Posted in Inspiration, Life

Evolve or remain

Life is hard most of the time really. There is always a test, a challenge, something new to be learned. We constantly grow if we allow ourselves to be in the right mind frame and see those times as lessons for growth, not closing our hearts.

A message from Creig Crippen found it’s way to me, beckoning to be considered, reminding me that there is no gain without pain. It takes me back to my own beliefs of what I already know, and that we always have a choice in the matter, no matter how dark our world becomes. I wouldn’t say that my world is dark right now, but there are definitely daunting shadows that overcast the sunny bits.

In the end we are presented with a choice, a choice to evolve or remain. If we choose to remain unchanged, the same storms will present themselves, the same situations, until we learn from them, until we love ourselves enough to say “no more”, until we choose change.

If we choose to evolve, we will connect with the strength within us, we will explore what lies outside our comfort zone, and we will awaken to love. We will become and we will be. We already have everything we need.

We only have to choose to evolve, and choose love. ~

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Posted in Life, Loss, Mom

Calling your Name

As I sit and call your name, the silence is almost too loud to bare. I call with tears and a broken voice, crying out for help, but you never turn the corner to rush to my side, seeing what I need. It is you I need. The halls and rooms of this house you’ve spent so many years in, are no longer a home and emptiness is felt throughout.

As I sit and call your name, my calls go unanswered and while I see you everywhere, you are nowhere to be found. Of course I know that already you are watching over me from above, that you are bringing me signs to help me cope, and yet the pain of your loss is so great at times. I don’t like the memory of the last day we saw each other in person. It was Christmas Day, and I had to hurry, leaving you behind to catch a flight to the states. I got up late that day with no extra time to spare, and I did it on purpose, knowing that I would have lost it and broke down if I had too much time to say goodbye to you. Today I wished I had that time, and it feels cowardly now how I spent my last moments with you. I imagine everyone always wishes for one more talk, one more hug, one time to see each other and perhaps what I’m feeling is all normal now. I’m just tired of saying goodbye to every living being that had a profound meaning in my life, my children…the dogs included.

I wrote your eulogy the other day and it brought a sense of healing. I gave it to the pastor today and he commented on the many profound memories that we share. I wrote it in a lighthearted kind of way, although my heart was heavy at the time, but you had enough sorrow and pain in your life already. He liked the idea of your service being a celebration of your life vs. a final goodbye. We both have said goodbye way too many times and I much rather say and believe that “I see you again”.

Posted in Death, Life, Loss

Part of me died when you left

At one time or another you’ve probably heard someone say that when a person you love dies, a part of you dies too.

I always knew this to be true, and each time when someone close to me left this world, a part of me left as well. At first I used to think that was just a beautiful figure of speech, a touching poetic image that spoke symbolically to the depth of our profound sadness and loss.

That was until last week—when I died all over again.

My father passed away suddenly more than 45 years ago, and I have been no stranger on this painful road I’ve traveled since then.

Last week I’ve lost my mother and again I find myself back at this winding road that meanders through The Valley of loss, the sticky swamp of emotions, and beautiful mountain top sunrises that fill me with incredible gratitude and love. It’s a roller coaster of emotions that climbs to beautiful heights, only to plummet to the deepest of depths shortly after. Over the years I have mainly grieved naturally, allowing my feelings to come and go and it’s a healing process for me to not try and control these moments.

Recently though, I came face to face with the me who also left for good, on the day each of my parents did.

Over the course of 55 years, there are many profound memories shared, although we lived so far apart from each other once I moved to the States. I remember special moments shared with dad only where it was just the two of us. The same thing goes for Mom, as I had much more time with her vs my Dad. As you do when you lose someone you love, I often find myself randomly rewinding to those places and times in the past, to remind myself of the love and adventures and the laughter we shared.

One of those cherished memories was playing cowboys and Indians with Mom and recalling funny stories and memories with Dad.

In the beginning it was an incredible struggle for her to talk about these moments because they were associated with her pain and the loss of her husband. Eventually those moments became easier and it was something special we shared, that could always be used to cheer her up.

These moments became priceless to me. Laughing about Dad answering the phone, announcing that nobody was at home and that he was asleep…silly, but that was just the point. To be silly and not take life too seriously.

Between all of that, and Mom gone too now, I find myself with her memory and the moments about her, that rest with me. They were precious times.

There are lots of other things that happened during those years. There are more stories, more conversations, more meals, more funny anecdotes—but I no longer have access to them. 

That’s what people never tell you, about the real, fundamental, life-giving stuff you lose when someone you love leaves.

You lose the part of you that only they knew.

You lose some of your story.

It simply dies.

Mom and Dad were the only ones there with me during those special moments and now that they are gone there’s no one to go to to help me relive or revisit or remember them when I want to. There’s no one to help fill in the gaps of my memories, no one to give me the pieces of life that belonged only to the three of us—and I hate that.

Any part of those days that exists outside of my memory is now dead and buried.

If you haven’t walked the Grief Valley yet, just trust me on this.

One day you will miss someone dearly and when that cold reality hits you; the truth of just how much of you is gone too, you’ll grieve the loss of yourself as well, even as you live.

One of the great things about having people who love you and who’ve lived alongside of you for a long time is how they can surprise you, how when you’re with them they can dig out a story or unveil something about you that you had totally forgotten about or had never known at all. Mom would do that all the time, matter-of-factly tossing off a random memory that allowed me to see myself through her eyes. It was like having a small lost part of you suddenly and unexpectedly returned to you.

As much as I miss them both, I miss the me that they knew, too. I grieve the loss of our shared story.

I mourn losing the childhood me who napped in their bed, and all the special memories we have shared. I miss the silly stories and even the struggles we have faced. We had a few tough ones. I miss the laughs and moments of closeness that only a child and parents can feel.

Just as sure as they aren’t coming back, neither are those parts of my story because my parents were co-owners.

Friends, as you grieve for those who are gone, know that it’s normal to also lament the part of you that they’ve taken with them.

While those experiences form you and reside deep in the fabric of your very heart, in ways that certainly transcend your memories, the painful gaps will still be there in what you lose without their eyewitness testimony.

Those aren’t just flowery words meant to simply paint a picture of grief, they’re a vivid description of real, personal loss.

A part of you does indeed die when someone you love passes away.

May they, and the unique part of you they’ve taken with them, both rest in peace.

 

Posted in Death, Life, Mom

Messages from heaven

They say when feathers appear, the angels are near.

There was an unusual amount of feathers that crossed my path the week of Moms passing. After the bad news came of Mom not doing well at all, it was for the first time that I felt as if her soul was ready to leave. Later in the week was when all the feathers appeared and still I didn’t want to believe this to be the truth, but I knew. Mom died that weekend and I still feel as if I’m stuck in a horrible nightmare. Years and years later I am walking in her shoes, doing for her what she had to do for my father as he passed. The pain is tremendous, and what a strong woman she was. How much she had to endure in her life. I know that we share this in common and I am following her footsteps, equally enduring and equally as strong. But is it ever hard.

Posted in Death, Life, Mom

A time for everything

I’ve been walking more since I got to Germany vs. the states, despite my regular two hiking days. Here it has become a cumulative, weekly effort, so far at least since it’s only my first week, but it’s good for me to be on the move.

There is so much to be done right now. Mom wanted to be cremated and the urn should come back sometime this week. There is a meeting with the pastor this Thursday who will facilitate the service and where we will discuss how things will go besides the urn being added to Dads grave. I have decided that it needs to me carrying the urn from the church to the final resting place. This is the final walk we will need to take together and I feel it in my heart that it has to be so.

Flowers need to be ordered for the grave which I was able to do already. An obituary needs to be placed into the paper and has been delivered, to be published next Tuesday. Songs have been selected for the church service and I have written Moms eulogy to give to the pastor on Thursday. I don’t know how much of it he will use and I realize that I wrote this more for myself because it is so much more then just some facts and dates about her life. It’s a life as seen through the eyes of a beloved daughter, filled with love and gratitude. It was hard to write for such a sad occasion, especially since I wanted it to be on the light hearted side. Mom endured so much pain and sorrow in her life and one of my favorite things was to make her smile. And while this is definitely not a time to smile, she would want us to remember her in our own memory and the way she was to each and every one of us. I will always see her with that beautiful smile.

There is so much to do that little time remains for grief. Yes there a moments here and there but mainly it’s being pushed away because of things that need to be powered through. Just as all these above mentioned things got completed, I thought to myself that some more tasks were accomplished, but that the hardest day, the actual day of her funeral was still ahead. Right now I feel calm and writing her eulogy actually brought a sense of peace, perhaps closure. As for the moment I want to think about “that day” as a day to celebrate her life and I will try my hardest to do so and honor the woman, my mother I loved so much. There are plenty of other times for sadness, and it might turn out completely different, but for now and as long as I can hold onto it, I will allow myself to be filled with so much more then just grief and heartache. ❤️

Posted in Life, Mom

A broken promise

Just before I went to Moms house last Friday, I stopped to visit a little favorite when in Germany “The bread house”. It’s a wonderful place for fresh bread and pastries, as well as breakfast, many blends of specialty coffees, and other delicacies. Have I mentioned that the food in Germany is dangerous and highly delicious and addictive?

Well… I went, but I didn’t think it through all that much. Driving along on the road, I soon found myself looking at the trees and the changing leaves. I noticed the paved, pedestrian/bicycle path right next to the road and my heart got heavy. Immediately the memories caught up, and I thought back to last year when I pushed Mom in the wheelchair on that very path. I had decided to take her out of the nursing home and onto a little trip to “The breadhouse”. It took quite a bit of effort to push her that far, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat because precious memories were made. I remember taking Moms picture amongst the piles of leaves, and despite of sitting in a wheelchair, I don’t think she could have looked happier.

Tears were choking my throat shut, but I continued on. I ordered my coffee and went to sit down. It wasn’t obvious immediately, but soon I realized that I had picked a table very close to where I sat with Mom the year before. Again tears were choking me as I fought them back once more. I felt so sad and empty inside, wanting to curl up in a corner like a little child calling for her Mom.

Mom was everywhere and yet she was nowhere. I don’t think one could ever understand that pain unless they have experienced it for themselves. Compassion and empathy brings a certain level of understanding, but actually losing a loved one, comes with a whole new level of hey and pain.

As if it wasn’t enough already a song came on that I always associated with Mom and getting her out of the nursing home. I’d insert the link but the limited WiFi won’t let me. The song is called “Sign of the times” by Harry Styles in case you want to check it out. The lyrics hit home more than ever.

Just stop your crying it’s a sign of the times, welcome to the final show, hope you’re wearing your best clothes. You can’t bribe the door on your way to the sky, you look pretty good down here, but you’re not really good.

Just stop your crying, it’s alright. They told me that the end is near, we gotta get away from here.

In the end she couldn’t get away…not alone and not without me. Having lost Mom is getting harder instead of easier, and the very things I didn’t want to happen are unfolding more and more. I spent ten month with her last year and everyone has said that I did more then most would have done or were able to do. I didn’t want to have regrets, I didn’t want to leave a stone unturned, I didn’t want to look back, saying I should have, or I wished I did. One could think I did it for my own conscience from the sounds of it. Did I do it for those reasons and made it something about myself while it never was about that? It was about a person needing help, a person crying out, a person unable to help herself, a person dying without a hand extended to them. It was about Mom and should have never been about something else. Why do I hold myself responsible? Because I was the only one that could save her…just like last year. I know her time would have come either way, like all our time comes, but not yet, and I still don’t believe that the was her time. It was her time because she gave up hope, she lost sight of that I would ever make it back and take her out for that home. I had promised her that I would try my best to make this happen. I didn’t know how and couldn’t find a way. For the first time ever, I did not deliver and broke a promise.

This post was prescheduled and it was a tough day. I had to get back in to add that I am doing the best I can. Some days are harder than others. Some days I see the light, others I don’t. There is much to do right now and as I wrote this post I was hurting a lot. Tomorrow is a new day yet again.

Posted in Life, Mom, My story

An old friend

I stopped at the house (Moms house) for the first time on Friday. It was very emotional and very different this time. Things are no longer the same. Despite she wasn’t at the house either as I spent ten month in Germany last year, Mom was still in this world, alive, and perhaps it was hope that kept us both going. A thought of hope that she might return to her beloved place, her home once more. But that day would never come.

I barely made it to the front door as an old friend greeted me. Remember Bember the cat? She was all cuddles and purrs, it was nice to see her, but right away I could feel myself well up. This cat was one of a Moms last friends, keeping her company in the lonely house. I’m not sure if she ever felt lonely here, she must have, but she loved this house and it’s where her memories with Dad are. I took some comfort feeding Bember and knowing that I was on the heel of the things Mom used to do.

It was overwhelming to come into the house, knowing Mom would never see it again. Everything was so final and I sat for awhile looking at both my parents pictures on the wall, pleading “Now what” under tears. The house feels so much different, and it appears to me just like it must have to Mom as Dad passed. I now feel the same about her passing and there is a different level of understanding. I learn anew that things become memories, painful and heartbreaking. I can see why she never wanted to change anything in the house for it would have disturbed those memories.

This is very hard and I know things will find their way. Eventually…but not for a long time.

Posted in Journey, Life

Detachment

Detachment is a word that has come up for me before. It had a different meaning in the past, but was also connected with seeing things objectively.

This time detachment comes to me by reminding me to experience my feelings without allowing them to control me. For me it means to allow them to come and go. To let them pass through me without trying to suppress them, to acknowledge them and to allow myself to feel. To detach from the choices of others, knowing their spiritual work is not mine to do. To let go and accept what I can’t change. Detachment reminds me to choose how I want to act rather than just reacting. It’s a deep breath of peace and patience in response to unexpected hardship. Detachment allows us to be in the world but not of it. It frees us to live our lives with grace.

Posted in Death, Life, Mom

Energetically connected

Lantern burning in front of Moms room at the nursing home to say goodbye….

I found myself in amazement that I managed to stay up past 11PM the day of my arrival. Now with a few days here already, it seems like distant memory. I am yet to sleep a full night though and I’m running on fumes. The long trip, car ride and emotional viewing of Mom, I put it all behind me and my body just powered through it all. Performing for me when being strong was the only choice there was. The last couple of days have been filled with sadness and sorrow, but also a certain numbness and shock I haven’t quite got past. It’s surreal, almost like wanting to wake up from a bad, bad dream. The moment I was so afraid of, and of which I knew I had to face sooner or later, had come faster than anticipated. Mom was this sick before, but her decline was rapid and then I had that hunch feeling that this was her time. Oh how I fought that feeling, how much I wanted to be wrong, for it to not be the truth, but it would be so sooner then I could imagine.

I was filled with a deep sense of loss, but also a sense of relief for her suffering to have ended. The scare about this moment had finally realized. How many years had I been afraid, afraid of the message, the call, that very moment. Of course I knew the answer and it was this way for as long as I could remember, or so it seemed….

Once in bed, I fell asleep rather quickly, but only for a short time. Pretty soon I was awoken, and immediately I recognized the feeling, I had felt this before. It was the same phenomenon as my dog passed away, and last year with a very emotional occurrence involving Dad.

It was around 1AM that I woke from a bright flash of light shining directly into my face. The light was so bright that I squinted my already closed eyes shut even tighter. Could I have been dreaming….no…I knew this was different, and immediately I knew what it was. Mom was trying to communicate with me. The light was brief and darkness once more filled the room. For the next two hours my phone lit up, notifying me that a message had come through, except there was no physical messages. No notifications, no emails, no alerts, nothing. Just the notification sound and lit up phone. This is not the first time this has happened and besides my dog, I also believe that it was a way Dad tried to contact me last year. It was very similar and the feel was the same. This is now the third time this has happened to me, and it can’t be chalked up to coincidence, or some kind of maintenance, etc. You just know, although you can’t explain it. It’s nothing you have ever felt, nothing familiar, nothing you can compare it with, and yet you know and it seems perfectly normal, making perfect sense. To you at least.

Posted in Life, Mom, Travel

Arriving in Germany

  • The flight was pretty smooth and went better than expected. My layover in Seattle flew by and before I knew it I was on the plane to Frankfurt. For the first time ever, I napped on the plane….here and there. I’m sure the days leading up to the flight, and the news about Moms passing left me naturally exhausted and tired. Perhaps I could have napped standing.
  • “Ok another part of the journey behind me” I thought once I arrived in Frankfurt. Off to the next one, claim my luggage which was one of the last suitcases to enter the carousel. All belongings in tow, I was heading for the rental car counter. Luckily I felt wide awake and any sign of sickness due to exhaustion was not present at all.

    With the car located, I made the trip to my village with little to no problems and arrived in time to change, freshen up a bit, and off we were to the most emotional part…Moms viewing. All in all the day passed filled with adrenaline and my body was strong and supportive, knowing this was something I had to power through. Today my feet are swollen and I didn’t sleep all that much, but I feel rested and ok.