Monday, August 10, 2015

Another anniversary- the not-so-happy kind.

It's unbelievable to me that I haven't posted on this blog in almost a year!  I've written (partially or totally) several things but haven't shared them.  Tonight I'm more led to write and share, because tonight is the six-year anniversary of Randy leaving this world. That seems unbelievable to me- six whole years.  Things are much the same, but also very different in my life.  I think about Randy every day, but usually not in a sad or mournful way.  I remember the joy and fun times we shared and I miss those and him, but I'm also thankful for so many good things in my life today. I often think of those in light of how Randy would enjoy them, especially the puppies!

Of course, he would have suffered with me through losing Sophie and probably would have been OK to go full force into fostering to help ease that grief.  And then there's adopting Ellie Rose!   I'm sure he would love her as much as I do, although he probably would have taught her more manners at an earlier age, like he did Sophie!

The Alaska trip was something we both wanted to do, so I was a bit sad in some ways that he couldn't enjoy it with his brother, sis-in-law and me.  But that's just how life goes - we don't all get to do what we want or think or even expect.  I'm grateful for all the good times Randy and I had, as well as all of the good times I've managed to have without him here.  I'm mostly just thankful to be content where I am, at least most of the time.  Maybe I'm a little more content when there are three foster puppies asleep on/near my lap, as there are right now, but hey, give me a break!  We all have our addictions!

So, here's a toast to Randy and how he was loved - by not only me, but many of you and many others who won't ever read this.  Whenever and wherever you are, please think of Randy with a smile and a cheer (and a Boomer Sooner, if you're so inclined!).  Thank you for remembering him and sharing my memories tonight!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Joyful Sadness!

So again, as often I do in the evening when I don't have to go or be anywhere (which I love, BTW), I find myself a tad teary.  Now I don't want anyone to go worrying that I'm sitting here being all depressed or sad.  I'm not!  I think I sometimes get teary from being so happy.  It's usually after a busy day volunteering somewhere wonderful (ACH or UAMS or wherever) when I've encountered amazingly strong and loving people or precious babies.  I come home, have a glass of wine (or two) and enjoy the fact that at least two (and usually four) dogs are playing with each other or adapting to each other or even a little snarky with each other (as this rarely lasts).  The nights that it's cool enough to sit out on the deck, I will admit that a few kinda sad tears are for Randy, as that was one of our favorite things to do - usually with music playing in the background.  He was better at putting CDs in the player than I am, so usually now it's just quiet (except for the dogs panting!).

I don't understand this "joyful sadness" phenomenon but I feel like it's a good expression for me and one for which I am grateful.  It may be heightened by things I read on Facebook when I get home - again, usually good things, whether joyful moments for friends or one of my foster dogs and his great furever family being on vacation together in Maine or people in general being loving and nice to each other.  I try not to let the hateful, negative junk bother me - I either click in the upper right corner to say I don't like this post (and go from there) or if I'm feeling particularly loving, say a prayer for the person who posted it.  I wish I could say I did the latter more often.  I do fairly well to not turn on the TV, as the political ads make me to want to throw something at my TV - I so wish politicians and would-be politicians could not advertise on TV.  Think how much less money they'd need to raise?  That money could go to some so much worthwhile use.... like ACH or UAMS or even dog rescue!  Anything would be so much better than 30-second sounds bites of political lies/hate/untrue (or even true) accusations.  Does anyone actually use the information from these to decide how to vote?  I certainly hope not!

So, tonight, as sweet Luna lies on my lap (all 70 lbs of her) and Ellie Rose and Lucy sleep close on the floor (and the Parvo exposed pups sleep in the back bathroom), all is right with the world and I am thankful.  It may want me to shed a tear or two, but that is A-OK with me!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Shouting on the Hills of Glory!

Shouting on the Hills of Glory!  I happened to hear this last night on A Prairie Home Companion.  I'm not a big fan of listening to Ralph Stanley or the Stanley Brothers (one of whom who wrote this song), but I loved hearing these two gals do this beautiful song (Heather Masse and Aoife O'Donovan).  It mightl take a few minutes to load, but it's worth the wait!  If it doesn't load right to their song, scroll over to 22:54 and listen for the next three minutes...

And the timing is appropriate - I can hardly believe it, but it's been five years tomorrow (August 11) since Randy left this world.  I will always miss him, but I picture him running up and down those hills - something he could no longer do in his body on this earth, and that makes me smile.  I can't say I don't have some pity party moments, but they're mostly few and far between.  I know I am very blessed, so I try to be thankful for all the good things in my life.  And mostly for the chance to see Randy again some day and do some of our own shouting together once again!

There'll be shouting on the hills of glory
Shouting on the hills shouting on the hills
There'll be shouting on the hills of glory
There'll be shouting on the hills of God!

Oh what a blessed reunion
Oh what a blessed reunion
When will we gather over yonder
There'll be shouting on the hills of God!

No more sorrow in that city
No more sorrow in that city
Jesus prepared a place in heaven
There'll be shouting on the hills of God!

Now's the time to make your preparations
Now's the time to make your preparations
So stop and make your reservation
There'll be shouting on the hills of God!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Swirling emotions, but joy prevails!

A lot of emotions have been swirling around in me the past 10 days or so.  I spent a lot of time with Randy’s family on a wonderful visit to the west coast.  It began with Bill and Marge’s 45th anniversary celebration in Carmel, California where I got more time with Randy’s nephew Drew, his wife Jess and daughters Emma and Nola, as well as Bill and Marge and their great friends, some of whom I’d met and some who are new friends!  

Then it was on to Portland/Vancouver on Monday where I had dinner with his niece Diana, her husband Dea and more adorable kiddos – Charlie and Hazel Jane, then spent all of the next day with them, even while they dug potatoes from their garden for dinner (I loved that!).

Both visits involved much talking, good food and drink, hugs and kisses and lots of pictures.  I loved being with Randy’s family and meeting “new” great-nieces and nephews!  Of course I missed him, especially at the anniversary celebration, but a kind friend pointed out that she knew he loved me and was there in spirit, which I felt.  Diana and I also talked about Randy quite a bit.

And on top of that, last Thursday was our wedding anniversary!  Nine years ago, Jim and Julie and the two of us were together in Glacier National Park for a beautiful ceremony on the shore of Two Medicine Lake.  It was a unique wedding, but hey, after 21 years of dating, just what we needed.  And at least I didn’t sweat on my wedding day, which was about my only demand!

Today is the 30th anniversary of our first date.  Not everyone tracks that date, but when you date as long as we did, it becomes a fairly significant date.  It hardly seems possible that it was 30 years ago, nor does the fact that August 11 is the five-year anniversary of his death. 

I have so many blessings in my life and I appreciate every one – family, friends, dogs, volunteering, etc. – the good Lord has certainly filled my life with a lot of love, which has eased the loss.  I am able to have joy and contentment in my life, along with love – all of which are so important.  I don’t know why things have happened like they did, but I am thankful to have had Randy in my life.  He taught me how to use humor to ease stressful situations –whether at work or at an airline counter or almost anywhere.  I think I taught him a few things too.  Together I felt like we made a good pair and I still feel like he is a part of me.  

Most certainly, when I make a joke with a total stranger I know he is there!  And when something nice happens to me, I want to tell him.  And when something crummy happens to me, I want to tell him.  I am thankful for all of you in my life who I tell instead (you might not be so happy about the crummy part J.)   Losing Randy is something I will never completely get over, because he will always be in my heart.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Perfect Beach Day - at least for me

We had a storm last night at the beach - from 4 a.m. to almost 7 it carried on with wind, rain, thunder and lightning (but thankfully no tornadoes like Arkansas had a day ago).  It's still cloudy and very windy with occasional rumbles of thunder.  A bit ago the dogs and I went for a long walk on the beach and it was beautiful and peaceful.  The waves were crashing in close and not another soul was on the beach - it felt like our private place.  This is exactly the picture I had four years ago when I decided that Sophie and I should find a cottage on the beach somewhere to grieve our loss of Randy.  I wasn't thinking of bright sunny days, but of days more like today - maybe more normal on a beach in New England or Nova Scotia.  Friends suggested that Lucy also go and I resisted.  Lucy was not as obedient or trustworthy as Sophie, who I could let off leash and know she would come back to me.  Plus it was Sophie and I together who had the stronger tie with Randy.

However, they went on to offer to come with me to help with Lucy (the joke was on them later!) and so that's how our first annual beach trip was born.  It was great fun, even with lots of sun, partly because we were early enough in the year to still have cooler days, which I appreciate and because I had friends with me.  Lucy wouldn't do what any of us wanted her to  - she wouldn't even walk with my friends without Sophie or me.  But it was still fun.  The next year we repeated the trip, just moving next door to a smaller house that was still big enough for us.  The third year I decided to leave Lucy at home and just take Sophie.  I could never have known that would be Sophie's last trip, as she would die unexpectedly a month later.  I will always be glad she was an only dog on that trip.  The fourth year there were only two humans, as one friend was gone to the Holy Lands.  And there was only Lucy.  I had Ellie Rose at the time, but she was only about 6 weeks old and her brother was also still with me.  So, both puppies stayed with their other brothers and sisters at another foster mama's place.  And now it's our fifth year and once again there are three people and two dogs - back where we started.  Ellie Rose is so very much like Sophie, although not as well behaved.  Lucy is better than she used to be, but still has her stubborn streak.  The friends are much the same!

Today my friends are outlet mall shopping.  Instead of going with them, I stayed here to enjoy the "bad" weather.  Getting out in the weather was perfect and immediately brought to mind the feelings I had which made me desire a beach getaway four plus years ago.  I had the girls on a long leash and even let them go a few times to chase birds.  The second time they ran a little too far for my comfort, but had stopped to sniff, so I was able to catch up with them (and deliver a small sermon, which they probably couldn't hear,  because of the wind - I'm sure they were thankful for that!).

Back at the beach house, both girls are pancaked and I can sit here and relish this day.  It may have taken four years and five trips, but God knew I needed exactly this kind of beach day to close the grief circle.  No tears have been shed because I rarely have those moments (I said rarely, not never), but I truly feel the completion of something that began four years ago.

It's a peaceful easy feeling (thank you Jack Tempchin!)...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Torn apart - in many ways

As tornadoes devastated much of central Arkansas last night, I "watched" via Facebook and the internet from our beach house in Fort Morgan, Alabama, where I am with my Lucy and Ellie Rose and two girlfriends.  During the night when I couldn't sleep, I again picked up my laptop to see the destruction via news reports, pictures and videos, along with the death toll of 11 at that time.  Facebook may have its naysayers and its problems, but I am thankful for this media, as I see friends report they are safe, even though this destructive force of nature came too near to them.  I am heartbroken for the people who lost friends and family and for so many who lost their homes and possibly everything they own.  And I am moved to tears by friends out of state expressing their concern and wanting us to report in that we are safe.

It all comes down to this - loving each other.  I know we will be hearing the stories from people who lost everything in this storm but still have their families so nothing else matters.  This reminds us that ours is a transient world which can be gone in the blink of an eye or the rumble of a storm.  None of us are safe, as terrible things happen to someone every day - whether through death, a cancer diagnosis, an accident with far-reaching consequences. But it all comes down to having people who love - whether they know you or not - and who will act on that love.  The outpouring of concern and money and clean-up - it will all restore our faith and our hope.  There is even already a Facebook page for  pets lost and found during this storm:
Of course that makes me sad, but happy that many will be safely reunited in the next few days.

I would never call this storm an act of God as I don't believe God acts in this way - a force of nature, yes, but an act of God - NO!  I believe completely that He lets things happen in this old world without intervening, most of the time.  I believe He answers prayers, but not always in the way we expect Him to.  If He did, there would be no one who didn't believe in a world of dial-a-prayer.  I believe He wants us to talk to Him every day, but not just asking for safety in storms, good health, success in work, that perfect relationship, etc.  It's so easy to turn to Him when we need things, as many people will after last night's storms in Arkansas.  To me, this is the only part of the storm that God likes - if more of His people talk to Him, I believe He is delighted.  And I totally believe that He will comfort every person who asks - often through the love of others, who are his Hands and Feet on this earth.

So, let's keep all affected folks in our prayers, as God will bless them and us for remembering He is always there and calling on him.  Keep them on your hearts and do what you can to be God on this earth - give money, work on clean up, donate according to needs - these are all acts of love.  And, last but not least, pray.  God loves to hear from his children.  And I am thankful for that.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Four Years Later - A Letter to Randy

                                                                                                            August 11, 2013
Dear Randy,

I cannot believe it’s been four years today since you left this earth.  I still think about you every day.  I miss your crazy sense of humor and your generosity and your smile, even in the midst of cancer.  I miss telling you about my day and I definitely miss the things you did that I can’t or don’t want to do – from dealing with electronics to paying bills to yard work.  And I could go on and on (and often do J)

It’s hard to ask others to help with the things I can’t do, so generally, I try to hire people to do things around the house.  Sometimes, I ask friends or neighbors for help and they are almost always more than willing to help and are very kind about it.  But everyone is busy with their own lives and not necessarily tuned into my needs – imagine that?  And when I feel like I’m intruding into their lives, I miss talking to you about that L.  You were such a good listener – you should have been the chaplain!

My life is much the same as when you were here, but different in a few ways.  Since our sweet Sophie is in heaven with you, I have a new puppy - Ellie Rose – rescued at a little over two weeks old.  She is five months old now and the light of my life, along with Lucy.  Usually there are a few foster dogs here as well.  You and I never thought about fostering or I think we would have done it, especially when you were healthy.  Without you, having a few extra dogs definitely seems to be right for me.  I’m pretty sure you would approve (well, except for the bed sharing!).

I focus a little more on my health, for several reasons.  I tell people that you often said, “Drugs should be for recreation,” so I worked to get off of prescription drugs.  I try to eat healthy and exercise and avoid chemicals whenever possible.  Some people may think I’m a little crazy, but thankfully, it works for me!

I’m volunteering as a chaplain at the Cancer Institute at UAMS, because it holds a special place in my heart.  They may not have saved your life, but they were part of giving you a little more quality and quantity, as was MD Anderson.  I will always be grateful to Dr. Colman and to Dr. Hutchins and their teams for what they did for us.

I’ve traveled some, but it's just not as much fun without you.  You were such a good travel agent and companion.  I hope to go to Rome next year while Amanda and family are there.  You probably know I am Nick’s godmother, which has given me so much joy.  I love staying connected to Amanda and the rest of the Wilcox family, especially because of your love for them and vice versa.  It is really important to me to stay close to the people who knew you and loved you.  I don’t see all of them as often as I’d like (even the local folks), but I appreciate them more than they will ever know.

I am thankful to God for the 25 years we had together and for the very positive impact you had on my life.  I will always miss you….  I will always love you.