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Kicking 2016 to the Curb

To say 2016 was a difficult year is not giving enough credence to all that transpired. I have felt in upheaval almost all year. So many things have happened I can scarcely recall them all. Of course, life has a way of allowing sparkling moments in the midst of heartache and I must acknowledge there have also been some truly sparkling moments!

The year started with a dramatic change in lifestyle. It was a chosen change, but dramatic nonetheless. I was so excited to be near my sister after being so far away for so long. She had been fighting cancer for years and just being close meant the world.

img_2740Unfortunately, five months after I relocated, my sister lost her battle with cancer. Losing her was devastating. Her passing came at the end of a difficult hospital stay and all the family was lost. For me, this was the second sister we lost to cancer, so every sad memory from before resurfaced again. I still have not grieved the loss of my sister even after all these months. I have built a very big and ugly wall that keeps me isolated from my feelings. I know when the moment comes it will be extremely difficult. The funny thing when you lose a sister and there are ‘closer’ family members, I think some people may not realize the depth of the loss. I do not want to diminish the impact her passing had on each and every member of our family – it was SO hard for everyone. Maybe it is my wall, but I felt isolated and alone in my grief – I still do.

A few months prior to my sister’s passing, my brother was diagnosed with lung cancer. He was in treatment but did come to see her in the hospital. I know this loss has had a tremendous impact on him as well. Again, as siblings, I don’t think people understand the impact. We all lost our mother to cancer when we were young adults, and that witnessing and experience never leaves you. My brother and I talk almost every day and his wife is taking such good care of him. I am witness to yet another fighter – strong and defiant – but I know it has not been easy on him.

We also had another cancer diagnosis in my husband’s family so it has been a pretty tough year where family health has been concerned. We are steadfast in our love and support – the fight goes on.

img_7433We were fortunate enough to find a place we loved near the mountains. It has been glorious but even this had it’s challenge. This year we had a long drought and the mountains near us were burning. We had smoke, but thankfully we were never really at risk – others were not so fortunate. The good people of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN, suffered tremendous losses. It makes you realize just what’s important.

My sparkling moments were spectacular – all my children and grandchildren together for the VERY FIRST TIME to help me celebrate my birthday. It was more than I could have dared ask for.  I watched them talk and play and just be here and that was all I needed. It was truly beautiful.

Another sparkling moment occurred when I met four beautiful souls I had never met in person. You would not believe the amazing connections we all shared. It was beautiful. SARK brought us together ages ago and the relationships were built over many years. Such long-lasting connections were not unusual in our group of online friends. Luscious and succulent and even more so in person! It was a beautiful blessing.

I was able to attend a family reunion this year and see cousins I have not seen in – oh – say 40 years or so. My brother was there, too, which made it extra special for me. I’ve learned so much about our family as I have taken the plunge into genealogy, so seeing everyone again and remembering our parents and grandparents was so rewarding. Looking forward to seeing everyone again in 2017.

Then there was the election. No political discussion on my blog other than to say my wildly beautiful and culturally rich family and friendship circles are worried about what lies ahead. If you are in my circle and love me, I expect you to stand beside me and fight for the rights of those I love if the need arises. Enough said. I have faith – for without it I would be lost.

And let’s not even talk about all the amazing musicians and entertainers we lost this year.

But back to the sparkle – I still get the sparkle.  Some of my most sparkling moments are very personal and very private – those protected moments are blindingly beautiful. They involve my heart and soul.

So, I prepare to say goodbye to 2016. It is with a heart that is both heavy and overjoyed at the promise of what the future holds, that I say goodbye to this year of my life. I look forward to 2017 with hope, love and unfailing faith in the inherent good in people. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? I just know that I need to focus on the promise of a better 2017. Bring on the JOY!

Cleanse is my word for 2017.

“I dismiss _________ in favor of _________” is my phrase. (There will be a LOT of those phrases!)

theothersideOut with the bad – in with the good. Here’s to crumbling my emotional fortress and allowing myself to feel and grow. And in saying goodbye to this difficult year, I say goodbye to my sister. I really miss you, Sis. More than I think you ever could have imagined I would. My life is forever changed.

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My Heart is Breaking

As the rest of the world struggled with what to have for dinner or what clothes to wear or what movie to see, you struggled to do something much more basic. You struggled to open your eyes, to form a word, to lift your arm.

You, my beloved sister, have always been my strength and it is beyond difficult to be so helpless knowing how much you must yearn for someone to help you say what you want to say and do the things you want to do. It is hard to see the tears roll down your cheeks and to sit with your children and not be able to comfort them because you are their mom. Their hearts shatter into tinier pieces each and every day.

We are all witness to the journey of this life and the road is so difficult at times. But every time I think about how difficult it feels, I think about how damned hard it is for you. That is the only place I find any strength.

I cannot talk about this – the words choke me. It seems so unfair to me after all you have already been through. This morning an indigo bunting came to our feeder. It brought me to tears because I wanted to call you and share this simple little joy with you. I cannot call you and that one simple pleasure gone is tearing me apart. I don’t know how many years we have talked almost every day without fail. Today I could not call you.

Today I feel weak, but tomorrow I will be better and try to give you what you need from me. I do not want to fail you now when you need me most. I love you with all my heart and soul. You are the best sister anyone could ever ask for – 62 years of undying friendship. We have seen each other through a lifetime of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, joys and celebrations. We have always been there for each other every step of the way.

I know God has you in His care. I hope He is keeping watch over all of us, too, because we are feeling lost right now. I am not giving up – I know you too well for that. I have witnessed your strength fighting for your very life for over 10 years and I know that if anyone can get through this, it will be you.

God, I hope this isn’t the angel you are looking for right now. I am not ready. None of us are ready.

I love you, BJ.

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The Loss of a Child

IMAG0806My blog will be emotionally heavy today because my heart is heavy. If you prefer to walk away and read another day, I understand..

This morning I logged onto Facebook to complain about the last few days. We had a tremendous storm Friday night. Our house was struck by lightning. The transformer for our landscape lights was literally blown to pieces. Our answering machine was fried as was our router. The network card in our computer and the battery in my husband’s laptop was zapped. We were both upbeat when we discovered a way to salvage the messages left by my grandson over the last few years and a single message from my sister Rosie who lost her battle with cancer. The messages mean so much – we were elated. We took a break to go to dinner with our children and came home only to realize the lightning also struck the water line from the city to our house. We are now without water until Monday or Tuesday – very long story which really isn’t important.

Angel-199x300So, feeling very sorry for myself, I logged onto Facebook only to see the status of my dear friend who lost her beloved granddaughter to a very tragic auto accident this weekend. Suddenly, nothing going on here mattered. I thought of my dear friend, her children and her precious granddaughter.  (Our grandchildren share the same name which hit me hard.) I have been overwhelmed with sadness for her, understanding all too well what that relationship is like and what a difficult road this beloved family has ahead of them. There were other children in the accident as well, so the grief is far-reaching.

How do you come to terms with the loss of a child? We always associate death with illness or age. A young beautiful child with a bright future losing their life leaves me at a loss for understanding. I just know I will pray for this young girl who was taken too soon and her family left to try to make sense of such a tragic accident.  Why, why, why?

Tonight as I write this I do so knowing my children and my grandchildren are safe. This knowledge is bigger than any annoyances I could possibly have in my life. Life is so precious and so fleeting.

My thoughts go to my sister Rosie and how hard it was to lose her – how difficult it was for our whole family. I understand all too well what tremendous grief feels like. Next week I will think about my sis when her birthday rolls around and maybe I will listen to her 30 second message we managed to save. The presence of a beautiful spirit is long-lasting.

Bless you Pat and your beloved granddaughter. My heart breaks into a million pieces, but I know I feel nothing compared to what you and your family are going through. My prayers are with you all.

I love you, my friend. You are in my constant prayers.

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Whispering Prayers

Yesterday my sister went back into the hospital.  I am in constant prayer for her and wish I could be there to hold her hand and ‘just be’.  I know this has been such a hard road for her and my heart breaks to think how tired she is and just how much she wants to return to her ‘normal’ life.

It’s been a month since I wrote here.  I just wanted to say my prayer out loud.

God, take care of my sister.  Please.  For her more than for me.

I love you, Sis.

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It’s Been So Long

So long since I put my thoughts down, I almost feel like I have forgotten how.  So much happening it almost makes my head spin.

BJ had surgery – twice in one week.  It was hard to be away from her while she went through this again.  I was so glad to go and spend a week with her after she came home.  We just hung out and talked and laughed and even cried a little – okay, I cried a little, but anyone who knows me knows that is perfectly normal.  We had so much fun.  It was good to be in the mountains, but especially good to be there with my sister.   We are all thinking positively and have put our faith in God and believe He will have a hand in her healing and in guiding her doctors.

I got to spend a couple of precious days with my grandson and they were far too short!  He didn’t quite understand why my sister got so much of my time and why he got so little.  Such a kid.  I love him so much.  Now I need to put my sights on Charleston and Nashville to visit three precious little girls that I miss so very much.

Now I’m home, back at school and trying to keep pace with all that is going on in our lives.  It just seems like the time flies by.

Writing here is harder than I imagined.  Shame on me for taking such a long break.  Maybe I can get back in the swing of things before long.

For now – I am content to know my sister is home and recovering and I am looking forward to her visit – maybe she will even dare to come during hurricane season if I tempt her with gourmet cheese and a nice warm pool…..

Whatcha say, BJ?

Later.

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Hello, God. It’s me, Margaret.

I come to you a tired and weary child.

As we come to terms with the end of Rosie’s life, today we are handed another challenge.  I know you will not give us more than we can bear, but sometimes Lord we just need a helping hand.

My sister, BJ, is a four-year survivor of kidney cancer.  She bravely underwent surgery 4 years ago and had her kidney and her adrenal gland removed.  Today, the doctor told her that her other adrenal gland is enlarged.  The doctor is scheduling her for a CT scan and a biopsy.  Barb has been so strong for Rosie.  She made countless trips to help her as she underwent treatment.  She wanted to just rest for a while.  She wanted time to grieve for our sister.  Now, we  know she will not rest until she knows the truth.  It is so hard because I know she is so scared and she’s angry.  Our family has been through so much already.

So, to you God, please raise BJ up.  Giver her strength.  Give her the faith and the hope to believe in a positive outcome.  Our family is strong and our faith is strong.  We will be there with hearts full of prayer and ALL THE HOPE IN THE WORLD.

To all my friends who have held us up over these last months, please, take our other hand.  We need your prayers and your support once again.  We do not choose to go to battle again and we ask that you remember us all in your prayers.  We will do what we need to do.

Sometimes being strong is the most difficult thing we are asked to do.  But when you have a sister like, BJ, being strong and having faith is easy.

Barb, hang in there.  I love you to the moon and back again.  We will get through this, I promise.

“..If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” [Mt:17:20]