Hospitals and waiting

Hi Ladybug,

Today your Grandpa had knee replacement surgery. They actually called him this morning, earlier than we had planned to leave, to let him know the first case had been canceled and could he come early? WTH?! That never happens. So we did! They had him into surgery probably 90 mins early. Surgery took about 2.5 hours and then he was in recovery for 5 hours since there wasn’t an available bed on the floor! Hurry up and wait is so usual. We’ve all heard of Island Time. Well, there is also hospital time!! And it mostly involves waiting!

I brought a bunch of computer work with me and got quite a bit done. Still more to do, but I’ll sit with him through the afternoon tomorrow, so will try to get some more done, then. Waiting some more. He’s doing really well. He is one tough, old bird.

As I spent the day in the hospital setting today, I wandered into thoughts of you, periodically. But really connected with all that hospital time with you as I was leaving for the last time tonight. Broken clouds, residual daylight, cool air, spring scents, and a quick catch in my chest as I remember your distaste for hospital time. You were not a girl who was in the dirt much, but you really needed your nature time. Even just breathing real air, not filtered, pretend air. I took a deep breath of the spring air for you, tonight.

ILYEM!

I’m thankful Grandpa’s surgery is over.

I’m thankful for today!!

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Northern California in the spring

Hey Girl!

Been thinking about you with each breath this week. Let’s be honest, I think about you with each breath, every week. But sometimes, I just have more I want to share with you. This is one of those weeks.

I’m in Northern California for work this week. Specifically Rohnert Park, CA. Sunday, when I came in, I had the whole afternoon/evening to myself. So I checked into my hotel and then headed toward the ocean. There is a place here, called Bodega Bay. I. Love. That. Name!! It just sounds like a cool place.

It is a cool place. I happened to be there as the tide was finishing it’s sweep into the ocean. The bay must be pretty shallow, except for the channels for the boats, because much of it was above water line. That marshy look, that the herons and egrets love. That washing out, where the little food stuffs are easy pickings.

bodega-bay

I ate dinner in a local restaurant called The Tide. Delicious Clam Chowder. Yum. I got to eat my dinner and watch the water. The Great Herons fishing, the ducks and geese paddling around, foraging for dinner, the shrimp boats coming home in the channel. After dinner I took a walk in a nature area.

Northern CA has had a ton of rain. Destructive rain. It hasn’t rained since I’ve been here, so I think that weather pattern might have mitigated, at least a  bit. However, the rain means the succulents are in glorious bloom. These plants are everywhere in California. They survive the often drought-like conditions here, and even in drought, they sporadically bloom. But the fields of them were in FULL bloom this day.

succulent-flower

I enjoyed the drive, the dinner, the bay, the birds and the flowers. Balm for the travel-weary!

Yesterday I had the chance to drive the other direction. I set my gps for Napa. The drive was gorgeous, the traffic, horrendous!! Aside from the communities, there are just fields and fields, so I’m not sure where all these people were coming or going. Surely a random Tuesday in February isn’t prime tourist season, so I can only imagine all these people had a reason for being on the roads!

But the rolling hills and fields of vines are fascinating. It is early spring, yet, so the vines still look pretty much dormant. Each different vineyard does it a little differently. Different varieties of grapes have different stalks and stake patterns. I have no idea which is which, but I can tell they are different.

And the babies! Baby horses, baby lambs. Babies!!

Miss you, Honey! You would have loved it!

ILYEM!!

I’m thankful for today!!

LOVE. IS. EVERYTHING!

Hi Honey,

Today is Valentine’s Day. Remember how I used to get you and your little brother a giant Hershey’s Kiss for Valentine’s Day? Every year. Remember how Buttons found one on the floors (probably your brother’s) and ate a goodly amount of it? Oy!

Valentine’s Day and the innocence of love and hearts and chocolate was changed forever in 2011. That’s the year Valentine’s Day was replace with the day of, and then the anniversary of, your diagnosis with leukemia. It just doesn’t hold the same meaning, you know? And yet the whole of the US still sends Valentine’s every year, and chocolates, and roses, and Shari’s Berries! Don’t they know that Valentine’s Day has a bigger meaning, now? Did they miss the memo? Now it means love overflowing, but not Cupid love. It means hearts expanding, but not candy hearts. It means being loved and loving holds extra meaning! Love means everything, not just candy love and flower love and jewelry love. 

LOVE. IS. ALL. THERE. IS!! LOVE. IS. EVERYTHING!!

Today, this year, there is a new milestone. Today is the day that your love has been married longer to his new heart, than he was to you. You and he married 5 days after your diagnosis. When you gained your Angel wings, you had been married 20 months and one day. Today, he and Sarah have been married 20 months and 2 days. There are no coincidences in life, my Girl. This truth does not surprise me. I am so thankful for him and for her and for the life they are forging together. 

Your greatest struggle, during your battle with cancer, was your desire that he live a full and happy life, and to not be hurt by your battle. Really, your point was you fought to live so he would not have to experience the pain your death would bring him. You didn’t fight for you, you fought for him. You fought for your brother and your dad and for me, plus the rest of your friends and family, to protect us from pain. But mostly, you fought for him. I ran across a notebook of yours a few weeks ago, and amidst the grocery lists and medication checklists and doodles, was a request. “Mom & Dad, you have to take care of Logan if I don’t make it.” And the last thing your Dad said to you while you were still conscious, before you died, was “don’t worry, Honey, we’all take care of Logan.”

I know you know, but he did hurt when you died. He still does. But that’s OK. He only hurts because he also loves. And he found Sarah. Much like a lightening strike, they exploded into a relationship! They married 20 months and 2 days ago, and I am thankful.

I’m thankful he loved you with his whole heart. I’m thankful he has more than the capacity to love again. I’m thankful he, they, remain a part of our life. I’m thankful love doesn’t require us to be happy all the time. I honor my tears, his tears, our tears as we connect with you in spirit now, instead of in flesh.

And I’m thankful for more, on this Hallmark day of love. I’m thankful for your Dad, who loves me without reservation and with the comfort of a quick peck being enough today. I’m thankful for your little brother, the light in my heart. I’m thankful for EthelM pecan brittle arriving at his door tonight. I’m thankful that he has a new love today. He told me last week that he’d never had to plan Valentine’s Day before, because he’d never had a Valentine. 

And I’m thankful for you, Sweetheart. For your love and strength and vulnerability, for your commitment and perseverance and grace. I’m thankful you fought so hard, and I’m so very thankful you don’t have to fight ever again. I’m thankful so many things and dates and places fill my heart with you. While Valentine’s Day will never be a Hallmark day for me, ever again, it is a day that you are crisper in my mind, so I will take it.

I love you Angel Baby!

I’m thankful for today!!

Just Hi

Hi Honey,

Snow in Michigan is cold!! Brrr!!! Arrived this week with no luggage, which, even with all my years of travel, almost never happens. It was a bit like my luggage was on a home alone adventure! I’d planned for it, tagged it and passed it off to the right person, it just didn’t follow me! Luckily for me, for some reason I had 2 sweaters on! I knew it was going to be cold this week, so planned several layers, but usually, I don’t like to carry on a bunch of stuff so in the winter, I wear a light sweater and in the summer, I always have a pashmina, in case the air on the plane is cold, but bare bones! Thankfully, double sweaters!! Guess my luggage told my sweaters I would need them, since my luggage didn’t arrive until after midnight. No jaunts to see Lake Michigan!

Good week, lots of people I’d worked with in the past, so it was a comfortable training week. The hardest part about this week was not getting to bed at a decent hour! As in, I have to get up before 5, and lights out at 1:30! I’m like the worst rebel child when it comes to going to bed! I can just hear my inner 3 yr old saying, “but I’m not tired!” Guess I better fix that tonight!

Been spending a lot of time thinking about my trip to Tanzania 3 yrs ago. Man, Girl, next to walking with you through your cancer journey and you gaining angel wings, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. In some ways it feels harder. And I did it so poorly. That’s probably why it still feels hard! I’ve never undertaken something, before, and simply not had the heart to see it through. Had I knot been a world away, I would have packed up my toys and gone home early! It would have been easier to take my heart out of my body and stamp it underfoot. At least that, going in, is consciously impossible. I’ve realized the shame I’ve been carrying around about that trip. My uselessness, my weakness, my neediness. The only thing I did useful on that trip was donate a lot of money and make paper cranes. And learn things about myself I didn’t want to know, and watch others do the hard, anyway!

But, in these last few weeks, I’ve been able to identify the shame, acknowledge it as my past truth, and ask it to take a bow out of my heart and mind and life. I’m not sure it ever served much purpose, except to highlight my arrogance, which was useful for me to recognize, but it certainly is not serving me any longer.

So today, I’m thankful for a broken heart, I’m thankful to recognize that I do have a threshold, over which I am not only reluctant to cross, but perhaps incapable. And that is just the way it is.

I’m thankful others are capable of crossing that threshold into the world of giving and helping and hard, hard work. I’m thankful for guilt and I’m thankful that guilt has served its purpose and is no longer required.

I’m thankful for sweaters and luggage delivery and comfortable work. I’m thankful for snow and crispy air and super thankful that I did not need to be outside in the frigid today!

I love you, I’m headed home…

I’m thankful for today!!

Folding a flag 

Hi Honey,

Today I got to go to a memorial service. One of your fellow Angel’s Grandpa, though I think they called him Papa, which I love, because that is what we called Marno’s Dad, Papa. And yes, got to go is the right term. Nobody likes to go to funerals or memorial services, but they are worth attending, and it often helps me understand those left behind, in a way I haven’t been able to see before. (BTW, I looked up the difference between funeral and memorial, are you surprised? It’s called a funeral if the body is on sight, a memorial service if there is no body. This would also include cremains.)

Anyway, this oldster served in the military. Part of the service was “full military honors”. I had to look that up, too, and here is what I found.

The bugler was very good and I found it interesting that he controlled the volume beautifully, keeping it at a level that was appropriate to the size of the venue and the occasion. So amazing since everyone thinks it’s only music if it’s loud! The other cool thing was they folded and presented the flag to this man’s son. The flag was already folded and on the table near some pictures and the urn, holding his ashes. But they went through the ritual of carefully unfolding and the refolding the flag. With reverence and grace. Beautiful stillness while everyone watched. Like a meditation.

After the service, I chatted with another Angel’s Mom. I wish nobody knew what it was like to lose their adult child, but since this is Earth, not Heaven, and it’s not perfect here, I’m thankful I have these women to connect with, who understand without explanation and tears leaking from my eyes doesn’t signal a change in topic!

And tonight, because life is crazy variety, we are going to a hockey game. I’m thankful for fleece leggings, season tickets, anticipating pizza for dinner and probably a JD w Diet Coke!

ILYEM!!

I’m thankful for funerals and memorials and Angel Moms and folded flags and fleece leggings.

I’m thankful for today!!

Thankful for snow

Hi GirliePie,

We had beautiful snow today. The sparkly cuz it’s cold, crunchy cuz it’s REALLY cold, 6″ of fluffy kind of snow. The kind that piles on the evergreen bushes and stays there all day. The kind that the dogs burrow their nose into and come up coated and delirious. The kind that looks like snow cones on the banister. It was heavenly. And of course, I got out in it, because I just do. Weather has never stopped me from anything except getting to New York last spring to see your brothers first Broadway credit. But I went later, so it worked out! And the blizzard then didn’t stop me from getting to the airport, it just stopped the airlines from taking off!! Haha!

As this new year has gotten off the ground, I’m hoping for, looking for, planning on being thankful. This week I’ve seen your Auntie’s new house. Yea, the one that is years of projects in the making, and she and my brother are in their happy place; planning, and working and envisioning. We had our annual New Years Eve party in their Irish Pub basement. The last one. Never go down there without thinking of your 100 Days party. Your defiance in the face of difficulty, your determination to celebrate that which deserves to be celebrated.

I’ve also started a new gig with your Dad. I’m his personal assistant! Haha! Partly because we don’t really know what that’s going to look like, long term, partly because I know him so well, partly because I’m not afraid to hold him accountable for what he’s asked for. It’s been fun, digging in, becoming reacquainted with a business that I’ve been pretty disconnected from for coming up on 6 years, since you got sick. I’m feeling useful and I think I can make a difference in how he spends his time, helping him to work smarter, without having to work harder. We’ll see…

Your brother is working in California. Working sick, as he always gets sick when he comes home. Presumably the letting down of his guard that happens being home. But he’s a big boy and is taking care of himself, all while pouting when I don’t answer because he “needs his nurse Mama!” That boy!

Mia was so cute today. She is usually the passive one of the dogs, not the alpha at all, though she is the oldest and certainly the most vocal when trying to get her peeps to do what she wants, like get her another treat. Anyway, I was doing some stretching on the floor and Sophie was using my foot to rub on, hoping I’d, in turn, rub her with my foot. In came Mia, and she actually head butted Sophie out of the way! That’s MY Beanka’s foot! Haha! And to think Mia learned that from Buttons, and then is the one who taught Sophie about foot rubbing! Love those hairy kids of yours!

Speaking of stretching, I never do mountain pose to forward fold, repeat, and repeat again, without thinking of you squawking that it made you dizzy to watch me do that. I made you dizzy this morning and again tonight.

Honey, it was a beautiful snow day with happy things, including thoughts of you!

I am thankful for today!!

Starting the conversation…

Jen,

We used to talk every day, sometimes we talked multiple times a day. Now, we can’t talk. Well, you can’t talk. Angels don’t talk. You communicate, at least I feel like you do, but you can’t talk. And I’m not much on monologues. But I’ve discovered something. It’s taken me 4 years of not hearing your voice to figure it out. I can still talk to you.
People ask me, often, though not as often as during the few months after you died, if I talked to you. Mostly people assume that I did, that I do. But truthfully, I think, feel, say “Hi Jenny!!” often, but that’s mostly it. When I think of you, which is frequently and fervently, I think if you in stills, in series shots in my minds eye. Mostly from those months you were sick, the weeks just before you died, the day you died. But I’ve discovered how limiting that has become. It limits me, and it limits my experience of you.
During your battle with leukemia, I wrote, through Caringbridge, a chronical of your experience. After the first couple of days, I ended nearly every post with “We are thankful for today!!” I did that on purpose. For you, for me, for all who followed your journey. It was my way of finding the hope in the day. It was my way of reminding all of us that the details of the here and now are not the whole story. That miracles happen every day. Sometimes, it’s the people placed in our path, sometimes the thought of the moment, the wash of the heart, the gift for the eye, the ear. Fleeting, but uplifting. The smell of rain, competent hands, puppy snuggles, grilled cheese and no bake cookies, a parking space right up front, the first snow, a goose farm.
As time has marched, day by day, farther away from you, though your Dad thinks of it as each day closer to you (someday, I hope to think if it that way, too!) I find it harder to be thankful for today. That is contrary to my nature! I’ve always been able to see the small miracles and be thankful. But…
So, I am taking that bull by the horns. I don’t want to forget how to be thankful. I want the beautiful idea that you have pink angel wings to be a starting point for noticing beauty and laughter and the good things in a day to day life. And I want to learn to talk to you again. To share life with you, even if it feels a bit like a monologue. So, I begin…
I am thankful for today!!