Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Gifts of Love

People asked me to keep blogging when Kyle died.

It seems like most of my posts would read like this:

My husband died.
I'm sad.
I cry a lot.

I'm sad because my husband died,
I cry a lot, especially between the hours of 9-11 PM.
It sucks.

I cry because my husband died
and I'm sad.
Screw cancer, it sucks.

So you see, there's not a whole lot of variation on 
the theme here. (Which is why I haven't blogged a whole
hell of a lot).

I AM sad and I DO cry.

But the story doesn't end there.

So I'm going to give you a little update on our lives.

I went back to work full time last week, and I'm still
in school.  Day by day, plugging along.

My children have done exactly as Kyle predicted
and they have stepped up to the plate to help carry
their mom.

In my book, they are superstars.

I am extremely grateful for 4 kids who have shoulders
big enough to help carry me forward in this life.

Kyle left me (us, all of us) with the lesson of love
in this life.  It is one I hope to hold forever in my
heart and continue to share.

People ask what they can do all the time and surprisingly
what I have found is that human beings are resilient.

Shockingly and surprisingly so.

We can keep moving forward if we chose.

That doesn't mean it's always easy OR fun, in fact
sometimes it is neither of those things right now.

But we still get to chose of how we move.

And for us, it is forward.

What I will tell you to do is HUG us if you see us.

For some reason the hugging has stopped and we 
(especially me) are STILL in desperate need of hugs.

Hugs are good.

If you see us, hug us.

Don't be afraid to ask how we are.

Remember even if you DON'T ask, we are still grieving 
the loss of our husband and dad.  So asking us
isn't reminding us of something that's always there--
it's just showing us you care.

Ask.  "How are you?"

Tell us you love us.   Again, love is powerful 
and just knowing we are loved...?  Well, it helps.

Kyle's death and life will forever be a part of who I am.

I will always love him and miss him and carry the 
memories of him in my heart.  His death has also
changed all of us.  I think that me, and each of my
children, will forever be the kind of people who
love more deeply, feel more profoundly, and give more
of ourselves to others.

It will take time to heal from all of this, yet
I feel a greater sense of all of those things even
as I type.

I rarely end a text or a call without an "I love you"
now to the people in my life I love.

Kyle taught me, you can never say it enough or too 
often, and you never ever know if it will be the
last time.

Say "I love you."  You'll never be sorry.

Kyle shared a lot of gifts with us ...but my favorite
was perhaps that of love.  It is a strong, and powerful,
and profoundly impactful gift in my life.

And that's what I've got.
For today.
Love.



Monday, February 2, 2015

I love you and I must go

My sister for another win.  
She sent this to me in a email yesterday and said
"This is beautiful and made me think of Kyle."
And I read it.  And it did.  And I cried and cried and cried.
Please hold your sympathy.
I am not a tragedy. I am human and flawed. I break under pressure, I boil under my skin with anger, love with every fiber that I contain. I cry inside with every sad tear that wells into my eyes.
My cells make mistakes, just as my words can be misleading. During these last moments I don’t need bells and whistles. I need love. Self-love, soul love, friend love, mother, brother, sister, father, aunt, uncle, grandmother love. I need to scream out from the inside and let go of it all love.
So don’t feel bad or sad for me.
I am becoming free.
Listen close as I tell you my last secrets. Hurry up, give me your ear, I am unraveling fast.
Dearest, what I want you to know are the secrets I have kept hidden behind these eyes. The secrets contained behind my physical walls.
I want you to breathe in air like it won’t happen again. Smell the rain before it hits the ground. Inhale when the flowers bloom and scrunch the dirt between your toes. Run from thunderstorms when you get caught in them.
Realize you are already soaked in the cleansing rain so you might as well play in the puddles.
Child, I want you to love.
Love someone like you will never ever love them again. Love them when the moon is glowing and then love them when the sun comes up. Love them when the sun and moon are out playing, kissing the sky and sharing secrets about the other side.
I wish for you to hold another to your chest.
Listen to them speak about missing you even, after a few hours apart. How they miss you even when they are in your arms. Love someone like your heart beats as if it was created to make music to their soul. Care for them as if they’ve done no wrong, even if they have.
Love many people, as many as you can. Even those who hurt you, sometimes they are the ones who need your love the most.
Forgive.
How important is it that you forgive. Forgiveness is a blessing you can bestow to your own heart when you share it with another. It is not something you can buy. It is not something you can take. It has to be given by another.
When you forgive, you release another of hardship. You release your soul of burden it may be silently carrying. When you harbor forgiveness, it can fester and rot. It will become toxic. Forgive freely and willingly, my child; you will find peace in your quest of forgiveness.
Fight for your life.
Do not lie down. From the moment you are born, there are forces tearing you apart. Your will is what makes you amazing. Your atoms are what make you beyond words. DNA from thousands of years, your fight is ingrained in you from those who never gave up.
Talk to your atoms; they are buzzing, listen close. Fight with every last fiber for your hearts desire. Be it true to the truth of the universe, you will be victorious in your conquest of existence.
Leave.
Leave your heart out for others to see. Leave your trail of light behind you wherever you go so others may find you. Leave a blanket out for others so they may feel the warmth of the love you have left for them. Leave a piece of your soul in another human.
Leave when things are not meant for you. Acknowledge there is no right time. So leave when you need to. People will be with you wherever your heart leads you. You must trust in the choice to go.
So, with this I must take my own advice. In my own state of grace, I am in a limbo where my messages are left behind. Know that I am still here with you, just not in the way you wish for me to be.
This is me listening to my atoms; this is me loving you with every ounce I have. This is me giving you every bit of what I have left in this world. This is me giving you my last forgiveness.
I am still there behind your eyes. I am in the daylight and the moonlight. I am dancing in the twilight. I am in the fall air and the winter’s chill. I am playing in the snowflakes as they brush against your face. The raindrops you run from and the warm breeze that wraps your lungs.
I am in your reflection when you look deep inside the mirror. I have left a piece of me inside your heart. You are the stars within my free soul. Please share my last few treasures and with those who may already know. I am always with you.
I love you, and I must go.
 Reposted from Rebelle Society

Friday, January 30, 2015

Like Joy, Pain is Holy

I read somewhere recently that like joy, pain is
holy and should not be snatched away from us.

We should lean into it and feel it and let it
help us grow.

The past few days have been filled with endless
streams of tears on my part and no matter how hard
I try and stem the tide--they keep slipping down 
my face.

And so I lean into the pain and the tears and let 
them wash over me.

Grace turned 18 on Tuesday and for 3 days she has
been "quiet" and I have felt a sadness coming off
of her in waves that even she didn't realize.

I kept asking her why she was sad (well duh!) and 
what was wrong--

she kept saying nothing.

Then last night she came into my room and said she
finally realized she had been feeling sadness
surround her but (besides the obvious) she couldn't
pinpoint WHY she was feeling the extra sadness.

She realized that it was her birthday and her dad.

Yes, one of those fabulous "firsts" without him.

He was not here to celebrate 18 with her, and while
we all tried our darndest to make it somewhat special,
her dad was still not here to celebrate that milestone
with her.

We can feel the sadness in the air.

It comes in whispery silver waves that wrap around 
us tightly and squeeze us, holding us in its grasp.

It sinks slowly into our hearts and crushes them,
leaving us breathless.

It sneaks up on us and taps us on the shoulder,
some memory that triggers the pain.

I will embrace it though, for it means that the 
man who we most miss was loved.

And our grief is evidence of that love.

So we take baby steps forward every day and
sometimes we fall onto our beds in a heap weeping...
but then we rise again and take another baby 
step forward.

Kyle always promised me that there would be people
around me to love me and help me when he died.

It's interesting that while he was fighting cancer
and ultimately dying, he had an army of people who
loved and cared for him.

Carrying him on his journey from life to death.

That army has somewhat mostly dispersed now--but again
Kyle promised me that others would step in and fill
the holes that I needed filled when the time was right.

And he was right.  I have been blessed to have people,
some of them new, step into my circle now and help
carry me on my journey from Kyle's death to my living 
again.

I am grateful that even on the darkest days that I 
know I am loved.

I am grateful for 4 wonderful children who, while
they all have their own struggles with this, have
been an anchor for me.

I am happy to see glimpses of their father in them
as we muster our courage and move ahead.

I like to think of all the love Kyle had in his heart
extending outward into each of us so that we can
carry on his legacy of love and service.

I like to think that we WILL know joy again someday
and will be filled with laughter and smiles at adventures
to come.

For if we cannot, and do not--then this is a life wasted.

I am grateful to find quiet moments of peace even
on the stormiest of days.

I am grateful for texts and calls begging me to come
and have lunch, or dinner, or just to check on me.

Thanks for letting me turn you down again and again
and still loving me--this is hard.  Being "out" of 
my bubble is hard.  Please don't give up on me, my
heart is healing and growing while I lean into my
grief and pain.

So for now, we lean into our pain--realizing it is 
healing us in the long run.  We embrace our tears
letting them wash through us and carry away some of 
the grief.  We carry on and we love and feel 
a little more deeply than we ever did before.

I miss him, oh how I miss him....
from the tips of my toes to top of my head and
everywhere else in between I miss him.

And that's what I've got for today.





Saturday, January 24, 2015

Reflection: One Month

On the day that Kyle was diagnosed with cancer, the 
sun rising over beautiful and majestic Mt Olympus in my
backyard made the sky literally glow pink.  

Splashes of pink smeared liberally across the already
blue skies and the soft golden light of morning.

I thought of the old saying my mother used to tell
us all the time growing up...

"Pink skies in the morning are a sailors warning"

(The inverse of which would be "Pink skies at 
night are a sailors delight.")

Now I am not one who see signs in anything really
or looks for "meaning" in things beyond what they really
are.

That said, for some reason on that day driving up
for a liver biopsy, the thought flitted through my
mind, "pink skies in the morning are a warning--we're
going to get bad news today."

I already had a deep seeded fear inside my heart that
something was decidedly wrong with Kyle anyway and
for some reason the skies that day nudged me more
toward the bad news that did indeed follow.

It wasn't a magical sign from God or the universe.
It just was.  And it just stuck in my brain that day.

Fast forward to Wednesday December 24, 2014. 

For days Kyle had been defying the odds and living
for "one more day" when all his blood counts were
pretty much incompatible with an actual human being
staying alive.

Somehow he would go to sleep and wake up one more day.

That morning I left the hospital in the neighborhood
of 3:30 a.m., hesitant to leave lest he should die, yet
my poor body was screaming at me after 5 days with pretty 
much no sleep to go and get "some rest".

"Some rest" meant two hours of sleep and then a shower
and a drive back to IMC and the 8th floor where Kyle
lay in his hospital bed.

As I got in my car at around 6 a.m., the skies across
the valley were once again a breathtaking pink hue.

Shimmering with the promise of a new day and all it
would bring.

I sighed as I drove the now familiar route to the
hospital, Christmas music playing absurdly in the back round,
and thought again, "pink skies, sailors warning....
Kyle will indeed die today."

Now not to give myself too much credit for "predicting"
his day of death, I had had this thought almost every day
for the days leading up to December 24. 

We all had.

We all wondered what day would be "the day."


But signs of his impending death were coming swifter
and faster and his body was shutting down and he
was slipping away slowly, but surely, from us the 
people who loved him most.

I will always treasure those last days in the hospital
as some of the most beautiful days of my life. 

There was a love that filled every corner of his 
hospital room for every moment he was there.

He was constantly surrounded by people who loved him

He was always being touched and held by family and friends.

He made us laugh and he made us cry and those memories
are most tender in my heart.

I will not lie (have I ever?) and say it's been easy.

In fact, Kyle's death has knocked the wind out of my
sails.  I am more sad than I ever thought possible.

Kyle always told me "Dor there is NO way to prepare for
the time when I'm dead."

In that, he was right.

However, I will say that in all the darkest fears about 
how this would be in my heart (his death and my 
continuing life) I am right.  I was right when I told
him how hard it would be.

It is hard.

The degree to which we ALL miss him in our home and family
is beyond description.

CS Lewis writes that "the death of a loved one is like
an amputation" and how very right he is.

There will always be the ghost of the limb that was once
Kyle in our lives. We will grasp for it and him, only to
have it be just beyond our reach and be that phantom limb
that we can feel and see in our hearts, but not in our
reality anymore.

There is no good answer, we know.  There is no magic pill
and no easy way out, but through.

Through all of this messy stuff called living 
and dying and grieving.

And so we wake up each day and try to get through.

Some days are easier than others and some days we
lay together on my bed and just weep and weep.

And both of those, the "okay days" and the "weeping days"
and anything else we feel, are all okay.

Today when I woke up, remembering it was the 
one month anniversary, the skies were not pink.  

In fact they were the typical Salt Lake City
hideous awful gray inversion post apocalyptic Utah winter
skies, with no sun in place at all and no pink or blue
or anything at all other than shades of gray.

How perfectly fitting on this day I thought.

And that's what I've got for today, reflections.






Monday, January 19, 2015

You went to a funeral...

People ask how we are.

We say "okay" when in reality we (I am, I can't speak
for my children or extended family and friends that
lost Kyle as well)  I am drowning in grief and sadness
and depression.

And who really wants to hear that?

Or be around that?

Or listen to me cry or whine or be sad?

It makes ME depressed.

It sucks, plain and simple, it sucks to lose your husband.

The overwhelming feelings that wash over you.
again and again.

It takes so much energy just to function every single
day. 

I shared this article on Facebook and I will share it here
as well, since it is a great write up of how I think
we feel.


You went to a funeral.  I also am not saying everyone 
else is not allowed to go on with their lives, so don't
read it that way.  But pretty much, life goes on very
quickly except for a select few of us.  You're all 
allowed to (and should!!) go on with your lives--but
just because YOU are?  It doesn't mean WE are.

We are, but we're not.

And again, it just plain sucks!

We miss him more than words and feelings can describe.


You went to a funeral, and then you went home

_MG_8606You heard some bad news from a friend, relative, social media, church, or maybe in a gossip circle.  However you heard, you immediately felt bad, asked how to help, donated time, food, money or prayers.  Whatever you did, the family was grateful, even if they didn’t say it.  They were blessed by your gifts.
Life goes back to normal.  The family sits on your heart.  You pray, you ask, you follow the updates.  You did what you could.
One day, you heard the really bad news:  Death won and a family lost. Forever.
let me be sadOnce again, you prayed, you helped, gave what you could.  Even if you didn’t know it, the family was thankful for you, your help, your prayers, your love and your support.
You attended the funeral, cried some real tears, laughed some real laughs, enjoyed the memories of the one who is gone.  Finally, you hugged the ones who lost the most.
Once the funeral was over, and the day was done, you went home.  Back to life, back to love, back to those who make your world complete.  You went to a funeral, and then you went home.
We all lose, but someone that day, went to a funeral and didn’t want to go home.
Someone that day, drove home to the couch, the bed, the house that is forever empty. Life is not like it once was and never will be again.  Where there was once laughter, sits an empty chair.  The couch is bigger, the blankets and pillows are extra.  There are empty shoes, clothes, toiletries that might never be used.  Bags sit. Drugs disposed.  So much to do and SO MANY MEMORIES left to be remembered, processed, and grieved.
Time passes and the wounds are not healed.  Sometimes, life feels normal and OK.  Then a birthday, holiday, celebration occurs and the loss is real all over again.  Sometimes life is normal, and for no reason at all, the LOSS comes right back, like it happened again.
There is loneliness, emptiness, and tears.   “Public faces” put on a show, and comfort the ones who interact.   “Home faces” are real, raw, and honest.  There are headaches, stomach aches, and countless mistakes made all because the grief lives in place of the person who completed a family.  Not to mention the questions, the hurt, the anger that sits because it is hard to face.
IMG_0020Days pass, holidays pass, milestones completed the grief lives, despite how the family looks in public.  Remember, it’s a face, a show, an act, it’s not always real; however, it’s not always fake.
When you go to a funeral, and are allowed to go home to life, remember that at least one person goes home to a new life that was NOT asked for, but handed to them.  Give those people more than sympathy or judgement; give them an endless amount of time to grieve in their own way.  For that one act of kindness and grace, they will be forever grateful for you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

(More) On Grief

 A darling friend (that I've actually never even
met in real life--though we connected because of this
awful cancer--) sent me this thing on grief that I 
found so truly wonderful.

It is so great I wanted to share it.


It described things so well. It's from that popular 
Facebook page "Mitchell's Journey".

And it so clearly says what I feel and cannot yet find
a way to put into words.

I especially like the part that I've underlined.  It is
NOT a choice to simply rise above it, grief and sadness
STILL exist, it is not something we can will away, pray
away, hope away....it simply is a part of our souls
because we loved the person who is gone so deeply.

I've said it before and I will say it again, the 
LONELINESS is unreal for me.  I feel more alone than
I've ever felt in my life.  Despite ALL the hugs and 
kindness, my "go to guy", the one who held me close in 
my darkest hours, the one who whispered in my ear it 
would "be okay", the one who loved me despite the way 
I looked or acted, that guy?  He's gone.

I said to my kids last night through a multitude of
tears, "I'm truly alone in this thing."  
Olivia (my 11 year old) looked at me and said, 
"Yup you are mom!"

Now before everyone gets their panties in a wad and thinks, 
"well I have been a friend, I've helped, I've called/texted/
messaged/emailed, brought food, sent a note....."

YOU'RE RIGHT!  You have all (so so so many of you!!)
done so so so many kind and wonderful things.

Of which I am 1000 times over appreciative of....
Please don't think they don't matter to me--
THEY DO!!!!!

But still, not one of you can come hold me at night
when I weep.

Not one of you can let me lay in your arms and comfort
me and tell me I'll be okay.

Not one of you can fill that hole, that hole that feels

bottomless to me right now, that hole that was once
Kyle.

It aches.

I ache.


There are things that I do that LITERALLY make my heart
hurt, like its coming apart inside my chest.  

A real physical pain that is awful.

I'm sorry to be "Dorien Downer"....but man oh man
loosing your best friend is hard. 

I told my kids I was jealous that for the most part
everyone else that is missing Kyle has a spouse to go
home to, a shoulder to cry on, someone to hold them
tightly in bed at night when the hour is the darkest
and the saddest feelings come.

I've tried holding myself in bed at night, and it's 
just awkward and doesn't really work.  My arms don't 
wrap around tightly enough, I guess.

I will leave you with this tidbit for today 
from the author of Mitchell's journey.

It seems grief is universal in it's feelings honestly.

I have spent the last (almost) 2 years posting about my grief and my love, my faith and my flaws. Though I write of grief, I do not live in a constant state of grief. I used to live in a constant state of deep sorrow, but not today. Each day is a little sunnier than the day before. To be clear, I have hard things yet to share; stories of grief and sorrow that come from the darkest corners of the soul. I will share them not because I am there, but because I was there. I hope that in sharing it helps others who are drowning in a sea of grief – for I know those dark waters and they are scary beyond belief. To all of you that hurt, I want you to know how much I care.

When I think about my son I smile and my heart swells with love and longing. Sometimes, and sometimes often, when I think of Mitch I cry. I shut my door to my office and I weep a million and ten tears. When I’m done heaving in sorrow, when the emotional storm has passed, I then wipe those tears away and I face the day the best I know how. That is all I can do sometimes, and I think that’s okay.

One of the many things I admire about Natalie is she always seems to find a reason for joy. Though her heart aches in the worst way, she makes the best of every single day. And that is contagious.

In my own grief journey I've discovered heartbreak and grief exist despite the choice to remain in or rise above it. The best way to help others out of grief, I have learned, is to love those that hurt and give heavy hearts time to heal. It is an exquisitely personal and individual journey.
Grief hurts because we love and miss our dear ones. It hurts because they are gone and we want them back. There is nothing wrong with hurting … and it will always hurt. The more I contemplate my own grief journey I'm beginning to wonder if the key to finding joy while living with chronic grief is learning to not mind that it hurts.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Grief

I'm not sure how long I'll keep writing, but sometimes
words just need to come pouring out of me. 

It's how I do this, and it's how I've done this
and I don't know any other way.

Mostly it's always been for me--to record my feelings
and this journey...

Grief is exhausting.

Life after Kyle is exhausting.

A few people have said to me, "It must be nice
to have so much free time and just relax now."

To which I laughed (somewhat manically) and said, "relax?"

Who are you kidding?

Do you know how much work has to happen when your 
spouse dies?  How many things have to be done?
And changed? And fixed?  And life---it just keeps
going on.

Life insurance and social security and long lines
and phone calls and more calls and changing bills
to my name and getting death certificates and
mailing them off to prove Kyle died and on and on and on.

I thought when Kyle died I would wake up with a shock
of white hair, because of grief.

Or I thought I would not wake up at all, since half
of my heart had stopped beating.

Or I thought that everything in time would freeze
and be stuck in that one moment when he breathed his
last breath.

But, I was wrong on all counts.

Life keeps going.

There is beauty in that.

There is also pain in that.

Grace came home from a High School basketball game
last night and laid down on my bed and said, "That was
EXHAUSTING!"

This is my social child, the one who likes being with 
other people.

That's the thing about grief...

IT. IS. EXHAUSTING.

It takes all of ones energy to just get out of bed
each day and put one foot in front of the other.

There is not much left over for anything else.
Or anyone else.  We're in survival mode.

Being in crowds of people is exhausting for us
right now (and I thought it was just me).

Part of our souls, and hearts, and bodies just need
to be nourished in our own little family--the rest
feels too overwhelming.

But on the other hand, we need to know people love
us and care--so it's a funny balance right?

I'm not sure what I'm saying--but maybe don't be
offended if it's too much to be with people right now
and we can't be with you.

But in the same breath ---don't forget about us--
we need to know we're loved and cared for, so sometimes
we will WANT to be with you.

I guess it will all just take time, and it depends
on the day.

I miss Kyle so very much--the biggest hole in my life
is his touch.  Just a hug or his hand on my back or
laying by him watching TV and feeling his breath.

It's amazing how utterly lonely, alone, one can feel
even surrounded by lots of people.

I would give a million dollars to hold him one
more time and hear him tell me he loves me.

I have had lots of hugs (all of which are great!--
so PLEASE don't stop giving them to us--they're the best!)
but it's still not the same....as his.

I'm rambling now....

But rambling and grief all go together I guess.

And it's what I've got for today.