In my mind…

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I have broken every glass and dish in the house, every frame that holds your precious face. I have beaten through the walls and torn doors off their hinges in my grief rage. I have demolished our home until it is ruble and broken dreams around me, hundreds of times in my mind.

I have ripped the hair from my head in screaming fits of agony. Run screaming through the streets trying to relieve the burning hole that is spreading within me. I have laid down and quit, the harshness of reality too much to bear without you, a hundred times in my mind.

I once thought that I have been through the worst time in my life. Thought I knew the depth of despair, thought I knew how delicate life and love was. 6 months without talking to you, laughing with you, sharing with you, touching you. 6 months of watching you die repeating in my head and I have learned a whole new level of  indescribable hell.

I will not lie, I am….struggling, to find balance, safety, peace, a life for myself without you. I remember your wishes for me and I force myself to take the steps you wanted. I told you that is what would get me through, that I would use it to keep going.

You told me I would be ok, I remember the conviction in your voice when you said it. Even though it makes me mad because none of this feels ok, you never lied to me and I desperately hold on to your faith in me. We always said one way or another we would be ok and we always proved it right. The last time I told you that was when I helped you into bed at Hospice house for the last time, knowing you were going to die. I know in my heart you are better now then you ever were here and I promise to find my way.

I love you LeiAnn, beyond words, time and dreams.

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Two-Fold Gift

Dear LeiAnn,

There have been many moments over the years we shared together that I have been grateful, felt blessed, questioned how I got so lucky to have you in my life. What did I do to deserve all that was you? There were plenty of moments I didn’t feel worthy, didn’t understand the way you loved and then I started to grow.

In the last three and a half months since you passed I have run the gamut of emotions…I hope. There are still times when none of this feels real, that it feels like a waking nightmare that will never end. I miss you terribly…and I get mad sometimes that you died and then I feel guilt because you fought so hard to live, suffered so much and you were so very very tired. Rarely lately, do my emotions make sense, logically I know and recognize things but my emotions are shouting….you weren’t suppose to die.

I’ve been learning new things about myself in this shitty process of life without you. One of them is my capacity for faking it, acting normal, smiling and saying I am fine while inside I am drowning. To pretend that I’ve got it all under control when my entire world is falling apart and I have no idea what to do or where to go, I am completely lost. Grieving you is changing me and sometimes I wonder if the changes are good.

Tomorrow is your birthday, you would have been 41 and I would have teased you all day about getting older, while being so so happy that you are still here. I am trying not to focus on it being the first time in 17 years that I don’t get to sing you happy birthday or doing whatever you wanted for your special day. We are going to celebrate your life, gather together, laugh, cry and share happy memories, I know that is what you would want and it is what feels right to my heart.

The way you loved me, the way you loved others taught us all a deeper meaning of it. How selfless it can be, what it means to really be a friend, the lengths you will go to, to see someone smile, to help in some way, the total and complete acceptance of someone. It gives me comfort and peace to know that everyone I love will be touched by you, that your love and spirit will live on that way.

Happy Birthday LeiAnn, I love you.

 

LeiAnn

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Tomorrow it will be a month since she passed away, those nine days in hospice house blurred days, filled with tough choices, heartbreak, an outpouring of love and desperate moments of trying to grasp every minute with her. I can’t tell you how many times we made the drive to the hospital for treatment or other necessary appointments, the hours we sat waiting for treatment, during treatment (she called me a professional waiter). In all that time talking with nurses and Dr’s and other patients I never heard about the toxins from chemo and cancer damaging the mind. But that’s what happened to her, her mind left us before her body did, it was….horrifying, heartbreaking, never could I have prepared for that. And yes, as others feel, I am grateful that she had the buffer from the reality of what was happening to her body.

There are times when I can’t grasp my new reality, my mind shies away from the ugly truth that she died. I feel….stupid at times, even though I knew what was happening when she was in hospice house, even though her mother and I had tough conversations with the Dr, difficult choices to make about her care, when I stood over her body touching her soft skin after her last breath, I hit denial. Even as the pain of losing her brought me to my knees. There is no way I will ever be ok that this happened, that she had cancer in the first place, that she suffered as much as she did, that her greatest wish to live, was denied. My rage is a monster, something I can’t even look at for fear of what would happen.

Yes there are many blessings that came from this journey and I am grateful for every single one. The friendships that developed, the ones that grew stronger, the bonds that are now unbreakable because of her. Learning to really live in moments, to be present, engaged and grateful. I cherish every minute I spent with her, feeling so blessed and thankful that I had them.

She had wanted me to speak at her service and I thought about it, I wanted to do this for her but there was no way I could, so I will share what I wrote here:

One of the greatest blessings in my life was knowing LeiAnn. I always watched her and marveled at her heart, the way her mind worked, the kindness she effortlessly was. Over the last 17 years I have been learning the lessons of her living. Changing and growing in ways that made me more real, kinder and able to love on a deeper level. I never could find a way to show the depth of my love for her, my gratitude to her. Over the last 21 months I was able to show some of that to her. Being on this journey with her taught me a new level of respect for her, my admiration of her boundless. The determination she had to fight for her life, to live despite the cancer and chemo sickness she dealt with day in and day out was inspiring, humbling, life changing for me. During this time I think we all lived more with her, realizing how precious moments are, how fragile life is. I hope that is something we all carry with us going forward. The bond she and I had, there really is no words to describe it, she never doubted my love or dedication to her. She knew the joy I felt just being near her, the endless love I have for her. I thought I had said everything I needed or wanted to, to her but I realized I didn’t so I will now. Thank you LeiAnn, for trusting me with your care. Thank you for loving me in a way that gave me strength and courage, an understanding of who I could be, the type of person I want to be. Your support and unconditional love saved me, healed me and taught me a depth of life and love that has changed my perception of the world.

Grief is an awful thing, unrelenting, timeless. I am struggling and even saying that I am just skimming the surface of how I feel. But I learned some important lessons during her journey and I will not forget them. I know what she wants for my life, the hope she had for me and that I will use to help me along. To all our friends and family, thank you for your support and help, your love. To the people who read this, hug your loved ones, live in moments and even on the fucked up miserable days, find something to laugh about.

 

 

Tick Tock…

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I have had such a battle with hope, it can be all that keeps you going at some points. It can also crush you to a point where you are never the same. I have felt such guilt at times trying to tell myself that I accept her dying, that it’s just a matter of time until it happens. I have to be realistic, I have to walk that line of hope and reality, it’s hard to find a balance. But deep inside the hope is burning through me, I so desperately want her to survive.

I feel like if I do everything in my power to make her life easier, to ease the everyday worries it frees up her strength for other things, this also makes me feel better about being so helpless in this fight. I didn’t realize until recently that I felt if I loved her enough, did everything I could, that maybe she wouldn’t die. That somehow I have the strength to keep her alive, this makes me both laugh and cry in sadness. If we could will someone to live, many hearts wouldn’t be broken.

I am so scared, I feel panicked and my heart is breaking. We tried an immune therapy since chemo wasn’t working anymore. It would take up to 3 months to know if it was working, her marker was slowly climbing, 7, 8 then 15, two points away from 189 where she was when first diagnosed almost two years ago. Then it jumped, 69 points, she is at 256 now and where the cancer is growing has caused severe problems that can take her quickly. We desperately need this new chemo to work, things have looked bleak before and we made it through but this time it is different.

I watch her suffer, I watch her fight, I watch her comfort her loved ones and I watch as she goes under. Her pain is horrific, the space she becomes trapped in during these episodes a hellish place none of us can imagine and I stand there useless, a drug pusher, while screaming silently in my head. I would give anything to make it more bearable for her, to ease her pain and the fear that she has.

They say that grief is selfish and I can see that, I feel very selfish, I want my friend to live. I want her to have the life she deserves, I want her light to keep shinning. Some say there is a better place for us after this life and I believe that too but what absolutely kills me, brings me to my knees is how badly she wants to live. How do you make peace with that? How do accept this??

There are moments when I don’t feel strong enough to do this, to watch this, to lose her and then I look at her and I will be damned if I will fail her. She is giving it all that she has, facing the fear and the pain and I will be there every step. Anything, everything I can do, I will, I can do no less for her.

FUCK CANCER

 

 

Marching on

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There are moments in time that I want to freeze, stop time from moving forward. Stop her cancer from growing, hold her close, protect her with everything I am. There have been many moments that will forever be engraved in my mind and heart.

Laughing ourselves silly in the Drs office, cracking raunchy jokes, the nurses shaking their heads and smiling at us as we giggle with dark humor. Driving on our trips, music up, windows down her sweet voice filling me with relief and joy. Seeing her heal and grow strong again, the light that shines from her present again.

Other moments the sadness is so intense I can’t even speak. I sit next to her, holding her hand as she struggles for relief, feeling powerless to help her. Gripping her hand as the Dr explains more bad news. I look at her and read the fear, sadness and anger she struggles to contain.

Living with her as she fights cancer has been an honor, so many lessons we have learned along the way. How to really live in a moment. How to be grateful for every day. Cherishing moments when we are doing nothing but watching tv in silence. The strength and comfort loved ones and friends can give.

She has humbled me with her strength, the grace she shows in the face of a waiting death. The silent war she fights day in and day out. The comfort she gives to her loved ones as fear rages inside all of us. She truly is an exceptional woman.

So many times I have wished to take it all away from her. So many times I have prayed for a miracle for her. Time marches on and no matter how badly I wish it to stop, as fiercely as I wish the cancer to stop growing, it continues. We are running out of options and she is running out of patience and who can blame her? No one understands the view of her world, no one knows the strength it takes day in and day out to keep going in this nightmare like she does.

I sit here tonight crying as I write this, the news we received today making me sick to my stomach with fear. And do you know what she is doing?? She is out for a drive with a man she likes, she is living, making and creating memories. She is my hero, a woman I look up to, a woman with such a pure, good, kind soul she is almost not of this world.

Almost 17 years I have known her and I have endless memories we have created together. I cannot comprehend a world without her in it….this road we are on now, I will be as brave and strong as she is, she deserves no less from me, from all of her loved ones. 

 

Living moments

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At times it feels as if the weight of our grief, fears, worries will crush us. That life is breaking our spines and we wonder how we will ever have the strength to do what needs to be done. The darkness becomes a smothering warmth that would be easy to get sucked into. To let the hardships of life sink us, break us, change us in ways that leave us further from our true selves. Bitter, angry, fearful….

But there are these moments, that balance the harsh reality of life. That can make life, more real, profound, joyous, lift our spirits and fill our souls. That can ease the heartache we feel, give us some breathing room during moments when we are staggering from life. These moments are as important as every other hard step we take. WE have to allow ourselves to rejoice, live in these moments. Let our souls soak up the wonder, the love, the gift that is life.

We are not promised an easy life, a life filled with everything we want and dream of, no pains or worries. Some things in life we can’t control, all we can control is how we respond, deal, how we will let it effect us. I choose the moments of joy through pain, laughter during my tears and hope through moments of debilitating grief. I urge you to find your moments and live in them.

Miracle Break

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What a journey you have been on. A very long road to finally reach this place. Such a beautiful bright soul thrown into a world of agony, fear and the fight of your life. Your loved ones gathered close around you, helpless, desperate, grieving. All of us struggling to find answers, to hold on to hope, not willing to accept what the Drs said.

Three to four days a week at the hospital. Infusion, tapping, blood work, chemo treatments. So many different medicines to ease your pain, so you could eat, sleep. We were stumbling, tripping to try and catch the runaway train that was your cancer. One of the worst parts for me, was learning through your suffering. Not knowing what to look for, what could help or ease you. What this side effect or that one meant. Our towering fear growing as you went under.

You lost your hair, your eyebrows, your eyelashes. You lost your independence, your privacy, your sense of self. But you never lost your grace, your passionate heart. So many days you floated between worlds, so tired, so sick, a ghost of who you once were. I witnessed your struggles, your fight to accept, your fight to live. Your heart breaking for the terrible pain your loved ones experienced, the helplessness you felt, not only at what you were going through but not being able to give comfort, to say it will be ok.

10 months of fighting every single day a cancer they said would kill you. Not only your body battling but your heart and mind. If my fear has been a hulking beast, a shadow of my every step, what has yours felt like?? I can’t even fathom it, even after all of this, I am still clueless. I know you battled with accepting death, finding peace with your God. There were moments when we almost lost you. That you were so very tired, so sick, almost hopeless and you did find that peace. You accepted it.

Then a turning point, hearing the words of maybe two months left to live, a harsh reality too awful to grasp. That put us right at Christmas time, this news was an ugly slap to our faces, the fear, the grief shaking us all. I am grateful for those words, that moment and how you reacted. Something in you said NO and you found more strength to fight and you started to win. Your will, your spirit, burning fiercely, your body and mind no longer at war but joined to fight, to live.

Now you are in a place where you get a break. We don’t know how long, if, when, the cancer will come back. Now you have to find a way to live with the fear of when it does. Now you have to find a way to pick up the pieces of your life, rebuild your body, heal your mind. But you are alive, you did it….and I could not be prouder of you or happier for you. This experience has changed us all, taught us to live in the moment, how precious life really is. You didn’t think you were fighting and I ask you to look at where you are now. How far you have come, how you proved the Drs wrong, how now you can live the things you didn’t think you would get the chance to do.

My hope for you is to truly live, like you never have before. To embrace each new day with excitement, to limit the fear that I know will live in the back of your mind. You are stronger than you knew, you faced dying and accepted it. Now face life and live it, live every moment with joy. I love you, we all love you, you are more than your cancer, yes you are different, you are stronger, more aware of life and that is a gift.

xoxo

 

 

Soul Cave

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Three women stood in the crystal cave.  It was a sacred place, beautiful, a prism of iridescent colors. It was quiet the echo of their breathing the only sound. They each stood by a tall stone that had called to them. The calmness of the cave sinking into them, easing their tension, giving them a sense of peace.

The oldest woman looked to the others, read something in their faces and nodded. Her serene facade cracked as she raised her trembling hand. Hesitating for long seconds before she finally lowered her hand on to the stone. Colors spread from her hand, gold, green, blue the essence of her flowing into the stone. Like a ripple effect the colors spread from that single stone into the rest of the cave. Until the room was waves of blue, gold and green, the floor, the walls, the crystals hanging from the ceiling.

It was breathtaking, they all looked around stunned, their bodies awash in the vibrant colors dancing through the room. Thankful tears fell from her eyes, a smile of pure joy spreading across her face, her soul in all it’s beauty there to see. Her eyes caught her daughters and her smile broke, her face crumpling.

Black started to seep into the stone, like ink in water it billowed out,  swallowing up the soothing colors of her soul. The room sparkled with her dark grief, the walls vibrating with the agony drowning her soul. Red bled through the black, bursts of rage cracking some of the crystals, shattering others. Wind picked up a howling mourning keen that buffeted them. The walls trembled under the power of her sadness, her rage, the unending grief eating her up inside. The swirls of colors flowing from her into the crystals, creating a kaleidoscope of tragedy.

Faster and faster the colors whirled, louder and louder the wind howled. The walls trembled with the power of her emotions, the sound of crystal walls cracking a feral shriek. Each of their faces twisted with their own grief. A shared grief, a deep unending grief for two of them. With a final explosion of blinding color and a wailing scream, the cave went silent, the colors disappeared.  Body trembling, skin pale, the mother took several deep breaths. Wiped the tears from her face, smiled lovingly at her daughter and nodded to the youngest woman.

The youngest woman took a deep breath, looked to both women for support and gently laid her hand on her stone. She closed her eyes tight, body trembling with her emotions. A soft wind blew against her face, a deep note flowed through the cave. The sound had her opening her eyes, blinking at the wonder flowing from her. Purple, gold, green swirled through the cave, dancing through the crystals, shooting like sparks up through the floor. The breeze a soft caress, the note a calming, welcoming, joyful sound. She smiled her face etched with peace, she looked to the other women sharing her soul smile. Her eyes shown at the mother who smiled softly in return. Then her eyes locked on the other woman, who had tears running down her face and a tired but peaceful smile gracing her lips.

Her hand clenched on the stone, gray smoke weaved through the purple, gold and green, muting their shining colors. The wind picked up, the note climbed higher taking on an anguished tone. The smile dropped from her face, her body shuddering with her grief, her heartbreak. Dark maroon bled through the grey, a violent fight of swirls and starburst. Her grief fighting with her rage, the emotions that were choking her, crippling her. The walls trembled, the ground shook, crystals popped, slivers of them falling like raindrops.

The ceiling lit up with deep blue lightning, thunder claps of her soul note climbing higher, the sound making the ears ache, the heart jerk. Her grief raged black and grey colliding with dark maroon, the wind howled, the ceiling of the cave a strobe light of her sadness. She fell to her knees, hunched over, her mouth open in a silent scream. Mirroring the sound of her soul notes agony as it rose higher and higher.

Another wall cracked under the power of unleashed emotions. Crystal black tears of grief fell in a room swallowed up in dark blue, the depth of her sadness touchable. For long moments the room raged, her soul note screamed, the wind ripping through some of the crystals. Then with a sigh the note died, the lightning blinked out, the last crystal raindrops fell onto the fading blue.

Long moments of muffled sobbing echoed through the cave as the youngest gave into her grief. The mothers hiccupings gasps of pain and loss a mournful counterpoint. Both women stopped trying to hold it in, push it away, tell themselves later. They let go, let the grief have free rein, the sound of their sobs climbing, echoing harshly off the cracked crystal walls. The mother and youngest lost in their tears, the pain flowing through them like lava. Changing who they were, who they would be for the rest of their lives.

A soft glow began to fill the cave, a light you could see through closed eyes. A sound so pure rang out, stealing the breath at its beauty. The sparkle of white, gold and pink was blinding in its enchantment. The daughter stood, her frail body strong once again, her face no longer creased with pain, but wonder and life. Her eyes alight with the love pouring from her, spreading through the cracked walls, sparking off chipped crystals. The sound climbed and dropped a dance of wordless bliss. A soft breeze gently touched the women, offering a soothing moment.  The room grew brighter and brighter, the colors weaving, a harmonious flow that was spellbinding. 

The daughter looked to the mother and the light grew brighter the pink deepening throbbing like a heart. The stones around the mother vibrated with the love pouring through them. The wind fluttered around the mother, playing in her hair, kissing her cheek. The sound hummed and crooned, softness, happiness, a daughters love for her mother. The sound echoed and flew, running over the skin, sinking into pores. Piecing back together the broken heart of her mother. They smiled, a timeless moment of speaking soul to soul, gold, green and blue joined the white, pink and gold. Part of each of their souls, tucked safely away, forever a part of each of them.

The lights grew brighter, blinding, sparks flowing through the air, as the daughter looked to the youngest. The sound changed a layer of sadness adding to the depth, the beauty of it. The gold deepened and swirled around in the crystals closest to the other woman. The pink sparkled like kisses in the air. The breeze like a hand running over her head, down her arm, squeezing her hand.

The youngest woman kneeled, tears dripping from her chin, her eyes unblinking as she watched the dance of soul light. The wordless love felt for her sinking into her. Felt the unbreakable connection strengthen, become part of her spirit, the pink, gold and white merging with her purple, gold and green. The soft wind cocooned her as the sound once again sang to her, beckoned her to believe, to let herself heal.  

The woman smiled softly at the youngest then looked up to the ceiling, the waves of her soul colors brightening. The sound of her pure soul going higher, making the crystals shake, the walls tremble with her flawless beauty. No darkness tainted her colors, no red of rage, or black of grief.

The white grew, a shimmering haze filling the air as the wind picked up skipping from wall to wall. The sound danced and rejoiced, embedding itself into the stones into the other women. The white became blinding, stunning the eyes, stealing the breath with it’s infinite grace . The sound rose higher, crystals reforming, cracked walls rejoining. A flash of blinding light and the cave went dark, her soul sound echoing her laughter and joy at being free. The pure love of her forever a part of the other women.

A Monster

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I have been on a journey. I have been evolving. I’m surprised by the strength I have discovered. I know I am strong, but this, this is something else…it amazes me everyday. Everyday I discover a new facet of myself and I cherish each one and give thanks. Isn’t life a wonderful mystery? You never stop learning, never stop growing. Even in those moments that you feel stagnant.

It has been over a month since I moved and started a new life in a different town. To say it has been hard, scary, exciting. That I miss my friends, miss the familiarity of everything I have known. Isn’t saying enough. It took me a while to find my feet, but in that time the growth I have been through was revolutionary.

And her…how I missed her…. again no words. While my life has been moving forward in a good way, hers has come to crashing halt. I know we are both still confused, why can’t we be together with me finally being this healthy? Working to live the way she always hoped and dreamed for me? Supported me in any and every way? Why?

Well I think I know, because if we hadn’t ended, if this fundamental shift hadn’t happened inside of me. I wouldn’t be strong enough to do now, what needs to be done for her. To say that I am devastated, that my fear breathes every breath that I do…still wouldn’t be enough.

We all who love her, are terrified. Shocked. I know some of us have woken up in the mornings hoping it was a nightmare, praying that it isn’t true. We each are finding our ways to cope. Either by blasting sunshine, doing research, crying, denial, anger, bargaining or taking it one step at a time.

And we are all on the outside of her, can you imagine what she feels? The reality that just blew her world apart? We all feel fear, but it is for her and yes for us in our human selfish ways, which is ok, it’s normal. But her, she has to go through this, her body, her mind, her entire life…changed. I can’t even grasp what she must be thinking, feeling. How she is somehow trying to understand and prepare.

I don’t know if I have said this, or even if I should, but I have to. I am so sorry. So sorry that you have to go through this. So sorry that the fickle bitch fate, life picked you…we all know there are reasons for everything. And that we may never know why, this is one of those things. How do you find any peace with that?

I try not to get caught up in the whys. I try not to look too far down the road. I let my anger lay quiet, a seething sleeping beast. I focus on her, helping her makes me feel better, helps me cope. I have so much experience taking care of her, know her so well, each look on her face, twist of her lips, blink of her eyes. It gives me some comfort, knowing I will be her voice, when she doesn’t think she should talk. I will ask, push, demand answers and help, make sure that she gets everything she needs. We all will.

We will all walk this road with her, stand strong behind, beside, surrounding her. We all will support, give everything we can to make this easier. We are all bonded in our love for her, the amazing person she is. How she has touched each of our lives in such ways that she changed us all for the better. Never have I known a better person. I admire her kindness, the depth of her that she freely shares, the love that she has inspired.

You…feel us holding you, hugging you, pouring our strength into you. Willingly giving you whatever you need of us. You know the depth of love I have for you. How much you mean to me, to all of us. Brace yourself for the out pouring of love, support, silliness, laughter and moments that mean more than ever before. Know you are loved endlessly, forever.

To my readers. We all make plans for tomorrow, take for granted today. A lot of us forget to be thankful for each moment. To LIVE in the moment. It sounds so simple right? To live in the moment but for many it is very hard to grasp. Look around you today, at what you have, your health, your loved ones. Take a moment to be thankful, to hug a loved one, to be silly, to laugh, to do something for YOU. Live.

Hugs

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A hug…it can say so many different things.
I’m here.
I’ve got you
You’re safe

It can give so many different things
Comfort
Support
Strength

It can lift you off your feet, spin you around until you’re laughing like a giddy little girl.
It can curl you close, wrap you tight, shelter you from some of the harshness of the world.

It can be a statement of intent, deep, spine bending, sensual.
A hug can say so many things with no words.
Can lead to other delicious things.

Do you feel it through the phone?
Through the internet?
I think that depends on the connection and intensity.

A hug is a gift, a precious moment, the blending of two
Hug your loved ones, hold them close, breathe them deep and be Thankful