# FWF Gratitude, Kellie Elmore

wonderful nature have a nice weekend and a bea...

wonderful nature have a nice weekend and a beautiful 3.advent dear friends (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Listen, Love, Give Thanks

It was my birthday last month, I bought myself a small cup of creamy coffee with a crisp twenty-dollar bill and whispered to the cashier “let others use it up until it runs out” she looked at me with a blank stare. That was a birthday present to myself, the best kind. I felt happy to be able to do a small act of kindness. I walked out grinning. Giving. Joy. Love.

Today is dreary, rainy, and glum. I have turned my loud music off, there is no noise in my room except the ringing in my ears, the sound of my fingertips on the keyboard and airline jets flying overhead in the sky. I imagine they are traveling to exotic places: Bali, Greece, Japan? A couple of newlyweds are on their way to their honeymoon, holding hands and sipping champagne, kissing each others pink lips lightly. I was young once too.

The rest of the next hour is a gift. I have the luxury of peace and I relax on my bed with my sweet red dog, Lexi, wrapped around my legs. Every day has been long, arduous, bringing some medical testing, and waiting for results, a flat tire, silly and stressful things. Finally, Friday, I get results, I can give thanks that all has ended well. I send hope and light to my friend who is also facing challenges, we haven’t talked in years but now we talk daily. Support, Understanding, Old Friends.

I listen to the sound of my breathing and try to slow it down. Inhale slowly, Exhale slowly. The weather is damp and my arms ache with soreness just from raising them, my body is the barometer for all things; fellow patients with Fibromyalgia nod their heads “YES.” We understand when the weather changes before the news weather forecasters have any idea. What a waste of a job, why not just hire us at a fifth of the cost? Many pillows prop me up like a hospital patient, fully clothed, drowned in six comforters for warmth. I try to release pain and tightness from every limb, bone, muscle. I try. It doesn’t work. I’ve accepted that, there is no room in my life to fight. With age there is wisdom, I’m grateful for that.

Maybe I don’t have the highs and joy that we used to have in the past, a gratifying status of being “Mom” with sticky kisses and playing with cars or having tea parties, those days are far gone. But, I did have them once, a long time ago. It is not the good times we had in the past but also not the bad times that may await us in the future. I can’t possibly complain. Yes, my husband was laid off and I haven’t been in the best of health for the last seven years but we are dealing with the situation. A word of advice: Just count your blessings and not your sorrows. Thank G-d, Nature, or Angels, whatever you believe in, that you are alive TODAY. Enjoy today as much as you can because we cannot count on a tomorrow.

Embrace your spouse/partner or friend, child, mom, dad, grandparent and give thanks for what you do have and don’t waste a minute focusing on what you don’t have. Hug your cat or dog, Buy a present for someone you don’t like, maybe there is a reason why they are so cranky, see what happens. Everyone has a story, listen. There is always someone who has it worse than you do.We are relatively healthy, our adult children are coming home for a visit and we will have a turkey on the table for Thanksgiving. We give thanks for what we have.

A Letter To Zach Sobiech

I was cranky, hurting and giving up hope. I have felt badly from chronic illnesses, okay, for a lot of them, but it was time for some ass-kicking, some serious ass-kicking and I was the one who needed it the most. Sure, life isn’t perfect, and I haven’t been feeling well but I’m  going back to try to keep it inside, at least most of the time. No one promised that everything would go smoothly all the time, right? I forget that sometimes. So, I sat down tonight and thought about people, both who are living and those who have lived and died, people who have made a lasting impression on my life. One person came to mind:

Zach Sobiech

Zach Sobiech Breaking Up

Zach Sobiech Breaking Up (Photo credit: empeiria)

Though I’ve never met him, personally, he changed my life forever. Instead of continuing my pity party, I watched his video again and if you haven’t seen it, I will post it for you here. To live like Zach, with all his grace, is a wondrous gift, to make every second count and to say his good-byes in person, with his beautiful songs is life changing. I’m not saying it was easy, no death is easy but Zach made active choices in his life and in preparation for his death and he lived every single day to the fullest. Do it now, love it now, now is what we have and appreciate what we’ve got. Zach did.

I think about his family and friends, his old girlfriend, his favorite song-writer friend and his baby sister, Grace. I think about Grace so much, her innocence, her goodness, Grace with her big older brother, losing him like a treasure in the sand. How is Gracie  doing without her “other half?” I think about his parents too. What has life been like since Zach died? I have to hold my eyes shut tight when I think of Mom and Dad to try not to cry, because I remember them, especially Mom, sitting on the couch talking about her boy. What about the older siblings, how must they be feeling, how are they now? I think Zach aluded to Laura and her Faith and I hope that has helped her, his older brother was left more of a question mark, quiet, loving but private.  Mom and Dad, I pray for you, no one should have to bury their child.

Zach, I must have played your song thousands of times, to appreciate you, to keep me on my tracks, to learn from you. When I worry in anticipation I think about you and how you handled having cancer with grace (not literally but I’m sure you can see the humor) and love and respect.

You are  gone in physical life, but there’s no doubt in my mind that you are spiritually with us, with your family. I hope they get signs from you,  I’m sure they would love that and I do believe it is possible. I know it is possible.  I hope they believe it too so they can be comforted by your presence. You were an angel on earth, I know you are an angel in heaven. How could you not be? You taught us all how to die peacefully, how to choose when to die instead of prolonging your life with a horrible operation just for a few months. Being a mom, I respect your parents so much for doing the right thing, and it WAS the right thing, to let you do what you want.

I hope everyone has recovered just a bit from the shock. Because as much as you try to be prepared for death, it’s always a horrible, dreadful surprise, no matter when it happens. Trust me, I do know. But, this is not about me, it’s about you.

I send my prayers to your family and to your close friends, and to you dear Zach I send my love and my thanks for teaching us, those still here on earth what it means to be an angel.

photo credit> emperia

Free Write Friday: Kellie Elmore

On the way to Spirit Caves

On the way to Spirit Caves (Photo credit: Dru!)

You wake to find yourself in a strange house and you cannot remember your own name. You roll over and see a letter by the bed.
Is it for you? Who is it from? What does it say? Does it explain where you are and why?

I am sleeping so peacefully in a bed that does not feel like my own, but I turn over, my head on a hard pillow, my long brown hair down my back. I start to stir and I feel a little uneasy but I don’t know why.  This isn’t my bed, as I pull myself up to a seated position I look around, I don’t think this is my room either but when I try to picture my room at home, I can’t. I am very confused, I start asking myself questions: “What did I do last night?” “Who was I with?” “Did I drink?” Nothing comes to mind, I don’t feel like I have a hangover, in fact I feel pretty good but I’m scared. I have no recollection of the past, I gasp when I realizze I don’t even remember my own name.

What? I don’t remember my name. Oh my goodness, I am a stranger in a strange land, wait, wasn’t that the title of a book? It figures that would sound familiar to me; I must have like to read in my past life? My other life? I honestly don’t know. I can’t say I am freaked out totally because deep inside me there’s a feeling of calmness that i have never felt before. I wonder if I am dead. If so, it’s not a bad thing.

I  roll over to my belly, exhausted from both the confusion and the calmness and I see a letter in qn envelope with no one’s name on it, since this place, this house, this farm? wherever I was, seemed so quiet, I opened the letter thinking things couldn’t get weirder than they were already. I had hoped that the letter might give me answers to where I was and most importantly WHO i was. Part of me cared a little bit, but most of me jst  was curious, interested as if one might feel when you are almost finished with a book and want to know how it ended. Not panicked in any way, just simply interesred.

The letter inside said the following:

Dear Guest:

Wecome to our home, we hope you ar e comfortabale here and please stay as long as you wish. No one will be here to bother you, there is food in the kitchen, help yourself. You can leave at ANY TIME. Use your time well, we think that you will understand why yoou are here the longer you stay. We wish for you many blessings and utter peace.

In peace and in love,

Your friends.

She had learned nothing about herself, not her name, where she was, why she ewas here but she wasn’t disappointed. She just had an inner peace ethat she was there for a reason. There was really nothing else she wanted to do, she didn’t want to fight it, to go outside and walk endlessly so she embraced it . She knew, in her soul, that she was sent for a purpose and she would learn the lessons she was supposed to learn on her own and in her own time.

*Free writing, no editing, no corrections (that’s hard) but I did it.

Plinky Prompt: Sea or Sky?

  • Where I Belong
  • I Want To Live By The Sea With A Smiling Dog
  • Sea I’ll take water for a hundred please, Alex. (Sorry, I don’t know why that popped in my head!!) In all cases, truly all cases, I will pick water over any other element or choice. Water, for me, is in my spirit and soul. It is what soothes me and scares me, it makes me feel overwhelmed by its presence and comforted by its existence. Water can make me happy, sad, fluid, strong, peaceful. I love being in the water, in the sea, my body becomes pain-free and joy replaces pain; I am buoyant, I am calm, happy. I am in my element. I wish I could live by the sea forever or as close to it as possible, that is my dream.

The Fox And The Wolf

Rainy Golestan National Park

Rainy Golestan National Park (Photo credit: brum d)

I have a friend, a dear friend, a soul sister that I have forged a deep connection with and recently learned she is sick. I fear she is very sick and while I may write and sob, wearing my heart always, on my sleeve, she is calm and accepting and talks about life after death calmly. I am here, a long way from her, this friend I have never even met, and I am crying, my tears flowing down my red cheeks without stopping. I don’t even attempt to dab at the waterfall cascading from my green eyes, I could not keep up. In some way I don’t want to mop up my tears and have a clean face; it just doesn’t feel right.

I try to put on a brave front but she knows me and can see through my pretenses. “You have lost many people and you just don’t want to lose your new friend, your soul sister” she writes to me as if to explain. I put my head in my hands and rock myself while she is trying to comfort me from afar. She is a brave warrior and I feel like a fearful, young, gray mouse yet we coexist in nature. I have learned more from this friend about life and yes, death, than from many people I have known a long time. People can call themselves “best friends” but it’s only a label, an artificial one.

She and I connect, spiritually. She sent me a poem that used in one of her pieces of writing and it turns out to be the same poem (* see below ) I had read at my father’s funeral. It did not surprise me but as wonderful as the poem is, it does not quiet my heart when I miss my dad the most and that, she acknowledges,  is true. I wish I could wrap her up in a cocoon of the softest, silky threads and take care of her, feed her so she will stop losing weight rapidly, sing folk songs deep into the night, looking at the stars and making her tea with tupelo honey.

We have never met, she and I, but we know each other well, like wildlife in nature, harmoniously living together, understanding intuitively what is good, what is bad, a friend, a foe.  I hope to meet her someday soon but even if I don’t and even if she does die, as we all will, I know now, that feeling connected to another person, is worth the sadness that might occur later. For everyone, for everything, give people your heart and appreciate whatever time you have with them. Because, without them you would have been a lesser person, a smaller animal in the beautiful green forest.

Thinking of an anticipated good-bye is downright torture for me, it’s like squeezing blood from my brittle bones, without anesthesia.

*Do not stand at my grave and weep is a poem written in 1932 by Mary Elizabeth Frye. Although the origin of the poem was disputed until later in her life, Mary Frye’s authorship was confirmed in 1998 after research by Abigail Van Buren, a newspaper columnist.[1]

Full text

The “definitive version,” as published by The Times and The Sunday Times in Frye’s obituary, 5 November 2004:[2]

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

dedicated to my friend, with love. she knows who she is.

On Silence

Happy
LISTEN
Holding Hands

Since I am comfortable with myself, silence does not make me uncomfortable at all. Years ago, when I was young, I am sure that I felt awkward at times with silence. Silence and strangers.

Now, it is a strength to be comfortable, alone or with another person in silence. It’s an act of faith, one that takes years to build; I am extremely comfortable with my husband or best friend beside me, together, alone.

Trust yourself and the other person both in silence and in speech. Know that the person beside you, the one that you have loved for many years is your soul-mate, your very best friend. It shouldn’t and doesn’t come quickly, it takes some time to understand each other, and even then, there is always the tiny unknown.

Start with a glimmer and a smile, many years later, you know each others thoughts, words, smiles and nuances. I can hear my own thoughts in silence, I can use words as photographs in my mind. More importantly, I listen to how I feel.

Powered by Plinky

My Dad, The Little Yellow Butterfly

Clouded Yellow butterfly (Calias crocea)

it was an absolutely brilliant day, the thirteenth day of November

the sun was shining high in the sky,

covering my shoulders and arms with warmth that felt like a cashmere shawl next to newly showered skin.

I miss you dad, especially on your birthday

sometimes I forget that you died ten years ago

and I don’t know how I can go on without you

but then you show yourself to me, when I need it most.

‘see me there on the tree branch’  you whisper like a passing cloud, a subtle breeze

i am this small yellow butterfly: i can finally fly, i am happy in my spirit, and no longer in my poor, old, aching body

that made me feel so sad and powerless.

believe me honey, i would not lie

my spirit never left you and it never will for I will always love you.

see? i’m down here now, i didn’t leave you,

you just turned away.

Haiku Heights: Death, Boredom, Parenting, Summer

Purple flowers

Image via Wikipedia

DEATH:

Somewhere deep inside

There is an angel spirit

That will see my dad

***********************

BOREDOM:

Spring to a new life

Helping others to feel glad

Refresh your own soul

************************************

PARENTING:

Mom’s are people too

They make mistakes and they bleed

More for their boy and girl

********************************

SUMMER:

Through the setting sun

Escapes a burst of purple

Flowers are pure joy

*****************************************

Haiku Heights

Father’s Day Without Fathers

Potato Salad

For those of us whose fathers are deceased or for people who never knew their fathers at all, Father’s Day is tough. Just like Mother’s Day is for people who do not have a mother any longer or who did not know their mother. I am inundated with advertisements and gift suggestions to get my father: electronics, shavers, cologne, new tv sets, ties. I wish I could get my father a gift but I can’t, he is dead. People say “I lost my father ten years ago.” Lost somehow implies the possibility of him being found and unfortunately, we all know that is not true. I did not lose my father like a wallet or a cellphone, he died.

This isn’t a blog for ideas for gifts but rather a suggestion on what you might do to remember your father. Honor them, not with flowers or chocolates (unless your dad had a penchant for some special type of chocolate.) Honor them with your memories. I go to the cemetery around Father’s Day to pay my respects. to clean the gravestone, to rearrange the stones that adorn it, to talk to my dad. This year I went four weeks early because my mother was having a procedure done and I visited the cemetery at that time. It’s okay.  I gave thanks for him being there, in spirit, from signs and messages I received from him.  I knew he was watching, I knew he cared. I don’t doubt that for a second.

Make a collage if you like to do that, sit and sip your father’s favorite drink, eat food that you both used to love to eat; eat his favorite food (German potato salad) or something the two of you used to share. Share a memory with someone who cares or just tell it to yourself, or your sibling. Siblings add details to each other’s lives that perhaps one of you has forgotten. Talk to your dad, you can go to a quiet place or you can go to a favorite place that you used to go to with your dad,  it doesn’t matter. After you talk, listen. Be aware that you can get messages from those who have passed if your heart is open and YOU are open to receiving messages.

This year my son’s High School Graduation falls on Father’s Day. I couldn’t be happier. I know my dad will be there with his grandson that he adored. I know that he will be watching him cross the stage for his diploma. His spirit will be there with love and pride, of that I have no doubt. Love comes in many forms, in different ways; leave your mind and heart open and I guarantee, you will feel the love. It can be in a form of a soft breeze on your cheek, the shape of a heart in the clouds, a memory of a time that was special to you and your dad. Honor those who are no longer with you. Hold up a glass and make a toast to the past, to the person, to the memories that live in your heart.

Wishing Everyone a Happy 2010

12/31/09

I woke up this morning watching the snow lightly fall on the branches of the trees outside my window. I was immediately delighted and relieved. It felt like the fresh snow was covering all the mishaps, medical illnesses, and hard times of 2009. At least, that is what I hope it means.  I choose to interpret the crystal snow powder as some kind of healing balm, for the human spirit and the soul.

I have no regrets that 2009 is over. None. It was a year filled with illness, sadness,  disappointment, unemployment and marital disputes and too much fighting among family members.   I say good-bye to 2009 with no regrets but with hope for the future. I have taken chances this year, some for the very first time and I hope they will be worth it. But, nonetheless, the act of taking them is, for me, is a significant accomplishment in itself.

Last night I lit the Kaddish candle, a candle of remembrance on the anniversary of my father’s death.  He died on New Year’s Eve 8 years ago, a day before my parents wedding anniversary. This time of year for me and for my family has always been fraught with sadness and emotional upheavals. Instead of lighting the candle this morning when I awakened, I lit it at 12:10 am, last night, in order for the flame to burn brightly during the early morning and through today, but extinguish quickly after the New Year has been rung in.

This is my fervent prayer, that 2010 and the snow that is bringing it in, will heal your pain and bring, if not better relationships, different relationships. If not love, than like. If not better health, a calming spirit. There are some things we have no control over and for those things I wish for patience, and understanding, better coping skills and peace.

Here is a wish for you, my friends and family: I wish you happiness and good health, I hope any gaping wounds you feel inside will be less raw and heal soon.  I hope that if you know your dreams, they will come true. And, if you don’t know what your dreams are you will not look at that with anguish but as a time of taking chances and new opportunities.

I wish for all of you, love, peace and the feeling that you are loved and cared about. I hope you feel that you belong, with someone, or something or some religion and community. Kindness and taking care of others is a universal religion, one that I am proud to be a part of. Please join me.

Happy 2010 for all my family and for the friends that I have and those that I have not yet met.

Love, Laurie