Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Meant to Be

My foot has healed remarkably fast. In one week I was able to walk normally. I couldn’t believe it because the wound was so deep and it hurt so much! I’m very grateful. It’s amazing what you take for granted when all your body parts are functioning as they should.

What about my focus? I will admit it’s been a struggle. The blues have gotten me down more than once or twice. But I have been truly trying to wake up and remind myself every day that I have a bigger purpose. I have work to do. I have a mission.

For the first time in a long time, I sold a book at a book signing downtown. She was a cancer survivor. More importantly, I met a woman who lost her partner in December. She said she couldn’t possibly read the book yet but we ended up chatting. She was frustrated by the lack of grief groups in our area. She didn’t call me like she thought she would, but the conversation was meant to be. After we talked, I asked her if I could give her a hug. I really wasn’t sure she was going to say yes, but I was pleasantly surprised when she did. It was a teary and meaningful encounter. I glanced back at my ever-faithful Brigette who said “Do you still think it’s not worth it anymore?” Smart aleck. She knew I was back in the game.

I was at the fair and sold four more books that weekend. Again, more than I’ve done in a long time. But more importantly, I gave some away. Wegman’s generously donated money to me so that I could distribute books to people I felt needed it. I also have used it to pay for grief counseling for people who can’t afford it. Anyhow, I met a brave woman who was currently battling her third bout with cancer. I gladly gave her a book and told her she was my hero.

Then another elderly woman stopped by and said her husband is dying. She had asked him if it was ok if she escaped to the fair for a little while. She started to cry and told me that they had just sold their camper and it had broken her heart. I couldn’t believe it. I told her I had just sold my camper and that I had cried my eyes out. We had a very long hug and shared some tears.

I’ve got my mojo back. Foundations are being repaired. My mission is sad in some ways, but I love those encounters. And I’m sure it’s no coincidence that they started happening again after my session with Ellen telling me to get back to the basics and remember my mission. Thanks Ellen and Brigette. And thanks God for breathing life into all of us.

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Punctured Foundations

foot xray

So it’s Frankie’s birthay and I’m doing the yardwork to prepare and I step on a small but deadly piece of wood. Had to call 911 and then go to the emergency room. It was stuck in my foot for a couple of hours before they could remove it. I was like the local freak show. People kept stopping in to ask if they could look because it was so bizarre. Nails go in two inches all the time, I’m sure. The problem was that the wood was still attached, and as you can see by the x-ray, there were about 5 other rusty nails sticking out too. When they tried to do anything, they risked puncturing me again.

Eventually they got it out. I won’t even try to describe the pain. I missed about an hour of Frankie’s birthday party but my ya-yas had pulled everything together like they usually do. By the next night my foot was infected and I was back in the emergency room. A big fat shot in the butt later, I am on the mend. I had to include the picture because just saying I stepped on a nail doesn’t quite describe it.

The interesting thing, is that this event catapulted a whole bunch of dynamics in my life with different people. When I went to see Ellen, my spiritual director, I walked into the office already crying. Took me awhile to compose myself before I could even talk. It’s too hard to describe the process of spiritual direction so I won’t even try, but eventually I ended up in the treatment room.

She said the image she got related to my foot, which of course wasn’t surprising. She talked about how the foot is the foundation, and my foundation had literally been punctured. A puncture wound is harsh. It’s not like a sprain, but a bit more violent sounding and feeling. My foundation had been turned around, like the earth was in the sky and the sky was on the earth.

It was a tough conversation in many ways while I tried to get a grip on what she was talking about. I knew when I walked in that I felt like I was spilled all over the place and needed to be regrouped and put back together. One of the things that we finally came to was a conversation about who I am in the world. Who I want to be, my primary purpose. Bottom line? I want to be a positive force in the world, someone who is part of the solution and not the problem. As corny as it sounds, I want the world to be a better place because I’ve been in it. My starting place is in the home raising my family. Then the circles keep widening after that.

So I need to not lose that focus somehow. And I need to surround myself with people who understand my vision, support it, bring out the best in me. And all of that is grounded in the foundation of the understanding that ultimately it is about God’s love that breathes life into it. I’m still struggling, but I’m trying to flip the foundation back, slowing letting the wound heal.


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More Ups and Downs

So I’m on my dream vacation and I meet my daughter and her family for brunch in South Carolina. Frankie has been with them on vacation for nine days, the first time we’ve been apart that long. Reports were that he was the hit of the week-long family reunion they were at. He was dancing with 75 year old women when no other men would, so he was well loved and made a big deal of.

Then he hit the brick wall. By the time we met up in South Carolina, he was in tears and beside himself. Said his back hurt and that he hadn’t been able to eat. He did a great job trying to figure it out with me. “How do I know if I’m homesick? What does my stomach have to do with being homesick? Why is this happening?” He decided he wanted to come home. The only thing is, I couldn’t logistically pull it off. For dozens of details, I won’t want to bore you with, I couldn’t keep him in South Carolina with me. He got in the car to head back to Georgia and was a good sport about it, but I cried the minute he drove away. I am his mom. I am supposed to make everything better.

I told him we would get him out on Monday morning and back home, two days earlier than he was supposed to come back. That seemed to help him. However, then the nightmare of phone calls started and I discovered in spite of paying the extra money for trip insurance, they wouldn’t help me in the slightest. It would have cost me another $800 to get him and my grandson back. Another tough phone conversation. I let him down again. And again he was a good sport.

Wednesday, they were scheduled to arrive at 12:45. I worked til noon then hopped in the car. I had this dreaded feeling that I was going to be late. I was frantic. The check-in lady told me the plane hadn’t landed yet when I got there at 12:20. I get my boarding pass and headed to security. When Frankie flew to Georgia, I nailed my son-in-law about making sure he was there on time so when he got off the plane he immediately saw a face he knew. And he was there. On time.

While I’m in security I get a phone call. It’s Southwest. The plane had landed almost a half hour early and the flight attendant was waiting there with the two boys. I told him I was stuck in security and he told me to wait and he would bring the boys to me. A million things flashed through my mind. This 10 and 6 year old were brave enough to fly across the states. I only had to be there on time so they didn’t get off the plane and feel even a second of panic. Now I know the plane landed early, but still. I felt AWFUL. Let Frankie down. AGAIN.

When I saw them come around the corner, we all hugged, although Frankie is still not fond of that. But right there in the middle of the airport, he opens up his suitcase. He bought me a necklace with the word “LOVE” on it and he walked over and chained it around my neck. Right there in the middle of the airport. He couldn’t wait to give it to me. I was filled with love and tears. He’s a champ. He’s forgiving. He lets me be human. He’s the love of my life.