Category Archives: love love love

The End of 2012…Thank God.

This year has been a tough one.  A really tough one.

I could sit here and rehash it all, but I am not going to.  There’s been a lot of loss this year, both in the physical and emotional sense.  It’s been a tough one, I’m not going to lie.  It seems to happen every other year or so, which still makes me more fortunate than most, but definitely not as good as others.

But yes, this was a hard one.  I could barely catch my breath from one tragedy before there was another.  It just seemed to run, non stop, in waves.  My stress and frustration levels were at all time highs for most of this year, especially the latter portion, from July forward til now.

Things aren’t perfect.  They never will be, nor do I expect them to be.  I just want it to slow down some. Allow me to breathe a bit.  Throw the curve balls a bit more slowly this year.  Give me a chance to recover from one thing before you hit me with the next.  I am only human and while my shoulders are broad and my back is strong, there is only so much pain one person can take at a time. 

Yet, I always feel that the new year should not necessarily be a time to reflect back. I am a firm believe that old acquaintance SHOULD be forgotten and never brought to mind.  It’s the past.  There’s nothing you can do about it save to learn from it and move forward.  I am not the same woman I was five years ago, five months ago or even five minutes ago.  We are all works in progress, constantly evolving, growing and changing. 

I was trying to think of what my key word for 2013 would be; the word that I would think to when trying to plan my life course for this year.  Last year, it was “promise”.  I made some promises to myself and for the most part, I kept them.  These are not the same as resolutions, which I feel are silly contracts we make with ourselves and usually, they are preordained to fail.  My key word is just a reminder to hold certain things dear to me.  The promise of happiness.  The promise of extracting the negativity from my life path.  The promise to remember that tomorrow is another day and all the disasters of one day don’t necessarily carry over into the next. 

This years word is “transform”.  There are a few things that I would like to transform about myself, but I would not be so bold as to make myself promises I don’t intend to keep in the form of those horrible resolutions.  The root word of resolution is resolve and let’s face it, sometimes the resolve just isn’t there.  We are stronger some days than others.  It is widely believed that if you make a resolution and then, fall prey to the opposite of whatever it is you resolved to do, you have failed.

I, for one, am not about to set myself up for failure. 

So, transform for me, will be a slow process of change.  Changing the things that I CAN change while knowing that certain things will always be out of my control.  I can transform how I choose to react to things and not feel as though I have failed if my transformation does not immediately become a learned behavior.  I am going to take it easier on myself this year.  I am not going to cause myself hurt, pain or anxiety.  I have had quite enough of those self destructive passages in previous years.  I have extracted most of the people who cause my mind agony from my life.  While a few still litter the wall of my Facebook page, they are not there in copious amounts any longer…and the “delete” button remains a close few inches away from my fingertips should I need it.

What I won’t transform, however, are the things that others may perceive as my flaws. I will NOT transform my personality.  I am brash, crude, sometimes obnoxious, definitely crass…but it walks hand in hand with something else that I am and that is well intentioned.  I don’t mean harm.  And, when I cause it, I am also versed in the art of apology.  I have discovered long ago that a weak person does not apologize.  An even weaker person will not accept them.  This is not to mean that if I accept your apology, that I still choose to associate with you or keep you in my life.  I have only chosen to forgive your transgression.  Be grateful.

In the days of old, most transgressions of others would have landed you with a five knuckled greeting to your jawbone.  I have “evolved”, which I believe was my word of 2008 or so.  Maybe 2009.

In closing, new year, but not necessarily new me.  Just some “transforming” to do.  A little housecleaning in the spiritual sense.   Some adjustments to make as I get closer and closer to the person that I want to be.  Baby steps have gotten me through the first 46 years of my life, so I don’t suppose I will be making any giant leaps any time soon.  Change should come slowly…not like a huge 20 foot wave crashing in on you, but rather, a little trickling of water through the rocks and stones of a constantly running stream.  It should come slowly, gently, softly.  Resolutions, to me, are those 20 foot crashing waves.  Some survive them.  Some don’t. 

I’m not willing to find out the hard way.

Happy New Year to all of you.  May lucky number 2013 bring you all the joy and peace that you could possibly handle…and then some.

And, in keeping with tradition of blog posts gone by, I leave you with this:

Tradition started the first year I blogged, December 2005.  Why stop now?

Peace.

Getting through…

My friend, Robin, pointed out that I wrote a comment  on a blog post regarding the death of my friend, Derek.   The comment was “Why do people come into our lives if it is only their intention to leave?” She said that comment shredded her, as she often feels the same way.  I tried to back my thoughts up to five years ago, in reflection of why I might have said that.   It was a comment made in the midst of grief, but it is a question for the ages.  Why do people come in, allow us to get attached to them and then, suddenly, they are erased from our lives?  Death, estrangement or just a simple case of growing in different directions.  People that you love just sometimes…go away.

I told her, people come into our lives to teach you lessons.  Lessons that are either great or small.  Everyone has an expiration date in the lives of others.  Whether it is due to physical loss or emotional detachment, we all run our course.  There are friends I needed long ago that I just don’t need any longer.  They were there for their reason at the time.  To support me, to love me, to be by my side while I went through something or for me to be there for them.  People I thought would be in my life forever suddenly vanished.  But, when I look back on it…it was a moment in time that bonded us.  Something we shared.  Something that we related to and we needed each other to figure out the equation.  Once the problem was solved…it was time to move on, for both of us…or just one of us.

But when one is not ready for that sudden absentia, it leaves pain in its wake.

And questions.  Lots and lots of questions.

I am no stranger to loss.  I have lost a great number of people in my life from death.  I have lost a parent.  I have lost a child.  I have lost friends who I thought I could never survive without.  I have lost pets who were like children to me and I grieved them more ferociously and vehemently than I have some actual human family members. 

It’s never an easy process.   Ever.

I have become nearly superstitious when it comes to death.  I won’t let any one leave my house without saying “I love you” before they go.  We could be in the middle of a heated fight…and if they leave my home without a hug or a kind word, my stomach always knots up.  I think, I am going to lose them now.  Now that we parted harshly, those words will be the last words we ever speak to each other.  I think this is because my last words to my friend Derek were “I’ll see you tomorrow…” when he asked me to please come out and hang out with him, and then, tomorrow never came for him.  Or, perhaps because the last words I ever said to my father were “I hate your fucking guts.  I never want to speak to you again.”

Guess what?  I didn’t ever get to speak to him again.  He died a week later.

So, it has become a life mission of mine to make sure that I never part harshly with any one.  I don’t think my heart could take another memory of someone leaving this world with the last thing having been said between us being something cold or hateful.  It’s a huge burden to live with and a bigger one to die with.  I find myself apologizing and justifying constantly to people who no longer walk this earth. 

“You know I didn’t mean that, right, Daddy?”

“I should have come out to see you, Derek.  I should have found a baby sitter.  Maybe you would still be here, if I had.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t kiss you goodbye, Snoop.  I’m sorry I was too busy to kiss you goodbye.”

I keep hoping for validation in a situation where I know I will never get any closure.

Of course my Dad knows I didn’t mean that.  I was a teenager.  19 years old.  I was angry with him because I needed help with something and, in form with the lousy father he was, he didn’t come through for me.  I think now…who really owes whom the apology?  Why aren’t YOU sorry that you didn’t do what I needed you to do for me?  Why was I constantly put in the position of begging you to be my father?  Why am I making myself feel perpetually guilty for saying such a terrible thing to you before you died.  I didn’t kill you.  YOU killed you.  YOU chose to get into a car, loaded up on drugs and alcohol, careening into an oncoming truck, potentially robbing the driver of that car of being a good dad to HIS four children.  He was probably a great dad, just out for the day, driving to or from his job so he could get home to his wife and kids that he valued.  YOU, Dad, were the bad guy in this scenario…so why am I feeling guilty?

Because words spoken cannot be unspoken.  Simply put, you can’t un-ring a bell.

And of course, Derek has forgiven me a million times for not having a baby sitter to go out on other nights.  So why is this one eating me up…getting the best of me?  Because this particular night…he killed himself.  How could I have possibly known that your request for my time was to be spent talking you out of ending your life?  You were a drug addict.  You put those drugs in your body.  You chose to take more than your body could handle.  You died.   I have to continue living knowing that if something would have changed that night, it could have altered the course of your life.  You might still be here. 

Then again, you might not.  And, as I always said, you were dying since the day you were born.

Only this time, you took my heart with you.

Why am I angry with myself, when you chose to make me walk in the pain of losing you over what I will only ever believe could have been “fixed” had I just been there.  Why shouldn’t I be mad at you, Derek, for causing me this never ending grief and turmoil over those last moments?

Why?  Because you’re not here.  I am.  And you can’t blame something that no longer exists.

So, how do you get through the guilt?  You don’t.  No matter how many times people say, “don’t blame yourself”, it’s hard not to.  It’s hard to gloss over the obvious…that the last things you said to these people are what you are going to have to live with.  It’s strange.  Most of us don’t even recall on a day to day basis what the last thing someone said to you was.  But, let that person die…and suddenly, you have no recollection of anything else but that.  I can scarcely remember any other words uttered between Derek and I, or my father and I, save for those last words.

Why do I only dwell on the fact that the day my precious dog, Snoop, passed away, I was too busy with work to give him a little pat on the head before he went to the kennel?  We were leaving for vacation that afternoon…and I was so busy playing catch up, I just yelled out, “Bye Snoops!”   I never got up from my desk to give him a hug and a kiss. 

And now, he’s gone too.

I can flip the switch on this, you know.  I can remember my best friend Norman dying.  I held his hand.  I kissed his lips, dry and cracked as they were, as he lay in a hospital bed while the leukemia ravaged his already small, frail body. He knew I loved him desperately and he said to me, “I’m not afraid, you know.”  I said, “I am.”  He said, “Don’t be.  It will be grand.  Gay pride day in Heaven, can you imagine?”  The vision he conjured in my mind of angels in rainbow wings and gold lame loin cloths made me laugh out loud.  He laughed too, and that laughter is what I remember.  That, and my husband leaning in to kiss him goodbye.  I will always remember those moments when I think of Norman. 

Then, there’s my grandmother.  I can remember stroking my grandmothers hair just a mere few months ago, her telling her that she loved me so much and patting my cheek.  I knew at that moment, I would likely never see her again.  She was so sick.  The dementia and the Alzheimers were eating her mind and body away slowly.   But I was there.  I held her.  She knew she was loved…and she was able to let go.  She usually asks me when I leave, “are you coming back soon?” to which I always reply, “Of course I am, silly.  I love you!”  But this time, she didn’t ask me.  She just smiled at me and went back to sleep.  Maybe she knew she was leaving…maybe I did.  I pulled a flower hair clip from my own hair, and put it in hers. 

Maybe that was our goodbye. I don’t know. 

The mind chooses to remember what it chooses to remember.  Sometimes it is terribly cruel.  Other times, it is graciously merciful. It shames me to say, I barely remember my son, those last moments before I had to hand him away.  I barely remember his face.  I don’t remember the smell of his hair or the feel of his fingers wrapped around mine.  There was no time to remember.  No time to ingrain that moment into my memory.  And, ironically, I find that to be both cruel and merciful. 

So, how do you get through the anniversaries of the deaths of those we love?  How do we stop the self fulfilling prophecy of relegating yourself to a life of wallowing in guilt and anguish for the things we did or did not do while that person was still alive? 

The truth is, we don’t. 

We make mountains out of molehills in our minds.  And, on the opposite end of that, we make molehills out of mountains…just so we can cope.  We have to force ourselves to cope in the best ways we know how.  For some, it helps to allow yourself a day of grief.  It almost feels contrived.  I felt great yesterday.  I will feel great again tomorrow.  But, right now?  Right now all I feel is pain, devastation, anxiety and the ever looming fear that I will add something else I said to that list of regretful final words. 

It’s truly a source of anxiety for me.

The other night, on Facebook, my son wrote a status:

“I don’t think I can deal with this.  Please tell me this isn’t happening again.”

I read it at 3 am and immediately, I flew into panic mode.  To hear your teenager say, “I don’t think I can deal with this…” conjures up every news article we have ever read as parents of teens taking their lives over things that would scarcely disrupt the life of an adult.  I knew from that statement, something had happened between him and his girlfriend.  Did she break up with him?  Did she cheat on him?  Hurt him in some way?  Is he REALLY not able to deal with it?  Am I going to go to bed tonight and wake up in the morning to a phone call that he was found hanging in his closet, a note to his girlfriend on his bed and his Facebook page open to a status that says, “goodbye”?  Sleep was done for me at that point.  It wasn’t going to happen.  I was FAR too afraid that if I go to bed, when I wake up in the morning, I will hear those words that no mother ever, ever, EVER wants to hear.

I’ve already heard them once before.  I couldn’t live through it a second time.

Admittedly, I panicked hard.  I called his fathers house, where he was staying, at 3 am and crying into the phone, begged my ex husband to please, go check on him.  Make sure he’s asleep. Please watch him.  Please keep an eye on him. 

Because in my heart, the terror of “last words” looms large.

It is terrible to be a slave to what if’s and what could be’s.  Yet, I still find myself scared to death of those last words before someone leaves the house, hangs up the phone or walks away from me.  It is my own cross to bear, my own personal problem that I have made into a much bigger monster than it honestly is.  But, when you are living a life that includes a lot of loss, you can’t help but feel that way sometimes.  Especially after a fight with someone. 

So, ridiculous as it may be…I make sure that I tell everyone how much I love them.  It’s really something we should practice any way, the fine art of letting the people in your life know how much they mean to you.  It should not take estrangement or death for those words to finally find their way to your mouth.  It should not take fear.  Instead, it should be part of living.  Nothing is more important in this world than the love we take and the love we make.  Nothing.  Mistakes become regrets very quickly and while I know I can’t walk around 24/7 telling everyone what they mean to me, I can make sure that the people who are in my life daily know how well loved they are…so that if their time should come, or mine…we all can remember that our last words were “I love you”.

They say that there are some things that should just go to the grave with you.

“I love you” should always be one of those things.

song inspiration
“it’s only love. it’s only pain.  it’s only fear that runs through my veins…
it‘s all the things you can’t explain, that make us human.

RIP Derek Wollen, the inspiration for this post…and the pain that accompanies it.
August 25, 1980 – November 15, 2007  i miss you so much.  so, so much.

And to Debra Wollen, who left to find her son on November 24th, 2007. 
A mothers love leads to a mothers death.  i pray you both found each other…and peace.

Focus 52: "Glass"

This photograph was taken, a complete fluke considering I did not realize what the prompt was for this week, at the Salvador Dali Museum this past week.  This is the spiral staircase that takes you between the three floors of the museum.  It gradually narrows, slowly winding to an end, just under the glass dome.  It made me think “Stairway to Heaven”.  It made me think about the way things have been going in my life lately.  Things have been looking up and then, leading nowhere real fast.  It’s been a very confusing time in my life.  I have been in and out of the hospital three times in the past three weeks.  Little pieces of me being removed each time.  Doctors saying one thing, doing another, forcing me to lose control over the one thing that we should all take for granted: the ability to have control of our own bodies.  I feel like I am on an upward climb…but repeatedly hitting this glass ceiling that allows me to LOOK towards the future, but not allowing me to get there.  It’s frustrating, to say the least.  I want to be somewhere that I can’t get to.  I am trying to remember that there are people out there that have it a lot worse than I do.  A LOT worse.  I don’t have a fatal disease…something which was a possibility several weeks ago.  What I do have is a disease that is slowly overtaking my reproductive organs, literally encompassing them into this big, woven web of scar tissue, forming a barrier around what does need to be removed.  It is like having to drill through 20 feet worth of solid rock to get a poisonous snake out of your garden.  It should not take so much work to rid yourself of evil, the evil here being one of my ovaries that encompassed in a man-eating tumor.  This cystic tumor is three times the size of my poor, overworked ovary, causing me incredible pain.  Yet, the pain that I have to endure in order to remove, well, the pain…it’s almost ironic. 

To get rid of pain, you must endure worse pain?  Somehow, it just seems medieval. 

This past Thursday, I had a laparoscopic surgery to drain and/or cut the cyst off my ovary.  Upon entry, the doctor discovers that I have webbing, scar tissue, called “endometriosis” covering my entire abdominal cavity.  It is everywhere.  It is “stage 4″, which is apparently the worst you can have.  One of the last things I remember the doctor saying to me before the surgery is…”You know, you should have told us you were having pain before the FIRST surgery.  We could have taken care of it then.”

I had no words.  None.

This is the equivalent of an “I told you so” from a doctor.  And I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. 

I had told him, for weeks, about the pain I had been enduring.  My husband and I had just called the doctor two days earlier to tell him that I was in the emergency room with excruciating pain just the day before.  He cut away a portion of my uterus, a bunch of fibroids and polyps.  He did a D & C to check for cancer (none) and then, abladed my uterus so that I could no longer bleed to death nearly every month.  With every passing period, my red blood cell level kept decreasing.  I am severely anemic.  However, the pain.  The pain from that ovary that they never removed remained and I felt this was all for naught.  That caused an extreme amount of mental duress for me.  This past week, I came back into the doctors office again, the pain absolutely maddening and the depression, deepening. 

Doctor makes that remark from earlier and then, gives me 3 hours to let me know that A) your ovary has just blown up, B) you’re going under the knife again for emergency surgery and C) this time…This Glorious, Wonderful Time…we will be removing that ovary. The bane of my existence.  And life shall be good again.

Of course, this is when I find out about my endometriosis.  The moat of impossibility that is encompassing the remainder of my battered uterus, one innocent ovary who is likely wondering “what the hell did ‘I’ do to deserve this?”, and of course, the culprit, the right ovary who…had she not spoken up in the form of extreme pain, would have never alerted me to the presence of the EndoMonster, eating my insides. 

So into surgery I go, tube into the belly.  Soreness extraordinaire when I arise the next day.  Complications.  Stress with my already stressed out husband and an argument that never should have taken place due to a misunderstanding.  But it’s okay.  Because now, I have been made to understand that despite the doctor’s best Black and Decker power tools, the wall of the EndoMonster could not be penetrated and the force within, the control center of pain, that God forsake ovary…still remains.  He could not get through the enormous amount of scar tissue surrounding it. 

Square one. 

There are questions that need to be answers, research that needs to be done, phone calls to be made.  But, in the midst of all this, there was a birthday to celebrate.  Two days after that emergency surgery, I had pre-planned an amazing weekend with my husband to celebrate his 37th year on this planet, 12 of those in my life.  Thusly, we went to the Dali Museum where, to bring this full circle, I took the picture that captured what I am feeling.  The feeling of moving up and yet, going nowhere.  We took a helicopter ride over the beaches in Clearwater.  It was scary, exhilarating and amazing. We did a lot of laughing, a welcome distraction from all the tears as of late.  Then, we went to an out of the way Indian restaurant to burn our mouths on the finest curry based delicacies they had to offer.  We stayed i a hotel, also a welcome reprieve from all the time we have been spending at home, only to wake up to a brand new horror the next day.

My belly, never flat…but never sticking out further than my size F breasts, was completely engorged, swollen and bloated.  It was painful.  Extremely painful.  Tender and hot to the touch.  By later that morning, I could no longer fit into my pants.  It was then I found out that during the laparoscopic surgery, a woman is pumped full of carbon dioxide to both shrink and dry out the organs in the abdominal cavity and to expand the area in which the doctor has to work.  It is quite common, apparently, for the sudden expansion to occur a few days after surgery as my husband and I read horror story after horror story from dozens of beleaguered women who have gone through this process.  It is also, from what I understood (and concur with) extremely painful.  By late Sunday night, my belly was swollen to the point of looking equally as pregnant as my sister in law who is presently 9 months pregnant with twins.  I was scarcely able to breathe as I was babysitting my grandchildren for the night.  I could not lift them and eventually, I could not lift myself without assistance. 

We called the doctor this morning who wanted to see me “right away” as “that kind of pain and swelling is not normal”.  Not normal?  We read literally hundreds of stories that said quite the opposite.  This pain and swelling IS rather normal for this surgery and for some women, the swelling and pain can take weeks to go away.  Once again, I am questioning my doctor…and questioning myself.  I am normally a fabulous advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves in times of health crisis.  Yet, I had scarcely enough time to be able to read and understand what is happening to me.  My husband, God bless him, is doing what he can to give himself an education on the topic…baptism by fire, if you will, but he can only do so much. 

I see my doctor again tomorrow morning and I think, at this visit, I will be releasing him as my gynecologist in lieu of someone who cares enough to be able to give me rational explanations for what is going on with me.  I want to know why this disease was not discovered years early by the barrage of tests I have taken for other gynecological ailments I have suffered through, such as interstitial cystitis and cervical cancer.  I want to know why three gynecologists, two urologists and one family doctor never thought to look for something as common as endometriosis knowing my history of painful periods accompanied by excessive bleeding.

I want answers.  I deserve answers…but my surgeries are coming faster than the questions are forming in my head.

So, when I looked at the spiral staircase, leading upward toward the glass ceiling, allowing in the sunshine and the promise of something brighter, but never quite allowing you to touch it, I thought…there it is.  My life, in a photo.  This is where I am right now.  Looking skyward, with no discernible means of getting there…

just a long climb spiraling rapidly to no where at all.

Because she needs to know…

Because she has rescued my weakened psyche more times than I can count.
Because she has reached out to me when everyone else has turned their backs.
Because she knows my heart better from 2500 miles away than some people who are right next to me.
Because she understands me, even when I don’t.
Because she makes me throw my head back and laugh.
Because she keeps secrets.
Because she is painfully and brutally honest with me, even when I beg for a lie.
Because she protects me.
Because she gives me advice, unsolicited or not, and I can take it…or not.  And it doesn’t matter.
Because I can give her advice, unsolicited or not, and she can take it…or not.  And it doesn’t matter.
Because she is one of the handful of people I can rely on.
Because she doesn’t let me fall off the deep end without standing close by with a life preserver.
Because I can talk to her any time of day or night and know that I am a welcomed presence.
Because, despite having green eyes, she never looks at me with jealousy.
Because she knows the difference between jealousy and envy…and lets me be envious of her thin bod.
Because she is the only blond I simply cannot make fun of.
Because I like her 95% of the time and the other 5% I forgive her.
Because she likes me 5% of the time and the other 95% she is laughing at me.
Because she knows that orange pants automatically make you a loser.
Because she needs to know that she gets thought of at least once a day by me.
Because I think she is a level of controlled awesome and Canadian coolness that I could never achieve.
Because she needs to know I admire her and always have.
Because she needs to know that the sun has shone a bit warmer since her presence in my life.
Because she needs to know that she’s one of my favorite people in the world.
Because she needs to know…that she is a friend in every sense of the word.
Because she needs to know that I’m not ready to let her go any where.
Because we have a date in 2016.
Because she needs to know…she is loved.

And she always will be.

I love you, J.  Holding your hand across the miles.  Right there with you.  Never letting go.

Ever. 

Focus 52: "Yellow"

This weeks Focus 52 post is brought to you by the color “yellow”.  Actually, that is what the prompt is.  And what a good time for this prompt to show up.  The above flower was from a bouquet I received from the wonderful girls that comprise a group of ladies I now affectionately call “Team Melia”.  These girls have been a constant mode of support for one another since our dear friend Melia lost her daughter in an accident at the end of this past February.  Six beautiful, wonderful women who would make this flower blush with embarrassment for thinking it could remotely compete with them, who all rallied together at a time of crisis for the seventh member of Team Melia; Melia herself.  Seven women.  Seven women bound in the wake of tragedy who have since brought so much laughter and love into my life that I can scarcely find the words to describe it.  Seven women, one for each color of the rainbow, who have brought so much color into my world.  And, how appropriate that this yellow flower was the star of the bouquet, for yellow is the color of loyalty and friendship.  Yellow is bright and full of promise and hope.  Yellow is warm as the sun in the sky and the warmth in my heart when any of these girls leave me random love notes on my Facebook wall.  We, the members of Team Melia, are a force to be reckoned with.  We have conquered every subject from bad backs to bad marriages.  Good sex to good food.  We laugh at one another and with one another.  We cry just as readily.  We have brought tears of joy and tears of pain to each others eyes, but never once was there someone not readily available to dry those tears with a soft word or a sweet gesture.

And while we have all known one another for various rates of time, it matters not, because we are seven women for whom time stood still, stopped and then, started once more.  Anything that happened prior to that fateful day in February does not matter.  What matters is here, now, under the watchful eyes of our “Rainbow Girl”, Destiny.  Could our angel be any more aptly named, for if not for her departing our lives so soon would we have made this “rainbow connection”; the lovers, the dreamers…and me.

This post is dedicated to my girls, my world.  I love you all.