Fragile Comfort

God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us…” ― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

You never know how fragile life is until someone you love dies. Nor do you know the real meaning of the word grief.  The past 8  months have been the worst and the hardest of my life.  I am fragile.  That is hard to admit for a person like me, who is always expected to be strong.  But I, my emotions, my heart, my everything, is fragile.

I have lost my mother, my sister, 3 nephews, my best friend, and for all practical purposes, my father. Also the relationship with the man I was crazy in love with, and due to the break up, his family.  That is so much in 8 months (7 months if I take it from when mom died, not got sick).

I need to be where there are big shoulders and soft tissues. I need to fall asleep with strong arms holding me, letting me know it is going to be OK.  Deep down yes, I know this, but I need to hear it now. Sometimes, human to human, you need to hear the spoken words of “It’s going to be OK.”

There is a difference between a need and a want.  And after all the loss, I need comfort.  I need comfort from my soul all the way to my toes and to the top of my head.  Because I miss my mother, I miss my father, I miss my friend and I miss the relationship I had before all of this happened and I was so deliriously happy.

We all need comfort, compassion, empathy, love. We all need to be helped sometimes. Because it is in these of the darkest moments, that we are truly our most beautiful. Because we are intrinsically our most human.  Our most vulnerable, our most hurt, our most…human.

So here I am. I am human.  I am not very strong right now. I am flawed and imperfect. I hurt. I am not lovable. I am vulnerable. And I need.  I need comfort and protection from the world right now. I need love, compassion and comfort.


A little over a month ago, I bought tickets to my favorite Broadway show, Phantom of the Opera. This show is so much my favorite, that my fantasy date is to be taken out to dinner, then to she Phantom, then to be taken home.  Men, if you want a great date that will get you more than brownie points, take your date to see Phantom. Especially if she asks.

The tickets were bought for me, my father and my boyfriend at the time.  My, how things change with in a month.

The relationship crashed and burned, and My Dad is not well enough for activities anymore.

So, I called my good girlfriends and they came without hesitation.  How fun it was too get dressed up, and go to the show.  It was even better than I remember and even more sensual.  The new stage design was great and based on actual rooms in the Paris Opera House.

Good friends never go out of style.

Love is Why

When I left to take care of my Mom before she passed, I bought a red bracelet that said “Life is why.” Because I wanted us to remember that life is why we are there for her. But it really was’t.  While it is a great slogan, that bracelet had it wrong. It should have read “Love is why.”

Love will motivates us to do a lot of things.  Especially working hard. And today was a hard day, but then we all have those hard days.  It was an early start, there was a lot of lifting, moving, arranging.  And there will be more tomorrow.

Why? Because of love.  My father’s cancer treatments have stopped and Hospice is now in charge of his care.  So I want to make sure his new apartment is extra wonderful.  From picking out a shower curtain, to making sure he has snacks in his little kitchen, to making sure his new hospital bed is extra comfy with extra memory foam pillow toppers.  And soft sheets.

And as I was (trying) to put together a book case together, I wondered how many times he did this for me on Christmas morning…putting together some toy or doll house with not English instructions before sunrise?  Love is why.

And that is the thing about life, love is the reason we are willing to go the extra mile. The reason why we do more than we thought, or try harder than we want.  We do it for love.

And as I plan to wrap up the last of the little improvements of his new place, I still cannot wait until it is all done.  It has been a very long, hard 8 months since Mom was sick and passed away.  It has been the hardest and worst time of my life if I am honest. And my little heart is tattered and tired.  And now, finally, it is time for me.

It is time for me to relax and return to normalcy. Being a caregiver to a very wonderful, but very elderly father is harder than I ever could have imagined, and has taken it’s toll on all areas of my life. Now it is time to grieve properly, but to also enjoy life, and the spring, and everything that comes with it.

It is my time to return to being the girl, and letting someone take care of me instead of me having to take care of everything all myself. I don’t like being the one in charge. It is time to give someone else the reigns of this situation.

And love is why. Love of myself.  I need the break. I need to be the the girl. I need to have fun and laugh and see friends, and drink wine and not have the weight of the entire world on my shoulders.

I need to be outside and run, and be wild, and hike, and feel the wind in my hair and the sun on my lips. I need to sleep without fear of missing a sound of someone needing help.  I need to not take care of anyone but myself for a while. I need to dance and sing loud to my favorite songs.  I need to sit quietly in the morning with a hot cup of coffee, hearing the birds and seeing the wonder of nature.

I need to hear the sound of the ocean and feel the salt water on my skin.

Basically I need to fall in love with life again.



To Be Me

I am a woman,
Real, live, not imagined
Magnificent, amazing, dark
You cannot imagine the depth of me
Or the breadth of my smile
Or the source of my strength
Or the very essence

A woman, phenomenally me
I am real in the flesh
And you cannot control me
With remote, joystick or otherwise
I do not obey, and you cannot
Dampen or darken this light
Inside me; it is God-given

I will not be controlled
But I will blow the rules
Rock the boat,
Tell the truth and,
Call you out on lies
Or shortcuts on character
And misquotes and more

I am not here to please
Or pleasure or serve.
I am here to pray
And flourish
And throw my head back
In laughter and joy
And honor the live given to me

I am here to love
With my whole heart
And not settle for half done tries.
I am here to breath fire
Into this life and
Make it dance with the
Brilliance of my soul

I am here to be me.

The Legacy

I recently asked someone what they want their legacy to be?  Some may think that these are morbid questions:

How do you want others to remember you? What do you want your legacy to be?

But I think these questions can help keep us on track with where we want our life to be and what is important to us.  And think about it, why shouldn’t we keep this in mind and plan for it?  After all, we plan for our retirement, we plan for trips, weddings, vacations, bills…why not plan for our legacy too?

I asked this question of someone who always plays video games, several hours every day.  Early in the morning as soon as they get up, they play.  Every afternoon when they get off work, they play their games. And at night, they fall asleep to videos of video games. This is not a kid living in their mother’s basement. This is a man of a certain age.  And gaming is his hobby.

But I was curious about his answer.  Did he want to be remembered as a good father, husband, friend, pillar of the community? Or did he want people at his funeral to say how great he was at gaming and how high his games scores were?  He does not have a wife and kids yet (and some say he never will if he doesn’t put his games down), but assuming that one day he does want that life….what is he doing to make that the life that he wants?

The truth is, only you can choose your legacy and only you can make it so.  So what kind of life do you want?  How do you want to be remembered?  Why not plan for that now, while we are still here?  And I have to wonder, if we thought about our legacies and how we might be remembered more often, would it change our behaviors and activities?  We all have hobbies and things we enjoy doing in our spare time, when we have time.  And we all need a release and a way to relax.  But do we want how we relax to be our legacy?  Some might say yes, others might not.

What do I want as my legacy?  I want it to be as a loving mother who raised happy, healthy children (whether I have kids with my current partner or have a child on my own).  If I ever marry, I would like my legacy to be a happy husband. I want to be remembered as a dedicated daughter and family member. To live on in the memory of my friends and loved ones as someone who truly cared, about them, about life, about the world.  And I want to be remembered as a damn fine writer who made people laugh, think and maybe even feel something every now and then.

How do we make our legacy a reality?  Simple.  We get up off the couch and start living life.  We start living life with a purpose and with passion. That means giving it all you have all the time.  Sounds exhausting?  It is. But nothing worth achieving is easy.  And again, we work hard at our savings account, our retirement, our vacations…why not about our legacy?

I want to live life for something bigger than myself.  I want to live with purpose and know that when I die, some part of me will carry on in some form, whether through a healthy child, a garden, or just happy memories.  I have seen how many lives my wonderful mother touched, how many people love her because she loved them and was warm ,and generous and helped many.  Her legacy was love. But long before she passed, she lived a life that honored that legacy.

What will your legacy be?

The Siblings Are Coming

We all have those weekends where we are excited and can’t wait.  This is one of those weekends for me.  The siblings are coming. I have three older siblings that live in other states, and they are coming to visit.  Dad is doing well now, and they want to see him, want to see where he lives and where he will be living. My two older sisters are coming this weekend, and my brother will arrive in a few weeks with his two sons.

Due to age difference and geography, we have not always been close. But there has been constant communication since I have been Dad’s care taker and that has fostered a closer knit existence. No matter who we are, our siblings hold special place in our lives and in our hearts.  And in this time of everything disposable, family relationships are the ties that bind.

It feels good to have a home where they are welcome, where there are spaces for chats.  We are blessed to have the home we have. But a building is not enough, I want a home where you walk in and feel love and warmth.  No doubt there will be much catching up, wine and laughter.  And there is something about actually laying eyes on someone you love to make sure they are OK.

Dad’s eyes light up when he talks about his children coming to see him, getting to spend time with them.  He is tinkled pink about this weekend, and looking forward to seeing his sons in a few weeks as well.

The past 7 months have been extraordinarily difficult. But a new phase is beginning, and with it brings new opportunities for strengthening relationships.  Life is all about love and love is what makes time worth while.

When Superman is Human

I have always said that my Dad is like Superman. He is my hero.  He has always been the strong silent type; a man of few words that came in and did the right thing and lead by example.

When Superman is Human

But then there comes a day when you look and see that Superman is really human, a mortal, and can die.  That he isn’t going to live forever.

And being the caretaker of someone with a terminal illness is not for the faint of heart.  And there are many times where you have to decide to laugh or cry…and most of the time I choose to laugh.  I have long said my life is like a sitcom – or dramedy, depending on which moment you may catch.  These moments are no exception….

Before my father went into the hospital the last time for his ammonia levels being too high, he was very confused and acted like someone who has severe dementia (a symptom of too much ammonia in the body and affecting his brain).  My father gets cold very easy so I bought him some special thermals for Christmas, called base wear, which are for people who go on exhibitions in the tundra.  We were all getting ready to go to brunch one Sunday when he came out ready to go. And he had on these very tight fitting base wear thermals. After getting over the initial shock and panic, I remember thinking that all he needed was a cape and a giant “G” on his shirt (G for Geriatric-Man).  Never one to miss a detail, he even found a place for his wallet in his tight new outfit.  He had figured out that the thermal bottoms were tight enough that he could place his wallet inside the “pants” midway between his knee and hip. After gently explaining that his thermal underwear was called such because they were not appropriate for outerwear, he reluctantly changed into real clothes.

Another time was after he had been admitted to the hospital. When the patient is in a confused state as was he, they ask if a family member can stay with them at all times in the room to make sure that they are OK in between nurse visits.  The only time my father is more miserable than in the dentist’s chair is in the hospital.  And he did not really understand why he was in there in the first place, but he knew he was going to get out. At least get out of the bed anyway. Several times during the first few days and nights I caught him in various positions and steps of “escape.” One time in particular I woke up to see him, lying on his side, pulled up hanging onto the side bar of the hospital bed, with his leg going over the bar.  I caught him juuuuuust as that leg was being flung over.  The look on his face was one of serious concentration.  He knew what he had to do, and being a detailed professional electrical engineer, no doubt he had thought about it and planned it all out.

“Dad!  What are you doing?!”

You could see his expression change from concentration to “Crap, foiled again.”  He let out a sigh and the leg went back on the proper side of the bar as he stated to settle back down.

The image of that moment will live with me forever.  And had I had a camera. I would have snapped his picture and captioned it “The Escape.”  Both moments reminded me of Cloris Leachman’s character on Raising Hope.  She plays the adorable, but slightly deranged and kooky, grandmother.  Sometimes she comes out with her bra over her clothes, sometimes she tried to eat mashed potatoes through a straw.

What I have learned in the 7 months of being a care taker, is that you have to have a sense of humor. You have to be willing to take a step back and laugh when the smoke clears.  Because some of these moments are brilliantly comedic, once you get over them. And if you don’t laugh, you will go crazy. So take a breath, then take a step back and have a giggle.

Editor’s Note:  I don’t talk about this often (publicly), but my mother basically died from medical negligence. There were several issues that were ignored by her GP and instead of treating her, he actually said to her “You are just an old woman, and all this is part of getting old.” By the time we truly found out the extent of her health issues and how long they had been ignored, it was too late. Now, it is a blessing and a gift to see my father get such amazing care and attention to every detail of his physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well being. The doctors at Emory are the best (Anywhere). I often wonder if my mother would still be with us if she had the same experience. We are blessed to have such great care now.