Thursday, November 22, 2018

Remembering you.....

This morning I woke up sad and missing you.

Last year on this day, you were on HIV medications for a total of 5 days, you were so weak you could hardly walk, and you had lost 60 lbs.

You had just gotten out of the hospital but staying in a nursing home, and you were adamant you did not want to spend the holidays in a nursing home, so I thought:  "No big deal.  I will take you with me to Thanksgiving at mom's house."  Only, this time, for the first time, you weren't welcome there.  (That would later be a blessing...)

Determined to honor your request and not have you be in a nursing home, I decided I would skip Thanksgiving with the other side of the family, and we would just celebrate at our house this year.

I was determined to cook a Thanksgiving meal, even though we all know I am the least qualified to cook a meal for anyone....  Surprisingly, it turned out delicious!

Turkey, stuffing, green beans, chicken noodles, fresh rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy, and pumpkin pie with extra whip cream!

We sat around all day watching Hallmark Christmas movies.  Those were your favorite and would sustain us through the entire season...  (PS: There are still several on my DVR just waiting for us to watch them.  I don't have the heart to delete them....)

We had a fire going in the fire place, because that was your favorite spot, in front of the fire place wrapped in a down comforter.

Abby, Ethan and the boys would come by that afternoon to spread Thanksgiving chaos and crazy.  Nothing says holiday like our kind if crazy, and I was so happy they came by to visit.  My heart needed the laughter of Isaac and Cooper.....

All day you drifted in and out of sleep while your new anti-viral medication wreaked havoc on your body, making you vomit what would end up being your last Thanksgiving meal.  We substituted Zofran, Sprite and chicken needle soup in for dinner later that night, and you were able to hold down pumpkin pie finally.

I didn't take you back to the nursing home until I was satisfied that you had been out of there for the "whole holiday".
If I had only known this would be our last Thanksgiving together.  
If only I had known I would not have forever with you.
I would have lived my life a lot differently......

Sunday, November 11, 2018

HIV: Know your status....

Yesterday was a particularly hard day for me, I tried to stay busy.  We went to visit my family, we worked in the yard, went to dinner with friends, but I really struggled with the date of November 10th.  A year ago yesterday I still had a father.  He was a very sick father, because no one could quite put their finger on what was wrong with him, but there was still hope.

A year ago yesterday, my sister took my dad to a neurology appointment, had to go back for some reason, and there in a stack of paper was a script for an HIV test.  Concerned, my sister contacted me and said:  "The doctor just gave dad a script for an HIV test?"  I quickly dismissed it, and thought there was NO way this diagnosis was even a possibility!

Yet, I hit up "Dr. Goggle," and there in front of me was every symptom my father had....  The sores in his mouth, the "wasting" of weight, the diarrhea. the dementia, the lines on his finger nails, the frequent pneumonia.  The list went on, and my dad had every symptom.....  Suddenly, all I could hear in my head was my wife saying for the past several months: "Emily, if no one can find leukemia, has he been tested for HIV?  I remember in nursing school, they mirrored each other."  Only this time, instead of ignoring her and telling her she was crazy, I realized there was a possibility she was right. 

Being hugely impatient, and just wanting everyone to be wrong, I stopped by the drugstore on my way home that night, and picked up an "at-home" HIV test.  (Yes, they do make those....)  I went to my sister's house, we swabbed my dad's cheek, and then huddled around an HIV test ready to wait 23 minutes for the test to be done.  Although, we didn't need 23 minutes.  The test came back positive in 3 minutes.  I literally felt the bottom drop out of my world on November 10th, 2017.

I was absolutely numb when I drove home from my sister's house that night.

All I could do on the drive home was cry.
I cried because of the diagnosis.
I cried because suddenly cancer seemed like a much better disease to have.
I cried because people like my family didn't get HIV.
I cried because the stigma of 3 little letters embarrassed me.
I cried because I was afraid of the unknown.

I immediately went home, joined an AIDS/HIV group on Facebook, and tried to go to bed, but sleep never came that night.

I was up at 2 am, bawling, screaming and pleading with God and anyone else who would listen, for a different diagnosis.  Instead I found a 24-hour support line for people newly diagnosed with AIDS/HIV.  I called them in complete hysterics, ugly crying, and unable to catch my breath,

I poured my heart out to a woman on the other end of the phone line saying things like:  "My dad isn't gay!  My dad's white!  My dad doesn't do drugs!  He hasn't even dated in 10 years!  How does this happen?!"

The woman on the other end of the phone was some sort of saint.  She let me cry, swear, and come completely un-hinged.  She answered every one of my questions, explaining HIV doesn't know race, sexuality, gender, or an age group.  She educated me, explaining what blood levels I needed to ask his doctors about. Talked me off a ledge when I was too afraid to test myself.  (Negative!)  She explained HIV could lay dormant in the body, not showing signs for decades, until the immune system was compromised and that's when it would rear it's ugly, opportunistic head.  She armed me for the days to come with knowledge, and courage, explaining she had been where I was sitting and reassured me I would become an HIV/AIDS expert by the time the weekend was over.  She was right and she became my constant 2 am voice of reason as we navigated forward.

If you are ever in a crisis, you will hear people say: "God doesn't give you more than you can handle."  I called bullshit on that statement November 10th, 2017.  God WILL in fact give you more than you can handle so you remember to look to Him when you're walking through a storm.  And it's through Him you will find no one truly walks alone.  The people who were placed in our path, were absolute gifts from above.  They were exactly where we needed them, when we needed them.  From the woman on the HIV hotline, to a friend who had a friend who worked at Equitas and helped him obtain discounted medication, to the Ryan White Foundation, and all the nursing home people who loved my dad and worked tirelessly to help us find our new normal, never once making him feel like he was "less than or different". These folks became our tribe, and even when there was no hope, it was the kindness of these people who helped us through  the hard times and allowed me to recognize the positives.

I've never written about my dad's diagnosis and illness, because I was embarrassed and didn't want the stigma of HIV to affect our family, but I think part of healing is to grieve and remember, so I've decided to write in an attempt to help heal my broken heart and bring awareness.  Possibly, just possibly, someone out there will read this, get tested, and live a long life due to a diagnosis and medication intervention.  My dad would have loved that.....

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Virtual Child.....

My Beautiful Child, 

I received your letter and I have to say, my heart breaks for you.  I'm so sorry your coming out didn't go how you thought it would, and now your tender heart is wounded and broken.

I remember what it was like to want to live your authentic life, and to finally take that plunge.  I'm sorry you mustered up all that courage only to now find yourself homeless and alienated by your family.  I'm sickened that the very people who are supposed to love you unconditionally failed you, hiding behind their Bible.  (You can be gay and be a Christian, don't forget that baby!)

Please sweet child, hear me when I say:

YOU are perfect!
YOU are brave!
YOU are strong!
YOU are loved beyond measure!
YOU matter!

As a mother I worry about you, about your safety, and your future.  It's hard to be a teenager navigating life.  It's even harder when you have to worry about where you are going to sleep, how you are going to eat, and who your champions in life are.  Please reach out to someone local to help you navigate this current chapter.  Do you have additional family members, a friend, a teacher, a clergy member?  I pray you do.....

Remember:  Someone judging you does NOT define you.  It defines them!

Your "Virtual Mommas" believe in you, love you, want you to succeed, and are here if you need a hug or shoulder to lean on.

Be strong.
Believe in God.
Love yourself.
You are worth it!

Wrapping you in love and lifting you up in prayer,

Your Virtual Momma

PS:  Reach back out to me and let me know how you are doing.  Don't make your Virtual Momma worry!  ;)

Monday, September 3, 2018

Back in the saddle again....

I complained about having horses, and not wanting to own them again after we canceled the lease on our last show horse and re-homed our beloved retired mare, and I was steadfast on NOT owning another one, because if I’m being honest the magic of horses left me when Pony Girl and I parted ways.  Horses were such a part of that life: from the horse shows, the laughter in the barn at night when family and friends were just hanging out, to the tender moments spent holding hands when tucking the barn in for the night, it was a simple yet amazing life.  I felt safe there, and I found myself trusting my heart with a woman AND her horses.  After it ended I could have cared less if I ever saw another horse, let alone rode one.  It was easier to guard my heart, block any feelings from resurfacing, and attempt to forget that that life ever existed.

The harder I kept dragging my feet and swearing off horses though, the more our daughter kept horses in the forefront of every family conversation.  She continually kept pursuing her dream of owning another horse, and I was not blind to the fact the kid needed a horse like most people need air to breathe, and for Christmas, Kay and I bought her a mare that she had been riding through her high-school riding team.

I purposely have not gotten attached to this horse, and paired with the fact she is a little quirky and not overly snuggily, it has been easy to not pay attention or fall in love with her.  I was so burnt on horses and the lifestyle that comes along with them that I had shut myself off.  It was a defense to protect myself from remembering and ever walking that walk again.

What I failed to remember was how much I missed having horses in my life.  I forgot I actually love to ride, and I love the convivial atmosphere that come along with having a barn family, a group of people who become family through a mutual love of horses.  Last night was full of fun and laughter!  Surrounded by our barn family, I got back in the saddle again riding Katzya’s horse and rode for the 3rd and longest time I have ridden in 21 months.  It was so wonderful to ride and just feel life melt away. Enveloped in laughter, Kay rode for the first time in 25 years, the barn owner made a rare appearance on a horse, and Katzya and her friend loved cheering us on.  It was a night filled with laughter, friends, fun and horses. 

Being back in the saddle and rediscovering the magic felt so good, even better than I remember!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bigots, Breakfast, and Being Overly-Black......

This morning started off like every other morning for me.

I woke up under-caffeinated with my body feeling like it needed about 2 more hours of sleep and my hair out of control.  You see, every morning for the last 40 years, 4 months and 18 days, I have awoken looking like Ronald McDonald and Kramer had a love child.  Now, in my formative years,  I hated this about myself, however as I have grown into an adult I have learned to accept and love my crazy locks in all their glory.  Even in the morning!

Usually, if I want to go somewhere quickly in the morning, I throw on a hat, because I am not and never will be, one of those girls who can quickly throw my hair up in a "messy bun" or pony tail.  (My hair doesn't roll like that....)  Currently though, my hair is in a God awful state of re-growth.  It's too short to pull back, but it looks hideous under a ball cap. 

So, this morning, I wrapped my head in a scarf, complimented myself on my cuteness, grabbed my wallet and my dog, and set off to fetch breakfast and a Sunday paper for my wife. 

Quickly, I ran into the gas station, grabbed the requested Sunday newspaper, got in line behind a guy who was paying for whatever he was paying for.  (Honestly, I can't say I was really paying attention to him, I was in a hurry to get to my next destination: McDonald's.  I needed my morning Coke!)  That guy finished up paying, spun around, looked me up and down and quickly blurted out the words:  "Well, you look overly-black this morning!" 

Now, I'm sure if this man knew me, knew I was under-caffeinated, and knew how hard I work to engage a mouth filter I don't possess, he would have kept his mouth shut, but he didn't.....

And this folks is how I nearly committed homicide before 10 am.....

Me, still shocked:  "I'm sorry?  Did you just say I looked overly-black?!  And what does being black look like exactly?"  (I really wanted to hear this explanation....)

Him:  "Yes.  With that thing on your head, you look black."

Me:  "My scarf?!  My scarf makes me look "overly-black"?!"

Him:  "Well, yeah.  Didn't you look in the mirror this morning?!"

Me, pointing to my head:  "Actually, I DID look in the mirror, and I thought I looked like your average human, although cuter, because in case you haven't noticed, this scarf is on point!"

Him:  "Well, you might want to look again."

And this is when I nearly lost my shit....

Me:  "Question for you, did you happen to see the bigot looking back at you in the mirror this morning?"

Him, cockily chuckling:  "Oh, so now I'm a bigot?  What does that look like exactly?!"

Me:  "Well, I wasn't sure what a bigot would look like until now, but after looking at you I realize a racist bigot looks exactly as I thought one would look.  Like an idiot!  Because only an idiot would spew the stupidity you're spewing while attempting to make a fashion statement by pulling his white tube socks all the way up to his knees when wearing sandals!

Enough said.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

A non-rational purchase....

Rarely do my purchases make any sense, and I am used to that.  In fact, I feel it's one of my most endearing qualities!  So, when I came home a month ago completely in love with this horse I met, it made ALL the sense in the world to me as to why I should own him.  Kay, being the more logical one of us, immediately said "No."  Perhaps Kay was right.  (Did I just say that on a public forum?!)  However, my heart just couldn't quit thinking about this guy. 

Several days ago, Kay an I were in the car talking about what she could get me for Christmas and I quickly replied:  "That horse." 
I was dismissed.

Then the conversation turned to what I wanted for our up coming anniversary and I quickly replied:  "That horse." 

 We discussed how the timing wasn't right currently, etc... and the next thing I know we were at the horse barn "looking" at him.  Before we left the barn, we felt pretty secure about adding this guy to our family. 

Now, if I'm thinking with my logical brain, this horse makes NO sense.  He is 5 years old, has only been gelded very recently, and has had absolutely no training.  My non-logical brain says, he's great minded, exactly what I would want if he was trained, and is giddy with excitement. 

Meet Henry, my favorite non-rational purchase.....

Sunday, July 22, 2018

On relinquishing control and having faith....

I used to have a little plastic rock with the word "Faith" on it.  I'm not sure where I picked up this little piece of plastic, likely it was an impulse buy in the gift shop where I work, and it really was a stupid purchase especially in the eyes of my family.

Who buys a plastic rock?!

I never denied the stupidity of the purchase as it randomly pupped up around the house: pulled out of the dryer, randomly stuffed in a junk drawer, or occasionally being found under the couch if the cats found it before I did.  The little purple rock took on a life of it's own around our house as it became a household joke and familial eye roll.  When I found it, I would scream for all the rest of the household to hear:  "I found my faith!"

If I sit back and reflect on life though, "faith" is like that.  For me it comes and goes, and sometimes it's hard to believe in and even easier to loose.

I admit I'm the queen of trying to manipulate the Universe into getting what I want or think I need.  Pairing this with the fact I'm a self proclaimed "fixer", sometimes I push against the Universe so hard that the Universe has no option but to push back.

However, if I look back I am constantly amazed how situations work themselves out.
How the end results are often better than I could have ever imagined if I just surrender control, stop trying to move a mountain and just have faith.

My dad and I had a relationship in that we both lived our lives, and would come together for dinner, or visit when time allowed or when one of us needed something from the other.  We would talk on the phone every week or so, and I always knew he loved me, but we were both just content living our different lives.  My sister and my father were much closer.  She saw him much more than I did, went places with him, took him to his doctor appointments, and selfishly I was okay with that.  I didn't want to stop living my life to deal with his life and his life choices.

Faced with my dad's illness, the fact my sister was moving out of state, and the realization I was going to be taking care of him pretty much alone, I was pissed.  But, as usual, God knew what he was doing.....

You see, my sister moved out of state because she got married, and it forced my dad and I to have to be together.  Without my sister to provide for him (And she always did a fabulous job!), he had to depend on me, and knowing I was his only option, I had to step up my game.  In the beginning, I was really inconvenienced with the fact  I had to use 144 hours of vacation time to drive him to doctor appointments at the Cleveland Clinic, or all the hours I had to sit while he was sick in the hospital with bouts of pneumonia. meningitis, and other ailments....  (The man was like a cat with 9 lives!)  Or the fact that due to his dementia, he insisted on eating out every night at his favorite restaurants, and I had to foot the bill for this plus keep him out of the nursing home until after 9 pm.

Many times, I would call my mom and cry/scream that this was not fair.  My mom's words of wisdom were always:  " Emmy, this isn't forever.  One day you will be happy you did all this.  And in the end you will know you did everything you had to do to make his life better.  You will see this benefited you just as much as it did him.  Just have faith...."

In the end that is exactly what happened.

If my sister hadn't moved, if I hadn't had to step up my game, I would have missed hundreds of hours of being with my dad, of talking to my dad about everything from his childhood ponies, life with his siblings, his funny antics and the mischief he had gotten into along the way.  He told me secrets I will forever keep, we scouted out the best place to eat chicken wings and completely dominated some rouge trucker at the claw machine game in a Denny's on I-71.  We went to a Christmas Eve church service together, and he spent the night with us, so I got to wake up on Christmas morning with him just like I did when I was a kid.  We binged watched Hallmark movies together and curled up with heavy quilts by the fireplace.  He went the horse barn with us, we made a lot of new friends together, and most importantly we laughed.  We loved.

I've learned a lot this year.
I've learned things seldom turn out the way I plan.
I've learned to accept what is happening in my life right now, and that it's okay to relinquish control.
I've learned to let go, to put the past behind me.
And, I've learned to just have faith that things will fall into place, just like they were meant too....

Thursday, July 19, 2018

On grief and bravery....

Life is hard.
It's unpredictable.
In fact the only thing predictable about life is it's unpredictability. 

I miss my father so much, that sometimes the depth of my sadness makes it hard for me to breathe.
And pick up a pen to write? 
Forget it.
It's as if my creativity died with my dad.  
I have things that want to come out. 
I have thoughts that I want to write about, but the words are stuck in some weird grief purgatory.
It's as if there is a disconnect between my mind and the outside world.

The loss I have experienced is in every corner of my life.  It's in the corner of the living room where we would sit on the couch and watch Hallmark movies.  Or where he excitedly opened his Christmas presents on Christmas day.  

It's in every phone call I still make, forgetting he will never answer my calls again.  

It's in my car where he and I logged a millenary of hours driving to and from our nightly dinners and The Cleveland Clinic.  Confession time:  His pajamas are still folded on the backseat and his half eaten package of Hall's cough drops are still in the dash compartment.  At this point I'm fairly sure I will eventually sell the car with his pajamas right where he left them, because I can't wrap my head around removing them from the backseat... 

The loss is in my wife's eyes as she says to me:  "I don't know what it's like to be married to you.  We have yet to have a normal life." 

The truth is death is painful and walking through the grief requires a colossal amount of bravery.  A bravery I'm not always sure I possess.  As the waves of life throw me about, from side to side, I know the only way through this grief is to allow myself to feel it.  I can't ward it off.  I can't rid myself of it.  I can only turn inward to reflect, honor my heart's request for quietness, and remember the only way to emerge into the light of a new day is to experience the previously dark night.  

Monday, March 19, 2018

Striking Out

Today was rough.  Dad was in a horrible mood when I arrived at the nursing home.  I brought him his traditional bananas, diet Pepsi and Reese cups, and he still was just not happy.  He laid in bed for most of my visit, not wanting to go for a walk or for me to push him in his wheelchair.  Perhaps the most uncharacteristic thing he did today though was strike out at Fenna and yell at her.  I quickly told him to stop being mean to the dog and explained to him that I would not bring her over to visit again if he was going to strike at her.  He told me he didn't care, exclaiming that he hated all animals.  This is so far from who he really is.  He LOVES animals and would not strike an animal if he had to when he is in his right mind!  

Fenna actually handled my father's outburst better than I did.  It was as if she knew that something was off with him today.  She quickly dodged him when he yelled at her, and she looked at him confused for half a minute, but came right back and laid down at the foot of the bed on the floor.  She was quiet and watched him, but was unaffected and willing to forgive him.  

I'm praying this is not a trend.  I didn't know the man I saw today.  
He was not my "dad". 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hiking And CSI Don't MIx....

NicuK and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather recently and took our pups for a hike in the woods across from our new house.  Now, I know, it's a bad idea to explore woods after watching CSI and Criminal Minds, and instantly from the moment I stepped into the woods, I was on high alert.  

When we entered the woods, Fenna immediately started "hunting" for something.  I assumed she was looking for "deer raisins".  I then noticed a huge rib cage, spine and a femur sticking up in the air.  Immediately I looked at NicuK and said:  "God, I hope that's an animal!"  Upon closer inspection, we determined it was a deer.  By the looks of the decomposing body we are guessing the big guy had been dead for several months and due to the broken tines on his rack, we are assuming he was hit by a car.  Fenna was in heaven!  NicuK was not so much in heaven.  She had been watching for this deer for a while after seeing his hoof prints in our front yard, so to see such a magnificent guy dead was kind of a disappointing.  

On the way out of the woods, NicuK stopped suddenly, put her hand over her heart and goes:  "Oh God, that scared me!"  I couldn't quite see what she was looking at when she said this, and then I saw her.  After finding the dead deer and still in my CSI/Criminal Minds state of mind, I nearly had a heart attack!  For a second I thought we were going to have to call 911, and then I realized, she was just a mannequin with a bad hair cut who obviously, by the marks on her forehead had experienced a run in with some type of sharp object.  

I'm hoping for a little less excitement and a little more bravery by the time Spring in Ohio really arrives....

Saturday, March 10, 2018

My Dog Can Fly!

We don't call him Toad Hopper for nothin'!
My dog can fly!  
What's your dog's super power?!

Well meaning people say to me all the time: "Oh, I want a Malinois!"  And generally they've met a well behaved Malinois whose owner who really "gets" this breed.  I always answer their questions, but generally I try to talk them out of this breed for the picture above....

I often tell folks: "They aren't a dog, they're a lifestyle.  The only thing a Malinois does poorly is nothing.  The go ALL day long, and then are ready to go again."

I love this picture of Kay and Toad playing fetch this afternoon.
It really shows the athleticism behind this breed.... 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Wrongly Labeled

I'm a strong woman.
Some might consider me short tempered or bitchy.
Evidently some consider me aggressive.
I don't like that connotation.
I especially hate when people use it as a way to describe me negatively.

In all honesty, I'm not aggressive.
I'm assertive.
There's a difference.

I'm confident.
I'm passionate.
I know what I want.
I'm sure of myself and I don't care what other people think about me.

I seldom behave.
I'm occasionally hard to handle, and if you are weak or mild you may be intimidated by me.

Often times people take me for being rude.
Please don't confuse my directness with rudeness.
There is a difference.

No,  I don't sugar coat things.
It's not my style.
In fact, I'm honest to a fault sometimes, and I will hurt you with the truth before I tell you a lie.

I think a lot.
I constantly reflect and evaluate my emotions, in an attempt to be a better human being.

I will never hurt you intentionally, and I will feel horribly guilty if I hurt you accidentally.

I can't stand someone who lies, and I will not hesitate to cut you out of my life if you break my trust.
I will forgive you as it takes too much effort to hold a grudge, but I won't forget how you made me feel.

I'm comfortable in my own skin, and my scars are a beautiful reminder of my life experiences.

I say what's on my mind without hesitation, and will advocate for myself and the underdog endlessly.

When I'm angry, give me some time and space to re-group.
I re-bound quickly and we can talk after I thoroughly think things through.

I'm sorry you're too sensitive to understand me.
I'm sorry you're too put off by who I am to like me.
Mostly though, I'm sorry you're too meager to be emphatic like me.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Living the 10th Life

Just treated for fleas, so we can't get too cuddly...

My dad has a heart the size of Montana and his love for animals runs deep, but when you don't have the financial and physical ability to take care of yourself, taking care of an animal is impossible to do.  

For years, our veterinarian has patched up my dad's cat as cost effectively as possible, and when my dad became ill, I spoke with our her explaining that because my dad was in such grave shape and would likely never go back to his house, I was going to bring his cat in to be euthanized because the cat was in just as bad shape as my father.

But I wasn't ready yet....

I am not one to save an animal who is suffering, but try as I might I could not bring myself to euthanize this cat.  For 4 months I have procrastinated, cried, and just turned a blind eye to the fact the end was coming for this guy.  Part of me sees my dad in this cat.  Part of me didn't want to euthanize him because in a way it felt like I was giving up on my dad.  Like I was euthanizing him.  Another part of me felt beyond sorry for this cat.  He is loaded with fleas despite my flea preventative donation every month.  He is horribly anemic, can't walk well, and is a mess from their living situation.  Part of me just wants this cat to live one day where he is warm, free of blood sucking parasites, and where he has a full belly.  

Tonight I got the call from dad asking me to please take his cat to the vet.  He said the cat was unable to walk normally and that he was in rough shape.  I braced myself, fully ready to euthanize the cat, and together Kay and I drove over to take the cat for his final ride.  When we got there, I found a cat who could hardly walk, who had fleas so bad you couldn't see his skin, but through all of his sadness, he just kept purring.

The entire ride to the vet, I was bothered.  I know it makes sense to euthanize this cat, but I for the life of me just couldn't let go!  Finally, with Kay driving, and me deep in thought, I worked out in my head that I would have the cat tested for communicable cat diseases.  If he was positive, I would euthanize him.  If it was negative, I would save him.  I was leaving it up to the Universe.  I was going to let fate work it out.

Shockingly, Sam's blood work came back really well.  He has a high white count and is horribly anemic, but the veterinarian thinks there is a strong possibility he'll pull through.
If he does pull through, he will have a home here with us where he can live out the remainder of his days with no worries, plenty of food, warm/soft spots to rest his weary body, and no "little pets". 

If he doesn't pull through, at least he died comfortably.

 Like my father a few months ago, he isn't going down without a fight....

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Giving Up Breathing for Lent

For Lent this year, I gave up breathing....
Sorry, what I meant was, I gave up Facebook.
It's sort of the same thing to me.....

Truth be told, giving up breathing would've been easier than giving up Facebook!

I did this because I've come to the realization that Facebook makes me less authentic in real life, and it's squelching my creativity.

I'm guilty of jumping onto Facebook every morning to see what's going on in the world and what's going on in other people's world, even before my feet hit the carpet.

I jump on Facebook when I'm riding in the car, when I'm standing in line at Chipotle, when I'm stuck in traffic, and as embarrassing as it is to admit: even when I'm not "stuck" in traffic...

Last week my wife was talking to me when we were driving in the car and I realized we'd had an entire 20 minute conversation, and I could not tell you what she had even said.  (Sorry, Honey!)  That's because instead of being present, I was surfing through Facebook watching kittens fall off counter tops, learning how to bake a potato via solar power, and reading about my friend from 3rd grade's daughter who finally popped in the potty.  (Congrats, kid!)  

Now, these things are important and I enjoy them, but do  I value them over the time I spend with my family?  
With myself?  
With my friends?

I wish my answer was no, but in that moment I realized I was placing more value on online relationships and the online escape than in my physical world, and I needed to stop.

There was no fancy post saying I was taking a Facebook sabbatical, I just quit.  Honestly, most people probably don't even notice I'm gone.    

I'm allowing myself to get on to post my blog posts, but I'm not getting back on every few minutes to watch for "Internet trolls."  (A huge concern for me sometimes...)  I'm just sending my writing out into the digital world to survive on it's own.  To be liked (or not) by whomever enjoys it, and I'm going to catch up with it and read the comments the next time I'm online to share another blog post.  

The first few days of being Facebook free caused me to tick and twitch, I so wanted to know what all those notifications were about, but this experience has actually forced me to write more because I can't quickly throw a picture on my wall with a funny saying.  
It's forcing me to delve deeper.  
I appreciate that.

It's made me be more present and I'm enjoying planning my spring gardens, playing outside, getting work done around the new homestead, and spending more physical time with the people I love.  

Not only will I survive the 40 days, 40 nights, and 7 Sundays, but  I think I will be better for it.... 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Setting myself free.....

Several months ago, someone I love completely berated me via a myriad of vile text messages.  Whether this person honestly feels the way they claimed to feel about me, or they were just acting out of fear and stress, I will never know, but this person screamed the most inhumane things at me, and I have to admit her words cut me to my core.  

Somewhere between hearing: 

"You are a horrible person!"    
"You're fake!"
"If only you were a genuine person...."
"You're f*cking worthless!"
"I hate you!"

I believed this person.  
I believed I was worthless.  
I believed I was horrible.

I quit writing on my blog for fear this person would judge and berate me again for something seen there.  I second guessed everything I put on Facebook for fear the person would judge me for something I wrote there, and honestly I have been walking on eggshells.  

I'm uncomfortable when I talk with this person because where I apologized for anything I'd said or done to warrant this person's feelings towards me, there has been no apology on her part, so even though this women acts like nothing was ever said, it leaves the continual question in my mind:  "Is what she said about me true?  Do I not know myself?  Does she honestly feel this way about me?"  

This woman has stolen my spirit. 
She has taken the joy out of my smile.
Her words took any self-worth and confidence I had, and ground it into the dirt.

This week I realized I was allowing this woman's words to define me, and I am here to say: No more!  I know who I am.  

I'm brave.
I'm kind.
I care. 
I'm worthy.
I'm enough.
I AM who I'm supposed to be.  

This woman's words will no longer hold me in bondage, and her words have no hold on me.  
I'm shutting them down. 
I'm shutting her down.
I was not created to be bullied, vulgarized, stigmatized or humiliated.
I'm writing this blog post to set me free...... 


Monday, January 29, 2018

4 Seconds from Pulling a Britney

Tonight I am struggling.  
I never realized how hard taking care of another person was until I started this adventure with my dad, and I have to say I hate it.
Part of me is sad, part of me is empathetic, and part of me is flat out pissed off.
Now, I'm sure one day I will miss my dad, and one day I will reflect back on this night and cry tears of sadness that he is no longer with me, but tonight....

Tonight I am 4 seconds away pulling a Britney Spears in the late 2000's, shaving my head and beating the crap out of something with an umbrella.  
Tonight, I am not taking care of a "sweet dad".  
Tonight, I am dealing with his alter ego.  I'm dealing with someone who wants what he wants, wants it yesterday, and really doesn't care what/who he destroys to have things his way.  Tonight he forgets his manners, doesn't see the sacrifices made on his part, the financial burden he is strapping me with, and he doesn't say thank you.  
Tonight my best is not good enough.
The worst part about tonight though, is knowing I have to do it all over again tomorrow.
In the past I have always wondered why Britney shaved her head and beat an SUV with an umbrella.  Tonight, I know why......

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Smile, it can't be that bad....

I saw her at Tim Horton's on a Thursday morning.  Her hair was blonde, stick straight and pulled up in a ponytail.  She had a coffee in her perfectly manicured hand and was clad in yoga pants, which were obviously created for a woman with a body type like hers.  She had a beautiful smile, was super perky and I'm sure she was a nice person.  I will never know, because I ate her alive....

You see, the back story here is this.  My father is sick and our family is struggling to do what's best for him while we figure out our new normal.  It's obvious to many people in my immediate life that I'm not handling this with a whole lot of grace some days.  This Thursday morning was one of those days.

My morning started off with an 8:30 meeting at an assisted living place we were trying to get dad admitted to.  From there I was to swiftly rush my dad to a doctor's appointment for a monthly follow up after his hospital release.  The appointment was for 10:30 am.  With a little bit of luck and pixie dust, I managed to usher my father into his doctor's office at 10:27 am.  At this point I was feeling pretty good about my morning accomplishments, and then the receptionist opened her sliding glass door.

I said: "Good Morning!  We're here for a 10:30 appointment."
She looked at me and said:  "I'm sorry your appointment was for 10:00 am."
At this point I tried to explain all my discharge paperwork said the appointment was for 10:30 am and essentially begged the receptionist to work us into the schedule.
The receptionist simply shrugged her shoulders and said: "Sorry!"

In my normal life, a minor inconvenience like this would not derail me, but on this day, it wrecked me.  It was as if every tear I had not shed for the last several weeks came out right there in the lobby in the worst "ugly cry" I have ever cried.  And once I started crying, I could not stop.  I cried out of frustration, sadness, exhaustion, and just flat out defeat.

Breaking me from my tears was Candy the receptionist saying a little too happily: "I would be happy to reschedule your appointment for you!"  Now, I know when I get that angry, I tend to go from 0-60 in mere seconds, and I have been working on this so I snarked at Candy as nicely as I could muster that we would not be rescheduling our appointment as I ushered my father out the door.  As I was feeling sorry for my dad because he looked so dejected after waiting weeks for his appointment, he said to me: "Emmy, don't cry!  I'm sorry I'm sick and putting you through all this.  Can we go to Tim Horton's for lunch?  I'm hungry."  Quickly I turned off my tears, gathered myself up, swallowed my anger and decided to take my dad out for his favorite chicken noodle soup.

This is where I met Yuppie Barbie.

As my dad hurried through the door of Tim Horton's, on a mission to find the nearest restroom, I brought up the rear.  My father said hello to Yuppie Barbie on his way past her and I glanced at her, still just thinking about my morning and my new life.

And that is when Yuppie Barbie said the sentence that almost ended her life.  A little to perky, with her pony tail swaying, Barbie says:  "Smile!  It can't be that bad!"  Only unbeknownst to Barbie it WAS THAT bad!

Without thinking, and with NO restraint, I swung around, met Barbie eye to eye with a look that could kill, and let it fly: "You know WHAT?!  You have NO idea just how bad IT is right now!  My dad is in the fight of his life against an illness!  I can't find an assisted living place who takes his Medicaid, and without that he's essentially homeless!  His medication is expensive, 100% necessary, and I can't seem to secure a way to pay for it.  Did I mention we're facing foreclosure and the reality that he is loosing EVERYTHING?!  That I am using ALL of my vacation and sick time to take him to appointment after appointment and THIS is my WHOLE life right now?!  And on top of ALL OF THIS, we missed his appointment this morning even though we were exactly where we were supposed to be ON TIME!  So you know what?!  Where life might not be that bad for you, it SUCKS for me currently!"

Quickly Barbie left Tim Horton's and truly I felt bad for unleashing on this woman, but honestly the more I got to thinking about it, when did in become okay to assume you know how another person is feeling, what they're thinking or exactly what struggle they're walking through in life.  Perhaps they don't want to smile because they aren't happy.  Perhaps they just lost their job, recently got a horrible cancer diagnosis, or their child has passed away.  People don't wear signs making it obvious as to what personal struggle they're dealing with, so how about we do each other a favor and say or do something positive to the person facing a difficult time, build them up, let them know we care, and for the love of God folks, lets please stop using the phrase: "Smile!  It can't be that bad!".......