“O Key of David, O Royal power of Israel, controlling at your will the gate of heaven: Come break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”
At this festive time of year, when all our attention seems focused on gathering with loved ones, those who are grieving face a most difficult challenge. They may feel locked out of the brightness around them. Be the key that releases those who are grieving, while still respecting their own journey. Reach out to those who have lost special people in their lives. Be creative. Spending a quiet evening with a friend may be more consoling than an invitation to share in festivities with a heavy heart.
Do you ever wake up in the morning and wonder “How in the heck did I get here?” You find yourself living a life that seems like a dream and not a good dream at that. Maybe more like a nightmare. You’re lying in bed and the only voice in your head is Ozzie Osbourne belting out “All Aboard!!!” Is your answer yes? Yeah…Me too!!!
September 14th will be the anniversary of my dad’s passing six years ago. What a journey it’s been. The only way to describe it…..It has certainly been one hell of a “Crazy Train”. I have spent the past six years grieving. When I say grieving, I mean for two years I cried every day. I slept with my dad’s ashes next to my bed. I had nightmares every night. Up until a few months ago I stopped believing my dad was coming back and finally accepted that he was gone. I’ve spent more days then I can count balling my head off. I’ve spent six years trying to figure out how to live my life without my dad as my sidekick. I haven’t done a very good job at it either. Three of those years I found myself fighting cancer among other things including a crazy boyfriend who I should mention was not only a freak, but he was 20 years older than me and made my life even more crazy than it already was. I have battled grief, cancer, abusive relationships, loss of work due to illness, memory loss, anxiety, depression, PTSD and the real clincher, I lost everything I ever worked for. My life is in financial disarray. I’m not only rock bottom, I’m even living with my mom. How embarrassing. Somehow, this life isn’t what I had in mind for myself. I feel like George Constanza from Seinfeld. I’m unemployed, a nut and I live with my “parent” and let me tell ya, living with my mother hasn’t been a cake walk. I have often joked I’d like to throw momma off this “Crazy Train” I’ve found myself on.
For those of you who have followed me, you know my story. My story is not your typical Hallmark feel good story. No, my story is more like a VH1 TV Series. The difference between my story and say… those reality TV shows on VH1, my story is the real deal. You can’t make up this crap. I’ve been on a Crazy Train since September 14, 2011. Like the song “I’ve been going off the rails”. The good news is as I approach my dad’s six year anniversary, I find myself coming out of this fog and I’m beginning to hear the whistle blow. I am beginning to hear Ozzie belt out “Stop Ahead” opposed to “All Aboard” FINALLY!!
Dying sucks!!! Especially when the person that dies happens to be your dad, best friend and the only side kick you’ve ever known. My dad was all of the above to me. A week before my dad passed away, we were on our way home from seeing his doctor who had told us my dad only had a couple of weeks left to live. I was devastated. I asked my dad what I was going to do without him. I’m not sure if my dad recognized that I was serious. He told me I was going to be fine and asked me to watch over “Mother Superior”. My dad’s nickname for my mother. My dad and I had a special bond. He wasn’t just my dad, he was my best friend. Undoubtedly the most important man in my life. Was my dad perfect? Hell NO! Daddy was a rebel!!! A fun rebel who always looked out for me. My dad used to say “Velma, men are like greyhound busses. There’s always another one at the next stop, going to the same place for the same fare” I believed him which is why I wasn’t one of those women that cried for too long after a break up. For me it was on to the next. Unfortunately, while my dad’s words of wisdom came in handy when it came to boyfriends or even an ex-husband, his words of wisdom didn’t include living without him. My dad was and will always be the Greyhound Bus I will never be able to replace.
Today is a new day. Life is getting better. I am finally on the mend. I am ready to start over. I’m even eager to begin a new phase in my life. A life without my dad, but a life with purpose. People always say time heals all wounds. These words are true, however I don’t believe there should ever be a time limit on how long it should take to heal from the loss of someone you love. Many people have lost their parents. Many of them have bounced back in a matter of months. It took me six years. My advice to anyone who might be grieving the loss of someone they loved, give yourself some time. I don’t have a time limit. You shouldn’t either. It’s different for everyone. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And if you find yourself waking up from what seems like a bad dream which is actually your life and you hear Ozzie Osbourne belting out “All Aboard”……Don’t worry about it. In every “Crazy Train” ride, there’s always a stop and a new beginning. As my dad’s anniversary approaches, I am ready to get off this “Crazy Train” and start living life again. My dad is no longer with me, but he will always be with me in spirit. He will always have a place in my heart that is hidden from the world. My private place where the love for my dad will live on forever or until we meet again.
Happy Fathers Day to all you dads out there. Especially to my son and son in law. In my opinion, two of the greatest dads ever. Fathers Day is a reminder of the void I feel missing my dad. It’s been six years since he passed away. There isn’t a day I don’t miss that wild and crazy guy who always made me laugh. Somehow, even on the worst days my dad had a way with bringing tears to my eyes from laughing so hard as he told one of his hilarious stories.
On this Fathers Day, I’d like to reflect on the fun memories my dad left behind. As I look at this photo I’m reminded of the good times I shared when it was “Just Me And My Dad”.
Today the tears are gone and the void in my heart has been replaced with the love and joy I have from my beautiful grandchildren but I’d still give anything to have just one more day. One more day of hearing my dad share one of his funny stories. One more day of just “hanging out”. One more phone call. One more day…..Just Me And My Dad.
On March 12, 2014 my ex and I were on our way back from Scottsdale Arizona after spending five days at spring training. I’m a huge fan of baseball and even huger fan of the San Francisco Giants!!! We had spend the week cheering on the Giants. I posted this story on Facebook. It popped up as one of my memories today. I remembered this flight and the impact this young woman had on my life. I am sharing on my blog today as a reminder you never know what people are going through until you spend a day walking in their shoes. Be kind. Be compassionate and always try to bring joy in someone’s life, especially when they’re having a bad day.
On the flight home from Scottsdale we had the same seats w a view of the engine as we did on the flight there. To the right of us was a young mother who was trying to console her screaming baby. It was very annoying to many people on the plane. I’ll admit I too was a little bit frustrated. I could see the young mother was frustrated so I finally got up and asked her if shed like some help. She was so appreciative. I sat next to the young girl. She was 21 years old. I was able to finally console the baby and he fell asleep. I decided to sit next to her for the duration of the flight. I didn’t want to wake the baby so I just held him for his mom.
Sometimes in life you never know what the person next to you might be going through. At times we don’t stop to ask. As it turned out this young mother had moved to the Bay Area a few months prior after her son was born. Her baby was born that October. This young moms name was Stacy & her sons name was Jaiden. Stacy was returning from Arizona where she had gone to visit her daughter who had a birthday that week. She would’ve been 3 years old. The previous July while Stacy was pregnant she took her daughter to the pool. She turned around for a brief second. Long enough for her daughter to run off & fall in to the kiddie pool. Stacy’s daughter drowned. It was an accidental death that was not just caused by drowning but her daughter had asthma. Stacy shared how the paramedics had tried so hard to save her daughter. Like any mother she was devastated.
The trauma she endured was hard on her pregnancy. She shared that her baby experienced colic & would cry for hours. She had been told that the trauma not only effected her but possibly affected her baby. She moved to the Bay Area to stay w her godparents in the hopes of healing. She was in counseling and her family had been very supportive.
As we began to land baby Jaiden woke up. He was screaming. For some reason I prayed & asked god to please console this baby. You’ll never believe this but the baby stopped crying. Stacy and I talked to him, rubbed his back until we landed. My heart went out to this young mother.
After we returned home I found I couldnt stop thinking about Stacy and her baby. I certainly prayed for her & hoped she would overcome.
I decided to share this story because often times we all become frustrated w other people. We don’t take the time to listen to the real story. Next time you encounter a frustrating situation take the time to ask the person if everything is ok & be sure to listen. I know I will do the same. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind always and take the time to listen.
I’m not sure where to begin as I write tonight. Today my friend Lola reached out to me from New Jersey. She called and offered me so many words of encouragement and more importantly she encouraged me to use my gift of writing in a positive way. Lola is a woman of God. She is filled with so much love and is a powerful prayer warrior. I’m so grateful to call her my friend. Lola prayed for me and encouraged me to put all my faith in the Lord, trust him and pray, pray, pray. After we hung up I found myself feeling hopeful. I have to admit, the challenges of cancer and my life in general has really brought me to my knees. More often than not, I feel defeated and hopeless.
This afternoon Ron and I had an argument. It was ugly and I felt sick about it. I didn’t have anyone to talk to so I got in my car and drove to St Dominic’s Church. Somehow going to church felt like the right thing to do. St Dominic’s is so beautiful it takes my breath away every time I walk through the door. I always feel a sense of awe when I’m there. At times, I’m in such awe, my eyes begin to fill with tears. It’s such an emotional experience. I lit a candle when I arrived. I got on my knees and prayed. As I talked to God, I found a sense of peace come over me and for the first time I felt as if the Lord had actually heard me. After I prayed, I sat on the pew and just stared at the altar. Finally, I stood up and left.
As I drove home, I found myself feeling peaceful. I wasn’t worried about going home and being greeted by the wrath of Rons volatile behavior. I trusted everything would calm itself and things would work out eventually. I prayed asking God for a small sign that he had heard me, even though I knew in my heart he had. When I got home, Ron was still angry. I opted to stay in peace and trust the Lord would take care of everything. Ron was still behaving irrationally, so rather than allow him to make me feel bad about myself like I usually do, I got my sweats on and went to the gym.
I love to listen to music when I’m at the gym. I have a very extensive playlist on YouTube. Tonight I pulled up my playlist titled “Cancer Bravery”. This list consists of songs that have somehow offered a sense of courage as I’ve fought cancer these past few months. As I went through my list of songs, I noticed a song by Stevie Nicks. I didn’t recognize it and truthfully, I don’t recall ever hearing the song, much less recall how it even made it on my list. I clicked on it and as I listened to the lyrics, the words began to resonate with my own personal struggle to trust in a power higher than myself to work things out for me.
I believe in God, as I refer to him. I believe he exists. Trusting him is another story. I think I’m not alone. I believe many of us are believers, however trusting in something we can’t feel, hear or touch can prove to be a difficult task. As I listened to the lyrics of this song, I knew in my heart God had heard me tonight. The lyrics describe my thoughts and feelings that have prevented me from letting go and trusting things would work out according to Gods plan, on his time and not my own. I’m continually on this roller coaster of “trying to believe you. I’m learning all the time”. Like the song, I know I need God in my life because without him I wouldn’t be able to breathe. However, I have this “love affair” with the him that’s as dysfunctional as my current and past relationships with all the men in my life. At times my relationship is up, while other times are down. I want to believe that God loves me. I want to believe he has a plan for good, but it’s hard.
Earlier this morning, my friend suggested I write a letter to God expressing how I feel. I couldn’t express my feelings better than the lyrics from this song so here it is….my letter to God.
Dear God (as I call him)
Take me if you need me, but never hold me down. You’re asking me to trust you, well there’s little of that around. I’m trying to believe you. And I’m learning all the time. Two-part personality, the flower and the vine.
Take me, sleeping angel. Catch me, when you can. Real love affairs are heavy spells, for a woman and a man.
I need you because you let me breathe, well you’ve taken me away. But never take me lightly, or I can never stay.
Someday, when we’re older and my hair is silver grey. Unbraid with all of the love that you have, like a soft silver chain.
Take me sleeping angel, catch me when you can. And unbraid with all of the love that you have, like a soft silver chain.
I’m a work in progress, Lord God, but I pray that you won’t give up on me yet. I’m a work in progress but I’m ready and willing to give you my best shot. Thank you God for believing in me and thank you for never giving up on me even on the days, I’ve given up on you.
I woke up this morning at 6 am. I was rather shaken from a dream, however when I tried to recall the details of the dream, I couldn’t bring myself to remember. I sat down to have a cup of coffee but I had this feeling I needed to go to an AA meeting. I got dressed and decided to walk the Kehei strip and attend the 7:00 meeting on the beach. It rained last night here in Maui so the walk was rather muggy. As I walked I prayed asking for healing not just for myself but my children, my mother, brother, friends and even my ex. I also prayed that one day I would call Maui my second home. I love it here. Maui is a very healing place. I’ve met so many people here and have made more friends in the five times I’ve been here these past two years than I have living in San Francisco. The people here are friendly and very happy. Everyone I’ve met is healing from something. Whether it’s a divorce, cancer, addiction or even just trying to find themselves, somehow Maui is the place to be. Maui is not for everyone but it certainly is the place for me.
I love Maui but for some reason this morning I didn’t wake up to that peaceful, easy feeling I have welcomed every morning that I’ve been here. AA was calling my name. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t have this urge to drink, I just had this urge to hear the words of encouragement I can only get when I attend a meeting and listen to the words of wisdom from one of my fellow recovering alcoholics. I walked the long stretch, praying and reflecting. When i arrived at the meeting it was cancelled so I turned around and walked home. As I walked back I kept thinking about my life, my kids and suddenly I found myself thinking about the two young kids I saw outside the grocery store yesterday. Ron and I ran to Time super market yesterday afternoon after spending a couple of hours at Big Beach. After we paid for our groceries, Ron decided to run back inside to buy an order of BBQ chicken. I told him I’d wait by the car. Our car was parked in front of the store next to the picnic tables outside. I walked towards the car and there were several young 20 year olds sitting and standing next to the table. I could tell they were not much older than 21. As I stood next to my car one of the young girls turned around and looked at me. Her face was covered in sores. At first I thought it was acne. I couldn’t help but stare. As I looked closer I noticed not only was this young girls face covered in sores but so were her arms, legs and feet. She kept pulling her pants down and scratching her bottom. I was rather dumbfounded. When I looked at her boyfriend he was also covered in sores. They were both very dirty. At that point I saw the boyfriend make an exchange w someone sitting at the table. I realized I had witnessed a drug deal. I remembered a girl I met so many years ago when I was in rehab battling alcohol addiction. She was a meth addict. When she arrived her face and body were covered with the same sores. I learned at that time those were side effects from meth. I watched these two young kids walk towards their car. They got in a jalopy and drove away. My heart sank and my stomach was sick. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them and pray they would find sobriety. I prayed for my own kids silently as we drove home. I was really bothered by this. I suspect that’s what was bothering me this morning. As we drove home I suddenly thought of my dad. As some of you are aware I have had my own struggles with addiction. I’ve also battled an eating disorder. In 1996 I beat my eating disorder and in 2002 I beat my alcohol addiction. Both times my dad was my biggest supporter. Every time I wanted to give up my dad would always remind me there were people fighting harder diseases such as cancer. They were fighting because they wanted to live. He would tell me that while my life at that time may have seemed crappy, others would give anything to trade their lives with me just for a chance to live another day. My dad would tell me I had a chance, others weren’t quite as lucky. He would say “you’re slowly killing yourself while others are fighting to stay alive!” I used to get so mad at him but suddenly as we drove home everything my dad said made sense. Today I’m fighting cancer. I don’t want to die. I want to live to see what my kids will become. I want to experience grandkids. I want to travel the world. I have so many unfulfilled dreams I want to accomplish. While I’m fighting to stay alive, these two young kids were fighting for another high, while slowly but surely killing themselves. It made me sad. My dad is no longer by my side supporting me as I fight my new battle….cancer but his words of wisdom are still the words that give me strength to fight and never give up. I hope that the two young people I saw yesterday will be blessed with someone as wonderful as my dad was to come in to their lives and give them the same words of encouragement and support my dad offered so many years ago and they too will experience winning the fight to overcome their addiction. Today I’m lost without my dad. I’d give anything to hear his words of wisdom just one more time but while he is no longer with me I’m confident he’s with me in spirit. I will continue to pray for healing for these two young kids. Of course I’ll be sure to pray for my healing too. I’ve survived everything else, why not survive this little thing called cancer too!!! If I can do it, so can you!!