It’s Letting go of the Little Things That Hurt

I’m just going to put it out there. 2020 has mostly sucked so far. On February 5th I put down my 19 ½-year-old Siamese cat. She had been with me through two house moves, the death of my godparents, my mother and my husband. She slept with me every night curled next to me (and to be honest, taking up a lot of room for a cat that had weighed less than 5 pounds her whole life). My brother and sister-in-law went with me so I would not have to do it alone. It was comforting to have them there, to have the freedom to cry and to have them hug me through it.

Then came COVID-19. I do not have to tell you how much this pandemic has upended all our lives.  We went from high maintenance individuals to zero maintenance in a matter of weeks. We weren’t allowed to go to our offices and only allowed out of our to do essential tasks.

We look unkempt and we do not even mind because when we go out, we can hide behind the masks; most people wouldn’t recognize us anyway. Our celebrations are now restricted to close family or drive by parades. The same can be said for our dinners, church services and funerals. How many families have less than 10 people and even then, they must be 6 feet away from each other?

This is a very unusual time without a doubt. We are isolated, becoming depressed and have no clue when any of this will end. I watch my healthcare friends work tirelessly under a variety of circumstances. Doctors and nurses with families of their own that, in a few instances, have isolated themselves to protect their family. No hugs, no kisses. I pray for them every day.

People are finding a new “normal” while working from home, educating their children through homeschooling and taking a hard look at what they need to permanently change to make their lives better.

Friendships have changed, family has changed and the way we do business has changed. Human contact is missing. I’m a hugger, always have been. If you ever needed a hug, I would not hesitate to give you one. But now, we are forced to air hug (from six feet away) and blow kisses.

Last Thursday I found out my orange male cat had large cell gastrointestinal lymphoma. He was less than 8 years old and the only male I had ever had. He was a sweetheart and he was the most affectionate cat I had ever owned. By Monday I had to put him down. Only this time I was not with anyone. I was alone with Apollo and my vet, Dr. Nancy Christensen of Cat Veterinary Clinic. There were, and still are, plenty of tears but there were no hugs. No one to stand beside me to help me get through it except for Dr. C. That’s when you must face the new reality; sometimes you are just going to have to do it alone. Dr. Christensen wanted to hug me, but we both knew that wasn’t prudent. However, those six words “I wish I could hug you,” made a world of difference.

We hear this every day – take the time to tell people that you love them, tell them they make  difference in your life and through all of this that you will survive and God willing, thrive. I know that I will come out of this a better person. My priorities will be different, I will be taking a closer look at those things I really need compared to those I really want.

My friendships have always run deep. I know the people that I can call when I feel like my world is ending and I know that they will make sure that it doesn’t end, that I just need a hug.

So to my family, friends (new and old) and those I haven’t yet met, know that when you take me into your life I will love you with all my heart and hug you every time I see you. Because to me, hugging is the most beautiful form of communication that allows the other person to know beyond a doubt that they matter.

Until this is over, and I see you in person, I send you hugs!

Humbled and grateful…

To say this has been a difficult year so far might just be an understatement. In November of last year, Larry and I celebrated our 36th anniversary. An accomplishment on its own for a couple that would appear mismatched to the world.

Three days after his 83rd birthday in December, Larry had a heart attack. I now know why it is called the silent killer. Larry has COPD, his only symptom…shortness of breath. This wasn’t really a symptom of a heart attack for him, just an indication of a COPD episode. Of course, he refused to let me take him to an ER, and toughed it out until we went to see his pulmonary doctor the next morning. One look and the doctor called an ambulance which drove him literally across the street to the hospital. By mid-afternoon he was diagnosed with a heart attack and steps were being taken to get him stable. What was hoped to be a short stay, ended up as a month in ICU, three stents, a pacemaker and a tracheotomy so he could breathe with a ventilator. Not to mention the two incidents where he almost bled out and a midnight call to come back to the hospital immediately not knowing if he was alive or dead. The man is a fighter. He is tough and determined.

On to the LTAC (long term acute care facility) where he was weaned off the ventilator during his three months stay but about three weeks ago something happened and he was put back on the ventilator. No one knows exactly what caused it but he did seem to have some mild “seizure” like fit, shaking every morning for 3 to 4 days. A step back indeed. He developed another infection which is resistant to many different antibiotics and they are still trying to find the one(s) that will work.

The battle has been uphill with good days, bad days and horrible days. But there are still days, and that’s what counts. We had to move Larry to a skilled nursing facility this week because he had used all his days at the LTAC Facility. My goal (and I know it’s his) is to get him to the level he was before he had his heart attack. Will we make it? God willing. But the one thing that I do know is that I’ve been humbled by the love of my friends, by the support of strangers and by the power of Prayer.

No matter where this journey leads us, I wouldn’t be able to handle it without all of the hugs, calls, email and prayers. I am truly blessed.

For Mom – Gone But Never To Be Forgotton

For those that don’t know, my Mom passed away last week.  It was unexpected even though she was 87.  I suppose we always think our parents will live forever.  She was a wonderful woman and I know my brother and I will miss her every minute of every day.  She taught us to be strong, to love like there is no tomorrow and to say please and thank you.

When it came time to say goodbye, Dallis and I couldn’t bear to have a traditional service.  It was important that we not have someone tell us that God needed Mom more than we did or to spend the time reflecting on Judgment Day and the consequences of our lifetime of decisions.  We wanted to celebrate what a remarkable woman our mother was not only to us but to others.

While we made mention of her love of life and her even deeper love of  God and family, we wanted everyone to know that while we would grieve her loss, we knew she was celebrating her release from the physical here on earth.

Many years ago I had been to a Memorial Service for a young man.  I didn’t know him, I knew his father but while seated in the Chapel listening to the service an amazing thing happened.  I heard a story that I felt was the most uplifting story I had ever heard at a funeral.  I never forgot the story, I didn’t remember all of the words, but I remembered the message.  I wanted to share the message at Mom’s Memorial Service.  As my brother and I sat discussing what we would do to honor Mom, he went to the internet to see if he could find the story I was talking about.  He did.  And once he read it, he agreed.  This was the perfect salute to our Mom.

Many of our friends and our Mother’s friends have asked us to share the story and I believe this is the best way to do that.  Not only can I share the story, I can once again honor the beautiful woman we called Mother.

The Dragonfly Story

Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in awhile one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.

“Look!” said one of the water bugs to another. “One of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you think she is going?” Up, up, up it slowly went…Even as they watched; the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn’t return…

“That’s funny!” said one water bug to another. “Wasn’t she happy here?” asked a second… “Where do you suppose she went?” wondered a third.

No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled. Finally one of the water bugs, a leader in the colony, gathered its friends together. “I have an idea  The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why.”

“We promise”, they said solemnly.

One spring day, not long after, the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up, he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broken through the surface of the water and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above.

When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn’t believe what he saw. A startling change had come to his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail. Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings…The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from the new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself up above the water. He had become a dragonfly!!

Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere. By and by the new dragonfly lighted happily on a lily pad to rest. Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were scurrying around, just as he had been doing some time before.

The dragonfly remembered the promise: “the next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk will come back and tell where he or she went and why.” Without thinking, the dragonfly darted down. Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water…

“I can’t return!” he said in dismay. “At least, I tried. But I can’t keep my promise. Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body. I guess I’ll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too. Then they’ll understand what has happened to me, and where I went.”

And the dragonfly winged off happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air…….

Thank you God, for the story of the water bugs and the dragonflies.

Please remember Irene, who left the pond we live in…

and is flying above us enjoying her new wings…