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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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Getting Back in the Game

I am allowing myself to finally step out of grief a little and start enjoying my life.  Each and every day my heart still misses Rosie and wants for her.  I am gobsmacked at how different I feel knowing my sister is not here to talk and laugh with.  I know her spirit is here – I feel her presence all the time.  Is it the same?  No, of course not, but it is comforting.  One thing I know about Rosie is that she lived fully each and every minute within whatever boundaries were imposed upon her.  I know it is time to focus on reclaiming my joy and living life fully just like she would have.  So, Rosie, I miss you more than I can ever articulate.  It physically hurts sometimes.  Just know that even though I am moving through this life, I am moving through it a changed person knowing I will never feel your presence here again.  I know there will be a lot more tear-filled days ahead.  Please hold my hand and walk with me and watch from above.  Just be with me as I move back into life.  And I know that when we do see each other again it will be a joyous day!

I am so thankful that BJ’s results were negative for cancer.  I think I held my breath waiting.  When she called me and told me, I finally let myself bawl like a baby.  My walls came tumbling down.  God does indeed answer prayer.  Maybe not always in the way that we want it, but we do get an answer.  I am so very thankful that His answer was what we had all prayed for.  We never know what tomorrow may bring.  I guess that makes it doubly important to live every moment to the fullest.  Love and embrace every person and every experience.  For all of those things are the building blocks that create this life and they are there for each of us to take.  It is as simple as putting out your hand and accepting what is given.  BJ, I cannot tell you how much you mean to me.  Where there were three, there are now two.  At some point one of us will leave the other and then there will be one.  Until that day (and I hope it is a hundred years away) I will breathe you in and out with every breath I take.  We are as one.  Like it or not.  I love you to the moon and we have a lot more memories to make, you and I.

Of course, there is also the job loss.  All of these things have had me so overwhelmed.  I am trying to re-craft my life as best I can, but it is a slow process.  It’s tough out there and you just have to grow a pretty thick skin to get through it all, but get through it I will.  And I know that in some way, my life will be better for having gone through this.  It is just another step along the way.  I have never looked back and I’m not about to start now.

So, what’s ahead for me?  Joy, Simplicity, Love of Life, Faith, Love of Family, and Determination…..just to name a few.  I have a little fictional short story churning in my mind, so I’ll be publishing it on my A Little Big of Soul blog in the coming days.

Life is worth living.  I started this blog when we lost Bella.  It was so hard and I was in such disbelief.  I had to remind myself – Life IS worth living.  I guess after the past few weeks I needed to remind myself again.  It’s all part of the process.  Life IS worth living.

Get on board with me folks – it’s full steam ahead.  As my grandpa used to say…time and tide wait for no man…  Boy, oh, boy, was he smart.

Did I mention it won’t be long until Christmas?  🙂

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The Legacy of Suicide

What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across
the grass and loses itself in the sunset.

Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator 1830 – 1890

Our lives were again touched by suicide this past week.  A family friend living the aftermath of a painful divorce and no job made a choice to end his life.  So very sad.  Disbelief, anger, overwhelming sadness and loss all intermingle inside us.  Friends and family struggle with the reasons and hate themselves for not knowing and not being there when they were needed most.  Everyone feels so sad knowing the pain that must have led to such a decision.  And so the vicious cycle begins.

Suicide is not something you ever imagine touching your life.  As I look back and remember, this is the fourth time in my 56 years.  Four is way too many.  Too many lives lost, too many lives impacted, too many people left behind to wrestle with the beast that gives no answers.

Sadly, we mourn the loss of a friend who was overwhelmed by life.  I am so thankful for every little trite moment of my life.  Thankful for all the love I’ve experienced during the hard times in my life.  Thankful for the love of so many family members and friends that held me up when times got tough.

I honor those who could not see a future and chose to end their life.  We loved you so much.  We miss you and cry for you still.  You were crippled by so much pain you could not see a way out.   All of us wish we could have been there.   We wish we had said something that would have made a difference.  We wish we could have held you as you wept.  We wish you could have found a different answer, a different way.  But we weren’t there and you felt this was the only choice.  It makes us so devastatingly sad.

I pray for the friends and family left to forever search for answers and never find them.  The search is one of the ugly legacies of suicide.

Our world is now and forever different without you in it.  We miss you and we will always wonder why.  A little piece of us died with you because you had a spark that lit a part of us up in a very big way.

If only you could have seen it.

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Reflections in a Pool of Hope

Today was a day filled with reflections.  Wonderment of the mere presence of life.

If you remain open to the possibility of a brighter tomorrow, the doors will fling open and hope will come pouring in.  Sometimes the human side of us resists, fearing what else we may be throttled with when the world comes tumbling in.  Today I challenged myself and dared to believe there is hope. 

There were no photographs in my class today.  Just reflections about Bella and Virginia.  Reflections on lives well lived, lives that touched thousands, and a beautiful picture of hope painted with laughter and tears.  The only teachers in the classroom today were my dear friends and I must say they did a remarkable job.  Each one of my students was captivated in a special way.  It made me smile to know their legacy lives within each one of us.

Godspeed my dear friends.   I love you to the moon.

“Tell me who you love, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
Creole Proverb

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In Search of Signs of Life

To say the last few days have been difficult would be an understatement.  So many questions that will never be answered.  So many people feeling the same pain in different ways.  I’m not sure how or why it happens, but tragedy often brings us back together.

If I have learned nothing else from this life, I have learned that there is always an opportunity for a new beginning.  It is often difficult to see especially when we are in pain.  Today I walked outside with tears and anger raging inside me.  I went in search of signs of life.  As much as I resisted, I saw life beginning everywhere around me.  Even in the midst of life that was ending, new life was struggling to break free.  I think that is what we have difficulty understanding. It seems impossible to see the new beginning when we lose someone we love.    Life changes, it moves forward and we must believe there is a extreme value in moving through our pain and being born into a new purpose.

Today in heaven, the angels are wearing boas.  That makes me smile.

Bella, this one’s for you.

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