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Member since: Mon Apr 24, 2006, 06:56 PM
Number of posts: 2,593

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Thanksgiving 2012

I am thankful for my life, even though it is now a life without George, my beloved partner and soulmate. A year ago I could not have said this. Last Thanksgiving I wanted only to die and be with him. I could not see any light beyond the darkness of my grief. He had been gone for three months then and my heart felt like an open bleeding wound. I could think of nothing but him and how much I missed him, and every day was dull and empty of anything resembling joy or happiness. Sage and Zoey could still make me laugh at times, but tears were always just below the surface, ready to break through.

During that time, I would cuddle with the girls, and we would all miss ďPawpawĒ together. We would talk about him and cry, and somehow it helped--at least for a little while. But when I tried to see beyond the awful sadness of the moment and envision my life continuing on year after year without him, I couldnít do it. It had taken me half of my life to find him and he was gone way too soon. Twenty years together was not enough. We were supposed to get REALLY old together, not just kind of old. We had promised each other--but of course, death has a way of trumping everything, even promises made by silly, mortal lovers.

Somehow I got through Thanksgiving last year, thankful for my friends and loved ones, but not terribly thankful for my own life--and reluctantly still alive. And then there was Yule and Christmas, and every other holiday and birthday and anniversary that comes as the year turns--even the first anniversary of Georgeís death. Somehow, I got through them all and am still here.

I spent ten weeks last winter participating in a grief support workshop and learned a lot about my own grief and the grief of the others in the group. I learned that losing a loved one suddenly like I did--without even a chance to say goodbye--was not necessarily the worst way to lose a loved one.

A man in the group had lost his sweet wife of 43 years to brain cancer. Over an eleven month period, he had to watch helplessly as she lost her memory and her cognitive abilities--and toward the end, even her ability to recognize his face. George was still George right up to the last morning; I didnít have to watch him suffer the loss of all his functions, even the ability to think. I am thankful for that.

Two women in the group had lost children--one of the most devastating kinds of losses imaginable. My heart went out to them as they cried and shared photos and stories. So far, my three daughters and seven grandchildren are alive and well, and I am thankful for that. I know now more than ever how quickly and inexplicably death can happen, and Iím more attuned to the preciousness of each moment than I was before. I am thankful for that.

As I look back over the year, Iím aware of and grateful for the many gifts I have received as a result of the terrible loss of my sweet George. I am thankful for the love and generosity of so many friends and family members who gathered around me, in both physical and cyberspace, and did everything they could to comfort me. All that love held me up when I could barely stand. I am grateful for all the lovely people in my life, and I hope I never again take for granted any time I am fortunate enough to spend with you. My heart is more open now, and I am both tougher and more vulnerable than I was before. Somehow that feels like a gift.

I am also much more aware of how suddenly and unexpectedly life can end, and I have decided that I can no longer wait to spend my time doing what feels fulfilling and important while Iím still here. My job as a welfare and food stamp worker was fulfilling and important, but the stress on top of the grief was making me ill, and so I took the plunge and quit. Some life insurance money and Georgeís Social Security (bless him!), a small pension from my job in Denver, and rent from my sweet housemates (bless them!) has made this possible.

Now I spend more of my time helping the girls learn to read--they are in the 1st and 3rd grades and may have inherited some of their mamaís learning delays; they have both been testing low in reading skills since they started school. Now that Iím not rushing home from work at 5:30, after a full stressful day, I can pick them up at 3:15 every day and spend a good amount of time every afternoon and evening helping them with homework, and reading, reading, reading--to and with them. Their reading skills are growing by leaps and bounds.

Iím also starting a soap-making business, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Now that Isha is here, weíre working on this together and our house often smells of lavender and patchouli and other yummy scents. So even though it was hard to continue living in this house where I lived with George, it is feeling more and more comfortable. We are making new traditions while honoring old ones. George named this house Osmyrrah (Os-mer-ah), after his ďhippie houseĒ in the 1970s (oh, the stories he has told about life at the first Osmyrrah!) and since the word osmyrrah means the pleasant mingling of fragrances, the name now feels prophetic. Of course, it is the name of my new soap company.

Iím also writing more, another thing Iíve always wanted to have the time to do, and Iím thinking about starting a blog. I have been turning the idea over in my head, trying to find a focus--grief, raising children, Wicca, politics?--and a catchy title. I am open to suggestions.

Sage and Zoey and I still cuddle and miss Pawpaw together, but while we sometimes still cry, now we laugh more often too, as we reminisce about the many funny things he said and did. They didnít get to finish growing up with George in their lives, but they got to spend most of their first five years with him, and I know that was a blessing, both for George and for them.

And though I didnít get to grow REALLY old with him, I got to spend two solid decades loving him and being loved by him. And now I truly am older and wiser, and I hope, more compassionate than I was before. I have been to the depths of despair and I have returned, still standing. The grief is still part of me and probably always will be; as the songs say, true love never dies. My love for him fills my heart to overflowing, no matter how long heís gone. I think the greatest lesson I have learned over the last fifteen months is that nothing matters but love. If we can live our lives loving and being loved, we have lived our lives well. How could I be anything but thankful for that?

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Love each other fully and well.

My Repub brother says that Medicare "cuts" have already started.

He told me he found out two days ago that Medicare no longer reimburses for TENS units--a device that he uses for chronic back pain. I looked this up and found the following information. It doesn't look like President Obama had anything to do with it, or that this "cut" went into effect since the election; this article is dated June 11, 2012. I told him this and he acted like he didn't hear me. I told him that the $716 million that Romney lied about because he kept calling it a "cut," targeted unnecessary overhead costs and doesn't effect consumers. "Obama lies as much as much as Romney" was he predictable response.

He will die believing the most ridiculous crap.


American Tears & America's White Table

I attended my granddaughter's elementary school's Veterans Day program today. Veterans were specifically invited to come to the program and have lunch with their students afterward. I'm not a veteran, but I attended because my granddaughter was singing (in a large group, but still) and she invited me. Sage and her classmates sang "American Tears," and then the fifth graders read and enacted "America's White Table". I had never heard of either the song or the book until today. There was a recognition of each of the veterans who were in attendance; probably more than half the people there were veterans, so I assume that everyone else was their family members.

I felt very out of place in that room, like my lifelong antiwar stance was obvious somehow. I hate what the Military Industrial Complex has done to the world, and, at 61, I STILL hold out hope for world peace (I know, the dream dies hard for some of us). But I also feel for the soldiers and their families. I can't imagine that anyone survives combat completely intact. Even if they live through it and don't come home physically maimed, there has to be some emotional and or spiritual damage from being in a position where they had to kill or be killed.

I heard over and over today about how the soldiers have fought for our freedom and liberty and I had to force myself not to think about the last several wars being fought for the enrichment of plutocrats. I DO respect the sacrifices of soldiers and feel sad for their families. But it seemed like today's event was also kind of celebrating, and even promoting, war.

Anyway, I stayed for the whole program, but I didn't stay for lunch. That lunch was for the veterans and their families and I didn't want to intrude.

My pre-election Facebook message

Iím sorry if Iíve hurt anyoneís feelings with my political rantings. I value and appreciate all of my friends and family members and donít want to alienate any one of you. I love you guys for a lot of different reasons and politics shouldnít get in the way of our relationship with each other. More and more, I am understanding that relationship is everything. At the end of life, many people say that they most regret the times they hurt other people, and that nothing really matters but love. My favorite Dali Lama quote is ďMy religion is very simple. My religion is kindnessĒ. I really do try to live that way, and I feel bad when I realize that I have been less than kind. So I am sorry.

I realized today that I have gotten frantic like this toward the end of every presidential campaign since 2004. I was so appalled by the actions and antics of George W. Bush that I became obsessed with helping Kerry win, and I became rather strident right before election day. I just keep watching my vision of a peaceful cooperative world get farther and farther away. I am a lifelong Democrat who believes in community, in sharing, in helping those who for whatever reason canít help themselves. I want our country to stop spending so much money on war that there isnít enough left for programs that help people. I want a robust economy that pays people living wages. I want all the children in this country to have the chance to get a decent education, and I donít want people to have to go bankrupt because they get sick. I want hungry children to be fed and the elderly to have enough income to be able to finish out their lives with dignity. I want to live in a humane country where everyone is treated fairly.

I donít mind my taxes being used to help people. It makes sense to me that we Americans pool a percentage of our income so that roads and bridges can be built and maintained, teachers and firefighters paid, and the sick, disabled, and elderly cared for. I always thought that, along with voting, paying taxes was my civic duty. What I detest is that 50% of my tax money is used to feed the War Machine that kills and maims people in other countries and kills and maims our own young men and women who are brave or desperate enough to sign up. I really hate that.

I have been watching my country move further and further to the right since Ronald Reagan, and I find that very disturbing. I also am disturbed by the persuasiveness and viciousness of the propaganda that comes at people nonstop and has turned truth inside out. The lies about Obama would be laughable if they werenít so effective. So many people believe them because they hear them on Fox--and since Fox calls itself ďFair and BalancedĒ, it must be true, right? I watch and listen to President Obama and see a smart, compassionate, visionary leader who is working very hard to make our country work better for more of us. He is not at all like the evil caricature presented by right wing media to a gullible public.

This country is in the grip of extremely wealthy people who donít care at all what happens to the rest of us. We are cheap labor and cannon fodder to them. Mitt Romney got rich by firing people, not by hiring people. Why would anyone think the country would be better off with him as president? He is a CEO, not a president. His thing is money, not people. People make fun of President Obama Obama for having been a community organizer, but community organizers care about people, not profit--unlike venture capitalists like Romney.

I do believe that President Obama will win tomorrow; I hope the people who have been taught to hate and fear him will accept that and not try to derail his presidency. I think he will go down in history as one of the greatest presidents this country has ever had. And I hope that after tomorrow, weíre all still speaking to each other.
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