Posted by: evennow2007 | 10/20/2010

CHAPTER/TITLE


PROLOGUE . . . . . “EVEN NOW”  

ONE . . . . . . . . . . . .COURAGE 

TWO . . . . . . . . . . . THE LETTER

THREE . . . . . . . . . NO REGRETS

FOUR . . . . . . . . . . SUCCESSFUL FAILURE

FIVE . . . . . . . . . . . VISIONS 

SIX . . . . . . . . . . . . PIRATES CUTLASSES AND PARROTS

SEVEN . . . . . . . . . ESCAPE

EIGHT . . . . . . . . . . KATOEYS 

NINE .  . . . . . . . . . .  IT WILL ALL COME TO YOU IN DUE TIME 

TEN . . . . . . . . . . MARLBORO MAN

ELEVEN . . . . . . . . POLLYWOGS

TWELVE . . . . . . . . . .WALLABIES AND WINE TOURS

THIRTEEN . . . . . . . . . CHANGES

FOURTEEN . . . . . . . .  LETTERS

FIFTEEN . . . . . . . . . . . . CAPTAIN CRUNCH

SIXTEEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LOVE      

SEVENTEEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NOT MEANT TO BE  

EIGHTEEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HERO           

NINETEEN . . . . . . . . . NEVER SETTLE

TWENTY . . . . . . MOVIE SETS AND IDITEROD DOG SLED TRAINING 

TWENTY ONE . . . . . . IRISH BLOKES

TWENTY TWO . . . . . . . PAIN IN THE NECK

TWENTY THREE . . . . . . . . . ALL THE MOVIE CHANNELS 

TWENTY FOUR . . . . . . . . . . THE MICHELIN MAN   

TWENTY FIVE . . . . . . . . . . . FAINT MEMORY

TWENTY SIX . . . . . . . . . . . . THE WAITING

TWENTY SEVEN . . . . . . . . . CAREGIVER 

TWENTY EIGHT . . . . . . . . . FLASHBACKS

TWENTY NINE . . . . . . . . . . WHAT IS IMPORTANT 

THIRTY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I’M SORRY

THIRTY ONE . . . . . . . . . . . MOVING MOUNTAINS

THIRTY TWO. . . . . . . . . . REESES PIECES

THIRTY THREE . . . . . . . . . . . FINALLY HOME 

THIRTY FOUR . . . . . . . . . . . TELLING PEOPLE YOU HAVE CANCER

THIRTY FIVE . . . . . . . . . . . . STOLEN DREAMS

THIRTY SIX . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . PREMONITIONS

THIRTY SEVEN . . . . . . . . .. . . . SAVE YOUR LIFE

THIRTY-EIGHT . . . . . .. . . . . . . THE BOX ON THE SHELF 

THIRTY-NINE . . . . . . . . . . EMOTIONS 

FORTY . . . . WILDFLOWERS

FORTY-ONE . . . . . . DOG THERAPY 

FORTY-TWO . . . . . . DON’T TOUCH THE BOX

FORTY-THREE . . . . PLAID JACKET

FORTY-FOUR . . . . . HEART TO HEART 

FORTY-FIVE . . . . . . WHAT TO TELL JOSHUA 

FORTY-SIX . . . . . CALLING ON GOD

FORTY-SEVEN . . . . DID I DIE

FORTY-EIGHT . . . . . A MIRACLE AND A BLESSING 

FORTY-NINE . . . . . . WHATEVER YOU NEED

FIFTY . . . . . . . TRULY BLESSED

FIFTY ONE . . . . . PEACE

FIFTY TWO . . . . . KONIG KISSES AND THANK YOU’S 

FIFTY THREE . . . . . LAST WORDS

FIFTY FOUR . . . . . . . . . ALWAYS THERE 

FIFTY FIVE . . . . . . . . PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE 

FIFTY SIX . . . . . . . . . I HAD BUT FIFTY CENTS 

FIFTY SEVEN  . . . . . CRAZY BUT 

FIFTY EIGHT . . . . . OK LOVE 

FIFTY NINE . . . . . . LOOKING OVER ME

SIXTY . . . . . . NEVER THE SAME

SIXTY ONE . . . . MAKING DECISIONS 

SIXTY TWO . . . . . FOREVER CHANGED

SIXTY THREE . . . ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM  

SIXTY FOUR  . . . .. . . PASSAGEWAYS 

SIXTY FIVE . . . . . . . JOSHUA’S QUESTIONS 

SIXTY SIX . . . . . . PINEAPPLES, MUMUS, AND DANNY STORIES

SIXTY SEVEN . . . . . . REINVENTING MYSELF

SIXTY-EIGHT . . . . .. DON’T WORRY SO MUCH 

SIXTY NINE  . . . .. THE GIFT 

SEVENTY  . . . . . . . . . . I HAVE SOMETHING YOU NEED TO HEAR

SEVENTY ONE . . .. . . . AS THE STORM ENDS 

SEVENTY TWO  . . . “THE LAST LECTURE”  

SEVENTY THREE  . . . . ONE MORE DAY  

BACK COVER

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Posted by: evennow2007 | 10/20/2010

BIBLIOGRAPHY


 Be not afraid:  Overcoming the fear of death.  Johann Christoph Arnold.  Plough Publishing House 2002.  pp. 

Crazy sexy cancer tlc;

http://tlc.discovery.com/tv/specials/crazy-sexy-cancer/crazy-sexy-cancer.html.

Lungevity website:  http://www.lungevity.org/content/?section=448&page=448.  

Lung cancer poses deadliest threat – by far.  http://www.thestar.com/article/260536.

Grief website:

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/grief_loss.htm

http://www.neurocareusa.com/Papers/2006dreaminterpretation.html

http://dreammoods.com/cgibin/searchcsv.pl?method=exact&header=dreamsymbol&search=pilot

http://www.dreammoods.com/dreaminformation/dreamtypes/recurringdreams.htm

(http://www.hospicenet.org/html/knowledge.html).

Randy Pausch, The last lecture.  http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/al-gore-randy-pausch-highlight-carnegie-mellons-th-commencement/

Cry until you laugh:  Comforting Guidance for Coping with Grief.  Richard J. Obershaw, MSW, gLICSW.

How to go on living when someone you love dies.  Therese A. Rando, Ph. D.

Life After Loss:  Conguering Grief and Finding Hope; Raymond Moody Jr., M.D., and Dianne Arcangel

Talking about death won’t kill you.  Virginia Morris. 

http://asiangirlsthailand.blogspot.com/2008/01/lady-boys-are-hot-stuff-in-thailand.html

http://www.aarp.org/families/grief_loss/a2004-11-15-newlywidowed.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combat_stores_ship

http://navysite.de/afs/afs3.htm#gallery

http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/ships/carriers/histories/cv64-constellation/cv64-constellation.html

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/afs-1.htm

http://www.katoey-blog.com/ladyboy_kat.htm

http://www-nmcp.med.navy.mil/HMTraining/PDF/P-5042.pdf

Posted by: evennow2007 | 10/20/2010

Back Cover


1/22/07

I would like to extend my sincerest regret for the loss of your husband.  I first met him when he was going to Illinois Aviation to get his commercial pilot’s license.  I was his flight instructor and flew with him a lot, as I’m sure you may have.  He was an experienced and safe pilot and always up for whatever I had to throw at him.  He was good at the throttle but it’s unfortunate that he didn’t get to finish.  However, thinking more about that, maybe he did enough.  I know that Dan had a passion to fly, and no matter what rating he held, he accomplished that and was good at it too.  As a flight instructor, I enjoyed my flights with Dan because I didn’t have to worry about him making any unsafe mistakes that I would have to jump on the controls for.  He had the plane handled; even when we jumped into the Arrow (a heavier and faster retractable gear aircraft) he had a good handle on it that I didn’t have to do more than just sit on my side and give tips. 

Dan and I casually talked more about the Navy than we did aviation though.  I was electronics’ technician and search and rescue swimmer on a destroyer and I remember him being a boatswain’s mate on the amphib’s.  I remember him talking about steering the ship and I think we talked about crossing the equator (though I don’t remember, I’m almost certain that he did—if he did, there will probably be a sheet in his military service record).  Looking from the outside, I think that he definitely lived a full life; from being in the Navy on several deployments, getting his pilot’s license, joining CAP, working for the airlines, and having a family.  I envy that and hope to live up to it myself.

I just wanted to drop you an e-mail because I haven’t in the past, nor did I visit Dan in the hospital.  That was my mistake and now I regret it dearly, but I want you to know that I will be at the wake early on Friday (I’m shooting for around 3).  I also wanted to voice how much I respect the courage that you must have for going through the tough time that you did.  I hope that you and your family may find some peace.

Please accept my deepest sympathy,
Terry Kline

Posted by: evennow2007 | 10/20/2010

SEVENTY-THREE


ONE MORE DAY

The Great Thing

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.

 To reach the port of heaven we must sail sometimes with the wind sometimes against it. 

But we must not drift nor lie at anchor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

In memory of

George W. Bielefeldt

1924 – 1990

(Memorial in Egg Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin)

Often I think what we would do if we had just one more day together. 

            The day would begin at sunrise perfect for flying.  I can you hear you say the words, “Good morning beautiful.  I’m hungry let’s fly to Indianapolis and go to St. Elmo’s steakhouse in Indianapolis.   

            We would rent an airplane from Bob at the Illinois Aviation Academy to Indianapolis.  You flew the Cessna 172s and the Piper archers, but on this day you would fly the Piper Aztec N4515P, with two 250 hp engines cruising at about 145 knots.  Of course Konig and Fabio would fly with us. 

            You would ask your favorite restaurant, St. Elmo to open early for us to have breakfast.  With your charming personality they wouldn’t be able to resist your request.

            You would of course have the famous prime rib dinner that you talked and dreamed about for years after we had eaten there only one time.  This time I would let Konig eat a whole bone.  Maybe Fabio could have a little too.  From there we would fly to Joshua’s house. 

“Hey buddy, let’s go flying.”  You would say to him.

            This time he would fly with us to Alaska.  He would be your wingman, sitting next to you and be your lookout while I sat in the back with the dogs.

            “You know Joshua, even though you can’t see me I am always here for you.  I’m still there for you.  If you have a dream you should go for it.  There will be those that will help you achieve that dream and so will I.”  You would tell him this as you are holding his hand with the two of you flying the plane.

            You would also keep telling him for the whole trip about the best prime rib dinner you just had that morning at St. Elmo’s. I know because I heard about it over and over again until you died after eating at the restaurant only once after we had just gotten married.

            This would also be the day you would finally earn your title as a Bush pilot in Alaska.  Then all of us would be on a cruise ship headed for Spain.  That little adventure is for me by the way. 

            All of your family and friends would be there for one more touch, one more hug, one more dance and one more day. 

The entertainment would be “The Blue Man Group”; satisfying a promise I made to you a long time ago, but unfortunately we never made it.  The music, what else?  80’s music. 

            The two chefs of the family, your uncle Gary and your cousin Paulie would be on the deck cooking for everyone.  First thing you would run over to the smoker to smell the food.  I can see you waving your hands around towards your nose so you could take in the aroma keeping your eyes closed. 

            “That smell is heavenly.  No pun intended Gary, but I have been dying for a taste of your smoked corned beef and prime rib, just one more time.”

            We would dance close together with you holding me so tight.  Mary Kay and Annie would join us, for one last time.

            You would give Joshua one last hug, “I love you son, no matter what, always believe that.”

            Quietly we would sneak off together and go to the deck looking at the stars, smelling the salty sea and listening to the ocean waves like we did in the Persian Gulf.  This time instead of me being on watch duty we would be reclining in a chair with a blanket drinking a bottle of wine, as you would take my hand, drawing it to your lips, and kissing it.

            “Goodnight Love” you would say to me before we would both drift off to sleep. 

            The next day I will awake and my storm will have ended.  Your essence will have returned to the sea you love.  Our relationship will have completed a full circle, at sea, where we met.  Where we fell in love, where it all began, and a final goodbye.    

            But all I will have to do is close my eyes and listen to the waves to know you are still there.  Like the wind in the salty sea, I can’t see it but I can feel it, I know you are there.  The journey will be exquisite, as we celebrate life and love. 

             The destination will be . . ..  It is hard to find the right words to explain the destination.  The best way for me to say it is not in my words brought from Brad Pitt’s line in the movie, “The Curious case of Benjamin Button.”    

            Destiny is what you make of it for no one but you can define that for yourself.  It is never too late to be whoever you want to be and find the life you want to live, and find the strength to start all over again. 

            I am now finding my strength and starting all over again without you.

Posted by: evennow2007 | 10/20/2010

SEVENTY-TWO


“THE LAST LECTURE”

I’d rather be a failure at something I love

than a success at something I hate.”

~George Burns (1896 – 1996)

Often I think about if you had written Joshua a book what you would like to say to him.  You didn’t do that, you weren’t ready to say goodbye to him or any of us.  You were too busy living, how could you say goodbye.  Maybe my words, my message, will help. 

            Through the last nine months of your life when you were so sick I think you might start out writing something like,

“I am sorry I will not be there for you physically.  But I am always there for you, wherever you are.  Don’t forget your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t pursue them. 

Look at me.  It may be tough but that is all right.  I will see you in your dreams and we will go flying. “

There is a man that has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He has taken total control of his disease and he is leaving a message to his children and the world through a book called the “Last Lecture.”  He has had such a positive influence on so many people.  Including me.

            Every time I see him I think of you.  Even his name reminds me of yours, Randy Pausch.  If I juxtapose, drop and replace a couple of other letters I see your name, Dan Rausch, or Danny Rausch.  But that is not the only similarity I see the two of you had. 

            Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon.  Although you weren’t a professor, you didn’t even like school, you could have been a teacher or instructor and you would have been a good one.  I could not have completed my master’s degree without you, as many nights you sat beside me helping me to write my papers at the graduate level.

            While I was writing this book “Even Now” I didn’t know what I would do with it.  Would I finish it talking about every emotion I was having until I didn’t have anything more to say.  Then what would I do with it?  File it away on my document folder on the computer.  Or do I pursue getting the book published and possibly help other’s going through the situation.  I have no idea.  

I saw on Good Morning America that he was at the commencement for Carnegie Mellon.  His message as he expanded in his book “The Last Lecture” is about pursuing childhood dreams.  Money and status is not important.  What is important is to follow your passions, even if things get tough.   

            Sound familiar?

            Just before taking my trip out west he died.  I always knew my book would not be complete until after his death.

            I never knew him, but I cried when he died.  I cried for his children, and his wife.  I know they will have a tough time ahead of them.

There was a special on 20/20 with his is wife paying a tribute.  I listened to his wife and saw in her eyes, what I had felt when you were sick.  I wanted to be tough and strong, but inside I was hurting, and grieving the whole time.

            Not only did you and Randy share a similar outlook on life their relationship had a couple of similarities.  Just like you and I Randy and his wife were both in thier 30’s when they got married, and they were married for only 7 years when he died.  They thought they would grow old together. 

There is another similarity I didn’t want to mention to mention in the beginning of the book.  But when I listened to his wife’s interview, I had to share this.  When she met her husband Randy she thought he was gay, mostly because he had this obsession with stuffed animals.  I laughed so hard.

            In the early versions of this book I have been writing there was a paragraph explaining that I thought you were gay as well but I took it out.  I didn’t want people to get the wrong impression of you.  But now I find it appropriate to bring it up.

            You were so different from the other guys.  You didn’t say anything about going out.  You didn’t even try to kiss me.  This was different from most guys on the ship.  You also seemed very concerned about your looks. 

I walked past you one day and I remember you were talking to a couple of the other girls while you were on your smoke break, “Me and my sister have this contest about who gets the best tan.” 

I thought this guy has to be gay, and on top of that you always make sure you always had your hair cut and perfect.  Most men on the ship didn’t pay too much attention to their looks.  But I found out later, I was wrong.

I just thought it was very ironic about your tragedy and his.  I still think about his family and I wonder how they are coping with their loss.  I am sure it is hard but I am sure they have great memories too.

            Maybe this is the reason this book had to be written, and why the vision came to me in the hospital.  It is not a story about what should or shouldn’t have done, it is written for my healing and for your final legacy, your final goodbye.

Posted by: evennow2007 | 10/20/2010

SEVENTY-ONE


AS THE STORM ENDS

The journey may be graceful, or slow and laborious. 

Nevertheless, most of us somehow arrive. 

We reach either restoration or transcendence.

Life After Loss (P. 131)

Becoming reborn with humility empties your soul and allows room for something new, self-discovery and newness.  Willingly I submitted to my grief, and it became a crucible transformation.  I have had several soul-searching trips and each created such clarity for me usually at times when I had to submit to a change in my life. 

            My first was when I was twenty-one years old.  I had just ended a five-year relationship and called off the engagement.  I applied to an ad in the paper to work at the Grand Canyon State park for a dishwasher.  I applied without telling anyone until I was hired. 

            My stepmother was very upset.  She turned to my father and said, “She wants to go to the Grand Canyon to be a dishwasher.”

            My father just grunted and said, “It sounds like an adventure.”

            So that summer I went to the Grand Canyon and became a “Harvey Girl”.  I was a dishwasher for maybe a week and I was quickly moved into other positions and eventually became a waitress, and I made a good living doing it. 

            That summer was fantastic!

            I didn’t let too many weekends go by without participating in some activity.  One weekend we went on an employee trip to Las Vegas. 

Other times I would go hiking and found that I loved it.  My first hike was to plateau Point and I thought I was going to die.  But each time I learned to pace myself and I eventually planned to go hiking and camping to Havasupai Canyon on the west side of the canyon.  If you see any pictures of waterfalls in Arizona, it is most likely they are from here and are called the “Havasu Falls”. 

            But my biggest triumph was when I took an employee complimentary flight from the south rim of the canyon to the north rim.  Right away we started our twenty-mile hike and planned to spend the night with the employees at the bottom of the canyon at Phantom Ranch.  Resting up for the tough hike then next morning.

            I was forever changed after that summer was over, and I had my first taste of adventure and I loved it.  I decided to move to Arizona the following summer.  It was a struggle being alone but I loved living in the Southwest.  Which is probably why I thought so hard about moving back to my old stomping ground when we found out you had cancer. 

            While living in Arizona I attended Arizona State University.  One day there was a booth for an orphanage in Mexico called Nuestros Pequinos Hermanos.  I decided I wanted to sponsor a child.  I wrote to this child and sponsored him later deciding that I wanted to travel to Mexico and meet him. 

This trip was planned after I broke off an engagement with a very controlling man, and I needed to discover myself and start new. 

            I worked for America West Airlines and I arranged to fly to Mexico City and for the driver from the orphanage to pick me up.  He was so nice.  He picked me up and took m to lunch and pointed out to me points of interest on our drive to Cuernavaca and helped me pick out a hotel that I was comfortable staying in.  He was so patient with me.  We went to three hotels until I found one I was comfortable staying at alone.

            I remember walking in the city so scared.  Then I there was this elderly lady walking in my direction.  “Buenos Dias, senorita.”

            Suddenly I became very relaxed. 
            The next day I took a bus to the orphanage to meet the child I sponsored.  I was in awe with what I experienced.  The orphanage was an old sugar plantation.  I met my godson and the other volunteers.  Instantly they invited me to stay in their house with them.  One of the girls was going to leave in the following weeks and was then going to work with Mother Teresa.  It was an awesome experience.  I came home with so many stories and memories.  Again I was changed. 

            My following major experience was when I joined the Navy, and you know story from there.  Oddly enough my decision was after a relationship had ended.  We had talked about getting married and were living together.  Later he had told me that he was designing an engagement ring for me when I decided I wanted to break up.

            He was a very nice man, and my parents loved him.  But I didn’t see myself growing old with this man, nor did I see the adventure in his eyes, like I saw in yours.

            So now I was planning my next soul-searching trip.  Oddly enough it was after another relationship had ended with you. 

            I finally took my trip out west to Oregon and then to your dad’s house in Bremerton, Washington.  This trip was very important for me to accomplish as I wanted to revisit our original plans of moving out west to Washington and while I was there I wanted to visit Oregon as well. 

I needed to do this trip to see if this is still somewhere I want to be.  While I know that I want to be near water, I just wasn’t sure if it was in Washington especially without you.

            The whole time I was planning this trip I told everyone it was my soul-searching trip.  I have become friends with our neighbor Carol.  She asked me, “You’re adding this to your book right?”

            Of course I had to add this trip.  There couldn’t be a close to the book without this trip.  There needs to be closure, and a goodbye to certain things.

            I always wanted to check out Portland Oregon so I flew there and rented a car and just wondered.  I drove to Cannon Beach and thought about getting a

hotel room.  It was a very cute little town but I decided to do a little more driving and I ended up in a little town called Garibaldi and rented a room there. 

            There wasn’t a whole lot there but I loved this little town and you would have too.   The town at one time was an Indian whaling village, and then it became a major lumber shipping port.  But now it is a sporting hotspot for visitors.  There isn’t a whole lot to see but you would have still liked this town.

            The following morning I took a walk on the pier leading to the old coast guard office.  The view was spectacular.  “I wish I had the camera.”  I said out load.

            “You want me to run back to the hotel and get it?” Is what I was imagining in my mind you saying to me.

            “No we can get it when we leave and just drive over here.” I said aloud again as if you were there next to me.

            “Really it isn’t that far.” You said back.

            “No, come on let’s finish walking.”

            I stopped myself and laughed.  “I can’t believe it.  I am talking to you as if you are right with me, and we are arguing about the most ridiculous thing.”  Just like we use to always do.

            I just laughed.  I laughed, because, you were so there.  You couldn’t run back and get the camera for me, but you were so there.  You would have loved this trip and been surprised at the same time as nothing was planned.  I just rented a car and ended up here and flew by the seat of my pants and I loved just going with whatever struck me.

            Later that day I decided not to rent the car for a week and turned the car in after booking a hotel in Portland, which provided a free shuttle.  It was a very nice hotel and I met some very nice people.  Like I was meant to meet them.  They were the epiphany of my trip.

            The ladies first husband was killed when she was 6 weeks pregnant.  They were at a bar and this guy would not leave her alone.  They left and he kept following them in his car and speeding.  Finally they both stopped and they got out of the car.  The man in the other car pulled out a gun and he shot him in the neck.  She said she hysterical yelling at him that he killed her husband.  I can’t imagine losing someone so brutal that way.

            Experience has made me grow more and become the person I am now.  Life goes in a spiral, back to where I began searching for that artistic and creative in my life. 

It is beautiful out west.  I was on the ferry back to Bremerton.  I love water.  I just sat there listening to the engine and the water.

            I was saying goodbye to our plan and goodbye to our plans to live on a houseboat here.  I don’t think it will be permanent goodbye to Seattle or the Washington area.

            I am not sure but I think Seattle was more your dream, and to live in your dad’s house. 

            I loved the Seattle area and I loved the market.  Maybe someday I will change my mind when I know it is what I want and I have moved on with my dreams now. 

            I was crying when I got on ferry as I was putting a close to what we had talked about for so many years.  I was saying goodbye, and I walked to the back of the ferry to stare and give a proper goodbye.

I watched the dolphin’s circle around the buoys.  Our baby’s nursery was supposed to be decorated in dolphins.  I just remembered in that moment, so now I was saying goodbye to children as well.

            From every loss there is a gain.  I know what I lost from your death extraordinary strength, clarity, and artistry.   

            I am able to talk about the fullness of my loss, and how my life is different now.  But I am going on with my life.  I realize how special you were, but I also realize you were human.  You made some wrong decisions, and had your flaws.  Just like all of us. 

Moving on without you is something I never thought I would have to consider.  I always pictured you as an old man telling stories about the places we traveled to, the adventures we had, and especially how you never stopped pursuing your dreams.  Our stories will fade as time goes on but they will not be forgotten. 

            The pain is still there, it hurts every day and it always will.  I still cry when I hear a song from the eighties that reminds me of you, or I see some new electronic gadget you would have liked, especially around the holiday season.  But the storm is ending and I am learning to live my life without you, and the thing that helps us heal is love, and I guess time. 

            I have learned it is all right for me to say I am struggling and I don’t have the answers.  Through my writing, listening, and discovering who I am becoming, the feeling of being lost started to diminish.  My words brought about expressions of love, affirmation, regret, life lessons, hopes, wishes, anger, forgiveness, our legacy, a blessing, and a goodbye.

            Eventually there will also come a time when I have finally been able to get over those excruciating and emotional tasks of going through your personal belongings, and finished making all of the quilts and pillows out of your clothes. 

Your baby shoes, most of the photos and scrapbooks of your dreams and ambitions will have finally been put carefully into scrapbooks and boxes, with my hands and fingers lingering over each item, telling you goodbye over and over again.  I want to make sure you are in a safe place before I move on.  Finally I will have sorted out all of your tools and instead of three of your drills I will have

only one.  I always asked you how many drills you really needed, but you insisted each had a special purpose.  I am sure you were right.

            After you died I changed my eating habits to the way I was eating before we met, and I finally lost some of the weight that you and I gained after we were married and settled in with each other.  My wedding ring was falling off of my hand.  Reluctantly I felt it was time to place it in the jewelry armoire you bought me next to your wedding ring.  There they will await their new inherited owners. 

            I can now look through each room in the house and remember not only your pain but also the good memories.  I have almost crossed the bridge to get to the other side and I will have decided to move on from this house that we shared.  It has taken a long time to wrap my hands around the process to move on. 

I love the house you and I bought together, and the community.  But the day has come that I am ready to leave.  It is the morning before I am supposed to be all packed up and out of here.  I said good-bye to the house remembering parts of you in each room, touching the deck where you flicked your cigarette and it started a fire. 

            I kept looking at the painting, before packing it away and I saw myself in the painting looking at the city of Chicago and feeling very distant and unattached.  The more distant I get and further away the more calm I become.  I don’t need to have everything planned but that is all right.  Not everything goes according to plan, and sometimes you can’t have control.  I will go with things in the order they come in and not fight.  Things will come to me when they are supposed to come wherever that is to be.  I will begin a new chapter in my life living in a new place and another place learning to love again, promising love and live my life as passionately as you did. 

            My storm is ending, and I will not forget that you got me through it and what we had together.  It was a long time getting here, but you helped me.  Those times you visited me, what I learned from you, what I learned from myself.  It helped me to get to this point.

             Even now, as I am living a life without you in it, I love you.

            “Even Now”.

As I interpret this short tour of your life and this ill-fated, and tragic final chapter of our lives together, I can make peace.  It took losing you forever to turn me into someone new entirely, and to move on to my present without you “As The Storm Ends”. 

Posted by: evennow2007 | 10/20/2010

SEVENTY


I HAVE SOMETHING YOU NEED TO HEAR

For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart.

It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.

Judy Garland
 

 

Earlier when I talked about dreams I mentioned that I have a hard time remembering what I dream about when I wake up.  I was having a dream and before I woke up I remember I was telling myself to stay still and don’t move until I thought about what I was dreaming.

I was lying in bed and I knew I was dreaming.  Everything was very faint and foggy but I did remember just enough.  You were in the dream giving me a message. 

You said to me in my dream, “Be still, I have something you need to hear.  Don’t move until you hear what I have to say, as you don’t remember your dreams.  You are doing everything just as you should be doing.  It seems difficult at times, and it may get harder.  But keep pursuing what you are doing.  It is the right thing.”   

It calmed me to hear you say that.  I lied in bed thinking about the dream, and I felt good that I was beginning to figure out what I want now, alone.  I thanked you for reassuring me.  You were telling me goodbye, and I think there were would be no more signs until we see each other again. 

Posted by: evennow2007 | 10/20/2010

SIXTY-NINE


THE GIFT

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,

love leaves a memory no one can steal. 

~From a headstone in Ireland

 

            There have been many events through this year.  All of the firsts have brought the realization of my loss, and new feelings resulting from you being gone.  It also makes me question who I am now. 

Throughout the first year there was a constant internal clock counting down the days and hours.  As each new day approached, I thought, “One year ago today we got the diagnosis in Arizona.”  “One year ago today we got the news that you still had the cancer.”  “One year ago today . . .”

            Well I got through all of the firsts.  The holidays were a little awkward but I got through it.  Holidays are for families.  My family was you, but you aren’t here.   

            The day that I dreaded the most finally came.  I read that most survivors sense the first anniversary of a death will be troublesome and plan events to soften the hurt and do things that are different and maybe out of the norm. 

I didn’t expect family, friends or colleagues at work to remember the significance of this particular day, the day you died.  I didn’t want to be disappointed if they didn’t.  But it is okay for them to mention it.  Your family and several of our friends were very sensitive to the significance of the day. 

            On this particular day I went to morning mass.  You would have loved this particular day.  It was very cold and snowy.  The snowplows were out but I couldn’t go into the cemetery, as they had not plowed the road yet.  The was alright and I felt very much at peace and felt the strength to move on and to get myself together to move out of the house.

Our lives change in a moment with no warning.  Remember when we thought Konig may have had cancer and it turned out to be a hernia?  Both of us were so relieved.  Neither one of us could have handled her being sick, watch her suffer, and possibly losing her to cancer.  Especially since you were dealing with cancer yourself.  

            While I was so thankful, I always felt she was on loan to me.  So I spoiled her terribly and watched her very carefully.  I always wanted to let her know how much I loved her.  I think God knew I couldn’t handle watching another life suffer to disease.  That would have been too cruel.

            About six weeks after the anniversary of your death I lost our Konig, our baby.  I found her dead in the house.  It took me a long time for me to be able to talk about this. 

But after you died I have been overwhelmed with everything.  All of the things that need to be done legally, the house things, worrying about finding a

job, getting out of the house, and when I sell the house, where do I go from here.  I had no idea.  I was overwhelmed and I was going constantly and I was trying to do it all.

I pulled the car into the garage.  I saw our neighbors Katie and Kevin and I wanted to go talk to them.  We were planning to put our houses up on the market at the same time and we both did upgrades and get it ready for viewing so I got out of the car and closed the garage door.  We talked for a little bit about our plan and then I met Robert and Evelyn for dinner, and then we watched a movie at their house. 

I walked across the way and opened the garage door.  The car had my keys in it and the car was still running.  I covered my mouth and turned it off as fast as I could and yelled for Konig.  She never came.  I found her behind the door, she was probably waiting for me and she just fell asleep from carbon monoxide.  I saw her lifeless body behind the door and I screamed.  I screamed so loud and ran to Robert and Evelyn’s.  I was hysterical.

It was a horrific night.  I thought I might have killed our neighbor too but the fire department came and everyone was all right, although there was a trace of carbon monoxide in Al’s unit.  Robert found Mickey but if we had waited any longer he would have died too.

            Why did she have to go so soon?  She was my companion.  She helped you get through your illness unconditionally and helped me get through this whole year.  We grieved together and she comforted me.  She was such a good dog, so smart, and so much personality.  I am certain she is in a special place with you. 

            I didn’t think I was going to make it through this.  I had my routines and she responded to all of our moods.  Now the house was silent.

            I was pretty devastated and I went into a downward spiral.  How could this happen to me now?  Instantly, I lost my identity as her protector, and feeling in control with my life.  I was no longer in control of my life.

            Two days later I went to church and then to your grave.  I couldn’t stand it anymore.  It was like you were pushing me to get another puppy.  I felt I could love a puppy just as much as Konig.  It was a quick decision but because I could deal with your death I could deal with hers.

            I went to a pet store, and found a very cute poodle and Pomeranian mix puppy.  I wasn’t sure about the puppy so I decided to think about it. 

            Then I went home and looked online and found another all white Pomeranian puppy that needed a home in Rockford.  I called and immediately I decided to drive to Rockford to look at the puppy.  Instantly, I fell in love with him and decided to take him home.   

            “I will take him.  He’s mine.”  I told the breeder.
            I didn’t even think to ask when he was born.  I only knew that he was seven and a half weeks old.  He was all white and just the cutest thing ever.  I had to have him.

            As I was leaving I had him nuzzled to my neck and she said, “His name is Fabio.  He was born January 22”.

            In disbelief I questioned her, “What day was he born?”   

            “January 22.”

            I got in the car.  I laughed and I cried at the same time, knowing it was the right thing for me to get the puppy.  He was born on the anniversary of your death the day it snowed and I drove by your snow covered grave and headstone.  He was meant to be mine.  I decided to keep the name.  It was perfect as he is a little heartbreaker.  Your mom thinks that you wanted Konig to be with you, and I think that is true.  Najia thinks he has a little bit of you in him.  He is a very sweet soul and a big flirt.   

            These times I’ve seen you, and these signs I’ve received, convinces me there is something beyond this life, and more than our physical bodies.  Maybe these signs appeared without me seeking them, to strengthen my faith. 

I like to think of it as a gift.  

            As I was leaving I had him nuzzled to my neck and she said, “His name is Fabio.  He was born January 22”.

            In disbelief I questioned her, “What day was he born?”   

            “January 22.”

            I got in the car.  I laughed and I cried at the same time, knowing it was the right thing for me to get the puppy.  He was born on the anniversary of your death the day it snowed and I drove by your snow covered grave and headstone.  He was meant to be mine.  I decided to keep the name.  It was perfect as he is a little heartbreaker.  Your mom thinks that you wanted Konig to be with you, and I think that is true.  Najia thinks he has a little bit of you in him.  He is a very sweet soul and a big flirt.   

            These times I’ve seen you, and these signs I’ve received, convinces me there is something beyond this life, and more than our physical bodies.  Maybe these signs appeared without me seeking them, to strengthen my faith. 

I like to think of it as a gift. 

Posted by: evennow2007 | 10/19/2010

SIXTY-EIGHT


DON’T WORRY SO MUCH

A woman knows the face of the man she loves

as a sailor knows the open sea.

Honore de Balzac

 

After Bill left everyone including myself seemed to think that everything would just fall into place for me now.  “How do I move on from this storm, without my present?”  It just isn’t that easy. 

I needed help, but the help I needed was hard for most to give and everyone else is involved in their own lives.  It was also hard for me to ask and explain what I needed when I didn’t understand it myself. 

            Practical support was always greatly appreciated.  Even walking the dog was a huge help for me at that time.  I needed to go through your tools and minimize the clutter in the house.  You and I talked about staging the house to sell and move to Washington but I just couldn’t get going on this.  On top of that I had no clue where to go.  Basically I just couldn’t make decisions.   

Alana came over several times to help with this awful task.  “Just take one day at a time.  There is no rush right now,” she would tell me. 

            But I did need to rush and get out of the house, as I could not afford to stay there by myself.  But instead I just avoided it.   

My initial plan was to stay at my current job through the end of the year.  But I soon realized that probably would not happen and it would have driven me crazy. 

            I remember the lady at the baby shower told me, “Just wait it will get worse.”  Well this was the day.  For some reason I couldn’t control my emotions and I had to go early for lunch.  I guess my grief was now telling me, “I will not wait any longer.  Pay attention to me.”     

            The time had come for me to seriously think about moving on from the job I was working at while you were sick.  I always knew it was a transitional job and after you were gone then I would move on when I had things figured out.  Seems simple enough, but the problem is I don’t have anything figured out. 

            I went to Galena, Illinois with Alana and stayed at her lake house.  She wanted me to relax and get my mind off of things.  We did some sewing and went to downtown Galena. 

            I was looking at this painting that I saw on our previous visit.  I wanted to buy it but I felt guilty spending the money, but she encouraged me to buy it. 

            The title to the painting is, “As the Storm Ends”.  I saw this painting on a preceding trip to her lake house.  Staring at the painting I saw myself.  The painting shows this woman standing with an umbrella on the lakeshore staring at the Chicago skyline. Before I left our house I had it hung above the sofa in the living room, and every morning when I get out of bed I am reminded that the

storm will end.  I don’t know where the story will lead.  I am not sure yet where my heart lies now, but I know it is something unlikely, and extraordinary. 

I eventually left the job I was working at.  I was trying to make myself transitional so I could relocate after moving out of the house.  Maybe it wasn’t the best decision I made at the time, but I left the job.  I went back to work at Nordstrom and took advantage of the flexible schedule. 

            One morning I was in front of the mirror in the bathroom putting on my makeup and getting ready for work.  I sensed something around me.  I felt something on the back of my neck, and I felt something on my arms.  But I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I had my robe on and I even looked in the sleeve, thinking I had one of the dryer sheets still in there. 

            I looked around the bathroom, and around the corner of the bathroom into my bedroom, thinking someone was in the house.  I didn’t see anything, so I continued to put on my makeup.  I looked up in the mirror and I took a deep breath and my eyes opened wide.

            I saw you in the mirror standing behind me.  I quickly turned around to look behind, but I didn’t see you.  So I turned back to the mirror, and you had disappeared.  I finished getting ready, went to work came home, and I never thought about it.  I was so busy getting ready for work that I totally forgot about what I saw. 

            I went to work and came home and finally I was getting ready for bed.  I turned on the television like I always do when I go to bed.  Sex and The City was on.  I never watch the show but it happened to be on.  As soon as I turned it on, Carrie from the show said, “You know you’ve seen a ghost when the hairs on the back of your neck raise up”.

            I sat on the bed and laughed, and said, “Oh yeah that did happened today.  Dan came to visit me.  And the hairs on the back of my neck did raise up.”

            It was funny.  Even when I felt you and saw you in the mirror it was like you were teasing me.  Maybe you were telling me not to be so serious.  Don’t worry so much that I don’t have it figured out yet.  It will come. 

Posted by: evennow2007 | 10/19/2010

SIXTY-SEVEN


REINVENTING MYSELF

As your faith is strengthened you will find

that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control,

that things will flow as they will,

and that you will flow with them,

to your great delight and benefit.

Emmanuel Tenney

            There are a few stories throughout the year that I feel are intertwined, that I think are relevant to acknowledge.  First of all it was June and I finally ordered the headstone for your grave. Our grave. 

            It took me a while to decide on one.  It was another one of those big steps in moving forward, and putting closure to things. 

            I decided to have our picture from the day we got married on the headstone with the words “Even Now” on the top and the wedding date on the bottom.  I went ahead and had my name next to yours.  I was reserving my spot.

            The lady that sold me the monument said to me, “Some people don’t like to see their name on a headstone you don’t have to put it on there.”

            “Why not?  It will happen to all of us someday, there is no avoiding it.  Just don’t put my birth date on there yet.”

            I read Eckhardt Tolle’s book “A New Earth.”  I could relate to so much of his book.  He talks about the dates on headstones in one part of his book.  On the headstone is our name along with our birth and our death, and the dash is our life in between. 

Maybe I should have put my birth date followed by the dash.  Each time I would visit you I would be reminded I still have a lot of living to do with everything in between.   

            The day I ordered the headstone I got another sign from you.  I had a garage sale that prior May and I sold to one of the girl’s I worked with your filing cabinet that was in your room.  I thought I cleaned everything out of it but the day I planned to order the stone she gave me two things that I missed. 

            There was an old Madonna cassette tape of yours, 80’s music.  Go figure.  I like that tape by the way.  There was also a card with your grandmother’s burial plot number.  She never had a headstone and you always wanted her to have one.  It was something you wanted to make sure was done.

            I chuckled to myself and told you, “Ok I will make sure she gets one”.  I still haven’t gotten one but I still intend to get one when I am able to.

I don’t know a lot about her.  Your Uncle Ray, one of your mother’s brothers said one time that she was a “muffin”.  I think he was referring to the fact that she was a very nice looking lady.  I had to quote that word, I thought it was such a cute word. 

            Another thing I heard about her was that she never graduated from high school.  But she was a very intelligent lady, as were you.  Your grandmother was going to college the same time your dad’s brother; your grandmother’s oldest son Bob was going to college.  It was quite an accomplishment for her. 

            Later that year I had the television on in the bedroom while I was taking a bath, and then The View came on.  I never use to like to watch the program but when Whoopi became a regular on the program I enjoyed it a lot more. 

            I then heard them introducing the nosey neighbor on Desperate Housewives.  I knew it was your dad’s sister Kathy who is an actress on the series, and they were going to interview her. 

            I jumped out of the tub, and grabbed my towel.  I ran into the living to turn on the television and DVR and started to record as much of the show as I possibly could. 

            Then I looked down and saw the towel was still in my hand and I was standing there in front of the open window without ever using it.  So I ran back in the bedroom to get my robe. 

            November is Lung Cancer Awareness month.  The View was doing a special campaign to help people to quit smoking, called Woopi’s Kickin Butts campaign.  Your Aunt Kathy is a lung cancer survivor herself, and she was invited as a guest on the view.  Luckily for Kathy, her cancer was operable, and they caught it early. 

            When you were diagnosed she wanted you to get transferred to the hospital she was treated at in California.  She even offered to take care of you and help you get whatever you needed.  I was really hoping you could go.  She would have been awesome support for you as she went through it.  She could have supported in ways I didn’t know how to support you in. 

            We tried to get you transferred there but the hospital wouldn’t accept our insurance.  You were all right with the outcome, and you always felt that you had good care and you liked your doctors.  But nonetheless I was disappointed.

            You would have enjoyed the interview.  Kathy was funny and totally herself.  She had a bag of tricks for Woopi and I remember her telling you the exact same things when you were trying to quit smoking after your diagnosis.  She had a hand game, the reasoning was to keep your mind and hands busy and not want to reach for that cigarette.  She also brought licorice and told Whoopi to pretend it was a cigarette.   

But I saw so many underlying layers to the interview.  I don’t think anyone realized the depth to her message she was trying to get across.  Probably even Kathy didn’t even realize the effect she would have. 

            Kathy brought up that she didn’t start acting until she was 42 after her divorce, and she had to figure out how she was going to start her life over.  She always wanted to act, and she mentioned her mother, your Grandmother Cleo. 

            “My mother died when she was quite young and angry that she did not get to do the things that she always wanted to do.”  That apparently had a profound impact on your aunt.

            “If she had only tried, who knows what the possibilities could have been”.  Kathy said in the interview.  I catch myself saying those words myself, especially having listening to her interview. 

            You really did have a connection to your grandmother, and I think it was in ways you probably didn’t even realize.  Your worst fear was that you would not accomplish all of your dreams.  Dreams were very important to her as they were to you.

            Your passion, that drive, that fervor and knowing exactly what you wanted and going for it was entwined and it was an ingrained need to achieve.  Whether you were trying to satisfy your own desires or you were trying to prove something to someone, you had to do accomplish it. 

            How I loved that passion, and how I wanted to find my own. 

            You failed sometimes but each of your failures and each of your triumphs got you that much closer to your dream.

            I got a lot out of the interview, as she was 42 when she started her life over again from her divorce.  I was 42 when I was starting my life over again as a widow, and I had no clue where it would lead.

            Several weeks prior I had been emailing her and said I was thinking about relocating and I was thinking about Santa Fe.  I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, I had no plans, and I was still feeling very confused. 

            Basically I just wrote to her, “I am reinventing myself”. 

            Her reply was “Take your time and you will be happy with the results.”  There weren’t that many words but it had a lot of encouragement and a lot of impact, and it was all I needed.      

But I saw so many underlying layers to the interview.  I don’t think anyone realized the depth to her message she was trying to get across.  Probably even Kathy didn’t even realize the effect she would have. 

            Kathy brought up that she didn’t start acting until she was 42 after her divorce, and she had to figure out how she was going to start her life over.  She always wanted to act, and she mentioned her mother, your Grandmother Cleo. 

            “My mother died when she was quite young and angry that she did not get to do the things that she always wanted to do.”  That apparently had a profound impact on your aunt.

            “If she had only tried, who knows what the possibilities could have been”.  Kathy said in the interview.  I catch myself saying those words myself, especially having listening to her interview. 

            You really did have a connection to your grandmother, and I think it was in ways you probably didn’t even realize.  Your worst fear was that you would not accomplish all of your dreams.  Dreams were very important to her as they were to you.

            Your passion, that drive, that fervor and knowing exactly what you wanted and going for it was entwined and it was an ingrained need to achieve.  Whether you were trying to satisfy your own desires or you were trying to prove something to someone, you had to do accomplish it. 

            How I loved that passion, and how I wanted to find my own. 

            You failed sometimes but each of your failures and each of your triumphs got you that much closer to your dream.

            I got a lot out of the interview, as she was 42 when she started her life over again from her divorce.  I was 42 when I was starting my life over again as a widow, and I had no clue where it would lead.

            Several weeks prior I had been emailing her and said I was thinking about relocating and I was thinking about Santa Fe.  I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, I had no plans, and I was still feeling very confused. 

            Basically I just wrote to her, “I am reinventing myself”. 

            Her reply was “Take your time and you will be happy with the results.”  There weren’t that many words but it had a lot of encouragement and a lot of impact, and it was all I needed.      

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