Posted in Awareness, Empowerment, Loss, Mom

Within your walls

I cry a lot when I am within your walls Mom. More than anywhere else. I suppose I’m distracted when I’m not here or when I’m busy. When sometimes out of the blue the door to your front loading washing machine opens as if it was touched by an invisible hand. I get the feeling it was your doing. It has never ever happened before, and I know it’s not just a coincidence. I know it was you, sending me a sign, letting me know you are here. I feel and see you everywhere. From all the strange noises and things that happen here, I am keenly aware that you are around me. So close, that often I cry for you because I can’t touch you and hug you. Like a lover remembers the touch and smell of a loved one, I can still feel your hugs. I can even smell you and feel the soft skin of your cheek on mine. As hard as it is, I now know that I made the right choice deciding on where I want to spend the rest of my life. I fear I am too weak to endure this sense of loss every day and I take comfort in the distance, not being exposed to all that is you at such close range. Even though I couldn’t carry you any closer within my heart. Here, in your home, the place of so much pain, your sorrow and hardship, it is here that it echoes the story of your life and brings me up close with the losses of mine. This loss will never go away, but I need the distraction of some distance. I can’t breathe new life into those walls, because these walls are not the same without you. Nothing can cancel this out, at least not for me.

I know you understand now and my heart has been an open book for you to see all there is. All the love, all the pain and yet, still the desire to go on and like you one day leave behind my own legacy. Not because I have to prove something, but because of the meaning and purpose I have worked towards. I am nearly packed now and I am taking little with me back to the states. Everything that is coming is special and there will be dotted reminders of you and my past throughout my future home, but I will also leave enough room to tell my own story. And what a story it is turning out to be. They say that there are three things a person can do to live eternally. One is to have a child. Two is to plant a tree. And three is to write a book. I am not going to make number one anymore, but I will definitely plant a tree and perhaps the idea of a book is now closer than ever. Maybe it wasn’t time to write it before, because there was simply too much of my story that hadn’t unfolded yet.

Posted in Death, Grief, Loss

Death

Art by Columbus Community Deathcare

We lost a loved one last Friday and it’s been a week. She was a mother, a sister, a wife, aunt and godmother. It was a tough road leading up to it and in the end no further help could be given after a full month stay in the hospital. In other words, “we knew” and it was an expected death. And yet how do you ever prepare for it, knowing or not, it stings just the same and is a very difficult transition for most who are left behind to deal with a loss. I have experienced death for too many times it seems. Expected or unexpected, I wonder which is easier. It’s a question no answer can be given to.

Death is a subject we all face at some point. It is also a subject many fear or don’t like to think about. Perhaps it is the unknown, not being in control and having no say so in the matter. Nor knowing when our time comes and what death has in store for us. Will it be quick, or will we suffer for many years! Death freezes our blood and chokes our breath as we all have to stare into the eyes of death at some point. So perhaps at this point it is easier to dismiss the unknown that induces fear and stow the thought as far away as possible from our conscious. Yet it is imminent and just a matter of time. But some things are better not known as they would overshadow the rest of our days and I think this is one such thing.

Death leaves us helpless when we witness someone else facing it other than ourselves. It leaves us with little consolation such as knowing that the suffering is over and that they have transitioned to a place of no pain. To know that they live on through us and merely moved into another form without the need for a body. That they have fulfilled their purpose here on earth, in their body and that their soul lives on. Still we will never talk to them and see them in our old familiar way again. I think this is what makes it so difficult and it’s not that we will have a visit with their soul at some point and time. Perhaps we will and nothing is impossible, but whether we could even realize it from our end or theirs is highly unlikely.

Death is final and changes us instantly. Life will never be the same and no matter how strong we try to be, how hard we try to hold it all together, death always has the final word and will revisit us over and over. It’s then, that the memory surfaces in the tears that roll down our face, in the family traditions that are not quite the same anymore, in the familiar chats, talks, hugs, and love that is left unexpressed with nowhere to go. Death is final and none of us get out of here alive.

Posted in Death, Loss, Mom

There is no escape

Grief is powerful. Grief is love unexpressed. Grief impacts, grief changes us – forever and grief holds us in it’s iron grip.

It was the day of your Death anniversary. A dreaded day, one I try to prepare for every year now. Last year was the first time, a year of firsts, a year of birthdays and holidays without you. Maybe I thought it’ll get easier after that, but it didn’t. Maybe I was trying to fool myself into believing such a thing to breathe hope where hope no longer lives. Now into the second year, the pain was just as strong. I realize that it is something that I will live for the rest of my life and I will have to get used to it. It’s a hole that can’t be filled, a wound that will never heal.

September had just started, but right away I knew that this month would bring some painful memories. Memories that are just a little stronger than they are during every other month. It was the anniversary of your death that would trigger other dates and events, such as saying goodbye to you in the hospital lying in front of me in a closed casket. Such as the day when your cremation certificate arrived, stating in such a macabre way the location, date and time you were cremated. To the date your urn was put into the ground as we bit the final farewell. All dates are well remembered and seem so current despite of the two years that have passed since then. Dates that reach well into the middle of October.

It was the day before your anniversary and it was night time to be exact. I thought I had held it together pretty good so far, given that I had prepared all month for this day, feeling it’s pain on and off. In the evening, that night, a storm moved through bringing rain and high winds, just like it did the day of your funeral. I’ve always thought it was you getting in the last word, sending us a sign, us who stood there grieving you, already missing you so much. Now two years later you are still speaking to me. You show up as the wind, howling and descending rain drops onto my small tin roof. I actually felt comforted to know you with me, but I hardly slept that night. I tossed and turned and couldn’t get comfortable. In the morning I woke with a great deal of physical pain and swollen, inflamed limbs. Was it the barometric low of the storm, the lack of sleep, the stress of this time a year, I am not sure, but the pain stayed with me all day, leaving me exposed and more vulnerable than usual. It’s during that time I always feel more vulnerable.

I struggled through the day despite of trying so hard to distract myself and be ok. Who was I kidding? Did I really think I could be ok on a day like this? The afternoon came and I committed to self care and being gentle and understanding of myself. Giving my body a break where it needed to rest and being present in the moment with no particular thoughts. But I was uncomfortable and riddled by pain. I so badly want to believe, that pain is nothing more than a warning sign that I am not living in the space of my most authentic self, but while I believe it plays a huge role in it, I know it’s not all and it’s not that simple. Whatever the case and whether this is true, I can only be patient as I allow the things meant to be to fall into place.

Throughout this difficult time I felt most lovingly supported by loved ones, friends and family who all know that this is a hard day for me. I felt held, loved and understood. I was given space where I needed it and open arms to be embraced where it was all that could be done. Space was held for me in loving compassion and without any questions. And then it finally happened and the holding it together approach flew right out the door. The tears started to flow and a deep pain was acknowledged, heard and finally released. Was it the physical pain that finally led me to this point or was it simply time? I was alone just like I needed to be, but in that instance I felt so lonely. I felt left behind with no opportunity to express my love, although I know that we don’t always have to do this in the physical sense. Perhaps in a moment of rest, the goal to distract myself fell through and the truth of what’s inside my heart had to surface and come out. Whatever it might be, it doesn’t matter, but grief and missing a loved one continues on for yet another year and another thereafter until the end of time. And throughout it, I love and I miss you very much.

Posted in Life, Loss, Minimalism

Storage disaster solved

Finally, a ray of light on the horizon. Weeks ago we picked out a stowage facility close to the house that pipe temporarily store all our belongs, not sold and not donated. It’s a brand new facility that wasn’t even open yet. Our name was put on the list and the date for the grand opening was given to us. After a quick calculation “yep it should work and we should have enough time to make some trips with boxes and smaller pieces of furniture.”

The problem came when the grand opening date got pushed back a few times, shortening our window considerably. What a stressful situation, I was starting to the worst and I am not sure I could even put into perspective what the worst was.

Luckily the call came and the green light was given. “We are open” and the first load was run. One less problem and there is some sort of relief.

More things continue to disappear. My car, my motorcycle on the following day. A few more skeletons have been released from the closet and today our dining room table and chairs left. Luckily there is still the couch to sit on and perhaps eat, but I fear that’s not a safe for too much longer.

We are having a FREE garage sale this weekend. Stop by and pick up what you want. All free of charge as long as you haul it away. It is bittersweet and even sad to an extent. Yet there is no other choice and we are out of time.

Posted in Animals, Death, Loss

An annual reminder

Today is a bittersweet day and day with mixed emotions.

The stimulus money arrived this morning, so it’s a plus on the financial side. Unemployment continues for the other half (husband) so I know at least he will be taken care of for now.

Our house has gone on the market as of today and a sign will graze the yard in a few hours. It’s surreal, really, and it’s leaving me a bit on the emotional side of things. More about the house later and a few posts are scheduled.

I wish I could wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s day, but the fact is that this day has been an emotional one for me for another reason, one that dates back many years.

While some of us celebrate at any given day, honoring a holiday, a birthday, or perhaps an anniversary, for others it is a painful reminder and a dreaded day.

For me it marks the anniversary of having to say goodbye to the closest companion I had to that day. Together, we came into each other’s life, much like Cinnamon did now, and together we rescued each other.

Seven years ago today, I had to make the tough decision of sending Nikki over the Rainbow bridge to run with Sparky and to end her suffering. Believe me it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. I try to remember it not in a way of being in charge of ending her life, but in a way of walking that final path together. To do the only thing possible to end the suffering of a depleted life quality. It’s doesn’t bring much comfort and I will never forget that day. Today hurts just like it did seven years ago.

I love you sweet princess…run free and without pain, and hug Sparky for me.

Posted in Death, Family, Loss

The first day without you

Yesterday was hard, although I tried my best. And how could it not have been? Over and over the message and my own thoughts about my Uncle’s passing caught up with me, leaving behind such heartache and such a sad feeling. A empty hole I have come to know so well.

Over and over I found myself wanting to reach out to my cousins, his children and just wrap my arms around them, knowing darn well the tough, heart wrenching road that lies ahead. I remember how much needed to be arranged when Mom passed, how much needed to be taken care of, in a time of disparity, when shock took over, and made you power through those things as if on autopilot. There wasn’t any time to grief, to let it fully sink in, to allow yourself to mourn. I know that my cousins are caught in this trap right now while trying to come to terms that they have just lost their father and might still lose their mother as well. I can’t help but wonder if during this tragedy and while fighting for her own life, she is aware that her husband lost the fight. It is hard to make arrangements, even harder to find closure, which usually comes much later. For right now the fear continues for their mother, who is also hospitalized with Covid.

My heart is heavy and bleeds love, compassion, and understanding. Over and over, I search for the right words, words that could bring comfort, that I could share to bring some peace to their hearts, and yet I know that such words simply don’t exist. Emails have been sent, and cards are being written, conveying that I am here, that I understand, that they are not alone, offering whatever comfort I can in sharing the grief.

Other family members have made contact yesterday, in a way and not son many words expressing their own mortality. The generation of my mother and father, the same as their parents, is leaving this earth, slowly fading into dear memories and remembrance. It’s a process inevitable, happening to all of us, but it doesn’t change the fact that I am just not good at it, at all. Would anyone be? Yesterday, in a moment of grief, I said to myself that my heart just feels too much, too strong, too intense. It takes my breath away at times, but should it be any other way?

One year later after Moms passing and 46 years later after Dads passing, I still feel the pains of a life without them. And the same goes for the animals I have lost over the years. I just feel too much and I know it is in part what kept me from getting another animal, until my Cinnamon Girl came into my life in the mist mysterious of ways.

Today, another day, I find myself connected in the energetic, continuing to feel the pain of those losses. Not just in the physical, but also in the form of other losses, lost connections and people of the heart who have moved on with their own journey. My day is on hold, sitting, petting Cinnamon, who seems to know, picking up on a low, my own vibrations while I’m dazing into the sunlight that is entering through the blinds. She has squeezed her little body into the tiniest of spots with me, just so she can be as close as possible to me. I imagine I will try to keep myself busy, recognizing that it is my natural reaction and an effort to distract myself from the seriousness that is death and loss.

Posted in Death, Family, Loss

Flight towards Heaven

Heaven got a new angel today and I am remembering my uncle in Germany who was recently hospitalized due to Covid. My aunt (his wife) is also in the hospital and on a ventilator now. What a said time, really any time to lose a loved one, but especially so close to the holidays. My heart is heavy and a wish for his children, my cousins comes to mind over and over. “Much strengths” my heart reminds me of the feeling of loss and grief and what a difficult and hard journey it is. Today I remember his spirit and the last time I saw him, telling stories from his youth, trying to show off his new motorcycle, riding it a little too swift and wiping out in front of an audience. I will hold on to those stories as they bring smile and put aside the tears and the sadness.

Looking out the window this morning, after receiving the bad news, the sun came over the ridge, resting on my frozen fence. The frost was lifting and rising towards the heavens. I stood and just watched. To me it was symbolic of his spirit rising to be with the other angels already in heaven.

“When those you love die, the best you can do is honor their spirit for as long as you live. You make a commitment that you’re going to take whatever lesson that person or animal was trying to teach you, and you make it true in your own life. It’s a positive way to keep their spirit alive in the world by keeping it alive in yourself.”

~Patrick Swayze

Death is final, such a strong emotion. Ruthless and unforgiving, your memory remains but you are just no more. It takes your last breath and time and time it takes the breath of us who are left behind, missing you, trying to find hope and a smile in the memories you left behind.

Rest in piece my uncle. Your spirit lives on forever.

Posted in Life, Loss, Trauma

Trauma permanently changes us

This is the big, scary truth about trauma. Trauma permanently changes us and there is no such thing as “getting over it.”

The five stages of grief model marks universal stages in learning to accept loss, but the reality is in fact much bigger and not that easily put. There is no plan, no guideline, and not really a process one goes through. The best path is if you can allow yourself to feel it in all it’s grief and pain, no matter how hard it is. To let it go through you rather than suppressing and storing it for years to hold on to. Trauma is a major life disruption that leaves a new normal in it’s wake. There is no “back to the old me.” You are different now, full stop.

This is not a fully negative thing. Healing from trauma can also mean finding new strength and joy. The goal of healing is not a papering-over of changes in an effort to preserve or present things as normal. It is to acknowledge and wear your new life – warts – wisdom, and all – with courage.

We can do this. We can lean on each other. And we learn from each other. Giving support, love and light, one person at a time.

Posted in Loss, Mom

Happy Birthday in Heaven

I cried a lot this week Mom. I wish I could write a post celebrating you and telling you how much I miss you, but today I just can’t coax a cheerier self out of me. The whole week has been a struggle leading up to our birthdays, a time that was always special for us. You always said that I should have hurried up making my appearance into the world, because we could have celebrated on the same day instead of being one day apart. Well I think we celebrated together anyways and we just made it last a little longer. Although we celebrated many years apart from each other, and today this fact breaks my heart and I wish I could change it.

I woke up with hypertension stage 1 today and this has become rare for me, but was I surprised! No, not really and I knew today was not going to be ok. As I sit here remembering you, I struggle to put the words to paper that fill my heart. The small task of selecting a picture for this post brought tears and drove the pain a little deeper. I decided on this one because you are out and away from the nursing home you hated so much. You wear regular clothing and you are smiling big. I wish I could have seen this smile in person, but I was already gone by the time this picture came about.

The nursing home provided the care you needed and you knew it, but it took you away from your home and I hated the decision that had to be made, placing you there as soon as I arrived in Germany. It was awful and I was backed into a corner with no choice. I will never forget. There wasn’t a day I didn’t struggle with it and I still do. I know you couldn’t have survived as long you did without it, but it doesn’t make it easier, especially when I still hear you say that you had no reason to go on living if you had to be in there. It seems like it was an impossible decision for me to make, and both outcomes would have weighed heavy on me. I couldn’t win. How would I have felt if you died because I didn’t do everything in my power for you? How could I have done that? Didn’t you do the same for me as I was little and couldn’t care for myself? You cared for me and did everything in your power. And no, you didn’t place me in a home, but you could handle me and pick me up, something I couldn’t do for you as you couldn’t walk anymore. Would it have been enough and outweighed the point that I had to go against your wishes? I don’t know and I did what had to be done. Still I hated it and always wished it could have been different. Today and always, being an empath, I still carry the many hardships and sorrows of your life and don’t know how to not feel bad and deeply saddened about them.

Nearly ten months have past since heaven got a new angel and I can’t tell you enough how much you are missed. The waves of grief come and go, sometimes better, sometimes worse, and today feels as if I lost you all over again. I know you know and I have seen you around more as dragonflies have returned and surround me all the time. This week has been hard and I even created a diversion, birthday week, trying to keep my spirits up.

Having our birthdays so close together with you gone now, has taken on a painful meaning. I don’t know right now how I will ever look forward to another birthday, feeling this pain again and again. It’s just not the same and it never will be again. It has turned into a time of pain, sorrow and such immense heartache, it takes my breath away. I remember crying and crying, every day, for months after you passed. Eventually it got a little better and I could smile at the memory of you. Today I am right back to those early days and I guess it’s normal and the loss is still raw. Some would say that things will get better in time but I know it won’t. It never did with Dad and it never did with Nikki. Perhaps I feel too deeply and can’t get beyond it.

Mom, I love you and I am sorry for our lost time. All the years that we spent without each other, it seems impossible to me now and I don’t know how I ever managed to leave. I was so young, trying to live my own life, be strong and independent just like you were. I am sorry for leaving you behind, feeling lost, alone and lonely all these years. I am sorry I was a long distance daughter, your blood, only family member and closest contact thousands of miles away. I struggled all my life trying to win your acceptance as a daughter and to gain your love. “You and your feelings” you used to say, unable to step over your bitter feelings towards me for leaving you behind. I never realized you felt this way until years later. In the end spending 10 month with you, you finally accepted me and your wall lowered. It’s what I always wanted, right? Well I can tell you that in the end, losing you, hurt more than I could have ever imagined. I can’t say it would have been easier if you stayed mad at me, if you continued to reject and fight me. My love for you never wavered and was unconditional throughout. I just wanted to be your daughter and hoped to make you proud.

I am sorry I could not take you out of the nursing home and bring you home. I am sorry I wasn’t there during your final hours to hold your hand and take away the fear. And I am sorry I am still so far away, unable to visit you and Dad or bring flowers to your final resting place. I am still not able to take care of your house that you left behind and which is now mine. I am working on it, but today I don’t even know if I can keep it in the long run. I struggle with that as well. It was your everything, but the memory of it and the pain of all the lonely hours spent there reside within it’s walls. It was there where your tears fell, being alone, without Dad, without me and it is hard to bare. Time will tell if I can live with the memory and smile some day or if it will only bring sadness and the constant memory be too difficult.

Mom, I love you with all my heart. Happy birthday in heaven. Say hi to Dad for me.

Posted in Death, Loss, Mom

The Waves of Grief

Dear Mom,

I’ve been thinking so much about you lately. It’s hard to believe you’ve been gone for over 6 months. The first three month were the hardest as I cried every day and tears became a normal part of my life. It was just the way it was, normal to start my day with tears, end the day with tears, and fight my way through the rest of the day, fighting back the tears.

Slowly things got a little better and I learned to live with this new pain of losing you. A pain that would be with me for the rest of my life. The gaps between the tears got wider, and some days I even managed not to cry at all, to the point of feeling somewhat normal, and having adapted to you not being here anymore. That was until recently and a new wave has rushed over me, visiting me more and more frequent. I miss you so much as my thoughts and heart keeps wandering to you. I’ve been creating many homemade goods lately, and this was always something we could connect about. It was something that made you proud of me as well as left you astonished a time or too when I exceeded your expectations and imagination. A picture of us is in the space where I create from, and you continue to be with me all the way.

I find myself drawn, drawn to a home that was your home for so many years. I ventured out into the world, lived my life, accomplished great things and success, and now I’m tired and this life no longer fits. I continue to strive for less, a quaint life that entails much less, but also so much more. I’ve been out into the world and today I see it with new eyes. There is a hunger, a wanderlust to see more, but differently. I miss visiting you at the last place I can visit you, your final resting place with Dad.

In a way I am glad you don’t have to experience what is going on in the world right now. It would be so scary and I would worry so much for your well being. I am glad you are not locked into a nursing home that I couldn’t visit no matter how close I was to you. That would be awful to not being able to hug you, to spend time with you, not seeing you. Many are in those situations right now and my heart goes out to everyone during this tough time.

I miss you Mom and life will never be the same without you.