Tag Archives: death

Everything Happens For A Reason

I do not believe in coincidence.  I do believe that everything happens for a reason.

I was raised to be spiritual, to love God, to trust in God’s will, to believe that no matter what everything works out in the end.  Through the years, particularly when I was a young adult, I had my doubts.  I’m a “black-and-white, no gray area” type of person, so I started to doubt the concept of God and went with the scientific explanation of the universe.  That didn’t work well for me.  My life went to hell in a hand basket.  I then started to strengthen my spirituality, and my life started coming together.  I continue to strengthen my spirituality and accept there are things that are not meant to be explained or understood.

Therefore, I do not believe in coincidence.  Everything happens for a reason, even if it is not specifically clear at any given time.

My brother Kris died a little over 1-1/2 years ago from bone and lung cancer at the age of 57.  From the time he was diagnosed to the time he died was just 3 weeks.  They tried radiation and one dose of chemotherapy which he could not tolerate.  They then put him on hospice and sent him home with his wife.

January 2015… on his way to Maui.

He never told me he was ill.  He knew he was going to die, and he never said goodbye.  And I was angry.  Very angry.  Regardless, I ran my next half-marathon less than 2 months later in his memory.  It was my goodbye to him… I was running Maui, his most favorite place in the world (…everything happens for a reason.  I do not believe it was coincidence that my first race after his death happened to be in Maui.).

However, sometime soon after Kris died, I discovered Terry from Spearfruit (everything happens for a reason).  Terry was having his own battle with cancer, and still is, fighting every day for his life.  Terry recently wrote a post, I Will See Her Again, about a recent visit with his mom, sister, and brother.  Because of this heartfelt post, I now understand why my brother never said anything.

My brother didn’t “do” emotions.  He expressed love and occasionally anger or frustration, but he never showed grief or sadness.  Outwardly anyway.  He despised any type of drama.  He accepted the way things were and moved past it.

It took me a year and a half, and finally Terry’s post, to realize my brother couldn’t deal with the emotions that would have come with saying goodbye to the people he loved.  He had enough to process in dealing with his own mortality, and the emotions of having to say goodbye were just too much for him to handle in the short time he had left.

Taken a couple of days before he died, November 2015.

Terry… thank you for sharing your journey with us.  You may never know everyone you’ve helped during your fight, but I am sure there are many.  I appreciate you.

Rest in peace, bro… I finally get it.

My Brother

As I headed to Target today to brave the masses, I started thinking about my brother.  For those who aren’t aware, he passed away last November from bone and lung cancer.

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He used to say some of the most profound things to me.  Completely out of nowhere.  One night when he had come over to visit, he looked at me and said, “I still find it hard to accept that I can eat a gallon of ice cream for dinner if I want.”  Because he was an adult now, and adults get to do what they want.  Nevermind that he was almost 30.  😀

My brother, sister, and I all used to work at the same place (my sister and I were typesetters and my brother was the computer programmer/tech guy).  Sis and I were hanging out in the back room with him for a little break, and he looked at us and said, “Just think… if a bomb went off right now, Mom would be childless.”  Okay, a little dark, but still… things that make you go hmmm…

And the things he used to do to me when I was itty bitty little, like 5 years old.  One time when I wouldn’t leave him and his friend alone, he found something resembling a coat hook in the carport and hung me up by my underwear to get me out of his hair.  He got into a bit of trouble for that.

And once when my sister and I were sleeping in a camp bed on the floor, he put tuna fish in our ears and let loose 6 hungry kittens.  He kind of got in trouble for that too… after my mother stopped laughing.

Here he is teaching my cat Zeus to read the newspaper shortly before Christmas dinner in 2000:

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He also was the first to teach me, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”  It was a lesson I learned well, way before I had ever heard of the book.  And, true story, it’s all small stuff.

Yet, at the same time, it’s the little things that really matter in life, isn’t it.  Such as a hug.  Or a kind word.  Or a smile.  Or 5 minutes of your time.

In January, I ran my first race of the year in his memory:

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My sister-in-law told me to look for a blue butterfly while in Maui as that would be a sign from Kris.  I saw one blue butterfly the whole entire 7 days we were there… at mile 11… and anyone who runs half-marathons (as opposed to full-out marathons) knows the emotional breakdown happening at mile 11.  I also saw a rainbow… on his 16th wedding anniversary.

So tell me, who have you hugged today?

Nero (12/2000 – 11/2016)

When James and I got married back in 2000, I owned 5 cats.  And even though he had never in his life been around animals before, he was very accepting of the situation.  I guess you could say animals are what make me, me.

He actually enjoyed being around the cats in the beginning, so much so, he absolutely had to rescue this one kitten, Nero, from a couple who had just found out they were pregnant and decided Nero posed too much of a health hazard (please do not even get me started on this).  I was against getting another cat… 100% against it.  But James persisted, and I gave in.

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So this cute little kitten came to live with us and unfortunately got beatings from the other cats for a little while.  My gentlest cat, Esmeralda, dished out the most severe beatings, and she was relentless for 2 solid weeks.  She chased him under the washing machine daily.  Eventually the beatings stopped and they became the best of friends.  Ez was the matriarch of the family; she commanded respect and she definitely got it.  When she was 17, arthritic, and could hardly walk, her and Nero would still play chase, and Nero would wait for her to catch up, then bolt off again, and so on and so forth… he knew she hurt, so he was patient and gentle. He even let her win the wrestling matches when, in reality, he could’ve taken her down no problem.

Nero 2010

One spring evening in Arizona, James grilled us some salmon.  Nero was about 7 months old.  James had left his plate of salmon on the coffee table to get up for a second, and Nero was so smart and stealth, he snuck up to James’s plate, grabbed the salmon in his mouth, and ran with it.  Unfortunately, that particular piece of salmon was as big as Nero was, so he didn’t get far. Besides that, Nero was so shocked that his little plan worked, he didn’t know what to do with that huge piece of salmon.  He wasn’t sure if he should eat it, soon decided against it, then ran off, without ever knowing the joy of salmon.

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Nero was a super smart cat.  When we moved to Washington, to a house that had lever handles, it took him no time at all to figure out how to open them.  He loved going around opening all the doors. It was entertainment for him.  James finally had to replace all the levers with knobs because, you know, cats don’t have thumbs.

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This morning we had to say goodbye to our beloved Nero.  His GI tract was shutting down, as were his kidneys, and he had lost too much of his body weight.  I know some cats live longer, but I think 16 is a great, long life for a cat, and we were blessed to have him for so long.  He was loved immensely, spoiled rotten, and will be greatly missed.  Rest in peace, sweet Nero.

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Thank you to everyone.  Your amazing support and loving comments have helped me tremendously in my most recent struggle to deal with my mother’s death. You have no idea just how much you’ve helped.

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And thanks to James for all his loving support, help, and the kind words he has written.  You can read about it here.

It’s a race weekend.  In the words of Queen’s Freddie Mercury… The Show Must Go On…

Watch out Bellingham… here we come!

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Grief

They say there are 5 stages of grief… denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  In the past 24 hours, I have experienced all these stages many times over, sometimes changing emotions every 5 minutes.  I get extremely angry, and then depressed, and then I’m accepting of what happened, and then I get angry again.  It seems they have left out guilt as a stage, although I believe each of us, with the loss of a loved one, feels some sense of guilt.  And forgetfulness… I think forgetfulness should be a stage.  Or maybe that’s just a side effect.

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You see, early Wednesday morning, my mother passed away.  She was diagnosed 2 weeks ago with a GI bleed, refused to get it treated, and it ended her life.

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My sister, me, Mom, my brother standing — 1971 or 1972?

I’m angry… she didn’t have to die.  She could’ve been treated at the initial onset of this, and by now, she’d be at home and recovered, stronger and better off for getting every single test known to man performed on her.  Her heart was always strong.  It was never about her heart. She literally bled to death.

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Mom — 1975

I’m depressed… this one is obvious.  I will never see my mother again… at least in this life.  I will never talk to her again.  She won’t be there to reminisce with, go over memories with, share life stories with.  She will never see her grandson turn into the amazing person he is becoming. (And now, I’m back to angry).

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My sister Angela, Mom, Me — 1993

Guilt… this is a hard one because I couldn’t do anything to help her.  I was powerless because she still was a competent adult.  Only when she was too weak to get up could I get her some help, but by then, it was too late.  She had lost too much blood.

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Mom and AJ

Acceptance… she knowingly chose this path.  I knew it would kill her the minute we left the hospital the first time.  I had to accept that this was her life, this was what she wanted, I had to respect her wishes… I had no choice.  I accept that she is gone now by her choice, but again, this leads back to anger.  How could she be so selfish?  Or am I the one being selfish for wanting her to be alive?

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I woke up this morning feeling empty, like part of my soul was gone.  The loneliness set in, because I realized she was no longer there.  Then I opened my eyes and saw James lying next to me.  And after I woke my son up for school, I realized… I am truly blessed.

Losing someone you love will send you on an emotional roller coaster from hell.  I imagine this ride will last for quite some time, but I am thankful to have my family to help me get through it. I’d like to share a memory of my mother with you.  She was a great piano player.  I’m sure my love of all things music stemmed from her.  She would play the piano, and my sister and I would sit with her and sing all the songs she played.  It is one of the happiest memories I have of my childhood.  The following is one of our favorite songs that we loved to sing together while my mother played.  If you get a chance, take a listen… it just might make you smile.  This is what we did for fun in the olden days.  😀

As well… in honor of my mother and for Motivational Music Monday, I will choose one of her favorite songs.  She used to call this her theme song.

Please let your loved ones know just how much they mean to you today… tomorrow may very well be too late.