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AUTHENTICALLY BOLD: REBECCA

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Death

Forgiveness, A Year Later

With death, one often shares thoughts and memories of a decedent to hang onto their love.  Remembrances of past experiences comfort you with a soft embrace and perhaps, warm your heart or bring a ticklish smile to your face.  For me, little signs and occurrences have been sparking my more positive memories as of late. Negative weight my mind harbors has been slowing wedged out of the way like a plow, leaving behind a glistening, fresh road of positive recollections to relish instead.

My dad passed away in March 2011 and my mother died suddenly in April 2013.  Having had severe medical ailments for most of their adult lives, their deaths were not surprising but they were unexpected.  At first, my feelings were of relief for each of them.  Relief, you ask?  Yes, relief.

My father was wasting away in a nursing home, sharing a room with two other nursing home residents.  In my opinion, one of the most unfortunate ways to spend your last moments here on Earth.  The smell of the nursing home: a bizarre mixture of sanitation, fecal matter, urine, and cafeteria food is strong enough to make my hairs bristle.  The visions of countless old people sitting, biding their time until the Angel of Death swoops in to take their last breath is disheartening as you wonder what their life stories are that led them to this “waiting room”.  The relentless sounds of incessant beeps from a multitude of alarms emanates from room after room after room waiting for the over-stressed staff to come and hit the reset button for the umpteenth time.

My mother, on the contrary, was still living independently, albeit in a senior housing facility.  Despite a life filled with codependency and unhealthy relationships, the final years my mother lived were empowering to her on many different levels.  Instead of wasting away in a trapped room, my mother had a social circle in her apartment building and despite using a scooter to maneuver around, she had suddenly become the most active she may possibly have ever been.  Her apartment was a time capsule when my husband and I walked in with my half-sister (*that* is another blog in and of itself) to take care of my mother’s affairs post-death.  The radio was still playing in the living room, set to the oldies station my mother was so fond of and used to sing terribly off-key to.  The dining room light remained on, with light filtering and highlighting the notepad with her blood sugar results she posted the morning of her death.  Her nearly empty tea cup sat cold next to the pen she used to keep track of those aforementioned diabetic readings.  My mother had plans to return home.  She never did.

Despite a very dysfunctional life, the life I grew up with is *MY* life.  For all the horrible memories I retain, from the searing childhood abuse from my mother and the pressure to be that perfect child from my father; my experiences molded me into the person I became.  See Not All Mothers Are Created Alike and I Miss My Dad.

Last year I posted about Forgiveness. Would I be able to forgive my parents for the behavior and treatment they doled out from the moment they moved in with my young family in late 2003, through my cancer battle in 2007-2008 while pregnant with my third child, to the ensuing years up until their respective deaths?  What has happened in a year’s time, you ask?

Alas, I have not completely forgiven or have I been able to resolve all of my conflicting inner-most feelings about my parents.  While my anger and more so, my disappointment, has lessened with the passage of another 365 days; my ability to completely absolve the words and actions of my parents has not been entirely fruitful.  However, I choose to focus not on the negative feelings that reside within me and instead I find myself carrying out acts that implement the more positive acts of each of my parents.  Instead of letting the harboring weight hold me down, little and effortless acts appear in my weekly routines that allows me to pass along the warm memories of my parents to my young children.

My kitchen has lately embraced the smells of recipes that my mom used to make for me; dishes so warm and *huggy* that my children are now enveloped in Grandma’s love.  Recently, I was compelled to make a spinach lasagna so I drove to the grocery store for the very ingredients that will meshed together a fond memory of my childhood into a full bellies and hearts of my own family.  We talked about Grandma that night.

My boss’s mother-in-law saved a special piece of her homemade South African fruitcake post-holiday after hearing my fond recollections of my dad having a love for fruitcake; an odd trait that was passed along to me.  As I savored the small piece of the holiday delight, each morsel helped navigate my brain waves into the cistern of retrospect and suddenly, it was as if my dad was there enjoying a piece with me.  My kids laughed at me rolling my eyes into my head in enjoyment of this little treat, but they understood that the indulgence of these ingredients meant far more than my theatrics and taste buds would allow.  We talked about Grandpa that day.

My ability to forgive may remain challenged, at least for now.  As I embark on my quest to live more authentically in 2015, there is comfort in knowing that with the passage of time, more and more memory *hugs* (as I like to call them) will surface.  Each reminiscence will envelope me in the love I know my parents had for me; even when they were most challenged to show it to me.  Each recollection will allow me to expand upon my own parenting with my children; offering each of my kids a tidbit of the very threads of my being that is now being woven into their beings.  Perhaps, these offerings will equip my young family in their ability to forgive in their years ahead.

forgiveness

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Fly Free – Revisited

Last weekend, within moments of  when I sat down at my oldest’s soccer game, I had a visitor:

baby dragonfly

Yes, a baby dragonfly!  Hundreds of people at these fields and here I am within moments of arrival…..you have to believe.  Although, this dragonfly will grow up to be one of the gigantic variety that I compare to that of a pterodactyl and is not quite as beautiful as some its opalescent counterparts that shimmer in the sunlight; I took the visit to heart – literally.  Cara came to mind and my heart momentarily squeezed tighter as my recollection become more vivid.  I wondered to myself:  Is she now able to Fly Free

dragonfly

Shortly thereafter, I revisited my former blog,  Confessions of a Curvy Girl link “Fly Free” and I know the answer.  I now daydream of a world that may not necessarily be cancer free, because that is simply how our bodies work, but perhaps, a world where there is much less cancer, better treatments for those that do get cancer leaving little or no Collateral Damage, and the ability for humans to revel in the vastness joys of life!

I am re-sharing the content from the original “Fly Free” post from August 2012 here:

I will never forget the day, approximately three years ago when I was sitting at a local watering hole (a pond, not a drinking place people) and a beautiful dragonfly landed right on me. The beach was filled with people, but yet, this beautiful, metallic blue creature landed on me and stayed with me for an uncommonly long time. My friend commented on this unique moment, as did others – while I simply embraced the peace and beauty his magnificent creature brought. Why did it choose me?

Shortly thereafter, dragonflies were very common around me – and in my presence. Of course, I took particular note of them after the pond incident, but big, beautiful, bird sized dragonflies and small, fragile damselflies hovered around me with an odd frequency. My family even noticed their increased company around my being and I could only wonder what it meant.

Of course, google now being my best friend – I researched the various meanings of dragonflies and what their significance could mean in my life. Here, I’ve summarized them:

  • Change – change in the perspective of self-realization and understanding into the deeper meaning of life (looking beyond the surface).
  • Power and Poise – ability to accomplish objectives with simplicity, effectiveness, elegance and grace.
  • Clear Vision – discovery of one’s own self; by removal of self-created illusions. Iridescence being the property to show oneself in different colors or lights.
  • Living IN the moment and living life to the fullest – by living in the moment you are aware of who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what you want, what you don’t and living moment-to-moment. Living without regrets.
  • Uninhibited Vision – open mind and ability to see beyond the limitations of human self.

Wow. Right?

After my cancer battle, my perspective was completely different than before. As cliché as it is, my self-realization of how precious and how short life truly is was magnified as if under an uber-powerful electron microscope.   I tend to over-analyze things in general; however, a clear vision certainly guides one down their destined path.

Another source indicated that dragonflies may often symbolize the appearance of a deceased one in your life. Am I being visited?

Dragonflies are known to live a very short time; hence, the correlation to living in the moment and living life to the fullest. Do dragonflies make the most of their short time on Earth? It’s certainly a good reminder to us humans to make the moments count.

Despite the flight of the dragonflies, I struggle and I have yet to learn how to cope with the shortness of life in people. Some of us die way before our time – before our flight is over; this I understand. I also comprehend (albeit with much frustration), that we will never know the “why”. However, I cannot seem to come to grips with those who die at a young age, particularly because of cancer.

People have offered me various explanations: Scientifically, it’s survival of the fittest – we cannot all live to be 100. Religiously, it is all a part of God’s Master Plan. Medically, his/her body cannot outlast, outwit or outplay cancer and it’s deviance to all modern medicine.

With news of another local warrior entering hospice earlier this week, I have been consumed with heavy thoughts. Every little moment of my day, I am in her shoes. Every moment is a BIG moment.

For example, my daily shower is shrouded by thoughts of how this woman will soon be unable to take a shower and bathe herself in the latest smell of Bath & Body Works shower gel. My morning cup of coffee is savored knowing that the simple pleasure of enjoying a favored drink will soon be no longer an option for her. The latest pop song on the radio may be one of the last enjoyed by her ears. My tears flow heavily for her.

I hug my children so much tighter; knowing that soon, the warm embrace of this beautiful woman will only be a fond memory that her children will have to cling on to. I tell my friends I love them, because I know that in due course, the wonderful friends that have supported this kind soul will cherish all the times they were honored to have with her.

I cry. I cry. I cry.

I only went to high school with her and with her husband. I have taken the small measures that I could during her battle, to try and offset the burden that comes along with a cancer diagnosis; as many in our tight community have done for their family. I am not close enough to this amazing soul that I should be feeling the amount of pain that I do feel.

I cry. I cry. I cry.

Perhaps, my heart is breaking because of my own experience with cancer and my own threat of the possibility of death. I am in her shoes for the time being. I cannot fathom the pain that she and her family are going through as she prepares to finalize her journey. I only know that every time I see a dragonfly going forward, I will think of her. I will know she touched the lives of so many people in her brief stay. The strength she showed during her darkest days; her relentless courage; the brilliant and iridescent smile she afforded everyone in her presence; the vision throughout that life should be lived in moments and memories made………she will fly free.

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