Posts Tagged ‘rebuilding’


I am approaching the midway point of the second year since Rick, my significant other of twenty years, passed away from lung cancer. Since the second week I have been regularly attending a grief group. Such lovely people they are, each special in their own way.  Though the cast varies as new people are added, and old ones fade into the distance, the message resonates, “you can do this”. Our facilitator, a lovely woman in her early eighties, lays out a roadmap of what to expect as the months unfurl. Those participants involved the longest prop up the newest ones, providing wisdom they acquired on their journeys and hope for a brighter future. The familiar faces have become more family then friends. Together they provide a bridge to help you make your way to your new life. I highly recommend finding a group such as this should you be faced with a loss. It may take a few tries to find one that suits your particular needs but if you take the time it is well worth the trouble.

The first year, for me at least, passed in a blur. The first weeks even months I dealt with the details one has to tie up when a person passes away.  A sort of protective numbness slips over you during this time deflecting or at least blunting some of the deep soul wrenching pain involved with such a loss. The second year, where I find myself now, our facilitator says can sometimes be the “lonely” year.  The numbness now worn off, the spotlight shines brightly on how life is going to look now that your loved one is not in it. Acceptance often arrives during this phase. Accepting that the person you love is gone in the physical sense and you are left to plot out your future on your own. The third year is when you begin to build on the foundation you’ve begun in the first two years. You cannot circumvent the feelings and bypass the grieving process or whatever you have tucked down deep inside will simply resurface at another time and place. Of all information I have been given during this process this is the most valuable. You must work through the pain to get past it.

Today illuminated this for me quite clearly. My doctor ordered a fasting blood test. Hate these. I tend to roam about in the middle of the night with the owls and spirits. Fasting means waking up to no coffee in my cup and no breakfast forthcoming until the lab is open for business. Needless to say I am not always a good sport about this. Uncharacteristically, as I said I tend to move the things I least like to do to the first of the line, I put this off until the last possible day. Looking up the labs available on the Internet I found one in my network open a 7 a.m. That’s for me. Outside the temps hovered just above freezing. My breath proceeded me down the walkway toward my cold car. Cranking the heater up to broil I wrapped my fingers around the icy steering wheel and headed towards town. The sun was up but had not made it’s full presence known yet, so misty shadows hung about mingling with the remnants of yesterdays winter storm. Several clouds parted allowing a few glimpses of daylight to shine through as I drove along the backroads without many other vehicles for company. “Coffee” my mind chanted along with the ZZTop song playing on the radio. “Yes, yes. I’m working on it.” What a nag my mind can be when it doesn’t get it’s creature comforts.

Reaching my destination I pulled my puffer coat tightly around me and scurried into the warm building. Three other brave souls were ahead of me so I picked up a magazine. As usual the date on the front indicated it had been printed when Eisenhower occupied the oval office. No other reading material in sight other than Field and Stream, I opened to the first page to catch up on what Mamie was up to. Shortly a young woman in a lab coat called my name. Pumping a dollop of disinfectant in my palm, I followed her through the door. That magazine looked like it had seen a lot of love since it came to reside in the waiting room, wanted to be sure I didn’t offer any of it’s germy inhabitants a ride. Coming from a doctor’s family this seems to be permanently ingrained in my brain. Perhaps it’s a good thing.

Poked and bandaged I was in and out in ten minutes. Hopping into my car I noticed a chain restaurant across the street Rick and I used to frequent.  Seemed like another lifetime ago, and I guess in truth it was. We owned the restaurant back then, and lived an hour and a half away from where I am now. Breakfast out before the roosters crowed was always a fun if both of us were up early. For a moment I considered going in and getting a table, then thought better of it. My mind was now screaming at me, “Get me some coffee, and I’m not kidding here. I will punish you”. Still, I slowed down at the driveway and then continued on my way. Not today. Not quite ready yet. Gave myself some prompts for going and getting my blood work done and getting as far as I have with my grief work. When I got home I pushed “brew” on my coffee maker and poured some cereal in a bowl. There’s a learning curve to all this and some days are harder than others. The fact that the hardest ones are now behind me helps me to get through the ones that still show up periodically to tell me I’m not through the mine field yet.

To add to the pot I worry about losing my mother. Time with her has dwindled as the dementia continues to deepen making it less safe to take her out of her environment for long periods of time. I grieve this as well and try to wring as many memories as I can out of each visit to hold me when the visits cease to be. You cannot dwell on death, however. As they say, “life is for the living”. Neither can you avoid it or pretend it isn’t there. As we get older time begins to take on more importance because there is less of it left. The need to do or say what we have not feels more urgent then in younger days.

In a state of gratitude is where I try to find myself. I am blessed in so many ways. Gratitude is something I practice every morning before beginning my day.  You don’t have to look hard to find something to be thankful for. If you can see the computer sitting before you, you can begin there, for some people cannot.

Some things we have no control over such as death, but others we do. Beginning our days on an optimistic note or choosing to look for the dark cloud on the horizon has everything to do with how the day unfolds. I read earlier if you expect only good things, only good things will come your way. Being a bit of a realist I will have to work on this one. I did find it a lovely thought though and a great way to jump start my day. So, I expected the 49ers to win and guess what they did!! As usual they offered up a bit of a nail biter at the end of the fourth quarter, but our boys showed up and that’s all that counts. Rick did not want to leave before the 49ers went to the Super Bowl but he had to go so those of us who loved him shall represent in 2020 when they go against Kansas City, How exciting.

I wanted to share this ridiculously simple dip that my dear friend shared with me. I have taken it twice to football parties over the past month only to have it disappear nearly before I set the bowl on the table. It’s easy as to be embarrassing when asked to share the recipe. With minimum effort and maximum crowd appeal I guarantee you will be a star if you serve it. I tripled the recipe for the last party and was looking at the bottom of the bowl before I got the second bag of tortilla chips open.

Avocado Salsa

2 ripe avocados large diced
1 container Rojos Restaurant Style or Homestyle Salsa (Hot to Mild depending on preference-I use mild)Tortilla chips

About one hour prior to serving, dice avocados in bite sized pieces. Gently fold in salsa. Serve with chips.

Serves 4




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Currently, to employ a little electrical vernacular, I am sitting at my daughter’s house writing this blog. “Why”, you ask. Well actually you did not ask but had you I would have answered, “because my house is 62 degrees and I haven’t had electricity since last Saturday.” Then I would sigh and hold my head.

I left Saturday to spend a few days with friends in the Bay Area. Their house is in Antioch in Contra Costa County about a two and a half hour drive from mine in Auburn. Knowing I would be gone three days, my usual wonderful pet sitter was on the clock to keep an eye on Boo until my return. PG&E sent me a text alert an hour into my drive saying due to a high wind event predicted they would be shutting off power to many counties in Northern California including my area by Saturday night. Great. The wind storm, scheduled to move in Sunday, was considered by those in the know likely of historic proportions. Combine the wind with the dry vegetation and low humidity and you have the recipe for the perfect cocktail for fires. Good Lord.

November 1st, is my birthday. Yup, another year older and deeper in debt. My friends in Antioch were planning a pre birthday dinner for me on Sunday and Monday night my girlfriend and I were going to a greeting card party we attend every three months. It’s less about greeting cards than about a bunch of ladies getting together to eat, talk and, yes, make a few greeting cards. I always look forward to it.

She and I have known one another about thirty five years. Would that I could say we were in grade school when we met but in fact we met at a company we both worked at back when we were in our thirties. Again, I would like to say that was yesterday but my gray roots keep showing through to make a liar out of me. Over the years we have ridden out many a storm together both literally and figuratively so this would not be virgin territory for us. She and her husband have seen me through the end of one marriage and my relationship with Rick and now Rick’s passing, and I have been there for many losses in their lives. A lot of water under this bridge for the three of us for sure.

Thankfully their house was not affected by the outages, so we had power throughout the weekend. In fact, they have never been affected. This is probably due to the fact they live in a heavily populated Bay Area community not replete with trees. However, this does not preclude trouble, because while I was there several such suburban areas around them had serious fire situations, it just makes it less likely. Being in the middle of a huge wind event with dry foliage all around you is definitely a nerve jangler. Not to mention the trees in their yard besides being fuel were huge. When the wind gusts swooped in their boughs were bent nearly to the ground. Several large branches were lying across their yard with two on their roof by the time the winds had receded. Debris lined the streets once we ventured out leaving yards looking like war zones.

Weather is such a leveler. You are lulled into a false sense of security tucked inside your warm home until Mother Nature decides to make herself known. My heart goes out to those families who had had to stand by helplessly as their houses along with everything in them burned to the ground. Often I think it must be difficult for the fire fighters as well working so hard in difficult conditions to save these homes finally having to admit defeat and move on down the line to try to save the next one.

It doesn’t seem fair. Some homes in a ravaged neighborhood might stand untouched, while others are left in a smoldering mass. Life is rarely fair, to my mind. Sometimes it is simply life. Look at the animal world. Watching a cheetah capable of moving at speeds up to 70 MPH chase down a gazelle who will never outrun it makes you wonder “how fair is that”? Perhaps it is not a matter of fair or not, perhaps that is the fabric of life. Perhaps the gazelle was a weak link in the herd, old or infirmed possibly, or the herd needed to be culled being too large for all members to eat. Maybe nature doesn’t offer up explanations, other than that is the balance, this is as it is? I don’t know certainly. No one has looked to me as the authority on everything since my children were old enough to think for themselves. I do have questions though.

Can’t help but wonder why all this is happening here in California right now. As I said in my last blog I look forward to life settling down a bit easing in some relaxing moments to balance out the chaos? I find myself a bit world weary but thankful I have my home, cold as it may be, and Boo the Queen of Cats and I are safe, warm, and have food on the table. At least I have food at the table at my daughter’s house. When I go home I will have to restock. Once again I will have to empty the contents of my refrigerator into my trash bin which hurts my heart, but if this is the worst loss I have to suffer than I shall survive.

I am enjoying having some down time with my family which is definitely a plus. On my birthday we are going the zoo and then out to dinner which I am looking forward to. Full circle it would seem. When I was five I wanted to go to the zoo for my birthday and here I am anticipating yet again seeing all the animals at this age. Though this time the trip is actually for the benefit of the youngest member of our clan, Zeppelin, who has recently also celebrated a birthday, his first. Going with him will be like viewing the zoo with fresh eyes seeing for the first time the wonders of all the animals to be found there. That will make it all the more special. If we’re lucky we’ll both get ice cream if we behave ourselves. He’s probably more likely to get a cone than I am. Smile. Last time I went to the zoo was with Rick. I told him I wanted to feed the giraffes so he stood in line with all the other kids and we waited our turn to give the impossibly tall creatures an offering of an acacia leaf. We may grow up but sometimes it is still fun to revisit the child inside of us. One delightful benefit of getting older is that in my case at least I care more about enjoying the moment than what someone else might think about what I’m doing.

So I go home in the morning, power restored. Boo will be delighted, she’s not a happy traveler. Happy Halloween to you.

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