Tag Archive | sadness

Orphan

I recently became an orphan for the second time in my life.

My mom passed away nearly two months ago, my father in 2014, and my first set of parents were lost to me for reasons I have no memory of. Compared to most my age, they are gone far too early.

It’s strange to lose that thread; that intimate connection to your early life. Even though I didn’t come to them until I was about three, they were all I’d ever known.

While I should’ve anticipated the losses, they were unexpected. I learned a long time ago to always brace for the unknown, but I had forgotten, lulled by a false sense of security that she was never going to die. And when she did, I wasn’t ready.

(But seriously, how can you ever be truly ready to lose someone you love? No matter how plagued with health issues or illness, can you ever come to terms with letting go? I don’t think so.)

So I’ve had the unsavory task of going through her house and belongings. Deciding what to keep and what to give away, what to sell, what to discard has left me feeling dirty. Even though there’s no other choice it feels invasive and wrong to go through every space of someone else’s entire life.

Although I didn’t find anything earth-shattering or life-changing, I did find a lot of photos of people I didn’t recognize and knick-knacks I didn’t know the story behind. I found stripes to my dad’s navy uniform and their wedding rings that had gone unworn for many years (I’m wearing them now) and other small treasures long-forgotten, but remembered from my childhood.

I was shocked to find so many of her precious memories haphazardly left behind in tattered old cardboard boxes without any rhyme or reason. There were faded, worn, photo albums but many pictures lay In boxes without labels, tags, left unloved and untouched for many years.

As much as I would like to say that I was surprised, that was who she was. Preserving memories and protecting the past was not in her DNA. It was one of the things that frustrated me about her the most. As much as I loved her, our relationship was complicated and often messy. The cardboard boxes full of haphazard memories upset me more than I expected.

I realize that relationships between mothers and daughters are often sloppy and complicated. Especially in recent years, we often struggled to find a common ground and our stubbornness often got in the way.

So as most writers do, I put our relationship on paper. I write about that strange relationship between mothers and daughters because that’s all I’ve ever known. There have been many good memories, as well as many sad ones. The bad ones inspire stories and in those stories I’ve been able to exorcise Demons and quiet nightmares. Like me, my characters face mothers who didn’t always preserve and protect their past.

I never realized it until I became a mother, a fierce protector of my own children, that I needed to purge the anger and resentment that I had toward the mother who buried her previous memories in damp, unkept cardboard boxes.

Complicated and messay.

But I did love her very much and always will, the good memories, also weaving their way through my stories. Her memory always with me. As much as I’ve learned about what not to do, there were things she was great at that I need to do better. She taught me that none of us are perfect.

So, I will continue to sift through her belongings, sort though pictures of people I don’t recognize and blindly give away things that may or may not have been important to her. And as I do so, the only thing I will hold onto is the knowledge that no matter what, she loved me.

And no matter what, perfect or imperfect, I still loved her.

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Seven Weeks

It’s been seven weeks since I last saw you.

Seven weeks since they told me there was no hope and you would be gone and I didn’t believe it.

It just didn’t seem possible.

It couldn’t be real.

But it was.

And before I was ready, you were gone.

It’s been seven weeks since I held your hand and listened to your last breaths. You couldn’t even open your eyes and see me. You couldn’t talk, you could barely breathe, and I don’t even know if you knew I was there.

But I was.

We were all there. The ones you loved the most who loved you in return.

Waiting.

Holding our breath.

Crying.

Hoping.

Wishing there could be a miracle … but there wasn’t. Not this time. The miracles had already been spent and you were living on borrowed time until suddenly you weren’t.

You were supposed to live until you were one hundred. You were stubborn and resilient and you’d been through so much worse.

This wasn’t the time. Not this time.

But then it was.

The last time I talked to you, you apologized for being a pain in the butt and I told you that you weren’t. I told you I loved you and you did the same and I thought the next time I would see you again, I would be driving you home.

But you’d never go home again. You’d never see your house, or pet your dog, or sit in your chair, or put your puzzles together.

It was over without warning.

I never got to say goodbye. I didn’t get to look at you and tell you how much you meant to me. I hadn’t done that in so long. Our relationship had gotten messy over the years as mothers and daughters often do. But I still loved you because you were the only mother I ever knew, and you saved me.

I remembered the time years before when I cried because I didn’t know what I would do without you. Then I hardened my heart because I thought I would have to.

Then you asked for so much more than I could give and I grew tired, and angry and finally, sad. But there was always love.

It’s been seven weeks and it hasn’t been the same without you and I know that it never will be again.

But you’ll always live in that space in my heart where only a mother belongs, because that’s where there is always love.

A Dog Named Libby

Today was a dark day.

It was one of the worst we’ve had in many years, and for a long time there were a lot of them. But we knew this day was coming and despite the anticipation, we still weren’t prepared for how hard it would hit us and how much it would hurt.

Once a family of six, we are now a family of five, saying good-bye to our sixteen year-old fur baby, Libby.

We knew it was time. We purposely didn’t travel for our summer vacation because we didn’t want to be away when it happened. Coincidentally (or not) it did happen during our vacation. A dog smarter than most, we’ve come to the conclusion that she knew when she wanted to go. She waited until after her human brothers were done with their baseball seasons and she was surrounded by the ones who loved her the most, to make her departure. She did it gracefully and considerately like she did everything else.

She came into our lives at just the right time and left the same way. She was the perfect dog, a wonderful companion with a beautiful soul. She gave us comfort and hope and joy, and I’m afraid I’ll never find that in another dog again.

I’m sure you can tell I’m a dog person and always have been.

From my own Princess who lived to about sixteen and died in my arms, to my grandparent’s dachshunds, and then my own two dogs, I’ve always loved their soft brown eyes, wagging tails, and happy tongues. Nearly every member of my family has a dog, and I’m that girl that wants to be best friends with every dog I meet.

Their loyalty and happiness, goofiness and unbridled joy, is not only endearing but inspiring and I can’t imagine a world where they don’t exist. Between you and I, I prefer them to most people. They don’t complain, judge, or criticize. They don’t care if you’re successful, pretty, or smart. If you’re sad they try and make you happy and if you’re happy, they try and make you even happier.

Their only purpose in life is to make yours better. I don’t know that there’s another creature on earth who is that unselfish and loves you so unconditionally, even after only knowing you for two seconds.

That’s why the loss of our girl was so difficult. She was the perfect dog. Everyone said so and everyone who met her loved her instantly. She was gentle and loving. As a puppy she was adorable. As an older dog, she was a sweet lady with soft fur, perky ears, and an agreeable personality.

My husband was the one who adopted her. He found her during an APL event and chose her because she was the runt, but she fought back against a sibling who was trying to bully her. He chose her for her spirit and she was forever bonded to him because of it.

He was her person and if he was nearby she was over the moon. This loyalty lasted throughout her entire life, even up to the end. They loved each other and because of him, we got to love her.

When we got her she was shorter than a wine glass. She was supposed to be a Pomeranian mix and no bigger than ten pounds. Imagine our surprise when she grew to thirty-five pounds and we discovered that she was a Shepard-mix instead.

We had so many nicknames for her. Libby Jean (named after my mother-in-law), Libbers Bajibbers, Jib-jibs, Satchel Page (I think that’s a baseball player), Libs Bajibs, Libbers, Libs, Wibby Wibby, pretty girl, and Libby-Lou. She loved her pink stuffed piggy and a stuffed animal of Paddington Bear, who ended up a shell of himself without eyes, stuffing, or clothes. He became a naked and empty carcass covered in dog slobber and smothered with love.

Her favorite thing in all the world was tennis balls. She loved to chew on them and chase them and she was fast. Really fast. She jumped, ran, leapt, and raced after them with everything inside of her, tongue flapping, legs flying, bursting with happiness anytime she found someone who would play with her. She carried that ball in her mouth until she would find a sucker to throw it to her and she always did.

Notice the tennis ball at Libby’s feet.

She’d take her soggy, spit-filled ball and set it on your lap, or roll it toward you, until you acquiesced and played with her. She was relentless and full of joy, and she knew that eventually you’d give in because you wanted to. She begged you with her beautiful brown eyes to play and it was impossible to deny her.

She ran like that for many years until her legs started to give out and we had to stop her from running so much in order to save her legs. She would’ve ran like that until the day she died if we would’ve let her.

Her second favorite thing was her family. She loved company because she loved her people. She was especially fond of her grandparents and aunts and uncles. She loved being the center of attention and basked in everyone’s love and attention. She was easy to love and everyone did.

She also loved to sleep on my husband’s pillow during the day. She’d put her butt right on it and when he would lay his head down at night, he’d have a face full of dog hair and know that his pillow was full of dog-butt. I didn’t envy him for that.

A Shepard-mix, she was strong and intelligent, and highly intuitive. Her mind was nimble but her body could no longer make it which was perhaps one of the saddest parts of all of this. She still wanted to play and run but her body told her that she was too old, and she didn’t like that one bit.

She was funny and feisty and bossy. Toward the end, she often refused food, so every day was a challenge to get her to eat. Some days she would only eat out my hand, other days she would only eat chicken and rice, burger meat, roast beef or soft dog food. She knew what she wanted and didn’t want and kept life interesting.

She was the one who made us a family. We had her three years before our children were born and she was always our baby. Spoiled, loved, and adored we were so happy to have her for as long as we did. We know how lucky we were that she had such a full life, but it still doesn’t feel like it was long enough.

Not nearly enough.

I could’ve had another sixteen years with her. I could’ve had her for the rest of my life. It doesn’t make sense that they’re gone so soon when we love them so much but I know that I have to let her go.

I know that part of life is loving and letting go. I also know that I am sad because I didn’t get to love her as long as I wanted to. I don’t know that I would ever be ready to let her go but I’ll have to. I have to show my children that this is a part of life and that you can’t be afraid to love, because you have to say good-bye. I have to show them that it’s worth it, and important, and worth doing again and again.

There will never be another girl like Libby. She was perfect. But I know that there will be another pup for us to love when we’re ready. We still have one pup we adore and while my husband swears that there will be no more dogs because it hurts so much, I know he’ll change his mind … eventually.

His heart is too big not to fall in love and want to rescue another one. There will be one who loves and needs him as much as Libby did, who will capture his heart at just the right time. In the meantime, we’ll mourn and remember our perfect girl.

Our hearts are broken but they’ve been broken before. Only love and time will heal us and we’ll be thankful that we got to spend so much time with such a beautiful soul.

And we’ll be thankful.

So very thankful.

Laughter~the Best Medicine

Today I laughed. A lot.

I laughed so hard and so much that I was exhausted when I was done. I almost needed a nap. I find that this tends to happen when I’m with family. This part of the family I’ve only been a part of for about fifteen years, but it feels like I’ve known them all of my life.

We are a bunch of irreverent, loud, tell-it-like-it-is, hilarious photo bombers. We fight, disappoint, text, cry, make fun, drink wine, and celebrate each other.

And we laugh.

I realize as I get older that there truly is no better balm for the soul, than laughter. I used to take life so seriously. Everything seemed urgent, dire, and necessary. But part of what I’ve learned from this crazy family, and am still learning, is to lighten up, loosen up, and have fun.

Sadness and anger used to be my muses. The happier I am, the more I struggle to write what I’ve always known. I worry that as I seek to find my zen, that I’ll lose my angst completely and forget how to write.

But laughter inspires me toward different stories, ones I haven’t even imagined yet. And while my muse is no longer shrouded in darkness, she’s still there. And she’s tugging at me to write something…

I am thankful for laughter. It’s healed and strengthened me, and given me perspective. I highly recommend letting go, having fun, and laughing as much as possible. Surround yourself with people who like to laugh, do some photo bombing, watch Funniest Home Videos-especially the segments of people who fall down or get hit in the nuts. Try spending some time with a spirited four year old who is just discovering the world, put a cat on a vibrating chair pad and see what he does, watch a comedy, read a funny book, or do some people watching with a friend after a couple of drinks.

Life is hard. So laugh it off every now and again. Because sometimes, it’s the only thing that you can do!

Blog challenge Day 20-a Difficult Time in My Life

When I started this blog challenge, this was the blog day I was dreading.

Nobody wants to rehash difficult times…or dwell. We work hard to overcome them, move past them, and if possible- forget. I also knew that I needed to be able to share without sharing any of the gory details. I can write a mean scene in a book, but I have no desire to openly share the ugliest moments of my life.

I finally realized that every difficult time in my life involves loss….physical, figurative, perceived. But loss nonetheless. I lost two friends in car accidents in my 20s, my grandmother who I adored when she was in her 90s. I lost the parents who adopted me. The dad I knew as an adult was struck down with a debilitating stroke, and the mother I knew to encephalitis. Though they are still physically there, the people I knew are gone forever. I lost friendships. I lost relatives to death, and I lost my birth parents, or maybe they lost me. I almost lost my niece to cancer, but thank God she was spared. And I almost lost love, but love always seemed to come back for me.

I write a lot about Loss because I’m intimately in tune with it. And while I do as much as I can to move past it, it still haunts me. So I try to dwell on what I’ve found instead of what I’ve lost. If I only thought of what I had lost, I don’t think I could get up every day. I try to focus on my happiness and not my sadness. The difficult times are bound to find me, but I’ve been through them before. Loss will find me again, and I dread it, but I can’t hide from it or live in fear of it. So instead – I search for joy, laughter, and love, knowing that I can’t stop the rain.

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Don’t Worry Baby

I wrote this for someone I love who is struggling to find her happiness in life. It breaks my heart to see someone so young carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. But I know what that can feel like, and how hard it can be to feel so old when your young. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a poem and I’ve only ever done it for me. But I thought I would share it because that’s what this blog is all about. Sharing, even when I’m not completely comfortable doing it.

Don’t Worry Baby
There are moments that come,
And moments that go.
But don’t worry, baby
That’s the way life flows.
Just hold your head up,
And keep your heart close,
And don’t worry, baby
That’s the way life should go.
The weight of the world
Can’t all fall on you.
You’re just a girl,
You’re not the glue.
Your life wasn’t meant to make it all better,
To keep us all sane,
To hold it together.
You can’t wear the heaviness
Of everyone’s pain.
You can’t carry the mantle,
Of everyone’s shame.
Let it go, baby,
Let them carry their own.
Let them figure it out,
And leave you alone.
You’ve got your own life
To live and to breathe,
You’ve got your own sadness,
You’ve got your own needs.
So go find your smile,
Go find your bliss,
Go live in the moment,
Life is better than this.
Don’t worry baby,
Life is waiting for you
To find your own happiness,
But until you do,
Let the sadness go
Just a bit at a time,
Then you’ll see what I mean,
And you will be fine.
You’re a beautiful girl~
With an angelic soul
You need to find peace,
To make you feel whole.
There are moments that come
And moments that go.
But don’t worry, baby
That’s the way life flows.
You hold your head up,
And keep your heart close.
And don’t worry, baby
That’s the way life should go.

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Unable are the loved to die~Emily Dickinson

Unable are the Loved to die For Love is Immortality, Nay, it is Deity—

Unable they that love—to die For Love reforms Vitality Into Divinity.

~Emily Dickinson

I’ve always loved this little poem.  It’s given me comfort in the death of loved ones on several occasions.  But it doesn’t completely remove the sting of death.  Death is cruel.  Death is painful.  Sometimes for the ones who go, but always for the ones who are left behind.

In the wake of losing a loved one, it pains me to see the hurt in those who loved him the most, knew him the best.  When I lost my Grandma, I felt like a piece of me died, never to be returned.  I can still hear her calling my name, talking, telling me stories.  I can still feel the softness of her skin and see her smile when I close my eyes.  And I know that one day it will be me.  I know that, if I’m lucky, that one day I’ll be the old woman and they will have to say good-bye to me.

I know that part of life is death.  But it seems cruel and unusual nonetheless.  I watch the news and see mothers, fathers, and babies, gone before their time.  And it makes me wonder What is the point?  What are we really meant to do in this short time?  Life IS short.  I’m at least, if not more than halfway through mine.  And it’s been wonderful, and awful, and amazing, and unbearable.  But sometimes I wonder What am I really meant to do?  Is this all that there is?

I look at my children, and I know that it is so much more.  The promise, the expectation, the anticipation is all wrapped up in their little hearts and minds.  And like all loving parents, I am hopeful, so hopeful that their life will be so much more than mine.   And then I think that I’ve gotten it at least partly figured out. 

Then I think about people who suffer, truly suffer, without the reward of hope. I wonder what the purpose of their life was, and I hope that they knew before they went. 

Death makes you think of the damndest things. 

I think that the cruelest thing about death is the bond that is ultimately broken between those who go and those who stay.  When you truly love someone and they leave you, it becomes a chasm so big in your soul that you wonder if it can ever be filled.  And while you know that those who go wouldn’t want you to suffer, you can’t help but suffer anyways.  Because that’s how it feels without them. 

Empty, lonely, terrible, sad.  You miss their essence, their love, their spirit, and everything about them that made them special and endeared them to you.  And when they are your confidante, your protector, your everything, it’s difficult to imagine that you can ever be whole without them. 

I imagine that my gift to my grandmother is my children, my life, and everytime that I laugh or think of her.  I have missed her during some of the most difficult times of my life, wishing that I could feel her arms around her or hear her tell me she loved me.  I know that she could have made everything right with the world again, had she been here. 

I regretted every time I didn’t see her when I should have and that I didn’t love her more when she was here with me.  It’s only then I understand that she is always with me in my heart, in my soul, in my mind, in my very being and as long as I think of her she will always live on.  

My sons never really knew her, but they know that I loved her and they know the stories that I tell them about her.  And they know how much she would have loved them too.  

Unable are the Loved to die For Love is Immortality, Nay, it is Deity—

Unable they that love—to die For Love reforms Vitality Into Divinity.

 

R.I.P~Jack and Jean Qualey, Bob Walton, Alberta and George Walton, Clarence and Frances Campbell, Jill Rendel, Colin Kelly, Kristina and Kayla Harding, Ed Bryner, Donna Moran, Mickey Tober, Donald Walton, Christopher Ashley, Emily Glaser, Merikay Walton