Dear Distracted Driver:

This letter was written April 30 2018, was never given to the driver, will never be and was never posted till today.  Most often, writing is a healing for me so, through writing, I felt some release.   Maybe someone, somewhere will read this today and stop driving distracted, or under the influence.  Maybe a life can be saved. 

     Dear Driver of the vehicle that rear-ended my husband while he was patiently waiting for a red light to change.  The guy, that for whatever reason be it texting, changing his radio station, watching a person on the sidewalk….or looking down because he dropped his cookie…whatever the reason you rear ended him at approx. 50-60 km’s per hour, you changed our lives.  The chain reaction of hurting him didn’t just devastate that one person…it negatively changed the lives of everyone that is in his life.  You didn’t know my husband at all…..but I can tell you a little bit about him.  He was the kind of guy who would work hard at his place of employment.  Even those days, where I asked him to stay home because he was battling a cold or a flu, or awful weather, he would shake his head and affirm that people are counting on him at the work place.  He loved people, loved the guys at work….oh, I’m sure there were those guys who drove him crazy, but he would probably give them his last Coke if he thought they needed it.  🙂  I didn’t see him at work, but I know that he was the type to be caught singing, or rhyming crazy words together, or telling people to calm down when they were aggravated.  I know when Christmas was coming, he would be the one doing the verbal “countdown.”  He misses those guys terribly.   Sadly, he hasn’t worked in 985 days and oddly enough, he finds it embarrassing.  He feels less of a man because he is no longer able to earn a pay check.  So many times we will pass a building…..”I helped build that building,” he would say in pride.  Or, “I could help build that building, if I could work.”  And I know that whatever he did build, he did his best.  He had pride in what he accomplished and he brought that knowledge home.  He would build me things like a big cedar chest…too big for me to move!  He loved to build me arbors made out of cedar trees….they’re getting old now and he can’t replace them.  He built me fences to outline my gardens.  He built a lovely shed out back that years later needs maintenance…he’s unable to even think about the work involved.  It will overwhelm him. 

     My husband absolutely loved Christmas.  He was the guy who loved the challenge of chopping down a Christmas tree, sledding down a huge snow hill, shovelling the driveway, taking family walks in the snow, walking our German Shepherd that us women couldn’t manage, or cooking in the kitchen for Christmas, making croquettes that take a strong arm to stir the batter.  He absolutely loved Christmas shopping, wandering the malls looking for the perfect gifts and stocking stuffers.  Something, I didn’t enjoy.  He was handy that way.  He loved shopping for the groceries, and took pride in telling me to “go away,” he’ll carry the groceries in.  He loved driving around at night and looking at Christmas lights on the houses…choosing the best ones….or driving my elderly parents or his Mom…around to share the festivity of beautiful lights.  Well, he’s not chopping any more Christmas trees, he can’t walk long enough to find one, and certainly can’t lay on his back or bend over to chop one.  He no longer sleds.  Our yearly tradition of tobogganing doesn’t involve him.  He’s missing in all our pictures.  He can no longer embrace the cold, his circulation has been off since the accident.  He can’t go down the hills, as his muscles are weak and he could either hurt himself further in going down or possibly never get back up the hill.  He can’t shovel….he can barely snow blow.  If he does try to snow blow a small portion of snow, he’ll either overdo it and sleep for hours to recuperate….and take a couple days to revive himself or come in the house frustrated because he was only able to accomplish a partial clearing.  Family walks don’t involve him any longer, be it in the snow or in the summer.  He tires easy…and stays close to the house or his van.  Our German Shepherd was dropped off for adoption shortly after his accident, as the dog stressed him out.  He couldn’t walk him any longer and didn’t want me throwing out my back trying to get Simon his exercise.  We couldn’t afford the vet bills any longer as well, because we were living on a fixed income.  Cooking in the kitchen is kept to a bare minimum.  He no longer stirs the big batters of meat and flour combined, but rolls the croquettes in bread crumbs.  He misses that vigorous workout but, in his state could cause him to pass out or just fall.  Christmas shopping no longer excites him.  He gets overwhelmed by lights, music, people, traffic, and a lack of money. He no longer fills my stocking….and feels less than, when I attempt to fill up his.  He still intends to shop for groceries, but often turns around and heads home, even before arriving.  “My head got fuzzy, I had to come back home.”  Or, since his “Cervical Disk Surgery,” he isn’t confident enough to drive. If we happen to be in town at night, I have to drive as my husband can’t handle the glaring headlights…he hangs his head with his eyes shut.  Towards Christmas, I pointed out different homes with Christmas lights, but..he only would look at a couple on the way home as the strain he could only handle if he’s soon headed to the couch or bed.  Where we used to listen to the volume on the TV at 10, we now listen at 30, so he can understand words being said.  When there’s a crash or a bang, he cringes.  He loved putting up our Christmas lights.  He was just like a big kid at Christmas, but it’s just not going to get done, unless I get out there myself or have my kids help me out.  Our celebrations of Christmas visiting with family…he lasts maybe a half hour and then disappears from the group.  He does this with birthdays as well.  Some of our family functions, he doesn’t attend at all.  He gets embarrassed that something so simple as spending time with family stresses his body out.  Sometimes, it’s just easier to stay away.  Sad, isn’t it? 

    My husband absolutely used to love music.  He would sing so loud in the van to our much-loved playlists.   We loved the loud music around the house…..all kinds of music.  Much of the time now, the music stays off.  During the Christmas season, we were at a Christmas Comfort Service for those grieving loss and he unselfishly attended with us.  Only a few words he said during the service, one sentence was…..”I miss singing.”  I thought to myself, I miss singing too!  I loved singing with him in the van.  I loved singing and dancing silly with him around the house.  I miss singing with him in church.  We don’t even attend any more.  After 30 years of church almost every Sunday, he can’t handle the music, the lights, the speaker systems, the people, sitting still, or clapping….if we’re going to spend our Sunday together, I stay at home with him and watch a service on TV.  We tried to slow dance to our favourite love song a year ago, he almost fell from dizziness.  Music is no longer a big part of our lives. 

     We used to love seeing a movie at the Cineplex once in a while.  He can’t watch that big screen any more or listen to the loud production.  It will literally make him ill.  At my father’s funeral a year ago, the music in the church, the lighting, the people, the message and then couple that with the grief, brought him to a place where he actually fell forward towards the stage upon leaving.  I walked him out like a drunk man and had to sit him in a room to the side, away from the crowd, while family and friends were able to come together and have snacks and drinks.  He couldn’t accompany me on stage to say my eulogy….as he kept his eyes shut throughout most of the service to block out all that was overwhelming him.  Again, he felt less than, because he couldn’t stand beside me and support me the way a husband would want to.  It took him four days before he was back to “normal.”  What is his normal now?  Well, it changes every day.  But on a good day, he can wake up and do a very small chore, rest and take a long afternoon nap to revamp his body.  On a bad day, he misses his afternoon nap for whatever reason, and sleeps that night for approx. 15 hours to heal.

Dear driver…I don’t even want to know why you hit my husband and in my heart, I’ve forgiven you…..but, I really don’t want to meet you.  I don’t want to put a face to my husband’s pain.  I am positive that forgiveness is a huge part of healing, but problem is..when I’m driving and I see someone texting…or balancing a hot coffee with a cigarette…or even reading something..the pain gets reawakened.  I think of you again, and I literally hurt.  Someone else is vulnerable to getting hit…someone else will go through the same pain, the same loss or even greater loss because the vehicle we drive is a deadly weapon when drivers become impaired for whatever reason.   

     My husband was athletic in the sense, that he was an awesome goalie for over 30 years.  He was sooo proud of his ability to stop that puck in so many instances.  He loved the challenge of playing every week during the winter season and even though work tired him out, he seemed to get powered up from the play.  He loved joking with the guys.  And, because he was over 50, he thoroughly enjoyed saving the puck when the younger guys shot at him.  I would get some of the play by plays when he returned home.  He loved badminton in the summer, hiking, boating, BBQing, croquet, Wonderland, Niagara Falls, and zoo’s.  Well, hockey is definitely out and his brand new goalie pads he so patiently waited to get, had only received a half a season work out.  They’re resting in my big old cedar chest…in hopes he’ll recover.  Badminton is not even a thought.  Moving around like that, would do him in.  And….he was the type to play to win…..he was a perfectionist, did I mention that?  Hiking is only a wish, boating is nausea waiting to happen and fishing needs to be done only when he has access to a chair or a safe place to sit.  BBQing is now a chore that frustrates him.  Too much responsibility to cook so many burgers at one time….and in the heat.  Heat bothers him to no end.  Winning stuffed animals at Wonderland, or riding ridiculously large roller coasters..is no longer an option…Wonderland and such places offers too many people, too much noise and commotion.  Walking would be insane….and a wheelchair isn’t an option for him as yet.  It takes a long time for someone to admit they need one. 

    Speaking of wheelchairs, he did use one for a time, when we visited my father in hospital.  He got to the place where if he didn’t use one, he wouldn’t be able to see my Dad.  It was hard on my Dad to see him in one.  It was hard on all of us.  But hospitals are big….and walking means…he’ll need to rest much.  It’s funny how…..for years being the doting husband, he would drop me off at hospitals or church doors or mall entrances and he would park.  Now the table has turned….and in the dark, in the rain…..my husband tears up when I drop him off and park.  He’s passionate about looking after me.  He’s a good, good man. 

Reading no longer interests him.  He hasn’t picked up his Bible since that day and reading the newspaper flyers overwhelms him.  If he does read mostly because he has to, he now needs glasses, for his eyes suffered muchly from the accident.  His eyes cross when he sees an object too close and has to shake them loose.  It’s a little freaky for us family members….and we take deep breaths as we wait for them to return to normal.  After 40 years of playing video games, he refuses to indulge and board games, where he used to yell and cheer (for himself) no longer interests him.  We’ve bothered him enough to get him to agree, but he has vomited as a result.  I can’t explain it, other than….the noise, the concentration and even laughing…exhausts him. 

All in all, I look at my awesome husband and my kids look at their wonderful father and while we will always see the blessing he is to us to this day, we see a shell of a man, a shell of all that he was.  Oh, we have much hope that he will heal.  We are battling each day with a plea to win.  Antidepressants, pain management, physio’s, vision therapy, surgery, massage and counselling….they all are part of his every day life and it would be phenomenal if it lessened, but today yes, 1040 days in, he’s trying to stay hopeful and we, we push him to keep trying.  I see myself as a bit of a nag now, where I never wanted to be.  I find myself explaining many times over, how he needs to take his meds, his vitamins and yes, we need to leave the house and attend appointments.  It’s very difficult for me as his wife…to feel “naggy.”  But, I find myself choosing that, over letting him give up. 

And this just in yesterday:  We have two weeks booked for camping in a tent trailer this summer.  Our family are huge lovers of camping and spending any time we can in Canada’s Algonquin Park.  We lived for that camping date for probably 25 years.  We are completely second guessing his ability to safely stay in the tent trailer as, with the brain injury comes a lot of unpredictable personality changes.  When his body gets over-stressed, he is not able to focus and “think” about consequences to his actions.  He falls very easy and any kind of fast movement throws his balance off completely.  This happened again yesterday and the “onset” personality change can last for up to 17 hours.  It’s a scary thing to watch and live, scary for him and scary for us.  Thankfully an Occupational Therapist came to slow him down for a couple hours, however the rest of the day was very upsetting. 

This isn’t just directed to the driver, who changed our lives.  I don’t even know his name. This is for those drivers who have been distracted enough to change the lives of others.  Drastically, some lives have been taken.  Please, please…..I beg of you.  Pay attention.  PAY ATTENTION!!!  The lives of all we love are depending on that.  The lives of all those you love depend on us to drive well too.  

December 1 2019:  This letter is also about forgiveness.  There is nothing more in life that I would love than, to have my husband back as he was, one hour before that car accident August 14, 2015,  He was helping me clean at my work, after working his own job.  He was a multi-tasker that lived to make others happy.  Don’t get me wrong.  He still lives to make others happy.  He just disappoints himself to no end, because he feels limited.  I would have to say….that as a result of the accident, I am missing maybe 80% of the man I married in 1985.  Oh, his heart is just as big, and that’s probably the most important personality trait, I fell in love with…..but, in sooo many ways, his heart is broken…and that’s where most of the pain lies within the family.  We forgive the driver.  We forgave from the onset and that alone brings tremendous healing to the soul, But, how awful for the next person who lives the same pain.  Every time I see an ambulance in traffic with their lights blaring, I cringe.  I always did cringe and pray.  Now, I cringe and beg in my prayer for the next person, and usually bawl if I’m alone, with the anxiety that someone else may be standing in line with that same outcome, or worse, fatality.  As it sits, anger and resentment will not help to mend the physical, the mental or the emotional.  It promotes a broken link to healing and really, a huge broken link when praying.  Drive safe, everyone.  We can only do our best…..and really, with the luxury of a driver’s license, we need to do our best, lives are depending on it.

Algonquin Park, We N’er Tire of Ya!

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     Is it the anticipation of seeing yet another moose or deer? For in over 25 years, I’ve probably admired 1000 along Highway 60 in Algonquin Park, Ontario, as we drive and drive the 52 km stretch.  Is it the expectancy of losing another battle of the sexes scene, in which us girls never seem to spot the animals before the guys? I always tend to gasp in awe before the word “moose” even leaves my lips. Since the children were young, we would compete between the guys and girls over who would see wildlife first.  Is it the delight in having my family together….in one spot with no chance of escape, enjoying nature?  It could be the luxury of letting your guard down and embracing the day with laughter and music and acting just a little crazy knowing we are loved unconditionally. Some of the wildlife did give us some weird looks…I’m imagining their personalities were still “tight like winter” rather than “stretching like Spring.” Actually some fellow humans visiting the area seemed a little bewildered by our presence as well.   Sometimes, we’re just a little “too happy.” All in all, the greatest “high” in visiting Algonquin Park for the “upteenth” time was the feeling that for the day, we were basking in the opulence of artwork that Creation was created for…Every tree either had the hope of blossoming or had ‘taken on a life of its’ own’ in passing, for the shell left behind was a form of beauty. Every piece of moss so vibrant in colour, and fungus that flourished, presented an ambience of life. The beginnings of flowers that were determined to rise above the dead leaves from Autumn past and yesterday, the “used” snow that still hosted sullied snow caps, lay in wait of sunshine to melt the remains of winter.  It all introduced beauty. Of course each animal, majestic in itself; be it a tiny ‘twitterpated” bird or a male moose sprouting the beginnings of its’ colossal antlers, brought the artwork into a complete a circle. All these wonders embraced by the fact that hearing my family do sing a longs in the van, to my most beloved songs…put a smile on my face. Life is good when your kids can sing your 80’s music better than you can. As darkness approached, the van seemed to settle for the inevitable..time to go home. We drove until the ditches became overcome with darkness and only the whites of the eyes would be visible by headlights. Goodbye Algonquin Park but……. hello camera pics!!!!!!!!

April 15, 2012 Original Post on Facebook

Climbing The Musical Scale

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DO RE ME FA SO LA TI DO

“DO-Do not worry over things that may never happen, and even if they happen, worry will not help.  Do count your blessings before you count cares.”

  Wake up in the morning ladies….and just know and acknowledge that we are a privileged women.  Look down at your toes, they’re probably painted a pretty colour.  You got a coffee in your hands?  Great start to your day!  How’s the sky?  Looking out from inside your window feeling safe and sheltered, we decide what we’re wearing today.  And there are many choices.  It’s a beautiful sunshiny day or it’s a cozy stormy day.  Whatever the weather, we can brave it because we’re given the tools.  Umbrella? Snow tires?  Air conditioning?  How about those special moments on a swing on the porch? Quiet walks at the beach waterfront?  I noticed yesterday, ours is immaculately gorgeous.  Yes, we’re privileged.  I can empathize with those who tend to worry.   My mother was a worrier, bless her heart.  And I choose not to.  Oh, that doesn’t mean, I don’t give second thought to worrisome problems.  I do the “what if’s?  But, I will always follow the “what if’s” with, “Dear God:  You know what’s on my heart and you know all the answers.  Please take this heaviness that wants to bring me down, and lift them up onto your shoulders and give me faith that as you hold my hand…your other hand is mending what ails me.  Amen”  And then shake it off!!!!  Dance with a swiffer!  Or follow a butterfly!

“RE-Radiate good will and a spirit of benevolence.  Like laughter, it…makes yourself, as well as others, feel better.” 

That says it all, doesn’t it?  Be good to others, give to others.  Clean your closet and give away all those clothes waiting for you to drop 20 pounds.  You’ll have so much more space on those racks, someone else will have your awesome outfits to feel good in and good golly if you succeed in losing 20 pounds, yay!!!  Go reward yourself with some new items.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money.  So many crazy sales and second hand stores to splash some love onto yourself with.  And laughter…..well, that’s just the end all of all bad moods.  My kids are my healant there…..my hubby when he’s having a good day as well.  And then, there’s “I Love Lucy.”  She can turn my laughter into happy tears.

“ME-Mete kindness, understanding, tolerance and forgiveness generously.  You reap as you mete. ” 

I’ve gone through many stages in life…the young bride that thought marriage meant a perfect husband.  Then I was the young Mom who thought I could bear flawless children.  Okay, I have to be honest.  I bore perfect children for me.  Hahaha….They are my biggest blessings and yes, they are flawed!!!!!  I’ve been the daughter having my parents live with us for over 20 years and in all, I’ve learned valuable lessons that I take with me every day on my journey of “Marian.”  The only positive reaction I’m going to get from anyone is through kindness, understanding, tolerance and forgiveness.  And believe me, the positive reaction is sometimes invisible.  Sometimes, you get a negative reaction.  And trying to maintain positivity doesn’t mean I get walked over.  I lay down the law, share my feelings, get annoyed, and impatient.  But, I’ve learned and sometimes learning is from watching someone else.  Yep!!  Go to Walmart and learn-Don’t scream at your kids and call them names.  Each one of my 3 are entirely different from the other.  Understand them!  Tolerate their traits that make  you crave chocolate icecream so you can soothe your nerves.  And there’s no end to forgiveness. We are taught in God’s Word to forgive 70 X 7 times.  That’s a whole lot of forgiving.  When it comes to spouses, we chose their personality and said, “I do.”  Be the kind, understanding, patient and forgiving one.  You’ll only benefit.  We’re going to get wrinkles, it’s inevitable.  Don’t rush it!!!  And goodness, how many times do I need them to forgive me?  Uncountable!!!

FA-Far-reaching are therapeutic benefits of spiritual thinking.  You become as you habitually think.  Resentment, hatred, spite, envy and vengeance pack radioactive fallout that gnaw at your vitals.  They are self-consuming.  

Thankfully, I was taught at a very young age by example to habitually think spiritually.  I believe this to be the biggest blessing in my life.  I love WWJD? “What Would Jesus Do?  I love that I can fall on that question in the midst of any negative confrontation.  Yes, I do hang up the phone when “air duct cleaners” phone to insist on cleaning my ducts.  I’ve tried to have pleasant conversations with them, they’re not on board.  They just want to clean, clean, clean!!!  I may even grab a whistle to get my point across and roll my eyes. My ducks are clean and they’re in a row!!!!!!!!  Leave me alone!

SO-Sow the seeds of love, friendship, empathy and helpfulness.  These hardy seeds take root in the crustiest ground. 

Truthfully, when you sow these seeds, some people get offended.  It sounds absurd.  But, I remember as a young teenager wanting to be a cheerleader, I was told…to be on the team meant “not associating” with certain crowds.  Needless to say, cheerleading wasn’t going to be my thing.  I cheered myself into befriending anyone I wanted to.  And I believe I was much happier for it.  And with breakups in marriages etc., there are “rules” I’m finding of who you can and cannot love with regards to “X’s.”  So, sometimes sowing these listed seeds means you also find weeds of disapproval.  You gotta fight your own battle, and go with your own conscience.  And then there’s the WWJD again.

LA-Laugh at yourself now and then.  You who can laugh at yourself are less apt to be at war with yourself.  Laugh at yourself, eve if yo don’t feel like laughing.  

My kids make it a point to laugh with me.  Well, I choose to think they are laughing with me.  When I think of my own mother and the trouble she got into, I may have laughed at.  If karma is real, that’s what I’m getting.  🙂  My daughter has a list on her phone.  I’m not joshing you.  It’s called, “Stuff my Mom says and does.”  I know I wet my gords mixed up.  I know I get my words mixed up!!!  And yes, I do fall when I’m being idiotic and dancin’ in the streets.  So, if I don’t laugh at myself enough, my kids help me out.  I love to see them laugh…..sometimes I need to run after them with a wooden spoon.  Who cares if they’re 29, 25 and 22!

TI-Teach yourself awareness and appreciation of all the wonders of nature.  Thank God daily for the precious gift of life.  Genuine gratitude and discontent are never found together.  

This has to be the most easiest of all the DO RE ME FA SO LA TI’s so far!  Take a camera and just love every aspect of nature.  The butterfly, the majestic moose, the hummingbird to the kingly black bear.  Those stormy skies and the umbrella bearing the drips.  I love nature.  I love, love, love all that God created.  Yes, those mosquito vampires run me rampant, but our little batty friends are lovin’ them.  Always be grateful for the thunderstorms of life, the rainbows that follow and the green grass that benefits from the “drippy” days.  Squeeze out discontent.  It just makes you that, discontent.

DO-Do not expect someone else to open the door to happiness for you.  You must do it yourself.  You alone have the key.  Turn it!  

Love yourself.  And if you’re having a hard time with that,  ask yourself why?  If there are “unloving” qualities that get away on you, make an effort to change them.  For you, change them.  And as a result, you will feel better for it and others will feel your happiness.  If you don’t like how you look.  Well, for one thing God created us as beautiful.  Now I do know that I feel as though, I may have taken on the roll of creating a bigger me.  Haha….bearing children can do that, very slow metabolisms, not enough time for me’s…..too much time for McDonald’s.  Whatever the range, if we don’t like our appearance, make an effort to feel good about our health.  I’m a big girl and sometimes I wish I looked slim and 25 again.  But, at the same time….my husband reminds me just about every day that I’m beautiful.  Love is blind…..  And there are many times, when I’m on a “roll” (hahaha…good word) that I get out walking up a storm or exercising and slowing down on the Coca Cola and feeling like I’m bettering my health and that too, offers happiness.  Feel good about yourself.  And if you’re a little “jolly” like me, well love yourself anyways.  Flaws in God’s eyes, are not my chubby legs that could use an exercise bike. Flaws are the indiscretion of the heart.  A happy life is a happy wife!  Yes, that’s true!  But a happy you is definitely a “happy you.”

I didn’t write “Climbing the Musical Scale.”  I just put my 2 cents worth in between the lovely “darker font” write up quotes.  It’s in my Women’s Devotional Bible with author unknown.  But the verse of scripture that is highlighted with the write up is:

I Timothy 1:12.  “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.”  I better get right on that!!  🙂

 

 

That Special Place

IMG_0114I have that special place where I can spend time in prayer and know that the distractions are less.  I love my special spot and it’s there for those 5 minute prayers where I want to be alone, or 1/2 hour of time where I can read God’s word and pray and listen to some inspirational music.  It’s my place.  

Sometimes, it’s hard to get to that place.  I wake up with full intention of getting there, but I end up praying on the go, or as I’m doing the dishes.  Hahaha…..then there’s the bathroom.  Lookee here, your day can get that intense that you have to get creative with multi-tasking.  There was a day when using the “facilities” meant hearing three kids pounding on the door because they’re shocked I would be out of their sight for any length of time or that’s just when they needed to use the room.  Dear Moms of young children:  One day, going to the bathroom will be a quiet in the midst of a busy day.  🙂

I find that with the hubby attending many Dr. visits, physio and massages etc., I have alone time in our vehicle to catch up on my reading and prayers.  Hahaha…..I do prepare myself in the winter with the gloves, the hat and the blankets.  Cold, I don’t want to be!  There are sooo many different ways to converse with God, and the more often you do it, the more it becomes second nature.  I think for every butterfly, every gorgeous flower I smell and every moose or bear I am privileged to snap photos of, I breathe thank you to the Creator.  When I see a firetruck with the lights blaring coming up behind me, there’s the prayer that the one waiting impatiently for their arrival is kept safe but, there’s also the prayer of thankfulness that those firefighters chose that career to give of themselves so unselfishly and risk their life to save others.  There’s the prayer for their safety and the prayer where we say thanks for the privilege of getting the help when we need it.  There’s the goosebumps I get when I see the team of us drivers pulling over to aid in the quick response of help and the thankfulness that we are in this together as minute as it may be.

So dear God:  Thank you, that I have that privilege to be in my quiet place and love You through prayer, music and reading.  Thank you that we can acknowledge the Hands that created this world.  Thank you, that even in the darkness we can reach out to You and while we don’t have the answers to all the questions, we have You.  We have the assurance that You are in control.  There are millions of people in this world and if we all strive to do good to others, to help put a smile on one’s face or food on their plate then, we are blessing You.  And yes, there is pain in the world beyond our knowledge, but there are also people blessing one another.  There are charities reaching out to the hungry and there millions giving to the charities.  We are all the arms extended.  Thank you for teaching us to donate our time, give out of our own pocket, work to keep our families safe and warm and to love beyond all reason.  And dear God, thank you that aside from my quiet place, I can talk to you where ever I am….

A Little Less “Woe Is Me.”

      It wasn’t that I lost my faith in God Whom I knew could make miracles happen, when she wasn’t healed of her cancer, it was the sad loss of faith that God was even listening to me.    

     When my sister Cindy first told me of her cyst in her colon (approx. late Fall of 1993) and that tests were being done to determine if they were cancerous, I assured her it wouldn’t be.  I had experienced cysts myself and they never amounted to anything, so surely my thinking was…”neither will yours.”  She didn’t seem encouraged for it seemed that she already knew within herself the devastation that cancer was present.  Her body tired, seemed to have already received the “malignant” news before Dr.s even confirmed it.  In that time, Byron & I  had just built our house together here, had just moved in and set up a home within it for Mom & Dad, construction was almost completed and on top of that, “Jesse Byron” had entered the world that previous June.   Santana was a lively four year old princess bouncing with energy.   As for my sister, time was not on our side and even though desperate attempts were made to heal the body through Dr.s and natural nutrition, she began spiralling downwards toward her final resting place rather quickly.

     Remembering back, I couldn’t get past the thought in my mind where I always felt like I would have my entire family around me.  It didn’t seem even remotely possible that someone I depended on so much, and loved so much, could slip away.  Having my parents reside with me, the pain in their hearts seemed unbearable to watch.  As much as they loved all four of their children equally, I knew that if we all miraculously wore “halos,” hers would certainly glow in the dark!  🙂  She was my mentor, and because she did have a few years on me, at times it seemed like I was blessed with two Moms…and she embraced being that “Mom” figure.  As sisters, the three of us were overjoyed at coffee times, or “I Love Lucy” times and laughter always seemed to encircle us.  As a daughter, she was the one who seemed to fuss over our parents’ health, falling suit to her background in nursing.  I think it would be safe to say, “she was the Health & Safety Warden.”  Haha..and well loved for it!  

      In prayer, I was adamant that God would heal her.  I had no doubt that he couldn’t.  I grew up in a home where faith in miracles saw miracles happen.  From the time I was five years old, it was instilled in me that God was able, able to heal all sorts of afflictions whether they be physical, emotional, relational, or financial even.  I thank God that my parents shared that faith with us, for who I am today is a result of their passion to live for God.  And because I had received that faith, I was absolutely unequivocally positive that God could heal that cancer.  I had no questions in regards to “what was His will in all this?”  I just knew what my will was.  Surely there was no doubt that God would allow her to succumb to cancer to the point of passing, for I had claimed her healing.  I continued to pray with her in hospital.  I even made calls to the office of an evangelist in my desperate attempt for God to hear me and reverse the illness.  I remember Cindy’s best friend taking me aside at the hospital and gently telling me, “Cindy needs you to come to a place of rest and acceptance.  She is going to die and wants to spend time with you now without you having that need to get her fixed.”  My face was tingling, as if it had just been slapped.  It wasn’t that I was just put in my place rather, I felt so alone in my place.  How can she possibly receive her healing if she doesn’t believe with me she will get it?  And this is the extent to which my faith took me.  I was so blinded by the desire to get her healed, I was losing precious moments where I could be inhaling the sweet life that she still had in her.           I finally came to the realization that God had different plans for her life than the plans I had…..and for sure different from anyone who loved her.  Around the clock “watches” were arranged so that she would never be alone in palliative care.  I still have the schedule of much loved names that spent valuable time at her bedside.  I remember sitting by her and softly singing hymns.  My hope was to bring her peace,  I remember a nurse telling me that after I would leave, that although my sister could barely speak a word, she could hear Cindy vocalizing in a monotone that resembled song.  And apparently, she would do this for a long time.  The nurse assured me she was singing after the fact, I however thought maybe she was so relieved I had stopped.  🙂  Her final hours were spent with her dearest friend of all times, Carol Courtney.  Too, Carol had soothingly sung to her and I imagine she was the perfect choice God had to assist her in going home.  When the call came that Cindy had breathed her last,  I have to admit I was taken aback.  Although I thought I had come to the place of acceptance, I felt this broken thread between myself & God.  It was a subtle disruption that grew over time.  No doubts in my mind about Cindy’s resting place, I just felt so inferior to Him, and of course I was.  The funeral memory is a blur to me, I vaguely remember a eulogy by a close friend and I myself was quiet.  I’m not often the quiet one…but I do remember still being deep in thought about why God allowed this to happen.  To leave a husband and two sons in pain….a mother and father aching for their child and sisters and a brother with a void in the precious sibling link seemed unfair.    

      Previously, my pregnancy with Jesse had been a challenging one.  I was on antibiotics throughout and hospitalized for a time and the birth of that little “fruit loop” brought on yet another kidney infection.  Reflecting back, I may have been suffering from post partum throughout part of Cindy’s illness and not recognizing it.  Surely when she passed, my heartache and inability to function wholly, seemed attributed to my loss.  And even though, I had blessings beyond counting, and I was a “happy wife and mom,” I felt an unbearable void.  You’d think it was the void of a missing sister, but even more…..it was that void that I disconnected myself from God.  He didn’t disconnect me, I put the distance in.  It seemed that every Christian song I heard reminded me that “God was able, but didn’t.”  Obviously my faith was that strong, that I didn’t turn against.  I may have felt somewhat “defeated” in MY plans for my sister, but….I wasn’t lacking in “smarts.”.  🙂  I still knew that God sat on the throne.  I just felt that His throne was beyond reach for me.  As time passed, entering church or even driving to church became a chore.  Passing the graveyard was the grim reminder that God didn’t fix what He could have.  I don’t think I could easily paint a picture that I was grieving two things.  I “missed” my sister, but even bigger than that, I “missed” my faith that God held my heart in His hands and covered it with protection from brokenness.  Sitting in church services, I felt like I was a youngster once again somewhat distracted, squirmy and then I would fall asleep to make time jump ahead.  I remember many an elbow from Byron…so my head would reposition itself from the “bowed” state I seemed to be in. Ironically, church used to be my absolute happy place and I continued to go because deep down inside I knew it was where I needed to be.  I knew it was where my entire family needed to be.  I also knew I needed to set the example for my kids, and my brokenness was unfair to Byron.  My parents weren’t aware as it is amazing how you can continue to be the strong one on the outside while your fragile inner threads are breaking like strings on a violin.   

     This one particular Sunday, I remember our family sitting towards the back left of the church and I was at an all time low. We were singing a much loved hymn and hymn books were in hand.  The worship team was uplifting, the congregation harmonized their love for the song and from the looks of it, all were joyful.  All, except me.  I remember that self-absorbed feeling that “yah, everyone has something to sing about, and I don’t.”  I’m positive that wasn’t the case.  Everyone has trials and tribulations…but sometimes, we crack and “it’s all about me.”  🙂  And I seemed to be in that place..That was where I was emotionally and believe me, it was a drag and I acknowledge doing the dragging.  Nonetheless, I continued to sing.  I don’t remember the song, I will know it when I hear it again.  But I do remember this:  There was a choir on the stage and they all had books in hand.  And then pictures seemed to change. I’m sure my jaw dropped when I looked up and couldn’t believe my eyes for the choir had seemed to have grown and the stage seemed to disappear within the crowd of singing, beaming faces.  Did I stop singing myself?  I don’t remember.  I just recall seeing my sister Cindy in the choir, her hands clutching the hymnal to her chest, not even needing to read the words, as she sang along with all the others.  Her vibrant blue eyes would settle on my face and then she would look up towards heaven with delight.   Did she even have blue eyes? I thought she had green..haha.  Her cheeks were the rosiest I’ve ever seen and her smile couldn’t stop!  It was like I had binoculars.  I could see the entire choir but zoom into her precious face.  Her mannerism seemed to tell me to sing like there was no tomorrow, love with all that you have inside and “I’m okay Marian.  I’m the happiest I’ve ever been….and you need to embrace that.”  The choir sang like a thousand angels, and ha, maybe they were.  I can’t explain what I saw.  I can’t explain that no one else saw it and I remember the feeling like I just had to sit and absorb while the crowd of folk around me continued to stand in song.  I won’t say, I was healed in an instant and I was whistlin’ “Dixie” on my way out the church doors.  I can say, I was astounded. I can also assure you that, it wasn’t long after at all, I discarded my anti-depressants.  By this point already, sweet Skylar had been born and heading into her 2nd birthday.  I no longer dealt with my nightmares related to Cindy’s burial in the graveyard and I took my relationship with God to a whole new level.   I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing her.  We always continue to miss people, miss life’s instances that become cherished memories….and in many cases, “just miss the old days!”  And while my faith in God never did leave me….my ability to rest in Him once again had been restored. My “woe is me” began to shrink remarkably as I took on a “Whoa is He!” approach.

     We all go through challenges, some of them change us for the long haul.  Sometimes those changes can be absolutely positive, while others drain us.  In this case, just making it clear that God did not change.  There’s no words to describe the devastation of losing my sister…other than sadly, millions of people experience such loss every day.  But having faith that God is in control, God has this…..and faith that I will see her again…changed my daily walk.  Without doubt, I knew that within me, but once I accepted His choices for her life, for my life…my eyes seemed opened.  Why did I ever question God?  Cindy passed April 4th 1994.  It was an Easter Monday….and today is Easter Monday.  I am in a good place.  I see her soooo much in her kids, in my own son….and sometimes I see her in me…..I have vivid memories, many pictures and I know her face and can see her face when I close my eyes tight and imagine and sometimes when I see my stubby little fingers grasping a mug or pinching my son…  🙂  I see her stubby little fingers…and it comes down to this.  “God is good.”    And really……”Whoa is He!!”  🙂  WHOA IS HE!IMG_0001_NEW-edit copy

Just a Blog Blurp..

   “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”   I’ve been encouraged to start blogging by a few friends.  🙂  My facebook statuses seem to go on forever and as my husband says, “What did you write in your novel today?”  I love to write out my thoughts…or as in this case, type out!  It seems my thoughts can be quite quirky, over imaginative and range from ridonkulous to everyday life skills acquired as a wife, mom, and a daughter.  Having my parents live with me the last 22 years, gave me much knowledge in “parenting your parents whilst they still parent you!”  Mom recently passed with Alzheimer’s and regrettably she was in a nursing home for her last 3 months of life.  With the entire family on board, sisters and brother, nieces and nephews, cousins and children, Mom never felt unloved.  That can only be the most important gift of all.  I guess with all that life offers us…we can study ourselves and see our strengths and weaknesses, be thankful for our gifts and our greeds? Well.. I guess we need to improve on that which needs to be improved.  One of my gifts is not speaking out in front of a group.  I will speak up especially when I see my kids or someone else’s being mistreated.  🙂  But talking center stage, no thank you!  Although my husband sees that differently.  He figures I can do it!  They say that “love is blind” and I think he may be a grand candidate in that department.  I guess that’s why the comments on how beautiful I am seem to hit me at times where I shake my head with non-belief.  First thing when I wake up, “beautiful” is not in my vocabulary when I see my reflection in the mirror.    I look more like Medusa on a bad day.  So obviously, he has a gift of seeing me otherwise.  🙂  Back to exploring our gifts, I’d say I have better luck in “typing” out my thoughts, my dreams, my hopes and yes even my frustrations.  As much as I love “ice cream” to make a day in the sun the most awesome experience.  “I scream” maybe not out loud but on the inside…..when life seems to drag the butterflies right out of your stomach and replace the void with aches.  And yes……..hahahaha…..sometimes I would love to “scream” out loud.  Just haven’t found the perfect place to do it….and by the time I get there, I’ve probably come to peace, for the outdoors just calms me even just looking out the window.  And typing also brings me to a place of peace.  I love to think deeply, watch people while I’m out and about and enjoy them from a distance or I have experienced right up close and not too nice.  I’m sure we all have.  Or worse, maybe we’ve been one!  Haha….well, I’m sure somewhere in this mess of stories and recollections, I’ll be sharing from one end of the stick where I’m happy or possibly where I’m not!!!!!!!  Life is what you make it though.  Choose happiness.  It takes effort and you have to acquire the ability to overlook what appears to be “stabs in the back.”  Love the one you’re with and make the most of it…but still love others regardless.  IMG_9711 copy 2