A Year

So much can happen in a year. A day can be busy. A week can be full. A year can change your life. They are all made up of moments.

One year ago today, my son was diagnosed with stage IIIb cancer. He didn’t live close by. I wasn’t there when the doctor told him. I was 2000 miles away connected by some unseen electronic air wave cell phone line.

He made it. He went through chemo/radiation pre-surgery. Then a 15 hour radical surgery and then follow up chemo. We traveled by air to be there. To touch. To love. To cry. To encourage.To hope. To fear. To despair. To move into another day.

PET scan showed no cancer. Celebration!

Yet…this day brings back haunting emotions. Life is very short. We all live one phone call away from very sad news. Life changing  information.

My philosophy? Live each day without regret. Love. Forgive. Don’t try and be perfect.


Soul Hug

I’m feeling pretty worried and sad as I sit in the hospital coffee shop. My father is down for a lung biopsy as the PET scan had indicated that his esophageal cancer had spread to his lung and bones. I know I am about to lose my last living parent. As a nurse I know the loss would involve pain and suffering.

I am unsure if my hands can hold up my head. They are on either side of my face, covering my eyes as the despair has nearly taken my breath away. Our family had just lost our mother , who died after suffering from Pick’s Disease. Now my father. I remembered that there was a small garden court area at the side of the hospital. I decide perhaps if i sat out there a while my head could clear and I would gather some strength and perhaps some insight as to how to go on.

As I get to the garden a beautiful lady is sitting on a tree bench. I wanted to be alone, but I don’t really feel disappointed. I feel somehow drawn to her.  Then she looks at me, and her smile is so soft, and warm. Her eyes are looking at me with so much compassion I feel my throat constrict and tears well in my eyes.

“Hi, my name is Semesia. Will you sit with me a few moments?” Semesia offered as she gently placed her palm on the bench next to her. “Hi, thank you, I will, but I don’t know if I will be very good company.” I say in return as I sit down beside her. As I sat, I felt an odd energy. Not a tingle really, but some ‘awareness’ that I can’t really describe. It was ethereal.

“I know. Your father is upstairs having more tests. I have been allowed to see you and to encourage you. I know that you have never felt so troubled. You are right, your father will pass. But he will be active until his last couple of days and then he  will be in a coma. You are going to be able to help him. He will feel great love and comfort as you do.

However, the toll on your life will be transforming. I am also to tell you that it will all get worse. Your husband will seek friendship elsewhere. A year after your father passes, you will be divorced from your husband.”

Somehow her words do not knock me off my bench. On some level I think I knew this. I was changing. I was challenging who I had been told to be and discovering who I really was. My husband of 30 years did not like that. It was unsettling to him.

“You have wondered if you are on the right path. Your path to question and seek other ‘truths’ and learn of other cultures. You are doing exactly what you should. While you will experience a couple of years that will be the most challenging in your life, great reward is coming. The freedom you will feel will terrify you at first, but then you will experience its marvels. You will find peace.

Then, I am happy to tell you, that you will have a story book wedding in a castle in Washington State.”

I had never been to Washington. As I was growing into myself, my husband made me feel very bad about myself. I knew helping my father was right, and was determined to continue. I feared the loss of my husband. I was fifty. Who would love me. I had grown up with my husband. How would I ever meet anyone. How would anyone love me, I continued to struggle in my soul.

“I know your struggle. That is why I was allowed to come. My time here is short. Remember, your greatest challenge is in front of you. You will manage it and it will build your strength and your resolve to continue in your quest to become who you really are. And you will do so. It will be your greatest reward. Then your marriage to a wonderful caring man will take you on many fun adventures. From the Castle wedding to voyages, to open conversations and laughter throughout your day. You will no longer have to ‘make fun happen’. It will occur naturally all around you. He will hug your soul.”

She placed her hand on top of mine. And she looked at me-right into my soul. I started to cry. Semesia knew me better than I knew myself. I raised my hands to wipe my eyes and when I opened them, she was gone. I was left with a strange mixture of sorrow and hope.

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”  Thich Nhat Hanh


A Baby is Born

What does it mean when a baby is born? To some it means ecstatic celebration. The family planned and prepared and looked forward to the day the baby could be held and brought into their home. To some it means despair as the family is uncertain how they will care for one more family member. To some it means confusion, as nothing went as planned.

What does it mean when a baby is born? To me, it involved all three of the emotions mentioned above. I was ecstatic to have a second child. We loved our first child and longed to bring our second into our happy home. Everyone wanted to see the baby and to hold her. But that didn’t work out-at least not for a while. Our baby had to go to intensive care. She was there for a month and had two surgeries during her stay. So we felt some despair. We had little means to pay for such intensive, and surgical care. We had to meet with hospital finance to work out payment plans-which would continue for the next 10 years. And I was also overwhelmed with confusion. My baby was born with a crippling disability. I had not planned for that. I didn’t know anyone with a disability. I worried about how I could help her.

What does it mean when a baby is born? It means a soul has come to earth for a purpose. My baby had a purpose as she came to us. We had a purpose when we came. We all have our own unique purpose as we live out our lives.

The trick is to enjoy the purpose. I get in a hurry to ‘reach’ a certain point in my journey. Sometimes I slip into a desire that I was on someone else’s journey. I have to take a moment and embrace my own purpose.

“When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” Wayne Dyer




“While grief is fresh, every attempt to divert only irritates. You must wait till it be digested, and then amusement will dissipate the remains of it.”    Samuel Johnson

When I would be in a room with other people who were broken hearted, and they shared their stories of what broke their heart, a strange phenomenon occurred-they began to see whose story was worse. Before long a competition of sorts took place. Whose heart was broken the most. And that was when my epiphany occurred. I don’t believe there are degrees of broken hearts. A broken heart is broken. Whatever hit it, the result was on target-the heart broke.

Most of us have experienced heartache at some time in our lives. I used to try and understand what caused the heartache. While that may be helpful, what I found to be the most helpful to a person with a broken heart, was to hug their heart. I learned the cause didn’t really matter, the emotion was the same.

Heartache is sadness.

“Tears are words the mouth can’t say nor can the heart bare”    Joshua Wisenbaker