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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 Sister’s Birthday

IMAG1677-1It started ten or fifteen days ago. I walked through the grocery store, looked up and saw the card display. Rosie’s birthday was approaching.

I’m not sure I will ever fully come to terms with losing her. I still reach for the phone to call her before it hits me that she is gone.

I struggle to remember every little thing about our life together but try as I might, I cannot remember everything. Of course, none of us remember everything. We don’t realize it until it’s too late – too late to capture the memories in some tactile way. I have a message from her on my answering machine. Every time I play it, I cry. I have a few cards and letters, but not near all the letters and cards she ever sent me. As I sit here today, I wish I had kept them all. This electronic world we live in is great, but nothing can replace the handwriting or the slow tenor of a voice you hear when you read a letter from someone you love.

IMAG1699-1After Rosie passed away, I wrote a simple blog entry entitled Rosie’s Rose. The blog was about a rose that suddenly bloomed after years of lying dormant. Today when I glanced out the back door, I saw a flash of red. There, as bright as it could be, was a rose. Rosie’s rose. I walked outside with my phone and snapped a picture. There are two roses blooming and seven buds. Never has there ever been more than one rose on this bush at one time. I guess some might say it a coincidence that this rose appeared today. Perhaps. But I believe in a spirit that lives beyond the confines of this world and I think this rose appears when I need to know my sister is with me.

Rosie, tomorrow, is your birthday. It feels strange not to pick out the perfect card to send you. Tomorrow I will feel a certain sadness when I cannot pick up the phone and call you. Even so, I am blessed to have you as my sister and I know you remain with me still.

Happy Birthday, Sissy.  I love you to the moon and back again.

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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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Another Father’s Day Without My Dad

IMAG1694Dear Daddy,

I miss you so much.  It is Father’s Day weekend and Sunday I will think of you so often, wishing I could again pick up the phone and call you. The year you passed away, I was a week away from our vacation – a week away from Father’s Day when the call came in.  I could not believe it. I can still remember the disbelief of hearing someone tell me over the phone that you were gone. I was so angry and felt so cheated that I did not get to hold you one more time and tell you face-to-face how much I love you. To this day there is an empty place in my heart that only that last hug could have filled. I find myself thinking ‘What if this is the last time I do this?’ a lot now. I guess it helps me find the blessings in everyday moments and for that I am grateful.

Having you as my father taught me so much. You were not perfect, but then again you did not profess to be. You were always open about the mistakes you made in your life. Funny thing about having a parent that you love so much – forgiveness comes easy. Did I tell you I have a teddy bear – a gift from “Annie” and Jillian – with your voice recorded inside? To hear you say my name brings me to tears, but I am so thankful for that bear! Every father and every mother need to record messages for their children. It will be a great comfort someday. I know it has been to me.

I hope you can see the wonderful fathers I do have in my life. You would be so proud! The hearts made of gold, the firm hands and gentle spirits. The children growing up in our family – your family – are blessed with wonderful fathers. Someday I know, as adults, they will look back with love in gratitude for their Dads – just as I do today.

I love you, Daddy. I think about you more than I think you would believe. I would love to have you here – to hug, to laugh with, and just sit and visit with. I would love for you to meet all these great-grandchildren. They would love that deep bass voice of yours. I can close my eyes and imagine the wonder in their eyes – just like the wonder my children had in their eyes – just to be with you. You would have loved every moment of it. So would I.

Daddy, I am always a little girl in my thoughts of you — fragile, small and needing her father. On this Father’s Day I am thankful for all you gave me. I miss you more every day if that is possible. I think back to tiny, private moments we shared. Meaningless to some perhaps, but to me, they mean the world. You occupy a special place in my heart that will never belong to anyone else. I love you and miss you more than I can adequately express.

Sunday, like every day, I will miss you and sometime during the day I will whisper to myself ‘Happy Father’s Day, Daddy’. I hope you will look down on us and know we are missing you – especially this little girl who never imagined a life without her father.

I love you.  Always and Forever.
MagCindy

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Grief Anniversaries

I knew this day was coming.  Every day I looked at the calendar and watched the date grow closer.  It would soon be two years since I lost my sister, Rosie.  The morning started out okay.  As each minute ticked off, I felt little pieces of me crumbling away.  When my daughter called, I could finally let go.

I say I’m sad, but that is such a small word for the intense grief I feel.  I feel pain for my loss, but even more, I feel pain for my niece and nephew and their beautiful children who are growing up without their  mom and their ‘Teedle’.

My beautiful daughter and her beautiful fiance gave me a locket for Christmas that has pictures of Rosie in it.  The front is engraved with a rose and the words ‘forever in my heart’.  Those four words tell the story.  For the last couple of weeks I have remembered childhood memories, thought about our ‘sister’ time we shared in the mountains of Georgia, and looked at old photos.  I want to remember every little thing about my sister.  I want her with me.  I still have a message on my answering machine but today I wasn’t brave enough to listen to it.  Maybe in a few days.

Family is a funny thing.  The people who know how to push your buttons.  The people who drive you crazy.  The people who come to your defense and stand by your side.  The people you will protect with all the strength you have.  I am blessed to come from an insanely passionate group of people.  I’m one of the ones that lives ‘away’ and that is so hard sometimes.  So hard.

Today I have gently remembered the little ripples that make up the waves in our lives.  The gentle moment.  The kind word and the passionate disagreement.  The look in the eye.  The honest revelation that brings you to your knees.  Without these things I would be just a shell of a person and I am so thankful that is not who we are.  I am so thankful we LOVE SO HARD!

Rosie, being without you was especially difficult today.  I know you are here, but I want ‘more’.  I read my friend Erica’s blog and it hit home.  She talked about her own grief and how the one thing we all wish for when we lose someone we love is ‘more’ of something.  Today I love my sister even more.  I miss her more than ever.

I love you Rosie.  And I miss you so much it hurts my heart.

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Rosie, today I lost you all over again

Just when I pretend that I’m moving through this all, I find a beautiful reminder of you.

Today that reminder came in the form of an old friend’s website.  He’s a photographer and I just wanted to catch up on his work.  One of his documentary projects was following a dear friend through her battle with cancer.  She went through surgery, chemo, having a port in and out, nausea, pain….it was the path you walked the last months of your life.  Pete’s dear friend lost her battle, too.  And today, I broke down and cried.  It was as if I lost you all over again.

I miss you and it hurts.  I try to move along…doing what needs to be done.  Sometimes I am okay.  And then there are days like today when the reality hits hard and fast and I crumble.  You were such a big part of my life and I miss you so much it hurts.

I just wanted you to know.