Missing me? I hope not.

Rudy knew we were leaving. He always knows when we are going to be going in the car. He can tell. The suitcase comes out and I grab my pillow and a blanket I always travel with.

Even Ridley my Old English Sheepdog gets excited. He knows too. And he and Rudy usually get to go along – but not on this particular trip. This time they didn’t hear me utter “bye bye to beach house”. But still there was an expectation. An anticipation. The waiting for the leash. The sad look from Rudy ( or was that my projection ?) when he realized I was going and he wasn’t.

I know not to make a big deal about coming and goings with my dogs. But they know the packing and the taking things to the car. I did give them a pat and a treat when I left. I may have said “I’ll be back in five minutes.” I say that often if I run to the barn or mailbox or store. It’s said with no inflection. No sadness. I just say it as if Rudy or Ridley or any of the other dogs would understand. So The other day I may have said that and then I left. But Rudy was confused. He had anticipated wrong. He thought I was supposed to be getting him loaded in the car.

It’s amazing at what dogs pick up on. They know by your movements where you intend to walk. Well at least Rudy does. My sheepdog who isn’t very smart or maybe he’s just so stubborn it resembles dumb – even he sees cues and knows things sometimes before I know them.

Dogs are so in tune with their humans. We think they can tell time sometimes right? My dogs knew when my kids bus was coming. Not because it was 2:34. But because they likely heard the squeak of the brakes or the door opening at a stop down the road. I couldn’t hear it but they knew. Or maybe it was the light or maybe some cue I gave them through my feelings. Dogs are not humans they have senses we don’t. They are more of this world then we will ever be. We live in houses and so do they but they are so much more part of the real world – is nature. They aren’t distracted by all the things we think are important. To dogs the humans are important to them bc we help them survive. So they have to be in tune to us.

So in this situation of me leaving -the packing is the most telling to them. It seems obvious. They relate those actions to them going somewhere. If I grab my purse Rudy knows I’m going out. Ridley who acts deaf half the time can tell the difference between plates rattling in the sink and the opening of the treat jar in the kitchen. It’s certainly amazing. But I think it’s their instinct to be so in tune.

And for Rudy I’m his job. He rarely plays with our other dogs. He most always chooses to be with me – with the exception of the chance to scam some food off someone in the kitchen. Sometimes he bags me for that. But soon enough he comes to find me again. If a door separates us he lays by it and whines.

I didn’t leave feeling badly about him. I knew he would be ok with my sons and my mom who sneaks the dogs treats often. I left missing him though. We are together a lot but this trip – to Cleveland to see my daughter – wasn’t going to be good for a dog to attend.

Funny enough the drive was nice because we didn’t have any dogs to walk at the rest stop. But I will say I missed him when I was laying in bed. He’s always around and a few times I woke up looking for him quickly remembering he was at home.

Just before bed I had texted one of my sons at home and he called me – no FaceTimed- (I’ll never get used to it.) And he showed me Rudy and Ridley laying by the front door. He said they had been like that since I left. ( ok they did leave that post in order to eat so they aren’t that sad.) They weren’t suffering. They were eating.

I know sometimes when routines change dogs won’t eat -I have a couple dogs like that who occasionally get too stressed to eat when we are gone. Mostly it happens if we have a new caretaker. But after a couple days they are usually eating again.

Dogs don’t have a concept of time like we do so that always makes me feel better knowing they don’t see the passing of time the same as we do. So I knew he wasn’t pining. Just waiting.

I had a little fun the other night and tried to call him to me on FaceTime and he came to the phone. But was totally confused. He heard my voice and maybe saw something in that phone but i am not sure he saw me. I took a couple photos. He’s certainly sweet.

Anyway when I checked with my son the next morning he said Rudy did lay back by the door after our call but then came to bed with him – he slept in our bedroom. The rest of the pack was in there too so he was going in.

I suspect in another day or even less he may have stopped laying by the door. He would move on to whoever was there. He would be ok.

When I got home we had some excitement from all the dogs so Rudy was lost in that fray. I gave him a pet quickly and then I think he was sent outside with the pack. So I began to get settled -I had been home maybe five minutes and back in came Rudy. He doesn’t jump all over me – though he would do that to a stranger. (Pet peeve of mine that we work on and on). He just stood in the room and I told him to come up on the bed for a hug. And it was then he began whining and rubbing his head into my chest. Then Kevin came in and he gave him his excited growl – a thing he does when he’s happy. He makes this growling noise but it’s not menacing it is like he is talking. It’s funny! He also murr’s a lot. It’s dog purring. Maybe some dog owners out there know what I’m describing. He has different inflections of this noise based on what he wants. Like me to share my food. It is an intake or exhale of air with like three pauses. Our lab Lemon does that too. It’s communication and I thinks it’s cool.

I think Rudy was whining because he was glad I was home. I’m a pack member and I was gone. I am also his person and I was back. Did he miss me? Maybe? I want to think he was ok though. But just happy to see me return back to the den.

I did miss a dog being around they are a comfort to me as I have anxiety and I find a dog helps me feel less anxious but I did well aside from some pain from the long drive but it didn’t last long so that was great and I had a nice time seeing my daughter and doing stuff.

But I still wonder what he thinks – what his perceptions are. But I’m glad he is back doing his job. He’s here right now in my office as I write this. He’s laying by the door – and as soon as I move a certain way he will jump up trying to anticipate my next move. “Is she leaving the office? Ok – Just tidying up. Oh then I can rest my head down again. Or maybe there is some paper I can eat. ”

I like to think they aren’t as complex as we try to make them. I like it that way. We must seem very complex to them. Or perhaps they read past all out flawed humanness and see our souls.

I will never really know what Rudy feels but I don’t think my being gone is horribly distressing -maybe confusing because he was anticipating he was going. But he ate and drank and was fine. And I’m glad. I know Rudy and I have some kind of special connection -and however that is manifested i am very lucky to have him.

Ahh – he just came over for some pets. I think I’ll go now and oblige him. All is as it should be in his world. His person is here.

This little surprise

So we didn’t get our new guardian horse Yukon yet. He comes to us next Monday. He wouldn’t load last week on the trailer we borrowed. Maybe he was too big. Maybe just a bit afraid. It had been a while since he had been on a trailer but he would not get on. So he is still at Days End.

So the rescue is bringing him to us next Monday. I think this will work out well. I am very grateful to Days End for the transport.

Harley has been doing fine. And here’s the surprise! Harley has a friend. Yep he got a buddy already. And he will have Yukon too!

As luck would have it our neighbor Austin decided he wanted to get a horse so he can do roping. Like in roping calves in a rodeo. Currently , Austin is a bull-rider. Yep a real cowboy and his sweet wife live right next door . They are the owners of the donkeys that I have posted photos of from time to time.

Austin isn’t retiring from riding bulls right now but I think he sees at some point his body may get too beaten up and it might be time to change to some other rodeo event.

So he decided to get a horse. He had a pony growing up. I saw a photo – so cute. They were buddies. His pony lived quite a long time. So Austin knows equines. So his getting this horse wasn’t jumping in to something he doesn’t know. And he rides giant bulls I don’t think any horse will intimidate him.

So anyway knowing that Harley was alone he asked us if he could keep an 8 yr old quarter horse on our property for a while. He needs to build some fencing on his land.

I knew Yukon was coming and I have never had more than two horses in our pasture. Both Harley and Airy are easy keepers. Which often -and in our case does – mean that they get very fat on grass. Grass can be harmful to horses like this so we only let them graze every other day or we use grazing muzzles which limit their grass intake. We always seem to have lots of grass and with Austin fencing in his pasture area there will be enough if we need to share.

So we agreed to have his horse here and we worked out the details and probably will tweak them every so often -and this past Sunday Mojo (now named Hank ) arrived.

Harley was very excited. He whinnied and pranced when he saw Hank for the first time. We have photos but It was dark.

We kept them apart for a couple nights. They nuzzled over the fence. Got to know each other a little. When Austin took Hank out for a ride on Hanks first full day here , Harley called to Hank and he called back. Buddies in the making.

When we put them together it was non-eventful. No kicking or biting. But I think I thought there would be no establishing for position because they got along so well over the fence. But of course I was wrong. Harley decided he needed to establish he was boss. So he pinned his ears as Hank approached him. Hank got the message and stayed away. They would graze nearish to eachother but if Hank got too close Harley would pin the ears back take a step and Hank would walk away.

This is when they first meet. Keeping a good distance but grazing calmly.

Moving closer. Notice the “dance” :

After a while , Hank came in to explore the paddock. I saw him sniffing the ground and checking out the trough and the stalls. Harley who was loading in a stall made sure Hank knew he wasn’t welcome in his stall right then. Come on Harley stop being a snob I thought.

Harley was hazing Hank and it seems mean but it’s what horses do. He might want a companion but they have to do their horse dance. Set the tone for their relationship. And after Harley was bossed around by Airy for so long I am not shocked Harley wants to be the boss now and Hank isn’t challenging that it seems.

Hank is the more spry one. Younger and a better mover but he is also one relaxed horse. Bombproof so far under saddle and very chilled out on the ground. So he let Harley do his thing and he seems ok with his place in this small herd.

Here is how calm this horse is. A ride in the corn(video by Austin Gosnell).

At one point Hank stood alone under the line of pine trees way out on the edge of our field. I came out to the paddock to check on them. I was hoping they would be hanging together. But Hank wasn’t there in the paddock so I walked into the pasture and looked all around and finally I spotted Hank hanging in the shadows of those trees. Maybe he wasn’t sure what he should do with Harley and his attitude.

I walked back to the barn and I looked at Harley who had ambled out of his stall to see what I was looking at way out in that field.

I said “Harley you have alienated your new friend and now he’s out there all by himself.”

And I looked at Harley and he stared out in the field – we couldn’t see Hank from there but I bet Harley could smell him. And what did Harley do? He called to Hank. I was like dang Anne he understood your scolding- wink wink.

Harley got no answer from Hank so he walked into the field and called again. Soon Hank was seen slowly walking towards Harley and what does that big oaf do? Decides to give Hank a run around. Harley head down trots toward Hank and Hank trots away from him. It’s a horse thing. Again it’s seems anti-social but it actually establishes the social hierarchy of a herd. Harley is not fast so it was funny. But I thought that may have been the final haze ritual Because once that runaround was completed they both began to graze much closer together.

That afternoon we had to head out of town for a few days to take my sons to college so we left Austin to care for the horses. Happily the next morning he reported that they were together and massaging each other. I’m not sure what that looked like but ok!

Later in the evening Austin couldn’t find Hank in the paddock and was surprised to see he had been invited into Harley’s stall. Just like he and Airy used to be. Watch the video by Austin Gosnell.

Now all this bliss will be shaken up on Monday with the arrival of Yukon. So that will be another story unto itself.

Hopefully three will be ok and not a crowd. Yukon is big and confident but lame (as in bad feet) so it will be interesting to see how it all flushes out.

More to come on that….

Here are some more photos of Hank (and family). Courtesy of the Gosnell’s.

Clarissa and Hank

Hank eating hay

Austin the bull rider and Hank

—–

Ziggy. The awesome cat.

Thank you’s and angels. 

This past week I had my 53rd birthday.  I think back over the last three years and all my family has been through and along the way I am reminded of all the love that has been given. 

This past summer I ended up in bed in pain and I was in misery. I had days where I didn’t want to keep going. It seems on those days that Kevin would bring the mail in and there would be a card from someone that would encourage me     – Or I’d get a text or Facebook pm from someone checking on me just when I needed an encouraging and caring word. We received meals twice a week for a couple months. I don’t even know who many of the senders were as it was all coordinated by a close friend of mine. The meals were a lifesaver. I couldn’t cook at all and there are only so many things Kevin can cook though he got more creative under pressure:)

 It is said that God puts Angels on earth to help us and to encourage us. These notes , messages, texts and meals were my little gifts of love and encouragement from those angels.  

Love surpasses all things. We don’t have to agree on everything, not one of us is the same and none of us is right all the time or nice all the time. But acts of love and encouragement transcend all that is different about each of us. It’s what brings us together. We are all on this earth trying to survive and learn what the heck this place is all about. 

We can survive without love -I suppose -but it’s a lonely existence. We need eachother.  We humans should take the cue from other animals. Most species need to be around others of their species to survive. 

We humans have more things alike than we have different. Just when we might feel we’ve lost faith in the human race something will pop up on our Facebook feed that makes us change our minds. There is hope for us. 

The notes and texts and messages and meals and calls and little gifts I have received over the last three years -and especially in the last six months have meant the world to me.  They kept me going during some very low and sad times. There aren’t enough ways to say thank you. My words can’t convey what they’ve meant to me. 

I haven’t quite figured this human experience out yet. I have a strong faith in God and I suspect many of my questions will be answered when my time here is completed.  I have faith that God that knows what he’s doing even when I don’t understand it. In the meantime I want to live my life to the fullest that I can and I want make people feel loved and cared for especially when they are down. Just like what was done for me. 

Maybe the best way I can say thank you to all those who have reached out to me is to simply pay all the kindness and love forward.  We can all be angels on earth -it just takes a little effort to make this world a better place. And it feels pretty good to be an angel too. 

God Bless to all of my angels near and far. I won’t forget your love to me.  I love you all. 

photo credit : Realm of Kindness on Facebook

The day after..life goes on. 

I woke up today not knowing the results of the election and Kevin had to give me the news. I begged him not to but he felt I better hear it from him than on social media. He knows I’ve been through a lot lately. 

This is certainly not how I thought the election would go. I didn’t vote. I firmly felt I could not vote when so much hate was being spewed around this election. And in the end my state went blue. That was expected 

But this election outcome is not the outcome I expected. 

And I will say neither candidate floated my boat but one worried me much more and he won.  But lets see – looking at my life the last three years and all that’s happened just in my own personal space – I shouldn’t be shocked. If something I think should be right side up turns upside down it shouldn’t shock me anymore. But this election outcome kind of does. 

Well what do I do with this? 

Live.  I’ll live.  

And yes I’ll allow myself to think of the fastest way across the boarder if things get really crazy. I will try to will myself not to worry over the stock markets and housing markets as they react to this news. 

People wanted change – I guess – and they got it. And I’ll hope that the ranting Trump realizes as he awoke today (if he slept) what a freaking important job he just got. Maybe he can put the ego aside some( I would have said this about Clinton too) and keep his hands to himself (I would not have said this about mrs C -but well yes I would said this about her hubby) and get down to doing a great job of being President. Maybe dial the personality back some  (Some people would insert -the crazy -here but I won’t.) and remember the entire world is watching -the places we like and the ones we don’t. He needs to know that he now represents more than himself. He represents us. He needs to keep his head about him and learn to think before he acts. 

I want to stay away from social media today but I’m sure I won’t.  Kevin told me people have posted all kinds of things. “Racism won” was one thing he told me before I asked him to not tell me that stuff right at that moment BC I hadn’t even had breakfast. Because I’m not even going to engage in any of that. Why feed into it the frenzy -it will die down.  I hope. 

I have my worries. I would’ve said this about Clinton too. Its just that my set of worries for Trump are little more scary than my worries were for Clinton . 

And I am bummed we didn’t get our first woman President -but we will. The fact that Hilary Clinton was possibly going to be the first woman prez and it wasn’t part of the in your face marketing campaign during the election says to me that we don’t think it’s a big deal anymore we just expect it to be something that will happen. Just like now we will never be shocked if a person of color runs and wins. Our younger generation has high expectations for woman –they don’t seem to see boundaries where other generations of woman did- and I hope in this next election in four years that we will see more woman seek the nomination.  

I chatted  with a friend on the phone this morning and she was not a Trump supporter and when I saw her name pop up on my phone  I thought she was calling to lament about it -we never really have talked politics -we have been friends for almost 50 years our connection transcends that of politics – but I thought she must be calling to lament bc I assumed she must be so upset. But she didn’t jump into that topic until well into the conversation when I mentioned it and she just said “ugh”.  She had other things of concern to chat with me about – she had already gotten on with her life. 

So there’s no point for me to lament or get upset about the gloating or feed into the negativity that I’m sure to see on social media.  I have so many other fish to fry. (Now I’m hungry for fish and chips).  I just need to live my life.  

That not to say the Presidency isn’t a big deal. It is-but all I can do is pray that Trump will cool his jets some and listen to his advisors who I also hope are really really really good. Maybe he will put his daughter Ivanka in some position. She carries so much class I can hardly believe she his kid. And BC she is, I hope that maybe he has a better side than we have seen. And I am praying that this is the side that will be brought out when he realizes that this is for real -that he’s the freaking President of the United States. He needs to act Presidential. He needs to make decisions for all of us not just the choices he likes at the moment. And I certainly will pray that he leads from place of care and love and not a place of hate. (And I would also have said the same if Clinton had won. )

I realized after chatting with my friend that the sun doesn’t rise and set focusing on this one thing. In a few days this news will be old news. If anything we Americans have short attention spans. And we have lives to live. We have so many shows to binge watch. 

I’m praying for a lot of good things to come out of this very hateful election. Maybe that’s crazy but that what I do. 

 But ultimately I’m going to just go live my life. And I’ll definitely keep my sense of humor because I’ve found that it comes in handy when under duress. And I’ve still got my eyes on the fastest way to the borders – the ones without the potential walls -and I’ll make sure one of the big cars has a full gas tank at all times. 

Life goes on. 

Surrounded by Dogs


It’s not often that I don’t have a dog or two -or 5- near me. One could say they must follow me because I have food -and I sometimes do but I often don’t and I don’t share all the time. I also am not the person who feeds them most of the time.  My husband and my kids do that job. But our dogs (my dogs) are my comrades. Lemon our yellow Lab prefers the company of my son -Luke- and I am her second choice when he’s not home -I love their love for eachother.  The other pups -my boys-are my shadows much of the time. One might move to a cooler place on the floor in the hallway outside my office or bedroom- but they are always near me. Is it because I’m their leader? Am I their leader? I don’t know what they think. I’ve always had a comfort being around animals especially dogs.  But my husband always is amazed that they follow me around like the I am the Pied Piper. 

It’s something that I don’t take for granted -this affection – but it is something that I’ve come to be used to in my daily life that I don’t always notice it. They are just there. And I need them to be there.  Dogs have been a calming force much of my life. When I felt alone or scared at times in my life there was a dog there to comfort me. They were my PTSD dogs long before there were such a thing. 

We usually are all quiet as we sit in our spaces either in my office or in my bedroom –  Unless the UPS man comes. Then it gets a little wild. 

In the last couple of months I’ve been out of sorts. My spirit is down and my physical body is in pain. I’ve waxed cranky and sad and sometimes downright angry. There have been days where I felt like there was just too much dog near me. I felt crowded impatient and claustrophobic. I’d shoo them out of my space.  It really wasn’t them at all – but yet in my angst I’d push them away.  

 I’d shoo them away -but they never went very far from me. They might lay in the hall or go sit by my husband or ask to be let out. 

 My old English sheepy -Ridley just doesn’t understand cranky or mad. Or the word shoo or off. He doesn’t leave when asked and in fact comes closer to offer his head for pats. Rudy is like glue to me. He doesn’t shoo he just curls himself a little further away to give me space. 


When I’d get back to my work or stop wallowing in my crankiness I’d notice later the dogs had moved back in closer. And I realized that I didn’t feel claustrophobic any longer. I’d feel a sense of calmness and I felt cared for.  Loved. 

This pattern has continued and as I looked around me today I realized that they may know what I need better than I do myself sometimes. 

It’s what comrades do for eachother…..

UPS?

Bee stings and love

I got stung by a bee today on my foot.  It wasn’t the bee’s fault – it just got caught up in my flip flop. I felt awful for the bee. I should have had boots on but maybe I would have squished it anyway but I would have avoided the sting. 

As I was jumping around freaking out about the sting – and calling to my sons and husband  for some help – I began to cry.  

I was scared. I’ve alway been afraid of bee stings. I have a fear that I will get allergy to the sting. I don’t have one I’m just afraid I will become allergic. 

I was so afraid of bees as a kid I would put myself in perilous situations just to flee from them. Once I nearly made our bus driver crash as I ran up the aisle of the bus screaming BC a bee was buzzing somewhere in the back. The driver slammed on the brakes of the bus and I went down flying head first into the seat. She was steamed at me. She didn’t care that I hit my head. She just yelled at me to sit down. So I did trying to hide my tears and my shame.

 I remember getting out of the bus and holding a little terrarium that I had made in art. We used layers of colored sand and placed a little succulent inside and put a top on. I was so excited about that terrarium and when I got off the bus I was finally able to compose  myself BC I was away from the bee and the embarrassment. I began to take inventory of the damage to myself and my belongings. My head throbbed but I was ok. I held up the terrarium and all the insides lay in ruin. The layers of sand were mostly blended together and the little succulent was unrooted from the sand. 

The tears began again. I cried a lot when I was a kid. I think some people became immune to my tears. But not my mom.  I took myself and my broken artwork into the house and tried to explain in choked words to my mother what happened. I can’t recall exactly what she did but I know she cured the tears that fell and the terrarium was fixed enough so the little plant was rerooted. I remember that terrarium sitting with all its imperfection in our kitchen.  My mother hated to see me sad. 

These days I’m not so scared of bees that I run from them. I even will catch them if they get into the house so I can free them into the wild.  If I find a bee in the house it’s their lucky day. 

We did have some of those bees that burrow into the siding of the house and somehow they began making their way inside. They didn’t meet as kind an end. They were nasty and they came in by the dozens. It took an exterminator and my husband a number of attempts to get rid of them.  We still have blobs of spray foam  bulging from holes in the siding of the house. We haven’t had a swarm in two years. I hope they don’t return- they deliver a nasty sting.  I don’t know what the purpose of those bees are but I know they aren’t good like honeybees. 

Speaking of stings – the one I got yesterday hurt! I began crying out of fear and pain and as I sat wimpering on my porch waiting for my kids to grab some ice and baking soda I wondered if today was the day I’d be allergic to bees and have to be rushed away to the hospital. It would be bad timing BC my husband had to take one son to an encampment that was over an hour away. If I had to go to the hospital I would ruin that. 

It turns out that my sting didn’t even swell much. Maybe she didn’t get much venom in as I pulled my foot up fast when I felt the bite. I saw her in the grass and felt badly for  her.  My fear of bees has grown into a respect of nature ( unless nature is living in the walls if my home). 

But I wonder where those tears come from. Well the tears I think I get. They are from frustration and fear. The frustration BC I haven’t been able to catch a break lately. I am dealing with chronic nerve pain from the cancer surgery and though it’s been two and a half years since surgery I am still dealing with this issue. It’s been worse in the cancer aftermath than the actual treatments were. My life quality of late has been less than subpar and I know those tears wait on the edge to come. All it takes is a little bee sting and a dose of frustration and fear and the dam breaks. 

It’s funny or odd how an old fear can take hold of us and wash over us in an instant. I knew in my brain I was most likely not allergic to bees but the fear was seperate from the rational thought. I just had to let it wash over me. It would pass in time. 

I was a fearful kid – every week I had a new fear. Fear of germs , fear of touching boys ( my parents must have loved that -but it definitely was gone by the time I hit puberty), fear of ticks. So many fears. 

Some of the fear followed me into adulthood and I developed a pretty major anxiety disorder in my 30s that I try hard to stomp on as best as I can. Some new fears arose that I learned had a fancy name called phobias. The phobias that remain aren’t life altering. I don’t eat shellfish BC I’m scarred of allergic reactions. Though I ate shellfish to the gills (pun intended) when I lived in Boston. But one day somewhere back in my 30s -maybe- I just cut off the shellfish eating out of fear. It’s not a big deal and I actually don’t miss not eating it except once in a while I’ll see my hubby eating shrimp or a crab cake and want a bite. Hubby always is willing to share and I am sure often wonders why I have this fear. But he loves me warts and all. 

I am warty. But we all are aren’t we? Or is that a delusion I convince myself of?  It’s taken years for me to love myself for the whole person that I am. And some days I fail at that. 

As I sat on that porch with my husband who was trying to comfort me as my mom did so many years ago – he made me feel safe. I knew I was being a little silly but I found the tears cleansing and maybe I just needed that cry. For an instant the child in me took over- the one who had so many fears. She may have been fearful but she was a good girl and had a loving  heart. She still does. 

After a bit I told my husband he could get back to the million things that he was working on. I picked  myself up and went inside to wash my face off and put on some socks and boots. 

I saw my kids who had seen me crying and had tended to me as I sat  on the porch and I wondered had I been comforting enough to them when they got stung? I probably tried not to show my fear to them when they were the ones hurt. I never wanted my kids to be fearful the way I was. I knew that the fear can hold you back and can stigmatize a kid. But was I too stoic with them? Did I make them feel safe? I hope I have. 

Even now as teens they act like they don’t need me but they do. I’m the tough one – the strong one. I get stuff done. But over the last couple years they’ve seen me at my worst – on my knees asking for Gods mercy. Do they think less of me? 

I hope not. I hope they see a human. One that stands tall for them but one that can fail and one that can cry in the face of fear. We are all a combination of feelings. We have to let them out and embrace each one because that is the essence of who we are and we need to love ourselves. 

As I saw each teen in the aftermath of the bee incident I said “I just get scared that I’m allergic to bees for some reason.  I know it’s silly”.  Each one in there own way said they knew and it was ok. Each one said they hated bee stings too.  Each one asked me if I was ok. Some sweetness from often seemingly uncaring teens. It’s in there. 

I went back to the chicken area to finish what I was doing before I got stung. The sting was still a bit painful but I had myself fairly convinced that I would be ok. I turned to see my husband looking at me. 

“What’s up?”

” I’m just making sure you are ok.” 

“I’m ok I think. I just hope I’m not allergic. ”

” If you were allergic you’d know by now” 

“I know it’s silly to be scared like that.” 

“It’s how you feel and that’s ok.”  

He gets me and he loves me. My kids try to get me but they love me as only a teen can love. That’s comfort, love,and safety all rolled up into the messy thing called family. 

And I’m ok. I’ll wear boots next time. Sorry bees. 

On loss and friendship

Recently my friend, Debbie, lost her 21-year-old son, Roma, from a fall off a ladder. It was a shocking thing to the many people who knew him and his family. It is one of those things that is hard to wrap your mind around when it happens. A young person who seemed to have a long life ahead of them doesn’t get the chance.

It is more than sad. It is devastating.

My heart broke for Debbie and her family. It is a parent’s worst nightmare to bury a child. I wept for their loss and for a life that won’t get to be lived. I wept when I thought what if that had been me. I wept because imagining the loss of my own child upset me.

How does one survive that? —I am not sure.

I have always been inspired by Debbie’s very loving spirit and strength and her deep faith in God. She has helped me during our friendship more than she may even know. In her time of grief I want to be a comfort to her. I have been thinking about how best I can do that.

Words of sympathy, anecdotes, and many pictures have been pouring onto her Facebook page. She told me they were comforting for her. But I imagine as the days after the funeral creep on and other people get back to their lives these things might quiet down some. This is the time that I hope to be helpful.

Sometimes when a tragedy happens such as this we may find it hard to know what to do. Some people may distance themselves because even talking about the loss of a child is too painful even for the one who might be trying to provide comfort.

I can see that. But I knew her son…not well but I knew him – and I knew him better because of how she shared him with others. Her son was adopted and she wrote a book about her journey to adopt him. She also had a blog where she often wrote about him and then recently she wrote an amazing story of how they found his birth family in Russia.

But the best sharing we did was together in our conversations. I also have a son who is adopted and who was having some problems. She not only helped get support for me and help for my son she listened to me talk (vent!) about my fears and worries for my son.

When she spoke of her son -who had also had some challenges during his teen years and had just seemed to turn a corner before he lost his life- she spoke of him always with love. She never lost hope for him. She had such compassion and care for him despite the frustrations and fear she also had for him. She is an inspiration to me.

So from all of these conversations I had with her, I learned about him and I learned a bit about compassion (and I have tried to emulate that in my relationship with my own son and others).

Things with my son had become difficult. It stressed the entire family. Kevin and I tried to get help for him and tried to let him learn through natural consequences. It was really taking its toll on me. I wanted to make him right. I saw his potential even if he couldn’t see it.

What I learned from Debbie is that we can guide with love and though we hurt terribly to see them falter or have to learn the hard way that we can just love them.

Debbie has written in her own blog that things got better for her when she realized God didn’t intend on her to fix Roma- only to love him. Reading her words was a changing point for me. I still have my moments of anger and sheer frustration but I am better able manage that and I try to see my son through the eyes that Jesus would have seen him through.

If anything comes of Roma’s death for me is that it puts so much of life with my own kids into perspective. I realized after I heard about Roma’s death how so many things I got upset about with my kids really didn’t matter. That what really matters is to love them.

And these are the things I can talk to her about. What she gave me and what her son gave me through her. Perhaps this will be a comfort.

Sometimes words aren’t needed though. When I got cancer I know that some people really didn’t know what to say. And that is ok. Some of the nicest things I got from people were simple cards. I loved the Bible quotes and sometimes little pictures. Sometimes just a few words of encouragement – “good luck today” or “I prayed for you today” were just the thing I needed at that moment. It doesn’t have to be a dialogue.

When my friend died last year of thyroid cancer I had no words except “I am so sorry” and how many times was I going to say this? So I stopped saying it. Instead I posted pictures on her face book page of my photographs. In fact, I did this in her last weeks of life. I had no words then so I would take a photo for her and attach an encouraging quote to it and post it on her page. I wanted her to know I was thinking of her and I hope in some way it was comforting. Posting on her page after her death was perhaps more of a comfort to me but maybe it made someone else feel good that saw it.

With Debbie, I hope to provide some comfort in these ways. The other night my family was out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant and I looked up at the décor on the walls and I noticed a wall clock and under the clock was the word “Roma” – her son’s name. I had my daughter snap a picture and I posted it on her Facebook just to let her know I was thinking of her and of Roma.

I hope to get together with Debbie after the holidays. I told her I wanted to come over and chat about Roma and maybe have a glass of wine. I want her to tell me more about him if she feels like it. I want her to cry if she feels like it. I just want to be there for her. I want to do what I am not always great at- just listen.

I think having had cancer was a huge turning point in my life.  One of the most important things I learned was what a gift it is to just have someone listen to you. My husband who is a great listener became a sounding board for all my fears and angst and anger and depression. He listened with love.

I had a few friends who had been through breast cancer and they were the ones I went to when I had a question or just needed to vent. It was just good know they were there. I didn’t always need words – I just needed ears.

And then there was the touch. During some really bad days hugs really helped. Kevin hugged me fierce. He caught my tears. I have not always been comfortable hugging on people. I didn’t grow up in a huggy family but over the years I have grown to be more of a hugger. So sometimes when I am in doubt of my words I hug. It brings connection and human touch is one of the most comforting things.

When I was in the hospital I was rolled into rooms prior to my surgery for icky procedures – my husband was often banned. He was my resident hand-holder and when he wasn’t there I just grabbed on a nurses hand for comfort and I told them it was a comfort. They were more than happy to lend a hand – pun intended.

So when in doubt of consoling words I hug or I hold a hand. I watched my friend the other day get hundreds of hugs. I bet she was tired but she told me that day that she and her husband really “felt all the love” from everyone…not just the days of the funeral and visitations but the days just following his death.

We all struggle with these things I think sometimes. We are lost for words. But it is ok. Any gesture that is from the heart is ok. It comes out of love. And that is a gift.

The loss of a child has got to bring unimaginable pain and sorrow. I can only imagine and I don’t like to – the imagining hurts. I feel such sadness over the loss of Debbie’s son Roma and such sorrow for her pain. I want to be present in my friend’s life- I don’t want to back away because I just don’t have the words or out of fear that I will make her cry because I do or say the wrong thing. I just want to her to know I care. I know I can’t make her grief go away but I hope to give support during it. It is all I have but I give it with love.

Debbie said it took a village to raise Roma. I know the village will be there for her and her entire family in their grief.

 

Debbie’s Author page here.

Photos courtesy of Debbie Michael

 

Rest In Peace Roma- though your mom says Rest and Roma don’t go together!