Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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The Merits of Coloring

When I was in my twenties and first tasted therapy, we used to talk about simple ways to take care of my “inner child.” That concept is still around, but not as much as it used to be. Anyhow, that is when I started coloring. I just used coloring books that were lying around. I did find them soothing and it tapped into something young inside me. The goal was to nurture myself.

Too bad I wasn’t more of an entrepreneur back then. I could have marketed the idea. Adult coloring books are all the rage now. Hell, I knew they were helpful a few decades ago!

I got some adult books for my birthday this year. Frankie thinks I’m ridiculous because coloring is actually on my to-do list. But that’s the way my mind works. If I think it’s important, it goes on a list. Otherwise I just don’t remember. I’ve got way too much spinning around my head all of the time. The only bad part about that, is that something that starts out as a pleasure then becomes a duty because it’s on the damn list.

It’s right at the top of my daily list. I fill a fresh glass of lemon water and then it’s coloring. I spend about 15 minutes a day, sometimes less, sometimes more. And I must admit that I roll my eyes when the day is daunting and I’m sorry I ever put it on the list. I sit down and pull out a color pencil and start. I think if I go faster I will get it done more quickly and can move on to the more important things on the list.

It never fails. Not once since I’ve started doing it. About 30 seconds in (maybe a minute on a tough day) I find myself breathing slower and starting to relax. That’s why the cover of the book says “have a calmer life by coloring.” For me, it really has been true. It is my centering time in the morning.

I admit that I long for my simpler kid books once in a while. Some of these adult pictures are so detailed and tiny. My poor old eyes can’t take it. In the end though, I have to say they are pretty cool looking. Maybe even gift worthy. They take hours and hours to complete, but it feels good to watch it take form.

If I wasn’t so lazy, I’d do some research as to why coloring is so calming. There has to be some scientific reason for it. The truth is, I don’t really care. I just know for those brief moments, I am lost. I don’t think about the millions of things that lay heavy on my heart every moment. I forget and just stroke the page and see the colors. It’s quite lovely.

Don’t be surprised if your Christmas present is a page ripped out of a coloring book. You might think it’s lame, but know I spent many, many hours with my mind and heart at its best.

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Eleventh Hour

Back in November, my siblings and I started a conversation with my dad about the possibility of downsizing into a smaller place. We were meeting with him once a month and cleaning things out a little at a time. Things kept progressively increasing in effort until the last two months which have been in full-court press.

Now it’s time. He is moving tomorrow. All these months of preparation and there is less than 24 hours to go. The weird thing is, it has been an especially long, long week. If you have ever quit a job and had a hard time finishing out those last few days of work, you know what I mean.

No matter how much I sleep or nap, I don’t feel refreshed. Tuesday was the last real packing day I was going to spend with him, and on Monday afternoon my feet started feeling like lead. I swear it hurt to lift them and walk. Yesterday I got weepy. We went to a neurologist appointment for Dad in the morning which led to a couple of follow-up phone calls I had to make and that did it. I started crying on the way home. There was no way I could make two phone calls that required my brain to be sharp. So I napped. That didn’t help, but I did manage to get the phone calls done. Of course I did. It’s me. But I was in desperate need of cheerleaders to tell me to just keep going. I had five sessions that night as well.

Today is the last day before the big move. Cry number one was at 8:30 am. I had to call Dad and tell him that I broke his favorite fireman statue. I had loaded my car on Tuesday (which didn’t make sense to him to begin with) and I couldn’t pack it full because Frankie has hockey camp all week and he has a very large equipment bag. Things shifted and a box fell on the statue and broke off both of the poor guy’s arms. Now Dad can sometimes be a typical dad of his generation and not great when it comes to emotions. But he was stellar today. He told me not to cry. It was an accident and he knew I didn’t do it on purpose. He just didn’t want me to cry anymore.

I went home and started on some neglected yard work. I know most people think my yard is always fine, but I can’t help seeing what I see. I know what it is SUPPOSED to look like in order to maintain it properly. I also know it wasn’t important in comparison which is why I was behind. I started to prioritize it this morning and started to feel good about the potential progress I could make.

That is until I realized I had forgotten my psychiatrist’s appointment. I mean, I just don’t do things like that. And of all docs, you never stand up a psychiatrist. Only God knows how much that fine will be. I called and left a message and got there as fast as I could but I was 24 minutes late. She said nope. Can’t get in now until September. Sob session number two with the receptionist. Now I know there is no one to blame but myself but I was pissed off anyway. I’m scattered and not on my game because I am helping a thousand other people, not because I’m sunbathing at the beach. The appointments are only five to ten minutes. She COULD have fit me in, she CHOSE not to. Yep, my fault but I allowed myself to be angry with them anyway.

At any rate, I just had some ice cream with a friend and I’m feeling like all is right with the world again. If I can manage not to have any more crying jags, I may be able to finish my list for today. I may even be able to write up the list for tomorrow of all the things I don’t want to forget to do while I am directing the movers. Empty the fridge, disconnect the TV and all the parts, pack up the DISH for return, remember the little rocking chair that Dad has decided is REALLY important to him so we’re going to try to fit it, finish marking the items for sale over the weekend, blah, blah, blah.

It’s the eleventh hour. Overall, I have to say we have all done a pretty fine job. This might just be the most organized move in history. Most importantly, I feel closer to Dad than I have in years. He comforted me today. I felt his compassion for me. I will savor that for a long time.

If you are bored this weekend, come check out the moving sale. The more you guys buy, the less that has to be dragged into boxes. By this time next week, maybe we will be signing the papers to sell the house. Wish us luck!


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Memorial Services

I attended a weekend of memorial services with my dad. They were for a very beautiful 45-year-old woman who died from ALS, a most fast-acting and vicious disease. Stacey was someone I knew my whole life, but mostly from a distance. She had a sister, Megan as well.

One of the services was held at the lake at a camp where she had dedicated a fair amount of her time, both as a camper, a counselor, and as an administrator. It was a beautiful venue for such a celebration of life. I listened to testimony after testimony as a very clear picture of her personality was presented. She was a life force. She was amazing. Her goal in life was apparent to anyone who knew her- make a positive change in the world, any chance, any way, any time you possibly can. She preached it and she lived it. She was adored and admired and most obviously successful in the impact she had on those around her.

The last intimate conversation I had with her was several years ago when Tim was still alive. She said I was always her girl-hero because I was single for so long and managed to push forward with my life. I was pretty surprised by that opinion as I know how much I’ve detested being single whenever I have found myself in that state. Stacey said I gave her hope. She had met the love of her life, a super-cute guy from Ireland. He seemed as special of a guy as she was a woman. They were planning an engagement in the near future when he was found dead while fishing. Some totally unexplainable, bizarre event. I know she was devastated. I don’t know if she ever even dated after that, but she didn’t ever marry. She handled her loss with such grace and strength. And she was brave enough to stay single. She was MY hero.

Then she gets hit with this hideous diagnosis. She has to quit work which was teaching in New York City to some of the most difficult population in this country. She moved to live with her sister. Megan worked full-time and had served with the Peace Corps in Africa. I went through the tedious process of applying once and got accepted. In the end though? Truth be told, I chickened out and never went. Megan is an amazing and brave woman as well.

For 18 months, as ALS took over her body, Megan cared for Stacey. Day after day. And I discovered at the service that they never stopped supporting research and hoping for a cure. Wow, 18 months. I took care of Tim for five months and it felt like a lifetime. I can’t even fathom it.

Sometimes I wonder what would be said about me at my funeral. While I listened at those services, I thought about how both of those astonishing women were and are everything I would have hoped to have been. I started out as a young adult aspiring to be a missionary. I wanted to change the world any way I could. I’m not saying I’ve been useless, but it’s amazing how far I have fallen short. Now most days, I just hope to survive the world another day.
What the heck happened?

Megan, I know your heart is broken. And I know your strength will keep you from showing it most of the time. Stacey was lucky to have you. The love the two of you had for each other is rare. I would always listen with envy when you talked about the trips and adventures you would go on together. The weekend was about Stacey, as it should have been. The world will miss her love and influence and beautiful smile. But it was about you as well, the silent caretaker.

Character is forged when unexpected, hard things happen to us. Again, I’m not saying I’ve done a horrible job, but the two of you put me to shame. You are both an inspiration to me. My thoughts and heart and love and every other thing go out to you.

Stacey's memorial service


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Tarzan and Teeth

Last night I slept for 14 hours. I couldn’t believe it. I woke up feeling better than I have in a long time. Then I had to go to the dentist. Over the fourth of July weekend, one of my veneers fell off. It happens way too often. This time the dentist said we should just get a crown done. I agree. Of course my insurance doesn’t pay for it, but he offered me a great deal so I said to go for it.

That meant a shot so my face was numb for quite a while. Oops. He’s a good dentist but the drill slipped and he hit my gums. Not quite numb enough. That hurt like hell and I could taste the blood fill my mouth up. I go back in another month to get the crown put on.

Suddenly, the amount of sleep I had didn’t matter. I felt like crap again. No time to worry about it though. Off I go to run errands. First the pharmacy. Two for me and one for Frankie. He had an allergic reaction to a medicine over the fourth of July weekend so we had to get a replacement. Poor kid.

Then the lawnmower repair place. Dropped off a part. Have to get it tomorrow. Phew, that was relatively uneventful.

Groceries next. I go to Aldi’s and I pack my groceries in the back hatch of my car. We were down to almost nothing in the house so it was an overloaded cart. I open the trunk. Damn. I forgot. With all the moving at Dad’s, I have boxes and blankets filling it up to take back to his place. I move them all to the back seat and finish loading the groceries.

Driving home, I decided I deserved an iced capp or something. When I got to Tim Horton’s I discovered they have iced lemonade. That made me very happy because McDonald’s decided not to this year which was massively disappointing. I get my luscious lemonade and head home. Damn. Not so luscious. I forgot my face is half numb which makes it very difficult to drink through a straw. You would have enjoyed a video watching that one.

Next task is walking the dog. Taffy didn’t get a walk yesterday so she was really ready to go. I opened the back seat door to let her in. Crap. Now I have the boxes and blankets in the back seat so I could put the groceries in. I move them all back to the hatch again. Honestly, do you ever just feel like you are spinning in circles? Story of my life today… LOL.

What does all this have to do with Tarzan? Not a damn thing. Just wanted to tell you I saw Tarzan two nights ago with some friends and it was stupendous. Very intense. I haven’t been all worked up like that over a movie in a while. The social injustice, the character that you need to see dead by the end of the movie or life just isn’t right, all that stuff. I know it’s a legend but I’m curious if any of it is true. Very strong and poignant moments if you are conscious about the world at all. Just loved it.

Now that I’ve said all the grown-up stuff, let’s face it. The best part is that Tarzan is more than eye-candy. He make me want to be Jane. Me Jane. Holy crap, he is one fine specimen of a male. I sighed several times, especially after he was only in his loin cloth. Raised by apes, maybe, but less of an ape that most of the men I’ve met. Hot, hot, hot. Seriously, you should go watch it if you haven’t.

I need to go take a shower now. Cold.


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Exhaustion

Yep, I’m a day late writing. I know it really doesn’t matter, but writing has been my Thursday thing for most of the past three years. It’s easy to write when I have a topic. It’s terrible when I don’t have a topic. Now it is actually Friday night and I’ve still been staring at a blank screen.

Sometimes I have a topic, I just can’t write about it. Especially in my later anger/menopause years, there’s a ton of things I could rattle off with my eyes closed but it just wouldn’t be appropriate to do so. Those moments, I’m tempted to start a new anonymous blog so I can write without any regard for anything. But you know I’m all hot air. It’s just not in me.

Lately, there is only one topic that comes to mind and I’m sure all my friends are tired of it too. (No pun intended, but the topic is being tired.) Exhaustion. Sleepy. Hitting the brick wall. The thing is, my dad seems to be too. We are both in the same place. Just want all this moving stuff to be over. I know it’s not true, but right now I feel like I will never feel rested again for as long as I live. I will just never recover. Whine, whine, whine.

In some ways though, it’s kind of cool that I don’t really feel depressed. I mean I get so tired that I literally feel like I could cry at any second, but it’s not because of sadness. It’s just because I don’t want to move.

Around here, things are running behind. My client notes are backed up. My house is a bit of a mess. I haven’t kept up with the yard work. Laundry, groceries, and just plain eating are all in a sad state of affairs. Every two to three days, I drive to Dad’s, which is about 50 minutes away. We clean, pack, argue, laugh, box, tape, load into vehicles, etc., etc.. Then I drive the 50 minutes home, knowing that when I pull in I have another two hours of work. Unloading everything. Then there is separating it. There is almost always a bag on papers to burn. There are boxes of garage sale stuff to pack up. Things to take photos of to sell on-line which means posting them on three sites. Usually there are a few papers to file in Dad’s new filing box. Some things are actually for our house, which usually means replacing something else.

And this just repeats itself over and over. We absolutely make progress every time. There is absolutely still so much to do it makes my head spin. I think my dad’s head spins at times too. Legal stuff. Stuff for his new apartment. Stuff for his brief stay here with us. And the usual medical appointments and banking stuff that has to get set up or kept up with.

Mom has been gone for nine years now. But lately, it feels more and more like I am losing her all over again. So much of the house has her hand print. I just found some of her writing again that I read part of at her funeral. Dad and I have had some emotional moments together where we just have to stop and cry for a bit.

There is probably only a month left of this pace. At least I hope so. Have you ever been so tired that your eyelids hurt from keeping them open? Or your feet feel like they have lead in them so every step you take is like an effort? Believe it or not, I’m actually not complaining. I feel good about doing this stuff with my dad. I think in spite of the occasional disagreements, we have gotten closer through it. I’m just tired. That’s it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I still wish it was over. Exhausted. Just pure and simple.

Tonight I think I’m going to try to forget about all the things I’ve left undone and sit in front of a fire. I love fires. I will also then be able to burn a whole bunch of stuff that Dad needs burned. I can take a trip down memory lane while I sit in the lawn chair and watch the flames. I’m hoping a few friends will join me. Maybe drink a beverage or two. Who knows? Maybe I will wake up with new energy tomorrow. But if not, I will just keep going. I will see this all through to the end no matter what it takes. I won’t stop til Dad is sitting on his new couch in his new apartment. I just need to have friends who pretend not to get tired of hearing me say I’m tired. 🙂