touch them and love them.  And when it’s time for them to move on, I can do nothing but give the best send-off possible and be grateful that I was so privileged.

I’m doin the Grateful Dance.  I was entrusted with that great soul in my life for a little over 54 years.  How deeply blessed am I.

“On the Children” by Khalil Gibran

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

 

 

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My Son – My Prayer


Thanksgiving Day 2015

Rich is still with us and we have that and much more to be grateful for!  He’s having more issues, was in the hospital for 2 days but discharged and was seen at Compass Oncology yesterday.  His daughter and granddaughter arrive today to visit for a few days.  His sons and their families will be here December 3 and we’ll have our Christmas then.  The tree goes up today and we’re looking forward to a precious family day.

I hope that for all of you as well.

Thank you so much for all of your support, prayers, wonderful notes and for sharing the link. We appreciate all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Rich, Brooklyn and Silas

Rich, Brooklyn and Silas Please share this link – help make it go viral! Thank you! https://www.gofundme.com/RichardHart

After a sleepless night of praying, sending good energy and healing to my son, vacillating between shock, numbness, deep grief and yes, fear, I’m writing…my therapy and release.

I’ve read Michael Singer’s book, The Surrender Experience and trying to understand and put into practice what I’m learning.   I don’t want this extremely painful lesson in surrender.

For almost 9 years now, my 54-year-old son has been in unrelenting pain in his back and leg from an unfortunate accident when he was in his early 20’s and a back surgery that increased his problems rather  than helping.   He has been on some pretty heavy pain and anti-inflammatory drugs and for most of this time has tried to get off of them, unsuccessfully.

He’s lived 4 years of his greatest happiness – and reason to keep going – with his granddaughter, and a month ago, a precious little grandson, Silas.   Along with the joy of having Brooklyn in his life, he’s lived with the worst stress for the same four years because of an ongoing custody battle in a very corrupt and expensive court system.  It has taken its toll on every level of his life.

Two weeks ago, he called saying he had been in the Emergency Room with stroke symptoms, stroke being a side-effect of two of the medications he is on.    He had lost feeling in his entire right side, from the top of his head to the tips of his toes.  Although he had lost sensation on his right side and the vision in one eye was blurred when he looked to the side, his pain increased.  He had tried to go off one of his meds and when he restarted it, the symptoms decreased somewhat but didn’t disappear.  The exact scenario repeated a week later with another trip to the ER.  CT and other tests ruled out stroke and he was again released.

Yesterday, he called and said he was going to the ER again for an MRI because the symptoms were getting worse.  He said not to worry, it was the same thing as before but his doctor said he needed to be checked. As the afternoon progressed,  I got a call from his son saying that a CT had shown a very large mass on the left lobe of his brain.  Hours later, he was told it is an inoperable brain tumor, fast growing.

My mantra is – where there’s a will there’s a way.  He lives in another State and I’ll be traveling to be with him.  Rationally I know it’s not possible for me to fix this one but my heart says I must try.  Our family first-line remedies are food and prayer.  I’ve prayed all night.  If I believe what I say I believe – every thought is a prayer, I feel the need to stay positive and send only good energy.  I want to jump in the car and drive but it would take longer to get there than to fly out tomorrow.  I can hardly wait to be with him, make bone broth and green veggie smoothies for him….fill him with organic greens, grass-fed meats, free range eggs….. and on the other hand, I almost cannot stand the thought of seeing him in fear, pain, and knowing that without a miracle, his beautiful soul will be shedding this battered body.  I am struggling…really struggling.

My mind says this is happening and I can choose how I want to be, so be grateful and joyful that I’ve had all of my years with him.  But right now I feel helpless and what in the world can I do to help him and whatever will I do without his phone calls and texts, his wonderful love notes…..my heart is aching.  I think of several close friends and family who have lost children, a 3-year-old niece included, and wonder how their families survived.

I’ve had emotional conversations with my husband, my two sisters and with my other son and daughter who live near me. My daughter and I talked into the late evening hours,  a wonderful conversation, making decisions about how we want to navigate our part in Rich’s journey.  If this is truly happening,  if we’re going to lose Rich, we want to respect and support him in his transition back to God, be joyful and grateful, loving and appreciative of having his important soul in our lives for all of these years.

Right now those are just words that we’re trying desperately to connect to and believe – and live.

Right now, I’m in anguish and resistance and look forward to some respite – some moments of feeling numb and not comprehending that this is really happening to my precious son.

I’m still hoping there has been a mistake and this is just a bad dream…..

Please pray for us…and all who are going thru this and worse.  Please send strength, guidance, peace and healing to all who are in need.

God, please help me know what to say and do, how to make it through this….I want to truly trust, be able to love and support him through his last adventure here on earth.  I held my son when he entered this world and I will be honored to hold him when he transitions.  Just like when he was a kid and got scrapes on his knees..I will hug him and tell him he is OK…all is well…you are loved deeply…We’re here with you, Son…God is with you.  We won’t forget you.  You’ll be so deeply missed.  I’m so blessed to have you in my life and you will continue to be for as long as I live.

Thank you, God, that we have your peace and your comforting presence throughout his transition.

Morning is finally here!  Somehow things seem a little easier with morning light.  For a few moments at least…

I’m sending this out in hopes that collective good energy in thoughts and prayers from so many will help during this time.  Thank you!!

 

11/6/15 Update

Seems like another life ago since my life was normal and it has only been about 3 weeks.  After a week with him in the Hospital, I brought he and  his wife home with me to Washington State and we’re on a new adventure.  He was diagnosed with Stage IV Glioblastoma multiformae.  We are still trying to comprehend the speed of this aggressive nasty cancer.   He’s being seen at OHSU in Portland, by a Naturopathic Oncologist and a Nutritionist in Texas, Nutritional Solutions, who specializes in brain tumors.  We’re doing all we can and very hopeful to prolong his life and make it best quality possible.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and thoughts!

Sharon

Please share the link below – help make it go viral.  Thanks!

https://www.gofundme.com/RichardHart

 

11/16/15 Update

This is a precious time with my son.  He went to live with his father when he was early teens and I missed him so much.  We lived near each other and he was back and forth but I missed the constancy and the little things that happen each day.

Today while he was sleeping, I was sitting nearby and sending love and healing, visualizing the tumor being eaten away by big mouths, visualizing a healthy brain free of cancer, a healing light aimed at the tumor and shrinking it.

It brought back precious memories of when he was a sleeping baby, toddler, and seeing him in his little league baseball uniform.  He made the All-Star Team and really was a little star.  Visions rush through my mind.  I loved to smell his head, his neck, his pillow. I still do.

His right side is now useless and my husband, his wife and I help him up and down the stairs each day – he’s still able to make it.  His son, Calvin, was here for a few days to visit with him and it was difficult on Rich seeing him leave – and difficult for Calvin to leave his Dad.

FullSizeRender

Rich  had a very low energy day but we’re so grateful for today.  Thank all of you for your wonderful notes, prayers, healing thoughts and support.  Every day that we have him with us is a wonderful day!

 

 

 

 

My Life, My Mortality… and My Loves


I got some sleep last night – Yay!  And today is brighter…

Writing my letter to Dr. Oz (thank you Sister – for suggesting that I do it) clarified my plight – to myself.  I’m so grateful for some clarity.  Now I have hope again – that I can deal with my fear and get my life back.    I was suddenly able to see the part that fear is playing in my health issues.

I recognize clearly that my fear is about death.  My death.  It’s also in some strange way about the people that I’ve lost in the last 5 years.  I realize that I’ve never grieved them.  I realized yesterday that thinking about them is so painful that I avoid even letting them into my mind.  When they slip into my thoughts, I keep it at a very superficial level – and quickly change my thoughts to something else.

One of my doctors told me that she thought that these losses were having a part in my health issues and that she feels I have some grieving to do.  I heard her say it, I listened, I went thru some motions of grieving but I didn’t really get the connection.  Now I do.

I’m thinking about them today with joy and tears.  I’m honoring them.  I’m missing them deeply.  I miss Dad and my three sisters at a whole new level.  I’m remembering what I loved about them.  I’m remembering fun, funny memories – one of the many times we sisters came from different directions and met for lunch and a few hours together.  Our human pyramid picture.  Our sisterhood reunions. Shucking corn for a dinner.  Posing for pictures together.   What I learned from each of them is such a part of who I am.

And my husband, Dale.  We had such a rocky marriage and a deep unshakable love.  Our friendship lasted thru a divorce until his death in 2007.  He loved me.  Completely.  I loved him in the same way.  We had a bond that neither of us knew how to break – or even wanted to.   It wasn’t a consideration.  I didn’t realize until after his death that he was the reason that I could never move on into a marriage with another man.  Neither of us remarried.  But we didn’t live together either.  We were there for each other – right up to the last phone call the last day of January,  hours before his assumed death.  He lived by himself and when he didn’t return several phone calls, I was alarmed.  When I didn’t hear from him on Valentines Day – a yearly gesture even after our divorce many years ago – I knew something was terribly wrong.  I called the police who entered his home and found that he had passed – they estimated about two weeks earlier.  I handled his estate per his wishes.  I’ve avoided thoughts that he’s gone – always.  Not today.  Occasionally I’ve started to go there and recoiled as quickly as if I had touched a red hot wood stove!  Today, I’m remembering him…so many things.   There were very painful and difficult times in our lives but in many ways he was such a rock for me.  I feel way too vulnerable without him in my world.  I miss him terribly.  So much love!

And Peter.  My love.  We were in each others’ lives for 7 years.   Wow could he dance!   He knew how to have fun.  He was an old school Hispanic man and was such a character!  My Latin Love….  He loved taking care of me – cleaned my home, cooked, pressed my clothes,  was a lot of the reason that I was able to be very successful in my business.  He took care of many things in my life that allowed me the time to focus.  And did I mention fun!  I’m remembering the Las Vegas evenings, all doors open to my outside living area.  He loved cooking in the outdoor kitchen – for everyone, palm trees swaying, warm evenings, music playing and  NO BUGS!!!  We drank wine.  We loved.  We laughed.   He was so incredibly handsome to me – his dark skin, hair –  and bold, warm eyes.  He was gallant and classy.  He sang songs to me in Spanish – all of the time.  He ended up battling major health issues for two years that led to his death.  With such courage.   He wrote love letters to me.  I haven’t read them for a very long time – much too painful.  But I’m going to re-read them as I can, starting today.  Yes, of course there were difficult times too.  But I grieved those at the time.  Today I’m grieving and missing the sweetness, the love, that man.  Towards the end of his life when he was on a respirator, he wrote “Sin Ti” on a piece of paper with x’s and o’s.   I still have it tucked in with his love letters.  He used to sing that song to me.   I miss you so much, Peter!  You made your mark in my life.   Thank you!

And my sisters.  I’m going to write about “The Sisterhood” in another post.  I miss them so much.  They were my three older sisters and my link to so much of my history.  I wish I could have thought of more questions about how they remembered our lives before they left.  There’s no one to answer those questions now.   I know that they each knew how important they were in my life – no regrets there.  I just miss them.   It’s almost impossible to comprehend that they’re so gone!   Today I’ll remember them…

I’ll remember them all.  With so much love and gratitude!  I had – and have – some very special people in my life – some great loves!

And maybe, if I grieve my loss of them, I won’t have to worry about losing myself?  If I honor their lives, I can live mine – fully – without fear?   If I accept and remember their lives – and deaths, will it help me accept my eventual great adventure?  Without fear?  Will it help me live my life without fear?  hmm…

Is the doctor right?

Amidst the grief, I have my joy back today!  I’m starting to let go

Oprahs Life Classes
Joy, Letting Go

Fear – How Do I Get It Out of My Life?!


Please PLEASE, Dr. OZ.  Help me!

I feel like I’m bordering on pathological fear and it seems to be getting a bigger hold on my life.  My physical symptoms are progressing and I want my life back.  How ever do I make this happen?

I’ve had test after test, including an angiogram.  Now my doctor wants me to have an MRI/MRA.  At this point, I think the basis of my physical ailments are fear about my health – and in some ways, for valid reasons.  I feel desperate – that I’m a time bomb in a race to find an answer before I have a stroke!

My blood pressure spikes are causing more consistent symptoms – the stinging pain in the top of my head, a droopy sensation at the temple corner of my left eye, and a stinging numbish sensation at the left corner of my mouth.  These areas  don’t look any different – but they feel very  different while my blood pressure is high.   They are new symptoms.  As is a periodic discomfort in my left eye.  I was checked by an ophthalmologist  at Devers Eye Clinic yesterday and he said my eyes are in excellent condition.  My eye feels slightly irritated and sometimes has a few seconds of feeling like it does when I have the flu.

My blood pressure normally runs great – 111-low 120’s/low 60s and on the low side in the night and mornings.   My pulse is usually in the low 50s (I don’t feel well when it’s in the low 50’s) to high 50s in the morning so I usually take my morning dose of Metoprolol 25 mg at 10:30-11 am rather than when I should be taking it at 9 a.  My blood pressure is usually in the mid to high 120’s  when I take my 9 pm dose.  When I try to go below this, I have a lot of palpitations/skipped beats.   My blood pressure has been up very high (190s-212/low 100s) at least 10 times this year – an unusual event for me.   The first few times happened in the night – woke me up.  No one has been able to figure a cause other than sleep apnea.   My symptoms include those of sleep apnea I’m told –  and from what I’ve researched.  It’s so difficult to be who I am with so little sleep.  I have no problems for a period of time and just getting comfortable with my body’s behavior and then it happens again.    I manage my blood pressure spikes with meditation and Lisinopril if it doesn’t come down with deep breathing and relaxation visualization.  I’ve been seen several times in the ER, admitted 3 times, had an angiogram as well as 24 hour catecholamine and many other tests.  Everything has been normal.   I have great doctors and they have deduced that I have sleep apena which is causing the blood pressure spikes, severe lack of sleep and anxiety.

I had a sleep lab study but couldn’t sleep enough to get a good report but did show hypopnea.   My doctor then arranged for a home sleep study which I had.   He told me that it showed apnea, hypopnea and very low oxygen levels which he feels awaken me.   Last night I had a sleep lab titration study but again couldn’t sleep enough to get a good report.   From research and a visit with a person at the sleep lab, I was told that home studies are very inaccurate.  I was told by my technician at the sleep lab that I don’t have apnea at all that he could see.  My doctor will have my report on Friday and I’ll ask my questions from him and find out the news.  I was so excited to have the study, believing that it would resolve the blood pressure spikes issue and that I could eventually get over my distrust of my body – and my fear.

I am so stressed and exhausted with all of this and I think the stress is keeping me from sleeping.  It’s a vicious cycle.  That is where my fear comes in – I’m terrified that I’m bringing on the very thing I’m trying to avoid.  I try every thing I can – medication regimen, meditation, read Eckhart Tolle’s books, in fact listen to them when I’m walking.  And I have a glass of wine now and then…

I’m a very strong and healthy 71-year-old woman with a wonderful life otherwise.   I have many reasons to live including 2 brand new great-grandchildren.   I have walked 10,000+ steps (thanks to your encouragement) every day for sometime, have lost over 30 pounds, gotten off my Metformin and now manage my type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise.   I’m so grateful to you and your show!

I watched your show about sleep disorders and learned a lot.  I’ve had difficulties sleeping since I was a child.  In fact, my Dad has told me that I had a difficult time sleeping as a baby and small child – that he used to rock and walk me half the night.  I had never heard of genetic insomnia but I wonder if that describes my sleep problems.   I hope we hear about her treatment.   I’ve been taking occasional trazadone when I can’t sleep, anywhere from a quarter of a 50 mg tablet to the entire 50 mgs.   Sometimes it doesn’t work at all.   I definitely prefer natural treatments but am fearful about trying something else right now.  I’m normally awake at least every 2 hours each night and routinely get 3-5 hours of sleep each night,  rarely six, very rarely 7.  I’m so desperate that I can’t even tell you – for sleep, peace, no anxiety, no more fear – for getting my life back.

My fear is such a problem for me that it’s interfering with my life.  It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m so fearful but am deciding if I’m going to get help for it, I have to talk about it.  There must be others in my situations.  As soon as I receive reassurance – reading my normal labs and other reports, I feel all right for a bit and then the fear starts creeping in again.  I no longer trust my body! What if my blood pressure rises again and I have a stroke.   I dread night time so much – no words – what if I lie awake all night and imagine the worst – despite my best efforts.  The less sleep I have, the more my emotional defenses are down.    I’ve had 17 deaths of family and best friends in the last 18 years, 6 of those (my Dad, two sisters, brother-in-law, and besties) in the last 5-1/2 years.   I’m still reeling from those deaths and definitely feeling my mortality.  My fear is beginning to include my husband and family’s safety.  It feels like fear is  taking over my life.  It is.  I pray.  I talk to my sisters and husband.  I journal.  I research.  I exercise the power of believing…

Have I missed one of your shows that dealt with fear?   Please schedule or replay?

Thanks!

Does My Life Make a Difference?


I grew up with my Dad telling me to live my life as an example…that someone is using each of us as a role model…there is always someone who is watching to see how we handle situations and life – especially the difficult times.

I’ve witnessed 17 deaths of family members and most of my best friends over the last 19 years.  The youngest was a three year old niece.  Sometimes my grief has been overwhelming and I’ve not been sure which death(s) I was grieving.    My doctor told me  at one time that she thought I needed to grieve and it would help a health problem.  I’m not sure I know how to grieve.  Is there a proper way to grieve?  I don’t know.  I’ve read books, listened to Oprah shows, listened to friends, observed …

Last month we lost a 46-year-old niece to ovarian cancer.   There was an obvious transition from her “fighting” to “acceptance”.  Up until she was placed in hospice care, she was grieving her loss.  She wanted so much to see her two teenage sons graduate from high school, share their college experience, see them married and hold her grandchildren.  Her fight kept her going.

Then she told her parents, shortly before her death, that she was ready to leave;  that, knowing how much sadness her leaving would bring to others,  she almost felt guilty about her excitement over the adventure ahead of her.   She was very sad to leave her two teenage sons, her husband, her family and friends, but that she was ready and excited to leave.   It gave all of us a lot of peace, but how can that be.  Truly?

I am so fearful of dying that it’s very difficult for me to comprehend all that she said she was feeling.  I have enough gray hairs to know that God gives us grace to face…when we need it, when we’re actually confronted with challenges and passages.  Jennifer was a recent example.

She was involved.   There were over 700 people at her “celebration”.  She wasn’t a celebrity but she had lived life.   She was involved.  She made a huge difference in many lives.   She was very active in her church, children and recovery ministries, her children’s schools, 12 Step Programs.  If you had known her, you would understand….

On our way home from her celebration  in California, I was again trying to make sense of death…her death…all of the deaths.  Why do we live?  Why do we die?  How do I make sense of this? How do I accept it?

I do know that with each death and loss, I feel a new resolve to live life more fully.   I feel my own mortality and feel even more determination to make a difference in some way.   Peace came when I realized that one reason that we live our lives is to teach others.  By how we live our lives.

At Jennifer’s service, I repeatedly heard from those who spoke, that she “showed up” – no matter what!  She was there, whether or not she felt like it.  If she had made a commitment or knew she could help, she “showed up”.   She loved to sing.  Really loved to sing.  She knew how to be a good friend.  She had a wonderful laugh – and laughed a lot.    She was full of fun and joy – even when she had reason not to be, especially during her illness.  She was courage personified.  I want to be known that way.  I’m paying closer attention….

Each person has made a very real difference in my life.    And I’m so grateful for them all.   I started thinking about those I’ve lost and what I’ve learned from each….

To hug my loves when I’m leaving.  Really connect and tell them I love them.     No matter the mood….  I was fortunate to have had that from my husband.  He was much better at it than I.  But I remember that lesson every day.

My brother-in-law was a constant support and father/brother substitute for those who needed him.  He was an artist and couldn’t help himself…he had to create.  He did it as an expression of himself, didn’t do it for anyone else.  I can learn from him…

My friends, Eloise and Marcia, were loyal, fun, excellent Moms, and taught me so much about being friends.  They still have a profound influence on my life…I’m so grateful for their lives that were much to short.  They made such a difference in my life.  I still miss them.  A lot!

My sister was very outgoing and social, maintained long close friendships over her lifetime.  She had a great sense of humor, loved to entertain, made everyone feel welcome.   She taught me to hug.

Another sister was our family historian – to the max.  She saved pictures, documents, stories, provided our family with a priceless record of our  ancestry.

Another sister was a school teacher.  She and her family lived many places during her life – Greece, Tehran, Sumatra, and other places. She was intelligent,  a teacher in all aspects of her being.  She was an amazing cook, fun and creative.  I saw her very little but she gave me some invaluable advice and encouragement during her life.  She was adventure and excitement.

My Mom was a little dynamo.  She lived a pretty unconventional life, was very creative and could get tickled over little things, especially about herself.   She was good at choosing to see something beautiful in everyone.  She was a spiritual influence in many peoples’ lives.

My Dad was a prayer warrior.  His faith and example was a huge influence to almost everyone he met and he made a solid  difference in many lives.  He was a teacher and minister.  Quietly consistent.  Corny too.

So many others, so many wonderful others.  Some were in my life from childhood and they are truly part of me.

So what difference will I make in someone’s lives?  How do I matter in this world and to my closest?   I try to do meaningful things with my days, be courageous and accepting, interested and interesting, fun to be with, have hilarious moments.  Enjoy, share, appreciate.  Do some act of kindness at least once each day.  I’m working on being “present”.  Putting my phone down and connecting in person when I’m with someone.  Listening.  Responding.  I will remember to let everyone know how much I love them by lighting up when I see them.   No matter my mood.

Dad was right…all of these people have been examples in my life.  Sometimes they’ve taught me what I don’t want to be.  I hardly remember that part.  I remember deep love, laughing til we hurt, sharing plays, concerts, love of life, courage, we were there for each other during painful times and for celebrations.

I am and will make a difference.  I’m living my life…. I’m here so I matter.   We all do.

Living Fearlessly? But What About My Fear of Death? It’s Stealing My Joy!


My goal is to live fearlessly but I’m traveling backwards on this one.

I’ve been battling pretty severe hypertension issues this year, volatile and very worrisome.  I’ve been to the hospital seven times now, admitted three, a myriad of tests complete and thankfully finding noting life-threatening.  Stroke and heart attack threatening episodes – yes!  Without going thru details of these episodes, I’m consistently told to come to the ER at my hospital when they occur.

I’m letting my blood pressure terrorize me.  I determine to feel joy in my life but instead, feel fear, dread and anxiety.  How many times can my brain and heart remain undamaged – at the very least – with these assaults on them?   I’m now back in my place of wondering when it will happen again.   I had four months in the early part of the year when my blood pressure was unpredictable and uncontrolled.  When I checked my blood pressure – as told to do before I take my medication – one time it was too low to take my med, and a few days later, it’s 218/112 again!

OK.  If this is a lesson – as I believe it is, I’m open and ready to learn.  I’ve discovered life-changing messages during these months.  With the last revelation – No words can never express…but thank you!  I felt so changed that I had expected never ever to have hypertensive issues again.   That was peace and bliss!

I had no events until four days ago when I was right back to the old numbers.  I had some new symptoms with the elevation and was encouraged by my paramedic grandson to make yet another trip to the ER.  And so I did.    I chose not to have the suggested (by my grandson and offered by the ER doctor) CT scan of my head.  The doctor, a long time and very well respected man – although yes, just a man – told my husband and I several times that from his exam and other tests, that he was 99.9% sure that he’d find nothing on CT.  I was comfortable with waiting – and still am.  I was given some signs to watch for and report immediately should they appear.

My anxiety is back.  Full force.  I’m angry and trying very hard to accept what is happening again and decide that today will be full of joy rather than fear and anxiety.  I have many, many things to be joyful about.  One is that I’m healthy.  Uh…. and why am I feeling this angst and fear?

I walk 10,000 steps almost every day – per Dr. Oz.  While I’m working on my physical health with each step, I’m listening to Eckhart Tolle’s, The New Earth, and Practicing the Now – for my emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.  How many times have I listened…..and each time hearing something different, learning something new.  His books have changed my life.

But there is that nagging, energy-tapping fear! When I get in touch and “feel” and “hear” what I’m telling myself, it’s about the fear of dying.   I love life and want to live it out loud, want to “slide” into my death, without pain and on my feet.  Yes, I believe that’s possible.  I am dismayed that I’m letting fear swallow up my days – whining about fear of dying.

I used to be in denial about my death.  I’ve always known that along with everyone else who lives, I’ll die.  I’ve nonchalantly said those words.  Adding that I didn’t like the thought of it, would probably be hanging on with fingertips, wanting to do or say “just one more thing”, but that I “just didn’t want to be in pain or fear”.  Ha!  Right!  But it was off in the future then.  Except for very rare times, it was not in my thoughts.  I was very sure that there was something that I could eat, a vitamin that I could take, a thought that I could think…..whatever.   “Something” would be there by the time that I needed it.   It just was not a reality to me.  I call it denial but it was more of something that would happen someday in the distant future.  So distant as to not bother myself with thoughts of it.  I loved that place.  I so want it back….

Well now I’m in my 70’s, exceptionally healthy except that I have severe insomnia and am told it is probably the culprit.  Studies are showing how it is related to hypertension.  That is only part of my issue.  Maybe this lesson is about death, another lesson about acceptance.  I’ve discovered that my terror is death.  I want to stay here.  I don’t want to leave.  I have family and friends that I love and can’t bear the thought of leaving.  But even more than that, I’m finding, is the fear of the unknown.  Aaaarrrrghh!

I have a deep faith in God, I have a theory of death that is personal and acceptable to me.  In theory.   If I truly believed it with my whole being, I suppose I’d have no fear.   But obviously I’m not there yet.  I’m working on it.   Acceptance.  Trust.  I know I need to let go and live my life.  I feel that I’m wasting my precious days with this fear.   I’m miserable with anxiety and fear.   Today.   Tomorrow will be better.  I’m going to use Scarlet’s line.  I’ll think about it tomorrow.

to be continued….

A Dear Person is about to leave this earth – And she wants so much to live!


My husband’s niece  is one of those unforgettable women – I’d describe her energy as magic.  Being around her is motivating and inspiring – nothing special that she says or does – it’s just who she is.  Being new to my husband’s family, I’d heard much about his niece and I’m so grateful that I was able to meet her.   I don’t think I can aptly describe what was tangible to me for the few hours that I was with her.  I first met her while celebrating a Christmas Holiday with her parents in San Francisco a couple of years ago.

We’ve followed her battle with ovarian cancer and recently heard that she may be in the last days of her life here.  We’re both stricken with grief.

She’s strikingly beautiful and I just loved looking at her,  the way she moved, spoke and loved her parents and her two high school age sons, but that was only part of what kept me mesmerized.  It was her energy, her spirit, some intangible beauty that was obvious but impossible to describe.  Her being shouted integrity, love and joy.

She has been thru many, many surgeries for ovarian cancer, several rounds of chemo, has known pain.  It showed  but she wore it well and with such courage!  The kind of obvious that moved me even though she never uttered a word about her pain or battle while I was with her.  She was full of joy, fun, an excitement about being with her Mom, Dad and Uncle and very cordial on our first meeting.  I can’t even imagine being in her shoes.   Hmmm.  She needed a new pair of shoes and we shopped that afternoon.  How a woman shops says a lot to me.

Being with her those few hours made an indelible impression on me.  She is truly unforgettable.  I don’t mean to gush and even if I didn’t know her brave story, I would describe her the same way.   One of her  sons was with her and although a “jock” and at that age…. he still was unabashedly having fun, affectionate with her – sometimes holding hands with his Mom as they walked thru busy streets.  They were close.

The obvious closeness between she and her Mom was moving.  I’m very close to my daughter as well and recognized the unspoken respect and love.   I must mention that her Mom is battling the same dreaded disease – ovarian cancer.  They discovered it at nearly the same time and have both managed to survive for over six years – have disregarded the odds and have lived a full life despite their challenges.  With such courage.   Both of them.  There is obviously a special knowing between them that I can only imagine – comrades in battle!

Knowing them, and my other close friends and family who have had cancer – they’ve been dealt a really tuff hand to play – makes me want to live my life well, love well.  Some of my friends have survived and seem out of danger.  For that I’m grateful beyond words.  I never forget the friends I’ve lost over the years.  They are deeply missed.

Barring a miracle – and for that I pray almost constantly for my husband’s niece and sister – “our” niece will soon be taking her extraordinary energy and be on a new adventure.   I picture her – in all of her inner and outer beauty – joyous and happy in her new being.  I barely know her and I will miss her immensely.  Just knowing she’s no longer on this earth –  and on Facebook!   I downloaded her picture.    I don’t ever want her face to fade from my memory.   Her face is a reminder of courage and love and to live every moment to the fullest.  That’s what she has done.

And my heart aches for her parents and family.   For all of us who know and love her.  She wanted so much to live to see her grandchildren.   She has given it a gallant effort.

I know the Lord is already holding her in his arms.    Good Bye Dear Girl.  I’ll see you later!

And I’m still praying for a miracle….