Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Sun is Peeking Out

The water is beating up against the wall
The sun is bursting behind the shutters
The light of Life is trying to get through, ever present
Looking for cracks and crevices to slip through
Illuminating and energizing
Ensuring that breathing continues

More and more, each day, those secret passages
Through dark tunnels and recesses
Grow bigger and wider
Allowing the light to show the way
Corners are revealed
Boxes finally opened
Puzzles completed

Isolation lessens as the birds begin to flock
In trees and bushes
Gossiping and commiserating
The days adventures recalled

Eyes see the wheat from the chaff
Ears hear the subtelties and subtext
Senses are electrified by the ripples
Of emotions and intentions
The seed is finally sprouting and
Opening its leaves to the sun

The heart beats in anticipation of new
And upcoming adventures
And all will be experienced
From top to toes
Tasted, felt, seen, remembered

A body long neglected slowly moves
Clearing cobwebs, disturbing dust
Joints are oiled and losing their rust
And movement once again is a joy

Appreciation, balance, joy, trust
Release, reach, stretch, imagine
The sun is allowed back in
Worthiness realized
Love of self begins

It is a joyous day, a joyous month, a joyous year
Fireworks light the sky
As the celebration begins
Enjoy the fruits of courage and hard work
Let the party begin

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Crumbling into Dust

2011 was an "interesting" year, to say the least. For Christmas, I even created for my family t-shirts that had "I survived 2011" printed on them.

My mom unexpectedly died in November of 2010. My father was having chemo treatments at the time. The cancer in his lungs, because of other health issues, was not operated on and was not doing anything until the doctors noticed it had started growing again in the fall of 2010. I remember in the haze of it all to having to schedule his chemo treatment around Mom's funeral. It all seemed so ridiculous and overwhelming.

My poor dad. I can still picture the bewildered look on his face in those few weeks around the funeral. He hadn't (and honestly my sisters hadn't either) expected that my mother would go first. And he was alone, for the first time in 54 years. In the house they had shared together for nearly as long. I was able to help him close up Mom's estate (I was named Executrix for both of them) but I couldn't help him with their daily bills. Dad seemed to pick it up pretty quickly but my mother had done the budgeting and finances their whole married life.

As the reality of Mom's passing came over me, I immediately started to freak out about my dad. Her death hit him hard and slowed down any healing and recovery from his own health issues. My sisters and I had never seen him look more feeble. However, he had fought cancer a few times already; was he going to win this round too? No one knew and the reality that I could lose both of my parents in a year hit home very very hard. January through March or April was a blur. Between checking in and caring for Dad and grieving, I don't remember much except a lot of emotional pain that was so deep it was physical. I fought to not grieve for them both, but it happened anyway. I struggled because I didn't want to spend whatever time I had with Dad with grieving. I had the chance to have quality time and I was afraid of losing that. But the pain at times was so excruciating I didn't know if I was going to have a mental breakdown.

Then one evening I partook in a psychic fair (I don't think I was reading but helped organize it). I was washed out, dragged out and hung to dry. I sought out my friend Jennifer, who is an amazing psychic. I asked if she could give me a tarot reading to help guide me and help me find a saner place in life. As I talked to her, I broke down for the billionth time (I was crying so much around that time my cheeks were getting raw from the tears). Jen all of sudden said "Your mom is here".

This was something pretty new to Jen; channeling those who had passed was something she had only begun to experience and had not really worked out what she wanted to do when a spirit contacted her. Going with her gut, she began to speak for my mother. I don't remember it all, but I do remember a tremendous sense of peace and relief slowly washing over me that felt so so good. We talked about forgiveness, unconditional love and that she was so happy where she was. We talked about Dad and my sisters. I apologized for not being a good daughter and she apologized for not always being the best mother. My body began to relax and feel so much lighter, lighter than it had felt in months. I began to let go.

With the exception of my grandmother dying in 2004 I had not experienced any major loss before then. I had not really examined what I felt about death. It scared me and it was something scary and to avoid at all costs. This experience has laid the groundwork for acceptance. This is still an ongoing process but I feel I am further along than I used to be. Thanks Mom.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's Okay, You Must Be So Tired

I haven't posted in few years (gulp!). So much has happened it is a bit mind-boggling. I will be documenting, post by post, the events that have rocked my world these last few years.

Christmas Eve 2009 I gathered with my family at my sister's house. Our mother, who suffered serious back issues coupled with arthritis, was losing her mobility and becoming stooped. She showed us her lower legs and it was horrifying - they were "weeping" fluid and the skin was red, scaly and blotchy. She had gone to the doctors and it was linked to congestive heart failure. The excess fluid had no place to go so it came out through the pores of her skin.

To clarify, I had a distant relationship with both parents for the sake of my sanity. I had learned a long time ago that I could not get the support and love I wanted, on a consistent basis, without extreme emotional pain. She was judgmental, dismissive and rather unkind a lot of the time. She began to display signs of mentally illness in my early 20's and refused to get help. Honestly was she ill long before then? I don't know. The things she said and did I guess were based from this, but there were times there was such clarity that I still don't know where they came from. As a result I kept my distance because the alternative would have sent me to a mental institution.

In the summer of 2010 things were getting worse for Mom. She was in constant pain, she was experiencing a lot of anxiety and she was slowly no longer capable of caring for her personal hygiene. She sat all the time. Moving was torture as her back had deteriorated further. She was giving up. We all tried to come to my parent's aid (by this time my Dad, who had a cancerous tumor on his lungs) was taking care of most household duties and was feeling helpless. Mom was fighting us on getting any kind of help; however we finally were able to get her to a pulmonologist about her legs, which had continued, on and off, to weep all year. We also were trying to get her to see a therapist because she was experiencing anxiety, depression and delusions. It was such a scary time.

We finally got her to agree to see a therapist. In September 2010 I drove to the doctor's office to meet them (my sisters and I were beginning to insist coming along to any doctor appointments so we knew what was going on). I see my parents in the parking lot, my father standing by the car looking angry while my mother, distressed, was sitting in the passenger seat. She could not breathe and my dad thought she was having an anxiety attack about the appointment. They had called an ambulance, which arrived a few minutes after I had gotten there. They took her to the emergency room.

Her body had a tremendous amount of fluid due to congestive heart failure and they sedated her because she kept ripping out the tubes they had inserted to help her breathe. This turned into a 2 week stint in the ICU as the doctors tried to stabilize the fluid and regulate her heart. She was sedated for most of that time.

She stayed about a month in the hospital. In the meantime we learned that my Dad's cancer was showing signs of growth and he began chemo treatment. My sisters' and I spent that September and October running between the hospital and the chemo place. It was exhausting.

Mom was not really getting better. She was transferred to a nursing facility for long term recovery but it was clear to us that she would likely never come home and spend the rest of her days in a nursing home. She was also being treated for mental health issues at this time. She would stabilize, and then have to go back to the hospital when the fluid got out of control. During this time Mom was semi-conscious and not very alert.

She stayed in two different facilities between hospital stays; the first one was under-staffed with horrible conditions. When she went back to the hospital we insisted she not return there. The second facility was near my house in East Greenbush. It was much nicer, cleaner and the staff more attentive. We were relieved and knew this was a good place for her.

3 days into her stay, on November 13, 2010, we got a call that she was once again sent to the hospital. I took my time getting there as this was becoming routine. However, when I got there I knew almost immediately that this time was different. The ER doctor came out to see us and told us that it was not looking good. They tried to resuscitate her at the facility and on the way there (this was a different hospital than the usual and they had no DNR on file). She was puffed up like a balloon with excess fluid and she was not breathing. They could not bring her back and my dad said she could be let go. There was no further need to bring her back because she was gone.

While it may appear to an outsider that this was not outside the realm of possibility, to us it was like a bomb went off. For a long time we were so focused on my dad, who had been fighting lung cancer for 5 or 6 years and had thought that of the two my dad was the one "to go" first. I don't think we had conceived the idea that Mom was so close to the end. She had always been so strong.

In the last few years I had been making strides with making peace with her, knowing she did the best she was capable of and that I needed to accept her as she was. When she died I think that while I grieved a part of me had said goodbye a while ago.

She was a good person who was handed a lot of challenges early in life. She made a life the best she knew how and raised a beautiful family. She loved to read, play cards, and bake. She had a big uproarious laugh and she gave big strong hugs that could crush you. She taught us hard work and perseverance. She was my Mom.