Life Will Be the Death of Me

“Dr. Richard Selzer is a surgeon and a favorite author of mine. He writes the most beautiful and compassionate descriptions of his patients and the human dramas they confront. In his book Letters to a Young Doctor, he said that most young people seem to be protected for a time by an imaginary membrane that shields them from horror. They walk in it every day but are hardly aware of its presence. As the immune system protects the human body from the unseen threat of harmful bacteria, so this mythical membrane guards them from life-threatening situations. Not every young person has this protection, of course, because children do die of cancer, congenital heart problems, and other disorders. But most of them are shielded—and don’t realize it. Then, as years roll by, one day it happens. Without warning, the membrane tears, and horror seeps into a person’s life or into the life of a loved one. It is at this moment that an unexpected theological crisis presents itself.” 

James C. Dobson, Life on the Edge: The Next Generation’s Guide to a Meaningful Future

I’ve often said teachers appear when the student is ready.

Even though this is one of my core beliefs, I continue to be surprised when new teachers arrive from unexpected places.  Each experience enables me to continue on my journey in ways I would never would have foreseen.

It’s taken a lot of journaling before I realized I’d left parts of myself behind in order to survive. Now, in my year of awareness, I understand I must acknowledge that little hidden girl, setting her free so she can join in for the rest of our journey.

My sister, Sue, happened to mention a book she’d been reading. She felt it would be an excellent book for me to read. When she told me the author was Chelsea Handler, I was surprised. I didn’t know Chelsea had written a book. I enjoyed her comedy but because of our age differences, I never thought she’d have anything to say that would benefit me.

Sue had just started suggestion books so I thought I’d check this out to see if we were “on the same page,” so to speak. Luckily, I found a print copy of  Life Will Be the Death of Me.

Within minutes Chelsea had me hooked. Maybe it was her frank honesty describing her unusual family and the death of her brother, Chet. Whatever it was, I found myself comparing my childhood experiences with hers. I was reading her story furiously, stopping to think back on my own hazy childhood, as I learned from her hard fought insights.

These are the notes I made for myself and to share with you:

“I’ve been nine for a very long time. (Chelsea Handler lost her older brother, the person she idolized, at the age of nine). 

That nine year old brain had no ability to distinguish death and rejection. 

That nine year old brain didn’t understand that  my brother didn’t choose to die. 

Subconsciously I was waiting for  my bother to come home because that’s what he said he was going to do…

I didn’t know then that my brother’s death was defining me. 

In therapy: I was with a person who could help me process what had happened and turn the parts of me that acted like a nine-year-old into a self-actualized adult who had come to a better understanding of what it means to dig deep and admit your pain–thereby beginning the process of relinguishing it. …my brother’s dying no longer had to define my existence. 

I define me, no event or person does.

On her mother’s death: I felt bad that I wasn’t dreading my mother’s death as she (her sister) was–I just wanted to get it over with. 

…I was forty the day I was born. 

That’s my sister. Just loving and happy to be a part of things. Easy going. Qualities I had never given any thought to or admired. No demands for an apology, no hard feelings. Well, maybe there are hard feelings, but no feelings are hard enough to erase the love and understanding she will always have for me…

From her therapist, Dan: You just explained beautifully that you want people to take care of  you, so you’re always looking to fill that need because it’s something you didn’t have growing up–adult supervision and reliability.

More from Dan: Sad is your internal reaction, which turns to anger because anger sets you in kinetic motion to avoid the sadness of sitting there and not listening to music, and knowing your plans have been thwarted. Your anger is your way to avoid sadness. 

Dan continues: You were a helpless little girl who had parents who left you alone too much. When something doesn’t go your way, you get angry because you fell that helplessness. 

I have come to understand that motion had been cemented in my life at a time when I needed it to survive, and over time it became the only way I knew. It was my oxygen. I didn’t know how not to move fast, or how not to state my opinion, or how to just observe something rather than insert myself. 

Just because I grew up with all the things I needed and never had any perceivable struggle, that didn’t preclude me from having the right to unearth my pain. 

…He (Dan, her therapist) wanted me to live those moments slowly and repeatedly, to make sure the pain didn’t get stuck there again–to write it out. 

Dan explained that in very traumatic times, you freeze. 

You do the only thing you can do to survive the pain, which is to shut off and retreat to your own world, because if you were to absorb the pain from all the people around you or acknowledge your own pain, you wouldn’t be able to cope. So, you coped just like everyone else in your family…your coping mechanism was motion. Do something–anything other than sitting around with your feelings.

Regarding her father’s death: I felt sad, but not necessarily about my father. What I was pouring wasn’t just  my bother, or my father , or my cousin, or Chunk, or Tammy. It was mourning the childhood that had lasted years into my adulthood–because I got stuck. I was reconciling myself to the loss of my youth as a self-actualized adult, no that I had the tools to face it all—

Until therapy, Chelsea says: I couldn’t see that I’d adopted certain habits to avoid my deep pain. I cultivated a kid of hubris that allowed me to barrel through life, knocking over everything in my way; and then look back and be surprised at the casualties. Casualties represented weakness, or disloyalty, or people who couldn’t cut the mustard. I never took them as signs that maybe the common denominator was me. 

Don’t let people decide what king of mood you’re gone to be in. Don’t let anyone change your life in one day. Don’t let death take you down and keep your down. Go down, but get back up. If we don’t give in to our despair–and instead lock it away–we fail to properly mourn the people we love. How on earth are we honoring the very people we are grieving if we fail to mourn them fully? We should be celebrating the people we’ve lost. 

…I made it my business to unlock my nine year old brain and look at my behavior. That’s when the lights started turning on everywhere I looked. Chet’s death and my response to it became the blueprint I followed anytime I experienced disappointment with people…

I learned that adventure is never bad, but the alacrity with which you go through life has an impact on the wisdom that life has to offer you. That slowing down doesn’t mean you have to do less. It means you have to pay attention more and catch what the wold is throwing at you. That every situation you put yourself in deserves your full attention, and that each of us has a responsibility to be more aware of ourselves and others. 

I learned that sayin nothing can be much more powerful than saying anything. To not work so hard at making an impression and to let things settle more. Some people’s lessons are to learn how to use their voice, or speak out more, my lesson is to keep quiet a little more and let things happen around me instead of me inserting myself…There’s power in adjusting your behavior and pulling back. 

Strength doesn’t have to eclipse vulnerability. Vulnerability is strength…Being able to apologize is strength…the most important thing isn’t always the giant leap, it’s the steps you take to get where you want to go. 

Your voice has meaning. Find something you care about that has nothing to do with you, and learn about it. Pay attention when you’re tired. Take care of yourself. Read more. Watch less TV. Find new people to teach you new life lessons. Be proactive. 

Know that you have something of value that is unlike what anyone else has. 

Go after happiness like it’s the only thing you can take with you when you die. Stand up for yourself. Treat yourself the way the person you love the most in the world. Get on your own team.” 

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

 

 

 

Morning Chats

“You cannot fully understand a person’s need until you have endured the same need. As hard as you may try to predict and comprehend their situation and suffering, I guarantee you’ll fall short until you’ve been there.” 

Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes

A little over a year ago I began what I call my morning chats.

These chats started because a dear friend of mine lost her husband. I was far way and knew a trip up to see her was not possible. Calling her didn’t feel right. What do I do?

I sent her a text.

That text started a morning routine that continues today.

Over time, I’ve added others to my morning chats. Some are daily chatters, some once a week, and others I know only have time for quick chats every now and then.

It’s all worked out very very well.

What’s interesting is these how these chats have evolved into so much more–for all of us. Because of this little forum, we have an outlet to share our daily lives–either in a nutshell or we can type away and unload all our recent frustrations.

I never know what I’ll learn–every morning it is surprise just waiting to happen.

My friend Mary’s grand daughter was so surprised her grandma texted daily. Charlotte was even more impressed to learn her grandma had been friends with that person for almost fifty years.

Okay–truth be told–I’m pretty impressed with that fact, too.

The moral of the story–if there is one–is simple.

There is usually a way to reach out to someone. Whether I like it or not, I am beginning to understand being there in person may not always be possible. Even though it often drives me insane, our modern technology allows me to stay in touch with people who are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away form me.

One of the few benefits of getting older is gaining life experiences. Sooner or later we will all need the help of friends. God knows I’ve leaned on many shoulders over the years. It’s all part of the deal–we’re handed a challenge, we learn, and we survive in order to reach out and help one another.

Heavenly Father,

Today I pray for my family and friends. May these special people find comfort in the knowledge they are unconditionally loved. May they see and understand their own strengths and unique inner power. As their awareness grows help them find the peace they seek.

I thank you for the gift of all who have been a part of my journey. May my awareness grow so I can continue to learn and share my life lessons with old and new friends.  

Father, I am humbled by your many blessings.

I am grateful.

Amen.

~Barbara Jo Burton Hibdon, June 24, 2019~

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace be with you, my friends.~

Thank you, Glynis Walker Morse, for sharing your wonderful picture today. I thank you and I love you. 

Patience

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.” 

David G. Allen

Life lessons come whether you’re ready or not–I’ve been reminded of that important fact this past month.

I’d become very comfortable with the status quo. I’d had this illusion of what my future held and I’d assumed things would follow that path.

I was pretty much 100% wrong.

I’ve been reminded life can change in a fraction of a second and in ways I’d never imagined. I’ve been reminded loss takes many forms, making it so important to love all those in your life without reserve. I’ve been reminded how one loss can change so many other things I’d never realized were intertwined. I’ve been reminded to pay attention to my word for the year–awareness–prompting me to stay mindful, slow down, and appreciate all aspects of my life. I’ve been reminded to stay in the present because those planned tomorrows are never promised. I’ve been reminded of the importance of my tight little cluster of friends as I’ve experienced the amazing kindness of strangers. Once again, I’ve been reminded of the depth and darkness of grief along with the renewed knowledge my faith is resilient and strong.

Most of all, I’ve been reminded to trust in myself, in my family and friends, and most of all–in God.

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish – consciously or unconsciously – that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.” 

Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

“People leave imprints on our lives, shaping who we become in much the same way that a symbol is pressed into the page of a book to tell you who it comes from. Dogs, however, leave paw prints on our lives and our souls, which are as unique as fingerprints in every way.” 

Ashly LorenzanaIMG_1457

 

My Teacher

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.” 

T.H. White, The Once and Future King

My mind has been filled with thoughts of my Duffy for the past few days. Most of them are happy thoughts. The ones that are unhappy revolve around feeling I did not spend enough time with him.

I always thought I had more time.

My precious Duff may be the one who finally helps me understand time is never promised. It’s up to us to grab onto every single minute and be in that moment. Let go of the yesterdays and give all the worries about tomorrow to the Universe. Be aware of the present and wallow in it.

He taught me so many other things.

He taught me it’s okay to ask for help when you’re scared. He was our early storm warning system. When a storm was on the way he wanted to be close to us. Once he had that connection, he relaxed and let the storm pass.

He showed me examples of trust every single day. He simply knew those who loved him would always catch him if he missed a jump, grab him before he slipped off the couch, or make decisions in his best interest.

Even when he was not feeling well–he could not have been feeling well for some time–he always made his s-ing type maneuvers and instigated all kinds of disruptions with the other dogs. There was not many quiet moments here with the Duff around. It is extremely quiet today.

He loved everyone he met but he lived to sit on Michael’s lap. Those lap visits were full of huge hugs while nudging Michael’s hand for more and more pets. There were never enough hands on this little man.

As each day goes by, I see more and more things he taught me.

As of now, some of the most valuable lessons are:

There is nothing more important than spending time with those you love. Nothing. Do whatever you have to do to get their attention–do figure eights and wind yourself around their legs if you have to in order to get their attention.

Be vocal and tell those you love you are excited to see them. I miss his little howls of joy whenever we all climbed out of bed in the morning or met each other at the door later in the day. He was happy to see us and he let us know it.

Remember the work–whatever that work may be–will be there tomorrow or the next day. Sit down, stretch out, and share your space with those you love. Regardless of whatever else may be going on in your space, ignore it so you can give extra big hugs to those all around.

If someone is unhappy with you, go to your favorite spot and stay there until they forget about it. When you come back in, come back as though nothing has happened. A little joyful howl upon entrance is a sure bet all will be forgiven.

Above all else, hold your head up high and know you are worthy of all good things. You are a prince/princess. Turn your back to the negatives and let them pass. God’s got this and He has it all in control.

I know I was fortunate to have had him in my life.

Monday he took a giant piece of my heart with him but left me with even more love and hundreds of memories. I know, as time goes on, I’ll be comforted by them. These little gifts, all gifts that reflect the cleverness of Duffy, will allow me to heel…pun intended.

I am…

B…simply being. 

~Peace~

 

 

A Treasured Memory

I give thanks for my friends

For connection and laughter,

For comfort and strength,

For encouragement and unity,

For forgiveness and grace,

For celebration and joy.

They are so many things to me,

Such a rich tapestry of blessings,

Woven through my life.

Thank you. ~Author Unknown

Yesterday was an amazing day.

We had part of our chosen family over for a spring BBQ. The sun was shining, a gentle breeze kept the temperature near 80 degrees, and the food and wine were excellent.

It was as if a magical spell had been cast upon our house–we sat within a little bubble of peace and serenity. The challenges we’d all faced in the year since we’d been together were acknowledged and celebrated.

I’ve discovered an unexpected benefit of getting older is how appreciative I’ve become for small gifts. I’d mistakenly believed that all those people and things that’d always been part of my life would always remain. This past year has finally taught me that life is very fragile. My year of awareness continues to grow as I appreciate the fact assumptions are no longer acceptable.

Yesterday, as I sat in my little chair observing the beautiful souls gathered together, I felt so deeply blessed. My tuned up awareness helped me appreciate just how special and rare this day had become. I thanked God as I opened my heart and absorbed every bit of the powerful energy we call love.

There’s a miracle called friendship

that dwells within the heart

And you don’t know when it happens

or when it gets a start…

But the happiness it brings you

always gives a special lift,

And you realize that friendship is

God’s most precious gift!

~Author Unknown

 I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Thanks, Jo Heiple Thedens, for letting me use another one of your great pictures. Your talent is amazing. You and your photography nourish my Iowa roots and heart. Thank you.  

Foundations

“Your inner strength is your outer foundation” 

Allan Rufus

Haven’t we all looked back on something in our past and wondered why in the world we did what we did? Just what was my motivation?

I’ve been doing a lot of questioning lately which made me think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory.

It’d been a long time since I’d really thought about any of that and honestly, I’d never ever looked at it while examining certain parts of my past.

Remembering the first level of the pyramid was pretty easy because it’s so basic. At the physiological level we all work to meet our basic needs. Until our needs for good air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, and enough sleep are met, we cannot move onto satisfying our other needs. Once those needs are successfully met, we are ready to move onward and upward.

Safety is the next level and the second of the two levels designated as the basic needs.  After we have food and water, we can begin working on finding a home, a job, and ensuring good health.

Level three in the hierarchy is love or our social needs level. After establishing a safe haven we’re ready for friends and finding a place where we belong. It is at this stage when we feel the need to be part of a group, are open to accepting others, and accept being part of that group.

Esteem is word for level four or the level of respect. At this level we acquire a sense of self and the awareness of self achievement. At this stage we are gain the ability to respect others and ourselves.

Level five is the level of full potential. The words Maslow used to describe this level were self actualization–words that sound so strong to me. It is at this level where we reach peace. We are relaxed and accept ourselves for what we are and no longer care what others think of us. We feel safe and secure enough to be truly creative.

After reviewing the five levels, I had a better understanding of what my motivations were during certain times in my past. It was easier for me to appreciate why my world became so unstable when my mom died, after my divorce, or during those first months after I relocated to Colorado and why it took so long to recover.

My reading served as a constructive review as well as a gentle reminder knowledge mixed with a little time is a very powerful thing.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

~Maya Angelou

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace and knowledge to all~

 

 

A Prayer for Insight

“Study the past if you would define the future.” 

Confucius

My journey has begun–the path ahead is long but the roadside markers are coming into focus.

It’s not going to be fast. I’ve found my teachers.

I am ready.

Just putting that statement in writing makes me feel stronger and more confident in my decision. The reading is tough and emotional–all forms of obstruction my mind has used in the past as a way to slow me down and discourage me.

My intention to learn and understand supersedes all.

A Prayer for Daily Insight 

Open my eyes, God. Help me to perceive what I have ignored, to uncover what I have forsaken, to find what I have been searching for. Remind me that I don’t have to journey far to discover something new, for miracles surround me, blessings and holiness abound. And You are near. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration

I am…

B..simply being…

~Peace~

 

I am so fortunate I have an amazing photographer in my circle of Facebook friends. Thank you, Mr. Chuck Hackenmiller, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos as part of my blog. You can see many of Mr. Hackenmiller beautiful pictures on the Facebook page, I grew up in Iowa. Please note, no re-use of this photo without permission from Chuck Hackenmiller, Boone, Iowa.

A Little Wednesday Wisdom

I shared the attached story the week of Thanksgiving last year. Just like last year, I was at our local grocery store today. Unfortunately, unlike last year, I was not at all entertained.

It began as Michael and I started walked across the parking lot and spotted a new Mercedes parked far out away from the maddening crowds. The car was parked across two parking spaces in a futile attempt to protect it from door chips. Maybe that move made it a target for some angry pre-holiday shopper. The owner was rewarded with a shopping card wedged between the driver’s door and the side mirror. This was an omen for what we’d soon encounter. Once inside, it was obvious there was very little holiday cheer.

Thank heavens I have this to share from last year. Hope you enjoy re-reading it as much as I did.

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.” ~ Ralph Marston

It’s already Wednesday, the week of Thanksgiving, 2017.

Because I am an award-winning procrastinator, I’ve been moving faster than usual today. I’ve finally accepted this as the way I operate. Being that charter member, regardless of where I was in the grocery store today, I was rushing, avoiding, or waiting.

It was mostly a waiting game.

I was one of the very few walking up and down the aisles with a smile on my face. The more frowns I met, the more I smiled–and my smile grew wider and wider with each cluster of people I encountered. Granted,  I was probably one of the few there by choice. One of my fellow HEB warriors was a mom of three. She patiently directed her oldest son up and down the different rows as she searched up and down for the things she needed. She excused herself for the pace her little pack held, telling me she was not from here. Again–a huge smile crossed my face because I and every other local person in the store had determined that a long time before she confirmed it.

To me, she was a hero.

I had not one single minute of doubt she’d have been done shopping, checked out, loaded the car, and on the way home if she had not offered it all up by giving the keys to the cart to her son. I’m not sure how often he had been the cart pilot, but there were some close calls as he made his way around stocking cards, past full end caps, skirted other kids, and bypassed the very large representation of this community’s more elderly shoppers. Cheers to you, mom. May God bless you with a full glass of wine with a full bottle standing by when you get home.

My favorite entertainer of the day was the young dad trying to keep up with his daughter as she zigged here and zagged there, always searching for that very elusive place where she could let her wild horses ride. He managed to stay close to her, adjusting his speed and chatter as they both sped on ahead.

I had a majestically joy-filled experience.

All this and the fact that it was Thanksgiving Eve, reminded me of a late day run to the post office made shortly after I’d moved to the Denver area. It was the beginning of my first holiday season away from home. I’d had a hard week, I was on call, I was already tired, I was lonely, and I was angry. A subscription I’d canceled had sent the product anyway. That meant, I now had to return it.

All these negatives played over and over in my head as I walked to the post office. A young man and his dad were coming out of the building, the boy stopped to hold the door for me. In my pre-occupied state, I brushed quickly by them, making my way inside.

A rather firm voice broke my litany of poor me, poor pitiful me self-statements. I heard the boy say, “You’re welcome.” His dad was quick to hush; the young man, making his point very adamantly, “She could at least say thank you, dad!”

Wow. For a second, his comment made me angry. Then…I realized how rude I’d been.

The kid was absolutely right.

As I turned to acknowledge, they were gone. The dad had whisked him out to the car.

What a huge lesson I learned that evening from this young man. You never know when or who your teachers will show up or who they will be–he was the first person to help me on my path to being more aware. Since that night, I see how many others neglect expressing appreciation for simple acts of respect and kindness.

This memory was sparked by finding the quote I’ve attached to today’s story by Ralph Marston. Saying thank you takes seconds and costs nothing. Stay aware of all the kindness and care to come your way–be grateful.

For years, Michael and I subscribed to Mr. Marston’s, The Daily Motivator. If you’ve never seen these daily messages, take a minute to check it out. It will give you one other thing to be grateful for and open another gift opportunity for you.

I am…

B…simply being…

My love sent your way.

God bless.

Peace

 

 

 

 

Cinderellie

“He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had done what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave.” 

Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

In July of 1985, I walked away from my old life and home, packed my car, and headed from Waterloo, Iowa, to Denver, Colorado. My two sisters took vacation time to travel west with me to help me settle into a duplex I had not seen in a town I wasn’t even sure how to spell–was Englewood spelled with an I or an E?

I did learn how to spell my new hometown and we did make it to my new address without any real problems. There was that scary guy in Sterling, Colorado who ran a stop sign. In a nano-second all our futures were in question–thank God our guardian angels were near and attentive.

The three of us arrived, tired, but quickly unloaded the car and moved what we had into my new home. As the sun rose and set, we waited for the moving truck to arrive.

We waited…and waited..and waited. My entire house had been in storage for weeks because there was a high demand for moving trucks in Iowa at that time. I was part of many who were heading west.

As time passed, I was learning how expensive it was to move to a new city in a new state where you had no established credit. My savings dwindled away and we were all still sleeping on the living room floor.

When the moving company returned my many calls, the news was not good. They could not locate “my stuff.”

What? I’m a thousand miles from “home” and I’m being told the moving company has lost all my stuff? And…I’m scheduled to start my new job in a week.

I learned a lot during this time in my life. I learned a cashier’s check does not clear immediately. I learned that the cost of living in the Denver area was MUCH higher than I’d expected. Seven to ten days is a very long time to pinch pennies. I learned even though Denver was a mile high and the nights often cool down, it is still very hot in July. I learned that three women living in an empty duplex for a week with nothing to do lose patience with waiting and with each other.

My lessons continued to come fast a furious. I can’t say it was easy–I struggled. I can say I did eventually learn to trust myself and I survived–alone. There were no cell phones–long distance phone calls were expensive. I had no extra money for phone calls. I had my kind and generous friend, Cindy, who was there for me. The problem was Cindy lived quite a distance away and she had a young daughter and her own new job. Being on call did restrict us but thank heavens calling her was a local call.

My first day at my new job was a whirlwind. My co-worker lived a short distance from me. In order to make it easy for me, she offered to give me a ride that week back and forth to Children’s Hospital in Denver. Lucky for me, both our department and the hospital at the time were small. The cardiology department and cardiovascular surgery shared the third floor of Tammen Hall, expanding the size of my work family. That first day it seemed I met dozens of people, all of them were talking about the Huey Lewis and the News concert they’d all gone to that past Sunday.

As I stood listening to snipets of their conversations and enjoyed their bursts of laughter, I knew I’d found my new spot. My gut told me, with time and patience, I’d find my way into this exciting group of people. I wasn’t sure how. I only knew that they represented a large part of what my new life would hold–I was soaking up their energy and the genuine love I felt they had for each other.

By the grace of God I DID become part of this amazing group of people. We were all the same age or close to the same age. Our work was important to us and we worked extremely hard doing it as well as we know how. We worked long hours and covered call–our time off was precious. We played as hard as we worked. Because we were older, we’d all been “players” in the past and most of us had experienced “being played.” We were done with the games–we wanted people around us we could trust. We encouraged each other when we had bad days, when we made mistakes, when we lost patients, when we had relationship issues, and when we experienced those times when we felt lost and alone. Through it all, we knew we would be there for each other…

I’ll never ever forget how this group of people took me in and made me feel loved and always welcome.

This group I knew I had to join earlier this month–to be with one of our own and comfort her during her time of loss as only old friends can.

The best way I can think to talk about Julie and John is to retell a story she shared at John’s memorial. I’d heard the story before but it’d faded from my memory.

Both John and Julie worked at Children’s in Denver for years–Julie in the heart room in the OR and John was a radiologist. Even though they’d most likely walked by each other daily, they’d never really met. Now they were both newly single meaning there were several people making it their mission to get them together. As we know, timing is everything–throw in a little bit of luck and you have a grand plan. The date of the annual hospital gala was rapidly approaching. All those great minds came together to nudge John, suggesting he ask Julie to the grand event. He agreed to ask her and the plan was in motion.

John asked and Julie nervously accepted.

John arrived at Julie’s and rang the bell. Carol, Julie’s roommate, rushed to answer, and as Carol describes it, she opened the door to this tall and handsome man, dressed in a black tuxedo, smiling, and holding a single red rose. Carol quickly admits she wanted to say she was Julie but, alas, knew he knew better. Welcoming him in, she ran upstairs to tell Julie he was there. Opening the bedroom door, Carol sings out:

“Cinderellie, Cinderellie, your Prince Charming is here!”

For the next 26 years, John was her Prince Charming, standing beside her through all their trials and tribulations. It wasn’t easy. They faced many challenges and they both found ways to make it all work. They were a good team and they had three amazing sons who will help us all take care of their mom.

It has been an honor, privilege, and a blessing witnessing and being a small part of this grand story. Like so many of our childhood fairy tales, we watch helplessly as the ominous music crescendos, signaling the wicked witch has released her evilness out into our world. We prayed the witch would be foiled. If we could find a way to defeat her our hero and heroine would live happily FOREVER after. Reality strikes again. This time, cancer proved to be the greatest and strongest Witch of the West and that damn clock chimed midnight much too soon.

I love you, Julie. My John rest in peace knowing we will all take care of you as we’ve taken care of each other for all these years. You will not be alone–none of us will be because we all have our memories to give us comfort and eventual peace.

Abba Father,

You hold time within your hands, and see it all, from beginning to end. Please keep and carry these precious people in their sadness and loss. Cover them with your great wings of love, give their weary hearts rest and their minds sound sleep. Lord, lift their eyes so that they may catch a glimpse of eternity, and be comforted by the promise of heaven. 

We ask all this in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen. 

I am…

B…simply being…

Reach out to those who may need you today.

~Peace be with you~

I am so fortunate I have an amazing photographer in my circle of Facebook friends. Thank you, Mr. Chuck Hackenmiller, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos as part of my blog. You can see many of Mr. Hackenmiller beautiful pictures on the Facebook page, I grew up in Iowa. Please note, no re-use of this photo without permission from Chuck Hackenmiller, Boone, Iowa.  

 

 

Many Gifts

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. These are the qualities that define us as human beings, and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.” 

R.J. Palacio, Wonder

I’ve been thinking about my quick trip back to Denver. It was wonderful to be back with my old group of friends–maybe it was so special because it was last-minute–meaning I had a limited amount of time to over think things–this time I packed and I went.

On this trip, I’d planned to write. I was in a place where I had great wi-fi. That first day I sat down to write a quick story from my iPad. It did not go as smoothly as I expected. I’d never used my new iPad for writing.

Lesson learned and note to self–do not start something new when you aren’t home and do not have a real back-up plan.

As I mentioned in my most recent stories, I was wined and dined by my wonderful group of friends. Ann and Jim opened their home to me first–Ann picking me up at the airport with food and wine–recharging me for a night of catching up and story telling.

That night, I climbed into a freshly made bed and slept while the cool evening air circulated in my room. What a great thing–sleeping for the first time in weeks with windows open. Allergies be damned–it was wonderful.

Wednesday I met Kelli–a former co-worker–for lunch. What a great gift to have someone take time on their day off to have lunch with me. Thank you, Kelli. An additional luncheon plus was running into a former practice manager, Julia. How grand was that?

From Ann and Jim’s I re-packed and headed to Doug and Lana’s. These two people are so talented–their home is beautiful. I was able to sit on their back patio and enjoy the deer early in the mornings while enjoying a fresh cup of coffee. Thank you both–it has been a long time since I’ve talked so much. Once again, the food and wine was grand. Thank you. I was also able to meet their niece, Elizabeth. Thanks for taking Friday off to hang with us. Enjoyed you and our thrift store adventure.

Saturday was the day we’d all come together for–the memorial for John, the husband of one of our dearest friends. Time is so sneaky–it appears to drag along some days as we struggle with our daily challenges but in reality it is flying at break neck speed by us all. I am so thankful I was there to be with Julie. It was a day I will remember always. I love you, Julie. Always have–always will.

After Saturday’s gatherings, I was able to unwind with my soul sister, Mary Beth. For twenty years she was my across the street neighbor. We would open wine and talk and talk and talk some more. This time was no different. She cooked as we talked and shared our past, present, and our concerns and plans for our futures. We are much older than we were the first time we sat around kitchen tables. I’d like to think we are somewhat wiser. I definitely know we are very grateful for the time we’ve shared together.

From Mary Beth’s I returned to Ann and Jim’s. Thank you for lending me your wheels while I was there and for taking me back to the airport. You made everything so easy and I thank you.

The day before I returned home, I had lunch with my friend, Sandi. What a treat and a relief to sit down and talk with her fact-to face. She, too, lost her husband recently. She’d been telling me she was doing okay–I needed to see her to confirm that was indeed the truth. Thank you, Sandi, for having lunch with me–loved it and love you. Next trip we need to reserve more time.

After my time with all these amazing people, I know I’ve been given a gift that not all of us receive–the gift of time. I also know I’ve had amazing people beside me all along my journey–and I’ve been able to meet with many of them this summer. I’m thinking there are few people as lucky as I am.

I am thankful and I pray we all have much more time together.

I love you guys.

Thank you, God.

“But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” 

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, A Life for a Life  

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace be with you~