... a voice for those who mourn the loss of a soul mate
"He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began." - Leo Tolstoy

Friday, March 24, 2017

My Soundtrack

This is the soundtrack of my life. Can you hear it? Do you know the words? Come sing along with me. Better yet, write down your own soundtrack and share it. I’d love to hear yours.
Chapter One – Becoming
Bridge over Troubled Waters
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
She Works Hard for the Money.
Hold On.
Hard Headed Woman.
Chapter Two – Seeking ♂
I Want to Know What Love Is.
I Love Rock N Roll.
Good Golly Miss Molly.
Wake up Little Susie.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The Jack.
Chapter Three – Finding ♥
Joy to the World.
I’ve Loved You Before.
Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything there is a Season).
Unchained Melody.
Somebody to Love.
Chapter Four – Loving ♫
You are My Best Friend.
Don’t Stop Me Now.
When a Man Loves a Woman.
In the Midnight Hour.
Pearl Necklace.
A Kiss to Build a Dream On.
I’m Confessin’ that I Love You.
I’ve Had the Time of My Life.
What a Wonderful World.
Chapter Five – Breaking ♪
You Can’t Lose a Broken Heart.
Live Like You were Dying.
Bad Moon Rising.
Stormy Weather.
Life Support.
Angel Down.
Time for Miracles.
Why Me?
I Ain’t the Same.
To Know Him is to Love Him.
Calling All Angels.
Chapter Six – Grief ↓
Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen.
You Feel So Lonely You Could Die.
Ain’t No Sunshine.
My Hero.
Wind Beneath My Wings.
Chapter Seven – Healing ☼
Kickstart My Heart.
We Are Family.
If I Ruled the World.
Because of You.
I Can See Clearly Now.
Taking Care of Business. 

Music is truly our universal language. Each song we recall can remind us of who we were with when we first heard it. Some songs bring forth fizz and some underscore drama. As long as I breathe I will continue to hear music and remember.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bonus Time … Memories Are Made of This

Betts calls it bonus time. The bonus time clock starts when you wake up one day and realize that life IS finite and the ones you love might not always be here with you. All too often, it is that time you are given after a dire diagnosis is handed down by any number of doctors. It can be anywhere from hours to decades. But most importantly, it is a gift that gives us permission to let go of the many unimportant things that far too often fill our hours with those we love. Instead, we are given some measure of time to clean up relationships, to cherish sunshine and joy and love, to immerse ourselves in the beauty and richness we have been given in this lifetime.

This month, the bonus time clock began ticking for me when two of my three children were diagnosed with cancer a mere two weeks apart. They are both fighters so I believe to the depths of my being that there is hope they will win not only the battle but the war. I have suddenly become warrior mother and will do all I can to fight for them but they are adults with lives of their own. Difficult as it may be, I know I must be content to stand beside them rather than try to lead the charge.

But filling the supportive role is not the only thing I can do. It is time for us to treasure every moment we have left together. And I pray that will be years, that I make that final transition long before either of them. Regardless of how much more time we are given, time together is the most important thing we can share. Nothing mundane should be more important than time spent doing the things we enjoy as a family. Meeting for breakfast, playing silly games, sharing hamburgers cooked on the grill, movie outings, just playing together. I know these simple things that require such a small investment of effort return a bounty of loving memories for us all. When they were younger, we built family memories that way. But then life happened, they grew up, and one family became four with all the responsibilities that entails. Somehow that took precedence over bonus time.

I have a friend who, when her husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer, joined with him to create memorable last days together. They traveled. They laughed. They spent quality time with each other and their children. And yes, they cried for the inevitable end they could see on their horizon. But the thing is, they LIVED every moment they had together. When he transitioned, my friend knew that his last days has been as good as they could make them. Does she grieve his loss? Of course she does. But having had those bittersweet bonus days together has let her move forward now that he is gone. His memory lives in her heart and every time she remembers the wonderful times they shared, she is wrapped in his love once more.

So now is my bonus time with my kids. I plan to make the most of it but just want to remind you all that with or without illness in the picture, life itself is bonus time.
(photo by Rita Sherman, Captured Moments)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hello from Heaven

I know I blog a lot about the ways that John continues to stay in touch with me and I hope people are not rolling their eyes and saying "Not again!". But I have to tell you that even I - no matter how many times it happens - continue to be amazed at how our loved ones can communicate with us across the veil. And it seems they never get tired of it.
And that makes sense. Do we get tired of saying Hello to those we love on this side? Of course not! I'm sure it's the same for them. Probably more so because of the circumstances and the fact that they know we are missing them.
For me, every nugget from John is precious.
Yesterday was a perfect case in point.
As I mentioned in another blog post, my birthday was March 1. I purposely didn't ask John for roses. He has sent them to me in one form or another in the past since he transitioned and I didn't want to be a glutton. I did send flowers -with roses - to myself because I know he would have if he were here and I like flowers. I was content.
So yesterday a dear friend took me out to lunch for my birthday to a restaurant both of us like. Our waitress was very nice and very attentive. Shelley - my friend - told her it was my birthday and she brought a candle over with dessert so I could make a wish.
But then she took it a step further.
Totally unbidden by anything we said or did, she showed up at my table with a beautiful single rose and wished me Happy Birthday again.
Shelley and I were both blown away and we looked at each other and said "John!".
We just knew. It had to have been him.
Even though I didn't ask, he sent me a rose. A single beautiful rose that meant more to me than I can express with mere words. My Love is alive and still loving me. He knew I was in a restaurant in Phoenix celebrating my birthday and he was there with me. How wonderful!
My point is simple. Keep looking for the signs. Never stop. The more we are open to them the more we will see them happening.
It's like any other relationship. If we keep investing in it, it grows. If we don't, we lose touch and the communication stops.
The joy it brings cannot be measured.
No, nothing is the same as having our loved one here with us in this three-dimensional life. But if a rose, or a feather, or a penny is what we have, I'll take it and I know you will, too.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I don't wait well

I decided to treat myself this week. Last week was my birthday - a big one! I turned 69 which means technically I am now in my 70th year and, frankly, I am having trouble wrapping my mind around that.
And I thought a new iPad Pro would make me feel better because - why not?
So, off I went to the local Apple store and traded in my old iPad for a new one. Everyone was very helpful getting me set up. An hour and several hundred dollars later I was the new owner of an iPad Pro 9.7. When I came home I ordered an Apple pencil and a beautiful new keyboard to go with it. I'm a geekaholic and I love gadgets.
Then I decided to message my friends and partners Cathy and Betts to tell them of my good fortune and I quickly noticed a problem. My texts were not synching across my iPhone and new iPad. No big deal. I can fix this - or so I thought.
I fiddled. I Googled.
I fiddled again.
I went online with Apple and found no solution I hadn't already tried.
So I found an Apple technician to chat with and after an hour she gave up and scheduled me for the Apple Genius Bar in Scottsdale for the following day.
On my way there the next day I stopped at AT&T to make sure the SIM card was in working order. The AT&T consultant was sure he could solve my problem, adjusted some settings and got me up and running in 10 minutes.
O happy day! Home I went, delighted that I did not have to go back to Apple.
Except I did.
Once home [a 30 minute drive] I realized I was back to square one. Same problem again! No text synching.
Cursing and muttering, I drove back to Apple in Scottsdale. Once there I was put in "the queue" and told it would be an hour.
The end to my story is a good one. I finally made it to the head of the line and a savvy technician solved my issue and all is well in my new iPad universe.
But it brings up a larger issue for me.
I don't do waiting well. I never have. My entire problem and solution took several hours spaced out over two days. By the end I was very frustrated. And that hour waiting for my turn at the genius bar was torture for me. But I think I am getting a teeny tiny bit better at waiting.
I don't know why I am like this. I just know that I am.
And when I combine that impatience trait of mine with my grief journey it's not a good combination.
I like to finish things. I like to do it, make things right - quickly! - and wrap it all up in a bow.
But grief isn't like that. Grief is not tidy and time defined. And if you are short on patience like I am on most days you will find this additionally hard.
Grief is teaching me many things. One of the big ones is to slow down and be accepting and to realize that grief's timeline is not mine and never will be.
It is almost 7 years since John transitioned. And this past Sunday I was texting with my cousin, reminiscing about John, when a grief surge hit and I found myself not only feeling sad but sobbing as I had done back when my grief was new. Granted, the episode did not last as long as it used to but it caught me up short.
And it made me realize once again how I am not in control of this.
Despite my best intentions I can't hurry grief and I can't make it end.
And I have to be patient until I am reunited with John again.
So grief is giving me yet another lesson.
One of these days I'll get it right.
Baby steps.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Is Your Bucket List for Someday or Today?

Do you have a bucket list? Most people do have one, formal or not. For years, my list included finishing my pilot’s license until I realized that goal no longer held the same attraction it had when I put it on the list and so I let it go with no regrets. But then seeing Neil Diamond perform live remained on the list. I have tickets to see him in August. And someday I will organize my boxes and boxes of photos and declutter my house – not exactly bucket list entries but still important to me. My list grows and shrinks in keeping with my interests and my abilities but there always seems to be something I want to do “someday.”

Perhaps your somedays sound a little like mine. Someday when there is enough money. Someday when you have enough time or lose enough weight or are stronger. Or someday when you are not grieving so deeply. Someday.

But if you are reading this blog, chances are someone you love reached the end of their somedays and someday will never come again for them.

This week I saw my youngest son come face to face with his own mortality. Realizing all the things he had left undone, he cried, “I never thought this would happen to me!” His anguish broke my heart as I thought of all he has yet to experience in life. His prognosis is good so we have high hopes that he will overcome this challenge he is facing and be able to live all the somedays he has saved up for later. But tomorrow is never guaranteed. So, I have told him that now is the time to start living, to embrace his dreams and make the somedays into todays.

You see a bucket list is just that – a list. It serves no purpose if you cannot start marking items off and adding new ones. It must be a living document. And know this. The fact that you actually have some form of bucket list means you have hope somewhere in the depths of your heart. Cling to that and one day you will look up and realize you have started to live again.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Which first holiday hurt the most?

The last trip my soul mate and I took together was a short jaunt to Laughlin, NV, for a Valentine’s Day getaway. I suggested we skip the trip since my spousal unit was scheduled to start radiation therapy the day after our return. He replied that he wanted to take his sweetheart away for the weekend. We always celebrated this heart themed holiday with gifts, cards and often a getaway. At lunch, earlier this week another widow and I were discussing which holiday hurt the most the first year or two after our loss. She commented that Valentine’s Day had hit her the hardest. When I asked why, she replied because they had never celebrated it. They had never exchanged valentines, given chocolates or taken a romantic interlude on the holiday designated for lovers. She said she felt so sad they had missed the opportunity of celebrating Valentine’s Day together during the 24 years of their marriage.

Thanksgiving was the first holiday I experienced without my husband. I was used to waking up to parade sounds coming from the television and the smells of stuffing being prepared knowing soon a turkey would be roasting in the oven. I missed the friends and family who always joined us for the day. And the sounds of myriad conversations overlapping as we caught up on each others' lives. The pride I felt in my lovely home was shared with my kitchen capable partner who would be busy cooking and serving our guests while telling stories, offering advice and being the consummate host.

Some people avoid celebrating Christmas because they can’t bear to participate in the festivities and possibly decorate a tree with the ornaments they choose together. Each holiday has an impact and special memories. Which first holiday did you miss sharing the most? Please leave me a comment.